Research Seminar: ‘The Reality of Aesthetic Injustice’ by Daisy Dixon (University of Cambridge)

Wednesday 12th May

Abstract
In this talk I will examine the phenomenon which philosophers are
beginning to call ‘aesthetic injustice’ – a wrongful harm done to
someone specifically in their capacity as an aesthetic being. I will
first distinguish those wrongs caused by aesthetic practices, and those
wrongs which are inherently aesthetic where a person’s aesthetic
capacities are undermined; it is this latter phenomenon I wish to
analyse. The concept of aesthetic injustice proposed will initially be
modelled on epistemic injustice, and throughout I consider how epistemic
harms and aesthetic harms can align and diverge. The aim is to arrive at
an account which reveals and accommodates at least four forms of
aesthetic injustice, while treating these as distinctive in that they do
not reduce to non-aesthetic wrongs, such as epistemic harm. Throughout I
consider the value and role that aesthetic experience and expression
play in our lives.


For more information about the speaker: http://daisydixon.co.uk

Book Symposium – Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight: A Philosophical Exploration, edited by Hans Maes (University of Kent) and Katrien Schaubroeck (University of Antwerp).

Thursday 10th June 14:00-18:00 BST.

Book Symposium on Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight: A Philosophical Exploration, edited by Hans Maes (University of Kent) and Katrien Schaubroeck (University of Antwerp).

SYMPOSIUM PART I (14:00-15:45 BST)
Chair: Hans Maes

Romance, Narrative, and the Sense of a Happy Ending in the Before Series
James MacDowell

Epic Intimacy
Murray Smith

Love, Death and Life’s Summum Bonum: The Before Trilogy as Memento Mori
Anna Christina Ribeiro

RESPONDENT: Laura di Summa

SYMPOSIUM PART II (16:00-17:45 BST):
Chair: Katrien Schaubroeck

The Poetry of Day-to-Day Life
Michael Smith

‘Romantic or Cynic’: Romantic Attraction as Justification
Diane Jeske

Time and Transcendence in the Before Trilogy
Marya Schechtman

RESPONDENT: Pilar Lopez-Cantero

About the book
This new book, published by Routledge in their Philosophers on Film series, focuses on Richard Linklater’s celebrated Before trilogy. The 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. The book explores the many philosophical themes that feature so vividly in the interactions between Céline and Jesse, including: the nature of love, romanticism and marriage, sex and gender, the passage and experience of time, the meaning of life and death, the art of conversation, the narrative self.

Claire Anscomb awarded John Fisher Memorial Prize 2021 by American Society for Aesthetics

The Aesthetics Research Centre is excited to announce that associate member and Kent alumna Dr. Claire Anscomb has been awarded the John Fisher Memorial prize by the American Society for Aesthetics.

Dr. Anscomb received her PhD. from the University of Kent in the History and Philosophy of Art in 2019. Her winning paper entitled “Creative Agency as Executive Agency: Grounding the Artistic Significance of Automatic Images,” selected by the JAAC editorial board review committee from eight nominations, will be published in the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism and will be presented at the ASA Annual Meeting in Montreal November 17-20, 2021.

Abstract
This article examines the artistic potential of forms of image-making that involve registering the features of real objects using mind-independent processes. According to skeptics, these processes limit an agent’s intentional control over the features of the resultant “automatic images”, which in turn limits the artistic potential of the work, and the form as a whole. I argue that this is true only if intentional control is understood to mean that an agent produces the features of the work by their own bodily movements alone. Not only is this an unrealistic standard to uphold, but I show that a definition of intentional control based on the skeptic’s position does not prohibit an agent from realizing the features of a work by means beyond their own actions. An agent can exercise intentional control over the features of a work if they successfully anticipate the effect that the remote consequences of their actions will have on these. This, I argue, entails that to exert intentional control over the features of a work is to exercise “creative agency”, which is a species of executive agency. Consequently, I defend the idea that the origins of automatic images in creative agency grounds their artistic significance.

The Fisher Prize is awarded by the American Society for Aesthetics in alternating years to an original essay to foster the development of new voices and talent in the field of aesthetics.
The next prize will be awarded in 2023. The deadline for submission is January 15, 2023.

Book Symposium: Satire, Comedy and Mental Health by Dieter Declercq

Tuesday 23rd March 17:00-19:00 GMT

Book Symposium on Satire, Comedy and Mental Health by Dieter Declercq. With:
Heike Bartel (Associate Professor in German, Nottingham),
Daniel Flavin-Hall (Consultant & Professor of Psychiatry, Mayo Clinic, Rochester Minnesota),
Sheila Lintott (Professor of Philosophy, Bucknell)
Orla Vigsö (Professor of Media Studies, Gothenburg)


Please find the recording of each invited speaker and Dieter Declercq’s response below.

Heike Bartel
Daniel Flavin-Hall
Sheila Lintott
Orla Vigsö
Dieter Declercq

About the book – A sample chapter can be read here.

