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Philosophy

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Aesthetics

Philosophy 438 - Spring 2020

There was an unusual intertwining of philosophy and opera in the 19thCentury. Søren Kierkegaard wrote a long essay on Mozart's Don Giovanni, but carefully attributed it to a fictitious author who is definitely not Kierkegaard himself. Composer Richard Wagner embraced the pessimistic philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer and became a father figure to the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. The young Nietzsche venerated Wagner and the mature Nietzsche thought that Tristan & Isolde, Wagner's most Shopenhauerian work, was the greatest work of art of the century. Yet he turned against his one-time mentor and savagely attacked him. Can opera engage philosophical issues? Could there be a musical demonstration of philosophical truth? We will study Don Giovanni, Tannhäuser, and Tristan & Isolde, and read texts by Kierkegaard, Schopenhauer, Wagner, and Nietzsche. Prerequisites: one course in Philosophy at the 300-level, graduate standing, or permission of the instructor.
Course Attributes: EN HAS HUMFA HUMAR HUM