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PHI 99 — The Philosophy of Art

Quarter: Spring
Day(s): Thursdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Apr 1—Jun 3
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Apr 3
Units: 2
Tuition: $485
Instructor(s): Frederick M. Dolan
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Apr 1—Jun 3
10 weeks
Refund Date
Apr 3
2 Units
Frederick M. Dolan
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Art has always drawn the attention of philosophers. Plato questioned the value of art on moral and epistemological grounds. Aristotle rejected Plato’s theory and defended art on psychological grounds. Aquinas, Burke, and Kant argued about the nature of beauty and other aesthetic properties. Hume tried to explain the universality of critical judgments. Nietzsche and Dewey wanted to understand the relationship between art and life. Philosophers want to know what art is, what it reveals about the world and ourselves, and why it matters. In this course, we will study the major philosophical theories of art, including those centered on the concepts of representation, expression, form, aesthetic experience, and pragmatics. We will also explore such topics as artistic intention, critical judgment, interpretation, value, and the moral significance of art. We will begin by confronting the thorny question of whether art can or should be defined, taking into account avant-garde or “anti-aesthetic” approaches to the concept of art. To a great extent, we will approach the philosophy of art by discussing the canonical texts of the field. We will also consider the arguments of contemporary philosophers. In addition to texts and arguments, however, we will examine philosophical problems as they arise in works of art themselves.

Frederick M. Dolan, Professor of Rhetoric, Emeritus, UC Berkeley

Frederick M. Dolan’s interests include political and moral philosophy, theories of interpretation, and aesthetics and the philosophy of art. He received a PhD from Princeton.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Cahn and Meskin, Aesthetics: A Comprehensive Anthology, 2nd Edition (ISBN ISBN-13: 978-1118948323)