The Function of Art and the Development of Humanity

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  The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. Specifically, music is a unique art form. It is a lyrical and auditory representation of story. Through patterned constructions of words, rhythm, and instrumental collaboration, music provides listeners with insight to personal experiences and even in-depth interpretations of the world around us. Music’s purpose is to express and balance emotion. Music’s primary use is mood control. We sing lullabies to soothe babies which works very well when language fails. Good music is a vessel. It provides us with an escape from reality, or a plunge into its depths. Good music is sociable. It connects us to others and allows us to share common emotions. Good music is addicting. In order for a piece of music to be considered truly good by the general population it has to make them feel some emotion, inspire them, provoke some thought, and create some human connection. 

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Today, music is everywhere: In grocery stores, church, clubs, streets, homes, and many other places. Sounds that people hear everyday such as rain drops, birds chirping, whistling, and tapping even though these things may not be instruments. Music is an art and art can be anything a person wants it to be. In the passage (267), Leo Tolstoy explains that, “Art is differentiated from activity of the understanding, which demands preparation and certain sequence of knowledge, by the fact that it acts on people independently of their state of development and education, that the charm of a picture, sounds, or forms, infect any man whatever his plane of development.” This means that the viewer is only going to process it the way they were taught to or how they’ve always registered it. It’s interesting that people don’t view art the same as others around them. Art is accessed and seen differently in the world because different people have different views of art and consider different things as art, and also value and appreciate art differently. Something appealing is expected when art is mentioned. There are different aspects of art and art involves so many different things. The passage states that, “People say that works of art do not please the people because they are incapable of understanding them. But if the aim of works of art is to infect people with the emotion the artist has experienced, how can one talk about not understanding?” Art influences society by changing opinions, instilling values and translating experiences across space and time. 

Furthermore, art brings people together while putting all other differences aside. Music is one thing that can bring people together. No matter what race, religion, political belief, gender, sexuality, etc., you happen to be, music is what keeps the nation bonded as a whole. If you are at a concert seeing your favorite band/singer, you do not care who is next to you. You do not care about their background, because you know that at some point that song had also influenced them. Music brings people together in the most loving way. If you meet someone who likes the same genre as you, you have found a friend for life. The lyrics shape how you view the world. As soon as you hand the bouncer your ticket and you bust through the doors into the venue, nothing else matters at that moment. The hatred of the world is left at the door, and you have the opportunity to dance how you want, sing as loud as you can, and truly be yourself. In the passage, “ Why Do Humans Create art?” explains that, “Every culture ever studied has expressed itself artistically in music, poetry, painting, and storytelling. Human beings have always spent a considerable share of their resources surrounding themselves with things they consider beautiful.” Music has a central role in human society because it so strongly evokes feelings and affects social activities and interactions. The study of music’s influence has greatly increased knowledge of emotion in the brain.

Music is a language of emotion in that it can represent different feelings and barge into the soul with no boundaries or limitations. People are always challenged by the fact that “no one understands them” or know how they “really feel”, so they turn to music. Music also has the capacity to imitate emotions. In order for a piece of music to be considered truly good by the general population it has to make them feel some emotion, inspire them, provoke some thought, and create some human connection

While Tolstoy’s basic conception of art is broad and amoral, his idea of ‘good’ art is strict and moralistic, based on what he sees as the function of art in the development of humanity, just as in the evolution of knowledge that is, the forcing out and supplanting of mistaken and unnecessary knowledge by truer and more necessary knowledge so the evolution of feelings takes place by means of art, replacing lower feelings, less kind and less needed for the good of humanity, by kinder feelings, more needed for that good. This is the purpose of art.  


1.Stewart, Jessica. “12 Contemporary Artists Tell Us What It Takes to Make a Great Piece of Art.” My Modern Met. May 2017. 

2.There is, you have just to discover how to see it. It is often hidden, fragmented, disorganized, and unassuming. The challenge is to discover it, compose it, and order it. We should observe things from a different point of view. Looking at the world upside down can offer many creative ideas and awaken from a kind of “sleep of vision.”

3.Tolstoy, Leo. “What is Art?” Reading the World: Ideas that Matter. 3rd ed. Ed. Michael Austin. 

4.New York: Norton, 2015. 571. Print. 


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