David L. Hildebrand, Ph.D., Philosophy

Fall 2009 Phl 4220 Philosophy of Art

Philosophy of Art 2009 poster


Fall 2009 TTH 4-515 p.m. Plaza M-202

Dr. David Hildebrand

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.

Course Objectives: 

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

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 writing.

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

Conversation and 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.


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

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

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

on my website: www.davidhildebrand.org (dh)

at our blackboard site www.blackboard.cudenver.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.

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.

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. Your well-prepared participation is crucial for a successful class. Please see the Tips for Understanding Philosophy and for Writing Philosophy Papers on my home page. See also this page for tips on participating and reading. 

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 

Participation/presentation  100 points 

Short Writings (10 total) 150 points

Paper #1 Maximum length: 1250-1750 words  300 points (Due in class, 9/29)

Paper #2

Graduate students: 2500-3250 words----------------------------- 350 points (due: NOON, 5/13)

Undergraduate students: 2000-2500 words-----------------------350 points (due: NOON, 5/13)

Art Experience Journal  100 points (due: NOON, 5/13)

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.

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 undermine your final course grade. An excusable absence, for example, would be something like an illness or emergency that is completely unavoidable.

Important: 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.)

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. Please see the Tips for Understanding Philosophy and for Writing Philosophy Papers on my home page. See also this page for tips on participating and reading.

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

Short Papers (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.

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

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, October 6th. Students who have not done 5 papers by October 6th 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.

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.

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 the list below. 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. Grading will follow short papers: each entry will be worth one-tenth of the assignment. Each part will be graded as either S-satisfactory (100) or U-unsatisfactory (50). A zero (0) will be awarded if nothing (or next to nothing) is turned in.

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.

Contact Information and Office Hours 

Phone : 303-556-8558

E-mail: hilde@yahoo.com; Website: http://davidhildebrand.org

Office and Hours: Plaza M108; Hours T 1:30-3:30 p.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.

Please note: All course requirements are subject to change at the discretion of the instructor.

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

Schedule of Readings : Theme, Reading and Exam Schedule

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


18 Course introduction

Puzzle(s) : [PA]: 1-1, 1-2

20 Reading: Plato: Republic, Excerpts from Book III (386-398b), and Book X (595-608b) [NR] 

Puzzle(s) : [PA]: 5-1, 5-14

25 MCA Visit To Denver

Host: Louise Martorano

27 Professor Robert Metcalf: Plato on Art

Review: Plato: Republic, Excerpts from Book III (386-398b), and Book X (595-608b)


1 Recap of Metcalf class (fill me in)

Plato: The Ion (Woodruff translation) [NR] 

3 Alexander Nehamas, "Plato and the Mass Media" (online) 

Daniel Boorstin “Extending Experience” (online)

8 Beardsley: "The Arts in the Life of Man" [NR] 

Puzzle(s) : [PA]: 2-4, 2-21

10 Leo Tolstoy: Excerpts from What is Art? [NR]

Puzzle(s) : [PA]: 2-17, 3-34

15 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)

Suggested: Hildebrand on Dewey on Art (online)

17 Dewey, "The Live Creature" (online)

Suggested: Hildebrand on Dewey on Art (online)

Puzzle(s) : [PA]: 3-20

22 Dewey, "Having An Experience" [NR] 

Suggested reading: Alexander, (online, section II forward: 198-213)

24 Steven Davies "The Experience of Music" (online)

Daniel Boorstin “Making Experience Repeatable” (online)

Puzzle(s) : [PA]: 3-10, 3-11, 3-12

29 PAPER 1 DUE IN CLASS "Art and Artworks" (Pp. 1-27) [PA] 


Puzzle(s) : [PA]: 1-17, etc. from Chapter 1


1 R. G. Collingwood: Excerpts from The Principles of Art. (read 117-134) [NR] 

Puzzle(s) : [PA]: 3-34

6 Course midpoint 5 Short papers must be done by this point. R. G. Collingwood: Excerpts from The Principles of Art. (read 134-153) [NR] 

8 Bell: "The Aesthetic Hypothesis," from Art. [NR] 

13 Clement Greenberg: "Modernist Painting." [NR]

15 Weitz: "The Role of Theory in Aesthetics." [NR] 

Suggested: Nehamas, "Art, Interpretation, and the Rest of Life" (online)

20 George Dickie: "The New Institutional Theory of Art." [NR]

Puzzle(s) : [PA]: 6-15

22 Time reserved for musuem visit NO CLASS Museum day. Assignment: visit the Denver Art Museum and assess, in person, Dickies' ideas about the role(s) musuems play in creating or sustaining certain ideas about art. Find two works of art you think are worth writing about.

27 Discussion of museum visit. Arthur C. Danto: "The Artworld." [NR] 

Puzzle(s) : [PA]: 6-16

29 Crispin Sartwell, "Process and Product" (online)

Puzzle(s) : [PA]: 6-11, 3-21


3 David Hume: "Of the Standard of Taste." [NR] 

Puzzle(s) : [PA]: 2-7

5 Wimsatt-Beardsley: "The Intentional Fallacy." [NR] 

10 Roland Barthes: "The Death of the Author" [NR] 

Puzzle(s) : [PA]: 5-12, 6-3

12 NO CLASS Reading Day, No Class

17 E. D. Hirsch: "In Defense of the Author" [NR]

Puzzle(s) : [PA]: 6-6

19 Crispin Sartwell, "Process and Product" (online) 24 Fall Break

26 Fall Break


1 Stanley Fish: "Is There a Text in this Class?" [NR]

Puzzle(s) : [PA]: 6-3

3 Susan Sontag, "Against Interpretation" [NR] 

Puzzle(s) : [PA]: 6-30

Last Day of Class

8 Art Engagement Journal and Paper 2 due, NOON, in Philosophy Department M108. 


Last updated Nov 28, 2010 09:31:AM