In this course we will investigate the nature of art and aesthetic experience through readings from historical and contemporary philosophers and artists. Is art essentially rational or non-rational, and can it offer a deeper insight into reality than discursive knowledge can? What is beauty, and is it essential to art? What is the relation between art and the ethical, the social, and the political? We will consider both influential traditional theories of art such as those of Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and Nietzsche, and more recent modern and postmodern critiques of traditional views. Readings will also include works by artists such as Van Gogh and Kandinsky.