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Abhinavagupta, , . Abhinavabhāratī
2006, In M.M. Ghosh (ed.) Nāṭyaśāstra of Bharatamuni: Text, Commentary of Abhinava Bharati by Abhinavaguptacarya and English Translation.Delhi: New Bharatiya Book Corporation.
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Summary: Abhinavagupta’s famed commentary on Bharatamuni’s treatise on drama, the Nāṭyaśāstra, in which he details aesthetic expression and experience according to a theory of rasa, or aesthetic relish. Abhinavagupta’s theory is the most influential account of how the rasas or aesthetic emotions transcend the bounds of the spectator and artwork in a three-part process including depersonalization, universalization, and identification.

Comment: This text is appropriate for an in-depth study of Indian aesthetics. It requires an at least an introductory background in Indian philosophy to be accessible.

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Hungerland, Isabel C., , . The Logic of Aesthetic Concepts
1962, Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 36: 43 – 66.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Introduction: There are two sorts of descriptions, or accounts, that we can give of works of art or of anything else that makes up our world of relatively stable objects. I can describe a painting, a chair, a mountain, or a man in terms of colors, shapes, spatial relation of parts, and so on. I can also describe the same four objects by talking about the dynamic ten sions of the first, or its lack of visual balance; the grace and elegance of the second; the gloominess or majesty of the third; and the trimness or gawkiness of the fourth. The first sort of description, or account, may answer a wide variety of general purposes, central among them that of identifying particular objects. A museum curator might so describe a painting for future reference in identifying the particular work of one painter; an auctioneer identifies pieces of furniture by such descriptions; a map-maker, a mountain; and a police department, a Man Wanted. The second sort of account of the same objects could not usefully serve such purposes. The second sort, usually if not always, is found in the context of the evaluating of objects. “This is a fine Sheraton chair-it is graceful, but sturdy.” Here, relevant reasons are furnished for an aesthe tic rating of an object, and the first sort of description does not, and could not, serve this function

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Korsmeyer, Carolyn, , . Taste as Sense and as Sensibility
1997, Philosophical Topics 25 (1):201-230.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Introduction: Philosophers occasionally take note of the degree to which their theories make use of metaphoric language. Plato may have been the first to call attention to the heuristic use of sensory images to illuminate the world of abstractions, but twentieth-century thinkers have been particulalry reflective on the subject. Metaphors, remarks Iris Murdoch, are “fundamental forms of our awareness of our condition: metaphors of space, metaphors of movement, metaphors of vision.” Philosophical systems, she believes, can often be understood as explorations of centrally important images. Indeed, it seems to her “impossible to discuss certain kinds of concepts without resort to metaphor, since the concepts are themselves deeply metaphorical, and cannot be analyzed into non-metaphorical components without a loss of substance.” Mark Johnson agrees and obeserves that recent discoveries in cognitive science provide empirical evidence for claims about metaphor that previously were largely intuitive, namely, that “metaphor is not merely a linguistic phenomenon, but more fundamentallly, a conceptual and experiential process that structures our world.

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Kuki Shūzō, , . The Structure of Iki
2004, In Hiroshi Nara (ed.). The Structure of Detachment: The Aesthetic Vision of Kuki Sh?z?. Univeristy of Hawai’i Press.
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Added by: Meilin Chinn, Contributed by:

Summary: One of the most important and creative works in modern Japanese aesthetics. Kuki develops a description of a uniquely Japanese sense of taste (iki) that brings together characteristics of the geisha, samurai, and Buddhist priest.

Comment: Best used by a reader with at least an introductory knowledge of Japanese aesthetics. Could be used comparatively with work on disinterest in western Aesthetics, e.g., Kant.

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Lord, Catherine, , . Aesthetic unity
1961, Journal of Philosophy 58 (12):321-327.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: FEW hold “A poem should not mean, but be” as dogma any longer, but most aestheticians agree that a work of art cannot be exhaustively paraphrased. Few dispute that the aesthetic ex- perience is, in some sense, disinterested, but the terms of that disinterestedness are still debated. I suggest that the work of art and the aesthetic experience are congruent and that an analysis of this congruence reveals both the nature of the import of art and the character of the aesthetic experience. I found my analysis on a faculty framework because I am convinced that neither the aesthetic experience nor the import of art can be illuminated without a fairly rigorous epistemology in which the roles of the imagination and the understanding are clearly defined. My framework is avowedly Kantian, for I think that the very incommensurability of the imagination and the un- derstanding, as emphasized by Kant, does more justice to the phenomenology of the aesthetic experience than an analysis of the cognitive faculties that stresses a difference in degree rather than kind.

