Aesthetic Ineffability and the Rebirth of the Reader

Guest post by Venkat Ramanan The adjective “ineffable” appears to be used mostly in relation to either (a) a spiritual/mystical experience or (b) when we appreciate a work of visual or plastic art.  Here are some examples of (a) -  The British writer Karen Armstrong described Laozi (the Chinese philosopher from the 6th century BCE) … Continue reading Aesthetic Ineffability and the Rebirth of the Reader

Attention to Beauty

In his book, Aesthetics: A Very Short Introduction, Bence Nanay writes, "What all things aesthetic have in common is something very simple: the way you're exercising your attention" (p.22). To illustrate what he means, Nanay uses as an example the painting The Fall of Icarus by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Landscape with the Fall of … Continue reading Attention to Beauty

Tragic Freedom: Murdoch on the Sublime

Guest post by Meredith Drees In 1959 Iris Murdoch wrote “The Sublime and The Good,”[1] in order to sketch a “definition [of art] through a consideration and criticism of Kant’s” (S&G, 43). Murdoch’s general view of aesthetics is strongly influenced by Kant’s, but she argues that his theory must be rejected because it “fails to … Continue reading Tragic Freedom: Murdoch on the Sublime

JCLA: Interview with Richard Shusterman

On July 3, 2019, Yanping Gao conversed with Richard Shusterman, and that interview is printed in the Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics (JCLA) VOl. 43, No. 1, 2020. This conversation took place in Beijing following Richard Shusterman’s lecture to the Philosophy Department of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). One of the key … Continue reading JCLA: Interview with Richard Shusterman

The Sublime Spectacle of the Coronavirus Curve

Guest post by Sally Cloke In her article in this journal, Meredith Drees provides a clear and succinct explanation of Kant’s concept of the sublime, that sensation of terror mixed with satisfaction—“negative pleasure” as Kant expresses it [i](CJ 23:245)—that is frequently experienced when we observe the natural world at its most formidable and threatening. But … Continue reading The Sublime Spectacle of the Coronavirus Curve

Sublimity as a Symbol of Moral Dignity

Guest post by Meredith Drees In Kant’s Critique of Judgment, he states that “sublime is what even to be able to think proves that the mind has a power surpassing any standard of sense” (25:250).[1] My aim in this essay is to argue that experiences of sublimity give us a glimpse of morality and true … Continue reading Sublimity as a Symbol of Moral Dignity

'Vivaldi for Gorillas': Seeking Aesthetics in Adversity

Guest Post by Venkat Ramanan While held prisoner in Auschwitz, the Italian writer Primo Levi, in an effort to keep himself anchored, tried to recall all the cantos of Dante’s The Divine Comedy and explicate its intricacies to his fellow inmates. There were, naturally, gaps in Levi’s memory. He got frustrated with this lapse and … Continue reading 'Vivaldi for Gorillas': Seeking Aesthetics in Adversity

Engineering Aesthetics: Beautifying Practical Solutions

Engineering, we might think, is simply the application of math and science to solve practical problems. However, there exists an intimate connection with aesthetics. Rolf Faste—in his article "The Role of Aesthetics in Engineering"—mentions that the word 'aesthetics' has its origins in ancient Greek with the idea of sense perception. To understand the importance, he … Continue reading Engineering Aesthetics: Beautifying Practical Solutions

The Aesthetics of a Prison

Whether prison is supposed to punish people or reform them is an endless and tiring discussion. But either way, it seems that once people have "paid their debt," we have to at least allow them the chance to become decent members of society again. There's a strong stereotype that someone is made even worse by … Continue reading The Aesthetics of a Prison

Three Design Conditions of Thomas Aquinas

The concept of design entered new arenas in contemporary society. Design in traditional fields, like architecture, has clearly changed as exemplified by modern architectural feats. And design has entered areas that didn't even exist years ago, like web design. With new developments and changes in culture, design demonstrates those change. However, there are some principles of design that … Continue reading Three Design Conditions of Thomas Aquinas