Philosophy 190

Fall 2023

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room
190 Proseminar: Modern and Contemporary Aesthetics: – Feelings, Expressions, Reflections, Critique Kaiser Tu 4-7 Philosophy 234

The seminar aims to identify and question key philosophical models of reflecting about art that have been formative or otherwise highly influential in our understanding of art and aesthetic phenomena: important help in this philosophical task will be gained by exploring specifically contrasting non-western perspectives.

Our study will begin with ideas taken from the classical modern canon, i.e., the beautiful, the sublime, and aesthetic judgment (Burke and Kant), followed by the 19th century perspectives of an aesthetic education of mankind (Schiller) and Hegel’s idealist interpretation of the aesthetic idea as spirit’s self-expression. The 20th century phenomena of avantgarde art (e.g., cubism, expressionism, surrealism), as well as the new media generated ‘mass art’ (e.g., photography, film, video), led to new critical responses and questioning of the inherited scope of aesthetic reflection (e.g., Benjamin, Merleau-Ponty, Danto, Sontag).

Moreover, performance-based anti-art movements (e.g., Dada, Fluxus, Guerilla girls), the opening up of whole new dimensions in environmental art, the emergence of new genres like Pop art, and Manga, challenged almost every single assumption in the traditional European approach to standards of beauty. Additional transformations were brought on by our own 21st century internet art with its many cross-over and app-generated creations. Art’s boundaries are shifting ever more radically. We will search for new philosophical questions that can and should be posed to art and aesthetics. In particular, although contemporary aesthetic theory has begun to address its inherited huge blind sides and opened up to more non-western perspectives as well as formerly marginalized or suppressed ones (e.g. Black, Feminist, Queer, and Everyday aesthetics), a lot of philosophical work remains to be done. Among other things, we will need to consider the significance of both creativity and receptivity, especially under conditions of recent technological AI-generated art.

Previously taught: SP23, SP23, SP21, SP21, FL20, FL20, SP20, FL19, SP19, FL18, SP18, FL17, SP16, FL15, SP15, FL14, SP13.