ADOLPH ZEISING AND THE FORMALIST TRADITION IN AESTHETICS by CLIFFORD W. BROWN (Rutgers University) In a recent essay on "The Changing Concept of Proportion"l, Rudolf Wittkower raises once again the question of the possible aesthetic significance of the Golden Section, and credits Adolph Zeising with having written a "learned and persuasive treatise" which has left its mark on both contemporary art and aesthetic theory. While his work is little known, Zeising has a pivotal place in the history of Aesthetics as a connecting link between the German metaphysical tradition which culminated in the Hegelians, and that experimentalist approach which is generally supposed to have its prime source in Gustav Fechner's Vorschule der Ästhetik. This work, published in 1876, was preceded in 1871 by an essay in which Fechner had already evidenced not only his knowledge of the work of Zeising on proportion and the Golden Section, but also his judgment that Zeising's name is firmly established as the author of the first substantial discovery in the history of Aesthetics2. Zeising claimed that the Golden Section, a:b::b:(a+b), has an intrinsic aesthetic appeal and is hidden in the structure of many established works of Western art. Von Hartmann decried the
Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie – de Gruyter
Published: Jan 1, 1963
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