AbstractWhile Hegel’s infamous “end of art” thesis states that art is “for us, a thing of the past” he insists that philosophy and, to a degree that is often underestimated by contemporary readers, religion endure within the structure of modern life. In this paper I aim to demonstrate how by focusing on Hegel’s claim that religion meets no end, we can come to a better understanding of how and why he thinks art does end. This will lead us away from common, but false, picture of Hegel as being indifferent to art’s sensuous mode of intelligibility. Inasmuch as religion remains both necessarily sensuous and a component of social life that realizes freedom and divinity within modernity, the “problem” with art cannot be its sensuousness per se. What art ultimately finds itself unable to do, and what religion can do, is find a way to reconcile the destabilizing force of individual, subjective freedom with a jointly-held representation of who and what we are and what we value most, what Hegel calls “divinity”. By countenancing the vital role of religion in Hegel’s thought, we can therefore better understand one of his most famous, and least understood philosophical claims.
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