Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone




‘Aesthetic’ is a vague and frustrating term with a profligate and confused history.  During the Enlightenment, the term was employed as a synonym for beauty, which was understood as taking many apparently unrelated forms, from the natural world to gardens to art to interior decorating and even mathematics. In the last two hundred years, it has frequently been conflated with the concept of the artistic. Consequently, philosophical aesthetics has been understood as sharing the same subject matter as art criticism. Both of these conceptions are too restrictive when it comes to the contemporary discipline. Continue reading

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The following is cross-posted here and at Matt Strohl’s blog, Strohltopia.

Celine and julie.jpg

still from Céline and Julie Go Boating

There is wide chasm between the importance of Jacques Rivette’s work and the amount of attention it receives in the USA. My aim here is to promote Rivette awareness and provide information and guidance for those who are looking to get into his stuff but unsure of how to proceed.

1. Why Care About Rivette?
2. Chronological Survey
The Sixties
The Seventies
The Eighties
The Nineties
The Aughts
3. The Viewing Guide
Where to Start
Recommended Viewing Itineraries, organized by degree of hardcore-ness
Appendix: PAL speedup and what to do about it
Continue reading

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hendersonThe American Society for Aesthetics has sponsored the development of new, annotated reading lists, with an eye to increasing diversity. These are intended for use in teaching, but would make a great reading list for curious minds!

These are publicly available at the ASA website, but Aesthetics for Birds has asked the designers of these reading lists to provide us with brief overviews of what we can find in the documents. That way you, our readers, have a better idea of what you are looking at and what you might want to look for.

First up is “Art and Cultural Heritage” [link to pdf] by Erich Hatala Matthes. Continue reading

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Last week, we presented three new diversity curricula supported by the ASA.

Relatedly, here are a few bibliographies people might find useful in trying to assemble diverse course readings, or for those interested in exploring other areas:

Image credit: Nicolaes Maes, “An Old Woman Dozing over a Book” (1655), via NGA



The American Society for Aesthetics is pleased to announce three new aesthetics diversity curricula prepared by ASA members.

In addition, two curricula prepared in 2015 are available:

Each received a grant of $5,000 to prepare a diversity curriculum. This is a project of the ASA Diversity Committee, chaired by A.W. Eaton. The ASA has a three-year commitment to this project. Three more awards will be made in 2017. Guidelines will be available in the spring of 2017.

For future reference, all are available on this web site:
From the ASA web site, go to the red tabs in the upper right: ASA ==> Diversity



***UPDATED 07/31. I encourage readers to continue to send suggestions.***

Lamarque & Olsen’s Aesthetics & The Philosophy of Art: The Analytic Tradition is arguably the best general anthology in Contemporary Anglo-American Aesthetics. Unfortunately, this anthology distinguishes itself yet another way by having only 2 of its 46 articles written by women (in fact, the very same woman as it turns out). A friend of mine teaching philosophy of art for the first time recently discovered this and asked me to suggest some articles written by women with which to supplement the anthology. I’ve copied the list I sent him below so that it might be a useful resource for others in similar situations. I welcome and actively encourage readers to suggest additions in the comments section at which point I’ll update the list accordingly. However, please note that my interest lies with maximizing the number of distinct female authors rather than the number of distinct female-authored works.

  • Catherine Abell (2012). Art: What it is & Why  it Matters
  • Laurie Adams (1976). Van Meegeren v. Vermeer (from Art on Trial: From Whistler to Rothko, ch. 4)
  • Sondra Bacharach & Deborah Tollefsen (2010). We Did It: From Mere Contributors to Coauthors
  • Christine Battersby (1991). Situating the Aesthetic: a Feminist Defense
  • Karol Berger (2000). A Theory of Art
  • Peggy Zeglin Brand (1998). Disinterestedness and Political Art
  • Elisabeth Camp (2009). Two Varieties of Literary Imagination: Metaphor, Fiction, & Thought Experiments
  • Jinhee Choi (2003). All the Right Responses: Fiction Films and Warranted Emotions
  • Amy Coplan (2004). Empathic Engagement with Narrative Fictions
  • Mary Devereaux (1993). Protected Space: Politics, Censorship, and the Arts
  • Ellen Dissanayake (1992). Homo Aestheticus
  • Anne Eaton (2012). Robust Immoralism
  • Marcia Eaton (1982). A Strange Kind of Sadness
  • Susan Feagin (1983).The Pleasures of Tragedy
  • Cynthia Freeland (2007). Portraits in Painting and Photography
  • Stacie Friend (2008). Imagining Fact and Fiction
  • Tamar Gendler (2000). The Puzzle of Imaginative Resistance
  • Hannah Ginsborg (2006). Aesthetic Judgment and Perceptual Normativity
  • Lydia Goehr (1994). Political Music and the Politics of Music
  • Karen Gover  (2011). Artistic Freedom and Moral Rights in Contemporary Art
  • Karen Hanson (1990). Dressing Down Dressing Up: The Philosophic Fear of Fashion
  • Louise Hanson (2013). The Reality of (Non-Aesthetic) Artistic Value
  • Hilde Hein (1996). What Is Public Art? Time, Place, and Meaning
  • Kathleen Higgins (1991). The Music of Our Lives
  • Sherri Irvin (2005). Appropriation and Authorship in Contemporary Art
  • Amy Kind (2011). The Puzzle of Imaginative Desire
  • Carolyn Korsmeyer (1993). Pleasure: Reflections on Aesthetics & Feminism
  • Susanne Langer (1953). Feeling and Form: A Theory of Art
  • Shelia Lintott (2006). Toward Eco-Friendly Aesthetics
  • Béatrice Longuenesse (2006). Kant’s Leading Thread in the Analytic of the Beautiful
  • Catherine Lord (1977). A Kripkean Approach to the Identity of a Work of Art
  • Anna Mahtani (2012). Imaginative Resistance without Conflict
  • Mary Mothersill (1984). Beauty Restored
  • Marcia Muelder Eaton (1999). Kantian and Contextual Beauty
  • Martha Nussbaum (1990). Love’s Knowledge: Essays on Philosophy and Literature
  • Linda Nochlin (1971). Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?
  • Anna Christina Ribeiro (2012). Aesthetic Attributions: The Case of Poetry
  • Jenefer Robinson (1994). The Expression and Arousal of Emotion in Music
  • Stephanie Ross (1998). A Century of Taste
  • Yuriko Saito (2001). Everyday Aesthetics
  • Barbara Savedoff (1989). The Art Object
  • Elaine Scarry (2001). On Beauty and Being Just
  • Eva Schaper (1978). Fiction and the Suspension of Disbelief
  • Elisabeth Schellekens (2007). The Aesthetic Value of Ideas
  • Sandra Shapshay (2012). Schopenhauer’s Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art
  • Anita Silvers (1990). Has Her(oine’s) Time Now Come?
  • Kathleen Stock (2009). Fantasy, Imagination, and Film
  • Amie Thomasson (2003). Fictional Characters and Literary Practices
  • Katherine Thomson-Jones (2005). Reconciling Cognitivism & Formalism in Aesthetics
  • Sarah Worth (2004). Fictional Spaces