Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

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The “Uncanny” Life and Philosophy of Joseph Margolis: A Farewell

What follows is a guest post by Andrea Lorenzo Baldini (Nanjing University) talking about the life and philosophy of the recently passed Joseph Margolis (Temple University)

The philosopher of art Joseph Margolis passed away on June 8th of this year. I received the news about his passing while I was riding the subway on my way to a meeting with one of my students. The sad update was mentioned in an email that a common friend sent to me. Joe, as we usually called him, was 97 years old, born on May 16, 1924. He received his PhD from Columbia in 1953, where he met – among others – the influential philosopher and art critic Arthur Danto. He started teaching at Temple University in 1968, and would never retire.

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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

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Arthur Coleman Danto (1925-2013)

There are the good philosophers who contribute in productive and informative ways to the understanding of or debates surrounding significant issues within a certain field of philosophy. Then there are the truly great philosophers who single-handedly change the shape of the very field itself. Arthur Coleman Danto was without question among the latter.

Not only did Danto lay the foundation for contemporary aesthetics [The Transfiguration of the Commonplace (1983) being his most seminal and groundbreaking work], but he also happened to be one of the most influential and significant art critics of the last three decades. To help put this into perspective, imagine that in addition to writing A Theory of Justice (1971), Rawls also spent the latter third of his life as Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.  

While I’m saddened by Danto’s passing, I’m also so incredibly delighted and honored to be, in however small a fashion, part of the enormous philosophical and art critical legacy he left behind.