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Title: Aesthetic as Science of Expression and General Linguistic
Author: Croce, Benedetto
Language: English
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*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Aesthetic as Science of Expression and General Linguistic" ***





B.A. (OXON.)




I give here a close translation of the complete _Theory of Aesthetic_,
and in the Historical Summary, with the consent of the author, an
abbreviation of the historical portion of the original work.





Intuitive knowledge--Its independence in respect to the intellect--
Intuition and perception--Intuition and the concepts of space and
time--Intuition and sensation--Intuition and association--Intuition
and representation--Intuition and expression--Illusions as to their
difference--Identity of intuition and expression.


Corollaries and explanations--Identity of art and of intuitive knowledge--
No specific difference--No difference of intensity--Difference extensive
and empirical--Artistic genius--Content and form in Aesthetic--Critique
of the imitation of nature and of the artistic illusion--Critique of art
conceived as a sentimental, not a theoretic fact--The origin of Aesthetic,
and sentiment--Critique of the theory of Aesthetic senses--Unity and
indivisibility of the work of art--Art as deliverer.


Indissolubility of intellective and of intuitive knowledge--Critique
of the negations of this thesis--Art and science--Content and form:
another meaning. Prose and poetry--The relation of first and second
degree--Inexistence of other cognoscitive forms--Historicity--Identity
and difference in respect of art--Historical criticism--Historical
scepticism--Philosophy as perfect science. The so-called natural
sciences, and their limits--The phenomenon and the noumenon.


Critique of the verisimilar and of naturalism--Critique of ideas in
art, of art as thesis, and of the typical--Critique of the symbol and
of the allegory--Critique of the theory of artistic and literary
categories--Errors derived from this theory in judgments on art--
Empirical meaning of the divisions of the categories.


Critique of the philosophy of History--Aesthetic invasions of Logic--
Logic in its essence--Distinction between logical and non-logical
judgments--The syllogism--False Logic and true Aesthetic--Logic


The will--The will as ulterior grade in respect of knowledge--Objections
and explanations--Critique of practical judgments or judgments of
value--Exclusion of the practical from the aesthetic--Critique of
the theory of the end of art and of the choice of content--Practical
innocence of art--Independence of art--Critique of the saying: the
style is the man--Critique of the concept of sincerity in art.


The two forms of practical activity--The economically useful--
Distinction between the useful and the technical--Distinction between
the useful and the egoistic--Economic and moral volition--Pure
economicity--The economic side of morality--The merely economical and
the error of the morally indifferent--Critique of utilitarianism and
the reform of Ethic and of Economic--Phenomenon and noumenon in
practical activity.


The system of the spirit--The forms of genius--Inexistence of a fifth
form of activity--Law; sociality--Religiosity--Metaphysic--Mental
imagination and the intuitive intellect--Mystical Aesthetic--Mortality
and immortality of art.


The characteristics of art--Inexistence of modes of expression--
Impossibility of translations--Critique of rhetorical categories--
Empirical meaning of rhetorical categories--Their use as synonyms
of the aesthetic fact--Their use as indicating various aesthetic
imperfections--Their use as transcending the aesthetic fact, and
in the service of science--Rhetoric in schools--Similarities of
expressions--Relative possibility of translations.


Various meanings of the word sentiment--Sentiment as activity--
Identification of sentiment with economic activity--Critique of
hedonism--Sentiment as concomitant of every form of activity--Meaning
of certain ordinary distinctions of sentiments--Value and disvalue:
the contraries and their union--The beautiful as the value of expression,
or expression without adjunct--The ugly and the elements of beauty that
constitute it--Illusion that there exist expressions neither beautiful
nor ugly--Proper aesthetic sentiments and concomitant and accidental
sentiments--Critique of apparent sentiments.


Critique of the beautiful as what pleases the superior senses--Critique
of the theory of play--Critique of the theory of sexuality and of the
triumph--Critique of the Aesthetic of the sympathetic--Meaning in it of
content and of form--Aesthetic hedonism and moralism--The rigoristic
negation, and the pedagogic negation of art--Critique of pure beauty.


Pseudo-aesthetic concepts, and the Aesthetic of the sympathetic--
Critique of the theory of the ugly in art and of its surmounting--
Pseudo-aesthetic concepts appertain to Psychology--Impossibility of
rigorous definitions of these--Examples: definitions of the sublime,
of the comic, of the humorous--Relation between those concepts and
aesthetic concepts.


Aesthetic activity and physical concepts--Expression in the aesthetic
sense, and expression in the naturalistic sense--Intuitions and
memory--The production of aids to memory--The physically beautiful--
Content and form: another meaning--Natural beauty and artificial
beauty--Mixed beauty--Writings--The beautiful that is free and that
which is not free--Critique of the beautiful that is not free--
Stimulants of production.


Critique of aesthetic associationism--Critique of aesthetic physic--
Critique of the theory of the beauty of the human body--Critique of
the beauty of geometrical figures--Critique of another aspect of the
imitation of nature--Critique of the theory of the elementary forms of
the beautiful--Critique of the search for the objective conditions of
the beautiful--The astrology of Aesthetic.


The practical activity of externalization--The technique of
externalization--Technical theories of single arts--Critique of the
classifications of the arts--Relation of the activity of externalization
with utility and morality.


Aesthetic judgment. Its identity with aesthetic reproduction--
Impossibility of divergences--Identity of taste and genius--Analogy
with the other activities--Critique of absolutism (intellectualism) and
of aesthetic relativism--Critique of relative relativism--Objections
founded on the variation of the stimulus and of the psychic disposition--
Critique of the distinction of signs as natural and conventional--The
surmounting of variety--Restorations and historical interpretation.


Historical criticism in literature and art. Its importance--Artistic and
literary history. Its distinction from historical criticism and from the
aesthetic judgment--The method of artistic and literary history--Critique
of the problem of the origin of art--The criterion of progress and
history--Inexistence of a single line of progress in artistic and
literary history--Errors in respect of this law--Other meanings of
the word "progress" in relation to Aesthetic.


Summary of the inquiry--Identity of Linguistic with Aesthetic--
Aesthetic formulation of linguistic problems. Nature of language--
Origin of language and its development--Relation between Grammatic
and Logic--Grammatical categories or parts of speech--Individuality
of speech and the classification of languages--Impossibility of a
normative Grammatic--Didactic organisms--Elementary linguistic
elements, or roots--The aesthetic judgment and the model language--


Aesthetic ideas in Graeco-Roman antiquity--In the Middle Age and
 at the Renaissance--Fermentation of thought in the seventeenth
century--Aesthetic ideas in Cartesianism, Leibnitzianism, and in
the "Aesthetic" of Baumgarten--G.B. Vico--Aesthetic doctrines in
the eighteenth century--Emmanuel Kant--The Aesthetic of Idealism
with Schiller and Hegel--Schopenhauer and Herbart--Friedrich
Schleiermacher--The philosophy of language with Humboldt and
Steinthal--Aesthetic in France, England, and Italy during the first
half of the nineteenth century--Francesco de Sanctis--The Aesthetic
of the epigoni--Positivism and aesthetic naturalism--Aesthetic
psychologism and other recent tendencies--Glance at the history
of certain particular doctrines--Conclusion.


Translation of the lecture on Pure Intuition and the lyrical nature of
art, delivered by Benedetto Croce before the International Congress of
Philosophy at Heidelberg.


There are always Americas to be discovered: the most interesting in

I can lay no claim to having discovered an America, but I do claim to
have discovered a Columbus. His name is Benedetto Croce, and he dwells
on the shores of the Mediterranean, at Naples, city of the antique

Croce's America cannot be expressed in geographical terms. It is more
important than any space of mountain and river, of forest and dale. It
belongs to the kingdom of the spirit, and has many provinces. That
province which most interests me, I have striven in the following pages
to annex to the possessions of the Anglo-Saxon race; an act which cannot
be blamed as predatory, since it may be said of philosophy more truly
than of love, that "to divide is not to take away."

The Historical Summary will show how many a brave adventurer has
navigated the perilous seas of speculation upon Art, how Aristotle's
marvellous insight gave him glimpses of its beauty, how Plato threw away
its golden fruit, how Baumgarten sounded the depth of its waters, Kant
sailed along its coast without landing, and Vico hoisted the Italian
flag upon its shore.

But Benedetto Croce has been the first thoroughly to explore it, cutting
his way inland through the tangled undergrowth of imperfect thought. He
has measured its length and breadth, marked out and described its
spiritual features with minute accuracy. The country thus won to
philosophy will always bear his name, _Estetica di Croce_, a new

It was at Naples, in the winter of 1907, that I first saw the Philosopher
of Aesthetic. Benedetto Croce, although born in the Abruzzi, Province of
Aquila (1866), is essentially a Neapolitan, and rarely remains long absent
from the city, on the shore of that magical sea, where once Ulysses
sailed, and where sometimes yet (near Amalfi) we may hear the Syrens sing
their song. But more wonderful than the song of any Syren seems to me the
Theory of Aesthetic as the Science of Expression, and that is why I have
overcome the obstacles that stood between me and the giving of this
theory, which in my belief is the truth, to the English-speaking world.

No one could have been further removed than myself, as I turned over at
Naples the pages of _La Critica_, from any idea that I was nearing the
solution of the problem of Art. All my youth it had haunted me. As an
undergraduate at Oxford I had caught the exquisite cadence of Walter
Pater's speech, as it came from his very lips, or rose like the perfume
of some exotic flower from the ribbed pages of the _Renaissance_.

Seeming to solve the riddle of the Sphinx, he solved it not--only
delighted with pure pleasure of poetry and of subtle thought as he led
one along the pathways of his Enchanted Garden, where I shall always
love to tread.

Oscar Wilde, too, I had often heard at his best, the most brilliant
talker of our time, his wit flashing in the spring sunlight of Oxford
luncheon-parties as now in his beautiful writings, like the jewelled
rapier of Mercutio. But his works, too, will be searched in vain by the
seeker after definite aesthetic truth.

With A.C. Swinburne I had sat and watched the lava that yet flowed from
those lips that were kissed in youth by all the Muses. Neither from him
nor from J.M. Whistler's brilliant aphorisms on art could be gathered
anything more than the exquisite pleasure of the moment: the
_monochronos haedonae_. Of the great pedagogues, I had known, but never
sat at the feet of Jowett, whom I found far less inspiring than any of
the great men above mentioned. Among the dead, I had studied Herbert
Spencer and Matthew Arnold, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Guyau: I had
conversed with that living Neo-Latin, Anatole France, the modern
Rousseau, and had enjoyed the marvellous irony and eloquence of his
writings, which, while they delight the society in which he lives, may
well be one of the causes that lead to its eventual destruction.

The solution of the problem of Aesthetic is not in the gift of the Muses.

To return to Naples. As I looked over those pages of the bound volumes
of _La Critica_. I soon became aware that I was in the presence of a
mind far above the ordinary level of literary criticism. The profound
studies of Carducci, of d'Annunzio, and of Pascoli (to name but three),
in which those writers passed before me in all their strength and in all
their weakness, led me to devote several days to the _Critica_. At the
end of that time I was convinced that I had made a discovery, and wrote
to the philosopher, who owns and edits that journal.

In response to his invitation, I made my way, on a sunny day in November,
past the little shops of the coral-vendors that surround, like a
necklace, the Rione de la Bellezza, and wound zigzag along the
over-crowded Toledo. I knew that Signor Croce lived in the old part of
the town, but had hardly anticipated so remarkable a change as I
experienced on passing beneath the great archway and finding myself in
old Naples. This has already been described elsewhere, and I will not
here dilate upon this world within a world, having so much of greater
interest to tell in a brief space. I will merely say that the costumes
here seemed more picturesque, the dark eyes flashed more dangerously
than elsewhere, there was a quaint life, an animation about the streets,
different from anything I had known before. As I climbed the lofty stone
steps of the Palazzo to the floor where dwells the philosopher of
Aesthetic I felt as though I had stumbled into the eighteenth century
and were calling on Giambattista Vico. After a brief inspection by a
young man with the appearance of a secretary, I was told that I was
expected, and admitted into a small room opening out of the hall.
Thence, after a few moments' waiting, I was led into a much larger room.
The walls were lined all round with bookcases, barred and numbered,
filled with volumes forming part of the philosopher's great library. I
had not long to wait. A door opened behind me on my left, and a rather
short, thick-set man advanced to greet me, and pronouncing my name at
the same time with a slight foreign accent, asked me to be seated beside
him. After the interchange of a few brief formulae of politeness in
French, our conversation was carried on in Italian, and I had a better
opportunity of studying my host's air and manner. His hands he held
clasped before him, but frequently released them, to make those vivid
gestures with which Neapolitans frequently clinch their phrase. His most
remarkable feature was his eyes, of a greenish grey: extraordinary eyes,
not for beauty, but for their fathomless depth, and for the sympathy
which one felt welling up in them from the soul beneath. This was
especially noticeable as our conversation fell upon the question of Art
and upon the many problems bound up with it. I do not know how long that
first interview lasted, but it seemed a few minutes only, during which
was displayed before me a vast panorama of unknown height and headland,
of league upon league of forest, with its bright-winged birds of thought
flying from tree to tree down the long avenues into the dim blue vistas
of the unknown.

I returned with my brain awhirl, as though I had been in fairyland, and
when I looked at the second edition of the _Estetica_, with his
inscription, I was sure of it.

These lines will suffice to show how the translation of the _Estetica_
originated from the acquaintance thus formed, which has developed into
friendship. I will now make brief mention of Benedetto Croce's other
work, especially in so far as it throws light upon the _Aesthetic_.
For this purpose, besides articles in Italian and German reviews, I
have made use of the excellent monograph on the philosopher, by G.

First, then, it will be well to point out that the _Aesthetic_ forms
part of a complete philosophical system, to which the author gives the
general title of "Philosophy of the Spirit." The _Aesthetic_ is the
first of the three volumes. The second is the _Logic_, the third the
_Philosophy of the Practical_.

In the _Logic_, as elsewhere in the system, Croce combats that false
conception, by which natural science, in the shape of psychology, makes
claim to philosophy, and formal logic to absolute value. The thesis of
the _pure concept_ cannot be discussed here. It is connected with the
logic of evolution as discovered by Hegel, and is the only logic which
contains in itself the interpretation and the continuity of reality.
Bergson in his _L'Evolution Créatrice_ deals with logic in a somewhat
similar manner. I recently heard him lecture on the distinction between
spirit and matter at the Collège de France, and those who read French
and Italian will find that both Croce's _Logic_ and the book above
mentioned by the French philosopher will amply repay their labour. The
conception of nature as something lying outside the spirit which informs
it, as the non-being which aspires to being, underlies all Croce's
thought, and we find constant reference to it throughout his
philosophical system.

With regard to the third volume, the _Philosophy of the Practical_, it
is impossible here to give more than a hint of its treasures. I merely
refer in passing to the treatment of the will, which is posited as a
unity _inseparable from the volitional act_. For Croce there is no
difference between action and intention, means and end: they are one
thing, inseparable as the intuition-expression of Aesthetic. The
_Philosophy of the Practical_ is a logic and science of the will, not a
normative science. Just as in Aesthetic the individuality of expression
made models and rules impossible, so in practical life the individuality
of action removes the possibility of catalogues of virtues, of the exact
application of laws, of the existence of practical judgments and
judgments of value _previous to action_.

The reader will probably ask here: But what, then, becomes of morality?
The question will be found answered in the _Theory of Aesthetic_, and I
will merely say here that Croce's thesis of the _double degree_ of the
practical activity, economic and moral, is one of the greatest
contributions to modern thought. Just as it is proved in the _Theory of
Aesthetic_ that the _concept_ depends upon the _intuition_, which is the
first degree, the primary and indispensable thing, so it is proved in
the _Philosophy of the Practical_ that _Morality_ or _Ethic_ depends
upon _Economic_, which is the _first_ degree of the practical activity.
The volitional act is _always economic_, but true freedom of the will
exists and consists in conforming not merely to economic, but to moral
conditions, to the human spirit, which is greater than any individual.
Here we are face to face with the ethics of Christianity, to which Croce
accords all honour.

This Philosophy of the Spirit is symptomatic of the happy reaction of
the twentieth century against the crude materialism of the second half
of the nineteenth. It is the spirit which gives to the work of art its
value, not this or that method of arrangement, this or that tint or
cadence, which can always be copied by skilful plagiarists: not so the
_spirit_ of the creator. In England we hear too much of (natural)
science, which has usurped the very name of Philosophy. The natural
sciences are very well in their place, but discoveries such as aviation
are of infinitely less importance to the race than the smallest addition
to the philosophy of the spirit. Empirical science, with the collusion
of positivism, has stolen the cloak of philosophy and must be made to
give it back.

Among Croce's other important contributions to thought must be mentioned
his definition of History as being aesthetic and differing from Art
solely in that history represents the _real_, art the _possible_. In
connection with this definition and its proof, the philosopher recounts
how he used to hold an opposite view. Doing everything thoroughly, he
had prepared and written out a long disquisition on this thesis, which
was already in type, when suddenly, from the midst of his meditations,
_the truth flashed upon him_. He saw for the first time clearly that
history cannot be a science, since, like art, it always deals with the
particular. Without a moment's hesitation he hastened to the printers
and bade them break up the type.

This incident is illustrative of the sincerity and good faith of
Benedetto Croce. One knows him to be severe for the faults and
weaknesses of others, merciless for his own.

Yet though severe, the editor of _La Critica_ is uncompromisingly just,
and would never allow personal dislike or jealousy, or any extrinsic
consideration, to stand in the way of fair treatment to the writer
concerned. Many superficial English critics might benefit considerably
by attention to this quality in one who is in other respects also so
immeasurably their superior. A good instance of this impartiality is his
critique of Schopenhauer, with whose system he is in complete
disagreement, yet affords him full credit for what of truth is contained
in his voluminous writings.[2]

Croce's education was largely completed in Germany, and on account of
their thoroughness he has always been an upholder of German methods. One
of his complaints against the Italian Positivists is that they only read
second-rate works in French or at the most "the dilettante booklets
published in such profusion by the Anglo-Saxon press." This tendency
towards German thought, especially in philosophy, depends upon the fact
of the former undoubted supremacy of Germany in that field, but Croce
does not for a moment admit the inferiority of the Neo-Latin races, and
adds with homely humour in reference to Germany, that we "must not throw
away the baby with the bath-water"! Close, arduous study and clear
thought are the only key to scientific (philosophical) truth, and Croce
never begins an article for a newspaper without the complete collection
of the works of the author to be criticized, and his own elaborate notes
on the table before him. Schopenhauer said there were three kinds of
writers--those who write without thinking, the great majority; those who
think while they write, not very numerous; those who write after they
have thought, very rare. Croce certainly belongs to the last division,
and, as I have said, always feeds his thought upon complete erudition.
The bibliography of the works consulted for the _Estetica_ alone, as
printed at the end of the Italian edition, extends to many pages and
contains references to works in any way dealing with the subject in all
the European languages. For instance, Croce has studied Mr. B.
Bosanquet's eclectic works on Aesthetic, largely based upon German
sources and by no means without value. But he takes exception to Mr.
Bosanquet's statement that _he_ has consulted all works of importance on
the subject of Aesthetic. As a matter of fact, Mr. Bosanquet reveals his
ignorance of the greater part of the contribution to Aesthetic made by
the Neo-Latin races, which the reader of this book will recognize as of
first-rate importance.

This thoroughness it is which gives such importance to the literary and
philosophical criticisms of _La Critica_. Croce's method is always
historical, and his object in approaching any work of art is to classify
the spirit of its author, as expressed in that work. There are, he
maintains, but two things to be considered in criticizing a book. These
are, _firstly_, what is its _peculiarity_, in what way is it singular,
how is it differentiated from other works? _Secondly_, what is its
degree of purity?--That is, to what extent has its author kept himself
free from all considerations alien to the perfection of the work as an
expression, as a lyrical intuition? With the answering of these
questions Croce is satisfied. He does not care to know if the author
keep a motor-car, like Maeterlinck; or prefer to walk on Putney Heath,
like Swinburne. This amounts to saying that all works of art must be
judged by their own standard. How far has the author succeeded in doing
what he intended?

Croce is far above any personal animus, although the same cannot be said
of those he criticizes. These, like d'Annunzio, whose limitations he
points out--his egoism, his lack of human sympathy--are often very
bitter, and accuse the penetrating critic of want of courtesy. This
seriousness of purpose runs like a golden thread through all Croce's
work. The flimsy superficial remarks on poetry and fiction which too
often pass for criticism in England (Scotland is a good deal more
thorough) are put to shame by _La Critica_, the study of which I commend
to all readers who read or wish to read Italian.[3] They will find in
its back numbers a complete picture of a century of Italian literature,
besides a store-house of philosophical criticism. The _Quarterly_ and
_Edinburgh Reviews_ are our only journals which can be compared to _The
Critica_, and they are less exhaustive on the philosophical side. We
should have to add to these _Mind_ and the _Hibbert Journal_ to get even
an approximation to the scope of the Italian review.

As regards Croce's general philosophical position, it is important to
understand that he is _not_ a Hegelian, in the sense of being a close
follower of that philosopher. One of his last works is that in which he
deals in a masterly manner with the philosophy of Hegel. The title may
be translated, "What is living and what is dead of the philosophy of
Hegel." Here he explains to us the Hegelian system more clearly than
that wondrous edifice was ever before explained, and we realize at the
same time that Croce is quite as independent of Hegel as of Kant, of
Vico as of Spinoza. Of course he has made use of the best of Hegel, just
as every thinker makes use of his predecessors and is in his turn made
use of by those that follow him. But it is incorrect to accuse of
Hegelianism the author of an anti-hegelian _Aesthetic_, of a _Logic_
where Hegel is only half accepted, and of a _Philosophy of the
Practical_, which contains hardly a trace of Hegel. I give an instance.
If the great conquest of Hegel be the dialectic of opposites, his great
mistake lies in the confusion of opposites with things which are
distinct but not opposite. If, says Croce, we take as an example the
application of the Hegelian triad that formulates becoming (affirmation,
negation and synthesis), we find it applicable for those opposites which
are true and false, good and evil, being and not-being, but _not
applicable_ to things which are distinct but not opposite, such as art
and philosophy, beauty and truth, the useful and the moral. These
confusions led Hegel to talk of the death of art, to conceive as
possible a Philosophy of History, and to the application of the natural
sciences to the absurd task of constructing a Philosophy of Nature.
Croce has cleared away these difficulties by shewing that if from the
meeting of opposites must arise a superior synthesis, such a synthesis
cannot arise from things which are distinct _but not opposite_, since
the former are connected together as superior and inferior, and the
inferior can exist without the superior, but _not vice versa_. Thus we
see how philosophy cannot exist without art, while art, occupying the
lower place, can and does exist without philosophy. This brief example
reveals Croce's independence in dealing with Hegelian problems.

