Philosophy | Classics in Philosophy of Art
P346 | 3398 | Weinberg


For about as long as we humans have been consciously philosophizing
about anything, we have been philosophizing about art & the
aesthetic.  What makes something a work of art (as opposed to a mere
representation, or decoration)?  Why should we have art -- or should
we even restrict certain forms of art? (Plato, perhaps the godfather
of all Western philosophy, infamously advocated some fairly strict
forms of censorship.)  What is the nature of beauty?  Can we
identify the concept of art in terms of beauty?  Or do we need other
notions, such as personal expression, or the sublime?  Is there a
unity to the arts, or do we need to consider literature, music,
painting, etc. each on their own terms?

The purpose of this course is to address such foundational,
conceptual questions that lie at the very heart of our aesthetic
lives, and moreover to see the way that different thinkers living in
different times & circumstances have come up with different --
sometimes radically different -- accounts.  We will focus on the
primary texts of such authors as Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant,
Tolstoy, Dewey, Goodman, and Danto, though we will occasionally read
some secondary literature as well.  We will be centrally concerned
with getting an understanding of what these authors' theories are.
But moreover we will want to uncover how they argue for these
theories, so that we may then engage those arguments critically,
both on purely philosophical & logical grounds as well as how true
the arguments are to our artistic experiences & practices.

Student evaluations will be based on weekly ultrashort writing
assignments (about 1 page each), worth 10% of the overall grade;
participation both in class and online (10%); to write 2 medium-
length papers of about 5 - 7 pages (20% each); a midterm (20%) and a
final (20%).