PHIL 2523: Introduction to Aesthetics


What exactly is art? How and why do people express themselves artistically? Is art merely a trivial social phenomenon or does it play an important role in society? What is the relationship between art and philosophy? Between art and science?

These questions have been asked since the beginning of Western history and, whether we realize it or not, the answers which they have received throughout this history largely determine the way we view art's role in society today. In this course, we will investigate some of the most influential attempts in the history of philosophy to respond to these questions. We will focus particularly upon the way in which philosophical reflection upon art often subordinates artistic expression to science, claiming that scientific discourse exhibits a higher level of truth than does artistic creation. The readings will include selections from Plato, Aristotle, Kant and Hegel. We will also briefly consider a few contemporary reflections upon the nature of art (those of Martin Heidegger and Walter Benjamin, specifically).

Both lecture and discussion will be important components of the course and students will be expected to participate actively in discussion. Each week I will hand out reflection questions which will: a) help guide students with their assigned reading and b) function as a spring-board for in-class discussion.

No prerequisites. Three credit hours.

Courses Regularly Taught:

Dr. James Gilbert-Walsh
PHIL 1013/1023: Introduction to Western Philosophy (1 and 2)
PHIL 2523: Introduction to Aesthetics
PHIL 3613: Kant
PHIL 3623: Hegel
PHIL 3543: Existentialism
PHIL 3653: Contemporary Continental Philosophy
PHIL 3763: Heidegger

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