Art and Society – Winter Semester 2010/11

Wednesday 10:50am – 12:25pm Room 426 (Celetna 20, 4th floor)

Jakub Stejskal


In this semester-long course, we will be examining intellectual roots of the modern conception of art as aesthetic culture with a distinct role in society – as it was developed in the Western philosophical tradition from the Enlightenment onwards.

We will start by looking at and assessing major philosophical treatments of habit and habituation and its role in the emergence and continuation of political society (understood as a system of habits/social norms). Crucial relevance will be given to a metaphor of society as “second nature”. We will than move on to examine what role art is supposed to play in a society understood as “second nature”.








5 x 1–2-pages-long resumes   



In order to pass the course, each student is required to show up regularly and prepared, deliver a 10–15 minutes presentation to the class of one of the texts assigned as required reading and to write five 1-to-2-pages-long resumes of the assigned texts (I accept not more than one resume a week per student, so start soon!). The final exam will consist of three essay questions, students will be expected to answer two out of these.


All the required reading will be made available via moodle. More information and details on the first day of class. If you have any questions regarding anything even vaguely related to the course, contact me via email (see above) or see me after class in room 204.



First week – 6 October

Introduction to the course


Second week – 13 October

The concept of habit and the notion of second nature.


Required reading:

Gilbert Ryle, ‘Chapter II: Knowing How and Knowing That’, in The Concept of Mind (London: Routledge, 2009 [1949], or any other edition).


Recommended reading:

Félix Ravaisson, Of Habit/De l’habitude (London: Continuum, 2008 [1838]).

Nathan Brett, ‘Human Habits’, Canadian Journal of Philosophy 11 (1981): 357–76.

Bill Pollard, ‘Explaining Actions with Habits’, American Philosophical Quarterly 43 (2006): 57–69.

Clare Carlisle, ‘Creatures of Habit’, Continental Philosophy Review 38 (2006): 19–39.

John McDowell, ‘Two Sorts of Naturalism’, in Mind, Value, and Reality (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1998).

Gerhard Funke and Norbert Rath, ‘Natur, zweite’, in Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie, eds. Gottfried Gabriel, Karlfried Gruender, Joachim Ritter [CD-ROM] (Basel: Schwabe, 2007), 21806–21837.


Third week – 20 October

Aristotelean conception of virtue and habit and its relation to politics.


Required reading:

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book II (any edition); Politics, Book I (any edition).


Recommended reading:

Sabina Lovibond, Ethical Formation (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2002).

John McDowell, ‘Virtue and Reason’, in Mind, Value, and Reality (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2002).

Martha Nussbaum, ‘The Discernment of Perception’, in Love’s Knowledge (Oxford: OUP, 1990).

David Wiggins, ‘Neo-Aristotelian Reflections on Justice’, Mind 113 (2004): 451–512.


Fourth week – 27 October

Hobbes on the state of nature and the origin of society


Required reading:

Thomas Hobbes, ‘Chapter XVII: Of the Causes, Generation, and Definition of a Common-Wealth’, in Leviathan (any edition).


Recommended reading:

Kinch Hoekstra, ‘Hobbes on the Natural Condition of Mankind’, in The Cambridge Companion to Hobbes’s Leviathan, ed. Patricia Springborg (Cambridge: CUP, 2007).

Philip Pettit, ‘Chapter VII: The State of Second, Worded Nature’, in Made with Words (Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2008).

Howard Caygill, ‘The Matter, Forme and Power of a Commonwealth’, in Art of Judgement (Oxford: Blackwell, 1989).

Quentin Skinner, Visions of Politics, vol. III: Hobbes and Civil Science (Cambridge: CUP, 2002).

Norberto Bobbio, ‘The Conceptual Model of Natural Law Theory’, in Thomas Hobbes and the Natural Law Tradition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993).

Thomas Hobbes, On the Citizen (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998).


Fifth week – 3 November

Rousseau’s contractarianism and his criticism of culture


Required reading:

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract (any edition), Book I.

------, Letter to d’Alembert, in Politics and the Arts, ed. Allan Bloom (Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1968), 113–39.


Recommended reading:

The Second Discourse [on Inequality], Part I (any edition).

Jean Starobinski, La transparence et l’obstacle (Paris: Gallimard, 1971, Eng. trans. Transparency and Obstruction, Chicago: Uni. Of Chicago Press, 1988).

Michael Fried, ‘Appendix B’, in Absorption and Theatricality (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980).

Judtith Shklar, Men and Citizens (Cambridge: CUP, 1969).

Allan Bloom, ‘Introduction’, in Politics and the Arts (Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1968).


Sixth week – 10 November

Hegel: Habit, Custom and Political Freedom


Required reading:

G. W. F. Hegel, Philosophy of Mind, trans. William Wallace and A. V. Miller, rev. Michael Inwood (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2007), §§409–10.

