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Philosophy of Art from Hume to Tolstoy - PHI00091H

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  • Department: Philosophy
  • Module co-ordinator: Mr. Andrew Ward
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21

Module summary

The aim of this module is to investigate central themes in 18th and 19th century aesthetic theory.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2020-21

Module aims

Subject Content

To investigate central themes in 18th and 19th century aesthetic theory and to provide an understanding of how an aesthetic theory can depend on, and itself help to invigorate, an overall metaphysical theory.

Academic and Graduate Skills

To develop students’ abilities to apply philosophical tools and techniques in order to advance understanding of intellectual problems.

Module learning outcomes

Subject content

By the end of the module:

  • Students should have a familiarity with, and a critical approach to, British empiricist aesthetics of the 18th century, with particular reference to Francis Hutcheson, David Hume and Thomas Reid, and German Idealist aesthetics of the 18th and 19th centuries, with particular reference to Immanuel Kant, G.W.Hegel and Arthur Schopenhauer, together with the aesthetic views of Leo Tolstoy.

Academic and graduate skills

Students should be able to engage with a wide range of challenging philosophical ideas, and be able to develop and defend a considered view on wide-ranging and difficult material.

Module content

Among the topics to be discussed will be:

  1. Whether beauty is more properly an object of contemplation or feeling
  2. The nature of artistic genius
  3. The status of the work of art
  4. The aesthetic point of view, and its alleged differences from the practical and theoretical points of view.


Task Length % of module mark
4000 word essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
4000 word essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Feedback on formative work will be returned two weeks after submission. Feedback on summative work will be returned four weeks after submission.

Indicative reading

Francis Hutcheson Inquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty, including 'Preface' (to both Inquiries)

David Hume 'Of the standard of taste' in his Essays: Moral, Political, and Literary

Thomas Reid Essays on the Active Powers of the Human Mind, Essay V Chap VII

Immanuel Kant The Critique of Judgement, Part I. (Critique of Aesthetic Judgement)

G W F Hegel Lectures on Fine Art (especially his ‘Introduction’)

Arthur Schopenhauer The World as Will and Representation, Vol I, Bk III and Vol II, Chaps XXIX-XXXIX

Leo Tolstoy What is Art?

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.