Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone


STANLEY CAVELL (1926-2018)


Stanley Cavell died on Tuesday, June 19, at the age of 91. Obituaries and memorial notices can be found here, here, and here (a more complete list, including foreign-language sources, is here.) He was a prolific writer—the author of 17 books and countless essays—and  a famously stimulating teacher, but it would be impossible to convey in a short piece like this what made Cavell’s writing and teaching inimitable. Instead, I will limit myself to trying to explain a bit of what I think is so important about Cavell’s work in aesthetics. Continue reading




This post provides all of the information that is currently available about where to formally study aesthetics and philosophy of art. Note: There is a more recent version of this post here, from December 2020.

It also includes a request for help from those working on aesthetics and philosophy of art in universities in the English-speaking world. Kathleen Stock (Sussex) has created a document that aims to comprehensively catalog all faculty working in these areas. But we need your help to fill it in! Continue reading

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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.


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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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

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



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

*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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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.”

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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;


  • 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: