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Jennifer A. McMahon
University of Adelaide
  1.  65
    The Ancient Quarrel Between Art and Philosophy in Contemporary Exhibitions of Visual Art.Jennifer A. McMahon - 2019 - Curator: The Museum Journal 62 (1):7-17.
    At a time when professional art criticism is on the wane, the ancient quarrel between art and philosophy demands fresh answers. Professional art criticism provided a basis upon which to distinguish apt experiences of art from the idiosyncratic. However, currently the kind of narratives from which critics once drew are underplayed or discarded in contemporary exhibition design where the visual arts are concerned. This leaves open the possibility that art operates either as mere stimulant to private reverie or, in the (...)
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  2.  52
    The Space of Reception: Framing Autonomy and Collaboration.Jennifer A. McMahon & Carol A. Gilchrist - 2017 - In Brad Buckley & John Conomos (eds.), Who Runs the Artworld: Money, Power and Ethics. Faringdon, UK: Libri Publishing. pp. 201-212.
    In this paper we analyse the ideas implicit in the style of exhibition favoured by contemporary galleries and museums, and argue that unless the audience is empowered to ascribe meaning and significance to artwork through critical dialogue, the power not only of the audience is undermined but also of art. We argue that galleries and museums preside over an experience economy devoid of art, unless (i) indeterminacy is understood, (ii) the critical rather than coercive nature of art is facilitated, and (...)
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  3. On Jane Forsey’s Critique of the Sublime.Jennifer A. McMahon - 2017 - In Lars Aagaard-Mogensen (ed.), The Possibility of the Sublime: Aesthetic Exchanges. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 81-91.
    The sublime is an aspect of experience that has attracted a great deal of scholarship, not only for scholarly reasons but because it connotes aspects of experience not exhausted by what Descartes once called clear distinct perception. That is, the sublime is an experience of the world which involves us in orientating ourselves within it, and this orientation, our human orientation, elevates us in comparison to the non-human world according to traditional accounts of the sublime. The sublime tells us something (...)
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  4. Aesthetic Autonomy and Praxis: Art and Language in Adorno and Habermas.Jennifer A. McMahon - 2011 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 19 (2):155 - 175.
    Abstract Aesthetic autonomy has been given a variety of interpretations, which in many cases involve a number of claims. Key among them are: (i) art eludes conventional conceptual frameworks and their inherent incompatibility with invention and creativity; and (ii) art can communicate aspects of experience too fine?grained for discursive language. To accommodate such claims one can adopt either a convention?based account or a natural?kind account. A natural?kind theory can explain the first but requires some special scaffolding in order to support (...)
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  5. Imagination.Jennifer A. McMahon - 2018 - In Social Aesthetics and Moral Judgment: Pleasure, Reflection and Accountability. New York, USA: Routledge. pp. 66-87.
    The standard cognitive theory of art claims that art can be insightful while maintaining that imagining is motivationally inert [Walton 1990] even when some epistemic advantage is claimed for it [Currie 1995]. However, if we assume art as art can be insightful, we also assume that the imagining it occasions has a lasting impact on belief. In this chapter, I argue that imagining of the kind occasioned by art can be held non-occurrently [Schellenberg 2013] without delusion and can motivate behaviour (...)
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  6. Review of Paul Crowther The Kantian Aesthetic. [REVIEW]Jennifer A. McMahon - 2011 - British Journal of Aesthetics 51 (2):229-231.
    Paul Crowther provides interpretations of key concepts in Kant’s Critique of Aesthetic Judgment, indicating (particularly in very informative footnotes) how his views compare with those of other Kant commentators such as Paul Guyer, Rachel Zuckert, Béatrice Longuenesse, Henry Allison, Donald Crawford, Robert Wicks and others. One might be inclined to ask whether yet another interpretation of Kant’s third critique was needed, yet compared to his other two critiques, Kant’s Critique of Judgment can still be regarded as the neglected sibling. Its (...)
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  7. Towards a Unified Theory of Beauty.Jennifer A. McMahon - 1999 - Literature & Aesthetics 9:7-27.
    The Pythagorean tradition dominates the understanding of beauty up until the end of the 18th Century. According to this tradition, the experience of beauty is stimulated by certain relations perceived to be between an object/construct's elements. As such, the object of the experience of beauty is indeterminate: it has neither a determinate perceptual analogue (one cannot simply identify beauty as you can a straight line or a particular shape) nor a determinate concept (there are no necessary and sufficient conditions for (...)
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  8. Between Philosophy and Art.Jennifer A. McMahon, Elizabeth B. Coleman, David Macarthur, James Phillips & Daniel von Sturmer - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Popular Culture 5 (2/3):135-150.
