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Aesthetic reflection and scientific understanding, University of Edinburgh

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The Scottish Aesthetics Forum is delighted to announce its next lecture:

Dr Angela Breitenbach (Cambridge)
“Aesthetic reflection and scientific understanding”
Thursday, 2 November, 2017, 4:15 – 6:00pm
Room 7.01, Dugald Stewart Building,
University of Edinburgh
The lecture is free and open to all!
Abstract: “Scientists routinely speak of the aesthetic merit of theories, proofs and explanations, often regarding the experience of beauty and elegance in science as a motivation for their work and an indication of its truth. But aesthetic judgments in science are as controversial as they are widespread. On one side, aestheticians have worried that statements about the beauty of a theory or the elegance of a proof are merely metaphorical and lack genuine aesthetic status. On the other side, philosophers of science have wondered why aesthetic concerns should play any role in the search for scientific knowledge. I address this two-fold challenge by asking how judgments of beauty could be both aesthetic and relevant for scientific enquiry. I propose an answer inspired by the Kantian idea that aesthetic experience is grounded, at least in part, in the subject’s spontaneous intellectual activities. I argue that relevant aesthetic judgments are grounded in the subject’s awareness of her creative intellectual activities in devising and grasping a theory. And I suggest that judgments of this kind may offer a heuristic tool for scientific enquiry by indicating achievements of understanding.”
About the speaker: Angela Breitenbach is a Lecturer in philosophy at King’s College at the University of Cambridge. Her work includes Kantian conceptions of aesthetics and beauty in science and mathematics, the relationship between laws and unity, causality and causal knowledge, as well as Kantian perspectives on biology and nature, among other things. Along with being a Fellow at King’s College, she’s also a ProFutura Fellow at CRASSH and a Pro Futura Scientia Fellow at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study. She’s recently done a TEDx Talk called “Can theories be beautiful?” which is available on YouTube.
Additional information: The lecture will be followed by a dinner with our speaker. If you would like to attend the dinner, please contact the organisers by 26 October.
*** There are limited funds to cover dinner expenses for two students, offered on a first-come-first-served basis. ***
Don’t miss our upcoming events!
7 December 2017 – Michael Newall (Kent) and
24 January 2018 – Kathleen Stock (Sussex)
– To contact the organisers: scottishaestheticsforum@gmail.com.
– For more information: http://www.saf.ppls.ed.ac.uk