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Prof John Hyman

Fellow in Philosophy

Professor of Aesthetics

Tutor for Undergraduates


I did my undergraduate and graduate studies at St. John's College, Oxford, and joined Queen’s in 1988, after spending a year as a Research Fellow at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. Since then, I’ve mostly taught in Oxford, though I’ve also spent a few years teaching or researching elsewhere, mostly overseas.  I was a Getty Scholar at the Getty Research Insititute, Los Angeles in 2001-02, a Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin in 2002 -03, a Leverhulme Major Research Fellow in 2010-12, a Visiting Professor at Peking University, Beijing in 2011, and Professeur Invité at the Université Paris-Sorbonne in 2014-15.  I currently hold a Santander Cátedra de Excelencia at the Univ. Carlos III de Madrid, and I shall be a Sackler Scholar at the Sackler Institute of Advanced Studies, Tel-Aviv in 2017-18.  I’ve edited the British Journal of Aesthetics since 2008.  The journal’s website is here. A brief introduction to my work in philosophy of art can be downloaded here.


With the exception of formal logic, the undergraduate philosophy courses are taught mainly in tutorials, which provide an ideal setting to explore ideas in detail, and look at a student’s essay paragraph by paragraph, sometimes line by line. I teach the introduction to philosophy course in the first year, most of the popular modern philosophy courses in the second and third years, and supervise graduates doing the BPhil and the DPhil.


My main research interests are in epistemology and metaphysics, philosophy of mind and action, philosophy of art, and the philosophy of Wittgenstein. In my most recent book, Action, Knowledge, and Will, I argue that human behaviour has four irreducibly different dimensions—physical, psychological, intellectual, and ethical—which were amalgamated or confused in the traditional idea of a ‘will’. My work in philosophy of art has focused mainly on the visual arts. My book The Objective Eye is about the nature of colours and shapes, their representation in pictorial art, and the concept of realism in art theory. I have also written about art and neuroscience here.