Art Is What Makes Us Human

Art is not an afterthought!  It is instead the thing that gives our thoughts substance. It provides us with the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells that define our reality for us. We are as much the result of our art as our art is a result of us. Our art is what makes us human.


13 Responses to “Art Is What Makes Us Human”
  1. Beverly Soto says:

    Art is without a doubt a trait singular and unique to mankind, however claiming that it is the thing that distinguishes us as humans appears fallacious. The internalization of language is a more accurate portrayal of what makes us “human.” Art is purely a derivative to beings capable of language.
    There is a common tendency to think that first, we have pure thoughts and then we utilize language as a means to communicate them. Under this belief, it follows that all words are simply names for objects, sentences are a combination of these names, and language is a list of names for objects. This notion is in par with Saint Augustine’s view of language by which he believed that we become acquainted with it through means of ostensive definition. Such an ideology presents a mammoth assumption. This is a postulation that many people adhere to. What is implied is that language and thought are separate. In addition, the general frame of mind presupposes that thought comes before language. However, it must be noted that language is autonomous in and of itself. In other words, the language that we use is not grounded in anything interdependent of language. This Wittgenstinian view is best expressed through the metaphor that we are stuck inside a fly bottle and as such we are unable to think outside of it. These concepts lead to two basic premises. First, you have to think in language in order to think in an organized manner. And second, the language that you are in shapes the way you think.
    When you point to an object and say “that’s red” there is no way for me to know that you are pointing out the object’s color as opposed to it’s texture or shape without the concept of color beforehand. When experiencing an object you experience the object, it’s color, shape, and texture all at once. In order to thus avoid confusion, one must instead articulate, “This color is red” however, we do not have the concept of color prior to language by merely looking at it. I am not denying that you can have sensations prior to language; you simply cannot have organized thoughts about them. When giving ostensive definitions, you are telling a child how and when she should use the word “red,” you are not describing the object in question. In describing an object you are using a rule but, when explaining you are giving a rule. The redness I point to belongs to language and is called simply, a means of representation. I believe, in accordance with Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, that the meanings of words are determined by how we use them. The world does not separate color from shape but we do, the world is a continuum and we break it up into categories by means of language. Our language is therefore not grounded in reality or anything independent of us but rather we impose our language on reality.
    If a self is a system of beliefs and desires, then those beliefs and desires are only made possible through language. Language does not express a self, it creates it. Without a language you are not an organized system of beliefs, desires, and emotions but just a piece of meat
    In thinking about the way that a language user differs from a non-language user it is important to ascertain that the internalization of a language greatly extends what an animal can think about; the things it wants, and the things it feels. Though both language and non-language users share the same sensations, perceptions, and both are capable of experiencing rage and fear, there is a difference between merely responding to something and actually having organized conceptual thoughts about it. I am able to think about my past and present experiences but an animal cannot because these are concepts that come from language. An animal’s reasoning is strictly limited, which means that it cannot deliberate or ponder between two courses of action. Language also extends the emotions an animal can feel. In this respect, a dog cannot have emotions about things that it cannot recognize such as god. Because he also does not have a sense of good or evil, he does not experience moral duty or guilt. A dog cannot hope because it does not have a concept of the future. Only humans can develop self-concepts, autobiographies, and self-knowledge of the type of individual they are by means of introspection and listening to how others describe them.
    Humans utilize language to create a sense of reality and of a self, giving meaning to mental images and creating memories. Only when language is established is art possible. A thought process is first required in order to instill a transcendental quality in inanimate objects. Art is reserved to humans as they are the only creatures capable of generating an “experience created that transcends the material that it took to make it.”
    Contemporary aesthetics philosopher, Arthur Danto “laid the groundwork for an institutional definition of art.” In accordance to this definition, a substance must posses certain characteristics in order for it to be considered art. The object in question must be about something. It must represent what it is about in an elliptical, rhetorical, and metaphorical way. It is to express the artist’s point of view on what it is about. Furthermore, it must to be interpreted. Ultimately, the work must have a background context of art theory and history. Under this definition, most anything is capable of being art as long as it is done so with that intent in mind. Like Roy Lichtenstein said, “Art doesn’t transform. It just plain forms.”
    “We are the creators of our own universe.”
    Not only is art a beautiful subject matter that is often admired with a great deal of awe and respect but it is also a reflection of the social institutions and philosophical ideals that existed during the time of its creation. Art is a personal expression of uniqueness that not only reveals a great deal about its creator, it is also a text to be deciphered that describes the daily lives of people long ago and still today. William Faulkner so eloquently stated, “The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life.” Art parallels the evolution of man.
    It has evolved a great deal, leaving distant shadows of our advancement. From the primitive cave paintings in Lascaux, France, to the democratic and all too perfect “Doriphorus” of classical Greece, to Raphael’s rational Renaissance homage to the classics, “The School of Athens,” to Watteau’s typically indulgent Rococo period Fete Galante, “Return from Cythera,” right down to Christo and Jean-Claude’s environmental instillation “Running Fence”; art is significantly present and continues to fluctuate.
    Like “The Mona Lisa”’s quizzical smile, artworks hold within them various secrets about ourselves that are frozen in time, waiting to be deciphered.

