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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Wendy A. Wiseman
CHID 480
Seattle Campus

Special Topics: Advanced Study of the History of Ideas

Examines a different subject or problem from a comparative framework with an interdisciplinary perspective. Offered: AWSp.

Class description

In this course we will read selections from the major Western philosophers on beauty and art: Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Augustine, Schelling, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Heidegger, to name the bulk of them. Concurrently with each of these theorists, we will read poems, short stories, plays, or even saint's lives that may illuminate some new aspect of the era's insights and prejudices about beauty. Some basic questions that will guide our inquiry revolve around notions of truth and illusion, modes of redemption, the nature and sources of allure and attraction.

Student learning goals

Students will gain a deeper understanding of the more emotional side of Western philosophy and its intense relationship with literature, plastic and visual arts, and music.

Students will learn how to read difficult texts and apply theories found therein to intimate aspects of their own lives.

Students will recognize the phenomenon of beauty as both deeply historical and as religious/spiritual.

Students will gain an appreciation of the interplay between philosophy and literature in the ancient, medieval, and modern West.

Students will achieve greater critical acumen in their appraisal of "beauty," while at the same time gaining deeper appreciation (reverence?) for its impact on culture and on the psyche.

General method of instruction

Intensive reading and discussion course. Students will be responsible for presentations on the readings and for bringing in new (visual and audio) materials for aesthetic analysis. Egalitarian ethos in the classroom.

Recommended preparation

Some background in philosophy (Western or non-Western) and the arts is recommended but not necessary. A very general historical knowledge is presupposed.

Class assignments and grading

No exams--4 medium-length papers and a final paper.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Wendy A. Wiseman
Date: 11/07/2007