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The Historical Genesis of a Pure Aesthetic Author(s): Pierre Bourdieu Source: The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism

, Vol. 46, Analytic Aesthetics (1987), pp. 201-210 Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of The American Society for Aesthetics Stable URL: Accessed: 30/06/2010 01:47
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He does this by using. It has occurredto some philosophers to ponder the question of what enables one to distinguish between works of art and simple. The Analysis of Essence and the Illusion of the Absolute What is striking about the diversity of a paradox. the philosopher. and to suggest with unflinching sociologistic daring (which they would never accept in a sociologist) that the principle of this ontological difference must be sought in an institution. and the sociology of the artistic institution which the "de-constructor" can carry out only in the mode of Verneinung is never brought to its logical conclusion: its implied critique of the institution remains half-baked. which. in the history of the artisticinstitution. a critique of binary oppositions. I. namely. inscribed in the is PIERRE BOURDIEU professor of sociology at the College de France. designated and recognized as such by a certain philosophical world.3It is a strategyanalogous to the "double jeu" which allows Derrida to take from social science (against which he is poised) some of its most characteristicinstrumentsof "deconstruction. unfailing means for masking what it borrowsfrom them. indisputably. in the sense of Freud's Verneinung).5 Moreover.not only certain of the findings of the social sciences but also of historicist philosophy which is. ordinary things (I have in mind Arthur Danto). The art object. that is. In fact.. Paris. implicitly or explicitly. which is legitimized by the denial of borrowing. is one of the most powerful strategies yet to be employed by philosophy against the social sciences and against the threat of relativizationthat these sciences have held over it. Derrida can give himself the air of radicalism.2 The radical dissymmetry which philosophy thus establishes in its relationships with the human sciences furnishes it with. by claiming a radical break with the ambition of uncovering ahistoricaland ontologically founded essences. by way of Levi-Strauss. in a social universe that confers upon it the status of a candidatefor aesthetic appreciation.' What has not yet occurred (although one of our postmodernists will surely come to it sooner or later) is for a philosopher-one perfectly "worthy of the name"-to treatthe question of what allows us to distinguish a philosophical discourse from an ordinaryone.the model for this operation. it seems to me that the philosophy labeled postmodern(by one of those labeling devices until now reserved for the artworld).e. This masked appropriation. Such a question becomes particularlypertinentwhen. who is not a part of the philosophical institution. is an artifactwhose foundationcan only be found in an artworld. Heidegger's ontologization of historicity is. among other things.4 But one can not win at all the tables. they say.merely readoptsin a denied form (i." While opposing to structuralismand its notion of "static" structurea "postmodernized"variant of the Bergsonian critique of the reductive effects of scientific knowledge. this critique is likely to discourage the search for the foundationof the aesthetic attitudeand of the work of art where it is truly located. ? 1987 The Journalof Aesthetics and Art Criticism . grants himself a discourse which he would deny (underthe label of 'sociologism") to anyone like the sociologist. against traditionalliterarycriticism.goes back to the most classical analysis of "forms of classifications" so dearto Durkheimand Mauss. although welldone enough to arouse delicious shuddersof a bogus revolution. as in the case here.PIERRE BOURDIEU The of LET US BEGIN with Genesis Historical a Pure Aesthetic practice of these sciences.

