PHIL 2112 - Beauty: Pleasures and Principles

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2017

This course introduces students to the central concepts and themes of philosophical aesthetics from the eighteenth century to the present. Beauty is a concept which has baffled philosophers since before Plato. It names something we consider a necessary part of a good and fulfilling life. Nonetheless, it escapes definition and invites contradictory accounts. Beauty is highly affecting, yet we treat beauty as though it is of the world rather than simply subjective, idiosyncratic or whimsical. For example, we might believe that a beautiful landscape should be preserved for human kind because of its beauty. This suggests an objective basis to beauty. Yet, you cannot dictate a certain kind of response in people the way you can dictate rules or regulations. Is beauty a pleasure or a principle? This is what philosophers have argued about since time immemorial. This issue broaches the debate in ethics regarding the difference between moral principle and moral sensibility. Is morality a matter of following principles? Or is it a matter of exercising compassion and empathy?

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PHIL 2112
    Course Beauty: Pleasures and Principles
    Coordinating Unit Philosophy
    Term Semester 2
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites At least 12 units of Level 1 undergraduate study
    Incompatible PHIL 2029, PHIL 2024, PHIL 3024, PHIL 3010
    Course Description This course introduces students to the central concepts and themes of philosophical aesthetics from the eighteenth century to the present.
    Beauty is a concept which has baffled philosophers since before Plato. It names something we consider a necessary part of a good and fulfilling life. Nonetheless, it escapes definition and invites contradictory accounts. Beauty is highly affecting, yet we treat beauty as though it is of the world rather than simply subjective, idiosyncratic or whimsical. For example, we might believe that a beautiful landscape should be preserved for human kind because of its beauty. This suggests an objective basis to beauty. Yet, you cannot dictate a certain kind of response in people the way you can dictate rules or regulations. Is beauty a pleasure or a principle? This is what philosophers have argued about since time immemorial. This issue broaches the debate in ethics regarding the difference between moral principle and moral sensibility. Is morality a matter of following principles? Or is it a matter of exercising compassion and empathy?
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Jennifer McMahon

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes

    On successful completion of this course students will be able to:
    1. understand how the philosophical concepts covered in this course apply to artworks and other artefacts.
    2. argue coherently on the basis of their own analysis in their essay writing.
    3. take into consideration a range of perspectives in their public debates and discussion.
    4. form research questions.
    5. conduct research using a range of resources and technologies.
    6. interpret and evaluate artworks using the concepts covered in this course.
    7. engage in complex cultural interactions drawing together argumentative skills with the ability to consider a range of perspectives.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    1
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    2
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    2, 3
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    1-7
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • Able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    7
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
    3,6,7
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Readings, relevant links and examples will be provided on myuni. Students will need to have access to a computer for myuni. A hard copy reading brick will be available if required.
    Recommended Resources
    Philosophical Beauty for Beginners:
    Scruton, Roger. Beauty. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

    More Advanced General Reading for Philosophical Beauty:
    Guyer, Paul. Guyer, Paul. Burke on the Beautiful and the Sublime. Oxford 's World Classics, Oxford University Press, 2013.
    _____ Values of Beauty: Historical Essays in Aesthetics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
    _____ Kant and the Experience of Freedom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
    McMahon, Jennifer A. Aesthetics and Material Beauty: Aesthetics Naturalized, London & New York: Routledge, 2007.
    _____ Art and Ethics in a Material World: Kant’s Pragmatist Legacy. New York & London: Routledge, 2014.
    Schaper, Eva (ed.) Pleasure, Preference and Value. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983.
    Aesthetic Reference Books in the Barr Smith Library
    Each of these reference books have chapters on beauty:
    Cooper, David (ed.). A Companion to Aesthetics. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1995.
    Gaut, B & D. Lopes (eds), The Routledge Companion to Aesthetics, London: Routledge, 2005.
    Kelly, Michael (ed) Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, New York : Oxford University Press, 1998.
    Kivy, Peter. Blackwell Guide to Aesthetics, Maldon MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2004.
    Levinson, Jerrold (ed) The Oxford Handbook of Aesthetics. New York : Oxford University Press, 2003.

