Topics Worth Investigating

  1. Schelling argues that a work of art is created both consciously and unconsciously—an impulse acts through the artist much as unconsious force acts in nature:

    It was long ago perceived that, in art, not everything is performed with consciousness; that, with the conscious activity, an unconscious action must combine; and that it is of the perfect unity and mutual interpenetration of the two that the highest in art is born.

    Compapre Schelling's view of the unconscious with Jung's discussion expressed in his psychology of art:

    Art receives tributaries from [the personal unconscious], but muddy ones; and their predominance, far from making a work of art a symbol, merely turns it into a symptom.… I am assuming that the work of art we propose to analyze, as well as being symbolic, has its source not in the personal unconscious of the poet, but in a sphere of unconscious mythology whose primordial images are the common heritage of mankind.… The collective unconscious is not to be thought of as a self-subsistent entity; it is no more than a potentiality handed down to us from primordial time…

    How are these two views of the unconscious forces in art similar?

  2. Contrast in some detail Schelling's view that the idealization of nature in art is not art, with Reynold's ęsthetic theory of ideal representation. Schelling writes:

    Now it can scarcely be doubtful what is to be thought of the so-called idealizing of nature in art, so universally demanded. This demand seems to arise from a way of thinking, according to which not truth, beauty, goodness, but the contrary of all these, is the actual. Were the actual indeed opposed to truth and beauty, it would be necessary for the artist, not to elevate or idealize it, but to get rid of and destroy it, in order to create something true and beautiful.

    Reynolds notes, for example, that beauty in art is a reconstruction from nature:

    [The artist's] eye being enabled to distinguish the accidental deficiencies, excrescenses, and deformities of things, from their general figures, he makes out an abstract idea of their forms more perfect than any one original.[1]

  3. Clarify as precisely as possible what Schelling means by this assertion:

    But the beauty of the soul in itself, joined to sensuous grace, is the highest apotheosis of nature.

    In other words, what is meant by Schelling's claim that beauty is the complete harmony of soul and body.

  4. In this reading, Schelling notes a law to the effect that "the nature of art recapitulates art's 'phylogeny'":

    This unlimited universality of painting is demonstrated by history itself, and by the examples of the greatest masters, who, without injury to the essential character of their art, have developed to perfection each particular stage by itself, so that we can find also in the history of art the same sequence that may be pointed out in its nature—not indeed in exact order of time, but yet substantially.

    On the one hand, to what extent can this regularity between the nature and history of art be discredited. On the other hand, to what extent does the regularity provide insight into the logic of art?



Joshua Reynolds. "Discourse III: Delivered to the Students of the Royal Academy on the Distribution of the Prizes, December 14th, 1770, by the President." Seven Discourses on Art. London: Cassel. 1901.