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

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

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

Taste: Universal and Cultural

Beauty is the eye of the beholder. Regardless of what truth is contained in that statement, it is far too simple. The most common argument (not necessarily the best) is the a version of the following: people disagree about which objects are beautiful; therefore, beauty must be wholly subjective. And one's taste is subjective by … Continue reading Taste: Universal and Cultural

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

Can Beauty Save the World?

I remember hearing that Dostoevsky, in his book The Idiot, has a character utter the expression, "Beauty will save the world." I immediately liked this expression, if for no other reason than hoping it might be true. Years later, I finally got around to read The Idiot. I kept waiting with anticipation for the famous line … Continue reading Can Beauty Save the World?