Institut Jean Nicod

Accueil > Séminaires/Colloques > Archives > Séminaires > 2019-2020 > SublimAE > SublimAE


8 février, de 13h00 à 15h00
Filippo Contesi (Universitat de Barcelona)
Shareability in Art Appreciation


In this talk I aim to offer a preliminary analysis of the relative lack of attention many contemporary definitions of art (as opposed to more traditional ones) have appeared to pay to the role of shareability of reasons for appreciation. It is common to draw a distinction between (the phenomena of) art and the aesthetic. The distinction is often drawn by pointing out that some (successful) works of art are not aesthetically valuable and that some aesthetically valuable things are not art. Notoriously more controversial are instead the issues of how to define the two phenomena. The distinction between art and the aesthetic is, as a consequence, difficult to characterize with much precision. However, one plausible component of the distinction is that the appreciation of art requires of appreciators some sort of an understanding of the artist’s intentions. In the philosophy of fiction, for instance, it is common to attribute to an artist the “reflexive intention” that appreciators imagine the fiction’s content because they recognize the artist’s intention that they so imagine. If all goes to plan, such a recognition is therefore a reason that fiction appreciators (are meant to) share among them. At least in this sense, then, art appreciation fundamentally involves an activity of sharing reasons. A number of important questions would seem to follow, such as : How fundamental are sharing and shareability to art ? Are there any other ways in which shareability is important in art ? Should contemporary philosophy of art pay greater attention to shareability ? With the possible exception of some philosophy of fiction, however, much contemporary philosophy has in my view neglected to develop such questions to a satisfactory extent.



25 janvier, de 13h00 à 15h00
Julien Deonna (University of Geneva)
On the Good that Moves us


In this presentation, I provide a detailed characterization of being moved, which I claim is a distinct emotion. Being moved is the experience of being struck by the goodness of some specific positive value being exemplified. I start by expounding this account. Next, I discuss three issues that have emerged in the literature regarding it. These concern respectively the valence of being moved, the scope of the values that may constitute its particular objects, and the cognitive sophistication required for experiencing it. My main contention is that when we understand that the presence of the specific positive value must be apprehended as finallyimportantly, and impersonally good to trigger being moved, these issues do not arise.



7 décembre, de 13h00 à 15h00
Pascal Engel (EHESS, CRAL)
Le mélo sublime : Douglas Sirk


Le mélodrame hollywoodien semble relever du kitsch. Mais Douglas Sirk l’a elevé jusqu’au sublime. Sirk est le créateur d’un genre dont il est l’un des rares représentants, par des films en apparence sentimentaux mais en réalité d’une subtile ironie, qui réussit à la fois à mimer le sublime et à le réaliser en acte.



23 novembre, de 17h00 à 19h00
Jerrold Levinson (University of Maryland)
Musical Sublimity


The aim of this talk is to identify and illustrate what music might specifically be categorized as sublime music–as opposed, among other things, to beautiful music, profound music, chill-inducing music, or intensely expressive music.

After recalling the influential views on the sublime of Kant and Schopenhauer I propose a characterization of the sublime in its original and primary sphere of application, namely that of nature, in terms of both describable properties of certain natural phenomena and distinctive experiences engendered by contemplation of such phenomena. I then consider how certain kinds of musicand certain kinds of musical experience might be regarded as analogous to sublime phenomena and sublime experiences in nature, thus justifying the notion of musics and musical experiences that are specifically sublime. A parallel is also drawn with certain modes of abstract painting that may reasonably be judged sublime.

The claims about musical sublimity in the second part of my talk will be illustrated with examples of music that is arguably sublime in the sense defended, from the oeuvres of composers such as Bach, Beethoven, Bruckner, Mahler, Scriabin, Schoenberg, Berg, Bartok, Messaien, Barber, Glass, and Penderecki.



