The crisis in aesthetics




In the comments section of my post on this year’s tenure-track jobs, Cassandra writes:

As per your posts on previous years (which show that there has been practically zero jobs in Aes/Art), it seems important to evidence and report the crisis in Aes/Art (and it is a crisis). If this isn’t evidenced and reported, then there’ll be less pressure on the APA, BPA and other philosophy associations, as well as the learned societies for Aes/Art (such as the American Society of Aesthetics, British Society of Aesthetics, European Society of Aesthetics, etc.) to try to tackle the fact that one of the main (and oldest) subdisciplines of philosophy will likely die out if something isn’t done about this.

There is already a tendency towards aesthetics-erasure — such as seeing job ads that say “Value Theory, broadly construed (i.e. ethics, social and political philosophy)” and senior aes/phils of art needing to openly advise junior aes/phils of art to hide the fact that they are “card-carrying” aes/phils of art on the job market. So it’d be super helpful if the Cocoon could help cast light on the problem by including Aes/Art.

This wouldn’t just help job candidates with an AoS in Aes/Art, but could also help institutions in deciding where to hire. Due to the dearth of jobs in Aes/Art, there are a glut of really excellent early-career Aes/Art. So, why look for an ethicist or epistemology, and end up with a good one (or at least an unproven entity), when you could have an outstanding (and proven) aesthetician or philosopher of art?

I think it’s clear that there is a crisis here, as there appear to be virtually no aesthetics jobs year after year (at least in the Anglophone world). So, I do think it is worth bringing this to greater attention and discussing what might be done. But, what I don’t know is how the discipline (including the APA and other associations) might do to tackle it. Do readers have any thoughts/ideas here?

Originally appeared on The Philosophers’ Cocoon Read More