Lectures on Aesthetics
by G.W.F. Hegel
1. Principle of inner subjectivity — 2. Of the ideas and forms which constitute the basis of Romantic Art. — 3. Of the special mode of representation.
As in the preceding parts of our investigation, so now in Romantic Art, the form is determined by the inner idea of the content or substance which this art is called upon to represent. We must, therefore, in the next place, attempt to make clear the characteristic principle of the new content which, in this new epoch of the development of human thought is revealed to consciousness as the absolute essence of truth, and which appears in its appropriate form of art.
At the very origin of art there existed the tendency of the imagination to struggle upward out of nature into spirituality. But, as yet, the struggle consisted in nothing more than a yearning of the spirit, and, insofar as this failed to furnish a precise content for art, art could really be of service only in providing external forms for mere natural significations, or impersonal abstractions of the substantial inner principle which constitutes the central point of the world.
In Classic Art, however, we find quite the contrary. Here spirituality, though it is now for the first time able to struggle into conscious existence through the cancellation or setting aside of mere natural significations, it is nevertheless the basis and principle of the content; it is a natural phenomenon inseparable from the corporeal and sensuous. It is an external form. This form however, does not, as in the first epoch, remain indefinite, unpervaded by spirit. On the contrary, the perfection of art is here reached in the very fact that the spiritual completely pervades its outer manifestation, that it idealizes the natural in this beautiful union with it, and rises to the measure of the reality of spirit in its substantial individuality. It is thus that Classic Art constituted the absolutely perfect representation of the ideal, the final completion of the realm of Beauty. There neither is nor can there ever be anything more beautiful.
But there exists something still more elevated than the simply beautiful manifestation of spirit in its immediate sensuous form, even though this form be fashioned by spirit as adequate to itself. For this very union of matter and form, which is thus accomplished in the element of the external, and which thus lifts sensuous reality to an adequate existence, nonetheless contradicts the true conception of spirit which is thus forced out of its reconciliation with the corporeal, back upon itself, and compelled to find its own true reconciliation within itself. The simple, pure totality of the ideal (as found in the Classic) dissolves and falls asunder into the double totality of self-existent subjective substance on the one side, and external manifestation on the other, in order that, through this separation, spirit may arrive at a deeper reconciliation in its own element of the inner or purely spiritual. The very essence of spirit is conformity with itself (self-identity), the oneness of its idea with the realisation of the same. It is, then, only in its own world, the spiritual or inner world of the soul, that spirit can find a reality (Dasein) which corresponds to spirit. It is, thus in consciousness that spirit comes to possess its other, its existence, as spirit, with and in itself, and so for the first time to enjoy its infinitude and its freedom.
Spirit thus rises to itself or attains to self-consciousness, and by this means finds within itself its own objectivity, which it was previously compelled to seek in the outer and sensuous forms of material existence. Henceforth it perceives and knows itself in this its unity with itself; and it is precisely this clear self-consciousness of spirit that constitutes the fundamental principle of Romantic Art. But the necessary consequence is that in this last stage of the development of art the beauty of the Classic ideal, which is beauty under its most perfect form and in its purest essence, can no longer be deemed a finality; for spirit now knows that its true nature is not to brought into a corporeal form. It comprehends that it belongs to its essence to abandon this external reality in order to return upon itself, and expressly posits or assumes outer reality to be an existence incapable of fully representing spirit. But if this new content proposes to render itself beautiful, still it is evident that beauty, in the sense in which we have thus far considered it, remains for this content something inferior and subordinate, and develops into the spiritual beauty of the essentially internal — into the beauty of that spiritual subjectivity or personality which is in itself (i.e., potentially) infinite.
But in order that spirit may thus realise its infinite nature it is so much the more necessary that it should rise above mere natural and finite personality in order to reach the height of the Absolute. In other terms, the human soul must bring itself into actual existence as a person (Subjekt) possessing self consciousness and rational will; and this it accomplishes through becoming itself pervaded with the absolutely substantial. On the other hand, the substantial, the true, must not be understood as located outside of humanity, nor must the anthropomorphism of Greek thought be swept away. Rather the human as actual subjectivity or personality must become the principle, and thus, as we have already seen, anthropomorphism for the first time attains to its ultimate fullness and perfection.
II. From the particular elements which are involved in this fundamental principle we have now in general to develop the circle of objects, as well as the form, whose changed aspect is conditioned by the new content of Romantic Art.
The true content of Romantic thought, then, is absolute internality, the adequate and appropriate form of which is spiritual subjectivity, or conscious personality, as comprehension of its own independence and freedom. Now that which is in itself infinite and wholly universal is absolute negativity of all that is finite and particular. It is the simple unity with self which has destroyed all mutually exclusive objects, all processes of nature, with their circle of genesis, decay, and renewal which, in short, has put an end to all limitation of spiritual existence, and dissolved all particular divinities into itself. In this pantheon all the gods are dethroned. The flame of subjectivity has consumed them. In place of plastic polytheism, art now knows but one God, one Spirit, one absolute independence, which, as absolute knowing and determining, abides in free unity with itself, and no longer falls asunder into those special characters and functions whose sole bond of unity was the constraint of a mysterious necessity. Absolute subjectivity, or personality as such, however, would escape from art and be accessible only to abstract thought, if, in order to be an actual subjectivity commensurate with its idea, it did not pass into external existence, and again collect itself out of this reality into itself. Now, this element of actuality belongs to the Absolute, for the product of the activity of the Absolute as infinite negativity is the Absolute itself, as simple self-unity of knowing, and, therefore, as immediacy. Yet, as regards this immediate existence, which is grounded in the Absolute itself, it does not manifest itself as the one jealous God who dissolves the natural, together with finite human existence, without bringing itself into manifestation as actual divine personality, but the true Absolute reveals itself (schliesst sich auf), and thus presents a phase which art is able to comprehend and represent.
But the external existence (Dasein) of God is not the natural and sensuous, as such, but the sensuous elevated to the supersensuous, to spiritual subjectivity, to personality, which, instead of losing the certainty of itself in its outer manifestation, truly for the first time attains to the present actual certainty of itself through its own reality. God in His truth is, therefore, no mere ideal created by the imagination. Rather, He places Himself in the midst of the finitude and outer accidentality of immediate existence, and yet knows Himself in all this as the divine principle (Subjekt) which in itself remains infinite and creates for itself this infinitude. Since, therefore, actual subject or person is the manifestation of God, art now acquires the higher right of employing the human form, together with the modes and conditions of externality generally, for the expression of the Absolute. Nevertheless, the new problem for art can consist only in this: that in this form the inner shall not be submerged in outer corporeal existence, but shall, on the contrary, return into itself in order to bring into view the spiritual consciousness of God in the individual (Subekt). The various moments or elements brought to light by the totality of this view of the world as totality of the truth itself therefore, now find their manifestation in man. And this, in the sense that neither nature as such — as the sun, the sky, the stars, etc. — gives the content and the form, nor does the circle of the divinities of the Greek world of beauty, nor the heroes, nor external deeds in the province of the morality of the family and of political life, attain to infinite value. Rather it is the actual, individual subject or person who acquires this value, since it is in him alone that the eternal moments or elements of absolute truth, which exist actually only as spirit, are multifariously individualised and at the same time reduced to a consistent and abiding unity.
If now we compare these characteristics of Romantic Art with the task of classic Art in its perfect fulfilment in Greek Sculpture, we see that the plastic forms of the gods do not express the movement and activity of spirit which has gone out of its corporeality into itself, and has become pervaded by internal independent-being (Fursichsein). The changeable and accidental phases of empirical individuality are indeed in those lofty images of the gods, but what is lacking in them is the actuality of self-existent personality, the essential characteristic of which is self-knowledge and independent will.
