Art and the Absolute: A Study of Hegel's Aesthetics

By William Desmond | Go to book overview

Chapter Three
Art, Religion and
Absoluteness

Art, Religion and Absolute Spirit

The power of articulation comes to imaginative emergence in art, making art a realm of meaning in its own right, and binding it to philosophy in relation to concreteness. Our question now is how we are to interpret further this artistic power of articulation, whether indeed we are to confine it to a solely aesthetic rendition. We are brought back to the concept of "creativity" and are forced to ask whether this for Hegel has exclusive aesthetic connotations, or whether, and how, it opens on to the religious dimension of experience. With this question we must attempt to face the metaphysical significance of art (already briefly mentioned) in connection with Hegel's ascription to art of a certain absoluteness.

This ascription of absoluteness to art is perhaps the central problem of Hegel's aesthetics, so it might be helpful to summarize and refocus the difficulty once again here. There are two chief reasons why the precise place of art in Hegel's philosophy of Absolute Spirit has always been controversial. One is the implication that philosophy is "higher" than art, as also is religion: philosophy is the ultimate activity which, it seems, supersedes art and places it below itself in a subordinate position. The second is Hegel's proclamation of the so-called "death" of art: art, Hegel implies, is a thing of the past, given particularly the scientific culture of our age. We should be wary, however,

-35-

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Art and the Absolute: A Study of Hegel's Aesthetics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction xi
  • Chapter One - Art, Imitation and Creation 1
  • Chapter Two - Art, Philosophy and Concreteness 15
  • Chapter Three - Art, Religion and Absoluteness 35
  • Chapter Four - Art, History, and the Question of an End 57
  • Chapter Five - Dialectic, Deconstruction and Art's Wholeness 77
  • Chapter Six - Beauty and the Aesthetic Dilemma of Modernity 103
  • Notes 167
  • Bibliography 205
  • Index 217
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