Project Description

The idea that aesthetics is fundamentally perceptual has long been the cornerstone of philosophical examinations of the subject. This assumption has crucial implications both for our understanding of the nature of aesthetic value and of how we form beliefs about such value. It leads, for example, to the widespread view that aesthetic properties are response-dependent and that aesthetic judgements must be formed via first-hand perception. However, these precepts raise serious questions. How, on the perceptual model, do we explain the ascription of aesthetic value to non-perceptual entities such as mathematical proofs and conceptual art? Can we reconcile the insistence on first-hand perceptual experience in aesthetic judgement with the phenomenon of expertise?

This 3-year project will investigate whether questions such as these derive from ambiguities built into the foundations of philosophical aesthetics. We will apply conceptual analysis and rigorous argumentation, but also align aesthetics with cutting edge research in other domains to work towards a dissolution of some of the discipline’s most long-standing antinomies. Our main aim is to provide a more detailed version of the perceptual model better able to accommodate problematic cases by construing more clearly the relation between perception and cognition.

The investigator and researcher will organize two workshops and one conference, prepare several research publications, a database, a comprehensive webpage, and more.