Philosophical aesthetics is naturally concerned with problems pertaining to the arts in general, but there are issues that must also be examined within the context of the particular arts. This course will begin with an examination of broad issues in aesthetics: What is art? What is beauty? What is expression and emotion in the arts? Is there such a thing as “good taste?” We will then consider particular issues within the context of painting, photography, film, music, and the popular arts (specifically popular music and television). Some questions posed will be the following: What does it mean for a painting to be “about” or to “express” something? How should we think of photography—as a means by which we can actually see things and people in situations that no longer exist or as simply a means of registering the world? What is it about film that gives the medium its peculiar illusion-making power? What exactly is music? Does it represent and express in the same way as other art forms? What value is there in popular music and television? Readings will be drawn from Benjamin, Danto, Eco, Gombrich, Greenberg, Heidegger, Kant, Kivy, Plato, Scruton, and others. In addition to contributing regularly and actively to class discussions and activities, students will be required to compose frequent responses and reflections, write two formal essays (4-5 pages each), present a research proposal, and complete a final research
paper (8-10 pages).