    Similarity and difference, patterns of variation, consistency and coherence: these are the reference points of the philosopher. Understanding experience, exploring ideas through particular instantiations, novel and innovative thinking: these are the reference points of the artist. However, at certain points in the proceedings of our Symposium titled, Next to Nothing: Art as Performance, this characterisation of philosopher and artist respectively might have been construed the other way around. The commentator/philosophers referenced their philosophical interests through the particular examples/instantiations created by the (...)
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  9. Aesthetics and Film. By Katherine Thomson‐Jones. [REVIEW]Jennifer A. Mcmahon - 2012 - Philosophical Quarterly 62 (249):865-867.
    Each chapter covers one topic and largely consists of brief summaries of arguments for and against various themes. The topic of the first chapter is whether and on what basis a film can be considered art. Photography is used as an analogy. The arguments range from considering the mechanical form of cinema as an obstacle to arthood to arguments considering cinema’s mechanical nature as essential to its arthood; the former by those who ground art in human agency, the latter by (...)
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  10. Perceptual Principles as the Basis for Genuine Judgments of Beauty.Jennifer A. McMahon - 2000 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 7 (8-9):8-9.
    This paper comments on an article by V.S. Ramachandran and William Hirstein (JCS,1999) in which they purport to be identifying the neurological principles of beauty. I draw attention to the way the problem of beauty is construed in the philosophical literature by Mary Mothersill (1984) and Immanuel Kant (Critique of Judgment). I argue that Ramachandran and Hirsteins' principles do not address the problem of beauty because they do not differentiate between the experience of beauty and other closely related phenomena. I (...)
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  11. An Explanation for Normal and Anomalous Drawing Ability and Some Implications for Research on Perception and Imagery.Jennifer A. McMahon - 2002 - Visual Arts Research 28 (1):38-52.
    The aim of this paper is to draw the attention of those conducting research on imagery to the different kinds of visual information deployed by expert drawers compared to non-expert drawers. To demonstrate this difference I draw upon the cognitive science literature on vision and imagery to distinguish between three different ways that visual phenomena can be represented in memory: structural descriptions, denotative descriptions, and configural descriptions. Research suggests that perception and imagery deploy the same mental processes and that the (...)
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  12. Aesthetic Perception.Jennifer A. McMahon - 1996 - Communication and Cognition: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly Journal 29 (1):37-64.
    In this paper I suggest ways in which vision theory and psychology of perception may illuminate our understanding of beauty. I identify beauty as a phenomenon which is (i) ineffable, (ii) subjectively universal (intersubjective), and (iii) manifested in objects as formal structure. I present a model of perception by which I can identify a representation whose underlying principles would explain these features of beauty. The fact that these principles underlie the representation rather than constitute the content of representation, provides an (...)
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  13. Perceptual Constraints and Perceptual Schemata: The Possibility of Perceptual Style.Jennifer A. McMahon - 2003 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 61 (3):259–273.
    <The definitive version is available at www.blackwell-synergy.com > -- In this paper I carve out a space between the concept of "the object" and the seemingly endless ways in which "the object" can be represented pictorially. I will call the aspect of the pictorial representation which is made possible by this space, the pictorial representation's "style". I will explore this space by drawing upon theories of pictorial representation, leaving out, for the sake of my purposes here, a consideration of the (...)
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  14. Review of Aesthetics and Rock Art. [REVIEW]Jennifer A. Mcmahon - 2006 - British Journal of Aesthetics 46 (2):208-210.
    The essays collected in this volume are written by scholars from a wide range of disciplines (anthropology, archaeology, art history, philosophy and psychology). The papers ostensibly address how to evaluate rock art, but can also be read in the context of offering support for the affirmative in the debate regarding whether aesthetics is a cross-cultural discipline. Two alternative conceptions of the aesthetic provide the underlying antithesis and thesis respectively to all papers. The antithesis holds that the aesthetic pertains to a (...)
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  15.  45
    Aesthetics is the Grammar of Desire.Jennifer A. McMahon - 2015 - Aesthetic Investigations 1 (1):156-164.
    This essay presents the nature of aesthetic judgment, the significance of aesthetic judgment and finally, the relevance of art to understanding aesthetic judgment.
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  16. Review of The Metaphysics of Beauty. [REVIEW]Jennifer A. McMahon - 2002 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 60 (4):358-60.
    This book is a compilation of papers that Zangwill has had published previously in a number of journals; this journal among them. The topics of these papers centre on the nature of aesthetic properties. Read as such, the papers are, for the most part, erudite and illuminating, presenting as they do a very clear synthesis of various well known positions on the relation of aesthetic properties to non-aesthetic properties; the relation of beauty to other aesthetic concepts; and the nature of (...)
