Art, Magic, and Agency

By Per Bauhn.

Published by The International Journal of Arts Theory and History

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: June 13, 2014 $US5.00

In this essay, I intend to argue that the concept of magic can be extended to cover an agent’s use of works of art to influence her perceptions of herself and of reality. More specifically, I intend to argue that works of art can be used to create, confirm, or affirm normative identities, that is, conceptions of ourselves as standing in a special relationship to certain norms and values. My argument will include contributions to the discussion of magic as well as agency in art made by Robin Collingwood, Ernst Gombrich, and Alfred Gell. I will conclude by providing some examples of how perceptually magic uses of art can function to form normative identities. I will also say something about how to morally evaluate such uses of art.

Keywords: Agency, Art, Identity, Magic, Morality

The International Journal of Arts Theory and History, Volume 9, Issue 1, December 2014, pp.1-10. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: June 13, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 334.145KB)).

Prof. Per Bauhn

Professor of Practical Philosophy, School of Cultural Sciences, Linnaeus University, Kalmar, Sweden

Per Bauhn is professor of practical philosophy at Linnaeus University, Sweden. Among his previous publications in English are The Value of Courage (Nordic Academic Press, 2003) and “Aesthetic Identity, Well-Being, and the Right to Beauty” (The International Journal of the Arts in Society 4:71–80, 2009). He has also published on topics such as political terrorism, the morality of nationalism, and the duty to rescue.