By Georg Wilhelm Fredrich Hegel
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Additional info for Aesthetics: Lectures on Fine Art. Volume I
If in this matter we cast a glance at what is commonly thought, one of the most prevalent ideas which may occur to us is (a) the principle of the imitation of nature. According to this view, imitation, as facility in copying natural forms just as they are, in a way that corresponds to them completely, is supposed to constitute the essential end and aim of art, and the success of this Hegel either changed his mind on this subject or did not make himself clear. See p. 28 above and the section on Talent and Genius below.
Of course we may often hear favourite phraseology about man's duty to remain in immediate unity with nature; but such unity, in its abstraction, is purely and simply rudeness and ferocity, and by dissolving this unity for man, art lifts him with gentle hands out of and above imprisonment in nature. For man's preoccupation with artistic objects remains purely contemplative, and thereby it educates, even if at first only an attention to artistic portrayals in general, later on an attention to their meaning and to a comparison with other subjects, and it opens the mind to a general consideration of them and the points of view therein involved.
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. • 54 INTRODUCTION against the individual disposition in general; as the harsh opposition between inner freedom and the necessity of external nature, further as the contradiction between the dead inherently empty concept, and the full concreteness of life, between theory or subjective thinking, and objective existence and experience. These are oppositions which have not been invented at all by the subtlety of reflection or the pedantry of philosophy; in numerous forms they have always preoccupied and troubled the human consciousness, even if it is modern culture that has first worked them out most sharply and driven them up to the peak of harshest / contradiction.
Aesthetics: Lectures on Fine Art. Volume I by Georg Wilhelm Fredrich Hegel