    -Beverly Soto

  2. Brittiney Harde says:

    Art is the experience that transcends the barriers of language and cultural differences. Art encompasses a variety of things, such as architecture, paintings, sculptures, jewelry etc… For example the Greeks were the first to create art for beauty as well as purpose. An example of this is the vases that were made in which paintings depicted warriors. This shows that the Greeks were trying to tell a story with the vases. The fact that they were trying to tell a story about their people shows that art is not at all an afterthought. These stories gave importance to their society and still even today.
    “We are as much the result of our art as our art is a result of us.” This makes me think of The Romans, when Julius Caesar put his face on the coin. This makes our art a result of us because it shows that Julius Caesar thought of himself as god-like and larger than life and deserved to have his face on the coin.
    In comparison to humans animals do not have the thought capacity to create art for the means of making it. This means that they can’t break a barrier between two different groups, because art allows people to connect and animals do not have that. They’re thought capacity is mainly survival. Humans on the other hand take the need to survive, yet make art to represent thoughts, emotions, culture, themselves etc…Expressing emotions makes humans unique and the fact that we in turn create art for various reasons, is what is a distinct difference between the two. This is what makes humans unique.

  3. Anthony Kapitanski says:

    “Art” is a very interesting and intriguing concept at its most basic level. The mere ability to create lends itself to being the intrinsic value that defines man. After all, “art”, in its simplest form is creation; something that exists which did not before. Art is the idea that man is not a piece of the overall picture but is rather the one controlling the content of the canvas, able to add whatever touches he desires, whether fitting or not. Only time will tell what the culmination of art will bring. Will one day we wake to find our creations, which are the nature and proof of our existence, become the catalyst of our downfall? Surely Oppenheimer must of thought so in 1945.

  4. Marleigh Green says:

    One of the amazing things about art, is that it is difficult for most to even truly define what it is. There are so many artistic works that could be filed under the category of “art” nowadays that you can hardly say that something isn’t art. We create so many amazing things from architecture to paintings that we almost forget just how elaborate each piece is. I look down at my keyboard and I think of what the word means, I use it every day, and have memorized where each key falls, always overlooking the fact that this invention has evolved over time just as humans have, and it is in fact an amazing and useful piece of technological art. Humans are, if anything, creators, so art is unarguably what makes us human. The type of art separates, defines, and unites us all simultaneously while portraying an idea or providing a useful service. In ancient Greece, someone may have created a pot simply for carrying water, but when we find it centuries later, it is an object of beauty, fascination, and wonder. To them, it was a simple, every day object. To us, it gives insight into their culture, the way that they felt and thought all those years ago, which helps us to understand how we have changed over time, and how we are similar to them. Perhaps in a thousand years, someone will dig up my keyboard from a pile of rubble, and regard it with the same fascination and reverence with which I regard an ancient ceramic pot.

