PhD in Philosophy

Metaphysics and Aesthetics

Curriculum Coordinator: Prof. Francesco Valagussa

The curriculum in Metaphysics and Aesthetics aims to train young students to deal with the philosophical tradition and its main questions on Being, Truth and Beauty, ranging from Greek philosophy to the 20th century major theoretical perspectives that influenced the reflection in Western Countries.

The originality of the proposal lies in setting philosophical issues in contemporary terms, not only framing them in terms of mere philosophical historiography, but in a constructive relation with all other fields of philosophical and scientific knowledge. In this respect, also theology is included as it has, by its own nature, always been part of any metaphysical question, that is any inquiry on the sense and ultimate foundation of Being, the world and man. In this way, the metaphysical tradition, both as a result of theology and other perspectives that were born from the inside as well, continues to be the strongest part of specialized knowledge, in a world dominated by technology and nihilism upon which it is based.

This Guideline therefore seeks to understand in what way each de-termination of contemporary culture is imbued with and animated by a meta-physical perspective – although often unconsciously so. It therefore aims to achieve a solid preparation for young scholars, which is believed to be essential to ensure appropriate awareness of the extreme actuality of the great metaphysical and aesthetic themes of Western thought; to be able to recognize the threads often implied that hold together and support the “multitude” of specialisms and practices dominant.

This research Curriculum will seek to promote a theoretical reflection that makes young scholars capable of autonomous and rigorous reflection upon the eternal themes of philosophy. A way to train competent young people in a philosophical practice that means at the concept of metaphysics, not as an indication of a past of which to have nostalgia, but as an investigative, rigorous and ‘free’ tool that should allow us to trace the deeper veins that feed and give life , even if subterraneously, all the territories of which the specialized knowledge of our time too often ends up returning as a simple outward mapping.

Topic areas:

  • Fundamental ontology as the core of classical and medieval metaphysics, its conceptual foundation (BeingTruthTime, etc.), its status of “philosophia prima” and its crisis in the modern age.
  • Innovative historical and hermeneutical perspectives on the great Western metaphysics within the subsequent Western thought and in modern and contemporary theology.
  • The main issues raised by contemporary nihilism and their connection with the progress of science and technology
  • Rational theology as a possible outcome of the ontology, the limits of a “onto-theology” and other alternative theological paradigms (negative theology, henologia, mysticism, symbolic theology, etc.).
  • Scepticism as a premise of all metaphysical investigations and its function of “pars destruens” of every dogmatism. The necessity and the possible overcoming of the “weak thought”.
  • The relevance of the great metaphysical questions about the world and mankind and the possibility of a purely philosophical “cosmology” and “anthropology” in light of the current progress of science.
  • Metaphysics understood in the forms of the present, including in their genealogy, and the major issues of post-modernity.
  • Fundamental metaphysical concepts: the notion of substance and subject; the concept of Truth, Freedom and Time; the constitution of the Body, of the Self and of the Foundation; the relation between possibility, reality and necessity, the theme of skepticism and of aporetic constructions.
  • Plato’s and Aristotle’s Aesthetics, an overview of classical reflections on aesthetics and the forms of making; the different schools and concepts of aesthetics in the Middle Ages, the Renaissance aesthetics and revival of the classics; modern aesthetics, the issue of taste, the “Laocoön of arts”, Vico’s aesthetics; the development of modern aesthetics with special interest for Kant’s and Philosophy of Art, Idealism and German Romanticism; main concepts of Beauty and Art in the twentieth century.
  • The Aesthetics of the Sacred, the notion of art piece, the philosophy of the Sublime; the aesthetics of the Ugly; the philosophy of tragedy; the philosophy of comics; the death of art; the Theory of the Novel; the “philosophy of fashion” (starting from Simmel’s, Benjamin’s and Barthes’s considerations).