Externally this defect betrays itself in the fact that in the representations of sculpture the expression of the soul simply as soul — namely, the light of the eye — is wanting. The sublimest works of sculptured art are sightless. Their subtle inner being does not beam forth from them, as a self-knowing in that spiritual concentration of which the eye gives intelligence. The ray of the spirit comes from beyond and meets nothing which gives it a response; it belongs alone to the spectator, who cannot contemplate the forms, so to speak, soul in soul, eye in eye. The god of Romantic Art, on the contrary, makes his appearance as a god who sees, who knows himself, who seizes himself in his own inner personality, and who opens the recesses of his nature to the contemplation of the conscious spirit of man. For infinite negativity, the self return of the spiritual into itself, cancels this outflow into the corporeal. Subjectivity is spiritual light which shines into itself, into its hitherto dark realm; and while natural light can shine upon an object, this spiritual light is itself its own ground and object on which it shines and which it recognises as being one and the same with itself. But since now the absolute inner or spiritual manifests itself, in its actual outer existence, under the human form, and since the human stands in relation to the entire world, there is thus inseparably joined to this manifestation of the Absolute a vast multiplicity of objects belonging not only to the spiritual and subjective world, but to the corporeal and objective, and to which the spirit bears relation as to its own.
The thus constituted actuality of absolute subjectivity can have the following forms of content and of manifestation:
1. Our first point of departure we must take from the Absolute itself, which, as actual spirit, gives itself an outer existence (Dasein), knows itself and is self-active. Here the human form is so represented that it is recognised at once as having the divine within itself. Man appears, not as man in mere human character, in the constraint of passion, in finite aims and achievements, nor as in the mere consciousness of God, but is the self-knowing one and universal God Himself, in whose life and suffering, birth, death, and resurrection, is now made manifest, also, for the finite consciousness, what spirit, what the eternal and infinite, is in truth. This content Romantic Art sets forth in the history of Christ, of His mother, of His disciples, and even in the history of all those in whom the Holy Spirit is actual, in whom the entire divine nature is present. For in so far as it is God, who, though in Himself universal, still appears in human form, this reality is, nevertheless, not limited to particular immediate existence in the form of Christ, but unfolds itself in all humanity in which the Divine Spirit becomes ever present, and in this actuality remains one with itself. The spreading abroad [in humanity] of this self-contemplation, of this independent and self-sufficing existence (In-sich-und-bei-sich-sein) of the spirit, is the peace, the reconciliation of the spirit with itself in its objectivity. It constitutes a divine world — a kingdom of God-in which the Divine, from the center outward, possesses the reconciliation of its reality with its idea, completes itself in this reconciliation, and thus attains to independent existence.
2. But however fully this identification may seem to be grounded in the essence of the Absolute itself, still, as spiritual freedom and infinitude, it is by no means a reconciliation which is immediate and ready at hand, from the center outward, in mundane, natural, and spiritual actuality. On the contrary, it attains to completeness only as the elevation of the spirit out of the finitude of its immediate or unrealised existence to its truth, its realised existence. As a consequence of this, the spirit, in order to secure its totality and freedom, separates itself from itself — that is, establishes the distinction between itself, as, on the one hand, a being belonging in part to the realm of nature, in part to that of spirit, but limited in both; and as, on the other hand, a being which is in itself (i.e., potentially) infinite. But with this separation, again, is closely joined the necessity of escaping out of the estrangement from self — in which the finite and natural, the immediacy of existence, the natural heart, is characterised as the negative, the evil, the base and of entering into the kingdom of truth and contentment by the sole means of subjugating this nugatoriness. Thus, spiritual reconciliation is to be conceived and represented only as an activity, a movement of the spirit — as a process in the course of which there arises a struggle, a conflict; and the pain, the death, the agony of nothingness, the torment of the spirit and of materiality (Leiblichkeit) make their appearance as essential moments or elements. For as, in the next place, God separates or distinguishes (ausscheidet) finite actuality from Himself, so also finite man, who begins with himself as outside the divine kingdom, assumes the task of elevating himself to God, of freeing himself from the finite, of doing away with nugatoriness, and of becoming, through this sacrifice (Ertoedten) of his immediate actuality, that which God, in His appearance as man, has made objective as true actuality. The infinite pain attendant upon this Sacrifice of the individual’s own subjectivity or personality, the suffering and death which were more or less excluded from the representations of Classic Art — or, rather, which appeared there only as natural suffering — attain to the rank of real necessity for the first time in Romantic Art.
It cannot be said that among the Greeks death was comprehended in its essential significance. Neither the natural, as such, nor the immediacy of the spirit in its unity with materiality, appeared to them as anything in itself negative, and to them, therefore, death was only an abstract transition, inspiring neither terror nor fear. It was a cessation with which there were associated no further and immeasurable consequences for the dying. But when personality (Subjektivitšt) in its spiritual self-centred being comes to be of infinite importance, then the negation which death bears within itself is a negation of this so significant and valuable self, and hence becomes fearful. It is a death of the soul, which thus, as utterly and completely negative, is excluded forever from all happiness, is absolutely miserable, and may find itself given up to eternal damnation. Greek individuality, on the contrary did not ascribe to itself this value considered as spiritual personality and hence ventured to surround death with bright images; for man fears only for that which is to him of great worth. But life has this infinite value for consciousness only when the person, as spiritual and self-conscious, is the sole actuality, and must now, in well grounded fear, conceive himself as rendered (gesetzt) negative through death. On the other hand however, death does not acquire for Classic Art that affirmative signification to which it attains in Romantic Art. That which we call immortality did not attain to the dignity of a serious conception with the Greeks. It is for the later reflection of the subjective consciousness, with Socrates, that immortality for the first time acquires a deeper meaning and satisfies a more advanced requirement. For example Odyssey. XI., v. 482-491), Ulysses in the under world congratulated Achilles as being happier than all others before or after him, because he had formerly been honoured as the gods, and now was a ruler among the dead. Achilles, as we know, railed at this happiness, and answered that Ulysses should not utter a word of consolation respecting the dead. Rather would he be a servant of the fields, and poor himself, serve a poor man for a pittance, than lord it here over all the vanished dead. On the contrary, in Romantic Art death is only an extinction of the natural soul and of the finite personality; an extinction which operates only against what is in itself negative; which cancels the nugatory, and thus not only brings about the deliverance of the spirit from its finitude and state of inner division, but also secures the spiritual reconciliation of the actual person (des Subjekts) with the absolute or ideal Person. For the Greeks, that life alone was affirmative which was united with natural, outer, material existence; and death, therefore, was the mere negation, the dissolution, of immediate actuality. But in the Romantic conception of the world it has the significance of absolute negativity — that is, the negation of the negative; and, therefore, as the rising of the spirit out of its mere naturalness and inadequate finitude, turns out to be just as much affirmative as negative. The pain and death of expiring personality (Subjektivitšt) is reversed into a return to self; into contentment and happiness; into that reconciled affirmative existence which the Spirit can with difficulty secure only through the destruction of its negative existence, in which, so long as it remains, it is separated from its own truth and vitality. This fundamental characteristic, therefore, not only relates to that form of death which approaches man from the natural side, but it is also a process which the spirit, in order that it may truly live, complete within itself independent of this external negation.
3. The third side of this absolute world of the spirit has its representative in man, in so far as he neither immediately, in himself, brings the absolute and divine, as divine, into manifestation, nor represents the process of elevation to God, and reconciliation with God, but remains within the limits of his own human circle. Here, too, the finite, as such, constitutes the absolute as well from the side of the external affairs of nature and its realm, together with the most restricted phenomena belonging thereto. For the mode of apprehending this content a two fold attitude presents itself. On the one hand, spirit -because it has acquired affirmation with itself — announces itself upon this ground as a self-justified and satisfying element, which it only puts forth (herauskert) this positive character and permits itself in its affirmative satisfaction and internality to reflect itself therefrom. On the other hand, this content is reduced to mere accidentality, which can lay claim to no independent validity. For in it spirit does not find its own true being, and therefore can arrive at unity in no other way than by itself, since for itself it dissolves as finite and negative this finite character of spirit and of nature.
