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The Geography of Taste: A Workshop on the Diversity of Aesthetic Cultures

Saturday April 30, 2022

Aesthetic cultures diverge in taste. What is considered beautiful in Chinese opera is different from the music that excites the ear of devotees of traditional Karnatak music, and both are very different from hip-hop or rock and roll. Similar differences of taste prevail in poetry, visual art, dance, and architecture. Explaining this diversity stretches the resources of classical philosophical aesthetics. In this workshop, four philosophers offer their views on aesthetic diversity and three prominent scholars from outside philosophy comment. The format emphasizes the non-philosophers. The workshop begins with a summary presentation by the philosophers and then shifts to longer remarks by the non-philosophers, who will use the philosophers’ views as a springboard for further discussion.

A typescript (115 pages) of the philosophers’ work is available and recommended for pre-reading (a quick skim would help, since the philosophers’ opening introduction will be very brief). Please contact Mohan Matthen for a copy.

All are welcome. See a detailed program below.

(The Jackman Building is locked on Saturday. For people who do not have access to the fourth floor, please come to the front door, 170 St George St, at 8:55 or at breaks in the program.)


9:00 AM–10:00 AM

The philosophers present an overview: Dominic Lopes (British Columbia), Samantha Matherne (Harvard), Mohan Matthen (Toronto), Bence Nanay (Antwerp)

10:15 AM–11:30 AM

Session 1: Whitney Davis (Art History, Berkeley)

11:35 AM–12:50 PM

Session 2: Jennifer Lena (Sociology, Columbia)

2:15 PM–3:30 PM

Session 3: Joshua Landy (Comparative Literature, Stanford)

4:00 PM–5:00 PM

General discussion

This workshop is generously sponsored by the Jackman Humanities Institute at the University of Toronto.



Saturday April 30, 2022
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Mohan Matthen


Jackman Humanities Building, Room 418
170 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5R 2M8 Canada
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