Professor of Philosophy
School of Humanities
Faculty of Arts
Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.
My research investigates the contrasts and similarities between the affective nature of the Arts and what Aristotle would call rhetoric (a manipulative device for those not impressed by reason). This question bears on various topics in Aesthetics, Philosophy of the Arts, Kantian scholarship, meta-ethics and philosophy of mind, such as imagination, pleasure, attitude and intention; and motivation.
My most recent works includes: “What can be learnt from imagining?” “If learning from fictions is a case of delusion, are attitudes acquired from fictions also delusional?” “Can we learn anything from the Arts?” “Are the attitudes acquired from the Arts the result of manipulation given they do not involve argumentation: that is they do not have their effect upon us by providing reasons in support of a conclusion?”.
I welcome inquiries from Masters and PhD candidates interested in:
1. Immanuel Kant’s notion of public reason as exemplified in the sensus communis of aesthetic reflective judgement.
2. Imagining as engaged by the Arts or a particular branch of the Arts and what we learn by it. The branches can include visual, narrative, cinema, music, dance or literature. Indigenous art can be a focus incorporating visual and narrative.
3. The role of pleasure in Kant’s conception of beauty and the sublime.
4. Was Plato justified in banning artists from his ideal Republic?
- My Research
- Grants and Funding
- Professional Activities
My current projects include:
- Taste and Community (Australian Research Council DP)
This project considers the role of the arts in shaping experience and changing attitudes. The way in which the Arts engage exchanges between many perspectives is a focus. Project website :
- Imagining and rhetoric
When cultures collide and norms and conventions are in a state of flux, the attitudes and behaviours fuelled by images we hold come under scrutiny. Fictional narratives are accepted as harmless when a society is homogeneous; but when every value needs to be reaffirmed, justified or discarded, it is no longer acceptable to claim that a life style or even a political movement was motivated by a novel or cinema; that is, by fiction. This project considers the way belief can be demonstrated through actions that are never articulated in a conscious way; and are vulnerable to the manipulative and motivational nature of narratives
- Not all Duty: Kant, society and the objectivity of communicating
Kant’s conception of the objective basis of public reason is given a surprising model in his aesthetic theory, which is often overlooked by Kant scholars. Finding a means by which to communicate beauty and the sublime exemplifies the way communication itself sets the objective basis for the exercise of reason. This project explores this through textual evidence in Kant and draws out the implications for this aspect of Kant’s aesthetic theory for Kant scholars, epistemology and philosophers of art.
Date Position Institution name 2017 Professor University of Adelaide 2014 - 2015 Director of the Faculty of Arts Higher Degree by Research Program University of Adelaide, Adelaide 2010 - 2013 Head of Philosophy Department University of Adelaide, Adelaide 2002 - 2016 Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Associate Professor University of Adelaide 1996 - 2002 Lecturer University of Canberra 1992 - 1992 Tutor Australian National University 1991 - 1991 Tutor and Research Assistant University of Melbourne
Awards and Achievements
Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount 2015 Achievement Chief Investigator, ARC Discovery Grant Adelaide, Monash, Macquarie, Brown, Toronto, Houston Australia $251,100. 1991 Research Award The Freda Cohen Prize, The University of Melbourne University of Melbourne Australia —
Date Institution name Country Title 1992 - 1996 Australian National University Australia PhD 1989 - 1990 University of Melbourne Australia M.Ed (Research) 1978 - 1978 University of Melbourne Australia Dip.Ed. 1975 - 1977 RMIT University Australia B.A. (Fine Arts)
Year Citation 2011 McMahon, J. (2011). Beauty as harmony of the soul: the aesthetic of the Stoics. In Proceedings of the 8th Biennial International Conference of Greek Studies (pp. 54-63). Australia: Flinders University. 2011 McMahon, J. (2011). Aesthetic autonomy: tracing the Kantian legacy to Olafur Eliasson. In Proceedings of the European Society for Aesthetics 2011 (pp. 220-234). online: European Society for Aesthetics. 2007 McMahon, J. (2007). The significance of Plato's notions of beauty and pleasure in the philosophy of Kant. In E. Close, M. Tsianikas, & G. Couvalis (Eds.), Proceedings of Greek Research in Australia (pp. 27-34). Australia: Flinders University. 2000 McMahon, J. (2000). Perceptual principles, aesthetic from, and notions of unity.. In CONSCIOUSNESS AND COGNITION Vol. 9 (pp. S79-S80). ACADEMIC PRESS INC.
Original Creative Works
Year Citation 2017 McMahon, J. A. (2017). "On Jane Forsey's Critique of the Sublime", Wassard Elea Rivista IV, no.2, pp.81-91.. Wassard Elea, IT ICCU BVE 0589855.
|Date||Project Number||Investigators||Funding Body||Amount|
|2015 - 2019||DP150103143||Jennifer A. McMahon (Lead CI); Paul Guyer (Brown) Cynthia Freeland (Houston) Mohan Matthen (Toronto) Robert Sinnerbrink (Macquarie) Daniel von Sturmer (Monash) Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro (visual artists)||Australian Research Council||$251,100|
|Date||Course Title||Course Level / Code|
|2002||Argument and Critical Thinking||Level 1, PHIL 1101|
|2020||Philosophy of Literature||Level 2, TBA|
|2002||Beauty: Pleasures and Principles||Level 2, TBA|
|2003||Art, Perception and Creativity||Level 2, PHIL 2051|
|2012||Pragmatism||Level 3, PHIL 3031|
|2020||Philosophy of Literature||Level 3, TBA|
|2002||Beauty: Pleasures and Principles||Level 3, TBA|
Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)
Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name 2011 - 2015 Principal Supervisor Gestural Abstraction in Australian Art 1947-1963: Repositioning the Work of Albert Tucker Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Carol Ann Gilchrist 2011 - 2018 Principal Supervisor The Good, the Right and the Exigencies of Life: John Dewey and the Value of Moral Disagreement Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Ms Karen Bland
Date Role Committee Institution Country 2018 - ongoing Member Research Evaluation Committee (REC) for the Humanities and Creative Arts ARC ERA 2018 Australia 2014 - ongoing Advisory Board Member Aesthetics Research Centre, University of Kent University of Kent United Kingdom
Date Role Membership Country 2013 - ongoing Member JM Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice, University of Adelaide Australia
Date Institution Department Organisation Type Country 2015 - 2016 University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia Contract to convene two day symposium, http://www.thelockup.org.au/whats-on/next-to-nothing-art-as-performance School or college Australia 2010 - 2013 Eynesbury College, Adelaide Chief Examiner for Logic and Clear Thinking Foundation Studies Program Business and professional Australia 2002 - 2002 David Hooper, Solicitor, Sydney, NSW Expert Witness, Duty of Care, Secondary Schools Business and professional Australia 2001 - 2002 The Hargreaves Practice, Sydney, NSW Expert Witness, Duty of Care, Secondary Schools Business and professional Australia 1999 - 2000 National Schools Network, Canberra Facilitator: Curriculum Peer Review in Secondary Schools Business and professional Australia 1998 - 1998 Catholic Education Office, Canberra Mediator in Employment Dispute Business and professional Australia 1998 - 1998 NSW Crown Solicitor's Office, Sydney Expert Witness, Duty of Care, Secondary Schools Business and professional Australia
Date Office Name Institution Country 2014 - 2017 Executive Secretary, Australasian Association of Philosophy Australasian Association of Philosophy Australia
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