AESTHETICS FOR BIRDS

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone


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ADRIAN PIPER AT MoMA

A philosopher and artist is getting lots of recognition lately, culminating in an upcoming solo show at MoMA. Adrian Piper, who received the Golden Lion from the Venice Biennale in 2015, has enjoyed several shows in the past couple of years, and will now have a major exhibition at MoMA, “Adrian Piper: A Synthesis of Intuitions, 1965–2016” (March 31 to July 22, 2018), which will then travel to the Hammer Museum in LA (dates being finalized) before going abroad.

From the MoMA press release:

[T]he exhibition, which will be seen in its entirety only at The Museum of Modern Art, will occupy the Museum’s entire sixth floor—the first time that entire level has been devoted to the work of a living artist.

Exciting!

And the MoMA title isn’t just about her art. She has written about Kant’s notion of intuition. And indeed, this isn’t a case where “philosopher” is just tacked on to add some weight to other titles (like all those “artist, model, poet, DJ, and philosopher”s out there now). Piper is hugely research active in philosophy. To get an idea of her philosophical breadth, see some of her work here. She has published on Kant, aesthetics, rationality, race, and non-Western philosophy. According to Wikipedia, Piper was also the first African-American woman to receive tenure in philosophy in the US.

Her conceptual art is centrally concerned with race – with topics like passing as white, exclusion, otherness – as well as issues like sexism, responsibility, and subjectivity. She examines these issues through performance, drawing, collage, installation, and painting.

And for those of you in NYC or nearby who can’t wait until the MoMA solo show can check out her work at the Levy Gorvy Gallery, up until October 21.

See other announcements:


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CALL FOR EDITOR: INTERNET ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY (IEP)

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP) seeks a new area editor for Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art.

The IEP is a great resource and well worth contributing to. From their “About” page:

At present, the IEP has over a million visitors per month, and about 20 million page views per year. The Encyclopedia is free of charge and available to all users of the Internet world-wide.

The primary tasks for IEP area editors are:

  1. maintaining a list of desired articles in their area,
  2. recruiting authors for articles,
  3. coordinating peer evaluation of articles submitted,
  4. keeping accurate records of which articles are in which phase of production, and
  5. assuring that final manuscripts comply with the author guidelines.

For more detailed guidelines, see here.

Anyone interested in the position should contact Jim Fieser at jfieser@utm.edu.

If you’re interested in helping the IEP, but don’t have the time to devote to being an editor, here are some options.


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NEW FACES AT AESTHETICS FOR BIRDS

Welcome back to a new year at Aesthetics for Birds!

This year will bring all sorts of new things for the blog, but the most exciting is that we have five new collaborators! With these philosophers on board, we will be able to provide you with much broader, more diverse, and more frequent content. Other changes and new features will accompany this addition, but first the introductions.

For those of you who are new to AFB, I will begin by introducing myself and Rebecca. (For more about AFB, visit our About page.)

Alex King (Editor-in-Chief and Contributor; handles: aestheticsforbirds*, alexforbirds)
Alex (that’s me) owns and is editor-in-chief of AFB. She is currently Assistant Professor at University at Buffalo (= SUNY Buffalo). Her research concerns the relationships among practical, moral, and aesthetic normativity. She also works on ‘ought implies can’ and issues surrounding high and low art (see her post on this topic), but likes thinking about all sorts of different issues across aesthetics and art.

Rebecca Victoria Millsop (Assistant Editor and Contributor; handle: rebeccavictoriamillsop)
Rebecca recently received her PhD from MIT’s philosophy department and is now happily employed as a lecturer at the University of Rhode Island. Her research interests include aesthetics and philosophy of art, metaphysics, philosophical logic, philosophy of food, and the work of Immanuel Kant. She’s especially interested in the normative primacy of aesthetic experience in explaining the metaphysical nature of art. She is both an academic and an artist, maintaining an artistic practice focused on non-representative, sculptural painting.

Next, our newest assistant editor and contributor:

C Thi Nguyen (Assistant Editor and Contributor; handle: rorschah)
Thi is Assistant Professor at Utah Valley University. He wrote his dissertation at UCLA on moral epistemology and the epistemology of disagreement. He works right now includes social epistemology and value epistemology, including work on the nature of echo chambers. Philosophical interests include issues in the objectivity of aesthetic judgment, and the nature and purpose of aesthetic criticism. His current research interest is developing an aesthetics of games. He’s a founding editor of the Journal of the Philosophy of Games. His most recent publication in aesthetics was The Uses of Aesthetic Testimony, which was really about all the ways we have to trust each other in our aesthetic lives. Also check out this recent essay on the aesthetics of rock climbing. For his complete publications, see here.

