PHIL3002 Aesthetics

6 points
Not available in 2020UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 3 option in the Philosophy; Philosophy, Politics and Economics major sequences
  • The area of knowledge for this unit is Society and Culture
  • Category B broadening unit for students
  • Level 3 elective
This is an introductory unit in aesthetics (the philosophy of art). It examines perennial problems in aesthetics from a philosophical perspective. Areas of enquiry vary and may include—What is art? What is the value of art? What do we learn from art? What is beauty? How important is a definition of art and the artists' intentions in understanding or appreciating a work of art? What is an aesthetic experience and how can aesthetic value be determined? Are there objective standards of taste? Can one person's judgement regarding works of art be better than another's? What should the role of an art critic be? Is so-called 'high' art more valuable than 'low' art? Is mass art 'art' and is it morally problematic? What is the relation between aesthetics and ethics? Why do we enjoy watching horror films and why do we emotionally react to works of fiction? What, if anything, is wrong with sentimentality? Special topics include—Is photography an art? Is architecture an art? How does music express emotion? The unit also looks at the aesthetic appreciation of nature. Readings are drawn from classical and contemporary sources but the unit is not an historical survey.
Students are able to (1) have a critical understanding of fundamental problems of aesthetics (philosophy of art); (2) have an awareness of the philosophical aspect of issues relating to art; (3) assess philosophical theories regarding the nature of these issues; (4) have a critical appreciation of the representation of philosophical ideas about aesthetics, works of art, and aspects of entertainment; (5) understand ways in which issues in aesthetics are related to other philosophical problems in ethics, metaphysics and social and political philosophy; (6) have something of interest, aesthetically speaking, to say after seeing an art exhibition, an interesting movie or reading a book; (7) independently interpret complex philosophical texts; (8) demonstrate an understanding of complex philosophical arguments and positions; (9) evaluate complex philosophical positions and arguments; (10) weigh the virtues and vices of competing philosophical doctrines; (11) construct persuasive arguments concerning difficult philosophical issues; (12) demonstrate advanced written communication and research skills; and (13) reflect on the nature and purpose of philosophy and philosophical argumentation.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) essay; (2) examination; and (3) participation. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Assistant Professor Nin Kirkham
Unit rules
any Level 2 Philosophy unit
PHIL2208 Aesthetics; PHIL2207 Philosophy, Literature and Film
Contact hours
lectures: 10 x 2 hour; seminar discussions: 10 x 1 hours
Attendance at all lectures is required. Lectures are not taped and are not to be recorded. Some lecture notes and additional readings are placed on the LMS (Learning Management System).
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available via the Booktopia Textbook Finder, which has the functionality to search by course code, course, ISBN and title, and may also be posted or available at the appropriate school's administrative offices. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.