The modern belief in the theory of artistic autonomy is the result of a series of historical and cultural events, along with the epistemological tradition of metaphysics from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. The concept of “fine arts is the key mechanism for the formation of the theory of artistic autonomy. Aesthetic ethics and formal autonomy also manifested in Chinese classical culture; however, ancient Chinese art philosophy did not adopt “aesthetic” as the criterion for formulating art ontology. Consequently, it did not develop the art concept of self-sufficiency, self-consistency and self-discipline. The unified social structure model prevents structural decomposition in the field of social practice, and the Chinese approach of “binary corresponding analogical association” inhibits metaphysical formal ontology. These factors impede the development of the theory of artistic autonomy. The eastward expansion of Western learning in modern times allowed the theory of artistic autonomy to spread in the field of aesthetic culture during the May Fourth Period. Still, the tragic history of “salvation overcoming enlightenment” prevented the art of autonomy from achieving mainstream status.


art of autonomy, art of beauty, Chinese thinking, great unification