Hegel on the Modern Arts

Hegel on the Modern Arts

Debates over the ‘end of art' have tended to obscure Hegel's work on the arts themselves. Benjamin Rutter opens this study with a defence of art's indispensability to Hegel's conception of modernity; he then seeks to reorient discussion toward the distinctive values of painting, poetry, and the novel. Working carefully through Hegel's four lecture series on aesthetics, he identifies the expressive possibilities particular to each medium. Thus, Dutch genre scenes animate the everyday with an appearance of vitality; metaphor frees language from prose; and Goethe's lyrics revive the banal routines of love with imagination and wit. Rutter's important study reconstructs Hegel's view not only of modern art but of modern life and will appeal to philosophers, literary theorists, and art historians alike.


"The contribution to [the] larger conversation about art and modernity made by Rutter's book … is a significant one. His is without question one of the most scholarly informed and literarily sensitive books on Hegel's aesthetics to be published in the last decade or so, and it is to be hoped that it will spur further work on Hegel's philosophy of art."
Allen Speight, Boston University, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"Hegel’s text lends itself to different readings, and the one offered by Rutter is well argued and meticulously reconstructed. This is no doubt one of the most solid and readable studies of Hegel’s aesthetics to have come out in many years."
Espen Hammer, Department of Philosophy, Temple University, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism

"Hegel on the Modern Arts is a significant achievement in Hegel scholarship. Unlike much secondary work on Hegel, Rutter does an excellent job of explaining Hegel’s technical philosophical vocabulary in ways that are generally understandable. Rutter’s Hegelian analysis of Dutch genre painting, in particular, would be an excellent addition to both art history courses and courses on German aesthetics … One cannot help but be impressed by Rutter’s firm grasp of Hegel’s lectures on aesthetics. Hegel on the Modern Arts deserves to be read alongside the work of Dieter Henrich, Annemarie Gethmann-Siefert, and Stephen Houlgate as essential reading on Hegel’s aesthetics."
Matthew C. Altman, Central Washington University, Journal of the History of Philosophy

"… Rutter’s book will be of tremendous interest not just to philosophical historians, but also to artistic and literary theorists and historians …"
Kien-How Goh, Independent Scholar, Philosophy in Review

"[W]ithout doubt the most important study of Hegel’s conception of modern art published to date. It is also one of the best books on Hegel’s aesthetics altogether … Rutter develops original and perceptive interpretations of (Hegel’s views on) Dutch painting, lyric poetry and virtuosity in art, and he combines, in an exemplary manner, a subtle attention to philosophical distinctions with an equally subtle attention to specific works of art … [H]e has written one of the very best books in any language on Hegel’s aesthetics."
Stephen Houlgate, British Journal for the History of Philosophy