Hegel's Lectures on Aesthetics. Volume 2.

Part III
The System of the Individual Arts


The first part of the science we are studying was devoted to the general conception and the reality of beauty in nature and art; true beauty and true art or, in other words, the Ideal, in the still-undeveloped unity of its fundamental characteristics, independently of its particular content and its different modes of manifestation.

Secondly, this inherently solid unity of artistic beauty was unfolded within itself into an ensemble of forms of art. Their specific character was at the same time a specification of the content which the spirit of art had to frame from its own resources into an inherently articulated system of beautiful and general views of God and man.

What both of these spheres still lack is reality in the element of externality itself. For in the case of the Ideal as such and also of the particular forms of art-symbolic, classical, romantic-we did continually speak of the relation between (i) the meaning, as the inner side of the work of art, and (ii) its configuration in an external and phenomenal mode, or [1] of the complete conciliation of the two. But while this is so, nevertheless this realization of the Ideal amounted only to the still purely inner production of art within the sphere of the universal world-views into which it was elaborated. But it is implicit in the very conception of beauty that it shall make itself objective externally as a work of art presented to immediate vision, to sense and sensuous imagination. Consequently it is only through this existent, which is appropriate to itself, that beauty really explicitly becomes beauty and the Ideal.

Therefore, thirdly, we still have to survey this sphere in which the work of art is actualized in the element of the sensuous. For only in virtue of this final configuration is the work of art genuinely concrete, an individual at once real, singular, and perfect.

The content of this third department of aesthetics can be afforded only by the Ideal, because what is objectified here is the Idea of the beautiful in the totality of the world-views implied by it. The work of art, therefore, is even now still to be regarded as an inherently articulated totality, yet as an organism. In the Second Part the different features of this organism were particularized as a group of essentially different world-views. But now they fall apart as separate members, each of which becomes on its own account an independent whole and in this individuality can bring into representation the totality of the different forms of art,[2] In itself, because of its essence, the ensemble of this new reality of art belongs to a single totality; but since it is in the sphere of what is present to sense that this totality is realized, the Ideal is now resolved into its factors or moments and gives them an independent subsistence, although they may interfere with one another, may have an essential relation to one another, and supplement each other. This real world of art is the system of the individual arts.

Now just as the particular art-forms, taken as a group, have in them a progress, a development from the symbolic into the classical and then the romantic, so on the one hand we find in the individual arts also a similar progress because it is precisely the art-forms themselves which acquire their determinate existence through the individual arts. Yet, on the other hand, the individual arts too, independently of the art-forms which they objectify, have in themselves a development, a course which, considered rather abstractly, is common to them all. Each art has its time of efflorescence, of its perfect development as an art, and a history preceding and following this moment of perfection. For the products of all the arts are works of the spirit and therefore are not, like natural productions, complete all at once within their specific sphere; on the contrary, they have a beginning, a progress, a perfection, and an end, a growth, blossoming, and decay.

Here at the very beginning, we will briefly indicate the course of these more abstract differences because it asserts itself similarly in all the arts. These differences, usually under the name of severe, ideal, and pleasing style, are commonly described as the different artistic styles; these especially bear on the general mode of conception and portrayal in respect, for one thing, of the external form and its freedom, or lack of it, simplicity, overloading in details, etc., and in short on all the aspects in which the determinate content overflows into external appearance; for another thing, they concern the aspect of the technical manipulation of the sensuous material in which art brings its content into existence.