III. We have now, finally, to consider somewhat more at length the significance of the relation of this entire content to the mode of its representation.
1. The material of Romantic Art, at least with reference to the divine, is extremely limited. For, in the first place, as we have already pointed out, nature is deprived of its divine attributes; sea, mountain, and valley, streams, springs, time, and night, as well as the universal process of nature, have all lost their true value with respect to the representation and content of the Absolute. The images of nature are no longer set forth symbolically. They are stripped of the characteristic which rendered their forms and activities appropriate as traits of divinity. For all the great questions concerning the origin of the world — concerning the whence, the whither, the wherefore of created nature and humanity, together with all the symbolic and plastic attempts to solve and to represent these problems have vanished in consequence of the revelation of God in the spirit; and even the gay, thousand-hued earth, with all its classically-figured characters, deeds, and events, is swallowed up in spirit, condensed in the single luminous point of the Absolute and its eternal process of Redemption (Erloessungs-geschichte). The entire content, therefore, is thus concentrated upon the internality of the spirit — upon the perception, the imagination and the soul-which strives after unity with the truth — and seeks and struggles to produce and to retain the divine in the individual (Subjekt). Thus, though the soul is still destined to pass through the world, it no longer pursues merely worldly aims and undertakings. Rather it has for its essential purpose and endeavour the inner struggle of man with himself, and his reconciliation with God, and brings into representation only personality and its conservation, together with appliances for the accomplishment of this end. The heroism which can here make its appearance is by no means a heroism which makes its own law, establishes regulations, creates and transforms conditions, but a heroism of submission, for which everything is settled and determined beforehand, and to which there thenceforth remains only the task of regulating temporal affairs according to it, of applying to the existing world that higher principle which has validity in and for itself, and, finally, of rendering it practically valuable in the affairs of everyday life. But since now this absolute content appears to he concentrated in the spaceless, subjective soul, and thus each and every process comes to he transferred to the inner life of man, the circle of this content is thus again infinitely extended. It develops into so much the more unrestrained manifoldness. For though the objective process (of history) to which we have referred does not itself include the substantial character of the soul, still the individual, as subject, penetrates that process from every side, brings to light every point therein, or presents itself in ever newly developed human inclinations, and is, besides, still able to absorb into itself the whole extent of nature, as mere environment and locality of the spirit, and to assign to it an important purpose. Thus the life (Geschichte) of the soul comes to be infinitely rich, and can adapt itself in the most manifold ways to ever changing circumstances and situations. And if now, for the first time, man steps out of this absolute circle and mingles in worldly affairs, by so much the more immeasurable will be the sphere (Umfang) of interests, aims, and inclinations; as the spirit, in accordance with this principle, has become more profound, and has, therefore, unfolded itself in its development to its infinitely enhanced fullness of inner and outer collisions, distractions. progressive stages of passion, and to the most varied degrees of satisfaction. Though the Absolute is in itself completely universal, still, as it makes itself known in mankind especially, it constitutes the inner content of Romantic Art, and thus, indeed, all humanity, with its entire development, forms the immeasurable and legitimate material of that art.
2. It may be, indeed, that Romantic Art, as art, does not bring this content into prominence, as was done in great measure in the Symbolic, and, above all, in the Classic form of Art, with its ideal gods. As we have already seen, this art is not, as art, the revealed teaching (Belehren) which produces the content of truth directly only in the form of art for the imagination, but the content is already at hand for itself outside the region of art in imagination and sensuous perception. Here, religion, as the universal consciousness of truth in a wholly other sphere (Grade), constitutes the essential point of departure for art. It lies quite outside the external modes of manifestation for the actual consciousness, and makes its appearance in sensuous reality as prosaic events belonging to the present. Since, indeed, the content of revelation to the spirit is the eternal, absolute nature of sprit, which separates itself from the natural as such and debases it, manifestation in the immediate thus holds such rank (Stellung) that this outer, so far as it subsists and has actual-being (Dasein), remains only an incidental world out of which the Absolute takes itself up into the spiritual and inner, and thus for the first time really arrives at the truth. At this stage the outer is looked upon as an indifferent element to which the spirit can no longer give credence, and in which it no longer has an abode. The less worthy the spirit esteems this outer actuality, by so much the less is it possible for the spirit ever to seek its satisfaction therein, or to find itself reconciled through union with the external as with itself.
3. In Romantic Art, therefore, on the side of external manifestation, the mode of actual representation in accordance with this principle does not go essentially beyond specific, ordinary actuality, and in nowise fears to take up into itself this real outer existence (Dasein) in its finite incompleteness and particularity. Here, again, has vanished that ideal beauty which repudiates the external view of temporality and the traces of transitoriness in order to replace its hitherto imperfect development by the blooming beauty of existence. Romantic Art no longer has for its aim this free vitality of actual existence, in its infinite calmness and submergence of the soul in the corporeal, nor even this life, as such, in its most precious significance, but turns its back upon this highest phase beauty. Indeed, it interweaves its inner being with the accidentality of external organisation, and allows unrestricted play room to the marked characteristics of the ugly.
In the Romantic, therefore, we have two worlds. The one is the spiritual realm, which is complete in itself — the soul, which finds its reconciliation within itself, and which now for the first time bends around the otherwise rectilinear repetition of genesis, destruction and renewal, to the true circle, to return-into-self, to the genuine Phoenix-life of the spirit. The other is the realm of the eternal, as such, which, shut out from a unity with the spirit, now becomes a wholly empirical actuality, respecting whose form the soul is unconcerned. In Classic Art, spirit controlled empirical manifestation and pervaded it completely, because it was that form itself in which spirit was to gain its perfect reality. Now, however, the inner or spiritual is indifferent respecting the mode of manifestation of immediate or sensuous world, because immediacy is unworthy of the happiness or the soul in itself. The external and phenomenal is no longer able to express internality; and since, indeed, it is no longer called upon to do this, it thus retains the task of proving that the external or sensuous is an incomplete existence, and must refer back to the spiritual, to intellect, (Gemut), and the sensibility, as to the essential element. But for this very reason Art allows externality to again appear on its own account, and in this respect permits each and every matter to enter unhindered into the representation. Even flowers, trees, and the most ordinary household furniture are admitted, and this, too, in the natural accidentality of mere present existence. This content, however, bears with it at the same time the characteristic that as mere external matter it is insignificant and low; that it only attains its true value when it is pervaded by human interest; and that it must express not merely the inner or subjective, but even internality or subjectivity itself, which, instead of blending or fusing itself with outer or material, appears reconciled only in and with itself. Thus driven to externality, the inner at this point becomes manifestation destitute of externality. It is, as it were, invisible, and comprehended only by itself; a tone, as such without objectivity or form; a wave upon water, a resounding through a world, which in and upon its heterogeneous phenomena can only take up and send back a reflected ray of this independent-being (Isichseins) of the soul.
We may now comprise in a single word this relation between content and form as it appears in the Romantic — for here it is that this relation attains to its complete characterisation. It is this: just because the ever increasing universality and restless working depth of the soul constitute the fundamental principle of the keynote thereof is musical, and, in connection with the particularised content of the imagination lyrical. For Romantic Art is, as it were, the elementary characteristic — a tone which the epic and the drama also strike, and which breathes about the works of the arts of visible representation themselves like a universal, fragrant odour of the soul; for here spirit and soul will speak to spirit and soul through all their images.
DIVISION: We come now to the division necessary to be established for the further and more precisely developing investigation of this third great realm of art. The fundamental idea of the Romantic in its internal unfolding lies in the following three moments or elements:
1. The Religious as such, constitutes the first circle, of which the central point is given in the history of redemption — in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Introversion (Umkehr) here assumes importance as the chief characteristic. The spirit assumes an attitude of hostility toward, and overcomes, its own immediacy and finitude, and through thus rendering itself free it attains to its infinity, and absolute independence in its own sphere.
