Working Groups

Art and Aesthetics

This working group aims to initiate and sustain dialogue between philosophers, literary critics, cultural historians and others around aesthetics, a topic of central concern to all these disciplines but on which there is surprisingly little agreement on the fundamental questions to be asked, let alone methodologies to be deployed and theoretical bases of inquiry.In spite of shared interest in artistic forms, the status of representation and expression, and the use and apprehension of figurative language, it is fair to say that discussion of these issues currently proceeds very differently in literature, art history, and philosophy classrooms.  The origins and implications of these differences in approach and emphasis are themselves worth examining.  Conversation about art between the disciplines need not involve agreement on priorities and premises, but it can hardly get off the ground if the questions, texts, and arguments that are central to one field remain largely unfamiliar to the other, and each discipline has much to gain from an awareness of the others’ concerns.

This working group will in part revive and renew the project initiated by the 2016-2017 seminar on “Arts and Aesthetics.”We will explore disciplinary divergences and convergences around questions of artistic form, expression, and reception.  The cognitive, affective, and broadly psychological phenomena entailed in artistic experience will also be of central concern.  It is our sense that dialogue on these matters might begin by meeting over texts in the history of aesthetics that remain important points of reference across the disciplines.



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