Subscribe: The British Journal of Aesthetics - current issue
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The British Journal of Aesthetics Current Issue

Published: Wed, 26 Jul 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Last Build Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2017 03:51:44 GMT


The Fine Arts Reduced to a Single Principle


The Fine Arts Reduced to a Single PrincipleBatteuxCharlesoup. 2015. pp. 151. £40.00 (hbk).

Books Received


ALLEN, KEITH. A Naïve Realist Theory of Colour. (Oxford: OUP). 2016. pp. 204. £45.00 (hbk).



We note with sadness the death of two highly respected colleagues, Fabian Dorsch and Peter Kivy.

Notes on Contributors


TRIP GLAZER teaches at Georgetown University. His work explores the nature and norms of emotional expression.









Journals Received


JTLA, Journal of the Faculty of Letters, The University of Tokyo: Aesthetics.

Was Hanslick a Closet Schopenhauerian?


A common tendency throughout the history of thought concerning the nature of music has been to attribute to it a peculiar power to represent the dynamic of the universe. The tradition has perhaps its most developed expression in the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer. The strict formalism present in Eduard Hanslick’s treatise, On the Musically Beautiful, clearly stands in stark opposition to such ways of thinking. And yet the book’s final paragraph (in the first edition, at least) ends with a paragraph in which music is referred to as the ‘sounding image of the great motions of the universe’.The present paper examines the extent to which this apparently Schopenhaurian moment in Hanslick can be reconciled with the formalism promoted by the rest of the book. I argue, in opposition to differing claims to the contrary made by Mark Evan Bonds, and by Christopher Landerer and Nick Zangwill, that the original concluding paragraph is inconsistent with the rest of Hanslick’s argument. At the same time, the paragraph cannot simply be written off as a slip of the pen. Rather, it seems to reflect an anxiety on Hanslick’s part about musical formalism failing to provide any account of why the art of music is valuable.

The Deformity-Related Conception of Ugliness


Ugliness is a neglected topic in contemporary analytic aesthetics. This is regrettable given that this topic is not just genuinely fascinating, but could also illuminate other areas in the field, seeing as ugliness, albeit unexplored, does feature rather prominently in several debates in aesthetics. This paper articulates a ‘deformity-related’ conception of ugliness. Ultimately, I argue that deformity, understood in a certain way, and displeasure, jointly suffice for ugliness. First, I motivate my proposal, by locating a ‘deformity-related’ conception of ugliness in aesthetic tradition, offering examples in support, and rejecting related alternative suggestions. Second, I argue that the proposal boasts considerable merits. Not only does it capture much of what we ordinarily think of as ugly, but it also comprises an objective criterion for ugliness, offers unity and comprehensiveness, and is informative and explanatorily potent. Third, I discuss a number of objections, thereby demonstrating that the proposal withstands reflective scrutiny.

The Sublime in Schopenhauer’s Philosophy


The Sublime in Schopenhauer’s PhilosophyVandenabeeleBartpalgrave macmillan. 2015. pp. 194. £63.00 (hbk).

Meanings of Art: Essays in Aesthetics


Meanings of Art: Essays in AestheticsHoltJasonminkowski institute press. 2015. pp. 208. £11.08 (pbk).

De Gustibus: Arguing about Art and Why We Do It


De Gustibus: Arguing about Art and Why We Do ItKivyPeteroup. 2015. pp. 192. £27.50 (hbk)

The Virtue of Subtlety and the Vice of a Heavy Hand


Subtlety is a concept as deeply intertwined with aesthetic judgements as virtually any other. But it is not clear what makes subtlety a good property of an artwork, or indeed if it is one. In this paper, I explore this under-discussed issue. First, I spend some time setting out hallmarks of subtlety and discussing different ways in which subtlety might be valuable. I then go on to defend a particular view about why subtlety is aesthetically valuable, by thinking through why heavy-handedness is aesthetically bad. In essence, subtlety is valuable because it promotes active engagement with the artwork, and heavy-handedness is bad because it forces us into too passive a role. I connect this to the role of agency and autonomy in artistic experience. Finally, I discuss some related aesthetic concepts, and expand the view of subtlety to cover borderline art forms, nature, and people themselves.

‘Pure Showing’ and Anti-Humanist Musical Profundity


In this paper I argue that Peter Kivy’s contention that music is incapable of profundity is correct only in a limited sense. So long as we associate profundity with depth of subject matter, even the revisions proposed by Stephen Davies and Julian Dodd are incapable of delivering an account of musical profundity which has the correct scope. Theories of profundity based on criteria of exemplification and non-denotational expression of content remain vulnerable to Kivy’s well-chosen counter-examples of non-profound artworks which meet these criteria. However, the established debate presumes that profundity is only possible through a depth of subject matter; I argue that there is an alternative form off profundity which music does exhibit, relating to its formal complexity. This profundity (which does not achieve its depth through resonance with human themes or achievement) I term ‘anti-humanist’.

On Fictional Characters as Types


Conceiving of fictional characters as types allows us to reconcile intuitions of sameness and difference about characters such as Batman that appear in different fictional worlds. Sameness occurs at the type level while difference occurs at the token level. Yet, the claim that fictional characters are types raises three main issues. Firstly, types seem to be eternal forms whereas fictional characters seem to be the outcome of a process of creation. Secondly, the tokens of a type are concrete particulars in the actual world whereas the alleged tokens of a fictional character are concrete particulars in a fictional world. Thirdly, many fictional characters, unlike Batman, only appear in one work of fiction, and therefore one can wonder whether it does make sense to treat them as types. The main aim of this paper is to address these issues in order to defend a creationist account of fictional characters as types.

On the Virtual Expression of Emotion in Writing


Richard Wollheim claims that speech acts express emotions always in virtue of how they are said and never solely in virtue of what they say. However, it would seem to follow that we cannot express our emotions in writing, since texts preserve what we wish to say without recording how we would wish to say it. I argue that Wollheim’s thesis in fact sheds new light on how authors can and do express their emotions in writing. In short, an author must employ a variety of techniques within appropriate contexts to substitute for the non-verbal behaviours that would express her emotions physically. This substitution constitutes a ‘virtual expression’ just in case it empowers readers to vividly imagine the production of these behaviours.