2. Secondly, this independence passes out of the abstract divine of the spirit, and also leaves aside the elevation of finite man to God, and passes into the affairs of the secular world. Here at once it is the individual (Subjekt), as such, that has become affirmative for itself, and has for the substance of its consciousness, as also for the interest of its existence, the virtues of this affirmative individuality, namely, honour, love, fidelity, and valour — that is, the aims and duties which belong to Romantic Knighthood.
3. The content and form of the third division may be summed up, in general, as Formal Independence of Character. If, indeed, personality is so far developed that spiritual independence has come to be its essential interest, then there comes, also, to be a special Content, with which personality identifies itself as with its own, and shares with it the same independence, which, however, can only be of a formal type, since it does not consist in the substantiality of its life, as is the case in the circle of religious truth, properly speaking. But, on the other hand, the form of outer circumstances and situations, and of the development of events, is indeed that of freedom, the result of which is a reckless abandonment to a life of capricious adventures. We thus find the termination of the Romantic, in general, to consist in the accidentality both of the external and of the internal, and with this termination the two elements fall asunder. With this we emerge from the sphere of art altogether. It thus appears that the necessity which urges consciousness on to the attainment of a complete comprehension of the truth demands higher forms that Art is able in anywise to produce.
(The following section is translated by Bosanquet)
1. After the above introductory remarks, it is now time to pass to the study of our object-matter. But we are still in the introduction, and an introduction cannot do more than lay down, for the sake of explanation, the general sketch of the entire course which will be followed by our subsequent scientific considerations. As, however, we have spoken of art as proceeding from the absolute Idea, and have even assigned as its end the sensuous representation of the absolute itself, we shall have to conduct this review in a way to show, at least in general, how the particular divisions of the subject spring from the conception of artistic beauty as the representation of the absolute. Therefore we must attempt to awaken a very general idea of this conception itself.
It has already been said that the content of art is the Idea, and that its form lies in the plastic use of images accessible to sense. These two sides art has to reconcile into a full and united totality. The first attribution which this involves is the requirement that the content, which is to be offered to artistic representation, shall show itself to be in its nature worthy of such representation. Otherwise we only obtain a bad combination, whereby a content that will not submit to plasticity and to external presentation, if forced into that form, and a matter which is in its nature prosaic is expected to find an appropriate mode of manifestation in the form antagonistic to its nature.
The second requirement, which is derivable from this first, demands of the content of art that it should not be anything abstract in itself. This does not mean that it must be concrete as the sensuous is concrete in contrast to everything spiritual and intellectual, these being taken as in themselves simple and abstract. For everything that has genuine truth in the mind as well as in nature is concrete in itself, and has, in spite of its universality, nevertheless, both subjectivity and particularity within it. If we say, e.g., of God that He is simply One, the supreme Being as such, we have only enunciated a lifeless abstraction of the irrational understanding. Such a God, as he himself is not apprehended in his concrete truth, can afford no material for art, least of all for plastic art. Hence the Jews and the Turks have not been able to represent their God, who does not even amount to such an abstraction of the understanding, in the positive way in which Christians have done so. For God in Christianity is conceived in his truth, and therefore as in Himself thoroughly concrete, as a person, as a subject, and more closely determined, as mind or spirit. What He is as spirit unfolds itself to the religious apprehensions as the Trinity of Persons, which at the same time in relation with itself is One. Here is essentiality, universality, and particularity together with their reconciled unity; and it is only such unity that constitutes the concrete. Now, as a content, in order to posses truth at all, it must be of this concrete nature, and art demands the same concreteness, because a mere abstract universal has not in itself the vocation to advance to particularity and noumenal manifestation and to unity with itself therein.
If a true and therefore concrete content is to have corresponding to it a sensuous form and modelling, this sensuous form must, in the third place, be no less emphatically something individual, wholly concrete in itself and one. The character of concreteness as belonging to both elements of art, to the content as to the representation, is precisely the point in which both may coincide and correspond to one another; as, for instance, the natural shape of the human body is such a sensuous concrete as is capable of representing spirit, which is concrete in itself, and of displaying itself in conformity therewith. Therefore we ought to abandon the idea that it is a mere matter of accident that an actual phenomenon of the external world is chosen to furnish a shape thus conformable to truth. Art does not appropriate this form either because it simply finds it existing or because there is no other. The concrete content itself involves the element of external and actual, we may say indeed of sensible manifestation. But in compensation this sensuous concrete, in which a content essentially belonging to mind expresses itself, is in its own nature addressed to the inward being; its external element of shape, whereby the content is made perceptible and imaginable, has the aim of existing purely for the heart and mind. This is the only reason for which content and artistic shape are fashioned in conformity with each other. The mere sensuous concrete, external nature as such, has not this purpose for its exclusive ground of origin. The birds’ variegated plumage shines unseen, end their song dies away unheard, the Cereus (Fackeldistel- “torch thistle”)which blossoms only for a night withers without having been admired in the wilds of southern forests, and these forests, jungles of the most beautiful and luxuriant vegetation, with the most odorous and aromatic perfumes, perish and decay no less unenjoyed. The work of art has not such a naive self-centred being, but is essentially a question, an address to the responsive heart, an appeal to affections and to minds.
Although the artistic bestowal of sensuous form is in this respect not accidental, yet on the other hand it is not the highest mode of apprehending the spiritually concrete. Thought is a higher mode than representation by means of the sensuous concrete. Although in a relative sense abstract, yet it must not be one-sided but concrete thinking, in order to be true and rational. Whether a given content has sensuous artistic representation for its adequate form, or in virtue of its nature essentially demands a higher and more spiritual embodiment, is a distinction that displays itself at once, if, for instance, we compare the Greek gods with God as conceived according to Christian ideas. The Greek god is not abstract but individual, closely akin to the natural human shape; the Christian God is equally a concrete personality, but in the mode of pure spiritual existence, and is to be known as spirit and in spirit. His medium of existence is therefore essentially inward knowledge and not external natural form, by means of which He can only be represented imperfectly, and not in the whole depth of His idea.
But in as much as the task of art is to represent the idea to direct perception in sensuous shape, and not in the form of thought or of pure spirituality as such, and seeing that this work of representation has its value and dignity in the correspondence and the unity of the two sides, i.e., of the Idea and its plastic embodiment, it follows that the level and excellency of art in attaining a realisation adequate to its idea, must depend upon the grade of inwardness and unity with which Idea and Shape display themselves as fused into one.
Thus the higher truth is spiritual being that has attained a shape adequate to the conception of spirit. This is what furnishes the principle of division for the science of art. For before the mind can attain the true notion of its absolute essence, it has to traverse a course of stages whose ground is in this idea itself; and to this evolution of the content with which it supplies itself, there corresponds an evolution, immediately connected therewith, of the plastic forms of art, under the shape of which the mind as artist presents to itself the consciousness of itself.
This evolution within the art spirit has again in its own nature two sides. In the first place the development itself is a spiritual and universal one, in so far as the graduated series of definite conceptions of the world as the definite but comprehensive consciousness of nature, man and God, gives itself artistic shape; and, in the second place, this universal development of art is obliged to provide itself with external existent and sensuous form, and the definite modes of the sensuous art-existence are themselves a totality of necessary distinctions in the realm of art — which are the several arts. It is true, indeed, that the necessary kinds of artistic representation are on the one hand qua spiritual of a very general nature, and not restricted to any one material; while sensuous existence contains manifold varieties of matter. But as this latter, like the mind, has the Idea potentially for its inner soul, it follows from this that particular sensuous materials have a close affinity and secret accord with the spiritual distinctions and types of art presentation.
In its completeness, however, our science divides itself into three principal portions.
First, we obtain a general part. It has for its content and object the universal Idea of artistic beauty — this beauty being conceived as the Ideal — together with the nearer relation of the latter both to nature and to subjective artistic production.
Secondly, there develops itself out of the idea of artistic beauty a particular part, in as far as the essential differences which this idea contains in itself evolve themselves into a scale of particular plastic forms.
