Hegel's Lectures on Aesthetics. Volume 1.
Since we are now moving out of the Introduction and entering upon the scientific treatment of our subject, our first task is to indicate briefly the general place of artistic beauty in the realm of reality as a whole and of aesthetics in relation to other philosophical disciplines. Our object is to settle the point from which a true Science of the beautiful must start.
To this end, therefore, it might seem useful to begin by giving an account of the various attempts to grasp the beautiful in thought, and by dissecting and assessing these attempts. But, for one thing, this has already been done in the Introduction, and, for another, it cannot possibly be the business of a truly scientific study merely to investigate what others have done, rightly or wrongly, or merely to learn from them. On the other hand, it may be better to say a prefatory word once again on the fact that many are of opinion that the beautiful as such, just because it is the beautiful, cannot be grasped in concepts and therefore remains for thought a topic which is not conceivable. To this allegation it may be briefly retorted here that, even if today everything true is pronounced to be beyond conception while only phenomena in their finitude, and temporal events in their accidentally, are conceivable, it is just precisely the true alone which is conceivable, because it has the absolute Concept and, more closely stated, the Idea as its foundation. But beauty is only a specific way of expressing and representing the true, and therefore stands open throughout in every respect to conceptual thinking, so long as that thinking is actually equipped with the power of the Concept. True, in modern times, no concept has come worse off than the Concept itself, the Concept implicit and explicit for itself; for by ‘concept’ people have commonly understood an abstract determinacy and one-sidedness of our ideas or of the thinking of the Understanding, with which, naturally, neither the totality of the true nor the inherently concrete beautiful can be brought thoughtfully into consciousness. For beauty, as was said already [Introduction, 8] and as is to be expounded further later [ch. I, I (a)] is no such abstraction of the Understanding but the inherently concrete absolute Concept and, more specifically, the absolute Idea in its appearance in a way adequate to itself.
If we wish to indicate briefly what the absolute Idea is in its genuine actuality, we must say that it is spirit, not, as may be supposed, spirit in its restrictedness and involvement with the finite, but the universal infinite and absolute spirit which out of itself determines what is genuinely the true. If we ask our ordinary consciousness only, the idea of spirit that presses on us is certainly that it stands over against nature, to which in that case we ascribe a like dignity. But in thus putting nature and spirit alongside one another and relating them to one another as equally essential realms, spirit is being considered only in its finitude and restriction, not in its infinity and truth. That is to say, nature does not stand over against spirit, either as possessing the same value or as spirit’s limitation; on the contrary, it acquires the standing of having been posited by spirit, and this makes it a product, deprived of the power of limiting and restricting. At the same time, absolute spirit is to be understood only as absolute activity and therefore as absolutely self-differentiating within. Now this other, as spirit’s self-differentiation, is precisely nature, and spirit is the bounty which gives to this opposite of itself the whole fullness of its own being. Nature, therefore, we have to conceive as itself carrying the absolute Idea implicitly, but nature is the Idea in the form of having been posited by absolute spirit as the opposite of spirit. In this sense we call nature a creation. But its truth is therefore the creator itself, spirit as ideality and negativity; as such, spirit particularizes itself within and negates itself, yet this particularization and negation of itself, as having been brought about by itself, it nevertheless cancels, and instead of having a limitation and restriction therein it binds itself together with its opposite in free universality. This ideality and infinite negativity constitutes the profound concept of the subjectivity of spirit.
But, as subjectivity, spirit is, to begin with, only implicitly the truth of nature, since it has not yet made its true Concept explicit to itself. Thus at this stage nature stands over against spirit, not as spirit’s opposite, set down by spirit itself, in which spirit reverts into itself, but as a restricting otherness, not overcome. Spirit as subjective, existent in knowing and willing, remains related to this otherness as to an object just found, and it can form only the opposite of nature. In this sphere [of spirit’s mere subjectivity] there falls the finitude of both theoretical and practical spirit, restriction in knowing, and the mere ‘ought’ in the pursuit of realising the good. Here too, as in nature, spirit’s appearance is inadequate to its true essence; and we still get the confusing spectacle of skills, passions, aims, views, and talents, running after and flying away from one another, working for and against one another, at cross purposes, while their willing and striving, their opining and thinking, are advanced or deranged by an intermixture of the greatest diversity of sorts of chance. This is the standpoint of the spirit which is purely finite, temporal, contradictory, and therefore transient, unsatisfied, and unblessed. For the satisfactions afforded in this sphere are themselves in their finite shape always still restricted and curtailed, relative and isolated. Therefore discernment, consciousness, willing, and thinking lift themselves above them, and seek and find their true universality, unity, and satisfaction elsewhere – in the infinite and the true. This unity and satisfaction to which the driving rationality of the spirit raises the material of its finitude is then and only then the true unveiling of what the world of appearance is in its essential nature. Spirit apprehends finitude itself as its own negative and thereby wins its infinity. This truth of finite spirit is the absolute spirit.
But in this form spirit becomes actual only as absolute negativity; it puts its finitude into itself and cancels it. Thereby, in its highest realm, it explicitly makes itself the object of its knowing and willing. The Absolute itself becomes the object of the spirit, in that the spirit reaches the stage of consciousness and distinguishes itself within itself as knowing and, over against this, as the absolute object of knowledge. From the earlier standpoint of the finitude of spirit, which knows of the Absolute as an infinite object standing over against it, spirit is therefore characterized as the finite, distinguished therefrom. But, looked at in a higher speculative way, it is the absolute spirit itself which, in order explicitly to be knowledge of itself, makes distinctions within itself, and thereby establishes the finitude of spirit, within which it becomes the absolute object of the knowledge of itself. Thus it is absolute spirit in its community, the actual Absolute as spirit and self-knowledge. This is the point at which we have to begin in the philosophy of art. For the beauty of art is neither the Idea as conceived in Logic, i.e. absolute thought as it is developed in the pure element of thinking, nor yet, on the other hand, the Idea as it appears in Nature; on the contrary, it belongs to the sphere of spirit, though without stopping at the knowledge and deeds of the finite spirit. The realm of fine art is the realm of the absolute spirit. That this is the case we can only indicate here; the scientific proof devolves on the preceding philosophical disciplines, namely logic, the content of which is the absolute Idea as such, and the philosophy of nature as the philosophy of the finite spheres of the spirit. For it is the task of these sciences to show how the Idea in logic has, in accordance with its own Concept, to transpose itself into natural existence and then, out of this externality, into spirit; and finally to free itself from the finitude of spirit again to become spirit in tits eternity and truth.
From this point of view, which pertains to art in its highest and true dignity, it is at once clear that art belongs to the same province as religion and philosophy. In all the spheres of absolute spirit, spirit liberates itself from the cramping barriers of its existence in externality, by opening for itself a way out of the contingent affairs of its worldly existence, and the finite content of its aims and interests there, into the consideration and completion of its being in and for itself.
This position of art in the entire sphere of natural and spiritual life we can expound more concretely in the following way, with a view to understanding it better.
If we glance over the whole field of our existence, we find already in our ordinary way of looking at things an awareness of the greatest multiplicity of interests and their satisfaction. First, the wide system of physical needs for which the great spheres of business work in their broad operation and connection, e.g. trade, shipping, and technologies; then higher is the world of jurisprudence, law, family life, class divisions, the whole comprehensive scope of the State; next the need of religion which every heart feels and which finds its contentment in the life of the church; finally, the variously divided and complicated activity of science, the entirety of observation and knowledge, which comprehends everything. Now among these spheres artistic activity also arises, an interest in beauty and a spiritual satisfaction in artistic creations. Hence a question is raised about the inner necessity of such a need in connection with the other realms of life and the world. Initially we find these spheres simply present as such. But, according to the demands of science, the matter at issue is insight into their essential inner connection and their reciprocal necessity. For they do not stand only, as might be supposed, in a relation of mere utility to one another; on the contrary they complement one another, because in one sphere there are higher modes of activity than there are in the other. Consequently the subordinate one presses on above itself, and now, by the deeper satisfaction of wider-ranging interests, what in an earlier province can find no termination is supplemented. This alone provides the necessity of an inner connection.
If we recall what we have already established about the Concept of the beautiful and art, we find two things: first, a content, an aim, a meaning; and secondly the expression, appearance, and realization of this content. But, thirdly, both aspects are so penetrated by one another that the external, the particular, appears exclusively as a presentation of the inner. In the work of art nothing is there except what has an essential relation to the content and is an expression of it. What we called the content, the meaning, is something in itself simple (the thing itself reduced to its simplest ye comprehensive characteristics) in distinction from execution. So, for example, the content of a book may be indicated in a few words or sentences, and nothing else should be found in the book beyond the universal aspect of its content which has already been stated. This simple thing, this theme, as it were, which forms the basis for the execution of the work, is the abstract; the concrete comes only with the execution.
But the two sides of this opposition have not been given the character of remaining indifferent and external to one another – in the way that for instance the external appearance of a mathematical figure (triangle, ellipse), i.e. its specific size, colour, etc., is indifferent to the figure itself which is the inherently simple content. On the contrary, the meaning, abstract in form by being the content pure and simple, is destined in itself to be actually expressed and thereby to be made concrete. Accordingly there essentially enters an ought. Whatever validity a content may have in itself, we are still not satisfied with this abstract validity and crave for something further. At first this is only an unsatisfied need, and for the conscious subject it is something inadequate which strives to go beyond itself and advance to satisfaction. In this sense we may say that the content is at first subjective, something purely inward, with the objective standing over against it, so that now this gives rise to a demand that the subjective be objectified. Such an opposition between the subjective and the objective contrasted with it, as well as the fact that it ought to be transcended, is simply a universal characteristic running through everything. Even our physical life, and still more the world of our spiritual aims and interests, rests on the demand to carry through into objectivity what at first was there only subjectively and inwardly, and then alone to find itself satisfied in this complete existence. Now since the content of our interests and aims is present at first only in the one-sided form of subjectivity, and the one-sidedness is a restriction, this deficiency shows itself at the same time as an unrest, a grief, as something negative. This, as negative, has to cancel itself, and therefore, in order to remedy this felt deficiency, struggles to overcome the restriction which is known and thought. And this does not mean at all that the other side, the objective, just quits the subjective; on the contrary it means that they have a more specific connection – i.e. this defect in the subjective itself, and felt by itself, is a deficiency and a negation in the subjective which it struggles to negate again. In itself, that is to say, the individual in his essential nature is the totality, not the inner alone, but equally the realization of this inner through and in the outer. If now he exists one-sidedly only in one form, he therefore falls at once into the contradiction of being, in essence, the whole, but in his existence, only one side. Only by the cancellation of such a negation in itself does life become affirmative. To go through this process of opposition, contradiction, and the resolution of the contradiction is the higher privilege of living beings; what from the beginning is and remains only affirmative is and remains without life. Life proceeds to negation and its grief, and it only becomes affirmative in its own eyes by obliterating the opposition and the contradiction. It is true that if it remains in mere contradiction without resolving it, then on contradiction it is wrecked.
These we may take to be the points, considered in their abstraction, which we require at this stage.
Now the highest content which the subject can comprise in himself is what we can point-blank call freedom. Freedom is the highest destiny of the spirit. In the first place, on its purely formal side, it consists in this, that in what confronts the subject there is nothing alien and it is not a limitation or a barrier; on the contrary, the subject finds himself in it. Even under this formal definition of freedom, all distress and every misfortune has vanished, the subject is reconciled with the world, satisfied in it, and every opposition and contradiction is resolved. But, looked at more closely, freedom has the rational in general as its content: for example, morality in action, truth in thinking. But since freedom at first is only subjective and not effectively achieved, the subject is confronted by the unfree, by the purely objective as the necessity of nature, and at once there arises the demand that this opposition be reconciled.
On the other side a similar opposition is found within the subjective sphere itself. On the one hand, whatever is universal and independent, the universal laws of the right, the good, the true, etc., all belong to freedom; while, on the other hand, there are the impulses of mankind, feelings, inclinations, passions, and everything comprised in the concrete heart of man as an individual. This opposition too goes on to a battle, a contradiction, and in this strife there then arise all longings, the deepest grief, torment, and loss of satisfaction altogether. Animals live in peace with themselves and their surroundings, but in the spiritual nature of man duality and inner conflict burgeon, and in their contradiction he is tossed about. For in the inner as such, in pure thought, in the world of laws and their universality man cannot hold out; he needs also sensuous existence, feeling, the heart, emotion, etc. The opposition, which therefore arises, philosophy thinks as it is in its thoroughgoing universality, and proceeds to the cancellation of the same in a similarly universal way; but man in the immediacy of life presses on for an immediate satisfaction. Such a satisfaction through the resolving of that opposition we find most readily in the system of sensuous needs. Hunger, thirst, weariness; eating, drinking, satiety, sleep, etc., are in this sphere examples of such a contradiction and its resolution. Yet in this natural sphere of human existence the content of its satisfactions is of a finite and restricted kind; the satisfaction is not absolute, and so a new want arises continually and restlessly: eating, satiety, sleeping, are no help; hunger and weariness begin again on the morrow.
Consequently, man strives further in the realm of spirit to obtain satisfaction and freedom in knowing and willing, in learning and actions. The ignorant man is not free, because what confronts him is an alien world, something outside him and in the offing, on which he depends, without his having made this foreign world for himself and therefore without being at home in it by himself as in something his own. The impulse of curiosity, the pressure for knowledge, from the lowest level up to the highest rung of philosophical insight arises only from the struggle to cancel this situation of unfreedom and to make the world one’s own in one’s ideas and thought. Freedom in action issues in the opposite way, from the fact that the rationality of the will wins actualization. This rationality the will actualizes in the life of the state. In a state which is really articulated rationally all the laws and organizations are nothing but a realization of freedom in its essential characteristics. When this is the case, the individual’s reason finds in these institutions only the actuality of his own essence, and if he obeys these laws, he coincides, not with something alien to himself, but simply with what is his own. Caprice, of course, is often equally called ‘freedom'; but caprice is only non-rational freedom, choice and self-determination issuing not from the rationality of the will but from fortuitous impulses and their dependence on sense and the external world.
Now man’s physical needs, as well as his knowing and willing, do indeed get a satisfaction in the world and do resolve in a free way the antithesis of subjective and objective, of inner freedom and externally existent necessity. But nevertheless the content of this freedom and satisfaction remains restricted, and thus this freedom and self-satisfaction retain too an aspect of finitude. But where there is finitude, opposition and contradiction always break out again afresh, and satisfaction does not get beyond being relative. In law and its actualization, for example, my rationality, my will and its freedom, are indeed recognized; I count as a person and am respected as such; I have property and it is meant to remain mine; if it is endangered, the court sees justice done to me. But this recognition and freedom are always solely confined to single relative matters and their single objects: this house, this sum of money, this specific right, this specific law, etc., this single action and reality. What confronts consciousness here is single circumstances which indeed bear on one another and make up a totality of relations, but only under purely relative categories and innumerable conditions, and, dominated by these, satisfaction may as easily be momentary as permanent.
Now, at a higher level, the life of the state, as a whole, does form a perfect totality in itself: monarch, government, law-courts, the military, organization of civil society, and associations, etc., rights and duties, aims and their satisfaction, the prescribed modes of action, duty-performance, whereby this political whole brings about and retains its stable reality – this entire organism is rounded off and completely perfected in a genuine state. But the principle itself, the actualization of which is the life of the state and wherein man seeks his satisfaction, is still once again one-sided and inherently abstract, no matter in how many ways it may be articulated without and within. It is only the rational freedom of the will which is explicit here; it is only in the state – and once again only this individual state – and therefore again in a particular sphere of existence and the isolated reality of this sphere, that freedom is actual. Thus man feels too that the rights and obligations in these regions and their mundane and, once more, finite mode of existence are insufficient; he feels that both in their objective character, and also in their relation to the subject, they need a still higher confirmation and sanction.
What man seeks in this situation, ensnared here as he is in finitude on every side, is the region of a higher, more substantial, truth, in which all oppositions and contradictions in the finite can find their final resolution, and freedom its full satisfaction. This is the region of absolute, not finite, truth. The highest truth, truth as such, is the resolution of the highest opposition and contradiction. In it validity and power are swept away from the opposition between freedom and necessity, between spirit and nature, between knowledge and its object, between law and impulse, from opposition and contradiction as such, whatever forms they may take. Their validity and power as opposition and contradiction is gone. Absolute truth proves that neither freedom by itself, as subjective, sundered from necessity, is absolutely a true thing nor, by parity of reasoning, is truthfulness to be ascribed to necessity isolated and taken by itself. The ordinary consciousness, on the other hand, cannot extricate itself from this opposition and either remains despairingly in contradiction or else casts it aside and helps itself in some other way. But philosophy enters into the heart of the self-contradictory characteristics, knows them in their essential nature, i.e. as in their one-sidedness not absolute but self-dissolving, and it sets them in the harmony and unity which is truth. To grasp this Concept of truth is the task of philosophy.
Now philosophy recognizes the Concept in everything, and only thereby is it conceptual and genuine thinking. Nevertheless the Concept, truth implicit, is one thing, and the existence which does or does not correspond with truth, is another. In finite reality the determinate characteristics of truth appear as outside one another, as a separation of what in its truth is inseparable. So, for example, the living being is an individual, but, by being subject, it comes into an opposition with an environment of inorganic nature. Now of course the Concept contains these two sides, but as reconciled; whereas finite existence drives them asunder and is therefore a reality inadequate to the Concept and to truth. In this sense the Concept is indeed everywhere; but the point of importance is whether the Concept is truly actual even in this unity in which the separate sides and their opposition persist in no real independence and fixity over against one another but count still as only ideal factors reconciled into a free harmony. The only actuality of this supreme unity is the region of truth, freedom, and satisfaction. In this sphere, in this enjoyment of truth, life as feeling is bliss, as thinking is knowledge, and we may describe it in general as the life of religion. For religion is the universal sphere in which the one concrete totality comes home to the consciousness of man as his own essence and as the essence of nature. And this one genuine actuality alone evinces itself to him as the supreme power over the particular and the finite, whereby everything otherwise separated and opposed is brought back to a higher and absolute unity.
Now, owing to its preoccupation with truth as the absolute object of consciousness, art too belongs to the absolute sphere of the spirit, and therefore, in its content, art stands on one and the same ground with religion (in the stricter sense of the word) and philosophy. For, after all, philosophy has no other object but God and so is essentially rational theology and, as the servant of truth, a continual divine service.
Owing to this sameness of content the three realms of absolute spirit differ only in the forms in which they bring home to consciousness their object, the Absolute.
The differences between these forms are implied in the nature of absolute spirit itself. The spirit in its truth is absolute. Therefore it is not an essence lying in abstraction beyond the objective world. On the contrary, it is present within objectivity in the finite spirit’s recollection or inwardization of the essence of all things – i.e. the finite apprehends itself in its own essence and so itself becomes essential and absolute. Now the first form [art] of this apprehension is an immediate and therefore sensuous knowing, a knowing, in the form and shape of the sensuous and objective itself, in which the Absolute is presented to contemplation and feeling. Then the second form [religion] is pictorial thinking, while the third and last [philosophy] is the free thinking of absolute spirit.
(a) Now the form of sensuous intuition is that of art, so that it is art which sets truth before our minds in the mode of sensuous configuration, a sensuous configuration which in this its appearance has itself a loftier, deeper sense and meaning, yet without having the aim of making the Concept as such in its universality comprehensible by way of the sensuous medium; for it is precisely the unity of the Concept with the individual appearance which is the essence of the beautiful and its production by art. Now of course this unity achieved in art is achieved not only in sensuous externality but also in the sphere of imagination, especially in poetry; but still in this too, the most spiritual of the arts, the union of meaning with its individual configuration is present, even if for the imaginative consciousness, and every content is grasped in an immediate way and brought home to the imagination. In general,, we must state at once that while art has truth, i.e. e spirit, as its proper subject-matter, it cannot provide a vision of the same by means of particular natural objects as such, i.e. by means of the sun, for example, the moon, the earth, stars, etc. Such things are visible existents, it is true, but they are isolated and, taken by themselves, cannot provide a vision of the spiritual.
Now in giving art this absolute position we are expressly rejecting the above-mentioned [Introduction, 6(iii)] idea which assumes that art is useful for some varied ulterior subject-matter or other interests foreign to itself. On the other hand, religion makes use of art often enough to bring religious truth home to people’s feelings or to symbolize it for the imagination, and in that event of course art stands in the service of a sphere different from itself. Yet when art is present in its supreme perfection, then precisely in its figurative mode it contains the kind of exposition most essential to and most in correspondence with the content of truth. Thus, for example, in the case of the Greeks, art was the highest form in which the people represented the gods to themselves and gave themselves some awareness of truth. This is why the poets and artists became for the Greeks the creators of their gods, i.e. the artists gave the nation a definite idea of the behaviour, life, and effectiveness of the Divine, or, in other words, the definite content of religion. And it was not as if these ideas and doctrines were already there, in advance of poetry, in an abstract mode of consciousness as general religious propositions and categories of thought, and then later were only clothed in imagery by artists and given an external adornment in poetry; on the contrary, the mode of artistic production was such that what fermented in these poets they could work out only in this form of art and poetry. At other levels of the religious consciousness, where the religious content is less amenable to artistic representation, art has in this respect a more restricted field of play.
This is the original true standing of art as the first and immediate satisfaction of absolute spirit.
But just as art has its ‘before’ in nature and the finite spheres of life, so too it has an ‘after’, i.e. a region which in turn transcends art’s way of apprehending and representing the Absolute. For art has still a limit in itself and therefore passes over into higher forms of consciousness. This limitation determines, after all, the position which we are accustomed to assign to art in our contemporary life. For us art counts no longer as the highest mode in which truth fashions an existence for itself. In general it was early in history that thought passed judgement against art as a mode of illustrating the idea of the Divine; this happened with the Jews and Mohammedans, for example, and indeed even with the Greeks, for Plato opposed the gods of Homer and Hesiod starkly enough. With the advance of civilization a time generally comes in the case of every people when art points beyond itself. For example, the historical elements in Christianity, the Incarnation of Christ, his life and death, have given to art, especially painting, all sorts of opportunities for development, and the Church itself has nursed art or let it alone; but when the urge for knowledge and research, and the need for inner spirituality, instigated the Reformation, religious ideas were drawn away from their wrapping in the element of sense and brought back to the inwardness of heart and thinking. Thus the ‘after’ of art consists in the fact that there dwells in the spirit the need to satisfy itself solely in its own inner self as the true form for truth to take. Art in its beginnings still leaves over something mysterious, a secret foreboding and a longing, because its creations have not completely set forth their full content for imaginative vision. But if the perfect content has been perfectly revealed in artistic shapes, then the more far-seeing spirit rejects this objective manifestation and turns back into its inner self. This is the case in our own time. We may well hope that art will always rise higher and come to perfection, but the form of art has ceased to be the supreme need of the spirit. No matter how excellent we the statues of the Greek gods, no matter how we see God the Father, Christ, an Mary so estimably and perfectly portrayed: it is no help, we bow the knee, no longer [before these artistic portrayals].
(b) Now the next sphere, which transcends the realm of art, is religion. Religion has pictorial thinking as its form of consciousness, for the Absolute has removed from the objectivity of art into the inwardness of the subject and is now given to pictorial thinking in a subjective way, so that mind and feeling, the inner subjective life in general, becomes the chief factor. This advance from art to religion may be described by saying that for the religious consciousness art is only one aspect. If, that is to say, the work of art presents truth, the spirit, as an object in a sensuous mode and adopts this form of the Absolute as the adequate one, then religion adds to this the worship given by the inner self in its relation to the absolute object. For worship does not belong to art as such. Worship only arises from the fact that now by the subject’s agency the heart is permeated with what art makes objective as externally perceptible, and the subject so identifies himself with this content that it is its inner presence in ideas and depth of feeling which becomes the essential element for the existence of the Absolute. Worship is the community’s cult in its purest, most inward, most subjective form – a cult in which objectivity is, as it were, consumed and digested, while the objective content, now stripped of its objectivity, has become a possession of mind and feeling.
(c) Finally, the third form of absolute spirit is philosophy. For in religion God, to begin with, is an external object for consciousness, since we must first be taught what God is and how he has revealed and still reveals himself; next, religion does work in the element of the inner life, and stirs and animates the community. But the inwardness of the heart’s worship and our pictorial thinking is not the highest form of inwardness. As this purest form of knowledge we must recognize untrammelled thinking in which philosophy brings to our minds the same content [as in religion] and thereby attains that most spiritual worship in which thinking makes its own and knows conceptually what otherwise is only the content of subjective feeling or pictorial thinking. In this way the two sides, art and religion, are united in philosophy: the objectivity of art, which here has indeed lost its external sensuousness but therefore has exchanged it for the highest form of the objective, the form of thought, and the subjectivity of religion which has been purified into the subjectivity of thinking. For thinking on one side is the most inward, closest, subjectivity – while true thought, the Idea, is at the same time the most real and most objective universality which only in thinking can apprehend itself in the form of its own self.
With this indication of the difference between art, religion, and philosophy we must here be content.
The sensuous mode of consciousness is the earlier one for man, and so, after all, the earlier stages of religion were a religion of art and its sensuous representation. Only in the religion of the spirit is God now known as spirit in a higher way, more correspondent with thought; this at the same time makes it plain that the manifestation of truth in a sensuous form is not truly adequate to the spirit.
Now that we know the position which art has in the domain of spirit and which the philosophy of art has amongst the particular philosophical disciplines, we have first of all to consider in this general section the general Idea of artistic beauty.
In order to reach this Idea in its completeness we must once more go through three stages:
the first is concerned with the Concept of the beautiful as such;
the second with the beauty of nature, the deficiencies of which will make it evident that the Ideal necessarily has the form of artistic beauty;
the third stage has as its topic for consideration the Ideal in its actualization by being artistically represented in the work of art.
We called the beautiful the Idea of the beautiful. This means that the beautiful itself must be grasped as Idea, in particular as Idea in a determinate form, i.e. as Ideal. Now the Idea as such is nothing but the Concept, the real existence of the Concept, and the unity of the two. For the Concept as such is not yet the Idea, although ‘Concept’ and ‘Idea’ are often used without being distinguished. But it is only when it is present in its real existence and placed in unity therewith that the Concept is the Idea. Yet this unity ought not to be represented, as might be supposed, as a mere neutralization of Concept and Reality, as if both lost their peculiar and special qualities, in the way in which caustic potash and acid interact to form a salt, and, combining, neutralize their contrasting properties. On the contrary, in this unity the Concept is predominant. For, in accordance with its own nature, it is this identity implicitly already, and therefore generates reality out of itself as its own; therefore, since this reality is its own self-development, it sacrifices nothing of itself in it, but therein simply realizes itself, the Concept, and therefore remains one with itself in its objectivity. This unity of Concept and Reality is the abstract definition of the Idea.
However often use is made of the word ‘Idea’ in theories of art, still vice versa extremely excellent connoisseurs of art have shown themselves particularly hostile to this expression. The latest and most interesting example of this is the polemic of [Karl F.] von Rumohr in his Italienische Forschungen. It starts from the practical interest in art and never touches at all on what we call the Idea. For von Rumohr, unacquainted with what recent philosophy calls ‘Idea’, confuses the Idea with an indeterminate idea and the abstract characterless ideal of familiar theories and schools of art – an ideal the very opposite of natural forms, completely delineated and determinate in their truth; and he contrasts these forms, to their advantage, with the Idea and the abstract ideal which the artist is supposed to construct for himself out of his own resources. To produce works of art according to these abstractions is of course wrong – and just as unsatisfactory as when a thinker thinks in vague ideas and in his thinking does not get beyond a purely vague subject-matter. But from such a reproof what we mean by the word ‘Idea’ is in every respect free, for the Idea is completely concrete in itself, a totality of characteristics, and beautiful only as immediately one with the objectivity adequate to itself.
According to what he says in his book (i, pp. 145-6) von Rumohr has found ‘that beauty, as understood in the most general way and, if you like, in terms of the modern intellect, comprises all those properties of things which stir the sense of sight satisfyingly or through it attune the soul and rejoice the spirit’. These properties are further to be divided into three kinds ‘of which the first works only on mere seeing, the second only on man’s own presupposedly innate sense for spatial relationships, and the third in the first place on the understanding and then, and then only, through knowledge, on feeling’. This third most important point is supposed (p. 144) to depend on forms ‘which quite independently of what pleases the senses and of the beauty of proportion, awaken a certain ethical and spiritual pleasure, which proceeds partly from the enjoyment derived from the ideas’ (but query: the ethical and spiritual ideas) ‘thus aroused, and partly also precisely from the pleasure which the mere activity of an unmistakable knowing unfailingly brings with it’.
These are the chief points which this serious connoisseur lays down for his part in relation to the beautiful. For a certain level of culture they may suffice, but for philosophy they cannot possibly be satisfying. For in essentials his treatment of the matter amounts simply to this, that the sense or spirit of sight, and the understanding too, is rejoiced, that feeling is excited, and that a delight has been aroused. The whole thing revolves round this awakening of joy. But Kant has already made an end of this reduction of beauty’s effect to feeling, to the agreeable, and the pleasant, by going far beyond the feeling of the beautiful.
If we turn back from this polemic to the Idea that was left unimpugned thereby, we find in the Idea, as we saw, the concrete unity of Concept and objectivity.
(a) Now, as regards the nature of the Concept as such, it is not in itself an abstract unity at all over against the differences of reality; as Concept it is already the unity of specific differences and therefore a concrete totality. So, for example, ideas like man, blue, etc., are prima facie not to be called ‘concepts’, but abstractly universal ideas, which only become the Concept when it is clear in them that they comprise different aspects in a unity, since this inherently determinate unity constitutes the Concept: for example, the idea ‘blue’ as a colour has the unity, the specific unity, of light and dark for its Concept, and the idea ‘man’ comprises the oppositions of sense and reason, body and spirit; though man is not just put together out of these two sides as constituent parts indifferent to one another; in accordance with his Concept he contains them in a concrete and mediated unity.
But the Concept is so much the absolute unity of its specifications that these do not remain independent and they cannot be realized by separating themselves from one another so as to become independent individuals, or otherwise they would abandon their unity. In this way the Concept contains all its specifications in the form of this its ideal unity and universality, which constitutes its subjectivity in distinction from real and objective existence. So, for example, gold has a specific weight, a determinate colour, a particular relation to acids of various kinds. These are different specifications, and yet they are all together in one. For each tiniest little particle of gold contains them in inseparable unity. In our minds they stand apart from one another, but in themselves, by their own nature, they are there in unseparated unity. The same identity and lack of independence belongs to the differences which the true Concept has in itself. A closer example is afforded by our own ideas, by the self-conscious ego as such. For what we call ‘soul’ and, more precisely, ego is the Concept itself in its free existence. The ego contains a mass of the most different ideas and thoughts, it is a world of ideas; yet this infinitely varied content, by being in the ego, remains entirely immaterial and without body and, as it were, compressed in this ideal unity, as the pure, perfectly transparent shining of the ego into itself. This is the way in which the Concept contains its different determinations in an ideal unity.
The more precise determinations which belong to the Concept in virtue of its own nature are the universal, the particular, and the individual. Each of these determinations, taken by itself, is a purely one-sided abstraction. But they are not present in the Concept in this one-sidedness, because it is their ideal unity. Consequently the Concept is the universal, which on the one hand negates itself by its own activity into particularization and determinacy, but on the other hand once again cancels this particularity which is the negative of the universal. For the universal does not meet in the particular with something absolutely other; the particulars are only particular aspects of the universal itself, and therefore the universal restores in the particular its unity with itself as universal. In this returning into itself the Concept is infinite negativity; not a negation of something other than itself, but self-determination in which it remains purely and simply a self-relating affirmative unity. Thus it is true individuality as universality closing only with itself in its particularizations. As the supreme example of this nature of the Concept, we can reckon what was briefly touched upon above [in the Introduction to this Part] as the essence of spirit.
Owing to this infinity in itself the Concept is already implicitly a totality. For in the being of its other it is still a unity with itself and therefore is the freedom for which all negation is only self-determination and not an alien restriction imposed by something else. But by being this totality the Concept already contains everything that reality as such brings into appearance and that the Idea brings back into a mediated unity. Those who suppose that they have in the Idea something totally other than the Concept, something particular in contrast with it, do not know the nature of either the Idea or the Concept. But at the same time the Concept is distinguished from the Idea by being particularization only in abstracto, since determinacy, as it exists in the Concept, remains caught in the unity and ideal universality which is the Concept’s element.
But, that being so, the Concept remains one-sided and it is afflicted with the defect that, although itself implicitly totality, it allows only to the side of unity and universality the right of free development. But because this one-sidedness is incommensurate with the Concept’s own essence, the Concept cancels it in accordance with its own Concept. It negates itself as this ideal unity and universality and now releases to real independent objectivity what this unity shut in within itself as ideal subjectivity. By its own activity the Concept posits itself as objectivity.
(b) Objectivity, taken by itself, is therefore nothing but the reality of the Concept, but the Concept in the form of independent particularization and the real distinguishing of all the factors of which the Concept as subjective was the ideal unity. But, since it is only the Concept which has to give itself existence and reality in objectivity, objectivity will have to bring the Concept to actuality in objectivity itself. Yet the Concept is the mediated ideal unity of its particular factors. Therefore, although the difference of the particulars is real, their ideal conceptually adequate unity must all the same be restored within them; they are particularized in reality but their unity, mediated into ideality, must also exist in them. This is the power of the Concept which does not abandon or lose its universality in the dispersed objective world, but reveals this its unity precisely through and in reality. For it is its own Concept to preserve in its opposite this unity with itself. Only so is the Concept the actual and true totality.
(c) This totality is the Idea, i.e. it is not only the ideal unity and subjectivity of the Concept, but likewise its objectivity – the objectivity which does not stand over against the Concept as something merely opposed to it but, on the contrary, the objectivity in which the Concept relates itself to itself. On both sides, subjective and objective, of the Concept, the Idea is a whole, but at the same time it is the eternally completing and completed correspondence and mediated unity of these totalities. Only so is the Idea truth and all truth.
Everything existent, therefore, has truth only in so far as it is an existence of the Idea. For the Idea is alone the genuinely actual. Appearance, in other words, is not true simply because it has an inner or outer existence, or because it is reality as such, but only because this reality corresponds with the Concept. Only in that event has existence actuality and truth. And truth not at all in the subjective sense that there is an accordance between some existent and my ideas, but in the objective meaning that the ego or an external object, an action, an event, a situation in its reality is itself a realization of the Concept. If this identity is not established, then the existent is only an appearance in which, not the total Concept, but only one abstract side of it is objectified; and that side, if it establishes itself in itself independently against the totality and unity, may fade away into opposition to the true Concept. Thus it is only the reality which is adequate to the Concept which is a true reality, true indeed because in it the Idea itself brings itself into existence.
Now we said that beauty is Idea, so beauty and truth are in one way the same. Beauty, namely, must be true in itself. But, looked at more closely, the true is nevertheless distinct from the beautiful. That is to say, what is true is the Idea, the Idea as it is in accordance with its inherent character and universal principle, and as it is grasped as such in thought. In that case what is there for thinking is not the Idea’s sensuous and external existence, but only the universal Idea in this existence. But the Idea should realize itself externally and win a specific and present existence as the objectivity of nature and spirit. The true as such exists also. Now when truth in this its external existence is present to consciousness immediately, and when the Concept remains immediately in unity with its external appearance, the Idea is not only true but beautiful. Therefore the beautiful is characterized as the pure appearance of he Idea to sense. For the sensuous and the objective as such reserve in beauty no independence in themselves; they have to sacrifice the immediacy of their being, since this being is only the existence and objectivity of the Concept; and it is posited as a reality which presents the Concept as in unity with its objectivity and thus also presents the Idea itself in this objective existent which has worth only as a pure appearance of the Concept.
(a) For this reason, after all, it is impossible for the Understanding to comprehend beauty, because, instead of penetrating to this unity, the Understanding clings fast to the differences exclusively in their independent separation, by regarding reality as something quite different from ideality, the sensuous as quite different from the Concept, the objective as quite different from the subjective, and thinks that such oppositions cannot be [reconciled and] unified. Thus the Understanding steadily remains in the field of the finite, the one-sided, and the untrue. The beautiful, on the other hand, is in itself infinite and free. For even if there can be a question too of a particular content, and therefore, once more, of a restricted one, still this content must appear in its existence as a totality infinite in itself and as freedom, because the beautiful throughout is the Concept. And the Concept does not set itself against its objectivity by opposing to it a one-sided finitude and abstraction; on the contrary, it closes together with what confronts it and on the strength of this unity and perfection is infinite in itself. In the same way, the Concept ensouls the real existence which embodies it, and therefore is free and at home with itself in this objectivity. For the Concept does not allow external existence in the sphere of beauty to follow its own laws independently; on the contrary, it settles out of itself its phenomenal articulation and shape, and this, as the correspondence of the Concept with itself in its outward existence, is precisely what constitutes the essence of beauty. But the bond and the power which keeps this correspondence in being is subjectivity, unity, soul, individuality.
(b) Therefore if we consider beauty in relation to the subjective spirit, it is not present either to the unfree intelligence which persists in its finitude or to the finitude of the will.
As finite intelligences, we sense inner and outer objects, we observe them, we become aware of them through our senses, we have them brought before our contemplation and ideas, and, indeed, before the abstractions of our thinking understanding which confers on them the abstract form of universality. The finitude and unfreedom of this attitude lies in presupposing things to be independent. Therefore we direct our attention to things, we let them alone, we make our ideas, etc., a prisoner to belief in things, since we are convinced that objects are rightly understood only when our relation to them is passive, and when we restrict our whole activity to the formality of noticing them and putting a negative restraint on our imaginations, preconceived opinions, and prejudices. With this one-sided freedom of objects there is immediately posited the unfreedom of subjective comprehension. For in the case of this latter the content is given, and instead of subjective self-determination there enters the mere acceptance and adoption of what is there, objectively present just as it is. Truth in that case is to be gained only by the subjugation of subjectivity.
The same thing is true, though in an opposite way, with finite willing. Here interests, aims, and intentions lie in the subject who wills to assert them in face of the being and properties of things. For he can only carry out his decisions by annihilating objects, or at least altering them, moulding them, forming them, cancelling their qualities, or making them work upon one another, e.g. water on fire, fire on iron, iron on wood, and so on. Thus now it is things which are deprived of their independence, since the subject brings them into his service and treats and handles them as useful, i.e. as objects with their essential nature and end not in themselves but in the subject, so that what constitutes their proper essence is their relation (i.e. their service) to the aims of the subject. Subject and object have exchanged their roles. The objects have become unfree, the subjects free.
But, as a matter of fact, in both these relations, both sides are finite and one-sided, and their freedom is a purely supposititious freedom. In the field of theory the subject is finite and unfree because the independence of things is presupposed; the same is true in the field of practice, owing to the one-sidedness, struggle, and inner contradiction between aims and the impulses and passions aroused from outside, and owing also to the never wholly eliminated resistance of the objects. For the separation and opposition of the two sides, object and subject, is the presupposition in this matter and is regarded as its true essence.
The same finitude and unfreedom affects the object in both theoretical and practical matters. In the theoretical sphere, the object’s independence, although presupposed, is only an apparent freedom. For objectivity as such just is, without any awareness of its Concept as subjective unity and universality within itself. Its Concept is outside it. Therefore, every object, its Concept being outside it, exists as mere particularity which with its manysidedness is turned outwards and in its infinitely varied relations appears at the mercy of origination and alteration by others, subject to their power, and to destruction by them. In practical matters this dependence is expressly posited as such, and the resistance of things to the will remains relative, not possessing in itself the power of ultimate independence.
(c) But the consideration and the existence of objects as beautiful is the unification of both points of view, since it cancels the one-sidedness of both in respect of the subject and its object alike, and therefore their finitude and unfreedom.
For, in its theoretical relation, the object now is not just taken as being merely an existent individual thing which therefore has its subjective Concept outside its objectivity, and in its particular reality scatters and disperses into external relations in many ways in the most varied directions; on the contrary, the beautiful thing in its existence makes its own Concept appear as realized and displays in itself subjective unity and life. Thereby the object has bent its outward tendency back into itself, has suppressed dependence on something else, and, under our consideration, has exchanged its unfree finitude for free infinity.
But the self in relation to the object likewise ceases to be the abstraction of both noticing, sensuously perceiving, and observing, and also of dissolving individual perceptions and observations into abstract thoughts. In this [beautiful] object the self becomes concrete in itself since it makes explicit the unity of Concept and reality, the unification, in their concreteness, of the aspects hitherto separated, and therefore abstract, in the self and its object. In the matter of practice, as we have seen at greater length already [in the Introduction, 6(ii)], desire likewise withdraws when the beautiful is under consideration, and the subject cancels his aims in relation to the object and treats it as independent, an end in itself. Therefore there is dissolved the purely finite standing of the object in which it served purposes external to it as a useful means of fulfilling them, and either, unfree, armed itself against their fulfilment or else was compelled to accept the alien purpose as its own. At the same time the unfree situation of the active agent has disappeared because his consciousness is no longer differentiated into subjective intentions, etc., and their sphere and the means to their achievement; his relation to the fulfilment of his subjective intentions is no longer the finite one of the mere ‘ought'; he has gone beyond it and what now confronts him is the perfectly realized Concept and end.
Thus the contemplation of beauty is of a liberal kind; it leaves objects alone as being inherently free and infinite; there is no wish to possess them or take advantage of them as useful for fulfilling finite needs and intentions. So the object, as beautiful, appears neither as forced and compelled by us, nor fought and overcome by other external things.
For, in virtue of the essence of beauty, what must appear in the beautiful object is the Concept with its soul and end, as well as its external determinacy, many-sidedness, and, in general, its reality created by itself and not by something else, since, as we saw just now, the object has truth only as the immanent unity and correspondence of the specific existent and its genuine essence and Concept. Now further, since the Concept itself is the concrete, its reality too appears as just a complete creation, the parts of which are nevertheless revealed as ideally ensouled and unified. For the harmony of the Concept with its appearance is a perfect interpenetration. Consequently the external form and shape does not remain separate from the external material, nor is it stamped on it mechanically for some other purposes; it appears as the form immanent in the reality and corresponding with the nature of that reality, the form giving itself an outward shape.
But, finally, however much the particular aspects, parts, and members of the beautiful object harmonize with one another to form an ideal unity and make this unity appear, nevertheless this harmony must only be so visible in them that they still preserve an appearance of independent freedom over against one another; i.e. they must not, as in the Concept as such, have a purely ideal unity, they must also present the aspect of independent reality. In the beautiful object there must be both (i) necessity, established by the Concept, in the coherence of its particular aspects, and (ii) the appearance of their freedom, freedom for themselves and not merely for the unity of the parts on view. Necessity as such is the relation of aspects so essentially interlinked with one another that if one is there, the other is immediately there also. Such necessity should not be missing in beautiful objects, but it must not emerge in the form of necessity itself; on the contrary, it must be hidden behind an appearance of undesigned contingency. For otherwise the particular real parts lose their standing as existing on the strength of their own reality too, and they appear only in the service of their ideal unity, to which they remain abstractly subordinate.
Owing to this freedom and infinity, which are inherent in the Concept of beauty, as well as in the beautiful object and its subjective contemplation, the sphere of the beautiful is withdrawn from the relativity of finite affairs and raised into the absolute realm of the Idea and its truth.
The beautiful is the Idea as the immediate unity of the Concept with its reality, the Idea, however, only in so far as this its unity is present immediately in sensuous and real appearance. Now the first existence of the Idea is nature, and beauty begins as the beauty of nature.
In the world of nature we must at once make a distinction in respect of the manner in which the Concept, in order to be as Idea, wins existence in its realization.
(a) First, the Concept immediately sinks itself so completely in objectivity that it does not itself appear as subjective ideal unity; on the contrary, it has altogether passed over soullessly into the material world perceived by the senses. Purely mechanical and physical separate and particular bodies are of this kind. A metal, for example, is in itself a manifold of mechanical and physical qualities; but every tiny part of it possesses them in the same way. Such a body lacks the complete articulation which it would have if each of its different parts had a particular material existence of its own, nor can it have the negative ideal unity of these parts which would declare itself as their animation. The different parts are only an abstract multiplicity and their unity is only the insignificant one of the uniformity of the same qualities.
This is the Concept’s first mode of existence. Its distinctions have no independent existence, and its ideal unity does not emerge as ideal; on this account, then, such separated bodies are in themselves defective and abstract existents.
(b) Secondly, on the other hand, higher natural objects set free the distinctions of the Concept, so that now each one of them outside the others is there for itself independently. Here alone appears the true nature of objectivity. For objectivity is precisely this independent dispersal of the Concept’s distinctions. Now at this stage the Concept asserts itself in this way: since it is the totality of its determinacies which makes itself real, the particular bodies, though each possesses an independent existence of its own, close together into one and the same system. One example of this kind of thing is the solar system. The sun, comets, moons, and planets appear, on the one hand, as heavenly bodies independent and different from one another; but, on the other hand, they are what they are only because of the determinate place they occupy in a total system of bodies. Their specific kind of movement, as well as their physical properties, can be derived only from their situation in this system. This interconnection constitutes their inner unity which relates the particular existents to one another and holds them together.
Yet at this purely implicit unity of the independently existing particular bodies the Concept cannot stop. For it has to make real not only its distinctions but also its self-relating unity. This unity now distinguishes itself from the mutual externality of the objective particular bodies and acquires for itself at this stage, in contrast to this mutual externality, a real, bodily, independent existence. For example, in the solar system the sun exists as this unity of the system, over against the real differences within it. – But the existence of the ideal unity in this way is itself still of a defective kind, for, on the one hand, it becomes real only as the relation together of the particular independent bodies and their bearing on one another, and, on the other hand, as one body in the system, a body which represents the unity as such, it stands over against the real differences. If we wish to consider the sun as the soul of the entire system, it has itself still an independent persistence outside the members of the system which are the unfolding of this soul. The sun itself is only one moment of the Concept, the moment of unity in distinction from the Concept’s real particularization, and consequently a unity which remains purely implicit and therefore abstract. For the sun, in virtue of its physical quality, is the purely identical, the giver of light, the light-body as such, but it is also only this abstract identity. For light is simple undifferentiated shining in itself. – So in the solar system we do find the Concept itself become real, with the totality of its distinctions made explicit, since each body makes one particular factor appear, but even here the Concept still remains sunk in its real existence; it does not come forth as the ideality and the inner independence thereof. The decisive form of its existence remains the independent mutual externality of its different factors.
But what the true existence of the Concept requires is that the real differences (namely the reality of the independent differences and their equally independently objectified unity as such) be themselves brought back into unity; i.e. that such a whole of natural differences should on the one hand make the Concept explicit as a real mutual externality of its specific determinations, and yet on the other hand set down as cancelled in every particular thing its self-enclosed independence; and now make the ideality, in which the differences are turned back into subjective unity, emerge in them as their universal animating soul. In that event, they are no longer merely parts hanging together and related to one another, but members; i.e. they are no longer sundered, existing independently, but they have genuine existence only in their ideal unity. Only in such an organic articulation does there dwell in the members the ideal unity of the Concept which is their support and their immanent soul. The Concept remains no longer sunk in reality but emerges into existence in it as the inner identity and universality which constitute its own essence.
(c) This third mode of natural appearance alone is an existence of the Idea, the Idea in natural form as Life. Dead, inorganic nature is not adequate to the Idea, and only the living organism is an actuality of the Idea. For in life, in the first place, the reality of the Concept’s distinctions is present as real; secondly, however, there is the negation of these as merely real distinctions, in that the ideal subjectivity of the Concept subdues this reality to itself; thirdly, there is the soulful qua the affirmative appearance of the Concept in its corporeality, i.e. qua infinite form which has the power to maintain itself, as form, in its content.