Satire, Comedy and Mental Health examines how satire helps to sustain good mental health in a troubled socio-political world. Through an interdisciplinary dialogue that combines approaches from the analytic philosophy of art, medical and health humanities, media studies, and psychology, the book demonstrates how satire enables us to negotiate a healthy balance between care for others and care of self.
Building on a thorough philosophical explication and close analysis of satire in various forms – including novels, music, TV, film, cartoons, memes, stand-up comedy and protest artefacts – Declercq investigates how we can harness satirical entertainment to ease the limits of critique. In so doing, the book presents a compelling case that, while satire cannot hope to cure our sick world, it can certainly help us to cope with it.

Kathrine Cuccuru – From The Hypsous to The Bathous: The Problem of the False Sublime in Early Eighteenth-Century England

Wednesday 3rd March 15:00 GMT
Dr. Kathrine Cuccuru
(Associate Research Fellow, Department of Philosophy, University of Sussex)

Abstract
‘Culture wars’ are not new. One of the most heated is played out in early eighteen-century England amongst the politically partisan satirical poets, and their prime target, the newly fashionable professional critic. According to these satirists, the critic dangerously peddles the false sublime.
Philosophers are now most familiar with the sublime as the aesthetic concept that captures our ‘terrible delight’; that transporting affect of grand and threatening physical nature. However, from its origins in the ancient rhetorical text Peri Hypsous, the earliest modern English accounts focus on the sublime in poetry. Philosophical debate initially centred on the sublime genius, who is understood to have the capacity to irresistibly transport the audience, i.e., create(through poetry) the true sublime effect that properly moves the character to the height of virtue. Significantly, the true genius must know the genuine sublime in order to rightly produce its effect. Problematically, though, the false sublime (i.e., melancholic enthusiasm, a kind of madness) has the same transporting effect. Raising the hotly contested worry: if not by its effect, how does the sublime genius know (and correctly judge) the true sublime, and how does an undeveloped character be virtuously moved by it?
This serious philosophical problem is, perhaps, unexpectedly, best illuminated by the satirical accounts. Particularly, by leading Scriblerian, Alexander Pope (1688-1744), in Peri Bathous: Or Maritinus Scriblerus his Treatise of the Art of Sinking Poetry (1727, 1728), where the bathous (‘profound’ depth) is an inversion of the hypsous (‘sublime’ height); thus, turning the sublime into the ridiculous. Although Pope clearly identifies the dangers of the false sublime, I argue that his account succumbs to the same problems as one of his main target’s, the literary critic John Dennis (1658-1734). Equally, that the Third Earl of Shaftesbury’s (1671-1713) appeal to raillery does not form a philosophical solution. Instead, that the (for them undesirable) Pyrrhonian reply exposes that these accounts largely amount to opposing intellectual elites defending their claim on moral and political opinion. A lesson for all culture wars, past and present.

“It is hard to tell if it is sublime or ridiculous, which is rather the point.” – Cuccuru

Murray Smith – The Paradox of Football

Wednesday 10th February 15:00 GMT

Murray Smith (Professor of Film, University of Kent; ARC Director)

Abstract
The coronavirus pandemic starkly dramatizes a striking and paradoxical feature of sport in general, and football in particular, at the centre of Steffen Borge’s penetrating study of the so-called beautiful game, The Philosophy of Football (Routledge, 2019): the fact that for all those with a stake in the game, it means everything; and yet at the same time it doesn’t really matter at all. Call this the paradox of football: how can we come to care so much about something that doesn’t really matter? Borge argues that our passionate engagement with football has a fictional character, involving the pretence that the outcome of matches and the fortunes of teams and players matter. In this he follows – in spirit and outline if not in all details – Kendall Walton’s influential theory of fiction as make-belief. On Walton’s account, fictions prompt powerful affective states which, though keenly felt, are but ‘quasi-emotions’: affects borne of games of pretence. I explore Borge’s view, point to some problems, and advance an alternative solution to the paradox inspired by psychologist Abraham Maslow’s once influential, but nowadays largely neglected, ‘hierarchy of needs’ model. It is no pretence that (such things as) football matter to us. We genuinely value football, but to see how this is true, we need a more fine-grained and multi-dimensional account of what we value than a stark divide between the world of ordinary action, and the ‘extra-ordinary’ world of play and pretence, allows.

A full draft of the paper is available as a pre-read for this event. Those with interest are encouraged to contact Prof. Smith ahead of the event; m.s.smith@kent.ac.uk

Jonathan Friday – The Stillness of Pictures and the Representation of Movement

Dr Jonathan Friday (University of Kent)

Monday 13th May 2019, 5pm-7pm in Keynes Seminar Room 4, University of Kent

In 1744 James Harris, echoing the Earl of Shaftesbury and prefiguring Lessing’s Loacoon, wrote of pictures that they are ‘of necessity a punctum temporis’, which is to say, they are incapable of representing an interval of time. It has been argued by Gombrich and others that this view is simply contradicted by the evidence of paintings that represent movement, change or events unfolding over time. This paper considers Gombrich’s argument against the punctum temporis view of pictures, Robin Le Poidevin’s reconstruction of it, and the examples that both assume are inconsistent with the punctum temporis view. It is argued that neither argument achieves what its author claims of it, and that, properly understood, the punctum temporis view of pictures is perfectly consistent with the representation of movement and temporally extended events.