In the third place there results a final part, which has for its subject the individualisation of artistic beauty, that consists in the advance of art to the sensuous realisation of its shapes and its self-completion as a system of the several arts and their genera and species.
2. With respect to the first part, we must begin by recalling to mind, in order to make the sequel intelligible, that the Idea qua the beautiful in art is not the Idea as such, in the mode in which a metaphysical logic apprehends it as the absolute, but the Idea as developed into concrete form fit for reality, and as having entered into immediate and adequate unity with reality. For the Idea as such, although it is the essentially and actually true, is yet the truth only in its generality which has not yet taken objective shape; but the Idea as the beautiful in art is at once the Idea when specially determined as in its essence individual reality, and also an individual shape of reality essentially destined to embody and reveal the Idea. This amounts to enunciating the requirement that the Idea, and its -plastic mould as concrete reality, are to be made completely adequate to one another. When reduced to such form the Idea, as a reality moulded in conformity with the conception of the Idea, is the Ideal. The problem of this conformity might, to begin with, be understood in the sense that any Idea would serve, so long as the actual shape, it did not matter what shape, represented this particular Idea and no other. But if so, the required truth of the Idea is confounded with mere correctness which consists in the expression of any meaning whatever in appropriate fashion so that its import may be readily recognised in the shape created. The Ideal is not to be thus understood. Any content whatever may attain to being represented quite adequately, judged by the standard of its own nature, but it does not therefore gain the right to claim the artistic beauty of the Ideal. Compared indeed with ideal beauty even the presentation will in such a case appear defective.
From this point of view we must remark to begin with, what cannot be proved till later, that the defects of a work of art are not to be regarded simply as always due, for instance, to individual unskillfulness. Defectiveness of form arises from defectiveness of content, for example, the Chinese, Indian and Egyptians in their artistic shapes, their forms of deities, and their idols, never got beyond a formless phase, or ore of a vicious and false definiteness of form, and were unable to attain genuine beauty; because their mythological ideas, the content and thought of their works of art, were as yet indeterminate in themselves, or of a vicious determinateness, and did not consist in the content that is absolute in itself. The more that works of art excel in true beauty of presentation, the more profound is the inner truth of their content and thought. And in dealing with this point, we have not to think merely perhaps of the greater or lesser skill with which the natural as given in external reality are apprehended and imitated. For in certain stages of art-consciousness and of representation, the distortion and disfigurement of natural structures is not unintentional technical inexpertness and want of skill, but intentional alteration, which emanates from the content that is in consciousness, and is required thereby. Thus, from this point of view, there is such a thing as imperfect art, which may be quite perfect, both technically and in other respects, in its determinate sphere, yet reveals itself to be defective when compared with the conception of art as such, and with the Ideal. Only in the highest art are the Idea and the representation genuinely adequate to one another, in the sense that the outward shape given to the Idea is in itself essentially and actually the true shape, because the content of the Idea, which that shape expresses, is itself the true and real content. It is a corollary from this, as we indicated above, that the Idea must be defined in and through itself as concrete totality, and thereby possess in itself the principle and standard of its particularisation and determination in external appearance. For example, the Christian imagination will be able to represent God only in human form and with man’s intellectual expression, because it is herein that God Himself is completely known in Himself as spirit. Determinateness is, as it were, the bridge to phenomenal existence. Where this determinateness is not totality derived from the Idea itself, where the Idea is not conceived as self-determining and self-particularising, the Idea remains abstract — and has its determinateness, and therefore the principle that dictates its particular and exclusively appropriate mode of presentation, not in itself but external to it. Therefore, the Idea when still abstract has even its shape external, and not dictated by itself. The Idea, however, which is concrete in itself hears the principle of its mode of manifestation within itself, and is by that means the free process of giving shape to itself. Thus it is only the truly concrete Idea that can generate the true shape, and this correspondence of the two is the Ideal.
3. Now because the Idea is in this fashion concrete unity, it follows that this unity can enter into the art consciousness only by the expansion and reconciliation of the particularities of the Idea, and it is through this evolution that artistic beauty comes to possess a totality of particular stages and forms. Therefore, after we have studied the beauty of art in itself and on its own merits, we must see how beauty as a whole breaks up into its particular determinations. This gives us our second part, the doctrine of the types of art. These forms find their genesis in the different modes of grasping the Idea as artistic content, whereby is conditioned a difference of the form in which it manifests itself. Hence the types of art are nothing but the different relations of content and shape, relations which emanate from the Idea itself, and furnish thereby the true basis of division for this sphere. For the principle of division must always be contained in that conception whose particularisation and division is in question.
We have here to consider three relations of the Idea to its outward shaping.
a. First, the Idea gives rise to the beginning of Art when being itself still in its indistinctness and obscurity, or in vicious untrue determinateness, it is made the import of artistic creations. As indeterminate it does not yet possess in itself that individuality which the Ideal demands; its abstractness and one-sidedness leave its shape to be outwardly bizarre and defective. The first form of art is therefore rather a mere search after plastic portrayal than a capacity of genuine representation. The Idea has not yet found the true form even within itself, and therefore continues to be merely the struggle and aspiration thereafter. In general terms we may call this form the Symbolic form of art. In it the abstract Idea has its outward shape external to itself in natural sensuous matter, with which the process of shaping begins, and from which, qua outward expression, it is inseparable.
Natural objects are thus primarily left unaltered, and yet at the same time invested with the substantial Idea as their significance, so that they receive the vocation of expressing it, and claim to be interpreted as though the Idea itself were present in them. At the root of this is the fact that natural objects have in them an aspect in which they are capable of representing a universal meaning. But as an adequate correspondence is not yet possible, this reference can only concern an abstract attribute as when a lion is used to mean strength.
On the other hand, this abstractness of the relation brings to consciousness no less strongly the foreignness of the Idea to natural phenomena; and the Idea, having no other reality to express it, expatiates in all these shapes, seeks itself in them in all their unrest and disproportion, but nevertheless does not find them adequate to itself. Then it proceeds to exaggerate natural shapes and the phenomena of reality into indefinitenessess and disproportion, to intoxicate itself in them, to seethe and ferment in them, to do violence to them, to distort explode them into unnatural shapes, and strives by the variety, hugeness and splendour of the forms employed to exalt the phenomenon to the level of the idea. For the idea is here still more or less indeterminate and non-plastic, but the natural objects are in their shape thoroughly determinate.
Here, in view of the unsuitability of the two elements to each other, the relation of the Idea to objective reality becomes a negative one, for the former, as in its nature inward, is unsatisfied with such an externality, and as being its inner universal substance persists in exaltation or Sublimnity beyond and above all this inadequate abundance of shapes. In virtue of this sublimnity the natural phenomena and the human shapes and incidents are accepted, and left as they were, though at the same time understood to be inadequate to their significance, which is exalted far above every earthly content.
These aspects may be pronounced in general terms to constitute the character of the primitive artistic pantheism of the East, which either charges even the meanest objects with the absolute import, or again coerces nature with violence into the expression of its view. By this means it becomes bizarre, grotesque, and tasteless, or turns the infinite but abstract freedom of the substantive Idea disdainfully against all phenomenal being as null and evanescent. By such means the import cannot be completely embodied in the expression, and in spite of all aspirations and endeavour the reciprocal inadequacy of shape and Idea remains insuperable. This may be taken as the first form of art — symbolic art with its aspiration its disquiet, its mystery and its sublimnity.
b. In the second form of art, which we propose to call “Classical,” the double defect of symbolic art is cancelled. The plastic shape of symbolic art is imperfect, because, in the first place, the Idea in it only enters into consciousness in an abstract determinateness or indeterminateness, and, in the second place, this must always make the conformity of shape to import defective, and in its turn merely abstract. The classical form of art is the solution of this double difficulty; it is the free and adequate embodiment of the Idea in the shape that, according to its conception is peculiarly appropriate to the Idea itself. With it, therefore, the Idea is capable of entering into free and complete accord. Hence, the classical type of art is the first to afford the production and intuition of the completed Ideal, and to establish it as a realised fact.
