Art as Therapy: Alain de Botton on the 7 Psychological Functions of Art
by Maria Popova “Art holds out the promise of inner wholeness.” The question of what art is has occupied humanity since the dawn of recorded history. In Art as Therapy (public library), philosopher Alain de Botton — who has previously examined such diverse and provocative subjects as why work doesn’t work, what education and the arts can learn from religion, and how to think more about sex — teams up with art historian John Armstrong to examine art’s most intimate purpose: its ability to mediate our psychological shortcomings and assuage our anxieties about imperfection. Like other tools, art has the power to extend our capacities beyond those that nature has originally endowed us with. De Botton and Armstrong go on to outline the seven core psychological functions of art: What we’re worried about forgetting … tends to be quite particular. 'We don't just observe her, we get to know what is important about her.' But these worries, they argue, are misguided. 'What hope might look like.'