Review Comment

[PHIL V3801] Aesthetics and Ethics

January 19, 2005

Moked, Oran Silver_nugget
[PHIL V3801] Aesthetics and Ethics

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I was surprised to read the previous harsh review. Oran was a good
TA. I actually requsted to transfer to his group midway through the
term (I was initially assigned to another TA) after hearing good
things about him from another student in his group. His discussion
sessions were well-organized and interesting for the most part, and
my conversations with him during office hours were especially
helpful. He was also very generous with his time. He did seem a
little inexperienced as a discussion leader, but nothing too bad.

January 19, 2005

Goehr, Lydia Silver_nugget
[PHIL V3801] Aesthetics and Ethics

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Excellent class, if somewhat superficial philosophically. Prof.
Goehr is an GREAT lecturer, and the subject matter was fascinating
for the most part. I'd recommend the course, especially if you just
want to get a taste of what philosophy is like and are not too
concerned with great philosophical depth.

Workload:

Two papers (midterm + final), 7-10 pp. each. Lots of question topics
to choose from. The grading (done by the TA's) was fair, but hardly
easy.

January 13, 2005

Goehr, Lydia Silver_nugget
[PHIL V3801] Aesthetics and Ethics

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

If only reviewing the professor I will agree that she is amazing. She's brilliant, funny and quick, and obviously knows what she's doing. I wish the subject matter had been different however. Her lectures were not difficult to follow, although the readings were a bit painful because I hated the material. The class made me realize I want to do human rights because aesthetics (to me, I realize some love it) seems so inconsequential, comparatively. If you want to sit around and talk about whether or not a work of art is immoral and how that affects its aesthetic value, take the class. Not for me.

Workload:

Two painful-to-write, 10-page papers, normal amount of reading, terrible discussion sections

January 04, 2005

Goehr, Lydia Silver_nugget
[PHIL V3801] Aesthetics and Ethics

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

While charismatic and witty, Goehr is merely good, not phenomenal but good, as a professor when it really comes down to it. She re-words the assigned readings to make them easier to understand, which is helpful to a degree, but leaves a little more to be desired.

I would always leave the class feeling that I understood the readings thanks to Goehr's outlines, but that an intelligent debate (and by that I am not refering to what seems to be the prevailing consensus among Columbia students that a debate or discussion requires using every multisyllabic word you have ever encountered or needlessly dropping names of every philosopher you've ever read) brimming just under the surface of the lecture was avoided in favor of Goehr's interpretation alone. I think its important for professors to understand that teaching does not so much require presenting their personal views, but providing varied ones which are left open for students to interpret and discuss.

Goehr's love of her own opinions and interpretations is cemented by the fact that she includes one of her own essays in the course packet and constantly refers to lectures she has conducted around the world or to great minds that she has met over coffee or wine or whatever high-bow intellectuals are drinking these days. Be prepared to hear of some chat she and Danto had at least every other class. Her sly remarks about politics were also unappreciated and unecessary but did not detract from the topics at hand.

The TA-led discussions (there are three required per semester) are only as strong as the TA leading them and as boring and pretentious as your fellow students, but do offer a great platform for presenting and developing any thoughts you came up with while reading the assignments.

Workload:

2 papers, about 5 pages each. 3 TA-led discussions.

