Heinrich Gustav Hotho

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Heinrich Gustav Hotho (born May 22, 1802 in Berlin ; † December 24, 1873 there ) was a German philosopher and art historian and known as the editor of Hegel's Aesthetics (1835).


Professor of Aesthetics and Art History in Berlin , director of the copper engraving collection of the Berlin Museum .


Hotho is counted among the old Hegelians .


  • Preliminary Studies on Life and Art (1835)

The preliminary studies are clearly in the tradition of 'art confessions', a genre that Goethe and, in the field of music , primarily Wackenroder created (Barfoed 1967: 384). Here (according to his foreword), Hotho gives preference to an emotionally influenced approach and representation over philosophical rigor when it comes to considering art .

As the first-person narrator in anonymous letters, of which he acts as editor, he explains how he aspired to himself

“To provide the most sufficient insight into the secret completion of the work; how I felt it inside, I wanted to develop it clearly for myself and others ” .

In a romantic manner, the description of one's own approach to the object to be examined becomes a method of scientific work, just as scientific motivation grows from personal.

In his observation of art, Hotho immediately comes across the difference between claim and reality. He considers scientific thinking to be an enemy of art , and it is his claim that,

"In spite of these opposites, art, life and science do not quite divide, but know how to harmonize, even if they are different and strictly limited;"

a reconciliation of "poetry and prose [...] at least on the part of poetry and science" . The formal goal is to combine representation and criticism .

Hotho as Hegel editor

Hotho's name is still linked to Hegel's aesthetics today . Immediately after Hegel's death in 1831, a group of friends of the deceased set to work to publish his posthumous philosophical work. Hotho was entrusted with the aesthetics . He only had notes from Hegel's own hand. He worked these into the notes he had made as a student in the lectures of his teacher Hegel; for this he used notes from other listeners of Hegel's lectures. This text preparation by Hotho appeared as lectures on aesthetics in three volumes in 1835, 1837 and 1838. It was initially received extremely favorably by scientific criticism, for example by Karl Rosenkranz (ZIEMER 1994 p. 257). The work was also a success in bookselling. As early as 1842, the Duncker & Humblot publishing house brought out a second edition, for which Hotho was also the editor. It is undoubtedly Hotho's merit that the lectures became one of Hegel's most readable and successful books; "Hotho did his work brilliantly," was the verdict of the British publisher of Aesthetics in 1975 (ZIEMER 1994 p. 259). However, in the Federal Republic of Germany, which was in the mood for criticism of ideology, Hotho's work fell into a crooked light. The suspicion was raised that Hotho had retouched "progressive" elements in Hegel's lectures and made the aesthetics more "conservative" than Hegel's viewpoint actually was (for more details and bibliographical information on this controversy, see ZIEMER 1994 pp. 259 and 348). The edition of the works by Suhrkamp-Verlag still adheres to the Hotho text constitution. In 1995, the Meiner-Verlag published Hotho's transcript from 1823 in the series of lectures, selected postscripts and manuscripts, and in 1998 the historical-critical edition of the collected works published Hegel's lecture manuscripts on aesthetics (not all of which Hotho in his edition accessible material), in 2015 the first volume of further transcripts of the lectures on the philosophy of art appeared . The Hotho transcript from 1823 was published by Frommann-Holzboog in 2004. Further postscripts from other listeners were published by Peter Lang in 1995 and by Suhrkamp and Fink in 2004.


  • Niels Barfoed: Hotho and Kierkegaard. A literary source on the Don Juan conception of the aesthetician A. - In: Orbis Litterarum 22 (1967), 378–386.
  • Norbert Waszek: Descartes and the philosophy of subjectivity in the view of Hegel. - In: Psychology and Anthropology or Philosophy of Mind. Contributions to a Hegel conference in Marburg in 1989. Edited by Franz Hespe and Burkhard Tuschling. Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt, Frommann-Holzboog, 1991, pp. 52-74 <specifically on Hotho: pp. 72-74>.
  • Elisabeth Ziemer : Heinrich Gustav Hotho 1802–1873. A Berlin art historian, art critic and philosopher. Berlin (Dietrich Reimer Verlag) 1994
  • Annalisa Bertolino: L'arte e la vita . Storia della filosofia e teoria estetica in Heinrich Gustav Hotho . Genova (pantograph) 1996
  • Carl von Prantl:  Hotho, Heinrich Gustav . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 13, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1881, p. 191 f.

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