Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on 'erotic art' by Hans Maes (2014)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2014) article on 'erotic art'[1] by Hans Maes (2014) is an augmented version of the introduction to Maes' Pornographic Art and the Aesthetics of Pornography (2013).

The article is more concerned with the classificationary dispute between erotica and pornography, it mentions the term 'porno[…]' 154 times and 'erotic[…]' 174 times.


  • "the great majority of aestheticians" "deny that aesthetic and erotic responses are antithetical"
  • "Many philosophers of art, including Roger Scruton, Jerrold Levinson, and Christy Mag Uidhir, deny that there is (or can be) such a thing as pornographic art. In other words, they advocate a strict divide between erotic art and pornography. Some of their scepticism, one cannot fail to notice, bears a significant resemblance to the earlier resistance against erotic art."

Artworks referenced

Partial bibliography

Collingwood, R.G., 1938, The Principles of Art, Oxford: Clarendon. Darnton, Robert, 1995, The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France, New York: W.W. Norton & Company. Dutton, Denis, 2009, The Art Instinct, New York: Oxford University Press. Dwyer, Susan (ed.), 1995, The Problem of Pornography, Belmont: Wadsworth. Eaton, Anne W., 2003, “Where Ethics and Aesthetics Meet: Titian's Rape of Europa”, Hypathia, 18: 159–188. Elliott, George P., 1970, “Against Pornography”, in D. Hughes (ed.), Perspectives on Pornography, New York: St Martin's Press. Fokt, Simon, 2012, “Pornographic Art: A Case from Definitions”, British Journal of Aesthetics, 52: 287–300. Hunt, Lynn. (ed.), 1996, The Invention of Pornography, New York: Zone Books. Kieran, Matthew, 2001, “Pornographic Art”, Philosophy and Literature, 25: 31–45. Levinson, Jerrold, 2005, “Erotic Art and Pornographic Pictures”, Philosophy and Literature, 29: 228–240. –––, 2006, “What is Erotic Art?” in Jerrold Levinson, Contemplating Art, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Longford, F.P., 1972, Pornography: The Longford Report, London: Coronet Books. Maes, Hans, 2009, “Art and Pornography”, Journal of Aesthetic Education, 43: 107–116. –––, 2011, “Art or Porn: Clear Division or False Dilemma?” Philosophy and Literature, 35: 51–64. –––, 2012, “Who Says Pornography Can't Be Art?” in Maes & Levinson 2012. ––– (ed.), 2013, Pornographic Art and the Aesthetics of Pornography, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Maes, Hans & Jerrold Levinson (eds.), 2012, Art and Pornography: Philosophical Essays, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Mag Uidhir, Christy, 2009, “Why Pornography Can't Be Art”, Philosophy and Literature, 33: 193–203. Mahon, Alyce, 2005, Eroticism & Art, Oxford: OUP. Mulvey, Laura, 1989, Visual and Other Pleasures, Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Nussbaum, Martha C., 2004, Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame and the Law, Princeton: Princeton University Press. Scruton, Roger, 1986, Sexual Desire, New York: The Free Press. –––, 2005, “Flesh from the Butcher: How to Distinguish Eroticism from Pornography”, Times Literary Supplement, 15 April 2005 11–13. Shaftesbury, Third Earl of, 1964 [1711], Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, John M. Robertson (ed.), New York: Bobbs Merrill. Shusterman, Richard, 1999, “Somaesthetics: A Disciplinary Proposal”, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 57: 299–313. Sircello, Guy, 1979, “Beauty and Sex”, in D.F. Gustafson & B.L. Tapscott (eds.), Body, Mind, and Method: Essays in Honor of Virgil C. Aldrich, Boston: Reidel. Sontag, Susan, 1994, “The Pornographic Imagination”, in Styles of Radical Will, London: Vintage. Stendhal, 1926, De l'amour, Paris: Champion. Steinem, Gloria, 1995, “Erotica and Pornography: A Clear and Present Difference”, in Dwyer 1995. Steiner, George, 1975, “Night Words: High Pornography and Human Privacy”, in R.C. Rist (ed.), The Pornography Controversy, New Brunswick: Transaction Books. Webb, Peter, 1975, The Erotic Arts, London: Secker & Warburg. Williams, Bernard (ed.), 1982, Obscenity and Film Censorship: An Abridgement of the Williams Report, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Zola, Emile, 1991, “Écrits sur l'art”, Paris: Gallimard.

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