Aesthetics module (PI22006)

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Module code


  • Level 2
  • Semester 1
  • Philosophy - School of Humanities
  • Coursework 100%
  • Thursday evening tutorial available


Aesthetics is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature of art and with judgments concerning art. This course examines both art and art criticism using techniques and methods derived from European Philosophy. The course begins by examining how Immanuel Kant responds to the question of art, and then how a number of French and German-language philosophers continue on this debate in the nineteenth and twentieth century. The module is divided into two parts. In the first half of the course, the focus will be on the philosophical dimensions of the nude, from Ancient Greek sculpture to the modern-day nude selfie. The thinkers examined in the first half following on from Kant include: Roger Scruton, Kenneth Clark, John Berger, Jean-Luc Nancy, and Giorgio Agamben. In the second half of the course, possible figures that might be examined include Hegel, Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche, Walter Benjamin, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Jacques Derrida, Jean-Francois Lyotard, Gilles Deleuze, and Arthur Danto.

The purpose of this module is to introduce to philosophy, humanities and art students the nature of aesthetics as a philosophical, critical and practical mode of thinking about art works, about their nature, and about the way they work and the terms of their production. There are several "classic" approaches to these questions, each with their advantages and disadvantages. Each answer offers a different pathway across the territory that is loosely named aesthetics. The module will explore the intellectual consequences for thinking about art when these various and different thought-lines are adopted. The lectures will focus both on philosophical arguments but also upon the analysis of visual phenomena.


Dr Oisin Keohane


The classes for this module run for 3 hours per week over 11 teaching weeks in the first semester. In each week there will be two 1 hour lectures and a 1 hour tutorial.


The assessed components on this module are:

  • 60% Essay (2,000 words)
  • 30% Coursework/Image analysis (1,000 words)
  • 10% Weekly Tutorial Questions


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This module is available on following courses: