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Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology

Aesthetics

The liturgy expresses the beauty of the communion with Him ..., the beauty of a harmony which translates into gestures, symbols, words, images and melodies that touch the heart and the spirit and raise marvel and the desire to meet the resurrected Lord, He who is the Door of Beauty.”  Pontifical Council for Culture

Most often when considering St. Thomas Aquinas our thoughts alight on his written works, such as his commentaries on Sacred Scripture, the Summa Contra Gentiles, or more likely the Summa Theologiae. This concentration - from both philosophical and theological perspectives - helps students make connections between the art world (whether as observers or artists) and faith and reason. Our emphasis on liturgical anthropology and the sacred arts is designed to help students understand the anthropological foundations for creative intuition and the need for architecture, visual art, and music as essential tools for engaging our faith.

It is less common for us to consider St. Thomas through the lens of art. In fact, our initial reaction might be a quick sideways glance as to whether there is any relevance. But such a position would betray a fundamental ignorance not only about St. Thomas but also about the Dominican Order. 

The motto of the Dominican Order is Veritas, Truth. And if anyone sought Truth with a vengeance it was St. Thomas. Yet one cannot consider the quest for Truth without also considering a quest for its close companions: Goodness and Beauty. It comes as no surprise, then, that Dominicans have been using the fine arts as a tool for preaching since the 13th century.  

The DSPT Difference in Aesthetics

  • intended for students in the Concurrent MA Option.
  • opportunities for in-depth philosophical explorations of the relationship between beauty, fine arts, and the moral life 
  • DSPT Faculty who specialize in Christian iconography, aesthetics, moral theology and anthropology
  • the Blackfriars Gallery and Library, a specialized library on our campus with over 5,000 volumes dedicated to religion and the arts
  • engagement with established professionals of the DSPT College of Fellows who work in film, poetry, fiction, and journalism
  • a dynamic and supportive advanced research environment through GTU, CARE (Center for the Arts) and UC Berkeley Art and Art History

Core Courses and Faculty

Aesthetics & Theology (STRA-2080), Bryan Kromholtz, OP
Poetry & Creative Intuition (PHRA-4310), Chris Renz, OP
Liturgical Anthropology (LSRA-3500), Chris Renz, OP
Philosophical Aesthetics II (PHRA-4322), Anselm Ramelow, OP
Philosophical Aesthetics I (PHRA-4321), Anselm Ramelow, OP
Hegel's Aesthetics (PHRA-4376), Anselm Ramelow, OP

Refer to the GTU Course Schedule and UC Berkeley Course Catalog for course descriptions and date, time and location information.

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