Introduction to Aesthetics
This course will be taught e-learning
This course aims at investigating a series of aesthetic concepts and phenomena through the analysis of some of the most important philosophical treatises in the history of Western thought. Students will develop adequate critical and analytical skills by reading philosophical and interdisciplinary texts on topics such as aesthetic experience, aesthetic judgement, aisthesis, art, aura, beauty, emotion, empathy, imagination, perception, sublime, and taste. Furthermore, students will learn to orient themselves in thinking by addressing a series of questions, including: What is art? What is aesthetics? What is the difference between speculative aesthetics and empirical aesthetics? What is the difference between an aesthetic judgment and an aesthetic experience? What is the role of biology in perception?
This course is structured in four parts – (1) aesthetics and sense perception; (2) speculative aesthetics; (3) poetics; and (4) experimental aesthetics – and analyses a series of aesthetic concepts and phenomena – such as aesthetic experience, aesthetic judgement, aisthesis, art, aura, beauty, emotion, empathy, imagination, perception, sublime, and taste – from both a speculative aesthetic perspective and an experimental aesthetic perspective. Whereas speculative aesthetics is the study of aesthetic concepts based on the use of pure reason, experimental aesthetics – a field of psychology founded by Gustav Theodor Fechner in the 19th century – is the study of aesthetic phenomena that takes into account empirical evidences from disciplines such as biology, experimental psychology, and neurophysiology. More specifically, the course is structured as follows:
I. AESTHETICS AND SENSE PERCEPTION
CLASS 1 (18 September, 14h00–16h00)
- Aristotle, On the Soul (c. 350 BC), Book 1.
CLASS 2 (20 September, 14h00–16h00)
- Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Laocoön: An Essay on the Limits of Painting and Poetry (1766), Chapters 3, 13 and 19.
CLASS 3 (25 September, 14h00–16h00)
- Sigmund Freud, The Moses of Michelangelo (1914).
CLASS 4 (27 September, 14h00–16h00)
- Robert Vischer, On the Optical Sense of Form: A Contribution to Aesthetics (1873).
CLASS 5 (2 October, 14h00–16h00)
- Wilhelm Worringer, Abstraction and Empathy: A Contribution to the Psychology of Style (1907), Chapter 1.
CLASS 6 (9 October, 14h00–16h00)
- Nelson Goodman, Languages of Art: An Approach to a Theory of Symbols (1968/1976), Part 6.
CLASS 7 (16 October, 14h00–16h00)
- John Dewey, Art as Experience (1934).
- Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Sense and Non-Sense (1948), Chapter 1.
CLASS 8 (23 October, 14h00–16h00)
Art and Visual Perception
- Rudolf Arnheim, Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye (1954), Chapter 8.
CLASS 9 (25 October, 14h00–16h00)
The Power of Images
- David Freedberg, The Power of Images: Studies in the History and Theory of Response (1989), Chapters 1 and 9.
CLASS 10 (6 November, 14h00–16h00)
Aesthetics as Perception
- Bence Nanay, Aesthetics as Philosophy of Perception (2016), Chapters 1 and 2.
II. SPECULATIVE AESTHETICS
CLASS 11 (13 November, 14h00–16h00)
- David Hume, Of the Standard of Taste (1757).
CLASS 12 (20 November, 14h00–16h00)
- Immanuel Kant, Critique of the Power of Judgment (1790), 160–212.
CLASS 13 (27 Novemberr, 14h00–16h00)
- Immanuel Kant, Critique of the Power of Judgment (1790), 128–59.
CLASS 14 (4 December, 14h00–16h00)
- Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757), Part 2.
- Jean-François Lyotard, Lessons on the Analytic of the Sublime: Kant’s Critique of Judgment (1991), Chapters 2 and 3.
CLASS 15 (6 December, 14h00–16h00)
- Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation (1818–19/1844/1859), Book 3.
CLASS 16 (11 December, 14h00–16h00)
The Aesthetics of Hegel
- Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Lectures on Aesthetics (1835), Introduction.
CLASS 17 (5 February, 14h00–16h00)
Artistic Beauty I
- Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Lectures on Aesthetics (1835), Part 1, Chapter 1.
CLASS 18 (12 February, 14h00–16h00)
Artistic Beauty II
- Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Lectures on Aesthetics (1835), Part 1, Chapter 2.
CLASS 19 (19 February, 14h00–16h00)
The Aesthetics of Heidegger
- Martin Heidegger, The Origin of the Work of Art (1950).
CLASS 20 (26 February, 14h00–16h00)
The End of Art
- Arthur Danto, After the End of Art: Contemporary Art and the Pale of History (1997).
