•  120
    The perceptual constraints on pictorial realism
    Contemporary Aesthetics 4. 2007.
    I argue in this paper that our concept of pictorial realism should include a reference to perceptual proficiency relative to a cultural context. I argue this by demonstrating the greater explanatory power of such a concept for understanding pictorial realism. The central idea is that gestalt-like mechanisms that are normally involved in object recognition can be deployed at a second order level in picture perception. Styles of picturing that exploit this second order gestalt-like mechanism ar…Read more
  •  125
    Symposium on pictorial realism : Introduction
    Contemporary Aesthetics 4. 2007.
    The participants in this Symposium gathered for a two-day conference on Pictorial Realism at the University of Adelaide. Our aim was to analyse the notion of pictorial realism with a view to its relevance for the way in which art history is conceived and appreciated. Specifically, we examined the extent to which the representational content of artworks can be ascertained independently of preconceived theoretical knowledge about the representational system within which the artwork is made. Pape…Read more
  •  194
    Deflating metaphors and emerging contexts: Messing with your mind in a material world
    In Natasha Bullock & Alexie Glass-Kantor (eds.), Adelaide Biennial 2012 Catalogue, Parallel Collisions, Art Gallery of South Australia. pp. 194-98. 2013.
    A discussion of the way the visual artists represented in Adelaide’s 2012 Biennale draw attention to new conceptions of place, time and self which highlight the contingent nature of the narratives that underlie our day to day existence. Disenchantment or re-enchantment are increasingly redundant conceptions. Such narratives are always fluid. Among the ebbs and flows, new conceptions emerge, providing in effect new ways of being in the world, and in turn prompting a reshuffling of what we thou…Read more
  •  241
    Aesthetics is the grammar of desire
    Aesthetic Investigations 1 (1): 156-164. 2015.
    This essay presents the nature of aesthetic judgment, the significance of aesthetic judgment and finally, the relevance of art to understanding aesthetic judgment.
  •  2085
    Aesthetic Autonomy and Praxis: Art and Language in Adorno and Habermas
    International Journal of Philosophical Studies 19 (2). 2011.
    Abstract Aesthetic autonomy has been given a variety of interpretations, which in many cases involve a number of claims. Key among them are: (i) art eludes conventional conceptual frameworks and their inherent incompatibility with invention and creativity; and (ii) art can communicate aspects of experience too fine?grained for discursive language. To accommodate such claims one can adopt either a convention?based account or a natural?kind account. A natural?kind theory can explain the first but …Read more
  •  121
    The sense of community in Cavell's conception of aesthetic and moral judgment
    Conversations: The Journal of Cavellian Studies 2 35-53. 2014.
    Cavell’s interest in aesthetic objects can be understood to be motivated by an interest in the nature of meaning and value. The idea is that perceptual objects considered as cultural artefacts under-determine the meaning and value attributed to them. The process involved in determining their meaning and value is essentially a creative one. Through his study of film, literature and music, Cavell could be said to indirectly address the axiomatic, or what is sometimes referred to as the bedrock, of…Read more
  •  437
    The Classical Trinity and Kant's Aesthetic Formalism
    Critical Horizons 11 (3): 419-441. 2010.
    I identify two mutually exclusive notions of formalism in Kant’s Critique of Aesthetic Judgement: a thin concept of aesthetic formalism and a thick concept of aesthetic formalism. Arguably there is textual support for both concepts in Kant’s third critique. I offer interpretations of three key elements in the Critique of Aesthetic Judgement which support a thick formalism. The three key elements are: Harmony of the Faculties, Aesthetic Ideas and Sensus Communis. I interpret these concepts in rel…Read more
  •  634
    Perceptual principles as the basis for genuine judgments of beauty
    Journal of Consciousness Studies 7 (8-9): 8-9. 2000.
