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PHIL 13: Humanities Core: Great Books, Big Ideas -- Europe, Modern (DLCL 13, FRENCH 13, HISTORY 239C, HUMCORE 13)

This three-quarter sequence asks big questions of major texts in the European and American tradition. What is a good life? How should society be organized? Who belongs? How should honor, love, sin, and similar abstractions govern our actions? What duty do we owe to the past and future? This third and final quarter focuses on the modern period, from the rise of revolutionary ideas to the experiences of totalitarianism and decolonization in the twentieth century. Authors include Locke, Mary Shelley, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Weber, Primo Levi, and Frantz Fanon.
Terms: Spr | Units: 3-4 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II, WAY-ER | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

PHIL 13N: "Can good people like bad music?" and other questions

Think of a musical artist you just can't stand to listen to. Chances are, this artist has thousands, if not millions, of adoring fans. That is, what's "bad music" to you is "good music" to others. This fact is not shocking: we all know that people have different tastes in music, and in art more generally. But what does this fact tell us about art, other people, and ourselves? Are some of us right and others of us wrong about what's good and bad music? Is there reason to think that some music is "objectively" better than other music? Can we say that those who like "bad music" are missing something, or mistaken in their tastes? If so, why not think it's us that are mistaken? How much are our own tastes bound up with "who we are"? And what might this mean for our capacity to appreciate tastes which are not our own?nThis seminar is an investigation into these and other questions. Through the specific lens of music, we will explore the nature of artistic taste more generally. Our main cours more »
Think of a musical artist you just can't stand to listen to. Chances are, this artist has thousands, if not millions, of adoring fans. That is, what's "bad music" to you is "good music" to others. This fact is not shocking: we all know that people have different tastes in music, and in art more generally. But what does this fact tell us about art, other people, and ourselves? Are some of us right and others of us wrong about what's good and bad music? Is there reason to think that some music is "objectively" better than other music? Can we say that those who like "bad music" are missing something, or mistaken in their tastes? If so, why not think it's us that are mistaken? How much are our own tastes bound up with "who we are"? And what might this mean for our capacity to appreciate tastes which are not our own?nThis seminar is an investigation into these and other questions. Through the specific lens of music, we will explore the nature of artistic taste more generally. Our main course text will be Carl Wilson's Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste, a popular introduction to our topic. We will also look at and discuss actual album reviews, pieces of music journalism, and news stories. Class meetings will be heavily discussion-based, and students should come to class ready to share, debate, and scrutinize their own musical tastes. Outside of class, students will develop their understanding through a variety of informal and creative writing assignments, such as exploratory journal entries and mock fan letters. Your taste in music may very well change as a result of this seminar, but this is not its aim. The goal is to understand what it means to disagree about art, through which you will learn how to respond more intelligently and empathetically to such disagreements as they come up in your everyday life.
Terms: not given this year | Units: 3 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)
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