Research Group: Analytic Aesthetics and the History of Aesthetics

With one of the highest concentrations of specialist aestheticians anywhere in the world, Philosophy at Southampton is exceptionally well placed to offer expert research supervision on a variety of topics and thinkers in aesthetics.

Currently Active: Yes

Group Overview

We specialise in the philosophy of music, philosophy of film, philosophy of literature, tragedy, ontology of art, definitions of art, fictional characters and their names, pictorial representation, art and morality, and the aesthetics of Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Collingwood and Wittgenstein. This breadth of expertise reflects the wide range of topics on which members of staff have published significant work. Our research has been published in the leading specialist aesthetics journals the British Journal of Aesthetics, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, and Philosophy and Literature, as well as in leading generalist philosophy journals such as American Philosophical Quarterly, European Journal of Philosophy, Journal of Philosophy, Mind, The Monist, and Philosophical Quarterly. For more details see our list of publications.

Topics researched by recent and current Southampton students include: the philosophy of poetry, the philosophy of horror, cinematic formalism, musical expression, Hume's aesthetics of character, Schopenhauer on beauty, Nietzsche and self-creation, Nietzsche and Wagner, Nietzsche's aestheticism, Collingwood's expression theory, and Wittgenstein and the philosophy of music.
Students wishing to conduct research in aesthetics at Southampton may be interested in applying for the British Society of Aesthetics PhD Studentship Award.

Research Student Profile: James McGuiggan

"R. G. Collingwood's account of art is, roughly, that through the creation and apprehension of art we come to understand our emotions better and clarify them. In my PhD, under the supervision of Aaron Ridley, I defend Collingwood's account against the criticisms that 'art' as Collingwood uses it is just stipulated to be what he says it is, and that, as philosophers such as Wollheim and Scruton have argued, Collingwood focuses on one value of art to the exclusion of others. By so doing I introduce Collingwood's account into contemporary debates in aesthetics, particularly to debates on aesthetic and ethical value in art, and truth in art. Outside of aesthetics, I am interested in political philosophy and normative ethics, in particular in how state action can be legitimate, and, separately, in the value of virtues such as emotional honesty, an ethical value particularly important to art."

James McGuiggan

Postgraduate Researcher

James McGuiggan

Contributing to the debate

Arguing about Art: Contemporary Philosophical Debates. Alex Neill and Aaron Ridley (eds.) (2007)

Contributing to the debate

Web linksOther University of Southampton sites

Useful downloads


    Selected publications associated with this group from the University of Southampton's electronic library (e-prints):