. In things it exists in the form of an artistic field.through historical anamnesis. appears to the eye as immediatelyendowed with meaning and worth." Only if one were to mobilize all the resources of the social sciences would one be able to accomplish this kind of historicist actualization of the transcendentalproject which consists of reappropriating. the impartiality. in itself and for itself. Such an analysis is the only one capable of accounting simultaneously for the nature of the experience and for the of appearance universalitywhich it procuresfor those who live it. such as the early frequentingof museums and the prolongedexposure to schooling and to the skhole that it implies. the eye of the twentieth-century art lover is really a product of history. of exceptional conditions of acquisition. by taking as the subject of his reflection his own experience-the experience of a cultured person from a certain social milieu-but without focusing on the historicityof his reflection and the historicityof the object to which it is applied (and by considering it a pure experience of the work of art). All of this means that the analysis of essence which overlooks these conditions (thus universalizing the specific case). which is an immediate comprehension.Instead of Durkheim's saying "the unconscious is history. that is. From the angle of phylogenesis. as such. with all the aspects of singularitythat it appears to possess (and the feeling of uniqueness probablycontributesgreatly to its worth). the product of the entire historical operation of which consciousness too is (at every moment) the product.In minds. in things and in minds. Now this experience. normallytakenfor granted.. a relatively autonomous social universe which is the productof a slow process of constitution. etc. was invented. implicitly establishes as universal to all aestheticpracticesthe ratherparticular propertiesof an experiencewhich is the product of privilege. but ratherthat they all (with the possible exception of Wittgenstein) share the ambition of capturinga transhistoric or an ahistoric essence. when the eye is the productof the field to which it relates-then the field. When things and minds (or consciousness) are immediately in accord-in other words. unwittinglyestablishes this singular experience as a transhistorical norm for every aesthetic perception. beginning with the philosophers who subject it to their reflections unawareof its social conditions of possibility. capableof apprehendingthe work of art as it demands to be apprehended (i. to which they immediately adjustedthemselves. a special experience would be required. which is itself inseparable from the emergence of an autonomous artisticfield capable of formulatingand imposing its own ends against external demands.e. as form and not as function) is inseparablefrom of the appearance producersof artmotivatedby a pure artistic intention.were to arise at all. Whatis forgottenin self-reflective analysis is the fact thatalthoughappearingto be a gift from nature. From the side of ontogenesis the pure gaze is associated with very specific conditions of acquisition. by the analysis of essence. nor to the analysis of the language ordinarily used to express this experience (inasmuch as it too is the historical productof a process of dehistorization). naively. In the individual case this would include reappropriatingthe dispositions and classificationalschemes which are a necessary partof the aesthetic experience as it is described. it exists in the form of dispositions which were invented by the same movement through which the field." one could write "the a priori is history.6 of the work of art. with all the products that it offers.the gratuitousness. enjoys a kind of twofold existence. This is so clearly the case that if the extraordinary question of the source of the artwork's value. presupposes the analyst's understandingof himself-an understanding which can be submitted neither to simple phenomenological analysis of the lived experience (inasmuch as this experience rests on the active forgettingof the history of which it is a product). is itself an institution which is the product of historicalinventionand whose raisond'etre can be reassessed only throughan analysis which is itself properlyhistorical. form of The comprehensionof this particular relationshipwith the work of art. The pure thinker. the puregaze.202 BOURDIEU responses which philosophershave given to the question of the specificity of the work of art is not so much the fact that these divergent answers often concur in emphasizingthe absence of function. naively. What the ahistoricalanalysis of the work of art and of the aesthetic experience captures in reality is an institutionwhich.

The Genesis of the Artistic Field and the Inventionof the Pure Gaze Whatmakes the work of art a work of art and not a mundanething or a simple utensil? What makes an artist an artist and not a craftsmanor a Sunday painter? What makes a urinal or a wine rack that is exhibited in a museum a work of art? Is it the fact that they are signed by Duchamp. which produces the sacred by introducingdifference. But. on the contrary. or of theory'? (Theory is a particularlyapt word because we are dealing with seeing-theorein-and of making others see. one must also remember immediately that this is possible only to the extent thatthe aesthetehimself is the productof This circle. is sharedby every institutionwhich can function only if it is institutedsimultaneouslywithin the objectivity of a social game and within the dispositions which induce interest and participationin the game. it is throughthe competition among the agents with vested interestsin the game that the field reproducesendlessly the interestin the game and the faith in the value of the stakes.The Historical Genesis of a Pure Aesthetic one which would be quite exceptional for a cultured person. . quite ordinary for all those who have not had the opportunity to acquire the dispositions which are objectively requiredby by the work of art. then isn't this simply a matterof replacing the work-of-art-as-fetish with the "fetish of the name of the master"? Who. The experience of the work of art as being immediately endowed with meaning and value is a result of the accord between the two mutuallyfounded aspects of the same historical institution:the culturedhabitus8and the artistic field. the question of the meaningand the value of the work of art. even though it would be. (namely as a symbolic object endowed with by meaning and value) only if it is apprehended spectators possessing the disposition and the aesthetic competence which are tacitly required. This is demonstrated empirical researchand is also suggestedby Danto. a history which is linked to a sociology of the conditions of the establishment of the specific aesthetic disposition (or attitude)that the field calls for in each one of its states. ex instituto as Leibniz would have said.9 is one of belief and of the sacred. or of naming. it all goes without