Aesthetics: Historical Survey

Jan 2005

It was an very good class overall and the readings are excellent. Certainly Prof. Goehr is not God; however, the praise often given to her is, in my opinion, well deserved. Her lectures were, although long, very engaging and very knowledgable. Like other lecture classes, participation by students is very limited (perhaps one or two questions at the end of class), which may disappoint some. Other students may complain that she simply recaps the readings in her lectures, but this criticism seems inappropriate. The readings are very dense and philosophically involved. If you think that you can figure out everything that is going on in the texts on your own, you are either extremely brilliant or extremely stupid. In either case, do not take this class. Her lectures do very well to clarify complex arguments and ideas. It is an excellent introduction to aesthetics in western philosophic tradition. If you are expecting deep discussion and involvement that one would get from a seminar, simply pay more attention to the fact to the course bulletin; its a lecture. I cannot agree with those who criticize Prof. Goehr as particularly arrogant. I did not get the same sense. Although she obviously doesn't want to deal with undergraduates in many respects, there is a reason for it: it is a graduate course. Yes, the TA is not the best, but Columbia is not know for its aesthetics, so you shouldn't expect brilliant graduate students in the subject.

Nov 2004

Someone needs to provide some qualification to all the reviews of Prof Goehr which portray her as a God. Goehr knows her stuff and her lectures do make some good points, but by the end of the two hour period, it was pretty clear from one glance around the class that at least 50-75% were sleepy, tired and itching to get out of the class.... In other words, she's DEFINITELY not the best lecturer I've heard. Also, while I always had pleasant personal encounters with Prof. Goehr, I found her to be a bit full of herself-she knows her stuff but she also knows that she knows it. She loves the way that so many students fawn over her and kiss up-it's not that you have to do this to get a good grade, but you would think that an intelligent professor would see through the fakeness of these brown-nosers.