Philosophy of Art in Classical Greece

Course details

From £77.50

Sat 20 Oct 2018 - Sun 21 Oct 2018
3.00pm Saturday - 2.00pm Sunday

Philosophy of Art in Classical Greece


In ancient Greek one term, kalon, embraces both aesthetic beauty and the morally fine. Another ancient Greek word aretê, traditionally translated as ‘virtue’ or ‘excellence’, shares a common Indo-European root with the Latin ‘art’ and English ‘right’. But are the concepts of beauty and morality really related? What about great, but morally abhorrent, artists? Another conundrum is posed by the status of a work as a work of art. There are many different ways to characterise works of art. Different views may have a different impact on our views on how art and morality are linked, and therefore on censorship. And to what extent can we define the sublime? Perhaps any attempt to define it, or indeed any of our values, will destroy them? Did Socrates’ insistence on definition marginalize the values he most cherished in the Western intellectual tradition? During this weekend school we shall address these questions and others. There will be plenty of time for discussion and opportunity to question the speakers.


Programme details


2.45pm           Course Registration

3.00pm           The harmonious life: Beauty, mathematics and goodness

                        ANGIE HOBBS

4.30pm           Tea / coffee

5.00pm           Socrates and the Sophists

                        PATRICK DOORLY

6.30pm           Break / bar open

7.00pm            Dinner

8.15pm-          The dangers of art: Plato and Aristoltle on censorship

9.30pm           ANGIE HOBBS       



8.15am           Breakfast (residents only)

9.30am           Plato and the Poets

                        PATRICK DOORLY

10.45am          Coffee / tea

11.15am           Q & A

                       Questions directed by MARIANNE TALBOT

12.30pm         Break / bar open

1.00pm          Lunch

2.00pm           Course disperses


Recommended reading


Lecture One:
Plato Republic especially 400c-403c; 434d-445e; 591c-d  (the Penguin edition is fine)

Hobbs, A.,  2000,  Plato and the Hero (especially ch.8).  Cambridge University Press.

Moravcsik, J. and Temko, P. (eds.),  1982,  Plato on Beauty, Wisdom and the Arts.  Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Littlefield.

Lecture Two:
Plato, Greater Hippias, or On Beauty; Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974; 25th Anniversary edition, 1999).

Lecture Three:
Plato Republic, Books 2 ,3 and 10 (the Penguin edition is fine).

Aristotle Poetics (the Penguin edition is fine).

Murdoch, I., 1977,  The Fire and the Sun: Why Plato Banished the Artists.  Oxford.

Lecture Four:
Plato, Republic, Book 10, 595a–608b.


Accommodation for this weekend is at Rewley House for Saturday night only.

Depending on availability it may also be possible to extend your stay, please enquire at the time of booking for availability and prices.

All bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms.



Tuition (includes tea/coffee): £77.50
Baguette Lunch Sunday: £4.90
Hot Lunch Sunday: £14.00
Saturday Evening Dinner: £20.00
Single B&B Saturday night: £79.20
Single Room Only Saturday Night: £68.00
Twin/Double Room (2 sharing) B&B Saturday night: £112.40
Twin/Double Room Only (2 sharing) Saturday Night: £90.00


If you are in receipt of a state benefit you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

If you do not qualify for the concessionary fee but are experiencing financial hardship, you may still be eligible for financial assistance.

Concessionary fees for short courses



Mr Patrick Doorly


Patrick was educated at St John's College, Oxford; Stockholm University; and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He was Acting Director of Studies for Art History at the Department for Continuing Education in 2001-02. His book The Truth about Art: Reclaiming quality was published by Zero Books in 2013.


Professor Angie Hobbs


Angie Hobbs gained a degree in Classics and a PhD in Ancient Philosophy at Cambridge.  After a Research Fellowship at Christ’s College, Cambridge, she moved to the University of Warwick; in 2012 she was appointed Professor of the Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield.  Her chief interests are in ancient philosophy and literature, ethics and political theory. She has published widely in these areas, including Plato and the Hero (C.U.P).  She contributes regularly to radio, TV and other media.  She has spoken at the World Economic Forum at Davos, the Houses of Parliament, the Scottish Parliament and Westminster Abbey and been the guest on Desert Island Discs, Private Passions and Test Match Special. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Honorary Patron of the Philosophy Foundation and Patron of the Philosophy in Education project. Outside academia, she has many interests, including the theatre, music, walking, swimming and many sports, especially cricket. Twitter: @drangiehobbs


Ms Marianne Talbot

Director of Studies


Marianne Talbot took her first degree at London University, then her B.Phil at Oxford (Corpus Christi College). She has taught for the colleges of Oxford University for 30 years (1987 – 1990 at Pembroke College, 1991 – 2000 at Brasenose College). She has been Director of Studies in Philosophy at OUDCE since 2001. She is the author of Bioethics: An Introduction, and Critical Reasoning: A Romp Through the Foothills of Logic. Marianne’s podcasts have been hugely popular. Two of them have been global number one on iTunesU. One of these (The Nature of Arguments) has been downloaded 7 million times.