Internationale Akademie für Philosophie an der Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Common Seminar 2009-1, Thursdays 16.30-17.50 h

Beauty and Art

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This course is a seminar in which participants are asked to present properly philosophical work: systematic studies into the topics of aesthetics listed below, and particularly into the objectivity and nature of beauty and other aesthetic values, their bearers, their knowledge and their experience. All papers presented will be discussed critically by the other participants and an improved written version of the paper (of 15-25 pages) is expected by the end of the seminar. Each participant will also assume the task of presenting a critical response (of 5-10 minutes) on the main presentation of a colleague and submit this in writing in an improved version (of 5-10 pages) by the end of the course.

Objective: Introduction of the student to learning the practice of using systematically a philosophical method in order to pose, to analyse, and to solve philosophical problems. Subject: aesthetics/ontology.


  1. Essence of Beauty and aesthetic values.
  2. Examination of aesthetical relativism.
  3. Kinds of beauty (ontologal/metaphysical, aesthetic).
  4. Other aesthetic values.
  5. Pure beauty of forms.
  6. Higher beauty of colors, forms, etc.
  7. Bearers of beauty in nature.
  8. Bearers of beauty in music.
  9. Bearers of beauty in the visual arts.
  10. Essence, strata, and structure of the literary work of art.
  11. Bearers of beauty in the literary work of art.
  12. Role of beauty in human life.

Examination method: 2 oral presentations, and 2 papers (one major paper on the topic of oral presentation, of ca. 15 pages, one response paper).


Choose a topic that can be formulated as a question, for example "What is the relationship between beauty and order?" Do not just present reflections on some topic. At the beginning of your presentation, state that question clearly!

The speaker must present and defend what, after searching the truth, he believes to be true. Do not present other peoples' views. Do not mention any names. Reading many texts is necessary as a preparation. Do not approach the issue as if you were the first to think about it. If you find a claim in a text which you want to endorse do not just say who said what but put the claim forward as your claim. Do not say "Saint Thomas said that X", but say: X. State it not in Aquinas' words but in your own words, understandable to the audience. Answer the question, analyse, and describe the things you are investigating, the "things in themselves". Say how things are. If you find an argument in a text which you think is sound and you want to use it, do not just say who proposed which argument but use the argument yourself. Put it forward in defense of your view.

This means that the structure of your talk and text is determined by the logic of your claims and arguments. Do not structure your text with "Author A says first L, then M, author B says N ...". Begin your talk with presenting the question or the object of your investigation. Then answer the question or analyse and describe the object of your investigation. Bring in the arguments which you find in the texts not in the order in which you find them in the authors, but use these arguments in your text when you need them in order to defend what you believe to be true.

One possible structure is:

In your oral presentation in our meeting you may have to omit or shorten some of these parts. Concentrate on explaining and defending what you believe to be true. The written version which you submit should be more complete.

State the question clearly!
State your answer to the question and your main claims clearly and write them on a handout!
Mention no names!

March 5th, 2009: Introduction


Selected Bibiography (ordered by historical periods only and secondary literature directly added to primary sources; most of these texts are available in Spanish, English, and German)

Augustine: selected texts.

Aristotle: Poetics.

Dietrich von Hildebrand: Ästhetik. 1. Teil. Gesammelte Werke, Band V (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1977), 492 S. (1989 übernommen vom Eos Verlag, St. Ottilien);
Ästhetik. 2. Teil. Über das Wesen des Kunstwerkes und der Künste. Nachgelassenes Werk. Gesammelte Werke Band VI, (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1984), 477 S.

Jacques Maritain: Intuition in Art and Poetry

Moritz Geiger: Die Bedeutung der Kunst. Zugänge zu einer materialen Wertästhetik. Gesammelte, aus dem Nachlass ergänzte Schriften, Ed. Klaus Berger and Wolfhart Henckmann. (München: Wilhelm Fink, 1976).
The significance of art: a phenomenological approach to aesthetics. Edited and translated by Klaus Berger. [Series: Current continental research; 402] Washington, D.C.: Center for Advanced Research in Phenomenology & University Press of America, 1986.
1913. "Beiträge zur Phänomenologie des ästhetischen Genusses," Jahrbuch f¨ Philsophie und phänomenologische Forschung I. 567-684
1913. "Beiträge zur Phänomenologie des ästhetischen Genusses," Jahrbuch f¨ Philsophie und phänomenologische Forschung I. 567-684.

Plato: Politeia;

Plotinus: Enneads on Beauty.

Roman Ingarden: Das literarische Kunstwerk. Eine Untersuchung aus dem Grenzgebiet der Ontologie, Logik und Literaturwissenschaft (Halle: Max Niemeyer, 1931), 3. Aufl., 1972; The Literary Work of Art, transl. by George G. Grabowicz (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1973);
Cognition of the Literary Work of Art.

Further texts