Guy L. Leonard Lecture Series

Jenefer Robinson
Professor of Philosophy

University of Cincinnati

"Aesthetic Disgust"
Tuesday, October 9, 2012, 4:00 p.m.

Edmund J. Cain Hall (EJCH) 108H
University of Nevada, Reno



In the Critique of Judgment, Kant claimed that "only one kind of ugliness cannot be represented in accordance with nature without destroying all aesthetic satisfaction, hence artistic beauty, namely that which arouses disgust." In her recent book, SAVORING DISGUST, Carolyn Korsmeyer disagrees. She thinks that in some cases of aesthetic disgust, aversion can alter to "a positive pleasure" or "convert in affective tenor to an aesthetic attraction." In this paper I argue that Korsmeyer is right to think that there is a paradox of aversion parallel to the paradox of tragedy and the paradox of the sublime, and that it needs to be solved in different ways for different examples of disgusting art. I consider various types of proposal for solving the paradox of disgust, and I try to show that Korsmeyer is wrong to argue that disgust can convert into an attraction. I suggest that in order to evaluate the various proposed solutions to the paradox of disgust we need a clearer understanding of the emotion of disgust itself.


Jenefer Robinson is professor of philosophy at the University of Cincinnati, author of Deeper than Reason: Emotion and its Role in Literature, Music and Art (Oxford University Press, 2005), editor of Music and Meaning (Cornell University Press, 1997), Area Editor for Aesthetics, Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2006, 2nd ed.), and past president of the American Society for Aesthetics. Her articles on the theory of emotion and on issues in aesthetics have appeared in various books and journals including The Journal of Philosophy, The Philosophical Review, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Erkenntnis, Philosophy, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Emotion Review, Journal of Literary Theory, British Journal of Aesthetics, and Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism.

Sponsored by: The Department of Philosophy, UNR, and The Guy L. Leonard Memorial Endowment

Free and open to the public