Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Alexander, Thomas


Drawing on John Dewey's philosophy, I argue first that our distinctive human existence depends most fundamentally on practices of communication. I then argue that creative artistic work plays a crucial and inescapable role in shaping and enabling communication. The focus of my dissertation is then on showing the unique and distinctive role that art plays in facilitating the emergence of democratic culture, specifically. To make this argument I draw on Hegel's analysis of two particular artistic media: architecture and painting. I argue first that architecture, though it can serve many different functions, is most essentially the articulation of a shared sense of human dwelling. I then argue that painting, on the contrary, has as its distinctive artistic function the articulation of the distinctive experience of individuality. Turning again to Dewey, I then argue that democratic culture depends essentially on both this communal and this individualistic sense of our existence and, consequently, that in fundamental ways the historical development of the arts of architecture and painting have made possible the emergence of a democratic culture. I conclude, finally, that it is also definitive of the very meaning of democracy that it itself promote the proliferation of transformative practices of creative communication, and hence that, just as it depends inherently on a history of artistic practice, democracy must equally commit itself to the development of new forms of artistic expression.




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