David L. Hildebrand, Ph.D., Philosophy


Philosophy of Art Maymester 2012 syllabus 1.5 class
PHIL 4220/5220
Maymester 2012 MTWTh 12:30 - 4:20 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.


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

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

at our blackboard site www.blackboard.cudenver.edu (blackboard)

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


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.

Attendance: This is an intensive course, and each class is a week and a half of regular semester. Therefore, attendance is strictly required. If a student misses a class due to serious illness of family death, an official signed note must be submitted to the instructor. Students will lose half a letter grade from their their final grade for each absence not officially excused (as determined by instructor). If a student exceeds 2 unexcused absences then the penalty will be an automatic fail for the course. Any absence must be An excusable absence, for example, would be something like an illness or emergency that is completely unavoidable.

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.

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 140 points (participation throughout semester; presentations apply to short papers)

2. Short Writings (4 total; 2 multimedia; 1000 words) 160 points (due on a rolling basis; see below)

3. Museum paper length: 1000-1500 words 200 points (Due date after end of semester; exact date TBA)

4. Art Experience Journal 1500 words 150 points (Due date after end of semester; exact date TBA)

5. Final paper 350 points (Due date after end of semester; exact date TBA)

graduate students: approx. 3500 words

undergraduate students: approx. 2500 words

Graduate students will be graded at a level commensurate with graduate level work.

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) 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.

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.)

(2) Short Writings (4 total; approximately 1 page/250 words each) 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:

2 of 4 short papers should be 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: http://www.davidhildebrand.org/teaching/tips-hints/paper-how-write-short-critical-response-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 4 short papers must be longer and multimedia. This paper should be similar in content and structure to the first ones, but should also have as a component an image(s), musical excerpt, poem, film clip, objet d'art, etc. that illustrates or somehow comments upon an important idea or concept in the readings. You can expect to give a short (15 min.) presentation of your paper plus example and then field questions from the class. Let me know ahead of time when you wish to do your presentations and if you can bring a laptop if you need one.

When to write short papers:

You must do 4 critical papers total and you may not hand in more than one paper on the same date. 2 papers must be done by the course midpoint, May 23rd. Students who have not done 2 papers by this date will only be permitted to do 2 more papers and will get 0 points for the missing ones.

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 40 points) or U-unsatisfactory (half credit or 20 points). A zero (0) will be awarded if nothing (or next to nothing) is turned in.

TWO MAKE-UPS: In order to avoid an Unsatisfactory grade on your short papers, you may (a) take the opportunity to revise a short paper before the next class and submit it then or (b) revise a paper that’s gotten an “Unsatisfactory” grade. You may only revise 2 papers that have already been graded. In the case of a resubmit, the old grade will be dropped in favor of the revised paper's new grade.

(3) MUSEUM PAPER: You will be required to write one short paper (1000-1500 words) about the phenomenological experience of a museum space and its impact on how one constructs the meaning of artworks. See separate assignment hand out.

(4) Longer Take Home ESSAY: There will be one “final” set of writings required for this class. Questions will be given out in advance and will cover material from different authors and themes covered. You will have a choice of questions. 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.

(5) Art Experience journal and SUMMARY: Over the course of the semester you will keep a journal on your ongoing relationship to 1 works of art. This will consist of 4 short entries plus one summary description and analysis. See separate assignment hand out.

Course Policies

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: david.hildebrand@ucdenver.edu Website: http://davidhildebrand.org

Office and Hours: Plaza M108; I will be in my office each class day at least one hour before class; alternately, you can make an 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.




[NR] = Neill and Ridley textbook; [PA] = Puzzles of Art book; “Online” means on course Blackboard site.


Weeks 1-3 May 14-31 Each class will have one or two breaks



READINGS/ASSIGNMENTS (in roughly the order we’ll cover them)



Introduction to Art, Art’s status and role in society. Art’s creative sources and status as “knowing”

Course introduction

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

What is art? Why is it important? What influences does art have on you?



Plato: The Ion (Woodruff translation) [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?


Art’s Effects on Individual and Society: Knowledge and Morality

Plato on Art

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


What was Plato's "problem" with the poets influence on society? Was this a complete move to censor? Why or why not? Do you agree, even in part, with Plato's concerns?



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

SUGGESTED (short, easy): Daniel 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?


Art’s Effects on Individual and Society: Moralism, Aestheticism, Expression, and Imagination

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?



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

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

John Dewey: Art and Civilization [NR]

Tolstoy argues that 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 and even should accomplish this? For Dewey, a huge benefit of art is imaginative, but for Dewey (as opposed to, say, Plato) the imagination is crucial for moral progress--but why?