I know of no philosopher more generous than Croce in praise and
elucidation of other workers in the same field, past and present. For
instance, and apart from Hegel, _Kant_ has to thank him for drawing
attention to the marvellous excellence of the _Critique of Judgment_,
generally neglected in favour of the Critiques of _Pure Reason and of
Practical Judgment_; _Baumgarten_ for drawing the attention of the world
to his obscure name and for reprinting his Latin thesis in which the
word _Aesthetic_ occurs for the first time; and _Schleiermacher_ for the
tributes paid to his neglected genius in the History of Aesthetic. _La
Critica_, too, is full of generous appreciation of contemporaries by
Croce and by that profound thinker, Gentile.

But it is not only philosophers who have reason to be grateful to Croce
for his untiring zeal and diligence. Historians, economists, poets,
actors, and writers of fiction have been rescued from their undeserved
limbo by this valiant Red Cross knight, and now shine with due
brilliance in the circle of their peers. It must also be admitted that a
large number of false lights, popular will o' the wisps, have been
ruthlessly extinguished with the same breath. For instance, Karl Marx,
the socialist theorist and agitator, finds in Croce an exponent of his
views, in so far as they are based upon the truth, but where he
blunders, his critic immediately reveals the origin and nature of his
mistakes. Croce's studies in Economic are chiefly represented by his
work, the title of which may be translated "Historical Materialism and
Marxist Economic."

To indicate the breadth and variety of Croce's work I will mention the
further monograph on the sixteenth century Neapolitan Pulcinella (the
original of our Punch), and the personage of the Neapolitan in comedy, a
monument of erudition and of acute and of lively dramatic criticism,
that would alone have occupied an ordinary man's activity for half a
lifetime. One must remember, however, that Croce's average working day
is of ten hours. His interest is concentrated on things of the mind, and
although he sits on several Royal Commissions, such as those of the
Archives of all Italy and of the monument to King Victor Emmanuel, he
has taken no university degree, and much dislikes any affectation of
academic superiority. He is ready to meet any one on equal terms and try
with them to get at the truth on any subject, be it historical,
literary, or philosophical. "Truth," he says, "is democratic," and I can
testify that the search for it, in his company, is very stimulating. As
is well said by Prezzolini, "He has a new word for all."

There can be no doubt of the great value of Croce's work as an
_educative influence_, and if we are to judge of a philosophical system
by its action on others, then we must place the _Philosophy of the
Spirit_ very high. It may be said with perfect truth that since the
death of the poet Carducci there has been no influence in Italy to
compare with that of Benedetto Croce.

His dislike of Academies and of all forms of prejudice runs parallel
with his breadth and sympathy with all forms of thought. His activity in
the present is only equalled by his reverence for the past. Naples he
loves with the blind love of the child for its parent, and he has been
of notable assistance to such Neapolitan talent as is manifested in the
works of Salvatore di Giacomo, whose best poems are written in the
dialect of Naples, or rather in a dialect of his own, which Croce had
difficulty in persuading the author always to retain. The original jet
of inspiration having been in dialect, it is clear that to amend this
inspiration at the suggestion of wiseacres at the Café would have been
to ruin it altogether.

Of the popularity that his system and teaching have already attained we
may judge by the fact that the _Aesthetic_[4], despite the difficulty of
the subject, is already in its third edition in Italy, where, owing to
its influence, philosophy sells better than fiction; while the French
and Germans, not to mention the Czechs, have long had translations of
the earlier editions. His _Logic_ is on the point of appearing in its
second edition, and I have no doubt that the _Philosophy of the
Practical_ will eventually equal these works in popularity. _The
importance and value of Italian thought have been too long neglected in
Great Britain_. Where, as in Benedetto Croce, we get the clarity of
vision of the Latin, joined to the thoroughness and erudition of the
best German tradition, we have a combination of rare power and
effectiveness, which can by no means be neglected.

The philosopher feels that he has a great mission, which is nothing less
than the leading back of thought to belief in the spirit, deserted by so
many for crude empiricism and positivism. His view of philosophy is that
it sums up all the higher human activities, including religion, and that
in proper hands it is able to solve any problem. But there is no
finality about problems: the solution of one leads to the posing of
another, and so on. Man is the maker of life, and his spirit ever
proceeds from a lower to a higher perfection. Connected with this view
of life is Croce's dislike of "Modernism." When once a problem has been
correctly solved, it is absurd to return to the same problem. Roman
Catholicism cannot march with the times. It can only exist by being
conservative--its only Logic is to be illogical. Therefore, Croce is
opposed to Loisy and Neo-Catholicism, and supports the Encyclical
against Modernism. The Catholic religion, with its great stores of myth
and morality, which for many centuries was the best thing in the world,
is still there for those who are unable to assimilate other food.
Another instance of his dislike for Modernism is his criticism of
Pascoli, whose attempts to reveal enigmas in the writings of Dante he
looks upon as useless. We do not, he says, read Dante in the twentieth
century for his hidden meanings, but for his revealed poetry.

I believe that Croce will one day be recognized as one of the very few
great teachers of humanity. At present he is not appreciated at nearly
his full value. One rises from a study of his philosophy with a sense of
having been all the time as it were in personal touch with the truth,
which is very far from the case after the perusal of certain other

Croce has been called the philosopher-poet, and if we take philosophy as
Novalis understood it, certainly Croce does belong to the poets, though
not to the formal category of those who write in verse. Croce is at any
rate a born philosopher, and as every trade tends to make its object
prosaic, so does every vocation tend to make it poetic. Yet no one has
toiled more earnestly than Croce. "Thorough" might well be his motto,
and if to-day he is admitted to be a classic without the stiffness one
connects with that term, be sure he has well merited the designation.
His name stands for the best that Italy has to give the world of
serious, stimulating thought. I know nothing to equal it elsewhere.

Secure in his strength, Croce will often introduce a joke or some
amusing illustration from contemporary life, in the midst of a most
profound and serious argument. This spirit of mirth is a sign of
superiority. He who is not sure of himself can spare no energy for the
making of mirth. Croce loves to laugh at his enemies and with his
friends. So the philosopher of Naples sits by the blue gulf and explains
the universe to those who have ears to hear. "One can philosophize
anywhere," he says--but he remains significantly at Naples.

Thus I conclude these brief remarks upon the author of the _Aesthetic_,
confident that those who give time and attention to its study will be
grateful for having placed in their hands this pearl of great price from
the diadem of the antique Parthenope.



[1] Napoli, Riccardo Ricciardi, 1909.

[2] The reader will find this critique summarized in the historical
    portion of this volume.

[3] _La Critica_ is published every other month by Laterza of Bari.

[4] This translation is made from the third Italian edition (Bari,
    1909), enlarged and corrected by the author. The _Theory of
    Aesthetic_ first appeared in 1900 in the form of a communication
    to the _Accademia Pontiana_ of Naples, vol. xxx. The first edition
    is dated 1902, the second 1904 (Palermo).



    [Sidenote] _Intuitive knowledge._

Human knowledge has two forms: it is either intuitive knowledge or
logical knowledge; knowledge obtained through the imagination or
knowledge obtained through the intellect; knowledge of the individual or
knowledge of the universal; of individual things or of the relations
between them: it is, in fact, productive either of images or of

In ordinary life, constant appeal is made to intuitive knowledge. It
is said to be impossible to give expression to certain truths; that
they are not demonstrable by syllogisms; that they must be learnt
intuitively. The politician finds fault with the abstract reasoner, who
is without a lively knowledge of actual conditions; the pedagogue
insists upon the necessity of developing the intuitive faculty in the
pupil before everything else; the critic in judging a work of art makes
it a point of honour to set aside theory and abstractions, and to judge
it by direct intuition; the practical man professes to live rather by
intuition than by reason.

But this ample acknowledgment, granted to intuitive knowledge in
ordinary life, does not meet with an equal and adequate acknowledgment
in the field of theory and of philosophy. There exists a very ancient
science of intellective knowledge, admitted by all without discussion,
namely, Logic; but a science of intuitive knowledge is timidly and with
difficulty admitted by but a few. Logical knowledge has appropriated the
lion's share; and if she does not quite slay and devour her companion,
yet yields to her with difficulty the humble little place of maidservant
or doorkeeper. What, it says, is intuitive knowledge without the light
of intellective knowledge? It is a servant without a master; and though
a master find a servant useful, the master is a necessity to the
servant, since he enables him to gain his livelihood. Intuition is
blind; Intellect lends her eyes.

    [Sidenote] _Its independence in respect to intellective knowledge._

Now, the first point to be firmly fixed in the mind is that intuitive
knowledge has no need of a master, nor to lean upon any one; she does
not need to borrow the eyes of others, for she has most excellent eyes
of her own. Doubtless it is possible to find concepts mingled with
intuitions. But in many other intuitions there is no trace of such a
mixture, which proves that it is not necessary. The impression of a
moonlight scene by a painter; the outline of a country drawn by a
cartographer; a musical motive, tender or energetic; the words of a
sighing lyric, or those with which we ask, command and lament in
ordinary life, may well all be intuitive facts without a shadow of
intellective relation. But, think what one may of these instances, and
admitting further that one may maintain that the greater part of the
intuitions of civilized man are impregnated with concepts, there yet
remains to be observed something more important and more conclusive.
Those concepts which are found mingled and fused with the intuitions,
are no longer concepts, in so far as they are really mingled and fused,
for they have lost all independence and autonomy. They have been
concepts, but they have now become simple elements of intuition.
The philosophical maxims placed in the mouth of a personage of tragedy
or of comedy, perform there the function, not of concepts, but of
characteristics of such personage; in the same way as the red in a
painted figure does not there represent the red colour of the
physicists, but is a characteristic element of the portrait. The whole
it is that determines the quality of the parts. A work of art may be
full of philosophical concepts; it may contain them in greater
abundance and they may be there even more profound than in a
philosophical dissertation, which in its turn may be rich to
overflowing with descriptions and intuitions. But, notwithstanding all
these concepts it may contain, the result of the work of art is an
intuition; and notwithstanding all those intuitions, the result of the
philosophical dissertation is a concept. The _Promessi Sposi_ contains
copious ethical observations and distinctions, but it does not for
that reason lose in its total effect its character of simple story, of
intuition. In like manner the anecdotes and satirical effusions which
may be found in the works of a philosopher like Schopenhauer, do not
remove from those works their character of intellective treatises. The
difference between a scientific work and a work of art, that is,
between an intellective fact and an intuitive fact lies in the result,
in the diverse effect aimed at by their respective authors. This it is
that determines and rules over the several parts of each.

    [Sidenote] _Intuition and perception._

But to admit the independence of intuition as regards concept does not
suffice to give a true and precise idea of intuition. Another error
arises among those who recognize this, or who, at any rate, do not make
intuition explicitly dependent upon the intellect. This error obscures
and confounds the real nature of intuition. By intuition is frequently
understood the _perception_ or knowledge of actual reality, the
apprehension of something as _real_.

Certainly perception is intuition: the perception of the room in which I
am writing, of the ink-bottle and paper that are before me, of the pen I
am using, of the objects that I touch and make use of as instruments of
my person, which, if it write, therefore exists;--these are all
intuitions. But the image that is now passing through my brain of a me
writing in another room, in another town, with different paper, pen and
ink, is also an intuition. This means that the distinction between
reality and non-reality is extraneous, secondary, to the true nature of
intuition. If we assume the existence of a human mind which should have
intuitions for the first time, it would seem that it could have
intuitions of effective reality only, that is to say, that it could have
perceptions of nothing but the real. But if the knowledge of reality be
based upon the distinction between real images and unreal images, and if
this distinction does not originally exist, these intuitions would in
truth not be intuitions either of the real or of the unreal, but pure
intuitions. Where all is real, nothing is real. The child, with its
difficulty of distinguishing true from false, history from fable, which
are all one to childhood, can furnish us with a sort of very vague and
only remotely approximate idea of this ingenuous state. Intuition is the
indifferentiated unity of the perception of the real and of the simple
image of the possible. In our intuitions we do not oppose ourselves to
external reality as empirical beings, but we simply objectify our
impressions, whatever they be.

    [Sidenote] _Intuition and the concepts of space and time._

Those, therefore, who look upon intuition as sensation formed and
arranged simply according to the categories of space and time, would
seem to approximate more nearly to the truth. Space and time (they say)
are the forms of intuition; to have intuitions is to place in space and
in temporal sequence. Intuitive activity would then consist in this
double and concurrent function of spatiality and temporality. But for
these two categories must be repeated what was said of intellectual
distinctions, found mingled with intuitions. We have intuitions without
space and without time: a tint of sky and a tint of sentiment, an Ah! of
pain and an effort of will, objectified in consciousness. These are
intuitions, which we possess, and with their making, space and time have
nothing to do. In some intuitions, spatiality may be found without
temporality, in others, this without that; and even where both are
found, they are perceived by posterior reflexion: they can be fused with
the intuition in like manner with all its other elements: that is, they
are in it _materialiter_ and not _formaliter_, as ingredients and not as
essentials. Who, without a similar act of interruptive reflexion, is
conscious of temporal sequence while listening to a story or a piece of
music? That which intuition reveals in a work of art is not space and
time, but character, individual physiognomy. Several attempts may be
noted in modern philosophy, which confirm the view here exposed. Space
and time, far from being very simple and primitive functions, are shown
to be intellectual constructions of great complexity. And further, even
in some of those who do not altogether deny to space and time the
quality of forming or of categories and functions, one may observe the
attempt to unify and to understand them in a different manner from that
generally maintained in respect of these categories. Some reduce
intuition to the unique category of spatiality, maintaining that time
also can only be conceived in terms of space. Others abandon the three
dimensions of space as not philosophically necessary, and conceive the
function of spatiality as void of every particular spatial
determination. But what could such a spatial function be, that should
control even time? May it not be a residuum of criticisms and of
negations from which arises merely the necessity to posit a generic
intuitive activity? And is not this last truly determined, when one
unique function is attributed to it, not spatializing nor temporalizing,
but characterizing? Or, better, when this is conceived as itself a
category or function, which gives knowledge of things in their
concretion and individuality?

    [Sidenote] _Intuition and sensation._

Having thus freed intuitive knowledge from any suggestion of
intellectualism and from every posterior and external adjunct, we must
now make clear and determine its limits from another side and from a
different kind of invasion and confusion. On the other side, and before
the inferior boundary, is sensation, formless matter, which the spirit
can never apprehend in itself, in so far as it is mere matter. This it
can only possess with form and in form, but postulates its concept as,
precisely, a limit. Matter, in its abstraction, is mechanism, passivity;
it is what the spirit of man experiences, but does not produce. Without
it no human knowledge and activity is possible; but mere matter produces
animality, whatever is brutal and impulsive in man, not the spiritual
dominion, which is humanity. How often do we strive to understand
clearly what is passing within us? We do catch a glimpse of something,
but this does not appear to the mind as objectified and formed. In such
moments it is, that we best perceive the profound difference between
matter and form. These are not two acts of ours, face to face with one
another; but we assault and carry off the one that is outside us, while
that within us tends to absorb and make its own that without. Matter,
attacked and conquered by form, gives place to concrete form. It is the
matter, the content, that differentiates one of our intuitions from
another: form is constant: it is spiritual activity, while matter is
changeable. Without matter, however, our spiritual activity would not
leave its abstraction to become concrete and real, this or that
spiritual content, this or that definite intuition.

It is a curious fact, characteristic of our times, that this very form,
this very activity of the spirit, which is essentially ourselves, is so
easily ignored or denied. Some confound the spiritual activity of man
with the metaphorical and mythological activity of so-called nature,
which is mechanism and has no resemblance to human activity, save when
we imagine, with Aesop, that _arbores loquuntur non tantum ferae_. Some
even affirm that they have never observed in themselves this
"miraculous" activity, as though there were no difference, or only one
of quantity, between sweating and thinking, feeling cold and the energy
of the will. Others, certainly with greater reason, desire to unify
activity and mechanism in a more general concept, though admitting that
they are specifically distinct. Let us, however, refrain for the moment
from examining if such a unification be possible, and in what sense, but
admitting that the attempt may be made, it is clear that to unify two
concepts in a third implies a difference between the two first. And here
it is this difference that is of importance and we set it in relief.

    [Sidenote] _Intuition and association._

Intuition has often been confounded with simple sensation. But, since
this confusion is too shocking to good sense, it has more frequently
been attenuated or concealed with a phraseology which seems to wish to
confuse and to distinguish them at the same time. Thus, it has been
asserted that intuition is sensation, but not so much simple sensation
as _association_ of sensations. The equivoque arises precisely from the
word "association." Association is understood, either as memory,
mnemonic association, conscious recollection, and in that case is
evident the absurdity of wishing to join together in memory elements
which are not intuified, distinguished, possessed in some way by the
spirit and produced by consciousness: or it is understood as association
of unconscious elements. In this case we remain in the world of
sensation and of nature. Further, if with certain associationists we
speak of an association which is neither memory nor flux of sensations,
but is a _productive_ association (formative, constructive,
distinguishing); then we admit the thing itself and deny only its name.
In truth, productive association is no longer association in the sense
of the sensualists, but _synthesis_, that is to say, spiritual activity.
Synthesis may be called association; but with the concept of
productivity is already posited the distinction between passivity and
activity, between sensation and intuition.

    [Sidenote] _Intuition and representation._

Other psychologists are disposed to distinguish from sensation something
which is sensation no longer, but is not yet intellective concept: _the
representation or image_. What is the difference between their
representation or image, and our intuitive knowledge? The greatest, and
none at all. "Representation," too, is a very equivocal word. If by
representation be understood something detached and standing out from
the psychic base of the sensations, then representation is intuition.
If, on the other hand, it be conceived as a complex sensation, a return
is made to simple sensation, which does not change its quality according
to its richness or poverty, operating alike in a rudimentary or in a
developed organism full of traces of past sensations. Nor is the
equivoque remedied by defining representation as a psychic product of
secondary order in relation to sensation, which should occupy the first
place. What does secondary order mean here? Does it mean a qualitative,
a formal difference? If so, we agree: representation is elaboration of
sensation, it is intuition. Or does it mean greater complexity and
complication, a quantitative, material difference? In that case
intuition would be again confused with simple sensation.

    [Sidenote] _Intuition and expression._

And yet there is a sure method of distinguishing true intuition, true
representation, from that which is inferior to it: the spiritual fact
from the mechanical, passive, natural fact. Every true intuition or
representation is, also, _expression_. That which does not objectify
itself in expression is not intuition or representation, but sensation
and naturality. The spirit does not obtain intuitions, otherwise than by
making, forming, expressing. He who separates intuition from expression
never succeeds in reuniting them.

_Intuitive activity possesses intuitions to the extent that it expresses
them_.--Should this expression seem at first paradoxical, that is
chiefly because, as a general rule, a too restricted meaning is given to
the word "expression." It is generally thought of as restricted to
verbal expression. But there exist also non-verbal expressions, such as
those of line, colour, and sound; to all of these must be extended our
affirmation. The intuition and expression together of a painter are
pictorial; those of a poet are verbal. But be it pictorial, or verbal,
or musical, or whatever else it be called, to no intuition can
expression be wanting, because it is an inseparable part of intuition.
How can we possess a true intuition of a geometrical figure, unless we
possess so accurate an image of it as to be able to trace it immediately
upon paper or on a slate? How can we have an intuition of the contour of
a region, for example, of the island of Sicily, if we are not able to
draw it as it is in all its meanderings? Every one can experience the
internal illumination which follows upon his success in formulating to
himself his impressions and sentiments, but only so far as he is able to
formulate them. Sentiments or impressions, then, pass by means of words
from the obscure region of the soul into the clarity of the
contemplative spirit. In this cognitive process it is impossible to
distinguish intuition from expression. The one is produced with the
other at the same instant, because they are not two, but one.

    [Sidenote] _Illusions as to their difference._

The principal reason which makes our theme appear paradoxical as we
maintain it, is the illusion or prejudice that we possess a more
complete intuition of reality than we really do. One often hears people
say that they have in their minds many important thoughts, but that they
are not able to express them. In truth, if they really had them, they
would have coined them into beautiful, ringing words, and thus expressed
them. If these thoughts seem to vanish or to become scarce and poor in
the act of expressing them, either they did not exist or they really
were scarce and poor. People think that all of us ordinary men imagine
and have intuitions of countries, figures and scenes, like painters; of
bodies, like sculptors; save that painters and sculptors know how to
paint and to sculpture those images, while we possess them only within
our souls. They believe that anyone could have imagined a Madonna of
Raphael; but that Raphael was Raphael owing to his technical ability in
putting the Madonna upon the canvas. Nothing can be more false than this
view. The world of which as a rule we have intuitions, is a small thing.
It consists of little expressions which gradually become greater and
more ample with the increasing spiritual concentration of certain
moments. These are the sort of words which we speak within ourselves,
the judgments that we tacitly express: "Here is a man, here is a horse,
this is heavy, this is hard, this pleases me," etc. It is a medley of
light and colour, which could not pictorially attain to any more sincere
expression than a haphazard splash of colours, from among which would
with difficulty stand out a few special, distinctive traits. This and
nothing else is what we possess in our ordinary life; this is the basis
of our ordinary action. It is the index of a book. The labels tied to
things take the place of the things themselves. This index and labels
(which are themselves expressions) suffice for our small needs and small
actions. From time to time we pass from the index to the book, from the
label to the thing, or from the slight to the greater intuitions, and
from these to the greatest and most lofty. This passage is sometimes far
from being easy. It has been observed by those who have best studied the
psychology of artists, that when, after having given a rapid glance at
anyone, they attempt to obtain a true intuition of him, in order, for
example, to paint his portrait, then this ordinary vision, that seemed
so precise, so lively, reveals itself as little better than nothing.
What remains is found to be at the most some superficial trait, which
would not even suffice for a caricature. The person to be painted stands
before the artist like a world to discover. Michael Angelo said, "one
paints, not with one's hands, but with one's brain." Leonardo shocked
the prior of the convent delle Grazie by standing for days together
opposite the "Last Supper" without touching it with the brush. He
remarked of this attitude "that men of the most lofty genius, when they
are doing the least work, are then the most active, seeking invention
with their minds." The painter is a painter, because he sees what others
only feel or catch a glimpse of, but do not see. We think we see a
smile, but in reality we have only a vague impression of it, we do not
perceive all the characteristic traits from which it results, as the
painter perceives them after his internal meditations, which thus enable
him to fix them on the canvas. Even in the case of our intimate friend,
who is with us every day and at all hours, we do not possess intuitively
more than, at the most, certain traits of his physiognomy, which enable
us to distinguish him from others. The illusion is less easy as regards
musical expression; because it would seem strange to everyone to say
that the composer had added or attached notes to the motive, which is
already in the mind of him who is not the composer. As if Beethoven's
Ninth Symphony were not his own intuition and his own intuition the
Ninth Symphony. Thus, just as he who is deceived as to his material
wealth is confuted by arithmetic, which states its exact amount, so is
he confuted who nourishes delusions as to the wealth of his own thoughts
and images. He is brought back to reality, when he is obliged to cross
the Bridge of Asses of expression. We say to the former, count; to the
latter, speak, here is a pencil, draw, express yourself.

