If a team of monkeys with typewriters accidentally typed a coherent and beautiful sonnet (one that appeared to be written by a talented author, despite being written by a shiftless monkey), would that qualify as art (or at least worthwhile literature)?

If Olla Fritzharold were to give a scat-singing performance whose syllables accidentally added up to something that sounded just like calling one of the audience members a shiftless monkey in his own native language, would that qualify as an insult?

No. There's nothing like the relevant intention anywhere in the ballpark (or the auditorium.) Art and insults aren't the same thing, but it's part of the conventions that go with what counts as art that typically, at least, there had to be some sort of relevant intention behind the object.

Of course, this isn't airtight. After all, there's such a thing as "found art," and then there's Duchamp's famous "Fountain," which was a factory-made urinal. But in cases like these, there's a good case for saying that what makes the thing art as opposed to merely an interesting(?) object is the fact that someone who stands in the right relation to the "Artworld" declares it to be art. And so we still have an art-relevant intention.

The larger point is that "art" isn't a natural kind. (Good thing; artifacts are supposed to stand in contrast to natural kinds.) The fact that there is art as opposed to various objects that provoke certain reactions in us rests on the fact that there is a complicated set of practices, institutions and so on that we call the artworld. The classic statement of this idea is in the work of Arthur Danto. The detailed account is in The Transfiguration of the Commonplace.

What this means is that there's no natural fact, so to speak, about whether the "sonnet" by your shiftless monkey (I'm assuming he types entirely in lower-case...) is a work of art. Close enough for poetry, it would be a work of art if "the artworld" treated it as such.

(By the way: I somehow misread your first sentence on first glance, and took it to be asking if a team of donkeys with typewriters might accidentally make a work of art. The answer would be the same, but the donkeys would have a much harder time working the keys.)

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