Is aesthetics a product of evolution? Are human aesthetic behaviors in fact evolutionary adaptations? The creation of artistic objects and experiences is an important aesthetic behavior. But so is the perception of aesthetic phenomena qua aesthetic. The question of evolutionary aesthetics is whether humans have evolved the capacity not only to make beautiful things but also to appreciate the aesthetic qualities in things. Are our near-universal love of music and cute baby animals essential to our species’ evolutionary development, (...) which took place over thousands of years? In other words, do aesthetic practice and appreciation help people to survive or reproduce? Do aesthetic behaviors help to propel natural selection? If so, what does that tell us about ourselves as human beings? What does it tell us about art, our other aesthetic practices, and aesthetic experience? (shrink)
Aesthetics is not a "factual" discipline; there are no aesthetic facts. The word itself is derived from the Greek word for "feeling" and the discipline arises because of the need to find a place for the passions within epistemology—the branch of philosophy that investigates our beliefs. Aesthetics is more than just the study of beauty; it is a study of that which appeals to our senses, most often in connection with the classification, analysis, appreciation, and understanding of art. (...) The Historical Dictionary of Aesthetics covers its history from Classical Greece to the present, including entries on non-western aesthetics. The book contains a chronology, a list of acronyms and abbreviations, an introductory essay, a bibliography, and hundreds of cross-referenced dictionary entries on the main concepts, terminology, important persons , and the rules and criteria we apply in making judgments on art. By providing concise information on aesthetics, this dictionary is not only accessible to students, but it provides details and facts to specialists in the field. (shrink)
This paper examines the ten-year history of somaesthetics – describing the field's origins and genealogical roots, explaining its terminology, analyzing its structure, tracing its reception, exploring its most interesting applications, and responding to the most important criticisms that have been directed at it. Somaesthetics, as the paper shows, emerges from the framework of my work in pragmatist aesthetics which sought to revive aesthetics by bringing art closer to life and bridging the presumed divide between the aesthetic and (...) the practical while also advocating an idea of ethics as an art of living. One way to bring more life to aesthetics is to emphasize the role of the living body in art and aesthetic experience. Another strategy of revival is to expand the field of aesthetics to make it more relevant to more people by including practices of somatic stylization and enhanced somatic perception (aisthesis). Somaesthetics, a discipline of both theory and practice, deploys these means of revival, and seems to have had some positive influence. It has been applied by diverse authors in many different fields – from performance art and computer design, to sports, feminist issues of identity, and the use of technological body enhancements in the art of living. The three main branches of somaesthetics are introduced, and the complex structure of the field is used in refuting some of the typical criticisms made against it. Somaesthetics is not a blanket apology for the dangerous excesses of our body culture, but rather a site for the ideological critique of the dominant somatic ideals. Its interest in the body is not a celebration of irrationality or the abandoning of critical reflection. (shrink)
Consciousness is a central theme of Susanne Langer's three-volume work Mind: An essay on human feeling. Langer proposes an evolutionary history of consciousness in order to establish a biological vocabulary for discussing the subject. This vocabulary is based on the qualities of organic processes rather than generic material objects. Her historical scenario and new terminology suggest that Langer views the “cash value” of consciousness in terms of symbolic thinking and aesthetics. This paper provides an overview of Langer's proposed (...) evolutionary scenario of consciousness, along with an examination of her process-oriented philosophy of mind. It is suggested that Langer's basic ideas are importantly similar to those present in dynamical systems theory. As research on consciousness in dynamical systems theory is still young, researchers in this field may find in Langer's work ideas for future exploration, particularly in its connection with aesthetics. (shrink)
Environmental aesthetics, largely because of its focus on 'natural' rather than artifactual environments, has ignored postindustrial sites. This article argues that this shortcoming stems from the nature-culture divide and that such sites ought to be considered by environmental aestheticians. Three forms of artistic engagement with postindustrial sites are explicated by looking at the work of Serra, Smithson, and others. It is argued that postindustrial art leads to a successively richer ability to see and thus think about such sites. Finally, (...) a new category is proposed, the interesting, in order to capture the aesthetic experience of postindustrial landscape art that eludes current terminology. (shrink)
The A to Z of Aesthetics covers its history from Classical Greece to the present, including entries on non-western aesthetics. The book contains a chronology, an introductory essay, a bibliography, and hundreds of cross-referenced dictionary entries on the main concepts, terminology, important persons , and the rules and criteria we apply in making judgments on art. By providing concise information on aesthetics, this dictionary is not only accessible to students, but it provides details and facts to (...) specialists in the field. (shrink)
on great currency in analytic philosophical aesthetics. What is not generally known is that the American philosopher Eli Siegel called the philosophy he founded in the 1940s Aesthetic Realism. His philosophy has as its central principle: ‘The world, art, and self explain each other: each is the aesthetic oneness of opposites.’ Thus, two distinct uses of the same terminology exist, and should not be confused.
