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Art / Philosophy

Lecturer: A.J. Bartlett

Originally Taught: Evening Sem 2 2015

In book X of the Republic, Plato’s Socrates calls to his defence the ‘ancient quarrel’ between philosophy and poetry. He sites several slanders perpetrated by poetry against philosophy – by poets against philosophers – but this is not the reason for their expulsion from the Ideal or just city. Rather, it is the charm they affect that Socrates sees as the problem, seducing its hearers to the semblance of truth only whereas what is the truth of things is what philosophy aims at. Plato is fully aware of the power of art. Aristotle has a subtle way of dealing with this power, admitting it into the city but reducing it from a rival to an adjunct. The price of admission is that philosophy will tell art what it is. After Kant’s intervention, itself provoked by the return of art onto the scene of philosophy in the 18th century, art attains a new status: as the site of sensual experience and so irreducible trait of the subject, art induces judgment whose interest for thought is its inherent claim to universality. Art is neither rival nor adjunct but integral. After Kant, Hegel professes the end of art as secular power, while Nietzsche affirms it as the thought of the future. 20th Century European philosophy has taken up this affirmation as its own making over the quarrel as suture. Nevertheless, it’s possible to say that there remains something of the original form of the quarrel in all these facets of the relation between art and philosophy because the relationship is decidedly one-sided. Art doesn't need philosophy, where as it is not at all clear that philosophy does not need art. This is after all Plato’s very anxiety.

This course tracks the relation or non-relation between art and philosophy from Kant through Hegel and Nietzsche and into the contemporary scene of continental philosophy, looking at how key figures in this scene (some more well known than others) treat this quarrel in or as integral to their own work. Apart from these three mentioned the course looks at the following key thinkers: Heidegger, Bataille, Derrida, Kofman, Kristeva, Rancière, Badiou, Lyotard, and Groys. The course will treat one thinker each week, working through their general theoretical positions as well as looking at key texts or concepts relevant to them, thus building a coherent picture of the art/philosophy relation so critical to contemporary continental philosophy.

Course Schedule (and suggested and/or possible readings)

Week 1. Introduction & Immanuel Kant: aesthetics can be thought

Suggested Reading:

  • Robert Wicks, European aesthetics: a critical introduction from Kant to Derrida, Richmond, Oneworld, 2013.
  • Christopher Want, Philosophers on Art from Kant to the Postmodernists: a Critical Reader, 2010.
  • Jacques Taminiaux, Poetics, Speculation, and Judgment: The Shadow of the Work of Art from Kant to Phenomenology, 1993.
  • Extracts from ‘Analytic of Aesthetic Judgment’ and ‘Dialectic of Aesthetic Judgment’, from Critique of the Power of Judgment, in Clive Cazeaux ed. The Continental Aesthetics Reader, p. 16.
  • Rachel Zuckert, Kant on Beauty and Biology: An Interpretation of the Critique of Judgment, 2007.
  • Paul Guyer, Kant and the Claims of Taste, 1979.
  • Paul Guyer, (ed.) Values of Beauty: Historical Essays in Aesthetics, 2005.
  • Paul Guyer,  Kant's Critique of the Power of Judgment: Critical Essays (particularly Guyer's essay Kant's Principle's of Reflecting Judgment in this volume), 2003.  
  • Robert Wicks, Kant on Judgment, 2007.
  • Salim Kemal, Kant's Aesthetic Theory: An Introduction, 1997.
  • Rachel Zuckert, ‘A New Look at Kant's Theory of Pleasure,’ The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 60:3 Summer, pp. 139- 252, 2002.
  • Hager Weslaty, ‘Aporias of the As If: Derrida's Kant and the question of experience’, in Kant After Derrida, Phillip Rothfield (ed.) 2003.
  • Marcus Verhaegh, ‘The Truth of the Beautiful in the Critique of Judgment’, British Journal of Aesthetics, Vol. 41, No. 4, October 2001, pp. 371-394.

