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Reading: Patočka’s Interpretations of Hegel’s Thesis on the Past Character of Art


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Patočka’s Interpretations of Hegel’s Thesis on the Past Character of Art


Miloš Ševčík

Department of Aesthetics, Faculty of Arts, Charles University, Celetná 20, 116 42 Prague 1; Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, University of West Bohemia, Sedláckova 19, 306 14 Plzen, CZ
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In his article ‘Art and Time’ (1966) Patočka argues that Hegel rightly recognized a fundamental difference between classical and contemporary art. In developing Hegel’s insight he offers a conception of two eras of art, the ‘artistic’ era and the era of ‘aesthetic culture’. Patočka supposes that artworks of both the artistic era and the aesthetic era always open up a certain ‘meaning’ that gives human existence its fundamental points of reference. The status of this world, however, radically changed from one era to the next. The art of the artistic era offered objective and binding meaning, whereas aesthetic art offers personal or individual meaning. The current article points to an important discrepancy in Patočka’s treatment of the relation between the two eras, and presents Patočka’s later reading of Hegel’s notion of the past character of art. From the perspective of this interpretation, art reveals temporality as such, that is, as the ontological basis of the revelation of meaning. The article emphasizes that such an interpretation demonstrates the ontological relevance of the artwork in greater detail. Yet Patočka continued to use the concepts of the artistic era and the aesthetic era, without sufficiently clarifying the relationship between the two eras. Finally, the author argues that the discrepancy in the concept can be resolved with the help of Patočka’s later reflections on the ‘problematic nature’ of meaning. The article argues that in classical art such a nature is concealed, whereas in modern art it is revealed again. The article includes an English translation of Patočka’s ‘Art and Time’.
How to Cite: Ševčík, Miloš. “Patočka’s Interpretations of Hegel’s Thesis on the Past Character of Art”. Estetika: The Central European Journal of Aesthetics 52, no. 1 (2015): 78–113. DOI:
Published on 15 May 2015.


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