The Routledge Companion to Nineteenth Century Philosophy

By Dean Moyar | Go to book overview

6
THE AESTHETICS OF
SCHELLING AND HEGEL

Rachel Zuckert


Synopsis

Hegel and Schelling understand art to be a central human activity, one that models, rivals, or even supersedes the accomplishments of philosophy. This exalted status attributed to art rests upon a novel conception of art as a distinctive metaphysical and cognitive achievement: art presents the Absolute, ultimate being, in sensible or finite form. Their theories of art are the source, in the history of aesthetics, of the influential claim that artistic value resides in the “unity of form and content” and are also the first philosophies of art that treat art systematically, differentiated both by media (art forms) and in historical periods.

This essay concentrates on Hegel and Schelling, alone, because Fichte pays little attention to aesthetics, and because the central concern of Kant’s aesthetic theory – the justification of judgments of taste – fits squarely within the eighteenth-century project of philosophical aesthetics (the investigation of taste) and is quite alien to Hegel’s and Schelling’s shared dominant concerns and methods. For this reason, Kant’s aesthetics will be discussed in the “historical background” section; various aspects of Kant’s aesthetic theory that were influential on Hegel and Schelling will also be noted.


Historical background

Though philosophers in the West had long discussed art and beauty, philosophical attention focused intensively upon aesthetics in the eighteenth century. Eighteenthcentury Europe saw the foundation of public institutions dedicated to the arts such as art galleries, museums, and concert halls, as well as the development of a growing public market for artworks. The category of the fine or “beautiful” arts was also first formulated, to include the arts of literature (“poetry”), painting, sculpture, architecture, dance, landscape gardening, and music (see Kristeller 1951 and 1952, and Shiner 2001). In the Germanic countries, this was also a period of great artistic flourishing – the age of Lessing, Schiller, and Goethe, of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven,

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