Art and Experience

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 (online)

Introduction to Dewey's idea of art as a natural and special kind of human experience



Dewey, "The Live Creature" (online)

Suggested: Hildebrand on Dewey on Art (online)


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

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?


Art and Experience; musical experience

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?



Steven Davies "The Experience of Music" (online)

Daniel 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: The Ontology of Art

"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.



R. G. 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?



R. G. 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?


Artworks and Defining Art: Essentialism and Antiessentialism

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?



Clement 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?



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?


Artworks and Defining Art: Essentialism Re-Asserted through the Institutional Theory of Art

George 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?



Arthur C. Danto: "The Artworld." [NR]

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

What is the "artworld" according to Danto and how does it effect a difference between artworks and everyday things?


Museum Day 1: Denver Art Museum (tentative)

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?


Audiences and Critics: Interpretation

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


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?



Roland 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?



E. D. 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?



Audiences and Critics: Interpretation

Stanley 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?



Susan 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?



Maymester 2012 CLAS Academic Policies & Deadlines

The following policies pertain to all degree students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Schedule verification: It is each student’s responsibility to verify online that his/her official registration is correct: verify before classes begin and prior to drop/add deadline. Failure to verify schedule accuracy is not sufficient reason to justify a late add or drop.

E-mail: Students must activate and regularly check their official student e-mail account for CU Denver business: http://www.ucdenver.edu/student-services/Pages/WebMail.aspx. Those who forward email must check CU Denver e-mail regularly for messages not automatically forwarded.


Students are not automatically notified if they are added to a class from a waitlist.

Students are not automatically dropped from a class if they never attended, stopped attending, or do not make tuition payments.

Waitlists are purged after the first day of Maymester classes, after which a paper Schedule Adjustment Form (drop/add form) is required. It is the student's responsibility to get the form (online or at the Advising Office, NC 4002), have it signed, deliver it to the Registrar (Annex 100) or the Student Services Center (NC 1003), and verify her/his schedule online.

Late adds (after May 15) will be approved only when circumstances surrounding the late add are beyond the student’s control. This will require a written petition and verifiable documentation (forms are available in NC 4002). The signature of a faculty member on a Schedule Adjustment Form does not guarantee that a late add petition will be approved.

Late drops (after May 15) will be approved only when circumstances surrounding the late drop have arisen after the published drop deadline and are beyond the student’s control. This will require a written petition and verifiable documentation. The signature of a faculty member does not guarantee that a late drop petition will be approved.

Tuition: Students are responsible for completing arrangements with financial aid, family, scholarships, etc. (depending on tuition plan selected) to pay tuition prior to Maymester Census Date, May 15. Students who drop after that date are (1) financially responsible for tuition and fees, (2) academically responsible and will receive a "W" grade, and (3) are ineligible for a refund of COF hours or tuition.


Undergraduate students wishing to graduate in summer 2012 must complete the online Intent to Graduate Form and meet with their academic advisor to obtain a graduation application. This application must be submitted by the Summer Session Census Date, June 12. You can obtain an application only after meeting with your advisor.

Graduate students wishing to graduate in summer semester 2012 must complete the online Intent to Graduate form and have a Request for Admissions to Candidacy on file with the CU Denver Graduate School (LSC 1251) no later than 5 PM, June 12, 2012.

Important Dates

March 12, 2012: First day to register for Maymester and Summer Semester via UCDAccess.

May 14, 2012: First day of Maymester classes. Students are responsible for verifying an accurate Maymester 2012 course schedule via UCDAccess.

May 15, 2012 (Midnight): Last day to add or waitlist a class using the UCDAccess student portal.

May 15, 2012: Last day to drop a course and receive an appropriate tuition refund (less the drop charge) and not have a "W" on your transcript.

May 16, 2012: Starting today, drops require an instructor's signature, tuition is forfeited, and a "W" will appear on the transcript. This is treated as an absolute deadline.

May 17, 2012, 5:00pm: Last day to withdraw from Maymester, and starting today a Dean's signature is required, in addition to the conditions listed for May 16th. This is treated as an absolute deadline.

May 28, 2012: Memorial Day Holiday – Campus closed. Note: No petitions will be reviewed nor schedule changes granted once finals begin. There is no exception to this policy.

May 31, 2012: Last day of Maymester classes.

June 11, 2012: Maymester final grades available on UCDAccess and transcripts (tentative).



Last updated May 15, 2012 06:47:AM