Art as Self-Origination in Winckelmann and Hegel

Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 27 (1):129-150 (2006)
Eighteenth-century art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717-1768) shared with Hegel a profound admiration for the art and culture of ancient Greece. Both viewed ancient Greece as, in some sense, an ideal to which the modern world might aspire—a pinnacle of spiritual perfection and originality that contemporary civilization might, through an understanding of ancient Greek culture, one day equal or surpass. This rather competitive form of nostalgia suggests a paradoxical demand to produce an original and higher state of culture through the imitation of another. In Hegel’s writings, this paradox goes beyond the relation of the modern world to the ancient world—he exposes the same paradox in ancient Greece’s relation to its own predecessors. The solution to the latter paradox—the possibility of the realization of ancient Greece as an original and self-contained civilization despite its cultural debts—would also, then, be the key to repeating the success of the ancient world in the modern, the overcoming of modern Europe’s cultural debt to the ancient world. The present essay examines how this paradox is revealed and resolved in the writings of Winckelmann and Hegel, and shows how this strategy of culture production—as imputed to the ancient world and aspired to in the modern—simultaneously attempts to justify and conceal a self-deceptive practice of cultural and political conquest. My focus will be on the two writers’ interpretations of ancient Greek art since, as I will suggest, their solution to the paradox of culture production turns out to be modeled upon the role of ancient Greek art in the invention and actualization of a cultural ideal of beauty, unity, and self-containment.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.5840/gfpj200627119
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,658
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

44 ( #76,576 of 1,725,989 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

2 ( #268,758 of 1,725,989 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.