We have each of us, as a matter of fact, a little of the poet, of the
sculptor, of the musician, of the painter, of the prose writer: but how
little, as compared with those who are so called, precisely because of
the lofty degree in which they possess the most universal dispositions
and energies of human nature! How little does a painter possess of the
intuitions of a poet! How little does one painter possess those of
another painter! Nevertheless, that little is all our actual patrimony
of intuitions or representations. Beyond these are only impressions,
sensations, feelings, impulses, emotions, or whatever else one may term
what is outside the spirit, not assimilated by man, postulated for the
convenience of exposition, but effectively inexistent, if existence be
also a spiritual fact.

    [Sidenote] _Identity of intuition and expression._

We may then add this to the verbal variants descriptive of intuition,
noted at the beginning: intuitive knowledge is expressive knowledge,
independent and autonomous in respect to intellectual function;
indifferent to discriminations, posterior and empirical, to reality and
to unreality, to formations and perceptions of space and time, even when
posterior: intuition or representation is distinguished as form from
what is felt and suffered, from the flux or wave of sensation, or from
psychic material; and this form this taking possession of, is
expression. To have an intuition is to express. It is nothing else!
(nothing more, but nothing less) than _to express_.



    [Sidenote] _Corollaries and explanations._

Before proceeding further, it seems opportune to draw certain
consequences from what has been established and to add some explanation.

    [Sidenote] _Identity of art and intuitive knowledge._

We have frankly identified intuitive or expressive knowledge with the
aesthetic or artistic fact, taking works of art as examples of intuitive
knowledge and attributing to them the characteristics of intuition, and
_vice versa_. But our identification is combated by the view, held even
by many philosophers, who consider art to be an intuition of an
altogether special sort. "Let us admit" (they say) "that art is
intuition; but intuition is not always art: artistic intuition is of a
distinct species differing from intuition in general by something

    [Sidenote] _No specific difference._

But no one has ever been able to indicate of what this something more
consists. It has sometimes been thought that art is not a simple
intuition, but an intuition of an intuition, in the same way as the
concept of science has been defined, not as the ordinary concept, but as
the concept of a concept. Thus man should attain to art, by
objectifying, not his sensations, as happens with ordinary intuition,
but intuition itself. But this process of raising to a second power does
not exist; and the comparison of it with the ordinary and scientific
concept does not imply what is wished, for the good reason that it is
not true that the scientific concept is the concept of a concept. If
this comparison imply anything, it implies just the opposite. The
ordinary concept, if it be really a concept and not a simple
representation, is a perfect concept, however poor and limited. Science
substitutes concepts for representations; it adds and substitutes other
concepts larger and more comprehensive for those that are poor and
limited. It is ever discovering new relations. But its method does not
differ from that by which is formed the smallest universal in the brain
of the humblest of men. What is generally called art, by antonomasia,
collects intuitions that are wider and more complex than those which we
generally experience, but these intuitions are always of sensations and

Art is the expression of impressions, not the expression of expressions.

    [Sidenote] _No difference of intensity._

For the same reason, it cannot be admitted that intuition, which is
generally called artistic, differs from ordinary intuition as to
intensity. This would be the case if it were to operate differently on
the same matter. But since artistic function is more widely distributed
in different fields, but yet does not differ in method from ordinary
intuition, the difference between the one and the other is not intensive
but extensive. The intuition of the simplest popular love-song, which
says the same thing, or very nearly, as a declaration of love such as
issues at every moment from the lips of thousands of ordinary men, may
be intensively perfect in its poor simplicity, although it be
extensively so much more limited than the complex intuition of a
love-song by Leopardi.

    [Sidenote] _The difference is extensive and empirical._

The whole difference, then, is quantitative, and as such, indifferent to
philosophy, _scientia qualitatum_. Certain men have a greater aptitude,
a more frequent inclination fully to express certain complex states of
the soul. These men are known in ordinary language as artists. Some very
complicated and difficult expressions are more rarely achieved and these
are called works of art. The limits of the expressions and intuitions
that are called art, as opposed to those that are vulgarly called
not-art, are empirical and impossible to define. If an epigram be art,
why not a single word? If a story; why not the occasional note of the
journalist? If a landscape, why not a topographical sketch? The teacher
of philosophy in Molière's comedy was right: "whenever we speak we
create prose." But there will always be scholars like Monsieur Jourdain,
astonished at having created prose for forty years without knowing it,
and who will have difficulty in persuading themselves that when they
call their servant John to bring their slippers, they have spoken
nothing less than--prose.

We must hold firmly to our identification, because among the principal
reasons which have prevented Aesthetic, the science of art, from
revealing the true nature of art, its real roots in human nature, has
been its separation from the general spiritual life, the having made of
it a sort of special function or aristocratic circle. No one is
astonished when he learns from physiology that every cellule is an
organism and every organism a cellule or synthesis of cellules. No one
is astonished at finding in a lofty mountain the same chemical elements
that compose a small stone or fragment. There is not one physiology of
small animals and one of large animals; nor is there a special chemical
theory of stones as distinct from mountains. In the same way, there is
not a science of lesser intuition distinct from a science of greater
intuition, nor one of ordinary intuition distinct from artistic
intuition. There is but one Aesthetic, the science of intuitive or
expressive knowledge, which is the aesthetic or artistic fact. And this
Aesthetic is the true analogy of Logic. Logic includes, as facts of the
same nature, the formation of the smallest and most ordinary concept and
the most complicated scientific and philosophical system.

    [Sidenote] _Artistic genius._

Nor can we admit that the word _genius_ or artistic genius, as distinct
from the non-genius of the ordinary man, possesses more than a
quantitative signification. Great artists are said to reveal us to
ourselves. But how could this be possible, unless there be identity of
nature between their imagination and ours, and unless the difference be
only one of quantity? It were well to change _poeta nascitur_ into _homo
nascitur poeta_: some men are born great poets, some small. The cult and
superstition of the genius has arisen from this quantitative difference
having been taken as a difference of quality. It has been forgotten that
genius is not something that has fallen from heaven, but humanity
itself. The man of genius, who poses or is represented as distant from
humanity, finds his punishment in becoming or appearing somewhat
ridiculous. Examples of this are the _genius_ of the romantic period and
the _superman_ of our time.

But it is well to note here, that those who claim unconsciousness as the
chief quality of an artistic genius, hurl him from an eminence far above
humanity to a position far below it. Intuitive or artistic genius, like
every form of human activity, is always conscious; otherwise it would be
blind mechanism. The only thing that may be wanting to the artistic
genius is the _reflective_ consciousness, the superadded consciousness
of the historian or critic, which is not essential to artistic genius.

    [Sidenote] _Content and form in Aesthetic._

The relation between matter and form, or between _content and form_, as
it is generally called, is one of the most disputed questions in
Aesthetic. Does the aesthetic fact consist of content alone, or of form
alone, or of both together? This question has taken on various meanings,
which we shall mention, each in its place. But when these words are
taken as signifying what we have above defined, and matter is understood
as emotivity not aesthetically elaborated, that is to say, impressions,
and form elaboration, intellectual activity and expression, then our
meaning cannot be doubtful. We must, therefore, reject the thesis that
makes the aesthetic fact to consist of the content alone (that is, of
the simple impressions), in like manner with that other thesis, which
makes it to consist of a junction between form and content, that is, of
impressions plus expressions. In the aesthetic fact, the aesthetic
activity is not added to the fact of the impressions, but these latter
are formed and elaborated by it. The impressions reappear as it were in
expression, like water put into a filter, which reappears the same and
yet different on the other side. The aesthetic fact, therefore, is form,
and nothing but form.

From this it results, not that the content is something superfluous (it
is, on the contrary, the necessary point of departure for the expressive
fact); but that _there is no passage_ between the quality of the content
and that of the form. It has sometimes been thought that the content, in
order to be aesthetic, that is to say, transformable into form, should
possess some determinate or determinable quality. But were that so, then
form and content, expression and impression, would be the same thing. It
is true that the content is that which is convertible into form, but it
has no determinable qualities until this transformation takes place. We
know nothing of its nature. It does not become aesthetic content at
once, but only when it has been effectively transformed. Aesthetic
content has also been defined as what is _interesting_. That is not an
untrue statement; it is merely void of meaning. What, then, is
interesting? Expressive activity? Certainly the expressive activity
would not have raised the content to the dignity of form, had it not
been interested. The fact of its having been interested is precisely the
fact of its raising the content to the dignity of form. But the word
"interesting" has also been employed in another not illegitimate sense,
which we shall explain further on.

    [Sidenote] _Critique of the imitation of nature and of the artistic

The proposition that art is _imitation of nature_ has also several
meanings. Now truth has been maintained or at least shadowed with these
words, now error. More frequently, nothing definite has been thought.
One of the legitimate scientific meanings occurs when imitation is
understood as representation or intuition of nature, a form of
knowledge. And when this meaning has been understood, by placing in
greater relief the spiritual character of the process, the other
proposition becomes also legitimate: namely, that art is the
_idealization_ or _idealizing_ imitation of nature. But if by imitation
of nature be understood that art gives mechanical reproductions, more or
less perfect duplicates of natural objects, before which the same tumult
of impressions caused by natural objects begins over again, then the
proposition is evidently false. The painted wax figures that seem to be
alive, and before which we stand astonished in the museums where such
things are shown, do not give aesthetic intuitions. Illusion and
hallucination have nothing to do with the calm domain of artistic
intuition. If an artist paint the interior of a wax-work museum, or if
an actor give a burlesque portrait of a man-statue on the stage, we
again have spiritual labour and artistic intuition. Finally, if
photography have anything in it of artistic, it will be to the extent
that it transmits the intuition of the photographer, his point of view,
the pose and the grouping which he has striven to attain. And if it be
not altogether art, that is precisely because the element of nature in
it remains more or less insubordinate and ineradicable. Do we ever,
indeed, feel complete satisfaction before even the best of photographs?
Would not an artist vary and touch up much or little, remove or add
something to any of them?

    [Sidenote] _Critique of art conceived as a sentimental not a
               theoretical fact. Aesthetic appearance and feeling._

The statements repeated so often, with others similar, that art is not
knowledge, that it does not tell the truth, that it does not belong to
the world of theory, but to the world of feeling, arise from the failure
to realize exactly the theoretic character of the simple intuition. This
simple intuition is quite distinct from intellectual knowledge, as it is
distinct from the perception of the real. The belief that only the
intellective is knowledge, or at the most also the perception of the
real, also arises from the failure to grasp the theoretic character of
the simple intuition. We have seen that intuition is knowledge, free of
concepts and more simple than the so-called perception of the real.
Since art is knowledge and form, it does not belong to the world of
feeling and of psychic material. The reason why so many aestheticians
have so often insisted that art is _appearance_ (_Schein_), is precisely
because they have felt the necessity of distinguishing it from the more
complex fact of perception by maintaining its pure intuitivity. For the
same reason it has been claimed that art is _sentiment_. In fact, if the
concept as content of art, and historical reality as such, be excluded,
there remains no other content than reality apprehended in all its
ingenuousness and immediateness in the vital effort, in _sentiment_,
that is to say, pure intuition.

    [Sidenote] _Critique of theory of aesthetic senses._

The theory of the _aesthetic senses_ has also arisen from the failure to
establish, or from having lost to view the character of the expression
as distinct from the impression, of the form as distinct from the

As has just been pointed out, this reduces itself to the error of
wishing to seek a passage from the quality of the content to that of the
form. To ask, in fact, what the aesthetic senses may be, implies asking
what sensible impressions may be able to enter into aesthetic
expressions, and what must of necessity do so. To this we must at once
reply, that all impressions can enter into aesthetic expressions or
formations, but that none are bound to do so. Dante raised to the
dignity of form not only the "sweet colour of the oriental sapphire"
(visual impression), but also tactile or thermic impressions, such as
the "thick air" and the "fresh rivulets" which "parch all the more" the
throat of the thirsty. The belief that a picture yields only visual
impressions is a curious illusion. The bloom of a cheek, the warmth of a
youthful body, the sweetness and freshness of a fruit, the cutting of a
sharpened blade, are not these, also, impressions that we have from a
picture? Maybe they are visual? What would a picture be for a
hypothetical man, deprived of all or many of his senses, who should in
an instant acquire the sole organ of sight? The picture we are standing
opposite and believe we see only with our eyes, would appear to his eyes
as little more than the paint-smeared palette of a painter.

Some who hold firmly to the aesthetic character of given groups of
impressions (for example, the visual, the auditive), and exclude others,
admit, however, that if visual and auditive impressions enter _directly_
into the aesthetic fact, those of the other senses also enter into it,
but only as _associated_. But this distinction is altogether arbitrary.
Aesthetic expression is a synthesis, in which it is impossible to
distinguish direct and indirect. All impressions are by it placed on a
level, in so far as they are aestheticised. He who takes into himself
the image of a picture or of a poem does not experience, as it were, a
series of impressions as to this image, some of which have a prerogative
or precedence over others. And nothing is known of what happens prior to
having received it, for the distinctions made after reflexion have
nothing to do with art.

The theory of the aesthetic senses has also been presented in another
way; that is to say, as the attempt to establish what physiological
organs are necessary for the aesthetic fact. The physiological organ or
apparatus is nothing but a complex of cellules, thus and thus
constituted, thus and thus disposed; that is to say, it is merely
physical and natural fact or concept. But expression does not recognize
physiological facts. Expression has its point of departure in the
impressions, and the physiological path by which these have found their
way to the mind is to it altogether indifferent. One way or another
amounts to the same thing: it suffices that they are impressions.

It is true that the want of given organs, that is, of given complexes of
cells, produces an absence of given impressions (when these are not
obtained by another path by a kind of organic compensation). The man
born blind cannot express or have the intuition of light. But the
impressions are not conditioned solely by the organ, but also by the
stimuli which operate upon the organ. Thus, he who has never had the
impression of the sea will never be able to express it, in the same way
as he who has never had the impression of the great world or of the
political conflict will never express the one or the other. This,
however, does not establish a dependence of the expressive function on
the stimulus or on the organ. It is the repetition of what we know
already: expression presupposes impression. Therefore, given expressions
imply given impressions. Besides, every impression excludes other
impressions during the moment in which it dominates; and so does every

    [Sidenote] _Unity and indivisibility of the work of art._

Another corollary of the conception of expression as activity is the
_indivisibility_ of the work of art. Every expression is a unique
expression. Activity is a fusion of the impressions in an organic whole.
A desire to express this has always prompted the affirmation that the
world of art should have _unity_, or, what amounts to the same thing,
_unity in variety_. Expression is a synthesis of the various, the
multiple, in the one.

The fact that we divide a work of art into parts, as a poem into scenes,
episodes, similes, sentences, or a picture into single figures and
objects, background, foreground, etc., may seem to be an objection to
this affirmation. But such division annihilates the work, as dividing
the organism into heart, brain, nerves, muscles and so on, turns the
living being into a corpse. It is true that there exist organisms in
which the division gives place to more living things, but in such a
case, and if we transfer the analogy to the aesthetic fact, we must
conclude for a multiplicity of germs of life, that is to say, for a
speedy re-elaboration of the single parts into new single expressions.

It will be observed that expression is sometimes based on other
expressions. There are simple and there are _compound_ expressions. One
must admit some difference between the _eureka_, with which Archimedes
expressed all his joy after his discovery, and the expressive act
(indeed all the five acts) of a regular tragedy. Not in the least:
expression is always directly based on impressions. He who conceives a
tragedy puts into a crucible a great quantity, so to say, of
impressions: the expressions themselves, conceived on other occasions,
are fused together with the new in a single mass, in the same way as we
can cast into a smelting furnace formless pieces of bronze and most
precious statuettes. Those most precious statuettes must be melted in
the same way as the formless bits of bronze, before there can be a new
statue. The old expressions must descend again to the level of
impressions, in order to be synthetized in a new single expression.

    [Sidenote] _Art as the deliverer._

By elaborating his impressions, man _frees_ himself from them. By
objectifying them, he removes them from him and makes himself their
superior. The liberating and purifying function of art is another aspect
and another formula of its character of activity. Activity is the
deliverer, just because it drives away passivity.

This also explains why it is customary to attribute to artists alike the
maximum of sensibility or _passion_, and the maximum insensibility or
Olympic _serenity_. Both qualifications agree, for they do not refer to
the same object. The sensibility or passion relates to the rich material
which the artist absorbs into his psychic organism; the insensibility or
serenity to the form with which he subjugates and dominates the tumult
of the feelings and of the passions.



    [Sidenote] _Indissolubility of intellective from intuitive knowledge._

The two forms of knowledge, aesthetic and intellectual or conceptual,
are indeed diverse, but this does not amount altogether to separation
and disjunction, as we find with two forces going each its own way. If
we have shown that the aesthetic form is altogether independent of the
intellectual and suffices to itself without external support, we have
not said that the intellectual can stand without the aesthetic. This
_reciprocity_ would not be true.

What is knowledge by concepts? It is knowledge of relations of things,
and those things are intuitions. Concepts are not possible without
intuitions, just as intuition is itself impossible without the material
of impressions. Intuitions are: this river, this lake, this brook, this
rain, this glass of water; the concept is: water, not this or that
appearance and particular example of water, but water in general, in
whatever time or place it be realized; the material of infinite
intuitions, but of one single and constant concept.

However, the concept, the universal, if it be no longer intuition in one
respect, is in another respect intuition, and cannot fail of being
intuition. For the man who thinks has impressions and emotions, in so
far as he thinks. His impression and emotion will not be love or hate,
but _the effort of his thought itself_, with the pain and the joy, the
love and the hate joined to it. This effort cannot but become intuitive
in form, in becoming objective to the mind. To speak, is not to think
logically; but to _think logically_ is, at the same time, to _speak_.

    [Sidenote] _Critique of the negations of this thesis._

That thought cannot exist without speech, is a truth generally admitted.
The negations of this thesis are all founded on equivoques and errors.

The first of the equivoques is implied by those who observe that one can
likewise think with geometrical figures, algebraical numbers,
ideographic signs, without a single word, even pronounced silently and
almost insensibly within one. They also affirm that there are languages
in which the word, the phonetic sign, expresses nothing, unless the
written sign also be looked at. But when we said "speech," we intended
to employ a synecdoche, and that "expression" generically, should be
understood, for expression is not only so-called verbal expression, as
we have already noted. It may be admitted that certain concepts may be
thought without phonetic manifestations. But the very examples adduced
to show this also prove that those concepts never exist without

Others maintain that animals, or certain animals, think or reason
without speaking. Now as to how, whether, and what animals think,
whether they be rudimentary, half-savage men resisting civilization,
rather than physiological machines, as the old spiritualists would have
it, are questions that do not concern us here. When the philosopher
talks of animal, brutal, impulsive, instinctive nature and the like, he
does not base himself on conjectures as to these facts concerning dogs
or cats, lions or ants; but upon observations of what is called animal
and brutal in man: of the boundary or animal basis of what we feel in
ourselves. If individual animals, dogs or cats, lions or ants, possess
something of the activity of man, so much the better, or so much the
worse for them. This means that as regards them also we must talk, not
of their nature as a whole, but of its animal basis, as being perhaps
larger and more strong than the animal basis of man. And if we suppose
that animals think, and form concepts, what is there in the line of
conjecture to justify the admission that they do so without
corresponding expressions? The analogy with man, the knowledge of the
spirit, human psychology, which is the instrument of all our conjectures
as to animal psychology, would oblige us to suppose that if they think
in any way, they also have some sort of speech.

It is from human psychology, that is, literary psychology, that comes
the other objection, to the effect that the concept can exist without
the word, because it is true that we all know books that are _well
thought and badly written_: that is to say, a thought which remains
thought _beyond_ the expression, _notwithstanding_ the imperfect
expression. But when we talk of books well thought and badly written, we
cannot mean other than that in those books are parts, pages, periods or
propositions well thought out and well written, and other parts (perhaps
the least important) ill thought out and badly written, not truly
thought out and therefore not truly expressed. Where Vico's _Scienza
nuova_ is really ill written, it is also ill thought out. If we pass
from the consideration of big books to a short proposition, the error or
the imprecision of this statement will be recognized at once. How could
a proposition be clearly thought and confusedly written out?

All that can be admitted is that sometimes we possess thoughts
(concepts) in an intuitive form, or in an abbreviated or, better,
peculiar expression, sufficient for us, but not sufficient to
communicate it with ease to another or other definite individuals. Hence
people say inaccurately, that we have the thought without the
expression; whereas it should properly be said that we have, indeed, the
expression, but in a form that is not easy of social communication.
This, however, is a very variable and altogether relative fact. There
are always people who catch our thought on the wing, and prefer it in
this abbreviated form, and would be displeased with the greater
development of it, necessary for other people. In other words, the
thought considered abstractly and logically will be the same; but
aesthetically we are dealing with two different intuition-expressions,
into both of which enter different psychological elements. The same
argument suffices to destroy, that is, to interpret correctly, the
altogether empirical distinction between an _internal_ and an _external_

    [Sidenote] _Art and science._

The most lofty manifestations, the summits of intellectual and of
intuitive knowledge shining from afar, are called, as we know, Art and
Science. Art and Science, then, are different and yet linked together;
they meet on one side, which is the aesthetic side. Every scientific
work is also a work of art. The aesthetic side may remain little
noticed, when our mind is altogether taken up with the effort to
understand the thought of the man of science, and to examine its truth.
But it is no longer concealed, when we pass from the activity of
understanding to that of contemplation, and behold that thought either
developed before us, limpid, exact, well-shaped, without superfluous
words, without lack of words, with appropriate rhythm and intonation; or
confused, broken, embarrassed, tentative. Great thinkers are sometimes
termed great writers, while other equally great thinkers remain more or
less fragmentary writers, if indeed their fragments are scientifically
to be compared with harmonious, coherent, and perfect works.

