Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

March 6, 2019
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Is Commander Shepard Female? Determining Canon in Video Games

What follows is a post in our JAAC x AFB collaborative series, where we highlight articles from the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism. This post features Marissa D. Willis’ recent paper, “Choose Your Own Adventure: Examining the Fictional Content of Video Games as Interactive Fictions“. “Video games don’t tell stories,” he told me. “They’re just games.” So said a friend of mine when I told him I was writing about video games as works of fiction. And despite his mansplaining my own topic to me, my friend was giving voice to the very problem which I hope to address. Despite the fact that more people are playing video games these days than ever before, and game makers continue to create more inventive and engaging narrative works every day, my friend is not alone in his opinion.

May 11, 2017
by Aesthetics for Birds
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JAAC X AFB Discussion: Holliday on the Puzzle of Factual Praise

Why do we care about certain facts but not others when we evaluate fiction? Why do some things need to be accurate, but others not? Today we’ll be discussing these issues in “The Puzzle of Factual Praise” by John Holliday available in JAAC’s Spring 2017 volume, 75 (2), online here. And big thanks to Christopher Bartel for providing the critical précis (below the fold). John offers a brief response, and they will both be available to discuss your questions and thoughts in the comments.

May 4, 2017
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Upcoming JAAC X AFB Discussion: Holliday on the Puzzle of Factual Praise

Why do we care about certain facts but not others when we evaluate fiction? Why do some things need to be accurate, but others not? If you’re curious, come back in *one week* when we’ll be looking at “The Puzzle of Factual Praise” by John Holliday available in JAAC’s Spring 2017 volume, 75 (2), online here. And big thanks to Christopher Bartel for providing the critical précis. John will provide a response to this, and they will both be available to discuss your questions and thoughts in the comments. Mark it in your calendars, and we look forward to seeing you then!

September 10, 2014
by Aesthetics for Birds
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The Matter of Serial Fictions

What follows is a guest post by Chris Tillman. Chris is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Manitoba. His main interest is in metaphysics, but he considers practically everything to be an issue in metaphysics. He is originally from Missouri, where his first major was in painting and he spent his free time in bands, including a country/rap band (hick-hop, if you will). These days his free time is more likely to be consumed by curing meats, genre fiction, and making Korean farmer hooch (makgeolli). Serial fictions pose special problems for accounts of truth in fiction. What is true according to a fiction at one time can appear to change as a story develops. Sometimes these changes are dramatic. According to A New Hope, and even according to early drafts of The Empire Strikes Back, it seems it was not true in the Star Wars fiction that Darth Vader … Continue reading

July 25, 2014
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Are There No Fictional Truths?

What follows is a guest post by Roy T. Cook. Roy 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. Standard approaches … Continue reading

May 15, 2014
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Catharine Abell Asks Some Silly Questions

What follows is a guest post by Catharine Abell. Catharine is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at The University of Manchester. She has published work on various topics in aesthetics, including pictorial representation, the nature of art, expression in art, and genre. She is currently trying to develop solutions to a range of philosophical problems posed by fiction. In this post, I want to discuss how we should understand the content of works of fiction. Their content is philosophically puzzling because, to understand a work of fiction, one must usually do more than just grasp its literal content. A fiction may implicitly convey, rather than explicitly represent, some aspects of its content. Let us call the literal content of a work of fiction its explicit representational content. Let us call the content of the story told by a work of fiction “what is true according to the fiction”. What is true according … Continue reading

January 2, 2014
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Interview with Philosopher-Poet Troy Jollimore

What follows is an interview with philosopher and poet Troy Jollimore. Troy is Professor of Philosophy at California State University, Chico. He is the author of Love’s Vision (Princeton University Press, 2011) and On Loyalty (Routledge, 2012) as well as over a dozen articles in journals including Midwest Studies in Philosophy, Canadian Journal of Philosophy, and American Philosophical Quarterly. He is also the author of two collections of poetry: At Lake Scugog (2011) and Tom Thomson in Purgatory, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry in 2006. He is a former External Faculty Fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center and is a 2013 Guggenheim Fellow. Aesthetics for Birds recently featured an interview with poet and critic David Orr, author of Beautiful and Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry. Much of David’s work as a critic aims at demystifying poetry for a modern audience. Of course, philosophical enquiry can be said likewise to aim at the demystification of its … Continue reading

September 21, 2013
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Alief and Knowledge from Fiction

What follows is a guest post by Allan Hazlett. Allan is Reader in Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, having worked previously for Texas Tech and Fordham Universities. He’s the author of A Luxury of the Understanding: On the Value of True Belief (Oxford University Press, 2013) and A Critical Introduction to Skepticism (Bloomsbury, forthcoming).  His research interests include the value of accurate representation, the value and nature of intellectual virtue, authenticity, testimony, knowledge attributions, and the cognitive value of fiction. Everyone, except for Plato, agrees that you can acquire knowledge through engagement with narrative fictions, including knowledge about things other than the form and content of the relevant fiction.  And there seem to be several species of knowledge from fiction.  Testimonial knowledge from fiction is acquired when a fiction makes a claim about the actual world, by exploiting (contextual and genre-relative) conversational assumptions about the similarity between the fictional world and the actual … Continue reading