saying. sustaining itself throughthe informedplayer's investmentin the game. of the imposition of the value created by the field through an exhibit in a place which is both consecratedand consecrating. what constitutes the stakes in quarrelsof attribution and the authorityof the expert?Where is one to locate the ultimate principle of the effect of labeling. one could then say that it is the aesthete's eye which constitutesthe work of art as a work of art. The artisticfield.) Where does this ultimateprinciple. Museums could bear the inscription: Entryfor art lovers only. createsthe aesthetic disposition without which it could not function. like the signatureof the fashion designer. The game makes the illusio. Specifically.7 Following a visit to an exhibit of Warhol's Brillo Boxes at the Stable Gallery. The player. can be resolved only within a social history of the field. But there clearly is no need for such a sign. Given that the work of art exists as such. in other words. along with all the great problems of philosophical aesthetics. Danto discovered the arbitrarycharacter. a recognized artist (recognized first and foremost as an artist) and not by a wine merchantor a plumber? If the answer is yes. created the "creator" as a recognized and known producerof fetishes? And what confers its magical or. increases the value of the object upon which it is affixed? That is. if one prefers. In orderto illustratethe operationof this collective endeavor and give an idea of the 203 numerousacts of delegation of symbolic power and of voluntaryor forced recognition through which this reservoir of credit (upon which the creatorsof fetishes draw) is engendered. which a long exposureto artworks. II. a name whose very celebrity is the measure of his claim to exist as an artistand which. mindfulof the game's meaning and having been created for the game because he was created by it. it will suffice to recall the relationship among the various avant-garde critics who anoint themselves critics by consecrating works whose sacred value is barely perceived by culturedart lovers or even by the critic's most advanced rivals. for example. like the question of the specificity of aesthetic judgment. by its very functioning. In short. its ontological effectiveness upon his name. plays the game and by playing it assures its existence.

Unable to question all that is implicitly involved in the the modem notion of artist. It is not only a matter of exorcizing what Benjamincalled the "fetish of the name of the master" in a simple sacrilegious and slightly childish inversion-and whether one wishes it or not. he pondered the principle of magic's effectiveness.). in his Theory of Magic. art historians.which are irreducibleto those in common use and which are capableof imposing a specific measureof the value of the artistand of his products.This would yield not only an inventory of the artist's indices of autonomy (such as those revealed throughthe analysis of contracts. namely the artist (or elsewhere the writer. such as the emergence of the entire set of the specific institutionswhich are a necessary condition for the functioning of the economy of culturalgoods. all of whom are endowed with the dispositions objectively required by the field and the specific categories of perceptionand of appreciation. and thereforedated. categories.As long as paintingis measured by surface units and durationof production. or affirmationsof the artist's specific competence. the value of the work of art is endlessly producedand reproduced. one must make a similar stop. are the product of a slow and long historical process. the presence of a signature.reside? Such questions are quite similar in type to those raised by Mauss when.or by the quantityand price of the materialsused . etc. the artistic field. in order to consider the field of productionof BOURDIEU which the artist (socially instituted as a "creator") is the product.). and from there to the belief held by his followers. words.) and the techniques. These include:places of exhibit (galleries. one must replace the ontological questionwith the historicalquestion of the genesis of the universe. within which. and separation." as well as the words which designate and constitutethem. critics. the philosopher.). And in order to explain this sort of miracleof transubstantiation (which is at the very source of the artwork's existence. mannerisms. in the infinite regress in search of the primarycause and ultimate foundation of the artwork's value. salons. the name of the masteris indeed a fetish. In other words it is a matterof constituting the artistic field (which includes art analysts. institutionsof consecrationor sanction (academies. Likewise. the scholar). or the recourse in case of a dispute to the arbitration peers.204 division. is brutally recalled through strokes of genius a la Duchamp). and concepts (genre. etc.periof ods. The philosopher's analysis of essence only records the product of the real analysis of essence which history itself performs objectively. that he had to confrontthe entire social universe in whose midst magic evolves and is practiced. and unable to make a break with the apparent subject. Art historians themselves do not completely escape the trapof "essentialist thought" which is inscribed in the usage-always haunted by anachronism-of historically invented. museums.) which are characteristic this universe are invented. etc. etc. little by little. thatis. althoughcommonly forgotten. and specialized agents (dealers. Certain notions which have become as banal and as obvious as the notion of artist or of "creator. It is a question of describingthe gradualemergence of the entire set of social conditions which make possible the characterof the artist as a producerof the fetish which is the work of art. througha veritablecontinuous creation. critics. collectors. curators. etc. History does this throughthe process of autonomization within which and through which the artistic field is gradually instituted and in which the agents (artists.). instancesof reproduction producersand conof sumers (art schools. in particular professional ideology of the uncreated "creator" which was developed during the nineteenth century. beginning with art historians. He discovered. historians. etc. but also an inventory by of the signs of the autonomyof the field itself. and historiansare not able to replacethe ritualisticinquiryconcerning the place and the moment of the appearanceof the characterof the artist (as opposed to the craftsman)with the question of the economical and social conditions underlyingthe establishment of an artisticfield foundedupon the belief in the quasi-magical powers attributedto the modem artistin the most advancedstates of the field. and found that he had to move back from the instrumentsused by the sorcerer to the sorcerer himself. even the most critical among them) as the locus where the faith in the value of art and in the artist'spower of valuablecreationis continuallyproducedand reproduced. etc. styles.).