Week 2. G.W.F Hegel: aesthetics as commonplace

 Suggested Reading:

  • Extracts from Aesthetics: Lectures on Fine Art, in The Continental Aesthetics Reader p. 35.
  • Stephen Houlgate, (ed.) Hegel and the Arts, 2007 (particularly Martin Donoghue’s, Hegel and the Arts in this volume).
  • Stephen Houlgate, An Introduction to Hegel: Freedom Truth, and History, 2005.
  • Beat Wyss, Hegel's art history and the critique of modernity, 1999.
  • William Desmond, Art and the absolute: a study of Hegel's aesthetics, 1986.
  • Jason Gaiger, ‘Hegel's Contested Legacy: Rethinking the Relation between Art History and Philosophy,’ The Art Bulletin, Vol. XCIII, No. 2, June 2011, pp. 178-194 & ‘The Aesthetics of Kant and Hegel’, in A Companion to Art Theory, Paul Smith and Carolyn Wilde, (eds.) 2002, pp. 127-138
  • Rodolphe Gasché, ‘The Harmless Detail: On Hegel's Aesthetics Mosaic’, Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature, 41.4 (Dec 2008): 41-59.
  • Nathan Ross, ‘Nothing Human is Foreign to Me: on the role of difference in Hegel’s aesthetics’, Philosophy Today, 53.4 (Winter 2009): 337-346.

Week 3. Friedrich Nietzsche: the rebirth of affirmation

Suggested Reading:

  • On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense, in The Continental Aesthetics Reader p. 53 & The Birth of Tragedy, ed. R. Guess & R. Speers, Cambridge, Cambridge University Ptess, 1999 or BT ed. & trans. Walter Kaufman, NY, Vintage, 1967. Sections 14-18 & 24-25 & ‘Attempt at Self Criticism.’
  • Matthew Rampley, Nietzsche, Aesthetics and Modernity, 2000.
  • Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy, 1983.
  • Jacques Derrida, Spurs: Nietzsche’s Styles, 1979.
  • Sarah Kofman, ‘Explosion I: Of Nietzsche's Ecce Homo’, Diacritics, Vol. 24, No. 4, (Winter, 1994), pp. 50-70.
  • J. Hillis-Miller,Dismembering and Disremembering in Nietzsche On Truth and Lies in a Nonmopral Sense,’ boundary 2, Vol. 9 No. 3, Spring-Autumn 1981, 41-54.
  • Paul E. Kirkland, ‘Nietzsche’s Tragic Realism’, The Review of Politics 72 (2010), 55–78.
  • John Carroll, ‘Beauty contra God: Has aesthetics replaced religion in modernity?’
  • Journal of Sociology, 2012, 48: 206.
  • Jason Kemp Winfree, ‘Before the Subject: Rereading The Birth of Tragedy’, Journal of Nietzsche Studies, No. 25 (SPRING 2003), pp. 58-77.

Week 4. Martin Heidegger: The True Work of Art

Suggested Reading:

  • Heidegger, ‘The Origin of the Work of Art’, in The Continental Aesthetics Reader, p. 80.
  • Babich, B. E., 2003, “From Van Gogh's Museum to the Temple at Bassae: Heidegger's Truth of Art and Schapiro's Art History,” Culture, Theory & Critique 44:2, 151–69.
  • Bartky, S., 1981, “Heidegger's Philosophy of Art,” in T. Sheehan(ed.), Heidegger: The Man and the Thinker, Chicago: Precedent Publishing.
  • Bernasconi, R., 1998, “Heidegger's Displacement of the Concept of Art,” in M. Kelly (ed.), Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, vol. 2. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • & 1999, “The Greatness of the Work of Art,” in J. Risser (ed.), Heidegger Toward the Turn: Essays on the Work of the 1930s, Albany: SUNY Press.
  • Gover, K., 2008, “The Overlooked Work of Art in ‘The Origin of the Work of Art,’” International Philosophical Quarterly (48:2), 143–54.
  • Sallis, J., 2008, Transfigurements: On the True Sense of Art, Chicago; Chicago University Press.

Week 5. Bataille: expenditure and the sacred

Suggested Reading:

  • Sanctity, Eroticism and Solitude,’ in The Continental Aesthetics Reader, p. 384
  • Benjamin Noys, Georges Bataille: a critical introduction, 2000.
  • Andrew J. Mitchell & Jason Kemp Winfree (ed.), The Obsessions of Georges Bataille: community and communication, 2009.
  • Leslie-Anne Boldt-Irons (ed.) On Bataille: critical essays, 1995.
  • Simonetta Falasca-Zamponi, Rethinking the political: the sacred, aesthetic politics, and the Collège de Sociologie, 2011.

