Aesthetic Adjectives, Very Weird

Aesthetic adjectives are adjectives like “beautiful” and “elegant”. We use these terms to talk to others about what we think about about art and much more. Not surprisingly, given their centrality to aesthetic communication, aesthetic adjectives is an important component of the social dimension of aesthetics.

But how do aesthetic adjectives work in aesthetic communication? In a pair of forthcoming articles, we argue that the answer is actually quite complicated. And the answer is complicated because aesthetic adjectives do not behave similarly to other adjectives that we have a better theoretical grasp on, such as “tall” and “bent”.

Although we put forth some ideas about why they’re so weird, speaking for myself, we really just wanted to get their weirdness out there. So, we’re also very looking forward to other explanations of the puzzling data that other theorists come up with!

Related Research Outputs:

Shen-yi Liao and Aaron Meskin (in press). Aesthetic Adjectives: Experimental Semantics and Context-Sensitivity. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. DOI:10.1111/phpr.12217. Data and material available on OSF.

Shen-yi Liao, Louise McNally, Aaron Meskin (in press). Aesthetic Adjectives Lack Uniform Behavior. Inquiry.