(α) If we examine our ordinary view about life, what it implies is
(a) the idea of the body, and (b) the idea of the soul. To the two we ascribe different qualities of their own. This distinction between soul and body is of great importance for the philosophical treatment of the subject too, and we must take it up here likewise. But knowledge’s equally important interest in this matter concerns the unity of soul and body which has always posed the greatest difficulties to thoughtful study. It is on account of this unity that life is precisely a first appearance of the Idea in nature. Therefore we must not take the identity of soul and body as a mere connection, but in a deeper way, i.e. we must regard the body and its members as the existence of the systematic articulation of the Concept itself. In the members of the living organism the Concept gives to its determinations an external being in nature, as is already the case, at a lower level, in the solar system. Now within this real existence the Concept rises nevertheless into the ideal unity of all these determinations, and this ideal unity is the soul. The soul is the substantial unity and all-pervasive universality which at the same time is simple relation to itself and subjective self-awareness. It is in this higher sense that the unity of soul and body must be taken. Both, that is to say, are not different things which come into connection with one another, but one and the same totality of the same determinations. And just as the Idea as such can only be understood as the Concept aware of itself in its objective reality, which implies both the difference and the unity of Concept and reality, so life too is to be known only as the unity of soul with its body. The subjective as well as the substantial unity of the soul within the body itself is displayed, for example, as feeling.
Feeling in the living organism does not belong independently to one particular part alone, but is this ideal unity of the entire organism itself. It permeates every member, is all over the organism in hundreds and hundreds of places, and yet in the same organism there are not many thousands of feelers; there is only one, one self that feels. Since life in organic nature contains this difference between the real existence of the members and the soul simply aware of itself in them, and yet no less contains this difference as a mediated unity, the organic is a higher sphere than inorganic nature. For only the living thing is Idea, and only the Idea is the truth. Of course even in the organic sphere this truth can be disturbed in that the body does not completely bring to fruition its ideality and its possession of soul, as, for instance, in illness. In that event the Concept does not rule as the sole power; other powers share the rule. But then such an existent is a bad and crippled life, which still lives only because the incompatibility of Concept and reality is not absolutely thorough but only relative. For if the correspondence of the two were no longer present at all, if the body altogether lacked genuine articulation and its true ideality, then life would at once change into death which sunders into independence what the possession of soul holds together in undivided unity.
(β) When we said (i) that the soul is the totality of the Concept, as the inherently subjective ideal unity, and (ii) that the articulated body is this same totality, but as the exposition and sensuously perceived separatedness of all the particular members, and that both (i) and (ii) were posited in the living thing as in unity, there is here, to be sure, a contradiction. For the ideal unity is not only not the perceived separatedness in which every particular member has an independent existence and a separate peculiarity of its own; on the contrary, it is the direct opposite of such external reality. But to say that opposites are to be identical is precisely contradiction itself. Yet whoever claims that nothing exists which carries in itself a contradiction in the form of an identity of opposites is at the same time requiring that nothing living shall exist. For the power of life, and still more the might of the spirit, consists precisely in positing contradiction in itself, enduring it, and overcoming it. This positing and resolving of the contradiction between the ideal unity and the real separatedness of the members constitutes the constant process of life, and life is only by being a process.
The process of life comprises a double activity: on the one hand, that of bringing steadily into existence perceptibly the real differences of all the members and specific characteristics of the organism, but, on the other hand, that of asserting in them their universal ideality (which is their animation) if they try to persist in independent severance from one another and isolate themselves in fixed differences from one another. This is the idealism of life. For philosophy is not at all the only example of idealism; nature, as life, already makes a matter of fact what idealist philosophy brings to completion in its own spiritual field. – But only these two activities in one – the constant transfer of the specific characteristics of the organism into realities, and the putting of these real existents ideally into their subjective unity – constitute the complete process of life, the detailed forms of which we cannot consider here. Through this unity of double activity all the members of the organism are constantly upheld and constantly brought to the ideality of their animation. After all, the members display this ideality forthwith in the fact that their animated unity is not indifferent to them, but on the contrary is the substance in which and through which alone they can preserve their particular individuality. This is precisely what constitutes the essential difference between the part of a whole and the member of an organism.
The particular parts of a house, for example, the individual stones, windows, etc., remain the same, whether they together form a house or not; their association is indifferent to them and the Concept remains for them a purely external form which does not live in the real parts in order to raise them to the ideality of a subjective unity. The members of an organism, on the other hand, do likewise possess external reality, yet so strongly is the Concept their own indwelling essence that it is not impressed on them as a form merely uniting them externally; on the contrary, it is their sole sustainer. For this reason the members do not have the sort of reality possessed by the stones of a building or the planets, moons, comets in the planetary system; what they do have is an existence posited as ideal within the organism, despite all their reality. For example, a hand, if severed, loses its independent subsistence; it does not remain what it was in the organism; its mobility, agility, shape, colour, etc., are changed; indeed it decomposes and perishes altogether. It was sustained in existence only as a member of an organism, and had reality only as continually brought back into the ideal unity. Herein consists the higher mode of reality within the living organism; the real, the positive, is continually posited negatively and as ideal, while this ideality is at once precisely the maintenance of the real differences and the element in which they are sustained.
(γ) The reality which the Idea gains as natural life is on this account a reality that appears. Appearance, that is to say, means simply that there is some reality which, instead of having its being immediately in itself, is posited negatively in its outer existence at the same time. But the negating of the members that are immediately there externally is not just a negative relation, like the activity of idealization; on the contrary, affirmative being for self [or independence] is present in this negation at the same time. Hitherto we have considered particular realities in their complete particularization as the affirmative. But in life this independence is negated, and only the ideal unity within the living organism acquires the power of affirmative relation to self. The soul is to be understood as this ideality which in its negating is also affirmative. Therefore when it is the soul which appears in the body, this appearance is at the same time affirmative. The soul does indeed display itself as the power against the independent particularization of the members, and yet it also creates it by containing as inward and ideal what is imprinted externally on the members and forms [of the body]. Thus it is this positive inner itself which appears in the outer; the outer which remains purely external would be nothing but an abstraction and one-sidedness. But in the living organism we have an outer in which the inner appears, since the outer displays itself in itself as this inner which is its Concept. To this Concept again there belongs the reality in which the Concept appears as Concept. But since in objectivity the Concept as such is the self-related subjectivity that in its reality is still confronted by itself, life exists only as a living being, as an individual subject. Life alone has found this negative point of unity: the point is negative because subjective self-awareness can only emerge through positing the real differences as merely real, but therewith at the same time the subjective affirmative unity of self-awareness is linked. – To emphasize this aspect of subjectivity is of great importance. Life is only now actual as individual living subject. If we ask further by what indications the Idea of life in actual living individuals can be known, the answer is as follows: Life must first be real as a totality of a bodily organism, but, secondly, as an organism which does not appear as something stubborn, but as an inherent continual process of idealizing, in which the living soul displays itself. Thirdly, this totality is not determined from without and alterable; it shapes itself outwardly from within; it is in process, and therein is continually related to itself as a subjective unity and an end in itself.
This inherently free independence of subjective life shows itself principally in spontaneous movement. The inanimate bodies of inorganic nature have their fixed position in space; they are one with their place, bound to it, or moved from it only by an external force. For their movement does not proceed from themselves, and when it is forced on them it appears in consequence as resulting from an alien influence against which they struggle and react in order to cancel it. And, even if the movement of the planets, etc., does not appear as an external propulsion and as foreign to the bodies themselves, nevertheless it is tied to a fixed law and its abstract necessity. But the living animal in its free spontaneous movement negates by its own means this attachment to a determinate place and is the progressive liberation from physical unity with such determinacy. Similarly in its movement it is the cancellation, even if only relative, of the abstraction involved in determinate modes of movement, its path, speed, etc. Looked at more closely, however, the animal has in its organism by its very nature a physical position in space, and its life is spontaneous movement within this reality itself, as the circulation of the blood, movement of the limbs, etc.
Movement, however, is not the only expression of life. The free-sounding of the animal voice, which inorganic bodies do not have because they rustle and clang only when impelled from outside, is already a higher expression of ensouled subjectivity. But idealizing activity is displayed in the most impressive manner in the fact that, on the one hand, the living individual separates himself off from the rest of reality, and yet, on the other hand, he equally makes the external world something for himself: partly contemplatively, through seeing, etc., partly practically by subjecting external things to himself, using them, assimilating them in the process of eating, and so, by means of what is his opposite, he continually reproduces himself as an individual, and indeed, in stronger organisms, by more definitely separated intervals of needing and consuming, of satisfaction and satiety [i.e. by mealtimes]. All these are activities in which the essential nature of life comes into appearance in ensouled individuals. Now this ideality is not at all only our reflection on life; it is objectively present in the living subject himself, whose existence, therefore, we may style an ‘objective idealism’. The soul, as this ideality, makes itself appear, since it steadily degrades into an appearance the purely external reality of the body and therefore appears itself objectively in body.
Now as the physically objective Idea, life in nature is beautiful because truth, the Idea in its earliest natural form as life, is immediately present there in individual and adequate actuality. Yet, because of this purely sensuous immediacy, the living beauty of nature is produced neither for nor out of itself as beautiful and for the sake of a beautiful appearance. The beauty of nature is beautiful only for another, i.e. for us, for the mind which apprehends beauty. Hence arises the question in what way and by what means life in its immediate existence appears as beautiful.
(a) If we consider the living thing first in its practical self-production and self-maintenance, the first thing that strikes us is capricious movement. This, regarded just as movement, is nothing other than the purely abstract freedom of changing place from time to time, in which the animal proves itself to be wholly capricious and its movement haphazard. On the other hand, music and dancing also involve movement; yet this movement is not just haphazard and capricious, but in itself regular, definite, concrete, and measured – even if we abstract altogether from the meaning of which it is the beautiful expression. If we look further at animal movement and regard it as the realization of an inner purpose, still this purpose is haphazard throughout and wholly restricted because it is only an impulse that has been aroused. But if we go further still and judge the movement as a purposeful act and the working together of all parts of the animal, then this mode of considering the movement proceeds solely from the activity of our intellect. – The same is the case if we reflect on how the animal satisfies its needs, nourishes itself, on how it gets its food, consumes and digests it, and, in general, how it accomplishes everything necessary for its self-preservation. For here too either we merely look on froth the outside at single desires and their capricious and accidental satisfactions – in which case, we may add, the inner activity of the organism does not become perceptible at all, or all these activities and their modes of expression become an object for the intellect, which struggles to understand the purposefulness in them, and the correspondence between the inner purposes of the animal and the organs realizing them.
Neither the sensuous perception of single accidental desires, capricious satisfactions and movements, nor the intellectual consideration of the purposefulness of the organism makes animal life into the beauty of nature for us; on the contrary, beauty has respect to the appearance of an individual shape in its rest, as well as in its movement, regardless alike of its purposefulness in the satisfaction of needs, and of the entire separatedness and accidental nature of its spontaneous movements. But beauty can devolve only on the shape, because this alone is the external appearance in which the objective idealism of life becomes for us an object of our perception and sensuous consideration. Thinking apprehends this idealism in its Concept and makes this Concept explicit in its universality, but the consideration of beauty concentrates on the reality in which the Concept appears. And this reality is the external shape of the articulated organism, which for us is as much something purely apparent as it is something existent, since the merely real multiplicity of the particular members in the ensouled totality of the shape must be posited as purely apparent.
(b) According to the Concept of life already explained, there now arise the following points explanatory of the sort of pure appearance involved: The shape is spatially spread out, limited, figured, different in forms, colour, movement, etc., and is a manifold of such differences. But if the organism is to manifest itself as ensouled, then obviously it does not have its true existence in this manifold. This is because the different parts and their modes of appearance, which are present to us as sensuously perceptible, close together at the same time into a whole and therefore appear as an individual which is a unit and has these particular differences, even if as different, yet as all harmonious.
(α) But this unity must display itself in the first place as an unintended identity and therefore must not assert itself as abstract purposefulness. The parts must neither come before our eyes merely as means to a specific end and as in service to it, nor may they abandon their distinction from one another in construction and shape.
(β) On the contrary, the members, in the second place, acquire in our eyes an appearance of accident, i.e. the specific character of one is not posited in the other also. None of them has this or that shape because the other has it, as for example is the case in a regular system. In this latter some abstract principle of determination determines the shape, size, etc., of all the parts. For example, in a building the windows are of equal size or at least stand in one and the same row; similarly, in a regiment the regulars have one and the same uniform. Here the particular parts of clothing, their cut, colour, etc., are not accidental to one another, but one has its specific form on account of the other. Neither the difference of forms nor their proper independence gets its due here. But it is totally different in the organic and living individual. There each part is different, the nose from the forehead, the mouth from the cheeks, the breast from the neck, the arms from the legs, and so on. Now since in our eyes each member does not have the shape of another, but a form of its own which is not absolutely determined by another member, the members appear as independent in themselves, and therefore free and accidental to one another. For their material interconnection has nothing to do with their form as such.
(γ) But thirdly, for our contemplation an inner connection must nevertheless become visible in this independence of the members, although the unity may not remain abstract and external, as it does in mere regularity, but must recall and preserve the individual particularizations instead of obliterating them. This identity is not perceptible and immediately present to our view, like the difference of the members, and it remains, therefore, a secret inner necessity and correspondence. But if purely inner, and not outwardly visible too, it would be understood by thinking alone, and altogether beyond the scope of perception. Yet in that case it would lack the look of the beautiful, and by looking at the living thing we would not see the Idea as really appearing before us. Therefore the unity must also emerge into externality, although, because it is the ideally soul-giving thing, it may not remain purely physical and spatial. The unity appears in the individual as the universal ideality of its members which constitutes the upholding and carrying foundation, the substratum of the living subject. This subjective unity emerges in the living organic being as feeling. In feeling and its expression, the soul manifests itself as soul. This is because for the soul the mere juxtaposition of the members has no truth, and for the soul’s subjective ideality the multiplicity of spatial forms does not exist. It is true that the soul presupposes the variety, characteristic formation, and organic articulation of the bodily parts; but while the soul as feeling, and its expression, emerges in these, its omnipresent inner unity appears precisely as the annulment of mere independent realities, which now no longer present themselves only but their possession of soul as feeling.
(c) But at first the expression of soul-laden feeling affords neither the impression of a necessary interconnection of the particular members with one another nor the vision of the necessary identity of real articulation with the subjective unity of feeling as such.
(α) If, however, it is the shape, purely as shape, which is to bring this inner correspondence and its necessity into appearance, then for us the connection may seem to be the habitual juxtaposition of the members, producing a certain type and repeated examples of this type. Habit, however, is itself a purely subjective necessity over again. By this criterion we may, for example, find animals ugly because they display an organism which deviates from our customary observations or contradicts them. For this reason we call animal organisms bizarre, if the way their organs are connected falls outside what we have already often seen previously and what therefore has become familiar: an example is a fish whose disproportionately large body ends in a short tail and whose eyes are together on one side of the head. In the case of plants we have long been accustomed to deviations of all sorts, although cacti, for example, with their prickles and the even straighter growth of their angled stems may seem remarkable. Anyone widely versed and knowledgeable in natural history will, in this connection, have the most precise knowledge of the individual parts, as well as carrying in his memory the greatest number of types and their congruity, so that hardly anything unfamiliar comes before his notice.
(β) A deeper examination of this correspondence between the parts of an organism may, secondly, equip a man with the insight and skill that enable him to tell at once from one single member the whole shape to which it must belong. In this regard Cuvier, for example, was famous, because by seeing a single bone – whether fossil or not – he could identify the animal species to which the individual bone belonged and was to be allocated. Exungue leonem is valid here in the strict sense of the word; from a claw or a thigh-bone the conformation of the teeth can be inferred, from the teeth, vice versa, the shape of the hip-bone or the form of the spinal column. But, in such inference, knowledge of the type is no longer a matter of habit alone; there already enter, as guide, reflections and individual categories of thought. Cuvier, for example, in his identifications had before his mind a concrete specification and decisive property which was asserted in all the particular and different parts and therefore could be recognized again in them. Such a specific character, for example, is the property of being carnivorous which then constitutes the law for the organization of all the parts. A carnivorous animal, for example, requires different teeth, jaw-bone, etc.; if it goes hunting it must grip its prey and therefore needs claws – hoofs are insufficient. Here then one specific characteristic is the guide for the necessary shape and interconnection of all the members of the organism. Similar universal characteristics are of course also within the scope of the plain man’s ideas, as for instance the strength of the lion or the eagle, and so forth. Now this way of considering the organism we may certainly call beautiful and ingenious because, as consideration, it teaches us to recognize a unity of configuration and its forms, although this unity is not uniformly repeated but is compatible with the members retaining at the same time their full differentiation. Nevertheless it is not perception which prevails in this method but a universal guiding thought. From this point of view we will therefore not say that we find the object beautiful, but that what we will call beauty lies in our subjective consideration of the object. And, looked at more closely, these reflections start from a single restricted aspect as a guiding principle, namely from the manner of animal nourishment, from the characteristic, for example, of being carnivorous or herbivorous, etc. But by such a characteristic it is not the connection of the whole, of the Concept, of the soul itself that is brought before our eyes.
(γ) If therefore within this natural sphere we were to bring the inner total unity of life to our ken, this could be achieved only by thinking and comprehending; for in nature the soul as such cannot make itself recognizable, because subjective unity in its ideality has not yet become explicit to itself. But if we now apprehend the soul, in accordance with its Concept, by thinking, we have two things: the perception of the shape, and the intellectual concept of the soul as soul. But in the perception of beauty this ought not to be the case; the object should neither float before our eyes as a thought, nor create, in the interest of thought, a difference from and an opposition to perception. Therefore there is nothing left but that the object shall be present for sense in general and that as the genuine mode of considering beauty in nature, we consequently get a sensuous perception of natural forms. ‘Sense’ is this wonderful word which is used in two opposite meanings. On the one hand it means the organ of immediate apprehension, but on the other hand we mean by it the sense, the significance, the thought, the universal underlying the thing. And so sense is connected on the one hand with the immediate external aspect of existence, and on the other hand with its inner essence. Now a sensuous consideration does not cut the two sides apart at all; in one direction it contains the opposite one too, and in sensuous immediate perception it at the same time apprehends the essence and the Concept. But since it carries these very determinations in a still unseparated unity, it does not bring the Concept as such into consciousness but stops at foreshadowing it. If, for example, three natural realms are identified, the mineral, the vegetable, the animal, then in this series of stages we see foreshadowed an inwardly necessary articulation in accordance with the Concept, without abiding by the mere idea of an external purposefulness. Even in the multiplicity of products within these realms, sensuous observation divines a rationally ordered advance, in the different geological formations, and in the series of vegetable and animal species. Similarly, the individual animal organism – this insect with its subdivision into head, breast, belly, and extremities – is envisaged as an inherently rational articulation, and in the five senses, although at first sight they may seem to be just an accidental plurality, there is likewise found a correspondence with the Concept. Of this sort was Goethe’s observation and demonstration of the inner rationality of nature and its phenomena. With great insight he set to work in a simple way to examine objects as they were presented to the senses, but at the same time he had a complete divination of their connection in accordance with the Concept. History too can be so understood and related that through single events and individuals their essential meaning and necessary connection can secretly shine.
Consequently, to sum up, nature in general, as displaying to sense the concrete Concept and the Idea, is to be called beautiful; this is because when we look at natural forms that accord with the Concept, such a correspondence with the Concept is foreshadowed; and when we examine them with our senses the inner necessity and the harmony of the whole articulation is revealed to them at the same time. The perception of nature as beautiful goes no further than this foreshadowing of the Concept. But the consequence is that this apprehension of nature, for which the parts, although appearing to have arisen in free independence from one another, yet make visible their harmony in shape, delineation, movement, etc., remains purely indeterminate and abstract. The inner unity remains inward; for perception it does not emerge in a concretely ideal form, and consideration acquiesces in the universality of some sort of a necessary animating harmony.
(a) Thus at this point we have primarily before us as the beauty of nature only the inherently ensouled harmony within the conceptually appropriate objectivity of natural productions. With this harmony the matter is immediately identical; the form dwells directly in the matter as its true essence and configurating power. This provides the general characterization for beauty at this stage. So, for example, the natural crystal amazes us by its regular shape, produced not by any external, mechanical, influence, but by an inner vocation and free force of its own, free on the part of the object itself. For an activity external to an object could as such of course be equally free, but in the crystal the formative activity is not foreign to the thing; it is an activating form which belongs to this mineral on the strength of its own nature. It is the free force of the matter itself which by immanent activity gives itself its form and does not acquire its specific character passively from without. And so the matter remains free and at home with itself in its realized form as its own form. In a still higher, more concrete, way a similar activity of immanent formation is displayed in the living organism and its outline, shape of limbs, and above all in its movement and the expression of feelings. For here it is the inner activity itself which emerges vitally.
(b) Yet even in this indeterminacy of natural beauty as inner animation, we make essential distinctions:
(α) In the light of our idea of life as well as of the foreshadowing of life’s true Concept and the customary types of its corresponding appearance, we make distinctions according to which we call animals beautiful or ugly; for example, the sloth displeases because of its drowsy inactivity; it drags itself painfully along and its whole manner of life displays its incapacity for quick movement and activity. For activity and mobility are precisely what manifest the higher ideality of life. Similarly we cannot find beautiful the amphibia, many sorts of fish, crocodiles, toads, numerous kinds of insect, etc.; but hybrids especially, which build the transition from one specific form to another and intermix their shapes, may well astonish us, but they appear unbeautiful, as, for instance the duck-bill which is a mixture of a bird and a quadruped. This attitude of ours too may seem at first to be mere familiarity, because we have in our minds a fixed type for animal genera. But still in the familiarity there is not inactive the inkling that the construction of a bird, for example, belongs to it necessarily and that, because of its essence, it cannot assume forms proper to other genera without producing hybrids. Therefore these mixtures prove to be odd and contradictory. To the sphere of living natural beauty there belong neither the one-sided restrictedness of organization, which appears deficient and meaningless and points only to limited needs in the external world, nor such mixtures and transitions which, though not so one-sided in themselves, yet cannot hold fast to the specific characteristics of different species.
(β) In another sense we talk further about the beauty of nature when we have before our minds no organic living creation, for example if we look at a landscape. Here we have no organic articulation of parts as determined by the Concept and animated into its ideal unity, but on the one hand only a rich variety of objects and the external linkage of different configurations, organic or inorganic: the contours of hills, the windings of rivers, groups of trees, huts, houses, towns, palaces, roads, ships, sky and sea, valleys and chasms; on the other hand, within this variety there appears a pleasing or impressive external harmony which interests us.
(γ) Finally, the beauty of nature gains a special relation to us because it arouses emotional moods and because of its harmony with them. A relationship like this is produced, for example, by the stillness of a moonlit night, the peace of a glen through which a burn meanders, the sublimity of the immeasurable and troubled sea, the restful immensity of the starry heaven. Here significance does not belong to the objects as such, but must be sought in the emotional mood which they arouse. Similarly we call animals beautiful if they betray an expression of soul which chimes in with human qualities such as courage, strength, cunning, good nature, etc. This is an expression which, on the one hand, does of course belong to the animals as we see them and displays one aspect of their life, but, on the other hand, it belongs to our ideas and our own emotions.
(c) But however far even animal life, as the summit of natural beauty, expresses possession of soul, nevertheless every animal life is throughout restricted and tied down to entirely specific qualities. The sphere of its existence is narrow and its interests are dominated by the natural needs of nourishment and sex, etc. Its soul-life, as what is inner and what gains expression in its outward shape, is poor, abstract, and worthless. Further, this inner does not emerge into appearance as inner; the living thing in nature does not reveal its soul on itself, for the thing in nature is just this, that its soul remains purely inward, i.e. does not express itself as something ideal. The soul of the animal, that is to say, is, as we have just indicated, not present to itself as this ideal unity; if it were, then it would also manifest itself to others in this self-awareness. Only the self-conscious ego is the simple ideal which, as ideal in its own eyes, knows itself as this simple unity and therefore gives itself a reality which is no mere external, sensuous, and bodily reality, but itself one of an ideal kind. Here alone has reality the form of the Concept itself; the Concept has itself over against itself, has itself for its object and in it confronts itself. But animal life is only implicitly this unity, in which reality as corporeal has a form different from the ideal unity of the soul. But the selfconscious ego is itself explicitly this unity, the aspects of which have the like ideality as their element. As this conscious concrete unity, the ego manifests itself too to others. But the animal through its form enables our observation only to surmise a soul, since it has itself no more than a cloudy appearance of a soul as the breath and fragrance which is diffused over the whole, brings the members into unity, and reveals in the animal’s whole mode of living only the beginning of a particular character. This is the primary deficiency in the beauty of nature, even when considered in its highest configuration, a deficiency which will lead us on to the necessity of the Ideal as the beauty of art. But before we come to the Ideal, there are two points [B and c below] which are the first consequences of this deficiency in all natural beauty.
We said that the soul appears in the shape of animals only in a cloudy way as the connection of the parts of the organism, as a unifying point of a possession of soul which lacks any filling of substantial worth. Only an indeterminate and wholly abstract possession of soul emerges. This abstract appearance we now have to consider separately and briefly.
In nature there is an external reality which externally is determined, but its inner being does not get beyond indeterminacy and abstraction instead of attaining concrete inwardness as unity of soul. Consequently neither as being explicitly inward in an ideal form nor as ideal content, does this inwardness win an existence adequate to itself; on the contrary it appears in the external real objects as a unity determining them externally. The concrete unity of the inner would consist in this, that, on the one hand, the possession of soul would be in and for itself full of content, and, on the other hand, the external reality would be permeated by this its inner, and so make the real outward shape an obvious manifestation of the inner. But such a concrete unity beauty has not attained at this stage, but has this unity as the Ideal still lying ahead of it. Therefore concrete unity can now not yet enter the outward shape, but can only be analysed, i.e. the different aspects of the unity can only be considered as sundered and separated. Thus at first the configurating form and the external reality presented to sense fall apart from one another as different from one another, and we have two different aspects to consider here. But (a) in this separation and (b) in its abstraction, the inner unity is itself for the external reality an external unity, and therefore it does not appear in the external as the simply immanent form of the total inner Concept, but as ideality and determinacy dominating from the outside.
These are the matters whose more detailed explanation is our business now.
This is the first matter on which we have to touch. The form of natural beauty, as an abstract form, is on the one hand determinate and therefore restricted; on the other hand it contains a unity and an abstract relation to itself. But, regarded more closely, it regulates the external manifold in accordance with this its determinacy and unity which, however, does not become immanent inwardness and a soul-bearing shape, but remains an external determinacy and a unity imposed on the external. – This sort of form is what is called regularity and symmetry, then conformity to law, and finally harmony.
(α) Regularity as such is in general sameness in something external and, more precisely, the same repetition of one and the same specific shape which affords the determining unity for the form of objects. On account of its initial abstraction such a unity is poles apart from the rational totality of the concrete Concept, with the result that its beauty is a beauty of the abstract Understanding; for the Understanding has for its principle abstract sameness and identity, not determined in itself. So, for example, among lines the straight line is the most regular, because it has only one direction, abstractly continually the same. Similarly, the cube is a completely regular figure. On all sides it has surfaces of the same size, equal lines and angles, which as right angles cannot be altered in size as obtuse or acute angles can.
(β) Symmetry hangs together with regularity; i.e. form cannot rest in that extreme abstraction of sameness of character. With sameness unlikeness is associated, and difference breaks in to interrupt empty identity. This is what brings symmetry in. Symmetry consists in this, that a form, abstractly the same, does not simply repeat itself, but is brought into connection with another form of the same kind which, considered by itself, is likewise determinate and self-same, but compared with the first one is unlike it. As a result of this connection, there must come into existence a new sameness and unity which is still further determinate and has a greater inner diversity. We have a sight of a symmetrical arrangement if, for instance, on one side of a house there are three windows of equal size and equidistant from one another, then there are added three or four higher than the first group with greater or lesser intervals between them, and then finally three higher once again, the same in size and distance as the first group. Therefore, mere uniformity and the repetition of one and the same determinate character does not constitute symmetry. Symmetry requires also difference in size, position, shape, colour, sounds, and other characteristics, but which then must be brought together again in a uniform way. Symmetry is provided only by the uniform connection of characteristics that are unlike one another.
Now both forms, regularity and symmetry, as purely external unity and arrangement, fall principally into the category of size. For the characteristic which is posited externally and is not purely immanent, is a quantitative one, whereas quality makes a specific thing what it is, so that with the alteration of its qualitative character it becomes a totally different thing. But size and its alteration as mere size is a characteristic indifferent to quality unless it asserts itself as measure. Measure, that is to say, is quantity in so far as it determines itself again qualitatively, so that the specific quality is bound up with a quantitative determination. Regularity and symmetry are chiefly restricted to determinations of size and their uniformity and arrangement in things that are unlike.
If we ask further where this ordering of sizes has acquired its right place, we find shapes, in the organic as well as in the inorganic world, which are regular and symmetrical in their size and form. Our own organism, for example, is, in part at least, regular and symmetrical. We have two eyes, two arms, two legs, equal hip-bones, shoulder blades, etc. On the other hand we know that other parts are irregular, like the heart, the lungs, the liver, the intestines, etc. The question here is: what is the basis of this difference? The place where regularity of size, shape, position, etc., manifests itself is, in the organism, its external side as such. The regular and symmetrical character appears, in accordance with its nature, where the object, conformably with its determinate character, is what is external to itself and manifests no subjective animation. The reality which remains in this externality is tied up with the abstract external unity already mentioned. On the other hand, in ensouled life, and higher still in the free world of the spirit, mere regularity recedes before living subjective unity. Now of course nature in general, contrary to spirit, is existence external to itself, yet regularity prevails in it only where externality as such remains the predominant thing.
(αα) In more detail, if we go briefly through the chief stages, minerals (crystals, for example) as inanimate productions have regularity and symmetry as their basic form. Their shape, as has already been said, is indeed immanent in them, and not determined by a purely external influence; the form they acquire in accordance with their nature elaborates in secret activity their inner and outer structure. But this activity is not yet the total activity of the concrete idealizing Concept which posits the subsistence of the independent parts as something negative and thereby ensouls them as in animal life; on the contrary, the unity and determinacy of the form [of minerals] persists in the abstract one-sidedness of the Understanding, and therefore, as a unity in what is self-external, attains mere regularity and symmetry, forms in which abstractions alone are active as determinants.
(ββ) The plant, however, stands higher than the crystal. It has already developed to the beginning of an articulation and it consumes material in its continually active process of nourishment. But even the plant has not a really ensouled life, since, although it is organically articulated, its activity is always drawn out into externality. It is fixedly rooted without the possibility of independent movement and change of place, it grows steadily, and its unbroken assimilation and nourishment is not the peaceful maintenance of an organism complete in itself, but a continual new production of itself outwards. The animal grows too, but it stops at a definite point of size, and it reproduces itself as the self-maintenance of one and the same individual. But the plant grows without ceasing; only when it withers does the increase of its branches, leaves, etc., cease. And what is produced in this growth is always a new example of the same entire organism. For every branch is a new plant and not at all, as in the animal organism, just a single member. With this continual multiplication of itself into numerous individual plants, the plant lacks ensouled subjectivity and its ideal unity of feeling. On the whole, however inner its digestive process, however active its assimilation of nourishment, however far it is self-determining through its Concept which is becoming free and is active in matter, still in its whole existence and process of life it remains continually caught in externality without subjective independence and unity, and its self-preservation is being incessantly externalized. This character of steadily pushing itself over itself outwards makes regularity and symmetry, as unity in self-externality, into a chief feature in the construction of plants. True, regularity here does not dominate so strictly as it does in the mineral realm and is not formed in such abstract lines and angles, but it still remains preponderant. The stem usually rises rectilineally, the coronae of the higher plants are circular, the leaves approach crystalline forms, and the blooms in number of petals, position, and shape bear, in accordance with their fundamental type, the stamp of a regular and symmetrical character.
(γγ) Finally, in the animal living organism there enters the essential difference of a double mode of the formation of the members. For in the animal body, especially at higher stages, the organism is, on the one hand, a self-related organism, more inner and self-enclosed, which, as it were, returns into itself like a sphere; on the other hand, it is an external organism, as an external process and a process against externality. The nobler viscera are the inner ones – liver, heart, lungs, etc., and life as such is bound up with them. They are not determined by mere types of regularity. But in the members which are in continual relation with the external world, there prevails in the animal organism too a symmetrical arrangement. To this category there belong the members and organs which are active externally, whether theoretically or practically. The purely theoretical process is managed by the tools of the senses of seeing and hearing; what we see or hear we leave as it is. On the other hand, the organs of smell and taste are already the beginnings of a practical relation. For we can smell only what is in the process of wasting away, and we can taste only by destroying. Now of course we have only one nose but it is divided into two nostrils and it is formed regularly in both its halves. The same is true of lips, teeth, etc. But regular throughout in their position, formation, etc., are eyes and ears, and also legs and arms, i.e. the members controlling change of place, and the mastery and practical alteration of external objects. Thus even in the organic field regularity has its right in accordance with the Concept, but only in the members which provide tools for the immediate relation to the external world and are not active in connection with the relation of the organism to itself as the subjectivity of life returning into itself. These then are the chief characteristics of the regular and symmetrical forms and their domination in shaping natural phenomena.
Now, however, in more detail, from the rather abstract form of regularity we must distinguish conformity to law, since it stands at a higher stage and constitutes the transition to the freedom of life, both natural and spiritual. Yet, regarded by itself, conformity to law is certainly not the subjective total unity and freedom itself, though it is already a totality of essential differences which do not simply present themselves as differences and opposites but in their totality display unity and connection. A unity like this, with its dominance and conformity to law, although still asserting itself in the sphere of quantity, is no longer to be referred back to extrinsic and purely calculable differences of size alone; it already permits the entrance of a qualitative relation between the different aspects. Thus in their relation what is manifested is neither the abstract repetition of one and the same characteristic nor a uniform interchange of like and unlike, but the association of aspects essentially different. Now if we see these differences associated in their completeness, we are satisfied. In this satisfaction there lies the rational element, the fact that sense is gratified only by the totality, and indeed by the totality of differences demanded by the essence of the thing. Yet once again the connection remains as a secret bond which for the spectator is partly something to which he is accustomed, partly the foreshadowing of something deeper.
A few examples will easily clarify in more detail the transition from regularity to conformity with law: e.g., parallel lines of the same length are abstractly regular. But a further step is the simple equality of ratios of unlike magnitudes, as occurs, e.g., in similar triangles. The inclination of the angles, the ratio of the sides, are the same, but the sizes are different.The circle likewise does not have the regularity of the straight line, but nevertheless still falls under the category of abstract equality, since all the radii have the same length. Thus the circle is still just a curved line of little interest. On the other hand, an ellipse and a parabola have less regularity and can be understood only by their law. So, e.g., the radii vectores of the ellipse are unequal, but they conform to law, and similarly the major and minor axes are essentially different, and the foci do not fall into the centre as they do in a circle. Thus here there appear qualitative differences, grounded in the law of this line, and their interconnection constitutes the law. But if we divide the ellipse along its major and minor axes, we have four equal parts; thus here too, on the whole, equality prevails. Of higher freedom, with inner conformity to law, is the oval. It conforms to law, but it has not been possible to discover the law and to calculate it mathematically. It is not an ellipse; the upper curve differs from the lower one. Yet even this freer natural line, if we bisect it along its major axis, still provides two equal halves.
The final supersession of the purely regular in the case of conformity to law occurs in lines similar to ovals, which nevertheless, when divided along their major axis, provide unequal sections, in that one side is not repeated on the other, but waves otherwise. An example of this kind is the so-called ‘waving’ line which Hogarth has called the line of beauty. Thus, for example, the lines of the arm wave differently on one side from the other. Here is conformity to law without mere regularity. This kind of conformity to law determines the forms of the higher living organisms in a great variety of ways.
Now conformity to law is the essential quality which settles differences and their unity, but, on the one hand, it only dominates abstractly and does not let individuality come in any way into free movement; and, on the other hand, it lacks the higher freedom of subjectivity and therefore cannot bring into appearance the animation and ideality thereof.
Therefore at this stage harmony stands higher than mere conformity to law, i.e. harmony is a relation of qualitative differences, and indeed of a totality of such differences, a totality grounded in the essence of the thing itself. This relation advances beyond conformity to law, which has in itself the aspect of regularity, and rises above equality and repetition. But at the same time the qualitative differences assert themselves not merely as differences and their opposition and contradiction, but as a congruous unity which has set forth all its proper factors while yet containing them as a whole inherently one. This congruity is harmony. It consists, on the one hand, in the ensemble of essential elements, and, on the other hand, in the dissolution of their bare opposition, so that in this way their association and inner connection is manifested as their unity. In this sense we speak of harmony of shape, colours, notes, etc. So, for example, blue, yellow, green, and red are the itself. In them we have not just unlikenesses put together regularly into an external unity, as in symmetry, but direct opposites, like yellow and blue, and their neutralization and concrete identity. Now the beauty of their harmony consists in avoiding their sharp difference and opposition which as such is to be obliterated, so that in their differences their unison is manifested. For they belong together, since colour is not one-sided, but an essential totality. The demand of such a totality can go so far, as Goethe says, that even if the eye has before it only one colour as its object, it nevertheless subjectively sees the others equally. Among notes, the tonic, mediant, and dominant, e.g., are such essential differences, which in their difference harmonize unitedly into one whole. It is similarly the case with harmony of [the human] figure, its position, rest, movement, etc. Here no difference may come forward one-sidedly by itself, or otherwise the harmony is disturbed.
But even harmony as such is not yet free ideal subjectivity and soul. In the latter, unity is not just an association and an accord but the positing of differences negatively, whereby alone their ideal unity is established. To such ideality harmony cannot attain. For example, every melody, although it has harmony as its basis, has a higher and more free subjectivity in itself and expresses that. Mere harmony does not in general manifest either subjective animation as such or spirituality, although it is the highest stage of abstract form and already approaches free subjectivity. These kinds of abstract form provide the first determinant of abstract unity.
The second aspect of abstract unity does not now concern form and shape, but the material, the sensuously perceptible as such. Here unity enters as the concord, entirely undifferentiated in itself, of the determinate sensuous material. This is the sole unity of which the material, taken by itself as sensuously perceptible stuff, is susceptible. In this connection the abstract purity of the stuff, in shape, colour, note, etc., is the essential thing at this stage. Absolutely straight lines which go on undifferentiated, swerving neither hither nor thither, polished surfaces, and the like, satisfy us by their fixed determinacy and their uniform homogeneity. The purity of the sky, the clarity of the air, a mirror-like lake, smooth seas, delight us from this point of view. The same is true with the purity of musical notes. The pure sound of the voice, merely as a pure note, is infinitely pleasing and impressive, while an impure voice makes the organ of production resound as well and does not afford the sound in its relation to itself; and an impure note deviates from the note’s determinate character. In a similar way speech too has pure notes like the vowels a, e, i, o, u, and mixed notes like ä, ü, ö. Popular dialects especially have impure sounds, mediants like oa. A further point about the purity of notes is that the vowels should be associated with such consonants as do not blur the purity of the vowel sounds. The northern languages frequently weaken the vowel sounds with their consonants, whereas Italian preserves the purity of the vowel sounds and for that reason is so singable.
A similar effect is produced by pure, inherently simple, unmixed colours, a pure red, for example, or a pure blue, which is rare because red usually passes over into pink or orange and blue into green. Violet too may indeed be pure, [not in itself] but only externally, i.e. [in the sense of not being] smudged, because it is not in itself simple and is not one of the colour differences determined by the essence of colour. It is these fundamental colours which sensation easily recognizes in their purity, although when juxtaposed they are more difficult to bring into harmony, because their difference sticks out more glaringly. The subdued, variously mixed, colours are less agreeable, even if they harmonize more easily, since the energy of opposition is missing in them. Green is indeed a colour of blue and yellow mixed, but it is a simple neutralization of their opposition, and in its genuine purity as this obliteration of the opposition ‘is precisely more pleasant and less fatiguing than blue and yellow in their fixed difference. These are the most important points in connection with the abstract unity of form and the simplicity and purity of the sensuously perceived material. But both of these are, owing to their abstraction, lifeless, and afford no ,truly actual unity; because for such unity we require ideal subjectivity which natural beauty always lacks, even in its perfect appearance. Now this essential deficiency leads us to the necessity of the Ideal, which is not to be found in nature, and in comparison with it the beauty of nature appears as subordinate.
Our topic proper is the beauty of art as the one reality adequate to the Idea of beauty. Up to this point the beauty of nature has counted as the primary existence of beauty, and now therefore the question is how it differs from the beauty of art. We could talk abstractly and say that the Ideal is beauty perfect in itself, while nature is beauty imperfect. But such bare adjectives are no use, because the problem is to define precisely what constitutes this perfection of artistic beauty and the imperfection of merely natural beauty. We must therefore pose our question thus: why is nature necessarily imperfect in its beauty, and what is the origin of this imperfection? Only when this is answered will the necessity and the essence of the Ideal be revealed to us in more detail.
Since hitherto we have risen so far as animal life and have seen how beauty can be manifested there, the next thing before us is to fix our eyes more definitely on this feature of subjectivity and individuality in the living organism.
We spoke [in ch. I, I] of the beautiful as Idea in the same sense as we speak of the good and the true as Idea, in the sense, that is to say, that the Idea is the purely substantial and universal, the absolute matter (not sensuously perceptible at all), the substratum of the world. More specifically, however, as we have seen already [at the beginning of this Chapter], the Idea is not only substance and universality, but precisely the unity of the Concept with its reality, the Concept rebuilt as Concept within its objective realization. It was Plato, as we mentioned in the Introduction, who emphasized the Idea as alone the truth and the universal, and indeed as the inherently concrete universal. Yet the Platonic Idea is itself not yet the genuinely concrete; for, although, apprehended in its Concept and universality, it does count as the truth, still, taken in this universality, it is not yet actualized and, in its actuality, the truth explicit to itself. It gets no further than [truth] merely implicit. But just as the Concept without its objectivity is not genuinely Concept, so too the Idea is not genuinely Idea without and outside its actuality. Therefore the Idea must go forth into actuality, and it acquires actuality only through the actual subjectivity which inherently corresponds with the Concept and through subjectivity’s ideal being for itself. So, for example, the species is actual only as a free concrete individual; life exists only as a single living thing, the good is actualized by individual men, and all truth exists only as knowing consciousness, as spirit confronting itself as spirit. For only concrete individuality is true and actual; abstract universality and particularity are not. This self-knowing, this subjectivity, is therefore what we have to adhere to as essential. But subjectivity lies in the negative unity wherein differences in their real subsistence simultaneously evince themselves posited as ideal. Thus the unity of the Idea and its actuality is the negative unity of the Idea as such and its reality, as the positing and superseding of the difference between both these sides. Only in this activity is it affirmatively self-knowing, self-relating, infinite unity and subjectivity. Therefore we have to grasp the Idea of beauty too in its actual existence as essentially concrete subjectivity, and thus as individuality, since it is Idea only as actual and has actuality only in concrete individuality.
Now here at once we must distinguish between two forms of individuality, the immediate natural one and the spiritual one. In both forms the Idea gives itself existence, and so in both forms their substantial content, the Idea, and, in our sphere of study, the Idea of beauty, is the same. In this connection it has to be maintained that the beauty of nature has the same content as the Ideal. But, on the other hand, the aforesaid twofold character of the form in which the Idea acquires actuality, the difference between natural and spiritual individuality, introduces an essential difference into the content itself which appears in the one form or in the other. For the question is which form is really correspondent with the Idea; and only in the form genuinely adequate to itself does the Idea make explicit the entire genuine totality of its content.
This is the special point which we have to consider now because under this difference between the forms of individuality there falls the difference between the beauty of nature and the Ideal.
In the first place, so far as immediate individuality is concerned, it belongs to nature as such as well as to the spirit, for (α) spirit has its external existence in body, and (β) even in spiritual relations it at first gains an existence only in immediate reality. We may therefore consider immediate individuality here in three respects.
(a) We have seen already [on p. 124] that the animal organism attains its being for self only through a steady internal process in opposition to an inorganic nature which it devours, digests, and assimilates; it changes the outer into the inner and thereby alone makes its Insideness’ actual. At the same time we found that this steady process of life is a system of activities which is actualized into a system of organs through which those activities proceed. This complete system has as its sole aim the self-preservation of the living thing through this process, and animal life therefore subsists only in the life of appetite, the course and the satisfaction of which is realized in the system of organs mentioned above. In this way the living thing is articulated purposefully; all its members serve only as means to the one end of self-preservation. Life is immanent in them; they are tied to life and life to them. Now the result of this process is the animal as ensouled, as having a feeling of itself, whereby it acquires enjoyment of itself as an individual. If we compare the animal in this respect with the plant, it has already been indicated [in the passage on Symmetry] that the plant lacks precisely this feeling of itself, this soulfulness, for it continually produces in itself new individuals without concentrating them to the negative point which constitutes the individual self. But what we now see before us in the life of an animal organism is not this point of unity of life, but only the variety of organs. The living thing still lacks freedom, owing to its inability to bring itself into appearance as an individual point, i.e. as a subject, in contrast to the display of its members in external reality. The real seat of the activities of organic life remains veiled from our vision; we see only the external outlines of the animal’s shape, and this again is covered throughout by feathers, scales, hair, pelt, prickles, or shells. Such covering does belong to the animal kingdom, but in animals it has forms drawn from the kingdom of plants. Here at once lies one chief deficiency in the beauty of animal life. What is visible to us in the organism is not the soul; what is turned outwards and appears everywhere is not the inner life, but forms drawn from a lower stage than that of life proper. The animal is living only within its covering, i.e. this ‘insideness’ is not itself real in the form of an inner consciousness and therefore this life is not visible over all the animal. Because the inside remains just an inside, the outside too appears only as an outside and not completely penetrated in every part by the soul.
(b) The human body, on the contrary, stands in this respect at a higher stage, since in it there is everywhere and always represented the fact that man is an ensouled and feeling unit. The skin is not hidden by plant-like unliving coverings; the pulsation of the blood shows itself over the entire surface; the beating heart of life is as it were present everywhere over the body and comes out into appearance externally as the body’s own animation, as turgor vitae, as this swelling life. Similarly the skin proves to be sensitive everywhere, and displays the morbidezza [delicacy], the tints of colour in flesh and veins, which are the artist’s cross. But however far the human, in distinction from the animal, body makes its life appear outwardly, still nevertheless the poverty of nature equally finds expression on this surface by the non-uniformity of the skin, in indentations, wrinkles, pores, small hairs, little veins, etc. The skin itself, which permits the inner life to shine through it, is an external covering for self-preservation, merely a purposeful means in the service of the natural needs. Yet the tremendous advantage which the appearance of the human body continues to enjoy consists in its sensitivity which, even if not altogether actual feeling, does at least demonstrate the possibility of that in general. But at the same time here again the deficiency arises that this feeling, as inwardly concentrated in itself, does not achieve presence in every one of the body’s members; on the contrary, in the body itself part of the organs and their shape is devoted to purely animal functions, while another part more nearly adopts the expression of the soul’s life, of feelings and passions. From this point of view the soul with its inner life here too does not shine through the entire reality of the bodily form.