the criteria of perceptionand appreciationfor their products. collectors. as the field is constituted as such. at least for a time and until they become a hindranceto this. are characterized (as Wittgenstein has observed) by the most extreme indeterminacy.That is why. in fact. Yet.) Thus. Among these are the producersof works classified as artistic (great or minor. refined or crude. realist. among all the inventions which accompany the emergence of the field of production.The Historical Genesis of a Pure Aesthetic (gold or ultramarine).) which structurethe expression and the experience of the work of art. despite that. to produce. through which is established an autonomous definition of properly artistic value irreducible to the strictly economical value and also a way of speaking about painting itself.notablythe biography. By the same logic. symbolist. Due to the fact that they are inscribedin ordinarylanguage and that they are generally used beyond the aesthetic sphere. from it. This involves first establishing a way of naming the painter. in short. drama. worthy of historical account. naturalist). with forms (ballad." In short. etc. which is affected by the image of themselves and their production that comes back to them through the eyes of other agents engaged in the field--other artists. then one can understandwhy the concepts used to consider works of art and particularly their classifications. the logic of the field. with periods or styles (Gothic. who live for art and. That is the case with genres (tragedy. the individual style of the painter whose existence it socially constitutes by naming it. of speaking about him and about the nature of his work as well of the mode of remunerationfor his work. points of view of their users-points of view which are quite often perfectly irreconcilable. using appropriatewords (often pairs of adjectives) which enable one to speak of pictorialart. If such is. light or heavy. the discourseof celebration. clients. rondeau. famous or unknown). comedy. (It is known that ennobling comparisons-ut pictura poesis-contribute to the affirmationof the irreducibilityof pictorial art. it becomes clear thatthe "subject" of the production of the artwork-of its value but also of its meaning-is not the producer who actually 205 creates the object in its materiality. or sonata). if one can always argue about taste (and everyone knows that confrontations regarding preferences play an importantrole in daily conversation) then it is certain that . historically and socially situated. sonnet. but rather the entire set of agents engaged in the field. (One can assume. one of the most significant is probably the elaboration of an artistic language. or the novel). or classical). middlemen. Such a sociology should also take into account the way in which the artists' image of themselves and the image that they have of their productionand through this also their production itself. such terms always remain marked-even when used by professionals-by an extreme vagueness and flexibility which (as has been noted again by Wittgenstein). all who have ties with art. to varying degrees.) A genetic sociology should also include in its model the action of the producers themselves and their claim to the right to be the sole judges of pictorial production. baroque. makes them completely resistant to essentialist definition. that is. of pictorial techniques. collectors. that the interest in sketches and cartoons shown by certain collectors since the has quattrocento only helped to contributeto the artist's exalted view of his own worth. participate in the production of the value of the artist and of art. etc. and who confront each other in struggles where the imposition of not only a world view but also of a vision of the artworld is at stake. themselves. critics of all persuasions(who themselves are established within the field).One can also understandwhy confusion does not diminish when it comes to concepts used to characterizethe work of art itself and the terms used to perceive and to appreciate it (such as the pairs of adjectives beautiful or ugly. the manifattura. curators. or with movements (impressionist. also plays a determiningrole.'0 This is probably because the use that is made of these terms and the meaning that is given to them depend upon the specific. for example. but also critics.the artist-painteris not radicallydifferentfrom a house painter. and who. these categories of judgments of taste which are common to all speakers of a shared language do allow an apparentform of communication. This is probably due less to what it says aboutthe painterand his work than to the fact that the biographyestablishes the artist as a memorable character.. through these struggles. much like statesmen and poets.

