Jason Leddington – Savouring the Impossible

Thursday 28th May 5-7pm BST

Jason Leddington (Philosophy, Bucknell; Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at ​The Centre for Philosophical Psychology, University of Antwerp)

Abstract

It is a puzzling feature of human beings that we are attracted to artworks that provoke negative emotional responses. Why are we drawn to what should, intuitively, repulse us? Tragedy and horror are paradigm cases, but similar questions are raised by works that provoke, say, disgust or moral outrage. This talk introduces and explores a new version of this old puzzle. My question is: why are we attracted to magic tricks? Magic is one our most consistently popular forms of mass entertainment. Consider the recent successes of performers such as Derren Brown, Dynamo, and David Blaine, as well as the ubiquity of magicians on talent shows such as America’s Got Talent (thrice won by magicians). But while philosophers speak fondly of the pleasures of knowing, successful magic performances present apparent impossibilities that provoke potent experiences of ignorance. So, why do people seek them out? I argue that recent work in the philosophy and psychology of so-called “knowledge emotions” can help us to resolve this puzzle. At the same time, in a surprising parallel, I show that it can also illuminate the appeal of a distinctive form of puzzlement especially dear to philosophers. Finally, I conclude by proposing an extension of this account to explain our attraction to another “art of the impossible”: the impossible figures created by artists such as Reutersvärd and Escher.

Savouring the Impossible is co-sponsored by the American Society of Aesthetics as part of its Virtual Summer Aesthetics Festival.

Murray Smith – Remain in Light: Philosophical Naturalism, Aesthetic Value and, Cultural Crosstalk

Thursday 12th March, 5pm
Daphne Mayo Public Lecture
The University of Queensland, Australia
Enquiries: sca.events@uq.edu.au

Professor Murray Smith was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Queensland in 2020 where he gave the annual Daphne Mayo Public Lecture.

About the talk

Aesthetic experience – the kind of experience afforded paradigmatically by artworks – is central rather than peripheral to human existence. But aesthetic experience and the value it underpins is complex, both in its relations with other kinds of value (epistemic, moral, political, cultural), and in the diverse ways and contexts in which it can be created or apprehended. 

In this lecture, Professor Murray Smith will explore these issues through the case of Remain in Light, the landmark 1980 album by Talking Heads and Brian Eno, encompassing the visual and performative dimensions of the band’s aesthetic (in Stop Making Sense and True Stories, in their music videos, cover designs, and live performance style) as well as the music itself. Remain in Light takes on particular interest as an example of cultural and aesthetic ‘crosstalk,’ between the milieu of New York new wave art rock and the AfroBeat of Nigerian bandlander Fela Kuti, which exerted a powerful influence on Talking Heads during the making of the album.

Drawing on the tools of philosophical naturalism, Murray will outline a framework for understanding the nature of such intercultural interaction, which recognises the specificity of cultural traditions, the dynamics of exchange between them, and the ethical and aesthetic questions such exchanges necessarily prompt.

About the Daphne Mayo Lecture

To honour and commemorate the life of one of Queensland’s most prominent artists and arts educators, the School of Communication and Arts at The University of Queensland, has established the Daphne Mayo Visiting Professorship in Visual Culture.

Daphne Mayo (1895-1982) was for much of her life Queensland’s best known artist and passionate advocate for the arts. Her work includes the Tympanum on the Brisbane City Hall and the Women’s War Memorial in Anzac Square. 

Each year, a major world figure will visit Brisbane to speak about the latest trends, influences, and theories in their area of visual culture. 

James Shelley – What’s the difference between still pictures and motion pictures?

Thursday 20th February 2020, 5pm-7pm in Keynes Seminar Room 17 (KS17), University of Kent

According to the standard view, still pictures differ from motion pictures in two respects: (a) whereas motion pictures can move (or can at least seem to), still pictures can’t, and (b) whereas motion pictures can show things moving, still pictures can’t. I argue that the standard view fails on both accounts, since (a) motion pictures don’t even seem to move, and (b) still pictures can show things moving. Then I argue for an alternative view, according to which the difference between still and motion pictures has nothing to do with stasis or motion. If the alternative view is true, most every theory of what a motion picture is (including those of Danto, Carroll, Currie, and Gaut) is false, and most every term we use to refer to motion pictures (including movie, moving image, and cinema) is misleading.

Nathan Wildman – A Moral Argument for Video Games

Nathan Wildman, Tilburg University

Wednesday 22nd January 2020, 5pm in Darwin Lecture Theatre 2 (DLT2), University of Kent

Abstract
Many have offered various moral objections to video games, with various critics contending that they depict and promote morally dubious attitudes and behaviour. However, few have offered moral arguments in favour of video games In this paper, I develop one such positive moral argument. Specifically, I argue that, when it comes to some ethical knowledge, video games offer the only morally acceptable method for acquiring such knowledge. Consequently, we have (defeasible) moral reasons for creating, distributing, and playing certain, morally educating video games.