(c) In a higher way still, the same deficiency makes itself evident likewise in the spiritual world and its organizations if we consider it in its immediate life. The greater and the richer this spiritual world’s productions are, the more does the one aim, which animates this whole and constitutes its inner soul, require co-operative means. Now in immediate reality these means of course manifest themselves as purposeful organs, and what happens and is produced comes into being only by means of the will; every point in such an organization (e.g. in a state or a family), i.e. every single individual, wills, and he manifests himself indeed in connection with the other members of the same organization; but the one inner soul of this association (the freedom and reason of the one aim) does not come forward into reality as this one free and total inner animation, and does not make itself obvious in every part.
The same is the case with particular actions and events which, in a similar way, are in themselves an organic whole. The inner, from which they spring, does not come out into the superficial and external form of their immediate actualization. What appears is only a real totality, but whose innermost comprehensive animation remains in the background, as inner.
Finally, the single individual gives us in this respect the same impression. The spiritual individual is a totality in himself, held together on the strength of a spiritual centre. In his immediate reality he appears only fragmentarily in life, action, inaction, wishing and urging, and yet his character can be known only from the whole series of his actions and sufferings. In this series, which constitutes his reality, the concentrated point of unity is not visible and graspable as a comprehensive centre.
The next important point which arises from this is the following. With the immediacy of the individual the Idea enters actual existence. But, at the same time, owing to this same immediacy, the Idea becomes interwoven with the complexity of the external world, with the conditioned character of external circumstances, with the relative character of means and ends; in short, it is drawn into the entire finitude of appearance. For the immediate individual is primarily a self-encircled unit, but consequently, for the same reason, he is shut off from others and negatively related to them; and on account of his immediate isolation in which he has only a conditioned existence, he is forced, by the power of the totality which is not actual within him, into relation with others and into the most multiplex dependence on others. In this immediacy the Idea has realized all its sides separately and therefore it remains only the inner power which relates the individual existents to one another, natural and spiritual alike. This relation is itself external to them and appears too in them as an external necessity involving the most diverse reciprocal dependences and determination by others. The immediacy of existence is from this point of view a system of necessary connections between apparently independent individuals and powers, a system in which every individual is used as a means in the service of ends foreign to himself or else he needs as a means to his own ends just what is external to himself. And since here the Idea as such realizes itself only on the ground of the external, what appears at the same time let loose is the unruly play of caprice and chance, and the whole misery of distress. This is the realm of unfreedom in which the immediate individual lives.
(a) The individual animal, for example, is at once tied down to a specific natural element, air, water, or land, and this determines its whole mode of life, kind of nourishment, and therefore its entire plight. This provides the great differences between animal species. Of course there do also emerge other species, intermediate ones, such as natatorial birds, mammals that live in water, amphibia, and transitional stages [in the classificatory scheme]. But these are only mixtures, not higher and comprehensive mediations [between stages in the classification]. Besides, in its self-preservation the animal remains steadily in subjection to external nature, e.g. to cold, drought, lack of food. Under nature’s domination it may fail, owing to the parsimoniousness of its environment, to achieve fullness of form; it may lose the bloom of its beauty; it may be emaciated, and simply give the impression of this universal want. Whether it preserves or loses any share of beauty vouchsafed to it is at the mercy of external conditions.
(b) The human organism in its bodily existence is still subject, even if not to the same extent, to a similar dependence on the external powers of nature. It is exposed to the same chance, unsatisfied natural needs, destructive illnesses, and to every kind of want and misery.
(c) If we go higher up, i.e. to the immediate actuality of spiritual interests, we find that this dependence really only appears here in the most complete relativity. Here is revealed the whole breadth of prose in human existence. This is the sort of thing already present in the contrast between the purely physical vital aims and the higher aims of spirit, in that both of these can reciprocally hinder, disturb, and extinguish one another. Consequently, the individual man, in order to preserve his individuality, must frequently make himself a means to others, must subserve their limited aims, and must likewise reduce others to mere means in order to satisfy his own interests. Therefore the individual as he appears in this world of prose and everyday is not active out of the entirety of his own self and his resources, and he is intelligible not from himself, but from something else. For the individual man stands in dependence on external influences, laws, political institutions, civil relationships, which he just finds confronting him, and he must bow to them whether he has them as his own inner being or not. Furthermore, the individual subject is not in the eyes of others such an entirety in himself, but comes before them only according to the nearest isolated interest which they take in his actions, wishes, and opinions. Men’s primary interest is simply what is related to their own intentions and aims.
Even the great actions and events in which a community cooperates are in this field of relative phenomena confessedly only a manifold of individual efforts. This or that man makes his own contribution with this or that aim in view; the aim miscarries, or it is achieved, and at the end, in fortunate circumstances, something is accomplished which, compared with the whole, is of a very subordinate kind. What most men execute is, in this connection, compared with the greatness of the whole event and the total aim to which they make their contribution, only a trifle. Indeed even those who stand at the head of affairs and feel the whole thing as their own, and are themselves conscious of the fact, appear entangled in many-sided particular circumstances, conditions, obstacles, and relative matters. In all these respects the individual in this sphere does not preserve the look of independent and total life and freedom which lies at the root of the essence of beauty. True, even immediate human affairs and their events and organizations do not lack a system and a totality of activities; but the whole thing appears only as a mass of individual details; occupations and activities are sundered and split into infinitely many parts, so that to individuals only a particle of the whole can accrue; and no matter how far individuals may contribute to the whole with their own aims and accomplish what is in line with their own individual interest, still the independence and freedom of their will remains more or less formal, determined by external circumstances and chances, and hindered by natural obstacles.
This is the prose of the world, as it appears to the consciousness both of the individual himself and of others: – a world of finitude and mutability, of entanglement in the relative, of the pressure of necessity from which the individual is in no position to withdraw. For every isolated living thing remains caught in the contradiction of being itself in its own eyes this shut-in unit and yet of being nevertheless dependent on something else, and the struggle to resolve this contradiction does not get beyond an attempt and the continuation of this eternal war.
But now thirdly, the immediate individual whether in the natural or the spiritual world is not only generally dependent on circumstances, but also lacks absolute independence because of being restricted, or rather because of being inherently particularized.
(a) Every single animal belongs to a determinate and therefore restricted and fixed species, beyond the limits of which it cannot step. Before our mind’s eye there does float a general picture of life and its organization; but in the actual world of nature this universal organic species bursts asunder into a realm of particulars, each of which has its limited type of form and its particular stage of development. Further, within this unsurmountable barrier what is expressed in every single individual, in a contingent and particular way, is only the above-mentioned element of chance in the conditions and externals of life, as well as of dependence on these. From this point of view too the vision of independence and freedom, requisite for genuine beauty, is dimmed.
(b) Now it is true that the spirit finds the whole Concept of natural life completely actualized in its own bodily organism, so that, in comparison with this, the animal species may appear as imperfect in their life, and indeed, at lower stages, as scarcely living at all. Nevertheless, the human organism too is split likewise, even in a lesser degree, split into racial differences and their gradation of beautiful formations. Apart from these – of course more general – differences, contingency next enters here again nearer at hand in the shape of firmly established family idioms and their intermixture as specific modes of life, expression, and behaviour; and to this differentiation which introduces the trait of an inherently unfree particularity, there are then added the special characteristics of the mode of occupation in the finite circles of living activity, in trade, for example, and calling; to which, finally, are annexed all the idiosyncrasies of special character and temperament, with, consequentially, all sorts of weaknesses and troubles. Poverty, care, wrath, coldness and indifference, the rage of passions, concentration on one-sided aims, inconstancy, schizophrenia, dependence on external nature, the whole finitude of human existence as such, become specified into the accident of quite singular physiognomies and their abiding expression. So there are worn faces on which all the passions have left the imprint of their destructive fury; others afford only the impression of inner coldness and superficiality; others again are so singular that the general type of features has almost entirely disappeared. There is no end to the haphazardness of human shapes. Children, therefore, are on the whole at the most beautiful age because in them all singularities slumber, as it were, quietly enclosed in germ, because no restricted passion has yet tormented their breast, and none of the manifold human interests has engraved forever on these changing features an expression of its exigency. But although the child’s liveliness appears as the possibility of anything, there are nevertheless lacking in this innocence all the same the deeper features of the spirit which is driven to realize itself within and to spread itself in substantial directions and aims.
(c) This defectiveness of immediate existence, whether physical or spiritual, is essentially to be regarded as finitude, more precisely as a finitude which does not correspond with its inner essence, and through this lack of correspondence just proclaims its finitude. For the Concept, and, more concretely still, the Idea, is inherently infinite and free. Although animal life, as life, is Idea, it does not itself display the infinity and freedom which only appear when the Concept so completely pervades its appropriate reality that therein it has only itself, with nothing but itself emerging there. In that event alone is the Concept genuinely free and infinite individuality. But natural life does not get beyond feeling, which remains in itself, without completely permeating the entire reality; besides, it is immediately conditioned in itself, restricted, and dependent, because it has no self-wrought freedom, but is determined by something else. The like lot falls to the immediate finite realization of the spirit, in its knowing and willing, its adventures, actions, and fates.
For although even here more substantial concentrations are formed, they are still only concentrations which have truth in and for themselves just as little as particular individualities have; they only display truth in their bearing on one another through the whole. This whole, taken as such, does correspond with its Concept, yet without manifesting itself in its totality, so that in this way it remains something purely inner and therefore is present only to the inwardness of intellectual reflection, instead of visibly entering external reality as the full expression of itself and summoning back the innumerable individualities out of their dispersal in order to concentrate them into one expression and one shape. This is the reason why spirit cannot, in the finitude of existence and its restrictedness and external necessity, find over again the immediate vision and enjoyment of its true freedom, and it is compelled to satisfy the need for this freedom, therefore, on other and higher ground. This ground is art, and art’s actuality is the Ideal.
Thus it is from the deficiencies of immediate reality that the necessity of the beauty of art is derived. The task of art must therefore be firmly established in art’s having a calling to display the appearance of life, and especially of spiritual animation (in its freedom, externally too) and to make the external correspond with its Concept. Only so is the truth lifted out of its temporal setting, out of its straying away into a series of finites. At the same time it has won an external appearance through which the poverty of nature and prose no longer peeps; it has won an existence worthy of the truth, an existence which for its part stands there in free independence since it has its vocation in itself, and does not find it inserted there by something else.
In relation to the beauty of art we have three chief aspects to consider:
First, the Ideal as such.
Secondly, the work of art as the determinateness of the Ideal.
Thirdly, the creative subjectivity of the artist.
The most general thing which can be said in a merely formal way about the ideal of art, on the lines of our previous considerations, comes to this, that, on the one hand, the true has existence and truth only as it unfolds into external reality; but, on the other hand, the externally separated parts, into which it unfolds, it can so combine and retain in unity that now every part of its unfolding makes this soul, this totality, appear in each part. If we take the human form as the nearest illustration of this, it is, as we saw earlier, a totality of organs into which the Concept is dispersed, and it manifests in each member only some particular activity and partial emotion. But if we ask in which particular organ the whole soul appears as soul, we will at once name the eye; for in the eye the soul is concentrated and the soul does not merely see through it but is also seen in it. Now as the pulsating heart shows itself all over the surface of the human, in contrast to the animal, body, so in the same sense it is, to be asserted of art that it has to convert every shape in all points of its visible surface into an eye, which is the seat of the soul and brings the spirit into appearance. – Or, as Plato cries out to the star in his familiar distich: ‘When thou lookest on the stars, my star, oh! would I were the heavens and could see thee with a thousand eyes’, so, conversely, art makes every one of its productions into a thousand-eyed Argus, whereby the inner soul and spirit is seen at every point. And it is not only the bodily form, the look of the eyes, the countenance and posture, but also actions and events, speech and tones of voice, and the series of their course through all conditions of appearance that art has everywhere to make into an eye, in which the free soul is revealed in its inner infinity.
(a) With this demand for thoroughgoing possession of soul there arises at once the further question what this soul is, the eyes of which all points in the phenomenal world are to become. More precisely still, the question is what sort of soul it is that by its nature shows itself qualified to gain its true manifestation through art. For people speak even of a specific ‘soul’ of metals, minerals, stars, animals, numerously particularized human characters and their expressions, using the word ‘soul’ in an ordinary sense. But, for things in nature, such as stones, plants, etc., the word ‘soul’, in the meaning given to it above, can only be used metaphorically. The soul of merely natural things is explicitly finite and transitory, and should be called ‘specific nature’ rather than ‘soul’. For this reason, the determinate individuality of such things is completely revealed already in their finite existence. It can display only some sort of restrictedness. Elevation to infinite independence and freedom is nothing but an appearance which can indeed be imparted to this sphere; but if this really happens, the appearance is always produced from the outside by art without this infinity’s being grounded in the things themselves. In the same way the sentient soul too, as natural life, is a subjective but purely inner individuality, present in reality only implicitly, without knowing itself as a return into itself and by that means as inherently infinite. Its content therefore remains itself restricted. Its manifestation achieves, for one thing, only a formal life, unrest, mutability, concupiscence, and the anxiety and fear incident to this dependent life, and, for another thing, only the expression of an inwardness inherently finite.
The animation and life of spirit alone is free infinity; as such, the spirit in real existence is self-aware as something inner, because in its manifestation it reverts into itself and remains at home with itself. To spirit alone, therefore, is it given to impress the stamp of its own infinity and free return into itself upon its external manifestation, even though through this manifestation it is involved in restriction. Now spirit is only free and infinite when it actually comprehends its universality and raises to universality the ends it sets before itself; but, for this reason, it is capable by its own nature, if it has not grasped this freedom, of existing as restricted content, stunted character, and a mind crippled and superficial. In a content of such null worth the infinite manifestation of spirit again remains only formal, for in that case we have nothing but the abstract form of self-conscious spirit, and its content contradicts the infinity of spirit in its freedom. It is only by virtue of a genuine and inherently substantial content that restricted and mutable existence acquires independence and substantiality, so that then both determinacy and ‘inherent solidity, content that is both substantial and restrictedly exclusive, are actual in one and the same thing; and hereby existence gains the possibility of being manifested in the restrictedness of its own content as at the same time universality and as the soul which is alone with itself. – In short, art has the function of grasping and displaying existence, in its appearance, as true, i.e. in its suitability to the content which is adequate to itself, the content which is both implicit and explicit. Thus the truth of art cannot be mere correctness, to which the so-called imitation of nature is restricted; on the contrary, the outer must harmonize with an inner which is harmonious in itself, and, just on that account, can reveal itself as itself in the outer.
(b) Now since art brings back into this harmony with its true Concept what is contaminated in other existents by chance and externality, it casts aside everything in appearance which does not correspond with the Concept and only by this purification does it produce the Ideal. This may be given out to be flattery by art, as, for example, it is said depreciatingly of portrait painters that they flatter. But even the portrait-painter, who has least of all to do with the Ideal of art, must flatter, in the sense that all the externals in shape and expression, in form, colour, features, the purely natural side of imperfect existence, little hairs, pores, little scars, warts, all these he must let go, and grasp and reproduce the subject in his universal character and enduring personality. It is one thing for the artist simply to imitate the face of the sitter, its surface and external form, confronting him in repose, and quite another to be able to portray the true features which express the inmost soul of the subject. For it is throughout necessary for the Ideal that the outer form should explicitly correspond with the soul. So, for example, in our own time what has become the fashion, namely what are called tableaux vivants, imitate famous masterpieces deliberately and agreeably, and the accessories, costume, etc., they reproduce accurately; but often enough we see ordinary faces substituted for the spiritual expression of the subjects and this produces an inappropriate effect. Raphael’s Madonnas, on the other hand, show us forms of expression, cheeks, eyes, nose, mouth, which, as forms, are appropriate to the radiance, joy, piety, and also the humility of a mother’s love. Of course someone might wish to maintain that all women are capable of this feeling, but not every cast of countenance affords a satisfactory and complete expression of this depth of soul.
(c) Now the nature of the artistic Ideal is to be sought in this reconveyance of external existence into the spiritual realm, so that the external appearance, by being adequate to the spirit, is the revelation thereof. Yet this is a reconveyance into the inner realm which at the same time does not proceed to the universal in its abstract form, i.e. to the extreme which thinking is, but remains in the centre where the purely external and the purely internal coincide. Accordingly, the Ideal is actuality, withdrawn from the profusion of details and accidents, in so far as the inner appears itself in this externality, lifted above and opposed to universality, as living individuality. For the individual subjective life which has a substantive content in itself and at the same time makes this content appear on itself externally, stands in this centre. In this centre the substantiality of the content cannot emerge explicitly in its universality in an abstract way; it remains still enclosed in individuality and therefore appears intertwined with a determinate existent, which now, for its part, freed from mere finitude and its conditions, comes together with the inwardness of the soul into a free harmony. Schiller in his poem Das Ideal and das Leben [The Ideal and Life] contrasts actuality and its griefs and battles with the ‘still shadow-land of beauty’. Such a realm of shadows is the Ideal; the spirits appearing in it are dead to immediate existence, cut off from the indigence of natural life, freed from the bonds of dependence on external influences and all the perversions and convulsions inseparable from the finitude of the phenomenal world. But all the same the Ideal treads into the sensuous and the natural form thereof, yet it still at the same time draws this, like the sphere of the external, back into itself, since art can bring back the apparatus, required by external appearance for its self-preservation, to the limits within which the external can be the manifestation of spiritual freedom. Only by this process does the Ideal exist in externality, self-enclosed, free, self-reliant, as sensuously blessed in itself, enjoying and delighting in its own self. The ring of this bliss resounds throughout the entire appearance of the Ideal, for however far the external form may extend, the soul of the Ideal never loses itself in it. And precisely as a result of this alone is the Ideal genuinely beautiful, since the beautiful exists only as a total though subjective unity; wherefore too the subject who manifests the Ideal must appear collected together in himself again into a higher totality and independence out of the divisions in the life of other individuals and their aims and efforts.
(α) In this respect, amongst the fundamental characteristics of the Ideal we may put at the top this serene peace and bliss, this self-enjoyment in its own achievedness and satisfaction. The ideal work of art confronts us like a blessed god. For the blessed gods [of Greek art], that is to say, there is no final seriousness in distress, in anger, in the interests involved in finite spheres and aims, and this positive withdrawal into themselves, along with the negation of everything particular, gives them the characteristic of serenity and tranquillity. In this sense Schiller’s phrase holds good: ‘Life is serious, art cheerful. Often enough, it is true, pedants have poked fun at this, on the ground that art in general, and especially Schiller’s own poetry, is of a most serious kind; and after all in fact ideal art does not lack seriousness – but even in the seriousness cheerfulness or serenity remains its inherent and essential character. This force of individuality, this triumph of concrete freedom concentrated in itself, is what we recognize especially in the works of art of antiquity in the cheerful and serene peace of their shapes. And this results not at all from a mere satisfaction gained without struggle, but on the contrary, only when a deeper breach has rent the subject’s inner life and his whole existence. For even if the heroes of tragedy for example, are so portrayed that they succumb to fate, still the heart of the hero recoils into simple unity with itself, when it says: ‘It is so.' The subject in this case still always remains true to himself; he surrenders what he has been robbed of, yet the ends he pursues are not just taken from him; he renounces them and thereby does not lose himself. Man, the slave of destiny, may lose his life, but not his freedom. It is this self-reliance which even in grief enables him to preserve and manifest the cheerfulness and serenity of tranquillity.
(β) It is true that in romantic art the distraction and dissonance of the heart goes further and, in general, the oppositions displayed in it are deepened and their disunion may be maintained. So, for example, in portraying the Passion, painting sometimes persists in expressing the derision in the expressions of the military tormentors with the horrible grimaces and grins on their faces; and with this retention of disunion, especially in sketches of vice, sin, and evil, the serenity of the Ideal is then lost, for even if the distraction does not remain so fixedly as this, still something, if not ugly every time, at least not beautiful often comes into view. In another school of painting, the older Flemish one, there is displayed an inner reconciliation of the heart in its honesty and truthfulness to itself as well as in its faith and unshakeable confidence, but this firmness does not achieve the serenity and satisfaction of the Ideal. Even in romantic art, however, although suffering and grief affect the heart and subjective inner feeling more deeply there than is the case with the ancients, there do come into view a spiritual inwardness, a joy in submission, a bliss in grief and rapture in suffering, even a delight in agony. Even in the solemnly religious music of Italy this pleasure and transfiguration of grief resounds through the expression of lament. This expression in romantic art generally is ‘smiling through tears’. Tears belong to grief, smiles to cheerfulness, and so smiling in weeping denotes this inherent tranquillity amidst agony and suffering. Of course smiling here ought not to be a mere sentimental emotion, a frivolous and self-conceited attitude of the man to misfortunes and his minor personal feelings; on the contrary, it must appear as the calmness and freedom of beauty despite all grief – as it is said of Chimena in the Romances of the Cid: ‘How beautiful she was in tears.' On the other hand, a man’s lack of self-control is either ugly and repugnant, or else ludicrous. Children, e.g., burst into tear& on the most trifling occasions, and this makes us smile. On the other hand, tears in the eyes of an austere man who keeps a stiff upper lip under the stress of deep feeling convey a totally different impression of emotion.
But laughter and tears may fall apart in abstraction from one another and in this abstraction they have been used inappropriately as a motif for art, as for instance in the laughter chorus of [C. M. F. E.] von Weber’s Der Freischiitz . Laughing as such is an outburst which yet ought not to remain unrestrained if the Ideal is not to be lost. The same abstraction occurs in the similar laughter in a duet from Weber’s Oberon  during which one may be anxious and distressed for the throat and lungs of the prima donna! How differently moving, on the other hand, is the inextinguishable laughter of the gods in Homer, which springs from the blessed tranquillity of the gods and is only cheerfulness and not abstract boisterousness. Neither, on the other side, should tears, as unrestrained grief, enter the ideal work of art, as when, for example, such abstract inconsolability is to be heard in Weber’s Der Freischütz, to mention it again. In music in general, song is this joy and pleasure in self-awareness, like the lark’s singing in the freedom of the air. Shrieking, whether of grief or mirth, is not music at all. Even in suffering, the sweet tone of lament must sound through the griefs and alleviate them, so that it seems to us worth while so to suffer as to understand this lament. This is the sweet melody, the song in all art.
(γ) In this fundamental principle the modern doctrine of irony too has its justification in a certain respect, except that irony, on the one hand, is often bare of any true seriousness and likes to delight especially in villains, and, on the other hand, ends in mere heartfelt longing instead of in acting and doing. Novalis, for example, one of the nobler spirits who took up this position, was driven into a void with no specific interests, into this dread of reality, and was wound down as it were into a spiritual decline. This is a longing which will not let itself go in actual action and production, because it is frightened of being polluted by contact with finitude, although all the same it has a sense of the deficiency of this abstraction. True, irony implies the absolute negativity in which the subject is related to himself in the annihilation of everything specific and one-sided; but since this annihilation, as was indicated above in our consideration of this doctrine, affects not only, as in comedy, what is inherently null which manifests itself in its hollowness, but equally everything inherently excellent and solid, it follows that irony as this art of annihilating everything everywhere, like that heart-felt longing, acquires, at the same time, in comparison with the true Ideal, the aspect of inner inartistic lack of restraint. For the Ideal requires an inherently substantive content which, it is true, by displaying itself in the form and shape of the outer as well, comes to particularity and therefore to restrictedness, though it so contains the restrictedness in itself that everything purely external in it is extinguished and annihilated. Only on account of this negation of pure externality is the specific form and shape of the Ideal a manifestation of that substantive content in an appearance according with artistic vision and imagination.
Now the pictorial and external side, which is just as necessary to the Ideal as the inherently solid content, and the manner of their interpenetration, brings us to the relation between nature and the ideal artistic representation. For this external element and its configuration has an association with what in general terms we call ‘nature’. In this connection the old, ever-recurring dispute whether art should portray external objects just as they are or whether it should glorify natural phenomena and transfigure them is not yet settled. The right of nature and the right of the beautiful, the Ideal and truth to nature – in such prima facie vague words we can hear argument going on unceasingly. For ‘the work of art should of course be natural’, but ‘there is also an ordinary ugly nature, and this should not be reproduced’, ‘but on the other hand’ – and so it goes on without any end or definite result.
In modern times the opposition of Ideal and nature has been raised again and made of importance, especially by Winckelmann. His enthusiasm, as I have already indicated earlier, was kindled by the works of antiquity and their ideal forms, and he did not rest until he had gained an insight into their excellence and reintroduced to the world a recognition and a study of these masterpieces of art. But out of this recognition there has arisen a mania for ideal representation in which people believed they had found beauty, but it lapsed into flatness, lifelessness, and superficiality without character. It was this emptiness of the Ideal, especially in painting, that von Rumohr had in view in his polemic against the Idea and the Ideal, to which I have referred already.
Now it is the task of theory to resolve this opposition. Interest in the practical side of art-production, however, we may here again leave entirely on one side, for whatever principles are implanted in mediocre minds and their talents, the result is always the same: what they produce, whether according to a perverse theory or the best one, is always but mediocre and feeble. Besides, art in general and painting in particular, influenced by other stimuli, has moved away from this mania for so-called ideals, and in its progress, owing to a freshening of interest in the older Italian and German painting, as well as in the later Dutch school, has at least made an attempt to acquire livelier forms and a fuller content.
But we have had more than enough, not only of these abstract ideals, but also, on the other hand, of the favourite ‘naturalness’ of art. In the theatre, for example, everyone has got sick and tired of commonplace domestic stories and their true-to-life presentation. A father’s moans about his wife and his sons and daughters, about income and expenditure, dependence on Ministers, intrigues of valets and secretaries, and then the wife’s trouble with maids in the kitchen, the sentimental love-affairs of daughters in the parlour – all this worry and bother everyone gets better and truer in his own home.
In this opposition between the Ideal and nature, people, so it seems, have had one art more than another in view, painting especially, for its sphere is precisely particular visible objects. We will therefore pose the question of this opposition in more general terms as follows: Is art to be poetry or prose? For the truly poetical element in art is just what we have called the Ideal. If it is a matter of the mere word ‘Ideal’, we can readily abandon it. But in that case the question is: What is poetry and what is prose in art? Albeit, too, adherence to what is inherently poetical may lead to aberrations in relation to specific arts, and has already done so: for what expressly belongs to poetry, especially, as may be supposed, to lyric poetry, has also been represented in painting, while after all such a subject is certainly of a poetic kind. The present (1828) art exhibition, e.g., contains several paintings (all out of one and the same school, the one called Düsseldorf) which have all borrowed subjects from poetry, particularly from that side of poetry which is only portrayable as feeling. If you look at these pictures oftener and more closely, they will soon enough appear as sugary and dull.
In the opposition between nature and art there are the following general points:
(a) The purely formal ideality of the work of art. Poetry in general, as the very word indicates, is something made, produced by a man who has taken it into his imagination, pondered it, and issued it by his own activity out of his imagination.
(α) Here the subject-matter may be quite indifferent to us or may interest us, apart from the artistic presentation, only incidentally, for example, or momentarily. In this way Dutch painting, for example, has recreated, in thousands and thousands of effects, the existent and fleeting appearance of nature as something generated afresh by man. Velvet, metallic lustre, light, horses, servants, old women, peasants blowing smoke from cutty pipes, the glitter of wine in a transparent glass, chaps in dirty jackets playing with old cards – these and hundreds of other things are brought before our eyes in these pictures, things that we scarcely bother about in our daily life, for even if we play cards, drink wine, and chat about this and that, we are still engrossed by quite different interests. But what at once claims our attention in matter of this kind, when art displays it to us, is precisely this pure shining and appearing of objects as something produced by the spirit which transforms in its inmost being the external and sensuous side of all this material. For instead of real wool and silk, instead of real hair, glass, flesh, and metal, we see only colours; instead of all the dimensions requisite for appearance in nature, we have just a surface, and yet we get the same impression which reality affords.
(β) In contrast to the prosaic reality confronting us, this pure appearance, produced by the spirit, is therefore the marvel of ideality, a mockery, if you like, and an ironical attitude to what exists in nature and externally. For think what arrangements nature and man must make in ordinary life, what countless means of the most varied kind they must use, in order to produce things like those depicted; what resistance the material exerts here, e.g. a metal, when it is to be worked upon! On the other hand, the imagination, out of which art creates, is a pliant, simple element which easily and flexibly draws from its inner being everything on which nature, and man in his natural existence, have to work hard. Even so the objects represented and the ordinary man are not of an inexhaustible richness, but have their limitations: precious stones, gold, plants, animals, etc., have in themselves only this bounded existence. But man as creative artist is a whole world of matter which he filches from nature and, in the comprehensive range of his ideas and intuitions, has accumulated a treasure which he now freely disgorges in a simple manner without the far-flung conditions and arrangements of the real world.
In this ideality, art is the middle term between purely objective indigent existence and purely inner ideas. It furnishes us with the things themselves, but out of the inner life of mind; it does not provide them for some use or other but confines interest to the abstraction of the ideal appearance for purely contemplative inspection.
(γ) Now, consequently, through this ideality, art at the same time exalts these otherwise worthless objects which, despite their insignificant content, it fixes and makes ends in themselves; it directs our attention to what otherwise we would pass by without any notice. The same result art achieves in respect of time, and here too is ideal. What in nature slips past, art ties down to permanence: a quickly vanishing smile, a sudden roguish expression in the mouth, a glance, a fleeting ray of light, as well as spiritual traits in human life, incidents and events that come and go, are there and are then forgotten – anything and everything art wrests from momentary existence, and in this respect too conquers nature.
But in this formal ideality of art it is not the subject-matter which principally makes a claim on us but the satisfaction which comes from what the spirit has produced. The artistic presentation must appear here as natural, yet it is not the natural there as such but that making, precisely the extinction of the sensuous material and external conditions, which is the poetic and the ideal in a formal sense. We delight in a manifestation which must appear as if nature had produced it, while without natural means it has been produced by the spirit; works of art enchant us, not because they are so natural, but because they have been made so natural.
(b) Yet another interest, which goes deeper, arises from the fact that the subject-matter is not just represented in the forms in which it is presented to us in its immediate existence; grasped now by the spirit, it is enlarged within those forms and otherwise changed. What exists in nature is just a single thing, individualized indeed in all its parts and aspects. On the other hand, our imaginative mentality has in itself the character of universality, and what it produces acquires already thereby the stamp of universality in contrast to the individual things in nature. In this respect our imagination has the advantage that it is of wider range and therefore is capable of grasping the inner life, stressing it, and making it more visibly explicit. Now the work of art is of course not just a universal idea, but its specific materialization; but since it has been produced by spirit and its imaginative power, it must be permeated by this character of universality, even though this character has a visible liveliness. This affords the higher ideality of the poetic in contrast to the formal ideality of mere making. Now here it is the task of the work of art to grasp the object in its universality and to let go, in its external appearance, everything that would remain purely external and indifferent for the expression of the content. The artist therefore does not adopt everything in the forms or modes of expression which he finds outside him in the external world and because he finds it there; on the contrary, if he is to create genuine poetry, he grasps only those characteristics which are right and appropriate to the essence of the matter in hand. If he takes, as a model, nature and its productions, everything just presented to him, it is not because nature has made it so and so, but because it has made it right; but this ‘rightness’ means something higher than just being there.
In the case of the human form, for instance, the artist does not proceed, as may be supposed, like a restorer of old paintings who even in the newly painted places reproduces the cracks which, owing to the splitting of the varnish and the paint, have covered all the other older parts of the canvas with a sort of network. On the contrary, the portrait painter will omit folds of skin and, still more, freckles, pimples, pock-marks, warts, etc., and the famous Denner, in his so-called ‘truth to nature’, is not to be taken as an example. Similarly, muscles and veins are indicated indeed, but they should not appear in the distinctness and completeness which they have in reality. For in all this there is little or nothing of the spirit, and the expression of the spiritual is the essential thing in the human form. Consequently I cannot find it so thoroughly disadvantageous that, in our day, fewer nude statues, for example, are made than was the case in antiquity. On the other hand, the cut of our clothes today is inartistic and prosaic in comparison with the more ideal drapery of the ancients. Both sorts of clothing have in common the purpose of covering the body. But the clothing portrayed in the art of antiquity is a more or less explicitly formless surface and is perhaps only determined by the fact that it needs a fastening on to the body, to the shoulder, for example. In other respects the drapery remains plastic and simply hangs down freely in accordance with its own immanent weight or is settled by the position of the body or the pose and movement of the limbs. What constitutes the ideal in clothing is the determining principle displayed when the outer wholly and entirely subserves the changeable expression of spirit appearing in the body, with the result that the particular form of the drapery, the fall of the folds, their hanging and lifting is entirely regulated from within, and is adapted to precisely this pose or movement momentarily only. In our modern dress, on the other hand, the whole of the material is fashioned once for all, cut and sewn to fit the shape of the limbs, so that the dress’s freedom to fall exists no longer, or hardly at all. After all, the character of the folds is determined by the stitching, and, in general, the cut and fall of the garment is produced technically and mechanically by the tailor. True, the build of the limbs regulates the form of the clothes generally, but in being formed to suit the body the clothes are precisely only a poor imitation or a disfiguration of human limbs according to the conventional fashion and accidental whim of the day; once the cut is complete it remains always the same, without appearing determined by pose and movement. As, for example, sleeves and trousers remain the same, however we may move our arms and legs. The folds do at most move variously, but always according to the fixed seams, as for example the breeches on the statue of Scharnhorst. Thus, to sum up, our manner of dress, as outer covering, is insufficiently marked out by our inner life to appear conversely as shaped from within; instead, in an untruthful imitation of our natural form, it is done with and unalterable once it has been cut.
Something similar to what we have just seen in relation to the human form and its clothing holds good too of a mass of other externals and needs in human life which in themselves are necessary and common to all men, yet without their being connected with the essential characteristics and interests which constitute the proper universal element, proper on account of its content, in human existence – however variously all these physical conditions, as e.g. eating, drinking, sleeping, dressing, etc., may be externally interwoven with the actions proceeding from our spirit.
Things of this sort may of course be adopted as topics of artistic representation in poetry, and in this connection it is granted that Homer, for example, has the greatest conformity to nature. Yet he too, despite all energia all clarity for our vision, has to restrict himself to mentioning such things only in general terms, and it would not occur to anyone to demand that in this matter all the details afforded by what confronts us in real life should have been related and described; as, e.g., even in the description of the body of Achilles, the lofty brow, the well-formed nose, the long strong legs may of course be mentioned without bringing into the picture the detail of the actual existence of these members, point by point, the position and relation of each part to the other, the colour, etc., which would alone be the real truth , to nature. But, this apart, in poetry the manner of expression is always the universal idea in distinction from natural singularity; instead of the thing, the poet always gives only the name, the word, in which the singular rises to a universality, because the word is the product of our ideas, and therefore carries in itself the character of the universal. Now indeed it is permissible to say that in our ideas and speech it is ‘natural’ to use the name, the word, as this infinite abbreviation for natural existents, but in that case this naturalness would always be the precise opposite of nature proper, and its cancellation. Thus the question arises what sort of naturalness is meant when it is contrasted with poetry, for ‘nature’ as such is a vague and empty word. Poetry should continually emphasize the energetic, the essential, the significant, and this essential expressiveness is precisely the Ideal and not what is merely at hand; to recite all the details of the latter in the case of some event or some scene would of necessity be dull, spiritless, wearisome, and intolerable.
In relation to this kind of universality, however, one art proves to be more ideal, while another is more adjusted to the wide range of the externally perceptible. Sculpture, for example, is more abstract in its productions than painting is, while in poetry the epic, in respect of external life, falls behind the actual performance of a dramatic work, although, on the other hand, it is superior to drama in the fullness of what it can manifest. The epic poet brings before us concrete pictures drawn from a vision of what has happened, while the dramatist has to content himself with the inner motives of action, of their operation on the will, and of its inner reaction to them.
(c) Now further, since it is the spirit which gives reality, in the form of external appearance, to the inner world of its own absolute content and its fullness of interest, the question arises here too about the meaning of the opposition between Ideal and nature. In this connection ‘natural’ cannot be used in the strict sense of the word, for as the external configuration of spirit it has no value in simply existing immediately as the life of animals, the natural landscape, etc.; on the contrary, in accordance with its specific character of being the spirit which gives itself a body, it appears here only as an expression of spirit, and so already as idealized. For this assumption into spirit, this forming and shaping on the part of spirit, means precisely idealizing. It is said of the dead that their face assumes once again the lineaments of their childhood; the corporeal fixed expression of passions, habits, and strivings, the look characteristic of all willing and doing, has then flown away, and the indeterminacy of the child’s features has come back. In life, however, the features and the whole form derive the character of their expression from within; as, after all, the different peoples, classes, etc., display in their outward form the difference of their spiritual tendencies and activities. In all such respects, the external, as penetrated and brought about by spirit, is already idealized in contrast to nature as such: Now here alone is the properly significant point of the question about the natural and the Ideal. For, on the one hand, some maintain that the natural forms with which spirit is clothed are already in their actual appearance – an appearance not recreated by art – so perfect, so beautiful, and so excellent in themselves that there cannot be still another beauty evincing itself as higher and, in distinction from what is there confronting us, as ideal, since art is not even capable of reaching altogether what is already met with in nature. On the other hand, there is a demand that there should be found for art independently, in contrast to reality, forms and representations of another and more ideal kind. In this respect especially the abovementioned polemics of von Rumohr are important. While others, with the ‘Ideal’ on their lips, look down on vulgarity and speak of it contemptuously, he speaks of the Idea and the Ideal with similar superiority and contempt.
But in fact there is in the world of spirit something vulgarly natural both within and without. It is vulgar externally just because the inner side is vulgar, and in its action and all its external manifestations the latter brings into appearance only the aims of envy, jealousy, avarice in trifles and in the sensuous sphere. Even this vulgarity art can take as its material, and has done so. But in that case either there remains, as was said above [in the Introduction, 6 (iii)], the representation as such, the cleverness of production, as the sole essential interest, and in that case it would be useless to expect a cultivated man to show sympathy with the whole work of art, i.e. with a topic of this kind, or else the artist must make something further and deeper out of it through his treatment of the subject. It is especially the so-called genre painting which has not despised such topics and which has been carried by the Dutch to the pitch of perfection. Now what has led the Dutch to this genre? What is it that is expressed in these little pictures which prove to have the highest power of attraction? They cannot be called pictures of vulgarity and then be just set aside altogether and discarded. For, if we look at it more closely, the proper subject-matter of these paintings is not so vulgar as is usually supposed.
The Dutch have selected the content of their artistic representations out of their own experience, out of their own life in the present, and to have actualized this present once more through art too is not to be made a reproach to them. What the contemporary world has brought before our vision and our spirit must also belong to that world if it is to claim our whole interest. In order to ascertain what engrossed the interest of the Dutch at the time of these paintings, we must ask about Dutch history. The Dutch themselves have made the greatest part of the land on which they dwell and live; it has continually to be defended against the storms of the sea, and it has to be maintained. By resolution, endurance, and courage, townsmen and countrymen alike threw off the Spanish dominion of Philip II, son of Charles V (that mighty King of the World), and by fighting won for themselves freedom in political life and in religious life too in the religion of freedom. This citizenship, this love of enterprise, in small things as in great, in their own land as on the high seas, this painstaking as well as cleanly and neat well-being, this joy and exuberance in their own sense that for all this they have their own activity to thank, all this is what constitutes the general content of their pictures. This is no vulgar material and stuff which, it is true, is not to be approached by a man of high society who turns up his nose at it, convinced of the superiority of courts and their appendages. Fired by a sense of such vigorous nationality, Rembrandt painted his famous Night Watch, now in Amsterdam, Van Dyck so many of his portraits, Wouwerman his cavalry scenes, and even in this category are those rustic carousels, jovialities, and convivial merriments.
To cite a contrast, we have, for example, good genre paintings in our exhibition this year too , but in skill of representation they fall far below the Dutch pictures of the same kind, and even in content they cannot rise to freedom and joyfulness like that of the Dutch. For example, we see a woman going into an inn to scold her husband. Here we have nothing but a scene of snarling and vicious people. On the other hand, with the Dutch in their taverns, at weddings and dances, at feasting and drinking, everything goes on merrily and jovially, even if matters come to quarrels and blows; wives and girls join in and a feeling of freedom and gaiety animates one and all. This spiritual cheerfulness in a justified pleasure, which enters even pictures of animals and which is revealed as satisfaction and delight – this freshly awakened spiritual freedom and vitality in conception and execution – constitutes the higher soul of pictures of this kind.
In the like sense the beggar boys of Murillo (in the Central Gallery at Munich) are excellent too. Abstractly considered, the subject-matter here too is drawn from ‘vulgar nature’: the mother picks lice out of the head of one of the boys while he quietly munches his bread; on a similar picture two other boys, ragged and poor, are eating melon and grapes. But in this poverty and semi-nakedness what precisely shines forth within and without is nothing but complete absence of care and concern – a Dervish could not have less – in the full feeling of their well-being and delight in life. This freedom from care for external things and the inner freedom made visible outwardly is what the Concept of the Ideal requires. In Paris there is a portrait of a boy by Raphael: his head lies at rest, leaning on an arm, and he gazes out into the wide and open distance with such bliss of carefree satisfaction that one can scarcely tear oneself away from gazing at this picture of spiritual and joyous well-being. The same satisfaction is afforded by those boys of Murillo. We see that they have no wider interests and aims, yet not at all because of stupidity; rather do they squat on the ground content and serene, almost like the gods of Olympus; they do nothing, they say nothing; but they are people all of one piece without any surliness or discontent; and since they possess this foundation of all excellence, we have the idea that anything may come of these youths. These are totally different modes of treatment from those we see in that quarrelsome choleric woman, or in the peasant who ties up his whip, or the postillion who sleeps on straw.
But such genre pictures must be small and appear, even in the whole impression they give to our vision, as something insignificant which we have got beyond, so far as the external subject matter and the content of the painting goes. It would be intolerable to see such things worked out life-size and therefore claiming that we should really be satisfied with them and their like in their entirety.
In this way what is generally called ‘vulgarity’ must be interpreted if it is to have the right of entry into art.
Now of course there are higher, more ideal, materials for art than the representation of such joy and bourgeois excellence in what are always inherently insignificant details. For men have more serious interests and aims which enter in through the unfolding and deepening of spirit and in which men must remain in harmony with themselves. The higher art will be that which has as its task the representation of this higher content. Now this at once gives rise to the question of whence are to be drawn the forms for this material engendered by spirit. Some entertain the opinion that, just as the artist first carries in himself these lofty ideas which he must create for himself, so he must also shape from his own resources correspondingly lofty forms for them, such as, for example, the figures of the Greek gods, Christ, the Apostles, saints, and so on. Against this view it is von Rumohr above all who has entered the field, in that he recognizes that art is on the wrong road when artists go in the direction of finding their forms arbitrarily instead of finding them in nature, and he has adduced as examples in support of his contention the masterpieces of Italian and Netherlands painting. In this connection his criticism is that (op. cit., i, p. 105) ‘the aesthetics of the last sixty years has struggled to prove that the aim, or even the chief aim, of art is to improve on creation in its individual formations, to produce forms unrelated to anything real, forms which should counterfeit creation into something more beautiful, and therefore, as it were, should hold the human race blameless for nature’s failure to make itself more beautiful’. Therefore (p. 63) he advises the artist ‘to give up the titanic intention of “adorning” natural forms, of “transfiguring” them, or however else writers on art may describe such arrogance on the part of the human spirit’. For he is convinced that, for even the highest spiritual matters, satisfactory external forms are already before our eyes in the world confronting us, and he therefore maintains (p. 83) ‘that the artistic representation, even where its subject-matter is thinkable and most spiritual, never rests on significance of organic forms’. In saying this, von Rumohr has especially in view the ideal forms of antiquity as expounded by Winckelmann. But it is the eternal merit of Winckelmann to have emphasized and classified these forms, although he may have slipped into errors in relation to some particular features; as, for instance, von Rumohr (p. 115, note) seems to think that the lengthening of the belly, which Winckelmann (Geschichte der Kunst des Altertums, book 5, ch. 4, § a) distinguishes as a feature in Greek ideal forms, is really derived from Roman statuary. Continuing his criticism, von Rumohr, in his polemic against the Ideal, now demands that the artist should utterly and entirely devote himself to the study of natural form, for here alone is beauty proper really brought to light. For, he says (p. 44), ‘the most important beauty rests on a symbolism of forms given in nature and not grounded on human caprice. Thereby these forms in specific combinations develop into features and signs which, when we see them, necessarily recall to us specific ideas and concepts or make known to us more specifically feelings that are slumbering in us.’ And so, it appears (p. 105), ‘a secret spiritual trait, perhaps what is called the “Idea,” links the artist after all with allied natural phenomena; in these he learns little by little to recognize his own intention ever more clearly and through them is enabled to express it’.
Of course, in ideal art, there can be no question of symbols settled arbitrarily, and, if it has happened that the ideal forms of antiquity have been copied, by setting aside the genuine natural form, into false and empty abstractions, then von Rumohr was right enough to oppose this in the strongest way.
But concerning this opposition between nature and the artistic ideal, the chief point to make is the following.
The existing natural forms of the spiritual content are in fact to be regarded as symbolic in the general sense that they have no immediate value in themselves; on the contrary, they are an appearance of the inner and spiritual life which they express. This already, in their reality outside art, constitutes their ideality in distinction from nature as such, which does not display anything spiritual. Now in art, at its higher stage, the inner content of spirit is to acquire its external form. This content is there in the real spirit of man, and so, like man’s inner experience in general, it has already present there its external form in which it is expressed. However readily this point may be granted, still, from the philosophical point of view, it is superfluous altogether to ask whether in existent reality there are such beautiful and expressive shapes and countenances which art can use immediately as a portrait for representing e.g. Jupiter (his majesty, repose, and power), Juno, Venus, Peter, Christ, John, Mary, etc. Of course you can argue for and against, but it remains a purely empirical question which, as empirical, cannot be settled. For the only way to decide it would be actually to exhibit these existing beauties, and for the Greek gods, for example, this might be a matter of some difficulty, and even at the present day one man might see perfect beauties, let us say, where another, a thousand times cleverer, did not. Apart from this, however, beauty of form as such does not always afford what we have called the Ideal, because the Ideal requires also individuality of content and therefore also of form. For example, a face altogether regular in form and beautiful may nevertheless be cold and expressionless. But the ideal figures of the Greek gods are individuals which within their universality do not lack determinate characteristics of their own. Now the vitality of the Ideal rests precisely on the fact that this specific spiritual fundamental meaning which is to be represented is completely elaborated through every particular aspect of external appearance, through posture, attitude, movement, facial expressions, form and shape of limbs, etc. The result is that nothing empty and insignificant remains, but everything evinces itself as penetrated by that meaning. For example, what we have seen of Greek sculpture in recent years as actually attributed to Phidias inspires us principally owing to this kind of all-pervasive vitality. The Ideal is still preserved in its strictness and has not passed over into grace, charm, exuberance, and gracefulness, but keeps every form in steady relation to the general meaning which was to be given bodily shape. This supreme vitality is the distinguishing mark of great artists.
Such a fundamental meaning has to be called ‘abstract’ in itself in contrast to the rich detail of the phenomenal real world. This is especially true of sculpture and painting which bring out only one feature, without proceeding to the many-sided development in which Homer, for example, could sketch the character of Achilles as at once harsh and cruel, kind and friendly, and endowed with so many other qualities of soul. Now in the real world confronting us such a meaning may indeed also find its expression; as, for example, there is hardly any face which could not give us the impression of piety, worship, serenity, etc.; but these features also express besides in thousands of ways as well what either is quite unsuited to portray the fundamental meaning to be impressed on them or else is in no nearer relation to it. Thus a portrait at once announces itself as a portrait by its very detail. In Flemish and old German pictures, for example, we often find the man who gave the commission portrayed along with his family, wife, sons and daughters. They are all supposed to appear sunk in devotion, and piety actually shines out of all their eyes; but nevertheless we see in the men valiant warriors, it may be, men of vigorous action, well versed in life and the passion for achievement, and in the women we see wives of a similar vigorous excellence. If we compare the expressions in these pictures, which are famous for their true-to-life likenesses, with Mary or the saints and Apostles beside her, then on their faces we read only one expression, and on this one expression the whole formation is concentrated, the build of the bones, the muscles, the traits of movement or rest. It is only the appropriateness of the whole formation which marks the difference between the Ideal proper and the portrait.