And last, but definitely not least, are our four new contributors:

Roy T. Cook (Contributor; handle: roytcook)
Roy is CLA Scholar of the College and John M. Dolan Professor of Philosophy at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. He works primarily in the philosophy of logic, the philosophy of mathematics, and the philosophy of (especially popular) art – sometimes all at once. He is the author of The Yablo Paradox: An Essay on Circularity (Oxford 2014) and Key Concepts in Philosophy: Paradoxes (Polity 2013); the editor of The Arche Papers on the Mathematics of Abstraction (Springer 2007); and co-editor of The Art of Comics: A Philosophical Approach (Wiley-Blackwell 2012, w/ Aaron Meskin), The Routledge Companion to Comics (Routledge 2016, w/ Frank Bramlett & Aaron Meskin), and LEGO and Philosophy: Constructing Reality Brick by Brick (Wiley-Blackwell 2017, w/ Sondra Bacharach). He enjoys thinking seriously about the art forms he engaged with as a teenager: video games, punk rock, superhero comics, tattoos, and LEGO. [ed. note: If you don’t get enough of him here at AFB, check out his regular column “Paradoxes and Puzzles” at the Oxford University Press blog.]

Nick Stang (Contributor; handle: nickstang)
Nick Stang lives in the great, cold city of Toronto, Ontario, where he’s an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto. He spends most of his non-aesthetics time thinking about metaphysics – what it is, how it might be possible – mainly from the perspective of Kant and Hegel. He recently wrote a book about Kant. In aesthetics, he has very wide ranging interests. Unsurprisingly, he is acutely interested in what various Dead Germans thought about art: Kant, Hegel, Gadamer, Heidegger, and others. But he’s also interested in more contemporary discussions about the value of art and aesthetic experience. The artforms he’s engaged with most in his life are novels, operas, movies, and long-form TV, so he expects to be talking about them a lot on AFB. His fondest wish is to be Stanley Cavell.

Matt Strohl (Contributor; handle: strohltopia)
Matt is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Montana, and he specializes in Ancient Greek philosophy and aesthetics. Much of his research has centered on Aristotle’s theory of pleasure and Ancient Greek theories of pleasure in general. He’s also extremely interested in film, television, food, and music, and these interests have motivated and shaped his approach to aesthetics. He’s been working on questions about horror, negative emotional response to art, moralist critiques of rap, food authenticity, and the normative implications of cultural appropriation (in collaboration with Thi Nguyen). Recently he’s started thinking about genre and its role as an enabling condition for creativity and artistic achievement. [ed. note: If you don’t get enough of him here at AFB, you can check out his blog, which contains mostly his thoughts about TV and movies – for instance, his recent post “55 Nicolas Cage Performances, Ranked by Cage Factor”.)

Mary Beth Willard (Contributor; handle: mbwillard)
Mary Beth [ed. note: no hyphen!] is Associate Professor at Weber State University, which is in Ogden, Utah. Her main areas of research are in metaphysics, including work on simplicity, and aesthetics, where she has broad interests but writes about street art and public art. (AOS: plainly needs to focus.) She loves the philosophical community that’s developed in aesthetics, as it’s one of the most welcoming, creative, and fun groups in the discipline.

We’re all looking forward to engaging more with you and providing you with lots of cool and interesting stuff to think about. And as always, if you have questions, comments, or suggestions, send an email to aestheticsforbirds@gmail.com.

*A note about handles: “aestheticsforbirds” is the blog’s main handle, not Alex’s personal one. Look for things like announcements, links, guest posts, and anything not written by a contributor (for example, entries in our 100 x 100 x 100 series).


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KENNETH WALDEN WINS THE INAUGURAL DANTO/ASA PRIZE!

Military Symbols 1, Marsden Hartley, ca. 1913–14, Charcoal on paper, 24 1/4 x 18 1/4 in., The MET

The American Philosophical Association and the American Society for Aesthetics are pleased to announce that Professor Kenneth Walden (Dartmouth College) has been selected as the winner of the inaugural Arthur Danto/American Society for Aesthetics Prize for his paper, “Art and Moral Revolution.”