Experimental philosophy offers an alternative mode of engagement for public philosophy, in which the public can play a participatory role. We organized two public events on the aesthetics of coffee that explored this alternative mode of engagement. The first event focuses on issues surrounding the communication of taste. The second event focuses on issues concerning ethical influences on taste. -/- In this paper, we report back on these two events which explored the possibility of doing experimental philosophical aesthetics (...) as public philosophy. We set the stage by considering the significance and current state of efforts in public philosophy, and by introducing the emerging sub-discipline of experimental philosophical aesthetics. Then, we discuss the research and outreach aspects of the two events on the aesthetics of coffee. Finally, we conclude by reflecting on the prospects and potential pitfalls of experimental philosophy as public philosophy. (shrink)
While feminist aestheticians have long interrogated gendered, raced, and classed hierarchies in the arts, feminist philosophers still don’t talk much about popular music. Even though Angela Davis and bell hooks have seriously engaged popular music, they are often situated on the margins of philosophy. It is my contention that feminist aesthetics has a lot to offer to the study of popular music, and the case of popular music points feminist aesthetics to some of its own limitations and unasked (...) questions. This essay addresses the paucity of work in feminist philosophy and popular music by applying insights from other areas of feminist aesthetics to questions of popular music, and thereby using feminist aesthetics – specifically, Julia Kristea’s notion of female genius and the genius spectator – to critique itself. (shrink)
It is a very great honor to address my friends and colleagues as president of the American Society for Aesthetics, an organization that plays a unique role in a field that is, at once, a major traditional branch of philosophy and also central to disciplines often regarded as remote from philosophy, as well as depending crucially on their contributions.
In this article, firstly, I begin by articulating four logically different positions Kant has been argued to hold concerning the nature and meaning of ‘aesthetic judgement’ so that, secondly, I may endorse the alternative that has been almost entirely neglected: that is, aesthetic judgement should be understood to be both ‘internalist’ in that the pleasure of taste is a constitutive element of the judgement itself (rather than its external effect or prior referent) and ‘objective’ insofar as the pleasure of taste (...) not only reflects the mental state of the judging subject but discriminates features or properties of the object judged. Ultimately I believe that this ‘internal objectivism’ is a compelling meta-aesthetic position in its own right with interesting parallels to recent trends in aesthetic theory, but presently I am concerned to demonstrate that one way to get clear about how such judgements are possible and to become comfortable with their significance is to see how this position arises and is resisted in the Critique of Judgment and, accordingly, in the contemporary scholarship on Kantian aesthetics. (shrink)
This major collection of essays stands at the border of aesthetics and ethics and deals with charged issues of practical import: art and morality, the ethics of taste, and censorship. As such its potential interest is by no means confined to professional philosophers; it should also appeal to art historians and critics, literary theorists, and students of film. Prominent philosophers in both aesthetics and ethics tackle a wide array of issues. Some of the questions explored in the volume (...) include: Can art be morally enlightening and, if so, how? If a work of art is morally better does that make it better as art? Is morally deficient art to be shunned, or even censored? Do subjects of artworks have rights as to how they are represented? Do artists have duties as artists and duties as human beings, and if so, to whom? How much tension is there between the demands of art and the demands of life? (shrink)
In this paper I suggest that, over and above the need to explore and understand the technological newness of computer art works, there is a need to address the aesthetic signiﬁcance of the changes and effects that such technological newness brings about, considering the whole environmental transaction pertaining to new media, including what they can or do offer and what users do or can do with such offerings, and how this whole package is integrated into our living spaces and activities. (...) I argue that, given the primacy of computer-based interaction in the new-media, the notion of ‘ornamentality’ indicates the ground-ﬂoor aesthetics of new-media environments. I locate ornamentality not only in the logically constitutive principles of the new-media (hypertextuality and interactivity) but also in their multiform cultural embodiments (decoration as cultural interface). I utilize Kendall Walton’s theory of ornamentality in order to construe a puzzle pertaining to the ornamental erosion of information in new-media environments. I argue that insofar as we consider new-media to be conduits of ‘real-life’, the excessive density of ornamental devices prevalent in certain new-media environments forces us to conduct our inquiries under conditions of neustic uncertainty, that is, uncertainty concerning the kind of relationship that we, the users, have to the propositional content mediated. I conclude that this puzzle calls our attention to a peculiar interrogatory complexity inherent in any game of knowledge-seeking conducted across the infosphere, which is not restricted to the simplest form of data retrieval, especially in mixed-reality environments and when the knowledge sought is embodied mimetically. (shrink)
