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

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

Aesthetic Intelligence, Part 1

Beauty, and aesthetics more generally, is often considered to be nonessential. A pragmatic person may think aesthetics are unimportant, if something works. A humanitarian may think what's really important is that people are fed, clothed, and sheltered. A medical person may believe that health is the key concern for people. While all these elements are … Continue reading Aesthetic Intelligence, Part 1

Consumer Taste

Theories of aesthetic taste have been developed in the fields of philosophy, psychology, and sociology. But market and consumer research has not spent as much time developing theories of aesthetics taste to put into their different practices. Wayne D. Hoyer and Nicola E. Stokburger-Sauer opened this discussion in their article, "The Role of Aesthetic Taste … Continue reading Consumer Taste

Urban Planning and the Beautiful

Beauty is likely not one of the most important considerations people think about when planning in an urban environment. Probably transportation and housing, along with other amenities associated with tourism, would be higher on most people's list. But in a CityLab article from May 15, 2019, Richard Florida explains some new research that shows a … Continue reading Urban Planning and the Beautiful

Fleeting Beauty

Every year, thousands of people flock to the first public beach in America, Revere Beach (est. 1896) for the International Sand-Sculpting Festival. These are wonderfully complicated works that sculptors create in a short time, and they don't last very long. Shortly after the festival is over, the sand sculptures disappear. “SHELLter" by Jonathan (Jobi) Bouchard … Continue reading Fleeting Beauty

Beauty and Morality

When we first see the elephant man without his burlap mask in David Lynch's 1980 film, our first impression is that he is ugly. We then come to understand throughout the movie that he is a beautiful person. This extreme example represents the confusion in which we often find ourselves between morality and beauty. People … Continue reading Beauty and Morality

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