Wednesdays, 11:50–1:15, Mar. 28–May 16
Instructor: Irmgard Scherer
Philosophical aesthetics is an examination of the mind and emotions relating to a sense of beauty. On the one hand, we tend to believe that there is no disputing taste; it is a personal matter up to us. On the other hand, we believe there are absolute standards of beauty by which we can assess the worth of an artwork. In this course we will address whether it’s possible to reconcile our subjective feelings and passions with an objective or conceptual understanding of the nature of art. We will begin by asking: What is philosophical aesthetics anyway? Does art have standards? We will cover a range of themes: art and nature; art and literature; philosophy of music; the Apollonian and Dionysian art drives; humor as art; beauty and love; the human being as artwork. We will draw on a number of classical writers on the subject: Plato, Aristophanes, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Tolstoy, Schiller, and Goethe.
Irmgard Scherer, a US citizen born in Germany, is associate professor of philosophy emerita at Loyola University, Maryland. She taught core and honors ethics courses, topics in the history and philosophy of science, and upper level courses in her area of specialization: Kant and 18th century aesthetic theory. She has published on Kant and related issues. Since retiring, she has taught philosophy courses for OLLI, both at Mason and American University.