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Meager, Ruby, , . Art and beauty
1974, British Journal of Aesthetics 14 (2):99-105.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: The concept of beauty is itself still obscure to us; the power and the modus operandi of the beautiful is as mysterious, if not as terrible, to us as to Plato (unless indeed one allows Kant some credit here). But does it not have more to do with what we have chosen and valued as art through the ages of human production than individual sophistication, autonomy, originality, spontaneity, etc., in the artist? It.is not, after all, R. because Shakespeare is superior in these, or in political or practical wisdom, or in self-awareness, or in many-layered ambiguity, to, say, Dr. Johnson, that Shakespeare’s poetry is memorable and the articulate and learned Doctor’s is forgettable.

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Mothersill, Mary, , . Beauty Restored
1984, Clarendon Press.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: In this book the author assesses the main trends of recent aesthetics and makes two important philosophical claims: one, that there are genuine (that is, true and demonstrable) judgments of taste, and two, that there are no principles or laws of taste. In a penetrating and insightful defense of these theses, Mothersill addresses the question of their compatibility and develops the contrast between aesthetic and ethical reasoning and between beauty and the sublime.

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Savedoff, Barbara E., , . The art object
1989, British Journal of Aesthetics 29 (2):160-167.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: The art work cannot be identified simply with a physical object, there has been an emphasis on the importance of theory context, and convention and a corresponding de-emphasis of the importance of the physical object for the identification of a work. In the hurry to abandon the object and to adopt theory as the means of identifying the art work, the importance of the object in that identification has sometimes been underestimated.

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Saw, Ruth, , . What Is a “Work of Art”?
1961, Philosophy, 36: 18–29.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Abstract: This examination of the concept “work of art” has been prompted by the desire to find a starting point for aesthetic inquiry which, to begin with at any rate, will arouse no dispute. A claim for general agreement such as Clive Bell’s: “The starting point for all systems of aesthetics must be the personal experience of a pecular emotion”, is countered by I. A. Richards’s “the phantom aesthetic state”, and any attempt to claim “beauty” as the central concept is straightway confused by the varied contexts in which “beauty” and “beautiful” may function. We hear much more often of a beautiful stroke in cricket than in painting, and many of our moral judgments have an aesthetic flavour. An action may be bold, dashing, mean, underhanded, unimaginative, cringing, fine, as well as right or wrong. Aesthetic adjectives and adverbs may occur in any context, and part of our job is to separate out the various uses and establish their inter-relationships.

Comment: The text is written in an approachable and somewhat digressive narrative, which makes it a pleasant read, but might require the lecturer to provide the students with some reading guidance. The classificatory account proposed by Saw is rather general – discussing it might be instructive in helping the students understand what sort of conditions are likely to be successful in a definition. The claim which can inspire most class discussion concerns the distinction between the qualities of works which make them art in the classificatory sense, from the qualities which are subject of appraisal.

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Scarry, Elaine, , . On Beauty and Being Just
2001, Princeton University Press.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Publisher’s Note: Have we become beauty-blind? For two decades or more in the humanities, various political arguments have been put forward against beauty: that it distracts us from more important issues; that it is the handmaiden of privilege; and that it masks political interests. In On Beauty and Being Just Elaine Scarry not only defends beauty from the political arguments against it but also argues that beauty does indeed press us toward a greater concern for justice. Taking inspiration from writers and thinkers as diverse as Homer, Plato, Marcel Proust, Simone Weil, and Iris Murdoch as well as her own experiences, Scarry offers up an elegant, passionate manifesto for the revival of beauty in our intellectual work as well as our homes, museums, and classrooms.

Scarry argues that our responses to beauty are perceptual events of profound significance for the individual and for society. Presenting us with a rare and exceptional opportunity to witness fairness, beauty assists us in our attention to justice. The beautiful object renders fairness, an abstract concept, concrete by making it directly available to our sensory perceptions. With its direct appeal to the senses, beauty stops us, transfixes us, fills us with a “surfeit of aliveness.” In so doing, it takes the individual away from the center of his or her self-preoccupation and thus prompts a distribution of attention outward toward others and, ultimately, she contends, toward ethical fairness.

Scarry, author of the landmark The Body in Pain and one of our bravest and most creative thinkers, offers us here philosophical critique written with clarity and conviction as well as a passionate plea that we change the way we think about beauty.

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Stock, Kathleen, , . Learning from fiction and theories of fictional content
2016, Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy (3):69-83.
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by:

Abstract: In this paper I present an objection to the theory of fictional content known as ‘hypothetical intentionalism’. It centres around the fact that certain sentences in fictions can both imply fictional truths and convey testimony, to be believed by the reader. I argue that hypothetical intentionalism cannot easily make sense of this fact; whereas actual author intentionalism (a rival to hypothetical intentionalism) can.

Comment: This text would be good as further reading for students who are particularly interested in intentionalism and how things can be true in fiction.

