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. 

Elisa Caldarola – Exhibitions and Museums: When are They Art?

Wednesday 3rd April 2019, 5pm – 7pm

Exhibitions and Museums: When are They Art?


Marcel Broodthaer’s Museum of Modern Art, Department of Eagles (1968) confronted the public with an exhibition that criticized traditional museum practices by means of appropriating them. This work was explicitly intended to qualify as both an exhibition and a work of conceptual art. In this talk, I explore the hypothesis that the artwork status of some exhibitions might instead have remained, so far, unnoticed, even by their makers. To illustrate my view, I analyze the exhibition of pre-and proto-historic artifacts at Berlin’s Neues Museum and argue that such exhibition is a work of site-specific installation art.

Nils-Hennes Stear – Is Aesthetic Immoralism Obviously True?

Wednesday 13th March 2019,  5pm – 7pm

Three dominant theories explain how ethical properties determine aesthetic ones in artworks. Autonomism denies any determining relation. Moralism affirms one according to the valence constraint: ethical merits only ground aesthetic merits, ethical flaws only ground aesthetic flaws. Immoralism affirms one too, but denies the valence constraint. The question these theories answer, I argue, can be (and knowingly or not has been) read in one of two ways: the ‘counterfactual’ and the ‘as-such’ way. Each reading requires a different kind of answer: a counterfactual or an as-such theory, respectively. I argue that if one accepts the so-called qua problem, as-such theories run into a dilemma: they either rely upon dialectically unhelpful (if not question-begging) considerations, or else collapse into counterfactual theories. This leaves the counterfactual reading, to which I show immoralism is the obvious answer. The discussion has various significant consequences for the aesthetic moralism debate as a whole that I lay out at the end.


Reading group “Black Reconstruction in Aesthetics” – Paul C Taylor

Everyone welcome

The Aesthetics Research Centre at the University of Kent (Canterbury, UK) is organising a reading group on "Black Reconstruction in Aesthetics". A new article by Professor Paul C. Taylor written for debates in Aesthetics. The aim of the reading group is to facilitate discussion and critical reflection on the paper. The session will be convened by ARC director Dr. Michael Newall and PhD candidate Alice Helliwell.

Debates in Aesthetics is inviting short papers in response to “Black Reconstruction in Aesthetics”, please see the CFP on their website.

Participation is open to all
Date: 27 February 5-7pm, location tbc 


This essay uses the concept of reconstruction to make an argument and an intervention in relation to the practice and study of Black aesthetics. The argument will have to do with the parochialism of John Dewey, the institu- tional inertia of professional philosophy, the aesthetic dimensions of the US politics of reconstruction, the centrality of reconstructionist politics to the Black aesthetic tradition, and the staging of a reconstructionist argument in the film, “Black Panther” (Coogler 2018). The intervention aims to address the fact that arguments like these tend not to register properly because of certain reflexive and customary limits on some common forms of philosophical inquiry. The sort of professional philosophy I was raised to practise and value tends not to be particularly inclusive and open-minded, especially when it comes to subjects that bear directly on the thoughts, lives, and practices of people racialized as black. Black aesthetics, by contrast, is an inherently ecumenical enterprise, reaching across disciplinary and demographic bound- aries to build communities of practice and exchange. Hence the need for an intervention: to create the space for arguments and the people who work with them to function across disciplinary and demographic contexts.

The session will be live-streamed on Youtube Live to allow for remote participation via chat.