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Are video games art? Many people claim that it's not, but video games seem very similar to story telling mediums such as film and literature, the only difference is that in some games, the player decides the story.

I take it the question ought to mean: Could a video game be the sort of thing to which it would be appropriate to respond as art? If that's the question, then I'd suppose the answer has to be "yes". Art imposes no restriction on its medium. Of course, this is a very different question from whether any actual video game is art. I rather doubt that. That said, however, it's not at all clear what we might mean by "art" here. There term often seems to be used as an honorific. People thus often seem to be concerned about whether rock music might be "art". If it can be, that seems somehow to legitimize it. One point the philosopher Ted Gracik nicely makes in some of his books on the aesthetics of rock is that this just isn't a very good question. A better question is whether (some) rock music might be a suitable object of aesthetic response and evaluation, and, I would add, how deep one's aesthetic engagement with it can be. Similar questions could of course be asked about video games.

Why are Picasso paintings so important? How can I appreciate the importance of Picasso paintings? Honestly, when I look at them I think that they are interesting but I never get the impression that they are produced by a genius. If understanding Picasso's paintings (and art in general) needs training (knowing Picasso's life, knowing the context in which the paintings are created, knowing Picasso's intentions, knowing the traditions in painting, etc.) why are they exhibiting art works to the public? Quine's "Two Dogmas of Empiricism" is one of the best and most influential articles in the history of analytic philosophy but nobody expects non-philosophers to appreciate its importance. There are no Quine exhibitions. Thanks.

I'm no expert on art, just someone who enjoys it, but I certainly would agree with you that Picasso can be hard to understand. Most of his painting (and sculpture) isn't what one would describe as "beautiful", though there are paintings of his that are beautiful: For example, "Child with a Dove" (see it here ). But what's beautiful about paintings like this one, to my mind, is what they convey emotionally and less anything to do with sheer physical beauty. And one finds a similar sort of emotional intensity in many of Picasso's other works. His portrait of Gertrude Stein ( here ) is just brilliant. Now, to be sure, Picasso's later works can be more challenging. It can be very hard even to see what's happening in paintings like "The Guitar Player" ( here ) or "Afficionado" ( here ). And, in this case, I think it can help a great deal, as one tries to learn how to see these paintings, to learn something about the aesthetic that lies behind them. Picasso did not decide to paint in the ways he...

All spoken and written languages - current or extinct - have things they express poorly or can't express at all. Art can be used to fill in the gaps of the inexpressible. How many languages would a person need to know to express everything, and by being able to express everything, would they be more capable or less capable of art?

These new coffee beans I just got make very nice coffee. I could try to describe the difference in the taste, but I'm not much of a coffee expert. I'm sure there are people who could do a better job than I could, but, frankly, I don't find the descriptions I read on the bins all that helpful. I mean, I can see why someone would say that this particular roast had a hint of cinnamon, but that hardly captures it. Is there a thought here that cannot be put into words? That's quite unclear, but there does seem to be something here that it is difficult, maybe even impossible, to put into words, except, as John McDowell suggested, by saying simply: that taste. But that's not exactly what one had in mind. Suppose I've tried a lot of coffees, and I find that many of them seem similar to me in a certain hard to describe way. Coffees A, B, and C seem similar to one another in this respect; coffees D and E are similar in that respect, but not to A, B, and C; and coffee F is unique in that respect....

What - if any - is the difference between 'erotic art' and 'pornography'? Is it merely a value judgement?

This is not an easy question, obviously, and I'm hardly in a position to distinguish these carefully. But here is one thought. Pornography, in the relevant sense of the term, is designed to arouse. That is its primary purpose, without which it would neither be produced nor consumed. Art can arouse, and I don't myself see why arousal shouldn't be regarded as an appropriate part of one's aesthetic response to certain works of art. But art's purpose is never only to arouse. What other purposes art may have is itself a hard question, of course. But one function of art, in my own life, anyway, is to encourage me to see what is familiar in a new way. Erotic photography—Mapplethorpe's work is the obvious example—certainly can have that kind of effect. Of course, this way of gesturing at the distinction seems to put the burden upon the intentions of the artist, and that makes me uncomfortable. But I think there's something there, nonetheless.