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Die »Ästhetik der Naturvölker« in Johannes Volkelts System der Ästhetik (1905–1927)

Kaufmann, Sebastian

Zeitschrift für Ästhetik und Allgemeine Kunstwissenschaft, Bd. 62 (2017), Iss. 1: S. 96–123

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Kaufmann, Sebastian


The article examines the subject of ‘primitive’ art in Johannes Volkelt’s System der Ästhetik (1905–1927) against the backdrop of the broad debate on the ethnological refounding of aesthetics around 1900. Unlike contemporaries such as the ethnologist Ernst Grosse, Volkelt tries to prove that the art of ‘primitive peoples’ is an inadequate basis for aesthetics. In doing so, he follows 19th-century idealistic metaphysics of beauty. However, his argumentation against Grosse and others, which contradicts itself in crucial points, attests the challenge of philosophy by ethnology as the leading discipline of aesthetics at the beginning of the 20th century.