J. O. Urmson

1839 Words8 Pages
J.O. Urmson’s article “Literature” attempts to develops the notion surrounding the ontological stance of literature. He states that literature is analogous to music, theatre and ballet. This paper will examine Urmson’s theories concerning literature and discuss the absence of clarity in the article. Urmson’s diagnosis of literature as an art form, is too immediate to form a strong stance on the ontological and analogous aspects of literature. Urmson begins by categorizing art into two categories. Firstly, there is a piece of art created by an artist. An example of this is an artist paints a painting. This category of art has no executant artist and can be altered after constructing. The second category of art consists of a creative artist…show more content…
82). Instead of acknowledging this, Urmson tries too hard to group literature into one category of artwork. Critically, Wollheim attempts at defining aspects of literature are more in depth than Urmson’s. Urmson disagrees with Wollheim about the creative type because he does not believe there could be a type without a token (pg. 89). Wollheim uses the examples of Ulysses as a type and his copy of Ulysses is a token of the type. Wollheim is less strict in his approach to artwork. Urmson’s problem in trying to define artwork is the fact that perceives traditional artwork as structured. He doesn’t view classical art as experimental, but rather artwork with a plan preconceived thing. Where the artist’s intentions is to always have their artwork shown to an audience. So if all artwork is meant to the seen by an audience, then yes there should not be a type without the tokens.Urmson does not want to state that artist create classes of work, especially unperformed artwork (pg. 89.) He believes that the tokens make up the type and create the type. To have a type without the token would be a theatrical play without the physical or the oral act of performance.Urmson argues that the best artwork comes from when a creative artist requires a preferrer or an executant and that is why there must be a set of instructions (pg.89). This also gives the artwork a structure instead use of improvisation. This arguably, Urmson’s personal take on the subject. Urmson ends his article with answering his two questions and states the idea that the reader neither creates the work nor performs, but witness what would be preforming (pg. 92). He has changed his answer from stating that literature a performing art, to now being an art form that is
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