The aim of this project was to conduct research in analytic aesthetics through a series of conversations with 10 leading figures in the field. The project was supported by the British Society of Aesthetics and the American Society for Aesthetics and the resulting conversations are published by Oxford University Press (2017). The book gives readers new insights into key issues in aesthetics and a better understanding of the theoretical approach and outlook of the individual philosophers who participated in the project. The book also contains black-and-white portraits of all contributing philosophers made by the internationally renowned photographer Steve Pyke (MBE, Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, staff photographer at The New Yorker, whose work is held in many permanent collections, including National Portrait Gallery and V&A in London). The portrait of Noël Carroll was made by Claire Anscomb.


An excerpt from Professor Murray Smith’s Foreword:


“Maes pulls off something rather remarkable with Conversations: a book which works well as both an introduction and as a more advanced text. In part this arises from the fact that Maes fully exploits the potential of conversation, at once the possession of all of us, and a major tool for philosophical inquiry. For the novice and the lay person, on the one hand, the format of the conversation encourages directness and simplicity, for as it unfolds a conversation requires a high degree of ongoing, mutual comprehension on the part its participants in order to continue; at least in its original live incarnation, a conversation offers no opportunity to pore over lengthy statements. For the expert, on the other hand, there is an equally great reward, for the informality of the interview encourages a cut-to-the-chase clarity and no-beating-around-the-bush frankness, compelling interviewees to lay their cards on the table. 

In Conversations Maes has gathered together and interviewed at length a group of aestheticians of the top rank, and in doing so he has created a unique introduction to and overview of contemporary aesthetics and the philosophy of art. Other books might have other strengths, but no book will give you a richer and more dialectical account of the state of contemporary aesthetics, a more diverse account of its objects of study or the variety of stances taken towards them.”