Authored by: Michael Inwood

The Routledge Companion to Aesthetics

Print publication date:  April  2013
Online publication date:  April  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415782869
eBook ISBN: 9780203813034
Adobe ISBN: 9781136697142


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Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831) was, along with Fichte and Schelling, one of the three great “German idealists” who followed in the wake of Kant. He differed from Kant in several respects. In particular, he believed that human beings acquire their grasp of the world and of themselves not only through prosaic cognition but also through art and religion: they are ways of discovering the world and ourselves, not simply ways of beautifying or sanctifying what we have already discovered. He believed too that our ways of making sense of things — art, religion, even our fundamental categories or thoughts — develop over history. Thus Hegel is concerned not only with the formal features of art, but with its content or meaning. He is also concerned with the history of art and with its changing relationship to its competitors, religion and philosophy (or “science”). He sometimes presents art, religion and philosophy as progressively satisfactory ways of grasping the “absolute” or the nature of things: art grasps the absolute in sensory intuition, religion in pictorial imagination (Vorstellung), philosophy in conceptual thought (Hegel 1975: 101ff.).

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