The aim of what I propose to call “existential aesthetics” is to investigate the various ways in which art and certain kinds of aesthetic practice or aesthetic experience can be of existential importance to people. Section I provides a definition of existential aesthetics, while Section II delineates this emerging field from cognate areas of research. Sections III and IV explore various subcategories and examples of existential aesthetics. Section V seeks to identify important avenues for future research and Section VI presents (...) some concluding thoughts about the potential of existential aesthetics and why philosophers should be encouraged to fulfill this potential. (shrink)
Judging works of art is one thing. Loving a work of art is something else. When you visit a museum like the Louvre you make hundreds of judgements in the space of just a couple of hours. But you may grow to love only one or a handful of works over the course of your entire life. Depending on the art form you are most aligned with, this can be a painting, a novel, a poem, a song, a work of (...) architecture, or some other art object or performance. As it happens, however, we have fallen in love with a series of films: Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight. But what does it mean to love a film? What’s the difference between liking a film, loving a film, and being a film lover? How rational or irrational is it to fall in love with a film? What are the constitutive elements of such a love? These are the questions we seek to address in this paper. -/- . (shrink)
What I will aim for in answering the title question is extensional adequacy, that is, I will try to formulate an account that captures as much of the extension as possible of what we ordinarily think counts as a portrait. Two philosophers have recently and independently from one another embarked on the same project. Cynthia Freeland’s theory of portraiture, as it is developed in her book, Portraits and Persons, is discussed in Sections 1 and 2 of this paper. Sections 3 (...) and 4 offer a critical exploration of Paolo Spinicci’s phenomenological study of portraiture. Finally, in Sections 5 and 6, I present an alternative account of portraiture, one that will hopefully address all the objections raised against the two competing theories. (shrink)
"Richard Linklater's trilogy of critically-acclaimed 'Before' films - Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight - depict the ongoing relationship and romantic destiny of two characters played by Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke. This collection of specially commissioned chapters explores the many philosophical issues raised in the films, including: the nature of love, romanticism and marriage the meaning of life the passage and experience of time the narrative self gender death. Including an introduction by the editors summarising the trilogy, and (...) an interview with Julie Delpy in which she discusses the key themes of the films and the importance of studying philosophy, The Philosophy of Richard Linklater's Before Trilogy is essential reading for students of philosophy, aesthetics and film studies, and also of interest to those in closely related subjects such as literature and gender studies"--. (shrink)
Art and Pornography presents a series of essays which investigate the artistic status and aesthetic dimension of pornographic pictures, films, and literature, and explores the distinction, if there is any, between pornography and erotic art. Is there any overlap between art and pornography, or are the two mutually exclusive? If they are, why is that? If they are not, how might we characterize pornographic art or artistic pornography, and how might pornographic art be distinguished, if at all, from erotic art? (...) Can there be aesthetic experience of pornography? What are some of the psychological, social, and political consequences of the creation and appreciation of erotic art or artistic pornography? This book will contribute to a more accurate and subtle understanding of the many representations that incorporate explicit sexual imagery and themes. It is sure to stir debate, and healthy controversy. (shrink)
Section 1 proposes a new philosophical account of melancholy. Section 2 examines the reasons why one might think that pornography and melancholy are incompatible. Section 3 discusses some successful examples of melancholic pornography and makes the case that feminist pornographers are particularly well-placed to produce such material.
