Research

Dissertation

A common view about valuing is that it is the result of the cooperation of various cognitive, motivational, and affective elements of one's agency. My dissertation examines three questions within this hybrid valuing framework when applied to aesthetics:

(i) how should we best understand the different mental states and processes involved in aesthetic valuing?

(ii) what is the relation between these different elements in our experiences of aesthetic valuing?

(iii) how are we to account for the appropriateness of aesthetic valuing?

Publications


  1. (forthcoming). Aesthetic Taste: Perceptual Discernment or Emotional Sensibility? In Perspectives on Taste. Edited by Jeremy Wyatt, Dan Zeman and Julia Zakkou. Routledge. (Co-authored with Elisabeth Schellekens).

Two common strategies have dominated attempts to account for the nature of taste. On the one side, we have an affectivist understanding of taste where aesthetic attribution has to do with the expression of a subjective response. On the other side, we find a non-affectivist approach according to which to judge something aesthetically is to epistemically track its main aesthetic properties. Our main argument will show that neither emotion nor perception can explain the nature of aesthetic taste single-handedly. In this paper, our principal aim is to examine the relationship between perceptual discernment and emotional sensibility as we find it in the process of ascribing aesthetic qualities. Is it the nature of the specific aesthetic property in question which determines the way in which perception and emotion are balanced in aesthetic attribution, or is it, rather, something about how our sensory skills operate? One of the notions we would like to explore in greater detail in this context is the idea of attunement, or the way in which aesthetic agents can align themselves to the content of an artwork o in order to better grasp its content and significance. According to our proposed picture, the exercise of taste involves an adjustment of one’s emotional sensibility to the aesthetic character of o. From here, we will posit both emotional and perceptual training as part of an agent’s aesthetic education in her use of aesthetic terms.


  1. (2020) Non-Standard Emotions and Aesthetic Understanding, Estetika 2 (57):135–49. (Winner of the Fabian Dorsch Essay Prize)

For cognitivist accounts of aesthetic appreciation, appreciation requires an agent (1) to perceptually respond to the relevant aesthetic features of an object o on good evidential grounds, (2) to have an autonomous grasp of the reasons that make the claim about the aesthetic features of o true by pointing out the connection between non-aesthetic features and the aesthetic features of o, (3) to be able to provide an explanation of why those features contribute to the overall aesthetic value of o. In this framework, aesthetic emotions have traditionally been confined to the level of aesthetic perception (1) and dismissed from the process of reason- giving (2, 3). I argue that this dismissal is due, firstly, to a questionable perceptual reading of the connection between emotional experience and value, and, secondly, to a narrow focus on the basic emotions. My argument will reveal that the non- standard or ‘intellectual’ emotions, the emotions which are in fact most important to appreciation, can play a significant epistemic role in our appreciative practices. They can do this because they (a) help us to deliberately focus our attention and (b) place the appreciator in a state of second-order awareness of their mental states. I conclude the paper by showing how these two epistemic tools (a, b) can help the appreciator to meet the explanatory/justificatory conditions (2) and (3).


  1. (2019) Robinson and Self-Conscious Emotions: Appreciation beyond (fellow) feeling, Debates in Aesthetics 14, 1.

Jenefer Robinson believes that feelings can play an important role in the critical evaluation of artworks. In this paper, I put some pressure on two important notions in her theory: emotional understanding and affective empathy. I do this by focusing on the nature of self-conscious emotions. My strategy will be, firstly, to demonstrate the difficulty that Robinson’s two-step theory of emotions has in accommodating higher cognitive emotional responses to art. Second, I will discuss how the tight connection to the ‘self’ involved in self-conscious emotions makes it difficult to take the emotional perspective of another person, as empathy requires. From here, I suggest that Peter Goldie’s feeling-towards and his critique of perspective-shifting may give a better understanding of the role of emotions in the appreciation of art, particularly in the case of reflective emotions. This issue will be explored through a discussion of the expression of autobiographical nostalgia in the work of the avant-garde filmmaker Jonas Mekas.

In Spanish:

Book Chapter

  1. (2018) "Bienvenida Ternura. Emoción y Narración en la Nueva Serialidad Televisiva", Cine y Series, ed. Alberto Nahum & María J. Ortiz. Comunicación Social.

