Towards a Materialist Theory of Art
Art, for Hegel, is not only distinct but self-distinguishing of and from nature – it happens in and through the latter. It liberates us from being merely natural creatures, and it does so by a dynamic of a cut or break - even though this liberation is achieved only through natural sensuousness, and hence, keeps us tethered to nature in some particular way. Inspired by Todd McGowan’s emphasis on the central role of contradiction in Hegel’s philosophy, this paper considers the possibility to applying the dialectic between art and nature as it is unfolded in Hegel’s Aesthetic to a more insidious constellation — namely, what Marxists came to refer to as second nature: the world of commodities, in which man-made things appear to those who produce them as a naturalised and repressive opposite, a pseudo nature, an alienated solidified history.
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