Ugliness and Climate Solutions

How aesthetics impacts our decision-making is often ignored or overlooked. Some researchers, for example, have claimed that our feelings (i.e., aesthetic responses) account for 85 percent of our decision-making for retail purchases. Another example from clothing helps to illustrate this point further. In Everyday Aesthetics, Yuriko Saito describes how natural fibers, such as wool and … Continue reading Ugliness and Climate Solutions

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

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

Review of Wandering in the Land of Oblivion

The Urbano Project in Jamaica Plain (Boston) has a wonderful show by artist Constanza Aguirre, on view from November 9, 2018 through January 11, 2019. Her art explores the relationship that people have with work. What happens when displaced people are thereby prevented from working? Do they become less human?  In my art review (see … Continue reading Review of Wandering in the Land of Oblivion

Aesthetics Versus Philosophy of Art

It has become increasingly common to use the word 'aesthetics' when really talking about art. While it is true that many works of art are beautiful or have other aesthetic properties, most people claim to deny that aesthetics is a necessary component of art. One just has to think about Marcel Duchamp's Fountain (1917); he claimed … Continue reading Aesthetics Versus Philosophy of Art

Review of Scientific Purposes

Here is my review of Anna Schuleit Haber's exhibit Scientific Purposes (In which a murderous hairdresser donates his head to science, with one restriction) in Boston (March 2 - April 15, 2018). This is part one of a series for Big, Red & Shiny. For these essays, I review a show through the lens of a particular … Continue reading Review of Scientific Purposes

Beauty and Art

Robert Wellington has written a brief defense of the value of beauty in art. He explains: "Let me be clear. I am not saying that works of art ought to be beautiful. What I want to defend is our felt experience of beauty as way of knowing and navigating the world around us." He takes us … Continue reading Beauty and Art