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Everything can be Construed as Art

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/15/2015 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 457 times Debate No: 80983
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (9)
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Resolution: I contend that everything/anything can be construed as art.


First round is acceptance.
Second round is arguments.
Third round will be rebuttals.
Fourth round is for answering to rebuttals and conclusion.


Definition of Art will not be given, as the very definition is what is being debated. No usage of dictionary will be allowed as an argument to define art. Also merely pleading to authority will not count as an actual argument unless supplemented by the debater's own reasoning and thought.

Requirements and Rules

Be respectful.
Refrain from forfeits, unless a personal situation arises, in which case Con may argue in the comment section for the round.
No trolls.

There are no other requirements.


I accept

Debate Round No. 1


Thank you, mostlogical, for accepting the debate.

I would first like to contend that art is a product of life. I say life and not humans, because I do not wish to exclude other animals the capacity for creating or experiencing art. I would like to note that there is a distinction between creation and experience, and that art is not exclusive to the former or the latter.

This distinction is important to note, as art in the case of the former is an artifact or craft that serves a purpose, be it aesthetic or practical, while in the case of the latter, art is not created by the agent experiencing it but still serves an artistic experience. An example would be a person deriving meaningful, aesthetic value from a painting or in nature itself. The question is then, what constitutes an artistic experience, and indeed, goes back to what art is in its essence.

What is essential for art to be art? I contend that it must have creative capacity for the agent to derive meaning. Art is an expression, it is a concept that lives within the mind. Science and mathematics are both arts in their own rights, but they have no objective existence outside the human conception and interpretation of the world. We cannot find numbers in physical form, numbers are just concepts and interpretations of what exists. I contend that art follows the same form. Without human beings, or living creatures with the capacity for art, art ceases to exist. The Mona Lisa cease to be a beautiful painting and becomes a piece of paper with paint on it. Thus, those with the capacity to experience art is essential for the existence of the art itself.

Herein lies my argument. I contend that art is subject to the mind's experience, not the hands that make it. To further illustrate this point, allow me to give a hypothetical example. Let us say that an artist crafts a statue, and people derive an artistic experience from it. Surely, we would qualify this statue as art? Let us then say that this same statue that people perceived was made by a man was in fact a product of nature. Would it at that moment cease to be art? Is then art maintained by the illusion that human beings crafted it?

To bring up an old cliche, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so I contend it is with art. At the heart of things, artifacts are merely manipulations of already existing, natural elements. What makes these elements suddenly becoming art is not that human beings have touched it but that human beings have the capacity to experience it as art. If there was a block of marble untouched by man, does it become art the moment man marks it with a chisel? Does the mere dent suddenly become art?

Art has no limits, and that is because the creative activity of making meaning or finding it is limitless as our imagination. Thus, anything/everything can be construed as art. Art is applied by the creative mind, and not the hands that sometimes does its bidding.

I look forward to my opponent's arguments.


Thanks for posting your views, I do agree with much you have said, e.g. art must mean something or give rise to feelings to be considered art, and I think it has to be interpreted by a living thing with a creative mind - the Mona Lisa would like you say just be a piece of paper with paint on if there were no life with the capacity for art.

If you look at the below picture, if this were a painting or drawing it would be considered art. However, the same image isn't art when it is a photograph.

An artist can paint absolutely anything on a piece of paper that we can see or imagine and it will be considered art even if it is a painting of vandalism. But once s/she starts to paint on something that doesn't belong or appear to belong to him or her e.g. a house or car, it will not be construed as art, instead it will be interpreted as vandalism.

People who vandalise property express themselves, but it doesn't matter how clever, beautiful or romantic their grafitti is, it is always a selfish act. Art isn't selfish. Photographs like the one below can't be construed as art.

To accept the above image as being art or the picture below as art...

is to accept the following image below as art

because frankly there is no difference

Only a person's (or an animal's) expressions can be thought of as art, so you can't simply look up at the moon and correctly claim that it is art. Art requires an artist. Sculptures are art because an artist made them; they give an insight to a person's mind. If a river sculpts the land it won't be art, it can inspire someone to paint though.

That concludes my view on art, I look forward to rebutting your arguments

Debate Round No. 2



Con agrees that the Mona Lisa would not be art without those with the capacity for art. Let us observe what this entails. Art does not exist through physical craft alone, it lives within us, with our ability to project creative values upon objects. This is the artist's relation to art. Art is not exclusive to physical artifacts. The construct of the mind is the origin of art.

Con posts various photos including vandalism to site that they are not art. But his arguments are mere biases. It is just as conceivable that a man may look at the Mona Lisa and see nothing but a mundane woman without any artistic appreciation or feeling. My argument is not that all art is good, though what is artistically good is largely subjective to begin with. Con concedes that "An artist can paint absolutely anything on a piece of paper that we can see or imagine and it will be considered art even if it is a painting of vandalism" and then makes the odd argument that it is no longer art the moment it is interpreted as vandalism. I do not see why art must be exclusive from vandalism and pro has not demonstrated why this is the case.

Then Con goes on to argue that "art isn't selfish". I also do not understand with what logical basis he makes this claim, and how it is supported.

In regards to his picture of a penis, it is indeed, art, albeit, not a good one.

In regards to Con's final argument, the moon itself is not art by ontology, art itself is a subjective concept of living beings. Thus, art lives within people's minds, their creative projection of values, their imagination. The resolution is not that the moon is art, it is that the moon can be construed to be art.


Artists use skill and express creativity or feelings by drawing, or painting. If they selfishly keep their thoughts and feelings to themself, or they write them down or only tell people about them then no-one else can visualise them.

Sure there are things which inspire us to paint or draw but we must project our creative thoughts upon objects before we can then call it art. I wouldn't say I lack an artistic appreciation due to viewing vandalism as vandalism instead of art.