Week 6. Derrida: Framing Vomit

 Suggested Reading:

  • The Parergon,’ in The Continental Aesthetics Reader, p. 412.
  • & ‘Economimesis,’ Diacritics, Vol. 11, 1981, pp. 3-25.
  • David Wills, ‘Derrida and Aesthetics: Lemming (reframing the abyss)’ &
  • Marian Hobson, ‘Derrida and representation: mimesis, presentation, and representation’, in Jacques Derrida and the Humanities: A Critical Reader, ed. Tom Cohen, 2001.
  • David Carroll, Paraesthetics: Foucault, Lyotard, Derrida, 1987.
  • Jeffrey Librett, ‘Aestehtics in Deconstruction: Derrida’s Reception of Kant’s Critique of Judgment,’ The Philosophical Forum, Vol. 43(3), pp.327-344, 2012.
  • Marc Redfield, ‘Aesthetics, theory, and the profession of literature: Derrida and romanticism,’ Studies In Romanticism, 2007, Vol.46 (2), pp.227-246.

Week 7. Lyotard: The avant-garde sublime

Suggested Reading:

  • The Sublime and the Avant-Garde,’ in The Continental Aesthetics Reader p. 453.
  • Hugh J Silverman (ed.) Lyotard: philosophy, politics, and the sublime, 2002.
  • Stuart Sim, The Lyotard Dictionary (ed.), 2011.
  • Simon Malpas, Jean-Francoise Lyotard, (Routledge Critical Thinkers) 2003.
  • Andrew E Benjamin (ed.) The Lyotard reader, 1989.
  • Jean-François Lyotard, ‘Argumentation and Presentation: The Foundation Crisis,’ Cultural Politics, Volume 9, Issue 2, July 2013, pp. 117-143.
  • Peter W. Milne, Exceeding the Given: Rewriting Lyotard’s Aesthetics, Cultural Politics, Volume 9, Issue 2, July 2013, pp. 107-116.
  • Ashley Woodward, ‘Nihilism and the Sublime in Lyotard,’ Angelaki - Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, June 2011, Vol. 16 (2), pp.51-71.

Week 8. Kristeva: Abjections

Suggested Reading:

  • ‘Approaching Abjection’, in The Continental Aesthetics Reader, p. 542.
  • Psychoanalysis, Aesthetics, and Politics in the Work of Kristeva, (ed.) Kelly Oliver & S. K. Keltner, 2009.
  • Estelle Barrett, Kristeva Reframed, 2011.
  • The Kristeva Reader, (ed.) Toril Moi, 1986.
  • Griselda Pollock (ed.) ‘Julia Kristeva 1966–96: aesthetics.politics.ethics,’ parallax, Issue 8 July–September 1998.
  • Julia Kristeva, ‘Is There a Feminine Genius?’ Critical Inquiry, Vol. 30, No. 3 (Spring 2004), pp. 493-504.
  • Judith Irene Lochhead, ‘The Sublime, the Ineffable, and Other Dangerous Aesthetics,’ Women and Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture, 2008, Vol.12 (1), pp.63-74.

Week 9. Kofman: Beauty in mourning for philosophy

Suggested Reading:

  •  ‘The Double Reading’, pp. 37-55 & ‘The Melancholy of Art’, pp. 205-217
  • in Selected Writings, ed. Thomas Albrecht, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 2007.
  • Penelope Deutscher, Kelly Oliver (ed.) Enigmas: essays on Sarah Kofman, 1999.
  • Sarah Kofman, The Childhood of Art: An Interpretation of Freud’s Aesthetics, trans. Winifred Woodhull, 1988.
  • Tina Chanter & Pleshette DeArmitt, (ed.), Sarah Kofman’s Corpus, 2008.
  • Duncan Large (2008). “The Question of Art”: Sarah Kofman’s Aesthetics’ & Pleshette DeArmitt,  ‘Sarah Kofman’s  Art of Affirmation or the Non-illusory Life of an Illusion’, in Sarah Kofman’s Corpus, (ed.) Tina Chanter & Pleshette DeArmitt , 2008.
  • Nicole Fermon, Conversion and Oral Assimilation in Sarah Kofman, College Literature, 28.1 (Winter 2001).
  • Sarah Kofman, ‘The Psychologist of the Eternal Feminine (Why I Write Such Good Books, 5)’, Yale French Studies, No. 87, (1995), pp. 173-189.

