Aesthetics has traditionally concentrated heavily on the narrow range of aesthetic practice identified as the fine arts, and on the supreme achievements in those arts. This paper argues that this is because the very idea of fine arts is bound up with the phenomenon of empire. An empire is any situation in which a number of socio-cultural units are bound together in an administrative unity. In such a situation, there emerges a system of educational and cultural centralization that articulates the actual social functioning of the empire. In this situation, high art is the art that is integral to this educational system.



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