A Comparison of Plato, Plotinus and Hegel on Aesthetics and the Concept of Beauty

Dissertation, University of Miami (1986)

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Abstract
This is a study of Hegel's theory of beauty, his theory of aesthetics, the origin of these theories in certain Platonic and Plotinian principles and concepts, and the application of these to Greek art and the Classical Ideal. ;An attempt is made to discover the notion of beauty in Hegel's theory of fine art on the basis of the analysis of the Classical Ideal, specifically, his theory of Greek sculpture. ;Hegel considers the unification of the classical concepts of the True, the Good, and the Beautiful in his theory. There concepts are analysed in order to determine Hegel's notion of beauty. For Hegel, there are two kinds of beauty: the first is that produced by the fusion of form and content. This beauty is reflected in the works of art. But this beauty as an aesthetic concept, does not endure. It dies with the "dissolution" of the Classical Ideal. The other kind of beauty is of the Absolute. But this beauty is not a distinct concept from Hegel's Absolute. It is a quality which the Absolute possesses, and is limited and dependent on the Absolute. ;It is argued that Hegel's concept of beauty suggests that not only is his theory of aesthetics based on his love for the Christian Spirit, but also that he designed his whole dialectic in accordance with it. His theory of the Classical Ideal is a detailed, enthusiastic exposition of Greek art, unfortunately not always accurate, due to some chronological flaws. ;While Hegel's notion of beauty is a quality that the Absolute possesses, Plato contended that Beauty is not merely a concept. It is an Idea which is transcendent, Eternal. By considering of Beauty as an Idea, transcendent and Eternal, Plato gives it a status which is equivalent to Hegel's Absolute. Plato's Beauty is the Good and the True; it is pure thought. Hegel's Absolute Spirit is pure thought also. The difference is that Plato's Beauty suggests the expression of a higher Being who corresponds to his time. Hegel's Absolute is the expression of the Christian God, and the Absolute is beautiful
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