Hegel aesthetics
Below are my notes on Hegel's "Lectures on Fine Arts"
  • Beauty of art vs. beauty of nature. Beauty of art is
    higher. For example, a reflection of the clouds in a puddle is more
    beautiful than clouds themselves.
  • Interest in beauty "softens the heart" to the
    point of becoming feminine.
  • Art, like sports (e.g. yachting), like any discipline,
is another road to everything, i.e.
    the totality of knowledge.
  • A sailor like Yuri is a kind of chaser after the beautiful in his "Sunset"
  • "Beauty, powerless and helpless, hates
    understanding which demands from it that which it can not give" -
    Hegel, "Phenomenology"
  • "its (i.e. art's) true task is to bring the
    highest interests of spirit to our minds"
  • Hirt, 1797: "lays it down that the beautiful is
    ‘the perfect which is or can be an object of eye, ear, or imagination’. He
    then further defines the perfect as ‘what corresponds with its aim, what
    nature or art intended to produce in the formation of the object within
    its genus and species’". In other words, beauty is expediency.
  • Goethe says: ‘The supreme principle of antiquity was
    the significant, but the supreme result of a successful treatment was the
  • "the spirit and the soul shine through the human
    eye, through a man’s face, flesh, skin, through his whole figure [Gestalt],
    and here the meaning is always something wider than what shows itself in
    the immediate appearance. It is in this way that the work of art is to be
    significant". We can see more than just the figure. We see the whole
    history of a person's development, life history, growth, through that
    person's, or animal's, etc. appearance.
  • Methodology of a new science:
  1. establish the "Concept" of the subject,
  2. then establish divisions of the subject matter, which
    are contained in the concept of it. (This proves that I am right to start
    my "nature of transitional states" with 1) methodology, 2)
    discussion of other theories on the subject (a logical discussion, and at
    the same time Aristotelean manner of starting a subject), after which I
    pass on to 3) brief historical development of the subject (USSR, other
    transitional states), after which I discuss the 4) the main concept
    (nomenclature-capitalist collusion, in its development and "knowledge
    tree", i.e. ramifications. 5) Then, I must briefly scetch the opposite
    of "transitional states", i.e. capitalist states (essentially,
    the same process of knowing as for transitional states), and 6) establish
    main points of interaction between these two entities. 7) Only then I can
    discuss "new revolutionary-knowing subject", which inevitably
    must involve different political forces and parties.)
  • "the higher the standing of the artist, the more
    profoundly should he display the depths of the heart and the spirit"
    = this I feel in my teaching of English. Now I can direct my class better
    than before, e.g. on such subjects as "beauty". But I still have
    not mastered "the politics".
  • "art seems to proceed from a higher impulse and to
    satisfy higher needs, — at times the highest and absolute needs since it
    is bound up with the most universal views of life and the religious
    interests of whole epochs and peoples" - for example, art can satisfy
    the need for tenderness when we don't meet with it in everyday life.
  • In art, man "places himself before himself",
    reflects on what he places before himself, and on the strength of this
    reflection he is a "spirit", i.e. strong, pressing forward into
    the future.
  • "Taste" is an educated sense of beauty
  • I have noticed that "expert's"
    interpretation, or introduction to a work of art (e.g. to an opera or a
    ballet) is often so full of trivial details that it is worse than no
    acquiantance at all. Why so? Why is it that the more they study a field of
    art, the more stupid they become?
  • "the work of art stands in the middle between
    immediate sensuousness and ideal thought". This is precisely the
    place of beauty. It is the intermediate stage between the present and the
    distant ideal. Hence, it is kind of lighthouse, a compass, a GPS.
  • One aim of art is imitation of nature, e.g. imitation
    of a natural DNA. However, "by mere imitation, art cannot stand in
    competition with nature, and, if it tries, it looks like a worm trying to
    crawl after an elephant". I suppose this is the origin of the
    abstract art.
  • Concept of beauty varies among nations and cultures,
    e.g. a music from India may not be pleasing to a European. But it is also
    true that some concepts of beauty are preserved over long periods of time,
    e.g. the beauty of ancient Greek statues and way of expression in general.
  • In "art there lies the capacity to cancel rudeness
    and to bridle and educate impulses, inclinations, and passions",
    "the purification of the passions, instruction, and moral
    improvement", Hence, moral improvement and instruction may be another
    aim of art.
  • Hegel on the principal goal of art: "art’s vocation is to unveil the truth in the
    form of sensuous artistic configuration, to set forth the reconciled
    opposition just mentioned (between universal law and concrete expression),
    and so to have its end and aim in itself, in this very setting forth and
    unveiling. For other ends, like instruction, purification, bettering,
    financial gain, struggling for fame and honour, have nothing to do with
    the work of art as such, and do not determine its nature"

(to be continued)

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