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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Tara A Smith

Professor PhD, Johns Hopkins

Contact

  • Phone: 471-6777
  • Office: WAG 231
  • Office Hours: Tuesdays & Thursday 3:15-4:15 and by appointment
  • Campus Mail Code: C3500

Biography

Professor Smith’s main interests concern the nature of values, virtues, and the requirements of objective law. She is currently writing a book on  proper methodology in judicial review. Smith is author of Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics – The Virtuous Egoist (2006), Viable Values – A Study of Life as the Root and Reward of Morality (2000), and Moral Rights and Political Freedom (1995), as well as a number of articles in such venues as The Journal of Philosophy, American Philosophical Quarterly, Law and Philosophy, and Social Philosophy and Policy. Recent publications include "Neutrality Isn't Neutral -- On the Value Neutrality of the Rule of Law," Washington Universoty Jurisprudence Review, 2011, “Reckless Caution: The Perils of Judicial Minimalism,” NYU Journal of Law & Liberty, 2010, and “Originalism’s Misplaced Fidelity: 'Original' Meaning is Not Objective," Constitutional Commentary, 2009. She is the BB&T Chair for the Study of Objectivism and also holds the Anthem Foundation Fellowship.

Interests

Moral, Political & Legal Philosophy

T C 302 • Art, Sport & Meaning Of Life

43355 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm WAG 210
show description

Art, Sport & Meaning of Life

Tara Smith

 

Description:

This course will explore the meaning and value of two unusual human activities – the creation and contemplation of art and the playing and watching of sports – and aim to situate them in the larger framework of how human beings should lead their lives.  What, in particular, is truly valuable in a human life?  What is most valuable?  And what might art or sport have to do with that?

In different forms, both art and sport have been around for millennia.  In part, we will address the question: why?  “It’s just a story,” after all; “it’s only a game.”  Both realms are artificial and even the finest displays in each stand removed from ordinary, practical concerns.  Neither offers a utilitarian service, such as baking bread or curing the sick.  Yet people devote countless hours and often care passionately about a work of art or a particular team.  (Think about your favorite music, or a painting that you loathe, or the OU game.)  Should they care so much about such … trivialities?

Is interest in art or sport a matter of personal preference or taste, or does either speak to some sort of need in the human psyche?  If so, what is the exact nature of this need?  What is it a need for?  Can we really have non-physical needs?

People enjoy many forms of rest and less structured forms of play than those provided by art and sport.  Nature offers considerable beauty and people’s lives (as well as history) offer plenty of stories to contemplate.  Given this, what is it about the creation or contemplation of art or about being a spectator or player of sport that is distinctively gratifying?  And what is the point of these activities?  Is art valuable in order to teach lessons, for instance, or to convey a moral?  Is sport worthwhile as a means of building character or developing specific skills or traits, such as discipline, persistence, or teamwork, as many have claimed?  Is either art or sport simply an end in itself? What makes anything an end in itself?  And what bestows value on anything, for that matter?

By seeking to understand the unusual kind of value that art and sport offer (along with significant similarities and differences in their value), we will be led to consider the nature of values, as such.  Correspondingly, by exploring the meaning of art and the meaning of sport, we will explore the age-old question of the meaning of life.  And the meaning and value of things within a person’s life.

 

Texts/Readings:

Susan Wolf, Meaning in Life & Why it Matters

Additional readings will be required in the form of a course packet, PDF’s posted to Blackboard, and online articles.

 

Assignments (probable):

Paper 1 and draft – 4 pages – 15%

Paper 2 and draft – 4 pages – 20%

Paper 3 and draft – 6-8 pages – 25% (this draft will be graded by the prof. & must be substantially revised)

Final Exam (take home, all essays) – 25%

Oral presentation, brief homework assignments, attendance, thoughtful participation – 15%

 

About the Professor:

Professor Tara Smith’s main interests concern the nature of values, virtues, and the requirements of objective law.  She is currently writing a book on objective law and its proper interpretation by courts. Smith is the author of Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics – The Virtuous Egoist (2006), Viable Values – A Study of Life as the Root and Reward of Morality (2000), and Moral Rights and Political Freedom (1995), as well as numerous articles spanning such topics as honesty, justice, forgiveness, friendship, pride, moral perfection, intrinsic value, the nature of objectivity, rights “conflicts,” judicial Originalism, and the Rule of Law. She holds the BB&T Chair for the Study of Objectivism and is a lifelong New York Giants fan.

 

T C 302 • Art, Sport & Meaning Of Life

43395 • Fall 2013
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm WAG 210
show description

Description:

This course will explore the meaning and value of two unusual human activities – the creation and contemplation of art and the playing and watching of sports – and aim to situate them in the larger framework of how human beings should lead their lives.  What, in particular, is truly valuable in a human life?  What is most valuable?  And what might art or sport have to do with that?

