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  • 1 KA II, 290.

1“The theory of art is its own history”1. Thus writes Friedrich Schlegel in Dialogue on Poetry, defining aesthetics in a way that decidedly departs from Kant’s Critique of the Power of Judgment and prefigures Hegel’s position, although Hegel will almost always turn out to take a polemical stance toward the Romantics. In the few years between the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth, there is a shift from an aesthetics of nature to an aesthetics of art, from an aesthetics of form to an aesthetics of content, from one of reception to one of creation.

2The present issue is devoted to the transitional years between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and to the definition of an aesthetics of idealism. It aims to indicate the aesthetics offered by the German tradition in the wake of the Kantian philosophy.

3The selection of these papers seeks to uphold two methodological convictions. First, we favored historically and philosophically inspired investigations that reconstruct this fundamental juncture in the history of aesthetics. The result is a study of texts which refers more to a constellation of themes and problems than to a unified and coherent framework. The very category of aesthetics of idealism is thus configured as complex and even problematic, even if it can more easily be thought of as post-Kantian.

4Second, we were guided by a theoretical idea, the belief that the aesthetics developing in the years of classical German philosophy can still inform the contemporary debate. Schlegel, Hölderlin, Schelling, Fichte, and Hegel not only make significant contributions to twentieth-century aesthetics, from Croce to Adorno, from Danto to Szondi, but still offer a theoretical model that animates the debate around artistic form or an artwork’s function. Addressing the study of German aesthetics at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is therefore not only a historical-philosophical task, but is also meant to be a contribution to contemporary aesthetics.

  • 2 Moland 2019, 1.

5The so-called Hegel renaissance that has seen the emergence, especially in the anglophone tradition, of numerous studies on Hegel’s aesthetics is doubtless an indication of the ongoing importance of the issues raised by the writers examined. As Lydia Moland recently wrote, it is precisely the problematic character of the themes expressed by post-Kantian aesthetics that has ensured its longevity. One thinks first of all of the ongoing debate concerning the Hegelian notion of the so-called end of art: “It has meant that both analytic and continental philosophers, as well as art theorists themselves, have continued to grapple with Hegel’s philosophy of art. It provided Arthur Danto with a fertile explanation for contemporary art, beginning with Andy Warhol’s ready-mades and continuing through artists as foreign to Hegel’s sensibility as Yoko Ono and Damien Hirst”2.

6In the following collection, we have not favored a particular or single line of interpretation, but first and foremost desired to return to the texts themselves as well as to present studies involving a direct encounter with the examined authors. We hope that this approach will further animate a debate that -continues to be open and alive.

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Moland, L 2019, Hegel’s Aesthetics: the Art of Idealism. New York, Oxford University Press.

Schlegel, F. 1958, Kritische Ausgabe, ed. by E. Behler. Paderborn-München, Schöningh [KA].

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1 KA II, 290.

2 Moland 2019, 1.

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Per citare questo articolo

Notizia bibliografica

Robert Clewis, Serena Feloj e Giovanna Pinna, «Preface»Rivista di estetica, 81 | 2022, 3-4.

Notizia bibliografica digitale

Robert Clewis, Serena Feloj e Giovanna Pinna, «Preface»Rivista di estetica [Online], 81 | 2022, online dal 01 février 2024, consultato il 20 juin 2024. URL:; DOI:

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Robert Clewis

Serena Feloj

Giovanna Pinna

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