Now one might suppose that the artist should select here and there the best forms in the world confronting him and collect them together, or even as has happened, hunt through collections of etchings and wood-cuts for faces, postures, etc. in an endeavour to find the genuine forms for his topic. But with this collecting, and choosing, nothing is achieved, for the artist must act creatively and, in his own imagination and with knowledge of the corresponding forms, with profound sense and serious feeling, give form and shape throughout and from a single casting to the meaning which animates him.
The Ideal as such, which hitherto we have considered in accordance with its general Concept, was relatively easy to grasp. But the beauty of art, by being Idea, cannot stop at its purely general Concept; even in virtue of this Concept it has determinacy and particularity in itself and therefore must advance out of itself into actual determinacy. Consequently, from this point of view, the question arises in what way, despite exit into externality and finitude and therefore the non-Ideal, the Ideal can still maintain itself, and, conversely, in what way finite existence can assume the Ideality of artistic beauty.
In this connection we have the following points to review:
First, the determinacy as such of the Ideal;
Secondly, this determinacy in so far as it develops itself through its particularity to differentiation in itself and to the resolution of this difference, a process which in general terms we may call action;
Thirdly, the external determinacy of the Ideal.
We have seen already [in the Introduction, 8(iii)] that art has above all to make the Divine the centre of its representations. But the Divine, explicitly regarded as unity and universality, is essentially only present to thinking and, as in itself imageless, is not susceptible of being imaged and shaped by imagination; for which reason, after all, the Jews and Mahometans are forbidden to sketch a picture of God in order to bring him nearer to the vision which looks around in the sensuous field. For visual art, which always requires the most concrete vitality of form, there is therefore no room here, and the lyric alone, in rising towards God, can strike the note of praise of his power and his glory.
Nevertheless, on the other hand, however far unity and universality are the characteristics of the Divine, the Divine is nevertheless essentially determinate in itself, and since it therefore disencumbers itself of abstractness, it resigns itself to pictorial representation and visualization. If now it is seized in its determinate form and displayed pictorially by imagination, there at once enters a multiplicity of determinations, and here alone is the beginning of the proper sphere of ideal art.
For first, the one divine substance is split and broken up into a multitude of independent and self-reposing gods, as in the polytheistic vision of Greek art; and, even for Christian ideas, God appears, over against his purely inherent spiritual unity, as an actual man immediately involved with the earthly and worldly sphere. Secondly, the Divine is present and active in its determinate appearance and actuality generally in man’s senses and heart, his will and achievement; and therefore in this sphere men filled with the spirit of God, saints, martyrs, holy and pious men in general, become an equally appropriate subject for ideal art too. But, thirdly, with this principle of the division of the Divine and its specific and therefore also mundane existence, there appears the detail of real human life. For the whole human heart with everything whereby it is moved in its innermost being, everything which is powerful in it – every feeling and passion, every deeper interest in the soul – this concrete life forms the living stuff of art, and the Ideal is its representation and expression.
On the other hand, the Divine, as in itself pure spirit, is an object of intellectual reflection alone. But the spirit embodied in activity, because it always reverberates only in the human breast, belongs to art. Yet thereupon there at once come to light here particular interests and actions, determinate characters and their momentary circumstances and situations – in short, involvements with the external world; and it is therefore necessary to describe, at first in general terms, wherein the Ideal lies in relation to this field of determinacy.
In view of what we have already expounded above, the supreme purity of the Ideal will here too be able to consist only in the fact that the gods, Christ, Apostles, saints, penitents, and the devout are set before us in their blessed repose and satisfaction; therein they are untouched by the world with the distress and exigency of its manifold complications, struggles, and oppositions. In this sense it is especially sculpture and painting which have found forms in an ideal way for individual gods, as well as for Christ as Saviour of the world, for individual Apostles and saints. Here what is inherently true at the heart of existence comes into the work of art only as related to itself in its own existence, and not dragged out of itself into finite affairs. This self-sufficiency is not indeed lacking in particular character, but the particularization which is dispersed in the sphere of the external and the finite is purified here into simple determinacy, so that the traces of an external influence and relation appear altogether expunged. This inactive, eternal repose in oneself, or this rest – as in the case of Hercules, for example – constitutes the Ideal as such even in the field of determinacy. Therefore, if the gods are represented as involved also in mundane affairs, they must still retain their eternal and inviolable majesty. For Jupiter, Juno, Apollo, Mars, for example, are indeed determinate but fixed authorities and powers which preserve their own independent freedom, even when their activity is directed outwards. And so then, within the determinacy of the Ideal, not only may an individual particular character appear, but spiritual freedom must in itself show itself as a totality and, in this reposing on itself, as the potentiality for anything.
Now further, in this connection, the Ideal proves effective in the sphere of the mundane and the human in the sense that any more substantial content which preoccupies mankind has power to master the purely particular element in subjective life. I mean that in this way the particular element in feeling and acting is wrested from contingency, and the concrete particular is represented in greater correspondence with its proper inner truth; just as, in short, what we call noble, excellent, and perfect in the human soul is nothing but the fact that the true substance of the spiritual, moral, and divine declares its mastery in the subject, and man therefore places his living activity, will-power, interests, passions, etc. in this substantial element alone in order to give satisfaction therein to his true inner needs.
But however far, in the Ideal, spirit’s determinacy and its external appearance appears simply resumed into itself, still there is at the same time immediately bound up with spirit’s particularization, turned out from within into external existence, the principle of development, and therefore, in this relation to externality, the difference and struggle of oppositions. This leads us to a more detailed consideration of the inherently differentiated and progressive determinacy of the Ideal, which we may formulate in general terms as Action.
Characteristic of the Ideal’s determinacy as such are rather the friendly innocence of an angelic and heavenly bliss, inactive repose, the sublimity of an independent and self-reliant power, the excellence and perfection of what is in itself substantial. Yet the inner and spiritual element exists nevertheless only as active movement and development. But development is nothing without one-sidedness and separation. Spirit, complete and whole, spreading itself out in its particularizations, abandons its repose vis a vis itself and enters the oppositions of this chaotic universe, where in this rift it can now no longer escape the misfortune and calamity of the finite realm.
Even the immortal gods of polytheism do not dwell in perpetual peace. They get into cliques and into struggles with conflicting passions and interests and they must submit to fate. Even the God of the Christians was not exempt from passing to the humiliation of suffering, yes, to the ignominy of death, nor was he spared the grief of soul in which he had to cry: ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ?’ His mother suffers a similar agonizing pain, and human life as such is a life of strife, struggles, and sorrows. For greatness and force are truly measured only by the greatness and force of the opposition out of which the spirit brings itself back to unity with itself again. The intensity and depth of subjectivity come all the more to light, the more endlessly and tremendously is it divided against itself, and the more lacerating are the contradictions in which it still has to remain firm in itself. In this development alone is preserved the might of the Idea and the Ideal, for might consists only in maintaining oneself within the negative of oneself.
But owing to such a development, the particularization of the Ideal involves a relation with externality, and therefore surrenders to a world which, instead of displaying in itself the ideal free correspondence of the Concept with its reality, manifests rather an existence which just is not what it ought to be; for this reason we must in considering this relation examine how far the determinate characteristics, into which the Ideal enters, either immediately contain ideality explicitly or are more or less capable of doing so.
In this matter three principal points claim our closer attention:
(i) the general state of the world, which is the precondition of the individual action and its character,
(ii) the particular character of the situation, the determinacy of which introduces into that substantial unity the difference and strain which is the instigator of action – the situation and its conflicts,
(iii) the apprehension of the situation by the subject, and his reaction whereby the struggle involved in difference and the dissolution of difference appear – action proper.
It is characteristic of the living subject, in whom ideal subjectivity is enshrined, to act, and in general to bestir and realize himself, because this ideal has to carry out and bring to fruition what is implicit in it. To this end it requires a surrounding world as the general ground for its realizations. When we speak in this connection of the ‘state’ of something, we understand by it the general way and manner in which the substantial element is present which, as the truly essential element within spiritual actuality, holds together all its manifestations. In this sense we can speak, for example, of a ‘state’ of education, of the sciences, of the religious sense, or even of finances, administration of justice, family life, and other ways of life. But in that case all these aspects are in fact only forms of one and the same spirit and content which makes itself explicit and actual in them. – Now here, because we are discussing more precisely the state of the world of spiritual reality, we must take it up from the side of the will. For it is through the will that the spirit as such enters upon existence, and the immediate substantial bonds of reality are displayed in the specific manner in which the will’s guides, i.e. the concepts of ethics and law, and, in short, what, in general terms, we may call justice, are activated.
Now the question is of what character such a general ‘state’ must have in order to evince itself as correspondent to the individuality of the Ideal.
Arising from the foregoing discussion we can first make the following points in this matter:
(α) The Ideal is inherent unity, a unity of its content, not merely a formal external unity but an immanent one. This inherently harmonious and substantial self-reliance we have already described above as the Ideal’s self-enjoyment, repose, and bliss. At the stage we have now reached we will bring out this characteristic as independence, and require [for artistic representation] that the general state of the world shall appear in the form of independence so as to be able to assume the shape of the Ideal.
But ‘independence’ is an ambiguous expression.
(αα) For ordinarily what is inherently substantial is, on account of this substantiality and effectiveness, called simply the ‘independent’, and it is usual to describe it as the inherently Divine and absolute. But if it is retained solely in its universality and substance, it is on that account not in itself subjective and therefore it at once finds its fixed opposite in the particularity of concrete individuality. Yet in this opposition – as in any opposition – true independence is lost.
(ββ) Conversely, independence is ordinarily ascribed to the individual who is self-reliant, even if only formally, in the fixity of his subjective character. But every subject who lacks the true content of life, because these powers and substances exist on their own account outside him and remain something foreign to his inner and outer being, falls just the same into an opposition against what is truly substantial and thereby loses the state of concrete independence and freedom.
True independence consists solely in the unity and interpenetration of individuality and universality. The universal wins concrete reality only through the individual, just as the individual and particular subject finds only in the universal the impregnable basis and genuine content of his actual being.
(γγ) Here therefore in connection with the general state of the world we must consider the form of independence only in the sense that substantial universality in this state must, in order to be independent, have in itself the shape of subjectivity. The first mode which can occur to us in which this identity can appear is that of thought. For thinking is on the one hand subjective, but on the other hand it has the universal as a product of its true activity, and so it is both – universality and subjectivity – in a free unity. But the universal element in thinking does not belong to the beauty of art, and, besides, in the case of thinking, the rest of the particular individual in his natural character and shape, as well as in his practical action and accomplishment, is not in necessary concord with the universality of thoughts. On the contrary, a difference enters, or at least may enter, between the subject in his concrete reality and the subject as thinker. The same cleavage affects the content of the universal itself. If, namely, the genuine and the true begins already to be distinguished in the thinking subject from the rest of his reality, then the content of the universal, as explicitly universal, has already separated itself in objective appearance from the rest of existence and acquired against it a fixity and power of subsistence. But in the Ideal it is precisely particular individuality which should remain in inseparable concord with the substantial, and, just as freedom and the independence of subjectivity belong to the Ideal, in the same way the surrounding world of situations and circumstances should not possess any essential objectivity independent of the subjective and individual. The ideal individual must be self-contained; what is objective must still be his own and it must not be separated from the individuality of men and move and complete itself independently, because otherwise the individual retreats, as something purely subordinate, from the world as it exists already independent and cut and dried.
Thus in this regard the universal must indeed be actual in the individual as his own, his very own; not his own, however, in so far as he has thoughts, but his own as his character and heart. In other words, we are claiming for the unity of the universal and the individual, over against the mediation and distinctions of thinking, the form of immediacy, and the independence which we demand acquires the shape of immediate independence. But at once contingency is bound up with this. For if the universal and decisive element in human life is immediately present in the independence of individuals only as their subjective feeling, mentality, state of character, and should it gain no other form of existence, then it is just at once for this reason remitted to the contingency of will and accomplishment. In that case it remains only the peculiar characteristic of precisely these individuals and their mental attitude, and as their particular property it lacks the power and necessity of asserting itself on its own account; on the contrary, instead of actualizing itself ever anew in a universal way firmly fixed by its own effort, it appears simply as the resolution and performance, and equally the arbitrary neglect, of the purely self-dependent subject with his feelings, projects, force, ability, cunning, and dexterity.
In short, this sort of contingency constitutes at this point the characteristic feature of the state of affairs which we required as the ground and the total manner of the Ideal’s appearance [in art].
(β) In order to bring out more clearly the specific form of such an actual state of affairs, we will cast a glance at the opposite mode of existence.
(αα) This mode is present where the essence of ethical life, i.e. justice and its rational freedom, has already been worked out and preserved in the form of a legal regime, so that now, alike in itself and in the external world, this regime exists as an inflexible necessity, independent of particular individuals and their personal mentality and character. This is the case in the life of the state when political life comes into appearance according to the essential nature of the state; for not every combination of individuals into a social community, not every patriarchal union, is to be called a state. In the state proper, that is to say, laws, customs, rights are valid by constituting the universal and rational characteristics of freedom, and, moreover, by being present in this their universality and abstraction, no longer conditioned by accidental whims and particular personal peculiarities. When regulations and laws have been brought to our minds in their universality, they are also actual externally as this universal which goes its explicitly orderly way and has public power and might over individuals if they undertake to oppose and violate the law by their caprice.
(ββ) Such a situation presupposes an actual cleavage between the universals of the legislative intellect and immediate life, if we understand by ‘life’ that unity in which everything substantial and essential in ethical life and justice has won actuality only in individuals as their feeling and disposition, and is administered solely by means of these. In the fully developed state, law and justice, and even religion and science (or at least provision for education in religion and science) are a matter for the public authority and are directed and pursued thereby.
(γγ) Therefore the position of separate individuals in the state is that they must attach themselves to this regime and its real stability, and subordinate themselves to it, since no longer are they with their character and heart the sole mode of existence of the ethical powers. On the contrary, as happens in genuine states, the whole details of their mental attitude, their subjective opinions and feelings, have to be ruled by this legislative order and brought into harmony with it. This attachment to the objective rationality of the state which has no dependence on subjective caprice may either be pure subjection, because rights, laws and institutions, by being mighty and valid, have the power of compulsion, or it can arise from the free recognition and appreciation of the rationality of what exists, so that the subject finds himself over again in the objective world. But even in that case separate individuals are and always remain only incidental, and outside the reality of the state they have no substantiality in themselves. For substantiality is no longer merely the particular property of this or that individual, but is stamped upon him on its own account and in a universal and necessary way in all his aspects down to the tiniest detail. Therefore whatever individuals may achieve in the interest and progress of the whole by way of right, moral, or legal actions, nevertheless their willing and achievement remains always, like themselves, when compared with the whole, insignificant and nothing but an example. For their actions are always only a quite partial actualization of a single case; but this is not the actualization of a universal as it would be if this action, this case, were thereby made into a law or brought into appearance as law. If this is looked at conversely, it does not matter in the least whether individuals as individuals want law and justice to prevail or not; law and justice prevails in and by itself, and even if they did not want it to, nevertheless it would. Of course it does interest the universal and public authority that all individuals should evince their compliance with it, but separate individuals do not arouse this interest on the ground that law and morals receive their validity precisely by the consent of this individual or that; law and morals do not require this individualized consent; punishment validates them if they are transgressed.
The subordinate position of the individual subject is shown finally, in developed states, in the fact that each individual acquires only an entirely specific and always restricted share in the whole. In the genuine state, I mean, work for the universal [i.e. for the general weal], like activity in business, trade, etc., in civil society, is subdivided in the most varied possible way, so that now the entire state does not appear as the concrete action of one individual, nor can it be entrusted to one individual’s caprice, force, spirit, courage, power, and insight. On the contrary, the innumerable businesses and activities of political life must be assigned to an equally innumerable mass of agents. The punishment of a crime, for example, is no longer a matter of individual heroism and the virtue of a single person; on the contrary, it is split up into its different factors, the investigation and estimation of the facts of the case, judgement, and execution of the judge’s sentence; indeed each of these chief factors has its own more specialized differences, and it falls to individuals to carry out only one side of them. The administration of the law therefore does not lie in the hands of one individual but results from many-sided co-operation in a stable organization. Besides, each individual has general guides prescribed to him as a standard for his conduct, and what he achieves in accordance with these rules is subject over again to the judgement and control of higher officials.
(γ) In all these matters the public authorities in a legally ordered state do not themselves appear as individuals; the universal as such rules in its universality, in which the life of the individual appears as uplifted or as incidental and unimportant. Thus in such a state of affairs the independence we required is not to be found. Therefore, for the free configuration of individuality we have required the opposite state of affairs, in which the authority of the ethical order rests on individuals alone, who, by their private will and the outstanding greatness and effectiveness of their character, place themselves at the head of the real world in which they live. In that event justice remains their very own decision, and if by their action they transgress what is moral absolutely, there is no public authority with powers to call them to account and punish them, but only the right of that inner necessity which is vitally individualized in particular characters, external contingencies and circumstances etc., and is actual only in this form. Herein lies the distinction between punishment and revenge. Legal punishment makes the universal and established law prevail against crime, and it operates according to universal norms through the organs of the public authority, through courts and judges who, as persons, are only incidental. Revenge likewise can be just in itself, but it rests on the subjectivity of those who take charge of the affair and out of the right in their own breast and temper wreak revenge for the wrong on the guilty party. The revenge of Orestes, for example, became just, but he had pursued it only in accordance with his private virtue, not with legal judgement and the universal law.
In short, in the state of affairs which we claimed for artistic representation, morals and justice should throughout keep an individual shape in the sense that they depend exclusively on individuals and reach life and actuality only in and through them. Thus, to allude to a further point, in organized states the external existence of the people is secured, their property protected, and it is only their subjective disposition and judgement that they really have on their own account and by their own resources. But when there is still no state the security of life and property depends entirely on the personal strength and valour of each individual who has to provide for his own existence and the preservation of what belongs and is due to him.
Such a state of affairs is the one we are accustomed to ascribe to the Heroic Age. Which of these situations, however, – the civilized and developed life of the state, or an heroic age – is the better, this is not the place to explain; here our only concern is with the Ideal of art, and for art the cleavage between universal and individual must not yet come on the scene in the way described above, no matter how necessary this difference is for other ways in which spiritual existence is actualized. For art and its Ideal is precisely the universal in so far as the universal is configurated for our vision and therefore is still immediately one with particular individuals and their life.
(αα) This occurs in the so-called Heroic Age which appears as a time in which virtue, in the Greek sense of areti, is the basis of actions. In this connection we must clearly distinguish areti from what the Romans called virtus. The Romans already had their city and their legal institutions, and, in contrast to the state as the universal end, personality had to be sacrificed. To be just a Roman, to visualize in his own personal energies only the Roman state, the fatherland and its grandeur and power, this is the seriousness and dignity of Roman virtue. Heroes, on the other hand, are individuals who undertake and accomplish the entirety of an action, actuated by the independence of their character and caprice; and in their case, therefore, it appears as the effect of individual disposition when they carry out what is right and moral. But this immediate unity of the substantial with the individuality of inclination, impulses, and will is inherent in Greek virtue, so that individuality is a law to itself, without being subjected to an independently subsisting law, judgement, and tribunal. Thus, for example, the Greek heroes appear in a pre-legal era, or become themselves the founders of states, so that right and order, law and morals, proceed from them and are actualized as their own individual work which remains linked with them. In this way Hercules was extolled by the ancient Greeks and stands for them as an ideal of original heroic virtue. His free independent virtue, whereby, actuated by his personal and private will, he put an end to wrong and fought against human and animal monsters, was not an effect of the general state of affairs in his day but belonged to him exclusively and personally. Incidentally, he was not exactly a moral hero, as the story of his relations with the fifty daughters of Thespius in a single night shows, nor, if we recall the Augean stables, was he even genteel; he appears in general as a picture of this completely independent force and strength of the right and the just, for the actualization of which he underwent countless hardships and labours by his own free choice and personal caprice. True, he accomplished part of his deeds in the service and at the command of Eurystheus, but this dependence is only a purely abstract connection, no completely legal and firm bond which would have deprived him of the power of acting independently and on his own account as an individual.
The Homeric heroes are of a similar type. Of course they too have an overlord in common, but their bond with him is likewise no previously established legal relation which would have compelled their subjection; of their own free will they follow Agamemnon who is no monarch in the modern sense of the word; and so every hero proffers his own advice, the enraged Achilles asserts his independence by separating himself from his allegiance, and, in general, every one of them comes and goes, fights and rests, just as he pleases. In like independence, not bound to any order settled once and for all, not as mere tiny constituents of such an order, there appear the heroes of the older Arabic poetry, and even the Shahnameh of Firdausi provides us with similar characters. In the Christian west, feudalism and chivalry are the basis for free groups of heroes and self-reliant individuals. Of this sort are the heroes of the Round Table and the circle of heroes of which Charlemagne was the centre. Like Agamemnon, Charlemagne was surrounded by free heroic characters, and therefore he was equally powerless to hold them together, because he had continually to draw his vassals into council, and he is forced to be a spectator while they follow their own passions all the same; and swagger as he may, like Jupiter on Olympus, they can leave him and his undertakings in the lurch and go off on adventures of their own.
Further, the complete exemplar of this sort of thing we find in the Cid. He too is a partner in a group, an adherent of a king, and has to perform his duties as a vassal; but over against this bond there stands the law of honour as the dominating mood of his individual personality, and the Castilian [the Cid] fights for its untarnished lustre, dignity, and fame. And so here too only with the counsel and assent of his vassals can the king pronounce judgement, make decisions, or wage war; if they object, they do not fight in his service and they do not submit to a majority of votes at all; each stands there by himself and draws from his own resources his will and his power to act. A similar brilliant picture of independent self-reliance is afforded by the Saracen heroes who reveal themselves to us in almost a more inflexible form. Even Reynard the Fox brings to life for us a glimpse of a similar state of affairs. The lion is indeed lord and king, but the wolf and the bear, etc., likewise sit in council with him; Reynard and the others carry on as they like; if there is an outcry the rascal gets out of it by cunning and lying, or manages to find some particular interest of the king and queen, and puts it to his own use because he is clever enough to wheedle his masters into whatsoever he likes.
(ββ) But just as, in the Heroic Age, the subject remains directly connected with his entire willing, acting, and achieving, so he also takes undivided responsibility for whatever consequences arise from his actions. On the other hand, when we act or judge actions, we insist that we can only impute an action to an individual if he has known and recognized the nature of his action and the circumstances in which it has been done. If the actual circumstances are of a different kind, and the objective sphere of his action has characteristics different from those present to the mind of the agent, a man nowadays does not accept responsibility for the whole range of what he has done; he repudiates that part of his act which, through ignorance or misconstruction of the circumstances, has turned out differently from what he had willed, and he enters to his own account only what he knew, and, on the strength of this knowledge, what he did on purpose and intentionally. But the heroic character does not make this distinction; instead he is answerable for the entirety of his act with his whole personality. Oedipus, for example, on his way to the oracle, meets a man, quarrels with him, and kills him. In the days of quarrels like this, his act was no crime; the man had shown violence against him. But the man was his father. Oedipus marries a queen; the wife is his mother. In ignorance he has contracted an incestuous marriage. Yet he passes judgement on himself for the whole of these crimes and punishes himself as guilty of parricide and incest, although killing his father and mounting the marriage bed with his mother was neither within his knowledge nor his intention. The independent solidity and totality of the heroic character repudiates any division of guilt and knows nothing of this opposition between subjective intentions and the objective deed and its consequences, while nowadays, owing to the complexity and ramification of action, everyone has recourse to everyone else and shuffles guilt off himself so far as possible. Our view in this matter is more moral, in that in the moral sphere the subjective aspect, i.e. knowledge of the circumstances, conviction of the good, and the inner intention, constitute for us a chief element in the action. But in the Heroic Age, in which the individual is essentially a unity, and the objective action, by being his own production, is and remains his own, the subject claims that what has been done, has been entirely done by him alone and that what has happened is completely his own responsibility.
Neither does the heroic individual separate himself from the ethical whole to which he belongs; on the contrary, he has a consciousness of himself only as in substantial unity with this whole. We, on the other hand, according to our views nowadays, separate ourselves, as persons with our personal aims and relationships, from the aims of such a community; the individual does what he does as a person, actuated explicitly by his personality, and thus is answerable only for his own action, but not for the doings of the substantial whole to which he belongs. Therefore we make a distinction, for example, between person and family. Of such a separation the Heroic Age knows nothing. There the guilt of the ancestor descends to his posterity, and a whole generation suffers on account of the original criminal; the fate of guilt and transgression is continually inherited. In our eyes this condemnation appears to be unjust by being an irrational submission to a blind destiny. Just as, with us, the deeds of ancestors do not ennoble their sons and posterity, so the crimes and punishments of our forebears do not dishonour their descendants and still less can they besmirch their private character; indeed, according to our attitude today, even the confiscation of a family’s property is a punishment transgressing the principle of deeper subjective freedom. But in the plastic totality of antiquity the individual is not isolated in himself; he is a member of his family, his clan. Therefore the character, action, and fate of the family is every member’s own affair, and, far from repudiating the deeds and fate of his forebears, each member on the contrary voluntarily adopts them as his own; they live in him, and so he is what his fathers were, suffered, or transgressed. In our view this counts as a hardship, but this [modern] responsibility for oneself alone and the greater subjective independence thus gained is, from another point of view, only the abstract independence of the person, whereas the heroic individual is more ideal because he is not content with his inherent formal unity and infinity but remains united in steadfast immediate identity with the whole substantiality of the spiritual relations which he is bringing into living actuality. In that identity the substantial is immediately individual and therefore the individual is in himself substantial.
(γγ) Now here we can find at once a reason why the ideal artistic figures are transferred to the age of myths, or, in general, to the bygone days of the past, as the best ground for their actualization. I mean that if the artistic subjects are drawn from the present, then their own special form, as it actually confronts us, is firmly fixed in our minds in all its aspects, and thus the changes in it, which the poet cannot renounce, easily acquire the look of something purely manufactured and premeditated. The past, on the other hand, belongs only to memory, and memory automatically succeeds in clothing characters, events, and actions in the garment of universality, whereby the particular external and accidental details are obscured. To the actual existence of an action or a character there belong many insignificant interposing circumstances and conditions, manifold single happenings and deeds, while in memory’s picture all these casual details are obliterated. In this liberation from the accidents of the external world the artist in his mode of artistic composition has a freer hand with the particular and individual features if the deeds, histories, and characters belong to ancient times. True, he also has historical recollections from which he must elaborate his topic into the shape of the universal; but the picture of the past, as has been said already, has, as a picture, the advantage of greater universality, while the manifold threads which tie up conditions and relations with their whole environment of finitude provide his hand at once with the means and the checks to prevent the obliteration of the individuality required by the work of art. In this way, looked at more closely, an Heroic Age retains the advantage over a later and more civilized state of affairs, in that the separate character and the individual as such does not yet in those days find the substantial, the moral, the right, contrasted with himself as necessitated by law, and thus far the poet is immediately confronted with what the Ideal demands.
Shakespeare, for example, has drawn much material for his tragedies out of chronicles or old romances which tell of a state of affairs not yet unfolded into a completely established organization, but where the life of the individual in his decision and achievement is still predominant and remains the determining factor. Shakespeare’s strictly historical dramas, on the other hand, have, as a chief ingredient, purely external historical matter and so they are further away from the ideal mode of representation, although even here the situations and actions are borne and promoted by the harsh independence and self-will of the characters. It is true that their independence remains again only a mostly formal self-reliance, whereas in the independence of the heroic characters what must be an essential keynote is the content too which they have made it their aim to actualize.
This last point, after all, in relation to the general ground of the Ideal, refutes the idea that the Idyllic is especially suited to the Ideal because in the idyllic situation the cleavage between the legal and necessary, on the one hand, and living individuality on the other, is entirely absent. But however simple and primitive such idyllic situations may be, and however far removed they may intentionally be kept from the developed prose of spiritual existence, still their very simplicity has from another point of view too little interest, so far as their real content is concerned, for them to be able to count as the most proper ground and basis of the Ideal. For this ground lacks the most important motifs of the heroic character, i.e. country, morality, family, etc., and their development; instead, the whole kernel of its material is altogether confined to the loss of a sheep or a girl’s falling in love. So the idyllic counts often enough only as a refuge and diversion of the heart, with which is conjoined, as in Gessner, for example, a mawkishness and sentimental flabbiness. Idyllic situations at the present day, furthermore, have the defect that this simplicity, this domestic and rural element, in the feeling of love, or the comfort of a good coffee in the open air, etc., is likewise of negligible interest, since this country-parson life, etc., is just abstracted from all further connection with deeper entanglements in worthier and richer aims and circumstances. Therefore in this connection too we must marvel at the genius of Goethe (who, in Hermann and Dorothea, concentrates himself on a sphere like this) because he picks out of the life of the present a narrowly enclosed particular experience, yet at the same time, as the background and atmosphere in which this circle moves, he reveals the great interests of the French Revolution and his own country, and brings this quite restricted material into relation with the widest and most potent world events.
But in general, there are not excluded from the Ideal the evil and the bad, war, battles, revenge; they were often the substance and ground of the heroic and mythical age, a substance that appeared in a harsher and wilder form the further those times were removed from a thoroughly developed legal and ethical order. In the adventures of chivalry, for example, in which the knights-errant moved about to redress evils and wrongs, the heroes often enough were themselves guilty of truculence and unruliness, and in a similar way the religious heroism of the martyrs presupposes a similar condition of barbarity and savagery. Yet, on the whole, the Christian ideal, which has its place in the inwardness and depth of our inner being, is more indifferent to external circumstances.
Now just as the more ideal state of the world corresponds especially with certain specific periods, so for the personalities which art chooses to bring on the scene there it selects especially one specific class, the class of Princes. And it does so not, as may be supposed, because it is aristocratic and loves the gentry, but because of the perfect freedom of will and production which is realized in the idea of royalty. So we see in Greek tragedy, for example, the chorus as the general background on which the specific action is to take place, a background, void of individuality, for the dispositions, ideas, and modes of feeling of the characters. Then out of this background there arise the individual characters who play an active role, and they belong to the rulers of the people, the royal families. On the other hand, in the figures drawn from the lower classes, if they undertake to act within their restricted circumstances, what we see is subjection everywhere; for in civilized states indeed they are as a matter of fact in every way dependent, straitened, and, with their passions and interests, fall continually under the pressure and compulsion of the necessity outside them. For behind them stands the invincible might of the civil order against which they cannot hold their own, and they remain subject even to the whim of their superiors where these have legal authority. On this restriction by existing circumstances all independence is wrecked. Therefore the situations and characters drawn from these spheres are more appropriate for comedy and the comical in general. For, in comedy, individuals have the right to spread themselves however they wish and can. In their willing and fancying and in their idea of themselves, they may claim an independence which is immediately annihilated by themselves and by their inner and outer dependence. But, above all, this assumed self-reliance founders on external conditions and the distorted attitude of individuals to them. The power of these conditions is on a totally different level for the lower classes from what it is for rulers and princes. On the other hand, Don Cesar in Schiller’s Braut von Messina  can rightly exclaim: ‘There is no higher judge over me’, and when he is to be punished, he must pronounce judgement on himself and execute it. For he is not subject to any external necessity of right and law, and even in respect of punishment he is dependent on himself alone. True, Shakespeare’s characters do not all belong to the princely class and remain partly on historical and no longer on mythical ground, but they are therefore transferred to the times of the civil wars in which the bonds of law and order are relaxed or broken, and therefore they acquire again the required independence and self-reliance.
If we look now at all these points, made above, in relation to the state of affairs in the world of today, with its civilized, legal, moral, and political conditions, we see that nowadays the scope for ideal configuration is only of a very limited kind. For the regions in which free scope is left for the independence of particular decisions are small in number and range. A father’s care of his household, and his honesty, the ideals of decent men and good women, are the chief material here, where their willing and acting is restricted to spheres in which the human being, as an individual subject, still operates freely, i.e. is what he is, and does what he does, in accordance with his individual choice. Yet even in these ideals there is a deficiency of deeper content and so the really most important thing remains only the subjective side, the disposition. The more objective content is given by the otherwise already existing fixed circumstances, and so what must remain the most essential interest is the way and manner in which this content appears in individuals and their inner subjective life, their morality, etc. On the other hand, it would be inappropriate to set up, for our time too, ideal figures, e.g. of judges or monarchs. If an administrator of justice behaves and acts as his office and duty demands, he is simply carrying out the specific responsibility prescribed to him by jus and lex in accordance with the juridical order. Whatever else such public officials then introduce from their own personality – clemency in behaviour, sagacity, etc. – is not the chief thing and the substance of the matter, but something incidental and rather indifferent. So too, monarchs in our day, unlike the heroes of the mythical ages, are no longer the concrete heads of the whole, but a more or less abstract centre of institutions already independently developed and established by law and the constitution. The most important acts of government the monarchs of our time have renounced; they no longer pronounce judgement themselves; finance, civil organization and security, is no longer their special business; war and peace are determined by general international relations which no longer are within their single power or conducted by them as individuals. And, even if in all these matters the final, supreme, decision is theirs, still what is really decreed is not so much a matter of their personal will; it has already been settled independently, so that the supremacy of the monarch’s own subjective will in respect of universal and public affairs is only of a formal kind. Likewise, today even a General or a Field Marshal has indeed great power; the most essential ends and interests are put into his hands, and his discretion, courage, determination, and spirit have to decide the most important matters; but still what is to be ascribed to his subjective character as his own personal share in this decision is only small in scope. For one thing, the ends are given to him and have their origin, not in his own individual self, but in matters outside the province of his power. For another thing, he does not by himself create the means for achieving these ends; on the contrary, they are provided for him; they are not subject to him or at his beck and call as a person; their position is quite different from that accruing to the personality of this military individual.
To sum up, then, in the world of today the individual subject may of course act of himself in this or that matter, but still every individual, wherever he may twist or turn, belongs to an established social order and does not appear himself as the independent, total, and at the same time individual living embodiment of this society, but only as a restricted member of it. He acts, therefore, also as only involved in it, and interest in such a figure, like the content of its aims and activity, is unendingly particular. For, at the end of the day, this interest is always confined to seeing what happens to this individual, whether he happily achieves his aim, what hindrances and obstacles he encounters, what accidental or necessary complications obstruct or occasion the outcome, etc. And even if now too the modern person is in his own eyes, as subject, infinite in his heart and character, and if right, law, moral principles, etc., do appear in his acting and suffering, still the existence of the right in this individual is just as restricted as the individual himself; and he is not, as he was in the Heroic Age proper, the embodiment of the right, the moral, and the legal as such. The individual is now no longer the vehicle and sole actualization of these powers as was the case in the Heroic Age.
But the interest in and need for such an actual individual totality and living independence we will not and cannot sacrifice, however much we may recognize as salutary and rational the essential character and development of the institutions in civilized civil and political life. In this connection we can marvel at the youthful poetic genius of Schiller and Goethe, at their attempt to win back again within the circumstances existing in modern times the lost independence of the [heroic] figures. But how do we see Schiller carrying out this attempt in his earliest works? Only by a revolt against the whole of civil society itself. Karl Moor, injured by the existing order and by those who misused their authority in it, leaves the sphere of legality, and, having the audacity to burst the bonds that constrain him, and so creating for and by himself a new heroic situation, he makes himself the restorer of right and the independent avenger of wrong, injury, and oppression. Yet how tiny and isolated must this private revenge turn out to be, owing to the insufficiency of the requisite means, and, on the other hand, it can only lead to crime, for it incorporates the wrong which it intends to destroy. For Karl Moor this is a misfortune, a failure, and, even if this is tragic, it is still only boys who can be seduced by this robber ideal. So too the individuals in Kabale and Liebe are tormented by oppressive and vexatious circumstances with their tiny details and passions, and only in Fiesco and Don Carlos do the chief characters appear nobler, in that they make their own a more substantial matter, the liberation of their country or the freedom of religious conviction, and so, because of their aims, became heroes. In a higher way still, Wallenstein puts himself at the head of his army to become the regulator of the political situation. The power of this situation on which even his own means, the army, is dependent, he knows perfectly well, and therefore is for a long time reduced to swithering between will and duty. Scarcely had he made his decision before he saw the means, of which he thought he was sure, slipping through his fingers, and his tool broken. For what in the last resort is binding on the captains and the generals is not gratitude for what he has done to deserve their thanks owing to their appointment and promotion, nor his fame as commander in the field, but their duty to the universally recognized power and government, the oath they have sworn to the monarch of the state, the Emperor of Austria. Thus in the end he finds himself alone; he is not so much fought and conquered by an opposing external power as denuded of all means of achieving his end. Forsaken by the army, he is lost.
A similar, even if opposite, starting-point Goethe takes in Götz. The time of Glitz and Franz von Sickingen is the interesting period in which chivalry with the independence of noble individuals was passing away before a newly arising objective order and legal system. Goethe’s great insight is revealed by his choosing as his first subject this contact and collision between the medieval heroic age and the legality of modern life. For Glitz and Sickingen are still heroes who, with their personality, their courage, and their upright, straightforward good sense, propose to regulate the states of affairs in their narrower or wider scope by their own independent efforts; but the new order of things brings Gotz himself into wrong and destroys him. For chivalry and the feudal system in the Middle Ages are the only proper ground for this sort of independence. Now, however, the legal order has been more completely developed in its prosaic form and has become the predominant authority, and thus the adventurous independence of knights-errant is out of relation to the modern world and if it still proposes to maintain itself as the sole legitimacy and as the righter of wrong and helper of the oppressed in the sense that chivalry did, then it falls into the ridiculousness of which Cervantes gave us such a spectacle in his Don Quixote.
But by alluding to such an opposition between different world views and to action within this clash, we have already touched on what we have indicated above in general terms as the more detailed determinacy and differentiation of the general state of world affairs, i.e. as the situation as such.
The ideal world situation which, in distinction from prosaic actuality, art is called upon to present, constitutes, in accordance with the foregoing discussion, only spiritual existence in general and therefore only the possibility of individual configuration, but not this configuration itself. Consequently what we had before us just now was only the general basis and ground on which the living individuals of art can appear. True, it is impregnated with individuality and rests on the independence of that, but as a universal situation it does not yet display the active movement of individuals in their living agency, just as the temple which art erects is not yet the individual representation of the god himself but contains only the germ for it. Therefore we have to regard that world situation primarily as something still unmoved in itself, as a harmony of the powers ruling it, and thus far as a substantial uniformly valid existence which yet cannot be understood at all as a so-called state of innocence. For it is a state in which in its fullness and power of ethical life the monster of disunion still only slumbered, because for our examination only the aspect of its substantial unity exhibited itself, and therefore to individuality was present only in its universal guise in which, instead of asserting its determinacy, it disappears again without trace and without essential hindrance. But, for individuality, determinacy is indispensable, and if the Ideal is to confront us as a determinate shape, it is necessary for it not to remain simply in its universality; it must express the universal in a particular way and thereby alone give it existence and appearance. In this connection, art has thus not at all to sketch only a universal world situation but has to proceed out of this vague idea to pictures of definite characters and actions.
So far as individuals are concerned, the general situation is therefore indeed the stage presented to them, but it opens out into specialized situations, and, with this particularization, into collisions and complications which give the individuals opportunities to show what they are and display themselves as possessed of a determinate shape. On the other hand, so far as the world situation is concerned, this self-revelation of individuals appears indeed as the development of that situation’s universality into a living particularization and individualization, but to a determinate condition in which at the same time the universal powers maintain themselves as in control. For the determinate Ideal, considered in its essential aspect, has the eternal world-ruling powers for its substantial content. Yet the mode of existence which can be gained in the form of mere ‘being in a state’ is unworthy of this content. Being in a ‘state’, I mean, has, for one thing, habit as its form, but habit does not correspond with the spiritual self-conscious nature of these deepest interests; for another thing, it was the arbitrariness and caprice of individuals through whose independent activity we were to see these interests come to life; but once again neither are inessential accident and caprice correspondent to the substantial universality which constitutes the very nature of what is inherently genuine. We have therefore to look for both a more specific and also a more worthy artistic manifestation for the concrete content of the Ideal.
This new configuration the universal powers can acquire in their existence only because they appear in their essential distinction and movement in general, and, more especially, in their opposition to one another. Now in the particularity into which the universal passes over in this way, there are two factors to be noticed: (i) the substance as a group of universal powers through the particularization of which the substance is divided into its independent parts; (ii) the individuals who come on the scene as the activating realization of these powers and provide them with an individual shape. But the difference and opposition into which thereby the primarily inner harmonious world-situation is placed with its individuals is – considered in relation to this world situation – the emergence of the essential content of that situation; while, conversely, the substantial universal, inherent in it, advances to particularity and individuality because this universal brings itself into existence, since while it does give itself the appearance of accident, disunion, and division, it wipes this appearance out again just because it is itself that appears in it.
But, further, the separation of these powers and their self-actualization in individuals can occur only under specific circumstances and states of affairs, under which and as which their entire manifestation reaches existence, or which are the stimulus to this actualization. Taken by themselves, such circumstances are without interest, and they acquire their meaning only in their relation to human beings through whose self-consciousness the content of those spiritual powers is to be activated. On this account the external circumstances are to be viewed essentially only in this relation, for they gain importance only through what they are for the spirit, namely through the way they are comprehended by individuals; thereby they provide the opportunity for bringing into existence the inner spiritual need, the aims, dispositions, and, in general, the specific essence of individuals in their various forms. As this closer opportunity, the specific circumstances and states of affairs form the situation which is the more particular presupposition for the proper self-expression and activation of everything at first still lying hidden and undeveloped in the general world situation. Therefore, before treating of action proper we must first settle the real nature of the situation.
The situation in general is (α) the state of affairs as such, particularized so as to have a determinate character, and, in this determinacy, it is (β) at the same time the stimulus for the specific expression of the content which has to be revealed in existence by means of artistic representation. From this latter point of view ‘especially, the situation affords a wide field for treatment by art, since from time immemorial the most important part of art has been the discovery of interesting situations, i.e. those that make visible the profound and important interests and the true content of spirit. In this connection, our demands on the different arts are different: sculpture, for example, in respect of the inner variety of situations, is restricted; painting and music have a wider and, freer scope; but poetry is the most inexhaustible.
But since here we are not yet treading the ground of the particular arts, we have at this stage to draw attention only to the most general points and we can subdivide them on the following scale:
(a) Before the situation has developed to determinacy in itself, it still retains the form of universality, and therefore of indeterminacy, so that at first we have before us the situation, as it were, of absence of situation. For the form of indeterminacy is itself only one form contrasted with another, i.e. determinacy, and thus evinces itself as a one-sidedness and a determinacy.
(b) But the situation emerges from this universality into particularization and enters a proper determinacy which yet at first is harmless, for it still provides no opportunity for opposition and its necessary resolution.
(c) Finally, division and its determinacy constitute the essence of the situation, which therefore becomes a collision leading to reactions, and forming in this respect our starting-point and the transition to action proper. For the situation as such is the middle stage between the universal, inherently unmoved, state of the world and the concrete action, inherently opened out into action and reaction, on which account the situation has to display in itself the character of both extremes and lead us from one to the other.
The form for the general state of the world, as the Ideal of art is to bring it into appearance, is both individual and inherently essential independence. Now independence, regarded as such and explicitly established, appears to us prima facie as nothing but secure resting on its own resources in motionless tranquillity. Therefore the specific figure does not issue from itself into relation with something else; it remains the inner and outer self-sufficiency of unity with itself. This affords the absence of situation in which we see, for example, old temple sculptures at the beginnings of art. Their character of profound impassive seriousness, of the most peaceful, even motionless but grandiose, sublimity, has been imitated in later times too in a similar fashion. The Egyptian and the oldest Greek sculpture, for example, affords a vision of this kind of absence of situation. Further, in Christian visual art, God the Father, or Christ, is portrayed in a similar way, especially in busts. As after all, in general, the fixed substantiality of the Divine, apprehended as a specific particular god or as the inherently absolute personality, is suited to such a mode of representation, although medieval pictures too betray a similar lack of specific situations on which the character of the individual could be stamped, and they attempt only to express the entirety of the specific character in its inflexibility.
But since the situation as such lies in the field of determinacy, the second thing is departure from this stillness and blessed tranquillity or from the exclusive severity and power of personal independence. The situationless figures, unmoved therefore within and without, have to be set in motion and to give up their bare simplicity. But the next advance to a more special manifestation in a particular expression is the situation, specific indeed, but not yet essentially differentiated in itself or pregnant with collisions. This first individualized expression remains therefore of such a kind that it has no further sequel, for it does not set itself in hostile opposition to something else and therefore cannot call up any reaction; it is finished and perfect in itself on the strength of its own naïveté. To this sort of thing there belong those situations which on the whole are to be considered as play, in so far as nothing is presented or done in them which has any real seriousness in it; for seriousness in acting or doing springs in general only from oppositions and contradictions which press onwards to the cancellation and conquest of one side or the other. Therefore these situations are neither themselves actions nor do they provide the stimulating occasion for action; on the contrary they are partly specific but inherently quite simple states of affairs, and partly a deed without any inherently essential and serious aim which may proceed from conflicts or could lead to them.
(α) The first point in this connection is the transition from the tranquillity of absence of situation to movement and expression, whether as purely mechanical movement or as the original arousing and satisfaction of some inner need. While the Egyptians, for example, in their sculptures represented the gods with legs closed together, unmoved head, and tightly closed arms, the Greeks release the arms and legs from the body and give to the body a walking position and, in general, one moved in many ways. Repose, sitting, a tranquil gaze, are simple situations like this in which the Greeks, for example, apprehend their gods – situations which do give a determinate appearance to the independent divine shape, yet one which does not enter into further relations and oppositions, but remains self-enclosed and has its warrant in itself. Situations of this simplest kind belong principally to sculpture, and the Greeks above all have been inexhaustible in inventing such naive situations. Here too they display their great insight, for precisely through the insignificance of the specific situation the loftiness and independence of their ideal figures is all the more marked, and, through the harmlessness and unimportance of what is done or left undone, this insignificance brings all the nearer to our vision the blessed peaceful stillness and immutability of the eternal gods. In that case the situation indicates the particular character of a god or hero only in general, without placing him in relation to other gods, still less into a hostile connection and dissension with them.
(β) The situation goes further towards determinacy when it indicates a particular end, the realization of which is complete in itself, or some deed which is related to something else and expresses the inherently independent content within such a determinate state of affairs. Even here we have expressions in which the tranquillity and serene blessedness of the figures is untroubled but which themselves appear only as a consequence and a specific mode of this serenity. In such devices too the Greeks were extremely ingenious and rich. It is part of the naïveté of these situations that the activity they contain does not appear simply as the beginning of a deed out of which further complications and oppositions would have to arise; on the contrary, the whole determinate situation is manifestly complete and finished in this activity. In this way, for example, we interpret the situation of the Belvedere Apollo he is conscious of victory after slaying the serpent Python with his arrow, and strides forward in wrathful majesty. This situation no longer has the grandiose simplicity of the earlier Greek sculpture which revealed the tranquillity and innocence of the gods by means of less significant expressions: instead we have, for example, Venus arising from the bath, conscious of her power, quietly looking into the distance; fauns and satyrs in playful situations which, as situations, neither are meant nor wish to be anything beyond, e.g. the satyr who holds the young Bacchus in his arms and handles the child with laughter and infinite sweetness and grace; Eros in the most varied similar naive activities – all these are examples of this kind of situation.
