By Georg Wilhelm Fredrich Hegel
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Additional info for Aesthetics: Lectures on Fine Art. Volume I
For art can choose its subjects, and is thus distinct from history or the sciences, which have their material given to them. In order, in this aspect of the matter, to be able to form a thorough estimate of the view that the aim of art is moral, we must first ask what specific standpoint of morality this view professes. If we keep more clearly in view the standpoint of the 'moral' as we have to take it in the best sense of the word today, it is soon obvious that its concept does not immediately coincide with what apart from it we generally call virtue, conventional life, respectability, etc.
This activity is the rational element which exists as spirit only in so far as it actively drives itself forth into consciousness, yet what it bears within itself it places before itself only in sensuous form. Thus this activity has a spiritual content which yet it configurates sensuously because only in this sensuous guise can it gain knowledge of the content. This can be compared with the characteristic mentality of a man experienced in life, or even of a man of quick wit and ingenuity, who, although he knows perfectly well what matters in life, what in substance holds men together, what moves them, what power dominates them, nevertheless has neither himself grasped this knowledge in general rules nor expounded it to others in general reflections.
2 Here Hegel's interpretation of Kant, like Schiller's, is based on a measure of misunderstanding. , translation of Hegel's Philosophy of Right (Oxford, 1942), § 124, of his Early Theological Writings (Chicago, 1948), p. 211, and H. J. ), pp. 48 and 84. , for one reader the moral of Goethe's Elective Affinities is approval of marriage, while for another reader it is disapproval (G. H. Lewes, Life of Goethe, bk. vu, ch. iv). In a work of art, as in life, the greater a man's character the more are different interpretations put on it by different people.
Aesthetics: Lectures on Fine Art. Volume I by Georg Wilhelm Fredrich Hegel