16 novembre 2020, de 13h00 à 15h00
Nicole Hall (Postdoctoral researcher, Philosophy, Texas A&M University)
On the Cusp of the Sublime : Environmental and Artistic Sublimity


Paradigm cases of the sublime relate to the natural environment. Is the natural environment its only domain, or is it possible to experience the sublime in works of art ? I argue that the sublime originates in the natural environment, but that some works of art overcome the difficulty of its non-representational structure and provide indirect access to sublime experience. The sublime is a case in which pleasure’s motivational profile may be understood differently from that of beauty. The motivational profile of the sublime in the natural environment is one of perceptual frustration, due to perception’s limited capacity for representing it in its entirety. Even as far back as the Longinian tradition, we learn that the artistic sublime finds its source in the natural sublime. I argue that while the sublime originates in the natural environment, the question about whether we experience it in art hinges on the role of the imagination in the experience of the sublime. While it might be thought that experiencing beauty in imagination is less vibrant than experiencing it in perception, I argue that the sublime manifests itself primarily in the imagination, allowing for the possibility of experiencing it in some artworks. I will end with some more general remarks on ethical implications of the sublime for the natural environment.



5 Octobre 2020, de 13h00 à 15h00
Frédérique de Vignemont (CNRS-IJN)
50 shades of affective coloring of perception


Many sensory experiences somehow involve an affective dimension in addition to their sensory dimension. The crucial question is at which level the affective dimension kicks in. According to a conservative account, sensory experiences give rise to emotions, desires, and evaluative judgments, but they themselves are not affectively loaded. However, it has been recently proposed that there may be more to sensory experiences than what the conservatives assume, including evaluative content. It may then be that some sensory experiences can be endowed with features that are normally distinctive of emotional experiences.

Here I examine what it would require for visual experiences to have an affective phenomenal character. The objective of this paper is relatively modest. It is to draw the map of the various theoretical paths that a theory of affective perception could take. I will organize it around two main issues :

(i) Where is valence in perception ? In content ? In attitude ? Or in both ?

(ii) What is the relationship between the sensory and the affective components ?

We shall see that each path is filled with obstacles. Not only can one question whether visual content can represent evaluative properties, but even if it could, it is not clear that this would be sufficient for visual experiences to be affectively-loaded. Without affective mental paint, the affective phenomenology of our visual experiences might remain quite blend. The challenge then becomes almost artistic : how to blend affective and sensory mental paints ? What colour will it give rise to ?



8 June 2020, de 16h00 à 18h00
Sylvaine Guyot (Harvard University)
Historiciser le sublime. Éclat vs. grâce : une querelle du classicisme


Ce séminaire étudiera les termes, indistinctement esthétiques, philosophiques et sociopolitiques, de la querelle qui, à partir des années 1670, divise le champ socioculturel au sujet de la nature du sublime, cette notion s’élargissant alors de la pragmatique du discours à toutes les formes de représentation (picturale, dramatique, mondaine, absolutiste). L’idée des élites galantes, selon laquelle la grâce et la délicatesse valent mieux que la pompe et la magnificence, se diffuse amplement dans les traités de civilité, les beaux-arts et la louange royale, infléchissant le modèle ancien (augustinien) de la majesté éclatante du côté d’un art (néo-platonicien) de la douceur et de la séduction. Tel est le phénomène dont nous nous proposons d’explorer la théorisation et les manifestations artistiques dans les années 1670-1720 : dissocié de l’énergie fulgurante du raptus, le sublime s’affirme comme une catégorie proprement composite, où la delectatio se combine à l’admiratio, et où l’agrément, le plaisir, voire la sensualité le disputent à la sidération.



