Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

April 25, 2014
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Are There Objects of Olfactory Perception?

What follows is a guest post by Clare Batty. Clare is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Kentucky. She received her B.A. (Hons.) in Philosophy from Simon Fraser University in 1999, and her Ph.D. from MIT in 2007.  She works primarily in the philosophy of mind and, in particular, the philosophy of perception. Her current research focuses on olfactory experience. Her recent publications include “Olfactory Objects” (forthcoming, Perception and is Modalities, ed. S. Biggs, D., Stokes and M. Matthen, OUP), “The Illusion Confusion” (Frontiers), and “Smelling Lessons” (Philosophical Studies).  I want to start with a disclaimer.  I do not work in aesthetics.  Some of my future projects, however, will move toward discussions of olfaction and aesthetics.  What I want to do in the entry is fairly simple.  I want to draw some connections between what philosophers of perception, and the empirical researchers they draw from, discuss and show how that … Continue reading

March 22, 2014
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Aesthetics’ Philosophical Importance

What follows is a guest post by Anna Christina Ribeiro. Stop and think for a moment about the things you have done and said, and the thoughts you have had today. Have you noticed the look of a newscaster on television, or the voice of one on the radio? When you got dressed this morning, did you consider the look of your clothes, how well they matched, or how well they reflected your style or your mood? Have you looked out the window and thought it was a nice day, or a dreary day? Have you listened to music? Watched a movie or TV show? How many times in the process of doing these things did you think ‘That is beautiful’ or ‘That is a great story but the protagonist could have done a better job’ or discussed your reactions to a song, a show, a film, a novel, an … Continue reading

October 27, 2013
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The Aesthetic Appreciation of Natural Disasters

What follows is a guest post by Helen de Cruz. Helen is a British Academy postdoctoral fellow at the University of Oxford, affiliated to the Faculty of Philosophy and Somerville College. She has authored numerous journal articles on a variety of issues within philosophy of cognitive science, philosophy of religion, naturalistic approaches to epistemology, and the integration thereof. Her personal webpage can be found here.   Hayao Miyazaki’s animation movie Ponyo features a tsunami. The tsunami is shown in its full threatening and destructive power, yet is rendered with a great aesthetic sensibility. On several occasions, Miyazaki expressed his aesthetic delight in natural disasters, and defended it as follows:   There are many typhoons and earthquakes in Japan. There is no point in portraying these natural disasters as evil events. They are one of the givens in the world in which we live. I am always moved when I visit … Continue reading

October 15, 2013
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A Very Practical Defence of Aesthetic Value

What follows is a guest post by Simon Fokt. Simon is a recent graduate of University of St. Andrews and a professional musician. His work focuses on classification of art, aesthetic properties and art ontology, and exploring the borderlines of art and the aesthetic. His publications include ‘Pornographic art – a case from definitions’ (British Journal of Aesthetics 52.3, 2012) and ‘Solving Wollheim’s Dilemma: A Fix for the Institutional Definition of Art’ (Metaphilosophy 44, 2013). Aestheticism doesn’t fare very well these days. Modern artists not only aren’t very interested in making aesthetically pleasing works, but have developed a certain disdain towards them. Being aesthetically pleasing is often seen as being at best passé, and at worst an expression of artistic naivety or acclaim seeking. Of course, this is not without reasons – a great deal of aesthetic ideas have been exploited, beauty may be an obstruction on the road to art’s … Continue reading

October 8, 2013
by Aesthetics for Birds
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For Evolution, Beauty is as Beauty Does

What follows is a guest post by Mohan Matthen. Mohan is Professor of Philosophy and Senior Canada Research Chair at University of Toronto. He has published numerous articles on issues in philosophy of biology and sense perception and is the author of Seeing, Doing, and Knowing: A Philosophical Theory of Sense Perception (Oxford: Claredon Press, 2005). This post also appears at New APPS (here). What is it to find something beautiful? To take pleasure in looking at it, or in listening to it, or in otherwise contemplating it. One might find the proof of the Pythagorean theorem beautiful. If this is literally true, it is because intellectually contemplating it gives one pleasure. But let’s stick to the senses, and pleasure in gazing or listening. Why have we evolved to have a sense of beauty? That is, why do we take pleasure in contemplating certain things? (I’ll just assume that the … Continue reading