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  17. Beauty as Harmony of the Soul: The Aesthetic of the Stoics.Jennifer A. McMahon - 2011 - In Marietta Rosetto, Michael Tsianikas, George Couvalis & Maria Palaktsoglou (eds.), Proceedings of the 8th International Conference of Greek Studies 2009. Flinders University. pp. 33-42.
    Aesthetics is not an area to which the Stoics are normally understood to have contributed. I adopt a broad description of the purview of Aesthetics according to which Aesthetics pertains to the study of those preferences and values that ground what is considered worthy of attention. According to this approach, we find that the Stoics exhibit an Aesthetic that reveals a direct line of development between Plato, the Stoics, Thomas Aquinas and the eighteenth century, specifically Kant’s aesthetics. I will reveal (...)
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  18. Deflating Metaphors and Emerging Contexts: Messing with Your Mind in a Material World.Jennifer A. McMahon - 2012 - In Natasha Bullock & Alexie Glass-Kantor (eds.), Adelaide Biennial 2012 Catalogue, Parallel Collisions. Art Gallery of South Australia. pp. 194-98.
    A discussion of the way the visual artists represented in Adelaide’s 2012 Biennale draw attention to new conceptions of place, time and self which highlight the contingent nature of the narratives that underlie our day to day existence. Disenchantment or re-enchantment are increasingly redundant conceptions. Such narratives are always fluid. Among the ebbs and flows, new conceptions emerge, providing in effect new ways of being in the world, and in turn prompting a reshuffling of what we thought we knew.
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  19. Review of The Significance of Beauty: Kant on Feeling and the System of the Mind. [REVIEW]Jennifer A. McMahon - 1999 - Philosophy in Review 19 (2):122-124.
    Matthews discusses the role of our ability to make a judgment of taste (judgment of beauty) within Kant's notion of the structure of the mind. In doing this she does not simply rely upon what we can learn from the first part of the third critique, the 'Critique of Aesthetic Judgment', but draws upon Kant's philosophy as a whole, including the first two critiques and the second part of The Critique of Judgment, the 'Critique of Teleological Judgment'. She looks at (...)
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  20. Beauty.Jennifer A. McMahon - 2005 - In Berys Gaut & Dominic Lopes (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Aesthetics. Routledge. pp. 307-319.
    Beauty is evil, a surreptitious diversion of earthly delights planted by the devil, according to the third century theologian-philosopher Tertullian. Beauty is a manifestation of the divine on earth, according to another third century philosopher, Plotinus. Could these two really be talking about the same thing? That beauty evokes an experience of pleasure is probably the only point on which all participants in the continuing debate on beauty agree. But what kinds of pleasure one considers relevant to an experience of (...)
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  21.  24
    Commentary on Zeki Inner Vision. [REVIEW]Jennifer A. McMahon - 2000 - Leonardo Reviews On-Line:N/A.
    The late vision theorist David Marr identified three levels of explanation that he argued needed to be addressed in order to understand vision : (i) the psychological, functional or computational level of processes; (ii) the physical or neurological which is the level of explanation employed by Zeki; and (iii) the algorithmic – the level of implementation. For Zeki’s purpose of drawing upon vision-theory in order to better understand art and aesthetics, there is no need to focus on the third level. (...)
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  22. Review of Making Sense. A Theory of Interpretation. [REVIEW]Jennifer A. McMahon - 2002 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 80 (1):107 – 109.
    The distinctive feature of Thom’s theory of interpretation is that it takes the classicist view regarding the stability of the object of interpretation, and the post-structuralist view regarding what counts as interpretation. Accordingly, he must admit the possibility that any one object of interpretation, stable though it be, can have multiple (yet possibly incommensurable) successful interpretations.
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  23.  67
    Beauty.Jennifer A. McMahon - 2019 - Oxford Bibliographies Online: Philosophy.
    This is an 18,500 word bibliography of philosophical scholarship on Beauty which was published online in the Oxford Bibliographies Online. The entry includes an Introduction of 800 words, 21 x 400-word sub-themes and 168 annotated references. INTRODUCTION Philosophical interest in beauty began with the earliest recorded philosophers. Beauty was deemed to be an essential ingredient in a good life and so what it was, where it was to be found and how it was to be included in a life were (...)
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  24.  67
    The Aesthetic Appeal of Minimal Structures: Judging the Attractiveness of Solutions to Traveling Salesperson Problems.D. Vickers, M. Lee, M. Dry, P. Hughes & Jennifer A. McMahon - 2006 - Perception and Psychophysics 68 (1):32-42.
