Defining John Berger

Defining John Berger - longer accord with the world as it...

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Defining John Berger’s Terms John Berger states in his essay that “when an image is presented as a work of art, the way people look at it is affected by a whole series of learnt assumptions about art.” (Berger 136) Berger uses the term assumption in a way not defined by the dictionary. The dictionary defines assumption as a statement that is assumed to be true and from which a conclusion can be drawn. Berger’s view of the word assumption is an idea difficult to change due to past knowledge. In the essay Ways of Seeing by John Berger, Berger uses examples of assumptions concerning: Beauty, Truth, Genius, Civilization, Form, Status, Taste, etc. All are things people have knowledge of before viewing a work of art. They deflect the way someone sees something or some hidden meaning in an illustration. Berger suggests that “Many of these assumptions no
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Unformatted text preview: longer accord with the world as it is. (The world-as-it-is is more that pure objective fact, it includes consciousness.) Out of true with the present, these assumptions obscure the past.” (Berger 136) Berger means that many of the assumptions stated have nothing to do with the world today but how the world was when the painting was created; what was known back then, and what certain things translated to. Looking at a work of art done 200 years ago and trying to depict what the artist meant is difficult if done today. It varies with what Berger’s “assumptions” are and what one already knows. According to Berger’s meaning, assumptions of the past are different that what many will know of as the dictionary’s definition of the word assumption. It’s the non-understanding of the past that makes these assumptions block the knowledge of the past....
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This essay was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course ENL 101 taught by Professor Lincoln during the Fall '07 term at UMass Dartmouth.

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