PHIL 333
Kant on Beauty, Life, and History Fall 2023
Division II
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

In this course, we will study Kant’s theories of aesthetic and teleological judgments. Aesthetic judgments are puzzling, since we call things “beautiful” because they cause us to feel pleasure, and yet we expect others to find the same things beautiful as we do (e.g., the sunset over the Taconic Ridge), while we do not generally expect others to find the same things pleasurable as we do (e.g., your favorite ice cream flavor at Lickety). Teleological judgments are likewise puzzling, since we often explain living things as designed for certain purposes (e.g., the hummingbird’s long bill is for accessing nectar deep inside flowers) or as striving for certain goals (e.g., the sunflower turns toward the sun to take in energy), and yet we are committed to a scientific world-view, where nature is governed by mechanistic causal laws. Indeed, we sometimes describe human history as progressive (aiming toward greater rationality, morality, equality, or freedom, e.g.), even though we regard individual humans as free to choose whether to act well or poorly. Our course will consider Kant’s attempts to account for these sorts of paradoxical judgments.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 20
Expected: 10
Class#: 1682
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: A midterm and a final essay.
Prerequisites: PHIL 202 is recommended
Enrollment Preferences: Philosophy majors, prospective Philosophy majors
Distributions: Division II
Attributes: PHIL History Courses

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