Numerous philosophers have tried to define modesty, but none of them succeeds in articulating the necessary and sufficient conditions for this virtue. Moreover, all existing accounts ignore the striking self-other asymmetry that is at the heart of modesty. Drawing on the analogy with the practice of giving presents, I clarify and further investigate this self-other asymmetry. In the process, I show why Bernard Williams is right in pointing out the notorious truth that a modest person does not act under the (...) title of modesty and why Alan Bennett is wrong in supposing that all modesty is false modesty. (shrink)
Emily Brady and Arto Haapala (2003) define melancholy as a complex emotion with aspects of both pain and pleasure that draw on a range of emotions — sadness, love and longing — all of which are bound with a reflective, solitary state of mind. Melancholy, they argue, does not just play a role in our encounters with artworks and the natural environment but also invites aesthetic considerations into play in more everyday situations. As such, melancholy can be considered an aesthetic (...) emotion per se. In this paper, I critically examine the various aspects of Brady and Haapala’s account, then present an alternative analysis of melancholy and its aesthetic relevance. (shrink)
What is art? What counts as an aesthetic experience? Does art have to beautiful? Can one reasonably dispute about taste? What is the relation between aesthetic and moral evaluations? How to interpret a work of art? Can we learn anything from literature, film or opera? What is sentimentality? What is irony? How to think philosophically about architecture, dance, or sculpture? What makes something a great portrait? Is music representational or abstract? Why do we feel terrified when we watch a horror (...) movie even though we know it to be fictional? -/- In Conversations on Art and Aesthetics, Hans Maes discusses these and other key questions in aesthetics with ten world-leading philosophers of art: Noël Carroll, Gregory Currie, Arthur Danto, Cynthia Freeland, Paul Guyer, Carolyn Korsmeyer, Jerrold Levinson, Jenefer Robinson, Roger Scruton, and Kendall Walton. -/- The exchanges are direct, open, and sharp, and give a clear account of these thinkers' core ideas and intellectual development. They also offer new insights into, and a deeper understanding of, contemporary issues in the philosophy of art. (shrink)
Jerrold Levinson conveniently summarizes the main argument of his essay "Erotic Art and Pornographic Pictures" in the following way:Erotic art consists of images centrally aimed at a certain sort of reception R1.Pornography consists of images centrally aimed at a certain sort of reception R2.R1 essentially involves attention to form/vehicle/medium/manner, and so entails treating images as in part opaque.R2 essentially excludes attention to form/vehicle/medium/manner, and so entails treating images as wholly transparent.R1 and R2 are incompatible.Hence, nothing can be both erotic art (...) and pornography; or at the least, nothing can be coherently projected as both erotic art and pornography.1I have argued elsewhere .. (shrink)
Caffeine makes you sexy! This absurd slogan can be seen in the shop windows of a popular Brussels coffee chain – its bold pink lettering indicating how they are mainly targeting female customers. It is one of the silliest examples of something that is both very common and very worrisome nowadays, namely, the constant call on women to look ‘hot’ and conform to the standards of sexiness as they are projected in the media, entertainment industry, and advertising. But what exactly (...) is wrong with this state of affairs and what can be done about it? In a recent essay Sheila Lintott and Sherri Irvin take up this issue and make an elaborate case for what they call a ‘feminist reclamation’ of sexiness. This chapter investigates the merits and shortcomings of their proposal, presents an alternative account, and considers how pornography may be part of the problem but also part of the solution in this matter. (shrink)
Art and pornography are often thought to be mutually exclusive. The present article argues that this popular view is without adequate support. Section 1 looks at some of the classic ways of drawing the distinction between these two domains of representation. In Section 2, it is argued that the classic dichotomies may help to illuminate the differences between certain prototypical instances of pornography and art, but will not serve to justify the claim that pornography and art are fundamentally incompatible. Section (...) 3 considers those definitions of pornography that make an a priori distinction between pornographic and artistic representations. The difference between the ‘merely’ erotic and the pornographic is also discussed in this context. Section 4 provides a critical assessment of the most recent and elaborate arguments against the compatibility of pornography and art. Finally, in Section 5, a case is made for the existence of pornographic art, as a subcategory of erotic art. (shrink)
This paper provides an in-depth review of Jerrold Levinson’s most recent work in aesthetics, focusing especially on his account of the incompatibility of art and pornography. The author argues that this account does not fit well with Levinson’s own intentional-historical definition of art and his Wollheimian account of depiction.
