Shanchuan Zhang


Following Derrida’s deconstructiveapproach, de Man approaches Hegel’s Aestheticsfrom the perspective of distinction between sign and symbol in the Philosophy of Spiritand opensupthe linguistic dimension of the Aesthetics. De Man believes that this dimension deconstructsHegel’s classic construction of forms of art, and makes the Aestheticsreturnto a traditional art theory of symbolism, i.e. “art is essentially symbolic (for both the symbolic form of art and classical and romantic forms of art)”.. Facing the challenges from defenders of the Aesthetics, de Man defendshis claim of symbolism from two perspectives: the deconstruction of the system of idealism and the deconstruction of the rhetoric of idealism. Hence, he can reveal the linguistic logic by which the meaning and image behind the general symbolic theory of art are getting increasingly closer. This logic determines the symbolic transmutation of art forms in the Aesthetics. De Man’s unique interpretation not only provides a formalistic understanding of the Aestheticsthat is differentfromthe mainstream interpretation of idealism, but also brings Hegel’s Aesthetics close to the romantic tradition of aesthetics of symbolism since Schelling. His approach has also become an excellent example of“blindnessand insight,” which underlies his rhetorical reading theory and his later linguistic engagement.


Paul de Man, G. W. F. Hegel, symbolic form of art, symbolism, blindness and insight

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