Giuseppe Cambiano

Hegel and the Beauty of Polis

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Keywords: Beauty, Polis, Spirit, Art, Ethicity (Sittlichkeit).

Beauty is a qualification of the polis always underlined by Hegel in his works. The paper illustrates how Hegel shared this view with the spirit of his time. Since Winckelmann and Herder’s time till Hegel’s friend Hölderlin, ancient Greece was identified as both the world of beauty and the age of youth of the humanity. Whereas the young Hegel assigned a normative role to Greece, considering the polis a political model also for present times, subsequently he abandoned this perspective, though maintaining at the same time the qualification of beautiful for the polis. The paper analyses how the key-concept of immediate ethicity (Sittlichkeit) made it possible this change of view. The polis, above all Athens in the classical age, appeared to Hegel a world where it was realized a spontaneous identity of particular and universal will and therefore beautiful. But this immediate ethicity was necessarily destined to be divided by the emergence of consciousness of individual freedom, so that superior forms of expressing the truth could be realized. Consequently the polis, with its peculiar form of art, particularly the sculpture, in modern times can be but an object of Er-Innnerung, that is of the remembering of the spirit absorbing the richness of his past.

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