CLASS 21 (4 March, 14h00–16h00)
The Aesthetics of Adorno
- Theodor W. Adorno, Aesthetic Theory (1970), Chapters 1 and 5.
CLASS 22 (11 March, 14h00–16h00)
What is Art?
- Richard Wollheim, Art and its Objects: With Six Supplementary Essays (1968/1980).
CLASS 23 (18 March, 14h00–16h00)
- Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducibility (1935).
CLASS 24 (25 March, 14h00–16h00)
- Susan Sontag, Against Interpretation (1966).
CLASS 25 (1 April, 14h00–16h00)
- Aristotle, Poetics (c. 335 BC).
CLASS 26 (8 April, 14h00–16h00)
Aesthetics and Tragedy
- Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy (1872).
CLASS 27 (15 April, 14h00–16h00)
Aesthetics and Literature: On the Canon I
- Harold Bloom, The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages (1994), Chapters 1 and 2.
CLASS 28 (22 April, 14h00–16h00)
Aesthetics and Literature: On the Canon II
- Harold Bloom, The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages (1994), Chapter 4.
IV. EXPERIMENTAL AESTHETICS
CLASS 29 (29 April, 14h00–16h00)
Art and Biology
- Gustav Fechner, Aesthetics from Above and from Below (1876).
- Aby Warburg, A Lecture on Serpent Ritual (1939).
CLASS 30 (6 May, 14h00–16h00)
Art and Psychology
- Ernst Gombrich, Art & Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation (1960), Part 3.
CLASS 31 (13 May, 14h00–16h00)
Art and Neuroscience I
- Semir Zeki, Inner Vision: An Exploration of Art and the Brain (1999).
CLASS 32 (20 May, 14h00–16h00)
Art and Neuroscience II
- David Freedberg and Vittorio Gallese, Motion, Emotion and Empathy in Aesthetic Experience (2007).
- Charles Harrison, Paul Wood and Jason Gaiger (eds), Art in Theory, 1648–1815: An Anthology of Changing Ideas (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000).
- Charles Harrison, Paul Wood and Jason Gaiger (eds), Art in Theory, 1815–1900: An Anthology of Changing Ideas (Oxford: Blackwell, 1998).
- Charles Harrison, Paul Wood and Jason Gaiger (eds), Art in Theory 1900–2000: An Anthology of Changing Ideas (Oxford: Blackwell, 2002).
- Berys Gaut and Dominic McIver Lopes (eds), The Routledge Companion to Aesthetics (London and New York, NY: Routledge, 2013).
The course and readings will be entirely in English, therefore an intermediate knowledge of the English language is required.
Fabio Tononi is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for the Humanities (CHAM) in the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences (FCHS) of NOVA University of Lisbon, and teaches philosophy at the Centro Luís Krus – Formação ao Longo da Vida in the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences (FCSH) of NOVA University of Lisbon. He is the editor-in-chief of the Edgar Wind Journal, and a steering committee member of the Centre for the Study of Cultural Memory at the Institute of Modern Languages Research, which is part of the University of London’s School of Advanced Study. His research interests include the essence and tasks of philosophy and science, the writings of Aby Warburg and Edgar Wind, the aesthetics of Sigmund Freud, the relationship between art and cognitive neuroscience, the interconnection between art and ideology, and postmodernism. In 2020, Tononi was the convenor of the Aby Warburg Reading Group and Seminar at the Italian Cultural Institute of London. In 2021, Tononi received a Ph.D. from the Warburg Institute in the School of Advanced Study of the University of London. He held an internship at Villa I Tatti, the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence. During his career, he has participated in over 30 conferences and seminars in highly competitive and international venues. His publications include: Edgar Wind: Art and Embodiment, ed. by Fabio Tononi, Jaynie Anderson, and Bernardino Branca, Oxford, Peter Lang (Under contract).
General Public: 350€* | NOVA FCSH 2023/2024 students (bachelors, masters and doctorates): 250€ | NOVA FCSH Alumni/Students from other higher education institutions: 250€*
*The school insurance will be added to the value – 7 euros
NUMBER OF CREDITS (UPON EVALUATION)
- For college students: 4 ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System).
- For students who intend to obtain ECTS, the assessment must be requested from the course teacher
At the end of the course, students will have to submit a short essay (max. 2,000 words, footnotes included and bibliography excluded) in English on a topic relevant to the course, on the basis of which they will be evaluated. Students are advised to agree with the teacher on the topic to choose.
Up to 6 business days before the start of course.
- Online through inforestudante platform