PHIL 240 Philosophy of Art, Fall 2015

PHIL 240 Philosophy of Art, Fall 2015

PHIL 240 Philosophy of Art

Siena College, Fall 2015

Course Description What is art anyway? Does it have to be beautiful? Does it have to be in a museum? Can art be dangerous? Through an examination of a variety of artist practices and philosophical approaches to art and aesthetics, this course will focus on four primary questions:

  1. What counts as art? – Is there a canon? How has the canon been established? How have certain groups been marginalized? What does it mean to be marginalized or “other”?
  2. Who counts as an artist? – Are there gender, race, and socio-economic presuppositions to questions regarding artistic genius? Could nonhuman animals be considered artists?
  3. How is and ought art or the artist to be evaluated? – Is taste related to class? Are standards of beauty universal?
  4. What role does art have in society, ethics, or education? – Are there economic presuppositions that determine art’s purpose? How do different communities understand the role of art?

As a Franciscan Diversity course, special attention will be given to the notion of what constitutes a ‘perspective.’  Students will view art works and theories from a variety of perspectives including cultural function, gender, and political background. In addition to writing short papers and reflection essays, at the end of the semester, students will have the opportunity to share their own answers to these questions through creative projects and accounts of the nature and significance of art. Course Goals & Objectives At the end of the course, students will be able to

  • identify, explain, and pose thoughtful questions of several philosophical theories of art,
  • understand and appreciate a diversity of perspectives regarding art and philosophy of art,
  • articulate and argue well for a position in class, online, and in written assignments, and
  • demonstrate an understanding of theoretical content through oral presentations.

Course Texts Aesthetics: A Comprehensive Anthology, ed. Steven M. Cahn and Aaron Meskin. Malden: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2008. ISBN 978140515432. All other texts will be on Blackboard. Hard copies of readings are required for every class meeting.


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