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Hegel's Aesthetics (PH9F5)

Hegel’s lectures on aesthetics belong with Aristotle’s Poetics, Kant’s Third Critique and Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy among the greatest works of philosophical aesthetics in the Western tradition. These lectures exercised considerable influence on the discipline of art history and were the focus of philosophical scrutiny by major 20th-century philosophers, such as Heidegger, Gadamer, Adorno and Danto.

We are the only department in the UK where you can study Hegel's Aesthetics in detail. You'll begin the module by examining Hegel’s claim that art is the expression of beauty and that beauty itself is the sensuous expression of freedom or “spirit”. You'll also consider Hegel’s critique of other conceptions of art, according to which art’s role is to imitate nature, or to provide moral guidance, or simply to delight the eye.

You'll then consider Hegel’s account of the three art-forms: symbolic, classical and romantic. In particular, you will look closely at the significant differences that Hegel identifies between the symbolic art of ancient Egypt, in which artistic images point to meanings that remain hidden, and the classical art of ancient Greece, in which aesthetic form (especially in sculpture) gives full and clear expression to meaning.



Module Director:

Stephen Houlgate


This module is worth 20 or 30 CATS depending on your programme of study.