If you slowly scroll down while looking at the picture below, you may be surprised to find it isn't actually grafitti.

I pesonally would not want the mural above, but I know it is art because this is not painted in a public place. If this same painting was found on a bus stop for example it would no longer be interpreted as art.

There are people who will disagree with me of course, the guy who painted the below message certainly does!

Some people ask 'When does grafitti become art?' but these people fail to realise that art and grafitti are two completely different things. Grafitti is always vandalism, and is carried out without permission on somone else's property while art is often legal and always carried out on someone's own property. A lot of people will call or think the mural I showed is grafitti, because that is what grafitti typically looks like. What makes something art is not it's appearance though, the photograph of the house (or the house itself) I showed in round 2 isn't art, but had the exact image been painted it would be art. This is because art is an expression of human or animal creativity. To create art an artist must first be inspired, s/he might be inspired by nature, by urban landscapes, or by people.

The picture of the penis (or woman with a long neck) in round 2 did require some creativity, but the fact this picture is on a bin tells me it isn't art. Therefore not everything can be construed as art.

Debate Round No. 3


I believe Con is fixated on what is or is not art based on whether or not it is legal. Again, I do not believe why this is so, and he fails to explain it other than state that vandalism is not art. But then, what is art, according to Con? Con gives almost nothing about what art actually is, and mentions more so about what art is not, mainly that it is not graffiti in public places. Why? Because it is illegal? Would that mean that if the government bans art, then art would cease to exist?

Also photography is a valued form of art, it takes skill to capture a certain feeling, a certain angle, a certain expression. A photography can inspire as much feeling as a painting. I do not understand this discrimination, and Con does not explain it either.

It almost feels as if Con mistakes art for something objectively good and tasteful, but that simply is not the case. Art can be bad. It has no limits towards either extreme.

To conclude, art is not object oriented. Objects are not art by their nature. Their value as art are projected upon them by the agents with the ability to give creative values to them. And thus, everything can be construed as art.

Thanks to mostlogical for this debate. And I look forward to his conclusion.


What is art?
  • Art is a skill such as painting or drawing which causes someone to feel something.
  • The Grand Canyon or any object such as a house can bring about feelings, however snapping those things with a camera is not the same as making a work of art.
  • Only an artist (novice or expert) can create art because art is a skill. If his or her painting looks like a photograph or is completely imaginary, it is art.
  • Whether a picture is art or grafitti depends on whether the person who made it is selfish. If a person paints a picture on property not belonging to them the person has created grafitti, not art. If the same painting is painted on property belonging to them it is art.
  • Art is "often" legal. The law doesn't determine what is or isn't art. Objective morality and human feelings do.
  • Art can be beautiful or ugly, but despite this not everything can be construed as art.
My opponent adds:

"Also photography is a valued form of art, it takes skill to capture a certain feeling, a certain angle, a certain expression. A photography can inspire as much feeling as a painting."

I'm sure there are many photographers who consider themselves artists, the black and white 'phantom' photograph for instance sold for 6.5 million dollars and certainly does inspire as much feeling as a painting. Inspiration can come from natural and urban landscapes as well as people. What inspires someone to paint something or take a photograph can come from the same source. However it should be noted that the brain takes photographs and stores them as memories all the time, so taking a quick photograph is no different to looking at a house, the moon, or any object.

Thanks for having this debate, and wish you the best with future debates

Debate Round No. 4
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by mostlogical 12 months ago
Painting a beautiful picture without permission on property not belonging to you takes the same amount of skill as throwing a bucket of paint on a neighbours wall i.e. none.

Art is a skill, graffiti isn't.
Posted by treeless 12 months ago
It would be both. They are not mutually exclusive.
Posted by mostlogical 1 year ago
Graffiti is vandalism. Suppose someone painted a picture on your car in the middle of he night without your permission, would you interpret that as art or vandalism?
Posted by treeless 1 year ago

The point about grafitti being vandalism and thus not art. Also artists being selfish or not has absolutely zero bearing on what art is, or rather, you do not explain why art must be selfless, when it is a subjective experience to begin with. Your last question is about semantics. It's like saying "if a portrait is art, then what is a portrait? Why would we have a word to distinguish the two if they are the same?"
Posted by mostlogical 1 year ago
It is too late to vote but thanks for reading the debate and your comment

But I can't get my head round why my opponent and yourself believe I've said that graffiti isn't art due to it being illegal. Can you point out where I've said this?

Also I have explained that graffiti and art may appear the same but are not the same - Art is created by someone who isn't selfish, whereas graffiti is created by someone who is selfish.

If you think graffiti is art, then what is graffiti??
Why would we have a word to distinguish between the two if they are the same?
Posted by PowerPikachu21 1 year ago
I'd say Pro gets the win. Con (in my perspective) agreed that art can make someone feel an emotion, but saying graffiti isn't art, but, as Pro pointed out, Con never said WHY it's not art, other than because it's illegal. (I would say everything's art. Even actions, my drawing skill, and even, Con's 4th image.) I say that because I feel some emotion. Whether it's a good emotion, or a bad emotion.
Posted by can200114 1 year ago
Every thing can be easily construed to art because you can draw picture of anything also abstract things can be felt and consist another concrete art.
Posted by treeless 1 year ago

Feel free to accept. I do not mind using philosophies and philosophers as reference. My only opposition is if you use them as sort of an absolute authority for an argument rather than present your own arguments and reasons to supplement them, as stated in the intro.
Posted by mattjstead 1 year ago
As an individual who has studied Intercontinental Philosophy with emphasis on philosophers such as Martin Heidegger and the ideas and philosophies about aesthetics and society, I would like to accept your challenge in opposition to your proposition that "Anything/Everything can be construed as art."
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