The world is not arbitrary, it has meaning. Works of art from past centuries bear witness to this. But since, let's say, André Breton, it is rather the sad and authoritarian absurdity (not that of the happy Dada) which occupies the ground. And also art as market value and financial investment. One can criticize the functioning of the art market, the sterility of state intervention, the incompetence or greed of collectors, the docility of the general public. There is a lot to say. But Roger Pouivet chose, as a philosopher, to gain height. A philosopher, in principle, begins by asking fundamental questions. In this case: what is art? And above all: why does art exist?

For the author, there are two modes of knowledge: science and art. If science is about representation (from symbol to reality), art, for its part, offers an understanding of an aesthetic type, that is to say “from reality to symbol”. By keeping everything « artolatry ", because the majority of works of art, all the same, are "mediocre or null", Roger Pouivet recognizes in art, in addition to the cognitive function, a moral function (incitement to the impartial oblivion of oneself) and a religious function (encouraging theological virtues). These ideas contrast with all modern theories of art. By digging excessively into conscience, the moderns have every reason to arrive at a good conscience.

The dangers of the democratization of taste

Roger Pouivet refuses to embark on this path and deplores the dangers of the democratization of taste which risks disappearing for good if we continue to consider it, following Kant, outside of any reality imposed as the simple balance of the personal faculties of understanding, imagination and sensitivity. He is also surprised by the idea of ​​" selflessness of art ". To say that art is not useful hides, according to him, a big flattery of the ego. Certainly, it gives some clues about the parameters of the art but it does not offer any miracle recipe. This would contradict his realistic approach. In fact, he is precisely opposed to those who, with the success that we know, have the nerve to say: " This is a work of art! »

In fact, faithful to his idea which seems to be that we judge a tree by its fruits, Pouivet proposes to consider things indirectly with two main ideas, one of which appears in the very title of the book: art and desire. of God. The other, almost as important, appears much more implicitly: education is the foundation of art and aesthetic life.

« It is preferable and better that there is art”

The great contemporary problem is that of aesthetic insensitivity. Perhaps it is due to excess stimulation (television, radio, museum, etc.)? Roger Pouiviet also evokes the disappearance of the “community of values ​​and tastes” within which aesthetic education necessarily takes place. Among the faculties in perdition, he mentions in particular " cognitive anticipation of symbolic systems, the ability to make delicate distinctions, to discern subtle relationships, to articulate the literal and the metaphorical, to master the relationships of reference and representation, denotation, exemplification, expression and of allusion, intuition, evocation, suggestion, emotion, understanding. » In a word, the studiousness » of Saint Thomas Aquinas, which consists of " ensure the rectitude of our intellectual appetite in the apprehension of aesthetic properties ". Not to be confused with simple " Intellectual curiosity nor, of course, with the “sensitive concupiscence”. This is why the " studiousness requires the permanent courage to oppose conformity.

Why must there be art? Roger Pouivet's answer can be summed up in a few words: so that there are men: " It is preferable and better that there is art, and better for man that he has an aesthetic life, because there is realized in it a nature of man which makes him better and preferable to everything. who in created nature is neither human nor of human creation. »

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