The Dennes Room

Philosophy 290-2

Spring 2022

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room
290-2 Graduate Seminar: Art, Philosophy, and Entanglement Noë Tu 12-2 TBA

“At the very beginning of history we find the extraordinary monuments of Paleolithic art, a standing problem to all theories of human development, and a delicate test of their truth. (Collingwood 1924, 52)” Collingwood wrote these words almost a hundred years ago. His challenge is clear. If we’ve been making art since the dawn of our history, then art is not merely a product of that history, but one of its conditions. In this seminar I encourage us to take this challenge seriously. Art is a not an add-on, a mere cultural extra, but a basic and central part of what makes culture possible. “Art,” as Collingwood also wrote, “is the primary and fundamental activity of the mind.” (1925, 14) This is at once a statement about art, and a statement about the mind: art is not a late-addition to the human repertoire, and the work of art, its making and uses, belongs to our basic character as human beings.

This idea — exploring it, testing it — is at the heart of a new book — unpublished, still in progress — by Alva Noë called The Entanglement: Art Before Nature. The first part of the seminar will be devoted to working through this text. In the second part of the class we will turn to some of this work’s still unfinished business. Among the key questions we will ask: What does the entanglement of art and life, explored in the book, imply about the nature of nature itself? What are the prospects for scientific psychology? Authors we may read in this second part of the course may include Hubert Dreyfus and Charles Taylor, Thomas Kuhn, Merleau-Ponty, and Hilary Putnam..