It is a common prejudice that art made its beginning with the natural and the simple. It is true that this can be granted in a certain sense: i.e. the crude and the savage, compared with the genuine spirit of art, are the simpler and the more natural. But what is natural, alive, and simple in art as fine art is quite different from this. Those beginnings which are simple and natural in the sense of being crude have nothing to do with art and beauty: as, for example, children make simple figures and with a few random strokes sketch a human form, a horse, etc. Beauty, as a work of the spirit, requires on the contrary even for its beginnings a developed technique, many sorts of experiment and practice; and the simple, as the simplicity of beauty, as ideal proportion, is rather a result which only after manifold intermediate steps has reached the point where multiplicity, variety, confusion, extravagance, and laboriousness have been overcome and where in this victory all preliminary studies and preparatory apparatus have been concealed or swept away; consequently only now does free beauty seem to have been produced wholly unhindered and as it were by a single cast.[3] This is like the manners of a cultured man: in everything he says and does he behaves quite simply, freely, and naturally, although he does not possess this simple freedom at all from the start but has acquired it only as a result of a thorough and perfect education.

Therefore in the nature of the case, and actually in history, art appears in its beginnings rather as artificiality and awkwardness, often copious in accessories, laborious in the elaboration of draperies and surroundings generally; and the more composite and varied these externals are, the simpler in that case is what is really expressive; this means that the truly free and living expression of the spirit in its forms and movements remains all the poorer.

In this regard, consequently, the earliest and oldest works of art in all the individual arts offer the most inherently abstract content, simple stories in poetry, seething theogonies with abstract thoughts and their imperfect development, individual saints in stone and wood, etc.; and the portrayal remains inflexible, uniform or confused, stiff, and dry. In visual art especially the facial expression is obtuse, with the peace of animal vacuity, not of spiritual and profound inner meditation, or else it is sharp and with an exaggeration of characteristic traits. Similarly too the forms and movements of the body are dead; the arms, for example, are glued to the body, the legs are not separated or they are moved unskilfully, angularly, with sharp edges; in other ways too the figures are shapeless, narrowly compressed or disproportionately thin and lengthened. On the other hand a great deal of love and industry is devoted to externals, to clothes, hair, weapons, and trappings of other sorts; but the folds of the dress, for instance, remain wooden and independent without being adapted to the limbs (as we can see often enough in the case of earlier images of the Virgin and saints); at one time they are set beside one another in uniform regularity, at another broken up variously in harsh angles, not flowing but laid broadly and amply round the figure. Similarly the first attempts at poetry are jerky, disconnected, monotonous, dominated abstractly by only one idea or feeling, or too they are wild, violent, in detail obscurely entangled, and in ensemble not yet bound together into a firm inner organic whole.

But [first], style, as we have to consider it here, consequently begins, after such preliminary studies, only with what is fine art proper. In fine art, style is indeed likewise still harsh at the start, but it is already softened more beautifully into severity. This severe style is that higher abstraction of beauty which clings to what is important and expresses and presents it in its chief outlines, but still despises charm and grace, grants domination to the topic alone, and above all does not devote much industry and elaboration to accessories. Thus the severe style still limits itself to reproducing what is present and available. In other words, while on the one hand, in content it rests, in respect of ideas and presentation, on the given, e.g. on the present sacrosanct religious tradition, on the other hand, for the external form it allows complete liberty to the topic and not to its own invention. For it is satisfied with the general grand effect of establishing the topic and therefore in its expressions it follows what is and is there. But similarly everything accidental is kept aloof from this style so that the caprice and freedom of the artist’s personality does not seem to intrude through it. The motifs are simple, and, in the aims represented, few, and so after all no great variety appears in the details of the figure, or of muscles and movements.

Secondly, the ideal, purely beautiful style hovers in between the purely substantive expression of the topic and the complete emergence of what pleases. As the character of this style we may signalize supreme liveliness in a beautiful and still grandeur, like what we marvel at in the works of Phidias or in Homer. This is a liveliness of all points, forms, turns of phrase, movements, limbs; in it there is nothing meaningless or inexpressive; everything is active and effective, and it displays the stir and beating pulse of the free life itself, from whatever side the work of art is considered a liveliness which essentially presents, however, only a whole, and is only an expression of one thing, of one individuality and one action.

