Ever since Alexander Baumgarten defined aesthetics as the "science of sensible knowledge" (1750), modern philosophers have pondered the relationship between sensory and epistemological processes. In particular, how does a work of art-and a work of literature, even more specifically-trigger insights beyond one's own personal experience of the world? How do such sensations contribute to a comprehensive understanding of that world? And can they shape the ethical response we make to it? This course proposes to "rethink aesthetics" by surveying some of the major works of aesthetic theory in the Western tradition-including Burke, Hume, Kant, Schiller, Schopenhauer, Wilde, Dewey, Adorno, Langer, and Sontag-while also bringing recent research in cognitive studies, affect theory, and feminist and queer theories to bear on the way we frame the category of the "aesthetic" today. With reference to first-order sensations and second-order representations, we will engage paintings, music, dance, poetry, drama, and fiction in order to consider how works of art shape us as knowers and actors in our world.