at times diametrically opposed. for instance. they become the subject of usages which are themselves socially markedby the social position of the users who exercise the constitutivedispositions of their habitus in the aesthetic choices these categories make possible.'3 "Essentialist thought" is at work in every social universe and especially in the field of cultural production-the religious. holding opposing positions within a social space. although unduly so (that is. Of all the methods of entering such struggles-which BOURDIEU must be apprehendedas such from the outside in orderto objectivize them-the most tempting is and the most irreproachable undoubtedlythat of presentingoneself as a judge or referee. precisely so because the commonplaces which make communication possible are the same ones that make it practically ineffective. to which other speakers assign. If there is a truth. it is that truthis a stake in the struggle. But in that case it is quite evident that "essences" are norms. The notion of "finite" is one example. Linked to a situated and dated social universe. notably statistical ones. of decreeing (throughdecias sions as innocentin appearance the inclusion or exclusion of so-and-so from a corpus or list of producers)who is an artist and who is not. which one is able to establish apropos a universe depends on the validity of the category aproposof which these conclusions were drawn. meanings to the terms that they oppose. The majority of notions which artists and critics use to define themselves or to define their adversariesare indeed weapons and stakes in the battle. what realism really is. and many of the categories which art historiansdeploy in order to treat their subject are nothing more than skillfully masked or transfigured indigenous categories. they nevertheless are formulatedin the name of a claim to universality-to absolute judgment-which is the very negation of the relativity of points of view. quite simply. It is most frequently excluded from "bourgeois" taste. is. This last decision.-where games in which the universal is at stake are being played out.12 Situatedwithin the historicdimension. Thus the categorieswhich are used in orderto perceive and appreciate the work of art are doubly bound to the historical context. probably because it embodies the taste of the petitbourgeois. to be able to give totally opposing meaningsand values to adjectiveswhich are commonly used to describe works of art or mundaneobjects.and academic theses confer an air of eternity. That is precisely what Austin was recalling when he analyzed the implicationsof the adjective "real" in expressions such as a "real" man. in a manner not "really" justified) this same predicate. one could go on drawing endless lists of notions which. (Our term "categories" stems from the Greek kathegoresthaimeaning to accuse publicly. The users of these topics each give different. The example of the adjective "'soigne" comes to mind. Thus it is possible for individuals.a predicatewhich like all claims to universality is symbolically very powerful. this notion later found itself banished from art by Manet and by the impressionists. and legal fields. Such a method involves settling conflicts which in reality are not settled. a "real" artist or a "real" masterpiece. always and everywhere.) These combativeconcepts gradually become technical categorems upon which-by grace of the amnesia of genesiscritical dissections. all the more crucial. etc. for all its apparentpositivistic innocence. beginning with the idea of beauty. And although the divergent or antagonisticclassifications or judgments made by the agents engaged in the artistic field are certainly determined or directed by specific dispositions and interests linked to a given position in the field. "real" courage or.In all of these examples. the word "real" implicitly contraststhe case under consideration to all other cases in the same category. or even. in fact. have taken on different. and giving oneself the satisfactionof pronouncingverdicts-of declaring. as is the case here. because one of the majorstakes in these artistic struggles. . Having condensed into one the closely linked ethical and aesthetic ideals of academic painting. is the question of the legitimatebelonging to a field (which is the question of the limits of the world of art) and also because the validity of the conclusions.206 comunicationin these matterstakes place only That is with a high degree of misunderstanding. dissertations. initially conceived for the most part as insults or condemnations. even radically opposed meanings in the course of various periodsor as a resultof artisticrevolutions. scientific.