    [Sidenote] _Content and form: another meaning. Prose and poetry._

We pardon thinkers and men of science their literary mediocrity. The
fragments console us for the failure of the whole, for it is far more
easy to recover the well-arranged composition from the fragmentary work
of genius than to achieve the discovery of genius. But how can we pardon
mediocre expression in pure artists? _Mediocribus esse poetis non di,
non homines, non concessere columnae_. The poet or painter who lacks
form, lacks everything, because he lacks _himself_. Poetical material
permeates the Soul of all: the expression alone, that is to say, the
form, makes the poet. And here appears the truth of the thesis which
denies to art all content, as content being understood just the
intellectual concept. In this sense, when we take "content" as equal to
"concept" it is most true, not only that art does not consist of
content, but also that _it has no content_.

In the same way the distinction between _poetry and prose_ cannot be
justified, save in that of art and science. It was seen in antiquity
that such distinction could not be founded on external elements, such as
rhythm and metre, or on the freedom or the limitation of the form; that
it was, on the contrary, altogether internal. Poetry is the language of
sentiment; prose of the intellect; but since the intellect is also
sentiment, in its concretion and reality, so all prose has a poetical

    [Sidenote] _The relation of first and second degree._

The relation between intuitive knowledge or expression, and intellectual
knowledge or concept, between art and science, poetry and prose, cannot
be otherwise defined than by saying that it is one of _double degree_.
The first degree is the expression, the second the concept: the first
can exist without the second, but the second cannot exist without the
first. There exists poetry without prose, but not prose without poetry.
Expression, indeed, is the first affirmation of human activity. Poetry
is "the maternal language of the human race"; the first men "were by
nature sublime poets." We also admit this in another way, when we
observe that the passage from soul to mind, from animal to human
activity, is effected by means of language. And this should be said of
intuition or expression in general. But to us it appears somewhat
inaccurate to define language or expression as an _intermediate_ link
between nature and humanity, as though it were a mixture of the one and
of the other. Where humanity appears, the rest has already disappeared;
the man who expresses himself, certainly emerges from the state of
nature, but he really does emerge: he does not stand half within and
half without, as the use of the phrase "intermediate link" would imply.

    [Sidenote] _Inexistence of other forms of knowledge._

The cognitive intellect has no form other than these two. Expression and
concept exhaust it completely. The whole speculative life of man is
spent in passing from one to the other and back again.

    [Sidenote] _History. Its identity with and difference from art._

_Historicity_ is incorrectly held to be a third theoretical form.
History is not form, but content: as form, it is nothing but intuition
or aesthetic fact. History does not seek for laws nor form concepts; it
employs neither induction nor deduction; it is directed _ad narrandum,
non ad demonstrandum_; it does not construct universals and
abstractions, but posits intuitions. The this, the that, the _individuum
omni modo determinatum_, is its kingdom, as it is the kingdom of art.
History, therefore, is included under the universal concept of art.

Faced with this proposition and with the impossibility of conceiving a
third mode of knowledge, objections have been brought forward which
would lead to the affiliation of history to intellective or scientific
knowledge. The greater portion of these objections is dominated by the
prejudice that in refusing to history the character of conceptual
science, something of its value and dignity has been taken from it. This
really arises from a false idea of art, conceived, not as an essential
theoretic function, but as an amusement, a superfluity, a frivolity.
Without reopening a long debate, which so far as we are concerned, is
finally closed, we will mention here one sophism which has been and
still is widely repeated. It is intended to show the logical and
scientific nature of history. The sophism consists in admitting that
historical knowledge has for its object the individual; but not the
representation, it is added, so much as the concept of the individual.
From this it is argued that history is also a logical or scientific form
of knowledge. History, in fact, should elaborate the concept of a
personage such as Charlemagne or Napoleon; of an epoch, like the
Renaissance or the Reformation; of an event, such as the French
Revolution and the Unification of Italy. This it is held to do in the
same way as Geometry elaborates the concepts of spatial form, or
Aesthetic those of expression. But all this is untrue. History cannot do
otherwise than represent Napoleon and Charlemagne, the Renaissance and
the Reformation, the French Revolution and the Unification of Italy as
individual facts with their individual physiognomy: that is, in the same
way as logicians state, that one cannot have a concept of an individual,
but only a representation. The so-called concept of the individual is
always a universal or general concept, full of details, very rich, if
you will, but however rich it be, yet incapable of attaining to that
individuality, to which historical knowledge, as aesthetic knowledge,
alone attains.

Let us rather show how the content of history comes to be distinguished
from that of art. The distinction is secondary. Its origin will be found
in what has already been observed as to the ideal character of the
intuition or first perception, in which all is real and therefore
nothing is real. The mind forms the concepts of external and internal at
a later stage, as it does those of what has happened and of what is
desired, of object and subject, and the like. Thus it distinguishes
historical from non-historical intuition, the _real_ from the _unreal_,
real fancy from pure fancy. Even internal facts, what is desired and
imagined, castles in the air, and countries of Cockagne, have their
reality. The soul, too, has its history. His illusions form part of the
biography of every individual. But the history of an individual soul is
history, because in it is always active the distinction between the real
and the unreal, even when the real is the illusions themselves. But
these distinctive concepts do not appear in history as do scientific
concepts, but rather like those that we have seen dissolved and melted
in the aesthetic intuitions, although they stand out in history in an
altogether new relief. History does not construct the concepts of the
real and unreal, but makes use of them. History, in fact, is not the
theory of history. Mere conceptual analysis is of no use in realizing
whether an event in our lives were real or imaginary. It is necessary to
reproduce the intuitions in the mind in the most complete form, as they
were at the moment of production, in order to recognize the content.
Historicity is distinguished in the concrete from pure imagination only
as one intuition is distinguished from another: in the memory.

    [Sidenote] _Historical criticism._
    [Sidenote] _Historical scepticism._

Where this is not possible, owing to the delicate and fleeting shades
between the real and unreal intuitions, which confuse the one with the
other, we must either renounce, for the time at least, the knowledge of
what really happened (and this we often do), or we must fall back upon
conjecture, verisimilitude, probability. The principle of verisimilitude
and of probability dominates in fact all historical criticism.
Examination of the sources and of authority is directed toward
establishing the most credible evidence. And what is the most credible
evidence, save that of the best observers, that is, of those who best
remember and (be it understood) have not desired to falsify, nor had
interest in falsifying the truth of things? From this it follows that
intellectual scepticism finds it easy to deny the certainty of any
history, for the certainty of history is never that of science.
Historical certainty is composed of memory and of authority, not of
analyses and of demonstration. To speak of historical induction or
demonstration, is to make a metaphorical use of these expressions, which
bear quite a different meaning in history to that which they bear in
science. The conviction of the historian is the undemonstrable
conviction of the juryman, who has heard the witnesses, listened
attentively to the case, and prayed Heaven to inspire him. Sometimes,
without doubt, he is mistaken, but the mistakes are in a negligible
minority compared with the occasions when he gets hold of the truth.
That is why good sense is right against the intellectualists, in
believing in history, which is not a "fable agreed upon," but that which
the individual and humanity remember of their past. We strive to enlarge
and to render as precise as possible this record, which in some places
is dim, in others very clear. We cannot do without it, such as it is,
and taken as a whole, it is rich in truth. In a spirit of paradox only,
can one doubt if there ever were a Greece or a Rome, an Alexander or a
Caesar, a feudal Europe overthrown by a series of revolutions, that on
the 1st of November 1517 the theses of Luther were seen fixed to the
door of the church of Wittenberg, or that the Bastile was taken by the
people of Paris on the 14th of July 1789.

"What proof givest thou of all this?" asks the sophist, ironically.
Humanity replies "I remember."

    [Sidenote] _Philosophy as perfect science. The so-called natural
               sciences, and their limits._

The world of what has happened, of the concrete, of history, is the
world that is called real, natural, including in this definition the
reality that is called physical, as well as that which is called
spiritual and human. All this world is intuition; historical intuition,
if it be realistically shown as it is, or imaginary intuition, artistic
in the strict sense, if shown under the aspect of the possible, that is
to say, of the imaginable.

Science, true science, which is not intuition but concept, not
individuality but universality, cannot be anything but a science of the
spirit, that is, of what is universal in reality: Philosophy. If natural
_sciences_ be spoken of, apart from philosophy, it is necessary to
observe that these are not perfect sciences: they are complexes of
knowledge, arbitrarily abstracted and fixed. The so-called natural
sciences themselves recognize, in fact, that they are surrounded by
limitations. These limitations are nothing more than historical and
intuitive data. They calculate, measure, establish equalities,
regularity, create classes and types, formulate laws, show in their own
way how one fact arises out of other facts; but in their progress they
are always met with facts which are known intuitively and historically.
Even geometry now states that it rests altogether on hypotheses, since
space is not three-dimensional or Euclidean, but this assumption is made
use of by preference, because it is more convenient. What there is of
truth in the natural sciences, is either philosophy or historical fact.
What they contain proper to themselves is abstract and arbitrary. When
the natural sciences wish to form themselves into perfect sciences, they
must issue from their circle and enter the philosophical circle. This
they do when they posit concepts which are anything but natural, such as
those of the atom without extension in space, of ether or vibrating
matter, of vital force, of space beyond the reach of intuition, and the
like. These are true and proper philosophical efforts, when they are not
mere words void of meaning. The concepts of natural science are, without
doubt, most useful; but one cannot obtain from them that _system_, which
belongs only to the spirit.

These historical and intuitive assumptions, which cannot be separated
from the natural sciences, furthermore explain, not only how, in the
progress of knowledge, that which was once considered to be truth
descends gradually to the grade of mythological beliefs and imaginary
illusions, but also how, among natural scientists, there are some who
term all that serves as basis of argument in their teaching _mythical
facts, verbal expedients_, or _conventions_. The naturalists and
mathematicians who approach the study of the energies of the spirit
without preparation, are apt to carry thither these mental habits and to
speak, in philosophy, of such and such conventions "as arranged by man."
They make conventions of truth and morality, and their supreme
convention is the Spirit itself! However, if there are to be
conventions, something must exist about which there is no convention to
be made, but which is itself the agent of the convention. This is the
spiritual activity of man. The limitation of the natural sciences
postulates the illimitation of philosophy.

    [Sidenote] _The phenomenon and the noumenon._

These explications have firmly established that the pure or fundamental
forms of knowledge are two: the intuition and the concept--Art, and
Science or Philosophy. With these are to be included History, which is,
as it were, the product of intuition placed in contact with the concept,
that is, of art receiving in itself philosophic distinctions, while
remaining concrete and individual. All the other forms (natural sciences
and mathematics) are impure, being mingled with extraneous elements of
practical origin. The intuition gives the world, the phenomenon; the
concept gives the noumenon, the Spirit.



These relations between intuitive or aesthetic knowledge and the other
fundamental or derivative forms of knowledge having been definitely
established, we are now in a position to reveal the errors of a series
of theories which have been, or are, presented, as theories of

    [Sidenote] _Critique of verisimilitude and of naturalism._

From the confusion between the exigencies of art in general and the
particular exigencies of history has arisen the theory (which has lost
ground to-day, but used to dominate in the past) of _verisimilitude_ as
the object of art. As is generally the case with erroneous propositions,
the intention of those who employed and employ the concept of
verisimilitude has no doubt often been much more reasonable than the
definition given of the word. By verisimilitude used to be meant the
artistic _coherence_ of the representation, that is to say, its
completeness and effectiveness. If "verisimilar" be translated by
"coherent," a most exact meaning will often be found in the discussions,
examples, and judgments of the critics. An improbable personage, an
improbable ending to a comedy, are really badly-drawn personages,
badly-arranged endings, happenings without artistic motive. It has been
said with reason that even fairies and sprites must have verisimilitude,
that is to say, be really sprites and fairies, coherent artistic
intuitions. Sometimes the word "possible" has been used instead of
"verisimilar." As we have already remarked in passing, this word
possible is synonymous with that which is imaginable or may be known
intuitively. Everything which is really, that is to say, coherently,
imagined, is possible. But formerly, and especially by the
theoreticians, by verisimilar was understood historical credibility, or
that historical truth which is not demonstrable, but conjecturable, not
true, but verisimilar. It has been sought to impose a like character
upon art. Who does not recall the great part played in literary history
by the criticism of the verisimilar? For example, the fault found with
the _Jerusalem Delivered_, based upon the history of the Crusades, or of
the Homeric poems, upon that of the verisimilitude of the costume of the
emperors and kings?

At other times has been imposed upon art the duty of the aesthetic
reproduction of historical reality. This is another of the erroneous
significations assumed by the theory concerning _the imitation of
nature_. Verism and naturalism have since afforded the spectacle of a
confusion of the aesthetic fact with the processes of the natural
sciences, by aiming at some sort of _experimental_ drama or romance.

    [Sidenote] _Critique of ideas in art, of theses in art, and of the

The confusions between the methods of art and those of the philosophical
sciences have been far more frequent. Thus it has often been held to be
within the competence of art to develop concepts, to unite the
intelligible with the sensible, to represent _ideas or universals_,
putting art in the place of science, that is, confusing the artistic
function in general with the particular case in which it becomes

The theory of art as supporting _theses_ can be reduced to the same
error, as can be the theory of art considered as individual
representation, exemplifying scientific laws. The example, in so far as
it is an example, stands for the thing exemplified, and is thus an
exposition of the universal, that is to say, a form of science, more or
less popular or vulgarized.

The same may be said of the aesthetic theory of the _typical_, when by
type is understood, as it frequently is, just the abstraction or the
concept, and it is affirmed that art should make _the species shine in
the individual_. If by typical be here understood the individual, here,
too, we have a merely verbal variation. To typify would signify, in this
case, to characterize; that is, to determine and to represent the
individual. Don Quixote is a type; but of whom is he a type, if not of
all Don Quixotes? A type, that is to say, of himself. Certainly he is
not a type of abstract concepts, such as the loss of the sense of
reality, or of the love of glory. An infinite number of personages can
be thought of under these concepts, who are not Don Quixote. In other
words, we find our own impressions fully determined and verified in the
expression of a poet (for example in a poetical personage). We call that
expression typical, which we might call simply aesthetic. Poetical or
artistic universals have been spoken of in like manner, in order to show
that the artistic product is altogether spiritual and ideal in itself.

    [Sidenote] _Critique of the symbol and of the allegory._

Continuing to correct these errors, or to make clear equivoques, we will
note that the _symbol_ has sometimes been given as essence of art. Now,
if the symbol be given as inseparable from the artistic intuition, it is
the synonym of the intuition itself, which always has an ideal
character. There is no double-bottom to art, but one only; in art all is
symbolical, because all is ideal. But if the symbol be looked upon as
separable--if on the one side can be expressed the symbol, and on the
other the thing symbolized, we fall back again into the intellectualist
error: that pretended symbol is the exposition of an abstract concept,
it is an _allegory_, it is science, or art that apes science. But we
must be just toward the allegorical also. In some cases, it is
altogether harmless. Given the _Gerusalemme liberata_, the allegory was
imagined afterwards; given the _Adone_ of Marino, the poet of the
lascivious insinuated afterwards that it was written to show how
"immoderate indulgence ends in pain"; given a statue of a beautiful
woman, the sculptor can write on a card that the statue represents
_Clemency_ or _Goodness_. This allegory linked to a finished work _post
festum_ does not change the work of art. What is it, then? It is an
expression externally _added_ to another expression. A little page of
prose is added to the _Gerusalemme_, expressing another thought of the
poet; a verse or a strophe is added to the _Adone_, expressing what the
poet would like to make a part of his public swallow; while to the
statue nothing more than the single word is added: _Clemency_ or

    [Sidenote] _Critique of the theory of artistic and literary classes._

But the greatest triumph of the intellectualist error lies in the theory
of artistic and literary classes, which still has vogue in literary
treatises, and disturbs the critics and the historians of art. Let us
observe its genesis.

The human mind can pass from the aesthetic to the logical, just because
the former is a first step, in respect to the latter. It can destroy the
expressions, that is, the thought of the individual with the thought of
the universal. It can reduce expressive facts to logical relations. We
have already shown that this operation in its turn becomes concrete in
an expression, but this does not mean that the first expressions have
not been destroyed. They have yielded their place to the new
aesthetico-logical expressions. When we are on the second step, we have
left the first.

He who enters a picture-gallery, or who reads a series of poems, may,
after he has looked and read, go further: he may seek out the relations
of the things there expressed. Thus those pictures and compositions,
each of which is an individual inexpressible by logic, are resolved into
universals and abstractions, such as _costumes, landscapes, portraits,
domestic life, battles, animals, flowers, fruit, seascapes, lakes,
deserts, tragic, comic, piteous, cruel, lyrical, epic, dramatic,
knightly, idyllic facts_, and the like. They are often also resolved
into merely quantitative categories, such as _little picture, picture,
statuette, group, madrigal, song, sonnet, garland of sonnets, poetry,
poem, story, romance_, and the like.

When we think the concept _domestic life_, or _knighthood_, or _idyll_,
or _cruelty_, or any other quantitative concept, the individual
expressive fact from which we started is abandoned. From aesthetes that
we were, we have been changed into logicians; from contemplators of
expression, into reasoners. Certainly no objection can be made to such a
process. In what other way could science be born, which, if aesthetic
expressions be assumed in it, yet has for function to go beyond them?
The logical or scientific form, as such, excludes the aesthetic form. He
who begins to think scientifically has already ceased to contemplate
aesthetically; although his thought will assume of necessity in its turn
an aesthetic form, as has already been said, and as it would be
superfluous to repeat.

The error begins when we try to deduce the expression from the concept,
and to find in the thing substituting the laws of the thing substituted;
when the difference between the second and the first step has not been
observed, and when, in consequence, we declare that we are standing on
the first step, when we are really standing on the second. This error is
known as _the theory of artistic and literary classes_.

What is the aesthetic form of domestic life, of knighthood, of the
idyll, of cruelty, and so forth? How should these contents be
_represented_? Such is the absurd problem implied in the theory of
artistic and literary classes. It is in this that consists all search
after laws or rules of styles. Domestic life, knighthood, idyll,
cruelty, and the like, are not impressions, but concepts. They are not
contents, but logico-aesthetic forms. You cannot express the form, for
it is already itself expression. And what are the words cruelty, idyll,
knighthood, domestic life, and so on, but the expression of those

Even the most refined of these distinctions, those that have the most
philosophic appearance, do not resist criticism; as, for instance, when
works of art are divided into the subjective and the objective styles,
into lyric and epic, into works of feeling and works of design. It is
impossible to separate in aesthetic analysis, the subjective from the
objective side, the lyric from the epic, the image of feeling from that
of things.

    [Sidenote] _Errors derived from this theory appearing in judgments
               on art._

From the theory of the artistic and literary classes derive those
erroneous modes of judgment and of criticism, thanks to which, instead
of asking before a work of art if it be expressive, and what it
expresses, whether it speak or stammer, or be silent altogether, it is
asked if it be obedient to the _laws_ of the epic poem, or to those of
tragedy, to those of historical portraiture, or to those of landscape
painting. Artists, however, while making a verbal pretence of agreeing,
or yielding a feigned obedience to them, have really always disregarded
these _laws of styles_. Every true work of art has violated some
established class and upset the ideas of the critics, who have thus been
obliged to enlarge the number of classes, until finally even this
enlargement has proved too narrow, owing to the appearance of new works
of art, which are naturally followed by new scandals, new upsettings,
and-new enlargements.

From the same theory come the prejudices, owing to which at one time
(and is it really passed?) people used to lament that Italy had no
tragedy (until a poet arose who gave to Italy that wreath which was the
only thing wanting to her glorious hair), nor France the epic poem
(until the _Henriade_, which slaked the thirsty throats of the critics).
Eulogies accorded to the inventors of new styles are connected with
these prejudices, so much so, that in the seventeenth century the
invention of the _mock-heroic_ poem seemed an important event, and the
honour of it was disputed, as though it were the discovery of America.
But the works adorned with this name (the _Secchia rapita_ and the
_Scherno degli Dei_) were still-born, because their authors (a slight
draw-back) had nothing new or original to say. Mediocrities racked their
brains to invent, artificially, new styles. The _piscatorial_ eclogue
was added to the _pastoral_, and then, finally, the _military_ eclogue.
The _Aminta_ was bathed and became the _Alceo_. Finally, there have been
historians of art and literature, so much fascinated with these ideas of
classes, that they claimed to write the history, not of single and
effective literary and artistic works, but of their classes, those empty
phantoms. They have claimed to portray, not the evolution of the
_artistic spirit_, but the _evolution of classes_.

The philosophical condemnation of artistic and literary classes is found
in the formulation and demonstration of what artistic activity has ever
sought and good taste ever recognized. What is to be done if good taste
and the real fact, put into formulas, sometimes assume the air of

    [Sidenote] _Empirical sense of the divisions of classes._

Now if we talk of tragedies, comedies, dramas, romances, pictures of
everyday life, battle-pieces, landscapes, seascapes, poems, versicles,
lyrics, and the like, if it be only with a view to be understood, and to
draw attention in general and approximatively to certain groups of
works, to which, for one reason or another, it is desired to draw
attention, in that case, no scientific error has been committed. We
employ _vocables and phrases_; we do not establish _laws and
definitions_. The mistake arises when the weight of a scientific
definition is given to a word, when we ingenuously let ourselves be
caught in the meshes of that phraseology. Pray permit me a comparison.
It is necessary to arrange the books in a library in one way or another.
This used generally to be done by means of a rough classification by
subjects (among which the categories of miscellaneous and eccentric were
not wanting); they are now generally arranged by sizes or by publishers.
Who can deny the necessity and the utility of these groupings? But what
should we say if some one began seriously to seek out the literary laws
of miscellanies and of eccentricities from the Aldine or Bodonian
collection, from size A or size B, that is to say, from these altogether
arbitrary groupings whose sole object has been their practical use?
Well, whoever should undertake an enterprise such as this, would be
doing neither more nor less than those who seek out the aesthetic laws
of literary and artistic classes.