The Danto/ASA Prize, in the amount of $1,000, is awarded to a member of the APA and the ASA for the best paper in the field of aesthetics, broadly understood. In addition, a symposium in honor of the recipient of the prize is held at the APA Eastern Division meeting, normally the next such meeting following the selection of the prize winner. This prize is in honor of the late Arthur Danto, a past president of the APA Eastern Division.

Walden is assistant professor of philosophy at Dartmouth College. His areas of expertise are ethics, epistemology, Kant, and aesthetics. He received his Ph.D. from MIT. Walden has published in the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Ethics, Philosophical Studies, and Oxford Studies in Metaethics, with two articles forthcoming at other journals.

The chair of the selection committee said, “Works of art can effect incremental tweaks to our moral concepts or patterns of moral response. Kenneth Walden’s “Art and Moral Revolution” contends that art sometimes goes further, transforming frameworks of moral thought. In the spirit of Arthur Danto, in whose memory this prize is given, Walden advances an ambitious and far-reaching argument through insightful redescriptions of Wagnerian opera and the provocative street performances of the Cynics.”

Original post: http://blog.apaonline.org/2017/06/21/kenneth-walden-wins-the-inaugural-dantoasa-prize/


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ASA 75TH ANNUAL MEETING PRELIMINARY PROGRAM NOW AVAILABLE

The 75th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Aesthetics will be held in New Orleans November 15-18, 2017.

Check out the preliminary program PDF: ASA Preliminary Meeting Program

George Overbury “Pop” Hart, Springtime, New Orleans, 1925, Lithograph;
The MET

REGISTRATION:

  • Early-bird registration is available on-line through October 15.
  • To register on-line (with a credit card), click the red REGISTER button on this page.
  • To receive the discounted ASA member rates, please log into the ASA site FIRST.
  • To mail in registration (with a check), use this form.
  • Early-bird deadline for mail-in registration: postmark by October 10

Everyone on the  program (as a presenter, panelist, commentator, or chair) MUST register for the meeting and MUST be a member of the ASA.

The Wollheim Lecturer at this meeting will be Professor Derek Matravers, Open University, UK.

The ASA will provide:

Highlights:


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CONGRATS TO THE WINNERS OF THE 2017 APA CURRICULUM DIVERSIFICATION GRANTS

ca. 1885, Made in New York, United States, Silk, satin, velvet, and cotton, credit: The Met

The American Society for Aesthetics is pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 Curriculum Diversification Grant competition:

Chris Jenkins, Associate Dean for Academic Support, Oberlin Conservatory
Project:  The Aesthetics of African-American Classical Music
Erich Hatala Matthes, Assistant Professor, Wellesley College
Project: Art and Cultural Heritage
Rossen Ventzislavov, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Woodbury University
Project: The Aesthetics of Performance Art
CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF THE WINNERS!!!

Each will receive a grant of $5,000 to prepare the proposed diversity curriculum. These will be posted on the ASA web site in September 2017. This is a project of the ASA Diversity Committee, chaired by Thi Nguyen.

To see the final curricula of the 2015 and 2016 winners, click here.


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ARTHUR DANTO ASA PRIZE – DEADLINE 5/31

The Arthur Danto/American Society for Aesthetics Prize will be awarded to a member of the APA and the ASA for the best paper in the field of aesthetics, broadly understood, in a refereed journal, or an original book chapter or original essay published in a collection with a multiplicity of contributors. This prize is in honor of the late Arthur Danto, a past president of the APA Eastern Division.

Arthur C. Danto, Head, 1957, woodcut,
15”x18.25”. Photo: Liz Murphy Thomas.

The winner receives a $1,000 prize. In addition, a symposium in honor of the recipient of the prize is held at the APA Eastern Division meeting, normally the next such meeting following the selection of the prizewinner.

The nomination deadline is May 31, 2017.

Nominees must be members of both the APA and the ASA in the year of the nomination. For the inaugural award, nominated papers must have been published in 2015 or 2016. Nominations must be from a person who is a member of both the APA and the ASA at the time of nomination. Self-nominations are not permitted. To submit a nomination, fill out the Danto/ASA Prize nomination form.

We look forward to receiving your nominations!

 


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WORKSHOP IN AESTHETICS AND COGNITIVE SCIENCE

The American Society for Aesthetics is providing $4000 to support the Workshop in Aesthetics and Cognitive Science at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, June 28, 2017. The Workshop is being held in conjunction with the 2017 meeting of the Society of Philosophy and Psychology (SPP) June 28-July 1.

