Philosophy | Introduction to Philosophy and Art
P246 | 3498 | Brand


Topic: Beauty

Beauty has captured human interest since before Plato, but how, why, and to whom does
beauty matter in today's world?  Whose standard of beauty motivates African Americans
to straighten their hair?  What inspires contestants in beauty pageants to measure up to
impossible ideals and to offer themselves as flawless objects for the male gaze?  Why
does a French performance artist use cosmetic surgery to remake her fact into a
composite of the past master painters' versions of beauty?  How does our culture of
beauty perceive the disabled body?  Is the constant effort to remain young and thin, often
at considerable economic and emotional expense, ethically justifiable?

Provocative questions in aesthetics, the arts and fashion will be explored in order to
reveal the ways gender, race, and sexual orientation have informed the concept of beauty.
We will discuss Kant and Calvin Klein, Confucianism and Chinese foot-binding, kitsch
and cross-dressing, Hegel's "ornamentation" and the adornment of the male body.

Grades will be based on six short writing assignments, class participation, and a midterm
and final exam.  Section meets with G205.