Aesthetics for Teens!

On August 16, 2017, I led a workshop called Philosophy of Design: Aesthetics to the Graphic Design Studio at Artist for Humanity. First of all, if you don’t know about them, you will be inspired to learn more. They employ about 150 teenagers to learn and make art. They all begin in the painting studio and possibly move into other studios, like graphic design, sculpture, or silk screening. My talk focused on the philosophy of aesthetics, particularly beauty.

Since teenagers do not often have the opportunity to learn about philosophy, it seemed like a crash course in philosophy was essential. After going over some of the branches of philosophy and main ideas and questions, I guided them into a reenactment of Plato’s allegory of the cave. We had prisoners, cut-out shapes, and, since it was daylight, a super bright flashlight made by Fenix as the light source.

One of the core virtues of philosophy is learning to question one’s assumptions. We brought up a pervasive belief the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I challenged them to come up with some reasons to support this idea and, more difficult, reasons to reject this idea. With that in mind, we discussed three things thought to be conditions for beauty: proportion, wholeness, and radiance.

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