Miraculous Landing, or the “112!”, Paul Klee, Watercolor, transferred printing ink, and ink on paper mounted on cardboard, 1920, The Met

Funding for the workshop is also being provided by the Neuroaesthetics Initiative of Johns Hopkins’ Brain Science Institute (BSI) and by the Johns Hopkins Humanities Institute (JHU HI).

The organizers are Steven Gross (Johns Hopkins, Philosophy) and Mohan Matthen (University of Toronto, Philosophy). The workshop will consist of three invited symposia (on art and skill, art and pleasure, and creativity), with four speakers each; a general roundtable discussion; a dance performance and discussion; a closing reception; and a poster session.

Wednesday, June 28 – Saturday, July 1, 2017

Johns Hopkins University

Keynote Speakers:

Brit Brogaard, Peter Godfrey-Smith, Alison Gopnik, and Dan Schacter

Invited Symposia:

Bayesianism in Cognitive Science and Neuroscience

Edouard Machery, Michael Rescorla, Richard Samuels, and Fei Xu

Consciousness and Introspection

Elizabeth Irving, Hakwan Lau, Michael Shadlen, and Wayne Wu

Race, Language, and Social Identity

Luvell Anderson, Anthony Burrow, Ron Mallon, and Marjorie Rhodes

Testimony and Collective Memory

Alin Coman, Bryce Huebner, Jennifer Lackey, and Melissa Koenig

There will also be addresses by SPP President Shaun Nichols and the winner of the 2017 Stanton Prize, which is awarded to a leading young interdisciplinary researcher. The William James Prize will be awarded for the best student submission, and attendees will vote on the best poster for the SPP Poster Prize.

SPP has established a fund devoted to increasing diversity within the society. Eligible student presenters are invited to apply for travel awards when submitting via Easy Chair. Travel awards are to be used to cover conference-related expenses, including transportation, lodging, food, and conference registration. A limited number of additional graduate student travel awards will also be allocated.

A pre-conference workshop, co-sponsored by the American Society for Aesthetics, is scheduled for Wednesday, June 28, on Cognitive Science and Aesthetics. Speakers:

-art and pleasure: Mohan Matthen, Paul Bloom, Ed Connor, and Dmitri Tymoczko

-art and skill (perceptual): Diana Raffman and Dustin Stokes

-art and skill (performance): Emma Gregory, Mike McCloskey, and Barbara Landau; and Barbara Gail Montero

-creativity: Dan Schacter, Peter Carruthers, Anjan Chatterjee, and Elisabeth Camp

There will also be a general discussion, led by Jerry Levinson, and a dance performance by Barbara Gail Montero and Gregory Kolarus of “Echolocation”, with music composed by Dmitri Tymoczko. Note: submissions concerning cognitive science and aesthetics that are accepted for poster presentation will be included in the first poster session, the evening of the workshop.

Inquiries about the meeting should be directed to the Program Committee Chairs: Steven Gross <mailto:sgross11@jhu.edu> and Tamar Kushnir <tk397@cornell.edu>. Inquiries about the local arrangements should be directed to the Local Arrangements Chair Steven Gross.


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AARON MESKIN REMEMBERS PETER KIVY


Peter Kivy, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University and an incredibly influential contemporary philosopher of art, passed away last week. See other announcements here, along with a statement from the Rutgers Philosophy Department. What follows is a guest post by Aaron Meskin, a former student of Peter Kivy’s.

Please feel free to share any stories, comments, or reflections below.

Differences: Remembering Peter Kivy

I met Peter in the early 1990s when I started my PhD at Rutgers. I didn’t really know about philosophical aesthetics before I moved to New Brunswick, and I certainly didn’t see it as a live career option. Peter’s seminars, and those wonderful aesthetics reading groups in the basement of Davidson Hall, introduced me to a field that would come to be the focus of my intellectual life. (Peter’s tutorial-style method of teaching, which required us to regularly read out short writing assignments, was incredibly helpful. He told us that when we were in the profession we would occasionally find that we had to produce a decent piece of writing at very short notice and that his class would be good practice. He was right, and it was.)  If it hadn’t been for Peter’s generosity, and the example he provided, I would have likely left the profession after an ill-fated attempt to work in another area. He was always supportive.

