PHI6160 Philosophy of Arts


This module discusses some of the philosophical issues thrown up by the arts and our appreciation of them. We will think about the nature of art; puzzles about our engagement with it; issues to do with art and power; and questions concerning specific aesthetic concepts. The questions we will consider include a selection of issues such as the following. What is art? Can it even be defined? What is it for something to be a picture of something? Can food (or beer, or wine, or perfume) be art? Or must art be something that we engage with using the so-called higher senses like vision? Why do entities and situations we know to be fictional nevertheless stir our emotions? What is cultural appropriation in the realm of the arts? Is there anything wrong with it? Do our standard ways of thinking about art rely on problematic relations of power? Can pornography be art? What is kitsch?

Suggested Reading

Graham Gordon (2005) Philosophy of Arts: An introduction to asethetics. 3rd Edition, London, Routledge
Levinson, Jerrold ed. (2005). The Oxford Handbook of Aesthetics. London: Oxford University Press

This is a large collection of introductory articles on all issues in aesthetics:

Lamarque, Peter & Olsen, Stein Haugom eds. (2004). Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art: The Analytic Tradition. Blackwell, Oxford

Lectures and Seminars:

The module is also available to undergraduates as PHI212.

If there are three or more postgraduates taking the module, a separate seminar will be scheduled for postgraduates only.