On the other hand, if the deed becomes more concrete, such a more complicated situation is less appropriate for the sculptural representation of the Greek gods, at least as independent powers, because in that case the pure universality of the individual god cannot shine through the accumulated detail of his specific deed to the same extent. For example, the Mercury of Pigalle, set up [in 1760] in Sans Souci [by Frederick the Great] as a gift of Louis XV, is just fixing on his winged sandals. This is an entirely harmless occupation. On the other hand, Thorwaldsen’s Mercury has a situation almost too complicated for sculpture: i.e. while going on playing his flute, Mercury watches Marsyas, looking at him craftily and seeking a chance to kill him, while maliciously he snatches at the dagger he has concealed. Conversely, to mention still another modern work of art, Rudolf Schadow’s Girl binding on her Sandals is of course caught in the same simple occupation as Mercury’s, but here the harmlessness has not the like interest linked with it as when a god is represented in such naïveté. When a girl fastens her sandals, or spins, there is nothing revealed but precisely this fastening or spinning, and this in itself is meaningless and unimportant.
(γ) Now, thirdly, the implication of the foregoing is that the specific situation as such can be treated as a merely external more or less definite stimulus which provides no more than the occasion for further expressions more closely or loosely connected with it. Many lyric poems, for example, have such an occasional situation. A particular mood and feeling is a situation which can be known and grasped poetically, and which, in relation too to external circumstances, festivals, victories, etc., incites to this or that more comprehensive or more restricted expression and configuration of feelings and ideas. In the highest sense of the word, Pindar’s Odes, for example, are such pikes d'occasion. Goethe too has taken many lyrical situations of this kind as material; indeed in a wider sense we could even describe his Werther  as a poetic place d'occasion, since through Werther Goethe has converted into a work of art his own inner distraction and torment of heart, the experiences of his own breast; just as any lyric poet disburdens his heart and expresses what he is affected by in his personal life. Thereby what at first is firmly retained only inwardly is released and becomes an external object from which the man has freed himself, as tears make it easier when grief weeps itself out. Goethe says himself that by writing Werther he was freed from the inner affliction and distress which he sketches. But the situation represented here does not belong to this stage because it is developed and comprises the most profound oppositions.
Now in such lyric situations there may of course be obvious some objective state of affairs and an activity in relation to the external world, but, all the same, the mentality as such, in its inner mood, may withdraw into itself from all external connection whatever and take its starting-point from the inwardness of its states and feelings.
All the situations hitherto considered, are, as has already been touched upon, neither actions themselves nor, in general, stimuli to action proper. Their determinate character remains more or less a purely occasional state of affairs or an action insignificant in itself in which a substantial content is so expressed that its determinate character is now revealed as a harmless play which cannot be taken seriously. The seriousness and importance of the situation in its special character can only begin when its definiteness comes into prominence as an essential difference and, by being in opposition to something else, is the basis of a collision.
In this respect the collision has its basis in a transgression, which cannot remain as such but must be superseded; it is an alteration of the state of affairs which was otherwise harmonious and is itself to be altered. Nevertheless the collision is still not an action; on the contrary, it contains only the beginnings of an action and its presuppositions, and therefore, by being merely a stimulus to action, it retains the character of situation. Nevertheless, the opposition, in which the collision is disclosed, may be the result of an earlier action. For example, the trilogies of Greek tragedy are continuations, in the sense that out of the end of the first drama a collision arises for the second, which demands its resolution in the third.
Now since collision as such requires a solution which follows on the battle of opposites, a situation pregnant with collision is above I all the subject-matter of dramatic art, the privilege of which is to represent beauty in its most complete and profound development; while sculpture, for example, is in no position to give complete configuration to an action which reveals the great spiritual powers in their conflict and reconciliation; and even painting, despite its wider scope, can never bring before our eyes more than one feature of the action.
But these serious situations bring with them a difficulty of their own already present in their nature. They rest on transgressions and give rise to circumstances which cannot subsist but necessitate a transforming remedy. But the beauty of the Ideal lies precisely in the Ideal’s undisturbed unity, tranquillity, and perfection in itself. Collision disturbs this harmony, and sets the Ideal, inherently a unity, in dissonance and opposition. Therefore, by the representation of such transgression, the Ideal is itself transgressed, and the task of art can lie here only, on the one hand, in preventing free beauty from perishing in this difference, and, on the other hand, in just presenting this disunion and its conflict, whereby out of it, through resolution of the conflict, harmony appears as a result, and in this way alone becomes conspicuous in its complete essentiality. But on the question of to what limit dissonance may be driven, no general specifications can be laid down, because in this matter each particular art follows its own special character. Our inner ideas, for example, can endure far more dissonance than immediate intuition can. Poetry therefore has the right to proceed, in describing the inner feelings, almost to the extreme torment of despair, and, in describing the external world, to downright ugliness. But in the visual arts, in painting, and still more in sculpture, the external shape stands there fixed and permanent without being superseded and without vanishing again fleetingly, like musical notes. Here it would be a blunder to cling to the ugly when the ugly cannot be resolved. Therefore to the visual arts not everything can be allowed which can perfectly well be permitted to dramatic poetry, since it lets an ugly thing appear just for a moment and then vanish again.
In examining the kinds of collision in more detail we can cite at this stage once again only the most general considerations. In this connection we must treat three main aspects:
(i) collisions which arise from purely physical or natural circumstances in so far as these are something negative, evil, and therefore disturbing;
(ii) spiritual collisions which rest on natural bases, which, although inherently positive, still bear in themselves for the spirit the possibility of differences and oppositions;
(iii) disunions which have their ground in spiritual differences and which alone are entitled to appear as the truly interesting oppositions, because they proceed from man’s own act.
(α) As for conflicts of the first kind, they can count only as mere occasions for action, because here it is only external nature with its illnesses and other evils and infirmities which produces circumstances disturbing the original harmony of life and with differences as a consequence. In and by themselves such collisions are void of interest and are given a place in art only on account of the disunions which may develop out of a natural misfortune as its consequence. So, for example, in the Alcestis of Euripides, which provided the material too for Gluck’s Alceste, the foundation is the illness of Admetus. The illness as such is no material for genuine art, and it becomes so, even in Euripides, only owing to the individuals for whom this misfortune leads to a further collision. The oracle proclaims: Admetus must die unless a substitute is devoted to the underworld. Alcestis submits to this sacrifice and resolves to die in order to avert death from her husband, the father of her children, the King. In the Philoctetes of Sophocles too, it is a physical evil which is the basis of the collision. In their voyage to Troy the Greeks put the patient ashore on Lemnos because of his wounded foot, the result of a snake-bite at Chrysa. Here the physical misfortune is likewise only the most external point of connection and occasion for a further collision. For, according to the oracle, Troy is to fall only when the arrows of Hercules are in the hands of the besiegers. Philoctetes refuses to give them up because he has had to endure the wrong of being marooned for nine years full of agony. Now this refusal, like the wrong of being marooned in which it originated, could have been brought about in all sorts of other ways, and the real interest lies not in the illness and its physical distress but in the conflict which arises as a result of Philoctetes’ decision not to give up the arrows.
The position is similar with the plague in the Greek camp before Troy, which, apart from being already represented as a consequence of earlier transgressions, is also represented as punishment. In general, after all, it pertains to epic poetry rather than dramatic to present disturbances and hindrances by means of a natural misfortune, a storm, a shipwreck, a drought, etc. But, on the whole, art does not represent such an evil as a pure accident, but as a hindrance and misfortune, the necessity of which assumes precisely this shape instead of another.
(β) But in so far as the external power of nature as such is not the essential thing in the interests and oppositions of the spiritual sphere, so, secondly, when it appears linked with spiritual matters, it emerges only as the ground on which collision proper leads to breach and disunion. In this class are all conflicts grounded in natural birth. Here in general we can distinguish three cases in more detail:
(αα) First, a right linked to nature, as, for example, kinship, right of inheritance, etc., which precisely because it is tied up with nature, immediately permits of a number of natural specifications while the right, the thing at issue, is unique. In this matter the most important example is the right of succession to the throne. If this right is to be the occasion for the sort of collisions in question here, then it must not be explicitly regulated and established yet, because otherwise the conflict at once becomes one of a totally different sort. I mean that if the succession is not yet established by positive laws and their valid organization, then it cannot be regarded as absolutely wrong if it is all one whether the elder or the younger brother or some other relative of the royal house is to rule. Now since ruling is something qualitative, and not quantitative like money and goods which, owing to their nature, can be divided with perfect justice, it follows that dissension and strife are present at once in the case of such unregulated succession. So, for example, when Oedipus leaves the throne without a ruler, his sons, the Theban pair, confront one another with the same rights and claims; the brothers adjust the matter by arranging to rule in alternate years, but Eteocles broke the agreement and Polynices returned to Thebes to fight for his right. The enmity of brothers as such is a collision which crops up in every period of art: it begins with Cain who slew Abel. Also in the Shahnameh, the earliest Persian hero-book, the starting-point for all sorts of battles is a dissension about succession to the throne. Feridu divided the earth between his three brothers. Salm received Rum and Khavar; Thur’s share was Turan and Jin; and Iraj was to rule over the land of Iran. But each makes claims over the territory of the other and the resulting dissensions and wars are without end. In the Christian Middle Ages too the stories of dissensions in families and dynasties are without number. But such discords appear in themselves as accidental; for it is not absolutely necessary for brothers to be at enmity. Special circumstances and loftier causes must be added, as for example the hateful birth of the sons of Oedipus, or as too in the Braut von Messina an attempt is made [at the end of Act iv] to ascribe the quarrel of the brothers to a loftier fate. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth the basis is a similar collision. Duncan is King, Macbeth is his next eldest relative and is therefore strictly heir to the throne even in preference to Duncan’s sons. And so the first inducement to Macbeth’s crime is the wrong done to him by the King in naming his own son as his successor. This justification of Macbeth, drawn from [Holinshed’s] Chronicles, is altogether omitted by Shakespeare, because his only aim was to bring out the dreadfulness of Macbeth’s passion, in order to make a bow to King James who must have been interested in seeing Macbeth represented as a criminal! Thus, according to Shakespeare’s treatment of the subject, there is no reason why Macbeth did not murder Duncan’s sons too, but let them escape, and why none of the nobles thought of them. But the whole collision on which Macbeth turns is already beyond the situation-stage which was our subject here.
(ββ) Now, secondly, the converse within this sphere consists in this, that differences of birth, which in themselves involve a wrong, are given by custom or law the power of an unsurmountable barrier, so that they appear as a wrong that has become natural, as it were, and they therefore give rise to collisions. Slavery, serfdom, castes, the position of Jews in many states, and, in a certain sense, even the opposition between the birth of nobles and commoners, are to be reckoned in this group. Here the conflict lies in the fact that, while the man has rights, relationships, wishes, aims, and requirements which belong to him by the nature of man, these are stemmed by one or other of the above-mentioned differences of birth as a natural force obstructing them or endangering them. On this sort of collision the following is to be said.
Differences between classes, between rulers and ruled, etc., are of course essential and rational, for they have their basis in the necessary articulation of the whole life of the state, and they are validated everywhere by the specific kind of occupation, turn of mind, disposition, and the whole of spiritual development. But it is another thing if these differences in respect of individuals are to be so determined by birth that the individual is from the beginning to be relegated, not by his own doing, but by the accident of nature, to some class or caste irrevocably.
In that event these differences prove to be purely natural and yet they are invested with a supreme determining might. How this fixity and power originated does not matter at present. For the nation may originally have been one, and the natural difference between free men and serfs, for example, may only have developed later, or the difference of castes, classes, privileges, etc., may have arisen from differences of nation and race, as has been maintained in relation to the caste system in India. For us here this is of no consequence; the chief point lies only in the fact that such relationships of life, regulating the whole being of man, are supposed to derive their origin from nature and birth. Of course, in the nature of the case, difference of class is to be regarded as justified, but at the same time the individual should not be deprived of his right to align himself of his own free will with this or that class. Aptitude, talent, skill and education alone have to lead to a decision in this matter and to decide it. But if the right of choice is annulled from the very beginning by birth, and if therefore a man is made dependent on nature and its fortuitousness, then within this lack of freedom a conflict may arise between (a) the position assigned to a man by his birth and (b) his different measure of spiritual education and its just demands. This is a melancholy and unfortunate collision, for it rests entirely ii a wrong which true free art has not to respect. In our contemporary situation, class differences, a small group excepted, are not tied to birth. The sole exception is the ruling dynasty and the peerage, for higher reasons grounded in the essential nature of the state itself. This apart, birth makes no essential difference in relation to the class which an individual can or wishes to enter. But on this account after all we at once link with the demand for this perfect freedom the further demand that the individual shall, in education, knowledge, skill, and disposition make himself equal to the class to which he aspires. But if birth places an unsurmountable obstacle to the claims which a man, without this restriction, could satisfy by his own spiritual force and activity, then this counts for us not only as a misfortune but essentially as a wrong which he suffers. A purely natural and in itself unjust wall, over which his spirit, talent, feeling, inner and outer education have lifted him, separates him from what he was capable of attaining, and something natural, consolidated by caprice alone into this legal provision, presumes to set insuperable barriers to the inherently justified freedom of the spirit.
Now in the more detailed appreciation of such a collision, the essential points are these:
First, the individual with his spiritual qualities must already have actually overstepped the natural barrier and its power which his wishes and aims are meant to surmount, or otherwise his demand is over again just a folly. If, for example, a lackey with only a lackey’s education and skill falls in love with a princess or a lady of high degree, or she with him, such a love affair is only absurd and ridiculous, even if the representation of this passion comprises all the depth and full interest of the glowing heart. For in this instance it is not the difference of birth which really separates the parties, but the whole range of higher interests, broader education, aims in life, and modes of feeling which cuts a lackey off from a woman highly placed in class, means, and social position. If love is the one point of union, and does not also draw into itself the remaining scope of what a man has to experience in accordance with his spiritual education and the circumstances of his class, it remains empty and abstract, and touches only the sensuous side of life. To be full and entire, it would have to be connected with the entirety of the rest of the mind, with the full nobility of disposition and interests.
The second case, in this context, consists in this, that dependence on birth is imposed as a legally obstructive shackle on the inherently free spirit and its justified aims. This collision too has something unaesthetic in itself which contradicts the Concept of the Ideal, however popular it may be and however readily art may have a notion to make use of it. If, that is to say, differences of birth are made into a definite wrong by positive laws and their validity, as, for example, birth as a pariah, a Jew, etc., it is in a way a perfectly correct view if a man in the freedom of his inner being, rebelling against such an obstacle, regards these laws as dissoluble and knows himself free from them. To fight them seems therefore to be absolutely justified. Now in so far as, owing to the power of existing circumstances, such barriers become unsurmountable and are consolidated into an invincible necessity, this can only afford a situation of misfortune and one inherently false. For the reasonable man must bow to necessity, when he has not the means to subdue its force, i.e. he must not react against it but must bear the inevitable calmly and patiently; the interest and need demolished by such a barrier he must sacrifice, and so what is insuperable he must endure with the still courage of passivity and tolerance. Where battle is of no avail, a reasonable man is quit of it so that he can at least withdraw into the formal independence of subjective freedom. In that event the might of wrong has no might at all over him, while he at once experiences his utter dependence if he opposes it. Yet neither this abstraction of a purely formal independence nor this futile snatching at victory is really beautiful.
A third case, directly connected with the second, is equally remote from the genuine Ideal. It consists in this, that individuals whose birth has given them a really valid privilege owing to religious regulations, positive laws, or social circumstances, uphold their privilege and wish to insist on it. For in that event independence is there, according to the reality of external and positive law, but, as the subsistence of what is inherently unjust and irrational, it is a false and purely formal independence, and the Concept of the Ideal has vanished. Of course one could suppose that the Ideal is preserved, on the ground that even subjective life goes hand in hand with the universal and the legal, and remains in consistent unity therewith; yet, in this case, on the one hand the universal does not have its force and might in this individual, as the Ideal of the heroic requires, but only in the public authority of the positive laws and their administration; on the other hand, what the individual claims is just a wrong and he therefore lacks that substantiality which, as we have seen, likewise is implicit in the Concept of the Ideal. The concern of the ideal individual must be inherently true and justified. What is relevant here is, for example, the legal dominion over slaves and serfs, the right to rob foreigners of their freedom, or to sacrifice them to the gods, and so on.
It is true that such a right can be pursued by individuals innocently, in the belief that they are defending their valid right, as in India, for example, the higher castes take advantage of their privileges, or as Thoas ordered the sacrifice of Orestes, or as in Russia the masters rule their serfs; indeed those in authority may wish to assert rights of this kind as right and legal because of their own interest in them. But in that case their right is only the unrighteous right of barbarism, and they themselves look, in our eyes at least, like barbarians who resolve on and carry out what is absolute injustice. The legality on which the subject relies is to be respected and justified for his time and its spirit and level of civilization, but for us it has through and through been merely laid down without validity or power. Now if the legally privileged individual just uses his right for his own private ends, from a particular passion and selfish intentions, we have before us not just barbarism but a bad character into the bargain.
Through such conflicts attempts have often been made to arouse pity, and even fear as well, according to the law of Aristotle who lays it down that fear and pity are the aim of tragedy; but we entertain neither fear nor awe in the presence of the power of such rights accruing from barbarism and the misfortune of the times, and the pity that we might feel changes at once into repugnance and indignation.
The only true issue of such a conflict can therefore consist solely in the fact that these false rights are not finally asserted, as for example when neither Iphigenia nor Orestes is sacrificed in Aulis and among the Tauri.
(γγ) Now, finally, a last element in collisions which derive their basis from natural conditions is subjective passion when it rests on natural foundations of character and temperament. The best example of this is Othello’s jealousy. Ambition, avarice (and love too indeed to some extent) are examples of the same sort. But these passions lead to collisions of substance only in so far as they induce individuals who are gripped and dominated by the exclusive power of such a feeling to turn against what is genuinely moral and absolutely justified in human life, and who consequently fall into a conflict of a profounder kind.
This leads us to consider a third chief kind of dissension, namely that which has its proper ground in spiritual forces and their variance, in so far as this opposition is called up by the deed of the man himself.
(γ) It has already been noticed above in relation to purely natural collisions that they form only the connecting point for further oppositions. The same is more or less true of conflicts in the second category also considered just now. In works of art of more profound interest, none of these stops at the antagonism hitherto indicated; they introduce such disturbances and oppositions only as the occasion out of which the absolute spiritual powers of life are presented in their difference from one another and their struggle with one another. But the spiritual realm can only be activated by spirit, and so spiritual differences must also win their actuality by man’s act in order to be able to come on the scene in their proper shape.
Thus now we have, on the one hand, a difficulty, an obstacle, a transgression brought about by an actual human deed; on the other hand, a transgression of absolutely justified interests and powers. Only both of these characteristics taken together are the basis of the depth of this final kind of collision. The chief cases which can occur in this sphere may be distinguished as follows:
(αα) While we are now only just beginning to leave the province of those conflicts which have their foundation in nature, the first case of this new sort still stands in connection with the earlier ones. But if human action is to be the ground of the collision, then the natural result produced by man, otherwise than by man as spirit, consists in the fact that unknowingly and unintentionally he has done something which later proves in his own eyes to have been a transgression of ethical powers essentially to be respected. The consciousness of his deed, which he acquires later, then drives him on, through this previously unconscious transgression, into dissension and contradiction with himself, once he imputes the transgression to himself as caused by him. The antagonism between his consciousness and intention in his act and the later consciousness of what the act really was constitutes here the basis of the conflict. Oedipus and Ajax can count here as examples for us. Oedipus’s act, so far as his will and knowledge went, consisted in the fact that he had slain a stranger in a quarrel; but it was what was unknown that was the actual and essential deed, namely the murder of his own father. Ajax, conversely, in a fit of frenzy slaughters the cattle of the Greeks, believing them to be the Greek princes. Then when, with awakened consciousness, he considers what has happened, he is gripped by shame at his deed, and this produces collision. What, in a way like this, a man has unintentionally transgressed must yet be something which essentially and in accordance with his reason he has to honour and regard as sacrosanct. If, on the other hand, this reverence and veneration is a mere opinion and false superstition, then for us at least such a collision can no longer have any deeper interest.
(ββ) But now since, in the kind of conflict we are concerned with at present, a spiritual transgression of spiritual powers is to come about through a man’s deed, then, secondly, the collision more appropriate to this sphere consists in a transgression which is known and which issues from this knowledge and the intention involved. The starting-point may here too once again be passion, violence, folly, etc. The Trojan war, for example, has its beginning in the abduction of Helen; next, Agamemnon proceeds to sacrifice Iphigenia [his daughter] and thereby commits a transgression against her mother [Clytemnestra his wife] because he kills the dearest fruits of her womb; Clytemnestra therefore slays her husband; Orestes, because she has murdered his father, the King, takes revenge by the death of his mother. Similarly, in Hamlet the father is treacherously sent to his grave, and Hamlet’s mother defames the shades of the dead by an almost immediate marriage with the murderer.
Even in the case of these collisions the chief point is still that what is fought against is something absolutely ethical, sacrosanct, and genuine which the man has roused against himself by his act. Were this not so, then for us, in so far as we have a consciousness of the genuinely ethical and sacrosanct, such a conflict would be without value and substance, as, for instance, in the familiar episode in the Mahabharata, Nala and Damayanti. King Nala had married Damayanti, the prince’s daughter, who had had the privilege of choosing of her own accord amongst her suitors. The other claimants hover as genii in the air. Nala alone stands on the earth, and Damayanti had the good taste to select him. Now on this account the genii are angered and they keep a watch on King Nala. But for many years afterwards they could bring nothing against him, because he was not guilty of any offence. But at last they win power over him because he commits a great crime by making water and treading on the ground thus urine-infected. According to Indian ideas this is a serious offence which cannot escape punishment. Hereafter the genii have him in their power; one instils into him the desire for play; the other provokes his brother to be his opponent; and Nala must at last, losing his throne, wander unarmed with Damayanti into misery. At length he has to endure even separation from her, until in the end, after numerous adventures, he is raised once more to his former good fortune. The real conflict, on which the whole thing turns, is only for the ancient Indians an essential transgression of something sacrosanct. In our eyes it is nothing but an absurdity.
(γγ) But, thirdly, the transgression need not be direct, i.e. it is not necessary for the deed as such, taken by itself, to be productive of collision; it only becomes such owing to the known relations and circumstances within which it is done and which work against it and contradict it. Romeo and Juliet, for example, love one another; in love as such no transgression is inherent; but they know that their families live in hatred and enmity with one another, that the parents will never consent to their marriage, and they get into a collision owing to this presupposed ground of antagonism.
In relation to the specific situation, as contrasted with the general state of the world, these most general remarks may suffice. If one wished to consider, and go through, all its aspects, shades, and nuances, and assess every possible kind of situation, then this chapter alone would provide an occasion for discussions of endless prolixity. For the invention of different situations has an inexhaustible wealth of possibilities, and then the essential question always is of their applicability to a specific art, depending on its genus and species. To fairy-tales, for example, much is allowed which would be forbidden to another mode of treatment and representation. But in general the invention of the situation is after all an important point which commonly presents great difficulty to artists. In particular we hear today the frequent complaint about the difficulty of finding the right material from which the situations and circumstances are to be drawn. In this connection, at first sight it may seem to suit the dignity of a poet better to be original and to invent situations by himself. Yet this sort of originality is not an essential matter. For the situation does not in itself constitute what is spiritual, or the artistic form proper; it affects only the external material in which and on which a character and temperament is to be unfolded and represented. Only by elaborating this external starting-point into actions and characters is genuine artistic activity evinced. Therefore we cannot thank the poet at all for having manufactured this inherently unpoetic aspect by himself; he must remain entitled to create always anew from what is already there, from history, saga, myths, chronicles, indeed even from materials and situations previously elaborated artistically; as, in painting, the external element in the situation is drawn from legends of the saints and often enough repeated in a similar way. In the case of such representation the strictly artistic production lies far deeper than in inventing specific situations.
The same is true too of the wealth of circumstances and complications that have been presented to us. In this connection modern art has often enough been praised on the ground that, in comparison with antiquity, it displays an infinitely more fruitful imagination, and in fact in the works of art of the Middle Ages too and the modern world there is the maximum variety and diversity of situations, incidents, events, and fates. But with this external abundance nothing is achieved. In spite of it, we have only a few excellent dramas and epic poems. For the chief thing is not the external march and turn of events, as if these, as events and histories, exhausted the stuff of the work of art, but the ethical and spiritual configuration and the great movements of temperament and character which are disclosed and unveiled through the process of this configuration.
If we glance now at the point from which we must proceed further, we see that, on the one hand, the external and inner specific circumstances, states of affairs, and relations become the situation only through the heart, the passion, which views them and maintains itself in them. On the other hand, as we saw, the situation in its specific character is differentiated into oppositions, hindrances, complications, and transgressions, so that the heart, moved by circumstances, feels itself induced to react of necessity against what disturbs it and what is a barrier against its aims and passions. In this sense the action proper only begins when the opposition contained in the situation appears on the scene. But since the colliding action transgresses an opposing aspect, in this difference it calls up against itself the power lying over against it which has been assailed, and therefore, with action, reaction is immediately linked. At this point only has the Ideal entered into full determinacy and movement. For now there stand in battle against one another two interests, wrested from their harmony, and in reciprocal contradiction they necessarily demand a resolution of their discord. Now this movement, taken as a whole, belongs no more to the province of the situation and its conflicts, but leads to the consideration of what we have described above as ‘the action proper’.
In the series of stages which we have followed up to this point, action is the third, succeeding the general state of the world as the first and the specific situation as the second.
We have found already that, in its external relation to the situation, the action presupposes circumstances leading to collisions, to action and reaction. Now in view of these presuppositions, we cannot settle with precision where the action must have its beginning. For what from one point of view appears as a beginning, may from another prove to be the result of earlier complications which would serve thus far as the real beginning. Yet these themselves are once again only an effect of previous collisions, and so forth. For example, in the House of Agamemnon, Iphigenia among the Tauri propitiates the guilt and misfortune of the House. Here the beginning may be taken to be Iphigenia’s rescue by Diana who brought her to the Tauri; but this circumstance is only the result of events elsewhere, namely the sacrifice at Aulis, which again is conditioned by the transgression suffered by Menelaus, from whom Paris raped Helen, and so on and so on until we come to Leda’s famous egg. So also the material treated in the Iphigenia in Tauris contains once again as a presupposition the murder of Agamemnon and the whole sequence of crimes in the House of Tantalus. The same sort of thing occurs in the story of the Theban House. Now if an action with this whole series of its presuppositions is to be represented, it may be supposed that only poetry could discharge this task. Yet, according to the saying, to go through the whole gamut like this has become somewhat wearisome; it is regarded as a matter for prose, and instead of prose’s prolixity, it has been demanded of poetry as a law that it shall take the listener at once in medias res. Now the fact that art is not interested in making a beginning with the external original start of the specific action has a deeper reason, namely that such a start has a beginning only in relation to the natural, external,, course of events, and the connection of the action with this start affects only the empirical unity of its appearance, but can be quite a matter of indifference to the proper content of the action itself. The like external unity is also present still, when it is only one and the same individual who is to provide the connecting thread of different events. The totality of the circumstances of life, deeds, fates, is of course what shapes the individual, but his proper nature, the true kernel of his disposition and capacity, is revealed without all these, in one great situation and action, in the course of which he is unveiled as he is, whereas previously he was known maybe only by his name and external appearance.
In other words the start of the action is not to be sought in that empirical beginning; what must be envisaged is only those circumstances which, grasped by the individual heart and its needs, give rise precisely to the specific collision, the strife and resolution of which constitute the particular action. Homer, for example, in the Iliad, begins at once without hesitation with his matter in hand on which everything turns, the wrath of Achilles; he does not begin first, as might be expected, by relating the previous events or the life story of Achilles, but gives us forthwith the special conflict, and indeed in such a way that a great interest forms the background of his picture.
Now the presentation of the action, as in itself a total movement of action, reaction, and resolution of their struggle, belongs especially to poetry, for it is given to the other arts to seize only one feature in the course of the action and its occurrence. True, from one point of view, they seem, owing to the wealth of their means, to outclass poetry in this connection, since they have at their command not only the entire external shape but also expression through gestures, the shape’s relation to surrounding shapes, and its reflection besides in other objects grouped around it. But all these are means of expression which cannot compare with the clarity of speech. Action is the clearest revelation of the individual, of his temperament as well as his aims; what a man is at bottom and in his inmost being comes into actuality only by his action, and action, because of its spiritual origin, wins its greatest clarity and definiteness in spiritual expression also, i.e. in speech alone.
When we speak of action in general terms, our usual idea is that its variety is quite incalculable. But for art the range of actions suitable for representation is on the whole restricted. For it has to traverse only that range of actions which is necessitated by the Idea.
In this connection, in so far as art has to undertake the representation of action, we must emphasize three principal points derived as follows: the situation and its conflict are the general stimulus; but the movement itself, the differentiation of the Ideal in its activity, arises only through the reaction. Now this movement contains :
(a) the universal powers forming the essential content and end for which the action is done;
(b) the activation of these powers through the action of individuals;
(c) these two aspects have to be united into what here in general we will call character.
(α) However far in our consideration of action we stand at the Ideal’s stage of determinacy and difference, still, in the truly beautiful [drama] each side of the opposition which the conflicts disclose must still bear the stamp of the Ideal on themselves and therefore may not lack rationality and justification. Interests of an ideal kind must fight one another, so that power comes on the scene against power. These interests are the essential needs of the human heart, the inherently necessary aims of action, justified and rational in themselves, and precisely therefore the universal, eternal, powers of spiritual existence; not the absolutely Divine itself, but the sons of an absolute Idea and therefore dominant and valid; children of the one universal truth, although only determinate particular factors thereof. Owing to their determinateness they can of course come into opposition to one another, but, despite their difference, they must have essential truth in themselves in order to appear as the determinate Ideal. These are the great themes of art, the eternal religious and ethical relationships; family, country, state, church, fame, friendship, class, dignity, and, in the romantic world, especially honour and love, etc. In the degree of their validity these powers are different, but all are inherently rational. At the same time these are the powers over the human heart, which man, because he is man, has to recognize; he has to accept their power and give them actualization. Yet they should not appear merely as rights in a positive legislative order. For (a), as we saw in dealing with collisions, the form of positive legislation contradicts the Concept and the shape of the Ideal, and (b) the content of positive rights may constitute what is absolutely unjust, no matter how far it has assumed the form of law. But the relationships just mentioned are not something merely fixed externally; they are the absolutely substantial forces which, because they involve the true content of the Divine and the human, remain now precisely also as the impetus in action and what is finally the steadily self-realizing.
Of this kind, for example, are the interests and aims which fight in the Antigone of Sophocles. Creon, the King, had issued, as head of the state, the strict command that the son of Oedipus, who had risen against Thebes as an enemy of his country, was to be refused the honour of burial. This command contains an essential justification, provision for the welfare of the entire city. But Antigone is animated by an equally ethical power, her holy love for her brother, whom she cannot leave unburied, a prey of the birds. Not to fulfil the duty of burial would be against family piety, and therefore she transgresses Creon’s command.
(β) Now collisions may be introduced in the most varied ways; but the necessity of the reaction must not be occasioned at all by something bizarre or repugnant, but by something rational and justified in itself. So, for example, in the familiar German poem of Hartmann von der Aue – Der arme Heinrich – the collision is repulsive. The hero is afflicted by leprosy, an incurable disease, and in search of help he turns to the monks of Salerno. They require that someone must of his own free will sacrifice himself for him, for the necessary remedy can be prepared only out of a human heart. A poor girl, who loves the knight, willingly decides on death and travels with him to Italy. This is throughout barbaric, and the quiet love and touching devotion of the girl can therefore not achieve its full affect. True, in the case of the Greeks the wrong of human sacrifice comes on the scene as a collision too, as in the story of Iphigenia, for example, who at one time is to be sacrificed and at another is herself to sacrifice her brother; but (a) this conflict hangs together with other matters inherently justified, and (b) the rational element, as was remarked above, lies in the fact that both Iphigenia and Orestes are saved and the force of that unrighteous collision is broken – which, it is true, is the case in the afore-mentioned poem of Hartmann von der Aue, where Heinrich, refusing at last to accept the sacrifice, is freed from his disease by God’s help, and now the girl is rewarded for her true love.
To the above-mentioned affirmative powers there are at once annexed others opposed to them, the powers, namely, of the negative, the bad and the evil in general. Yet the purely negative should not find its place in the ideal presentation of an action as the essential basis of the necessary reaction. The existence of the negative in reality may well correspond with the essence and nature of the negative; but if the inner conception and aim of the agent is null in itself, the inner ugliness, already there, still less permits of true beauty in that conception’s real existence. The sophistry of passion may, through skilfulness, strength, and energy of character, make the attempt to introduce positive aspects into the negative, but then, in spite of this, we have only the vision of a whited sepulchre. For the purely negative is in itself dull and flat and therefore either leaves us empty or else repels us, whether it be used as the motive of an action or simply as a means for producing the reaction of another motive. The gruesome and unlucky, the harshness of power, the pitilessness of predominance, may be held together and endured by the imagination if they are elevated and carried by an intrinsically worthy greatness of character and aim; but evil as such, envy, cowardice, and baseness are and remain purely repugnant. Thus the devil in himself is a bad figure, aesthetically impracticable; for he is nothing but the father of lies and therefore an extremely prosaic person. So too the Furies of hatred, and so many later allegories of a similar kind, are indeed powers, but without affirmative independence and stability, and are unsuitable for ideal representation; nevertheless in this matter a great difference must be laid down between what is allowed and forbidden to the particular arts and the way and manner in which they do, or do not, bring their object immediately home to our vision. But evil is in general inherently cold and worthless, because nothing comes of it except what is purely negative, just destruction and misfortune, whereas genuine art should give us a view of an inner harmony.
Especially despicable is baseness, because it has its source in envy and hatred of what is noble, and it does not shrink from perverting something inherently justified into a means for its own bad or shameful passion. The great poets and artists of antiquity therefore do not give us the spectacle of wickedness and depravity. Shakespeare, on the other hand, in Lear, for example, brings evil before us in its entire dreadfulness. Lear in old age divides his kingdom between his daughters and, in doing so, is so mad as to trust the false and flattering words [of Goneril and Regan] and to misjudge the speechless and loyal Cordelia. This is already madness and craziness, and so the most outrageous ingratitude and worthlessness of the elder daughters and their husbands bring him to actual insanity. In a different way again the heroes of French tragedy often put on fine airs and puff themselves up in a monstrous way with the greatest and noblest motives, and make a great display of their honour and dignity, but at the same time they destroy again our idea of these motives as a result of what they actually are and accomplish. But in most recent times what has especially become the fashion is the inner unstable distraction which runs through all the most repugnant dissonances and has produced a temper of atrocity and a grotesqueness of irony in which Theodor Hoffmann, for example, has delighted.
(γ) Thus the genuine content of the ideal action must be supplied solely by the inherently affirmative and substantive powers. Yet when these driving forces come to be represented, they may not appear in their universality as such, although within the reality of the action they are the essential moments of the Idea; they must be configurated as independent individuals. If this does not happen, they remain universal thoughts or abstract ideas, and these do not belong to the domain of art. However little they may derive their origin from mere caprices of imagination, they must still proceed to determinacy and achievedness and therefore appear as inherently individualized. Yet this determinate character must not extend to the detail of external existence nor contract into subjective inwardness, because otherwise the individuality of the universal powers would of necessity be driven into all the complications of finite existence. Therefore, from this point of view, the determinacy of their individuality is not to be taken too seriously.
As the clearest example of such appearance and domination of the universal powers in their independent configuration the Greek gods may be cited. However they may come on the scene, they are always blessed and serene. As individual and particular gods, they do engage in battle, but in the last resort there is no seriousness in this strife because they have not concentrated themselves on some specific end with the whole consistent energy of their character and passion, and, in fighting for this end, found their defeat at last. They meddle with this and that, make their own some specific interest in concrete cases, but all the same they let the business stand as it was, and wander back in blessedness to the heights of Olympus. So in Homer we see the gods in battle and war against one another; this is in virtue of their determinate character, but they still remain universal beings and determinate characters. The Trojan battle, for example, begins to rage; the heroes come on the scene individually, one after another; now the individuals are lost in the general hubbub and scuffle; no longer are there special particular characters which can be distinguished; a universal pressure and spirit roars and fights – and now it is the universal powers, the gods themselves, who enter the fray. But they always draw back again out of such imbroglio and difference into their independence and peace. For the individuality of their figures does of course lead them into the sphere of chance and accident, still, because what preponderates in them is the divine universal element, their individual aspect is only an external figure rather than something penetrating the figure through and through into genuinely inner subjectivity. Their determinate character is an outward shape only more or less closely adapted to their divinity. But this independence and untroubled peace gives them precisely the plastic individuality which spares them concern and distress in connection with what is determinate. Consequently, even in their action in the concrete real world, there is no fixed consistency in Homer’s gods, although they do continually enter upon diversified and varied activities, since only the material and interest of temporal human affairs can give them anything to do. Likewise we find in the Greek gods further peculiarities of their own which cannot always be referred back to the universal essence of each specific god. Mercury, for example, is the slayer of Argus, Apollo of the lizard, Jupiter has countless love affairs and hangs Juno on an anvil, etc. These and so many other stories are just appendages which cling to the gods in their natural aspect through symbolism and allegory, and their origin we will have to indicate in more detail later.
In modern art too there is a treatment of specific and yet inherently universal powers. But for the most part this amounts only to cold and frosty allegories of hatred, for example, envy, jealousy, or, in general, of virtues and vices, faith, hope, love, fidelity, etc., in which we cannot believe. For in our view it is concrete individuality alone in which, in artistic representations, we feel a deeper interest, so that we want to see these abstractions before us not on their own account but only as features and aspects of the entirety of an individual human character. Likewise angels have none of that universality and independence in themselves as Mars, e.g., Venus, Apollo, etc. have or as Oceanus and Helios have; they are there indeed for our imagination, but as particular servants of the one substantial divine essence, which is not split into independent individuals like those in the circle of the Greek gods. Therefore we do not have the vision of many self-dependent objective powers, which could come to be represented explicitly as divine individuals ; on the contrary, we find their essential content actualized either objectively in the one God or, in a particular and subjective way, in human characters and actions. But the ideal representation of the gods has its origin precisely in their being made independent and individualized.
In the case of the ideal gods that we have just discussed, it is not difficult for art to preserve the required ideality. Yet so soon as it is a question of coming to concrete action, a special difficulty arises for presentation. The gods, I mean, and the universal powers in general, are indeed the moving force and stimulus, but, in the real world, individual action proper is not to be assigned to them; action belongs to men. Therefore we have two separate sides: on the one there stand those universal powers in their self-reposing and therefore more abstract substantiality; on the other the human individuals on whom devolve the resolution, the final decision on action, and its actual accomplishment. True, the eternal dominant forces are immanent in man’s self; they make up the substantial side of his character; but in so far as they are apprehended themselves in their divinity as individuals, and therefore as exclusive, they come at once into an external relation with human beings. This now produces the essential difficulty. For in this relation between gods and men there is a direct contradiction. On the one hand in their content the gods are the personality, the individual passion, the decision and will of man; but on the other hand the gods are viewed and stressed as existing absolutely, not only independent of the individual subject but as the forces driving and determining him; the result is that the same specific things are represented now in independent divine individuality and now as the most intimate possession of the human breast. Therefore the free independence of the gods as well as the freedom of the individual agents is jeopardized. Above all, if the power of command is attributed to the gods, then human independence suffers as a result, while we have stipulated this independence as absolutely and essentially demanded by the Ideal of art. This is the same relation which comes into question also in our Christian religious ideas. It is said, for example, that the Spirit of God leads us to God. But in that case the human heart may appear as the purely passive ground on which the Spirit of God operates and the human will in its freedom is destroyed, since the divine decree of this operation remains for him as it were a sort of fate in which his own self does not participate at all.
(α) Now if this relation is so put that the man in his activity is contrasted externally with the god who is what is substantial, then the rapport between the two is wholly prosaic. For the god commands and man has but to obey. From this external relation between gods and men even great poets have not been able to free themselves. In Sophocles, e.g., after Philoctetes has frustrated the deception of Odysseus, he abides by his decision not to go with him to the Grecian camp, until at last Heracles appears as a deus ex machina and orders him to give in to the wish of Neoptolemus. The content of this apparition is sufficiently motivated, and it is itself awaited, but the denoument itself always remains foreign and external. In his noblest tragedies Sophocles does not use this kind of presentation through which, if it goes one step further, the gods become dead machines, and individuals mere instruments of an alien caprice.
Likewise, in the epic especially, interventions of the gods appear as a denial of human freedom. Hermes, e.g., escorts Priam to Achilles [Iliad, xxiv]; Apollo strikes Patroclus between the shoulders and puts an end to his life [ibid., xvi]. In a similar way mythological traits are often so used as to appear in individuals as an external thing. Achilles, e.g., is dipped by his mother in the Styx, and thereby made invulnerable and unconquerable except in his ankle. If we look at this in an intellectual way, then all the bravery vanishes and the whole heroism of Achilles becomes a purely physical quality instead of a spiritual trait of character. But such a kind of representation may be allowed to epic long before it can be allowed to drama, because in epic the side of inwardness which concerns the intention involved in carrying out one’s aims falls into the background, and a wider scope is allowed to the external in general. That purely intellectual reflection which ascribes to the poet the absurdity that his heroes are not heroes at all must therefore be advanced with the greatest caution, for even in such traits, as we shall see presently [in (β)], the poetic relation between gods and men is preserved. On the other hand, the prosaic judgement is valid at once if the powers besides being set up as independent, are inherently without substance and belong only to fantastic caprice and the bizarrerie of a false originality.
(β) The genuinely ideal relationship consists in the identity of gods and men, an identity which must still gleam through when the universal powers are, as independent and free, contrasted with the individual agents and their passions. The character attributed to the gods, I mean, must at once evince itself in individuals as their own inner life, so that while the ruling powers appear explicitly as individualized, this which is external to man is immanent in him as his spirit and character. Therefore it remains the business of the artist to harmonize the difference of these two sides and to link them by a fine thread; he makes conspicuous the beginnings of the action in man’s inner spirit, but, even so, emphasizes the universal and substantial which rules there, and brings it before our eyes as explicitly individualized. Man’s heart must reveal itself in the gods who are the independent universal forms of what rules and drives its inner being. Only in that case are the gods at the same time the gods of his own breast. If we hear from antiquity that e.g. Venus or Eros has captivated the heart, then of course Venus and Eros are prima facie powers external to the man, but love is all the same a stimulus and a passion which belong to the human breast as such and constitute its own centre. The Eumenides are often spoken of in the same sense. At first we imagine the avenging maidens as Furies who pursue the transgressor from without. But this pursuit is equally the inner fury which permeates the transgressor’s breast. Sophocles uses this too in the sense of the man’s own inner being, as, e.g., in the Oedipus at Coloneus (I. 1434), the Furies are called the Erinyes [Furies] of Oedipus himself and signify a father’s curse, the power of his offended heart over his sons. Therefore it is both right and wrong to interpret the gods in general as always either purely external to man or purely powers dwelling in him. For they are both. In Homer, therefore, the action of gods and men goes continually criss-cross; the gods seem to bring about what is alien to man and yet actually accomplish only what constitutes the substance of his inner heart. In the Iliad, e.g., when Achilles in a quarrel is about to draw his sword against Agamemnon, Athene comes up behind him, and, visible to him alone, grasps his flaxen hair. Hera, concerned equally for Achilles and Agamemnon, sends Athene from Olympus, and her appearance seems to be quite independent of the heart of Achilles. But on the other hand, it is easy to imagine that Athene’s sudden appearance, the prudence that checks the wrath of the hero, is of an inward kind, and that the whole thing is an event which happened in the heart of Achilles. Indeed Homer himself indicates this a few lines earlier (Iliad, i. 190 ff.) when he describes how Achilles took counsel with himself:
‘Whether to draw his sword and
Slay Agamemnon or
To give up his wrath and restrain his temper’ 
This inner interruption of wrath, this check, which is a power foreign to the wrath, the epic poet is fully justified in representing as an external event because Achilles at first appears to be entirely full of wrath alone. In a similar way we find Minerva in the Odyssey [iii et al.] as the escort of Telemachus. This escort is more difficult to interpret as at the same time within the heart of Telemachus, although even here the connection of outer and inner is not lacking. What in general constitutes the serenity of the Homeric gods and the irony in the worship of them is the fact that their independence and their seriousness is dissolved again just in so far as they evince themselves as the human heart’s own powers and therefore leave men alone by themselves in them.
However, we need not look so far afield for a complete example of the transformation of such purely external divine machinery into something subjective, into freedom and ethical beauty. In his Iphigenia among the Tauri (1779) Goethe has produced the most marvellous and beautiful things possible in this connection. In Euripides [in the play with the same title], Orestes and Iphigenia take away the image of Diana. This is just a theft. Thoas comes along and issues a command to pursue them and take the effigy of the goddess from them; then at the end Athene appears in a completely prosaic way and orders Thoas to hold his hand, on the ground that she has already commended Orestes to Poseidon and in deference to her, he has conveyed him far into the sea. Thoas obeys forthwith by replying to the admonition of the goddess (II.  ff.): ‘Queen Athene, whoever hears the words of the gods and does not obey, is out of his mind for how can it be good to strive against the powerful gods ?
We see in this matter nothing but a dry external command of Athene, and an equally empty mere obedience on the part of Thoas. In Goethe, on the other hand, Iphigenia becomes a goddess and relies on the truth in herself, in the human breast. In this sense she goes to Thoas and says [Act v, scene iii]: ‘Has only a man the right to a deed unheard of? Does he then alone clasp the impossible to his powerful heroic heart?’
What in Euripides Athene brings about by order, the reversal of the attitude of Thoas, Goethe’s Iphigenia tries to achieve, and does achieve in fact, through the deep feelings and ideas which she puts before him: ‘In my heart a bold enterprise uncertainly stirs. I will not escape great reproof or serious evil if it miscarries; but still I place it on your knees. If you are true, as you are praised for being, then show it through your support, and glorify the truth through me.’ And when Thoas replies: ‘Thou thinkest that the crude Scythian, the barbarian, will hear the voice of truth and humanity which Atreus in Greece did not discern ?’, she answers in tenderest purest faith : ‘Born under whatever sky, everyone hears it through whose bosom the source of life flows pure and unhindered.’
Now she calls on his magnanimity and clemency, trusting on the height of his dignity; she touches him, conquers him, and in a humanly beautiful way wrings from him permission to return to her own folk. For this is all that is necessary. She does not need the image of the goddess and can go away without cunning and treachery, since Goethe explains with infinite beauty, in a human reconciling way, the ambiguous oracle ‘Bringst thou the sister, who stays against her will in a shrine on the coasts of the Tauri, back to Greece, then the curse will be lifted’ as meaning that the pure and holy Iphigenia, the sister, is the divine image and protectress of the House. ‘Beautiful and sublime in my eyes is the counsel of the goddess’, says Orestes to Thoas and Iphigenia, ‘like a holy image unto which a secret oracle has bound the city’s unalterable fortune, Diana took thee away, protectress of thy House, and preserved thee in a holy stillness, to be a blessing to thy brother and thy kin. Just when rescue seemed nowhere to be found in the wide world thou givest us all once more.’