The conformity, however, of notion and reality in classical art must not be taken in the purely formal sense of the agreement of a content with the external shape given to it, any more than this could be the with the Ideal itself. Otherwise every copy from nature, and every type of countenance, every landscape, flower, or scene, etc., which forms the purport of any representation, would be at once made classical by the agreement which it displays between form and content. On the contrary, in classical art the peculiarity of the content consists in being itself concrete idea, and as such, the concrete spiritual; for only the spiritual is the truly inner self. To suit such a content, then, we must search out that in Nature which on its own merits belongs to the essence and actuality of the mind. It must be the absolute notion that invented the shape appropriate to concrete mind, so that the subjective notion — in this case the spirit of art — has merely found it, and brought it, as an existence possessing natural shape, into accord with free individual spirituality. This shape, with which the Idea as spiritual — as individually determinate spirituality — invests itself when manifested as a temporal phenomenon, is the human form. Personification and anthropomorphism have often been decried as a degradation of the spiritual; but art, in as far as its end is to bring before perception the spiritual in sensuous form, must advance to such anthropomorphism, as it is only in its proper body that mind is adequately revealed to sense. The migration of souls is in this respect a false abstraction (ed. if it represents the soul as independent of an appropriate body) and physiology ought to have made it one of its axioms that life had necessarily in its evolution to attain to the human shape, as the sole sensuous phenomenon that is appropriate to mind (Spirit). The human form is employed in the classical type of art not as mere sensuous existence, but exclusively as the existence and physical form corresponding to mind, and is therefore exempt from all the deficiencies of what is merely sensuous, and from the contingent finiteness of phenomenal existence. The outer shape must be thus purified in order to express in itself a content adequate to itself; and again, if the conformity of import and content is to be complete, the spiritual meaning which is the content must be of a particular kind. It must, that is to say, be qualified to express itself completely in the physical form of man, without projecting into another world beyond the scope of such an expression in sensuous and bodily terms. This condition has the effect that Mind is by it at once specified as a particular case of mind, as human mind, and not as simply absolute and eternal, inasmuch as mind in this latter sense is incapable of proclaiming and expressing itself otherwise than as intellectual being (ed. Geistigkeit should be translated here as spiritual).
Out of this latter point arises, in its turn, the defect which brings about the dissolution of classical art, and demands a transition into a third and higher form, viz., into the romantic form of art.
c. The romantic form of art destroys the completed union of the Idea and its reality, and recurs, though in a higher phase, to that difference and antagonism of two aspects which was left unvanquished by symbolic art. The classical type attained the highest excellence, of which the sensuous embodiment of art is capable; and if it is in any way defective, the defect is in art as a whole, i.e., in the limitation of its sphere. This limitation consists in the fact that art as such takes for its object Mind — the conception of which is infinite concrete universality — in the shape of sensuous concreteness, and in the classical phase sets up the perfect amalgamation of spiritual and sensuous existence as a Conformity of the two. Now, as a matter of fact, in such an amalgamation Mind cannot be represented according to its true notion. For mind is the infinite subjectivity of the Idea, which, as absolute inwardness, is not capable of finding free expansion in its true nature on condition of remaining transposed into a bodily medium as the existence appropriate to it.
As an escape from such condition the romantic form of art in its turn dissolves the inseparable unity of the classical phase, because it has won a significance which goes beyond the classical form of art and its mode of expression. This significance we may — if we may recall familiar ideas — coincides with what Christianity declares to be true of God as Spirit, in contradistinction to the Greek faith in gods which forms the essential and appropriate content for classical art. In Greek art the content import is potentially, but not explicitly, the unity of the human and divine nature; a unity which, just because it is purely immediate and not explicit, is capable of adequate manifestation in an immediate and sensuous mode. The Greek god is the object of naive intuition and sensuous imagination. His shape is, therefore, the bodily shape of man. The circle of his power and of his being is individual and individually limited. In relation with the subject, he is, therefore, an essence and a power with which the subject’s inner being is merely latent unity, not itself possessing this unity as inward subjective knowledge. Now the higher stage is the knowledge of this latent unity, which as latent is the import of the classical form of art, and capable of perfect representation in bodily shape. The elevation of the latent or potential into self-conscious knowledge produces an enormous difference. It is the infinite difference which, e.g., separates man as such from the animals. Man is animal, but even in his animal functions he is not confined within the latent and potential as the animal is, but becomes conscious of them, learns to learns to know them, and raises them — as for instance, the process of digestion — into self conscious science. By this means Man breaks the boundary of merely latent and immediate consciousness, so that just for the reason that he knows himself be animal, he ceases to be animal, and as mind, attains to self-knowledge.
If in the above fashion the unity of the human and divine nature, which in the former phase was potential, is raised from an immediate to a conscious unity, it follows that true medium for the reality of this content is no longer the sensuous immediate existence of spiritual, the human bodily shape, but self-conscious inward intelligence (Innerlichkeit, lit. “inwardness”). Now Christianity brings God before our intelligence as spirit, or mind — not as particularised individual spirit, but as absolute, in spirit and in truth. And for this reason Christianity retires from the sensuousness of imagination into intellectual inwardness, and makes this, not bodily shape, the medium and actual existence of its significance. So, too, the unity of the human and divine nature is a conscious unity, only to be realised by spiritual knowledge and in spirit. Thus the new content, won by this unity, is not inseparable from sensuous representation, as if that were adequate to it, but is freed from this immediate existence which has to be posited as negative, absorbed, and reflected into the spiritual unity. In this way, romantic art must be considered as art transcending itself, while remaining within the artistic sphere and in artistic form.
Therefore, in short, we may abide by the statement that in this third stage the object (of art) is free, concrete intellectual being, which has the function of revealing itself as spiritual existence for the inward world of spirit. In conformity with such an object-matter, art cannot work for sensuous perception. It must address itself to inward mind, which coalesces with, its object as though this were itself, to the subjective inwardness, to the heart, the feeling, which, being spiritual, aspires to freedom within itself, and seeks and finds its reconciliation only in the spirit within. It is this inner world that forms the content of the romantic, and must therefore find its representation as such inward feeling, and in the show or presentation of such feeling. The world of inwardness celebrates its triumph over the outer world, and actually in the sphere of the outer and in its medium manifests this its victory, owing to which the sensuous appearance sinks into worthlessness.
But, on the other hand, this [romantic] type of Art, like every other, needs an external vehicle of expression. Now the spiritual has withdrawn into itself out of the external and its immediate oneness therewith. For this reason, the sensuous externality of concrete form is accepted and represented, as in Symbolic art, as something transient and fugitive. And the same measure is dealt to the subjective finite mind and will, even including the peculiarity or caprice of the individual, of character, action, etc., or of incident and plot. The aspect of external existence is committed to contingency, and left at the mercy of freaks of imagination, whose caprice is no more likely to mirror what is given as it is given, than to throw the shapes of the outer world into chance medley, or distort them into grotesqueness. For this external element no longer has its notion and significance, as in classical art, in its own sphere, and in its own medium. It has come to find them in the feelings, the display of which is in themselves instead of being in the external and its form of reality, and which have the power to preserve or to regain their state of reconciliation with themselves, in every accident, in every unessential circumstance that takes independent shape, in all misfortune and grief, and even in crime. Owing to this, the characteristics of symbolic art, in difference, discrepancy, and severance of Idea and plastic shape, are here reproduced, but with an essential difference. In the sphere of the romantic, the Idea, whose defectiveness in the case of the symbol produced the defect of external shape, has to reveal itself in the medium of spirit and feelings as perfected in itself. And it is because of this higher perfection that it withdraws itself from any adequate union with the external element, inasmuch as it can seek and achieve its true reality and revelation nowhere but in itself.
This we may take as in the abstract the character of the symbolic, classical, and romantic forms of art, which represent the three relations of the Idea to its embodiment in the sphere of art. They consist in the aspiration after, and the attainment and transcendence of the Ideal as the true Idea of beauty.
