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#10 - Artist: Avant-garde artists intend their work to

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I'm having trouble breaking down the argument in the stimulus. Is the argument basically:

Avant-garde success :arrow: challenge mainstream beliefs.

Contrapositive: Do not challenge mainstream beliefs :arrow: not successful.

Therefore: Popular :arrow: do not challenge mainstream beliefs :arrow: not successful?

I don't quite understand how being popular precludes one from challenging mainstream beliefs. I get that mainstream beliefs don't change in a short period of time, but is the artist saying that because you are popular in your time you actually fit into the mainstream rather than challenge it? So in other words, avant-garde art should never be popular in your own time?

If this was an assumption question would one assumption be that one can not both be popular and challenge mainstream beliefs?
Kristina Moen
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Hi jrc,

I think where you are running in trouble here is trying to diagram conditional statements where no conditional relationship exists. The first sentence tells us what avant-garde artists intend to do, not what they actually do. The second sentence tells us what some art collectors claim (so it's the opinion of the art collectors). The next sentence starts with the word "However," which tells me that the author is about to dispute the art collectors, which he does! The author's conclusion here is that "when an avant-garde work becomes popular it is a sign that the work is not successful," which is in direct opposition what the art collectors claim.

It's not that avant-garde artists should not become popular. But their intention is to initiate change and challenge beliefs, then if an artist becomes popular in its own time, then it means that the artist is not fulfilling that intention. Thus, they are not "successful."

I like that you are picking up on flaws in the logic. You're right that an assumption here is that "one can not both be popular and challenge mainstream beliefs." But the question here is an Method of Reasoning-Argument Part. So we just want to know about the role of the art collectors in this argument.
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How could I define the structure of this argument? I thought the answer was D which is opposite of B so I am confused on where I went wrong.
Thank you
Francis O'Rourke
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Recognizing that the very next sentence begins with the word "However" should clue you into the possibility that the speaker of this argument disagrees with what was just said. After you find that indication of a turn-around, you should ask yourself what the speaker's conclusion. You'll have an easier time of this if you spot the "Therefore" at the beginning of the final sentence. Don't rely absolutely on these indicator words, but use them to help your understanding of the argument.

I'm not sure what you mean when you ask how to 'define the structure.' Answer choice (B) gives a valid definition of one part of the argument, but you may be alluding to something else. Let us know if you still have a question about this stimulus :-D