Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone




What follows is a guest post by Alex King (Buffalo).

It’s a sad truth that aesthetics isn’t taken particularly seriously in the contemporary philosophical scene. And I think Bence Nanay is right to suggest that this is in part due to the perceived elitism of aesthetics. In this post, I’ll argue that we can make progress on this front by discussing an issue of independent philosophical interest: the distinction between high and low art and between so-called “highbrow” and “lowbrow” audiences. The moral, basically, will be this: Quit being so judgy.
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Keeping Our Place

What follows is a guest post by Jennifer Judkins. Jennifer is an Adjunct Professor at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, where she teaches music bibliography for performers and guides graduate research. She spent many years standing in the back of orchestras counting rests, and her musings between timpani rolls have nursed many years of interest and writing in aesthetics, especially in regard to musical performance. Recently, she was a contributor to the Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Music (2011)

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Conceptual Artist Simon Morris interviewed by philosopher Darren Hudson Hick

Though he seems to spend most of his time playing with cats, Darren Hudson Hick is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Texas Tech University, where his research focuses on the ontology of art, philosophical problems in intellectual property law, and related issues. He is the author of Introducing Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art (Continuum, 2012). For more on Darren, go to

Simon Morris (b. 1968) is a conceptual writer and teacher. He is a Reader in Fine Art at the University of Teesside in the UK. His work appears in the form of exhibitions, publications, installations, films, actions and texts which all revolve around the form of the book and often involve collaborations with people from the fields of art, creative technology, literature and psychoanalysis. In 2002, he founded the publishing imprint information as material. He is the author of numerous experimental books, including; Bibliomania (1998); The Royal Road to the Unconscious (2003); Re-Writing Freud (2005); Getting Inside Jack Kerouac’s Head (2010); and Pigeon Reader (2012). He is an occasional curator and a regular lecturer on contemporary art and also directed the documentary films sucking on words: Kenneth Goldsmith (2007) and making nothing happen: Pavel Büchler (2010). Further information can be found here:

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What follows is a guest post by Donald Brook.

Almost everyone takes Barnett Newman’s remark that ‘Aesthetics is for the artist as Ornithology is for the birds’ to be insightfully true.

In spite of this the sense in which it is true is seldom clearly spelled out, and the sense in which it is not true is almost universally ignored despite the obvious ease with which it can be spelled out. Continue reading


Allographic Artworks & Their Instances

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What follows is a guest post by Lee Walters. Lee is a Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Southampton where he teaches courses on metaphysics, philosophy of language, and fiction and fictionalism. His research focuses on the metaphysics of art; fictional characters and their names; and the logic and semantics of conditionals.

It is widely, though not universally, accepted that there can be distinct allographic artworks (e.g. pieces of classical music, and novels) that are indistinguishable with respect to their intrinsic, structural or notational properties. What consequences does this claim about works have for an allographic work’s instances? In particular, can there be intrinsically indiscernible instances which fail to be instances of the same work? More generally, when is x an instance of some particular work, w?
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Representation Defined

What follows is a guest post by Jim Hamlyn. Jim has previously been described on Aesthetics for the Birds as an “asshole” and a “Brook acolyte”, [**in the comments section here, with a snapshot found here**] at least one of which he freely admits is probably true. Aside from this Jim is a lecturer at both The Glasgow School of Art and Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen, Scotland where he is also an established member of the IDEAS Research Institute. His research on the subject of imagination led him in 2011 to the work of the Australian art theorist Donald Brook whose theories of representation and cultural evolution, Jim believes, have significant but largely unexplored implications for our understanding of art, perception and consciousness.

[**CHRISTY NOTE: In the following guest post, Jim has adopted a fictional Q&A format for rhetorical purposes.**]

Q: What is representation?

A: It’s the substitution of one thing for another. Representations are stand-ins.

Q: So, if I replaced a cat with a dog, would that be a representation?

A: That depends on several things – the respects in which you want the dog to represent the cat, the strategy of representation you use and the skills and especially the perceptual weaknesses of the person or creature you’re offering the representation to.

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Difference Between Artworks & Scientific Models


What follows is a guest post by Eric Winsberg. Eric is Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Florida. His principal interests are in the philosophy of science and the philosophy of physics. He is especially interested  in the role of computer simulations in the physical sciences, in issues in the philosophy of climate science and their application in science policy and ethics, and in the foundations of statistical physics and the direction of time. He is the author of Science in the Age of Computer Simulation, which appeared in the fall of 2010 with the University of Chicago Press. He is also working on co-editing a book with Harvard University Press on the direction of time, and another on the Conceptual Foundations of Climate Models. These days, when he is not teaching or writing philosophy, he is probably lifting weights, stand up paddle-boarding, or working on perfecting his pizza making.

What is the Difference Between an Art Object and a Scientific Model?

Too many things to list, of course–if we are talking about their function, their standards of evaluation, or a myriad of other things. But what if we are talking about their ontological status? None. None much difference.

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Interview with Visual Artist Curtis Gannon

Artist Curtis Gannon interviewed by Christy Mag Uidhir

Curtis Gannon (b. 1974) completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Houston, and then received an MFA in Painting at San Diego State University. Using American action comics as source material, Gannon creates collages, sculptures and installations that reference the Pop language of the medium and its influence as a universal form of visual communication. Gannon’s works have recently been exhibited at Blaffer Gallery, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Williams Tower, and Lawndale Art Center. Gannon lives and works in League City, TX.

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What follows is a guest post by Henry Pratt.

Sometimes, when asked what I work on, I’ve been known to reply, “Philosophy of the mustache.” In the past, this has always been a lie. This site seems like an appropriate venue for correcting the problem and mitigating my guilt, particularly because of esteemed Professor Mag Uidhir’s own fondness for sporting a mustache most appropriate to the genre of seedy 1970’s biker films.

Though ridiculous, the philosophy of facial hair is actually a pretty interesting topic, one that raises a number of issues in aesthetics and ethics and the intersection of the two.

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Interview with Philosopher & LEGO Sculptor Roy T. Cook

Roy T. Cook is an extremely nerdy associate professor of philosophy at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, a resident fellow of the Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science, and an associate fellow of the Northern Institute of Philosophy – Aberdeen, Scotland. He has published over fifty articles and book chapters on logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of art (especially popular art). He co-edited The Art of Comics: A Philosophical Approach (Wiley-Blackwell 2012) with Aaron Meskin, and his monograph on the Yablo Paradox is forthcoming from Oxford University Press. He is also a co-founder of the interdisciplinary comics studies blog PencilPanelPage, which recently took up residence at the Hooded Utilitarian, and hopes to someday write a book about the Sensational She-Hulk. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife, two cats (Freckles and Mr. Prickley), and approximately 2.5 million LEGO bricks.

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