4. The third part of our subject, in contradistinction to the two just described, presupposes the conception of the Ideal, and the general types of art, inasmuch as it simply consists of their realisation in particular sensuous media. Hence we have no longer to do with the inner development of artistic beauty in conformity with its general fundamental principles. What we have to study is how these principles pass into actual existence, how they distinguish themselves in their external aspect, and how they give actuality to every element contained in the idea of beauty, separately and by itself as a work of art, and not merely as a general type. Now, what art transfers into external existence are the differences proper to the idea of beauty and immanent therein. Therefore, the general types of art must reveal themselves in this third part, as before, in the character of the fundamental principle that determines the arrangement and definition of the several arts; in other words, the species of art contain in themselves the same essential modifications as those with which we become acquainted as the general types of art. External objectivity, however, to which these forms are introduced through the medium of a sensuous and therefore particular material, affects these types in the way of making them separate into independent and so particular forms embodying their realisation. For each type finds its definite character in some one definite external material, and its adequate actuality in the mode of portrayal which that prescribes. But, moreover, these types of art, being for all their determinateness, its universal forms, break the bounds of particular realisation by a determinate form of art, and achieve existence in other arts as well, although in subordinate fashion. Therefore, the particular arts belong each of them specifically to one of the general types of art, and constitutes its adequate external actuality; and also they represent, each of them after its own mode of external plasticity, the totality of the types of art.
Then, speaking generally, we are dealing in this third principal division with the beautiful of art, as it unfolds itself in the several arts and in their creations into a world of actualised beauty. The content of this world is the beautiful, and the true beautiful; as we saw, is spiritual being in concrete shape, the Ideal, or, more closely looked at, the absolute mind, and the truth itself. This region, that of divine truth artistically represented to perception and to feeling, forms the center of the whole world of art. It is the independent, free, and divine plasticity, which has thoroughly mastered the external elements of form and of medium, and wears them simply as a means to manifestation of itself. Still, as the beautiful unfolds itself in this region in the character of objective reality, and in so doing distinguishes within itself its individual aspects and elements, permitting them independent particularity, it follows that this center erects its extremes, realised in their peculiar actuality, into its own antitheses. Thus one of these extremes comes to consist in an objectivity yet devoid of mind, in the merely natural vesture of God. At this point the external element takes plastic shape as something that has its spiritual aim and content, not in itself, but in another.
The other is the divine as inward, as something known, as the variously particularised subjective existence of the Deity; it is the truth as operative and vital in sense, heart, and mind of individual subjects, not persisting in the mould of its external shapes, but as having returned into subjective individual inwardness. In such a mode, the Divine is at the same time distinguished from its first manifestation as Deity, and passes thereby into the diversity of particulars which belongs to all subjective knowledge — emotion, perception, and feeling. In the analogous province of religion, with which art at its highest stage is immediately connected, we conceive this same difference as follows. First, we think of the earthly natural life in its finiteness as standing on one side; but, then, secondly, consciousness makes God its object, in which the distinction of objectivity and subjectivity is done away. And at last, thirdly, we advance from God as such to the devotion of the community, that is, to God as living and present in the subjective consciousness. Just so these three chief modifications present themselves in the world of art in independent development.
a. The first of the particular arts with which, according to their fundamental principle, we have to begin, is architecture as a fine art. Its task lies in so manipulating external inorganic nature that it becomes cognate to mind, as an artistic outer world. The material of architecture is matter itself in its immediate externality as a heavy mass subject to mechanical laws, and its forms do not depart from the forms of inorganic nature, but are merely set in order in conformity with relations of the abstract understanding, i.e., with relations of symmetry. In this material and in such forms the ideal as concrete spirituality does not admit of being realised. Hence the reality which is represented in them remains contrasted with the Idea, as something external which it has not penetrated, or has penetrated only to establish an abstract relation.
For these reasons the fundamental type of the fine art of building is the symbolical form of art. It is architecture that pioneers the way for the adequate realisation of the God, and in this its service bestows hard toil upon existing nature, in order to disentangle it from the jungle of finitude and the abortiveness of chance. By this means it levels a space for the God, gives form to his external surroundings, and builds him his temple as a fit place for concentration of spirit, and for its direction to the mind’s absolute objects. It raises an enclosure round the assembly of those gathered together, as a defence against the threatening of the storm, against rain, the hurricane, and wild beasts, and reveals the will to assemble, although externally, yet in conformity with principles of art. With such import as this it has power to inspire its material and its forms more or less effectively, as the determinate character of the content on behalf of which it sets to work is more or less significant, more concrete or more abstract, more profound in sounding its own depths, or more dim and more superficial. So much, indeed, may architecture attempt in this respect as even to create an adequate artistic existence for such an import in its shapes and in its material. But in such a case it has already overstepped its own boundary, and is leaning to sculpture, the phase above it. For the limit of architecture lies precisely in this point, that it retains the spiritual as inward existence over against the external forms of the art, and consequently must refer to what has soul only as to something other than its own creations.
b. Architecture, however, as we have seen, has purified the external world, and endowed it with symmetrical order and with affinity to mind; and the temple of the God, the house of his community, stands ready. Into this temple, then, in the second place, the God enters in the lightning-flash of individuality which strikes and permeates the inert mass, while the infinite and no longer merely symmetrical form belonging to mind itself concentrates and gives shape to the corresponding bodily existence. This is the task of Sculpture. In as far as in this art the spiritual inward being which architecture can but indicate makes itself at home in the sensuous shape and its external matter, and in as far as these two sides are so adapted to one another that neither is predominant, sculpture must be assigned the classical form of art as its fundamental type. For this reason the sensuous element itself has here no expression which could not be that of the spiritual element, just as, conversely, sculpture can represent no spiritual content which does not admit throughout of being adequately presented to perception in bodily form. Sculpture should place the spirit before us in its bodily form and in immediate unity therewith at rest and in peace; and the form should be animated by the content of spiritual individuality. And so the external sensuous matter is here no longer manipulated, either in conformity with its mechanical quality alone, as a mass possessing weight, nor in shapes belonging to the inorganic world, nor as indifferent to colour, etc.; but it is wrought in ideal forms of the human figure, and, it must be remarked, in all three spatial dimensions. In this last respect we must claim for sculpture, that it is in it that the inward and spiritual are first revealed in their eternal repose and essential self completeness. To such repose and unity with itself there can correspond only that external shape which itself maintains its unity and repose. And this is fulfilled by shape in its abstract spatiality. The spirit which sculpture represents is that which is solid in itself, not broken up in the play of trivialities and of passions; and hence its external form too is not abandoned to any manifold phases of appearance, but appears under this one aspect only, as the abstraction of space in the whole of its dimensions.
c. Now, after architecture has erected the temple, and the hand of sculpture has supplied it with the statue of the God, then, in the third place, this god present to sense is confronted in the spacious halls of his house by the community. The community is the spiritual reflection into itself of such sensuous existence, and is the animating subjectivity and inner life which brings about the result that the determining principle for the content of art, as well as for the medium which represents it in outward form, comes to be particularisation (dispersion into various shapes, attributes, incidents, etc.), individualisation, and the subjectivity which they require. The solid unity which the God has in sculpture breaks up into the multitudinous inner lives of individuals, whose unity is not sensuous, but purely ideal.