In this healing, reconciling way, Iphigenia has already revealed herself to Orestes through the purity and ethical beauty of her deep-feeling heart. In his torn heart he no longer cherishes any belief in peace, and recognizing her does drive him into frenzy, but the pure love of his sister nevertheless heals him from all the torment of his inner furies: ‘In thine arms the evil gripped me with all its claws for the last time and shook me horribly to the very marrow; then it vanished like a snake into its hole. Now through thee I enjoy anew the broad light of day.’ In this, as in every other respect, we cannot marvel enough at the deep beauty of the drama.
Now things are worse with the Christian materials than with those of antiquity. In the legends of the saints and generally on the ground of Christian ideas, the appearance of Christ, Mary, other saints, etc., is of course present in the universal faith; but alongside it imagination has built up for itself in related spheres all kinds of fantastic beings like witches, spectres, ghostly apparitions, and more of the like. If in their treatment they appear as powers foreign to man, and man, with no stability in himself, obeys their magic, treachery, and the power of their delusiveness, the whole representation may be given over to every folly and the whole caprice of chance. In this matter in particular, the artist must go straight for the fact that freedom and independence of decision are continually reserved for man. Of this Shakespeare has afforded the finest examples. In Macbeth, for instance, the witches appear as external powers determining Macbeth’s fate in advance. Yet what they declare is his most secret and private wish which comes home to him and is revealed to him in this only apparently external way. Finer and deeper still, the appearance of the ghost in Hamlet is treated as just an objective form of Hamlet’s inner presentiment. With his dim feeling that something dreadful must have happened, we see Hamlet come on the scene; now his father’s ghost appears to him and reveals to him the whole crime. After this monitory disclosure we expect that Hamlet will at once punish the deed by force and we regard his revenge as completely justified. But he hesitates and hesitates. Shakespeare has been reproved for this inactivity and has been blamed on the ground that the play to some extent never recovers from this flaw. But Hamlet’s nature is weak in practice; his beautiful heart is indrawn; it is hard for him to decide to escape from this inner harmony; he is melancholy, meditative, hypochondriacal, and pensive, therefore with no inclination for a rash act. After all, Goethe clung to the idea that what Shakespeare wished to sketch was a great deed imposed on a soul that had not grown enough for its execution. And he finds the whole piece worked out in accordance with this interpretation: ‘Here is an oak tree,’ he says, ‘planted in a costly jar which should only have had lovely flowers blooming in it; the roots expand; the jar is destroyed.' But Shakespeare in relation to the appearance of the ghost brings out a still deeper trait: Hamlet hesitates because he does not blindly believe in the ghost:
The spirit that I have seen
May be the devil; and the devil hath power
To assume a pleasing shape; yea and perhaps,
Out of my weakness and my melancholy
(As he is very potent with such spirits)
Abuses me to damn me; I'll have grounds
More relative than this. The play’s the thing,
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King.
Here we see that the apparition does not command a helpless Hamlet; Hamlet doubts, and, by arrangements of his own, will get certainty for himself, before he embarks on action.
(γ) Now, lastly, the universal powers which not only come on the scene explicitly in their independence but are equally alive in the human breast and move the human heart in its inmost being, can be described in Greek by the word pathos, pathos. To translate this word is difficult, because ‘passion’ always carries with it the concomitant concept of something trifling and low, for we demand that a man should not fall into a passion. Pathos’ therefore we take here in a higher and more general sense without this overtone of something blameworthy, froward, etc. So, e.g., the holy sisterly love of Antigone is a ‘pathos’ in the Greek meaning of the word. ‘Pathos’ in this sense is an inherently justified power over the heart, an essential content of rationality and freedom of will. Orestes, e g , kills his mother, not at all from an inner movement of heart, such as we would call ‘passion'; on the contrary, the ‘pathos’ which drives him to the deed is well considered and wholly deliberate. From this point of view we cannot say that the gods have ‘pathos’. They are only the universal content of what drives human individuals to decision and action. But the gods themselves abide as such in their peace and absence of passion, and, if it comes to dissension and strife among them, there is really no seriousness about it, or their strife has a universal symbolic significance as a universal war of the gods. ‘Pathos’, therefore, we must restrict to human action and understand by it the essential rational content which is present in man’s self and fills and penetrates his whole heart.
(αα) Now ‘pathos’ forms the proper centre, the true domain, of art; the representation of it is what is chiefly effective in the work of art as well as in the spectator. For ‘pathos’ touches a chord which resounds in every human breast; everyone knows and recognizes the valuable and rational element inherent in the content of a true ‘pathos’. ‘Pathos’ moves us because in and for itself it is the mighty power in human existence. In this regard, what is external, the natural environment and its mise en scene, should appear only as a subordinate accessory, something to buttress the effect of the ‘pathos’. Therefore nature must essentially be used as symbolic and must let the ‘pathos’ re-echo from itself, for the ‘pathos’ is the proper subject of the representation. Landscape painting, e.g., is in itself a slighter kind of painting than historical painting, but, even where it appears on its own account, it must strike the note of a universal feeling and have the form of a ‘pathos’. – In this sense it has been said that art as such must touch us; but, if this principle is to hold good, the essential question is how this experience of being touched may be produced by art. Being touched is, in general, being moved sympathetically as a feeling, and people, especially nowadays, are, or some of them are, easily touched. The man who sheds tears sows tears, and they grow easily enough. But in art what should move us is only the inherently genuine ‘pathos’.
(ββ) Therefore neither in comedy nor in tragedy may the ‘pathos’ be mere folly and subjective caprice. In Shakespeare, e.g., Timon is a misanthrope for purely external reasons; his friends have taken his dinners, squandered his property, and when he now needs money for himself, they desert him. This makes him a passionate misanthrope. This is intelligible and natural, but not a ‘pathos’ inherently justified. Still more in Schiller’s early work, Der Menschenfeind, is similar hatred just a modern whim. For in this instance the misanthrope is besides a reflective, judicious, extremely honourable man, magnanimous to his peasants whom he has released from serfdom, and full of love for his daughter who is both beautiful and lovable. In a similar way Quinctius Heymeran von Flaming, in August La Fontaine’s novel, torments himself with the capriciousness of the human race, and so on. Above all, however, the latest poetry has screwed itself up to endless fantasticalness and mendacity which is supposed to make an effect by its bizarre character, but it meets with no response in any sound heart, because in such refinements of reflection on what is true in human life, everything of genuine worth is evaporated.
But conversely, whatever rests on doctrine and conviction, and insight into their truth, in so far as this knowledge is a chief requirement, is no genuine ‘pathos’ for artistic representation. To this class belong scientific facts and truths. For science requires a special kind of education, a repeated study and manifold knowledge of the specific science and its value; but an interest in this sort of study is not a universal moving power in the human breast; it is restricted always to a certain number of individuals. There is the same difficulty in the treatment of purely religious doctrines, if, that is to say, they are to be unfolded in their inmost character. The universal content of religion, belief in God, etc, is of course an interest of every deeper mind; yet, granted this faith, it is not the concern of art to proceed to the exposition of religious dogmas or to a special insight into their truth, and art must therefore beware of entering upon such expositions. On the other hand, we credit the human heart with every ‘pathos’, with all the motivations by ethical powers which are of interest for action. Religion affects the disposition, the heaven of the heart, the universal consolation and elevation of the individual in himself, rather than action proper as such. For the Divine in religion as action is morality and the particular powers of the moral realm. But these powers affect, not the pure heaven of religion, but, in contrast, the world and what is strictly human. In antiquity the essence of this worldliness was the character of the gods who therefore, even in connection with action, could enter together completely into the representation of action.
If therefore we ask about the scope of the ‘pathos’ that belongs to this discussion, the number of such substantial determinants of the will is slight, their scope small. Opera, in particular, will and must keep to a restricted circle of them, and we hear the laments and joys, the fortune and misfortune of love, fame, honour, heroism, friendship, maternal love, love of children, of spouses, etc., continually, over and over again.
(γγ) Now such a ‘pathos’ essentially demands representation and graphic amplification. And at that it must be a soul inherently rich which puts into its ‘pathos’ the wealth of its inner being and does not merely concentrate itself in itself and remain intensive, but expresses itself extensively and rises to a fully developed form. This inner concentration or outer development makes a great difference, and individuals of particular nationalities are in this respect too essentially different. Nations with more developed reflective powers are more eloquent in the expression of their passion. The Greeks, e.g., were accustomed to unfold in its depth the ‘pathos’ which animates individuals without thereby getting into cold reflections or blethers. The French too in this respect are ‘pathetic’ and their eloquent description of passion is not always pure verbiage, as we Germans with our emotional reserve often suppose, because the varied expression of feeling seems to us to be a wrong done to it. In this sense there was a period in our German poetry when especially the young spirits, bored by the French rhetorical torrent, yearned for nature and now came to a vigour which expressed itself mainly in interjections alone. Yet with ‘Och! and ‘0!’ or with the curse of anger, with storming and beating about hither and thither, nothing is to be effected. The vigour of mere interjections is a poor vigour and the mode of expression of a soul uncultured still. The individual spirit, in which the ‘pathos’ is presented, must be one which is full and capable of spreading and expressing itself.
In this matter too Goethe and Schiller provide a striking contrast. Goethe is less ‘pathetic’ than Schiller and has a rather intensive manner of presentation; in his lyrics especially he remains more self-reserved; his songs, as is appropriate to song, make us notice their intention, without fully explaining it. Schiller, on the contrary, likes to unfold his ‘pathos’ at length with great clarity and liveliness of expression. In a similar way Claudius in Wandsbecker Bothe (i, p. 153) contrasts Voltaire with Shakespeare: ‘the one is what the other brings into appearance. M. Arouet says: “I weep,” and Shakespeare weeps’. But what art has to do with is precisely saying and bringing into appearance, not with actual natural fact. If Shakespeare only wept, while Voltaire brings weeping into appearance, then Shakespeare is the poorer poet. In short, in order to be concrete in itself, as ideal art requires, the ‘pathos’ must come into representation as the ‘pathos’ of a rich and total spirit. This leads us on to the third aspect of action – to the more detailed treatment of character.
We started from the universal and substantial powers of action. They need for their practical proof and actualization human individuality in which they appear as the moving ‘pathos’. But the universal element in these powers must close up in particular individuals into a totality and singularity in itself. This totality is man in his concrete spirituality and its subjectivity, is the human total individuality as character. The gods become human ‘pathos’, and ‘pathos’ in concrete activity is the human character.
Therefore character is the proper centre of the ideal artistic I representation, because it unifies in itself the aspects previously considered, unifies them as factors in its own totality. For the Idea as Ideal, i.e. shaped for sensuous imagination and intuition, and acting and completing itself in its manifestation, is in its determinacy self-related subjective individuality. But the truly free individuality, as the Ideal requires it, has to evince itself, not only as universality, but no less as concrete particularity and as the completely unified mediation and interpenetration of both these sides which for themselves are as a unity. This constitutes the totality of character, the ideal of which consists in the rich powerfulness of subjectivity welding itself into one.
In this matter we have to consider character under three aspects:
(α) as total individuality, as the richness of character;
(β) this totality must at once appear as particularity, and the character, therefore, as determinate;
(γ) the character (as in itself one) closes together with this determinacy (as with itself) in its subjective independence and has thereby to maintain itself as an inherently fixed character.
These abstract categories we will now explain and bring nearer to our apprehension.
(α) Since the ‘pathos’ is unfolded within a concrete individual, it appears in its determinacy no longer as the entire and sole interest of the representation but becomes itself only one aspect, even if a chief one, of the character in action. For man does not, as may be supposed, carry in himself only one god as his ‘pathos’ ; the human emotional life is great and wide; to a true man many gods belong; and he shuts up in his heart all the powers which are dispersed in the circle of the gods; the whole of Olympus is assembled in his breast. In this sense someone in antiquity said: ‘O man, out of thine own passions thou hast created the gods. And in fact, the more civilized the Greeks became, the more gods they had, and their earlier gods were feebler, not configurated into individuality and specific character.
In this wealth of emotional life, therefore, character must show itself too. What precisely constitutes the interest that we take in a character is the fact that such a totality comes out strongly in it and nevertheless in this fullness it remains itself, a subject entire in himself. If the character is not depicted in this roundness and subjectivity and is abstractly at the mercy of only a single passion, then it seems beside itself, or crazy, weak, and impotent. For the weakness and powerlessness of individuals consists precisely in this, that the constituents of those eternal powers do not come into appearance in them as their very own self, as predicates inhering in them qua the subject of the predicates.
In Homer, e.g., every hero is a whole range of qualities and characteristics, full of life. Achilles is the most youthful hero, but his youthful force does not lack the other genuinely human qualities, and Homer unveils this many-sidedness to us in the most varied situations. Achilles loves his mother, Thetis; he weeps for Briseis because she is snatched from him, and his mortified honour drives him to the quarrel with Agamemnon, which is the point of departure for all the further events in the Iliad. In addition he is the truest friend of Patroclus and Antilochus, at the same time the most glowing fiery youth, swift of foot, brave, but full of respect for the aged. The faithful Phoenix, his trusted attendant, is at his feet, and, at the funeral of Patroclus, he gives to old Nestor the highest respect and honour. But, even so, Achilles also shows himself irascible, irritable, revengeful, and full of the harshest cruelty to the enemy, as when he binds the slain Hector to his chariot, drives on, and so drags the corpse three times round the walls of Troy. And yet he is mollified when old Priam comes to him in his tent; he bethinks himself of his own old father at home and gives to the weeping King the hand which had slain his son. Of Achilles we may say: here is a man; the manysidedness of noble human nature develops its whole richness in this one individual. And the same is true of the other Homeric characters – Odysseus, Diomedes, Ajax, Agamemnon, Hector, Andromache; each of them is a whole, a world in itself; each is a complete living human being and not at all only the allegorical abstraction of some isolated trait of character. How pale and trumpery in comparison, even if they are powerful individualities, are the horny Siegfried, Hagen of Troy, and even Volker the minstrel!
It is such many-sidedness alone that gives living interest to character. At the same time this fullness must appear as concentrated in one person and not as diffusion, freakishness, and mere diverse excitability – as children, e.g., take up everything and make something of it for a moment, but are without character; character, on the contrary, must enter the most varied elements of the human heart, be in them, be itself completely filled by them, and yet at the same time must not stand still in them but rather, in this totality of interests, aims, qualities, traits of character, preserve the subjectivity which is mustered and held together in itself. For the presentation of such total characters epic poetry above all is suited, dramatic and lyric poetry less so.
(β) But at this totality as such art cannot yet stop. For we have to do with the Ideal in its determinacy, and therefore the more specific demand for particularity and individuality of character presses on here. Action, especially in its conflict and reaction, should be presented within fixed and determinate limits. Consequently the heroes of drama are for the most part simpler in themselves than those of epic. Their firmer definition comes out through the particular ‘pathos’ which is made the essential and conspicuous trait of character and which leads to specific aims, decisions, and actions. But if the restriction is then carried so far that an individual is pared down to a mere inherently abstract form of a specific ‘pathos’ like love, honour, etc., then all vitality and subjective life is lost, and the presentation becomes, as with the French, often in this respect trumpery and poor. In the particularized character there must therefore be one chief aspect which is dominant, but, within this determinacy, complete vitality and fullness must remain preserved, so that the individual has an opportunity to turn in many directions, to engage in a variety of situations, and to unfold in diverse expressions the wealth of a developed inner life. Despite their inherently simple ‘pathos’, the characters in the tragedies of Sophocles are examples of this quality of life. In their plastic self-sufficiency they may be compared to the figures of sculpture. After all, in spite of its determinateness, sculpture may express a many-sidedness of character. In contrast to the tempestuous passion which concentrates with all its force on one point alone, sculpture presents in its stillness and speechlessness the forceful neutrality which quietly locks up all powers within itself; yet this undisturbed unity nevertheless does not stop at abstract determinateness but in its beauty foreshadows the birthplace of everything as the immediate possibility of entering into the most diverse sorts of relation. We see in the genuine figures of sculpture a peaceful depth which has in itself the ability to actualize all powers out of itself. Even more than from sculpture we must require from painting, music, and poetry the inner multiplicity of character, and this requirement has been fulfilled by genuine artists at all times. For example, in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Romeo has love as his chief ‘pathos’ ; yet we see him in the most diverse relations to his parents, to friends and his page, in honour-squabbles and his duel with Tybalt, in his piety and trust in the Friar, and, even on the edge of the grave, in talk with the apothecary from whom he buys the deadly poison, and all the time he is dignified and noble and deeply moved. Similarly in Juliet there is comprised a totality of relations to her father, her mother, her nurse, to Count Paris, and the Friar. And yet she is just as deeply sunk in herself as in each of these situations, and her whole character is penetrated and borne by only one feeling, the passion of her love which is as deep and wide and ‘boundless as the sea’, so that she may rightly say ‘the more I give to thee, the more I have, for both are infinite’ [Act ri, scene ii].
Therefore, even , if it be only one ‘pathos’ which is represented, still, because it is a wealth in itself, it must be developed. This is the case even in lyric poetry where yet the ‘pathos’ cannot come into action in concrete affairs. Even here the ‘pathos’ must be displayed as the inner situation of a full and developed heart which can disclose itself in every aspect of situations and circumstances. Lively eloquence, an imagination which fastens on everything, brings the past into the present, can use the whole exterior surroundings as a symbolic expression of the inner life and does not shun deep objective thoughts but in their exposition betrays a noble spirit which is far-reaching, comprehensive, clear and estimable – this richness of the character which expresses its inner world is in its right place even in lyric. Considered by the Understanding, such many-sidedness within a dominant determining ‘pathos’ may, it is true, appear to be illogical. Achilles, e.g., in his noble heroic character, the man whose youthful force of beauty is his fundamental trait, has a tender heart in relation to father and friend; now how is it possible, one may ask, for him to drag Hector round the walls in his cruel thirst for revenge ? Similarly illogical are Shakespeare’s clowns, almost always clever and full of gifted humour; so one may say: How can such clever individuals come to such a pass that they behave so clownishly? The Understanding, that is, will emphasize abstractly only one side of the character and stamp it on the whole man as what alone rules him. What is opposed to such dominance of a one-sidedness appears to the Understanding as simply illogical. But in the light of the rationality of what is inherently total and therefore living, this illogicality is precisely what is logical and right. For man is this: not only the bearer of the contradiction of his multiple nature but the sustainer of it, remaining therein equal and true to himself.
(γ) But it follows that the character must combine his particularity with his subjectivity; he must be a determinate figure and in this determinacy possess the force and firmness of one ‘pathos’ which remains true to itself. If the man is not thus one in himself, the different aspects of his diverse characteristics fall apart and in that case are senseless and meaningless. Being in unity with oneself constitutes in art precisely the infinite and divine aspect of individuality. From this point of view, firmness and decision are an important determinant for the ideal presentation of character. As has already been touched upon above, this ideal presentation appears when the universality of the powers is pervaded by the particularity of the individual and, in this unification, becomes a subjectivity and individuality which is fully unified in itself and self-related.
Still, by making this demand, we must attack many productions, especially of more modern art.
In Corneille’s Cid , e.g., the collision of love and honour plays a brilliant part. Such a ‘pathos’ in different characters can of course lead to conflicts; but when it is introduced as an inner opposition in one and the same character, this provides an opportunity for splendid rhetoric and affecting monologues, but the diremption of one and the same heart, which is tossed hither and thither out of the abstraction of honour into that of love, and vice versa, is inherently contrary to solid decisiveness and unity of character.
It is equally contrary to individual decision if a thief character in whom the power of a ‘pathos’ stirs and works is himself determined and talked over by a subordinate figure, and now can shift the blame from himself on to another – as, e.g., Phedre in Racine’s [play, 1677] is talked over by Oenone. A genuine character acts out of himself and does not allow a stranger to look into his conscience and make decisions. But if he has acted out of his own resources, he will also take on himself the blame for his act and answer for it.
Another type of instability of character has been developed, especially in recent German productions, into an inner weakness of sensibility which has ruled long enough in Germany. As the nearest famous example [Goethe’s] Werther  is to be cited, a thoroughly morbid character without the force to lift himself above the selfishness of his love. What makes him interesting is the passion and beauty of his feeling, his close relationship to nature along with the development and tenderness of his heart. More recently, this weakness, with ever increasing deepening into the empty subjectivity of the character’s own personality, has assumed numerous other forms. For example, we may include here the ‘beautiful soul’ of Jacobi’s Woldemar. In this novel there is displayed in the fullest measure the imposture of the heart’s splendour, the self-deceptive delusion of its own virtue and excellence. There is an elevation and divinity of soul which in every way comes into a perverse relation with actuality, and the weakness which cannot endure and elaborate the genuine content of the existing world it conceals from itself by the superiority in which it spurns everything as unworthy of itself: After all, to the truly moral interests and sterling aims of life such a beautiful soul is not open; on the contrary, it spins its own web in itself and lives and weaves solely within the scope of its most subjective religious and moral hatchings. With this inner enthusiasm for its own unbounded excellence, which it makes so much of in its own eyes, there is then at once bound up an infinite irritability towards everyone else who at every moment is supposed to find out, understand, and admire this solitary beauty; if others cannot do this, then at once its whole heart is moved to its depths and infinitely injured. Then forthwith it is all up with the whole of mankind, all friendship, all love. Inability to endure pedantry and rudeness, trifling circumstances and blunders which a greater and stronger character overlooks and by which he is uninjured, is beyond all imagination, and it is just the most trifling matter which brings such a beautiful heart to the depths of despair. Then, therefore, mournfulness, worry, grief, bad temper, sickness, melancholy, and misery have no end. Thence there springs a torture of reflections on self and others, a convulsiveness and even a harshness and cruelty of soul, in which at the last the whole miserableness and weakness of the inner life of this beautiful soul is exposed. – We cannot have any heart for this oddity of heart. For it is a property of a genuine character to have spirit and force to will and take hold of something actual. Interest in such subjective characters who always remain shut into themselves is an empty interest, however much they hug the notion that their nature is higher and purer, one that has engendered in itself the Divine (which for others is entirely clothed in the recesses of the heart) and exposed it entirely in undress.
In another form this deficiency in inner substantial solidity of character is also developed when these remarkable higher splendours of heart are hypostatized in a perverse way and treated as independent powers. This is the province of magic, magnetism, demons, the superior apparitions of clairvoyance, the disease of somnambulism, etc. The living and responsible individual in regard to these dark powers is put into relation with something which on the one hand is within himself, but on the other hand is a beyond, alien to his inner life, by which he is determined and ruled. In these unknown forces there is supposed to lie an indecipherable truth of dreadfulness which cannot be grasped or understood. From the sphere of art, however, these dark powers are precisely to be banned, for in art nothing is dark; everything is clear and transparent. With these visionary notions nothing is expressed except a sickness of spirit; poetry runs over into nebulousness, unsubstantiality, and emptiness, of which examples are provided in Hoffmann and in Heinrich von Kleist’s Prince of Homburg. The truly ideal character has for its content and ‘pathos’ nothing supernatural and ghost-ridden but only true interests in which he is at one with himself. Clairvoyance especially has become trivial and vulgar in recent poetry. In Schiller’s Wilhelm Tell [1804, Act II, scene i], on the other hand, when old Attinghausen, on the point of death, proclaims the fate of his country, prophecy of this sort is used in a fitting place. But to have to exchange health of character for sickness of spirit in order to produce collisions and arouse interest is always unfortunate; for this reason too insanity is to be made use of only with great caution.
To these perversities which are opposed to unity and firmness of character we may as well annex the more modern principle of irony. This false theory has seduced poets into bringing into characters a variety which does not come together into a unity, so that every character destroys itself as character. [On this theory] if an individual comes forward at first in a determinate way, this determinacy is at once to pass over into its opposite, and his character is therefore to display nothing but the nullity of its determinacy and itself. By irony this is regarded as the real height of art, on the assumption that the spectator must not be gripped by an inherently affirmative interest, but has to stand above it, as irony itself is away above everything.
In this sense it has been proposed, after all, to explain characters in Shakespeare. Lady Macbeth, e.g., is supposed [by Tieck (Lasson, p. 331)] to be a loving spouse with a soft heart, although she not only finds room for the thought of murder, but also carries it out [by her husband’s hand]. But Shakespeare excels, precisely owing to the decisiveness and tautness of his characters, even in the purely formal greatness and firmness of evil. Hamlet indeed is indecisive in himself, yet he was not doubtful about what he was to do, but only how. Yet nowadays they make even Shakespeare’s characters ghostly, and suppose that we must find interesting, precisely on their own account, nullity and indecision in changing and hesitating, and trash of this sort. But the Ideal consists in this, that the Idea is actual, and to this actuality man belongs as subject and therefore as a firm unity in himself.
At this point this may suffice in relation to the individual’s fullness of character in art. The important thing is an inherently specific essential ‘pathos’ in a rich and full breast whose inner individual world is penetrated by the ‘pathos’ in such a way that this penetration, and not the ‘pathos’ alone as such, is represented. But all the same the ‘pathos’ in the human breast must not so destroy itself in itself as thereby to exhibit itself as unsubstantial and null.
In connection with the determinacy of the Ideal, we treated it first in general terms, namely how and why the Ideal as such has to clothe itself with the form of the particular. Secondly, we found that the Ideal must be moved in itself and advance therefore to that difference in itself, the totality of which is displayed as action. Yet through action the Ideal goes out into the external world, and the question arises, thirdly, how this final aspect of concrete reality is to be configurated in a way compatible with art. For the Ideal is the Idea identified with its reality. Hitherto we have pursued this reality only so far as human individuality and its character. But man has also a concrete external existence, out of which indeed, as subject, he withdraws himself and becomes self-enclosed, yet in this subjective unity with himself he still remains related to externality all the same. To man’s actual existence there belongs a surrounding world, just as the statues of a god have a temple. This is the reason why we must now mention the manifold threads which link the Ideal to externality and are drawn through it.
Thus we now enter upon an almost unreviewable breadth of circumstances and entanglement in external and relative matters. For, in the first place, nature presses on us at once from outside, in locality, time, climate; and in this respect, at our every step, wherever we go, a new and always specific picture already confronts us. Further, man avails himself of external nature for his needs and purposes; and there come into consideration the manner and way that he uses it, his skill in inventing and equipping himself with tools and housing, with weapons, seats, carriages, his way of preparing food and eating it, the whole wide sphere of the comfort and luxury of life, etc. And, besides, man lives also in a concrete actual world of spiritual relations, which all equally are given an external existence, so that there also belong to the surrounding actual world of human life the different modes of command and obedience, of family, relatives, possession, country and town life, religious worship, the waging of war, civil and political conditions, sociability, in short the whole variety of customs and usages in all situations and actions.
In all these respects, the Ideal immediately encroaches on ordinary external reality, on the daily life of the actual world, and therefore on the common prose of life. For this reason, if one keeps in view the modern nebulous idea of the Ideal, it may look as if art must cut off all connection with this world of relative things, since the aspect of externality is supposed to be something purely indifferent, and even, in comparison with the spirit and its inwardness, vulgar and worthless. From this point of view, art is regarded as a spiritual power which is to lift us above the whole sphere of needs, distress, and dependence, and to free us from the intelligence and wit which people are accustomed to squander on this field. Furthermore, this is supposed to be a field, mostly purely conventional, a field of mere accidents, because it is tied down in time, place, and custom, and these, it is thought, art must disdain to harbour. Yet this semblance of ideality is partly only a superior abstraction made by that modern subjective outlook which lacks courage to commit itself to externality, and partly a sort of power which the subject assumes in order by his own effort to put himself outside and beyond this sphere, if he has not already been absolutely raised above it by birth, class, and situation. As a means for this putting oneself outside and beyond, there remains nothing over in that case except withdrawal into the inner world of feelings which the individual does not leave, and now in this unreality regards himself as a sapient being who just looks longingly to heaven and therefore thinks he may disdain everything on earth. But the genuine Ideal does not stop at the indeterminate and the purely inward; on the contrary; it must also go out in its totality into a specific contemplation of the external world in all its aspects. For, the human being, this entire centre of the Ideal, lives; he is essentially now and here, he is the present, he is individual infinity, and to life there belongs the opposition of an environment of external nature in general, and therefore a connection with it and an activity in it. Now since this activity is to be apprehended, not only as such, but in its determinate appearance, by art, it has to enter existence on and in material of this [mundane] kind.
But, just as a man is in himself a subjective totality and therefore separates himself from what is external to him, so the external world too is a whole, rounded and logically interconnected in itself. Yet in this exclusion from one another both worlds stand in essential relationship and constitute concrete reality only in virtue of this interconnection, and the representation of this reality affords the content of the Ideal. Hence arises the question mentioned above: in what form and shape can externality be represented by art in an ideal way within such a totality? In this connection too we have once more to distinguish three aspects in the work of art.
First, it is the whole of abstract externality as such – space, time, shape, colour – which needs a form compatible with art.
Secondly, the external comes on the scene in its concrete reality, as we have just sketched it, and it demands in the work of art an harmonization with the subjectivity of man’s inner being which has been placed in such an environment.
Thirdly, the work of art exists for contemplation’s delight – for a public which has a claim to find itself again in the objet d'art in accordance with its genuine belief, feeling, imagination, and to be able to come into concord with the represented objects.
When the Ideal is drawn out of its bare essentiality into external existence, it at once acquires a double sort of reality. For one thing, the work of art gives to the content of the Ideal in general the concrete shape of reality, since it displays that content as a specific state of affairs, a particular situation, as character, event, action, and indeed in the form of what is at the same time external fact; for another thing, this appearance, already total in itself, art transfers into a specific sensuous material, and thereby creates a new world of art, visible to the eye and audible to the ear. In both these respects art reveals the most remote corners of externality, in which the inherently total unity of the Ideal cannot, in its concrete sprituality, come into appearance any more. In this connection the work of art has also a double external aspect: i.e. (a) it remains an external object as such and therefore (b) in its configuration as such can also assume only an external unity. Here there returns again the same relation which we already had an opportunity to discuss in connection with the beauty of nature, and so too the same characteristics come into prominence once again, and here in relation to art. In other words, the mode of configuration of the external is, on the one hand, regularity, symmetry, and conformity to law, and, on the other hand, unity as the simplicity and purity of the sensuous material which art employs as the external element for the existence of its productions.
(a) First, as regards regularity and symmetry, these, as a mere lifeless geometrical unity, cannot possibly exhaust the nature of a work of art, even on its external side; they have their place only in what is inherently lifeless, in time, spatial forms, etc. In this sphere they therefore appear as a sign of mastery and deliberation even in the most external things. We see them, therefore, asserting themselves in works of art in two ways. Retained in their abstraction, they destroy the quality of life; the ideal work of art must therefore, even on its external side, rise above the purely symmetrical. Yet, in this matter, as in musical tunes, for example, regularity is not wholly superseded at all. It is only reduced to being simply a foundation. But, conversely, this restraint and regulation of the unruly and unrestrained is again the sole fundamental characteristic which certain arts can adopt in line with the material for their representation. In that event, regularity is the sole ideal in the art.
Its principal application, from this point of view, is in architecture, because the aim of an architectonic work of art is to give artistic shape to the external, inherently inorganic, environment of spirit. What therefore dominates in architecture is the straight line, the right angle, the circle, similarity in pillars, windows, arches, columns, and vaults. For the architectural work of art is not just an end in itself; it is something external for something else to which it serves as an adornment, dwelling-place, etc. A building awaits the sculptural figure of a god Or else the group of people who take up their home there. Consequently such a work of art should not essentially draw attention to itself. In this connection regularity and symmetry are pre-eminently appropriate as the decisive law for the external shape, since the intellect takes in a thoroughly regular shape at a glance and is not required to preoccupy itself with it for long. Naturally there is no question here of the symbolic relation which architectural forms also assume in relation to the spiritual content for which they provide surroundings or an external locality.
The same thing is valid too for that strict kind of gardening which can count as a modified application of architectural forms to actual nature. In gardens, as in buildings, man is the chief thing. Now of course there is another kind of gardening which makes variety and its lack of regularity into a rule; but regularity is to be preferred. For if we look at the variously complex mazes and shrubberies continually diversified in their twistings and windings, the bridges over stagnant water, the surprise of gothic chapels, temples, Chinese pagodas, hermitages, urns, pyres, mounds, statues – despite all their claims to independence we have soon had more than enough; and if we look a second time, we at once feel disgust. It is quite different with natural regions and their beauty; they are not there for the purpose of use and gratification, and may come before us on their own account as an object of consideration and enjoyment. On the other hand, regularity in gardens ought not to surprise us but to enable man, as is to be demanded, to appear as the chief person in the external environment of nature.
Even in painting there is a place for regularity and symmetry in the arrangement of the whole, in the grouping of figures, their placing, movement, drapery, etc. Yet since, in painting, the spiritual quality of life can penetrate external appearance in a far profounder way than it can in architecture, only a narrower scope is left for the abstract unity of the symmetrical, and we find rigid uniformity and its rule for the most part only in the beginnings of art, while later the freer lines, which approach the form of the organic, serve as the fundamental type.
On the other hand, in music and poetry regularity and symmetry are once again important determinants. In the duration of their sounds these arts have an element of pure externality as such which is incapable of any other more concrete kind of configuration. Things together in space can comfortably be seen at a glance; but in time one moment has gone already when the next is there, and in this disappearance and reappearance the moments of time go on into infinity. This indeterminacy has to be given shape by the regularity of the musical beat which produces a determinateness and continuously recurring pattern and thereby checks the march to infinity. The beat of music has a magical power to which we are so susceptible that often, in hearing music, we beat time to it without being aware of the fact. This recurrence of equal time intervals is not something belonging objectively to the notes and their duration. To the note as such, and to time, to be divided and repeated in this regular way is a matter of indifference. The beat therefore appears as something purely created by the subject [the composer], so that now in listening we acquire the immediate certainty of having in this regularization of time something purely subjective and indeed the basis of the pure self-identity which the subject inherently possesses as his self-identity and unity and their recurrence in all the difference and most varied many-sidedness of experience. Therefore the beat resounds in the depths of our soul and takes hold of us in virtue of this inner subjectivity, a subjectivity at first abstractly self-identical. From this point of view it is not the spiritual content, not the concrete soul of feeling, which speaks to us in the musical notes; neither is it the note as note that moves us in our inmost being; on the contrary, it is this abstract unity, introduced into time by the subject, which echoes the like unity of the subject. The same is true of the metre and rhyme of poetry. Here too, regularity and symmetry are the systematic rule, and throughout are necessary to this external side of poetry. The sensuous element is thereby at once drawn out of its sensuous sphere and shows in itself already that here what is at issue is something other than the pronouncements of the ordinary consciousness which treats the duration of the notes arbitrarily and with indifference.
A similar, even if not so strictly determined, regularity now rises still further and is mingled, although in a quite external way, with the properly living content. In an epic and a drama, e.g., which has its specific divisions, cantos, acts, etc., it is important to give these separate parts an approximate equality of length; the same equality is important in individual groupings in paintings, although in this case there should be no appearance of a compulsion in respect of the essential subject-matter or of a conspicuous domination by mere regularity.
Regularity and symmetry as the abstract unity and determinacy of what is inherently external, alike in space and time, govern principally only the quantitative, the determinacy of size. What no longer belongs to this externality as its proper element therefore discards the domination of purely quantitative relations and is determined by deeper relations and their unity. Thus the more that art fights its way out of externality as such, the less is its mode of configuration ruled by regularity, to which it ascribes only a restricted and subordinate sphere.
Having mentioned symmetry, we must at this point mention harmony once more. It is no longer related to the purely quantitative but to essentially qualitative differences which do not persist as mere opposites over against one another but are to be brought into concord. In music, e.g., the relation of the tonic to the mediant and dominant is not purely quantitative; on the contrary, these are essentially different notes which at the same time coalesce into a unity without letting their specific character cry out as a sharp opposition and contradiction. Discords, on the other hand, need resolution. The case is similar with the harmony of colours. Here likewise what art demands is that in a painting the colours shall neither appear as a varied and arbitrary confusion nor so that their oppositions are simply dissolved, but that they are harmonized into the concord of a total and unitary impression. Thus, looked at more closely, harmony requires a totality of differences which in the nature of the case belong to a determinate sphere: colour, e.g., has a determinate range of colours as the so-called fundamental colours which are derived from the basic nature of colour as such and are not accidental mixtures. Such a totality in its concord constitutes harmony. In a painting, e.g., the totality of the fundamental colours, yellow, blue, green, and red must be present as well as their harmony, and the old masters, even unconsciously, have attended to this completeness and observed its law. Now since harmony begins to disengage itself from the pure externality of determinate existence, it is thereby also enabled to adopt and express in itself a wider and more spiritual content. The old masters gave the fundamental colours in their purity to the dress of important people; while mixed colours were given to their retinue. Mary, e.g., generally wears a blue mantle, because the gentle peace of blue corresponds to inner serenity and gentleness; more seldom she has a conspicuous red gown.
(b) The second feature of externality, as we saw, affects the sensuous material as such, which art uses for its representations. Here unity consists in the simple determinacy and uniformity of the material in itself which may not deviate into indefinite variety and mere mixture, or, in general, into unclarity. This requirement too is related only to space (to the clarity of outlines; for example, to the precision of straight lines, circles, etc.) and to the fixed determinacy of time, e.g. the strict maintenance of the beat, and, further, to the purity of determinate notes and colours. In painting, e.g., the colours ought not to be blurred or greyish, but clear, definite, and inherently simple. Their pure simplicity on this sensuous side constitutes the beauty of colour, and the simplest colours in this connection are the most effective: pure yellow, e.g., which does not pass over into green, red which has not a dash of blue or yellow, etc. Of course it is difficult in that case to maintain these colours in harmony at the same time in their fixed simplicity. But these inherently simple colours are the foundation which should not be entirely shaded down, and, even if mixtures cannot be dispensed with, still the colours must not appear as a murky confusion, but as clear and simple in themselves, or otherwise instead of the luminous clarity of colour there is nothing but a smudge.
The like demand is to be raised too in connection with the sound of notes. In the case of strings, e.g., whether of metal or catgut, it is the vibration of this material which produces the sound, and specifically the vibration of a string of definite tension and length; if the tension is slackened or if the string struck is not of the right length, the note no longer possesses this simple determinateness and rings false, since it passes over into other notes. The same thing happens if, instead of that pure vibrating and quivering, we hear as well the mechanical grating and scraping as a noise intermixed with the sound of the note as such. Similarly, the note produced by the human voice must develop pure and free out of the throat and the chest, without allowing any humming interference, or, as is the case with hoarseness, without allowing some hindrance, not overcome, to disturb our listening. This freedom from any foreign admixture, this clarity and purity in their fixed unwavering determinateness, is in this purely sensuous connection the beauty of the note, which distinguishes it from rustling, screeching, etc. The same sort of thing can be said about speech too, especially about the vowels. A language which has a, e, i, o, u, definite and pure is, like Italian, melodious and singable. Diphthongs, on the other hand, have always a mixed note. In writing, the sounds of speech are reduced to a few regularly similar signs and appear in their simple determinate character; but, in speaking, this determinate character is all too often blurred, so that now especially dialects like the South- German, Swabian, Swiss, have sounds that are so blurred that they cannot possibly be written down. But this is not, as may be supposed, a deficiency in the written language, but arises rather from the dullness of the people.
For the present this is enough about this external side of the work of art, the side which, as mere externality, is only capable of an external and abstract unity.
But the next point is that it is the spiritual concrete individuality of the Ideal which enters externality in order to display itself there, so that the external must be penetrated by this inwardness and totality which it has the function of expressing. For this purpose mere regularity, symmetry, and harmony, or the simple determinacy of the sensuous material, are found to be inadequate. This leads us on to the second aspect of the external determinacy of the Ideal.
The general law which in this connection we can assert consists in this, that man in his worldly environment must be domesticated and at home, that the individual must appear as having his abode, and therefore as being free, in nature and all external relations, so that both sides, (i) the subjective inner totality of character and the character’s circumstances and activity and (ii) the objective totality of external existence, do not fall apart as disparate and indifferent to one another, but show that they harmonize and belong together. For external objectivity, in so far as it is the actuality of the Ideal, must give up its purely objective independence and inflexibility in order to evince itself as identical with that [subjectivity] of which it is the external existence.
In this matter we have to state three different ways of looking at such harmony:
First, the unity of the two may remain purely implicit and appear only as a secret inner bond linking man with his external environment.
Secondly, however, since concrete spirituality and its individuality serves as the starting-point and essential content of the Ideal, the harmony with external existence has also to be displayed as originating from human activity and as produced thereby.
Thirdly, and lastly, this world produced by the human spirit is itself again a totality; in its existence this totality forms an objective whole with which individuals, moving on this ground, must stand in essential connection.
(a) Now in relation to the first point we may start from the fact that since the environment of the Ideal does not yet appear here as established by human activity, it is still in the first place what is in general external to man, i.e. the external world of nature. Its representation in the ideal work of art is therefore the first thing to talk about.
Here too we can emphasize three aspects:
(α) In the first place, as soon as external nature is presented in its external formation, it is in every direction a reality formed in a specific way. Now if it is actually to be given the due which it has to claim in respect of the representation, then the representation must be drawn up in complete fidelity to nature, although we have seen earlier what differences must be respected even here between immediate nature and art. But on the whole it is precisely characteristic of the great masters to be truly, genuinely, and completely tied down in regard to the external natural environment. For nature is not merely earth and sky in general, and man does not hover in the air; he feels and acts in a specific locality of brooks, rivers, sea, hills, mountains, plains, woods, gorges, etc. Although Homer, e.g., may not give us modern portrayals of nature, he is so true in his descriptions and lists, and gives us such an accurate picture of the Scamander, the Simoeis, the coasts and bays of the sea, that even now the same country has been found by geographers to correspond with his description. On the other hand, the crudely sensational poems of fairground entertainers, both in characters and descriptions, are poor, empty, and wholly nebulous. The Mastersingers also, when they put old Bible stories into verse and locate them in Jerusalem, e.g., provide nothing but names. The same is true in the Heldenbuch  Ortnit rides in the pineforest, fights with the dragon, without any human surroundings, specific locality, etc., so that in this respect we get as good as nothing for our vision. Even in the Nibelungenlied there is nothing different: we hear indeed of Worms, the Rhine, the Danube, but here too we get no further than what is poor and vague. But it is perfect determinacy which constitutes the aspect of individuality and reality which, without it, is just an abstraction, and that contradicts the very conception of external reality.
(β) Now with this requirement of determinacy and fidelity to nature there is immediately linked a certain fullness of detail whereby we acquire a picture, a vision even, of this external aspect of nature. It is true that there is an essential distinction between the different arts according to the medium in which they are expressed. The fullness and detailing of external fact lies further away from sculpture because of the peace and universality of its figures, and it has externals, not as environment and locality, but only as drapery, coiffure, weapons, seat, and the like. Yet many figures of ancient sculpture are specifically distinguishable only by conventions of drapery, the dressing of the hair, and further similar marks. But this is not the place for discussing this conventionality, because it is not to be attributed to the natural as such; it cancels precisely the aspect of accident in such matters and is the way and means of their becoming permanent and more universal.
Opposed here to sculpture, the lyric displays predominantly the inner heart only and therefore when it takes up the external world does not need to pursue it to such definite perceptibleness. Epic, on the other hand, says what is there, where and how deeds have been done, and therefore, of all kinds of poetry, needs the greatest breadth and definiteness of the external locality. So too painting by its nature enters especially in this respect upon detail more than any other art does. But in no art should this definiteness go astray into the prose of actual nature and its direct imitation, nor should it overtower in partiality and importance the fullness of detail devoted to the presentation of the spiritual side of individuals and events. In general it should not make itself exclusively independent, because here the external should achieve appearance only in connection with the inner.
(γ) This is the point of importance here. Namely, for an individual to come on the scene as actual, two things, as we saw [in the preamble], are required: (i) he himself in his subjective character, and (ii) his external environment. Now for this externality to appear as his, it is essential that between these two things there shall prevail an essential harmony which may be more or less inward and into which of course a great deal of contingency enters too, yet without the loss of the fundamental identity. In the whole spiritual disposition of epic heroes, e.g., in their mode of life, mentality, feeling, and accomplishment, there must be made perceptible a secret harmony, a note of concord between the two which closes them into a whole. The Arab, e.g., is one with his natural surroundings and is only to be understood along with his sky, his stars, his hot deserts, his tents, and his horses. For he is at home only in such a climate, zone, and locality. Similarly Ossian’s heroes (according to Macpherson’s invention or his modern revision) are extremely subjective and turned inward, but in their gloom and melancholy they appear throughout tied to their moors where the wind whispers through the thistles, to their clouds, mists, hills, and dark glens. The face of this whole locality alone makes us really completely clear about the inner life of the figures living and moving on this ground with their sadness, grief, sorrows, battles, and misty apparitions, for they are entirely involved in this environment and only there are they at home.
From this point of view we can now for the first time observe that historical material has the great advantage of containing, immediately developed, even indeed into detail, such a harmony of the subjective and objective sides. A priori this harmony can be drawn from the imagination only with difficulty, and yet we should always have an inkling of it, however little it can be developed conceptually in most parts of a subject-matter. Of course we are accustomed to rate a free production of the imagination higher than the manipulation of material already available, but the imagination cannot go so far as to provide the required harmony so firmly and definitely as it already lies before us in actual reality where national traits themselves proceed from this harmony.
This is the general principle for the purely implicit unity of subjectivity with its external natural environment.
(b) A second kind of harmony does not stop at this purely implicit unity but is expressly produced by human activity and skilfulness, in that man converts external things to his own use and puts himself in correspondence with them as a result of the satisfaction which he has thus acquired. In contrast to that first concord, which only concerned more general matters, this aspect is related to the particular, to special needs and their satisfaction through the special use of natural objects. This sphere of need and satisfaction is one of absolutely infinite variety, but natural things are still infinitely more many-sided and acquire a greater simplicity only because man introduces into them his spiritual characteristics and impregnates the external world with his will. Thereby he humanizes his environment, by showing how it is capable of satisfying him and how it cannot preserve any power of independence against him. Only by means of this effectual activity is he no longer merely in general, but also in particular and in detail, actually aware of himself and at home in his environment.
Now the fundamental conception to be stressed in relation to art for this whole sphere lies briefly in the following: Man, on the particular and finite side of his needs, wishes, and aims, stands primarily not only in a general relation to external nature, but more precisely in a relation of dependence. This relativity and lack of freedom is repugnant to the ideal, and man can become an object for art only if he is first freed from this labour and distress, and has cast off this dependence. The act of conciliating the two sides, furthermore, may take a double starting-point, in that, first, nature for its part supplies man in a friendly way with what he needs, and instead of putting an obstacle in the way of his interests and aims, rather presents them to him itself and welcomes them in every way. But, secondly, man has needs and wishes which nature is in no position to satisfy directly. In these cases he must work out his necessary satisfaction by his own activity; he must take possession of things in nature, arrange them, form them, strip off every hindrance by his own self-won skilfulness, and in such a way that the external world is changed into a means whereby he can realize himself in accordance with all his aims. Now the purest relationship is to be found where both these aspects come together, when spiritual skilfulness is so far linked with the friendliness of nature that the fully accomplished harmony has come throughout into appearance instead of the harshness and dependence of struggle.
