I have no definition of art; no set of necessary and sufficient conditions for the application of the concept art. This book was not written in the hope of finding one. Rather, my aim was to see what progress could be made in the ontology of the arts while avoiding an outright confrontation with the definitional problem. I shall argue that there is a single kind of thing that art works are, while admitting that there are things of this kind which are not art works. Locating works of art in this category illuminates their relations to each other and to other things and imposes stringent constraints on any acceptable explanation of the concept art. It may even provide grounds for some limited optimism about the possibility of such an explanation. For I shall argue that there is a quite surprising orderliness, coherence and unity about the way in which art works relate to each other and to other things. Art works have more in common than we might think, and they fall neatly into a larger ‘natural ontological category’ of things that is relatively well understood by philosophers. Locating them in this category may help us to understand them better by applying techniques from this other area — action theory.
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