Oskar Schlemmer, Bauhaus

Integrative Studies 231A,


Human Values, The Arts, and Humanities


Fall Semester 2005,
Michigan State University

Dr. Christian Lotz


Tentative Schedule (last UPDATE: November 03, 2009)

Number Date Topic Reading Information Research Assignments General Assignments
1 Aug 30 Overview  No reading      
2 Sep 1 Crisis of Humanism Cassirer, An Essay on Man, 1-22   Cassirer  
Segment I: Human Nature and Transcendence
3 6 Human Nature, Paradigm I: Theological Anthropology Augustine, book 1, Confessions, (course packet) Click here Augustine  
4 8 Human Nature, Paradigm I: Theological Anthropology Augustine, book 1, Confessions, (course packet)      
Segment II: Human Nature and Immanence
5 13 Human Nature, Paradigm II: Modernism Sartre, Existentialism is a Humanism (course packet) Click here Sartre  
6 15 Human Nature, Paradigm II: Modernism Sartre, Existentialism is a Humanism (course packet)      
Segment III: Human Nature and Human Culture
7 20 Human Nature III: Animal Symbolicum Cassirer, An Essay on Man, 23-71      
8 22 Human Nature III: Animal Symbolicum Cassirer, An Essay on Man, 23-71      
9 27 Human Nature III: Animal Symbolicum Cassirer, An Essay on Man, 23-71      
10 29 Myth/Religion Cassirer, An Essay on Man, 72-109      
11 error error error error error  
12 Oct 4 Language, Class review Cassirer, An Essay on Man, 109-136      
13 6 Response Session Response Session Response Session   TEST 1
Segment III: Human Nature and the New Biologism
14 11 The Naturalistic Concept of Culture Pinker, The Blank Slate, Part I (pp.1-73) Click here Pinker  
15 13 Inequality, Imperfecibility, Determinism Pinker, The Blank Slate, Part III (pp.137-186)      
16 18 Nihilism, Reality Pinker, The Blank Slate, Part III (pp.186-241)      
17 20 no class no class no class Discussion sections meet as scheduled!  
18 25 Suffering Pinker, The Blank Slate, Part III (pp.241-281)      
Segment IV: Philosophy of Culture and the Arts
19 27 Introduction to this Section: Art and Culture Cassirer, An Essay on Man, 137-171      
20 Nov 1 Introduction to this Section: Art and Culture Cassirer, An Essay on Man, 137-171      
21 3 Art as Human Self-Recognition Hegel, On Art, 22-37   Hegel  
22 8 Art as Human Self-Recognition Hegel, On Art, 22-37      
23 10 Conceptions of Art Hegel, On Art, 51-70      
24 15 Art and Truth Hegel, On Art, 70-87      
26 17 Response Session Response Session Response Session   TEST 2
Segment V: Humanism and Modern Art (Painting)
25 22 Introduction:
Modern Art and the End of Humanism?
Art in Theory, 309-314 (Gropius, Theory and Organization of the Bauhaus); 362-369 (Klee, On Modern Art); 387-393 (Mondrian, Plastic Art); 520-530 (Benjamin/Adorno, The Work of Art, Letter to Benjamin), 152-154 (Delaunay, On the Construction of Reality), 159 -162 (Leger, Contemporary Achievements), 201-205 (Leger, The Origins of Painting), 263-265 (Blok, The Decline of Humanism)   Gropius,  Kandinsky, Benjamin  
27 24 no class no class no class no class Prepare paper
28 29 Human Space and Embodiment Art in Theory 767-771 (Merleau-Ponty, Eye and Mind); 611-616 (Sartre, The Search for the Absolute), 625-626 (Ponge, Reflections), 626-629 (Camus, Creation and Revolution), 635-640 (Bacon, Interview with Sylvester), 643-646 (Motherwell, The Modern Painter's World), 640-642 (Leger), 677-680 (Moore, The Sculptor in Modern Society) Works from De Kooning, Degas and Giacometti De Kooning, Giacometti, Degas  
29 Dec 1 Abstract Expressionism (American Art after WWII) Art in Theory, 557-595 (The American Avantgarde), 773-779 (Greenberg, Modernist Painting), 783-785 (Newman, Interview), 787-793 (Fried, Three American Painters) Guest Lecture, Dr. Loeb (Central Michigan University) Guest Lecture, Dr. Loeb (Central Michigan University) Guest Lecture, Dr. Loeb (Central Michigan University)
30 6 Religion and Transcendence Art in Theory, 82-93 (Kandinsky, Concerning the Spiritual in Art), Klee, Artistic Confession,  (copy, course packet), Works from Rothko Merleau-Ponty, Abstract Expressionism  
31 8 Response Session Response Session Response Session   Paper due
  13 Final Exam Tuesday, December 13, 3:00-5:00 p.m. Final Exam Final Exam Final Exam