------, Elements of the Philosophy of Right (either Oxford 1991 edition [Nisbet] or Knox’s revised 2008 Cambridge edition), §§142–57.


Recommended reading:

Alfredo Ferrarin, Hegel and Aristotle (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2001), 7, §4 ‘Hegel’s Modernity’.

Michael Hardimon, ‘The Project of Reconciliation’, Philosophy and Public Affairs 21 (1992): 165–95.

Frederick Neuhouser, Foundations of Hegel’s Social Theory: Actualizing Freedom (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2000).

Joshua D. Goldstein, ‘The “Bees Problem” in Hegel’s Political Philosophy’, History of Political Thought 25 (2004): 481–507.

Andrew Buchwalter, ‘Hegel’s Concept of Virtue’, Political Theory 20 (1992): 548–83.


Seventh week – 17 November

no class (Freedom Day)


Eighth week – 24 November

Kantian aesthetics and the moral image of the world


Required reading:

Immanuel Kant, Critique of the Power of Judgement, trans. Paul Guyer and Eric Matthews (Cambridge: CUP, 2000), §§41–50.

Anthony Savile, ‘Imagination and Aesthetic Value’, British Journal of Aesthetics 46 (2006): 248–58.


Recommended reading:

Henry Allison, Kant’s Theory of Taste: A Reading of the Critique of Aesthetic Judgment (Cambridge: CUP, 2001).

Robert Pippin, ‘Avoiding German Idealism: Kant, Hegel, and the Reflective Judgment Problem’, in Idealism as Modernism:Hegelian Variations (Cambridge: CUP, 1997).

David Bell, ‘The Art of Judgement’, Mind 96 (1987): 221–244.

Paul Guyer, ‘The Symbols of Freedom in Kant’s Aesthetics’, in Values of Beauty: Historical Essays in Aesthetics (Cambridge: CUP, 2005).

John McDowell, ‘Aesthetic Value, Objectivity, and the Fabric of the World’, in Mind, Value, and Reality (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1998), 112–130.

Karl Ameriks, ‘New Views on Kant’s Judgment of Taste’, in Interpreting Kant’s Critiques (Oxford: OUP, 2003).

Dieter Henrich, ‘The Moral Image of the World’, in Aesthetic Judgment and the Moral Image of the World: Studies in Kant (Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 1992).



Ninth week – 1 December

Arendt’s conception of ‘second birth’ and cultural reification


Required reading:

Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998 [1958]), 167–181.


Recommended reading:

Hannah Arendt, Between Past and Future (any edition).

Hanna Fenichel Pitkin, ‘Rethinking Reification’, Theory and Society 16 (1987): 263–93.

------, The Attack of the Blob (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998).

Martin Heidegger, ‘The Origin of the Work of Art’, in Poetry, Language, Thought (New York: Harper, 1971).



Tenth week – 8 December

Lukács on second nature


Required reading:

Georg Lukács, ‘The Epic and the Novel’, in The Theory of the Novel (London: Merlin Press, 1971).


Recommended reading:

J. M. Bernstein,  The Philosophy of the Novel: Lukács, Marxism and the Dialectics of Form (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984).

György Lukács, ‘Aesthetic Culture’, Yale Journal of Criticism 11 (1998): 365–379.

Max Weber, ‘Science as a Vocation’, in The Vocation Lectures (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2004).

Axel Honneth, Reification (Oxford: OUP, 2008).


Eleventh week – 15 December

Adorno on second nature


Required reading:

Theodor Adorno, Aesthetic Theory (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997), 61–78.


Recommended reading:

Theodor W. Adorno, ‘The Idea of Natural-History’, in Things Beyond Resemblance: On Theodor W. Adorno by Robert Hullot-Kentor (New York: Columbia UP, 2006, ‘Die Idee der Naturgeschichte’, in Gesammelte Schriften 1: Philosophische Frühschriften, Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp, 1973).

------, Negative Dialectics (London: Routledge, 1973), III, 2 ‘World Spirit and Natural History’.

Christoph Menke, ‘On the Negative Logic of Aesthetic Experience’, in The Sovereignty of Art: Aesthetic Negativity in Adorno and Derrida (Cambridge, MA: MIT, 1998).

Albrecht Wellmer, ‘Truth, Semblance, Reconciliation: Adorno’s Aesthetic Redemption of Modernity’, in The Persistence of Modernity: Essays on Aesthetics, Ethics, and Postmodernism (Cambridge, MA: MIT, 1991).

Günter Figal, Theodor W. Adorno: Das Naturschöne asl spekulative Gedankenfigur (Bonn: Bouvier, 1977).


Twelfth week – 22 December





(Thirteenth week – 5 January)