David L. Hildebrand, Ph.D., Philosophy

Spring 2011 Phl 4220 Philosophy of Art

PHIL 4220/5220, HUM 5220

Spring 2011 TTH 2-315 p.m.

Dr. David Hildebrand

Click Here for readings and course assignments calendar

PLEASE BE AWARE: Most of our course resources are at Blackboard, here.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course presents an introduction to the philosophy of art and aesthetics. In part, this means familiarization with a variety of methods but it also means considering all sides of the communication that is art: the creative process of artists, the object-events created (or "artworks"), and the audience's ability to experience, interpret, and evaluate art. In the course of this survey, a variety of problem-areas related to art will be considered: for example, what is a work of art? What is taste or beauty and who determines and justifies those standards? How is meaning conveyed by works of art and what methods of interpretation best reveal meaning? What is an aesthetic experience and why is it special? What are the social, political, and philosophical roles of art products and art criticism in contemporary society? Our attempts to grapple with these theories and problems will utilize as much actual art as possible through multimedia technology and, hopefully, field trips to local art sites.


Familiarization. Gain a good sense of what is at stake in issues of the class.

Comprehension. Be able to comprehend the arguments offered by various philosophers.

Critical analysis. Be able to criticize those arguments by pointing out where they lack evidence, make an unreasonable leap, hold a false assumption, etc.

Demonstration of (1) - (3) through spoken and written language.

Verbalization. Be able to summarize a philosophical position, without notes, using your own words. Be able to criticize a position this way.

Conversation/Debate. Be able to discuss issues in a focused and informed way with others in the class. This will involve listening closely to their points, then responding in a way that moves the discussion ahead.

TEXTS: Available at Auraria and Big Dog Textbooks (1331 15th Street). Also, if you desire, online (see, for example, http://used.addall.com). If you buy your book online, make sure (1) that it is the correct edition, and (2) that you have it in time for class. See also http://www.bigdogtextbooks.com here in Denver.


1. The Philosophy of Art: Readings Ancient and Modern Ed. by Alex Neill (Author), Aaron Ridley

2. Puzzles about Art: An Aesthetics Casebook (Paperback) by Margaret P. Battin (Author), John Fisher (Author), Ronald Moore (Author), Anita Silvers (Author) (Bedford/St. Martin's, 1989); ISBN-10: 0312003072; ISBN-13: 978-0312003074

Recommended: The Art Book (Phaidon Press)

Online. Occasionally there will be readings or resources at one of the following places:

• on my website: www.davidhildebrand.org (DH)

• at our blackboard site http://blackboard.cuonline.edu/ (BLACKBOARD)


BLACKBOARD/WEBSITE: There are two online sites related to this course. Familiarize yourself with them right away. Both will offer you access to information about the course such as study questions, announcements, grades, extra credit assignments.

1. The first and most important one is our course Blackboard site: https://blackboard.cuonline.edu. On this page are INSTRUCTIONS TO ENROLL. Please make sure you enroll right at the beginning of the class.

2. The second site is my home page at http://www.davidhildebrand.org. Here there are a variety of general study tips and resources in philosophy.

READINGS: It is expected that you have done the readings before we discuss them. As you read, copy out important points and questions you have onto a separate sheet of paper. (These will help you with your short reflection papers.) You may also want to note problem passages (e.g., with a "?" or "Q.") in your text as you read. These are good points for class discussion. You should come to each class able to discuss the main issues of the reading and you could be asked during class to present the main points to the class. If I find people are not prepared, I will start giving quizzes to test basic understanding. Your well-prepared participation is crucial for a successful class. Please see the Tips for Understanding Philosophy and for Writing Philosophy Papers on my website.