January 02, 2005

Goehr, Lydia Silver_nugget
[PHIL V3801] Aesthetics and Ethics

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

A few notes on Prof. Goehr, particularly in relation to this class... First, in my opinion Goehr does not care about her students. While it's true that most people like her dry wit and (sometimes) interesting lectures, she is not a professor that seems to be in it for the teaching side of things. She defers all her work to her TAs, and refused to read my papers (even though I am a upper division philosophy major who took both of her classes, and had multiple discussions with her outside of class throughout the semester). It's worth noting that she did promise me that she would discuss the concepts I developed in my paper, and would help me develop a reading list for my thesis, but when I asked her a couple weeks later to follow through, she refused, and made little or no attempt to apologize or explain (she did, however, remember our agreement). Although I defended her for most of the semester against friends of mine in the class who disliked her, I finally gave up when I realized that she cares mostly for herself and for Arthur Danto, or at least the sound of his name (which she mentioned every class throughout the semester). For those thinking that perhaps I can't handle her personality described in other reviews, let me make it clear that I could care less about any hurt feelings involved; rather, it was a simple, yet infuriating waste of time, clearly of hers, and apparently of mine.
The second point is about the substantive nature of the class: while some of the readings were interesting, and represented a range of ways to discuss and interpret art and related topics from both analytic and contintental perspectives, the class should by no means be a 3000 level course. It is an introductory course, and while she warned the upper division philosophy majors to take her graduate lecture (which I did), with the rarity of courses focused on contintental philosophy or aesthetics, most people stayed in the class regardless, including juniors, who shouldn't be taking (or be forced to take) intro classes in their third year. The topics she chose for the class were pretty engaging, if broad; but the readings, lectures and discussions were deeply inadequate to do anything more than sketch out the problems posed by the topics.
Although there were a couple bright spots on the syllabus (Benjamin, Adorno- although she picked a pretty boring essay of his-, Lowenthal, Danto), most of the syllabus was insufferably shallow. If you have any serious experience with aesthetic theory, particularly from the 19th or 20th centuries, I'd think the class will deeply disappoint you, especially because it sounds so interesting. And if you are seriously interested in continental philosophy, don't accept this class as a substitute for a course that offers real depth and insight- take Carman, or go over to the anthropology department. For the reviewer who mentioned that Goehr is the only continental philosopher in the department, while that may be true (not counting Carman, if you want to argue he takes an analytic approach towards some of the texts he teaches), she is a pathetic excuse for representing the real rigor, passion, and brilliance of continental philosophy.
That said, if you want an intro course on Aesthetics, or if you're not seriously interested in the field, or if you're in the Cult of Goehr for whatever reason (that is distubing in itself), you'll probably agree with the positive reviews.

Workload:

2 easy papers- but beware the TAs! They have serious inferiority complexes and grade more sloppily and more severely than professors.

December 29, 2004

Goehr, Lydia Silver_nugget
[PHIL V3801] Aesthetics and Ethics

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Most culpa reviews on Goehr and Aesthetics and Ethics are very praiseworthy. But, I found Goehr to be rather egomaniacal (beware of rampant name dropping) and her class unimpressive. The class tries to focus on too broad a range of questions and so nothing is ever focused. I left the semester feeling that none of the questions had been answered or even adequately addressed. The reading material is facinating, but the topics are all over the place. Goehr (while certainly charismatic and interesting in a dry British way) spends the lectures explaining the reading, rather than analyzing the essays or connnecting them to any broader them. In this way the class seemed disjointed. In addition, Goehr is always off parading around Europe giving lectures, so students are forced to deal solely with the pretentious and pissed off TAs.

Workload:

2 papers about 6-7 pages in length
reading for each class, not too much

December 28, 2004

Goehr, Lydia Silver_nugget
[PHIL V3801] Aesthetics and Ethics

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Wonderful, brilliant, engaging lecturer. The only continental philosopher in the Philosophy dept. A lucid introduction to the ethical implications of art. Highly recommended.

Workload:

2 papers.

December 20, 2004

Goehr, Lydia Silver_nugget
[PHIL V3801] Aesthetics and Ethics

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

It's true, Goehr's students idolize her (myself included) and she loves it. She can be intimidating, insulting, sarcastic, patronizing but she can also make you believe that philosophy, art, and maybe even you really matter. I wholeheartedly recommend this course for both majors and non-majors. But beware of one thing above all: Goehr relies on her TAs for grading and for leading classes when she's off lecturing somewhere else. The TAs my semester were terrible at both of those tasks. Nevertheless, an energizing, provocative, eye-opening class. If you feel that the philosophy major is the biggest swindle you've ever been duped into, take this course to help salvage your Columbia education.

Workload:

The workload is light: fascinating weekly reading; two 2500 word papers; no exams.

December 20, 2004

Moked, Oran Silver_nugget
[PHIL V3801] Aesthetics and Ethics

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I hate to be harsh on a TA, but I have to say that having Oran Moked for an otherwise incredible class was a disheartening, frustrating experience. He's probably a smart guy, but he can't express himself coherently and can't lead a discussion. He is absent-minded and confusing. Knowing that he and not Professor Goehr would be reading my papers was just depressing.

May 07, 2003

Goehr, Lydia Silver_nugget
[PHIL V3801] Aesthetics and Ethics

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

There is good reason why Professor Goehr is a cult figure. Who else could fill a lecture class at 9 am and have students begging to be included. Her teaching style is something akin to mystic revelation. You will be enlightened after her lectures, though I doubt you'll be able to recount how it happened. Though that doesn't much matter when your hopped up three cups of coffee and there is so much beauty in the world...

