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Touched: Philosophy Meets Art

Some of the most prevalent views in the history of philosophy and art have suggested that philosophy and art are devoted to the discovery of ‘universal’ truths and should result in works, textual or non-textual, that must remain ‘untouched’: their value must defy time and transcend space. 

Yet neither philosophy nor art can be divorced from concrete experience and they both make a claim on our thinking and being – on our most refined concepts and reasoning as well as our most refined desires, emotions and dreams. The distance between ‘knowing oneself’ and ‘making oneself’ seems blurred, and to get our bearings we turn to philosophy and to art: they both issue in forms of experience that intensely influence the way we situate ourselves in the world, the way we construct our personal, community, and cultural identities.

We ask: is there a role for touching in the aesthetic division of labour, which is indisputably dominated by the seeing and hearing that seem to safeguard the distance between the work of art and us? How would this change the set of metaphors that still guide our understanding of artistic creation and reception? And then a question of unexpected resonance: are we touched by Art? How do works of art transform the way we understand and form our identities? And indeed, do art festivals such as the Biennial prompt personal, cultural, and social change?

Speakers: Prof. Berys Gaut (St Andrews); Prof. Sue Golding (Greenwich); Prof. Matthew Kieran (Leeds); Prof. Derek Matravers (Open University); Prof. Peter Osborne (Kingston); Dr. Panayiota Vassilopoulou (Liverpool).

Supported by The British Society of Aesthetics, The Mind Association, The Royal Institute of Philosophy, The Department of Philosophy and the School of Arts, University of Liverpool.

Touched: Philosophy Meets Art video on YouTube


19 November 2010, 9.30AM-5.30PM


Victoria Gallery & Museum
University of Liverpool
Ashton Street
L69 3DR

Open Tuesday–Saturday 10am–5pm, Sunday 12–4pm, Free


Early Registration £10; Late Registration £20; Student bursaries available