Phenomenology, Aesthetics and the Arts

March 30, 2012 - April 1, 2012
University College, Cork

Crawford Art Gallery

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Paul Crowther
National University of Ireland
Joanna Hodge
Manchester Metropolitan University
Gary Schapiro
University of Richmond
Rudi Visker
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

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Phenomenology has always been closely associated with aesthetics and the arts. Even Husserl, who conceives it as a 'rigorous science', remarks on the close relation between  phenomenological reflection and 'disinterested' aesthetic judgment. The later Heidegger, although dismissive of aesthetics, describes poetic art as the 'happening of truth' and the 'opening of the world'. Merleau-Ponty hopes to find in artistic practice clues for a practice of phenomenology as an embodied alternative to scientistic and intellectualist models of inquiry. We should remember also the contributions made to phenomenology, aesthetics, and reflections on the arts by Sartre, Levinas, Ricoeur, Ingarden, Dufrenne, De Beauvoir, and Hartmann among others. More generally, hermeneutic and later post-structuralist strands of phenomenology, with their emphasis on interpretation and textuality over and against purely logical or causal explanation, often pitch their critiques in artistic, or literary, modes of engagement.

Artists, in turn, find in phenomenology a type of philosophical reflection that offers ways of thinking about the complex embodied and social experiences of their practice. In particular, phenomenological approaches have been exploited as alternatives to the earlier conceptual turn in art making. Now it is time to rethink the relations between phenomenology, aesthetics and the arts in contemporary contexts of new political, wider social and scientific developments.

The British Society for Phenomenology and the newly established Irish Phenomenological Circle have joined together for this conference in order to unite international voices from both philosophical and artistic fields for an open discussion of the potential contributions phenomenology can make to philosophical and artistic practices and debates.



  • 10.00 – 12.00 BSP Executive meeting
  • 13.30 – 15.00 Wolfe Mays Memorial Lecture: Gary Shapiro (University of Richmond, U.S.): “Geoaesthetics: Rethinking the Picturesque”
  • 15.15 – 16.45 Anne van Leeuwen & Cliff Borress (Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht, Netherlands): “Joost Schmidt: A Phenomenological Approach to Photographic Meaning”
  • 17.00 – 17.45 Adam Loughnane (University College Cork, Ireland): “Religious and Perceptual Faith in Nishida and Merleau-Ponty”
  • 19.30 – Conference Dinner (limited places available, please register for it when you register for the conference)



  • 09.00 – 09.45 IPC Executive meeting 
  • 10.00 – 11.30 Cecilia Sjöholm, (Södertörn University, Sweden): “An Aesthetics of ‘Realness’: Hannah Arendt and the Work of Art”
  • 11.45 – 12.30 Jenny Judge (University of Cambridge, UK): “Electronic Musical Performance and the Phenomenology of Affordances: Towards an Aesthetics of Digital Music”
  • 12.30 – 14.00 Lunch
  • 14.00 – 15.00 BSP General Meeting
  • 15.00 – 16.30 Paul Crowther (National University of Ireland, Galway): 'Visual Imagination: From Existence to Picturing'
  • 16.45 – 18.15 Rudi Visker (University of Leuven, Belgium): “Art and Junk: Heidegger on Transition”
  • 19.00 – 20.30 Wine Reception, Wandesford Quay Gallery



  • 10.00 – 11.30 Joanna Hodge (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK): “Jean Luc Nancy: Excription on the Edge of Sense”
  • 11.45 – 12.30 Stephen Cadwell (University College Dublin, Ireland): “Investigating Beauty in Husserl’s Letter to Hoffmannsthal”
  • 12.45 – 14. 15 Jessica Wiskus (Duquesne University, U.S.): “The Rhythm of Thought: Cézanne, Proust and Claudel after Merleau-Ponty”
  • 14.15 – 14.45 IPC General Meeting 

We would like to thank the Philosophy Department, University College Cork for generous support; the Crawford School of Art and Design (Cork Institute of Technology) for the use of the Wandesford Quay Gallery; and the Crawford Art Gallery for providing the conference venue.

For further information, please email [email protected] For details regarding the programme, registration, travel and accommodation visit:

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March 30, 2012, 10:00am IST

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