April 4-5, 2003, Philadelphia
The Eastern Division of the American Society for Aesthetics held its annual meeting at the Holiday Inn Historic District in Philadelphia on April 4-5. The meeting coincided with Temple University’s annual Monroe Beardsley Memorial Lecture, and with “First Friday,” the monthly occasion for gallery openings in the vicinity of the hotel. Approximately 60 people attended the meeting. Kirk Pillow (Hamilton College) served as Program Chair and John Brown (University of Maryland College Park) handled local arrangements.
Sessions at the meeting covered a great variety of topics and issues in aesthetics: painting and perception, the sublime, music, film aesthetics, philosophy of literature, the aesthetics of nature, emotional response to fiction and music, and the function of artistic categories were addressed. A special artists’ panel on the aesthetics of computer-aided design was a fascinating addition to the program.
Nicholas Wolterstorff (Yale University) delivered the Beardsley Lecture at Temple on Friday, April 4. His paper, “Would You Stomp on a Picture of Your Mother? Would You Kiss an Icon?: Reflections on the Veneration of Pictorial Representations,” considered arguments from the iconographic tradition, and counter-arguments of the iconoclasts, in order to explain our tendency to treat representations of persons with the respect accorded the persons themselves.
At a plenary session on Saturday, April 5, Paul Guyer (University of Pennsylvania) presented “The Ethical Value of the Aesthetic: Some Historical Models.” He argued in the paper that Santayana’s aesthetic theory articulates the relationship between aesthetics and ethics more successfully in some ways than either Kant or the empiricist aesthetic theory of Archibald Alison does. The plenary lecture was followed by a lively reception.
Saturday night the meeting participants and other hotel guests were treated to a performance by Aesthetic Attitude in the hotel lounge. This jazz ensemble featured the playing of Phil Alperson, John Carvalho, Bill Day, Casey Haskins, Gary Iseminger, Vivek Mathew, Nicole Pacifico, and Howie Thompson, joined by the vocal arts of Jerry Levinson. A marvelous time had by all brought the meeting to a satisfying close.
At Friday’s business meeting it was agreed that the Eastern Division meeting will return to the Holiday Inn Historic District for next year’s meeting, to be held April 2-3, 2004. Responsibilities for chairing the program will be shared by Kirk Pillow and Richard Eldridge (Swarthmore College). Kirk will also handle local arrangements. Peter Fettner (Temple University) will assist with local publicity. Sarah Worth (Furman University) will return as an advisor to the program committee.