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Lost in the museum

April 17, 2016

Excerpt from an OUPblog article, published on 16th April, by Bence Nanay, Professor of Philosophy and BOF Research Professor at the University of Antwerp. He is the author of Aesthetics as Philosophy of Perception, which is now available on Oxford Scholarship Online.

Aesthetics as Philosophy of Perception

 "You go to the museum. Stand in line for half an hour. Pay 20 bucks. And then, you’re there, looking at the exhibited artworks, but you get nothing out of it. You try hard. You read the little annoying labels next to the artworks. Even get the audio-guide. Still nothing. What do you do?

Maybe you’re just not into this specific artist. Or maybe you’re not that into paintings in general. Or art. But on other occasions you did enjoy looking at art. And even looking at paintings by this very artist. Maybe even the very same ones. Just today, for some reason, it’s not happening. Again, what do you do?

What I just described happens to us all the time. Maybe not in the museum, but in the concert hall or when trying to read a novel before going to sleep. Engagement with art is a fickle thing – it can go wrong easily. And if aesthetics as a discipline is a meaningful enterprise, it should really try to help us to make sense of situations like this."

Discover more: Read more in Bence Nanay's article 'Lost in the museum'. The first chapter of Aesthetics as Philosophy of Perception is now freely available until the end of May. Get access to the full text of this book, as well as over 1,750 Philosophy titles from Oxford University Press, by recommending OSO to your librarian today.