The better to confirm these criticisms, it will be opportune to cast a
rapid glance over analogous and opposite errors, born of ignorance as to
the true nature of art, and of its relation to history and to science.
These errors have injured alike the theory of history and of science, of
Historic (or Historiology) and of Logic.

    [Sidenote] _Critique of the philosophy of history._

Historical intellectualism has been the cause of the many researches
which have been made, especially during the last two centuries,
researches which continue to-day, for _a philosophy of history_, for an
_ideal history_, for a _sociology_, for a _historical psychology_, or
however may be otherwise entitled or described a science whose object is
to extract from history, universal laws and concepts. Of what kind must
be these laws, these universals? Historical laws and historical
concepts? In that case, an elementary criticism of knowledge suffices to
make clear the absurdity of the attempt. When such expressions as a
_historical law_, a _historical concept_ are not simply metaphors
colloquially employed, they are true contradictions in terms: the
adjective is as unsuitable to the substantive as in the expressions
_qualitative quantity_ or _pluralistic monism_. History means concretion
and individuality, law and concept mean abstraction and universality.
If, on the other hand, the attempt to draw from history historical laws
and concepts be abandoned, and it be merely desired to draw from it laws
and concepts, the attempt is certainly not frivolous; but the science
thus obtained will be, not a philosophy of history, but rather,
according to the case, either philosophy in its various specifications
of Ethic, Logic, etc., or empirical science in its infinite divisions
and subdivisions. Thus are sought out either those philosophical
concepts which are, as has already been observed, at the bottom of every
historical construction and separate perception from intuition,
historical intuition from pure intuition, history from art; or already
formed historical intuitions are collected and reduced to types and
classes, which is exactly the method of the natural sciences. Great
thinkers have sometimes donned the unsuitable cloak of the philosophy of
history, and notwithstanding the covering, they have conquered
philosophical truths of the greatest magnitude. The cloak has been
dropped, the truth has remained. Modern sociologists are rather to be
blamed, not so much for the illusion in which they are involved when
they talk of an impossible science of sociology, as for the infecundity
which almost always accompanies their illusion. It is but a small evil
that Aesthetic should be termed sociological Aesthetic, or Logic, social
Logic. The grave evil is that their Aesthetic is an old-fashioned
expression of sensualism, their Logic verbal and incoherent. The
philosophical movement, to which we have referred, has borne two good
fruits in relation to history. First of all has been felt the desire to
construct a theory of historiography, that is, to understand the nature
and the limits of history, a theory which, in conformity with the
analyses made above, cannot obtain satisfaction, save in a general
science of intuition, in an Aesthetic, from which Historic would be
separated under a special head by means of the intervention of the
universals. Furthermore, concrete truths relating to historical events
have often been expressed beneath the false and presumptuous cloak of a
philosophy of history; canons and empirical advice have been formulated
by no means superfluous to students and critics. It does not seem
possible to deny this utility to the most recent of philosophies of
history, to so-called historical materialism, which has thrown a very
vivid light upon many sides of social life, formerly neglected or ill

    [Sidenote] _Aesthetic invasions into Logic._

The principle of authority, of the _ipse dixit_, is an invasion of
historicity into the domains of science and philosophy which has raged
in the schools. This substitutes for introspection and philosophical
analyses, this or that evidence, document, or authoritative statement,
with which history certainly cannot dispense. But Logic, the science of
thought and of intellectual knowledge, has suffered the most grave and
destructive disturbances and errors of all, through the imperfect
understanding of the aesthetic fact. How, indeed, could it be otherwise,
if logical activity come after and contain in itself aesthetic activity?
An inexact Aesthetic must of necessity drag after it an inexact Logic.

Whoever opens logical treatises, from the _Organum_ of Aristotle to the
moderns, must admit that they all contain a haphazard mixture of verbal
facts and facts of thought, of grammatical forms and of conceptual
forms, of Aesthetic and of Logic. Not that attempts have been wanting to
escape from verbal expression and to seize thought in its effective
nature. Aristotelian logic itself did not become mere syllogistic and
verbalism, without some stumbling and oscillation. The especially
logical problem was often touched upon in the Middle Ages, by the
nominalists, realists, and conceptualists, in their disputes. With
Galileo and with Bacon, the natural sciences gave an honourable place to
induction. Vico combated formalist and mathematical logic in favour of
inventive methods. Kant called attention to _a priori_ syntheses. The
absolute idealists despised the Aristotelian logic. The followers of
Herbart, bound to Aristotle, on the other hand, set in relief those
judgments which they called narrative, which are of a character
altogether different from other logical judgments. Finally, the
linguists insisted upon the irrationality of the word, in relation to
the concept. But a conscious, sure, and radical movement of reform can
find no base or starting-point, save in the science of Aesthetic.

    [Sidenote] _Logic in its essence._

In a Logic suitably reformed on this basis, it will be fitting to
proclaim before all things this truth, and to draw from it all its
consequences: the logical fact, _the only logical fact_, is _the
concept_, the universal, the spirit that forms, and in so far as it
forms, the universal. And if be understood by induction, as has
sometimes been understood, the formation of universals, and by deduction
the verbal development of these, then it is clear that true Logic can be
nothing but inductive Logic. But since by the word "deduction" has been
more frequently understood the special processes of mathematics, and by
the word "induction" those of the natural sciences, it will be advisable
to avoid the one and the other denomination, and to say that true Logic
is the Logic of the concept. The Logic of the concept, adopting a method
which is at once induction and deduction, will adopt neither the one nor
the other exclusively, that is, will adopt the (speculative) method,
which is intrinsic to it.

The concept, the universal, is in itself, abstractly considered,
_inexpressible_. No word is proper to it. So true is this, that the
logical concept remains always the same, notwithstanding the variation
of verbal forms. In respect to the concept, expression is a simple
_sign_ or _indication_. There must be an expression, it cannot fail; but
what it is to be, this or that, is determined by the historical and
psychological conditions of the individual who is speaking. The quality
of the expression is not deducible from the nature of the concept. There
does not exist a true (logical) sense of words. He who forms a concept
bestows on each occasion their true meaning on the words.

    [Sidenote] _Distinction between logical and non-logical judgements._

This being established, the only truly logical (that is,
aesthetico-logical) propositions, the only rigorously logical judgments,
can be nothing but those whose proper and exclusive content is the
determination of a concept. These propositions or judgments are the
_definitions_. Science itself is nothing but a complex of definitions,
unified in a supreme definition; a system of concepts, or chief concept.

It is therefore necessary to exclude from Logic all those propositions
which do not affirm universals. Narrative judgments, not less than those
termed non-enunciative by Aristotle, such as the expression of desires,
are not properly logical judgments. They are either purely aesthetic
propositions or historical propositions. "Peter is passing; it is
raining to-day; I am sleepy; I want to read": these and an infinity of
propositions of the same kind, are nothing but either a mere enclosing,
in words the impression of the fact that Peter is passing, of the
falling rain, of my organism inclining to sleep, and of my will directed
to reading, or they are existential affirmation concerning those facts.
They are expressions of the real or of the unreal, of historical or of
pure imagination; they are certainly not definitions of universals.

    [Sidenote] _Syllogistic._

This exclusion cannot meet with great difficulties. It is already almost
an accomplished fact, and the only thing required is to render it
explicit, decisive, and coherent. But what is to be done with all that
part of human experience which is called _syllogistic_, consisting of
judgments and reasonings which are based on concepts. What is
syllogistic? Is it to be looked down upon from above with contempt, as
something useless, as has so often been done in the reaction of the
humanists against scholasticism, in absolute idealism, in the
enthusiastic admiration of our times for the methods of observation and
experiment of the natural sciences? Syllogistic, reasoning _in forma_,
is not a discovery of truth; it is the art of exposing, debating,
disputing with oneself and others. Proceeding from concepts already
formed, from facts already observed and making appeal to the persistence
of the true or of thought (such is the meaning of the principle of
identity and contradiction), it infers consequences from these data,
that is, it represents what has already been discovered. Therefore, if
it be an _idem per idem_ from the point of view of invention, it is most
efficacious as a teaching and an exposition. To reduce affirmations to
the syllogistic scheme is a way of controlling one's own thought and of
criticizing that of others. It is easy to laugh at syllogisers, but, if
syllogistic has been born and retains its place, it must have good roots
of its own. Satire applied to it can concern only its abuses, such as
the attempt to prove syllogistically questions of fact, observation, and
intuition, or the neglect of profound meditation and unprejudiced
investigation of problems, for syllogistic formality. And if so-called
_mathematical Logic_ can sometimes aid us in our attempt to remember
with ease, to manipulate the results of our own thought, let us welcome
this form of the syllogism also, long prophesied by Leibnitz and essayed
by many, even in our days.

But precisely because syllogistic is the art of exposing and of
debating, its theory cannot hold the first place in a philosophical
Logic, usurping that belonging to the doctrine of the concept, which is
the central and dominating doctrine, to which is reduced everything
logical in syllogistic, without leaving a residuum (relations of
concepts, subordination, co-ordination, identification, and so on). Nor
must it ever be forgotten that the concept, the (logical) judgment, and
the syllogism do not occupy the same position. The first alone is the
logical fact, the second and third are the forms in which the first
manifests itself. These, in so far as they are forms, cannot be examined
save aesthetically (grammatically); in so far as they possess logical
content, only by neglecting the forms themselves and passing to the
doctrine of the concept.

    [Sidenote] _False Logic and true Aesthetic._

This shows the truth of the ordinary remark to the effect that he who
reasons ill, also speaks and writes ill, that exact logical analysis is
the basis of good expression. This truth is a tautology, for to reason
well is in fact to express oneself well, because the expression is the
intuitive possession of one's own logical thought. The principle of
contradiction, itself, is at bottom nothing but the aesthetic principle
of coherence. It will be said that starting from erroneous concepts it
is possible to write and to speak exceedingly well, as it is also
possible to reason well; that some who are dull at research may yet be
most limpid writers. That is precisely because to write well depends
upon having a clear intuition of one's own thought, even if it be
erroneous; that is to say, not of its scientific, but of its aesthetic
truth, since it is this truth itself. A philosopher like Schopenhauer
can imagine that art is a representation of the Platonic ideas. This
doctrine is absolutely false scientifically, yet he may develop this
false knowledge in excellent prose, aesthetically most true. But we have
already replied to these objections, when we observed that at that
precise point where a speaker or a writer enunciates an ill-thought
concept, he is at the same time speaking ill and writing ill. He may,
however, afterwards recover himself in the many other parts of his
thought, which consist of true propositions, not connected with the
preceding errors, and lucid expressions may with him follow upon turbid

    [Sidenote] _Logic reformed._

All enquiries as to the forms of judgments and of syllogisms, on their
conversion and on their various relations, which still encumber
treatises on Logic, are therefore destined to become less, to be
transformed, to be reduced to something else.

The doctrine of the concept and of the organism of the concepts, of
definition, of system, of philosophy, and of the various sciences, and
the like, will fill the place of these and will constitute the only true
and proper Logic.

Those who first had some suspicion of the intimate connexion between
Aesthetic and Logic and conceived Aesthetic as a _Logic of sensible
knowledge_, were strangely addicted to applying logical categories to
the new knowledge, talking of _aesthetic concepts, aesthetic judgments,
aesthetic syllogisms_, and so on. We are less superstitious as regards
the solidity of the traditional Logic of the schools, and better
informed as to the nature of Aesthetic. We do not recommend the
application of Logic to Aesthetic, but the liberation of Logic from
aesthetic forms. These have given rise to non-existent forms or
categories of Logic, due to the following of altogether arbitrary and
crude distinctions.

Logic thus reformed will always be _formal_ Logic; it will study the
true form or activity of thought, the concept, excluding single and
particular concepts. The old Logic is ill called formal; it were better
to call it _verbal_ or _formalistic_. Formal Logic will drive out
formalistic Logic. To attain this object, it will not be necessary to
have recourse, as some have done, to a real or material Logic, which is
not a science of thought, but thought itself in the act; not only a
Logic, but the complex of Philosophy, in which Logic also is included.
The science of thought (Logic) is that of the concept, as that of fancy
(Aesthetic) is the science of expression. The well-being of both
sciences lies in exactly following in every particular the distinction
between the two domains.



The intuitive and intellective forms exhaust, as we have said, all the
theoretic form of the spirit. But it is not possible to know them
thoroughly, nor to criticize another series of erroneous aesthetic
theories, without first establishing clearly their relations with
another form of the spirit, which is the _practical_ form.

    [Sidenote] _The will._

This form or practical activity is the _will_. We do not employ this
word here in the sense of any philosophical system, in which the will is
the foundation of the universe, the principle of things and the true
reality. Nor do we employ it in the ample sense of other systems, which
understand by will the energy of the spirit, the spirit or activity in
general, making of every act of the human spirit an act of will. Neither
such metaphysical nor such metaphorical meaning is ours. For us, the
will is, as generally accepted, that activity of the spirit, which
differs from the mere theoretical contemplation of things, and is
productive, not of knowledge, but of actions. Action is really action,
in so far as it is voluntary. It is not necessary to remark that in the
will to do, is included, in the scientific sense, also what is vulgarly
called not-doing: the will to resist, to reject, the prometheutic will,
is also action.

    [Sidenote] _The will as an ulterior stage in respect to knowledge._

Man understands things with the theoretical form, with the practical
form he changes them; with the one he appropriates the universe, with
the other he creates it. But the first form is the basis of the second;
and the relation of _double degree_, which we have already found
existing between aesthetic and logical activity, is repeated between
these two on a larger scale. Knowledge independent of the will is
thinkable; will independent of knowledge is unthinkable. Blind will is
not will; true will has eyes.

How can we will, without having before us historical intuitions
(perceptions) of objects, and knowledge of (logical) relations, which
enlighten us as to the nature of those objects? How can we really will,
if we do not know the world which surrounds us, and the manner of
changing things by acting upon them?

    [Sidenote] _Objections and elucidations._

It has been objected that men of action, practical men in the eminent
sense, are the least disposed to contemplate and to theorize: their
energy is not delayed in contemplation, it rushes at once into will. And
conversely, that contemplative men, philosophers, are often very
mediocre in practical matters, weak willed, and therefore neglected and
thrust aside in the tumult of life. It is easy to see that these
distinctions are merely empirical and quantitative. Certainly, the
practical man has no need of a philosophical system in order to act, but
in the spheres where he does act, he starts from intuitions and concepts
which are most clear to him. Otherwise he could not will the most
ordinary actions. It would not be possible to will to feed oneself, for
instance, without knowledge of the food, and of the link of cause and
effect between certain movements and certain organic sensations. Rising
gradually to the more complex forms of action, for example to the
political, how could we will anything politically good or bad, without
knowing the real conditions of society, and consequently the means and
expedients to be adopted? When the practical man feels himself in the
dark about one or more of these points, or when he is seized with doubt,
action either does not begin or stops. It is then that the theoretical
moment, which in the rapid succession of human actions is hardly noticed
and rapidly forgotten, becomes important and occupies consciousness for
a longer time. And if this moment be prolonged, then the practical man
may become Hamlet, divided between desire for action and his small
amount of theoretical clarity as regards the situation and the means to
be employed. And if he develop a taste for contemplation and discovery,
and leave willing and acting, to a more or less great extent, to others,
there is formed in him the calm disposition of the artist, of the man of
science, or of the philosopher, who are sometimes unpractical or
altogether blameworthy. These observations are all obvious. Their
exactitude cannot be denied. Let us, however, repeat that they are
founded on quantitative distinctions and do not disprove, but confirm
the fact that an action, however slight it be, cannot really be an
action, that is, an action that is willed, unless it be preceded by
cognoscitive activity.

    [Sidenote] _Critique of practical judgments or judgments of value._

Some psychologists, on the other hand, place before practical action an
altogether special class of judgments, which they call _practical_
judgments or judgments _of value_. They say that in order to resolve to
perform an action, it is necessary to have judged: "this action is
useful, this action is good." And at first sight this seems to have the
testimony of consciousness on its side. But he who observes better and
analyses with greater subtlety, discovers that such judgments follow
instead of preceding the affirmation of the will; they are nothing but
the expression of the already exercised volition. A good or useful
action is an action that is willed. It will always be impossible to
distil from the objective study of things a single drop of usefulness or
goodness. We do not desire things because we know them to be good or
useful; but we know them to be good and useful, because we desire them.
Here too, the rapidity, with which the facts of consciousness follow one
another has given rise to an illusion. Practical action is preceded by
knowledge, but not by practical knowledge, or better by the practical:
to obtain this, it is first necessary to have practical action. The
third moment, therefore, of practical judgments, or judgments of value,
is altogether imaginary. It does not come between the two moments or
degrees of theory and practice. That is why there exist no normative
sciences in general, which regulate or command, discover and indicate
values to the practical activity; because there is none for any other
activity, assuming every science already realized and that activity
developed, which it afterwards takes as its object.

    [Sidenote] _Exclusion of the practical from the aesthetic._

These distinctions established, we must condemn as erroneous every
theory which confuses aesthetic with practical activity, or introduces
the laws of the second into the first. That science is theory and art
practice has been many times affirmed. Those who make this statement,
and look upon the aesthetic fact as a practical fact, do not do so
capriciously or because they are groping in the void; but because they
have their eye on something which is really practical. But the practical
which they are looking at is not Aesthetic, nor within Aesthetic; it is
_outside and beside it_; and although they are often found united, they
are not necessarily united, that is to say, by the bond of identity of

The aesthetic fact is altogether completed in the expressive elaboration
of the impressions. When we have conquered the word within us, conceived
definitely and vividly a figure or a statue, or found a musical motive,
expression is born and is complete; there is no need for anything else.
If after this we should open our mouths and _will_ to open them, to
speak, or our throats to sing, and declare in a loud voice and with
extended throat what we have completely said or sung to ourselves; or if
we should stretch out and _will_ to stretch out our hands to touch the
notes of the piano, or to take up the brushes and the chisel, making
thus in detail those movements which we have already done rapidly, and
doing so in such a way as to leave more or less durable traces; this is
all an addition, a fact which obeys quite different laws to the first,
and with these laws we have not to occupy ourselves for the moment. Let
us, however, here recognize that this second movement is a production of
things, a _practical_ fact, or a fact of _will_. It is customary to
distinguish the internal from the external work of art: the terminology
seems here to be infelicitous, for the work of art (the aesthetic work)
is always _internal_; and that which is called _external_ is no longer a
work of art. Others distinguish between _aesthetic_ fact and _artistic_
fact, meaning by the second the external or practical stage, which may
and generally does follow the first. But in this case, it is simply a
case of linguistic usage, doubtless permissible, although perhaps not

    [Sidenote] _Critique of the theory of the end of art and of the
               choice of the content._

For the same reasons the search for the _end of art_ is ridiculous, when
it is understood of art as art. And since to fix an end is to choose,
the theory that the content of art must be _selected_ is another form of
the same error. A selection from among impressions and sensations
implies that these are already expressions, otherwise, how can a
selection be made among what is continuous and indistinct? To choose is
to will: to will this and not to will that: and this and that must be
before us, they must be expressed. Practice follows, it does not precede
theory; expression is free inspiration.

The true artist, in fact, finds himself big with his theme, he knows not
how; he feels the moment of birth drawing near, but he cannot will it or
not will it. If he were to wish to act in opposition to his inspiration,
to make an arbitrary choice, if, born Anacreon, he were to wish to sing
of Atreus and of Alcides, his lyre would warn him of his mistake,
echoing only of Venus and of Love, notwithstanding his efforts to the

    [Sidenote] _Practical innocence of art._

The theme or content cannot, therefore, be practically or morally
charged with epithets of praise or of blame. When critics of art remark
that a theme is _badly selected_, in cases where that observation has a
just foundation, it is a question of blaming, not the selection of the
theme (which would be absurd), but the manner in which the artist has
treated it. The expression has failed, owing to the contradictions which
it contains. And when the same critics rebel against the theme or the
content as being unworthy of art and blameworthy, in respect to works
which they proclaim to be artistically perfect; if these expressions
really are perfect, there is nothing to be done but to advise the
critics to leave the artists in peace, for they cannot get inspiration,
save from what has made an impression upon them. The critics should
think rather of how they can effect changes in nature and in society, in
order that those impressions may not exist. If ugliness were to vanish
from the world, if universal virtue and felicity were established there,
perhaps artists would no longer represent perverse or pessimistic
sentiments, but sentiments that are calm, innocent, and joyous, like
Arcadians of a real Arcady. But so long as ugliness and turpitude exist
in nature and impose themselves on the artist, it is not possible to
prevent the expression of these things also; and when it has arisen,
_factum infectum fieri nequit_. We speak thus entirely from the
aesthetic point of view, and from that of pure aesthetic criticism.

We do not delay to pass here in review the damage which the criticism of
choice does to artistic production, with the prejudices which it
produces or maintains among the artists themselves, and with the
contrast which it occasions between artistic impulse and critical
exigencies. It is true that sometimes it seems to do some good also, by
assisting the artists to discover themselves, that is, their own
impressions and their own inspiration, and to acquire consciousness of
the task which is, as it were, imposed upon them by the historical
moment in which they live, and by their individual temperament. In these
cases, criticism of choice merely recognizes and aids the expressions
which are already being formed. It believes itself to be the mother,
where, at most, it is only the midwife.

    [Sidenote] _The independence of art._

The impossibility of choice of content completes the theorem of the
_independence of art_, and is also the only legitimate meaning of the
expression: _art for art's sake_. Art is thus independent of science, as
it is of the useful and the moral. Let it not be feared that thus may be
justified art that is frivolous or cold, since that which is truly
frivolous or cold is so because it has not been raised to expression; or
in other words, frivolity and frigidity come always from the form of the
aesthetic elaboration, from the lack of a content, not from the material
qualities of the content.

