Problems and methods of contemporary aesthetics

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Type of exam

Oral exam and seminars


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There are no prerequisites.


The course aims to introduce the problems and categories of the contemporary debate in aesthetics. Special attention will be paid to the shift of the analytical focus from the artistic dimension to that of aesthetic phenomena and the consequent return to the original inspiration of Kantian aesthetics in which the aesthetic relationship with the world constitutes the centre of human cognitive architecture. After a first unit of lectures dedicated to the analysis of some historical-philosophical issues (a close reading of texts by Hume, Kant, Dewey and Wittgenstein) that are essential for the understanding of such a repositioning of aesthetics within the framework of a theory of human perception and cognition, the second part of the course will be dedicated to exploring its theoretical and methodological consequences in the contemporary treatment of classical problems of philosophical aesthetics such as the identity of artworks, the relationship between language and aesthetic judgement, the nature of aesthetic experience and the relationship between emotion and knowledge.

Educational aims

The course aims to introduce students to the contemporary debate in aesthetics and to familiarise them with a notion of the aesthetic at the heart of a conceptual and methodological reformulation of the discipline.

Bibliographical references

During the first lesson, a bibliography of the works discussed in the course will be provided. Some useful references to provide a framework for the course contents: G. Genette, L'Oeuvre de l'art, Editions du Seuil, Paris 2010; J.-M. Schaeffer, Adieu à l'esthétique, PUF, Paris 2000; B. Nanay, Aesthetics as philosophy of perception, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2015; J.P. Cometti, J. Morizot, R. Pouivet, Questions d'esthétique, PUF, Paris, 2000; E. Garroni, Estetica. Uno sguardo-attraverso, Castelvecchi, Roma 2020. For an introduction to the history of aesthetics: F. Desideri, C. Cantelli, Storia dell'estetica occidentale. Da Omero alle neuroscienze, Carocci, Roma 2020.