62085 - Aesthetics B

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2019/2020

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student acquires the basic knowledge regarding the birth of aesthetics, its development and its multiple current tendencies. S/he also gets an idea of its connections with other disciplines, both the theoretical ones (such as poetics, hermeneutics and rhetorics) and those related to arts. The student’s use of the correct terminology and her/his ability in applying the main conceptual and methodological instruments put her/him in the position to critically understand the fundamental notions of aesthetics and to deal with the study of an aesthetical classic.

Course contents

Images of Greek culture: a dialogue between F. Nietzsche and W.F. Otto.

First part (6 cfu):

The Greek religious experience: the gods of Olympus and Dionysus.

The first parte aims at discussing the transformation of the classicistic image of Greece through an analysis of the Greek experience of the divine and in particular of the relationship between Dionysus and the other Olympic gods. We will study in depth Nietzsche’s “Birth of Tragedy”, in order to understand the way in which the philosopher, in the wake of Schopenhauer and Wagner, explains Greek tragedy and archaic Greece. Then we will focus on „Götterdienst der Griechen“, where Nietzsche offers a different interpretation of Greek cult, adopting an anthropological approach. Finally, we will take into consideration Walter Friedrich Otto’s view of Greek cult and of the figure of Dionysus, underlining the differences between his position and that of Nietzsche.

Second part (6 cfu):

The dimension of theophany in W.F. Otto and M. Heidegger.

The second part aims at discussing the manifestation of the divine through the differences that Walter Friedrich Otto traces between Greek polytheism and Christian monotheism. We will then analyze the role of the Muses (and of word and song) in the Greek theophany.Finally, Otto's assessment of the classical image of Greek culture (Goethe and Schiller in particular) and of the romantic tradition will be taken into consideration.

N.B. Those who have to give only the 6 cfu exam, must bring the program of the first part.


First part:

F. Nietzsche, La nascita della tragedia, a cura di V. Vivarelli, Einaudi, Torino 2009 (primi 10 capitoli);

F. Nietzsche, Il servizio divino dei greci, a cura di M.P. Löwenstein, Adelphi, Milano 2012 (pp. 1-80);

W.F. Otto, Dioniso. Mito e culto, Il Melangolo, Genova 2006;

F. Cattaneo, Macchie luminose nella notte. Sul ruolo dell'arte nel "Nascita della tragedia" a partire dal rovesciamento del platonismo, in «Estetica. Studi e ricerche» n. 1(2018), pp. 75-95;

F. Cattaneo, La presenza degli dèi. Filosofia e mito in Friedrich Nietzsche e Walter F. Otto tra verità e bellezza, Orthotes, Salerno 2019.


Second part:

W.F. Otto, Gli dèi della Grecia, a cura di G. Moretti e A. Stavru, Adelphi, MIlano, 2004 (pp. 133-281);

W.F. Otto, Le Muse e l'origine divina della parola e del canto, a cura di S. Mati, Fazi, Roma 2005 (pp. 25-46 e 85-106);

W.F. Otto, Theophania. Lo spirito della religione greca antica, a cura di A. Caracciolo, Il Melangolo, Genova 1996.


Non-attending students must add: K. Held, Ci vediamo da Platone! Un viaggio filosofico nel Mediterraneo, Morcelliana, Brescia 2018.

Teaching methods

The course will consist of frontal lessons; sources will be commented and discussed and the problems and their historical context synthetically reconstructed. Teacher-led discussions will be encouraged.

Assessment methods

It's important to bring all the texts for the final proof.

The final proof will take place in the form of an oral examination. During the examination the teacher will assess whether the student has achieved or not some basic educational goals: knowledge of the texts and capacity to contextualize authors and works; comprehension of the fundamental concepts and capacity to provide a correct interpretation of them; clarity in the explanation of concepts and accuracy in the use of philosophical terminology; capacity to establish connections between the various authors and themes from both a historical and a strictly speaking conceptual point of view. During the oral examination the teacher will assess if the student possesses the abovementioned knowledge and skills in a (more or less) complete, precise and adequate way, or vice-versa in a (more or less) incomplete, vague and superficial way. The final grade will correspondently vary from excellent (30 and honors) to very good (30) to good (27-29) to fairly good (24-26) to more than enough (21-23) to merely enough (18-21) to unsatisfactory (<18).

Teaching tools

All the aforementioned texts (in the specified editions) are an essential tool in order to actively participate in the classes. It is recommended to get hold of the texts before classe because specific parts will be read and commented.

Some other texts will be distributed through the channels offered by the Unibo portal.

Office hours

See the website of Francesco Cattaneo