Philosophy of Art

Marjolein Oele
PHIL 195 01
Core D1


Course Description:

This course offers critical reflections on the nature, meaning, creation and reception of art and beauty. The course will start with a reading of Plato’s Ion & Republic, analyzing inspiration and the perceived dangers posed by representation. For a more positive analysis of the power of imitation we will turn to Aristotle’s Poetics, in which art exemplifies moral action and stimulates our imagination. Kant’s analyses of judgment and the sublime allow us to focus on our own experiences on art, and Schopenhauer’s writings offer us reflections on the liberating power of art. The relationship between truth and art comes to the fore in Heidegger’s writings, and Roland Barthes’ essay The Death of the Author furthers reflection on this issue by contesting that the meaning and truth of a text or artwork is retraceable to its author and creator.

Throughout the course, artworks and the ideas of various artists will be discussed. For example, we will analyze paintings that try to capture the sublime, and Magritte’s paintings are closely analyzed for deconstructing the idea of art as representation. Throughout the semester, students will be responsible for bringing in and discussing artworks in the classroom. In addition, we will engage in several excursions (in the streets, in museums, in popular culture) to reflect “live” on the artworks we encounter.

Faculty Bio:

Marjolein Oele has a Masters Degree in Philosophy from the University of Amsterdam and received her Ph.D. in 2007 from Loyola University Chicago. She has been working at USF since 2007. Her primary interests are in Ancient Philosophy (mainly Aristotle) and 20th Century Continental Philosophy (specifically Heidegger and Gadamer). Her dissertation, inspired by Heidegger's reading of Aristotle, focused on the various meanings of pathos in Aristotle's physics, metaphysics and ethics. She is currently working on a book on the same topic, and co-editing the volume Ontology of Nature: Continental Readings of Nature for Springer. She is the co-founder of the Bay Area Continental Philosophy Association (BACPA) and co-organizer of the annual meeting of the Pacific Association for the Continental Tradition (PACT).