LX:73 | If the Subjectivity of the Soul is to be Expressed in a Wholly Adequate Manner

In painting the artistic appearance, in which the inner spiritual sense of beauty exhibits itself, still possesses a material character and subsistence. But if the subjectivity of the soul is to be expressed in a wholly adequate manner, the extended presentation to the eye must be overcome in all its dimensions and superseded. This may be accomplished by taking succession in time as the element of the artistic representation. It is naturally presented in Soundas the quivering or vibrating of matter, and at the same time the dissolving or negating of its material extension. The Beautiful is thus represented in Music, which is the Art for the ear. The objectivity of the Beautiful becomes here entirely subjective and transitory, but at the same time it lays hold of the whole soul. And because the feeling produced by Music ranges in its variations from the absolutely undetermined to the infinitely determinable, we have therein the ground of the immeasurable power of this art and its irresistibly inspiring influence, especially among uncivilized peoples whose habits of thought are still little developed. We have here, in fact, only the responsive thrilling or quivering of the soul which is its feeling, and as such the material is not distinguishable from its form – the thing felt and the feeling being the same. The whole basis of the musical expression is thus merely this self-moving inward feeling of the mind. Hence the characteristic of the highest subjective freedom belongs to Music.

In Music the feelings advance indeed out of their indefiniteness to more definite intuitions and representations, but these are born of the soul itself, and the tones only give them impulse and occasion. It thus becomes a self-production and projection of the soul as soul, when under the influence of the sensations of tone it realizes the feelings of joyfulness, cheerfulness, sorrow, longing; or rises to love, reverence or worship. As the external material elements of music are only a succession of vibrations in time, so the inner feelings exhibit themselves as merely a series of vibrating states produced in response as on the inward key-board of the soul.


Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. The Philosophy of Art.  Trans. William Hastie.  Ed. Heinrich Gustav Hotho.  Barnes & Noble, Inc. 2006. 60-61.

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