Workload:

two papers where you can test out your own magic tricks. good luck.

May 01, 2003

Makkai, Katalin Silver_nugget
[PHIL V3801] Aesthetics and Ethics

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

This course was unlike any philosophy course I've taken. While I can't say that it met my expectations (I expected to read Adorno and Cassirer and stuff) I really enjoyed the class. And the variety and relevance of the texts was impressive. The professor encouraged class discussion- I only wish that we had had more time. The movies were a fun way to bring life to philosophical ideas (and, by the way, provided a pretty great introduction to modern classics of American film)! In short, a fun course. If you are interested in some diverse food for thought, classic film, and an opportunity to engage creatively with the class material, then you'll appreciate the opportunity.

Her quirky teaching style takes some getting used to, but she is very approachable. I felt very comfortable expressing my thoughts, both in and out of class. The workload was very light- I'd almost liked to have had the opportunity to write more.

April 28, 2003

Makkai, Katalin Silver_nugget
[PHIL V3801] Aesthetics and Ethics

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Professor Makkai is wonderful-everything you would expect from someone with a Ph. D from Harvard-except pretentious. She is incredibly knowledgable and finds a way to present even the most complicated material in an interesting way that someone with no experience in philosophy can understand. Plus, she is the most approachable professor I have ever had at Barnard. The paper topics are broad and allow lots of room for creativity. She is a very fair grader. The films are fun and highly relevant to the rest of the material. If you are at all interested in philosophy or film or just want a to take a course with a great professor, I totally recommend this course!

Workload:

2 5-page papers and a final

April 17, 2003

Makkai, Katalin Silver_nugget
[PHIL V3801] Aesthetics and Ethics

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

WOW! If you want to take a great class with a wonderful professor this is the class to take. If you are one of the many in this school who yearn to be inspired this is the class for you. If you always thought Nietzsche and Kant were dull and difficult to understand this is the class that will change your mind. If you are tired of apathetic and self-absorbed professors then take any class with this professsor. Professor Makkai makes the subject of philosophy fascinating and the movies we watch in class tie directly to everything we learn. Overall, this is a great class with a great professor and I highly recommend it.

Workload:

There are two 5-page papers and a final. There are selections from various texts that are very thoroughly explained in class. You do not read books that you do not discuss.

April 04, 2003

Makkai, Katalin Silver_nugget
[PHIL V3801] Aesthetics and Ethics

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

beware! professor makkai's cool sarcasm is used to cover up her extreme lack of teaching skills. the classroom is a place for her to perform, not teach. she hardly gets through readings because she rambles on, makes no connection between texts... prof. makkai is good at name dropping and looking complacently at the ceiling while the class waits for one of her brilliant statements... [CULPA CENSOR]....the class has tons of potential, though it is more a film class than a philosophy class, but makkai makes it, especially the readings, thoroughly unenjoyable.

Workload:

medium. 2 six page papers and a final. a good amount of reading and required movie viewing once a week.

May 20, 2002

Goehr, Lydia Silver_nugget
[PHIL V3801] Aesthetics and Ethics

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Fabulous. Amazing. Fantastic. Words fail to describe Lydia Goehr's teaching abilities. No matter what course she teaches, whether it be philosophy or lit hum, she never fails to make you think, question your beliefs, and leave class realizing that you know absolutely nothing. Her class is challenging. She oftens puts you on the spot and makes you think. She's not afriad to say you're wrong and trust me, she won't spare your feelings. She is absolutely phenomenal. I never dreaded going to my 9 AM philosophy class because I knew that the subject material covered would be fascinating. She keeps you on your toes and never stops making you think. She is the type of professor you pay $38,000 a year for...too bad she is going on sabbatical next year. I recommend any class you can get with her when she returns from Germany.

Workload:

One midterm paper, one final paper. No exams EVER. Class participation counts so make sure you do the reading (It's interesting material).

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section
PHIL / PHIL PHIL PHIL V3801: Aesthetics: Aesthetics and Ethics Lydia Goehr 2004 Fall MW / 9:00-10:25 AM 1
PHLB / PHIL PHLB PHIL V3801: Aesthetics: Aesthetics and Ethics Katalin Makkai 2003 Spring TR / 11:00-12:15 PM 1
PHIL / PHIL PHIL PHIL V3801: Aesthetics Lydia Goehr 2002 Spring MW / 9:10-10:25 AM 1