From the ideal ground of art the distress of life must be banished. In so far as possession and affluence afford a situation in which poverty and labour vanish, not merely momentarily but entirely, they are therefore not only not unaesthetic, but they rather coincide with the Ideal; although it would only betray an untrue abstraction to set aside altogether, in modes of representation which are compelled to take notice of concrete reality, the relation of man to those needs. This sphere of needs belongs of course to finitude, but art cannot dispense with the finite; it must not treat it as something purely bad; it has to reconcile and link it with what is genuine and true, for even the best actions and dispositions, taken in their determinate character and regarded in their abstract content, are restricted and therefore finite. The fact that I must keep myself alive, eat and drink, have a house and clothing, need a bed, a chair, and so many appurtenances of other kinds, is of course a necessity for the externals of life; but the inner life is so greatly involved with these things that man gives clothing and weapons even to his gods, and envisages them in manifold needs and their satisfaction. Still, as we have said, this satisfaction must in that case appear as assured. In the case of knights errant, e.g., the removal of external distress in the chance of their adventures occurs only as reliance on chance, just as savages rely on nature simply as it is. Both are unsatisfactory for art. For the genuine ideal consists not only in man’s being in general lifted above the grim seriousness of dependence on these external circumstances, but in his standing in the midst of a superfluity which permits him to play freely and cheerfully with the means put at his disposal by nature.
Within these general considerations the following two points may now be more precisely distinguished from one another:
(α) The first concerns the use of natural things for purely contemplative satisfaction. Under this head comes every adornment and decoration which man bestows on himself, in general all the splendour with which he surrounds himself. By so bedecking himself and his environment he shows that the costliest things supplied by nature and the most beautiful things that catch the eye – gold, jewels, pearls, ivory, expensive robes – these rarest and most resplendent things, have no interest for him in themselves and should not count as merely natural, but have to show themselves on him or as belonging to his environment, to what he loves and venerates, to his monarchs, his temples, his gods. To this end he chooses especially what in itself as external already appears as beautiful, pure bright colours, the lustre of metals, fragrant woods, marble, etc. Poets, especially oriental ones, do not fail to use such wealth; it plays its part too in the Nibelungenlied; and art in general does not stop at mere descriptions of this magnificence but equips its actual works with the same wealth, where this is possible and in place. There was no sparing of gold and ivory on the statue of Pallas Athene at Athens and the statue of Zeus at Olympia; the temples of the gods, churches, images of the saints, royal palaces, afford amongst nearly all peoples an example of splendour and magnificence. From time immemorial nations have delighted to have their own wealth before their eyes on their divinities, just as in the case of the splendour of their monarchs, they were delighted that such things were there and drawn from amongst themselves.
It is true that such delight can be disturbed by so-called moral conceptions when one reflects how many poor Athenians could have been fed from the mantle of Pallas Athene and how many slaves could have been ransomed; and in times of great national distress, even in antiquity, such wealth has been devoted to useful ends, and the same thing has happened now amongst us with the treasures of monasteries and churches. Further, such miserable considerations may be applied not only to single works of art, but to the whole of art itself; what sums, it may be asked, has a State not expended on an Academy of Arts, or for the purchase of old and modern works of art, and the establishment of galleries, theatres, museums? But however many moral and touching emotions may be excited in this connection, this is possible only by calling to mind again the distress and poverty which art precisely demands shall be set aside, so that it can but redound to the fame and supreme honour of every people to devote its treasures to a sphere which, within reality itself, rises luxuriously above all the distress of reality.
(β) But man has not merely to bedeck himself and the environment in which he lives; he must also use external things practically, for his practical needs and ends. In this area there only now begin all man’s work and trouble, and his dependence on the prose of life, and the chief question here, therefore, is how far even this sphere can be represented compatibly with the demands of art.
(αα) The first way in which art has tried to dismiss this whole sphere is the idea of a so-called Golden Age or even of an idyllic life. Under such conditions on the one hand nature satisfies without trouble to man every need that may stir within him, while on the other hand in his innocence he is content with what meadows, woods, flocks, a little garden and a but can afford him by way of nourishment, housing, and other amenities, because all the passions of ambition or avarice, impulses which appear contrary to the higher nobility of human nature, are still altogether quiescent. Of course at a first glance such a state of affairs has a touch of the ideal, and certain restricted spheres of art may be content with this kind of presentation. But if we probe it more deeply, such a life will soon bore us. Gessner’s writings, e.g., are little read nowadays, and if we do read them we cannot be at home in them. For a restricted mode of life of this kind presupposes an insufficient development of spirit also. A full and entire human life requires higher urgings, and this closest association with nature and its immediate products cannot satisfy it any longer. Man may not pass his life in such an idyllic poverty of spirit; he must work. What he has an urge for, he must struggle to obtain by his own activity. In this sense even physical needs stir up a broad and variegated range of activities and give to man a feeling of inner power, and, out of this feeling, deeper interests and powers can then also be developed. But at the same time even here the harmony of inner and outer must still remain the fundamental thing, and nothing is more offensive in art than when physical distress is displayed exaggerated to an extreme. Dante, e.g., by only a few strokes of the pen touchingly presents to us Ugolino’s death from starvation [Hell, Canto xxxiii]. When Gerstenberg, on the other hand, in his tragedy of the same name gives a prolix description of every degree of horror, of how first his three sons and finally Ugolino himself perish from hunger, this is material entirely at variance, from this point of view, with artistic representation.
(ββ)Yet the situation opposed to the idyllic, namely that of universal culture, all the same provides, in an opposite way, many hindrances to art. In this situation the long and complicated connection between needs and work, interests and their satisfaction, is completely developed in all its ramifications, and every individual, losing his independence, is tied down in an endless series of dependences on others. His own requirements are either not at all, or only to a very small extent, his own work, and, apart from this, every one of his activities proceeds not in an individual living way but more and more purely mechanically according to universal norms. Therefore there now enters into the midst of this industrial civilization, with its mutual exploitation and with people elbowing other people aside, the harshest cruelty of poverty on the one hand; on the other hand, if distress is to be removed [i.e. if the standard of living is to be raised], this can only happen by the wealth of individuals who are freed from working to satisfy their needs and can now devote themselves to higher interests. In that event of course, in this superfluity, the constant reflection of endless dependence is removed, and man is all the more withdrawn from all the accidents of business as he is no longer stuck in the sordidness of gain. But for this reason the individual is not at home even in his immediate environment, because it does not appear as his own work. What he surrounds himself with here has not been brought about by himself; it has been taken from the supply of what was already available, produced by others, and indeed in a most mechanical and therefore formal way, and acquired by him only through a long chain of efforts and needs foreign to himself.
(γγ) Therefore what is most fitted for ideal art proves to be a third situation which stands midway between the idyllic and golden ages and the perfectly developed universal mediations of civil society. This is a state of society which we have already learnt to recognize as the Heroic or, preferably, the ideal Age. The Heroic Ages are no longer restricted to that idyllic poverty in spiritual interests; they go beyond it to deeper passions and aims; but the nearest environment of individuals, the satisfaction of their immediate needs, is still their own doing. Their food is still simple and therefore more ideal, as for instance honey, milk, wine; while coffee, brandy, etc., at once call to our mind the thousand intermediaries which their preparation requires. So too the heroes kill and roast their own food; they break in the horse they wish to ride; the utensils they need they more or less make for themselves; plough, weapons for defence, shield, helmet, breastplate, sword, spear, are their own work, or they are familiar with their fabrication. In such a mode of life man has the feeling, in everything he uses and everything he surrounds himself with, that he has produced it from his own resources, and therefore in external things has to do with what is his own and not with alienated objects lying outside his own sphere wherein he is master. In that event of course the activity of collecting and forming his material must not appear as painful drudgery but as easy, satisfying work which puts no hindrance and no failure in his way.
Such a form of life we find, e.g., in Homer. Agamemnon’s sceptre is a family staff, hewn by his ancestor himself, and inherited by his descendants [Iliad, ii]. Odysseus carpentered himself his huge marriage bed [Odyssey, xxiii]; and even if the famous armour of Achilles was not his own work, still here too the manifold complexity of activities is cut short because it is Hephaestus who made it at the request of Thetis [Iliad, xviii]. In brief, everywhere there peeps out a new joy in fresh discoveries, the exuberance of possession, the capture of delight; everything is domestic, in everything the man has present before his eyes the power of his arm, the skill of his hand, the cleverness of his own spirit, or a result of his courage and bravery. In this way alone have the means of satisfaction not been degraded to a purely external matter; we see their living origin itself and the living consciousness of the value which man puts on them because in them he has things not dead or killed by custom, but his own closest productions. Thus here everything is idyllic, but not in that limited mode where earth, rivers, sea, trees, cattle, etc., provide man with his sustenance, and where consequently he is visible, in the main, only in his restriction to this environment and its enjoyment. On the contrary, within this original mode of life deeper interests arise in relation to which the whole external world is there only as an accessory, as the ground and means for higher ends, yet as a ground and an environment over which that harmony and independence is diffused and comes into appearance only because each and everything produced and used by human hands is at the same time prepared and enjoyed by the very man who needs it.
But to apply such a mode of representation to materials drawn from later completely civilized times always involves great difficulty and danger. Yet Goethe, in this connection; has given us a complete masterpiece in Hermann and Dorothea. I will cite only a few small points by way of comparison. Voss, in his well-known Luise, sketches, in an idyllic way, life and activity in a quiet and restricted, though independent, circle. The village parson, the tobacco pipe, the dressing gown, the easy chair, and then the coffee-pot play a great part. Now coffee and sugar are products which could not have originated in such a circle, and they point at once to a totally different context, to a strange world with its manifold interconnections of trade and factories, in short to the world of modern industry. That circle of country life is therefore not wholly self-enclosed. On the other hand, in the beautiful picture of Hermann and Dorothea we did not need to require such a self-containment, for, as has already been indicated on another occasion, in this poem – which indeed maintains an idyllic tone throughout – an extremely dignified and important part is played by the great interests of the age, the battles of the French Revolution, the defence of our country. The narrower circle of family life in a country village therefore does not keep itself at all so self-enclosed that the world deeply involved in most powerful affairs is just ignored, as it is by the village pastor in Voss’s Luise; on the contrary, owing to the association with those greater world-commotions within which the idyllic characters and events are portrayed, we see the scene transferred into the broader scope of a fuller and richer life; and the apothecary who lives only in the context of local affairs, restricting and conditioning him everywhere, is represented as a narrow-minded philistine, as good-natured but peevish. Still, in respect of the nearest environment of the characters, the note that we required above is struck throughout. So, e.g., to recall just this one thing, the host does not drink coffee, as you might expect, with his guests, the parson and the apothecary: ‘With care the gammer brought clear, excellent wine in a cut-glass flask on a shining pewter plate, along with greenish rummers, the proper goblets for Rhine wine.’ In the cool of the day they drink a local growth, 1783, in the local glasses which alone are suitable for Rhine wine; ‘the flow of the Rhine and its lovely bank' is thus equally brought before our imagination and soon we are led into the vineyard behind the owner’s house, so that here nothing takes us out of the proper sphere of a mode of life agreeable in itself and productive of its needs within itself.
(c) Apart from these first two sorts of external environment, there is still a third mode in concrete connection with which every individual has to live. This consists of the general spiritual relationships of religion, law, morality, the sort and kind of political organization, the constitution, law-courts, family, public and private life, sociability, etc. For the ideal character must come on the scene satisfied not only in his physical needs but in his spiritual interests also. It is true that the substantial, divine, and inherently necessary element in these relationships is, in its essential nature, simply one and the same; but in the objective world it assumes manifold shapes of different kinds and enters the sphere of the contingency of the particular, the conventional, and what is valid only for specific times and peoples. In this form all the interests of spiritual life come to have an external reality which confronts the individual as custom, usage, and habit, and, at the same time, by being a self-enclosed subject, he enters into connection not only with external nature but also with this totality which is related to him and belongs to him still more nearly. On the whole, we can claim for this sphere the same living harmony, with the indication of which we were concerned just now, and here we will therefore pass over its more detailed consideration, the chief points of which will be cited immediately in another context.
Art by being the representation of the Ideal must introduce it in all the previously mentioned relations to external reality, and associate the inner subjectivity of character closely with the external world. But however far the work of art may form a world inherently harmonious and complete, still, as an actual single object, it exists not for itself, but for us, for a public which sees and enjoys the work of art. The actors, for example, in the performance of a drama do not speak merely to one another, but to us, and they should be intelligible in both these respects. And so every work of art is a dialogue with everyone who confronts it. Now the truly ideal [work of art] is indeed intelligible to everyone in the universal interests and passions of its gods and men; yet since it brings its individuals before our eyes within a specific external world of customs, usages, and other particular details, there arises the new demand that this external world shall come into correspondence not only with the characters represented but equally with us too. Just as the characters in the work of art are at home in their external surroundings, we require also for ourselves the same harmony with them and their environment. Now to whatever age a work of art belongs, it always carries details in itself which separate it from the characteristics proper to other peoples and other centuries. Poets, painters, sculptors, composers choose materials above all from past times whose civilization, morals, usages, constitution, and religion are different from the whole civilization contemporary with themselves. Such a step backward into the past has, as has already been remarked [in the section on The Heroic Age], the great advantage that this departure from the present and its immediacy brings about automatically, owing to our memory, that generalization of material with which art cannot dispense. Yet the artist belongs to his own time, lives in its customs, outlooks, and ideas. The Homeric poems, e.g., whether Homer actually lived as the single author of the Iliad and the Odyssey or not, are yet separated by four centuries at least from the time of the Trojan war; and a twice greater period separated the great Grecian tragedians from the days of the ancient heroes from which they transferred the content of their poetry into their own time. The same is true about the Nibelungenlied and the poet who could put together into one organic whole the different sagas which this poem contains.
Now of course the artist is quite at home with the universal ‘pathos’, human and divine, but the variously conditioning external form of the ancient period itself, the characters and actions of which he presents, has changed essentially and become foreign to him. Further, the poet creates for a public, and primarily for his own people and age, which may demand ability to understand and be at home in the work of art. True, the genuine, immortal works of art remain enjoyable by all ages and nations, but even so for their thorough understanding by foreign peoples and in other centuries there is involved a wide apparatus of geographical, historical, and even philosophical, notes, facts, and knowledge. Now, given this clash between different ages, the question arises of how a work of art has to be framed in respect of the external aspects of locality, customs, usages, religious, political, social, moral conditions: namely whether the artist should forget his own time and keep his eye only on the past and its actual existence, so that his work is a true picture of what has gone; or whether he is not only entitled but in duty bound to take account solely of his own nation and contemporaries, and fashion his work according to ideas which coincide with the particular circumstances of his own time. These opposite requirements may be put in this way: the material should be handled either objectively, appropriately to its content and its period, or subjectively, i.e. assimilated entirely to the custom and culture of the present. To cling to either of these in their opposition leads to an equally false extreme which we will touch upon briefly so that thereby we can ascertain the genuine mode of representation.
Therefore in this connection we have three points to study:
(i) the subjective stress on the contemporary civilization,
(ii) purely objective fidelity in relation to the past,
(iii) true objectivity in the representation and adoption of foreign materials distant in time and nationality.
(a) The purely subjective interpretation in its extreme one-sidedness goes so far as to cancel the objective form of the past altogether and put in its place simply the way that the present appears.
(α) On the one hand this may arise from ignorance of the past, or also from the naïveté of not feeling, or not becoming conscious of, the contradiction between the topic and such a way of making it the artist’s own; thus the basis of such a manner of representation is lack of culture. We find this sort of naïveté most strongly marked in Hans Sachs, who with fresh perceptibility, it is true, and joyful heart, has made into Nürnbergers, in the strictest sense of the word, our Lord God, God the Father, Adam, Eve, and the Patriarchs. God the Father, for example, once has a kindergarten and school for Abel and Cain and Adam’s other children in manner and tone just like a schoolmaster in Sachs’s day; he catechizes them on the Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer; Abel learns everything really piously and well, but Cain behaves and answers like a bad and impious boy; when he is to repeat the Ten Commandments, he turns’ them all upside down: thou shalt steal, thou shalt not honour thy father and mother, and so on. So too in southern Germany they have represented the story of the Passion in a similar way (this was banned, but it has been renewed again Pilate appears as an official, boorish, coarse, arrogant; the soldiers, entirely in keeping with the vulgarity of our time, offer to Christ in extremis a pinch of tobacco; he disdains it and they force snuff into his nose; and the whole audience have their joke at this, while being perfectly pious and devout at the same time; indeed the more devout they are in this exhibition, the more does the inwardness of religious ideas become livelier for them in this immediate presence, in their own world, of this external portrayal of the Passion.
Of course in this sort of transformation and perversion of the past into our own views and the shape of our world there is some justification, and there may seem something great in Hans Sachs’s audacity in being so familiar with God and these ancient ideas and, with all piety, assimilating them to the ideas of a narrow-minded bourgeoisie. But nevertheless it is an outrage on the heart, and a cultural and spiritual deprivation, not merely to deny to the subject matter in any connection the right to its own objectivity, but even to bring it into a form wholly , opposed thereto, with the result that nothing then appears but a burlesque contradiction.
(β) On the other hand, the same subjective outlook of the artist may proceed from pride in his own culture, because he treats the views of his own age and its own moral and social conventions as the only ones valid and acceptable, and therefore his audience cannot be expected to bear any subject-matter until it has assumed the form of that same culture. This sort of thing was exemplified in the so-called classical good taste of the French. What was to please had to be frenchified; what had a different nationality and especially a medieval form was called tasteless and barbaric, and was rejected with complete contempt. Therefore Voltaire was wrong to say that the French had improved on the works of antiquity; they have only nationalized them, and in this transformation they treated everything foreign and distinctive with infinite disgust, all the more so as their taste demanded a completely courtly social culture, a regularity and conventional universality of sentiment and its representation. The like abstraction involved in cultural delicacy they carry over too into the language used in their poetry. No poet might use the word cochon or speak of spoons and forks and a thousand other things. Hence the prolix definitions and circumlocutions: e.g. instead of ‘spoon’ or ‘fork’, ‘an instrument wherewith liquid or solid food is brought to the mouth’, and more of the same kind. But just because of this their taste remained extremely narrow; for art, instead of smoothing and flattening its content out into such polished generalities, particularizes it rather into living individuality. This is why the French have been least able to come to terms with Shakespeare, and when they put him on the stage cut out every time precisely those passages that are our favourites. Similarly Voltaire makes fun of Pindar because he could say ariston men ydor. And so, after all, in French dramatic works, Chinese, Americans, or Greek and Roman heroes must speak and behave exactly like French courtiers. Achilles, e.g., in Iphigénie en Aulide is through and through a French prince, and if his name were not there no one would discover an Achilles in him. On the stage indeed his clothing was Greek, and he was equipped with helmet and breastplate; but at the same time his hair was curled and powdered; his hips were broadened by pockets, and he had red spurs fastened to his shoes with coloured ribbons. In Louis XIV’s time Racine’s Esther  was popular chiefly because, when Ahasuerus came on the scene, he looked like Louis XIV himself entering the great hall of audience; true, Ahasuerus had oriental trappings, but he was powdered from head to foot and had an ermine royal robe, and behind him a great crowd of curled and powdered chamberlains, en habit français, with wigs, feathered bonnets on their arm, vests and hose of drap d'or, silk stockings and red heels on their shoes. What only the Court and specially privileged persons could get, was seen on the stage by the other classes – the entry of the King, brought into verse.
On the like principle, historiography in France has been pursued not for its own sake or on account of its subject-matter, but to serve the interest of the time, in order, we may suppose, to give good lessons to the government or to make it detested. Similarly, many dramas contain allusions to contemporary events, either expressly in their whole content or only incidentally, or, if similar allusive passages occur in older pieces, they are deliberately emphasized and received with the greatest enthusiasm.
(γ) As a third mode of this subjective outlook we may cite abstraction from all proper and genuine artistic content drawn from the past and the present, so that what is put before the public is merely its own casual subjectivity, i.e. the man in the street in his ordinary present activity and concerns. Thus this subjectivity then means nothing else but the characteristic mode of everyday consciousness in our prosaic life. In that, of course, everyone is at once at home; and only someone who approaches such a work with the demands of art cannot be at home in it, since art should precisely free us from this sort of subjectivity. Kotzebue, e.g., has only had such a great effect in his day by such representations because ‘our misery and distress, the pocketing of silver spoons, the risk of the pillory’ and, further, ‘parsons, trade councillors, lieutenants, secretaries, or majors of hussars' were brought before the eyes and ears of the public, and now everyone was confronted with his own domesticity or with that of an acquaintance or relative, etc., or, in general, experienced where the shoe pinched in his own particular circumstances and special ends. Such subjectivity inherently fails to rise to the feeling and imagination of what constitutes the genuine content of the work of art, even if it can reduce interest in its subject-matters to the ordinary demands of the heart and to so-called moral commonplaces and reflections. In all these three aspects the representation of external circumstances in a one-sided way is subjective and cannot do justice at all to their actual objective form.
(b) The second mode of interpretation, on the other hand, is the opposite of the first, in that it tries to reproduce the characters and events of the past so far as possible in their actual locality and in the particular characteristics of their customs and other external details. In this matter it is we Germans especially who have led the way. For, unlike the French, we are in general the most careful recorders of all that is peculiar to other nations, and therefore require in art also faithfulness to time, place, usages, clothes, weapons, etc. Neither have we any lack of patience in putting ourselves to the painful trouble of engaging in the scholarly study of the modes of thought and perception of foreign countries and of centuries long past, in order to be at home with their particular characters. And this interpretation and understanding of the spirit of other nations from each and every point of view makes us in art too not only tolerant of foreign oddities but even all too scrupulous in our demand for the most exact accuracy in such trivial external matters. True, the French appear likewise versatile and active, but, however supremely cultivated and practical they may be, they have all the less patience for calm and knowledgeable interpretation. With them the first thing is always to judge. We, on the other hand, especially in foreign works of art, allow the value of every faithful picture: exotic plants, products of nature, no matter from what realm, utensils of every kind and shape, dogs and cats, even disgusting objects, all are acceptable to us; and so we can make friends with the most foreign ways of looking at things, with sacrifices, legends of the saints and their numerous absurdities, as well as with other anomalous ideas. Thus what may seem to us to be the most important thing in the representation of characters in action is to make them come on the scene in their speech, costume, etc., for their own sake, and as they actually lived, in their mutual relation or opposition, in accordance with the character of their period or nation.
In recent times, especially since Friedrich von Schlegel’s work, the idea has arisen that the objectivity of a work of art should be established by this sort of fidelity. It followed that objectivity had to be the chief consideration and that even our subjective interest had to be confined mainly to delight in this fidelity and its vivacity. When such a demand is raised, what is expressed in it is that we should not bring with us any interest of a higher sort in regard to the essential basis of the represented material or any closer interest involved in our contemporary culture and purposes. It is very much in this way after all that in Germany, as a result of Herder’s instigation, attention began to be paid to folk-song again in a more general way, and all sorts and kinds of songs in the national style of peoples and tribes at a primitive stage of culture – Iroquois, modern Greek, Lappish, Turkish, Tartar, Mongolian, etc. – have been composed, and it was taken to be great genius to think oneself into foreign customs and the insights of foreign peoples, and make poetry entirely out of them. But even if the poet himself works his way completely into such foreign oddities and sympathizes with them, they can yet be only something outside the ken of the public which is supposed to enjoy them.
But, in general, if this view is maintained one-sidedly, it rests in the purely formal characteristic of historical exactitude and fidelity, because it abstracts from the subject-matter and its substantial importance, as well as from modern culture and the content of our present-day outlook and contemporary sentiment. Yet there should be no abstraction from either of these; both sides demand their equal satisfaction, and they have to bring into harmony with them the third demand, i.e. that for historical fidelity, in a totally different way from what we have seen hitherto. This brings us to a consideration of the true objectivity and subjectivity to which the work of art has to do justice.
(c) What can be said in general on this point consists primarily in this, that neither of the aspects considered just now may be emphasized one-sidedly at the expense and to the detriment of the other; but that purely historical exactitude in external matters, locality, morals, usages, institutions, constitute that subordinate part of the work of art, which must give way to the interest of a genuine content that even the culture of the present-day regards as imperishable.
In this matter we may likewise contrast in the true sort of representation the following relatively defective modes of treatment:
(α) First, the representation of the special features of a period may be entirely faithful, correct, vivid and intelligible throughout even to the modern public, yet without escaping from the ordinary language of prose and becoming poetic in itself. Goethe’s Gatz von Berlichingen, e.g., provides us here with striking samples. We only need to open the beginning which brings us into an inn at Schwarzenberg in Franconia:
Metzler and Sievers [two Swabian peasants, leaders in the peasants’ rebellion] at table; two grooms [from Bamberg] at the fire; innkeeper:
Sievers: Hansel, another glass of brandy, and good Christian measure. Innkeeper: Thou never gettest thy fill.
Metzler, sotto voce to Sievers : Tell that once again about Berlichingen.
The Bambergers there are so angry that they are nearly black in the face.
The same sort of thing is in the third Act:
Enter Georg with a rhone [a gutter taking rain from the roof]: There is lead for thee. If thou hittest with only half of it, no one will be able to tell His Majesty: ‘Lord, we have come off badly’.
Lerse (cuts off a bit): A fine bit.
Georg: The rain may look for another way. I am not frightened for it. A brave knight and a proper rain never lack a path. Lerse pours [the lead]: Hold the gunner’s ladle. (He goes to the window.) There’s an imperial chap prowling around with a musket.They think we have shot our bolt. He shall have a taste of thebullet, warm from the pan. (He loads.)
Georg puts the ladle down : Let me see.
Lerse shoots : There lies the game.
All this is sketched most vividly and intelligibly in the character of the situation and the grooms, but nevertheless these scenes are extremely trivial and inherently prosaic since they take for content and form purely ordinary objective occurrences and their mode of appearance which of course is familiar to everybody. The same thing is found too in many of Goethe’s other youthful productions which were directed especially against everything that previously counted as a rule, and they created their chief effect through the nearness into which they brought everything home to us owing to the maximum comprehensibility of the vision and feeling expressed. But the nearness was too great and the inner content of the material in part so slight that, just for this reason, they were trivial. This triviality we really notice above all, in the case of dramatic works, only during the play’s performance because, so soon as we enter the theatre, numerous arrangements – the lights, elegantly dressed people – put us in the mood to want to find something other than two peasants, two grooms, and yet another glass of schnapps. Götz, after all, has had its special attraction for a reader; on the stage it has not been able to have a long run.
(β) On the other hand, the history of an earlier mythology, foreign historical political conditions and customs, may become familiar to us and assimilated, because, owing to the general culture of our time, we have acquired a varied acquaintance with the past too. For example, acquaintance with the art and mythology, the literature, the religion, the customs, of antiquity is the starting point of our education today; from his schooldays every boy knows about Greek gods, heroes, and historical characters; therefore, because the figures and interests of the Greek world have become ours in imagination, we can take pleasure in them too on the ground of imagination, and there is no saying why we should not be able to get so far with Indian or Egyptian or Scandinavian mythology too. Besides, in the religious ideas of these peoples the universal element, God, is present too. But the specific element, the particular Greek or Indian divinities have no longer any truth for us; we no longer believe in them and they give us pleasure only for our imagination. But therefore they always remain foreign to our real deeper consciousness, and nothing is so empty and cold as when in opera we hear, e.g., ‘0 ye gods’ or ‘0 Jupiter’ or even ‘O Isis and Osiris’, not to speak of the addition of wretched oracular utterances – and seldom does an opera get along without an oracle – nowadays replaced in tragedy by insanity and clairvoyance. It is just the same with other historical material – customs, laws, etc. True, this historical material is, but it has been, and if it has no longer any connection with our contemporary life, it is not ours, no matter how well and how precisely we know it; but our interest in what is over and done with does not arise from the pure and simple reason that it did once exist as present. History is only ours when it belongs to the nation to which we belong, or when we can look on the present in general as a consequence of a chain of events in which the characters or deeds represented form an essential link. After all, the mere connection with the same land and people as ours does not suffice in the last resort; the past even of one’s own people must stand in closer connection with our present situation, life, and existence.
In the Nibelungenlied, for example, we are geographically on our own soil, but the Burgundians and King Etzel are so cut off from all the features of our present culture and its national interests that, even without erudition, we can find ourselves far more at home with the Homeric poems. So Klopstock has been induced by a patriotic urge to substitute Scandinavian gods for Greek mythology; but Wotan, Valhalla, and Freya have remained mere names which belong less to our imagination than Jupiter and Olympus, and they speak less to our heart.
In this connection we must make clear that works of art are not to be composed for study or for the learned, but must be immediately intelligible and enjoyable in themselves without this circuitous route of far-fetched and far-off facts. For art does not exist for a small enclosed circle of a few eminent savants but for the nation at large and as a whole. But what is valid for the work of art as such is equally applicable to the external aspect of the historical reality there represented. We too belong to our time and our people, and this reality must be clear and apprehensible for us without wide learning, so that we can become at home in it and are not compelled to remain confronted by it as by a foreign and unintelligible world.
(γ) Now in this way we have approached the true artistic mode of portraying objectivity and assimilating materials drawn from past epochs.
(αα) The first point that we may adduce here affects the genuine national poetry which, amongst all peoples, has, from time immemorial, been of such a kind that its external, historical, side has of itself belonged already to the nation and not remained foreign to it. This is the case with the Indian epics, the Homeric poems, and the dramatic poetry of the Greeks. Sophocles did not allow Philoctetes, Antigone, Ajax, Orestes, Oedipus, and his choragi and choruses to speak as they would have done in their own day. The same sort of thing is true of the Spanish in their romances of the Cid ; Tasso in his Jerusalem Delivered chanted the universal cause of Catholic Christianity; Camoens, the Portuguese poet, depicted the discovery of the sea-route to the East Indies round the Cape of Good Hope and the infinitely important deeds of the heroic seamen, and these deeds were those of his nation; Shakespeare dramatized the tragic history of his country, and Voltaire himself wrote his Henriade. Even we Germans have at last got away from the attempt to work up into national epic poems remote stories which no longer have any national interest for us. Bodmer’s Noachide and Klopstock’s Messiah are out of fashion, just as, after all, there is no longer any validity in the view that the honour of a nation requires it to have its Homer, and, into the bargain, its Pindar, Sophocles, and Anacreon. Those Bible stories do come nearer to our imagination because of our familiarity with the Old and New Testaments, but the historical element in these obsolete modes of life still always remains for us an alien affair of erudition; actually it confronts us as merely the familiar element in the prosaic threads of events and characters which, in the process of composition, are only thrust into a new phraseology, so that in this respect we get nothing but the feeling of something purely artificial.
(ββ) But art cannot restrict itself to native material alone. In fact, the more that’ particular peoples have come into contact with one another, by so much the more has art continually drawn its subject-matter from all nations and centuries. Nevertheless, it is not to be regarded as a mark of great genius, as may be supposed, when the poet wholly familiarizes himself with periods not his own. On the contrary, the historical aspect must be so put on one side in the representation that it becomes only an insignificant accessory to what is human and universal. In such a way, the Middle Ages, e.g., did borrow material from antiquity, but they introduced into it the contents of their own epoch, and it is true that they went to the opposite extreme and left nothing over [from the past] but the mere names of Alexander, or Aeneas, or Octavian, the Emperor [Augustus].
The most fundamental thing is and remains immediate-intelligibility; and actually all nations have insisted on what was to please them in a work of art, for they wanted to be at home in it, living and present in it. Calderon dramatized his Zenobia and Semiramis within this independent nationality, and Shakespeare understood how to imprint an English national character on the most variegated materials, although, far more deeply than the Spaniards, he could preserve in its essential basic traits the historical character of foreign nations, e.g. the Romans. Even the Greek tragedians had their eye on the contemporary character of their time and the city to which they belonged. Oedipus at Colonus, e.g., has not only a closer relation to Athens because Colonus is near Athens but also for the reason that, dying at Colonus, Oedipus was to be a safeguard for Athens. In other connections the Eumenides of Aeschylus too has a closer domestic interest for the Athenians owing to the judgement of the Areopagus. On the other hand, despite the numerous ways in which it has been used, and always anew since the Renaissance of arts and sciences, Greek mythology will not be perfectly at home amongst modern peoples, and it has remained cold more or less even in the visual arts, and still more in poetry, despite poetry’s wide scope. For example, it would not now occur to anyone to make a poem to Venus or Jupiter or Athene. Sculpture indeed cannot yet ever subsist without the Greek gods, but its productions are therefore for the most part accessible and intelligible only to connoisseurs, scholars, and the narrow circle of the most cultivated people. In a similar sense, Goethe has given himself a great deal of trouble to explain to painters, and to bring closer to their warm consideration and imitation, the Eikones of Philostratus, but he had little success; ancient subjects of that kind in their ancient present and actuality remain always something foreign to the modern public, as to the painters too. On the other hand, in a far deeper spirit Goethe has succeeded, in the later years of his free inner inspiration, in bringing the East into our contemporary poetry by his West-östliche Divan  and assimilating it to our contemporary vision. In this assimilation he has known perfectly well that he is a westerner and a German, and so, while striking throughout the eastern keynote in respect of the oriental character of situations and affairs, at the same time he has given its fullest due to our contemporary consciousness and its own individuality. In this way the artist is of course allowed to borrow his materials from distant climes, past ages, and foreign peoples, and even by and large to preserve the historical form of their mythology, customs, and institutions; but at the same time he must use these forms only as frames for his pictures, while on the other hand their inner meaning he must adapt to the essential deeper consciousness of his contemporary world in a way in which the most marvellous example hitherto is always there before us in Goethe’s Iphigenie.
In relation to such a transformation the individual arts once again have a different position. Lyric, e.g., requires in love songs the minimum of external, historical surroundings sketched with precision, since for it the chief thing is feeling, the movement of the heart. Of Laura herself, e.g., in Petrarch’s Sonnets, we have in this respect only very little information, hardly more than the name, which could equally well be another; of the locality, etc., we are told only in the most general terms – the fountain of Vaucluse, and the like. Epic, on the other hand, demands the maximum of detail, which, if only it is clear and intelligible, most readily gives us pleasure, after all, in the matter of those external historical facts. But these externalities are the most dangerous reef for dramatic art, especially in theatrical performances where everything is spoken to us directly or comes in a lively way before our perception and vision, so that we are ready at once to find ourselves acquainted and familiar with what is there. Therefore here the representation of historical external actuality must remain as subordinate as possible and a mere frame; there must, as it were, be retained the same relation which we find in love poems where, even though we can completely sympathize with the feelings expressed and the manner of their expression, the name of the beloved is not that of our own beloved. Here it does not matter at all if pedants deplore the inaccuracy of manners, feelings, level of culture. In Shakespeare’s historical pieces, e.g., there is plenty which remains strange to us and can be of little interest. In reading them we are satisfied indeed, but not in the theatre. Critics and connoisseurs think of course that such historical splendours should be represented on their own account, and then they vituperate about the bad and corrupt taste of the public if it makes known its boredom with such things; but the work of art and its immediate enjoyment is not for connoisseurs and pedants but for the public, and the critics need not ride the high horse; after all, they too belong to the same public and they themselves can take no serious interest in the exactitude of historical details. Knowing this, the English, e.g., nowadays produce on the stage only those scenes from Shakespeare which are absolutely excellent and self-explanatory, for they have not got the pedantry of our aesthetic experts who insist that all these now strange external circumstances in which the public can no longer take any part should nevertheless be brought before its eyes. Therefore, if foreign dramatic works are staged, every people has the right to ask for re-modellings. Even the most excellent piece requires remodelling from this point of view. It could of course be said that what is really excellent must be excellent for all time, but the work of art has also a temporal, perishable side, and this it is which requires alteration. For the beautiful appears for others, and those for whom it has been brought into appearance must be able to be at home in this external side of its appearance.
Now in this assimilation of historical material we find the basis and exculpation of everything which has customarily been called anachronism in art, and has generally been reckoned a great defect in artists. Anachronisms occur primarily in merely external things. If Falstaff, e.g., talks of pistols, this is a matter of indifference. It is worse when Orpheus stands there with a violin in his hand because the contradiction appears all too sharply between mythical days and such a modern instrument, which everyone knows had not been invented at so early a period. Therefore nowadays astonishing care is taken in the theatre with such things, and the producers have kept carefully to historical truth in costume and scenery – as e.g. a great deal of trouble has been taken in this matter with the procession in the Maid of Orleans, a trouble in most cases just wasted, because it concerns only what is relative and unimportant.
The more important kind of anachronism does not consist in dress and other similar externals, but in the fact that in a work of art the characters, in their manner of speech, the expression of their feelings and ideas, the reflections they advance, their accomplishments, could not possibly be in conformity with the period, level of civilization, religion, and view of the world which they are representing. To this kind of anachronism the category of naturalness is usually applied, and the view is that it is unnatural if the characters represented do not speak and act as they would have acted and spoken in the period they are representing. But the demand for such naturalness, if it be maintained one-sidedly, leads at once to perversities. For when the artist sketches the human heart with its emotions and its inherently substantial passions, he should still, while always preserving individuality, not so sketch them as they occur in the ordinary daily life of today, for he ought to bring every ‘pathos’ to light in an appearance which absolutely corresponds with it. He is alone an artist because he knows what is true and brings it in its true form before our contemplation and feeling. Therefore, to express this, he has to take into account in each case the culture of his time, its speech, etc. At the time of the Trojan war the kind of expression and the whole mode of life had a level of development quite different from what we find in the Iliad. Similarly the mass of the people and the pre-eminent figures in the Greek royal families did not have that polished sort of outlook and speech which we have to marvel at in Aeschylus or in the perfect beauty of Sophocles. Such a transgression of so-called naturalness is, for art, a necessary anachronism. The inner substance of what is represented remains the same, but the development of culture makes necessary a metamorphosis in its expression and form. True, it is a quite different matter if insights and ideas of a later development of the religious and moral consciousness are carried over into a period or nation whose whole earlier outlook contradicts such newer ideas. Thus the Christian religion brought in its train moral categories which were foreign throughout to the Greeks. For example, the inner reflection of conscience in deciding what is good or bad, remorse, and penitence belong only to the moral development of modern times; the heroic character knows nothing of the illogicality of penitence – what he has done, he has done. Orestes has no penitence for his mother’s murder; the Furies arising from his deed do pursue him, but the Eumenides are at the same time represented as universal powers and not as the gnawing of his purely subjective conscience. This essential kernel of a period and a people must be within the poet’s ken, and only if he inserts into this innermost central core something opposite and contradictory is he guilty of an anachronism of a higher kind. In this respect, that is, the artist must be required to familiarize himself with the spirit of past ages and foreign peoples; for this substantial element, if it is of a genuine sort, remains clear to all ages; but to propose to reproduce with complete accuracy of detail the purely external appearance of the rust of antiquity is only a puerile pedantry undertaken for what is itself only an external end. Of course, even in this matter, a general exactitude is to be desired, but it must not be robbed of its right to hover between Dichtung and Wahrheit.
(γγ) All this said, we have now penetrated to the true mode of appropriating what is strange and external in a past period, and to the true objectivity of the work of art. The work of art must disclose to us the higher interests of our spirit and will, what is in itself human and powerful, the true depths of the heart. The chief thing essentially at issue is that these things shall gleam through all external appearances and that their keynote shall resound through all other things in our restless life. Thus true objectivity unveils for us the ‘pathos’, the substantive content of a situation, and the rich, powerful individuality in which the fundamental factors of the spirit are alive and brought to reality and expression. In that case for such material there can in general be required only a determinate reality, something appropriately and intelligibly circumscribed. When such material is found and unfolded in conformity with the principle of the Ideal, a work of art is absolutely objective, whether the external details are historically accurate or not. In that event the work of art speaks to our true self and becomes our own property. For even if the material with its superficial form is taken from ages past long, long ago, its abiding basis is that human element of the spirit which as such is what truly abides and is powerful, and its effect can never fail, since this objective basis constitutes the content and fulfilment of our own inner life. On the other hand, the purely historical external material is the transient side, and to this, in the case of works of art lying far away from us, we must try to reconcile ourselves, and we must be able to disregard it even in works of art of our own time. So the Psalms of David with their brilliant celebration of the Lord in the goodness and wrath of his omnipotence, like the deep grief of the Prophets, is appropriate and still present to us today, in spite of Babylon and Zion, and even a moral theme like what Sarastro sings in the Magic Flute will give pleasure to everyone, Egyptians included, because of the inner kernel and spirit of its melodies.
Confronted with such objectivity in a work of art, the individual must therefore give up the false demand of wishing to have himself before him in it with his purely subjective characteristics and idiosyncrasies. When Wilhelm Tell was first produced in Weimar, not a single Swiss was satisfied with it; similarly, many a man seeks in vain in the most beautiful love-songs for his own feelings and therefore declares that the description is false, just as others, whose knowledge of love is drawn from romances alone, do not now suppose themselves to be actually in love until they encounter in and around themselves the very same feelings and situations [as those described in the romances].
In this First Part we have treated first the general Idea of the beautiful, secondly its inadequate existence in nature, in order to press on, thirdly, to the Ideal as the adequate actuality of the beautiful. The Ideal we developed first, once again in accordance with its general nature, which led us, secondly, to the specific mode of representing it. But since the work of art springs from the spirit, it needs a subjective productive activity as its cause, and as a product thereof it is there for others, i.e. for the contemplation and feeling of the public. This activity is the imagination of the artist. Therefore we have now still, in conclusion, to deal with the third aspect of the Ideal, i.e. to discuss how the work of art belongs to the subjective inner consciousness, though as its product it is not yet born into actuality, but is shaped only by creative subjectivity, by the genius and talent of the artist. Yet strictly we need to mention this aspect only to say of it that it is to be excluded from the area of scientific discussion, or at least that it permits of a few generalities only – although a question often raised is: whence does the artist derive his gift and his ability to conceive and execute his work, how does he create a work of art? We might just as well ask for a recipe or prescription for managing this, or for the circumstances and situations in which a man must place himself in order to produce the like. Thus [Ippolito] Cardinal d'Este asked Ariosto about his Orlando Furioso: ‘Master Ludovico, where have you got all this damned stuff from?’ Raphael, asked a similar question, answered in a well-known letter that he was striving after a certain ‘idea’.
The finer details we can treat under three heads, since first, we establish the Concept of artistic genius and inspiration, secondly, we discuss the objectivity of this creative activity, and thirdly, we try to discover the character of true originality.
When a question is asked about ‘genius’, more precise definition is at once required, because ‘genius’ is an entirely general expression used not only of artists but of great kings and military commanders, as well as of the heroes of science. Here once again we may distinguish three aspects for the sake of greater precision.
(a) First, when we come to the general capacity for artistic production, then, as soon as there is talk of ‘capacity’, ‘fancy’ (Phantasie) is said to be the most prominent artistic ability. Yet in that case we must immediately take care not to confuse fancy with the purely passive imagination (Einbildungskraft). Fancy is creative.
(α) Now in the first place this creative activity involves the gift and the sense for grasping reality and its configurations which, attentively heard or seen, impress on the spirit the greatest multiplicity of pictures of what is there; this activity also presupposes a retentive memory of the variegated world of these manifold pictures. In this respect, therefore, the artist is not relegated to what, he has manufactured by his own imagination but has to abandon the superficial ‘ideal’ (so-called) and enter reality itself. To embark on art and poetry with an ideal is always very suspect, for the artist has to create out of the abundance of life and not out of the abundance of abstract generalities, since, while the medium of philosophy’s production is thought, art’s is actual external configurations. Therefore the artist must live and become at home in this medium. He must have seen much, heard much, and retained much, just as in general great individuals are almost always signalized by a great memory. For what interests a man he engraves on his memory, and a most profound spirit spreads the field of his interests over countless topics. Goethe, e.g., began like this and throughout his life has widened more and more the scope of his observations. This gift and this interest in a specific grasp of the actual world in its real shape, together with a firm retention of what has been seen, is thus the first requirement of an artist. On the other hand, bound up with precise knowledge of the external form there must be equal familiarity with man’s inner life, with the passions of his heart, and all the aims of the human soul. To this double knowledge there must be added an acquaintance with the way in which the inner life of the spirit expresses itself in the real world and shines through the externality thereof.
(β) But secondly imagination does not stop at this mere assimilation of external and internal reality, because what the ideal work of art properly provides is not only the appearance of the inner spirit in the reality of external forms; on the contrary, it is the absolute truth and rationality of the actual world which should attain external appearance. This rationality of the specific topic he has chosen must not only be present in the artist’s consciousness and move him; on the contrary, he must have pondered its essentiality and truth in its whole range and whole depth. For without reflection a man does not bring home to his mind what is in him, and so we notice in every great work of art that its material in all its aspects has been long and deeply weighed and thought over. From the facile readiness of fancy no solid work proceeds. Yet this is not to say that the artist must grasp in a philosophical form the true essence of all things which is the general foundation in religion, as well as in philosophy and art. For him philosophy is not necessary, and if he thinks in a philosophical manner he is working at an enterprise which, so far as the form of knowing is concerned, is the precise opposite of art. For the task of imagination consists solely in giving us a consciousness of that inner rationality, not in the form of general propositions and ideas, but in concrete configuration and individual reality. What therefore lives and ferments in him the artist must portray to himself in the forms and appearances whose likeness and shape he has adopted, since he can so subdue them to his purpose that they now on their side too become capable of adopting what is inherently true and expressing it completely.
In order to achieve the interpenetration of the rational content and the external shape, the artist has to call in aid (i) the watchful circumspection of the intellect, and (ii) the depth of the heart and its animating feelings. It is therefore an absurdity to suppose that poems like the Homeric came to the poet in sleep. Without circumspection, discrimination, and criticism the artist cannot master any subject-matter which he is to configurate, and it is silly to believe that the genuine artist does not know what he is doing. Equally necessary for him is a concentration of his emotional life.
(γ) Through this feeling, I mean, which penetrates and animates the whole, the artist has his material and its configuration as his very own self, as the inmost property of himself as a subjective being. For the pictorial illustration estranges every subject-matter by giving it an external form, and feeling alone brings it into subjective unity with the inner self. In accord with this point of view, the artist must not only have looked around at much in the world and made himself acquainted with its outer and inner manifestations, but he must have drawn much, and much that is great, into his own soul; his heart must have been deeply gripped and moved thereby; he must have done and lived through much before he can develop the true depths of life into concrete manifestations. Consequently genius does burst forth in youth, as was the case with Goethe and Schiller, but only middle or old age can bring to perfection the genuine maturity of the work of art.
(b) Now this productive activity of imagination whereby the artist takes what is absolutely rational in itself and works it out, as his very own creation, by giving it an external form, is what is called genius, talent, etc.
(α) The elements of genius we have therefore already considered just now. Genius is the general ability for the true production of a work of art, as well as the energy to elaborate and complete it. But, even so, this capacity and energy exists only as subjective, since spiritual production is possible only for a self-conscious subject who makes such creation his aim. However, it has been common for people to go into more detail and make a specific difference between ‘genius’ and ‘talent’. And in fact the two are not immediately identical, although their identity is necessary for perfect artistic creation. Art, I mean, in so far as in general it individualizes and has to issue in the objective appearance of its productions, now demands also for the particular kinds of this accomplishment different particular capacities. One such may be described as talent, as, e.g., when one man may have a talent for perfect violin-playing and another for singing, and so on. But a mere talent can only attain to excellence in one such entirely separate side of art, and, if it is to be perfect in itself, it still requires always over again the capacity for art in general, and the inspiration, which genius alone confers. Talent without genius therefore does not get far beyond an external skill.