Moreover in such true liveliness we find at the same time the breath of grace wafted over the whole work. Grace is an appeal to the listener or spectator which the severe style despises. Yet even if charis, grace, proves to be only an acknowledgement, a courtesy, to an audience, still in the ideal style it is altogether free from this eagerness to please. We can explain this in a more philosophical way. The topic is the substantial thing, concentrated and perfect in itself. But since it comes into appearance through art, it labours, so to say, to exist there for contemplation by others, and to pass over from its simplicity and inherent compression to particularization, partition, and dispersal. This progressive development into existence for others is to be explained on the part of the topic as if it were a complaisance, because it does not seem to need this more concrete existence for itself and yet pours itself completely into it for our sake. But such a grace should assert itself at this stage only if the substantial thing, as self-maintained, persists at the same time unweakened by the grace of its appearance, a grace that blossoms only in externals as an original sort of superfluity. Inner self-confidence’s indifference to its external existence, as well as its inner peace, constitutes that beautiful neglect of grace which places no direct value on this its external appearance. At the same time it is precisely here that the loftiness of beautiful style is to be sought. Beautiful and free art is unconcerned in its external form; there it does not let us see any private reflection, any aim or intention; on the contrary, in every expression, every turn of phrase, it hints only at the Idea and soul of the whole. Only in this way does the Ideal of beautiful style maintain itself; this style is not harsh or severe, but is already mellowed into the serenity of beauty. No expression, no part of the whole is forced; each member appears on its own account and enjoys an existence of its own and yet at the same time it resigns itself to being only one factor of the whole. In this way alone is the grace of animation added to the depth and determinacy of individuality and character; on the one hand, it is solely the topic which dominates; but owing to the completeness of its exposition and the clear and yet full variety of the traits which make the appearance wholly determinate, distinct, living, and actual, the spectator is as it were liberated from the topic as such because he has its concrete life completely before him.

But, owing to this last point, so soon as the ideal style pursues still further this turning to the external side of the appearance, it passes over into the pleasing or agreeable style. Here it is obvious at once that something is intended other than the liveliness of the topic itself. Pleasing, an effect produced from without, is declared as an aim and becomes a concern on its own account. For example, the famous Belvedere Apollo does not itself belong exactly to the pleasing style, but it does at least belong to the transition from the lofty ideal to charm. In the case of such a kind of pleasing, it is no longer the one topic itself to which the whole external appearance refers; consequently in this way the particular details of this appearance become more and more independent, even if at first they still proceed from the topic itself and are necessitated by it. We feel that they are adduced and interpolated as decorations or contrived episodes. But just because they remain accidental to the topic itself and have their essential purpose solely in relation to the spectator or reader, they flatter the person for whom they have been devised. Virgil and Horace, for example, delight us in this respect by a cultivated style in which we perceive versatile intentions and an effort to please. In architecture, sculpture, and painting, the pleasing style produces the disappearance of simple and grand masses; everywhere we see little independent miniatures, decoration, ornaments, dimples on the cheeks, graceful coiffures, smiles, robes variously draped, attractive colours and forms, poses that are striking and difficult and yet unconstrained and alive. In what is called Gothic or German architecture, for example, when it passes over into a pleasing style, we find an infinitely elaborated gracefulness, so that the whole seems to be put together out of nothing but little columns superimposed on one another with the most varied decorations, turrets, pinnacles, etc. These are pleasing in themselves yet without destroying the impression of great proportions and unsurpassable masses.

