Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

March 15, 2019
by C. Thi Nguyen
2 Comments

A Rawlsian Theory of Food Culture

John Rawls said, famously, that the way to judge a society was to look at the condition of its worst-off.⁠1 It doesn’t matter how rich or well-educated the people at the top are. The best society is the one that best treats the people at the bottom. Let me suggest a corollary: the Rawlsian Theory of Food Culture. The Rawlsian Theory of Food Culture says that, if you want to judge the quality of a food culture, don’t look at its finest restaurants and best food. Look to its low-end. Look to its street carts, its gas-station snacks. Look to what you can get in the airport at 2 AM. Any community can spit up a few nice places to eat, if they throw enough money at it. What shows real love for food, and real caring, is when people make good food when they could get away with making … Continue reading

June 13, 2018
by utahphilosoraptor
2 Comments

Just Desserts? Cakes, Court Cases, and Creativity

What follows is a co-authored post by AFB staff writers Matthew Strohl and Mary Beth Willard. John Corvino writes, of the narrowly decided Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, that the Supreme Court punted on many of the substantive issues: What counts as protected speech, and why? Does it matter if the cake is custom? If it has words on it? How do we distinguish messages that are integral to one’s identity as a member of a protected class and those that are incidental to it? We suspect it does matter if the cake is custom, but that the focus on messaging is a red velvet herring. To our minds, this isn’t primarily an issue of protected speech, at least in the sense being widely discussed in connection with the recent SCOTUS decision. Sherif Girgis and Robert P. George argue that custom wedding cakes bear expressive content, in particular, … Continue reading

June 5, 2018
by utahphilosoraptor
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On the Aesthetics of Playing Piano

In the penultimate measure of the first movement Clementi’s Sonatina No. 36, there is a short cascade of notes: This sonatina is often used as a teaching piece, because it’s a great introduction for the early intermediate pianist to the techniques required in more complicated piano pieces. This little cascade is a good example of why. It’s short, only eight notes long. In the numbering system every beginner learns, your thumbs are ones; your pinkies, fives. The G and A keys are right next to each other on the keyboard, and one might expect that the prescribed fingering of two adjacent notes would require two adjacent fingers. Perhaps, because the sequence continues down the keys, the four and five fingers, so that other fingers are properly positioned to reach the next notes. But that’s not what happens. The G is struck with the thumb, and the A with the fourth … Continue reading

May 29, 2018
by Roy T Cook
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More Than Skin Deep with Jack Woods

Jack Woods interviewed by Roy Cook for AFB Jack Woods is University Academic Fellow in Mathematical Philosophy (боже мой) at the University of Leeds. Prior to this post, he worked at Bilkent University (in Ankara, Turkey). He studied at the University of Minnesota (MA) and took his PhD from Princeton University. He works in philosophy of logic and mathematics, as well as metaethics, the theory of normativity, and philosophy of language. Recent publications include “The Authority of Formality” (Oxford Studies in Metaethics, vol 13), “Logical Partisanhood” (Philosophical Studies), “Intertranslatability, Theoretical Equivalence, and Perversion” (Thought), and “Emptying a Paradox of Ground” (Journal of Philosophical Logic). Prior to studying and working as a philosopher, he played in short-lived punk bands and worked as a bouncer at clubs in Boston, including the Rat, the Middle East, and P.J. Kilroys (Fathers Too), nearly all of which are now closed.

May 25, 2018
by utahphilosoraptor
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Fearless Girl on the Move?

Latest development in the Fearless Girl case, brought to you only three weeks late courtesy of yrs truly and the end of the semester: the city wants the girl moved, citing traffic and safety concerns. I can’t imagine that any one was surprised by this decision, given the statue’s story as an advertisement playing opposite an iconic piece of guerilla art. It was unlikely that it would stay forever. And at 250 pounds, it hardly presents the obstacle to removal that Charging Bull did; it’s a much easier call.

May 1, 2018
by Roy T Cook
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More Than Skin Deep with Eva Dadlez

Eva Dadlez interviewed by Roy Cook M. Dadlez is a professor of Philosophy at the University of Central Oklahoma. She received her Ph.D. from Syracuse University. She writes on issues at the intersection (often at the collision) of aesthetics, ethics, and epistemology. She has written two books on the preceding: What’s Hecuba to Him? Fictional Events and Actual Emotions (Penn State Press 1997) and Mirrors to One Another: Emotion and Value in Jane Austen and David Hume (Wiley-Blackwell 2009), as well as numerous journal articles and book chapters including “Art, Ink, and Expression: Philosophical Questions About Tattoos”, Philosophy Compass 10(11): 739 – 753. Her edited collection for Oxford University Press, Jane Austen’s Emma: Philosophical Perspectives is presently in production. Dadlez is also a feminist ethics dilettante and an occasional novelist. She has indulged in the composition of a mean-spirited academic satire (The Sleep of Reason) that lampoons higher education in … Continue reading

March 27, 2018
by Roy T Cook
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More than Skin Deep with Frank Boardman

Frank Boardman interviewed by Roy Cook for AFB Frank Boardman is is a visiting assistant professor at Worcester State University. Most of his work has been in philosophy, art and rhetoric. He has a completely unwarranted belief that he could also write about parenting, technology or basketball.

March 26, 2018
by Roy T Cook
1 Comment

More than Skin Deep

Here at Aesthetics for Birds we furnish the reader with philosophical discussions of artworks and artforms that other, fussier venues dare not discuss. In 2018 alone we’ve posted on punk rock, space art, cookbooks, cosplay, and country music. Over the next few months we’ll be adding another topic to that list: tattoos.

March 22, 2018
by Matt Strohl
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Netflix and Will

[Editor’s note: This piece was updated in September 2021.] Aesthetic weakness of will is usually thought of as an incongruity between one’s judgment about the quality of an artwork and one’s liking for it. If I think the Twilight movies are bad but I can’t help but like them, that’s supposed to be aesthetic weakness of will. But is liking really a matter of the will? I might be able to take actions meant to diminish my liking for Twilight: carry around a picture of Bella and Edward and look at it every time I feel nauseous, tell everyone I meet that I like Twilight to give them the opportunity to shame me, or deliberately watch the movies more often than I want to so that I become sick of them. If I judge that I should take these actions but then fail to follow through because I love Twilight too much, that sounds like weakness of will. … Continue reading