Lectures on Aesthetics  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Lectures on Aesthetics (in German: Vorlesungen über die Ästhetik) is a compilation of notes from university lectures on aesthetics given by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel in Heidelberg in 1818 and in Berlin in 1820/21, 1823, 1826 and 1828/29. It was compiled in 1835 by his publisher Heinrich Gustav Hotho, using Hegel's own hand-written notes and notes his students took during the lectures but eventually distorting his master's thought.

Hegel's Aesthetics is regarded by many as one of the greatest aesthetic theories to have been produced since Aristotle. Hegel's thesis of the "end of art" influenced several thinkers like Theodor W. Adorno, Martin Heidegger, György Lukács, Jacques Derrida and Arthur Danto. Hegel was himself influenced by Johann Joachim Winckelmann, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Schiller and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling. Heidegger calls Hegel's Lectures on Aesthetics "the most comprehensive reflection on the essence of art that the West possesses".

Most notably, these lectures famously included Hegel's pronouncement of the "death of art" (i.e., the notion that art could no longer be a proper vehicle for humanity's comprehension of its own essence).

Content

The lectures are presented under three broad headers.

  1. The first part is devoted to the general notions of beauty and ideal.
  2. The second part examines this ideal as it realizes itself in three stages, the "particular forms of art", each respectively represented "in full" by Egyptian architecture (which displays its aporetical nature under the guise of a Sphinx), the representation of the gods in classical Greek statuary and the Passion of Christ (taken as the content of representation):
    1. symbolic art,
    2. classical art
    3. romantic art
  3. The third and final part concerns itself with the examination of each of the five major art forms in ascending order:
    1. architecture
    2. sculpture
    3. painting
    4. music
    5. poetry

Hegel's exposition is faithful to his dialectical method, showing how the various forms art has taken are dissolved and give place to "higher" forms through the work of the negative, i.e. the internal contradictions these forms each bear in their time.

Hegel documents the rise of art from symbolic architecture, classical sculpture and romantic poetry. At the time it was noted for the wealth of pictures included with it. In Hegel's discussion of sculpture he outlined his ideas on human beauty. Most notably, these lectures famously included Hegel's pronouncement of the "death of art" (i.e., the notion that art could no longer be a proper vehicle for humanity's comprehension of its own essence).




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Lectures on Aesthetics" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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