But since this whole stage of art by[4] its presentation of the external makes straight for an exterior effect we may cite as its further general character the production of effects. This, as its means of making an impression, may make use of the unpleasing, the strained, the colossal (in which the tremendous genius of Michelangelo, for instance, often ran riot), abrupt contrasts, etc. Producing effects is in general the dominating tendency of turning to the public, so that the work of art no longer displays itself as peaceful, satisfied in itself, and serene; on the contrary, it turns inside out and as it were makes an appeal to the spectator and tries to put itself into relation with him by means of the mode of portrayal. Both, peace in itself and turning to the onlooker, must indeed be present in the work of art, but the two sides must be in the purest equilibrium. If the work of art in the severe style is entirely shut in upon itself without wishing to speak to a spectator, it leaves us cold; but if it goes too far out of itself to him, it pleases but is without solidity or at least does not please (as it should) by solidity of content and the simple treatment and presentation of that content. In that event this emergence from itself falls into the contingency of appearance and makes the work of art itself into such a contingency in which what we recognize is no longer the topic itself and the form which the nature of the topic determines necessarily, but the poet and the artist with his subjective aims, his workmanship and his skill in execution. In this way the public becomes entirely free from the essential content of the topic and is brought by the work only into conversation with the artist: for now what is of special importance is that everyone should understand what the artist intended and how cunningly and skilfully he has handled and executed his design. To be brought thus into this subjective community of understanding and judgement with the artist is the most flattering thing. The reader or listener marvels at the poet or composer, and the onlooker at the visual artist, all the more readily, and finds his own conceit all the more agreeably satisfied, the more the work of art invites him to this subjective judgement of art and puts into his hands the intentions and views of the artist. In the severe style, on the other hand, it is as if nothing at all were granted to the spectator; it is the content’s substance which in its presentation severely and sharply repulses any subjective judgement. It is true that this repelling may often be a mere hypochondria of the artist who inserts a depth of meaning into his work but will not go on to a free, easy, serene exposition of the thing; on the contrary, he deliberately intends to make things difficult for the spectator. But in that case such a trading in secrets is itself only an affectation once more and a false contrast to the aim of pleasing.

It is the French above all who aim in their works at flattery, attraction, and plenty of effects; therefore they have developed as the chief thing this light-hearted and pleasing turning to the public, because they look for the real value of their works in the satisfaction which these give to others whom they want to interest and on whom they want to produce an effect. This tendency is especially marked in their dramatic poetry. For example Marmontel tells the following story about the production of his Denis-le-Tyran: The decisive moment was a question put to the tyrant. Clairon had to put this question. As the important moment approached, while addressing Denis, she took a step forward at the same time towards the audience and so apostrophized them. This action decided the success of the whole piece.[5]

We Germans, on the other hand, make too strong a demand for a content in works of art in the depths of which the artist is then to satisfy himself, unconcerned about the public which must look after itself, give itself trouble and help itself in any way it likes or can.

Division of the Subject

As for the more detailed division of our third Part, after these general indications of stylistic differences common to all the arts, it is especially the one-sided Understanding that has hunted around everywhere for the most varied kinds of bases for classifying the individual arts and sorts of art. But the genuine division can only be derived from the nature of the work of art; in the whole of the genres of art the nature of art unfolds the whole of the aspects and factors inherent in its own essence. In this connection the first thing that presents itself as important is the consideration that, since artistic productions now acquire the vocation of issuing into sensuous reality, art too is now there for apprehension by the senses, so that, in consequence, the specific characterization of the senses and of their corresponding material in which the work of art is objectified must provide the grounds for the division of the individual arts. Now the senses, because they are senses, i.e. related to the material world, to things outside one another and inherently diverse, are themselves different; touch, smell, taste, hearing, and sight. To prove the inner necessity of this ensemble and its articulation is not our business here: it is a matter for the philosophy of nature where I have discussed it [in §§ 358 ff.]. Our problem is restricted to examining whether all these senses-or if not all, then which of them-are capable by their nature of being organs for the apprehension of works of art. In this matter we have already [in Vol. I, Introduction, pp. 38-9] excluded touch, taste, and smell. Böttiger’s[6] fondling of the voluptuous parts of marble statues of female goddesses has nothing to do with the contemplation or enjoyment of art. For by the sense of touch the individual subject, as a sensuous individual, is simply related to what is sensuously individual and its weight, hardness, softness, and material resistance. The work of art, however, is not purely sensuous, but the spirit appearing in the sensuous. Neither can a work of art be tasted as such, because taste does not leave its object free and independent but deals with it in a really practical way, dissolves and consumes it. A cultivation and refinement of taste is only possible and requisite in respect of foods and their preparation or of the chemical qualities of objects. But the objet d'art should be contemplated in its independent objectivity on its own account; true, it is there for our apprehension but only in a theoretical and

intellectual way, not in a practical one, and it has no relation to desire or the will. As for smell, it cannot be an organ of artistic enjoyment either, because things are only available to smell in so far as they are in process and [their aroma is] dissipated through the air and its practical influence.

