This challenge is over as of 8/29/14. But you can still read about it below if you want!

Let's kick off another question challenge!


Just in terms of proportion of questions, this is maybe our weakest area as a community out of the five major subdisciplines of philosophy (there are currently just 31 questions tagged .) Given this opportunity for improvement, I propose:

  • That as a community of students and teachers of philosophy,
  • in order to deepen our aesthetics-related content
  • we shall hold a week-long question challenge encouraging community members to engage with each other in exploring aesthetic themes and problems.


  1. Just ask a question relevant to the topic!
  2. Be sure to use the tag on your question.
  3. At the end of the week (Friday August 29th), we will post an answer here with a count of how many questions were asked and anything else that might be interesting to highlight.

Topic: Aesthetics

Wikipedia describes aesthetics as the study of beauty, art and taste -- both appreciating and creating the beautiful. It notes also that a more "scientific" definition might involve affective and sensitive capacities, as in a study of sensori-emotional values; but that more broadly aesthetics is involved in critical reflections on culture and nature:

Aesthetics (/ɛsˈθɛtɪks/; also spelled æsthetics and esthetics) is a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of art, beauty, and taste, with the creation and appreciation of beauty. It is more scientifically defined as the study of sensory or sensori-emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiment and taste. More broadly, scholars in the field define aesthetics as "critical reflection on art, culture and nature." More specific aesthetic theory, often with practical implications, relating to a particular branch of the arts is divided into areas of aesthetics such as art theory, literary theory, film theory and music theory. An example from art theory is aesthetic theory as a set of principles underlying the work of a particular artist or artistic movement: such as the Cubist aesthetic.

The last point here about the 'rubber meeting the road' with aesthetics in terms of specific problems arising from particular movements and bodies of work seems like a particularly fruitful avenue to take; I can imagine, for instance, a number of question-seeds around unpacking philosophical implications of various theories of composition, artistic practices, etc.

What sort of questions do you think might add value to our content? What sort of questions do you have yourself? These challenges are going to be most rewarding when we can struggle on behalf of our own passions and interests; perhaps the aesthetics of music is interesting to you, or perhaps you might be interested in philosophical theories about photography, etc.

Share with us what is most interesting and important to you! As always it's best to try to provide a little bit about what your research around aesthetics is uncovering as well, and of course to be as specific as possible regarding what problems you are facing in terms of interpreting and evaluating particular works, claims or notions.

2 Answers 2


I count 4 aesthetics questions asked since your challenge:

And one more was a day early:

My favorite of the questions was How can Beauty equal Terror?, but as they say, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder".


As of 5p EST, there are 39 aesthetics questions. Some quick math would indicate that 8 questions were asked, but this isn't quite right, since most of those are in fact older questions on which we've newly applied the tag.

I estimate 2-3 questions have been asked in response to the challenge itself. This isn't much, but it's definitely better than nothing; and the auxiliary benefit of cleaning up this important, if neglected, tag was definitely worth the time/trouble.

It seems to me we could possibly do a better job promoting the challenge. --Maybe it would be good moving forward to try to have some kind of structured discussions in the chat to try to help drive the formulation of new questions for the challenge!

At any rate: let's see whether things improve for next week's challenge!

  • I've seen chat events used to some success. Notably, Information Security has a Question of the Week blog series. They've set up events in their chat room to select the author and vet the posts. I'd probably schedule it for mid-week at whatever time makes sense for you. Great work! Aug 29, 2014 at 23:33
  • @JonEricson thanks for the support and the suggestions! I've gone ahead and scheduled a recurring midweek roundtable :)
    – Joseph Weissman Mod
    Aug 30, 2014 at 17:01

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