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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What follows is a guest post by Michael Newall (University of Kent). This post is a partial continuation of the earlier post about Hans Maes’ recent book, Conversations on Art and Aesthetics.

Hans Maes’ excellent book, Conversations on Art and Aesthetics (Oxford UP, 2017), features a collection of ten photographic portraits of philosophers of art by Steve Pyke. (These can also be viewed on the website for the book, where it has to be said they appear to better effect. The book also features one portrait by philosopher and artist Claire Anscomb, which appears on the website too.) Pyke, of course, is known within philosophy as a photographer of many of its leading lights. Nobody has documented philosophers in this way before, and few professions have the benefit of such a constant and accomplished portraitist. Continue reading




This post appears as part of a collaboration between Oxford University Press and AFB.

This edition of the Artworld Roundtable will focus on Conversations on Art and Aesthetics. The book contains interviews with ten prominent philosophers of art. The interviews are conducted by philosopher Hans Maes, who is Senior Lecturer in History and Philosophy of Art, and Director of the Aesthetics Research Centre at the University of Kent at Canterbury. Accompanying these interviews are portraits by photographer Steve Pyke.

From the book’s website, where you can also read excerpts and view the portraits:

In Conversations on Art and Aesthetics, Hans Maes discusses … key questions in aesthetics with ten world-leading philosophers of art. The exchanges are direct, open, and sharp, and give a clear account of these thinkers’ core ideas and intellectual development. They also offer new insights into, and a deeper understanding of, contemporary issues in the philosophy of art.

The ten interviewees are Jerrold Levinson, Arthur Danto, Cynthia Freeland, Carolyn Korsmeyer, Jenefer Robinson, Roger Scruton, Gregory Currie, Paul Guyer, Noël Carroll, and Kendall Walton.

Our contributors are:

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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.


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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.



OUP Editor and Indie Rock Legend Peter Momtchiloff interviewed by Christy Mag Uidhir

Peter Momtchiloff has been philosophy editor at Oxford University Press since 1993. He studied classics at Oxford. He has played guitar in many bands, including Talulah Gosh, Heavenly, and currently the Would-be-goods and Les Clochards. Continue reading



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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