Philosophy of Art: Plato to the Postmodern

This course explores the idea that art is not marginal to human concerns, but a key element in emotional, social and psychological life. Many philosophers have proposed that art is not only the highest human achievement but an essential realm which allows humans to imaginatively reconstruct themselves and the worlds they inhabit. From Greek tragedy to Postmodern conceptualism we will explore the human drive not only to live life, but to make representations of it. The course will examine the ideas of philosophers such as Schopenhauer in The World as Will and Representation; Marx’s critique of art; and a wide ranging discussion of contemporary art.

DELIVERY MODE

  • Face-to-Face / Online

COURSE OUTLINE

  • The dispute between Aristotle and Plato hinges around the role of emotions in the art of dramatic tragedy. Plato feared the poets and dramatists because he believed that they had too much power over the attitudes of the people, Aristotle agrees about the power of art but proposes that the power of emotions in art could be harnessed for good social purposes.
  • Aristotle's philosophy of the theatre is the first comprehensive attempt by a critic to work out the mechanisms which produce the emotional effects of theatre. We will study his theory of 'mimesis' and the role of 'cathartics' in dramatic art.
  • Immanuel Kant is often called the father of modern aesthetics. He makes a rigorous philosophical attempt to understand the nature of aesthetic experience by working out how it differs from other kinds of experiences, such as the experience of erotic desire. This distinction becomes complex for example, when one is dealing with issues such as the viewer's response to nude paintings.
  • Friedrich Schelling proposes that the function of art is to create a domain in which humans can 'dream' their way to their fullest human potential. Without the domain of art he proposes humans could not imaginatively play out their hopes and fears and would have no way of constructing for themselves the blueprints of a better future.
  • Arthur Schopenhauer in The World as Will and Representation argues that in the contemplation of art, and particularly the engagement with music, humans can share the most valuable human gift of freedom with each other. He sees art as the high point of human development.
  • Romanticism. We will discuss the philosophical concepts which give the foundation and rational to the Romantic arts. Friedrich Nietzsche agrees with Schopenhauer that art is the high point of human civilization, however he disagrees that its value is in its distance from man's animal nature. For Nietzsche art, because of its sensual nature, returns humans to their most passionate, unrestrained state.
  • Marx was not content to analyze society; he wanted to play a role in bringing about political change. Bourgeois art was part of the problem: in its content it proliferated and reinforced the bourgeois status quo in terms of morality and economics. Art for Marx is only valuable if it prompts humans to action. Humans must be made to want to change society and one way for art to do that is by the realistic presentation of the actual state of affairs under which most people must live their lives.
  • The Modern Movement’s typical strategy was to provoke by the shock of the new, the decadent or outrageous, they insisted on arts autonomy: Art for Art's Sake.
  • The rise of the Avant-Garde entails both an endorsement of Nietzsche's return of art to the body and emotions, but is at the same time deeply suspicious of the elitism of the art world and its high aesthetic ideals.
  • The Postmodern Movement. From the 1980’s to the present the art world has been dominated by postmodernism we will explore this movement: its benefits and its disadvantages and end the course with a discussion of whether we are now in a post-postmodern age.

LEARNING OUTCOMES

By the end of the course the student will be able to:

  1. Identify and discuss the major philosophers of aesthetics in the Greek, Modern and Contemporary field.
  2. Compare and contract the different ideas on the role of the arts in human life.
  3. Be able to discuss the political implications of the arts.
  4. Have a better understanding of the artworks which they encounter in the contemporary art world.
$278 Limited / $250

<p>This course explores the idea that art is not marginal to human concerns, but a key element in emotional, social and psychological life. Many philosophers have proposed that art is not only the

...
22 Jul
$278 Limited / $250

<p>This course explores the idea that art is not marginal to human concerns, but a key element in emotional, social and psychological life. Many philosophers have proposed that art is not only the

...
22 Jul

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