Spring 2013 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions

Amato, Lawrence
Discipline and Number
PHIL 4380 Section 001
MW Time 11:30 AM - 12:45 PM
Course Title
What is beauty?

Description of Course:

More than merely attractive or cosmetically pleasing, what is beauty? Put more philosophically, what is the true essence of beauty? This is the question that this course will seek to answer. Yet, we will find that before we can really ask that question we must address how we could even know what beauty is and what it does in a time of such relativity and subjectivity. When everyone feels as though his or her own sense of beauty stands equal with everyone else’s, who is to say which understanding is better or worse? So, in order to make our way through this territory, we will examine notions of interpretation, taste, judgment and value. We will also see what philosophers early (Greek) and late (existential) have had to say about beauty and art. Through reading selected texts, examining particular artworks and having in-class discussions, we will attempt to better grasp the nature and purpose of beauty.

Required Texts:

Albert Hofstadter and Richard Kuhns, eds., Philosophies of Art & Beauty.
The University of Chicago Press, 0-226-34812-1

Martin Heidegger, Poetry, Language, Thought.
Perennial Classics, 978-0060937287

Hans-Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method, 2nd Revised Ed.
Continuum, 0-8264-0585-1

Herbert Marcuse, The Aesthetic Dimension.
Beacon Press, 978-0807015193

Giorgio Agamben, The Man Without Content.
Stanford University Press, 978-0804735544

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

There will be two exams. In addition to these exams, students will be evaluated based upon their participation in the classroom dialogue.

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