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Thomson-Jones, Katherine, , . Inseparable insight: Reconciling cognitivism and formalism in aesthetics
2005, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 63 (4):375-384.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: A thesis that is rarely stated but often assumed in art criticism and aesthetics concerns the inseparability of form and content in art. The thesis of inseparability states that (1) it is impossible to have the same content in two different forms; and (2) it is impossible to have the same form in two different contents. 1 Clearly, the thesis needs elucidation in terms of a plausible account of the distinction between form and content. It also needs to be considered whether the inseparability of form and content motivates a theory of art or, less ambitiously, identifies an important criterion in an account of art. 2 The inseparability thesis is traditionally associated with formalism, which, as a general theory of art, has been widely condemned. Nevertheless, formalism is currently making a comeback in particular philosophies of the arts – notably, philosophy of music and philosophy of film.3 Sophisticated formalism in relation to both music and film allows for the aesthetic relevance of other features of the work besides form while recommending a structural focus for aesthetic appreciation. If the assumption that formalism is no longer relevant to our under- standing of the arts involves a major oversight, then the inseparability thesis cannot be ignored just because of its traditional association with formalism. But even if one persisted in this oversight, it does not warrant ignoring the importance of the inseparability thesis for the thesis bears no necessary relation to any theory of art, including a formalist one. In what follows, I consider whether the inseparability thesis is compatible with aesthetic cognitivism, the view that art is valuable in part because it can give us nontrivial knowledge. Ultimately, I argue that the two are compatible because there are ways of learning from art that depend on the inseparability of form and con- tent. Given the long and tangled history of the debate over the possibility and value of learning from art, it is supremely important to recognize, finally, such compatibility. Against defenders of aesthetic cognitivism, skeptics and critics have regularly resorted to brandishing the inseparability thesis, defiantly claiming that you cannot expect to learn about the world from art if you cannot ‘get to’ a work’s content unaffected by style and medium. Here the assumption is that the kind of aesthetic transformation that grounds the inseparability of form and con- tent precludes either the practicality or the aesthetic significance of looking to art for real-life insight in the form of facts, principles, or new perspectives. If the compatibility I defend is really there, however, we can expect insight through such transformation. As we shall see, art serves as a primary means for gaining insight of a rare and valuable kind. In what follows, I begin by outlining the preliminaries of the contemporary debate between aesthetic cognitivists and aesthetic anti-cognitivists.4 Then I employ three strategies for elucidating the thesis of inseparability: I identify a particular account of form and content as the one invoked by the thesis, I show that the thesis does not motivate a theory of art in order to circumvent standard criticisms against the thesis as a necessary and sufficient condition of art status, and I explore the ways inseparability influences our understanding of representational art. Armed with a proper understanding of inseparability, I then consider its relation to the debate over aesthetic cognitivism. This involves laying out the assumption that inseparability precludes the aesthetic relevance of learning from art. Finally, I challenge this assumption by outlining two kinds of insight that depend on inseparability. The point is not that such insight can only be gained from art but that it is most readily and relevantly gained from art because of the aesthetic value of inseparability.

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Yuriko Saito, , . Everyday Aesthetics
2007, Oxford: Oxford University Press
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Added by: Meilin Chinn, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Publisher’s Note: Everyday aesthetic experiences and concerns occupy a large part of our aesthetic life. However, because of their prevalence and mundane nature, we tend not to pay much attention to them, let alone examine their significance. Western aesthetic theories of the past few centuries also neglect everyday aesthetics because of their almost exclusive emphasis on art. In a ground-breaking new study, Yuriko Saito provides a detailed investigation into our everyday aesthetic experiences, and reveals how our everyday aesthetic tastes and judgments can exert a powerful influence on the state of the world and our quality of life. By analysing a wide range of examples from our aesthetic interactions with nature, the environment, everyday objects, and Japanese culture, Saito illustrates the complex nature of seemingly simple and innocuous aesthetic responses. She discusses the inadequacy of art-centered aesthetics, the aesthetic appreciation of the distinctive characters of objects or phenomena, responses to various manifestations of transience, and the aesthetic expression of moral values; and she examines the moral, political, existential, and environmental implications of these and other issues.

Comment: Saito draws on the lack of strong distinctions between fine and applied arts in Japan, as well as feminist insights and environmental aesthetics, to explore topics such as the non-disinterested nature of day to day aesthetic judgment, attitudes toward mess and disorder, and the aesthetics of domestic life. Her detailed work opens up the extraordinary complexity, including moral dimensions, of ordinary aesthetic responses to everyday objects and experiences. This is a good text to pair with cross-cultural texts on everyday aesthetics. Does not require an understanding of Japanese aesthetics and philosophy.

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