    [Sidenote] _Critique of the saying: the style is the man._

The saying: _the style is the man_, can also not be completely
criticized, save by starting from the distinction between the theoretic
and the practical, and from the theoretic character of the aesthetic
activity. Man is not simply knowledge and contemplation: he is also
will, which contains in it the cognoscitive moment. Now the saying is
either altogether void, as when it is understood that the man is the
style, in so far as he is style, that is to say, the man, but only in so
far as he is an expression of activity; or it is erroneous, when the
attempt is made to deduce from what a man has seen and expressed, that
which he has done and willed, inferring thereby that there is a
necessary link between knowing and willing. Many legends in the
biographies of artists have sprung from this erroneous identification,
since it seemed impossible that a man who gives expression to generous
sentiments should not be a noble and generous man in practical life; or
that the dramatist who gives a great many stabs in his plays, should not
himself have given a few at least in real life. Vainly do the artists
protest: _lasciva est nobis pagina, vita proba_. They are merely taxed
in addition with lying and hypocrisy. O you poor women of Verona, how
far more subtle you were, when you founded your belief that Dante had
really descended to hell, upon his dusky countenance! Yours was at any
rate a historical conjecture.

    [Sidenote] _Critique of the concept of sincerity in art._

Finally, _sincerity_ imposed upon the artist as a duty (this law of
ethics which, they say, is also a law of aesthetic) arises from another
equivoke. For by sincerity is meant either the moral duty not to deceive
one's neighbour; and in that case Is foreign to the artist. For he, in
fact, deceives no one, since he gives form to what is already in his
mind. He would deceive, only if he were to betray his duty as an artist
by a lesser devotion to the intrinsic necessity of his task. If lies and
deceit are in his mind, then the form which he gives to these things
cannot be deceit or lies, precisely because it is aesthetic. The artist,
if he be a charlatan, a liar, or a miscreant, purifies his other self by
reflecting it in art. Or by sincerity is meant, fulness and truth of
expression, and it is clear that this second sense has nothing to do
with the ethical concept. The law, which is at once ethical and
aesthetic, reveals itself in this case in a word employed alike by Ethic
and Aesthetic.



    [Sidenote] _The two forms of practical activity._

The twofold grade of the theoretical activity, aesthetic and logical,
has an important parallel in the practical activity, which has not yet
been placed in due relief. The practical activity is also divided into a
first and second degree, the second implying the first. The first
practical degree is the simply _useful_ or _economical_ activity; the
second the _moral_ activity.

Economy is, as it were, the Aesthetic of practical life; Morality its

    [Sidenote] _The economically useful._

If this has not been clearly seen by philosophers; if its suitable place
in the system of the mind has not been given to the economic activity,
and it has been left to wander in the prolegomena to treatises on
political economy, often uncertain and but slightly elaborated, this is
due, among other reasons, to the fact that the useful or economic has
been confused, now with the concept of _technique_, now with that of the

    [Sidenote] _Distinction between the useful and the technical._

_Technique_ is certainly not a special activity of the spirit.
Technique is knowledge; or better, it is knowledge itself, in general,
that takes this name, as we have seen, in so far as it serves as basis
for practical action. Knowledge which is not followed, or is presumed to
be not easily followed by practical action, is called pure: the same
knowledge, if effectively followed by action, is called applied; if it
is presumed that it can be easily followed by the same action, it is
called technical or applied. This word, then, indicates a _situation_ in
which knowledge already is, or easily can be found, not a special form
of knowledge. So true is this, that it would be altogether impossible to
establish whether a given order of knowledge were, intrinsically, pure
or applied. All knowledge, however abstract and philosophical one may
imagine it to be, can be a guide to practical acts; a theoretical error
in the ultimate principles of morals can be reflected and always is
reflected in some way, in practical life. One can only speak roughly and
unscientifically of truths that are pure and of others that are applied.

The same knowledge which is called technical, can also be called
_useful_. But the word "useful," in conformity with the criticism of
judgments of value made above, is to be understood as used here in a
linguistic or metaphorical sense. When we say that water is useful for
putting out fire, the word "useful" is used in a non-scientific sense.
Water thrown on the fire is the cause of its going out: this is the
knowledge that serves for basis to the action, let us say, of firemen.
There is a link, not of nature, but of simple succession, between the
useful action of the person who extinguishes the conflagration, and this
knowledge. The technique of the effects of the water is the theoretical
activity which precedes; the _action_ of him who extinguishes the fire
is alone useful.

    [Sidenote] _Distinction between the useful and the egoistic._

Some economists identify utility with _egoïsm_, that is to say, with
merely economical action or desire, with that which is profitable to the
individual, in so far as individual, without regard to and indeed in
complete opposition to the moral law. The egoistic is the immoral. In
this case Economy would be a very strange science, standing, not beside,
but facing Ethic, like the devil facing God, or at least like the
_advocatus diaboli_ in the processes of canonization. Such a conception
of it is altogether inadmissible: the science of immorality is implied
in that of morality, as the science of the false is implied in _Logic_,
the science of the true, and a science of ineffectual expression in
Aesthetic, the science of successful expression. If, then, Economy were
the scientific treatment of egoism, it would be a chapter of Ethic, or
Ethic itself; because every moral determination implies, at the same
time, a negation of its contrary.

Further, conscience tells us that to conduct oneself economically is not
to conduct oneself egoistically; that even the most morally scrupulous
man must conduct himself usefully (economically), if he does not wish to
be inconclusive and, therefore, not truly moral. If utility were egoism,
how could it be the duty of the altruist to behave like an egoist?

    [Sidenote] _Economic will and moral will._

If we are not mistaken, the difficulty is solved in a manner perfectly
analogous to that in which is solved the problem of the relations
between the expression and the concept, between Aesthetic and Logic.

To will economically is to _will an end_; to will morally is to _will
the rational end_. But whoever wills and acts morally, cannot but will
and act usefully (economically). How could he will the _rational_,
unless he willed it also _as his particular end_?

    [Sidenote] _Pure economicity._

The reciprocal is not true; as it is not true in aesthetic science that
the expressive fact must of necessity be linked with the logical fact.
It is possible to will economically without willing morally; and it is
possible to conduct oneself with perfect economic coherence, while
pursuing an end which is objectively irrational (immoral), or, better,
an end which would be so judged in a superior grade of consciousness.

Examples of the economic, without the moral character, are the Prince of
Machiavelli, Caesar Borgia, or the Iago of Shakespeare. Who can help
admiring their strength of will, although their activity is only
economic, and is opposed to what we hold moral? Who can help admiring
the ser Ciappelletto of Boccaccio, who, even on his death-bed, pursues
and realizes his ideal of the perfect rascal, making the small and timid
little thieves who are present at his burlesque confession exclaim:
"What manner of man is this, whose perversity, neither age, nor
infirmity, nor the fear of death, which he sees at hand, nor the fear of
God, before whose judgment-seat he must stand in a little while, have
been able to remove, nor to cause that he should not wish to die as he
has lived?"

    [Sidenote] _The economic side of morality._

The moral man unites with the pertinacity and fearlessness of a Caesar
Borgia, of an Iago, or of a ser Ciappelletto, the good will of the saint
or of the hero. Or, better, good will would not be will, and
consequently not good, if it did not possess, in addition to the side
which makes it _good_, also that which makes it _will_. Thus a logical
thought, which does not succeed in expressing itself, is not thought,
but at the most, a confused presentiment of a thought yet to come.

It is not correct, then, to conceive of the amoral man as also the
anti-economical man, or to make of morality an element of coherence in
the acts of life, and therefore of economicity. Nothing prevents us from
conceiving (an hypothesis which is verified at least during certain
periods and moments, if not during whole lifetimes) a man altogether
without moral conscience. In a man thus organized, what for us is
immorality is not so for him, because it is not so felt. The
consciousness of the contradiction between what is desired as a rational
end and what is pursued egoistically cannot be born in him. This
contradiction is anti-economicity. Immoral conduct becomes also
anti-economical only in the man who possesses moral conscience. The
moral remorse which is the proof of this, is also economical remorse;
that is to say, pain at not having known how to will completely and to
attain to that moral ideal which was willed at the first moment, but was
afterwards perverted by the passions. _Video meliora proboque, deteriora
sequor_. The _video_ and the _probo_ are here an initial will
immediately contradicted and passed over. In the man deprived of moral
sense, we must admit a remorse which is _merely economic_; like that of
a thief or of an assassin who should be attacked when on the point of
robbing or of assassinating, and should abstain from doing so, not owing
to a conversion of his being, but owing to his impressionability and
bewilderment, or even owing to a momentary awakening of the moral
consciousness. When he has come back to himself, that thief or assassin
will regret and be ashamed of his inconsequence; his remorse will not be
due to having done wrong, but to not having done it; his remorse is,
therefore, economic, not moral, since the latter is excluded by
hypothesis. However, a lively moral conscience is generally found among
the majority of men, and its total absence is a rare and perhaps
non-existent monstrosity. It may, therefore, be admitted, that morality
coincides with economicity in the conduct of life.

    [Sidenote] _The merely economic and the error of the morally

There need be no fear lest the parallelism affirmed by us should
introduce afresh into the category of the _morally indifferent_, of that
which is in truth action and volition, but is neither moral nor immoral;
the category in sum of the _licit_ and of the _permissible_, which has
always been the cause or mirror of ethical corruption, as is the case
with Jesuitical morality in which it dominated. It remains quite certain
that indifferent moral actions do not exist, because moral activity
pervades and must pervade every least volitional movement of man. But
this, far from upsetting the parallelism, confirms it. Do there exist
intuitions which science and the intellect do not pervade and analyse,
resolving them into universal concepts, or changing them into historical
affirmations? We have already seen that true science, philosophy, knows
no external limits which bar its way, as happens with the so-called
natural sciences. Science and morality entirely dominate, the one the
aesthetic intuitions, the other the economic volitions of man, although
neither of them can appear in the concrete, save in the intuitive form
as regards the one, in the economic as regards the other.

    [Sidenote] _Critique of utilitarianism and the reform of Ethic and
               of Economic._

This combined identity and difference of the useful and of the moral, of
the economic and of the ethic, explains the fortune enjoyed now and
formerly by the utilitarian theory of Ethic. It is in fact easy to
discover and to show a utilitarian side in every moral action; as it is
easy to show an aesthetic side of every logical proposition. The
criticism of ethical utilitarianism cannot escape by denying this truth
and seeking out absurd and inexistent examples of _useless_ moral
actions. It must admit the utilitarian side and explain it as the
concrete form of morality, which consists of what is _within_ this form.
Utilitarians do not see this within. This is not the place for a more
ample development of such ideas. Ethic and Economic cannot but be
gainers, as we have said of Logic and Aesthetic, by a more exact
determination of the relations that exist between them. Economic science
is now rising to the animating concept of the useful, as it strives to
pass beyond the mathematical phase, in which it is still entangled; a
phase which, when it superseded historicism, was in its turn a progress,
destroying a series of arbitrary distinctions and false theories of
Economic, implied in the confusion of the theoretical with the
historical. With this conception, it will be easy on the one hand to
absorb and to verify the semi-philosophical theories of so-called pure
economy, and on the other, by the introduction of successive
complications and additions, and by passing from the philosophical to
the empirical or naturalistic method, to include the particular theories
of the political or national economy of the schools.

    [Sidenote] _Phenomenon and noumenon in practical activity._

As aesthetic intuition knows the phenomenon or nature, and philosophic
intuition the noumenon or spirit; so economic activity wills the
phenomenon or nature, and moral activity the noumenon or spirit. _The
spirit which desires itself_, its true self, the universal which is in
the empirical and finite spirit: that is the formula which perhaps
defines the essence of morality with the least impropriety. This will
for the true self is _absolute liberty_.



    [Sidenote] _The system of the spirit._

In this summary sketch that we have given, of the entire philosophy of
the spirit in its fundamental moments, the spirit is conceived as
consisting of four moments or grades, disposed in such a way that the
theoretical activity is to the practical as is the first theoretical
grade to the second theoretical, and the first practical grade to the
second practical. The four moments imply one another regressively by
their concretion. The concept cannot be without expression, the useful
without the one and the other, and morality without the three preceding
grades. If the aesthetic fact is alone independent, and the others more
or less dependent, then the logical is the least so and the moral will
the most. Moral intention operates on given theoretic bases, which
cannot be dispensed with, save by that absurd practice, the jesuitical
_direction of intention_. Here people pretend to themselves not to know
what at bottom they know perfectly well.

    [Sidenote] _The forms of genius._

If the forms of human activity are four, four also are the forms of
genius. Geniuses in art, in science, in moral will or heroes, have
certainly always been recognized. But the genius of pure Economic has
met with opposition. It is not altogether without reason that a category
of bad geniuses or of _geniuses of evil_ has been created. The
practical, merely economic genius, which is not directed to a rational
end, cannot but excite an admiration mingled with alarm. It would be a
mere question of words, were we to discuss whether the word "genius"
should be applied only to creators of aesthetic expression, or also to
men of scientific research and of action. To observe, on the other hand,
that genius, of whatever kind it be, is always a quantitative conception
and an empirical distinction, would be to repeat what has already been
explained as regards artistic genius.

    [Sidenote] _Non-existence of a fifth form of activity. Law;

A fifth form of spiritual activity does not exist. It would be easy to
demonstrate how all the other forms, either do not possess the character
of activity, or are verbal variants of the activities already examined,
or are complex and derived facts, in which the various activities are
mingled, or are filled with special contents and contingent data.

The _judicial_ fact, for example, considered as what is called objective
law, is derived both from the economic and from the logical activities.
Law is a rule, a formula (whether oral or written matters little here)
in which is contained an economic relation willed by an individual or by
a collectivity. This economic side at once unites it with and
distinguishes it from moral activity. Take another example. Sociology
(among the many meanings the word bears in our times) is sometimes
conceived as the study of an original element, which is called
_sociality_. Now what is it that distinguishes sociality, or the
relations which are developed in a meeting of men, not of subhuman
beings, if it be not just the various spiritual activities which exist
among the former and which are supposed not to exist, or to exist only
in a rudimentary degree, among the latter? Sociality, then, far from
being an original, simple, irreducible conception, is very complex and
complicated. This could be proved by the impossibility, generally
recognized, of enunciating a single sociological law, properly
so-called. Those that are improperly called by that name are revealed as
either empirical historical observations, or spiritual laws, that is to
say judgments, into which are translated the conceptions of the
spiritual activities; when they are not simply empty and indeterminate
generalizations, like the so-called law of evolution. Sometimes, too,
nothing more is understood by sociality than social rule, and so law;
and thus sociology is confounded with the science or theory of law
itself. Law, sociality, and like terms, are to be dealt with in a mode
analogous to that employed by us in the consideration of historicity and

    [Sidenote] _Religiosity._

It may seem fitting to form a different judgment as to _religious_
activity. But religion is nothing but knowledge, and does not differ
from its other forms and subforms. For it is in truth and in turn either
the expression of practical and ideal aspirations (religious ideals), or
historical narrative (legend), or conceptual science (dogma).

It can therefore be maintained with equal truth, both that religion is
destroyed by the progress of human knowledge, and that it is always
present there. Their religion was the whole patrimony of knowledge of
primitive peoples: our patrimony of knowledge is our religion. The
content has been changed, bettered, refined, and it will change and
become better and more refined in the future also; but its function is
always the same. We do not know what use could be made of religion by
those who wish to preserve it side by side with the theoretic activity
of man, with his art, with his criticism, and with his philosophy. It is
impossible to preserve an imperfect and inferior kind of knowledge, like
religion, side by side with what has surpassed and disproved it.
Catholicism, which is always coherent, will not tolerate a Science, a
History, an Ethic, in contradiction to its views and doctrines. The
rationalists are less coherent. They are disposed to allow a little
space in their souls for a religion which is in contradiction with their
whole theoretic world.

These affectations and religious susceptibilities of the rationalists of
our times have their origin in the superstitious cult of the natural
sciences. These, as we know and as is confessed by the mouth of their
chief adepts, are all surrounded by _limits_. Science having been
wrongly identified with the so-called natural sciences, it could be
foreseen that the remainder would be asked of religion; that remainder
with which the human spirit cannot dispense. We are therefore indebted
to materialism, to positivism, to naturalism for this unhealthy and
often disingenuous reflowering of religious exaltation. Such things are
the business of the hospital, when they are not the business of the

    [Sidenote] _Metaphysic._

Philosophy withdraws from religion all reason for existing, because it
substitutes itself for religion. As the science of the spirit, it looks
upon religion as a phenomenon, a transitory historical fact, a psychic
condition that can be surpassed. Philosophy shares the domain of
knowledge with the natural disciplines, with history and with art. It
leaves to the first, narration, measurement and classification; to the
second, the chronicling of what has individually happened; to the third,
the individually possible. There is nothing left to share with religion.
For the same reason, philosophy, as the science of the spirit, cannot be
philosophy of the intuitive datum; nor, as has been seen, _Philosophy of
History, nor Philosophy of Nature_; and therefore there cannot be a
philosophic science of what is not form and universal, but material and
particular. This amounts to affirming the impossibility of _metaphysic_.

The Method or Logic of history followed the Philosophy of history; a
gnoseology of the conceptions which are employed in the natural sciences
succeeded natural philosophy. What philosophy can study of the one is
its mode of construction (intuition, perception, document, probability,
etc.); of the others she can study the forms of the conceptions which
appear in them (space, time, motion, number, types, classes, etc.).
Philosophy, which should become metaphysical in the sense above
described, would, on the other hand, claim to compete with narrative
history, and with the natural sciences, which in their field are alone
legitimate and effective. Such a competition becomes in fact a labour
spoiling labour. We are _antimetaphysical_ in this sense, while yet
declaring ourselves _ultrametaphysical_, if by that word it be desired
to claim and to affirm the function of philosophy as the
autoconsciousness of the spirit, as opposed to the merely empirical and
classificatory function of the natural sciences.

    [Sidenote] _Mental imagination and the intuitive intellect._

In order to maintain itself side by side with the sciences of the
spirit, metaphysic has been obliged to assert the existence of a
specific spiritual activity, of which it would be the product. This
activity, which in antiquity was called _mental or superior
imagination_, and in modern times more often _intuitive intellect or
intellectual intuition_, would unite in an altogether special form the
characters of imagination and of intellect. It would provide the method
of passing, by deduction or dialectically, from the infinite to the
finite, from form to matter, from the concept to the intuition, from
science to history, operating by a method which should be at once unity
and compenetration of the universal and the particular, of the abstract
and the concrete, of intuition and of intellect. A faculty marvellous
indeed and delightful to possess; but we, who do not possess it, have no
means of proving its existence.

    [Sidenote] _Mystical aesthetic._

Intellectual intuition has sometimes been considered as the true
aesthetic activity. At others a not less marvellous aesthetic activity
has been placed beside, below, or above it, a faculty altogether
different from simple intuition. The glories of this faculty have been
sung, and to it have been attributed the fact of art, or at the least
certain groups of artistic production, arbitrarily chosen. Art,
religion, and philosophy have seemed in turn one only, or three distinct
faculties of the spirit, now one, now another of these being superior in
the dignity assigned to each.

It is impossible to enumerate all the various attitudes assumed by this
conception of Aesthetic, which we will call _mystical_. We are here in
the kingdom, not of the science of imagination, but of imagination
itself, which creates its world with the varying elements of the
impressions and of the feelings. Let it suffice to mention that this
mysterious faculty has been conceived, now as practical, now as a mean
between the theoretic and the practical, at others again as a theoretic
grade together with philosophy and religion.

    [Sidenote] _Mortality and immortality of art._

The immortality of art has sometimes been deduced from this last
conception as belonging with its sisters to the sphere of absolute
spirit. At other times, on the other hand, when religion has been looked
upon as mortal and as dissolved in philosophy, then the mortality, even
the actual death, or at least the agony of art has been proclaimed.
These questions have no meaning for us, because, seeing that the
function of art is a necessary grade of the spirit, to ask if art can be
eliminated is the same thing as asking if sensation or intelligence can
be eliminated. But metaphysic, in the above sense, since it transplants
itself to an arbitrary world, is not to be criticized in detail, any
more than one can criticize the botany of the garden of Alcina or the
navigation of the voyage of Astolfo. Criticism can only be made by
refusing to join the game; that is to say, by rejecting the very
possibility of metaphysic, always in the sense above indicated.

As we do not admit intellectual intuition in philosophy, we can also not
admit its shadow or equivalent, aesthetic intellectual intuition, or any
other mode by which this imaginary function may be called and
represented. We repeat again that we do not know of a fifth grade beyond
the four grades of spirit which consciousness reveals to us.



    [Sidenote] _The characteristics of art._

It is customary to give long enumerations of the characteristics of art.
Having reached this point of the treatise, having studied the artistic
function as spiritual activity, as theoretic activity, and as special
theoretic activity (intuitive), we are able to discern that those
various and copious descriptions mean, when they mean anything at all,
nothing but a repetition of what may be called the qualities of the
aesthetic function, generic, specific, and characteristic. To the first
of these are referred, as we have already observed, the characters, or
better, the verbal variants of _unity_, and of _unity_ in _variety_,
those also of _simplicity_, of _originality_, and so on; to the second of
these, the characteristics of _truth_, of _sincerity_, and the like; to
the third, the characteristics of _life_, of _vivacity_, of _animation_,
of _concretion_, of _individuality_, of _characteristicality_. The words
may vary yet more, but they will not contribute anything scientifically
new. The results which we have shown have altogether exhausted the
analysis of expression as such.

    [Sidenote] _Inexistence of modes of expression._

But at this point, the question as to whether there be various _modes or
grades_ of expression is still perfectly legitimate. We have
distinguished two grades of activity, each of which is subdivided into
two other grades, and there is certainly, so far, no visible logical
reason why there should not exist two or more modes of the aesthetic,
that is of expression.--The only objection is that these modes do not

For the present at least, it is a question of simple internal
observation and of self consciousness. One may scrutinize aesthetic
facts as much as one will: no formal differences will ever be found
among them, nor will the aesthetic fact be divisible into a first and a
second degree.

This signifies that a philosophical classification of expressions is not
possible. Single expressive facts are so many individuals, of which the
one cannot be compared with the other, save generically, in so far as
each is expression. To use the language of the schools, expression is a
species which cannot in its turn perform the functions of genus.
Impressions, that is to say contents, vary; every content differs from
every other content, because nothing in life repeats itself; and the
continuous variation of contents follows the irreducible variety of
expressive facts, the aesthetic syntheses of the impressions.

