Inspired by the text entitled The Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichotomy and Other Essays (2004) of Hilary Putnam, the volume focuses on the theory and practice of knowledge, but one can legitimately extend it to other fields, most especially in aesthetics. Certain observable features in the fields of aesthetics, practice and artistic creation show that old evaluation criteria may now be obsolete. This is because upon further consideration, the definition of value remains opaque : should the artwork be judged according to its moral value, its market value, or its formal value ? To side with or against the concept of value in art and aesthetics does not preclude a certain number of differences concerning the very nature of what is meant by value. If traditionally the ‘fact’ was the work, taken in all its tangibility, currently the materiality of the object no longer seems to play such a major role. Art is increasingly populated by so-called ‘immaterial’ or ‘ephemeral’ works and is therefore rarely, or badly, quantifiable according to old aesthetic and economic evaluation criteria. The progressively pragmatic contextualization of works within the social space puts forward a new definition of aesthetic value, no longer eternal and ideal, but rather anchored in the sensible and the politico-economic issues of a culturally specific situation. The current changes too support the idea that the question of ‘value’ and its confrontation with the concept of ‘fact’ is urgent. What role do artistic practices and aesthetic theories play ? A role of emancipation, of liberation, escape, or transformation ? Or on the contrary, could art become another means to subject individuals to the status quo ? As can easily be noticed, the question of maintaining or rejecting the dichotomy of facts and values is at the heart of the most pressing issues.
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