In different forms, both art and sport have been around for millennia.  In part, we will address the question: why?  “It’s just a story,” after all; “it’s only a game.”  Both realms are artificial and even the finest displays in each stand removed from ordinary, practical concerns.  Neither offers a utilitarian service, such as baking bread or curing the sick.  Yet people devote countless hours and often care passionately about a work of art or a particular team.  (Think about your favorite music, or a painting that you loathe, or the OU game.)  Should they care so much about such … trivialities?

Is interest in art or sport a matter of personal preference or taste, or does either speak to some sort of need in the human psyche?  If so, what is the exact nature of this need?  What is it a need for?  Can we really have non-physical needs?

People enjoy many forms of rest and less structured forms of play than those provided by art and sport.  Nature offers considerable beauty and people’s lives (as well as history) offer plenty of stories to contemplate.  Given this, what is it about the creation or contemplation of art or about being a spectator or player of sport that is distinctively gratifying?  And what is the point of these activities?  Is art valuable in order to teach lessons, for instance, or to convey a moral?  Is sport worthwhile as a means of building character or developing specific skills or traits, such as discipline, persistence, or teamwork, as many have claimed?  Is either art or sport simply an end in itself? What makes anything an end in itself?  And what bestows value on anything, for that matter?

By seeking to understand the unusual kind of value that art and sport offer (along with significant similarities and differences in their value), we will be led to consider the nature of values, as such.  Correspondingly, by exploring the meaning of art and the meaning of sport, we will explore the age-old question of the meaning of life.  And the meaning and value of things within a person’s life.

Texts/Readings:

 Susan Wolf, Meaning in Life & Why it Matters

 Additional readings will be required in the form of a course packet, PDF’s posted to Blackboard, and online articles.

Assignments (probable): 

 Paper 1 and draft – 4 pages – 15%

 Paper 2 and draft – 4 pages – 20%

 Paper 3 and draft – 6-8 pages – 25% (this draft will be graded by the prof. & must be substantially revised)

 Final Exam (take home, all essays) – 25%

 Oral presentation, brief homework assignments, attendance, thoughtful participation – 15%

About the Professor:

Professor Tara Smith’s main interests concern the nature of values, virtues, and the requirements of objective law.  She is currently writing a book on objective law and its proper interpretation by courts. Smith is the author of Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics – The Virtuous Egoist (2006), Viable Values – A Study of Life as the Root and Reward of Morality (2000), and Moral Rights and Political Freedom (1995), as well as numerous articles spanning such topics as honesty, justice, forgiveness, friendship, pride, moral perfection, intrinsic value, the nature of objectivity, rights “conflicts,” judicial Originalism, and the Rule of Law. She holds the BB&T Chair for the Study of Objectivism and is a lifelong New York Giants fan.

T C 302 • Art, Sport & Meaning Of Life

42925 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm WAG 112
show description

This course will explore the meaning and value of two unusual human activities – the creation and contemplation of art and the playing and watching of sports – and aim to situate them in the larger framework of how human beings should lead their lives.  What, in particular, is truly valuable in a human life?  What is most valuable?  And what might art or sport have to do with that?

In different forms, both art and sport have been around for millennia.  In part, we will address the question: why?  “It’s just a story,” after all; “it’s only a game.”  Both realms are artificial and even the finest displays in each stand removed from ordinary, practical concerns.  Neither offers a utilitarian service, such as baking bread or curing the sick.  Yet people devote countless hours and often care passionately about a work or art or a particular team.  (Think about your favorite music, or a painting that you loathe, or the OU game.)  Should they?

Is interest in art or sport a matter of personal preference or taste, or does either speak to some sort of need in the human psyche?  If so, what is the exact nature of this need?  What is it a need for?  Does man have non-physical needs?

People enjoy many forms of rest and less structured forms of play than those provided by art and sport.  Nature offers considerable beauty and people’s lives (as well as history) offer plenty of stories to contemplate.  Given this, what is it about the creation or contemplation of art or about being a spectator or player of sport that is distinctly gratifying?  And what is the point of these activities?  Is art valuable in order to teach lessons, for instance, to convey a moral?  Is sport worthwhile as a means of building character of developing specific skills or traits, such as discipline, persistence, or teamwork, as many have claimed?  Is either art or sport simply an end in itself? What makes anything and end in itself?  And what bestows value on anything, for that matter?

By seeking to understand the unusual kind of value that art and sport offer (along with significant similarities and differences in their value), we will be led to consider the nature of values, as such.  Correspondingly, by exploring the meaning of art and the meaning of sport, we will explore the age-old question of the meaning of life.  And the meaning and value of things in a person’s life.

