Quotes on the arts
These quotes on the arts will help you to explore its nature, form links with other WOKs and AOKs, and provide discussion points for TOK lessons. They will also support you as you address knowledge questions within your TOK essay and TOK presentation.
- What do the quotes suggest about the nature of the arts as an area of knowledge?
- What do they suggest about the purpose of the arts?
- Are the quotes consistent, or do they clash about the role it plays as an area of knowledge, and its relationship with others WOKs and AOKs?
- Can you think of other ways of knowing and areas of knowledge that these quotes relate to?
- How many of these thinkers are you familiar with? Research the ones you haven’t come across before – and, indeed, the ones you think you already know. Click on the names to take you to the corresponding Wikipedia article, although this should only be used as a starting point for your research.
Finally, how would you use the quotes to construct a typical IB Diploma TOK essay title? Look at previous TOK essay titles, and see if you can compose something similar (and think about how you’d go about structuring it)
1. The purpose and nature of the arts
I think in art, but especially in films, people are trying to confirm their own existences.
Art is the proper task of life.
The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.
The writer, when he is also an artist, is someone who admits what others don’t dare reveal.
Art is not a study of positive reality, it is the seeking for ideal truth.
All art is but imitation of nature.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.
George Bernard Shaw
Whoever neglects the arts when he is young has lost the past and is dead to the future.
An artist is somebody who produces things that people don’t need to have.
Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life.
2. The arts as a way of knowing
Art is not a thing; it is a way.
3. The arts and emotion
True art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist.
4. The arts and intuition
In art as in love, instinct is enough.
5. The arts and language
Music happens to be an art form that transcends language.
I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.
Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.
After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.
6. The arts and reason
Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.
Ludwig van Beethoven
Rationalism is the enemy of art, though necessary as a basis for architecture.
A man paints with his brains and not with his hands.
The waking mind is the least serviceable in the arts.
The moment you think you understand a great work of art, it’s dead for you.
7. The arts and sense perception
If we could but paint with the hand what we see with the eye.
Honore de Balzac
8. The arts and human sciences
Art works because it appeals to certain faculties of the mind. Music depends on details of the auditory system, painting and sculpture on the visual system. Poetry and literature depend on language.
Photography is a major force in explaining man to man.