Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

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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

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.


Leiter Rankings of Aesthetics Grad Programs


From Leiter Reports, the 2016-2017 Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art grad program rankings.

Group 1 (1-5)

City University of New York Graduate Center
New York University
University of British Columbia
University of St Andrews/University of Stirling Joint Program
University of York

Group 2 (6-10)

Brown University
Columbia University (incl. Barnard)
University of Auckland
University of Leeds
University of Maryland, College Park

Group 3 (11-17)

Birkbeck College, University of London
McGill University
Princeton University
Stanford University
University of Manchester
University of Texas, Austin
University of Warwick

(Note:   Michigan was close to Group 3 [I think it was underrated in 2014, and should be at least in Group 2]; also take note of the programs not evaluated in 2014 but that were viewed as worth recommending by the Advisory Board”  Buffalo, Temple, Hull, Oklahoma & Southampton.  Stanford’s presence on the list is due primarily to a part-time visiting appointment of the distinguished philosopher of art, Kendall Walton–students should make sure that appointment is continuing.)

What say you, Readers? Agree? Disagree? Anything useful for curious, aspiring graduate students to know? (Besides that they probably would be unwise to put all their eggs in an aesthetic basket?)

Readers may also be interested in the ASA’s graduate study guide here. It doesn’t contain any ranking information, but does have a nice list of programs and their associated faculty who are interested in aesthetics. (Although I notice it doesn’t include *cough* my own institution…)

Image credit: Korry Benneth, numbers via Flickr

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Elisa Caldarola, an Italian philosopher working in analytic aesthetics, has written an illuminating piece for cheFare about her education and academic career so far. Her story starts:

I earned a philosophy degree in my native country, Italy. I enrolled, at eighteen, because I wanted to understand art through philosophy. I had this idea that art could give meaning to life and that philosophy could explain how this is.

And then she fell down the rabbit hole of contemporary analytic philosophy to try to answer this question.

[A]t Oxford I finally realized that there were some intermediate stops I couldn’t bypass: I had to turn myself into an analytic philosopher and, concomitantly, into one who thinks in English and writes in English, because that was the language of analytic philosophy. So my question about art in general had turned into a question about how pictures work, which had brought to the question of how to turn myself into an analytic aesthetician and to the effort of appropriating the English language.

She goes on to draw attention to the significance of language barriers, as well as geographical, financial, and motivational hurdles that will sound familiar to many. She also talks about the pressure to do things on a certain schedule, pressures to present oneself in certain ways, and how all of these things intertwine with being a woman in philosophy.

Have a look and have a think. Comments welcome.

(h/t Philosopher’s Cocoon)

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This announcement comes courtesy of Simon Fokt (Leeds)

The Diversity Reading List enables teachers to quickly locate high-quality texts from under-represented groups that are directly relevant to their teaching. Currently, the list focuses on ethics, but in the near future it will be expanded to all areas of philosophy.

The List exists largely thanks to the involvement and recommendations of all those who care about making philosophy a discipline of equal opportunity. It is a new and evolving resource, and we would welcome recommendations of texts to be included. We also encourage you to share your experiences of using specific texts in teaching by posting comments to particular list entries. Please use our Contribute page for recommendations and all other comments and suggestions.


Philosophers’ Carnival #174

Welcome to the 174thPhilosophers’ Carnival

My apologies for getting this to you so late. I had to bring the place up to code.

 Please Enjoy the Rides.


Let’s kick out the blogospheric jams first with some Aesthetics for Birds. AFB has a real treat for all you art-lovers: An Interview with Rachel Hecker, award-winning visual artist and painter.


Those hungry for some Collingwood & Dewey should head on over to Bag of Raisins to strap on the positive feedbagback loop of beauty (patent pending).


God Detector: if God exists and nearby, you’ll be the first to know!

Over at The Prosblogion, Rik Peels deals a blow to lazy atheists everywhere by arguing the belief that God does not exist cannot be produced by a mechanism that is both truth-oriented and reliable. As such, atheism cannot be a properly basic belief—i.e., must get its warrant from argument.


Yet another entry in the seemingly endless nightmare that is the human brain can be found at In Search of Logic. Learn how to unlock ancient mysteries, bend others to your will, heal them with but your words, and probably also shoot lasers from your eyes, all courtesy of the thing that brought you such classics as GenocideRacismAll Around Terribleness, and more recently Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.


Terence Cuneo at PEA Soup lays a trap for expressivists looking to dip their grubby mitts into the realist cookie jar — the thick expressivist fist swollen with semi-sweet realist treats cannot work its way back out of the jar and so must relinquish its bounty for thin expressivist crumbs insufficient to motivate any further incursion.


Alexander Pruss, determined to preserve a satisfying necessity, resists the neo-conventionalist temptation promising him definitional dominion over all even numbers.


