Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
PHL 222
Course Title:
The Philosophy of Art and Beauty
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Explores individual and cultural assumptions about the nature of art and aesthetic expression. Applies a philosophical approach to the study of art forms from many world cultures. In seminar/workshop format, the class involves the study of a variety of media and genres, with possible field trips to museums, galleries, gardens, and performing arts events. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Students completing this course should be able to:

  • Read and critically assess writings on the philosophy of art in order to understand the historical and contemporary interpretations of art.
  • Recognize and reflect on the issues that pertain to aesthetics in order to identify and comprehend the presence of art and beauty within a given society.
  • Effectively communicate aesthetic insights on how art impacts a given culture in order to stimulate a sense of social and environmental responsibility.
  • Recognize and reflect on cultural perspectives in aesthetics in order to overcome ethnocentrism and comprehend cultural differences.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Assessment strategies will include some of the following:             

  • Essays in the form of in-class exams, short papers, or term papers
  • Short-answer exams
  • Reading and field trip journals
  • Attendance and participation in class discusions and student presentations

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Course Content

Themes, Concepts, Issues

The course will focus on some or all of the following themes: 

  • The nature of art, works of art, and aesthetic contemplation
  • Art as an archetypal response to human experience
  • Habitat, geography, and culture as determiners of artistic media
  • The functions art has fulfilled in human culture for millennia: Art for Intervention, Art for Affiliation, Art for Documentation, Art for Aesthetic Contemplation
  • Major theories in Western Aesthetics: Mimetic, Pragmatic, Emotionalist, and Formalist
  • Standards of taste, interpretation, and the arts.
  • The role of the critic, consumer, and gallery in shaping aesthetic experience
  • The social and political context of art

Competencies and Skills:

 Students will learn to:

  • Read, analyze, and discuss philosophical writings on aesthetics
  • Critique and challenge philosophpical and cultural perspectives in aesthetic judgment
  • Write in a style which is original, coherent, and convincing about works of art and issues in aesthetic theory