    Ormerod and Chronicle reported that optimal solutions to traveling salesperson problems were judged to be aesthetically more pleasing than poorer solutions and that solutions with more convex hull nodes were rated as better figures. To test these conclusions, solution regularity and the number of potential intersections were held constant, whereas solution optimality, the number of internal nodes, and the number of nearest neighbors in each solution were varied factorially. The results did not support the view that the convex hull is (...)
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  25.  57
    The Significance of Plato's Notions of Beauty and Pleasure in the Philosophy of Kant.Jennifer A. McMahon - 2007 - Greek Research in Australia: Proceedings of the Biennial Conference of Greek Studies 2005 6:27-34.
    Plato conceived of the Form of Beauty as quite distinct from the Form of the Good. Beauty was a means to the Good. The ascent theory of the Symposium has suggested to some commentators that Plato envisaged two kinds of beauty, the sensuous and the intellectual, and that to reach the Good we must transcend our sensuous desires and cultivate an appreciation of intellectual beauty. However, in the Laws Plato presents us with a third notion of beauty, which is neither (...)
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  26. Aesthetic Reflection and the Very Possibility of Art.Jennifer A. McMahon - 2007 - In Ian North (ed.), Visual Animals: Cross Overs, Evolution and New Aesthetics. Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia. pp. 73-83.
    If we conceive of ourselves as animals, it might be accurate to call us visual animals. The visual cortex is much larger in us relative to the size of our brains than in other animals, and large relative to the parts of the cortex responsible for the transmission of signals emanating from the other perceptual transducers. Our ability to recall visual images, recombine them in imagination and enter imaginatively into narratives is linked to this evolved piece of brain architecture. However, (...)
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  27.  18
    Review of David E. Cooper Aesthetics: The Classic Readings. [REVIEW]Jennifer A. McMahon - 1999 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 77 (1):119-120.
    The authors included in this anthology of historical texts on aesthetics and philosophy of art, address the big questions. They attempt to place art within experience generally or within the life of a community; or they attempt to understand the nature of the aesthetic and its role within experience. Topics include mimesis, the relation between art and truth, the metaphysics of beauty, the function of art, and the ontology of art. All of the extracts included were written prior to the (...)
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  28.  18
    Review of Elkins Our Beautiful Dry and Distant Texts: Art History as Writing. [REVIEW]Jennifer A. McMahon - 2001 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 79 (1):142-143.
    In order to say what one means, and be understood, one needs to know to whom one wishes to communicate, the particular mindset one addresses. Expressing oneself clearly and naturally requires some art. Style, then, is an important component of the message received, or so it is in art history writing according to James Elkins. He attempts to demonstrate that what constitutes art history writing is consequently unanalysable; that art history under analysis becomes something else. ‘The glare of logic’ Elkins (...)
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  29.  18
    Review of Kirwan Beauty. [REVIEW]Jennifer A. McMahon - 2001 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 59 (3):334-336.
    Kirwan identifies three kinds of beauty theory within the Western tradition. These are: ‘in the eye of the beholder’ theories; neoplatonic theories; and what he refers to as synaesthetic theories; which he discusses in chapters 2, 3 and 4 respectively. He places himself within the synaesthetic tradition whose emphasis is apparently on the interaction between the beautiful object and the perceiver. Kirwan, however, does not analyse this interaction. Nor does he concern himself with what makes the experience of beauty possible, (...)
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  30.  51
    Review of Colin Lyas, Aesthetics (The Fundamentals of Philosophy), London; University College London Press, 1997. [REVIEW]Jennifer A. McMahon - 1998 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (4):647-649..
    The aim of this book is to promote understanding and enjoyment of the arts. With this aim in mind, Lyas introduces the key issues of philosophical aesthetics through examples drawn from high and popular culture, and from a variety of art forms, from music and painting to literature and poetry. The book is pitched as a springboard into undergraduate courses in aesthetics and as an introduction to philosophical aesthetics for the general reader. It is refreshing to read a book on (...)
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  31.  38
    Review of Revealing Art. [REVIEW]Jennifer A. McMahon - 2006 - Philosophical Quarterly 56 (224):471-73.
    Matthew Kieran addresses a number of key topics in aesthetics including the nature of originality, beauty, artistic knowledge and truth, the moral content of art, and the standards of taste. His treatment of each topic is informed by the thesis that the value of art is to be found in the insights that it provides. The structure of each chapter is to canvas a few positions (usually including one that would represent a counter position to his thesis), before presenting an (...)
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