It is Only in this stage that God Himself comes to be really and truly spirit — the spirit in His (God’s) community; for He here begins to be a to-and-fro; an alternation between His unity within himself and his realisation in the individual’s knowledge and in its separate being, as also in the common nature and union of the multitude. In the community, God is released from the abstractness of unexpanded self-identity, as well as from the simple absorption in a bodily medium by which sculpture represents Him. And He is thus exalted into spiritual existence and into knowledge, into the reflected appearance which essentially displays itself as inward and as subjectivity. Therefore the higher content is now the spiritual nature, and that in its absolute shape. But the dispersion of which we have spoken reveals this at the same time as particular spiritual being, and as individual character. Now, what manifests itself in this phase as the main thing is not the serene quiescence of the God in Himself, but appearance as such, being which is for another, self-manifestation. And hence, in the phase we have reached, all the most manifold subjectivity in its living movement and operation — as human passion, action, and incident, and, in general, the wide realm of human feeling, will, and its negation — is for its own sake the object of artistic representation. In conformity with this content the sensuous element of art has at once to show itself as made particular in itself, and as adapted to subjective inwardness. Media that fulfil this requirement we have in colour, in musical sound, and finally in sound as the mere indication of inward perceptions and ideas; and as modes of realising the import in question by help of these media we obtain music and poetry. In this region the sensuous medium displays itself as divided in its own being and universally set down as ideal. Thus it has the highest degree of conformity with the content of art, which, as such, is spiritual, and the connection of intelligible import and sensuous medium develops into closer intimacy than was possible in the case of architecture and sculpture. The unity attained, however, is a more inward unity, the weight of which is thrown wholly on the subjective side, and which, in as far as form and content are compelled to particularise themselves and give themselves merely ideal existence, can only come to pass at the expense of the objective universality of the content and also of its amalgamation with the immediately sensuous element. The arts, then, of which form and content exalt themselves to ideality, abandon the character of symbolic architecture and the classical ideal of sculpture, and therefore borrow their type from the romantic form of art, whose mode of plasticity they are most adequately adapted to express. And they constitute a totality of arts, because the romantic type is the most concrete in itself.
(1) The articulation of this third sphere of the individual arts may be determined as follows. The first art in it, which comes next to sculpture, is painting. It employs as a medium for its content and for the plastic embodiment of that content visibility as such in as far as it is specialised in its own nature, i.e., as developed into colour. It is true that the material employed in architecture and sculpture is also visible and coloured; but it is not, as in painting, visibility as such, not the simple light which, differentiating itself in virtue of its contrast with darkness, and in combination with the latter, gives rise to colour. This quality of visibility, made subjective in itself and treated as ideal, needs neither, like architecture, the abstractly mechanical attribute of mass as operative in the properties of heavy matter, nor, like sculpture, the complete sensuous attributes of space, even though concentrated into organic shapes. The visibility and the rendering visible which belong to painting have their differences in a more ideal form, in the several kinds of colour, and they liberate art from the sensuous completeness in space which attaches to material things, by restricting themselves to a plane surface.
On the other hand, the content also attains the most comprehensive specification. Whatever can find room in the human heart, as feeling, idea, and purpose; whatever it is capable of shaping into act — all this diversity of material is capable of entering into the varied content of painting. The whole realm of particular existence, from the highest embodiment of mind down to the most isolated object of nature, finds a place here. For it is possible even for finite nature, in its particular scenes and phenomena, to make its appearance in the realm of art, if only some allusion to an element of mind endows it with affinity to thought and feeling.
(2) The second art in which the romantic type realises itself is contrasted with painting, and is music. Its medium, though still sensuous, yet develops into still more thorough subjectivity and particularisation. Music, too, treats the sensuous as ideal, and does so by negating, and idealising into the individual isolation of a single point, the indifferent externality of space, whose complete semblance is accepted and imitated by painting. The single point, qua such a negativity (excluding space) is in itself a concrete and active process of positive negation within the attributes of matter, in the shape of a motion and tremor of the material body within itself and in its relation to itself. Such an inchoate ideality of matter, which appears no longer as under the form of space, but as temporal ideality, is sound, the sensuous set down as negated, with its abstract visibility converted into audibility, in as much as sound, so to speak liberates the ideal content from its immersion in matter. This earliest inwardness of matter and inspiration of soul into it furnishes the medium for the mental inwardness itself as yet indefinite and for the soul into which mind concentrates itself; and finds utterance in its tones for the heart with its whole gamut of feelings and passions. Thus music forms the center of the romantic arts, just as sculpture represents the central point between architecture and the arts of romantic subjectivity. Thus, too, it forms the point of transition between abstract spatial sensuousness, such as painting employs, and the abstract spirituality of poetry. Music has within itself, like architecture, a relation of quantity conformable to the understanding, as the antithesis to emotion and inwardness; and has also as its basis a solid conformity to law on the part of the tones, of their conjunction, and of their succession.
(3) As regards the third and most spiritual mode of representation of the romantic art-type, we must look for it in poetry. Its characteristic peculiarity lies in the power with which it subjects to the mind and to its ideas the sensuous element from which music and painting in their degree began to liberate art. For sound, the only external matter which poetry retains, is in it no longer the feeling of the sensuous itself, but is a sign, which by itself is void of import. And it is a sign of the idea which has become concrete in itself, and not merely of indefinite feeling and of its nuances and grades. This is how sound develops into the Word, as voice articulate in itself, whose import it is to indicate ideas and notions. The merely negative point up to which music has developed now makes its appearance as the completely concrete point, the point which is mind, the self conscious individual, which, producing out of itself the infinite space of its ideas, unites it with the temporal character of sound. Yet this sensuous element, which in music was still immediately one with inward feeling, is in poetry separated from the content of consciousness. In poetry the mind determines this content for its own sake, and apart from all else, into the shape of ideas, and though it employs sound to express them, yet treats it solely as a symbol without value or import. Thus considered, sound may just as well be reduced to a mere letter, for the audible, like the visible is thus depressed into a mere indication of mind. For this reason the proper medium of poetical representation is the poetical imagination and intellectual portrayal itself. And as this element is common to all types of art, it follows that poetry runs through them all and develops itself independently in each. Poetry is the universal art of the mind which has become free in its own nature, and which is not tied to its final realisation in external sensuous matter, but expatiates exclusively in the inner space and inner time of the ideas and feelings. Yet just in this its highest phase art ends by transcending itself, in as much as it abandons the medium of a harmonious embodiment of mind in sensuous form, and passes from the poetry of imagination into the prose of thought.
5. Such we may take to be the articulated totality of the particular arts, viz., the external art of architecture, the objective art of sculpture, and the subjective art of painting, music and poetry. Many other classifications have been attempted, for a work of art presents so many aspects, that, as has often been the case, first one and then another is made the basis of classification. For instance, one might take the sensuous medium. Thus architecture is treated as crystallisation; sculpture, as the organic modelling of the material in its sensuous and spatial totality; painting, as the coloured surface and line; while in music, space, as such, passes into the point of time possessed of content within itself, until finally the external medium is in poetry depressed into complete insignificance. Or, again, these differences have been considered with reference to their purely abstract attributes of space and time. Such abstract peculiarities of works of art may, like their material medium, be consistently explored in their characteristic traits; but they cannot be worked out as the ultimate and fundamental law, because any such aspect itself derives its origin from a higher principle, and must therefore be subordinate thereto.
This higher principle we have found in the types of art – symbolic, classical, and romantic – which are the universal stages or elements of the Idea of beauty itself. For symbolic art attains its most adequate reality and most complete application in architecture, in which it holds sway in the full import of its notion, and is not yet degraded to be, as it were, the inorganic nature dealt with by another art. The Classical type of art, on the other hand, finds adequate realisation in sculpture, while it treats architecture only as furnishing an enclosure in which it is to operate, and has not acquired the power of developing painting and music as absolute form for its content. The romantic type of art, finally, takes possession of painting and music, and in like manner of poetic representation, as substantive and unconditionally adequate modes of utterance. Poetry, however, is conformable to all types of the beautiful, and extends over them all, because the artistic imagination is its proper medium, and imagination is essential to every product that belongs to the beautiful, whatever it type may be.
And, therefore, what the particular arts realise in individual works of art, are according to their abstract conception simply universal types which constitute the self-unfolding Idea of beauty. It is as the external realisation of this Idea that the wide Pantheon of art is being erected, whose architect and builder is the spirit of beauty as it awakens to self-knowledge, and to complete which the history of the world will need its evolution of ages.
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