Reading group Aesthetic Practices


People’s engagement with art is highly conventionalised and habitual. Within specific cultures and time periods we can look for aesthetic practices in order to understand better the expectations people have of art, and the values they associate with it. We can take such practices to codify dominant assumptions about what art is and about how we ought to treat it. In particular, a careful analysis of aesthetic practice can help us answer the question: What are the assumptions about the role of perception and cognition in our engagement with art that underpin the way people in fact engage with art?

This reading group will study recent contributions to understanding aesthetic practices in general, and will focus in particular on the following three aspects of aesthetic practice: (i) justification and rationalisation, (ii) education and character building, (iii) influence and enthusiasm.

The Aesthetic Character

Part II: Winter 2020

The Critic

Background reading:

• David Hume, ‘Of the Standard of Taste’

Meeting 1: Thursday 30/01
  • • David Hume, ‘Of the Standard of Taste’ PDF

Meeting 2: Monday 24/02
  • • Víctor Durà-Vilà, ‘Shelley on Hume's Standard of Taste and the Impossibility of Sound Disagreement among the Ideal Critics’ (2015)
  • • James Shelley, ‘When True Judges Differ: Reply to Durà-Vilà’ (2015)

Meeting 3: Tuesday 10/03
  • • Víctor Durà-Vilà, ‘Courage in Art Appreciation: A Humean Perspective’ (2014)

The Public

Background reading:

• Friedrich Schiller, ‘Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man’

Meeting 4: Tuesday 24/03
  • • María José Alcaraz León, ‘Aesthetics Makes Nothing Happen? The Role of Aesthetic Properties in the Constitution of Non‐aesthetic Value’ (2018)

Meeting 5: Tuesday 07/04
  • • Nick Riggle, ‘On the Interest in Beauty and Disinterest’ (2016)

Meeting 6: Tuesday 21/04
  • • Jacques Ranciere, ‘Distribution of the Sensible’ (2000)

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