Fall 2017 Seminar Series: Maritain and Art


Teacher: RJ Snell

Time: 12:45pm-2:45pm on Fridays, lunch provided

Dates: 9/29; 10/13; 11/17; 12/8

Place: Whelan Hall, 16 Stockton Street

               For this year’s theme of Freedom and Making, the fall seminar Maritain and Art focuses mainly on the responsibility of the artist, looking closely at the thought of Jacques Maritain. While Maritain is famous for his arguments on the role of practical reason for the artist, and how this responsibility checked ideological uses of art, he’s also interesting for us because 2017–18 is the 70th anniversary of his arrival to teach at Princeton. By 1947, when the president of Princeton invited him to join the faculty, Maritain was one of the most prominent philosophers and man of letters in the world, and one with high regard for the United States. Among his wide range of interests, including works on epistemology, political theory, metaphysics, and intellectual history, he was well-known in aesthetics, including several influential works written while at Princeton. [Eg: The A. W. Mellon Lectures at the National Gallery of Art, later published as Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry (1953) and The Responsibility of the Artist (1960).] For Maritain, the work of the artist, while quite obviously relating to the problems of aesthetics, could not be treated without reference to what might be termed “the ethics of art,” and thus to the responsibilities of a free person striving to exert their agency through their work. The problem of the artist exemplified responsibility with some acuteness, then. In addition to reading Maritain, we will spend time in the Princeton art museum, which includes in its collection works by those (Chagall, Rouault) with whom Maritain was friends and about whom he wrote.