(β) Now further, it is commonly said, talent and genius must be innate. Here too this is right enough in a way, although in another it is equally false. For man as man is also born to religion, e.g., to thinking, to science, i.e. as man he has the capacity to acquire a consciousness of God and to come to intellectual reflection. Nothing is needed for this but birth as such and education, training, and industry. With art the thing is different; it requires a specific aptitude, in which a natural element plays an essential part too. Just as beauty itself is the Idea made real in the sensuous and actual world, and the work of art takes what is spiritual and sets it out into the immediacy of existence for apprehension by eye and ear, so too the artist must fashion his work not in the exclusively spiritual form of thought but within the sphere of intuition and feeling and, more precisely, in connection with sensuous material and in a sensuous medium. Therefore this artistic creation, like art throughout, includes in itself the aspect of immediacy and naturalness, and this aspect it is which the subject cannot generate in himself but must find in himself as immediately given. This alone is the sense in which we may say that genius and talent must be inborn.
Similarly the different arts too are more or less national, connected with the natural side of a people. The Italians, e.g., have song and melody almost by nature, while although the cultivation of music and opera has been urgently pursued with great success amongst northern peoples, they have no more been completely at home there than orange trees. What the Greeks have as their own is the most beautiful elaboration of epic poetry and, above all, the perfection of sculpture, whereas the Romans had no really independent art but had to transplant it from Greece on to their own soil. Therefore the art most universally spread is poetry because in it the sensuous material and its formation makes the fewest demands. Yet, within poetry, folk-song is in the highest degree national and tied up with the natural side of a people’s life, and on this account folk-song belongs to periods of lesser spiritual development and preserves to the maximum the simplicity of a natural existence. Goethe has produced works of art in all forms and sorts of poetry, but it is his earliest songs which are the most intimate and unpremeditated. In them there is the minimum of cultural elaboration. Modern Greeks, e.g., are even now a people of poetry and songs. Bravery of today or yesterday, a death and its particular circumstances, a burial, every adventure, every single oppression by the Turks – each and every episode they bring at once into song; and there are plenty of examples that often, on the day of the battle, songs are sung at once about the newly-won victory. Fauriel has published a collection of modern Greek songs, taken partly from the lips of women, nurses, and schoolgirls, who could not be more surprised that he was astonished by their songs.
In this way art and its specific mode of production hangs together with the specific nationality of peoples. Thus improvisers are especially at home, in Italy and their talent is marvellous. Even today an Italian improvises dramas in five acts, and nothing there is memorized; everything springs from his knowledge of human passions and situations and from deep immediate inspiration. An impecunious improviser; after poetizing for a long time, at last went round with a miserable hat to collect from the audience; but he was still so full of enthusiasm and fever that he could not stop declaiming, and he gesticulated so long, waving his arms and hands, that at the end all his beggings were scattered.
(γ) Now the third characteristic of genius, for all that genius does include a natural gift as one of its elements, is facility in producing ideas from within and in the external technical dexterity required in the several arts. In this connection a lot is talked, for example in the case of a poet, about the fetters of metre and rhyme, or, in the case of a painter, about the manifold difficulties which draughtsmanship, knowledge of colours, light and shade, put in the way of invention and execution. Of course all the arts require lengthy study, constant industry, a skill developed in many ways; but the greater and more abundant the talent and genius, the less it knows of laboriousness in the acquisition of the skills necessary for production. For the genuine artist has a natural impulse and an immediate need to give form at once to everything that he feels and imagines. This process of formation is his way of feeling and seeing, and he finds it in himself without labour as the instrument proper and suited to him. A composer, e.g., can declare only in melodies what moves and stirs him most deeply. What he feels, immediately becomes melody, just as to a painter it becomes form and colour, or to a poet the poetry of the imagination, clothing its structure in euphonious words. And this gift for formation the artist does not possess merely as theoretical idea, imagination, and feeling, but also immediately as practical feeling, i.e., as a gift for actual execution. Both are bound together in the genuine artist. What lives in his imagination comes to him, therefore, as it were to his finger-tips, just as it comes to our lips to speak out our thoughts, or as our inmost thoughts, ideas, and feelings appear directly on ourselves in our posture and gestures. From time immemorial the true genius has easily mastered the external side of technical execution, and has also so far mastered the poorest and apparently most intractable material that it has been compelled to assimilate and display the inner shapes devised by imagination. What in this way lies in him immediately, the artist must indeed work over until his proficiency with it is complete, but yet the possibility of immediate execution must all the same be there in him as a natural gift; otherwise a purely learnt proficiency never produces a living work of art. Both sides, the inner production and its external realization, go hand in hand in accordance with the essential nature of art.
(c) Now the activity of imagination and technical execution, considered in itself as the fundamental condition of the artist, is what is generally called, in the third place, ‘inspiration’.
(α) In this matter the first question raised is about the manner of its origin, in regard to which the most varied ideas are in circulation:
(αα) Since genius in general involves the closest connection between the spiritual and the natural, it has been believed that inspiration can be produced primarily through sensuous stimulus. But the heat of the blood achieves nothing by itself; champagne produces no poetry, as Marmontel, e.g., tells how in a cellar in Champagne he had six thousand bottles confronting him and yet nothing poetic flowed out of them for him. So too the finest genius may often enough lie on the grass morning and evening, enjoying a fresh breeze and gazing up into the sky, but of tender inspiration not a breath reaches him.
(ββ) On the other hand, neither can inspiration be summoned by a spiritual intention to produce. A man who simply resolves to be inspired in order to write a poem, paint a picture, or compose a tune, without already carrying in himself some theme as a living stimulus and must just hunt around here and there for some material, then, no matter what his talent, cannot, on the strength of this mere intention, form a beautiful conception or produce a solid work of art. Neither a purely sensuous stimulus nor mere will and decision procures genuine inspiration, and to make use of such means proves only that the heart and the imagination have not yet fastened on any true interest. But if the artistic urge is of the right kind, this interest has already in advance been concentrated on a specific object and theme and kept firmly to it.
(γγ) Thus true inspiration takes fire on some specific material which the imagination seizes with a view to expressing it artistically; moreover inspiration is the state of the artist in his active process of forming both his subjective inner conception and his objective execution of the work of art, because for this double activity inspiration is necessary. Thus the question is raised again: In what way must such a material come to the artist? In this connection too there are all sorts of views. How often have we not heard the demand that the artist shall create his material solely out of his own self! Of course this can be the case when, e.g., the poet ‘sings like the bird that dwells in the bough’. His own joy is then the incentive which from within can offer itself at the same time as material and theme for external expression, since it drives him on to the artistic enjoyment of his own cheerfulness. In that case too is ‘the song which comes straight from the heart a reward which rewards richly’. Yet, on the other side, the greatest works of art have often owed their creation to some quite external stimulus. Pindar’s Odes, e.g., were frequently commissioned; similarly the aim of buildings and the subject of paintings has countless times been prescribed to artists, who yet have been able to acquire the necessary inspiration for executing their commission: Indeed there is even frequently noticeable a complaint of artists that they lack topics on which they could work. Such external material and the impulse it gives to production is here the factor of the natural and the immediate which belongs to the essence of talent and which therefore has likewise to raise its head in connection with the beginning of inspiration. From this point of view, the sort of position that the artist is in is that he enters, with a natural talent, into relation with an available given material; he finds himself solicited by an external incentive, by an event (or, as in Shakespeare’s case for example, by sagas, old ballads, tales, chronicles), to give form to this material and to express himself in general on that. Thus the occasion for production may come entirely from without, and the one important requirement is just that the artist shall lay hold of an essential interest and make the subject-matter become alive in itself. In that event the inspiration of genius arises automatically. And a genuinely living artist finds precisely through this aliveness a thousand occasions for his activity and inspiration – occasions which others pass by without being touched by them.
(β) If we ask further wherein artistic inspiration consists, it is nothing but being completely filled with the theme, being entirely present in the theme, and not resting until the theme has been stamped and polished into artistic shape.
(γ) But if the artist has made the subject-matter into something entirely his own, he must on the other hand be able to forget his own personality and its accidental particular characteristics and immerse himself, for his part, entirely in his material, so that, as subject, he is only as it were the form for the formation of the theme which has taken hold of him. An inspiration in which the subject gives himself airs and emphasizes himself as subject, instead of being the instrument and the living activation of the theme itself, is a poor inspiration. – This point brings us on to the so-called ‘objectivity’ of artistic productions.
(a) In the ordinary sense of the word, ‘objectivity’ is taken to mean that in the work of art every subject-matter must assume the form of an otherwise already existent reality and confront us in this familiar external shape. If we wanted to be content with objectivity of that kind, then we could call even Kotzebue an ‘objective’ poet. In his case it is commonplace reality that we find over and over again throughout. But the aim of art is precisely to strip off the matter of everyday life and its mode of appearance, and by spiritual activity from within bring out only what is absolutely rational and give to it its true external configuration. Therefore the artist should not make straight for purely external reality if the full substance of the subject-matter is not there. For although the treatment of what is otherwise already there may indeed rise to be in itself of supreme vitality, and, as we saw earlier in some examples from Goethe’s youthful- works, may exercise great attraction on the strength of its inner animation, nevertheless if it lacks genuine substance, then it cannot reach the true beauty of art.
(b) Therefore a second type of art does not aim at the external as such; on the contrary, the artist has seized his theme with the deep inwardness of his heart. But this inwardness remains so very reserved and concentrated that it cannot struggle out to conscious clarity and reach true deployment. The eloquence of the ‘pathos’ is restricted to indicating and alluding to the ‘pathos’ through external phenomena with which it is in harmony, without having the strength and cultivation to develop the full nature of what the ‘pathos’ contains. Folk-songs in particular belong to this manner of representation. Externally simple, they point to a wider deep feeling which lies at their roots, but which cannot be clearly expressed; for at this stage art itself has not developed so far as to bring its content to light openly and transparently and must be satisfied by means of externals to make the content guessable by the mind’s foreboding. The heart is driven and pressed in upon itself, and, in order to be intelligible to itself, is mirrored only in purely finite external circumstances and phenomena, which of course are expressive, even if their echo in mind and feeling is only quite slight. Even Goethe has produced extremely excellent songs in this manner. The Shepherd’s Lament, e.g., is one of the most beautiful of this kind: the heart broken with grief and longing is dumb and reserved, making itself known in plain external traits, and yet the most concentrated depth of feeling resounds throughout, though unexpressed. In the Erl-King and in so many others the same tone prevails. Nevertheless this tone may sink to the barbarism of an obtuseness which does not bring the essence of the thing and the situation into consciousness, and which simply stops at externals, partly crude, partly tasteless. As, e.g., praise has been given, on the ground that they are extremely touching, to the words of the drummer in The Boy’s Magic Horn: ‘O gallows, thou noble house’ or ‘Adieu, corporal’. When, on the other hand, Goethe sings: ‘The nosegay I have plucked, may it greet thee many thousand times, I have often bowed before it, och! a thousand times, and I have pressed it to my heart how many thousands of times’, here the depth of feeling is indicated in a quite different way which brings before our eyes nothing trivial or in itself repugnant. But what in general this whole sort of objectivity lacks is the actual clear manifestation of feeling and passion which in genuine art should not remain in that reserved profundity which only resounds weakly through the external; on the contrary, feeling must completely either disclose itself on its own account or shine clearly and thoroughly through the external material in which it has enshrined itself. Schiller, e.g., is present with his whole soul in his ‘pathos’, but with a great soul which familiarizes itself with the essence of the thing in hand, the depths of which it can at the same time express most freely and brilliantly in the fullness of the wealth and harmony [of his verse].
(c) In this connection, keeping to the essential nature of the Ideal, we may affirm as follows what true objectivity is, even here as regards subjective expression: from the genuine subject-matter which inspires the artist, nothing is to be held back in his subjective inner heart; everything must be completely unfolded and indeed in a way in which the universal soul and substance of the chosen subject-matter appears emphasized just as much as its individual configuration appears completely polished in itself and permeated by that soul and substance in accord with the whole representation. For what is supreme and most excellent is not, as may be supposed, the inexpressible – for if so the poet would be still far deeper than his work discloses. On the contrary, his works are the best part and the truth of the artist; what he is [in his works], that he is; but what remains buried in his heart, that is he not.
But however far an objectivity in the sense indicated just now must be demanded of the artist, his production is nevertheless the work of his inspiration. For, as subject, he has entirely identified himself with his topic, and fashioned its embodiment in art out of the inner life of his heart and his imagination. This identity of the artist subjectively with the true objectivity of his production is the third chief point which we still have to consider briefly, because in this identity we see united what hitherto we have separated as genius and objectivity. We can describe this unity as the essence of genuine originality.
Yet before we push on to give body to this conception, we have still to keep in view two points, and their one-sidedness is to be superseded if true originality is to be able to appear. These are (a) subjective manner, and (b) style.
(a) Mere manner [i.e. mannerism] must be essentially distinguished from originality. For manner concerns the particular and therefore accidental idiosyncrasies of the artist, and these, instead of the topic itself and its ideal representation, come out and assert themselves in the production of the work of art.
(α) Manner, then, in this sense [of mannerism] does not concern the general kinds of art which in and for themselves require different modes of representation, as, e.g., the landscape painter has to view his subjects in a way different from that of the historical painter, the epic poet differently from the lyric or dramatic one; on the contrary, ‘manner’ is a conception appropriate only to this personality and the accidental idiosyncrasy of his accomplishment, and this may go so far as to be in direct contradiction with the true nature of the Ideal. Looked at in this way, manner is the worst thing to which the artist can submit because in it he indulges simply in his own restricted and personal whims. But art as such cancels the mere accidentality of the topic as well as of its external appearance and therefore demands of the artist that he shall extinguish in himself the accidental particular characteristics of his own subjective idiosyncrasy.
(β) Therefore, secondly, manner after all may perhaps not be directly opposed to the true artistic representation, but its sphere is confined rather to the external aspects of the work of art. In the main it has its place in painting and music, because these arts provide for treatment and execution the widest scope for external matters. A special mode of representation belonging to a particular artist and his disciples and school, and developed by frequent repetition into a habit, constitutes ‘manner’ here, and this provides us with an opportunity to consider it in two aspects.
(αα) The first aspect concerns treatment. In painting, e.g., the atmospheric tone, the foliage, the distribution of light and shade, the whole tone of colour as a whole, permit of an infinite variety. Especially in the sort of colour and illumination we therefore find the greatest difference between painters, and their most individual modes of treatment. For example, there may even be a tone of colour which in general we do not perceive in nature, because, although it occurs, we have not noticed it. But it has struck this or that artist; he has made it his own and has now become accustomed to see and reproduce everything in this kind of colouring and illumination. As with colouring, his procedure may be equally individual with the objects themselves, their grouping, position, and movement. Especially in the Netherlands painters we commonly meet with this aspect of manner: van der Neer’s [1603-77] night pieces, e.g., and his treatment of moonlight, van Goyen’s [1596-1656] sandhills in so many of his landscapes, the continually recurring sheen of satin and other silken materials in so many pictures by other masters belong to this category.
(ββ) Secondly, manner extends to the execution of the work of art, the handling of the brush, the laying on of the paint, the blending of colours, etc.
(γγ) But since such a specific kind of treatment and representation, owing to its constantly returning anew, is generalized into a habit and becomes second nature to the artist, there is a serious risk that, the more specialized the manner is, the more easily does it degenerate into a soulless and therefore cold repetition and fabrication, in which the artist is no longer present with full sensibility and entire inspiration. In that event art sinks to mere manual skill and professional dexterity, and the manner, not in itself objectionable, may become something jejune and lifeless.
(γ) Thus the more genuine manner must rid itself of this restricted idiosyncrasy, and so broaden itself within that these specialized modes of treatment cannot mortify into a pure matter of habit; for the genuine artist clings in a more general way to the nature of the things in hand and can make his own this more general mode of treatment in the way that its essence implies. In this sense we can speak of ‘manner’ in Goethe, e.g., because of his knack in rounding off not only his convivial poems, but also other more serious elements, with a happy turn of phrase in order to supersede or remove the seriousness of the reflection or situation. Horace too in his Epistles adopts this manner. This is a turning of the conversation and social conviviality in general which, in order not to go into the matter more deeply, stops, breaks off, and adroitly changes the deeper topic into something cheerful. This way of treating the thing is indeed manner too and it belongs to the subject’s handling of his topic, but to a subjective procedure which is of a more general kind and so within the intended kind of representation works all the time in a necessary way. From this final level of manner we can pass on to the consideration of style.
(b) ‘Le style c'est l'homme meme’ is a familiar French saying. Here style as such means the idiosyncrasy of the artist, completely ascertainable in his mode of expression, the way he turns his phrases, etc. On the other hand, von Rumohr (op. cit., i, p. 87) tries to explain the word ‘style’ as a ‘self-accommodation, developed into a habit, into the inner demands of the material in which the sculptor actually shapes his forms and the painter makes them appear’, and in this connection he provides us with extremely important remarks about the mode of representation which the specific sensuous material, e.g. of sculpture, permits or forbids. Yet we need not restrict the word ‘style’ simply to this aspect of the sensuous element; we can extend it to characteristics and rules of artistic representation arising from the nature of a species of art within which a work is executed. Thus in music we distinguish the style of church music from that of opera, and, in painting, the historical style from that of genre. ‘Style’, so interpreted, is applicable to a mode of representation which complies with the conditions of its material as well as corresponding throughout with the demands of definite species of art and the laws originating in their essence. In this wider meaning of the word, consequently, defectiveness of style is either the artist’s inability to make his own such an inherently necessary mode of representation, or else his subjective caprice which gives free play to his own whims instead of to conformity with rules, and sets up in their place a bad mannerism of his own. It follows that, as von Rumohr has already noticed, it is inadmissible to carry over the stylistic rules of one species of art into those of the others, as Mengs, e.g., did in his well-known group of the Muses in the Villa Albani, where he ‘treated and executed the coloured forms of his Apollo on the principle of sculpture.’ Similarly we see in many of Dürer’s pictures that he has made the style of the woodcut entirely his own and has had it in mind in his painting too, especially in the drapery.
(c) Now, lastly, originality does not consist in merely following the rules of style, but in the subjective inspiration which, instead of succumbing to a mere mannerism, grasps an absolutely rational material, and from within, by the subjective activity of the artist, gives it external form both in the essence and conception of a definite species of art and also appropriately to the general nature of the Ideal.
(α) Thus originality is identical with true objectivity and links together the subjective and factual sides of the representation in such a way that the two sides are no longer opposed or strangers to one another. Therefore, in one respect, it is the most personal inner life of the artist, yet on the other hand it reveals nothing but the nature of the object, so that the special character of the artist’s work appears only as the special character of the thing itself and proceeds therefrom, just as the thing does from his productive subjective activity.
(β) Therefore originality is above all to be entirely distinguished from the caprice of mere fancies. For people are commonly accustomed to understand by ‘originality’ only the production of peculiarities, proper precisely only to the individual, which would never enter anyone else’s head. But in that case this is only a bad idiosyncrasy. No one, e.g., in this meaning of the word is more ‘original’ than the English; i.e. every one of them resorts to some specific folly, which no reasonable man will imitate, and in the consciousness of his folly calls himself ‘original’.
Connected with this, after all, is what is especially famous today, namely, originality of wit and humour. Here the artist starts from his own subjective life and continually comes back to it, so that the proper topic of his production is treated only as an external occasion for giving free play to witticisms, jokes, fancies, and the extravagances of his most subjective mood. But, since this is so, the topic and this subjective side fall apart from one another, and the material is treated capriciously throughout, so that the idiosyncrasy, yes the idiosyncrasy, of the artist may be conspicuous as the chief thing. Such a humour may be full of spirit and deep feeling and commonly appears as extremely impressive, but on the whole it is easier than is supposed. For steadily to interrupt the rational course of the thing, to begin, proceed, and end capriciously, and to throw into mutual confusion a series of witticisms and feelings, and thereby to produce fantastic caricatures, is easier than to develop from oneself and round off an inherently solid whole, stamped with the true Ideal. But the present-day humour likes to present the unpleasantness of an ill-bred talent, and all the same wobbles after all from true humour into banality and drivel. True humour we have seldom had; but nowadays the flattest trivialities with only a pretence of humour and its external colour are supposed to be ingenious and deep. Shakespeare, on the contrary, had great and deep humour, and yet, even in him, trivialities are not lacking. Similarly, Jean Paul’s humour often surprises us by its depth of wit and beauty of feeling, but equally often, in an opposite way, by its grotesquely combining things which have no real connection with one another, and the relations into which his humour brings them together are almost indecipherable. Even the greatest humourist has not relations of this kind present in his memory and so after all we often observe that even Jean Paul’s interconnections are not the product of the power of genius but are brought together externally. Thus in order always to have new material, Jean Paul looked into books of the most varied kind, botanical, legal, philosophical, descriptive of travel, noted at once what struck him and wrote down the passing fancies it suggested; when it was a matter of actual composition, he brought together the most heterogeneous material – Brazilian plants and the old Supreme Court of the Empire. This is then given special praise as originality or as humour by which anything and everything is excused. But such caprice is precisely what true originality excludes.
This gives us an opportunity after all to allude once more to the irony which likes to pass itself off as the highest originality, especially when it treats nothing seriously and carries on the business of joking merely for the sake of joking. In another aspect it brings together in its representations a mass of external details, the inmost meaning of which the poet keeps to himself. Then the cunning and loftiness of this procedure is supposed to consist in enlarging the imagination on the ground that precisely in these collocations and external details there lie concealed the ‘poetry of poetry’ and everything most profound and excellent, which, purely and simply because of its depth, cannot be expressed. So, e.g., in F. von Schlegel’s poems at the time when he imagined himself a poet, what is unsaid is given out as the best thing of all; yet this ‘poetry of poetry’ proved itself to be precisely the flattest prose.
(γ) The true work of art must be freed from this perverse originality, for it evinces its genuine originality only by appearing as the one personal creation of one spirit which gathers and compiles nothing from without, but produces the whole topic from its own resources by a single cast, in one tone, with strict interconnection of its parts, just as the thing itself has united them in itself. If on the other hand we find scenes and motives brought together not by themselves but purely from outside, then the inner necessity of their unification is not there, and they appear as linked accidentally by a third and alien subjective activity [i.e. that of the artist]. So we marvel at Goethe’s Götz, especially for its great originality, and of course, as we have said above already, in this work Goethe, greatly daring, has given the lie to, and trodden underfoot, whatever at that time was firmly held in aesthetic theories as a law of art. Yet the execution of the play is not of true originality. For in this early work we still see the poverty of Goethe’s own material, because many traits and whole scenes, instead of being worked out from the great topic itself, appear here and there to have been scraped up out of the interests of the time in which the play was written, and inserted into it in an external way. For example, the scene [Act I, scene ii] of Götz with Brother Martin, which hints at Luther, contains only ideas drawn by Goethe from the things which in his own period in Germany began to make people pity the monks again [Martin bewails his lot and theirs]: they might not drink any wine, must sleep off their meals, and therefore are subject to all sorts of desires, and must above all have taken the three intolerable vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. On the other hand, Brother Martin is enthusiastic for Götz’s life as a knight: let Götz recall how, when he was laden with the booty of his enemies, ‘I struck him from his horse before he could shoot and then I ran him down, horse and all'; and then how Götz goes to his castle and finds his wife. Martin drinks Elizabeth’s health and wipes his eyes. – But with these mundane thoughts Luther did not begin; as a pious monk he drew from Augustine a totally different depth of religious insight and conviction. Similarly there follow in the next scene pedagogical notions contemporary with Goethe which Basedow in particular had instigated. For example, it was said in his time that children learnt a lot of unintelligible stuff, while the right method was to teach them facts by sight and experience. Now Karl speaks to his father entirely from memory, just as was customary in Goethe’s youth: Iaxthausen is a village and a castle on the Jaxt, belonging to the Lords of Berlichingen for two centuries by inheritance’, yet when Götz asks him: knowest thou the Lord of Berlichingen?’, the boy stares him in the face and not having been explicitly taught, does not know who his own father is. Götz asserts that he was acquainted with every path, road, and ford before he knew the names of any river, village, and town. These are alien appendages not affecting the matter itself; while when the thing at issue could have been treated in its proper depth, e.g. in the conversation of Götz and Weislingen [ibid.], nothing appears except cold and prosaic reflections on the times.
A similar collection of individual traits which do not arise from the subject-matter we find over again even in Goethe’s Wahlverwandschaften [Elective Affinities, 1809]: the parks, the tableaux vivants, and the swingings of the pendulum, the feel of metals, the headaches, the whole picture, derived from chemistry, of chemical affinities are of this kind. In a novel, set in a specific prosaic time, it is true that this sort of thing is more permissible, especially when, as in Goethe’s case, it is used so skilfully and gracefully, and, besides, a work of art cannot entirely free itself from the culture of its time; but it is one thing to mirror this culture itself, and another to search outside and collect materials together independent of the proper subject of the representation. The genuine originality of the artist, as of the work of art, lies solely in his being animated by the rationality of the inherently true content of the subject-matter. If the artist has made this objective rationality entirely his own, without mixing it and corrupting it either from within or without with particular details foreign to it, then alone in the topic to which he has given form does he give himself in his truest subjective character, a character that will be but the living corridor for a work of art perfect in itself. For in all true poetry, in thinking and action, genuine freedom makes what is substantial prevail as an inherent power; and this power at the same time is so completely the very own power of subjective thinking and willing itself that, in the perfect reconciliation of both, no separation between them can remain over any longer. So the originality of art does indeed consume that accidental idiosyncrasy of the artist, but it absorbs it only so that the artist can wholly follow the pull and impetus of his inspired genius, filled as it is with his subject alone, and can display his own self, instead of fantasy and empty caprice, in the work he has completed in accordance with its truth. To have no manner has from time immemorial been the one grand manner, and in this sense alone are Homer, Sophocles, Raphael, Shakespeare, to be called ‘original’.
1. See below, Part II, ch. I.
2. Hegel is referring to the three parts of his Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences. The first part (Logic) and the third (Mind, Art, Religion, Philosophy) have been translated by W. Wallace. The second part (Nature) has appeared in two translations, one by A. V. Miller and the other by M. J. Petry, both in 1970.
3. Perhaps Hegel was never asked by a publisher to summarize the content of one of his books in a ‘few sentences’. The ‘few sentences’ are apt to be either unintelligible or misleading, or both.
4. The superlative is the reading Hotho’s 1st end.
5. This translation I owe to Dr. David Traill.
6. Italian Studies (3 vols., Berlin and Stettin, 1827-31). Since Hegel did not lecture on Aesthetics after 1828 he may have used only the first volume. Below he quotes no other. Rumohr lived from 1785 to 1843.
7. The Critique of Judgment is never far from Hegel’s mind throughout this whole section. Many of his topics come from Kant. It would be superfluous to give precise references in view of the excellent indexes in the translation of the Critique of Aesthetic Judgment by J. C. Meredith (Oxford, 1911).
8. Another allusion to Goethe’s theory of colours.
9. i.e. universal, particular, individual. See above, p. 109.
10. The translation of this sentence I owe to Professor J. H. Burnett who thinks that Hegel is really referring to euphorbiae and not cacti. Professor H. G. Callan informs me that the description of the fish fits a Dover sole.
11. Georges, Baron de Cuvier, 1769-1832: Recherches sur les Ossemens Fossiles de Quadrupèdes (Paris, 1812), vol. i, pp. 58 ff. Hegel quotes this at length in Philosophy of Nature, § 370, Addition.
12. The origin of this familiar phrase seems to be Plutarch, De Def. Or., 2, where he quotes it from Alcaeus.
13. Hegel lived at a time before the theory of evolution had been scientifically established, and it was his rule, in discussing nature, to abide by what the scientists told him. But this is one of the passages which show how he foresaw that a rational explanation of the facts demanded an evolutionary theory. See, e.g., R. G. Collingwood, The Idea of Nature (Oxford, 1945), pp. 122 ff.
14. Hegel had no liking for mountains, for example. (See his Diary of his Journey to the Bernese Oberland – in, e.g., Dok. zu H’s Entsoicklung, hrsg. J. Hoffmeister, Stuttgart, 1936.)
15. Hegel’s distinction between Regelmässigkeit (regularity) and Gesetzmässigkeit (conformity to law) is not at first sight obvious and it rests on conceptions of rule and law expounded elsewhere in his works. Rule as uniformity is explicitly distinguished from law in the Science of Logic (Ww. v, 198-9. Eng. tr. by A. V. Miller, pp. 724-5). Rule is wholly a matter of undifferenced uniformity, but law involves a synthesis of differences. ‘The essence of law consists in an inseparable unity, a necessary inner connection, of distinct determinations. . . . According to the law of planetary motion, the squares of the periods of revolution vary as the cubes of the distances, so the law must be grasped as an inner necessary unity of distinct determinations’ (Enc. § 422, Zusatz. Cf. the sections on Mechanism in the Science of Logic and the Philosophy of Nature.) For quality and quantity, and measure as their synthesis, see Enc., esp. § Io8. Since Hegel goes on to quote Hogarth’s Analysis of Beauty (1753), it is interesting to notice that ch. 3 of that work is headed ‘Of Uniformity, Regularity, or Symmetry’. With this whole section it is instructive to compare Kant’s Critique of Judgment, § 22, where the conceptions discussed here in (a), (b), and (c) all appear.
16. Parallel lines of equal length are uniform both in length and in the distance between them, and therefore are simply regular. But lines drawn in a parabola parallel to its axis are not of equal length, and this fact is incidental to the laws of the parabola, so that such parallels have their length determined by law and therefore they are not simply regular. Hegel seems to have the geometry of conics in mind. (I owe the material of this note to Dr. M. J. Petry.)
19. It is possible to have ovals (e.g. the oval of Cassini) which are symmetrical about the greater axis, and so are ellipses. But Hegel is obviously taking the oval as egg-shaped. I owe this note and notes a and 3 on p. 539 to Professor E. T. Copson and Professor W. N. Everitt.
20. Op. cit., ch. 7, ‘the waving line ... is more productive of beauty than any of the former’, i.e. straight or circular lines, etc.
21. i.e. o without an umlaut in German, but sounded as oa instead of plain o.
22. Dr. M. J. Petry informs me that this is a conception originating in the antiquated physiology of J. F. Blumenbach (1735-1840). ‘I ehe power of ‘intumescence’ is supposed to be a condition displayed in a healthy body by the uniform tensing and expanding of pulpy parts. Blumenbach’s pupil E. B. G. Hebenstreit (1735-1803) wrote Doctrinae physiologicae de turgore vitali brevis expositio (Leipzig, 1795), to which the curious may be referred.
23. Diogenes Laertius, Plato, 23 § 29. Hegel’s quotations are nearly always inexact. His ‘thousand’ for Plato’s ‘many’ seems to me to be an improvement, if it be not sacrilege to say so. But Hegel’s ‘when’ is an unnecessary addition of his own.
24. A hit at Schelling and other philosophers of nature.
25. i.e. beautiful women set in a frame, to imitate some artist’s picture. See, e.g., O.E.D. s.v. tableau, and L. V. Fildes, Luke Fildes R.A. (London, 1968) P. 84.
26. This poem of Schiller’s third period appeared first in 1795 in Die Horen.
27. The ‘apparatus’ is explained below, p. 265.
28. The last line of Schiller’s preface to Wallenstein (1799).
29. i.e. Greece. It is of the gods of Olympus and some Homeric and tragic heroes that Hegel is thinking throughout this passage. See the section on sculpture in Vol. II.
30. Cf. Hegel’s impression of Swiss mountains – see above, p. 132, note (Dokumente, p. 236).
31. i.e. the Greeks and Romans. Cf. our own use of ‘Classics’.
32. The quotation is from Herder’s poetic version of the Romances of the Cid, I. 6.
33. G. F. P. von Hardenberg, 1772-1805. He died of a physical decline, i.e. tuberculosis.
34. This is a quotation from the last two stanzas of Schiller’s satirical poem Shakespeares Schatten (Shakespeare’s Ghost), which he calls a ‘parody’.
35. This school, founded by Wilhelm Schadow, concentrated on religious and medieval subjects. Its most important member was Peter von Cornelius (1783- 1867), head of the Düsseldorf Academy of Art from 1819 to 1825, and subsequently at Munich and Berlin.
36. Hegel studied Dutch paintings in Amsterdam (Briefe, Hamburg, 1953, ii, p. 362).
37. Balthasar Denner, 1685-1749, German portrait painter. See above, pp. 45, 155. Hegel would not have approved of Cromwell’s instructions to Lely. In his lectures in 1826 Hegel made his point at greater length: ‘What the artist must produce is an appearance of the spirit. A portrait must be an expression of individual and spiritual character. This nobler element in a man, which the artist introduces into the portrait, is not ordinarily obvious in a man’s features. Therefore, if the artist is to bring out the sitter’s character, he must have seen him in several situations and actions, in short been well acquainted with him, got to know his manner, heard him speak, and noticed his sort of feelings’ (Lasson, pp. 225-6).
38. He died in 1813. The reference is to a marble statue by C. D. Rauch, 1822.
39. Philips Wouwerman, 1619-68. Rembrandt, 1606-69. A. van Dyck, 1559-1641.
40. No. 1308, Toilette familiere. B. E. Murillo, 1618-82. Osmaston has the mother ‘scolding’ the mother ‘scolding’ the child.
41. No. 1304, Les Enfants à la Grappe. Osmaston is wrong to say that Ruskin depreciated these pictures. See C. and W. edition, vii, pp. 494-5.
42. No. 385, Portrait d'un jeune homme. Hegel visited the Louvre in September 1827 (Briefe, edn. cit., iii. 186-7).
43. i.e. the Elgin marbles.
44. Pausanias, ix. 27, 5 (where Thestius is the father’s name). But Apollodorus (ii. 4, so) says that Thespius provided a different daughter for each of fifty nights.
45. The Book of Kings. Firdausi = Abul Karim Mansur, c. 940-1020. Hegel used the translation by J. von Göirres (see Ww., Glockner edn., xx, P. 437).
46. Cf. section on the Romantic Epic in Part III below.
47. i.e. Rodrigo Diaz, the ‘Lord Conqueror’, Spanish national hero. He died in 1099, and his career has been a favourite literary theme since the twelfth century.
48. In 1794 Goethe published Reineke Fuchs, his version of thirteenth-century fables, and it is to this that Hegel is referring.
49. Swiss author and painter, 1730-88. His ‘idyllic prose pastorals’ had an extraordinary vogue in their day.
50. For a good account and criticism of this ‘idyllic epic’ (1796-7), which has as its subject French emigres in a village on the right bank of the Rhine, see, e.g., G. H. Lewes, Life and Works of Goethe (2nd edn. , 1864), book vi, ch. 4.
51. Act iv, 11. 2636 ff. He has killed his brother and executes judgement on himself by suicide.
52. ist must be an error for sind.
53. Cf. Philosophy of Right, § 28o, Addition.
54. i.e. not universal but only trivial.
55. In The Robbers, Schiller’s first play, 1781.
56. Intrigue and Love, 1784.
57. 1783, 1787 respectively.
58. Schiller’s three dramas on Wallenstein were issued in 1799.
59. So they murdered Wallenstein.
60. Goethe wrote Götz von Berlichingen in 1771, but he rewrote it and did not publish it until 1773. Götz lived from 1480 to 1562, and Sickingen, who appears in the play, from 1481 to 1523.
61. Well reproduced in, e.g., G. Richter, Handbook of Greek Art (London, 1959), P. 246.
62. Possibly Praxiteles, Aphrodite in Cnidos (G. Rodenwaldt, Die Kunst der Antike (Berlin, 1927), P. 394).
63. See, e.g., ibid., P. 484.
64. Hegel refers four times to this figure. It was a favourite subject in antiquity. There are several replicas of what was probably an original fourth-century bronze by Lysippus. Hegel’s later references show that he was referring to a figure in Munich. As No. 238 it is described and discussed by A. Furtwangler in his Beschreibung der Glyptothek . . . zu München, 1900. Its head is an eighteenth- or early nineteenth-century copy of another replica in the Vatican. Hegel did not know this, but his remarks, here and later, apply reasonably well to the Vatican replica also.
65. See, e.g., Rodenwaldt, op. cit., p. 481, and G. Richter, op. cit., p. 165.
66. Now in the Louvre. J. B. Pigalle, 1714-85.
67. A. B. Thorwaldsen, 1768-1844. This marble statue (1818) is in the Thorwaldsen Museum in Copenhagen. Mercury is lulling Argus to sleep by playing his flute, and duly kills him. Hegel or Hotho confuses this with the story of Apollo and Marsyas.
68. R. Schadow, 1786-1822. This marble statue (1827) is in Munich.
69. Dichtung and Wahrheit, book xii (1811 ff.).
70. Hegel’s use of ‘play’ here and elsewhere is derived especially from Schiller, see his Aesthetic Letters, is, especially ‘With the perfect, man is merely serious, but with beauty he plays’, and ‘Man should only play with beauty, and should play with beauty alone’. Cf. p. 157, note 2.
71. i.e. on the stage, like a pageant.
72. C. W. von Gluck, 1714-87. This opera was first produced in 1767.
73. See, e.g., Apollodorus III. v ff. (with Sir J. G. Frazer’s notes in the Loeb edition).
74. In what follows I have used a modern transliteration of the proper names, instead of Hegel’s.
75. Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris.
76. What he says is that ‘a tragedy is an imitation of an action, serious in itself ... with incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish the catharsis of such emotions’. Poetics, 1449b 23 ff.
77. i.e. in the two plays of Euripides about Iphigenia.
78. Hegel’s authority for this story may be W. von Humboldt’s Über die unter den Namen Bhagavad-Gita bekannte Episode des Mahabharata (Berlin, 1826), reviewed by him in 1827, Ww. xvi, pp. 365 ff. But the review, which provides ample evidence for the thoroughness with which Hegel studied Indian religion, quotes so many other works, including translations, German, English, and French, that one cannot be sure. In any event, he has not got the story quite right. Professor R. C. Zaehner has kindly told me that this passage ought to read as follows:
‘Consider the familiar episode in Mahabharata, Nala and Damayanti, the prince’s daughter, who had the privilege of choosing of her own accord amongst the local chieftains. The gods also appear in the shape of Nala as suitors; but since only Nala stands firmly on the ground, sweating and thereby proving that he is a mortal, Damayanti selects him. The gods are well pleased by this, but Kali, an evil genius, is angered and keeps watch on him. But for many years afterwards he could bring nothing against him, because he was not guilty of any offence. But at last he succeeds in entering into him because he commits the technical offence of making water without purifying himself afterwards. Kali then incites him to accept his brother’s invitation to a game of dice. He is defeated and loses his throne and everything. He is forced to wander unarmed with Damayanti, whom he deserts, until in the end after numerous adventures he is re-united with her and raised once more to his former good fortune.’
79. i.e. in the Crimea; Euripides again.
80. At Aulis the Greeks sacrificed to Apollo before embarking for Troy. Leda was loved by Zeus in the form of a swan. One of her children by him was Helen. Tantalus was a remote ancestor of Agamemnon. The Theban House is that of Oedipus and Antigone.
81. K. F. Wander’s Deutsches Sprichwörter-Lexikon quotes Er fangt seine Geschichte bei Adam an (he begins his history with Adam). But Hegel is quoting Horace: Ars Poetica, ii. 147-8, where Horace speaks of not telling of the Trojan war ab ovo, but always hurrying in medias res.
82. Poor Henry, late twelfth and early thirteenth century. The poem is the basis of Longfellow’s Golden Legend.
83. See Hegel’s Philosophy of Religion (Ww. xii, 261): ‘Milton’s devil is, in his fully characteristic energy, better than many an angel.’ He adds that there is something affirmative about Milton’s devil.
84. Possibly a reference to Corneille. The urbane rhetoric of the siecle d'or conceals emotions that are less than civilized.
85. E. T. A. Hoffmann, 1776-1822.
86. Two anvils, according to Iliad, xv. 18 ff. The anvils were tied to her feet when she was hung from Olympus.
87. A propitiatory name for the Furies in the play of Aeschylus.
88. Oedipus pronounces on his sons, Eteocles and Polynices, the curse that each shall die by the other’s hand.
89. This is the substance of the meaning of the Greek.
90. Hegel cites lines 1442 ff., but that is Athene’s speech. I have translated the Greek directly and not Hegel’s translation. Thoas was the King of the Tauri.
91. Iphigenia, scene vi, and so the following quotations. The ambiguity led Orestes to apply the words to the goddess Diana, whereas Iphigenia was meant.
92. i.e. the Palladium of Troy, given by Zeus to Priam, and carried off by Aeneas to Italy.
93. Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, iv. 53.
94. Act it, scene ii, ad fin. Hegel quotes the English.
95. This means anything that befalls one, whether good or bad. Thus simply to transliterate the word as Hegel does may give a wrong impression in English where our pathos, with a long a, has nothing to do with Hegel’s pathos. It is used frequently in what follows, and I have put it into inverted commas. Sometimes it simply means a strong passion, e.g. of love or hate. See L. and S., s.v. But Hegel means by it a ‘passionate absorption in fulfilling a one-sided ethical purpose’ (Mure, The Philosophy of Hegel, London, 1965, p. 192).
96. The Misanthrope – first published in his periodical Thalia (Leipzig, 1791); later in a collection of his prose writings (Leipzig, 1802, part 4).
97. A. H. J. La Fontaine, 1758-1831. The Life and Deeds of Count Q. H. vonn Flaming was published in 1795-6.
98. It is not possible to say to what poets Hegel is referring, even if any of them have survived. When he speaks of ‘genuinely living poetry’ (p. 20 above) he may have had Goethe and Schiller in mind.
99. It is a pity that this sentence, so incontestably true, has been so unpalatable to those who have been busy at enlarging and multiplying universities in this country in recent years.
100. Mozart and especially Rossini were Hegel’s favourites.
101. M. Claudius, 2740-5855. The Wandsbeck Messenger was published under the pseudonym ‘Asmus’.
102. This familiar quotation I cannot identify. Statius, iii. 66r, says ‘First in the world fear made the gods’, but I think that Hegel has something Greek in mind.
103. Characters in the Nibelungenlied. My references to this work, which Hegel often mentions in the sequel, are drawn from the English translation by A. T. Hatto (Penguin Books, 1972), in which there are appendixes discussing such points raised by Hegel as the authorship and geography of the poem. After bathing in dragon’s blood, Siegfried became ‘horny’ and invulnerable except at a spot between his shoulder blades. Volker was a nobleman, called ‘minstrel’ because he was a competent amateur. Hegel writes Hagen ‘of Troy’, in conformity with the practice of medieval German writers who liked to trace the ancestry of their heroes back to Trojans or Greeks. Hagen is actually described, however, as ‘Lord of Troneck’, and the location of this place has been disputed. Trondheim has been suggested, but although Hagen is more devoted to Brunhild of Iceland than to Chriemhild of Burgundy, he was a Burgundian vassal and perhaps unlikely to have his fief at such a distance. Lasson, however (p. 323), reads ‘Hagen von Tronje’.
104. The bearer (tragen) and sustainer (ertragen) are inadequate translations of the German words. But they cannot be reproduced in English. The French have porter and supporter.
105. F. H. Jacobi, 1743-1819. The novel was published at Flensburg in 1779. See Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, § 14o, and the reference there to his Phenomenology.
106. 1777-1811. The drama was written in 1809-1o, but not produced until 1821.
107. See above, Introduction 7(iii), and notes there. Also Philosophy of Right, § 140 (f).
108. i.e. the application of both regularity and symmetry.
109. i.e. as distinct from the rigidity of geometrical shapes.
110. The musical and poetic guilds which flourished in German cities from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century. Wagner’s opera provides a faithful representation of guild practices.
111. Book of the Heroes, a collection of heroic and popular epics of the Middle High German period, c. 1225. Ortnit is the eponymous hero of one of them.
112. Ugolino, by H. W. von Gerstenberg (1737-1823).
113. The section on Civil Society in Hegel’s Philosophy of Right should be compared with this whole passage. By this state of ‘universal culture’ he means precisely what he described there as ‘civil society’. See § 187.
114. J. H. Voss, 1751-1826. Luise (1795) has been called a source of Goethe’s H. u. D., which appeared a year later and may have been stimulated by it.
115. Both quotations are from the first canto of H. u. D., ad fin.
116. 1494-1576, leader of the guild of Mastersingers in Nürnberg, and author of numerous songs, poems, and dramas.
117. Some liturgical dramas did include elements of rough comedy, but I have been unable to discover to which of them Hegel is referring. The mention of tobacco may date it later than Sachs. Oberammergau started in 1634, but I am not implying that it is to that that Hegel is referring.
118. Siècle de Louis XIV, ch. xxxii. The context is drama and a pane gyric on Racine.
119. ‘Water is best’, the first line of Pindar’s first Ode. The meaning is probably that water is the most translucent of liquids. In his Ode sur le carosse de l'Impératrice de Russie, Voltaire describes Pindar as verbose and unintelligible.
120. Racine’s Play, 1674.
121. A. F. F. Kotzebue, 1761-1819, dramatist. His murder resulted in the suppression of student clubs. See my note on pp. 299-300 of my translation of the Philosophy of Right.
122. The quotations are not from Kotzebue but from Schiller’s Shakespeares Schatten.
123. J. G. von Herder, 1744-1803. See, e.g., ‘Ober Ossian und die Lieder alter Völker’ in Von deutscher Art und Kunst, 1773.
124. Sarastro’s first aria in The Magic Flute (1790).
125. Attila, King of the Huns, resident in Vienna at the time of the poem.
126. F. G. Klopstock, 1724-1803. The reference is to his Odes.
127. J. J. Bodmer, 1698-1783. His biblical epic, Noah, appeared in 1750.
128. i.e. in Bodmer and Klopstock.
129. In his essay Philostrats Gemälde (1818).
130. Two sets of descriptions in prose of pictures which the author purports to have seen. There was more than one Philostratus. This one may have flourished about A.D. 210.
131. e.g. .1- Henry IV, Act v, scene iii.
132. Presumably in Gluck’s opera, Orfeo, 1762.
133. Schiller’s play, 1802.
134. Here the reference again is to the Oresteia, the trilogy of Aeschylus. But see above, p. 227, note, and the relevant passage.
135. Poetry and Truth, the title of Goethe’s autobiography (1811).
136. Schiller’s play, 1804.
137. to Baldassare Castiglione. He was asked where he had found such a beautiful model for his Galatea.
138. For the terminology used in this paragraph and not elsewhere, see p. 5, note 2.
139. One of Hegel’s more hazardous generalizations – Mozart, Keats, etc., come to mind.
140. With this remark compare: ‘Anyone can make verses like F. von Schlegel, but to get beyond this and produce real art needs an inborn talent’ (Lasson, p. 69).
141. C. Fauriel, 1772-1844: Chants populaires de Grece modern, 1824-5. In 1827 Hegel met him at dinner in Paris.
142. In book ii of his memoirs, Marmontel says that his imagination was warmed when he was in congenial feminine company and surrounded by 50,000 bottles of champagne. He does not say whether he was influenced by them or by the lady. Hegel’s remark may be a confused recollection of this passage.
143. This quotation and the next are from Goethe’s ballad Der Sänger, 1783.
144. A collection of folk-songs made by L. J. von Arnim and C. Brentano, published 1805-8. The drummer has been condemned to death, and he speaks to his former companions as he is being led out of prison to the place of execution.
145. This is from the poem Blumengruss, c. 1810.
146. This is a hit at F. von Schlegel who had maintained the contrary in his Prosaische jugendschriften (ed. by Minor), vol. ii, p. 364.
147. From Discours sur le Style, by G. L. L. de Buffon, 1707-88.
148.The reference seems to be to the ceiling Mount Parnassus. The villa is in Rome. Apollo is the leader of the Muses. The quotation is from von Rumohr.
149. A. Dürer, 1471-1528.
150. J. P. F. Richter, 1763-1825.
151. At Wetzlar; see Hegel’s Political Writings (Oxford, 1964), p. 170.
152. J. B. Basedow, 1723-90.