International Journal of Art & Design Education

But the Emperor has no clothes on: Witkin

Volume 3.1   1984



A response to an article by R.W. Witkin in Volume 1 concerned with the subjective or 'feeling-life' of the individual and the concept of 'the intelligence of feeling'. Contends Witkin's philosophy as misconceived in terms of its dualism, subjectivism and the reductivism of its stereotyped model of the creative process. Witkin's central assertion is that an idea for an artwork begins with a singular, sensate impulse or 'feeling response' which is then carried in the 'holding form' until it is realised or embodied in the final piece as a cultural symbol of the initial feeling. Challenges the separation of feeling and cognition as fallacious and takes issue with Witkin's and his followers' language of discourse. Questions what are seen as assertions and jargon reinforcing an indefensible subjectivism and sees difficulties for teachers attempting to implement these theories.