Texts/Readings:

Susan Wolf, Meaning in Life & Why it Matters

Additional readings will be required in the form of a course packet, PDF’s posted to blackboard and online articles

Assignments: 

Paper 1 and draft – 4 pages – 15%

Paper 2 and draft – 4 pages – 20%

Paper 3 and draft – 6-8 pages – 25% (this draft will be graded by the prof. & must be substantially revised)

Final Exam (take home, all essays) – 25%

Oral presentation, brief homework assignments, attendance, thoughtful participation – 15%

About the Professor:

Professor Tara Smith’s main interests concern the nature of values, virtues, and the requirements of objective law.  She is currently writing a book on proper methodology in judicial review. Smith is author of Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics – The Virtuous Egoist (2006), Viable Values – A Study of Life as the Root and Reward of Morality (2000), and Moral Rights and Political Freedom (1995), as well as a number of articles in such venues as The Journal of Philosophy, American Philosophical Quarterly, Law and Philosophy, and Social Philosophy and Policy.  Recent publications include “Reckless Caution: The Perils of Judicial Minimalism,” NYU Journal of Law & Liberty, 2010, and “Originalism’s Misplaced Fidelity: 'Original' Meaning is Not Objective," Constitutional Commentary, 2009. She is the BB&T Chair for the Study of Objectivism and also holds the Anthem Foundation Fellowship and is a lifelong, devoted New York Giants fan. 

 

T C 302 • Art, Sport, & Meaning Of Life

42825 • Fall 2011
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm WAG 112
show description

TC 302: Art, Sport, & the Meaning of Life Tara SmithGeneral Description:This course would explore the meaning and value of two unusual human activities – the creation and contemplation of art and the playing and watching of sports – and aim to situate them in the larger framework of how human beings should lead their lives. What, in particular, is truly valuable in a human life? What is most valuable? And what might art or sport have to do with that?In different forms, both art and sport have been around for millennia. In part, we will address the question: why? “It’s just a story,” after all; “it’s only a game.” Both realms present artificial constructs, and their pursuits stand removed from ordinary, practical concerns. Neither offers a utilitarian service, such as baking the bread or curing the sick. Yet people devote countless hours and often care passionately about a work of art (think of one that you loathe) or a particular team. Should they?Might either of these phenomena speak to some sort of need in the human psyche? A need that is spiritual, rather than physical? A need for what, though? There are other forms of rest and less structured forms of “play;” nature offers plenty of beauty, and people’s lives and history offer plenty of stories, to contemplate. What is it about the creation or contemplation of art or about the participation in or being a spectator of sport that is gratifying? And what is the point of these activities – is art to teach lessons, for instance, convey a moral? Is sport to build character, or develop skills of teamwork? Is either, in any legitimate sense, simply an end in itself?What makes anything an end in itself? And what bestows any value on anything, for that matter?  By exploring these and further questions – including some of the differences as well as the salient similarities between the two realms – we will try to understand the significance of art, sport, and the meaning and value of how one lives his life.

Texts/ Readings:  articles and excerpts from many authors Note: this reading list will be tweaked considerably Nicholas Davidoff, The Crowd Sounds Happy: A Story of Love, Madness, and Baseball.Daniel A. Dombrowski, Contemporary Athletics & Ancient Greek Ideals, 2009 Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, In Praise of Athletic Beauty Michael Mandelbaum, The Meaning of Sports: Why Americans Watch Baseball, Basketball and Football and What They See When They DoWilliam Morgan, Why Sports Really Matter 2006 RoutledgePaul Weiss, Sport: A Philosophic InquiryDoris Kearns Goodwin, Wait Till Next YearCraig Lambert, Mind Over WaterDrew A. Hyland, Philosophy of Sport Drew Hyland, “And That is the Best Part of Us: Human Being & Play” Kenneth Schmitz, “Sport & Play: Suspension of the Ordinary” Kurt Riezler, “Play & Seriousness” McNamee, M.J., “Schadenfreude in sport; envy, justice and self-esteem”Probably also some pieces on sportsmanship, ritual, heroes, and enhancement-performing drugs (insofar as arguments about that reflect on the point of the game) Noah Adams, Piano LessonsAristotle, Aesthetics Jill Dolan, Utopia in PerformanceDenis Dutton, The Art Instinct Joseph Epstein, AstaireMichael Kimmelman, The Accidental Masterpiece – On the Art of Life & Vice Versa Ayn Rand, The Romantic ManifestoWitold Rybczinbski, Looking Around Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit Paul Woodruff The Necessity of Theater  

Requirements: paper – 4 pages – plus draft, read and edited by peers – 15%paper – 4 pages – plus draft, read and edited by peers – 20%paper – 6-8 pages – after being graded, students required to submit revised paper – 25%final exam – essays (take-home) encompassing all major themes of the course – 25%oral presentation & alert participation throughout – 15%

Brief Biography: Tara Smith specializes in moral, legal, and political philosophy. She has worked considerably on the foundations of value and the moral virtues – in particular, those that compose a rationally self-interested life – and has published books and dozens of articles on these as well as such topics as friendship, romantic love, individual rights, the value of money, and the nature of objectivity. Her recent work focuses in jurisprudence on questions of proper interpretation of the law by judges and moral broadly, on the nature of objective law. Smith holds the BB&T Chair for the Study of Objectivism, and is a lifelong, devoted New York Giants fan.

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