Hegel’s Aesthetics

Lectures on Fine Art

Source: G.W.F. Hegel (edited by Hotho) “Aesthetics: Lectures on Fine Art,” Vol. 1
Translated: by T. M. Knox, 1973.

See also Lectures on Aesthetics

Volume I

Translator’s Preface

1 Prefatory Remarks

2 Limitation and Defence of Aesthetics

3 Refutation of Objections

4 Scientific Ways of Treating Beauty and Art

5 Concept of the Beauty of Art

6 Common Ideas of Art

(i) The Work of Art as a Product of Human Activity
(ii) The Work of Art, as being for Apprehension by Man’s Senses, is drawn from the Sensuous Sphere
(iii) The Aim of Art

7 Historical Deduction of the True Concept of Art

(i) The Kantian Philosophy
(ii) Schiller, Winckelmann, Schelling
(iii) Irony

8 Division of the Subject

(i) The Idea of the Beauty of Art or the Ideal
(ii) Development of the Ideal into the Particular Forms of the Beauty of Art
(iii) The System of the Individual Arts


Part I. The Idea of Artistic Beauty, Or The Ideal


Position of Art in Relation to the Finite World and to Religion and Philosophy

Division of the Subject

Chapter I. Concept of the Beautiful As Such

1. The Idea

2. The Idea in Existence

3. The Idea of the Beautiful

Chapter II. The Beauty of Nature

A. Natural Beauty As Such

1. The Idea as Life
2. Life in Nature as Beautiful
3. Ways of Considering Life in Nature

B. The External Beauty of the Abstract Form and the Abstract Unity of the Sensuous Material

1. Beauty of Abstract Form

(a) Regularity and Symmetry
(b) Conformity to Law
(c) Harmony

2. Beauty as Abstract Unity of the Sensuous Material

C. Deficiency of Natural Beauty

1. The Inner in Immediacy as only the Inner
2. The Dependence of Immediate Individual Existence
3. The Restrictedness of Immediate Individual Existence

Chapter III. The Beauty of Art or the Ideal

A. The Ideal As Such

1. Beautiful Individuality
2. The Relation of the Ideal to Nature

B. The Determinacy of the Ideal

I. Ideal Determinacy As Such

1. The Divine as Unity and Universality
2. The Divine as a Group of Gods
3. Repose of the Ideal

II. Action

1. The General State of the World

(a) Individual Independence – The Heroic Age
(b) Prosaic States of Affairs in the Present
(c) The Reconstitution of Individual Independence

2. The Situation

(a) Absence of Situation
(b) The Specific Situation in its Harmlessness
(c) Collision

3. Action

(a) The Universal Powers over Action
(b) The Individual Agents
(c) Character

III. The External Determinacy of the Ideal

1. Abstract Externality as such
2. Correspondence of the Concrete Ideal with its External Reality
3. The Externality of the Ideal Work of Art in relation to the Public

C. The Artist

1. Imagination (Phantasie), Genius, and Inspiration
2. Objectivity of the Representation
3. Manner, Style, and Originality

