The first three weeks of this course will be spent on Dominic Lopes’ brand new book, Being for Beauty (OUP 2018). You should have read the first two parts (through p. 90) by the time of our first meeting. (I have ordered this book from the UIC library and they tell me that an unlimited-use electronic copy will be available very soon, so keep checking if you do not find it.)
The rest of the course will explore the contemporary literature in Anglo aesthetics on the relationship between moral and aesthetic value, especially with respect to artworks (where “artwork” is to be construed broadly to include things like popular movies, popular music and music videos, video games, and other artifacts from popular culture and everyday experience). Does a work’s moral character affect its aesthetic features? Can a moral defect also be, or yield, an aesthetic defect? Can a work be better off aesthetically because morally flawed? Or do a work’s moral features never interact with its aesthetics features at all? What is it for a work to have a moral feature – to be morally defective/flawed or meritorious/virtuous/exemplary – anyway?
I will assume a basic familiarity with Kant’s Critique of (the Power of) Judgment and Hume’s essay, “On the Standard of Taste.” If you are not familiar with these, I recommend that you:
- Read the Hume over break. There are many versions floating about. Just make sure that yours in unabridged. Here is a version with numbered paragraphs, which I find handy.https://web.csulb.edu/~jvancamp/361r15.html
- Read the SEP entry on “Kant’s Aesthetics and Teleology” (focusing on the introduction and the aesthetics section [section 2]), the SEP entry on “Hume’s Aesthetics,” and you might also check out the SEP entry on “18th century British Aesthetics” focusing on the parts through Hume.
I will be posting reading, background reading, and essays and blog posts of interest on our Blackboard site, so be sure to check it regularly. Please let me know if there are things that you would especially like to discuss in the course and I’ll see what I can do.