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Philosophy & Religious Studies   >   The Ethics of Art


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The Ethics of Art

In this course, Dr Sacha Golob (King’s College, London) explores the relationship between ethics and aesthetics. Must a work of art be morally good in order to qualify as ‘great’? Can morally bad works of art ever be considered great? What does it mean to say that an artwork is ‘good’ or ‘bad’? Does art have anything to do with morality? Or everything to do with it? As we move through the course, we consider several works of art that may be considered morally questionable—Leni Riefenstahl’s ‘Triumph of the Will’ and Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’ and ‘Merchant of Venice’—as well as thinking about the views of key thinkers in this area.


In this module, we introduce the question that sits at the centre of this course: what is the relationship between art and ethics? Can art that is in the service of evil ever be considered ‘great’ art? In order to think about the problem in more depth, we take as an example Leni Riefenstahl’s 1935 film, ‘Triumph of the Will’, routinely praised as one of the best documentaries ever made—but also a piece of Nazi propaganda.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Golob, S. (2018, August 15). The Ethics of Art - Introduction [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Golob, S. "The Ethics of Art – Introduction." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,


Dr Sacha Golob

Dr Sacha Golob

King's College London