PHIL 351
Philosophy of Art Fall 2009
Division II
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Class Details

Philosophical debates about art are both an important part of philosophy and a useful way for students of the arts to deepen their understanding of painting, literature, drama, film, and the other media. We will begin with a series of classic texts and debates: Plato, Rousseau, and Hegel on the value of art as a source of moral insight and moral growth; Hume and Kant on the universality and objectivity of taste; and (from the 20th century) Roger Fry, E.H. Gombrich and Arthur Danto on the value of representational and abstract art. Then we will turn to contemporary philosophers of art. Kendall Walton and others have built on the deceptively simple insight that representational works are props in rule-governed games of make- believe, and that together these rules and props give rise to “fictional worlds.” How is the fictional world of a work of art like and unlike the real world? Are fictional worlds more or less knowable than the real world? Can spelling out the rules of the games of make-believe that are played with artistic objects deepen our understanding of the various media and genres, and in turn deepen our understanding of particular works?
The Class: Format: lecture/discussion, often using particular works of art for illustration
Limit: 20
Expected: 10-15
Class#: 1070
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: four 1- to 2-page papers, a midterm, a quiz, a 10-page final paper and thoughtful class participation
Prerequisites: one introductory course in Philosophy or permission of instructor
Enrollment Preferences: Philosophy majors
Distributions: Division II

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