Art Without Borders: A Philosophical Exploration of Art and Humanity


Product Details

University of Chicago Press
Publish Date
6.25 X 9.5 X 1.75 inches | 0.02 pounds

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About the Author

Ben-Ami Scharfstein is professor emeritus of philosophy at Tel Aviv University. He is the author of numerous books, including Mystical Experience, A Comparative History of World Philosophy, Ineffability: The Failure of Words in Philosophy and Religion, and Of Birds, Beasts, and Other Artists: An Essay on the Universality of Art.


"This is the most comprehensive study of art and artists ever written. Not only does it range across the world's cultures in time and space, but it takes account of the latest findings in a variety of relevant disciplines, including neuroscience, cross-cultural psychology, and anthropology. Scharfstein's mastery of the literature of those disciplines is impressive, as is his command of scholarly writing on art worldwide. Timely, global, and open-minded, Art Without Borders evinces warmth and humanity as Scharfstein admirably highlights the makers of art, their individual lives, and their views on artistry."

--Wilfried van Damme, author of Beauty in Context

"Art Without Borders is a masterpiece that elucidates human thinking about art in all its facets. Drawing on the best available knowledge in psychology, anthropology, and art history, Ben-Ami Scharfstein opens with a wonderfully cultivated meditation on the question of how we are to understand the notion of art in our present global village. But he also deepens the discussion throughout with detailed examinations of individual artists' lives, accomplishments, reflections on art, and attitudes toward their work and traditions. This richness of human detail is one of the great virtues of this immensely learned and stunningly good book."

--Hilary Putnam, author of Reason, Truth and History
I have never seen such an impressive array of historically, geographically and culturally diverse evidence brought to bear on any subject. . . . What [Scharfstein] has achieved is nothing less than a comprehensive answer to both Eurocentrism and relativism in the arts. Looking very much like the culmination of an extraordinarily long career, Art Without Borders is that rare book in which generalizations, of which there are many here, are fully earned through sheer weight of research. . . . But this book is more than an agglomeration of anthropological trivia. It's a delineation of what it is possible with confidence to say about art, which is simply that it is with us, everywhere and always, as ineluctable as our shadows.--Bert Archer "Globe and Mail"
Scharfstein supports his views through a remarkably wide survey of the history of art. In this study, several polarities organize his discussion, e.g., prehistoric art and its later successors, tradition and individual genius, and Asian and Western art. He ranges freely over Chinese and Islamic art and modern primitives. As if this were not enough, he presents findings on the brain as well. Scharfstein's insights and extraordinary knowledge command respect, and this book is a major contribution.--Bert Archer "Library Journal"

"As wide-ranging a survey of the available literature on art as any single author could probably produce. Moreover, Scharfstein reads attentively and judiciously. . . . The book abounds in generosity and a patient will to listen."

--Julian Bell "New York Review of Books"
"This rich, wide-ranging study in comparative aesthetics is nourished by theories, facts, and conjectures from a broad array of disciplines."--Julian Bell "Choice"