The Aesthetic Life

Reading Group

Think of the aesthetic value realised in good character, in good urban planning, in one’s personal style, of the ugliness of consumerism, etc. What is the place of such values in our lives? And what is the place of those values in a theory of aesthetic experience or judgment?

Discussing the place of aesthetic value in our lives, broadly construed, is likely to help us to be more critical of the idea that aesthetic experience is at root sensory or perceptual, considering life is about so much more. In that light, these discussions will also help us find a better way of portraying the cognitive dimension of aesthetic experience. The readings on the list below reveal a whole host of values that are neither obviously ‘sensory’ nor obviously ‘cognitive’, but clearly live somewhere in between or somewhere else altogether.

Meeting time: Tuesday 12:30-14:00 (fortnightly)


(this link is password protected, please contact the convener if you want to join)


Meeting 1: Tuesday 27/10
  • • Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, In Praise of Shadows (pp. 1-42) – PDF
Meeting 2: Tuesday 3/11
  • • Walter Pater, ‘Poems by William Morris’ (selection) – PDF
  • • Walter Pater, ‘On Style’ (selection) – PDF
Meeting 3: Tuesday 17/11
  • • Audre Lorde, ‘Poetry is not a Luxury’ – PDF
Meeting 4: Tuesday 1/12
  • • Sherri Irvin, ‘Aesthetics as a Guide to Ethics’ – PDF
Meeting 5: Tuesday 15/12
  • • Yuriko Saito, ‘Consumer Aesthetics and Environmental Ethics: Problems and Possibilities’
Meeting 6: Tuesday 12/01
  • • TBA

For questions about the reading group, please contact the convener, Maarten Steenhagen