CSLC 283 Style and "Substance": Philosophy and the Arts

In our many attempts to make "sense" of art, literature, and music, we sometimes forget that what matters most to us about any of the arts, high or low, from the books we read and the music we listen to, to the clothes we wear, is not their "content" (if they even have any content to speak of) so much as the all important question of their style. In this class, we shall attempt to answer the question of why style matters so deeply to us by relating the history of stylistic preferences (from ancient to modern times) to the history of metaphysics, to the question of Being itself. In other words, this course will test the thesis that our preferences for electric guitar over acoustic, for oil paint over water color, for free verse over iambic pentameter, have less to do with this or that particular thing within the world than they do with the way we answer the question of how or why there is a world for us, at all.

Credits

4 units

Core Requirements Met

  • Pre-1800
  • Global Connections