Very important: please set aside about 10 minutes shortly before class to look back over (skim-review) the readings and whatever you have written for that day.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS/EVALUATION: Maximum points possible: 1000 points

1. Participation/presentation 100 points

2. Short Writings (10 total) 150 points

3. Paper #1 1250-1750 words 300 points (due in class, 2/22)

4. Paper #2 : 300 points (due: NOON, 4/28)

• GRAD students: 2500-3250 words

• UNDERGRAD students: 2000-2500 words

5. Art Engagement Journal 150 points (due: NOON, 4/28)

Grades: There are 1000 possible points for this class. An "A" will be a body of work achieving at or above 930 points; an "A-" will be 900-929 points; a "B+" is 870-899 points, etc. Values for those letters, as well as the policies regarding other grades such as Incomplete, are available in the CU Academic Policies and Regulations section of the handbook. I have set out my standards of what a grade means on my FAQ section of my website.

(1) Attendance + Participation/Presentation: Intellectual inquiry requires verbal discussion as much as written argument. There will be ample opportunity for active and well prepared participation, which I value and which will affect the final grade. "Participation" includes the following kinds of things: attendance, ability and willingness to contribute to class discussion and group activities. More than two unexcused absences over the course of the semester will significantly lower your final course grade. An excusable absence, for example, would be something like an illness or emergency that is completely unavoidable. Feel free to check with me about how you're doing during the semester as regards participation.

Presentation: part of this grade will be determined by your presentation of your short papers: when called upon in class, you must demonstrate that you know what you wrote and why you wrote it; in other words, show clarity of thought, effective communication, and ability to field questions on your paper will all contribute to the participation portion of your grade. (I suggest looking over your short papers briefly before class to prepare.)

(2) SHORT WRITINGS (10 total) The purpose of these assignments is to help you clarify your understanding of the readings and to help you think critically about the issues. Follow these instructions carefully, please.

What to write on critical reaction papers:

• 8 of 10 short papers should be: one-page, typewritten reactions or questions about some specific issue which you find compelling in the readings. Your paper must not simply sum up the reading or repeat points made there. (I.e., no book reports, please.) Rather, you must try to raise a question or discuss some original insight. You may use these papers to demonstrate your application of a concept/idea in the readings to an experience you have making or experiencing art, but the connection to the reading must be significant (and not a mere "jumping off" point. See the website link "Writing short, critical papers" for further hints about how to write a good paper.

o The first paragraph should state in 1-2 sentences a summary of what the paper is about.

o Only papers that are written on a reading or topic that will be discussed in the class immediately coming up are acceptable.

• 2 of 10 short papers must be multimedia. I.e., accompanying 2 of your papers should be an image(s), musical excerpt, poem, objet d'art, etc. that illustrates or somehow comments upon an important idea or concept in the readings. You can expect to present this example along with your short paper to the class. Let me know ahead of time when you wish to do your presentations.

When to write short papers:

• You must do 10 critical papers total and you may not hand in more than one paper on the same date. FIVE papers must be done by the course midpoint, March 1. Students who have not done 5 papers by this point will only be permitted to do 5 more papers.

• You must come to class for a paper to be accepted.

Grading on short papers

• Grade: This will be a "graded" assignment only in a loose sense; in other words it will be either S-satisfactory (full credit or 15 points) or U-unsatisfactory (half credit or 7.5 points). A zero (0) will be awarded if nothing (or next to nothing) is turned in.

• TWO MAKE-UPS: If you get a Unsatisfactory on up to two papers, you may revise and resubmit them. The old grade will be dropped in favor of the revised paper's grade.

(3&4) LONGER PAPERS: There will be two longer papers required for this class. You will need to start thinking about paper topics well before their due date. NO late papers without prior arrangements. You may email me at any time to discuss your progress on ALL papers/assignments or we can discuss them in office hours. Only hard/paper copies of papers will be accepted. I will not print out your papers for you.

(5) ART ENGAGMENT JOURNAL: Over the course of the semester you will keep a journal on your ongoing relationship to 2 works of art. 1 of the artworks can be chosen by you. You should choose something you think is substantial: a work that you believe deserves to be experienced multiple times and which will likely lead to multiple and/or deepening interpretations. The other artwork must be chosen from a list I will provide. You can choose both from my list if you wish. In your entries, you must engage with the work—view the work slowly and patiently or watch/listen to it from start to finish—4 times during the semester and record your responses to it on using the questions provided. Then, at the end of the semester, you must hand in these 8 entries along with a summary entry for each set of 4 that is at least 650 words long (or a total of 1300 typed words). This summary will explain, concisely, the course and changes of your experience and interpretation of for each work over the semester.

Plagiarism/ Academic Dishonesty Plagiarism is a form of stealing. It occurs when an author uses the words or ideas of others as if they were the author's own original thought. (It may include word-for-word copying, interspersing one's own words with another's, paraphrasing, inventing or counterfeiting sources, submitting another's work as one's own, neglecting quotation marks on material that is otherwise acknowledged.) Plagiarism is often unintentional. It can be avoided by always acknowledging one's debt to others by citing the exact source of a quotation or paraphrase. Since plagiarism is such a serious violation of academic honesty, the PENALTY for it will be an AUTOMATIC F FOR THIS COURSE.

Academic dishonesty is the intentional disregard of course or university rules. This may include (but is not limited to) collaborating with others when rules forbid or using sources/experts not permitted by an assignment. The CU handbook has a more complete description of plagiarism and academic dishonesty.

Access, Disability, Communication: The University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center is committed to providing reasonable accommodation and access to programs and services to persons with disabilities. Students with disabilities who want academic accommodations must register with Disability Resources and Services (DRS), 177 Arts Building, 303-556-3450, TTY 303-556-4766, FAX 303-556-2074. I will be happy to provide approved accommodations, once you provide me with a copy of DRS's letter. [DRS requires students to provide current and adequate documentation of their disabilities. Once a student has registered with DRS, DRS will review the documentation and assess the student's request for academic accommodations in light of the documentation. DRS will then provide the student with a letter indicating which academic accommodations have been approved.]

Students called for military duty: If you are a student in the military with the potential of being called to military service and /or training during the course of the semester, you are encouraged to contact your school/college Associate Dean or Advising Office immediately.

Course Communication: In addition to announcements made and written handouts distributed in class, I may need to contact you between classes, which I'll do through individual and group email messages. One of the requirements for this course is that you maintain an email address, check it regularly for messages, be sure it is working, and let me know if you change your email address. You are responsible for any messages, including assignments and schedule changes, I send you via email. You also may contact me via email, in addition to seeing me during office hours or calling me.

Civility and Technology: Turn off beepers and cell phones during class. Text messaging, web surfing, and other electronic distractions may result in expulsion from class and will be counted against the class "participation" grade. Students who are speaking deserve your attention and respect as much as I do. Listen to one another. Adherence to the Student Conduct Code is expected.


Phone : 303-556-8558 E-mail: hilde@yahoo.com Website: http://davidhildebrand.org

Office & Hours: Plaza M108, TTh 9:45 – 10-45 a.m. or by appointment.

Purpose: I strongly encourage you to participate by dropping by during office hours. We can talk about the class readings and lectures, exams and papers, your progress, or just philosophy in general. Note: If you are a student with a disability, I will make myself available to discuss appropriate academic accommodations. Before accommodations will be made, you may be required to provide documentation. Students with disabilities will be accommodated. Students with disabilities are required to register disabilities with the UCD Disability Services Office, and are responsible for requesting reasonable accommodations at the beginning of the term.


Course help is available at my web address: http://DavidHildebrand.org

Reading and Assignment Schedule, Philosophy of Art

(subject to change; in each class we will confirm what is coming up)

Date/Theme Readings & Assignments

[NR] Neill and Ridley The Philosophy of Art;

[PA]: Puzzles about Art;

[Online]: online reading on Blackboard Key Question(s)


18 Course introduction; Puzzle(s) : [PA]: 1-1, 1-2 What is art? Why is it important? What influences does art have on you?