In a chapter that hones in on certain Renaissance portraits by Hans Holbein, Giorgione, and Jan van Scorel, Hans Maes examines how it is that we can be deeply moved by such portraits, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that we don’t know anything about their sitters. Standard explanations in terms of the revelation of an inner self or the recreation of a physical presence prove to be insuffi cient. Instead, Maes provides a more rounded account of what makes (...) said portraits moving and memorable, thereby relying on Barthes’ notion of ‘punctum,’ James Elkins’ account of why people cry in front of paintings, and a phenomenological exploration of the parallel between portraiture and the tradition of the Vanitas painting. (shrink)
All too often women are considered sexy in accordance with an externally dictated and unduly narrow conception of sexiness – one that excludes large portions of the female population from being considered sexy. In response to this, some feminists have suggested that we should give up on sexiness altogether. Since the agency, subjectivity, and autonomy of a woman being judged sexy is generally ignored, they argue, we have, in effect, an equation of sexiness with objecthood. In a recent essay entitled (...) “Sex Objects and Sexy Subjects” Sheila Lintott and Sherri Irvin object to this strategy because they see sexuality as a crucial element of selfhood – something that one cannot simply ‘give up on’. Instead, they propose to reclaim and redefine sexiness in such a way that makes room for women as sexy subjects desiring and pursuing authentic pleasure. In this short paper, I will investigate the merits and shortcomings of their proposal and present an alternative account. (shrink)
Melancholy is a central expressive property of the Before films and key to understanding and appreciating the trilogy as a whole. That, in a nutshell, is the thesis I develop in this paper. In the first section, I present a philosophical account of melancholy in general and aesthetic melancholy in particular. Melancholy is understood here as the profound and bittersweet emotional experience that occurs when we vividly grasp a harsh truth about human existence in such a way that we come (...) to appreciate certain aspects of life more deeply. The second section of the paper focuses on the many intense as well as more subtle moments of melancholy in the various encounters between Celine and Jesse. These moments, I argue, are partly prompted by the environment and the circumstances in which they find themselves. But both of them also actively seek out and create such moments by the stories they tell and the reflections they engage in. That seems part of who they are as individuals and, I contend, it may be part of what attracts them to each other. In the third section, I address ‘film expression’, as opposed to ‘character expression’, and argue that melancholy is not just present in the characters’ dialogue and in their facial and bodily expressions but is also expressed through various cinematic means. The final section centres on the audience and the reception of the Before trilogy. I introduce the distinction between expression and expressiveness and suggest that the films may have resonated deeply with some viewers because they are so expressive of melancholy. (shrink)
In this paper, we aim to show that there is a particular kind of bullshit that is not dealt with in Harry Frankfurt’s and G.A. Cohen’s critiques of bullshit. We also point out the evaluative complexity of bullshit. Frankfurt and Cohen both stress its negative and possibly destructive aspects, but one might wonder whether bullshit need always and necessarily be reprehensible. We will argue that there are positive or at least neutral aspects to some kinds of bullshit.
This paper presents a close analysis of Steve Pyke’s famous series of portraits of philosophers. By comparing his photographs to other well-known series of portraits and to other portraits of philosophers we will seek a better understanding of the distinctiveness and fittingness of Pyke’s project. With brief nods to Roland Barthes, Jean Baudrillard, G.W.F. Hegel, and Arthur Schopenhauer and an extensive critical investigation of Cynthia Freeland’s ideas on portraiture in general and her reading of Steve Pyke’s portraits in particular, this (...) paper will also aim to make a contribution to the philosophical debate on portraiture. (shrink)
In 1984, Arthur Danto wrote an article with the telling title ‘The End of Art.’ Just a few years earlier, Richard Rorty had declared the end of philosophy and Michel Foucault, the end of politics. A few years later, Francis Fukuyama was to declare the end of history. So, on the face of it, Danto’s thesis fits in nicely with the ‘endism’ that was popular in the 1980s. In important ways, however, I believe it also stands out.
Paisley Livingston claims that an artist’s intentions are successfully realized and hence determinate of the meaning of a work if and only if they are compatible and “mesh” with the linguistic and conventional meanings of the text or artefact taken in its target or intended context. I argue that this specific standard of success is not without its difficulties. First, I show how an artist’s intention can sometimes be constitutive of a work’s meaning even if there is no significant meshing (...) between the artist’s intention and his work. Second, I argue against the claim that the artist’s intentions need to be compatible with the linguistic and conventional meanings of a text. Third, I discuss a case that creates a particular puzzle for Livingston since the intentions of the artist concerned are clearly not successfully realized, though they are compatible and mesh with all the relevant data. I conclude my paper by suggesting a solution to this puzzle. (shrink)
What is erotic art? Do all paintings with a sexual theme qualify as erotic? How to distinguish between erotica and erotic art? In what way are aesthetic experiences related to, or different from, erotic experiences and are they at all compatible? Both people and works of art can be sensually appealing, but is the beauty in each case substantially the same? How helpful is the distinction between the nude and the naked? Can we draw a strict line between erotic art (...) and pornography? We tend to think of art as complex and of pornography as one-dimensional, but how compelling is that differentiation? Pornography is often considered harmful, objectifying, and exploitative, but to what extent is erotic art immune to moral criticism of this sort? In addressing such questions this entry will provide an overview of current philosophical debates on erotic art. It will also place those debates in historical perspective and, in the closing section, explore some important avenues for future research. (shrink)
This paper addresses what is arguably ?? one of the most fundamental questions in the debate on depiction, What is a Picture? It offers a critical discussion of traditional theories of pictorial representation, such as the Resemblance Theory, Conventionalism, and the Illusion Theory; it introduces and analyses the crucial notions of ‘seeing as’ and ‘seeing in’, and concludes by presenting some of the most recent accounts of depiction defended by Kendall Walton, Dominic Lopes, Robert Hopkins, and John Hyman.
