The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 07 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 600 pages of information about The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 07.
as deception, receives meaning only by comparison with the external world of phenomena and its immediate materiality, as well as with the inner world of sensations and feelings.  To these two worlds we are wont, in our empirical work-a-day life, to attribute the value of actuality, reality, and truth, in contrast to art, which is supposed to be lacking such reality and truth.  But, in fact, it is just the whole sphere of the empirical inner and outer world that is not the world of true reality; indeed it may be called a mere show and a cruel deception in a far stricter sense than in the case of art.  Only beyond the immediacy of sense and of external objects is genuine reality to be found.  Truly real is but the fundamental essence and the underlying substance of nature and of spirit, and the universal element in nature and in spirit is precisely what art accentuates and makes visible.  This essence of reality appears also in the common outer and inner world, but it appears in the form of a chaos of contingencies, distorted by the immediateness of sense perception, and by the capriciousness of conditions, events, characters, etc.  Art frees the true meaning of appearances from the show and deception of this bad and transient world, and invests it with a higher reality, born of the spirit.  Thus, far removed from being mere appearances, the products of art have a higher reality and a more genuine being than the things of ordinary life.


The content of art is spiritual, and its form is sensuous; both sides art has to reconcile into a united whole.  The first requirement is that the content, which art is to represent, must be worthy of artistic representation; otherwise we obtain only a bad unity, since a content not capable of artistic treatment is made to take on an artistic form, and a matter prosaic in itself is forced into a form quite opposed to its inherent nature.

The second requirement demands of the content of art that it shall be no abstraction.  By this is not meant that it must be concrete, as the sensuous is alleged to be concrete in contrast to everything spiritual and intellectual.  For everything that is genuinely true, in the realm of thought as well as in the domain of nature, is concrete, and has, in spite of universality, nevertheless, a particular and subjective character.  By saying, for example, that God is simply One, the Supreme Being as such, we express thereby nothing but a lifeless abstraction of an understanding devoid of reason.  Such a God, as indeed he is not conceived in his concrete truth, can furnish no content for art, least of all for plastic art.  Thus the Jews and the Turks have not been able to represent their God, who is still more abstract, in the positive manner in which the Christians have represented theirs.  For in Christianity God is conceived in his truth, and therefore concrete, as a person, as a subject,

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The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 07 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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