Sight, on the other hand, has a purely theoretical relation to objects by means of light, this as it were non-material matter. This for its part lets objects persist freely and independently; it makes them shine and appear but, unlike air and fire, it does not consume them in practice whether unnoticeably or openly. To vision, void of desire, everything is presented which exists materially in space as something outside everything else, but which, because it remains undisturbed in its integrity, is manifest only in its shape and colour.

The other theoretical sense is hearing. Here the opposite comes into view. Instead of with shape, colour, etc., hearing has to do with sound, with the vibration of a body; here there is no process of dissolution, like that required by smell; there is merely a trembling of the object which is left uninjured thereby. This ideal movement in which simple subjectivity, as it were the soul of the body, is expressed by its sound, is apprehended by the ear just as theoretically as the eye apprehends colour or shape: and in this way the inner side of objects is made apprehensible by the inner life [of mind].

To these two senses there is added, as a third element, ideas, sense-perceptions, the memory and preservation of images, which enter consciousness singly by a separate act of perception, and, now subsumed under universals, are put by imagination into relation and unity with these. The result is that now on the one hand external reality itself exists as inward and spiritual, while on the other hand the spiritual assumes in our ideas the form of the external and comes into consciousness as a series of things outside and alongside one another.

This threefold mode of apprehension provides for art the familiar division into (i) the visual arts which work out their content for our sight into an objective external shape and colour, (ii) the art of sound, i.e. music, and (iii) poetry which, as the art of speech, uses sound purely as a sign in order by its means to address our inner being, namely the contemplation, feelings, and ideas belonging to our spiritual life. Yet if we propose to go no further than this sensuous side of art as the final basis of division, we at once run into a perplexity in relation to principles in detail, since instead of being drawn from the concrete concept of the thing at issue the bases of division are drawn only from the thing’s most abstract aspects. Therefore we must look around again for the mode of division which has deeper grounds, and which has already been indicated in the Introduction [pp. 82-3] as the true and systematic articulation of this Third Part. Art has no other mission but to bring before sensuous contemplation the truth as it is in the spirit, reconciled in its totality with objectivity and the sphere of sense. Now since this is to come about at this stage in the medium of the external reality of artistic productions, the totality which is the Absolute in its truth falls apart here into its different moments.

In the middle here, the really solid centre, is the presentation of the Absolute, of God himself as God in his independence, not yet developed to movement and difference, not yet proceeding to action and self-particularization, but self-enclosed in grand divine peace and tranquillity: the Ideal shaped in a way adequate to itself, remaining in its existence identical and correspondent with itself. In order to be able to appear in this infinite independence, the Absolute must be grasped as spirit, as subject, but as subject having in itself at the same time its adequate external appearance.

But as divine subject [or person], entering upon actual reality, it has confronting it an external surrounding world which must be built up, adequately to the Absolute, into an appearance harmonizing with the Absolute and penetrated by it. This surrounding world is in one aspect objectivity as such, the basis and enclosure of external nature which in itself has no spiritual absolute meaning, no subjective inner life, and therefore while it is to appear, transformed into beauty, as an enclosure for the spirit, it can express the spirit only allusively.

Contrasted with external nature there stands the subjective inner life, the human mind as the medium for the existence and appearance of the Absolute. With this subjective life there enters at once the multiplicity and variety of individuality, particularization, difference, action, and development, in short the entire and variegated world of the reality of the spirit in which the Absolute is known, willed, felt, and activated.

