The Philosophy Of Beauty

This course will examine the concept of beauty from Plato and the Ancient Greeks onwards, analysing what the term means, how it manifests itself in human and non-human forms, what the relationship between beauty, judgement and art might be. A feeling for beauty is one of the highest experiences humanity can have, yet beauty is also fraught with complexity and difficulty - how can we agree upon what is beautiful without discriminating against things that are determined not to be? Is there a philosophical idea of ugliness comparable to ideas of beauty? What is the relationship between culture and what is regarded as beautiful? What is the difference between taste and beauty?
The course will examine contemporary debates in aesthetics and the philosophy of art, as well as trace the history of the concept in Western thought. It will thus provide a solid overview of previous thinking on the subject as well as an awareness of today's discussions.

Who is this course for

This course is at Upper Intermediate level and so would not be suitable for people who are new to studying philosophy. It would be an ideal continuation course for students who have previously studied on our Intermediate level courses and who now want a course that will look at the work of a particular philosopher or theme in some depth. It may also be suitable for people who have had some previous grounding in Philosophy and who now want to study in more depth.
Although you should have some previous experience of studying philosophy it is not expected that you need to have a great deal of familiarity with the history of aesthetics or the philosophy of beauty as this is what the course will aim to provide.

What does this course cover

In the Philosophy of Beauty, we will examine, amongst other thinkers: Plato, Plotinus, Aristotle, Hume, Burke, Kant, Schiller, Danto, Moore. We will discuss ideas of harmony, proportion, order, form, nature, taste, judgement, culture, discernment and beauty in art and music.

By the end of the course, students will be familiar with the main discussions in the philosophy of beauty and have a solid overview of the history of these debates. They will be able to participate with confidence in contemporary debates in aesthetics and art criticism.

What will it be like

The course is an interactive mixture of tutor exposition, class discussion and group/pair work. Videos and clips will be used to supplement some of these class-based activities. There are opportunities for further discussion and reading outside of the class via the course's Moodle website.

We will assess your expectations of the course in the first sessions. Thereafter, you will be able to monitor your progress on the course through participation in class discussion, questions and answers and in-class exercises. At the end of the course, you will be able to measure your progress against the stated outcomes for the course.

What else do you need to buy or do

All materials will be provided for each week via Moodle. Students do not need to purchase anything. The expectation is that students keep up with the reading for each week and participate in seminars.

What this course could lead to

Other Upper Intermediate or Advanced level Philosophy courses at the Mary Ward Centre or other similar establishments. Other courses in the Humanities and Social Sciences with a strong emphasis on theory and the study of history of philosophy, analytic or continental.

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I've been to many Centres to study in London and the Mary Ward Centre is one of the nicest I've studied in.

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Got a Question about this Course?

Contact The Departmental Administrator.

Why choose Mary Ward?

Mary Ward Centre is the adult education centre with a difference. We provide a wide range of subjects for people at all levels and run courses during the day, evening and weekends to suit your timetable. You can learn face to face at one of our centres (Bloomsbury or Waterloo) or take an online course

Get inspired and enjoy excellent teaching in an environment where each individual’s learning experience is valued. That’s what makes Mary Ward Centre ‘the friendly place to learn.’