Part II. Development of the Ideal into the Particular Forms of Art


Section I. The Symbolic Form of Art

Introduction – The Symbol in general

Division of the subject

Chapter I. Unconscious Symbolism

A. Immediate Unity of Meaning and Shape

1. The Religion of Zoroaster

2. The Non-symbolic Character of Zoroastrianism

3. Non-artistic Interpretation and Presentation of Zoroastrianism

B. Fantastic Symbolism

1. The Indian Conception of Brahma

2. Sensuousness, Boundlessness, and the Activity of Personifying

3. View of Purification and Penance

C. Symbolism Proper

1. Egyptian View and Representation of the Dead: Pyramids

2. Animal Worship and Animal Masks

3. Complete Symbolism – Memnons, Isis and Osiris, the Sphinx

Chapter II. Symbolism of the Sublime

A. The Pantheism of Art

1. Indian Poetry

2. Mohammedan Poetry

3. Christian Mysticism

B. The Art of the Sublime

1. God as Creator and Lord of the World

2. The Finite World bereft of God

3. The Human Individual

Chapter III. Conscious Symbolism of the Comparative Art Form

A. Comparisons Originating from the External Object

1. Fable

2. Parable, Proverb, Apologue

(a) Parable
(b) Proverbs
(c) Apologue or Moral Fable

3. Metamorphoses

B. Comparisons which start from the Meaning

1. Riddle

2. Allegory

3. Metaphor, Image, Simile

(a) Metaphor
(b) Image
(c) Simile

C. Disappearance of the Symbolic Form of Art

1. Didactic Poetry

2. Descriptive Poetry

3. The Ancient Epigram


Section II. The Classical Form of Art

Introduction – The Classical Type in General

1. Independence of the Classical as Interpenetration of Spirit and its Shape in Nature

2. Greek Art as the Actual Existence of the Classical Ideal

3. Position of the Productive Artist in Classical Art

4. Division of the Subject

Chapter I. The Process of Shaping the Classical Art-Form

1. The Degradation of the Animal

(a) Animal Sacrifices
(b) Hunts
(c) Metamorphoses

2. The Battle between the Old Gods and the New

(a) Oracles
(b) The Old Gods in Distinction from the New
(c) The Conquest of the Old Gods

3. Affirmative Retention of the Negatived Features

(a) The Mysteries
(b) Preservation of the Old Gods in Artistic Representation
(c) Natural Basis of the New Gods

Chapter II. The Ideal of the Classical Form of Art

1. The Ideal of Classical Art in General

(a) The Ideal as Originated by Free Artistic Creation
(b) The New Gods of the Classical Ideal
(c) The Sort of External Representation

2. The Group of Particular Gods

(a) Plurality of Individual Gods
(b) Lack of a Systematic Arrangement
(c) Fundamental Character of the Group of the Gods

3. The Individuality of the Gods seriatim

(a) Material for Individualization
(b) Preservation of the Moral Basis
(c) Advance to Grace and Attractiveness

Chapter III. The Dissolution of the Classical Form of Art

1. Fate

2. Dissolution of the Gods through their Anthropomorphism

(a) Deficiency in Inner Subjectivity
(b) The Transition to Christianity is only a Topic of Modern Art
(c) Dissolution of Classical Art in its own Sphere

3. Satire

(a) Difference between the Dissolution of Classical Art and that of Symbolic Art
(b) Satire
(c) The Roman World as the Soil where Satire Flourishes


Section III. The Romantic Form of Art

Introduction – Of the Romantic in General

1. The Principle of Inner Subjectivity

2. The More Detailed Features of the Content and Form of the Romantic

3. Relation of the Subject-matter to the Mode of Representation

4. Division of the Subject

Chapter I. The Religious Domain of Romantic Art

1. The Redemptive History of Christ

(a) Apparent Superfluity of Art
(b) Necessary Emergence of Art
(c) The Details of the External Appearance are Accidental

2. Religious Love

(a) Concept of the Absolute as Love
(b) The Heart or Soul
(c) Love as the Romantic Ideal

3. The Spirit of the Community

(a) Martyrs
(b) Repentance and Conversion
(c) Miracles and Legends

Chapter II. Chivalry

1. Honour

(a) The Concept of Honour
(b) Vulnerability of Honour
(c) Reconstitution of Honour

2. Love

(a) Concept of Love
(b) Love’s Collisions
(c) Love’s Contingency

3. Fidelity

(a) Fidelity in Service
(b) Fidelity’s Subjective Independence
(c) Fidelity’s Collisions

Chapter III. The Formal Independence of Individual Characteristics

1. The Independence of the Individual Character

(a) Formal Firmness of Character
(b) Character as Inner but Undeveloped Totality
(c) What the Substantial Interest is in the Presentation of Formal Character

2. Adventures

(a) The Contingency of Aims and Collisions
(b) The Comic Treatment of Contingency
(c) Romantic Fiction

3. Dissolution of the Romantic Form of Art

(a) The Subjective Artistic Imitation of the Existent Present
(b) Subjective Humour
(c) The End of the Romantic Form of Art


Volume II

Translator’s Preface

Part III. The System of the Individual Arts


Division of the Subject


Section I. Architecture

Chapter I. Independent or Symbolic Architecture

1. Architectural Works built for National Unification

2. Architectural Works wavering between Architecture and Sculpture

(a) Phallic columns
(b) Obelisks etc.
(c) Egyptian Temples

3. Transition from Independent to Classical Architecture

(a) Indian and Egyptian Subterranean Buildings
(b) Housing for the Dead, Pyramids, etc.
(c) Transition to Architecture in the Service of Some Purpose

Chapter II. Classical Architecture

1. General Character of Classical Architecture

(a) Subservience to a Specific End
(b) The Building’s Fitness for its Purpose
(c) The House as the Fundamental Type

2. The Particular Determinants of the Architectural Forms

(a) Building in Wood and Stone
(b) The Specific Forms of the Temple
(c) The Classical Temple as a Whole

3. The Different Styles in Classical Architecture

(a) Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian Orders
(b) The Roman Construction of Arch and Vault
(c) General Character of Roman Architecture

