Literature and Philosophy Topic: Aesthetics, Ethics, and Ideology Prof. Kenshur MTW 11:15-12:30 BH 015 (1st Eight Weeks) The course will examine aesthetic theories both in the context of their relationship to the evolution of literary forms and tastes, and, especially, in the context of larger debates over moral, political, and epistemological authority. Although we will begin with Plato, our focus will be on British thought in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The hypothesis that informs the course's organization is that ethico-political debates in seventeenth-century Britain were informed by an overarching question about the ontology of value-- "What is valuable in itself and what is valuable in relation to something else?" -- and that proto-aesthetic theories in the seventeenth century, and the emergence of aesthetics as a separate branch of philosophy in the eighteenth, can be understood as results of these debates. The emphasis of the readings, accordingly, represents a departure from conventional approaches to the ideology of the aesthetic. There will be a stress on the ideology of political obedience and social order rather than that class hierarchy, and on the importance of metaphysical and ethical contexts rather than epistemological ones. But it will be impossible to leave out issues of class and of epistemology altogether. Moreover, it is expected that the discussions will reflect the interests and preoccupations of the students as well as those of the instructor. A short preliminary paper and a longer term paper will be required. Students taking the course to meet seminar requirements will do an in-class-presentation instead of a preliminary paper.