a mere indulgence

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I need to write an essay to the question "Art is a mere indulgence. Discuss." for my English assignment. However, I am not even sure about the phrase that this question uses..

Indulgence usually has a negatively meaning associated with obsession and yielding to desires, but here in this context it seems inappropriate (or at least in my personal opinion).

American Heritage Dictionary tells me that it could also mean "something indulged in" and its Chinese translation suggests this meaning is somewhat similar to "hobby", while Oxford Dictionary offers me the meaning "luxury". I don't know whether they're the same thing. If I took the meaning "hobby" the question would make sense to me... I misunderstood it, didn't I?

By the way, is the term "art" here referring to the abstract concept of aesthetics, or the production of art? Or is it up to me to define? (Sorry I didn't start a new thread for this question as both questions require the same context..)

Thank you very much!
  • heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    To me, 'indulgence' in this context means something like a luxury hobby - something one does because one has the time to do it, or can afford to do it. And one does it for pure, perhaps selfish, pleasure. It also implies some sense of it not having much value outside of itself. I hope that makes sense.:eek: The use of 'merely', meaning 'Art is just (or only) an indulgence' lends some weight to this suggestion.

    I think they are talking about the production of art.


    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I agree with heypresto. You might want to try the W R Dictionary too:
    indulge/ɪnˈdʌlʤ/ ▶verb
    1 (indulge in) allow oneself to enjoy the pleasure of.
    ■ become involved in (an activity that is undesirable or disapproved of).
    2 satisfy or yield freely to (a desire or interest).
    ■ allow (someone) to enjoy a desired pleasure.
    The key idea is that of disapproval because what is indulged in is seen as being selfish, or that what is low priority is given high priority.
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