Class Meetings: 
Days: TTH 
Time: 3:00pm-4:20pm
Place: 1279 Anthony

Phone: 517.353.9721
Place: 507 S. Kedzie Hall
Hours: TTH (1:00-2:00pm), by appointment and by phone

Exceptions: Oct 18, Oct 22

Other Contact:
E-mail: lotz@msu.edu
Home Phone: 517.337.8524

URL: http://www.msu.edu/~lotz/classes
(Please check the webpage regularily for the current schedule)

You will find my box in the front office of the philosophy department (and in front of my office)

Teaching Assistant: Karen Meagher

Phone: 517,353.8660
Place: 541 South Kedzie Hall
Hours: T (2:00-3:00pm), and by appointment

Other Contact:
E-mail: karen.meagher@gmail.com

Course Description:

This integrative studies lecture class will discuss selected aspects of a philosophy of culture by reflecting on the human condition and on some aspects of humanism. In this vein, we will consider the following questions: What does it mean to be human, and why do we need the humanities? How are the humanities differentiated from the natural sciences? After introducing two traditional answers to the question of what human beings are, from the perspective of Augustine and Sartre, we will - from a general human point of view – reflect on central aspects of the human condition, such as religion, history, culture and art, by studying Ernst Cassirer’s An Essay on Man. Introduction to a Philosophy of Human Culture. In addition, we will discuss the need of the humanities and the human sciences for a proper understanding of human culture. We will investigate the role that the arts play in this picture by first focusing on some basic aspects of the arts in general, such as the function of the arts and its connection to playing and festival, from the perspective of Hegel and Gadamer. After this, we will study selected examples in Modern Painting and Sculpture (e.g., Giacometti, De Kooning, Klee, Kandinsky, Rothko). Finally, we will discuss contemporary attempts to declare the end of humanism by reading Pinker’s The Blank Slate. The Modern Denial of Human nature.

IAH Course Goals

IIntegrative Studies at MSU seeks to assist students to become more familiar with ways of knowing in the arts and humanities and to be more knowledgeable and capable in a range of intellectual and expressive abilities.  IAH courses encourage students to engage critically with their own society, history, and culture(s); they also encourage students to learn more about the history and culture of other societies.  They focus on key ideas and issues in human experience; encourage appreciation of the roles of knowledge and values in shaping and understanding human behavior; emphasize the responsibilities and opportunities of democratic citizenship; highlight the value of the creative arts of literature, theater, music, and arts; and alert us to important issues that occur among peoples in an increasingly interconnected, interdependent world.


Real learning is not properly measured by multiple-choice tests; especially since in the humanities there is no specific content of a sort that may be covered well in standardized examinations, which every student in the humanities should be expected to master. Instead, you will - hopefully - come to recognize that philosophy as a general intellectual reflection on what we are and why we are here, deals with your dignity as human beings and with your intellect and reason, which is best expressed in a form of learning that is based on understanding and insight, and not mere learning by heart. It is hoped that the class will stimulate the view that intellectual activity (and therefore human reality) has to do with the passion of thinking, and the passion of understanding of our world.

