In this article Haskins addresses what he calls the autonomy problem in aesthetic theory. The controversy here is, firstly, whether a work of art derives its value from its being art as such or from its instrumental (for example moral) efficacy and, secondly, whether the causes for its existence are autonomistic or heteronomistic. Haskins analyzes (the backgrounds of) the dialectically structured modernist form of this debate and its ramifications for academic politics – the dialectic between “traditional humanistic approaches” and “Theory”. He then goes on to show that the issue at hand is insoluble in its traditional form and thus stands in need of a redescription. After discussing Adorno, Foucault and Derrida in this light, he concludes with an account of the potential of complexity theory in the course of reformulating our ideas of the connection between art and the world.