In May 2017, my book ‘Conversations on Art and Aesthetics’ appeared. It contains conversations with, and photographic portraits of, ten prominent philosophers of art. They are Noël Carroll, Gregory Currie, Arthur Danto, Cynthia Freeland, Paul Guyer, Carolyn Korsmeyer, Jerrold Levinson, Jenefer Robinson, Roger Scruton, and Kendall Walton. The book has two main aims. One is to provide a broad and accessible overview of what aesthetics as a subfield of philosophy has to offer. The other is to stimulate new work in (...) this area of research. In this brief paper I’d like to say a bit more about this second objective. Current research is rarely conducted or communicated in the form of conversations, so the question arises: how can a book like mine fit with and feed into a research culture which is very much dominated by the format of the journal article? (shrink)
In ‘The End of Art: A Real Problem or Not Really a Problem?’ I raised some questions about Arthur Danto’s famous ‘end of art’ thesis. A largely polemical paper, it was intended as an invitation to further discussion, and Kalle Puolakka has now taken up this invitation in ‘Playing The Game After The End of Art’. I thank him for his many insightful remarks. Critical comments are typically more interesting and helpful than simple praise, and Puolakka’s comments are no exception. (...) I would therefore like to return the favour. I will place Puolakka’s remarks under critical examination and in the process hope to rephrase, refine, and defend some of my original claims. First, however, I will briefly restate my reading of Danto’s ideas on the end of art. (shrink)
Art or Porn? The popular media will often choose this heading when reviewing the latest sexually explicit novel, film, or art exhibition. The underlying assumption seems to be that the work under discussion has to be one or the other, and cannot be both. But is this not a false dilemma? Can one really draw a sharp line between the pornographic and the artistic? Isn't it time to make room for pornographic art and for an aesthetic investigation of pornography? In (...) answering these questions this book will draw on insights from many different disciplines, including philosophy, feminist theory, aesthetics, art history, film studies, theatre studies, as well as on the experience of people who are actually operating in the art world and porn industry. By offering a variety of theoretical approaches and examples taken from a wide range of art forms and historical periods, the reader will gain a fuller and deeper comprehension of the relations and frictions between art and pornography. (shrink)
The role of the artist's intention in the interpretation of art has been the topic of a lively and ongoing discussion in analytic aesthetics. First, I sketch the current state of this debate, focusing especially on two competing views: actual and hypothetical intentionalism. Secondly, I discuss the search for a suitable test case, that is, a work of art that is interpreted differently by actual and hypothetical intentionalists, with only one of these interpretations being plausible. Many examples from many different (...) art forms have been considered in this respect, but none of these test cases has proved convincing. Thirdly, I introduce two new test cases taken from contemporary visual art. I explain why these examples are better suited as test cases and how they lend support to the actual intentionalist position. (shrink)
According to Stephen Davies, there is no such thing as free beauty. Using actual and imaginary examples, he tries to show that our aesthetic evaluations of objects inevitably pay heed to the kinds to which they belong or in which we judge them to belong. His examples are not as compelling as he thinks, however. Furthermore, nature looked at through a microscope (or a telescope) provides us with a particular class of counter-examples which have not been dealt with by Davies (...) and which put considerable pressure on his account. (shrink)
Soms is het ongepast om jezelf te beoordelen vanuit een extern gezichtspunt en soms is het zelfs onmogelijk om dat te doen. Het standpunt van anderen kan dus op twee manieren ontoegankelijk zijn, doch dit betekent niet dat het vanzelf ook als onbelangrijk wordt ervaren. Integendeel, het niet in te nemen standpunt van anderen bepaalt vaak in hoge mate de wijze waarop wij tegen onszelf aankijken. Onze zelfwaardering blijkt zodoende op een onophefbare manier afhankelijk van anderen. -/- Deze algemene stelling (...) vormt de kern van het voorliggende boek. Ze wordt gaandeweg ontwikkeld en onderbouwd in discussie met de bestaande analytisch-filosofische literatuur. De dubbele asymmetrie tussen zelfwaardering en waardering van anderen wordt door hedendaagse auteurs namelijk vaak miskend. Als zodanig kan men spreken van een opvallende en gemeenschappelijke lacune in de actuele debatten over bescheidenheid, ijdelheid en trots. (shrink)
