I—Virtues of Art and Human Well-Being



What is the point of art, and why does it matter to us human beings? The answer that I will give in this paper, following on from an earlier paper on the same subject, is that art matters because our being actively engaged with art, either in its production or in its appreciation, is part of what it is to live well. The focus in the paper will be on the dispositions—the virtues of art production and of art appreciation—that are necessary for this kind of active engagement with art. To begin with, I will argue that these dispositions really are virtues and not mere skills. Then I will show how the virtues of art, and their exercise in artistic activity, interweave with the other kinds of virtue which are exercised in ethical and contemplative activity. And finally, I will argue that artistic activity affords, in a special way, a certain kind of emotional sharing that binds us together with other human beings.