    Walters, Lee (2015) Serial fiction, the End? The British Journal of Aesthetics (In Press).
    Whiting, Daniel (2015) The glass is half empty: a new argument for pessimism about aesthetic testimony. The British Journal of Aesthetics, 55, 91-107.
    Ridley, Aaron (2014) On the musically possible. British Journal of Aesthetics, 54, (1), 1-14. (doi:10.1093/aesthj/ayt025).
    Janaway, Christopher (2014) Beauty is false, truth ugly: Nietzsche on art and life. In, Came, Daniel (ed.) Nietzsche on Art and Life. Oxford, GB, Oxford University Press.
    Ridley, Aaron (2014) Nietzsche and music. In, Came, Daniel (ed.) Nietzsche on Art and Life. Oxford, UK, Oxford University Press.
    Walters, Lee (2013) Repeatable artworks as created types. British Journal of Aesthetics, 53, (4), 461-477. (doi:10.1093/aesthj/ayt026).
    Schönbaumsfeld, Genia (2013) Art and the 'Morality System': the case of Don Giovanni. European Journal of Philosophy, n/a, 1-19. (doi:10.1111/ejop.12024).
    Ridley, Aaron (2013) Brilliant performances. Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement, 71, 209-227. (doi:10.1017/S1358246112000239).
    Neill, Alex (2012) The pornographic, the erotic, the charming and the sublime. In, Maes, Hans and Levinson, Jerrold (eds.) Art and Pornography. Oxford, GB, Oxford University Press, 48-60.
    Ridley, Aaron (2012) Musical ontology, musical reasons. The Monist, 95, (4), 663-683. (doi:10.5840/monist201295433).
    Neill, Alex and Ridley, Aaron (2012) Relational theories of art: the history of an error. The British Journal of Aesthetics, 52, (2), 141-151. (doi:10.1093/aesthj/ays004).
    Neill, Alex (2011) Schopenhauer on tragedy and the sublime. In, Vandenabeele, Bart (ed.) Companion to Schopenhauer. Oxford, UK, Blackwell. (Blackwell Companions to Philosophy).
    Ridley, Aaron (2011) Une Promesse de Bonheur? Beauty in the 'Genealogy'. In, Nietzsche's 'On the Genealogy of Morality': Critical Essays. Cambridge, GB, Cambridge University Press, 309-325. (doi:10.1017/CBO9781139014977.016).
    Neill, Alex and Ridley, Aaron (2010) Religious music for godless ears. Mind, 119, (476), 999-1023. (doi:10.1093/mind/fzq075).
    Neill, Alex (2010) The paradox of tragedy. In, Edmonds, David and Warburton, Nigel (eds.) Philosophy Bites. Oxford, UK, Oxford University Press.
    Ridley, Aaron (2010) Perishing of the truth: Nietzsche's aesthetic prophylactics. British Journal of Aesthetics, 50, (4), 427-437. (doi:10.1093/aesthj/ayq035).
    Neill, Alex (2009) “Aesthetic experience in Schopenhauer’s metaphysics of will”. European Journal of Philosophy, 16, (2), 179-193. (doi:10.1111/j.1468-0378.2007.00286.x).
    Neill, Alex (2009) The paradox of responding to fiction. In, Davies, Stephen, Higgins, Kathleen Marie, Hopkins, Robert, Stecker, Robert and Cooper, David E. (eds.) A Companion to Aesthetics. 2nd Edition. Oxford, UK, Wiley-Blackwell.
    Neill, Alex (2007) Schopenhauer and the foundations of aesthetic experience. In, Shusterman, Richard and Tomlin, Adele (eds.) Aesthetic Experience. London, UK, Routledge, 178-193. (Routledge Studies in Contemporary Philosophy).
    Ridley, Aaron (2007) Persona sometimes grata:on the appreciation of expressive music. In, Stock, Kathleen (ed.) Philosophers on Music: Experience, Meaning and Work. Oxford, UK, Oxford University Press, 130-146. (Mind Association Occasional Series).
    Neill, Alex and Ridley, Aaron (eds.) (2007) Arguing about art: contemporary philosophical debates, Abingdon, UK, Routledge, 504pp. (Arguing About Philosophy).
    Ridley, Aaron (2007) Nietzsche on art and freedom. European Journal of Philosophy, 15, (2), 204-224. (doi:10.1111/j.1468-0378.2007.00259.x).
    Ridley, Aaron (2007) Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Nietzsche on Art, London, UK, Routledge, 208pp. (Routledge Philosophy Guidebooks).
    Neill, Alex (2005) Tragedy. In, Borchert, Donald (ed.) Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2nd edition. Detroit, USA, Macmillan Reference USA.
    Janaway, Christopher (2005) Reading Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art, Blackwell Publishing, 288pp. (Reading Philosophy).
    Neill, Alex (2005) Tragedy. In, Gaut, Berys and Lopes, Dominic (eds.) The Routledge Companion to Aesthetics. London, UK, Routledge, 457-468.
    Ridley, Aaron (2004) The Philosophy of Music: Theme and Variations , Edinburgh, UK, Edinburgh University Press, 192pp.
    Neill, Alex (2003) Poetry. In, Levinson, Jerrold (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Aesthetics. New York, USA, Oxford University Press, 605-613.
    Janaway, Christopher (2003) Tragedy: a case of pleasure in pain. In, Haapala, Arto and Kuisma, Oiva (eds.) Aesthetic Experience and the Ethical Dimension: Essays on Moral Problems in Aesthetics. Helsinki, Philosophical Society of Finland, 19-32. (Acta Philosophica Fennica, 72 72).
    Neill, Alex D. (2003) Art and emotion. In, Levinson, Jerrold (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Aesthetics. Oxford, UK, Oxford University Press, 421-435. (Oxford Handbooks of Philosophy).
    Janaway, Christopher (2003) Nietzsche’s artistic revaluation. In, Bermúdez, José Luis and Gardner, Sebastian (eds.) Art and Morality. London, UK, New York, USA, Routledge, 260-276. (International Library of Philosophy).
    Ridley, A.M. (2003) Against musical ontology. Journal of Philosophy, 100, (4), 203-220.
    Ridley, Aaron (2003) Critical conversions. In, Bermúdez, José Luis and Gardner, Sebastian (eds.) Art and Morality. London, UK, New York, USA, Routledge, 131-142.
    Neill, Alex D. (2003) Schopenhauer on tragedy and value. In, Bermúdez, José Luis and Gardner, Sebastian (eds.) Art and Morality. London, UK, New York, USA, Routledge, 204-217. (International Library of Philosophy).
    Ridley, Aaron (2002) Congratulations, it’s a tragedy: Collingwood’s remarks on genre. British Journal of Aesthetics, 42, (1), 52-63. (doi:10.1093/bjaesthetics/42.1.52).
    Neill, Alex (1999) Hume's 'singular phenomenon'. British Journal of Aesthetics, 39, (2), 112-125. (doi:10.1093/bjaesthetics/39.2.112).
    Neill, Alex (1999) Inauthenticity, insincerity and poetry. In, Kemal, Salim and Gaskell, Ivan (eds.) Performance and Authenticity in the Arts. Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press, 197-214. (Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and the Arts).
    Neill, Alex (1999) Appreciation and feeling. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 57, (1), 67-71.
    Neill, Alex (1998) 'An Unaccountable Pleasure’: Hume on tragedy and the passions. Hume Studies, 24, (2), 335-354.
    Neill, Alex (1998) Hume on tragedy. In, Kelly, Michael (ed.) Encyclopedia of Aesthetics. New York, USA, Oxford University Press, 399-401.
    Neill, Alex (1996) Empathy and (film) fiction. In, Bordwell, David and Carroll, Noël (eds.) Post-Theory: Reconstructing Film Studies. Madison, USA, University of Wisconsin Press, 175-194.
    Neill, Alex (1995) Fear and belief. Philosophy and Literature, 19, (1), 94-101. (doi:10.1353/phl.1995.0046).
    Neill, Alex and Ridley, Aaron (eds.) (1995) The philosophy of art: readings ancient and modern, New York, USA, McGraw-Hill, 592pp.
    Neill, Alex (1995) Emotional responses to fiction: reply to Radford. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 53, (1), 75-78.
    Ridley, Aaron (1995) Music, Value and the Passions, Ithaca, US, Cornell University Press, 199pp.
    Neill, Alex (1993) Fiction and the emotions. American Philosophical Quarterly, 30, (1), 1-13.
    Neill, Alex (1992) Yanal and others on Hume on tragedy. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 50, (2), 151-154.
    Neill, Alex (1991) Fear, Fiction and Make-Believe. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 49, (1), 47-56.


    Members of staff associated with this group:

    Research projects

    No research projects are currently associated with this group.