The romantic spirit

In 2007 Jennifer A. McMahon, senior lecturer in philosophy at the University of Adelaide, published a book called Aesthetics and material beauty: aesthetics naturalized. (See book review by Michael Newall, this issue of Artlink.) In the late 1970s McMahon was an art student looking for truth. Her move to philosophy to find truth makes use of Kant's doctrine of aesthetic ideas and argues that our perceptual and cognitive orientation to the world is reaffirmed through finding forms that seem to draw us to them for their own sake. When this occurs it unleashes ideas like immortality, infinity and freedom for which there are no perceptual counterparts. She argues that Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder but what constitutes the eye of the beholder is determined by culture.

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