    [Sidenote] _Impossibility of translations._

A corollary of this is the impossibility of _translations_, in so far as
they pretend to effect the transference of one expression into another,
like a liquid poured from a vase of a certain shape into a vase of
another shape. We can elaborate logically what we have already
elaborated in aesthetic form only; but we cannot reduce that which has
already possessed its aesthetic form to another form also aesthetic. In
truth, every translation either diminishes and spoils; or it creates a
new expression, by putting the former back into the crucible and mixing
it with other impressions belonging to the pretended translator. In the
former case, the expression always remains one, that of the original,
the translation being more or less deficient, that is to say, not
properly expression: in the other case, there would certainly be two
expressions, but with two different contents. "Ugly faithful ones or
faithless beauties" is a proverb that well expresses the dilemma with
which every translator is faced. In aesthetic translations, such as
those which are word for word or interlinear, or paraphrastic
translations, are to be looked upon as simple commentaries on the

    [Sidenote] _Critique of rhetorical categories._

The division of expressions into various classes is known in literature
by the name of theory of _ornament_ or of _rhetorical categories_. But
similar attempts at classification in the other forms of art are not
wanting: suffice it to mention the _realistic and symbolic forms_,
spoken of in painting and sculpture.

The scientific value to be attached in Aesthetic and in aesthetic
criticism to these distinctions of _realistic and symbolic_, of _style
and absence of style_, of _objective and subjective_, of _classic and
romantic_, of _simple and ornate_, of _proper and metaphorical_, of the
fourteen forms of metaphor, of the figures of _word_ and of _sentence_,
and further of _pleonasm_, of _ellipse_, of _inversion_, of
_repetition_, of _synonyms and homonyms_, and so on; is _nil_ or
altogether negative. To none of these terms and distinctions can be
given a satisfactory aesthetic definition. Those that have been
attempted, when they are not obviously erroneous, are words devoid of
sense. A typical example of this is the very common definition of
metaphor as of _another word used in place of the word itself_. Now why
give oneself this trouble? Why take the worse and longer road when you
know the shorter and better road? Perhaps, as is generally said, because
the correct word is in certain cases not so _expressive_ as the
so-called incorrect word or metaphor? But in that case the metaphor
becomes exactly the right word, and the so-called right word, if it were
used, would be _but little expressive_ and therefore most improper.
Similar observations of elementary good sense can be made regarding the
other categories, as, for example, the generic one of the ornate. One
can ask oneself how an ornament can be joined to expression. Externally?
In that case it must always remain separate. Internally? In that case,
either it does not assist expression and mars it; or it does form part
of it and is not ornament, but a constituent element of expression,
indistinguishable from the whole.

It is not necessary to dwell upon the harm done by these distinctions.
Rhetoric has often been declaimed against, but although there has been
rebellion against its consequences, its principles have been carefully
preserved, perhaps in order to show proof of philosophic coherence.
Rhetoric has contributed, if not to make dominant in literary
production, at least to justify theoretically, that particular mode of
writing ill which is called fine writing or writing according to

    [Sidenote] _Empirical sense of the rhetorical categories._

The terms above mentioned would never have gone beyond the schools,
where we all of us learned them (certain of never finding the
opportunity of using them in strictly aesthetic discussions, or even of
doing so jocosely and with a comic intention), save when occasionally
employed in one of the following significations: as _verbal variants _of
the aesthetic concept; as indications of the _anti-aesthetic_, or,
finally (and this is their most important use), in a sense which is no
longer aesthetic and literary, _but merely logical_.

    [Sidenote] _Use of these categories as synonyms of the aesthetic

Expressions are not divisible into classes, but some are successful,
others half-successful, others failures. There are perfect and
imperfect, complete and deficient expressions. The terms already cited,
then, sometimes indicate the successful expression, sometimes the
various forms of the failures. But they are employed in the most
inconstant and capricious manner, for it often happens that the same
word serves, now to proclaim the perfect, now to condemn the imperfect.

An instance of this is found when someone, criticizing two pictures--the
one without inspiration, in which the author has copied natural objects
without intelligence; the other inspired, but without obvious likeness
to existing objects--calls the first _realistic_, the second _symbolic_.
Others, on the contrary, pronounce the word _realistic_ about a strongly
felt picture representing a scene of ordinary life, while they talk of
_symbolic_ in reference to another picture representing but a cold
allegory. It is evident that in the first case symbolic means artistic,
and realistic inartistic, while in the second, realistic is synonymous
with artistic and symbolic with inartistic. How, then, can we be
astonished when some hotly maintain that the true art form is the
symbolic, and that the realistic is inartistic; others, that the
realistic is the artistic, and the symbolic the inartistic? We cannot
but grant that both are right, since each makes use of the same words in
senses so diverse.

The great disputes about the _classic_ and the _romantic_ are frequently
based upon such equivokes. Sometimes the former was understood as the
artistically perfect, and the second as lacking balance and imperfect;
at others, the classic was cold and artificial, the romantic sincere,
warm, efficacious, and truly expressive. Thus it was always possible to
take the side of the classic against the romantic, or of the romantic
against the classic.

The same thing happens as regards the word _style_. Sometimes it is
affirmed that every writer should have style. Here style is synonymous
with form or expression. Sometimes the form of a code of laws or of a
mathematical work is said to be devoid of style. Here the error of
admitting diverse modes of expression is again committed, of admitting
an ornate and a naked form of expression, because, since style is form,
the code and the mathematical treatise must also, strictly speaking,
have each its style. At other times, one hears the critics blaming
someone for "having too much style" or for "writing a style." Here it is
clear that style signifies, not the form, nor a mode of it, but improper
and pretentious expression, which is one form of the inartistic.

    [Sidenote] _Their use to indicate various aesthetic imperfections._

Passing to the second, not altogether insignificant, use of these words
and distinctions, we sometimes find in the examination of a literary
composition such remarks as follow: here is a pleonasm, here an ellipse,
there a metaphor, here again a synonym or an equivoke. This means that
in one place is an error consisting of using a larger number of words
than is necessary (pleonasm); that in another the error arises from too
few having been used (ellipse), elsewhere from the use of an unsuitable
word (metaphor), or from the use of two words which seem to express two
different things, where they really express the same thing (synonym); or
that, on the contrary, it arises from having employed one which seems to
express the same thing where it expresses two different things
(equivoke). This pejorative and pathological use of the terms is,
however, more uncommon than the preceding.

    [Sidenote] _Their use in a sense transcending aesthetic, in the
               service of science._

Finally, when rhetorical terminology possesses no aesthetic
signification similar or analogous to those passed in review, and yet
one is aware that it is not void of meaning and designates something
that deserves to be noted, it is then used in the service of logic and
of science. If it be granted that a concept used in a scientific sense
by a given writer is expressed with a definite term, it is natural that
other words formed by that writer as used to signify the same concept,
or incidentally made use of by him, become, _in respect to_ the
vocabulary fixed upon by him as true, metaphors, synecdoches, synonyms,
elliptic forms, and the like. We, too, in the course of this treatise,
have several times made use of, and intend again to make use of such
terms, in order to make clear the sense of the words we employ, or may
find employed. But this proceeding, which is of value in the
disquisitions of scientific and intellectual criticism, has none
whatever in aesthetic criticism. For science there exist appropriate
words and metaphors. The same concept may be psychologically formed in
various circumstances and therefore be expressed with various
intuitions. When the scientific terminology of a given writer has been
established, and one of these modes has been fixed as correct, then all
other uses of it become improper or tropical. But in the aesthetic fact
exist only appropriate words. The same intuition can only be expressed
in one way, precisely because it is an intuition and not a concept.

    [Sidenote] _Rhetoric in the schools._

Some, while they admit the aesthetic insufficiency of the rhetorical
categories, yet make a reserve as regards their utility and the service
they are supposed to render, especially in schools of literature. We
confess that we fail to understand how error and confusion can educate
the mind to logical clearness, or aid the teaching of a science which
they disturb and obscure. Perhaps it may be desired to say that they can
aid memory and learning as empirical classes, as was admitted above for
literary and artistic styles. But there is another purpose for which the
rhetorical categories should certainly continue to be admitted to the
schools: to be criticized there. We cannot simply forget the errors of
the past, and truth cannot be kept alive, save by making it fight
against error. Unless a notion of the rhetorical categories be given,
accompanied by a suitable criticism of these, there is a risk of their
springing up again. For they are already springing up with certain
philologists, disguised as most recent _psychological_ discoveries.

    [Sidenote] _The resemblances of expressions._

It would seem as though we wished to deny all bond of likeness among
themselves between expressions and works of art. The likenesses exist,
and owing to them, works of art can be arranged in this or that group.
But they are likenesses such as are observed among individuals, and can
never be rendered with abstract definitions. That is to say, these
likenesses have nothing to do with identification, subordination,
co-ordination, and the other relations of concepts. They consist wholly
in what is called a _family likeness_, and are connected with those
historical conditions existing at the birth of the various works, or in
an affinity of soul between the artists.

    [Sidenote] _The relative possibility of translations._

It is in these resemblances that lies the _relative_ possibility of
translations. This does not consist of the reproduction of the same
original expressions (which it would be vain to attempt), but in the
measure that expressions are given, more or less nearly resembling
those. The translation that passes for good is an approximation which
has original value as a work of art and can stand by itself.



Passing on to the study of more complex concepts, where the aesthetic
activity is found in conjunction with other orders of facts, and showing
the mode of this union or complication, we find ourselves at once face
to face with the concept of _feeling_ and with the feelings which are
called _aesthetic_.

    [Sidenote] _Various significances of the word feeling._

The word "feeling" is one of the richest in meanings. We have already
had occasion to meet with it once, among those used to designate the
spirit in its passivity, the matter or content of art, and also as
synonym of _impressions_. Once again (and then the meaning was
altogether different), we have met with it as designating the
_non-logical_ and _non-historical_ character of the aesthetic fact, that
is to say pure intuition, a form of truth which defines no concept and
states no fact.

    [Sidenote] _Feeling as activity._

But feeling is not here understood in either of these two senses, nor in
the others in which it has nevertheless been used to designate other
_cognoscitive_ forms of spirit. Its meaning here is that of a special
activity, of non-cognoscitive nature, but possessing its two poles,
positive and negative, in _pleasure_ and _pain_. This activity has
always greatly embarrassed philosophers, who have attempted either to
deny it as an activity, or to attribute it to _nature_ and to exclude it
from spirit. Both solutions bristle with difficulties, and these are of
such a kind that the solutions prove themselves finally unacceptable to
anyone who examines them with care. For of what could a non-spiritual
activity consist, an _activity of nature_, when we have no other
knowledge of activity save as spiritual, and of spirituality save as
activity? Nature is, in this case, by definition, the merely passive,
inert, mechanical and material. On the other hand, the negation of the
character of activity to feeling is energetically disproved by those
very poles of pleasure and of pain which appear in it and manifest
activity in its concreteness, and, we will say, all aquiver.

    [Sidenote] _Identification of feeling with economic activity._

This critical conclusion ought to place us in the greatest
embarrassment, for in the sketch of the system of the spirit given
above, we have left no room for the new activity, of which we are now
obliged to recognize the existence. But activity of feeling, if it be
activity, is not specially new. It has already had its place assigned to
it in the system which we have sketched, where, however, it has been
indicated under another name, as _economic_ activity. What is called the
activity of feeling is nothing but that more elementary and fundamental
practical activity, which we have distinguished from ethical activity,
and made to consist of the appetite and desire for some individual end,
without any moral determination.

    [Sidenote] _Critique of hedonism._

If feeling has been sometimes considered as organic or natural activity,
this has happened precisely because it does not coincide either with
logical, aesthetic, or ethical activity. Looked at from the standpoint
of these three (which were the only ones admitted), it has seemed to lie
_outside_ the true and real spirit, the spirit in its aristocracy, and
to be almost a determination of nature and of the soul, in so far as it
is nature. Thus the thesis, several times maintained, that the aesthetic
activity, like the ethical and intellectual activities, is not feeling,
becomes at once completely proved. This thesis was inexpugnable, when
sensation had already been reduced confusedly and implicitly to economic
volition. The view which has been refuted is known by the name of
_hedonism_. For hedonism, all the various forms of the spirit are
reduced to one, which thus itself also loses its own distinctive
character and becomes something turbid and mysterious, like "the shades
in which all cows are black." Having effected this reduction and
mutilation, the hedonists naturally do not succeed in seeing anything
else in any activity but pleasure and pain. They find no substantial
difference between the pleasure of art and that of an easy digestion,
between the pleasure of a good action and that of breathing the fresh
air with wide-expanded lungs.

    [Sidenote] _Feeling as a concomitant to every form of activity._

But if the activity of feeling in the sense here defined must not be
substituted for all the other forms of spiritual activity, we have not
said that it cannot _accompany_ them. Indeed it accompanies them of
necessity, because they are all in close relation, both with one another
and with the elementary volitional form. Therefore each of them has for
concomitants individual volitions and volitional pleasures and pains
which are known as feeling. But we must not confound what is
concomitant, with the principal fact, and take the one for the other.
The discovery of the truth, or the satisfaction of a moral duty
fulfilled, produces in us a joy which makes our whole being vibrate,
for, by attaining to those forms of spiritual activity, it attains at
the same time that to which it was _practically_ tending, as to its end,
during the effort. Nevertheless, economic or hedonistic satisfaction,
ethical satisfaction, aesthetic satisfaction, intellectual satisfaction,
remain always distinct, even when in union.

Thus is solved at the same time the much-debated question, which has
seemed, not wrongly, a matter of life or death for aesthetic science,
namely, whether the feeling and the pleasure precede or follow, are
cause or effect of the aesthetic fact. We must enlarge this question, to
include the relation between the various spiritual forms, and solve it
in the sense that in the unity of the spirit one cannot talk of cause
and effect and of what comes first and what follows it in time.

And once the relation above exposed is established, the statements,
which it is customary to make, as to the nature of aesthetic, moral,
intellectual, and even, as is sometimes said, economic feelings, must
also fall. In this last case, it is clear that it is a question, not of
two terms, but of one, and the quest of economic feeling can be but that
same one concerning the economic activity. But in the other cases also,
the search can never be directed to the substantive, but to the
adjective: aesthetic, morality, logic, explain the colouring of the
feelings as aesthetic, moral, and intellectual, while feeling, studied
alone, will never explain those refractions.

    [Sidenote] _Meaning of certain ordinary distinctions of feelings._

A further consequence is, that we can free ourselves from the
distinction between values or feelings _of value_, and feelings that are
merely hedonistic and _without value_; also from other similar
distinctions, like those between _disinterested_ feelings and
_interested_ feelings, between _objective _feelings and the others that
are not _objective_ but simply _subjective_, between feelings of
_approval_ and others of _mere pleasure_ (_Gefallen_ and _Vergnügen_ of
the Germans). Those distinctions strove hard to save the three spiritual
forms, which have been recognised as the triad of the _True_, the
_Good_, and the _Beautiful_, from confusion with the fourth form, still
unknown, yet insidious through its indeterminateness, and mother of
scandals. For us this triad has finished its task, because we are
capable of reaching the distinction far more directly, by welcoming even
the selfish, subjective, merely pleasurable feelings, among the
respectable forms of the spirit; and where formerly antitheses were
conceived of by ourselves and others, between value and feelings, as
between spirituality and naturality, henceforth we see nothing but
difference between value and value.

    [Sidenote] _Value and disvalue: the contraries and their union._

As has already been said, the economic feeling or activity reveals
itself as divided into two poles, positive and negative, pleasure and
pain, which we can now translate into useful, and useless or hurtful.
This bipartition has already been noted above, as a mark of the active
character of feeling, precisely because the same bipartition is found in
all forms of activity. If each of these is a _value_, each has opposed
to it _antivalue or disvalue_. Absence of value is not sufficient to
cause disvalue, but activity and passivity must be struggling between
themselves, without the one getting the better of the other; hence the
contradiction, and the disvalue of the activity that is embarrassed,
contested, or interrupted. Value is activity that unfolds itself freely:
disvalue is its contrary.

We will content ourselves with this definition of the two terms, without
entering into the problem of the relation between value and disvalue,
that is, between the problem of contraries. (Are these to be thought of
dualistically, as two beings or two orders of beings, like Ormuzd and
Ahriman, angels and devils, enemies to one another; or as a unity, which
is also contrariety?) This definition of the two terms will be
sufficient for our purpose, which is to make clear aesthetic activity in
particular, and one of the most obscure and disputed concepts of
Aesthetic which arises at this point: the concept of the _Beautiful_.

    [Sidenote] _The Beautiful as the value of expression, or expression
               and nothing more._

Aesthetic, intellectual, economic, and ethical values and disvalues are
variously denominated in current speech: _beautiful, true, good, useful,
just_, and so on--these words designate the free development of
spiritual activity, action, scientific research, artistic production,
when they are successful; _ugly, false, bad, useless, unbecoming,
unjust, inexact_ designate embarrassed activity, the product of which is
a failure. In linguistic usage, these denominations are being
continually shifted from one order of facts to another, and from this to
that. _Beautiful_, for instance, is said not only of a successful
expression, but also of a scientific truth, of an action successfully
achieved, and of a moral action: thus we talk of an _intellectual
beauty_, of a _beautiful action_, of a _moral beauty_. Many
philosophers, especially aestheticians, have lost their heads in their
pursuit of these most varied uses: they have entered an inextricable and
impervious verbal labyrinth. For this reason it has hitherto seemed
convenient studiously to avoid the use of the word beautiful to indicate
successful expression. But after all the explanations that have been
given, and all danger of misunderstanding being now dissipated, and
since, on the other hand, we cannot fail to recognize that the
prevailing tendency, alike in current speech and in philosophy, is to
limit the meaning of the vocable _beautiful_ altogether to the aesthetic
value, we may define beauty as _successful expression_, or better, as
_expression_ and nothing more, because expression, when it is not
successful, is not expression.

    [Sidenote] _The ugly, and the elements of beauty which compose it._

Consequently, the ugly is unsuccessful expression. The paradox is true,
that, in works of art that are failures, the beautiful is present as
_unity_ and the ugly as _multiplicity_. Thus, with regard to works of
art that are more or less failures, we talk of qualities, that is to say
of _those parts of them that are beautiful_. We do not talk thus of
perfect works. It is in fact impossible to enumerate their qualities or
to designate those parts of them that are beautiful. In them there is
complete fusion: they have but one quality. Life circulates in the whole
organism: it is not withdrawn into certain parts.

The qualities of works that are failures may be of various degrees. They
may even be very great. The beautiful does not possess degrees, for
there is no conceiving a more beautiful, that is, an expressive that is
more expressive, an adequate that is more than adequate. Ugliness, on
the other hand, does possess degrees, from the rather ugly (or almost
beautiful) to the extremely ugly. But if the ugly were _complete_, that
is to say, without any element of beauty, it would for that very reason
cease to be ugly, because in it would be absent the contradiction which
is the reason of its existence. The disvalue would become nonvalue;
activity would give place to passivity, with which it is not at war,
save when there effectively is war.

    [Sidenote] _Illusions that there exist expressions which are neither
               beautiful nor ugly._

And because the distinctive consciousness of the beautiful and of the
ugly is based on the contrasts and contradictions in which aesthetic
activity is developed, it is evident that this consciousness becomes
attenuated to the point of disappearing altogether, as we descend from
the more complicated to the more simple and to the simplest cases of
expression. From this arises the illusion that there are expressions
which are neither beautiful nor ugly, those which are obtained without
sensible effort and appear easy and natural being so considered.

    [Sidenote] _True aesthetic feelings and concomitant or accidental

The whole mystery of the _beautiful_ and the _ugly_ is reduced to these
henceforth most easy definitions. Should any one object that there exist
perfect aesthetic expressions before which no pleasure is felt, and
others, perhaps even failures, which give him the greatest pleasure, it
is necessary to advise him to pay great attention, as regards the
aesthetic fact, to that only which is truly aesthetic pleasure.
Aesthetic pleasure is sometimes reinforced by pleasures arising from
extraneous facts, which are only casually found united with it. The poet
or any other artist affords an instance of purely aesthetic pleasure,
during the moment in which he sees (or has the intuition of) his work
for the first time; that is to say, when his impressions take form and
his countenance is irradiated with the divine joy of the creator. On the
other hand, a mixed pleasure is experienced by any one who goes to the
theatre, after a day's work, to witness a comedy: when the pleasure of
rest and amusement, and that of laughingly snatching a nail from the
gaping coffin, is accompanied at a certain moment by real aesthetic
pleasure, obtained from the art of the dramatist and of the actors. The
same may be said of the artist who looks upon his labour with pleasure,
when it is finished, experiencing, in addition to the aesthetic
pleasure, that very different one which arises from the thought of
self-love satisfied, or of the economic gain which will come to him from
his work. Examples could be multiplied.

    [Sidenote] _Critique of apparent feelings._

A category of _apparent_ aesthetic feelings has been formed in modern
Aesthetic. These have nothing to do with the aesthetic sensations of
pleasure arising from the form, that is to say from the work of art. On
the contrary, they arise from the content of the work of art. It has
been observed that "artistic representations arouse pleasure and pain in
their infinite variety and gradations. We tremble with anxiety, we
rejoice, we fear, we laugh, we weep, we desire, with the personages of a
drama or of a romance, with the figures in a picture, or with the melody
of music. But these feelings are not those that would give occasion to
the real fact outside art; that is to say, they are the same in quality,
but they are quantitively an attenuation. Aesthetic and _apparent_
pleasure and pain are slight, of little depth, and changeable." We have
no need to treat of these _apparent feelings_, for the good reason that
we have already amply discussed them; indeed, we have treated of them
alone. What are ever feelings that become apparent or manifest, but
feelings objectified, intensified, expressed? And it is natural that
they do not trouble and agitate us passionately, as do those of real
life, because those were matter, these are form and activity; those true
and proper feelings, these intuitions and expressions. The formula,
then, of _apparent feelings_ is nothing but a tautology. The best that
can be done is to run the pen through it.



As we are opposed to hedonism in general, that is to say, to the theory
which is based on the pleasure and pain intrinsic to Economy and
accompanies every other form of activity, confounding the content and
that which contains it, and fails to recognize any process but the
hedonistic; so we are opposed to aesthetic hedonism in particular, which
looks upon the aesthetic at any rate, if not also upon all other
activities, as a simple fact of feeling, and confounds the _pleasurable
of expression_, which is the beautiful, with the pleasurable and nothing
more, and with the pleasurable of all sorts.

