Hegel's Aesthetics: The Art of Idealism


ACLS Fellowship Program




Hegel’s notorious claim that art ends means that, despite its potential for explaining art’s role in human experience and its ability to interpret particular artworks, his philosophy of art is often neglected. This project argues that by embedding his aesthetic theory in his philosophical idealism, analyzing particular artworks he discusses, and connecting his thought to the vibrant aesthetic debates of his time, the potential of Hegel’s thoughts on art can be restored. These new perspectives also reveal that although Hegel claims art can end in several ways—within a historical period, by exhausting conceptual possibilities within a genre, or by disintegrating into the agreeable, the domestic, or the cruel—his belief in its centrality to human life never wavered. His theory clarifies art’s value in general and offers a foundation for interpreting contemporary art in particular.