Chapter III. Romantic Architecture

1. General Character of Romantic Architecture

2. Particular Architectural Formations

(a) The Fully Enclosed House as the Fundamental Form
(b) The Form of the Exterior and the Interior
(c) Mode of Decorating

3. Different Styles in Romantic Architecture

(a) Romanesque (pre-Gothic) Architecture
(b) Gothic Architecture Proper
(c) Secular Architecture in the Middle Ages


Section II. Sculpture


Division of the Subject

Chapter I. The Principle of Sculpture Proper

1. The Essential Content of Sculpture

2. The Beautiful Sculptural Form

(a) Exclusion of Particulars
(b) Exclusion of Mien
(c) Substantive Individuality

3. Sculpture as the Art of the Classical Ideal

Chapter II. The Ideal of Sculture

1. General Character of the Ideal Sculptural Form

2. Particular Aspects of the Ideal Form in Sculpture

(a) The Greek Profile
(b) Position and Movement of the Body
(c) Draping or Clothing

3. Individuality of the Ideal Sculptured Figures

(a) Attributes, Weapons, Adornment
(b) Differences of Age and Sex, and of Gods, Heroes, Men, and Animals
(c) Portrayal of the Individual Gods

Chapter III. The Different Kinds of Portrayal and Material, and the Historical Stages of Sculpture’s Development

1. Modes of Portrayal

(a) The Single Statue
(b) Groups
(c) v\Reliefs

2. Materials for Sculpture

(a) Wood
(b) Ivory, Gold, Bronze, and Marble
(c) Predous Stones and Glass

3. Historical Stages in the Development of Sculpture

(a) Egyptian Sculpture
(b) Greek and Roman Sculpture
(c) Christian Sculpture


Section III. The Romantic Arts

Chapter I. Painting


1. General Character of Painting

(a) The Chief Determinant of the Subject-matter
(b) The Sensuous Material of Painting
(c) Principle of the Artistic Treatment

2. Particular Characteristics of Painting

(a) The Romantic Subject-matter
(b) More detailed Characterization of the Sensuous Material of Painting
(c) The Artist’s Conception, Composition, and Characterization

3. Historical Development of Painting

(a) Byzantine Painting
(b) Italian Painting
(c) Flemish and German Painting

Chapter II. Music

Introduction and Division of the Subject

1. General Character of Music

(a) Comparison with the Visual Arts and Poetry
(b) Musical Treatment of the Subject-matter
(c) Effect of Music

2. Particular Characteristics of Music’s Means of Expression

(a) Time, Bar, Rhythm
(b) Harmony
(e) Melody

3. Relation between Music’s Means of Expression and their Content

(a) Music as an Accompaniment
(b) Independent Music
(c) The Execution of Musical Works of Art

Chapter III. Poetry


A. The Poetic Work of Art as Distinguished from a Prose Work of Art

1. Poetic and Prosaic Treatment

2. The Poetic and the Prose Work of Art

3. The Poet’s Creative Activity

B. Poetic Expression

1. The Poetic Way of Imagining Things8

2. Poetic Diction

3. Versification

(a) Rhythmic Versification
(b) Rhyme
(c) Unification of Rhythmical Versification and Rhyme

C. The Different Genres of Poetry

Introduction and Division of the Subject

A. Epic Poetry

1. General Character of Epic

2. Particular Characteristics of Epic Proper

(a) The General World-Situation of Epic
(b) The Individual Epic Action
(c) The Epic as a fully Unified Whole

3. The Historical Development of Epic Poetry

(a) The Oriental Epic
(b) The Classical Epic of Greece and Rome
(c) The Romantic Epic

B. Lyric Poetry

1. General Character of Lyric

2. Particular Aspects of Lyric Poetry

(a) The Lyric Poet
(b) The Lyrical Work of Art
(c) The Kinds of Lyric Proper

3. Historical Development of Lyric

C. Dramatic Poetry

1. The Drama as a Poetical Work of Art

(a) The Principle of Dramatic Poetry
(b) The Dramatic Work of Art
(c) Relation of the Dramatic Work of Art to the Public

2. The External Execution of a Dramatic Work of Art

(a) Reading Dramas and Reciting them
(b) The Actor’s Art
(c) The Art of the Theatre more Independently of Poetry

3. The Genres of Dramatic Poetry and the Chief Features it has had in History

(a) The Principle of Tragedy, Comedy, and Drama
(b) Difference between Ancient and Modern Dramatic Poetry
(c) The Concrete Development of Dramatic Poetry and its Genres


Translator’s Postscript