and the space of the positions held in the field. have defended an art subordinatedto 207 moral values and didactic functions). the pure gaze (a necessary correlateof pure painting) is a result of a process of purification. as one may think. one could maintain that affirmation of the autonomy of the principles of production and evaluation of the artwork is inseparablefrom the affirmationof the autonomy of the producer. with its categories. is able to affirm his mastery over that which defines him and which properlybelongs to him. by each potential consumer of the work of art. the art. . and colors-and not as a discourse. offers the only real chance of escaping history. In more general terms. in order to be convinced that nothing is less naturalthan the disposition to adopt toward an artwork. the historizationof the forms of thought which we apply to the historicalobject. and the victories are determined.a returnwhich leads them to draw from it the field's own proper principle and specific presuppositions. to the most specifically poetic effects. in orderto reduce itself little by little. now in a position to rebuff every external constraintor demand. and psychology). until the end of the nineteenth century. a true analysis of essence carriedout by history. all of which claim universality.and just as they are inseparable from the historical conditions which set them in motion. always lead the new avant-garde to challenge orthodoxy-in the name of a returnto the rigor of beginningswith a purer definition of the genre. 4 Far from leading to a historical relativism. It suffices either to observe the aesthetic attitude's distributionthroughouthistory (with those critics who. metaphor). independentlyfrom all references to transcendentmeanings. as Zola wrote apropos Manet. or instead observe it within society today. historicizing them not only means. if ever so little. thus institutedas the exclusive aim of art. it also means restoring to them their necessity by removing them from indeterminancy (which stems from a false eternalization) in order to bringthem back to the social conditions of their genesis. a truly generative definition. This is firstly because the artist. Just as the oppositions which structureaesthetic perceptionare not given a priori. concepts and instruments of analysis. relativizing them by recalling that they have meaning solely through reference to a determined state of the field of battle. the evolution of the different fields of cultural productiontoward a greater autonomy is accompanied by a sort of reflective and critical return by the producers upon theirown production. and which may be the product of that object. and taxonomies). Science can attempt to bring representations and instrumentsof thought-all of which lay claim to universality with unequal chances at success-back to the social conditions of their production and of their use. through a specific apprenticeship. as they do in the religious field. a productwhich must be reproduced. The invention of the pure gaze is realized in the very movement of the field toward autonomy. values. the field of production. so it is with the aesthetic attitude. But. effusion. following a kind of historical analysis. toward any object. According to the methodological postulate (which is constantly validatedby empirical analysis) of the homology between the space of the positions taken (literaryor artistic forms. Alexandrine). is a product of the entire historyof the field. but are historically produced and reproduced.). contents and sentiments to be banished (lyricism. The aesthetic attitude. in a word. without recalling here the entire demonstration. concepts. in other words. is meant to be beheld in itself and for itself as a painting-as a play of forms. which establishes as works of art objects socially designated for its use and application (simultaneously extending its activity to aesthetic competence. the sort of pure aesthetic posture described by essentialist analysis. One has thus observed poetry purify itself of all its accessory properties: forms to be destroyed (sonnet. that is. that is. and more so. the camps. in the course of successive revolutions which. rhetorical figures to be demolished (simile. etc. in other words. one is led to historicize these cultural products.The Historical Genesis of a Pure Aesthetic Science can do nothing but attemptto establish the truth of these struggles over the truth and while trying to capture the objective logic according to which the stakes. In fact. and all that. Like pure painting which. back to the historical structureof the field in which they are engendered and within which they operate. the strategies. like the break with phonosemantic parallelism. the technique. the form.

one must apply a shock treatment to him a la Duchamp or a la Warhol. capable of being applied not only (throughsimple inversion) to lowly and vulgar objects as was the aim of Champfleury'sand Courbet's realism. and canonized by an entire body of professionalexpertsin conservation and celebration. by exhibiting the ordinaryobject as it is. the time of art history is really irreversibleand that it presentsa form of cumulativeness. like production. Attributionof artistic status is. And yet. with tradition. in orderto awaken today's aesthete whose artistic good will knows no limit. The second reason for this introspectiveand criticalreturnof artunto itself is the fact that. What happens in the field is more and more linked to the field's specific history and to it alone. at the risk of appearing to be "naive" (in the manner of Rousseau or of Brisset) must inevitably situate themselves in relationto all the precedingattemptsat surpassing which have occurred in the history of the field and within the space of possibilities which it imposes upon the newly arrived. manage to prod in some way the creative almightiness that the pure aesthetic disposition (without much consideration)confers upon the artistas he has been defined since Manet. The result is that. Adequate perception of works-which like Warhol's Brillo Boxes or Klein's monochromaticpaintings. both contemporaryand past. lays down the autonomy of form in relation to subject matter. as could be proven empirically. "Ecrire bien le mediocre. a pebble. can be the subjectof a work of art. contraryto what is taughtby a naive relativism. including subversive intention-itself linked to a state of the field-than avant-garde artists who. and to re-evoke in him artisticand even philosophicalwonder. It is therefore more and more difficult to deduce it from the state of the general social world at the given time (as a certain "sociology. exegists. an expert in the art of confounding the new aesthetic doxa. and yet more and more totally dehistoricized. In effect.owe theirformalpropertiesand their value only to the structureof the field and thus to its history-is a differential. the history that deciphering and appreciation practically put into play is gradually reduced to a pure history of forms. This also resolves the apparently insoluble problemthat formalistaesthetics (which wishes to consideronly form in the receptionas well as the productionof art) presents as a true challenge to sociological analysis. as the field closes upon itself. recorded. The resultis that.15 Who does not know. that it is wise to say that such is the case. The same is true of a philosophical aesthetics which records and ratifies this ambition. it is attentive to deviations from other works.which also holds for Manet. it suffices to note that the formalist ambition's objection to all types of historicizationrests upon the unawareness of its own social conditions of possibility. thereis no culturedpersontoday (which means. at the very least. simultaneouslyassigning its fundamental norm to cultured perception. along with literary and art historians. the most generally accepted definition of aestheticjudgment. as an avant-gardepainter. among philosophers. What is forgotten in both cases is the historical process throughwhich the social conditions of .Nothing is more closely linked to the specific past of the field. tends to become historical through and through. in orderto reverse the situation. the practicalmastery of the specific knowledge-which is inscribed in past works. a rope. by scholastic canons. the conscious and radical affirmationof the almightiness of the creative gaze. codified. made me observe. no one possessing advanced academic degrees) who does not know that any reality. the consumptionof works which are a product of a long history of breaks with history. and. In fact. claims to do). and analystsbecomes a part of the conditions of access into the field of production. and to frustrateor discredit all attempts at reducing them to a social context against which they were set up." unaware of the specific logic of the field. but also to insignificant objects before which the "creator" is able to assert his quasi-divine power of transmutation. In fact. the works that stem from a pure concern for form seem destinedto establishthe exclusive validity of internal reading which heeds only formal properties.208 BOURDIEU Flaubertin the domain of writing and Manet in paintingare probablythe first to have attempted to impose. who." This Flaubertian formula. a rag peddler. completely eclipsing the social history of the struggles for forms which is the life and movement of the artistic field.a diacritical perception: in other words. at the cost of real subjective and objective difficulties.

Bourdieu. Bourdieu and A. See also Danto. etc. For example.The Historical Genesis of a Pure Aesthetic freedom from regard to "external determinations" get established. 9 Sociological analysis allows one to escape the dichotomouschoice between subjectivismand objectivism. "Postscript: Towards a 'Vulgar' Critique of 'Pure Critiques'. which the lack of minimal mastery of the instrumentsof perception and of appreciation(in particularlabels and references like names of genres. 1-8." Revue internationaledes sciences sociales 20. Les musees d'art europeens et leur public (Paris." in Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales 40 [November 1981]: 51-73. 178-88). Thus. Montefiore." 209 8 The concept of habitus. then the opposition between the center and the periphery which is used to analyze the effects of symbolic dominationbecomes a stake in the struggle within the field that is being analyzed." in A.. 1977). 19741. see P. by way of denial. P. 194. and their effort to convert a peripheralposition into a central one or at least to make of it a willed gap. and indifference towards the existence of the object. even confusion. an attitudewhich. 