It is clear already from this hint that the differences, into which the total content of art is broken up, correspond essentially, in respect of artistic apprehension and portrayal, with what we considered in Part Two under the name of the symbolic, classical, and romantic forms of art. For symbolic art does not reach the identity of content and form but only a relationship of the two and a mere indication of the inner meaning in an appearance external alike to that indication and the content which it is supposed to express. Thus it provides the fundamental type of the art which has the task of working on the objective as such, on the natural surroundings, and making them a beautiful artistic enclosure for spirit, and of picturing the inner meaning of spirit in an allusive way in this external sphere. The classical Ideal, on the other hand, corresponds to the portrayal of the Absolute as such, in its independently self-reposing external reality, while romantic art has for both its content and form the subjectivity of emotion and feeling in its infinity and its finite particularity.

On this basis of division the system of the individual arts is articulated in the following way.

First, architecture confronts us as the beginning of art, a beginning grounded in the essential nature of art itself. It is the beginning of art because, in general terms, at its start art has not found for the presentation of its spiritual content either the adequate material or the corresponding forms. Therefore it has to be content with merely seeking a true harmony between content and mode of presentation and with an external relation between the two. The material for this first art is the inherently non-spiritual, i.e. heavy matter, shapeable only according to the laws of gravity; its form is provided by productions of external nature bound together regularly and symmetrically to be a purely external reflection of spirit and[7] to be the totality of a work of art.

The second art is sculpture. For its principle and content it has spiritual individuality as the classical ideal so that the inner and spiritual element finds its expression in the bodily appearance immanent in the spirit; this appearance art has here to present in an actually existent work of art. On this account, for its material it likewise still lays hold of heavy matter in its spatial entirety, yet without regard to its weight and natural conditions and without shaping it regularly in accordance with inorganic or organic forms; nor in respect of its visibility does it degrade it to being a mere show of an external appearance or particularize it within in an essential way. But the form, determined by the content itself, is here the real life of the spirit, the human form and its objective organism, pervaded by spirit, which has to shape into an adequate appearance the independence of the Divine in its lofty peace and tranquil greatness, untouched by the disunion and restriction of action, conflicts, and sufferings.

Thirdly we must group together into a final ensemble the arts whose mission it is to give shape to the inner side of personal life.

This final series begins with painting, which converts the external shape entirely into an expression of the inner life. Within the surrounding world, painting[8] does not only [as sculpture does] present the ideal self-sufficiency of the Absolute but now brings the Absolute before our vision as also inherently subjective in its spiritual existence, willing, feeling, and acting, in its operation and relation to what is other than itself, and therefore too in suffering, grief, and death, in the whole range of passions and satisfactions. Its object, therefore, is no longer God as God, as the object of human consciousness, but this consciousness[9] itself: God either in his actual life of subjectively living action and suffering, or as the spirit of the community, spirit with a sense of itself, mind in its privation, its sacrifice, or its blessedness and joy in life and activity in the midst of the existing world. As means for presenting this content painting must avail itself in general, so far as shape goes, of what appears externally, i.e. both of nature as such and of the human organism because that permits the spiritual to shine clearly through itself. For material, however, it cannot use heavy matter and its existence in the three dimensions of space, but instead must do with this material what it does with shapes [in nature), namely inwardize or spiritualize it. The first step whereby the sensuous is raised in this respect to approach the spirit consists (a) in cancelling the real sensuous appearance [Erscheinung] , the visibility of which is transformed into the pure shining [Schein] of art, and (b) in colour, by the differences, shades, and blendings of which this transformation is effected. Therefore, for the expression of the inner soul painting draws together the trinity of spatial dimensions into a surface as the first inwardizing of the external, and presents spatial intervals and shapes by means of the sheen of colour. For painting is not concerned with making visible as such but with the visibility which is both self-particularizing and also inwardized. In sculpture and architecture the shapes are made visible by light from without. But, in painting, the material, in itself dark, has its own inner and ideal element, namely light. The material is lit up in itself and precisely on this account itself darkens the light. But the unity and mutual formation of light and darkness is colour.[10]

