Beauty and aesthetics


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Beauty and aesthetics Bioethics Comparative philosophy Cosmopolitanism Death Ethics History of ideas Knowledge Logic and probability Meaning and the good life Metaphysics Philosophy of language Philosophy of mind Philosophy of religion Philosophy of science Political philosophy Thinkers and theories Values and beliefs Virtues and vices

Artist Jeff Koons with sculpture. Photo by Bob Adelman/Corbis

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Beauty and aesthetics
The great swindle

From pickled sharks to compositions in silence, fake ideas and fake emotions have elbowed out truth and beauty

Roger Scruton

A reproduction detail of the Chauvet-Pont d’Arc cave painting believed to be around 36,000 years old. Photo by Patrick Aventurier/Getty Images

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Art
How wonder works

One emotion inspired our greatest achievements in science, art and religion. We can manipulate it – but why do we have it?

Jesse Prinz

The Aegean Sea. Photo by Krista Rossow/National Geographic

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Beauty and aesthetics
The sea was never blue

The Greek colour experience was made of movement and shimmer. Can we ever glimpse what they saw when gazing out to sea?

Maria Michela Sassi

Katy Perry performs during her ‘Witness: The Tour’ in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Scott Legato/Getty

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Beauty and aesthetics
Against popular culture

For Adorno, popular culture is not just bad art – it enslaves us to repetition and robs us of our aesthetic freedom

Owen Hulatt

A general view of the Terracotta Warriors photographed in 2017 in Xi’an, China. Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty

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Beauty and aesthetics
The copy is the original

In China and Japan, temples may be rebuilt and ancient warriors cast again. There is nothing sacred about the ‘original’

Byung-Chul Han

New York, 2009. Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images

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Beauty and aesthetics
Rise of the ripped

With bodies sculpted to look like comic-book heroes, today’s muscle men create an impossible template for masculinity

Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore

French composer Pierre Boulez in 1976. Photo by Herve Gloaguen/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

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Music
Musical pleasures

We know music is pleasurable, the question is why? Many answers have been proposed: perhaps none are quite right

Roger Mathew Grant

Detail from Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama by Amy Sherald, oil on linen, 2018. Image courtesy National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

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Beauty and aesthetics
The puzzle of beauty

Rather than a golden ratio or a moral judgment, beauty is more like a radical jolt that awakens us to the world

Shahidha Bari

A Sonia Rykiel dress detail from Paris Fashion Week, Fall/Winter 2016/2017. Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

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Design and fashion
What do clothes say?

Clothes can be forms of thought as articulate as a poem or equation. Why then does philosophy like to dress them down?

Shahidha Bari

Theoretically beautiful; geometrically pruned trees, Leer, Germany. Photo by Karl Johaentges/Getty

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Beauty and aesthetics
Beauty ≠ truth

Scientists prize elegant theories, but a taste for simplicity is a treacherous guide. And it doesn’t even look good

Philip Ball

Esme Grant walks over ‘ZOBOP 1999’, a large scale installation by artist Jim Lambie. Photo by David Moir/Reuters

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Beauty and aesthetics
Eye candy

The pleasure we take in beauty must have been shaped by evolution — but what adaptive advantage did it give us?

Mohan Matthen

Photo by Dennis Stock/Magnum

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Beauty and aesthetics
A circus of the senses

It makes letters colourised and numbers pulsate with cosmic time: a rare gift, or are we all on the synaesthetic spectrum?

Shruti Ravindran

A version of Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain at the Barbican Art Gallery, London. Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty

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Beauty and aesthetics
It is and it isn’t

Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’ is not just a radical kind of art. It’s a philosophical dialetheia: a contradiction that is true

Damon Young & Graham Priest

At work in the workshop of a blacksmith in Klitten, Germany, 2018. Photo by Florian Gaertner/Photothek via Getty Images

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Making
Material intelligence

The chasm between producers and consumers leaves many of us estranged from beauty and a vital part of an ethical life

Glenn Adamson

Not a Vermeer. Christ and the Disciples at Emmaus (1937) by Han Van Meegeren. Photo courtesy Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen/Wikipedia

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Beauty and aesthetics
Whys of seeing

Experimental psychology is providing concrete answers to some of the great philosophical debates about art and its meaning

Ellen Winner

An average increase; Eric Kassel’s 24 hrs in Photos in which he exhibited 24 hours worth of photos uploaded to Flickr. Photo by Boris Horvat/Getty

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Computing and artificial intelligence
Art by algorithm

From book critiques to music choices, computation is changing aesthetics. Does increasingly average perfection lie ahead?

Ed Finn

The Frantzén/Lindeberg restaurant in Stockholm, Sweden. Photo by vdKG Design

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Food and drink
A taste of the divine

An exquisite, luxurious meal is an ephemeral pleasure – but perhaps that’s the point. So is the human condition

Julian Baggini

The Spanish National Dance Company perform during rehearsals for Don Quixote. Photo by Quim Llenas/Getty

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Beauty and aesthetics
Against flow

In the myth of flow, the performer soars when the music starts. But it’s grit and self-analysis until the very last bar

Barbara Gail Montero