In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

BOOK REVIEWS 163 ars may be disappointed that some of the more technical points are not pursued as they might be. Booth must also be prepared for the reproach of all those who have labored in the same vineyard: a great deal more remains to be done. HOWARD WILLIAMS University College of Wales, Aberystwyth William Desmond. Art and theAbsolute: A Study ofHegel's Aesthetics.Albany: State University of New York Press, I986. Pp. 222. The study of Hegel's philosophy continues in a revival of interest among European and American scholars of the late twentieth century. Although interest in Hegel's aesthetics has until recendy lagged behind the attention given to other areas of his thought, this aspect of his thought is once again receiving the serious attention of a wide range of scholars in the philosophy of art. A steady output of articles and books over the past twenty some years, primarily the works of a small band of European and American scholars, attests to this renewed interest in Hegel's aesthetics. The range of authors contributing, and the perspectives represented, can be considered a measure of Hegel's pivotal role in contemporary aesthetic discourse. In addition to works by Hegel specialists, we find some by deconstructionists who approach Hegel's aesthetics either as a "whipping boy" representing absolutist values and ideals to be opposed, or as a signature work for understanding modernism in the arts and culture. In the context of analytic philosophy, Hegel is cited by Arthur Danto as offering a source of the self-reflexive character of certain elements of contemporary art, wherein philosophy is recognized as a part of the substance of art, enabling art to assume a role in its own self-understanding. In another context, one finds references to Hegel in contemporary discussions of beauty such as Mary Mothersill 's Beauty Restored (1984). The principal manuscripts on Hegel's aesthetics consist of some one thousand six hundred pages of the lectures located at the Hegel archive in Bochum still awaiting a definitive edition. The most available access to Hegel's text for most scholars, however, is through the text prepared by Gustav Heinrich Hotho, published in 1835. This text is comprised of selections from Hegel's lecture notes prepared between i 818 and 1828i829 , together with the notes of Hotho and several other students. Other relevant passages are found in Hegel's Phenomenology and Encyclopedia. For English readers, T. M. Knox's translation of the Aesthetics, published in 1975, supplanting Osmatson's earlier English rendering, is a useful source. Desmond's book consists of six essays, several of which appeared earlier as journal articles. Throughout these essays the author attempts to show that an understanding of art is essential to Hegel's notion of the Absolute and to his conception of philosophy itself. Absoluteness is understood here as representing the deepest interests of the human spirit that emerge or unfold within experience itself, that is, its ultimate or divine aspects. Art, for Hegel, means the fine arts of architecture, sculpture, painting, music, and literature, and, in a lower category, dance and landscape gardening. Art 164 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 27: I JANUARY 1989 participates in dialectical relations with religion and philosophy, functioning to articulate the absolute dimensions of experience. These claims do not imply that the relations of art to other areas of experience are dispensable or of lesser value. Nor do they presume that experience as understood through philosophy can be reduced to the experience of art. However, Desmond clearly rejects the view that the Absolute, or philosophy itself, can be adequately understood by means of logic alone. He argues that philosophy requires art's concrete richness and ultimacy as an essential part of its disclosure of absolute spirit. To Hegelian scholars who have limited their studies to the non-aesthetic aspects of his thought, and this would include the majority, these claims are indeed radical. If they are taken seriously, Desmond's views might well send a large coterie of scholars scurrying to extend their knowledge of Hegel's views on art. I am inclined to urge that they do so. The principal thrust of Desmond's first essay...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 163-165
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.