AE: Journal of the Canadian Society for Aesthetics


AE: Journal of the Canadian Society for Aesthetics
(Link inactive 8 April 2004)
(Link active 8 April 2004)

Full text (mixture of French and English); first issue now available.
Message from one of the co-editors:

From: Roger Seamon, Co-editor.

As co-editor, I am honoured and delighted to introduce the first issue of
AE : The Canadian Journal of Aesthetics / Revue canadienne d'esthetique,
the publication of the Canadian Society for Aesthetics / Societe
canadienne d'esthetique. The electronic format of AE anticipates a journal
with recorded music, films, and images and is flexible enough at present
to meet the publishing demands of a rapidly changing and exciting field of

The most striking development in recent thinking about art is the shift
from aesthetics as implicitly or explicitly a defense or celebration of
the arts to a critical perspective. The historicization of the concept of
art, the notion of the anti-aesthetic, Paul de Man's "aesthetic ideology,"
and Terry Eagleton's The Ideology of the Aesthetic mark a decisive shift.
This critical perspective of "theory" has generated new ideas about the
historical embeddedness of the arts and poses a lively challenge to tacit

The statements of work in progress by three aestheticians and the designer
of the sculpture garden of the Canadian Center for Architecture that
constitute the first issue of AE afford us some idea of the diverse sorts
of discourse that we invite. While we may now mostly be Wittgensteinians
or Eagletonians in our rejection of the quest for the essential nature of
art, it seems perfectly plausible to speak of the aesthetic of jazz, rock,
or rap. The virtue in this, in my view, is that it gives us a maker's
perspective on artistic practice, a view that dominated thought about art
from antiquity to the eighteenth century. Melvin Charney offers an insight
into the making of his art, and one source of the power of Arthur Danto's
theories is that they are in very close touch with specific artistic
practices, whatever one thinks about the larger claims he makes. At the
other end of the spectrum, Gregory Currie's research into the relation
between imagination and art takes its place in the tradition which seeks
to understand art from a scientific perspective. While such work has as
yet not become part of the tradition, the current advances in the
cognitive sciences will not be ignored by aestheticians. Between the
maker's and scientist's perspectives is the mainstream of philosophical
speculation on art and the aesthetic, here represented by Currie's
interest in narrative and Joseph Margolis's ideas about aesthetic
pragmatism. The methodological diversity of these brief reports, the
opening of new areas mentioned above, and the advent of a critical
perspective on the concept of art give some indication of what today takes
place under the banner of aesthetics.

My anxieties about assessment of articles for publication stem not from
questions about what is and is not within the bounds of the aesthetic, or
whether art is a merely historical notion, but from my experience as a
reader for two philosophical journals. AE is, for better and worse, a
journal about a subject whose history is part of its present, which means
that contributors should know the intellectual traditions and recent
contributions that are related to their projects. This self-consciousness
about where one's work fits strikes me as a constitutive convention of our
enterprise. I should perhaps say that interesting and plausible claims,
sound arguments and evidence are the primary desiderata.

The diphthong AE of our title should be taken quite seriously, for we are
not, at least for now, accepting how-to-do-it essays about make-up and
color coordination, i.e., esthetics in the lifestyle sense of the term. We
embrace multitudes, but not that--at least not yet. However, the subject
matter of aesthetics has now gone beyond what Francis Sparshott called and
wrote the summa of, the theory of the [fine] arts. The return of nature
via the "environment" is the most striking instance of this development,
the concern with popular culture and the media another. Happily, these
wider ethical concerns of intentionality are also suggested by the Old
English meaning of "f" as the way or direction of moral truth, from the
Gothic and Sanskrit ewa for course. The word "f" was used to translate the
Hebrew word "Torah" in its original sense as direction or law. In our
title AE, the sentimental archaism of Baumgarten's "fsthetic" as the realm
of the senses thus meets the moral direction of the senses as well as the
attractive directions they take. This means that we shall construe
"aesthetics" broadly.

And as Canadians who say "eh" instead of "huh," we have a special
affection for the diphthong--Canadian eh. Canadian AE!

Roger Seamon

Original posting date: 
Monday, June 3, 1996
©1995 - 2014 Georgetown University Library
37th & O Streets NW Washington DC 20057-1174   •   202.687.7607