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The Value of Aesthetic Experience
Keynote Speakers


Keynote Speakers

Richard Shusterman

Winner of Senior Fulbright and NEH Fellowships, Richard Shusterman has taught in many countries and is currently Professor and Chair of Philosophy at Temple University, Philadelphia and has long been affiliated with the Collège International de Philosophie, Paris. Shusterman has not visited the UK since 1989 so we are very grateful and excited that he has agreed to be a keynote speaker at this conference. 
Shusterman is a pioneering voice in philosophical aesthetics and is the author of several books on the subject including TS Eliot and the Philosophy of Criticism (1988), Pragmatist Aesthetics (1992; 2nd edition 2000), Practising Philosophy (1997) Performing Live (2000), Surface and Depth (2002). His book Pragmatist Aesthetics has been published in twelve languages. Blending postmodern philosophy with the down-to-earth pragmatism typical of the Deweyan tradition, Shusterman combines Rorty's and Putnam's antifoundationalist epistemologies, Foucault's and Rorty's concepts of an aesthetics of existence, and Dewey's meliorist vision and experience-based philosophy of art and improved living. He seeks to mediate between high and popular art and thus juxtaposes interpretations of American rap lyrics or country musicals with readings of imagist poetry. With his concept of "somaesthetics" Shusterman probes the interaction of art, interpretation, and prediscursive levels of experience that most post-linguistic-turn art theories tend to ignore. His ideas are particularly attractive to young philosophers and graduate students not only because of his inclusion of popular art forms in his work but also his emphasis on the element of pleasure in art reception and other human activities and his sense that there is a deep-rooted academic puritanism to be overcome in this area.  Shusterman's assertion that the academic resistance towards popular art stems from a "prolonged habit of inhibiting emotional excitement" and an "inhibition regarding the rapid surrender of self to strong emotions" is persuasive and compelling (albeit controversial).

Outside the ordinary range of university pursuits, Shusterman wrote several articles of popular rap criticism, between 1992-1994, for the North Philly rap fanzine JOR and directed a project for UNESCO on urban culture. 
For more information on Shusterman please click on the link below:

Richard Shusterman's website

Paul Davies
Currently head of the Philosophy Department at Sussex University, Paul Davies is member of the executive committee of the Forum for European Philosophy,as well as a member of various societies including the American Heidegger Circle, the Kant Society, and the Society for the Study of Religion. For many years Davies has been associated with the Collegium Phenomenologicum, a philosophy summer school which meets annually in Umbria. Davies' is a philosopher with a first-class background in continental philosophy and we are delighted that he has agreed to speak on the theme of the conference which aims to challenge the direction of much 20th Century analytic aesthetic theory.
Davies is the author of three forthcoming publications. The first, entitled Poems, Works, and Contexts, consists of two parts each of which considers how an artwork - a poem, a film, a piece of music - uniquely invites or encourages an attentiveness to things. This attentiveness can be easily lost or overlooked if the account of it is subordinated to a general theory of artistic or cultural production. Can we have a phenomenology of art and an ontology of the art work that does justice to this attentiveness? Davies' aim in this book is to give a new twist to the familiar and frequently criticised claim that the things we judge to be or describe as works of art are characterised by their "resistance" to paraphrase, interpretation, and theory; and to argue that the very idea or notion of the "work of art" can in some way protect and speak to that resistance. Davies' other two book projects are on Kant's thoughts about the nature of philosophy and a volume of essays on Blanchot and Levinas.

Davies' doctoral dissertation was entitled: Experience and Distance: Heidegger, Blanchot , Levinas . This was completed at a time when virtually none of Blanchot's critical and philosophical writings were translated and when the secondary philosophical literature on him was non-existent. Since then, Davies has had several articles published in journals and books on the philosophy of these three thinkers.

For more information on Davies please click on the link below:

Paul Davies' homepage