How to Define Art
Art is a human endeavor that elicits an emotional response from the viewer. It can be beautiful or displeasing, and both can stir up a powerful emotional response. In either case, it is an expression of the human spirit, a way of grasping the world, whether it be a human world, a social world, or a spiritual world.
Some definitions of art place emphasis on contingent features, such as historical or cultural context. Others place more emphasis on its universality and continuity with other aesthetic phenomena. Others attempt to explain why art has these contingent features. While these are important, they are not sufficient for defining art. Instead, it is best to try to define art in terms of its intrinsic qualities.
Another way to define art is to look at the different kinds of materials that are used to create it. A craftman may use a simple tool to craft a certain object, or they may use a more advanced technique to make a more complex object. The materials can vary from marble or stone to wood. They may also use calligraphy, which is highly stylized writing.
Many types of art serve ritualistic or symbolic functions. They are useful as decoration or a tool to express culture. In some cultures, art is used to communicate cosmological relationships or history. Regardless of its use, art is a powerful way to express feelings and transmit knowledge.