Art, the Individual, and Society

20 Plato: Republic, Excerpts from Book III (386-398b), and Book X (595-608b) [NR] Puzzle(s) : [PA]: 5-1, 5-14 Do the arts have the capacity to improve or worsen our character? Is censorship ever justified? What's Plato's "problem" with poets' influence on society? Was Plato advocating complete censorship? Why or why not?

25 Plato: Ion [NR] What is the relation between art and knowledge? What about Plato's view of artistic inspiration seems accurate? Does it help explain his view on the role of art in society?

27 Aristotle, from The Poetics [NR] Marshall, "Art and Aesthetic in Aristotle" [online] What makes a work of tragedy effective? How is art "mimetic"? How does the portrayal of conduct that is morally suspect improve audience's character through "catharsis"?


1 Nehamas, "Plato and the Mass Media" (online); Boorstin “Extending Experience” (online) Does Nehamas help clarify and "evolve" Plato's position by relating poetry to television? What explains the power of some arts to engage us? Does TV shape our character? Does it pose a danger or benefit to our way of life?

3 Beardsley: "The Arts in the Life of Man" [NR]; Puzzle(s) : [PA]: 2-4, 2-21 Must art be judged morally? Perhaps "art for art's sake" is a better view of art's role in society? Moralism, aestheticism or something else?

8 Paper topics for paper 1 distributed in class Tolstoy: Excerpts from "What is Art?" [NR] Puzzle(s) : [PA]: 2-17, 3-34 Art's special purpose is the communication of emotion for the benefit of humanity. How does this happen? Do you agree with Tolstoy that art can accomplish this? That art should accomplish this?

Art as Natural Process, Human Expression and Consummatory Experience

10 Dewey, "The Live Creature" (online) Suggested: Hildebrand on Dewey (online) (online), selection from Thomas Alexander's John Dewey’s Theory of Art, Experience and Nature: The Horizons of Feeling (online, 183-198) (Stop just before section II) Puzzle(s) : [PA]: 3-20 Introduction to Dewey's idea of art as a natural and special kind of human experience. How does aesthetic experience arise out of more everyday experiences we have? Why is it useful to consider the natural world of "live creatures" to better understand the human, cultural phenomenon of art and the aesthetic?

SATURDAY DATE Proposed date: February 12 This date is TENTATIVE. Museum day. Assignment: visit the Denver Art Museum and assess, in person, Dickies' ideas about the role(s) museums play in creating or sustaining certain ideas about art. Find two works of art you think are worth writing about. How does the DMA as a setting influence your experience with art? Does it lend them a "realness" as art? How? Why? Which two works did you focus on after surveying the DMA?

15 Dewey, "Having An Experience" [NR] Suggested reading: Alexander, (online, section II forward: 198-213) What makes something "an experience" for Dewey and what is the relation between this special case of experience and art?

17 Davies: "The Experience of Music" (online); Boorstin: “Making Experience Repeatable” (online) Puzzle(s) : [PA]: 3-10, 3-11, 3-12 How is the experience of listening to music different from that of viewing a painting? How do technological developments bear upon music as an experience and as an art form?

Artworks and Defining Art

22 PAPER 1 DUE IN CLASS "Art and Artworks" (Pp. 1-27) [PA] Puzzle(s) : [PA]: 1-17, etc. from Chapter 1 What is an artwork? Is it a thing, event, something else? After reading the introduction to the question focus on a puzzle which you find particularly interesting and sketch out some comments and questions about the issues raised by it.

24 Collingwood: Excerpts from The Principles of Art. (read 117-134) [NR] Puzzle(s) : [PA]: 3-34 What is the difference between art and craft? Between art and amusement?


Course midpoint 5 Short papers must be done by this point Readings: Collingwood: Excerpts from The Principles of Art. (read 134-153) [NR] How is the work of art the expression of emotion? In what sense is this emotion different from other emotions? How is the expression specially imaginative?

