Art and the Absolute

A Study of Hegel's Aesthetics

By William Desmond

Subjects: Aesthetics
Series: SUNY series in Hegelian Studies
Paperback : 9780887061516, 242 pages, June 1986
Hardcover : 9780887061509, 242 pages, June 1986

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Table of contents



Chapter One. Art, Imitation and Creation

Imitation: Art and the Metaphysics of Image and Original,

Creation: Art and Sensuous Self-Knowledge,

Art and Philosophy: Openness and Subordination,

Chapter Two. Art, Philosophy and Concreteness

The Tension of Image and Concept,

The Question of Concreteness,

Concreteness and the Art Work,

Concreteness and the Philosophical Concept,

Art and Philosophy as Complementary Modes of Concrete Articulation,

Chapter Three. Art, Religion and Absoluteness

Art, Religion and Absolute Spirit,

Art as "Aesthetic,"

Art as "Religious": Symbolical, Classical and Romantic Art,

Art as "Religious": Creativity and Geist ,

The Aesthetic and the Religious: On Right- and Left-Hegelian Readings,

Chapter Four: Art, History and the Question of an End

Art and the Question of History,

Art and Time: Dialectic in Imaginative Form,

Art, History and the Embodiment of an "Open" End,

Art's Wholeness and the Problem of Closure,

Chapter Five. Dialectic, Deconstruction and Art's Wholeness

Deconstruction and the Absence of the Absolute,

Literary Theory and the Question of Wholeness,

Art and Post-Hegelianism: The Nietzschean-Heideggerian Heritage,

Identity, Difference and Deconstruction,

Identity, Difference and Dialectic,

Dialectic, Art and Wholeness,

Chapter Six. Beauty and the Aesthetic Dilemma of Modernity

Beauty and the Absolute,

The Ambiguity of Beauty for Hegel and His Era: Enthusiasm and Scepticism,

Beauty in Eclipse: Subjectivity in Excess,

Ancient Beauty and the Modern Expressive Subject: Hegel in Relation to Platonic and Kantian Aesthetics,

Beauty and the Overcoming of Metaphysical Dualisms: Aquinas and Hegel,

Beauty as Concrete Universal and as Transcendental Concept: The Aesthetic Dilemma of Modernity Revisited,

Aesthetic Theodicy and the Transfiguration of the Ugly,

The Future of Beauty,





Art and the Absolute restores Hegel's aesthetics to a place of central importance in the Hegelian system. In so doing, it brings Hegel into direct relation with the central thrust of contemporary philosophy.

The book draws on the astonishing scope and depths of Hegel's Lectures on Aesthetics, exploring the multifaceted issue of art and the absolute. Why does Hegel ascribe absoluteness to art? What can such absoluteness mean? How does it relate to religion and philosophy? How does Hegel's view of art illuminate the contemporary absence of the absolute? Art and the Absolute argues that these aesthetic questions are not mere theoretical conundrums for abstract analysis. It argues that Hegel's understanding of art can provide an indispensable hermeneutic relevant to current controversies.

Art and the Absolute explores the intricacies of Hegel's aesthetic thought, communicating its contemporary relevance. It shows how for Hegel art illuminates the other areas of significant human experience such as history, religion, politics, literature. Against traditional, closed views, the result is a challenge to re-read Hegel's aesthetic philosophy.

William Desmond is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Loyola College, Baltimore, Maryland.