The influence that art holds has not been agreed upon throughout the ages and through the pages of philosopher's thoughts. As the abstract to this event highlighted, Plato and Hegel did not value the usefulness of art, unlike Aristotle, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche who did.
Professor Matthew Kieran started the discussion conveying the skeptical and non-skeptical views one may have towards art in relation to it’s communicating knowledge. He revealed that “in science and history, there is a domain of truth” art does not proclaim that, however “art makes you think not just about the subject, but gets you in that experience”. Art might not provide “new knowledge but new experience”, it’s a “visual metaphor” and “the experience of art might remind us of an experience we have already had”.
Furthermore, she pointed out, some art works, like Kandinsky, though are "full of meaning" are sometimes responded to aesthetically. The debate around meaning versus aesthetics in art, led to Vid Simoniti posing the question for the sake of the discussion, "does beautiful art have to be denigrated to the role of kitsch?" The question advanced the dialogue to art being a market driven force. Although true, as Kathleen Soriano later indicated, a value of an art work is also when the audience sees it and thus its meaning can exist.
In relation to that comment, one can say that the visual in 'Orientalist' art can lose some literal meaning. In other words, one may understand the meaning of the realistically painted visual, but the visual may not carry truth, or only carry a perspective. In other words the artist's vision. Therefore the visual cannot always just rely on a realistic approach to portray true meaning. What we literally see may not always be true.
The meaning of an art work may be taken into different directions and an art work may carry several meanings. As Matthew Kieran noted, in relation to Art History "we don't know where we are, only in retrospect can we see", nevertheless as he stated, progress in art does not make past works irrelevant.
The discussion ended with Alexander Massouras disclosing in regards to the future, "since everything is done by machines, we could have a society with just artists and academics".
Maybe by then, another discussion on art as knowledge will be needed.
Wether art provides 'knowledge' and makes one think of 'life' questions, is down to the individual interacting with the art work. As viewers wether or not we respond to the visual or agree or not with the 'knowledge' we are being made to think about, art as a medium is a powerful tool that can be used to project ideas and notions. Art will never carry a 'yes' or a 'no' answer and looking at certain times in history, art has been used by some to push certain thoughts to the forefront, and in turn at certain times pushing the viewer to think a certain way. However, when the art work is seen to be a perspective and a snap shot of an idea and as viewers we look for other perspectives, art can hopefully, even if just aesthetically beautifully, make one think, and if not think, then feel.