Iconoclasm and Idolatry

Freedberg, David A.

Assaults against images occur in all cultures. In analysing the various forms of aggression against images, one may want to distinguish between acts of vandalism (including acts of war), pathological or psychotic violence, and destruction or mutilation for reasons of principle (political or religious); but in practice the motives are much less clear and much more difficult to unravel. There is also more of a continuum than may first be apparent between spontaneous acts of individual violence and concerted and organized group hostility. In situations where public or theological motives are adduced for the iconoclastic deed or event, individual psychological motives may well appear to receive a kind of legitimation in the social, legal, theological or philosophical domain. The term ‘iconoclasm’ is popularly used in a metaphorical sense; it will not be so discussed here. At issue are physical acts against physical images, whether two- or three-dimensional, and sometimes buildings.


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Also Published In

David E. Cooper (ed.), A Companion to Aesthetics

More About This Work

Academic Units
Art History and Archaeology
Published Here
August 24, 2022