The Routledge Companion to Aesthetics is an indispensable guide and reference source to the major thinkers and topics in aesthetics. Forty-six new entries by a team of renowned international contributors provide clear and up-to-date entries under four headings: historical, from Plato to Derrida; aesthetic theory, from definitions of art to pictorial representation; issues and challenges, from criticism to feminist aesthetics; and the individual arts, from literature to theatre.
The aim of this paper is to argue that it is a promising avenue of research to consider philosophy of perception to be a guide to aesthetics. More precisely, my claim is that many, maybe even most, traditional problems in aesthetics are in fact about philosophy of perception that can, as a result, be fruitfully addressed with the help of the conceptual apparatus of philosophy of perception. This claim may sound provocative, but after qualifying what I mean by (...)aesthetics (to be contrasted with philosophy of art) and by philosophy of perception, it may be easier to accept. (shrink)
By the close of the eighteenth century, many features of Western intellectual history had become incorporated into a coherent body of aesthetic doctrine that soon acquired the standing of tradition. "The three dogmas of aesthetics" is Allen Carlson's fitting designation of the main principles by which I have characterized this theory: that "art consists primarily of objects," that "these objects possess a special status," and that "they must be regarded in a unique way." Held against the practice and experience (...) of the arts, each of these, I claim, is assumptive and misleading.'. (shrink)
"A first-rate introduction to the field, accessible to scholars working from a variety of disciplinary and theoretical perspectives. Highly recommended... " —Choice "... offers both broad theoretical considerations and applications to specific art forms, diverse methodological perspectives, and healthy debate among the contributors.... [an] outstanding volume."—Philosophy and Literature "... this volume represents an eloquent and enlightened attempt to reconceptualize the field of aesthetic theory by encouraging its tendencies toward openness, self-reflexivity and plurality." —Discourse & Society "All of the authors challenge (...) the traditional notion of a pure and disinterested observer that does not allow for questions of race/ethnicity, class, sexual preference, or gender." —Signs These essays examine the intellectual traditions of the philosophy of art and aesthetics. Containing essays by scholars and by the writer Marilyn French, the collection ranges from the history of aesthetic theory to a philosophical reflection on fashion. The contributions are unified by a sustained scrutiny of the nature of "feminist," "feminine," or "female" art, creativity, and interpretation. (shrink)
Inflected seeing-in is a special experience of the vehicle and subject of a picture, which are experienced as related to each other. Bence Nanay recently defended the idea that inflected picture perception is central to the aesthetic appreciation of pictures. Here I critically discuss his characterization of inflection, and advance a new one, that better accounts for the structure and content of inflected experience in terms of properties of the pictures themselves and also clarifies the distinctive contribution of inflection to (...) pictorial aesthetics. Two kinds of inflected seeing-in are distinguished in terms of two functions the design properties of a picture can realize. One kind of inflected seeing-in allows us to experience how the picture design sustains what is seen in the picture and is responsible for the representation of the picture subject. The second kind, which is only supported by some pictures, also captures how properties of the vehicle alter or enrich the picture content so as to elicit an experience of the depicted subject as having properties it could not be seen as having in face-to-face experience. This inflected experience is distinctively associated with our visual experience of the aesthetically valuable relations between vehicle and content which are unique to pictorial representation. (shrink)
