October 1-4, San Francisco
The 61st Annual Meeting of the American Society for Aesthetics was held in the Westin Saint Francis Hotel in San Francisco. A wide variety of topics were represented in the twenty eight sessions. Sessions on digitalization and the arts, video and the museum, and a plenary session on the Aesthetics of Net Art delivered by Julian Stallabras explored the use of newer technologies in art making. The visual arts were explored further in a session on drawing, which discussed a forthcoming book by Patrick Maynard, on appreciating the visual image through photography, monocular vision and signs, and on the art of laundry, which presented and discussed the photographs of Holly Pedlosky. The Feminist Caucus Session on the ornament should be mentioned here as well.
Other art forms were also scrutinized in sessions on musical ontology and understanding, the narrative, horror and tragedy, and on philosophical approaches to film. There were sessions on what are still unusual topics: non human aesthetics and embodied aesthetics, and, no longer unusual ones: environmental aesthetics which focused on aspects of Allen Carlson’s work, race, gender and aesthetics, and cognitive science and aesthetics.
Several sessions were concerned with the history of aesthetics which collectively discussed such things as Aristotle on sculpture, Hume on good art that we fail to enjoy, Kant on the role of beauty in moral motivation, in the case of one paper, and on ugliness, in the case of another, Nietzsche and the moral implications of his aesthetics, and finally various aspects of Wittgenstein’s aesthetics. Sustaining a recent tradition of maintaining international contacts, there was also a session on Chinese aesthetics.
Concentrating on traditional topics in the philosophy of art were sessions on interpretation, representation and two sessions on artistic and aesthetic value. Among the highlights of the conference were papers by Peter Railton on aesthetic value, Birgit Recki on Nietzsche, a book session on Arthur Danto’s The Abuse of Beauty, and a session on imagination, fiction, and simulation theory, with talks by Shaun Nichols, Paul Harris, Alvin Goldman, and excellent commentary from Gregory Currie. The greatest disappointment of the conference was the absence of Richard Wollheim due to illness. In lieu of his plenary session, tickets to the Chagall exhibit at SFMOMA were made available to attendees