Phil. 1361/Dr. Freeland   Fall 2010


Essay Take-Home 1


Directions: Write on two topics. Aim for 1˝ to 2 pages per essay, double-spaced. (I am not fussy about length or format.)  There is no need to quote the entire paper topic at the start of your essay.


Advice: Be clear and get to the point. Make your topic and thesis clear in the introduction. Provide examples from class or from your own experience. Be sure to refer to several of the readings and to supply evidence for your summaries or interpretations with quotes from the text. Papers will be graded on the basis of how well they answer the questions and also according to how well they manifest fundamental writing skills such as grammar, spelling, organization, punctuation, clarity, etc. Proofread! You do not need to supply formal footnotes for the two course texts; simply cite them as “Freeland, p. 3” or “Korsmeyer, p. 11”.  Remember to consult the Writing Tips from Dr. Freeland and from Boomer. And remember, do not plagiarize!  Paraphrasing is plagiarizing, and so is any quotation without a proper citation. Plagiarized papers will receive an “F”.


1. Violence, horror, tragedy (Do not answer both this and topic 4.)

Why do people enjoy tragedy and/or horror, despite the violence? Is it because of the violence? Consider various answers to this question by Plato, Aristotle, Nietzsche, Carroll, and/or Freeland. Which answer seems best to you and why? Be sure to include examples in your discussion. Possible examples: The Bacchae by Euripides, Parsifal by Wagner, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, other horror films, or recent film tragedies (possibly including The Wrestler, There Will Be Blood, No Country for Old Men, District 9, Benjamin Button, The Departed, Brokeback Mountain, Drag Me to Hell, Let the Right One In, Last House on the Left, Eastern Promises, and 28 Weeks Later).


2. Danto’s definition of art

Discuss some examples that would either support or falsify Danto’s claim:


…it does seem to me that most philosophies of art have been by and large disguised endorsements of the kind of art the philosophers approved of, or disguised criticisms of art the philosopher disapproved, or at any rate theories defined against the historically familiar art of the philosopher’s own time. In a way, the philosophy of art has really only been art criticism



3. The Aesthetic

Give a clear description of what is meant by the aesthetic (or aesthetic properties, or aesthetic attitude).  What are some points or arguments in favor of using this notion in defining art? Why would Arthur Danto disagree? What is your own opinion?



4. Censorship (Do not answer both this question and question 1.)

Give a clear account of the debate between Plato and Aristotle about censoring tragedy. Then explain whether you think that Plato’s reasons apply to modern examples of violent art (of any kind). Be sure to focus on the relevant moral issues; don’t turn this into a political debate about free speech (pretend that is not a problem). You may wish to focus on the role of violent art in the moral education of younger people rather than adults. You might also think about whether Freeland’s article is meant to argue in favor of some kind of censorship of horror films based upon their ideological messages.


Paper is due Monday, October 11th. Late papers will be marked down.

Papers must be submitted to the course page on Blackboard/Vista using the drop box. There is no need to submit a paper copy in class. Your on-line version will be returned to you with comments on the Blackboard website. Be sure to retain your submission receipt from WebCT. You will need to submit one essay in the box titled “Take-Home Essay Part 1” and the other essay for “Take-Home Essay Part 2.”