The first reference of its kind surveys the full breadth of critical thought on art, culture, and society--from classical philosophy to contemporary critical theory. Featuring 600 original articles by distinguished scholars from many fields and countries, it is a comprehensive survey of major concepts, thinkers, and debates about the meaning, uses, and value of all the arts--from painting and sculpture to literature, music, theater, dance, television, film, and popular culture. Of special interest are in-depth surveys of Western aesthetics and (...) broad coverage of non-Western traditions and theories of art. The work includes cross references, bibliographies, and an index. (shrink)
Wolfgang Welsch examines global aestheticization phenomena, probes the relationship of aesthetics and ethics, and considers the broad relevance of aesthetics for contemporary thinking. He argues that modes of thought familiar from the aesthetic realm comprise fundamental paradigms for understanding todayÆs reality. The implications for specific and everyday issues are demonstrated in studies of architecture, advertising, the Internet, and our perception of the life world. Surgically precise, innovative, and, above all, relevant, this book is an essential resource, providing the (...) analysis of contemporary culture with philosophical bite. Aesthetics is to transcend itself, address the whole realm of aethesis, and hence enable orientation in the contemporary condition. Undoing aesthetics means releasing it from old cultural binds and giving it new ties with the future. (shrink)
In the history of aesthetics, few concepts have been as powerful and as elusive as the idea of the sublime, the "enthusiastic terror" that can possess us when we behold a mountain or a miracle. In his new book, James Kirwan traces the history of the sublime from its emergence in the eighteenth century to its resurgence in contemporary aesthetics. Sublimity addresses the nature of the sublime experience itself, and the function that experience has played, and continues to (...) play, within aesthetic discourse. The book both updates and revises existing treatments of the sublime in the eighteenth century, examines its neglected role in the nineteenth century aesthetics, and analyzes the significance of the modifications the concept has undergone in order to serve the interests of contemporary aesthetics. The book thus offers the most comprehensive coverage of the history of the sublime available. With its appeal for readers in aesthetics, art history, religion, and literary theory, Sublimity will beof wide use to students and scholars. (shrink)
As opposed to Melchionne and Naukkarinen, I defend an expansive definition of everyday aesthetics, one that includes festivals, tourism, and many daily activities of artists and other professionals, along with most ordinary and common experiences. I argue for continuities between aesthetics of everyday life and the aesthetics of art and nature. Looking through a window, for example, may involve aspects of all three. Although I agree with Melchionne that everyday aesthetics is closely related to questions of (...) subjective well-being, I take a more expansive approach to this, drawing from recent psychological studies of the experience of “awe” to stress the importance of such experiences in subjective well-being, thus tying the high points of everyday aesthetics more closely with the high points in the aesthetics of art and nature. (shrink)
The old, historical concept of ‘disinterestedness’ has dominated the tradition of aesthetics for almost two centuries. In environmental aesthetics, a rather recent branch of aesthetics, some scholars such as Arnold Berleant have criticized disinterestedness, claiming that it is not a satisfactory criterion since it views the environment as an artwork. As an alternative, Berleant proposes a theory of the ‘aesthetics of engagement’. I claim that although his main intention is to introduce a comprehensive perception of nature, (...) ‘appreciating nature as nature’, into the aesthetics of nature, Berleant misinterprets ‘disinterestedness’ and overlooks the fact that it can still be maintained within environmental aesthetics. Disinterestedness can guide our judgements with the notions of non-instrumentality, transparent self, and impartiality. In this sense, I argue that the proper opposite of engagement is not disinterestedness but a dominant concept of aesthetics left over from the eighteenth century, the ‘picturesque’, in contrast to holistic accounts of the philosophers who look for an immersion-of-self-in-a-bigger-Self, disinterestedness provides being devoid-of-any-empirical-self and disinterestedness is not anthropocentric, but anthropogenic, human-generated, which accepts the ‘otherness’ of nature and opens the way for respect and care in environmental ethics. (shrink)
Although philosophers have characteristically taken the view that art is a vehicle of some universal meaning or truth, art historians emphasize the concrete, historical location of the individual work of art. Is aesthetics capable of sustaining these two approaches? Or, as Michael Kelly argues: Is art actually determined by its historical particularity? His book covers the views of four philosophers--Heidegger, Adorno, Derrida, and Danto--ultimately iconoclasts, despite their significant philosophical engagement with the arts.
