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Durham University

Department of Philosophy

Aesthetics Reading Group

The Aesthetics Reading Group (ARG) is run by postgraduates in the Philosophy Department. We are open to all students and staff and intend that topics and readings will be decided by the group. The only restriction is that readings, be they historical or contemporary, should clearly address issues in philosophical aesthetics or the philosophy of art. We usually meet every Wednesday 1:45pm in the Departmental Common Room in 48/49 Old Elvet with further discussion in café or pub quite likely to occur. Each meeting will be based on an article or chapter that everyone should be able to access with a volunteer giving a brief introduction to the reading before open discussion.
The schedule and arrangements for our 2019/20 Academic Year are still pending finalisation.

Next Session:

Details pending confirmation

Any questions or suggestions for future readings, please contact me (

The ARG is open to everyone whether they have studied or researched aesthetics or not, so please don't hesitate to come along. There have been some very interesting discussions so far.


Elizabeth Bestow

Past Readings:


Kahr, Madlyn Millner. “Women as Artists and ‘Women's Art.’” Woman's Art Journal, vol. 3, no. 2, 1982, pp. 28–31. JSTOR,


Art for art's sake **This session will commence at 12Noon until 1pm


This session was unfortunately cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances


Censorship - especially the controversial category of "obscene" art: Kieran, Matthew. "On Obscenity: The Thrill and Repulsion of the Morally Prohibited", Philosophy and Phenomenological Research Vol. LXIV, No. 1, (January 2002), University of Leeds


The Possibility of a "gendered" gaze


The era of capitalism, art consumption, commercialism and its relation to the art world, and in particular the art world as an institution.


The process of objectification in art and the idea of the 'male gaze'.


'Outsider Art'


'Animals and the concept of Dignity'. We also looked at the ethics of animal acting


'America and the queer diaspora: the case of artist David McDiarmid' by Sally Gray


Garber, Elizabeth. “Feminism, Aesthetics, and Art Education.” Studies in Art Education, vol. 33, no. 4, 1992, pp. 210–225. JSTOR, JSTOR,


There was no reading group this week


On Thursday we see why fiction cannot be true.


Anthony Everett's case against fictional realism


This week we read Stacie Friend's paper, "The great beetle debate: A study in imagining with names". In this paper, Stacie provides
an answer to the problem of how we can say something true (or false) in cases of using empty names.


For the final meeting of the term, The AestheticsReadingGroup will meet at 5pm in the Dun Cow, Old Elvet, Durham.
To finish our series on seeing the impossible, we will read 'Tim Crane, The Waterfall Illusion'.


This week we continue our theme of seeing the impossible!


The paper this week is about seeing the impossible!


The paper this week is about truth in fiction


There will not be an ARG meeting this week since there is a clash with the Royal Institute of Philosophy lecture.


Creatures of Fiction - P Van Inwagen


Fiction and intentionality


Disgust and Aesthetics


Gilgamesh and the Power of Narration


The Art of Time Travel


'What a Musical Work Is' - Jerrold Levinson


The paper for this week is 'Defending Musical Platonism' by Julian Dodd


The subject of the paper this week is can a musical work be created?


Paul Guyer's "Hume, Kant, and The Standard of Taste."


'Taste and Objectivity: The Emergence of the Concept of the Aesthetic' by Elisabeth Schellekens Dammann.


'Role of Reflection in Hume's Aesthetics' written by our group member Byoungjae Kim


'How Can We Be Moved by the Fate of Anna Karenina?' by Colin Radford.
In this paper, Radfor questions how our engagement with literature can move us emotionally


The paper this week is 'The Paradox of Painful Art' by Aaron Smuts.


Tamar Szabo Gendler 'The Puzzle of Imaginative Resistance'.

