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Can a Dream Be a Work of Art?

By V. Hoornweg


This thesis deals with the question whether a dream can be a work of art. In the first step, we deal with Norman Malcolm's claim that the sentence 'I dream while I am asleep' is a senseless one to utter. In order to wake up, one has to have some degree of awareness. This awareness, it is argued, can also direct itself to the process of dreaming, so that we can have a meaningful language game about dreaming. In the second step, Morris Weitz's anti-essentialist approach towards defining art is evaluated. Weitz claims that art cannot be defined because it is an open concept. In line with Wittgenstein, it is argued that many of the most rigid concepts in mathematics and logic are open concepts, and that open concepts have rules all the same. Turning to relational rather than intrinsic aspects of artworks to find such rules, we end up with Jerrold Levinson's historical definition of art. Something becomes a work of art when the owner of the object intends it to be regarded in the complex ways that previous works of art were correctly regarded. After a discussion about the similarity between dreams and movies at the start of the third step, we argue that dreams can be regarded aesthetically and that an aesthetic or a psychoanalytic interpretation of dreams are not essential characterizations of dreams. Finally, we make the case that a dream can become a work of art when it is regarded in the complex way that previous works of art were regarded; whereby we focus especially on art requiring skill and public discussions about art

Topics: art, dream, Wittgenstein, Malcolm, Weitz, movie, film, work of art, Levinson, historical, philosophy, aesthetics, ontology, Freud
Year: 2011
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