Karol Kuzmány: On Beauty

Estetika 47 (2):215-237 (2010)
Abstract
This short essay by Karol Kuzmány (1806–1866), a founding father of Slovak aesthetic thinking, was written in Czech and published in 1836 in Hronka, a periodical edited by the author. In the essay, Kuzmány follows on from the thinking of his teacher at Jena, Jakob Friedrich Fries (1773–1843), particularly Fries’s theory of Ahn(d)ung (intuitive awareness). In the introduction, Kuzmány emphasizes that his concern is to bridge the gap between the theory of imitation and the theory of art based on imagination. In the first part of the essay, concerning general aesthetics, Kuzmány presents his theory of beauty – the feeling of the essence of things through perception by the mind (Anschauung or intuitus mentis); the basic idea – truth, the moral good, and beauty – according to Kuzmány, comprises the idea of religion in the broader sense – Humanität, humanitas. Rather than the opposite of beauty, the sublime constitutes beauty’s being raised to a qualitatively higher level: it is based on a contemplated intuitive awareness, which is itself felt. The second part of the essay consists of Kuzmány’s attempt to define art and to categorize kinds of art and genres of poetry. He distinguishes between unmediated art, which represents beauty to the external senses, and mediated art, which is aimed at inner feeling. The latter category includes poetry, which is, according to him, the supreme art, for it can, with the help of language, represent all forms of unmediated art as well. Kuzmány also devotes himself to a speculative justification of its genres, poetic style, and verse
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