Seks is overal. In kranten en tijdschriften, in advertenties op bushokjes, op televisie en het internet, op Instagram en Snapchat. Seks beheerst en betovert onze beeldcultuur. Af en toe roept die onafgebroken stroom van seksuele beelden kritiek op. We lezen over de ‘pornoficatie’ van onze cultuur en hoe de modeindustrie zelfs kinderen verleidt om sexy strings te kopen. We horen dat we aan porno verslaafd zijn, dat alles van waarde vervliegt en dat we steeds intensere prikkels nodig hebben. Een zeldzame (...) keer merkt iemand op dat de constante seksuele objectivering van vrouwenlichamen de genderongelijkheid in stand houdt. Als seks overal is, is het niet verwonderlijk dat seks ook in kunst te vinden is. Kunst en pornografie lijken elkaar uit te sluiten: het ene maakt het mooiste en het beste in ons wakker, het andere onderwerpt ons aan hitsigheid en dierlijkheid. Het ene viert de schoonheid van de vrouw, het andere is een kwestie van geweld en onderwerping. Toch is de relatie tussen kunst en pornografie genuanceerder dan ze op het eerste gezicht lijkt. In deze filosofische verkenning nemen filosofen Petra Van Brabandt en Hans Maes zowel kunst als pornografie onder de loep en ontdekken ze dat de dingen soms helemaal niet zijn wat ze lijken. (shrink)
Portraits are everywhere. One finds them not just in museums and galleries, but also in newspapers and magazines, in the homes of people and in the boardrooms of companies, on stamps and coins, on millions of cell phones and computers. Despite its huge popularity, however, portraiture hasn’t received much philosophical attention. While there are countless art historical studies of portraiture, contemporary philosophy has largely remained silent on the subject. This book aims to address that lacuna. It brings together philosophers (and (...) philosophically minded historians) with different areas of expertise to discuss this enduring and continuously fascinating genre. The chapters in this collection are ranged under five broad themes. Part I examines the general nature of portraiture and what makes it distinctive as a genre. Part II looks at some of the subgenres of portraiture, such as double portraiture, and at some special cases, such as sport card portraits and portraits of people not present. How emotions are expressed and evoked by portraits is the central focus of Part III, while Part IV explores the relation between portraiture, fiction, and depiction more generally. Finally, in Part V, some of the ethical issues surrounding portraiture are addressed. The book closes with an epilogue about portraits of philosophers. Portraits and Philosophy tangles with deep questions about the nature and effects of portraiture in ways that will substantially advance the scholarly discussion of the genre. It will be of interest to scholars and students working in philosophy of art, history of art, and the visual arts. (shrink)
Richard Linklater’s celebrated Before trilogy chronicles the love of Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) who first meet up in Before Sunrise, later reconnect in Before Sunset and finally experience a fall-out in Before Midnight. Not only do these films present storylines and dilemmas that invite philosophical discussion, but philosophical discussion itself is at the very heart of the trilogy. This book, containing specially commissioned chapters by a roster of international contributors, explores the many philosophical themes that feature so (...) vividly in the interactions between Céline and Jesse, including: the nature of love, romanticism and marriage the passage and experience of time the meaning of life the art of conversation the narrative self gender death Including an interview with Julie Delpy in which she discusses her involvement in the films and the importance of studying philosophy. (shrink)
Wanneer ben je sexy, en wie bepaalt dat eigenlijk? Gelden dezelfde normen voor mannen en vrouwen? En hoe moeten we als maatschappij omgaan met de toenemende druk om er hot uit te zien? In dit boek zoekt filosoof Hans Maes een antwoord op deze vragen. Onderweg reflecteert hij over sekssymbolen, over de erotiserende werking van macht en rijkdom, en over de rol van kunst. Hij buigt zich over de notie van seksuele authenticiteit en lanceert ten slotte ook een oproep voor (...) betere pornografie. (shrink)