17/03/2017 There will be another joint Metaphysics and Aesthetics Reading Group meeting this Friday (17/03/2017) from 6 pm (Departmental Seminar Room, 50/51 Old Elvet). This week we will be reading 'What are aesthetic properties?' by Jerrold Levinson:
10/03/2017 Joint meeting with the Metaphysics Reading Group: Friday at 6pm until 7:45pm in our Departmental Seminar Room, 50/51 Old Elvet
"Artworks as Historical Individuals"
23/11/2016 Details to follow
16/11/2016 Details to follow
09/11/2016 We will return to the characterisation of music in Hegel. We will focus on his introduction and general remarks on music sections a and b (pp. 888-904):
02/11/2016 Hegel's characterisation of music, focusing on his introduction and general remarks on music sections a and b (pp. 888-904)
08/06/2016 Finalisation of the reading on Kant with Paul Guyer's article comparing his approach with that of Hume
01/06/2016 Aesthetics Reading Group was postponed this week so as not to clash with the E. J. Lowe memorial lecture.
18/05/2016 Kant's Critique of Judgement, starting from section 43
11/05/2016 Kant's Critique of Judgement, starting from section 31
27/04/2016 Kant's Critique of Judgement
02/03/2016 Chapter 14 of Umberto Eco's On Ugliness (2007), 'The Ugliness of Others, Kitsch and Camp'
24/02/2016 This week Aesthetics Reading Group is continuing with our theme of the ugly, with Lucius Garvin's 'The Problem of Ugliness in Art in The Philosophical Review 57 (4) 1948: 404-409 (link)
17/02/2016 Alix Cohen's 'Kant on the Possibility of the Ugly' from the British Journal of Aesthetics (2013) 53 (2): 199-209 (link)
10/02/2016 The Critique of Judgement (focusing on the 'General Comment on the Exposition of Aesthetic Reflective Judgements')
03/02/2016 The Critique of Judgement
27/01/2016 Aesthetics Reading Group will this week continue reading through The Critique of Judgement. We're moving through the 'Analytic of the Sublime',
this time focusing on sections 27 to 29 and the comment if we have time.
20/01/2016 Aesthetics Reading Group will begin this term by returning to Kant, to continue reading through The Critique of Judgement. This week we will begin the 'Analytic of the Sublime', sections 23 to 27

Aesthetics Reading Group this week will be moving to Tuesday (December 15th, 5.30pm in the Departmental Seminar Room in 50/51 Old Elvet) to avoid a clash with the department Christmas party. We'll also be covering a paper on the aesthetics of wine in honour of the festive season.

The paper is not yet available and we're still organising when and where we can meet, so please contact me ( for further details and a copy of the paper as they become available.

09/12/2015 Casey Haskins' 'Aesthetics as an Intellectual Network', from the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 69 (3) 2011: 297-308
02/12/2015 'Delightful, Delicious, Disgusting' from the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 60 (3) 2002: 217-225
25/11/2015 'Art Scents: Perfume, Design and Olfactory Art' by Larry Shiner in the British Journal of Aesthetics 55 (2) 2015 (Link)
18/11/2015 Elisabeth Schellekens' 'Aesthetic Properties'.
04/11/2015 'The Analytic of the Beautiful' from Kant's Critique of Judgement
28/10/2015 'The Analytic of the Beautiful' from Kant's Critique of Judgement
21/10/2015 'The Analytic of the Beautiful' from Kant's Critique of Judgement
14/10/2015 Hume's 'Of the Standard of Taste', widely available in anthologies and in a few electronic editions through the library website (here)
01/07/2015 Emily Brady's ' Ugliness and Nature'
24/06/2015 Andrew Kania's 'In Defence of Higher-Order Musical Ontologies: A Reply to Lee B. Brown' from the British Journal of Aesthetics.

David Davies' 'Interpretive Pluralism and the Ontology of Art' from the Revue Internationale de Philosophie.


Julian Dodd's 'Musical Works as Eternal Types' from the British Journal of Aesthetics.


Amie Thomasson's 'The Ontology of Art', chapter 4 of the Blackwell Guide to Aesthetics


Maxine Sheets-Johnstone's 'From Movement to Dance'


Andrew Kania's "All Play and No Work: An Ontology of Jazz".


Bence Nanay's 'Musical Twofoldness'


Ted Nannicelli's paper 'Instructions and Artworks: Musical Scores, Theatrical Scripts, Architectural
Plans, and Screenplays' in the British Journal of Aesthetics 2011, 54 (4): 399-414.


This week Aesthetics Reading Group is continuing a series of papers on imagination and creativity, though this will be our last meeting this term to avoid clashing next week with
the E. J. Lowe Memorial Lecture. This week we're reading Berys Gaut's 'Creativity and Imagination' from Gaut & Livingston's The Creation of Art (2003).


This week Aesthetics Reading Group will start a new subject area on imagination and creativity, to lead on from the last paper we covered on Conceptual Art. We'll begin with David Novitz's 'Creativity and Constraint' from the Australasian Journal of Philosophy 77 (1) 1999: 67-82.


Margaret Boden's 'Creativity and Conceptual Art' in part four of Goldie and Schellekens' Philosophy and Conceptual Art (available online through the university library).


Kathleen Stock's 'Sartre, Wittgenstein, and Learning from Imagination' in part three of Goldie and Schellekens' Philosophy and Conceptual Art (available online through the
university library.)


ARG was postponed this week due to RIP Lecture Series


Elisabeth Schellekens' 'The Aesthetic Value of Ideas' in part two of Goldie and
Schellekens' Philosophy and Conceptual Art (available online through the university library).


David Davies' 'Telling Pictures: The Place of Narrative in Late Modern "Visual Art",' in part three of Goldie and Schellekens' Philosophy and Conceptual Art (available online through the
university library).


