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?

The Beautiful Business

Tom Morris, philosopher to the business world, wrote an excellent book a while back called, If Aristotle Ran General Motors. The title, as he notes early on, is meant to be more symbolic than literal, with Aristotle standing in for philosophy and General Motors standing in for any business. What Morris presents is a way … Continue reading The Beautiful Business

Beauty: Objective or Subjective

Historically, philosophers wrote systems of philosophy that tried to connect the different branches—metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, and political philosophy—unifying the branches top each other. Steadily in the twentieth century, the academy became hyper-specialized. A few have attempted to systematically look at philosophy as whole again, as illustrated by Crispin Sartwell's 2017 book, Entanglements: A System … Continue reading Beauty: Objective or Subjective

Dislike and Taste

When discussing taste, we often speak about good or bad taste as if they are passively present in a person. "You either have good taste, or you don't." But what we choose to experience, and either like or dislike, is part of the process of developing taste. What it means to dislike something has not … Continue reading Dislike and 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

Dissolving the Ego: Aesthetics and Individuality in Senecan Philosophy

Guest Post by Scott Lepisto The ancient Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca the Younger doesn’t just aim to teach his readers: he aims to transform them. Wonder at the beauty and mystery of the natural world plays a significant role in Seneca’s transformational program. He devotes less effort to explaining his aesthetic theory than to offering … Continue reading Dissolving the Ego: Aesthetics and Individuality in Senecan Philosophy

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 … Continue reading Review of Aesthetics by Bence Nanay

Beauty in African Philosophy

Beauty has a long history in philosophy. "The Concept of Beauty in African Philosophy," by  Diana-Abasi Ibanga, adds to this history by explaining another perspective. Ibanga, a researcher in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Calabar, Nigeria, begins his article by drawing attention to the fact that the pursuit and experience of beauty … Continue reading Beauty in African Philosophy

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