Philosophical aesthetics is an area in which many strands of contemporary philosophical thinking meet. The contributors to this volume are aware of the wider logical, epistemological, moral and metaphysical implications raised by conceptual problems specific to aesthetics. Three themes recur and are taken up from different angles in several of the papers: pleasure – its nature and role in the experience of art and beauty; preference – figuring prominently in aesthetic appraising, appreciating and judging; and value – aesthetic (...) value in particular, and the status of value in general. As these themes interweave, the complexities of aesthetics bring into focus some of the central issues in the philosophy of mind. The authors argue their cases with professional expertise and perceptive understanding of the arts, making significant and original contributions. This book should be of interest not only to philosophers but also to the readers who know, care and theorise about the arts. All the essays were commissioned for this volume, which is part of an informal series of books emerging from meetings sponsored by the Thyssen Foundation. (shrink)
The aim of this article is two-folded. First, I wish to situate Baudelaire in the midst of 19th-century media, bring attention to the way he explored the new media of his day, and suggest that he developed his own media aesthetics. Second, I wish to examine Baudelaire’s relation to photography more specifically, emphasizing his love of commonplaces and clichés. I begin by contextualizing Baudelaire’s notorious attack on photography in the Salon de 1859 and then examine three poems in light (...) of the photographic culture of Baudelaire’s day. Central here is the experiment on the notion of identity that was carried out with the spread of portrait photography: the notation of a unique identity was undermined, processes of multiplication were explored, and the poetic discourse of the “soul” was radically changed. (shrink)
Aesthetic discourse has always openly or secretly been linked to political projects. According to some main strands of aesthetic discourse modern aesthetics mirrors the structure of social and political emancipation and key elements of aesthetic discourse coincide with the political ontology of the left. Marxist and Post-Marxist critics have emphasized that the struggle for emancipation is indirectly present in the historical constitution of aesthetics as a discipline – although in a merely imaginary and displaced form. Therefore, however, it (...) is also partly of the same structure as what is normally described as “aesthetic”. Against this background aesthetic attributes (‘beauty’) can be ascribed to forms of emancipatory politics as well. (shrink)
In order to understand why analytic aesthetics has lost a lot of its former intellectual stature it is necessary to combine historical reconstruction with systematic consideration. In the middle of the twentieth century analytic philosophers came to the conclusion that essentialist theories of the “nature” of art are no longer tenable. As a consequence they felt compelled to move to the meta-level of conceptual analysis. Then they tried to show how a purely classificatory concept of art is used. The (...) presupposition, however, that there actually is such a concept can only appear plausible at first sight. Upon closer inspection it turns out to be utterly misguided. (shrink)
The paper asks for the preconditions and the consequences of the emergence of aesthetics in and for philosophy. The question is: what does it mean for philosophy to engage the question of the aesthetic? My answer will be: it means nothing less than putting philosophy in question. Or, more precisely: by engaging the question of the aesthetic, philosophy puts itself in question. In order to show this, I will refer to a brief passage in the Phenomenology of the Spirit (...) and then attempt to turn it against what I take it to be Hegel’s own intention. The paper attempts to sketch this argument in three brisk moves by (1) distinguishing a philosophy of the “poetic” from a philosophy of the “aesthetic”; (2) describing the aesthetic as “regressive” and “(self-)reflexive”; and (3) sketching the paradoxical place of aesthetics within philosophy.  . (shrink)