Specific Course Goals

This lecture class should students introduce to

  • two selected traditional views on human nature (Augustine, Sartre)
  • the concept of the humanities and human sciences in opposition to the natural sciences
  • the idea that human culture is the expression and objectification of human activity
  • the concept of art as one major source and expression of human culture and human nature
  • the purpose(s) of art (imitation, expression, perfection, truth)
  • modern art as a confrontation with human nature and human culture (religion/Rothko, embodiment/De Kooning, symbol/Klee)
  • selected modern artists and carefully selected works (Kandinsky, Giacometti, De Kooning, Rothko)
  • the contemporary paradigm shift towards a destruction of the traditional cultural view of human beings and the biological impact on contemporary thinking about human nature

Required Texts

  • Cassirer, Ernst, An Essay on Man : An Introduction to a Philosophy of Human Culture, Yale University Press, ISBn: 0300000340
  • Hegel, G.W.F., On Art, Religion, and the History of Philosophy, Introductory Lectures, Edited by J. Glenn Gray, Introduction by Tom Rockmore, 1997, ISBn 0-87220-370-0
  • Pinker, Steven, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human nature, Penguin Putnam, ISBn: 0670031518
  • Art in Theory 1900-1990. An Anthology of Changing Ideas, edited by Charles Harrison and Paul Wood, Cambridge: Blackwell 1999
  • Course Packet (Augustine, Sartre, etc)

Course Packet:

The course packet with additional copies (Sartre, Augustine, Klee) is available at Budget Printing Center, 974 Trowbridge Road, 517.351.1200; pick up your copy today!

Course Organization

The course will be organized such that, ideally, each class period will include [i] "interactive" lecture, [ii] discussion time  or [iii] response session. Students will be asked to intensively prepare a certain text or part of a text for the next class period.

Course Requirements

  • Daily Reading and Studying (around 5 pages)
  • 2 pass/fail tests on your reading
  • 1 group work assignment (paper preparation)
  • 1 paper assignment (3 pages)
  • 1 final essay exam


The class and my lectures are solely based on the texts selected for class and require a thorough study and preparation of the material. I will primarily lecture on the readings, which will help you to more fully understand the texts. Therefore it is not sufficient for students to come to class without having prepared the texts. And indeed, the exams will test whether you have appropriately prepared the readings selected for each lecture.

Modern Art

Segment V will deal with carefully selected examples regarding the question of the connection between human nature and art. We will discuss mainly modern examples, especially paintings and sculptures. Please be aware that this is not an art appreciation class. Instead, the segment is based on considerations of ideas that underlie modern European and American art. Thus, you must do research on the artists and styles selected for this part of the class if you do not feel competent in the history of modern art. I highly recommend the Encyclopedia Britannica (full version, access through library).

Class Attendance

I hope and strongly encourage that students attend all classes. However, I will not require attendance, as I think that college students should manage their own class attendance decisions. nevertheless, please be aware that you should not make me responsible for a failure that results out of your decision. You should be aware that chances to master this class are minimal, if you do not show up for class or if you do not prepare the readings.

Response Sheets

Every student is asked to submit "reponse sheets" after my lectures. Every student can submit up to 5 reponse sheets over the course of the semester and every sheet that you turn in will count 2 points.

Click here to download the response sheet (Word document)

Note: I will only accept responses that are given on this form.

The submitted response sheets will be handed over to the TA, who will use them to address selected questions in his/her sections. This procedure will help you to clarify problems, reflect on topics, and to find answers to questions that came up during the lecture.

Response Sessions

In addition, selected classes will be held as "response sessions" (see schedule above). During those classes I will address questions that you submitted during the course of the lectures, in addition to which you will be able to formulate questions in class. The last 30 minutes of the response sessions are reserved for the brief tests.

Study Questions (new)

For additional help, please download these sets of study questions:

First set of questions (Augustine, Sartre, Cassirer)
Second set of questions (Pinker, Cassirer, Hegel)


There  will be 2 tests, which will test whether you prepared the readings. You will not be able to answer the exam question(s) if you did not study the texts. The tests are pass/fail tests, and each exam counts ten points. Consequently, failing a test will bring your grade down by one grade.

Make-Up Exam

Students who need to miss an exam for excusable reasons must inform me ahead of time, and will be permitted to make up the exam. Students who do not excuse themselves ahead of time, fail the exam.

Paper Assignment

There will be one brief paper assignment (3-4 pages). The paper assignment should lead you to a reflection and consideration of what we have discovered on the theoretical level about human nature and human culture.

Download paper assignment here (MS Word)

Preparatory Group Work Assignment

There will be one graded preparatory group work assignment in the discussion section that contains an exciting field trip to MSU's Kresge Art Museum as well as an oral presentation on art work (the TA will discuss with you the details of this assignment).


You will receive points for participation in your discussion section (see below).

