AESTHETICS FOR BIRDS

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone


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Polite Conversations: Philosophers Discuss the Arts

What follows is a guest post by Brandon Polite (Knox College).

In my YouTube series, Polite Conversations: Philosophers Discuss the Arts*, I interview philosophers about their work in aesthetics and the philosophy of art. We typically discuss a particular journal article or public philosophy piece (including some pieces from Aesthetics for Birds), diving into their views and exploring their implications for anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes. The aims of this series are twofold. The first is that I want to show off the cool and innovative work that’s happening in the field of aesthetics right now, both to the wider philosophical community and to the general public. There is some really amazing work being done in our field, and more people should know about it!

The second aim is pedagogical. Getting to see philosophers doing philosophy together can be a really eye-opening experience for students. To that end, these videos can be used as a way to deepen your students’ insights into a text you’ve assigned them to read, which is how I use them. Alternatively, one or more could be used in place of readings if, say, they’re too advanced for an introductory-level course. I have painstakingly edited the captions—including sometimes highlighting key terms and phrases—to make them accessible to those who want or need them. As teaching tools, the videos are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

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FIVE STRATEGIES FOR ARGUING ABOUT ART ON THE INTERNET

Meme by Brandon Polite (via Den of Geek)

What follows is a co-authored post by Brandon Polite and Matt Strohl. It is a follow-up to an earlier post about online arguments about art here.

Disagreeing about art should be a positive experience. It has the potential to expand our perspective, prompt us to articulate our views more precisely, enrich friendships, and broadly enhance our engagement with works of art. The internet has massively expanded opportunities to engage in disagreement, but has done so in a way that often appears to work against these aims. Characteristically, disagreement about art on the internet is shallow and hostile.

In our previous post, we considered why disagreement about art on the internet is so horrible and unproductive. We argued that the root of the problem is that we are often personally invested in our views about art and that we therefore tend to take certain opposing views as personal attacks. If Jimmy is a passionate Taylor Swift fan and Cynthia tweets that Taylor Swift is a sham artist, Jimmy feels like Cynthia is insulting him. If he posts an angry response to her tweet, it’s not primarily because he believes so strongly that she’s wrong; it’s because he’s defending himself as a Swiftie and lashing out at a Swift Hater. The internet massively expands the scale of opportunities for this sort of interaction and puts us in touch with a huge number of people who we ordinarily wouldn’t discuss art with across a wide range of taste communities. Throw in the disinhibiting effects of online interaction, and it’s a powder keg ready to blow the instant someone posts something testy about The Mandalorian.

In this follow-up post, we suggest a range of strategies for better aesthetic disagreement—ways of avoiding hostile confrontations and instead promoting engaging, illuminating, mutually respectful discourse. 

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