Now secondly the opposite of painting in one and the same sphere is music. Its own proper element is the inner life as such, explicitly shapeless feeling which cannot manifest itself in the outer world and its reality but only through an external medium which quickly vanishes and is cancelled at the very moment of expression. Therefore music’s content is constituted by spiritual subjectivity in its immediate subjective inherent unity, the human heart, feeling as such; its material is sound, while its configuration is counterpoint, the harmony, division, linkage, opposition, discord, and modulation of notes in accordance with their quantitative differences from one another and their artistically treated tempo.

Finally, the third art after painting and music is the art of speech, poetry in general, the absolute and true art of the spirit and its expression as spirit, since everything that consciousness conceives and shapes spiritually within its own inner being speech alone can adopt, express, and bring before our imagination. For this reason poetry in its content is the richest and most unrestricted of the arts. Yet what it wins in this way on the spiritual side it all the same loses again on the sensuous. That is to say, it works neither for contemplation by the senses, as the visual arts do, nor for purely ideal feeling, as music does, but on the contrary tries to present to spiritual imagination and contemplation the spiritual meanings which it has shaped within its own soul. For this reason the material through which it manifests itself retains for it only the value of a means (even if an artistically treated means) for the expression of spirit to spirit, and it has not the value of being a sensuous existent in which the spiritual content can find a corresponding reality. Amongst the means hitherto considered, the means here can only be sound as the sensuous material still relatively the most adequate to spirit. Yet sound does not preserve here, as it does in music, a value on its own account; if it did, then the one essential aim of art could be exhausted in its manipulation. On the contrary, sound in poetry is entirely filled with the spiritual world and the specific objects of ideas and contemplation, and it appears as the mere external designation of this content. As for poetry’s mode of configuration, poetry in this matter appears as the total art because, what is only relatively the case in painting and music, it repeats in its own field the modes of presentation characteristic of the other arts.

What this means is that (i) as epic poetry, poetry gives to its content the form of objectivity though here this form does not attain an external existence, as it does in the visual arts; but still, objectivity here is a world apprehended under the form of something objective by imagination and objectively presented to inner imagination. This constitutes speech proper as speech, which is satisfied in its own content and the expression of that content in speech.

(ii) Yet conversely poetry is, all the same, subjective speech, the inner life manifesting itself as inner, i.e. lyric which summons music to its aid in order to penetrate more deeply into feeling and the heart.

(iii) Finally, poetry also proceeds to speech within a compact action which, when manifested objectively, then gives external shape to the inner side of this objective actual occurrence and so can be closely united with music and gestures, mimicry, dances, etc. This is dramatic art in which the whole man presents, by reproducing it, the work of art produced by man.

These five arts make up the inherently determinate and articulated system of what art actually is in both essence and reality. It is true that outside them there are other imperfect arts, such as gardening, dancing, etc., which however we can only mention in passing. For a philosophical treatment has to keep to differences determined by the essence of art and to develop and comprehend the true configurations appropriate to them. Nature, and the real world in general, does not abide by these fixed delimitations but has a wider freedom to deviate from them; and in this connection we often enough hear praise given to productions of genius precisely because they have to rise above such clear distinctions. But in nature the hybrids, amphibia, transitional stages, announce not the excellence and freedom of nature but only its impotence; it cannot hold fast to the essential differences grounded in the thing itself and they are blurred by external conditions and influences. Now the same is true of art with its intermediate kinds, although these may provide much that is enjoyable, graceful, and meritorious, even if not really perfect.

