FALL 2005

            TUES-THUR  5:20-6:40 PM



Hugh J. Silverman (Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Literature)

Office: Harriman Hall 203; Office Phone 632-7592

Office Hours: Tuesdays 3:00-5:00 p.m. and by appointment


THEMES: What is Art? what is Beauty? what is Creativity? What is the relationship between Art and the arts? What is the difference between one art and another? Are the arts a reaction to the political and social interests of the day? Or does they lead the way -- envisioning problems, issues, concerns, and even possible solutions? What are the responsibilities of the artist? What are the responsibilies of the viewer, audience, public? What is the role of the arts in society and culture at different times? Can the function of the arts at different times be compared to one another? What is the meaning and appeal of beauty at different times? Is beauty coded in certain ways at different times? As the concept of Beauty changes, does the notion of Truth also change? What is the relationship between beauty and the sublime in different aesthetic theories?


PURPOSE: Designed as an introduction to Philosophy, PHI 110 is also an invitation to seek answers to questions such as these. Our task will be to think philosophical ideas through various artistic productions, to explore how artistic practice is also a theoretical practice, and to think questions of beauty and truth, craft and making, creativity and the ideal, artistic enthusiasm and the ecstatic, tragedy and music, architecture and sculpture, painting and film, literature and culture. But also our task will be to understand how the arts play a role in everyday life - in culture, society, politics, and the media.


SCOPE: We shall explore how to think and read major theoretical and literary texts at several key moments in western thought and culture.  Emphasis will be placed on Ancient Greece (Aeschylus, Euripides, Aristotle), the Renaissance-Elizabethan Era (Leonardo da Vinci and Shakespeare), the Modern Age (Nietzsche and fin-de-siecle (around 1900) Vienna), and the advent of the Postmodern (Heidegger, Eco, Derrida).  By looking at and comparing how artistic practices were understood and articulated at previous times, we shall achieve insight into how to think about them today. 


REQUIREMENTS: Each student will be expected to attend class regularly.  Throughout the semester, there will be a total of four 10-15 minute quizzes at the beginning of class (only three will count but students must take all four in order to have the lowest of the four dropped).  Each student is to write one paper (about 5-7 pages in length). The paper should compare the practice and theory of the arts from two different periods. It should show how the artistic practice and philosophical writings of one time are different from those of another time. The paper should show how the two philosophies / artistic practices respond to the intellectual, cultural, and socio-political contexts out of which they arise.


GRADE: There will be a take-home mid-term and a final examination.  The mid-term, the paper, and the final exam will each count 25%. The 3 quizzes will be 15%.  The additional 10% will result from the quality (not quantity) of class participation and attendance.   Each student will be expected to read the material assigned for the indicated date and come prepared to discuss the texts in class.




LAST UPDATED 31-Aug-2005  

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