Course Professor Term Meetings

HUSL 6355.001 Beauty Frederick Turner Fall 2010 Tuesday 10:00 am-12:45 pm

Professor’s Contact Information Office Phone 972-437-2155 (cel 214-213-8581) Office Location JO 5.522 Email Address website <> Office Hours Thursday 3:15-6:15 pm I don’t read Web CT mail.
Other Information For University policy on student citizenship, see

( General Course Information
We will explore questions of this kind: Is beauty one or many? appearance or reality? changing or unchanging? relative or absolute? If “just” means “fair,” and “fair” means “beautiful,” is justice an aesthetic concept? If Thrasymachus in the Republic is right, can Hitler have been wrong? If Thrasymachus is wrong, can contemporary poststructuralist theory in the humanities, "cultural studies," etc, be right? If beauty is freedom and play, how can it exist in a physical universe (and a human society based on its necessities) that are deterministic? Is the universe deterministic? Is beauty the same as the aesthetic? Are the problems of dualism--mind/matter, soul/body, etc--the shipwreck of beauty, or is beauty the solution of them? Do animals have an aesthetic? Can beauty be rooted in animal ritualization? What would a classic Darwinian account of beauty look like? What are the limits of classic Darwinian theory? Is every human language a closed hermeneutic circle, an incommensurable culture-world, a "language-game," or is there a deep universal human language, a "humanese" or "worldese" of which natural languages are "dialects"? I.e., is verbal beauty purely local or both local and universal? Can the nature/nurture problem be overcome by a sophisticated gene/culture coevolutionary theory? Can there be a neurobiology of aesthetic experience? Do mind-brain issues cloud or enrich the question of aesthetics? If beauty is both a biological and a cultural phenomenon, how is the relationship between these aspects mediated? What are the implications for arts education if beauty genres are hardwired in the brain? Is beauty an objective property of the universe? If beauty is an objective property of the universe, what is the universe like and where does beauty fit in? Can chaos and complexity theory help us toward a new understanding of aesthetics? What is the relationship between a Chaos/complexity theory of beauty and an evolutionary theory of beauty? Can game theory assist us in creating narratives and games that have the allure of beauty? Can we pull all this together? What makes a story beautiful? What makes a game beautiful? How should the academic humanities be changed--in

Course Description


goals, self-description, relationship to the public, disciplinary organization, etc, if our conclusions (if any) are valid? How will this new view of the arts fit into the increasingly democratic, diminishingly statist, market capitalist, ethnically diverse, theologically reawakened, technologically sophisticated global culture of today? 1. Students will be able to give a plausible answer to any of the questions specified in the course description, using the required texts. 2. Students will show in writing how scientific and humanistic definitions of aesthetics differ and/or can be resolved. 3. Students will demonstrate in class discussion a knowledge of the interdisciplinary issues addressed in the course. Plato: Republic (Grube trans.) Hackett Friedrich Schiller: Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man, Dover Konrad Lorenz: On Aggression, Harvest Stephen Pinker: The Language Instinct, Penguin Brett Cooke and Frederick Turner: Biopoetics, Paragon ICUS Epstein, Rentschler & Herzberger: Beauty and the Brain, Birkhauser Verlag Gyorgy Doczi: The Power of Limits, Shambhala James Gleick: Chaos: Making a New Science Benoit Mandelbrot: The Fractal Geometry of Nature, Freeman J. T. Fraser: Time, the Familiar Stranger, Tempus Judith Wechsler: On Aesthetics and Science, Birkhauser Robert Wright: Nonzero: The Logic of Hunan Destiny, Pantheon Frederick Turner: Beauty: The Value of Values, U P of Virginia

Learning Outcomes

Required Texts & Materials

Assignments & Academic Calendar
[Topics, Reading Assignments, Due Dates, Exam Dates] Week 1 Introduction Week 2 READ Plato’s Republic, books 1, 2, 6, and 7. QUIZ

Week 3

READ Schiller’s Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man QUIZ

Week 4

READ Lorenz: On Aggression QUIZ

Week 5

READ Pinker: The Language Instinct QUIZ

Week 6

READ Biopoetics QUIZ

Week 7

READ Beauty and the Brain QUIZ

Week 8 Week 9

READ Doczi: The Power of Limits QUIZ

READ Gleick: Chaos QUIZ


Week 10

READ Mandelbrot: Fractal (as much as you can: look at the pictures) QUIZ

Week 11

READ Fraser: Time, the Familiar Stranger QUIZ

Week 12

READ Wechsler: On Aesthetics and Science QUIZ

Week 13

READ Wright: Nonzero QUIZ

Week 14

READ Turner: Beauty QUIZ

Week 15


Course Policies
Grading (credit) Criteria The quizzes will consist of a question on the reading of the week or the previous week, to be answered within about 10-15 minutes at the start or end of the class in the form of about a page of prose. Quiz grading will reflect the reading preparation and originality of the answers. Contribution to class discussion will count for 1/2 of the final grade, and the average of the quiz grades for 1/2. Extra credit may be given for an optional paper. None An optional paper of 3-5 thousand words Not accepted without major excuse None Attendance will not be kept, but a missed quiz will count as an F and three missed quizzes will result in an F for the class, unless a compelling excuse (e.g. medical emergency, bereavement) is given. The Socratic seminar format of the class requires punctuality, a queue (kept by the professor) for contributions, no side conversations, and a few other rules to be explained. N/A

Make-up Exams Extra Credit Late Work Special Assignments Class Attendance Classroom Citizenship Field Trip Policies

These descriptions and timelines are subject to change at the discretion of the Professor.


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