    History of Aesthetics in the Barr Smith Library
    Guyer, Paul. A History of Modern Aesthetics, three volumes, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.
    Online Learning
    Epistemlinks
    Oxford Bibliographies Online: Beauty (access through library to access full article)
    Phil Papers
    Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
    The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    3 hr seminar, student presentations, student debate, gallery visit, review of film employing terms from glossary developed in groups, essay writing.
    Workload

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    WORKLOAD TOTAL HOURS
    3 hr seminar per week 36 hours per semester

    4 hrs reading per week 48 hrs per semester
    2 hrs research per week 24 hrs per semester
    4 hrs assignment preparation per week 48 hrs per semester
    Total: 156 hrs per week
    Learning Activities Summary
    WEEK
    Topics and themes
    1 Introduction
    Conceptions of beauty 
    2 Hume on sentiment and subjectivity (empiricism). Standards and the basis of objectivity.
    Wolff on intentional pleasure, perfection and objectivity
    (background themes: empiricism, idealism and rationalism)
    3 Kant’s Critique of the Power of Judgment I: disinterested pleasure , intersubjectivity, universality
    4 Kant's Critique of the Power of Judgemnt II: Aesthetic form
    Non-cognitivism and cognitivism: what is meant by formalism as opposed to functionalism?
    5 Kant’s Critique of the Power of Judgment III: sensus communis
    Agreement on aesthetic evaluations due to universal perception, just an accident or driven by the terms of engagement?
    6 Hegel and Idealism.
    7 Aesthetic realism v aesthetic anti-realism
    8 Film Viewing: Contemporary research on Imagination and Perception
    9 Theories of Perception
    10 The Sublime in Cinema: Fiction emotion v Artefact emotion
    Theories of the sublime
    11 Theories of Imagination: make-believe as diversion or a kind of belief that impacts on behaviour?
    12 Beauty naturalized: evolution, instinct, language and free will
    More contemporary writing on beauty: the psychology of beauty
    Specific Course Requirements
    N/A
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    Each seminar involves small group work with research active staff member
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    ASSESSMENT TASK TASK TYPE WEIGHTING COURSE LEARNING OUTCOME(S)
    presentation formative 5% Learning Outcome 3
    Seminar paper 1 summative 15%  Learning Outcomes 1,2
    Seminar paper 2 summative 15% Learning Outcomes  1,2
    Debate formative 5% Learning Outcome  3
    Review+glossary summative 30% Learning Outcomes  1-3, 6
    Final research essay summative 30% Learning Outcomes 1-2, 4-7
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Minimum of 50% average on sum of results. Students cannot attend presentations/present unless they have submitted seminar paper 1 at beginning of presentation seminar. Students cannot attend debate or participate unless they have submitted seminar paper 2 at beginning of debate seminar. Students cannot submit review + glossary unless they have attended at least 7 seminars as the glossaries are developed by their group
    Assessment Detail
    1. Tutorial presentation: in week 4 seminar, you will present a short answer to your group (of 5-6 students) on Hume’s solution to the standard of taste. The question which you will answer will be constructed by you in the previous tutorial and approved by your group.
    2. First Seminar Paper: due week 4 seminar. You will write an argumentative essay answering your question (approved and trialled by your group) on Hume’s essay ‘On the Standard of Taste’.
    3. Debate: in week 8 seminar, you will be given a side to defend in a debate between formalism and functionalism. Protocols will be provided beforehand. It is meant to be fun, informative and a form of research for your final essay.
    4. Second Seminar Paper: due week 8 seminar. You will write a comparative essay comparing formalism and functionalism; or using an online app proforma provided, design an app for use in the AGSA guiding a perceiver around one gallery space in terms of formalism and functionalism.
    5. Final Essay: due week 13, submitted on myuni, comments and grade returned by email. Question to be devised by you under guidance and approval of coordinator.
    Submission
    Seminar papers handed to lecturer at beginning of seminar in hard copy. Essays submitted online.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

    Written feedback on seminar papers and essays.  Informal peer review in presentations and seminar debates. Consultations available through email booking.
  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.