hegel on moral in art

Now as regards art in relation to moral betterment, the same must be said, in
the first place, about the aim of art as instruction. It is readily granted that
art may not take immorality and the intention of promoting it as its principle.
But it is one thing to make immorality the express aim of the presentation, and
another not to take morality as that aim. From every genuine work of art a good
moral may be drawn, yet of course all depends on interpretation and on who
draws the moral. We can hear the most immoral presentations defended on the
ground that one must be acquainted with evil and sins in order to act morally;
conversely, it has been said that the portrayal of Mary Magdalene, the beautiful ~
sinner who afterwards repented, has seduced many into sin, because art makes
repentance look so beautiful, and sinning must come before repentance. But the
doctrine of moral betterment, carried through logically, is not content with
holding that a moral may be pointed from a work of art; on the contrary, it would
want the moral instruction to shine forth clearly as the substantial aim of the
work of art, and indeed would expressly permit the presentation of none but moral
subjects, moral characters, actions, and events. For art can choose its subjects,
and is thus distinct from history or the sciences, which have their material given to
them.
-From Hegel’s Lectures on Aesthetics (The aims of art)

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