The “End” of Art or, Reading (in) the Spirit of Hegel
Beginning with a consideration of G. W. F. Hegel’s critique of John Locke’s empiricism, this chapter goes on to explore the efforts Hegel makes in the Aesthetics to recuperate a ’past’ object in speculative philosophy. Taking up the notorious ‘end of art’ thesis, the chapter considers the influential interpretations given by Stephen Houlgate, Arthur Danto and Berel Lang, and asks whether there is an interpretive standpoint that falls outside of the historicist rubric offered by those interpretations. Following the work of Catherine Malabou, Eva Geulen, and Jacques Derrida, the chapter generates a complex reading of the ‘end of art’ wherein the ‘pastness’ of thought’s object is inseparable from the future of its provenance. The chapter captures the sense in which the necessity of a complex temporal dynamic within a representation of the past points to the contingency of the representation which that dis-unified temporality informs. Further, it elucidates how this contingent representation in turn points to a necessary-and necessarily indeterminate-plurality of representations or interpretations.
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