    This paper comments on an article by V.S. Ramachandran and William Hirstein (JCS,1999) in which they purport to be identifying the neurological principles of beauty. I draw attention to the way the problem of beauty is construed in the philosophical literature by Mary Mothersill (1984) and Immanuel Kant (Critique of Judgment). I argue that Ramachandran and Hirsteins' principles do not address the problem of beauty because they do not differentiate between the experience of beauty and other close…Read more
  •  627
    Beauty as harmony of the soul: the aesthetic of the Stoics
    In Marietta Rosetto, Michael Tsianikas, George Couvalis & Maria Palaktsoglou (eds.), Proceedings of the 8th International Conference of Greek Studies 2009, Flinders University. pp. 33-42. 2012.
    Aesthetics is not an area to which the Stoics are normally understood to have contributed. I adopt a broad description of the purview of Aesthetics according to which Aesthetics pertains to the study of those preferences and values that ground what is considered worthy of attention. According to this approach, we find that the Stoics exhibit an Aesthetic that reveals a direct line of development between Plato, the Stoics, Thomas Aquinas and the eighteenth century, specifically Kant’s aesthetics.…Read more
  •  478
    Review of Aesthetics and Rock Art (review)
    British Journal of Aesthetics 46 (2): 208-210. 2006.
    The essays collected in this volume are written by scholars from a wide range of disciplines (anthropology, archaeology, art history, philosophy and psychology). The papers ostensibly address how to evaluate rock art, but can also be read in the context of offering support for the affirmative in the debate regarding whether aesthetics is a cross-cultural discipline. Two alternative conceptions of the aesthetic provide the underlying antithesis and thesis respectively to all papers. The antit…Read more
  •  106
    The romantic spirit
    ArtLink 28 (2): 13-15. 2009.
    A central idea of Romanticism in the arts is the idea that art or the aesthetic experience of nature reveals truth or insight about the human condition and relation to nature. What kind of truth could this be and how could perceptual objects reveal it?
  •  32
    This symposium is inspired by the round tables organised by James Elkins in Cork, Ireland and Chicago which aimed to create a dialogue between art historians and philosophers on concepts which are central to the way both disciplines conduct their respective endeavours. For our symposium, art historians and philosophers will discuss topics and concepts which are likely to be given different interpretations by the respective disciplines. We will attempt to bridge the gap between the respective int…Read more
  •  262
    Review of Making sense. A theory of interpretation (review)
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 80 (1). 2002.
    The distinctive feature of Thom’s theory of interpretation is that it takes the classicist view regarding the stability of the object of interpretation, and the post-structuralist view regarding what counts as interpretation. Accordingly, he must admit the possibility that any one object of interpretation, stable though it be, can have multiple (yet possibly incommensurable) successful interpretations.
  •  344
    Aesthetic perception
    Communication and Cognition: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly Journal 29 (1): 37-64. 1996.
    In this paper I suggest ways in which vision theory and psychology of perception may illuminate our understanding of beauty. I identify beauty as a phenomenon which is (i) ineffable, (ii) subjectively universal (intersubjective), and (iii) manifested in objects as formal structure. I present a model of perception by which I can identify a representation whose underlying principles would explain these features of beauty. The fact that these principles underlie the representation rather than const…Read more
  •  343
    In this book, McMahon argues that a reading of Kant’s body of work in the light of a pragmatist theory of meaning and language leads one to put community reception ahead of individual reception in the order of aesthetic relations. A core premise of the book is that neo-pragmatism draws attention to an otherwise overlooked aspect of Kant’s "Critique of Aesthetic Judgment," and this is the conception of community which it sets forth. While offering an interpretation of Kant’s aesthetic theory, the…Read more
  •  168
    The aesthetic appeal of minimal structures: Judging the attractiveness of solutions to traveling salesperson problems
    with D. Vickers, M. Lee, M. Dry, and P. Hughes
    Perception and Psychophysics 68 (1): 32-42. 2007.