Week 10. Ranciere: one more effort if we would become aesthetic

Suggested Reading:

  • ‘The Distribution of the Sensible,’ in Politics of Aesthetics trans. Gabriel Rockhill, London, Continuum, 2004, pp. 7-46.
  • Jean-Philippe Deranty & Alison Ross, (ed.) Jacques Ranciere and the Contemporary Scene: The Philosophy of Radical Equality, 2012.
  • Jean-Philippe Deranty (ed.) Jacques Ranciere: Key Concepts, 2010.
  • Jacques Rancière,  ‘The Aesthetic Heterotopia’, Philosophy Today, 54, 2010.
  • Jacques Rancière, ‘The Aesthetic Revolution and its Outcomes: Emplotments of Autonomy and Heteronomy,’ New Left Review, 14March/April, 2002.
  • John W.P. Phillips, ‘Art, Politics and Philosophy: Alain Badiou and Jacques Rancière’,
  • Theory Culture Society 2010 27: 146.
  • David Ferris Politics after Aesthetics: Disagreeing with Rancière
  • parallax, 2009, vol. 15, no. 3, 37–49
  • Joseph J. Tanke,Why Rancière Now?’ The Journal of Aesthetic Education, Volume 44, Number 2, Summer 2010, pp. 1-17
  • Solange Guénoun and James H. Kavanagh (interview), ‘Jacques Rancière: Literature, Politics, Aesthetics: Approaches to Democratic Disagreement,’ SubStance # 92, 2000.
  • Gabriel Rockhill, ‘The Silent Revolution,’ SubStance # 103, Vol. 33, no. 1, 2004
  • Peter Hallward, ‘Staging Equality: On Rancière’s Theatrocracy,’ New Left Review, 37, Jan/Feb, 2006.
  • Todd May, Jacques Rancière: Literature and Equality, Philosophy Compass, 3/1 (2008): 83–92.
  • Kristin Ross, ‘Rancière and the Practice of Equality’, Social Text, No. 29. (1991), pp. 57-71.
  • Alison Ross, ‘Equality in the Romantic Art Form: The Hegelian Background to Jacques Rancière’s Aesthetic Revolution’ in Jacques Rancière & The Contemporary Scene (ch.7).

Week 11. Badiou: Inaesthetics or ‘the independent existence of some works…’

Suggested Reading:

  •  ‘Art and Philosophy,’ in Handbook of Inaesthetics, trans. Alberto Toscano, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 2004, pp. 1-15.
  • Alain Badiou, Handbook of Inaesthetics, trans. Alberto Toscano, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 2004.
  • Alain Badiou, Manifesto for Philosophy, trans. Norman Maderasz. Albany, SUNY Press,
  • 1999.
  • A. J. Bartlett and Justin Clemens, Badiou: Key Concepts, London: Acumen, 2010.
  • Peter Hallward, Badiou: A Subject to Truth, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2003.
  • Alain Badiou and Lauren Sedofsky, ‘Being by numbers’, Artforum, October 1994,
  • Alain Badiou and Lauren Sedofsky, ‘Matters of appearance: an interview with Alain Badiou’, Artforum, vol. 45, no. 3, 2006, pp. 246–53/322.
  • Alain Badiou, ‘Third Sketcth of a Manifesto for Affirmationist Art’, in Polemics, trans. Steve Corcoran, Contiuum, 2012, 133-148.
  • Elie During, ‘How much truth can art bear? On Badiou’s “Inaesthetics”’, Polygraph, vol. 17, 2005, pp. 143–55.
  • Devin Zane Shaw, ‘Inaesthetics and Truth: The Debate Between Alain Badiou and Jacques Rancière’, Filozofski vestnik Vol. XXviii • number/Številka 2 • 2007 • 183–199.
  • Jacques Rancière, ‘Aesthetics, inaesthetics, anti-aesthetics’, in Peter Hallward (ed.), Think Again: Alain Badiou and the Future of Philosophy, London, Continuum, 2004, pp. 218–31.

Week 12. Groys: Total Art and ready-made

Suggested Reading:

  • Groys, The Total Art of Stalinism: Avant-Garde, Aesthetic Dictatorship, and Beyond, Verso, (August 8, 2011).
  • Art Power, The MIT Press (February 8, 2013).
  • See,
  • More TBA.