PHEB103 Aesthetics


This course will focus on the major topics in the history of Aesthetics. It begins with the question about the specificity of aesthetic feelings and thought. This requires to identify the basics concepts relevant to aesthetic perception and attitude such as beauty, sublime, creativity, sensation, expression, etc. Authors discussed range from Plato and Aristotle to Leonardo, Leibniz, Hume, Schiller, Kirkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre, Camus, Ricoeur, Merleau-Ponty, Heidegger, A. Danto. This course will help students become better skilled in understanding and intelligently discussing many difficult problems of human existence and artistic creativity, which today are problems of distinguishable and worthwhile worldviews.

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Prof. Lidia Denkova, PhD

Course Description:


After completing successfully this course the students will:

1) know:

• The central aesthetics writings and authors with their concepts and profound impact on the development of contemporary thought;

2) are capable of:

• Understanding the value of Beauty and Art; and they will be able to approach in interdisciplinary context the most significant philosophical ideas.


Full-time Programmes

Types of Courses:

Language of teaching:


  1. Introduction to Aesthetics. The most distinctive features of Aesthetics as “theory”
  2. The concept of Beauty and “Why Beauty matters?” The Beauty as Idea and “paradeigma”. Roger Scruton, "Beauty"
  3. Two fundamental notions: “poiesis” and “praxis”. The art as “techne”
  4. Plato’s Aesthetics in “Symposium” , “Philebus” and “The Republic”
  5. Aristotle’s Poetics and the Birth of tragedy
  6. The concept of Sublime: Longinus, Burke and Kant
  7. Aesthetic theories in Renaissance. Leonardo da Vinci Treatise on painting. Neoplatonic views: Marsilio Ficino and Lorenzo Valla
  8. The Monadology of Leibniz and his aesthetic value
  9. Aesthetic theories in 18 Century. Yves-Marie Andre and the model of music. Diderot, Hume, Hutcheson. Ethics and Aesthetics: Shiller
  10. The beginning of Modern thought in “homo aestheticus” of Nietzsche: Apollonian and Dionysian sources of creativity. The perception and the perspective
  11. Ontology of art. Merleau-Ponty and Heidegger
  12. Existentialist Aesthetics: the “system of the arts”
  13. Art as revelation of the world and self-expression. Psychology of art. The “end” of art: Arthur Danto
  14. Aesthetics and narration. The recurrence of great myths. Visual arts and the predominance of the “images”. The example of Cinema
  15. Contemporary Aesthetics in philosophical perspective. The philosopher and the artist: Merleau-Ponty and "The doubt of Cezanne".


Suggested Readings:

Basic reader for the course: Philosophies of Art and Beauty. Selected Readings in Aesthetics from Plato to Heidegger. Edited by Albert Hofstadter and Richard Kuhns. The University of Chicago Press, 1976.

The Phenomenology Reader. Edited by D. Moran and T. Mooney, Routledge, 2002.

Plato. Complete works. Edited by John M. Cooper. Hackett Publishing Company, 1997.

The Oxford handbook of Aesthetics. Edited by Jerrold Levinson. Oxford University Press, 2005.

Entries related to Aesthetics in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (

Roman Ingarden. The Ontology of Art: The Musical Work, Painting, Architecture, the Film, Athens, Ohio University Press, 1989.

Jean-Paul Sartre (1963): Essays in Aesthetics, trans. by Wade Baskin, London: Peter Owen.

Aesthetic Science. Connecting Minds, Brains, and Experience. Oxford University Press, 2012.

Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Sense and Non-sense, Northwestern University Press,1964.

Roger Scruton. Beauty. Oxford University Press, 2009.