  5. Wendy Villanueva says:

    After reading this the first time I had to reread it. It took me a second to try to grab the concept of what you were saying and also to try to match art to every sense that we have. I must say that after thinking about it I do agree that art is what makes us human, but not everyone may see it that way. Any person that thinks of art thinks only of portraits, statues, or things they might see in any museum. What they don’t think about is that art is surrounding us and art is what makes our world; our community. No one ever thinks about the sky scrapers, the photos they may they may take, the fancy food they may eat, or the cars they may drive. The one line that did catch my attention was that, “We are as much the result of our art as our art is a result of us,” which is true because we the people might make the so called “art” but our art is what is defining us as people, or the creators.

  6. jacqueline gutierrez says:

    well it can apply to many things. For example color. Color is associated with art. in order to make a “piece of art” you need captivating colors. those colors evoke certain emotions in people. like red evokes anger or frastration. Blue evokes a calm, relaxed feeling. these feeling are what makes us human. what makes us more than an abel body.

  7. Shanilla Natanzi says:

    I believe that art can be used to initiate thoughts and plant certain ideas into our heads. Personally, when I see a piece of art, I ask myself “Why did the artist paint this? What was his or her intention?” I begin to wonder and think in depth about what was going through the artists mind when creating the piece. Nonetheless, his or her art does become like reality. Specifically if I was to see a picture of a country I have never been to before, I would assume the artist portrayed it accurately. That picture now becomes my reality when the name of that country is brought up I would immediately think of the painting. Whether the image is an accurate portrayal or not, I would never know.

  8. Asif Baig says:

    “Art” stimulates different parts of our brains to make us laugh or incite us to riot, with a whole gamut of emotions in between. Art gives us a way to be creative and express ourselves. For some people, art is the entire reason they get out of bed in the morning. Art is in a constant state of change.

  9. Ethige Silva says:

    Art has no boundaries, no circumstances. Every single substance in life , our surroundings, every single thing we use day to day life is a result of art. We deal with art everyday. it is definitely a part of our lives and will be forever until this world ends. Every human in this world is a result of art. After all there is no way we are going to live without art. Art is by far the most varied subject we have. It brings us satisfaction, help us to fulfill our needs, brings our imaginary, creative thoughts to life. And art makes us human. we depend on Art. You don’t have to be an artist, a painter, an architect, a designer, or any other kind of creative field talent in order to be a part of this vast world of art. Every action we create is a way of expressing Art. No limitations or rules.

  10. jny h. says:

    What makes us human is the ability to lie.

  11. Ethige Silva says:

    Art has the power to concur our lives in every way. It has become a part of our lives. It helps to bring our inner thoughts and feelings to life. It has no limits or boundaries. Art brings us joy, satisfaction, and helps us to express our thoughts. And Yes Art is what makes us human. Art is everywhere. Thinking of a world without art will be impossible.

  12. Clairissa Barker says:

    I had never heard anyone say “art is what makes us human” until taking you art history class this semester. Those words are so true though, everything revolves around art. Even in todays world based on technology art is still the center of culture. To someone like me , who is not good at singing or drawing or any of the typical art talents, sees how art makes people human, people all have an imagination people all have there vision and have there style they have there habits, there cellphone cover, there favorite flower all of this is art and everyone is capable of seeing that if you are human.

  13. Cassandra Oliphant says:

    I agree to this!

    Art is what drives us to live, it’s how we live even though we just take it for granted now. How would our government come to be without the concept of art? No inspiration of any sort to make life better and more convenient. There would be no cars, there would be no skyscrapers…. No wonderful novels to be lost in or no way to communicate to each other. Or show our emotions. Art gives us a purpose to show how we feel and what we love. Also, what we desire.

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