What are some possible problems with Martin Heidegger's critique of aesthetics, and how might one go about arguing against it?

More specifically, what are some of the common arguments that have been made in response by other philosophers? Where can I find references to some of their arguments?

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    Heidegger is, in part, responding to Hegel here, so you might be able to gain some understanding of the other side by reading Hegel's original arguments in Lectures on Aesthetics. In particular, Heidegger accepts Hegel's first two propositions but rejects the third and fourth. Apr 17, 2012 at 3:22

2 Answers 2


I haven't viewed Heidegger's critique as important enough to invest much time in it, so I can't provide information on what other philosophers have said regarding his views.

But the obvious defects to me seem to be that

  1. he posits a dichotomy between aesthetic art as an object to be experienced by a subject and some deeper "presencing" connection, yet he doesn't have particularly compelling evidence that this distinction even exists, and

  2. it's less than clear that "great art" is at an end or in trouble anyway even in the aesthetic tradition. Perhaps the medium changes, as people do get tired of, say, oil on canvas, and instead build spectacular buildings or moving memorials or documentaries or movies that cause you reflect deeply.

So, basically, the two main thrusts of his essay seem poorly supported at best (especially given the hindsight of history and modern knowledge of cognitive science).


I'll preface my comment by disclosing that I have not actually read Heidegger but intend to as my interest has been piqued.

From the Stanford Encyclopedia I get the suspicion that Heidegger is attempting to discredit traditional aesthetics (Kant, Hegel, etc) out of frustration because (gasp!) he doesn't actually fully comprehend them as someone with a relatively modernist viewpoint of art. While there is some terminological name dropping, he does not actually refute traditional aesthetics (see the "18th Century German Aesthetics" article also at Stanford Encyclopedia) point by point in an in-depth dialectical manner, which, while I might not agree with whatever Heidegger might conceivably say as I feel there is a great deal of veracity in Kant and Hegel's aesthetics, would at least not leave me wondering whether or not he truly understood them.

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