    Ormerod and Chronicle reported that optimal solutions to traveling salesperson problems were judged to be aesthetically more pleasing than poorer solutions and that solutions with more convex hull nodes were rated as better figures. To test these conclusions, solution regularity and the number of potential intersections were held constant, whereas solution optimality, the number of internal nodes, and the number of nearest neighbors in each solution were varied factorially. The results did not s…Read more
  •  125
    In this clearly written and well argued book, Mark Johnson presents a theory of embodied cognition and discusses the implications it has for theories of meaning, language and aesthetics. His pragmatist foundations are on show when he writes that ‘The so-called norms of logical inference are just the patterns of thinking that we have discovered as having served us well in our prior inquiries, relative to certain values, purposes, and types of situations’ (p.109). Johnson’s particular contribution…Read more
  •  40
    Perceptual Principles, Aesthetic Form and Notions of Unity
    Consciousness and Cognition 29 (1). 2000.
    There are a number of problems associated with the classic notion of beauty understood as an experience of perceptual form. These problems are that there is an apparent incompatibility between beauty’s objectivity and subjectivity; and an incompatibility between the two self-evident theses that (i) there are no principles of beauty and (ii) there are genuine judgements of beauty. There is also the problem of explaining the possibility of a disinterested pleasure. To solve these problems I draw u…Read more
  •  132
    Backing Kant, with interest
    Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art 9 (1/2): 90-99. 2008.
    The idea of a ‘global’ concept of art might suggest a transcending of the categories which would locate an artwork relative to one place and one time. Is this possible? If we answer in the negative, this suggests that a global concept of art is not possible, but on the positive side, the significance of the particular is kept intact. If we answer in the affirmative, then a global concept of art is possible, but we lose the very aspect that defines art: its particularity. I will argue that we …Read more
  •  117
    Aesthetic autonomy: tracing the Kantian legacy to Olafur Eliasson
    Proceedings of the European Society of Aesthetics, 2011. 2012.
    Aesthetic autonomy is sometimes equated with an art for art’s sake approach to art. On the contrary, the philosophers whose work is often cited as backup to this concept of aesthetic autonomy held a very different conception of it. I will trace an alternative notion of aesthetic autonomy in the work of Adorno and Habermas, the origins of which can be found in Immanuel Kant’s aesthetic theory, the popular notion of his formalism, notwithstanding. I draw upon the art practice of the contemporary I…Read more
  •  565
    Beauty
    Oxford Bibliographies Online: Philosophy. 2019.
    This is an 18,500 word bibliography of philosophical scholarship on Beauty which was published online in the Oxford Bibliographies Online. The entry includes an Introduction of 800 words, 21 x 400-word sub-themes and 168 annotated references. INTRODUCTION Philosophical interest in beauty began with the earliest recorded philosophers. Beauty was deemed to be an essential ingredient in a good life and so what it was, where it was to be found and how it was to be included in a life were prime cons…Read more
  •  113
    Plato’s distinction between appearance and reality which he attempts to demonstrate in his allegory of the cave established the conceptual framework for theories of knowledge for many centuries. The quest for certainty set us on the path to believing that reality is there to be discovered. We only have to open our eyes and minds. Yet a recurring question about the interface between culturally acquired concepts and objective sense perception remains a point of contention. Mischa Kuball’s Plat…Read more
  •  97
    The aesthetics of perception: form as a sign of intention
    Essays in Philosophy 13 (2): 2. 2012.
    Aesthetic judgment has often been characterized as a sensuous cognitively unmediated engagement in sensory items whether visual, auditory, haptic, olfactory or gustatory. However, new art forms challenge this assumption. At the very least, new art forms provide evidence of intention which triggers a search for meaning in the perceiver. Perceived order excites the ascription of intention. The ascription of intention employs background knowledge and experience, or in other words, implicates the pe…Read more
  •  838
    Perceptual constraints and perceptual schemata: The possibility of perceptual style
    Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 61 (3). 2003.
    <The definitive version is available at www.blackwell-synergy.com > -- In this paper I carve out a space between the concept of "the object" and the seemingly endless ways in which "the object" can be represented pictorially. I will call the aspect of the pictorial representation which is made possible by this space, the pictorial representation's "style". I will explore this space by drawing upon theories of pictorial representation, leaving out, for the sake of my purposes here, a considerat…Read more