The chapter provides a critical survey of English-language feminist work in aesthetics since the early 1970s. The aim is to focus on those areas of feminist inquiry that have most significantly affected philosophical aesthetics in the analytic tradition: the development of a new self-conception of the discipline that sees the philosophy of art and aesthetics as a theoretical enterprise with its own political content and political consequences, one deeply enmeshed in a patriarchal view of the world.
This special issue of HYPATIA: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy entitled "Women, Art, and Aesthetics" highlights the expanded range of topics at center stage in feminist philosophical inquiry to date (2003): recontextualizing women artists (essays by Patricia Locke, Eleanor Heartney, and Michelle Meagher), bodies and beauty (Ann J. Cahill, Sheila Lintott, Janell Hobson, Richard Shusterman, Joanna Frueh), art, ethics, politics, law (A. W. Eaton, Amy Mullin, L. Ryan Musgrave, Teresa Winterhalter), and review essays by Estella Lauter and Flo Leibowitz. Annotated (...) bibliography by Joshua Shaw. (shrink)
Medicine is the art of healing, aesthetics the study of our response to art and beauty. What happens when the two come together in the practice of cosmetic surgery? This is my question, a foray into what I will call "medical aesthetics." In what follows, I examine how practitioners of cosmetic surgery and related specialties have appropriated the language of medicine and healthcare to reframe and legitimize various nonmusical elective procedures designed to modify appearance. I being with a short discussion (...) of the history and terminology of cosmetic surgery. Against this background, I critically assess the claim that cosmetic surgery qualifies as a form of healthcare, and hence a legitimate branch of medicine . . . In pressuring medical professionals to place beauty above health, cosmetic surgery and related specialties such as cosmetic dentistry unavoidably raise questions about the definition of medicine itself. In particular, patient demand for what I am labeling "medical aesthetics" may collide with the Hippocratic requirement that physicians "do no harm." It is to those harms and related concerns that I turn in the final section. (shrink)
At the heart of recent feminist theorizing about art is the claim that various forms of representation--painting, photography, film--assume a "male gaze." The notion of the gaze has both a literal and a figurative component. Narrowly construed, it refers to actual looking. Broadly, or more metaphorically, it refers to a way of thinking about, and acting in, the world. . . . In examining this key feminist notion more carefully, I shall make clear the intrinsic interest of this approach to (...) aesthetics and suggest why its concerns merit serious consideration. To this end, I investigate how gendered vision work in one specific representational practice: film. Film is a natural choice for such a study because it is a medium so fundamentally built around the activity of looking. It is also, not surprisingly, the medium where the male gaze has been most extensively discussed. The relationship of gender and cinematic vision is extremely complicated. A complete analysis of this topic would require several hundred pages. In what follows, I focus on two key claims: that in cinema the gaze is male, and that the cinematic text is a male text. I make clear how these claims should be understood and situate them philosophically. In confining myself to the core claims of this debate, I shall of necessity leave aside many important, but internal, issues in film theory. (shrink)
Jeremy sustained bilateral complete brachial plexus injuries in an auto collision on an icy road a month before his third birthday. The accident rendered both upper extremities completely flail and insensate: he has no motor or sensory function of his shoulders, elbows, wrists, or digits. Jeremy does, however, have normal function of the lower extremities. Physical therapists have worked with the child for over a year with no noted improvement in arm function. Jeremy falls frequently, causing injury to his face (...) and head, and occasionally, his arms get twisted or caught in his crib and his fingers turn blue. Jeremy's mother, who carries the main responsibility for his daily care, believes that his insensate arms are too heavy and “get in his way,” causing the falls. She and Jeremy's father present to the orthopedic clinic at the children's hospital with the request of having both arms amputated. The primary orthopedic surgeon and the orthopedic team disagree with the parents that bilateral upper-extremity amputation offers any medical benefit, but Jeremy's mother tells the surgeon that, if he will not perform the surgery, her family will find a doctor who will. The surgeon, who feels ethically distressed by the parental insistence on this amputation in such a young child, requests an ethics consultation. (shrink)
It is a commonplace that Western culture is in moral crisis. One response has been to turn to art to fill the vacuum created by the collapse of traditional morality. I analyze one version of this appealing but deeply paradoxical view of art: Hans-Georg Gadamer's proposal to find in art a source of moral instruction which neither reverts to foundationalism nor leads to relativism. I argue that Gadamer's romantic picture of art overlooks the possibility that the authority of tradition and (...) our transformation by it may be part of the problem instead of the solution. (shrink)