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Contemporary Chinese Aesthetics

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Edited By Zhu Liyuan and Gene Blocker

This book is a collection of translations of recent work by contemporary Chinese aestheticians. Because of the relative isolation of China until recently, little is known of this rich and ongoing aesthetics tradition in China. Although some of the articles are concerned with the traditional ancient Chinese theories of art and beauty, many are inspired by Western aesthetics, including Marxism, and all are involved in cross-cultural comparisons of Chinese and Western aesthetic traditions.

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Hegel and the "Disintegration of Art": Zhu Liyuan 303

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Hegel and the "Disintegration of Art" Zhu Liyuan Ever since the publication of Hegel's Philosophy of Fine Art many readers, it appears, have misunderstood his theory of the "disintegration of art." Benedetto Croce, for instance, interpreted Hegel as declaring that art works no longer really existed and that all future art was to be either mere imitation or an exercise in manual dexterity. Professor Zhu Guangqian, one of the best known aestheticians in China, similarly stated that Hegel's views on the disintegration of art showed his pessimism about the future of art, and that he "had sung a dirge for art." Those opinions have been widely accepted for a long time, yet they may reflect a misunderstanding. It is true that in his Philosophy of Fine Art Hegel said that art will disintegrate gradually as it develops into the romantic stage, but that is only his opinion on a particular subject and does not represent the foundation of his aesthetics. Hegel, needless to say, was a master of dialectic. According to his dialectic, everything in the world is moving and eternally evolving. In this process there is neither stop nor end, and art is no exception. In his work Hegel devoted nearly one third of its length to the evolutionary history of various art forms from ancient to modem times. He did not declare that modem romantic art had ended or would disintegrate. On the contrary, he asserted that "to fmish the building of that art palace the history of...

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