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‘Sense’ is this wonderful word which is used in two opposite meanings. On the one hand it means the organ of immediate apprehension, but on the other hand we mean by it the sense, the significance, the thought, the universal underlying the thing. And so sense is connected on the one hand with the immediate external aspect of existence, and on the other hand with its inner essence.

It was not by chance within the context of his treatment on Aesthetics that Hegel (or perhaps rather his former student Heinrich Gustav Hotho who, after Hegel’s death, reworked these Lectures on Fine Art for print from incomplete manuscripts and transcripts?) thought it worthwhile to point out this peculiar double meaning of the word »sense«. The fact that language offers us one and the same expression to refer to our outer faculties of perception and to the inner meaning of something quite poetically hints at a primordial identity or correspondence of what we usually conceive of as the two opposing aspects of any given thing – its particular, empirical appearance and its universal, »logical« essence. It is precisely such a correspondence that, according to Hegel, constitutes the beauty of art: The beautiful, he claims, lies in the artfully realized correspondence of its outward existence – its form – with its inner essence – its »concept« – so as to make this essence immediately apparent to the senses.

(selected and commented by Marc Pfaff)


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