Reflections on the relationship of aesthetics to politics tend to circle, almost compulsively, around a relatively stable set of conceptual oppositions, inherited from German philosophies of the late 18th century. This essay proposes an expansion of the theoretical terms of the debate by extending the field of transcendental aesthetics into the domain of historical temporalization. Fundamental art-historical categories may thereby be incorporated, philosophically transformed, into ‘aesthetics’ as forms of historical temporalization: avant-garde, modern, contemporary. The essay expounds two (...) theses, in particular: 1. The historical subsumption of the temporality of the avant-garde by the temporality of the modern: the modern stands to the avant-garde as the negation of its politics by the repetition of the new –‘the new as the ever–same’; 2. the historical subsumption of the temporality of the modern by ‘the contemporary’: the contemporary stands to the modern as the negation of the dialectical logic – and hence specifically developmentalist futurity – of the new by a spatially determined, but imaginary co-presencing. One effect of this latter subsumption, it is argued, is a particular, regressive ‘repetition of the national’, at the level of cultural representation, on the terrain of the global. (shrink)
The book draws on the astonishing scope and depths of Hegel's Lectures on Aesthetics, exploring the multifaceted issue of art and the absolute. Why does Hegel ascribe absoluteness to art? What can such absoluteness mean?
This book is an introduction to the esthetics of music. Aesthetics, which were of prime importance in thinking about music in the nineteenth century, are today sometimes suspected of being idle speculation. Yet judgments about music and every sort of musical activity are based on aesthetic presuppositions. Carl Dahlhaus gives an account of developments in the aesthetics of music from the mid-eighteenth century onwards. He combines a historical and systematic approach. Central themes in music are grouped together to (...) illustrate both the historical course of events and a systematic unity of the essential elements in the aesthetics of music. For this edition, the late Carl Dahlhaus provided an annotated bibliography. William Austin has added books for the English-speaking reader, and has also supplied notes to the text to help the student. (shrink)
This paper originated as the keynote address at the conference “Aesthetics Today” organized by the Finnish Society of Aesthetics to mark its 40th anniversary and was delivered at the University of Helsinki on March 1, 2012. Written for that particular occasion the sense of an oral presentation has been maintained. Shusterman’s point of departure is the thesis that contemporary aesthetics can be characterized by a number of leading themes that mark a return to older aesthetic perspectives, after (...) these perspectives have been neglected in modern philosophical discussions. The paper briefly outlines and explores three of these themes whose increasing importance in current aesthetics can appeal to historical antecedents, namely: a focus on perception, the expansion of the aesthetic field beyond the philosophy of fine art, and the close connection of the aesthetic and the practical. After that, Shusterman formulates a fourth theme in aesthetics today which incorporates the first three and whose value for contemporary aesthetics he seeks to highlight, namely: the somatic, as exemplified by somaesthetics. (shrink)
This presentation argues that the question about “future” presupposes an analysis of the current state of the discipline, which again in turn must be seen in the light of its history. The presentation then unfolds a rough reconstruction of that history from Baumgarten and Kant, over Romanticism’s establishing of the partnership with Art and Truth in the continental tradition and up to 20th century’s settling with especially that tradition, led by endeavours both within art itself, in the art sciences, and (...) in different branches of philosophical aesthetics. On the basis of this, it finally discusses the future of aesthetics: its status as a scholarly discipline, the need for it in our world, and proposes some issues to be at aesthetics’ future agenda of research. (shrink)
By analyzing the three loci of aesthetics -- the subjective, the objective, and the absolute -- the author concludes that only the sublime demonstrates that art is neither subjective nor objective. The one essential component of art is the new, the sole "instrument" that can guarantee art's vitality even when confronted by the nihilistic tendencies of modernit.