3 Bell: "The Aesthetic Hypothesis," from Art. [NR] Bell believes he's found what is essential to a work of art? What is it and do you agree with Bell?

SATURDAY DATE Proposed date: March 5 This date is TENTATIVE. Museum Date: MCA Visit To Denver; Host: Adam Lerner, Director What is it like to have a new experience with a work of art? How do first impressions develop into something richer and deeper? How does the museum space influence how you experience and evaluate a work of art?

8 Greenberg: "Modernist Painting." [NR] How does painting turn inward (self-reflective) as an art form, according to Greenberg? How does this extend or illustrate Bell's views on art?

10 Weitz: "The Role of Theory in Aesthetics." [NR] Suggested: Nehamas, "Art, Interpretation, and the Rest of Life" (online) Why does Weitz believe that there can NOT be an essential definition to art?

15 Dickie: "The New Institutional Theory of Art." [NR] Puzzle(s) [PA]: 6-15 How do institutions of art (such as the art museum) make something a work of art, according to Dickie?

17 Danto: "The Artworld." [NR] Puzzle(s) : [PA]: 6-16 What's the "artworld" according to Danto? How does it effect a difference between artworks and everyday things?


29 Hume: "Of the Standard of Taste." [NR] Puzzle(s) : [PA]: 2-7 What is taste in art? Is it like gustatory taste? On what basis do we judge something as "beautiful" or "in good taste"? If this is an essentially subjective judgment, then what explains agreement in matters of taste?

31 Kant: "Analytic of the Beautiful." [NR] Many believe that evaluations of things as "art" or "beautiful" are subjective. But Kant believed that such judgments possess objectivity. Why is this? What, in Kant's view, is psychological source of our sense of taste and beauty?


Audiences and Critics


5   Kant: "Analytic of the Beautiful." [NR] Many believe that evaluations of things as "art" or "beautiful" are subjective. But Kant believed that such judgments possess objectivity. Why is this? What, in Kant's view, is psychological source of our sense of taste and beauty?


7 Wimsatt-Beardsley: "The Intentional Fallacy" [NR]Questions: How can we fix or limit our interpretations of artworks? In other words, can meaning, with all its subjective influences (time, place, personality, etc.), be understood as something not completely relative to audience response?

SUGGESTED: Try an extended interpretation. Here are two options

(1) DRACULA/PSYCHOANALYTIC INTERPRETATION: Read Almond, "Monstrous infants and vampyric mothers in Bram Stoker’s Dracula" (Almond Analysis in Blackboard readings) and then watch Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula which is here:http://aurarialibrary.worldcat.org/title/bram-stokers-dracula/oclc/38961151&referer=brief_results


12 Barthes: "The Death of the Author" [NR] Puzzle(s) : [PA]: 5-12, 6-3 What is an author and what authority does she have in fixing or limiting our interpretation of artworks' meanings?
14 Hirsch: "In Defense of the Author" [NR] Puzzle(s) : [PA]: 6-6 The author is not "dead" and cannot be banished, according to Hirsch. Why do arguments against the authority of authors fail?
[THE ORIGINAL READING FOR APRIL 14, Wollheim, "Art Interpretation The Creative Process", HAS BEEN CUT. IT'S GONE.]


19 Fish: "Is There a Text in this Class?" [NR] Puzzle(s) : [PA]: 6-3 Why does Fish think that it is contexts not intentions that establish the meaning(s) of an artwork? Is his view relativistic about what a work means?

21 Sontag, "Against Interpretation" [NR] Puzzle(s) : [PA]: 6-30 Why is Sontag "against interpretation" of art? What other approach to a work of art could there be other than interpretation?

26 No class—extended office hours/extra help

28 Final papers due: Art Engagement Journal and Final Paper Due by noon in Philosophy Department, Plaza M108, my mailbox.


3 No class (this makes up for museum visit #1)

5 No class (this makes up for museum visit #2)


Last updated Mar 31, 2011 03:54:PM