6 May 2020, de 16h00 à 18h00
Raphaël Millière (Ruhr-University Bochum)
Making sense of selflessness : a closer look at drug-induced disruptions of self-consciousness


A number of psychoactive compounds are known to disrupt self-consciousness dramatically at high doses – a phenomenon known as “drug-induced ego dissolution” (DIED) in the scientific literature. Until recently, much of our knowledge of this phenomenon was due to anecdotal evidence from recreational drug users, or early studies from the 1950s and 1960s with small sample sizes. However, recent research on the relevant range of psychoactive compounds in neuroscience has shed new light on this topic. In this presentation, I will discuss the range of subjective effects that have been subsumed under the label “drug-induced ego dissolution”, and present some findings from recent empirical evidence, including novel evidence I have collected in previous research. I will suggest that this phenomenon refers in fact to a spectrum of effects spanning several dimensions, which should not be conflated. I will also reflect upon the similarities between drug-induced disruptions of self-consciousness on the one hand, and peak experiences induced by certain meditation practices, as well as so-called mystical-type experiences, on the other hand.



9 mars 2020, de 16h00 à 18h00
Joerg Fingerhut (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
The Aesthetic Self


Are our aesthetic values and the way we engage with the arts an essential part of our identity ? To what extent do our aesthetic preferences constitute who we are ? I will discuss studies on an Aesthetic Self-Effect supporting the claim that we are aesthetic selves. Here, counterfactual changes in aesthetic preferences – such as from liking pop to liking classical music – were perceived as threatening a person’s identity. The effect is as strong as the one found for moral changes – such as altering political partisanship or religious orientation. Exploring the breadth of this effect we also found evidence of an Anaesthetic Self-Effect : Scenarios that describe the initial adoption of an aesthetic preference – for instance from not caring to caring about music and art – also elicited strong judgments. I will discuss whether these effects constitute genuinely aesthetic effects or are mostly driven by social signaling attached to the art forms and genres we included in our studies. Taken together we found evidence for a genuine aesthetic self : when our taste in music and the arts or ­­our aesthetic interests change, we take these changes to severely affect our identity.



24 février 2020, de 16h00 à 18h00
Margherita Arcangeli Jérôme Dokic (EHESS-IJN)
What awe has to do with the sublime ?


Since the seminal paper by Dacher Keltner and Jonathan Haidt (2003), psychologists got the more and more interested in awe, an emotion difficult to explain within the traditional dichotomy between positive and negative emotions. Indeed, although awe can be seen as having an overall positive valence, still it is tinged with some negative feelings. Keltner and Haidt take vastness and need for accommodation to be the prototypical aspects of awe, which is thus defined as a strong emotional response to (physical or metaphorical) grand stimuli needing new conceptual/perceptual resources. This definition, however, sounds too general and in fact it matches quite well an aesthetic experience widely discussed in the philosophical literature, namely the sublime. Is the emotional construct which psychologists call “awe” really nothing but the experience of the sublime which is studied in philosophical aesthetics ? Although a terminological equivalence seems to be the current preferred view, our goal is to show that alternative explanations of the relationship between awe and the sublime are worth exploring, opening up new paths of interdisciplinary enquiry. 



27 janvier 2020, de 16h00 à 18h00
Jérôme Dokic (EHESS-IJN)
Pluralisme esthétique et expériences-limites


L’écoute de la musique peut-elle relever d’une expérience-limite, et si c’est le cas, quelle est la nature de celle-ci ? Nous avons une expérience-limite lorsque nous sommes confrontés à quelque chose qui sort de l’ordinaire au point que certaines de nos facultés psychologiques, dont la perception, l’imagination et la pensée habituelle, se heurtent à leurs limites cognitives, d’une manière dont nous sommes au moins confusément conscients. Dans les expériences-limites radicales, les repères familiers disparaissent et le monde nous apparaît, de manière paradoxale, comme étant à la fois réel et hors de notre portée cognitive. L’écoute de la musique est l’occasion d’expériences esthétiques particulièrement intenses, et certaines d’entre elles impliquent, selon Jérôme Dokic, la conscience de nos propres limites cognitives. L’analyse de la notion d’expérience-limite musicale sera confrontée à d’autres questions apparentées, comme la nature de l’expérience de pic (ou climax) en musique et la question ancienne du dualisme esthétique entre le beau et le sublime.



