Abstract: Despite Hegel’s effusive praise for art as one of the ways humans express truth, art by his description is both essentially limited and at perpetual risk of ending. This hybrid assessment is apparent first in Hegel’s account of art’s development, which shows art culminating in classical sculpture’s perfect unity, but then, unable to depict Christianity’s interiority, evolving into religion, surrendering to division, or dissipating into prose. It is also evident in his ranking of artistic genres from architecture to poetry according to their ability to help humans produce themselves both individually and collectively: the more adequately art depicts human self-understanding, the more it risks ceasing to be art. Nevertheless, art’s myriad endings do not exhaust its potential. Art that makes humans alive to the unity and interdependence at the heart of reality continues to express the Idea and so achieves Hegel’s ambitions for its role in human life.
Comment: A concise overview of Hegel's aesthetics and philosophy of art. Could be used on an aesthetics course when covering Hegel, either as supplementary to a reading from Hegel or as primary reading introducing a further reading by Hegel the following week.