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Urban Aesthetics and Technology

What makes environments beautiful? What distinguishes the beauty of the city from that of a meadow? How do technologies like self-driving vehicles and 5G shape our aesthetic experience of the city? These are some of the questions I discuss in an interview with the Finnish philosopher Sanna Lehtinen.

24hrs of Philosophy of the City

Have you ever attended a 24 hours long conference? One of the perks of the current tragic crisis is that this is now possible (I call it a perk because I love conferences; you might think it’s a curse). I have just attended a 24hrs conference on philosophy of the city. It was kicked off by our colleagues in Japan and closed by our friends in the Americas. My own presentation was on transcultural perspectives on the city and the wild, with a focus on Indian cities.

Video: Transcultural Urban Aesthetics

Asian cities are usually seen as chaotic. However that is because those of us who grew up in Europe and North America are accustomed to linear orders of things, be they buildings or written words. In my new video I talk about the logic behind Asian urban aesthetics.

Video: Urban Aesthetics

Urban aesthetics is a marginal, though emerging field. This is surprising since it addresses a fairly common intuition that cities can be breathtakingly beautiful, and in a different way than paintings are beautiful. In my new video I talk about recent developments in the field and suggest that cities are not only beautiful because of their looks but also because of the dreams they allow us to dream and the stories they afford for our life.

Video: Cities on Mars

Elon Musk has some pretty concrete plans for the Red Planet. However, he mostly discusses technological and financial obstacles. I’m more interested in psychological and political challenges to living on Mars. And I found most insightful considerations from an unlikely source: Plato.

Plato’s Laws is about starting a new colony, the fictional city of Magnesia, on an isolated Cretan island. Many of the psychological and political difficulties that Magnesians would face can be juxtaposed to potential settlers on Mars.

The latest video on my YouTube channel is on possible cities on Mars.