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NOT John Danaher

When presented with cases of Psychopaths who’ve murdered and tortured countless human beings as well as untold numbers of puppies and kitty cats, John Danaher asks (in what for dramatic purposes I suppose must be a cold, disquieting manner):Can you blame them?


Eric Schwitzgebel continues playing the blame game at The Splintered Mind, asking after blameworthiness for unwelcome thoughts and spontaneous actions. Assholes are blameworthy as such. However, some assholes don’t want to be assholes. Are they blameworthy for what we suppose is their wholly unwelcome, spontaneous, and uncontrolled asshole thoughts and asshole reactions? Sure. They’re assholes.


ba5c6-batman.jpg (640×255)
Send copies of Free Will, Agency, and Meaning in Life to:
Bruce Wayne Batman
c/o Com. Jim Gordon
Gotham City

Susan Dwyer at Flicker of Freedom provides an extensive treatment on the connection between the free-will belief and retributivist punishment—dialing down credence in the former translates into diminished amount of the latter. The lesson here of course is that perhaps its not the best idea to remind others that you are a human being and certainly not a great idea to demand you be treated as such.

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See! The Joker gets it!


Tristan Haze at Sprachlogik again but whets the appetite for the coming philosophical feast of de re modality.

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There’s de re modality.
Then there’s de Rudy Ray modality.


Finally, want to know more about the Neo-Carnapian Metametaphysical Revolution currently sweeping the Philosophical Nation? Try Carnap Blog.

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Philosophers’ Advice for Working in Aesthetics

This is a neat little video that features several prominent Aestheticians offering nuggets, snippets, and travel-size bits of professional advice for those interested in working in the field.

**Warning: the video gets a bit wonky around the 5:43 mark.**

Thanks to the INTERACT folks for doing this (and also for wisely editing out the super-dark turns my own interview started to take like some Chicken Soup for the Soul book written by Todd Solondz). 



The 2014 Philosophical Gourmet Report is now live (here) along with the results of the Philosophy of Art Specialty Rankings (here).

A few initial observations to get some discussion going:

1. As has always been the case, the rankings are largely based upon the presence of a single senior faculty member working in the field.

2. Here’s a quick breakdown of the seven evaluators for the Philosophy of Art Specialty Ranking:

  • # of women: 0/7
  • # who work primarily in History of Philosophy: 3/7
  • # of junior faculty: 1/7
  • # with degrees from US programs: 4/7
  • # with positions that are currently or have primarily been located outside US: 5/7

3. I’d be interested to see how the rankings square with the data collected here, here, and here.

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Ergo Launches 1st Issue

Ergo, an Open Access Journal of Philosophy published its first issue today.


The first issue includes four papers plus an editorial with the data about submissions and turnaround times. Managing Editors Jonathan Weisberg & Franz Huber (Toronto) have really done an outstanding job. It’s a shame that more philosophers of art didn’t submit something.

Also, as part of a multi-pronged coordinated philosophical strike, four blog posts have now appeared, one on each of the four papers in the first issue. Below are the links:

Julia Jorati (OSU) on a paper in early modern by Paul Lodge (Oxford): Here

Anna Mahtani (LSE) on a paper by Michael Caie (Pittsburgh): Here

Ellen Clark (Oxford) on a paper in philosophy of biology by Christopher Hitchcock (Caltech) and Joel Velasco (Texas Tech): Here

Thomas Nadelhoffer (Charleston) on a paper in experimental philosophy by John Turri (Waterloo): Here

Come on, Aestheticians! Ergo is not only swimming in prestige but more importantly cares enough to appoint two area editors for Philosophy of Art & Aesthetics (myself and Catharine Abell). How about you return that love with some kick-ass submissions.

[First 10 papers submitted receive a coupon good for one Revise-&-Resubmit

Just Kidding: Desk rejections for all!]



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 art exhibit, with friends? Do you sometimes have a pleasant feeling come over you when you look at someone’s face? When you look at a sunset? When you stop and stare at waves crashing one after another on a beach, and the vastness of the sea behind them? When you see the trees swishing to the breeze outside, and a feeling of peace fills you and you forget for a moment what you were doing? Did you imagine, as you read these lines, each of these scenes, and did you react similarly to each of them as you might have were you really experiencing those things? Now consider how you often stare in awe at a lightning storm, which as you know could easily kill you as it has killed many, and yet you take pleasure at the sight of it anyway—usually so long as you take yourself to be safely sheltered, but sometimes even when you know that you are not. Or when you read a novel whose subject is unpleasant, do you not yet relish the way the story is told, the way it engages your thoughts and feelings? When you read or hear a poem, do you ever notice how the words used, they way they sound together, engages you as much as the meaning of what is being said? Do you feel about some languages that you love or hate the way they sound, regardless of whether you understand the language? Is there someone whose voice you enjoy hearing even if what they are saying is not of great importance, or whose voice grates on you no matter how momentous what they say is, to the point of interfering with your paying attention to what they are telling you?

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