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  • Writer's pictureRobyn Norrah

Expression of Identity

An argumentation on art versus the artist. Written for PHI 103: Principles of Sound Reasoning with Professor Watson at Arizona State University on June 24th, 2022. Final Grade: A.


Artwork by Micheal Reeder

1. Introduction

There are many aspects of humanity that separate it from other species on Earth. But there is nothing quite as distinct as human expression. Whether emoting through physical communication, written language, art, or dance, the capacity and breadth of feeling can be both complex and passionate. The result of such capacity can be profound or trivial to our world, but it cannot even begin to make an impact without our unique ability to translate and position our internal emotions into the public domain. Although it may be tempting to believe that artists should be removed from their art because art originates from the natural world, in this paper I will argue that artists should not be removed from their art because art is not public domain. First, I will give background to this thesis, then I will present my argument, followed by explaining my premises and finally defending against possible objections.


2. Background

Humanity has an incredible history using the physical world to relay ones own inner world. From primitive peoples etchings along caves, to sculpted granite resembling mythological musings and imaginations, humans have exerted themselves as creators in their own right. These expressions mark more than a level of intelligence or creativity, they are a mark of the artist’s individuality, something which makes them separate from the plurality of a public domain. Our independent thoughts and perceptions of the world, form something distinctly unique from what others around us may experience. When asserting this reflection into the physical world through expressive means, such as art, we are relaying a sense of our own self and identity into a public domain. Within this dimension, our identity can be questioned and judged, just as it may be without pulling ourselves into a form of art. But this is the nature of art and the nature of being an artist; being and originating of private domain to be relayed in the public domain. No amount of praise or scrutiny on a piece of art or even on an artist can detour from the fact that art is of the artist. They cannot truly be separate, for one cannot exist without the other.


3. Argument

My argument that artists should not be removed from their art is as follows:

1. If artists should be removed from their art, then art is public domain. (Basic)

2. Art is not public domain. (Basic)

C. Artists should not be removed from their art. (1, 2 MT)

4. Validity

I will now show that this argument is unquestionably valid.

Dictionary:

A = Artists should be removed from their art.

P = Art is public domain.


Symbolized Argument:

1. A => P (Basic)

2. ~P (Basic)

C. ~A (1, 2 MT)

Truth Table:




5. Explanation of Premises

My first basic premise states that if artists should be removed from their art, then art is public domain. As, if anything is of the public domain, it should not be assigned to specific individual, ie. the artist. It is logical to assume that this is true because, by definition, an artist is a singular person, whereas the public domain would consist of all peoples within the context of some public, such as a society, country, or planet.

My second basic premise asserts that art is not public domain as it is evident that art belongs to its creator, the individual or the artist. Without the artist to adapt their emotions, perceptions, and identity through whatever medium, the expression of art would have never been formed. Without the creator, there is simply nothing to assign even to a public domain. Art may seem to be a public domain by its ability to express aspects of what we view in this domain (commerce, social change) or in its power to produce pleasure, pain, grief, happiness, arousal, controversy, criticism, laughter, etc. in people of the public domain. But these effects are do to its being of cause. Art could not hold this ability if it were not for the mind, mastery, and intention of the artist which was able to bring these reactions about through their work.


6. Defense of Most Controversial Premise

My most controversial premise of those above is that art is not public domain. Because this is highly controversial, I will further defend this using the following sub-argument:

1. If art is public domain, then art is not private domain. (Basic)

2. Art is private domain. (Basic)

C. Therefore, art is not public domain. (1, 2 DS)Dictionary:

R = Art is private domain.

P = Art is public domain.


Symbolized Argument:

1. P => ~R (Basic)

2. R (Basic)

C. ~P (1, 2 MT)


Truth Table:



7. Objections

The most likely objection to my argument is that artists should be removed from their art because art is of a public domain. When viewing art as a product of a creator, it is possible that we are overlooking what art really is or could be if it were to stand alone and separate from the artist. In associating the artist's identity with the identity of art, one is to assume that art has similar origins to the identity of the individual, which is immensely impacted by the physical world. Where, the same argument that a creator deserves ownership of what they have created could stand in relation to the public domain and an artist, thereby encompassing the artist's art. In this way, there is nothing that does not belong to the public domain.


In response to this objection, I would reply that artists should not be removed from their art because the art is public domain, in the above reason, is indirect. Directly, artists produce their work. Everything is of the physical world, and it is no denying that everything is then in some sense of public domain. However, there are aspects of our independent experiences that do not openly involve the physical world, such as thoughts and dreams. Art allows for these private experiences to live through physical means, thereby opening them up to being in the public domain. They may have been inspired, influenced, or created with the aid of physical properties of the public domain but they express a private domain and are founded by that domain. Thus being of a private domain.

As an objection to my second premise in my sub-argument, my opponent might object by claiming that art is not private domain. Beyond it being from or of a public domain, art, when treated as ‘private domain’ is really just to say that it is treated as capital. In these instances, it is not art, it is a product. If art is said to be an expression, this identity seems to be set for sale and consumption by those of public domain. The only thing that this aspect protects are the right to control how it is distributed and interpreted. Assigning an artist to art allows for this narrative to be manipulated because, more often than not, the artist's historical background plays into the story that the art is supposed to sell. In this way, the arts relationship to the artist also expresses how the artist is just as much of a product as it is, being used for some narrative in its dissemination to the public. Private, in this case, alludes to whoever is governing the dominant messaging that both artist and art are transferring in some space and time. In neither occurrence does art or the artist exclusively hold in the private sense, to themselves or in their own, by ownership or creation.

In response to this objection, I would reply that even in these nuances of art holding in some aspect of private domain or public domain, the fact that art is private domain is not negated. Whether or not some private authority works to control a public opinion does not prove that it does, in fact, control the totality of a public opinion. Every individual, in their own right, has the potential and ability to form their own interpretations and conceptions of themselves, others, and the world. No amount of judgment of art can remove the truth of its essence in the private dominion from it. The relationship between the artist and their art will always hold, despite convolutions of the public, even in such private matters of commerce.

8. Conclusion

In conclusion, artists should not be removed from their art because art is not public domain. Using the sense that a public domain refers to commerce, distracts from the fact that there is an undeniable link between an artist and their art, which solely originates from the artists private domain. No matter how an artist arrives at their inspiration for their work, their creations are necessarily theirs and born from their minds alone. There may be examples of influences that naturally impact us all, but ultimately, individuals are as such: individual. And our expressions express that fact.


Works Cited


“Artist Definition and Meaning.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster. Accessed June 28, 2022. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/artist.


Colier, Nancy. “Why Your Thoughts Are Not Real.” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers. Accessed June 28, 2022. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/inviting-monkey-tea/201308/why-your-thoughts-are-not-real.


Daniel, James Rushing. “Art and Capital Have Become Nearly Indistinguishable.” Jacobin.


“History of Art.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, June 23, 2022. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_art.


“How Does Art Influence Society?” Reference. IAC Publishing. Accessed June 28, 2022. https://www.reference.com/world-view/art-influence-society-466abce706f18fd0.


Lydiate, Henry. “Reputation: Art & Artists.” Artquest. Accessed June 28, 2022. https://artquest.org.uk/artlaw-article/reputation-art-artists/.


“What Is the Artist's Role in Society?” Artwork Archive. Accessed June 28, 2022. https://www.artworkarchive.com/blog/what-is-the-artist-s-role-in-society.


Wolchover, Natalie. “What Distinguishes Humans from Other Animals?” LiveScience. Purch,

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