If, after these introductory remarks and summaries, we propose to proceed to a more detailed consideration of the individual arts, we are at once met in another way by a perplexity. This is because, after concerning ourselves up to this point with art as such, with the ideal and the general forms into which it was developed in accordance with its essential nature, we now have to approach the concrete existence of art, and this means treading on the ground of the empirical. Here it is much the same as it is in nature: its general departments are comprehensible in their necessity, but in what actually exists for our senses single productions and their species (both in their existent shape and in the aspects they offer for our consideration) have such a wealth of variety that (a) the most varied ways of treating them are possible and (b) if we want to apply the criterion of the simple differences entailed by the philosophical Concept of nature, this Concept cannot cover the ground, and thinking in terms of that Concept seems unable to get its breath amid all this fullness of detail. Yet if we content ourselves with mere description and reflections that only skim the surface, this again does not accord with our aim of developing the subject philosophically and systematically.

Then moreover there is added to all this the difficulty that each individual art now demands for itself a philosophical treatment of its own, because with the steadily growing taste for it the range of connoisseurship has become ever richer and more extended. The fondness that dilettanti have for connoisseurship has become a fashion under the influence of philosophy,[11] in our day, ever since the time when it was proposed to hold that in art the real religion, the truth, and the Absolute was to be found and that art towered above philosophy because it was not abstract but contained the Idea in the real world as well and presented it there to concrete contemplation and feeling. On the other hand it is a mark of superiority in art nowadays to equip oneself with a superfluity of the most minute details and everyone is expected to have noticed something new. Occupation with such connoisseurship is a sort of learned idleness which does not need to be all that hard. For it is in a way very agreeable to look at works of art, to adopt the thoughts and reflections which may occur in consequence, to make easily one’s own the views that others have had about them, and so to become and to be a judge and connoisseur of art. Now the richer are the facts and reflections produced by the fact that everyone thinks he has discovered something original of his very own, the more now does every art-indeed every branch of it-demand a complete treatment of its own. Next, moreover, alongside this, history enters of necessity. In connection with the consideration and assessment of works of art it carries matters further and in a more scholarly way. Finally, in order to discuss the details of a branch of art a man must have seen a great deal, a very great deal, and seen it again. I have seen a considerable amount, but not all that would be necessary for treating this subject in full detail.

All these difficulties I will meet with the simple explanation that it does not fall within my aim at all to teach connoisseurship or to produce historical pedantries. On the contrary my aim is simply to explore philosophically the essential general views of the things at issue and their relation to the Idea of beauty in its realization in the sensuous field of art. In pursuit of our aim we should not be embarrassed by the multifariousness of artistic productions which has been indicated above. After all, despite this variety the guiding thread is the essence of the thing itself, the essence implied by the Concept. And even if, owing to the element of its realization, this is frequently lost in accident and chance, there are still points at which it emerges clearly all the same, and to grasp these and develop their philosophical implications is the task which philosophy has to fulfil.


1. oder in Hotho’s first edition has dropped out from the second, but I take this to be a misprint, as Bassenge does.

2. See Vol. I, p. 72, note; p. 82 , note.

3. This metaphor from, e.g., the casting of a statue in bronze is occasionally used elsewhere. See, for example, Vol. I, p. 407, note 2.

4. Omitting und, with Hotho’s first edition.

5. In Book ii of his Memoirs Marmontel does not tell this story, but he does say that an actor achieved this effect in the production of Aristomene.

6. K. A. Bottiger, 1760-1835; amongst his voluminous writings I have been unable to identify this quotation. Hegel met him and attended a lecture of his in Dresden in 1824.

7. With Hotho’s first edition I retain und.

8. In Hegel’s text the subject of this sentence is not ‘painting’ but ‘the inner life’. However, that Hegel means ‘painting’ seems clear from the fact that the first word in his following sentence is Ihr.

9. Bewusstseins (the genitive) in Hotho’s second edition must be a misprint.

10. Another allusion to Goethe’s theory of colour.

11. This may be an allusion to the closing passages of Schelling’s System of Transcendental Idealism, or to his lectures on the Philosophy of Art.