Review of Aesthetics by Bence Nanay

Bence Nanay published his book, Aesthetics: A Very Short Introduction, with Oxford University Press in 2019. Below you can read the opening paragraphs of my review of it for the Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics, and find a link to the full pdf.

Opening to the review:

With hundreds of titles in Oxford’s Very Short Introduction series, including volumes covering most of the branches of philosophy, one may wonder why it took so long to get one in aesthetics. Those studying aesthetics may not be surprised, but Bence Nanay’s Aesthetics: A Very Short Introduction is a welcome addition.

Aesthetics has become too frequently discussed in the context of art, to the point where any distinction between philosophy of art and aesthetics seems almost superficial. Nanay addresses right away this common conflation by stating directly that aesthetics is not the same thing as philosophy of art. “If an experience is worth having for you, it thereby becomes a potential subject of aesthetics” (3). This claim, in a way, sets the stage for the rest of the book. While many of our aesthetic experiences involve art, it is important to realize, as Nanay notes, “Aesthetics is everywhere” (2). Aesthetics is the study of the experiences that are evoked by objects, which include artworks but also goes beyond art.

For the downloadable pdf, click here.

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