This course is conceived of as an experiment of sorts: It will survey some of the most influential modern aesthetic theories by looking at them through the prism of Theodor W. Adorno's reflections. It aims to illuminate facets of major problems in aesthetic theory-the relation of nature and art, the meaning of aesthetic theory for social critique, the relevance of the element of form in the artwork, and the nature of spontaneity in aesthetic experience-all considered from contrary, even contradictory perspectives. If, as Immanuel Kant once conceded, metaphysics has been a "battlefield...of endless controversies," barely anything less can be said of the field of aesthetics. We will examine these controversies, expressed in modern aesthetic theories, as symptoms of society's crisis. The class will deal with works by such authors as Søren Kierkegaard, Georg Lukács, Walter Benjamin, Benedetto Croce, John Dewey, Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jacques Derrida and Theodor W. Adorno. Different texts are covered each semester and some authors may change. NOTE: No previous knowledge of the works of these thinkers is required to take this course.
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