What is Aesthetic Taste?

Theories of taste ran rampant in the eighteenth century, but things have settled down a bit in academic circles. Despite all the books on aesthetics, few people (if any) have offered new theories of aesthetic taste. Yet we live in a time where the exercise of taste has become quite pervasive. Content creators and audiences … Continue reading What is Aesthetic Taste?

Eating and the Tasteful Subject

One of the more fascinating books I’ve read recently is Lauren F. Klein’s An Archive of Taste: Race and Eating in the Early United States. Klein writes that “in the late colonial era and into the early republic, America’s cultural and political leaders identified a causal relation between the cultivation of the American palate and … Continue reading Eating and the Tasteful Subject

Origin of the Golden Ratio

A common narrative about the Golden Ratio (1:1.618) permeates western aesthetic ideas, especially concerning beauty. We are taught that the Golden Ratio was discovered by the Greeks, perhaps Pythagoras, and that there is an assumed linear progression from their time to ours. In "The Golden Ratio, a Supposed Greek Invention, May have African Roots," Audrey … Continue reading Origin of the Golden Ratio

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

'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

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

Negative Aesthetic Concepts

Aesthetic experiences are powerful. They can help us remember particular moments by creating a sensual account in our memory. But they can also help us when we are describing an amazing experience, situation, or object to someone else. Basically, the aesthetic aspects we encounter enhance whatever else we may be experiencing. Sometimes it is the … Continue reading Negative Aesthetic Concepts

Review of The Experience of Beauty in the Middle Ages

THE EXPERIENCE OF BEAUTY IN THE MIDDLE AGES. By Mary Carruthers. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. Pp. xii+233. Hard Cover $150.00, ISBN: 9780199590322.             Most ideas from the Middle Ages are entangled in their views of theology and morality, at least that is how we often perceive it. We approach medieval ideas with the belief … Continue reading Review of The Experience of Beauty in the Middle Ages

Lebanon’s Sursock Museum

In 1961, the Sursock Museum opened, according to the will of Nicolas Ibrahim Sursock. He wanted to leave his estate as a museum to help define the public taste in Lebanon. Maru Pabón reviews a recent exhibition titled Ten Stories from the Sursock Museum Collection 1923 – 2016. It is set up as ten stories (or … Continue reading Lebanon’s Sursock Museum

Elegance in Japanese Art: Reflections on Cultural Changes

Beauty is not as different among cultures as it often appears. Proportion (or harmony), for example, has been an important characteristic of beauty since ancient Greece, despite all the changes and iterations it has undergone. As one culture is influenced by another culture’s view of beauty, they don’t have to abandon their original view. They … Continue reading Elegance in Japanese Art: Reflections on Cultural Changes