Book Review

  1. (2015) Wittgenstein: Arte y Filosofía, ed. Julián Marrades, Plaza y Valdés Editores, Madrid, 2013, Daimón. Revista Internacional de Filosofía, 64, 2015.

Blog Entries

Aesthetics for Birds. Conversations on Art and Aesthetics


In preparation

6. A paper on akrasia and aesthetic rationality (draft upon request)


One cannot be rational whilst being akratic. Though philosophers typically claim that aesthetics falls within the scope of rationality, a non-akrasia requirement is yet to be developed in aesthetics. This, I argue, is because the main views on aesthetic appreciation have either rejected or ignored the phenomenon of aesthetic akrasia (e.g., ‘S judges x to be beautiful and yet S dislikes x’, or ‘S judges that x has low aesthetic merit, yet S enjoys x’.). According to affectivists, aesthetic character is revealed through affect, so what is judged and what is liked cannot diverge. Thus, akrasia never occurs. For cognitivists, akrasia is possible. However, akrasia does not interfere with appreciation because an agent’s judgment, not their liking of what is judged, marks the agent’s relation to value. I plan to show that both views mischaracterize the relationship between aesthetic judgment and the affective components of appreciation. This leads to a discussion on how a non-akrasia requirement could be articulated, and opens the door to a new appreciation account in line with this norm. Ultimately, this paper pushes for the idea that aesthetic rationality is no different from other domains in that it requires mental coherence between an agent’s mental states.




BSA Annual Conference 2018 (Oxford)

Photo by Eleen Deprez

Upcoming Presentations

Akrasia and the Structure of Aesthetic Rationality,

European Society for Aesthetics, June 2021 (Zoom)

American Society for Aesthetics Annual Meeting, Montreal, November 2021. (Winner Irene H. Chayes New Voices Award)

Selected Presentations {*=refereed}

"Aesthetic Akrasia and Agency"

Aesthetics Higher Seminar, Uppsala University, December 2020 (Zoom).

ARESMUR research seminar, University of Murcia, December 2020 (Zoom).


“Non-Standard Emotions and Aesthetic Understanding”

European Society for Aesthetics, Warsaw, June 2019.* (Winner of the Fabian Dorsch Essay Prize)

American Society for Aesthetics Annual Meeting, Phoenix, October 2019.*

Aesthetic Experience and the Complexity of Perception, Universidad de Murcia, November 2019.


"Art Appreciation: whether you like it or not."

European Society for Aesthetics, Tallin (Estonia), June 2020 (Cancelled due to Covid-19).*

British Society for Aesthetics Annual Meeting, University of Oxford, September, 2019.*


"Towards a New Emotional Story for Aesthetics"

Higher Seminar in Aesthetics. Philosophy Department, Uppsala (Sweden) April. 2019


“Intellectual Emotions and Aesthetic Understanding”

Emotions and Emotions Concepts Conference, University of Bern (Switzerland), November 2018. *

“Appreciating Reflective Emotions in Art”

British Society for Aesthetics Annual Meeting, University of Oxford, September, 2018.*

“The Artist’s Word: Artistic Intentions and Emotional Understanding”

American Society for Aesthetics Annual Meeting, Toronto, October 2018.*

European Society for Aesthetics, June 2018. (Shortlisted Fabian Dorsch Essay prize).*


Understanding (without) Feeling. The Case of Nostalgic Expression”

The Cognitive Relevance of Aesthetics, University of Tampere (Finland), September 2017.*

The Philosophy Days, Uppsala University, August 2017. *

“Remembering Seymour Glass: Nostalgia as an Aesthetic Emotion”.

Spring School “The Role of Empathy and Emotion in Understanding Fiction”, Göttingen (Germany), March 2017.*

As commentator:

Rob Hopkin's "Aesthetic Engagement, Imagining and the Draw of the Real"

Workshop Aesthetic Practices, Uppsala University, 10 January 2020 (Zoom).

Jerrold Levinson's "Aesthetic Properties Through Thick and Thin"

Uppsala University, November 2019.

Nick Riggle's "Invitation and Aesthetic Communication"

Uppsala University, March 2019.

Christine Tappolet's Emotions, Values and Agency (Oxford UP, 2016).

Workshop Philosophy of Emotions, Uppsala University, April 2018.

ASA Annual Conference 2018 (Toronto)

Photo by John Gibson