Skip to main content

Unit information: Aesthetics in 2018/19

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Aesthetics
Unit code PHIL20136
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Pearson
Open unit status Not open
Pre-requisites

None

Co-requisites

None

School/department Department of Philosophy
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description

This unit is an introduction to contemporary analytic Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art. We shall focus on some key questions about the nature of our aesthetic appreciation of, and our emotional involvement with, artworks; and the metaphysical nature of aesthetic properties and value. Questions will include the following: What is art? How, if at all, can music arouse emotions (such as happiness, sadness, despair and even hope) in us? How, if at all, can we have genuine rational emotional responses to characters and events (such as the fate of Anna Karenina) that we know to be fictional? How, if at all, are artworks different from non-artworks? Is there a feature or a property that all and only artworks possess? Are there real mind-independent aesthetic properties that are instantiated by certain objects irrespective of our judgments about those objects’ aesthetic value? In virtue of what does a picture represent? Is it necessary to provide a different aesthetics for different genres of music, e.g. rock and classical? How can we explain the beauty of a sunset or other natural phenomena? By the end of the unit, you should have a good understanding of these questions, and some of the putative answers that philosophers have offered in response to them.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will be able to demonstrate:


(1) clear knowledge and understanding of the philosophical discussion of art;

(2) familiarity with some of the central literature on these debates and positions;

(3) an ability to evaluate views about art and to engage critically with relevant arguments

(4) skills in the researching, reading and presentation of complex material, on these debates and positions, as appropriate to Level I.

Teaching details

11 two-hour lectures and 11 one-hour seminars

Assessment Details

Formative: 2 essays of 2000 words (ILOs 1-4)

Summative: 3-hour examination (ILOs 1-4)

Reading and References

  • P. Lamarque and S.H. Olsen (eds), Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art: The Analytical Tradition, An Anthology, Blackwell 2004.
  • Budd, M., Values of Art: Pictures, Poetry and Music, Penguin, 1995.
  • Gaut, B. and Lopes, D.M., The Routledge Companion to Aesthetics, Routledge, second edition, 2005.
  • Wollheim, R. Art and Its Objects, Cambridge University Press, 1980

Feedback