Final Essay Exam

The final essay exam asks you to comment on a quote taken from one of the readings, and to relate the quote to the overall content of the class.

Course Evaluation

You will be evaluated on the basis of:

5 response sheets 10 points
2 brief tests (pass/fail) 20 points
1 final essay exam 30 points
Discussion section:  
1 paper assignment 20 points
1 group assignment 10 points
Participation points 10 points
  100 points


4.0 99 – 90
3.5 8589
3 8084
2.5 7579
2 70 – 74
1.5 6569
1.0 6064
0.0 < 60

GENERIC SYLLABUS (might not be applicable to each class)

Class Attendance

As mentioned above, I do not employ in my classes a class attendance policy. Having said this, you should be aware that class attendance is very important. When engaging in a philosophical and humanistic dialogue it is necessary to be an active and present participant in the ongoing discussion. If you miss class please do not email me asking if you missed anything important. Every class is important. You should get a study buddy for the class; a student in class who will inform you of what you missed. An email referencing that you miss a class and want to know what you missed will result in 10 percent off your final grade score. If you miss a class you can come to my office hours or make an appointment to discuss the material, providing you have read the material and you simply want to see if your understanding of the material is on target. Time in office hours will not be used to repeat the class lectures.

Grading Criteria

Click here to see my grading criteria for oral presentations (not required in this class)
Click here to see my grading criteria for papers (tentative)
Click here to see an EXAMPLE of my grading criteria for essay exams (taken from an older class)

Helpful information about oral presentations, paper writing and plagiarism

Click here to find help on your presentations and your writing

Online Research Sources

Unfortunately, some people think that the internet as such is a reliable source of information. If you decide to use online sources for additional information or your paper then do not just use one of the common internet search engines, such as Google; rather, use reliable academic sources, such as Britannica Online, or the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The Internet Ecyclopedia of Philosophy isn't very good, but still acceptable. Check out MSU's library resources! And, as with other sources, you must cite any online sources to which you refer in your essay.

Writing Center Information

MSU's writing center offers excellent help on all matters regarding writing and learning. Check the website at http://writing.msu.edu for an overview and hours. For more information, please call 517.432.3610 or send an e-mail to writing@msu.edu.


In any essay or exam answer submitted for assessment, all passages taken from other people's work must be placed within quotation marks, with specific reference to author, title and page. no excuse can be accepted for any failure to do so, nor will inclusion of the source in a bibliography be considered inadequate acknowledgement. If the marker decides that plagiarism has occurred, the student may be judged to have failed the class.

Academic Honesty

Article 2.3.3 of the Academic Freedom Report states that "The student shares with the faculty the responsibility for maintaining the integrity of scholarship, grades, and professional standards." In addition, the (insert name of unit offering course) adheres to the policies on academic honesty as specified in General Student Regulations 1.0, Protection of Scholarship and Grades; the all-University Policy on Integrity of Scholarship and Grades; and Ordinance 17.00, Examinations. (See Spartan Life: Student Handbook and Resource Guide and/or the MSU Web site: www.msu.edu) Therefore, unless authorized by your instructor, you are expected to complete all course assignments, including homework, lab work, quizzes, tests and exams, without assistance from any source. You are expected to develop original work for this course; therefore, you may not submit course work completed for another course to satisfy the requirements for this course. Also, you are not authorized to use the www.allmsu.com Web site to complete any course work in (insert course number here). Students who violate MSU rules may receive a penalty grade, including but not limited to a failing grade on the assignment or in the course. Contact your instructor if you are unsure about the appropriateness of your course work. (See also http://www.msu.edu/unit/ombud/honestylinks.html)

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities should contact the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities to establish reasonable accommodations. For an appointment with a counselor, call 353-9642 (voice) or 355-1293 (TTY

Drops and Adds

The last day to add this course is the end of the first week of classes. The last day to drop this course with a 100 percent refund and no grade reported is (insert date). The last day to drop this course with no refund and no grade reported is (insert date). You should immediately make a copy of your amended schedule to verify you have added or dropped this course.

Note on Attendance

Students whose names do not appear on the official class list for this course may not attend this class. Students who fail to attend the first four class sessions or class by the fifth day of the semester, whichever occurs first, may be dropped from the course.

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