1620.19 - Aesthetics

Course number
Upper secondary school leaving certificatate or comparable qualification.
The course aims to provide an introduction to aesthetics as a subject and as a tool for thinking about art in an analytic fashion. Students acquire knowledge of key theories and concepts in aesthetics and develop the ability to treat philosophical questions concerning art through discussion and critical thinking.
We will read a selection of primary texts which have had decisive importance in the history of aesthetics. Among other things, we will consider the main attempts at defining what art is and whether it is at all possible to define art. Is there some common denominator which all artworks share, or does each artistic discipline possess its own distinct core which pulls it in a different direction than the other disciplines? We will also consider what artistic value is and whether it is possible to have impartial reasons to say that one work of art is better than another. Do some people have an especially acute aesthetic taste which make them better than other people at distinguishing between good and bad art, or is aesthetic taste merely an indication of the class to which one belongs? Finally, we will also consider the relation between artist and audience. Is the meaning of an artwork always determined by the artist, or does the audience have an equal say in what the work means and how it is to be interpreted?
Learning and teaching approaches
Teaching takes place 3 hours a week for one semester. Classes will consist of lectures, presentations, and discussions of selected texts.
Learning outcomes
By the end of the course students should be able to - explain some main concepts and currents in the history of aesthetics - analyse and identify strengths and weaknesses of some main theories of art - reach their own conclusions regarding these theories - use aesthetics as a tool for thinking about artworks and the arts from a philosophical point of view
Assessment method
A set home assignment of approximately 10 pages. The student is given 14 days to write the assignment.
Marking scale
Readings will be drawn from the following works and will amount to approximately 500 pages in total. Noël Carroll, Philosophy of Art: A Contemporary Introduction, Routledge, 1999. Sara Danius, Cecilia Sjöholm & Sven-Olov Wallenstein, Aisthesis. Estetikens Historia, Del 1, Thales, 2012. Matthew Kieran, Revealing Art, Routledge, 2005. Alex Neill & Aaron Ridley, The Philosophy of Art: Readings Ancient and Modern, McGraw-Hill, 1995.
Jens Dam Ziska