16 décembre 2019, de 16h00 à 18h00
Tomas Koblizek (Department of Analytic Philosophy, Institute of Philosophy, CAS, Prague)
Contemporary Art and the Non-Perceptual Aesthetic Experience


Arthur Danto’s best known contribution to the philosophy of art is his claim (a) that the contemporary artworks, such as Andy Warhol’s Brillo Box, do not differ from ordinary objects in terms of perception and (b) that to see something as art requires an artistic theory explaining the meaning of the work. In the introductory part of my talk, I will show that Danto’s claim is right in the first part (a) but it should be refuted in the second (b). I will demonstrate that although perception cannot often discriminate between contemporary artworks and ordinary objects, the difference between the two is not articulated only by means of theory but also by means of an experience incited by the work. I will speak of non-perceptual aesthetic experience. In the second part of my talk, I will discuss James Shelley’s theory of non-perceptual aesthetic properties as a possible candidate to explain the non-perceptual aesthetic experience. I will rise an objection to this theory, saying that the alleged non-perceptual aesthetic properties may be reduced to non-intentional mental states. To conclude, I will propose a conception of non-perceptual aesthetic experience as a metacognitive feeling. This feeling is incited as a work, such as the Brillo Box, invites us to an action the awareness of which it immediately frustrates. I will give examples from the domain of conceptual sculpture, conceptual photography, and performance.



12 Décembre 2019, de 15h00 à 17h00 (joint ÆCS/SublimAE session)
Robert Hopkins (NYU)
Aesthetic Engagement, Imagining and the Draw of the Real


Paradigm cases of aesthetic engagement are perceptual : we engage with the aesthetic character of things by perceiving them. But is perception the only home for aesthetic engagement, or can we also aesthetically engage with things in imagination ? Can we savour beauty imagined, as well as perceived ? Intuition may suggest so. And intuition may seem to find support in Kant’s claim that what matters to aesthetic engagement is the character of our representations alone, not whether there is anything they capture. I think otherwise. Beginning with some simple thoughts about pleasure’s motivational structure, and what it motivates in the very different contexts imagining and perceiving provide, I argue that imagining supports at best a pale shadow of engagement, and perhaps nothing worthy of the name. Is there, then, a reading of Kant’s claim on which it is consistent with these facts, or must it too be rejected ?



8 October 2019, de 15h30 à 17h30 (joint ÆCS/SublimAE session)
Dustin Stokes (University of Utah)
Perceptual expertise, skill and creativity


Minimally, creativity involves psychological novelty - novelty in thought or action, relative to the agent’s past thought or action - where the agent is non-trivially responsible for the relevant achievement. Achieving vreativity, thus understood, requires skill and imaginations. Of the first, some creative acts/processes involve the execution of highly domain specific skills. Second, often ont must employ imagination of some kind, combining new ideas, applying concepts in innovative ways, taking a new angle or perspective on a familiar problem. This takes cognitive energy : it places substantial demand on working memory. This paper attempts to shed new light on these features of creativity by focusing on empirical literature on percpeptual expertise. That literature employs behavioural, neural, and psychological methods to study elite-level performance of experts in a wide array of domains—radiology, forensics, ornithology, sport, to name just a few. I argue that the best explanation of this range of study and data is that perceptual expertise sometimes involves genuine sensory perceptual improvement, where those perceptual changes depend upon the concept-rich cognitive learning specific to that domain. The expert radiologist does not just make better judgments about the contents of the radiogram, she better sees the radiogram. Perceptual expertise is genuine perceptual expertise. If successful, this explanation can contribute to a naturalistic explanation of creativity. Some creative individuals are perceptual experts within their relevant domains. This perceptual advantage implies an advantage in available cognitive resources, and this latter claim is further evidenced by studies on visual short term memory and task-evoked pupillary response. If the expert painter or elite athlete actually perceives better in her context of expertise (as a result of her previous training), this offloads some of the needed cognitive work to her visual systems, and thereby frees up cognitive load (reducing demands on working memory) to try something new, imagine a new angle, innovate, create.