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Module AESTHETICS: ART, IMITATION, ORIGINALITY.

Module code: PH649
Credits: 10
Semester: 2
Department: PHILOSOPHY
International: Yes
Overview Overview
 

The major theme will be the contrast between art understood in terms of imitation and in terms of creativity. In modern understandings of art the stress is primarily on originality and creativity, whereas in pre-modern thought the stress is primarily on imitation and representation. We will look at the philosophical significance of this contrast, and the shift to creativity, in light of the metaphysical status accorded to art in the wake of Kant's transcendental philosophy. The place of art in the wake of Kant’s transcendental philosophy is ambiguous and complex. Ambiguous: Hegel proclaims art, on its highest side, to be something behind us; yet a significant number of post-Kantian philosophers invest art with a metaphysical significance in some ways unprecedented in the Western tradition. Complex: while art is proclaimed as autonomous and for itself, the nature of its relation to philosophy, and the challenge it poses for the identity and practice of philosophy is notable. Our concern will be the relation of art and philosophy in light of this ambiguous and complex status. What significance has art in challenging philosophy with forms of otherness and singularity that seem to resist incorporation without remainder into a rational system of concepts? Against the background contrast of Kant's transcendental originality and Platonic transcendent originals, we will look at the legacy of transcendental originality in selected texts of Hegel, Schelling, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche. What happens when we try to absolutize human “creativity”? Is the notion of imitation unavoidable, imitation as a relation to something other to ourselves. What is the significance of the darker sense of origin that comes to emerge? What of the ambiguous status of otherness in light of the transcendental emphasis on self-activity? How do we view creativity? Has too much been expected of art? Has art taken the place of a formerly religious transcendence? Does it challenge philosophy to reformulate its own practice of thought? We will look at some of the major philosophers and their views of art and beauty, but the focus will be thematic as well as on these figures.

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