There were some limitations to our academic relationship, of course. I remember sometime during my time at Rutgers seeing an advertisement for a conference focused on faculty/student collaboration. Jokingly, I asked Peter whether we might collaborate. He was not keen. “I’ve never collaborated with anyone on anything up until this point, and I’m not going to start now.” Strictly speaking that wasn’t true. His first published article, “Stimulus Context and Satiation,” in the Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, was co-authored with two others. But that was published while Peter was still an undergraduate at Michigan. And as far as I know he never again co-authored a paper in 60 years. I suppose the world is not really worse for lacking a paper on absolute music and wordless comics.

“Peter was loyal to his students,
and he inspired loyalty in us.”

In any case, our relationship continued after I defended my PhD. Peter was loyal to his students, and he inspired loyalty in us. We met pretty regularly—he’d come and give another great talk in Lubbock or Leeds, or we’d see each other at an ASA meeting where he regularly arranged dinners with his former students. Or we’d get together, with his wife Joan of course, in New York or Santa Fe or London. He always had new work and a bit of advice.

I know that it’s tempting to focus on Peter’s contribution to the philosophy of music. His research shaped the field. (I found Music Alone especially memorable, but I know that Peter was particularly proud of his book on opera, Osmin’s Rage.)  His scholarly work on the history of aesthetics was also groundbreaking. Where would our understanding of the development of aesthetics be without The Seventh Sense and the rest of Peter’s work on Hutcheson, Hume, Reid and others? Not very far along, I venture. And his recent publications in the philosophy of literature have reinvigorated debates about literature’s cognitive value, reading, and form/content unity. I love teaching that work—and the responses to it—in my philosophy of literature courses. If you haven’t taught Peter’s work, I strongly recommend doing so. The clarity of his arguments and his lucid style make it ideal for introductory classes in aesthetics.

But it was Peter’s emphasis on the importance of paying philosophical attention to the differences between various art forms, as he discussed in his 50th Anniversary Presidential Address to the American Society of Aesthetics, and his 1997 CUP monograph, Philosophies of Arts, that made the biggest impact on me. As he put it in his address:

But I do urge, and indeed predict that progress in the philosophy of art in the immediate future is to be made not by theorizing in the grand manner, but by careful and imaginative philosophical scrutiny of the individual arts and their individual problems, seen as somewhat unique, individual problems and not necessarily as instances of common problems of some monolithic thing called “ART.”

Of course this sort of approach was just how Peter had worked throughout his career. He did do some work that might be characterized as ‘theorizing in the grand manner’, especially early on in his career. His first monograph was about aesthetic concepts, and there are two great articles on aesthetic emotivism. There is the award-winning 2015 monograph, De Gustibus: Arguing about Taste and Why We Do It? But most of his non-historical work involved careful and imaginative scrutiny of the individual arts of music and literature and the distinctive problems they raise. And he made a hell of a lot of progress over the course of a couple dozen books and many dozen articles. The work was original and, for many of us, exemplary.

“The work was original
and, for many of us, exemplary.”

I think Peter’s prediction has largely been proven to be correct. Significant progress in the philosophy of art has in recent years been made by careful scrutiny of the individual problems raised by film, poetry, dance, music, street art, comics, and videogames (among other things). Yes, even comics and videogames. Peter didn’t entirely approve, but he didn’t entirely disapprove either.

In fact, I’d go a bit further than Peter.  The differences between the arts are not the only differences to which philosophical aesthetics should attend. Thankfully, we are beginning to attend to those differences. But, of course, Peter did not think that philosophers of art should only pursue differences. He warns, in the epilogue to Philosophies of Arts, that it would be a serious mistake if the pursuit of differences ‘should become the monolith that the pursuit of sameness has been since the Enlightenment’. He’s right, and thankfully it hasn’t.  Work on sameness—most notably the definition of art—has been reinvigorated over the last few years.

We were very different. The oboe is not really my thing, and I don’t care so much for Manhattans. I prefer rap music to the western classical tradition. (Thankfully, he never heard me say that.)  I’ll probably never be able to tell a joke like him, and I’m certain that I’ll never write that many great books. Who will? But despite our differences, there were important areas of sameness. We shared a love of the philosophy of art, of the community of philosophical aesthetics and of the arts. I’ll miss being able to talk about those things with him. I’ll miss finding out about his new work.  I’ll miss his advice and his sense of humor. I’ll miss him.

Note on the contributor:

Aaron Meskin is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Leeds. He works on many issues in aesthetics, including experimental aesthetics, food, comics, as well as on the psychology and epistemology of aesthetics.