'Wittgenstein and Critical Reasoning. for example. pp. see "Aesthetic Appraisaland Worksof Art. Bourdieu. artists. One could in fact posit that two people whose habitus are different and who have not been . (I am thinking. Such an example is Harold Osborne." Especially since even the most neutrallanguage appearsinevitably-as soon as naive readingmakes it a part of the social game-as a standwithin the very debate which he is only trying to objectify. (See E. "L'ontologie politique de Martin Heidegger. the philosopher distances himself less than he imagines from ordinarymodes of thinking and from the propensitytoward making the relative absolute which typifies them. with a more neutral concept such as periphery. but without forfeiting them. L'Amour de tart. p. 10 See R. as does the Gadamerof Truthand Method. as it confronts the thing. apropos an analysis by Derridaof Kant's Critique of Judgment." Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (1986): 91-1 10. of schools. 494-98. and to generate acceptance for them. Shusterman. G. (See P. 4 (1968): 640-64. "Domination symbolique et geographic artistique dans I'histoire del'italian art. impartiality detachment (it separates past and future preoccupations). even if one replaced an indigenous word such as 'province. modes of thinking which are typical of a genetic sociology. the process of establishing the relatively autonomousfield of production and with it the realm of pure aesthetics or pure thought whose existence it makes possible. Castelnuovo and C. for whom the aesthetic attitudeis typified by the of following: a concentration attention(it separates-frames apart-the perceived object from its environment). See H. Distinction. 1 A. no. 1984]. 7On the disconcertment.) visits upon the culturally deprived museum-goers. is actually neithertheoreticalnor practicalbut ratherpurely contemplative. by suspendingdiscursive and analyticalactivities (it disregards and sociological and historicalcontext). of the notion of genealogy functioning as a euphemistic substitute for social history. in proposing an essentialist definition of the judgment of taste or in grantingthe universality requiredby a definition which (like Kant's definition) is in accord with his own ethic-behavioral dispositions. Ginsburg. one could simply recall an ideally typical example of the essentialist constitutionof the aesthetic throughan enumeration of the traits which characterizean aesthetic experience. how Nietzsche furnishedFoucaultwith "screening" concepts. a dispositional "structured structuringstructure" is elaborated at great length in P. 1970). Osborne.) 12 See Bourdieu. "The Artworld. how and why "deconstruction" goes only halfway. and in Distinction. ed.) These concepts have allowed Foucaultto accept. 2 See Pierre Bourdieu. 'The Artworld. into an ontology of the work of art. The example of Avignon illustratesthe fact that the artist cannot produce himself as such-here as an alternativecapable of effectively competing for the dominant position-unless he does so in relationship with his clients." Journal of Philosophy 61 (1964): 571-84. following the same logic. Sociological analysis rejects these theories without falling. Bourdieu. pp. Barbel. and on the other hand the resistance of the "peripherists" against their lowered status implied in this classification. 13 In other words. "The Philosophical Establishment." a word which is too charged with pejorative connotations.) 6 Without calling forth all the definitions which are merely variants of Kantian analysis (such as Strawson's view that the function of the work of art is to have no function. which is nevertheless very clearly situated within social space and historicaltime. and to reject the subjectivism of theories of aesthetic consciousness (aesthetisches Bewusstsein). ' One should show. one could claim that sociological analysis does not in fact reduce and relativize these practices. Art and the Aesthetic (Cornell University Press. of periods. for example. 1974). but rather removes them from arbitrariness and absolutizes them by makingthem both necessaryand uniqueand thusjustified in existing as they exist. Philosophy in France Today (CambridgeUniversity Press. on the one hand there is the wish of the "centrists" to describethe positions taken by those who occupy the peripheralsites as an effect of a delay.1976]). 1966). TheArt of Appreciation(OxfordUniversityPress. 14 Contrary to the dominant representation which claims that by relating each manifestation of taste to its social conditions of production sociological analysis reduces and relativizes the practices and representations involved.that is. Danto. Dickie." in Distinction [Harvard University Press. Bourdieu. 5 I have demonstratedelsewhere. Such theories reducethe aestheticquality of a naturalthing or of a human work to a simple correlate of a deliberate attitude of consciousness. He thus renounces the plebian methods of the social sciences. 1983). Outline of a Theory of Practice (Cambridge University Press. " An acute awareness of the situation in which he is positioned could lead the analyst to ratherinsurmountable "aporia ." in Freedomand Resentment[London. "Elements d'une theorie sociologique de la perception artistique. 3 See P.pp." Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales 5-6 (November 1975): 183-90 (and Die politische Ontologie Martin Heideggers [Frankfort.

The author and guest editor gratefully acknowledge ChannaNewman's work in translatingthis text. arrive at the same judgment of value. therefore. Distinction. 15 BOURDIEU See Bourdieu.210 exposed to the same conditions and stimulations(because they constructthem differently)do not hear the same music and do not see the same paintings and cannot. pp. . 34-41.