Philosophy 290-5

Fall 2012

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room
290-5 Graduate Seminar: Art and the Limits of Neuroscience Noƫ Tu 4-6 234 Moses

This is a seminar on art and human nature. What is art? Why does it matter to us? What does it tell us about ourselves?

We begin with a survey and critical examination of approaches to art that make use of methods and ideas from neuroscience. This approach, which is sometimes called “neuroaesthetics,” is increasingly popular not only in neuroscience, but also in fields of art (such as painting and choreography), as well in art history and criticism. We will also consider writings about art that draw heavily on Darwinian evolution (so-called “evolutionary psychology”).

In the next part of the course, we will turn to new work that treats art as an “organizational practice.” This new approach holds out the promise of a more plausible account of art, its importance, and the origins of art in human biology. Art, according to this new approach, is a kind of philosophy (and philosophy is a kind of art).

Our discussions will range over different fields, with special consideration of choreography, picture-making arts, writing, and the nature of technology.

This is a graduate-level philosophy seminar, however students with different backgrounds will be welcome (but only with the instructor’s approval). Students will be required to write a term paper on a topic to be developed with the instructor.