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

By William Desmond | Go to book overview

Chapter Six
Beauty and the Aesthetic
Dilemma of Modernity

Beauty and the Absolute

In this concluding chapter I propose to undertake a final exploration of our theme of art and the absolute in terms of the significance of Hegel's concept of the beautiful. A number of reasons can be offered for thus focussing on the beautiful, all of which will be examined in more detail later, but which it would be helpful here to outline in advance. Reflection on the beautiful is a justified aesthetic theme in itself, if indeed it is not the major theme in the history of aesthetics. Yet it can also be seen to facilitate some summation, some gathering up of the substantive themes centering on art and the absolute in Hegel's aesthetics. First, while calling to mind the essential motif of classical, Greek aesthetics, Hegel's concept of the beautiful is firmly placed in the modern problematic of the expressive artistic self and art's positive, creative power (themes discussed in Chapters One and Three). Second, the concept of the beautiful is ultimately related to the issue of art's metaphysical concreteness (the theme of Chapter Two). Third, beauty helps us to make further sense of art's effort to sensuously concretize man's sense of absoluteness and ultimacy (the issue of Chapter Three). Fourth, beauty relates to the concept of art's open wholeness and its synthetic power to accept and include within itself the divisive forces of complex dualisms (issues touched on especially in Chapters Four and Five).

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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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