Art and Knowledge: the position of art in a liberal education
The focus of this dissertation is the relationship between art and knowledge and the implications of that debate for the place of the arts within the framework of a liberal education. In Chapter 1 this debate is examined from within the context of the philosophy of education from its inception in Plato's Republic to the contemporary debate within the philosophy of education in the anglophone tradition. It is argued that the role of the arts in education is informed by our view of knowledge and our view of art and that our views on both counts will inform where we place the arts in education. An Aristotelian position is adopted and it is asserted that any rigid division between theory and practice are internally related and that art as knowledge should have a central role in education.In Chapter 2 the relationship between art and knowledge is examined from within the field of contemporary visual theory where it is suggested there is a dichotomised view of the meaning of art which parallels a dichotomised view of knowledge and value. Here it is argued that to adopt an either/or position in relation to these debates fails to take into account the composite nature of rationality which it is asserted is essential to the educational transaction. It is argued that both alternative and traditional approaches to visual representation must be incorporated into teaching pupils about art at a level appropriate to their development for if an educational aim is to enable pupils to make rational choices then these must be made in the light of all the relevant information available.In Chapter 3 the contemporary debate within art education is discussed within the context of the current vocationalisation of education. Here the hzards of adopting an either/or position are reiterated and theories which fail to take into account the composite nature of rationality are rejected as inadequate and doctrinaire. It is argued that we require a theory of knowledge and a theory of art broad enough to take into account the breadth and complexities of both art and knowledge and that these theories should encompass an acknowledgement of the composite nature of rationality. Without an acknowledgement of the composite nature of rationality, which involves making a rational choice on the grounds of all available information, it is argued that the conversation which is at the heart of the educational transaction cannot be furthered.