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Hegel and the Arts

Houlgate, Stephen

Publication Year: 2007

That aesthetics is central to Hegel's philosophical enterprise is not widely acknowledged, nor has his significant contribution to the discipline been truly appreciated. Some may be familiar with his theory of tragedy and his (supposed) doctrine of the "end of art," but many philosophers and writers on art pay little or no attention to his lectures on aesthetics. The essays in this collection, all but one written specifically for this volume, aim to raise the profile of Hegel's aesthetic theory by showing in detail precisely why that theory is so powerful. Writing from various perspectives and not necessarily aligned with Hegel's position, the contributors demonstrate that Hegel's lectures on aesthetics constitute one of the richest reservoirs of ideas about the arts, their history, and their future that we possess.

Published by: Northwestern University Press


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pp. vii-viii

List of Abbreviations

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pp. ix-x

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Introduction: An Overview of Hegel’s Aesthetic

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pp. xi-xxviii

In the draft introduction to his Aesthetic Theory, Theodor Adorno credits both Kant and Hegel with producing “the most powerful aesthetics.”1 Few would deny that Kant is an aesthetic theorist of enormous importance. Hegel’s contribution to aesthetics, however, is less widely acknowledged and appreciated. Some will be...

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Symbolic, Classical, and Romantic Art

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pp. 3-28

From his first published philosophical monograph in 1801 on the Difference Between Schelling’s and Fichte’s Philosophies to the end of his life, Hegel characterized modern life as “estranged from itself” (entzweit), as containing a “reflective” distance between itself and its practices. In his lectures on aesthetics in the

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Hegel’s Architecture

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pp. 29-55

“The first of the particular arts . . . is architecture” (VA 1:116/A 1:83).1 For Hegel, architecture stands at several beginnings. It is the art closest to raw nature. It is also the initial art in a progressive spiritualization that will culminate in poetry and music. The drive for art is spirit’s drive to become fully itself by encountering itself; art...

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Hegel on the Beauty of Sculpture

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pp. 56-89

Hegel considers Greek sculpture of the mid–fifth century b.c. to provide the most perfect examples of ideal beauty. In this respect his views are close to those of Johann Joachim Winckelmann, whose influential work...

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Carnation and the Eccentricity of Painting

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pp. 90-118

As to color it seems that Hegel never wavered. From the time of the first cycle of lectures he gave on aesthetics, there is remarkable constancy regarding color, regarding the decisiveness of color for painting. Throughout the entire Berlin...

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Hegel on Music

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pp. 119-145

At first glance, Hegel says some striking but apparently inconsistent things about music. He appears, first, to defend musical formalism: the view, urged by theorists from Eduard Hanslick to Peter Kivy, that pure instrumental music is an...

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Hegel’s Theory of Tragedy

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pp. 146-178

Tragic drama, for Aristotle, reveals the vulnerability of human virtue. It shows how human beings can go wrong, even if they are “like ourselves” and of basically good (if not excellent)...

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Art and History: Hegel on the End, the Beginning, and the Future of Art

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pp. 179-215

We can readily understand why the young Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy would resent the verdict that art (or at least what he terms “die deutsche Kunst”) was over and done with—he was a living composer after all. Mendelssohn was not alone in his scornful reaction: Hegel’s idea had gained some notoriety...

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Freedom from Nature? Post-Hegelian Reflections on the End(s) of Art

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pp. 216-243

There is an intense elective affinity between Hegel’s announcement of the end of art and the situation of twentieth-century art, especially modernist art, as if the fate that Hegel had proclaimed was finally realized, or perhaps just realized again,...

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What Was Abstract Art? (From the Point of View of Hegel)

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pp. 244-270

The emergence of abstract art, first in the early part of the twentieth century with Kandinsky, Malevich, and Mondrian, and then in the much more celebrated case of America in the 1950s (Rothko, Pollock, et al.), remains puzzling....

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Art, Religion, and the Modernity of Hegel

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pp. 271-295

In Hegel’s philosophy, art and religion both come to an end and yet continue to be in modernity. In this essay I want to explore the relationship between the ending and the afterlife, and consider what light that relationship can shed on the relevance of...

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The “Religion of Art”

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pp. 296-309

Hegel put forward a threefold theory of the Absolute that no longer has anything to do with the old theological speculations concerning the Trinity. The Absolute shows itself as art, religion, and philosophy, with no hierarchical order governing...

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Hegel and German Romanticism

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pp. 310-336

Germany in the 1790s was home to the brief but remarkable movement known as Jena Romanticism. Friedrich Schlegel is the figure most closely associated with the movement, but his brother August Wilhelm took part as well, as did their wives, Caroline and Dorothea; Novalis, Schleiermacher, Tieck, and Wackenroder...


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pp. 337-349


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pp. 351-352

E-ISBN-13: 9780810165984
Print-ISBN-13: 9780810123618

Page Count: 424
Publication Year: 2007

Edition: 1