One-off paper on a seasonally appropriate topic at this time of year, so in the spirit of Christmas we'll be reading Marcia Muelder Eaton's 'Laughing at the Death of Little Nell: Sentimental Art and Sentimental People' (


We will continue our topic on censorship, with Richard Shusterman's article 'Aesthetic Censorship: Censoring
Art for Art's Sake'.


Matthew Kieran's article 'On Obscenity: The Thrill and Repulsion of the Morally Prohibited'.


New Topic of Censorship (Beginning with Mary Devereaux's article 'Protected Space: Politics, Censorship, and the Arts.')


'Classic papers in aesthetics' series with Aristotle's Poetics
(again there are many translations, but it is available online here


Plato's Ion - there are lots of translations available, and it's also available online.


John Dewey's 'Having an Experience' from Art as Experience (available online).


Kendall Walton's 'Categories of Art'.


During this session (in honour of the Wold Cup) we read Wolfgang Welsch's 'Sport Viewed Aesthetically, and Even as Art?'


Aesthetics Reading Group will this week be finishing our series on the sublime with Richard Shusterman's 'Somaesthetics and Burke's Sublime'.


Sheila Lintott's 'Sublime Hunger: A Consideration of Eating Disorders Beyond Beauty'.


Uygar Abaci's 'Kant's Justified Dismissal of Artistic Sublimity'.


Jane Forsey's 'Is a Theory of the Sublime Possible?'


Sandra Shapsay's 'Contemporary Environmental Aesthetics and the Neglect of the Sublime'


Patricia Matthews' 'Aesthetic Appreciation of Art and Nature'.


Allen Carlson's 'Appreciation and the Natural Environment'.


Paden, Harmon and Milling's 'Ecology, Evolution and Aesthetics: Towards an Evolutionary Aesthetics of Nature'.


A. Kania's 'In Defence of a Higher-Order Musical Ontology: a Reply to Lee B. Brown.'


W Mithen's 'The Evolution of Imagination: An Archaeological Perspective'.


John Morreall's 'Cuteness'.


'Why Art is not a Spandrel' by Stephen Davies, as part of our theme on aesthetics and evolution.


Aesthetics and Evolution. C Nussbaum's 'Kinds, Types, and Musical Ontology'


A selection of phenomenological readings in aesthetics with Anderson's 'Complicating Heidegger and the Truth of Architecture'


A phenomenological approach to aesthetics with MErleau-Ponty's 'Cezanne's Doubt' (available online here)


Heidegger's 'The Origin of the Work of Art'


Heidegger's 'The Origin of the Work of Art' (available online here)


Thomas Kulka's 'Kitsch' in honour of the festive season.


A.W. Eaton's Where Ethics and Aesthetics Meet: Titian's Rape of Europa'


Linda Nochlin's 'Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?'.


A. Eaton's 'What's Wrong with the (Female) Nude?'


New subject area of feminist issues within aesthetics. We'll begin this week with Hans Maes' 'Who Says Pornography Can't Be Art?'


Denis Dutton's 'Tribal Art and Artifact'


The ARG was posponed this week due to a clash with the RIP lecture


'On the Very Idea of "Outsider Art"' by David Davies (there's an image missing from the article itself due to copyright issues, but if you want to view it, it can be found here).


Dominic Lopes's 'Art Without "Art"


'Robust Immoralism' by A W Eaton

24/04/2013 'The Ethics of Singing Along: The Case of "Mind of a Lunatic"' by Aaron Smuts.
13/03/2013 'On Aesthetics and Function in Architecture: The Case of the “Spectacle” Art Museum' by Larry Shiner
06/03/2013 'Architecture, Life, and Habit' by Andrew Ballantyne. (2011) Journal of Aesthetic and Art Criticism 69:1
20/02/2013 Jenefer Robinsons' recent article 'On Being Moved by Architecture' Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 70: 4 (2012)
13/02/2013 Bence Nanay 'The Multimodal Experience of Art' (BJA 52:4)

Listening to Music Together by Nick Zangwill. BJA 52 (4)


'Touch and the Experience of the Genuine' by Carolyn Korsmeyer.


Noel Carroll's 'Recent Approaches to Aesthetic Experience'.


Peter Goldie's virtue theory of art, Anil Gomes' article 'Goldie on the Virtues of Art'.


Peter Goldie's Virtues of Art and Human Well-Being


Peter Goldie's Towards a Virtue Theory of Art.


Yuriko Saito's 'Everyday Aesthetics' (Philosophy and Literature 25.1 (2001) 87-95). Available here.


Sherri Irvin's 'Scratching an Itch' (2008. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 66 (1): 25-35) which is available here.


Sherri Irvin's 'The Pervasiveness of the Aesthetic in Ordinary Experience'.

17/10/2012 ‘The Myth of the Aesthetic Attitude’ George Dickie American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Jan., 1964), pp. 56-65.