Philosophy 350

University of Tennessee Knoxville


The nineteenth-century German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel called his course on the philosophy of art “Lectures on Aesthetics.” Yet he began his lectures with an apology, explaining why he thought his title was inappropriate. “Aesthetics,” Hegel says, “means more precisely the science of sensation or feeling.” Hegel objected to this conception of aesthetics, which had been introduced in the eighteenth century by Alexander Baumgarten, because he thought philosophy should try to “ascertain scientifically what art is” instead of analyzing the “sense” and “feeling” for beauty. Although Hegel’s approach proved enormously influential in the twentieth century, when modern art challenged traditional conceptions of the artwork, there is still a great deal of disagreement about the proper object of philosophical “aesthetics.” Is aesthetics concerned with the sense and feeling for beauty? Is it synonymous with the philosophy of art? Or does it refer to a particular (“aesthetic”) kind of judgments, attitudes, or experiences? This course will provide students with a survey of the history of the aesthetics and its emergence as a part of philosophy in the eighteenth century in order to answer these questions.


Technology in the Classroom: Because laptops, ipads, ipods, cell phones, and other electronic communications devices inhibit discussion and limit participation, they are not to be used in class. Exceptions to this policy may be considered on an individual basis, but abuse of these exceptions (checking e-mail, social networking, texting, etc.) during class time will result in the loss of all attendance and participation points for the course.

Assignments: Students will be expected to make two presentations in class, write an exegetical 5-7 page midterm paper, as well as a 10 page final paper. The final paper will be a research paper.

Paper Submissions: Papers must be submitted through SafeAssign on Blackboard. Standard formatting (one-inch margins, double-spaced, twelve-point Times New Roman font) is required. Papers displaying enlarged fonts, line spacing, and page margins are unacceptable.  The use of outside sources on the mid-term paper is strongly discouraged, but the final paper will involve research. References should be noted parenthetically in the text and should be accompanied by a full bibliographic entry on a works cited page. Extensions will only be granted in exceptional circumstances. Late papers will be marked down 10% for every day after the due date.

Academic Integrity: The definitions of cheating and plagiarism contained in Academic Standards of Conduct for the University of Tennessee ( will apply to all written work submitted in this course. All incidents of plagiarism will be reported to the Dean of Students.

Grading: The mid-term paper will be worth 20% of your grade,while the final paper will be worth 30% of your grade. Class presentations will constitute another 25% of your grade. The remaining 25% of your grade will be derived from attendance and participation.

Attendance: Attendance will be considered a necessary form of participation. Frequent and unexcused absence may result in failure of the course, or, in less extreme circumstances, lowering of the attendance and participation portion of your grade.


The textbook for this course is The Continuum Anthology of Aesthetics, edited by Joseph Tanke and Colin McQuillan  (Continuum, 2012). Because the book will not appear in print until August, I have made the proofs available on Blackboard. You are required to download these documents, print them, and bring them to class.


January 12: What is Aesthetics?

January 17: Plato, Republic

January 19: Aristotle, Poetics

January 24: Plotinus, Enneads

January 26: Horace, The Art of Poetry

January 31: Longinus, On the Sublime

February 2: Augustine, Confessions

February 7: Pseudo-Dionysius, The Divine Names; Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica

February 9: Petrarch, On the Nature of Poetry; Vasari, Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, Architects

February 14: Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux, The Art of Poetry

February 16: Jean-Baptiste DuBos, Critical Reflections on Poetry and Painting

February 21: Francis Hutcheson, An Inquiry into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue

February 23: Johann Christoph Gottsched, Critical Poetics; Charles Batteux, The Fine Arts

February 28: Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten, Aesthetics

March 1: Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful

March 6: David Hume, Of the Standard of Taste

March 8: Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Laocoön; Moses Mendelssohn, On the main principle of the fine arts and sciences

March 13: Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment

March 15: Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment

March 20: Spring Break

March 22: Spring Break

March 27: Friedrich Schiller, On the Aesthetic Education of Man

March 29: F.W.J. Schelling, System of Transcendental Idealism

April 3: G.W.F. Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of Art

April 5: Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy; Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power as Art

April 10: Martin Heidegger, The Origin of the Work of Art;

April 12: Meyer Shapiro, The Still Life as Personal Object; Jacques Derrida, Restitutions

April 17: Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Its Mechanical Reproducibility

April 19: Arthur Danto, Three Decades After the End of Art

April 24: Jacques Rancière, The Aesthetic Revolution and Its Outcomes

April 26: Last day of class


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