Vol. 14 No. 1 (2021): Aesthetics in Times of Contagion

The idea of substantive arts

David Alvargonzález
University of Oviedo

Published 2021-07-20


  • fine arts,
  • definition,
  • substantive arts,
  • distinctive features

How to Cite

Alvargonzález, D. (2021). The idea of substantive arts. Aisthesis. Pratiche, Linguaggi E Saperi dell’estetico, 14(1), 135–151. https://doi.org/10.36253/Aisthesis-11912


The Spanish philosopher Gustavo Bueno coined the expression “substantive arts” to refer to those arts that do not serve any immediate, mundane or practical purpose. In this paper, I briefly present this idea and put forward a definition of the substantive arts as an alternative to those used until now. Starting from the assumption that since the end of the 18th century there has been a set of arts that have their own substantivity, I expound on certain criteria widely used as distinctive features to define the substantive arts. I subsequently put forward an alternative intensional criterion to characterize the substantive arts. To end, I draw some corollaries following from the application of this criterion.


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