Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

October 1, 2021
by Alex King

The Performative Wokeness of Netflix’s The Chair

Netflix’s new comedy/drama gets some key things wrong about higher education, including its “sendup” of woke culture. Continue reading

April 18, 2018
by Aesthetics for Birds

#nofilter: Philosophical Reflections on Photography in the Age Of Instagram

What follows is a guest post by Daniel Star (Boston University). All photographs are the author’s own. (Readers are encouraged to follow the links in captions for full-size, full-resolution images.) We’ve all seen it. Maybe we’ve done it. Maybe we’ve “liked” it. Someone takes a snapshot of a wonderful sunset with a smartphone and posts it on a social media site with the “#nofilter” hashtag. This is one of the most popular hashtags on Instagram, and it is now also used widely on Facebook and Twitter. The sunset was no doubt beautiful (sunsets tend to be beautiful), but it’s unlikely that the photograph itself was of a high quality – smartphone shots rarely are, and even a setting sun will tend to blow out highlights (bright regions in images, see below), leaving empty space in part of the photo. Perhaps this doesn’t matter, because the point of such a social … Continue reading

April 4, 2017
by Aesthetics for Birds

Artistic Representations of Philosophical Thought

There’s a post over at the general interest philosophy blog Daily Nous that might be of interest to our readers. Susanna Berger, assistant professor of art history at the University of Southern California, has posted an excerpt adapted from her book, The Art of Philosophy: Visual Thinking in Europe from the Late Renaissance to the Early Enlightenment (Princeton University Press, 2017). From Berger: I show how their inventive iconography inspired new visualizations of thought in a range of drawn and printed sources, including student lecture notebooks, printed books, and alba amicorum (friendship albums). The book culminates with a new study of the celebrated frontispiece to Hobbes’s Leviathan. I argue that previous accounts of the print have failed to capture the full complexity of this etching and offer a new, if complex, account of this famous image—one which emphasizes the process of the state’s generation. Artists and philosophers invested significant amounts of … Continue reading

August 16, 2014
by Aesthetics for Birds

Damn the Consequences

What follows is a guest post by James Harold. James is a Professor of Philosophy at Mount Holyoke College. He works primarily in aesthetics and meta-ethics, and is particularly interested in the intersection of those two fields. He has also written about the role of principles in critical evaluation, philosophical psychopathology, empirical ethics and aesthetics, and ancient Greek and Classical Chinese philosophy. In a universe not terribly distant from this one, however, he’s still working in scene design and carpentry, probably at some small regional theater. When a contemporary philosopher condemns a work of art for being morally flawed, you can bet good money that she does not mean that the artwork has pernicious effects on its audiences.[i]More likely she means that the work sympathizes with a vicious protagonist, that it endorses a morally odious viewpoint, or something along these lines. In the twenty years or so since the revival of “ethical … Continue reading

June 27, 2014
by Aesthetics for Birds

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 … Continue reading