    [Sidenote] _Critique of the beautiful as that which pleases the
               higher senses._

The aesthetic-hedonistic point of view has been presented in several
forms. One of the most ancient conceives the beautiful as that which
pleases the sight and hearing, that is to say, the so-called superior
senses. When analysis of aesthetic facts first began, it was, in fact,
difficult to avoid the mistake of thinking that a picture and a piece of
music are impressions of sight or of hearing: it was and is an
indisputable fact that the blind man does not enjoy the picture, nor the
deaf man the music. To show, as we have shown, that the aesthetic fact
does not depend upon the nature of the impressions, but that all
sensible impressions can be raised to aesthetic expression and that none
need of necessity be so raised, is an idea which presents itself only
when all the other ways out of the difficulty have been tried. But whoso
imagines that the aesthetic fact is something pleasing to the eyes or to
the hearing, has no line of defence against him who proceeds logically
to identify the beautiful with the pleasurable in general, and includes
cooking in Aesthetic, or, as some positivist has done, the viscerally

    [Sidenote] _Critique of the theory of play._

The theory of _play_ is another form of aesthetic hedonism. The
conception of play has sometimes helped towards the realization of the
actifying character of the expressive fact: man (it has been said) is
not really man, save when he begins to play; that is to say, when he
frees himself from natural and mechanical causality and operates
spiritually; and his first game is art. But since the word _play_ also
means that pleasure which arises from the expenditure of the exuberant
energy of the organism (that is to say, from a practical act), the
consequence of this theory has been, that every game has been called an
aesthetic fact, and that the aesthetic function has been called a game,
in so far as it is possible to play with it, for, like science and every
other thing, Aesthetic can be made part of a game. But morality cannot
be provoked at the intention of playing, on the ground that it does not
consent; on the contrary, it dominates and regulates the act of playing

    [Sidenote] _Critique of the theories of sexuality and of the triumph._

Finally, there have been some who have tried to deduce the pleasure of
art from the reaction of the sexual organs. There are some very modern
aestheticians who place the genesis of the aesthetic fact in the
pleasure of _conquering_, of _triumphing_, or, as others add, in the
desire of the male, who wishes to conquer the female. This theory is
seasoned with much anecdotal erudition, Heaven knows of what degree of
credibility! on the customs of savage peoples. But in very truth there
was no necessity for such important aid, for one often meets in ordinary
life poets who adorn themselves with their poetry, like cocks that raise
their crests, or turkeys that spread their tails. But he who does such
things, in so far as he does them, is not a poet, but a poor devil of a
cock or turkey. The conquest of woman does not suffice to explain the
art fact. It would be just as correct to term poetry _economic_, because
there have been aulic and stipendiary poets, and there are poets the
sale of whose verses helps them to gain their livelihood, if it does not
altogether provide it. However, this definition has not failed to win
over some zealous neophytes of historical materialism.

    [Sidenote] _Critique of the Aesthetic of the sympathetic. Meaning in
               it of content and form._

Another less vulgar current of thought considers Aesthetic to be the
science of the _sympathetic_, of that with which we sympathize, which
attracts, rejoices, gives us pleasure and excites admiration. But the
sympathetic is nothing but the image or representation of what pleases.
And, as such, it is a complex fact, resulting from a constant element,
the aesthetic element of representation, and from a variable element,
the pleasing in its infinite forms, arising from all the various classes
of values.

In ordinary language, there is sometimes a feeling of repugnance at
calling an expression beautiful, which is not an expression of the
sympathetic. Hence the continual contrast between the point of view of
the aesthetician or of the art critic and that of the ordinary person,
who cannot succeed in persuading himself that the image of pain and of
turpitude can be beautiful, or, at least, can be beautiful with as much
right as the pleasing and the good.

The opposition could be solved by distinguishing two different sciences,
one of expression and the other of the sympathetic, if the latter could
be the object of a special science; that is to say, if it were not, as
has been shown, a complex fact. If predominance be given to the
expressive fact, it becomes a part of Aesthetic as science of
expression; if to the pleasurable content, we fall back to the study of
facts which are essentially hedonistic (utilitarian), however
complicated they may appear. The origin, also, of the connexion between
content and form is to be sought for in the Aesthetic of the
sympathetic, when this is conceived as the sum of two values.

    [Sidenote] _Aesthetic hedonism and moralism._

In all the doctrines just now discussed, the art fact is posited as
merely hedonistic. But this view cannot be maintained, save by uniting
it with a philosophic hedonism that is complete and not partial, that is
to say, with a hedonism which does not admit any other form of value.
Hardly has this hedonistic conception of art been received by
philosophers, who admit one or more spiritual values, of truth or of
morality, than the following question must necessarily be asked: What
should be done with art? To what use should it be put? Should a free
course be allowed to its pleasures? And if so, to what extent? The
question of the _end of art_, which in the Aesthetic of expression would
be a contradiction of terms, here appears in place, and altogether

    [Sidenote] _The rigoristic negation, and the pedagogic justification
               of art._

Now it is evident that, admitting the premisses, but two solutions of
such a question can be given, the one altogether negative, the other
restrictive. The first, which we shall call _rigoristic_ or _ascetic_,
appears several times, although not frequently, in the history of ideas.
It looks upon art as an inebriation of the senses, and therefore, not
only useless, but harmful. According to this theory, then, it is
necessary to drive it with all our strength from the human soul, which
it troubles. The other solution, which we shall call _pedagogic_ or
_moralistico-utilitarian_, admits art, but only in so far as it concurs
with the end of morality; in so far as it assists with innocent pleasure
the work of him who leads to the true and the good; in so far as it
sprinkles with dulcet balm the sides of the vase of wisdom and of

It is well to observe that it would be an error to divide this second
view into intellectualist and moralistico-utilitarian, according to
whether the end of leading to the true or to what is practically good,
be assigned to art. The task of instructing, which is imposed upon it,
precisely because it is an end which is sought after and advised, is no
longer merely a theoretical fact, but a theoretical fact become the
material for practical action; it is not, therefore, intellectualism, but
pedagogism and practicism. Nor would it be more exact to subdivide the
pedagogic view into the pure utilitarian and the moralistico-utilitarian;
because those who admit only the individually useful (the desire of the
individual), precisely because they are absolute hedonists, have no
motive for seeking an ulterior justification for art.

But to enunciate these theories at the point to which we have attained
is to confute them. We therefore restrict ourselves to observing that in
the pedagogic theory of art is to be found another of the reasons why it
has been erroneously claimed that the content of art should be _chosen_
with a view to certain practical effects.

    [Sidenote] _Critique of pure beauty._

The thesis, re-echoed by the artists, that art consists of _pure
beauty_, has often been brought forward against hedonistic and pedagogic
Aesthetic: "Heaven places All our joy in _pure beauty_, and the Verse is
everything." If it is wished that this should be understood in the sense
that art is not to be confounded with sensual pleasure, that is, in
fact, with utilitarian practicism, nor with moralism, then our Aesthetic
also must be permitted to adorn itself with the title of _Aesthetic of
pure beauty_. But if (as is often the case) something mystical and
transcendental be meant by this, something that is unknown to our poor
human world, or something spiritual and beatific, but not expressive, we
must reply that while applauding the conception of a beauty, free of all
that is not the spiritual form of expression, we are yet unable to
conceive a beauty altogether purified of expression, that is to say,
separated from itself.



    [Sidenote] _Pseudo-aesthetic concepts, and the aesthetic of the

The doctrine of the sympathetic (very often animated and seconded in
this by the capricious metaphysical and mystical Aesthetic, and by that
blind tradition which assumes an intimate connection between things by
chance treated of together by the same authors and in the same books),
has introduced and rendered familiar in systems of Aesthetic, a series
of concepts, of which one example suffices to justify our resolute
expulsion of them from our own treatise.

Their catalogue is long, not to say interminable: _tragic, comic,
sublime, pathetic, moving, sad, ridiculous, melancholy, tragi-comic,
humoristic, majestic, dignified, serious, grave, imposing, noble,
decorous, graceful, attractive, piquant, coquettish, idyllic, elegiac,
cheerful, violent, ingenuous, cruel, base, horrible, disgusting,
dreadful, nauseating_; the list can be increased at will.

Since that doctrine took as its special object the sympathetic, it was
naturally unable to neglect any of the varieties of this, or any of the
combinations or gradations which lead at last from the sympathetic to
the antipathetic. And seeing that the sympathetic content was held to be
the _beautiful_ and the antipathetic the _ugly_, the varieties (tragic,
comic, sublime, pathetic, etc.) constituted for it the shades and
gradations intervening between the beautiful and the ugly.

    [Sidenote] _Critique of the theory of the ugly in art and of the
               ugly surmounted._

Having enumerated and defined, as well as it could, the chief among
these varieties, the Aesthetic of the sympathetic set itself the problem
of the place to be assigned to the _ugly in art_. This problem is
without meaning for us, who do not recognize any ugliness save the
anti-aesthetic or inexpressive, which can never form part of the
aesthetic fact, being, on the contrary, its antithesis. But the question
for the doctrine which we are here criticizing was to reconcile in some
way the false and defective idea of art from which it started, reduced
to the representation of the agreeable, with effective art, which
occupies a far wider field. Hence the artificial attempt to settle what
examples of the ugly (antipathetic) could be admitted in artistic
representation, and for what reasons, and in what ways.

The answer was: that the ugly is admissible, only when it can be
_overcome_, an unconquerable ugliness, such as the _disgusting_ or the
_nauseating_, being altogether excluded. Further, that the duty of the
ugly, when admitted in art, is to contribute towards heightening the
effect of the beautiful (sympathetic), by producing a series of
contrasts, from which the pleasurable shall issue more efficacious and
pleasure-giving. It is, in fact, a common observation that pleasure is
more vividly felt when It has been preceded by abstinence or by
suffering. Thus the ugly in art was looked upon as the servant of the
beautiful, its stimulant and condiment.

That special theory of hedonistic refinement, which used to be pompously
called the _surmounting of the ugly_, falls with the general theory of
the sympathetic; and with it the enumeration and the definition of the
concepts mentioned above remain completely excluded from Aesthetic. For
Aesthetic does not recognize the sympathetic or the antipathetic In
their varieties, but only the spiritual activity of the representation.

    [Sidenote] _Pseudo-aesthetic concepts belong to Psychology._

However, the large space which, as we have said, those concepts have
hitherto occupied in aesthetic treatises makes opportune a rather more
copious explanation of what they are. What will be their lot? As they
are excluded from Aesthetic, in what other part of Philosophy will they
be received?

Truly, in none. All those concepts are without philosophical value. They
are nothing but a series of classes, which can be bent in the most
various ways and multiplied at pleasure, to which it is sought to reduce
the infinite complications and shadings of the values and disvalues of
life. Of those classes, there are some that have an especially positive
significance, like the beautiful, the sublime, the majestic, the solemn,
the serious, the weighty, the noble, the elevated; others have a
significance especially negative, like the ugly, the horrible, the
dreadful, the tremendous, the monstrous, the foolish, the extravagant;
in others prevails a mixed significance, as is the case with the comic,
the tender, the melancholy, the humorous, the tragi-comic. The
complications are infinite, because the individuations are infinite;
hence it is not possible to construct the concepts, save in the
arbitrary and approximate manner of the natural sciences, whose duty it
is to make as good a plan as possible of that reality which they cannot
exhaust by enumeration, nor understand and surpass speculatively. And
since _Psychology_ is the naturalistic discipline, which undertakes to
construct types and plans of the spiritual processes of man (of which,
in fact, it is always accentuating in our day the merely empirical and
descriptive character), these concepts do not appertain to Aesthetic,
nor, in general, to Philosophy. They must simply be handed over to

    [Sidenote] _Impossibility of rigoristic definitions of them._

As is the case with all other psychological constructions, so is it with
those concepts: no rigorous definitions are possible; and consequently
the one cannot be deduced from the other and they cannot be connected in
a system, as has, nevertheless, often been attempted, at great waste of
time and without result. But it can be claimed as possible to obtain,
apart from philosophical definitions recognised as impossible, empirical
definitions, universally acceptable as true. Since there does not exist
a unique definition of a given fact, but innumerable definitions can be
given of it, according to the cases and the objects for which they are
made, so it is clear that if there were only one, and that the true one,
this would no longer be an empirical, but a rigorous and philosophical
definition. Speaking exactly, every time that one of the terms to which
we have referred has been employed, or any other of the innumerable
series, a definition of it has at the same time been given, expressed or
understood. And each one of these definitions has differed somewhat from
the others, in some particular, perhaps of very small importance, such
as tacit reference to some individual fact or other, which thus became
especially an object of attention and was raised to the position of a
general type. So it happens that not one of such definitions satisfies
him who hears it, nor does it satisfy even him who constructs it. For,
the moment after, this same individual finds himself face to face with a
new case, for which he recognizes that his definition is more or less
insufficient, ill-adapted, and in need of remodelling. It is necessary,
therefore, to leave writers and speakers free to define the sublime or
the comic, the tragic or the humoristic, on every occasion, as they
please and as may seem suitable to their purpose. And if you insist upon
obtaining an empirical definition of universal validity, we can but
submit this one:--The sublime (comic, tragic, humoristic, etc.) is
_everything_ that is or will be so _called_ by those who have employed
or shall employ this _word_.

    [Sidenote] _Examples: definitions of the sublime, the comic, and
               the humoristic._

What is the sublime? The unexpected affirmation of an ultra-powerful
moral force: that is one definition. But that other definition is
equally good, which also recognizes the sublime where the force which
declares itself is an ultra-powerful, but immoral and destructive will.
Both remain vague and assume no precise form, until they are applied to
a concrete case, which makes clear what is here meant by
_ultra-powerful_, and what by _unexpected_. They are quantitative
concepts, but falsely quantitative, since there is no way of measuring
them; they are, at bottom, metaphors, emphatic phrases, or logical
tautologies. The humorous will be laughter mingled with tears, bitter
laughter, the sudden passage from the comic to the tragic, and from the
tragic to the comic, the comic romantic, the inverted sublime, war
declared against every attempt at insincerity, compassion which is
ashamed to lament, the mockery not of the fact, but of the ideal itself;
and whatever else may better please, according as it is desired to get a
view of the physiognomy of this or that poet, of this or that poem,
which is, in its uniqueness, its own definition, and though momentary
and circumscribed, yet the sole adequate. The comic has been defined as
the displeasure arising from the perception of a deformity immediately
followed by a greater pleasure arising from the relaxation of our
psychical forces, which were strained in anticipation of a perception
whose importance was foreseen. While listening to a narrative, which,
for example, should describe the magnificent and heroic purpose of a
definite person, we anticipate in imagination the occurrence of an
action both heroic and magnificent, and we prepare ourselves to receive
it, by straining our psychic forces. If, however, in a moment, instead
of the magnificent and heroic action, which the premises and the tone of
the narrative had led us to expect, by an unexpected change there occur
a slight, mean, foolish action, unequal to our expectation, we have been
deceived, and the recognition of the deceit brings with it an instant of
displeasure. But this instant is as it were overcome by the one
immediately following, in which we are able to discard our strained
attention, to free ourselves from the provision of psychic energy
accumulated and, henceforth superfluous, to feel ourselves reasonable
and relieved of a burden. This is the pleasure of the comic, with its
physiological equivalent, laughter. If the unpleasant fact that has
occurred should painfully affect our interests, pleasure would not
arise, laughter would be at once choked, the psychic energy would be
strained and overstrained by other more serious perceptions. If, on the
other hand, such more serious perceptions do not arise, if the whole
loss be limited to a slight deception of our foresight, then the
supervening feeling of our psychic wealth affords ample compensation for
this very slight displeasure.--This, stated in a few words, is one of
the most accurate modern definitions of the comic. It boasts of
containing, justified or corrected, the manifold attempts to define the
comic, from Hellenic antiquity to our own day. It includes Plato's
dictum in the _Philebus_, and Aristotle's, which is more explicit. The
latter looks upon the comic as an _ugliness without pain_. It contains
the theory of Hobbes, who placed it in the feeling of _individual
superiority_; of Kant, who saw in it a _relaxation of tension_; and
those of other thinkers, for whom it was _the contrast between great and
small, between the finite and the infinite_. But on close observation,
the analysis and definition above given, although most elaborate and
rigorous in appearance, yet enunciates characteristics which are
applicable, not only to the comic, but to every spiritual process; such
as the succession of painful and agreeable moments and the satisfaction
arising from the consciousness of force and of its free development. The
differentiation here given is that of quantitative determinations, to
which limits cannot be assigned. They remain vague phrases, attaining to
some meaning from their reference to this or that single comic fact. If
such definitions be taken too seriously, there happens to them what Jean
Paul Richter said of all the definitions of the comic: namely, that
their sole merit is _to be themselves comic_ and to produce, in reality,
the fact, which they vainly try to define logically. And who will ever
determine logically the dividing line between the comic and the
non-comic, between smiles and laughter, between smiling and gravity; who
will cut into clearly divided parts that ever-varying continuity into
which life melts?

    [Sidenote] _Relations between those concepts and aesthetic concepts._

The facts, classified as well as possible in the above-quoted
psychological concepts, bear no relation to the artistic fact, beyond
the generic that all of them, in so far as they designate the material
of life, can be represented by art; and the other accidental relation,
that aesthetic facts also may sometimes enter into the processes
described, as in the impression of the sublime that the work of a
Titanic artist such as Dante or Shakespeare may produce, and that of the
comic produced by the effort of a dauber or of a scribbler.

The process is external to the aesthetic fact In this case also; for the
only feeling linked with that is the feeling of aesthetic value and
disvalue, of the beautiful and of the ugly. The Dantesque Farinata is
aesthetically beautiful, and nothing but beautiful: if, in addition, the
force of will of this personage appear sublime, or the expression that
Dante gives him, by reason of his great genius, seem sublime by
comparison with that of a less energetic poet, all this is not a matter
for aesthetic consideration. This consists always and only in adequation
to truth; that is, in beauty.



    [Sidenote] _Aesthetic activity and physical concepts._

Aesthetic activity is distinct from practical activity but when it
expresses itself is always physical accompanied by practical activity.
Hence its utilitarian or hedonistic side, and the pleasure and pain,
which are, as it were, the practical echo of aesthetic values and
disvalues, of the beautiful and of the ugly. But this practical side of
the aesthetic activity has also, in its turn, a _physical_ or
_psychophysical_ accompaniment, which consists of sounds, tones,
movements, combinations of lines and colours, and so on.

Does it _really_ possess this side, or does it only seem to possess it,
as the result of the construction which we raise in physical science,
and of the useful and arbitrary methods, which we have shown to be
proper to the empirical and abstract sciences? Our reply cannot be
doubtful, that is, it cannot be affirmative as to the first of the two

However, it will be better to leave it at this point in suspense, for it
is not at present necessary to prosecute this line of inquiry any
further. The mention already made must suffice to prevent our having
spoken of the physical element as of something objective and existing,
for reasons of simplicity and adhesion to ordinary language, from
leading to hasty conclusions as to the concepts and the connexion
between spirit and nature.

    [Sidenote] _Expression in the aesthetic sense, and expression in
               the naturalistic sense._

It is important to make clear that as the existence of the hedonistic
side in every spiritual activity has given rise to the confusion between
the aesthetic activity and the useful or pleasurable, so the existence,
or, better, the possibility of constructing this physical side, has
generated the confusion between _aesthetic_ expression and expression
_in the naturalistic sense_; between a spiritual fact, that is to say,
and a mechanical and passive fact (not to say, between a concrete
reality and an abstraction or fiction). In common speech, sometimes it
is the words of the poet that are called _expressions_, the notes of the
musician, or the figures of the painter; sometimes the blush which is
wont to accompany the feeling of shame, the pallor resulting from fear,
the grinding of the teeth proper to violent anger, the glittering of the
eyes, and certain movements of the muscles of the mouth, which reveal
cheerfulness. A certain degree of heat is also said to be the
_expression_ of fever, as the falling of the barometer is of rain, and
even that the height of the rate of exchange _expresses_ the discredit
of the paper-money of a State, or social discontent the approach of a
revolution. One can well imagine what sort of scientific results would
be attained by allowing oneself to be governed by linguistic usage and
placing in one sheaf facts so widely different. But there is, in fact,
an abyss between a man who is the prey of anger with all its natural
manifestations, and another man who expresses it aesthetically; between
the aspect, the cries, and the contortions of one who is tortured with
sorrow at the loss of a dear one, and the words or song with which the
same individual portrays his torture at another moment; between the
distortion of emotion and the gesture of the actor. Darwin's book on the
expression of the feelings in man and animals does not belong to
Aesthetic; because there is nothing in common between the science of
spiritual expression and a _Semiotic_, whether it be medical,
meteorological, political, physiognomic, or chiromantic.

Expression in the naturalistic sense simply lacks expression in the
spiritual sense, that is to say, the characteristic itself of activity
and of spirituality, and therefore the bipartition into poles of beauty
and of ugliness. It is nothing more than a relation between cause and
effect, fixed by the abstract intellect. The complete process of
aesthetic production can be symbolized in four steps, which are: _a_,
impressions; _b_, expression or spiritual aesthetic synthesis; _c_,
hedonistic accompaniment, or pleasure of the beautiful (aesthetic
pleasure); _d_, translation of the aesthetic fact into physical
phenomena (sounds, tones, movements, combinations of lines and colours,
etc.). Anyone can see that the capital point, the only one that is
properly speaking aesthetic and truly real, is in that _b_, which is
lacking to the mere manifestation or naturalistic construction,
metaphorically also called expression.

The expressive process is exhausted when those four steps have been
taken. It begins again with new impressions, a new aesthetic synthesis,
and relative accompaniments.

    [Sidenote] _Intuitions and memory._

Expressions or representations follow and expel one another. Certainly,
this passing away, this disassociation, is not perishing, it is not
total elimination: nothing of what is born dies with that complete death
which would be identical with never having been born. Though all things
pass away, yet none can die. The representations which we have
forgotten, also persist in some way in our spirit, for without them we
could not explain acquired habits and capacities. Thus, the strength of
life lies in this apparent forgetting: one forgets what has been
absorbed and what life has superseded.

But many other things, many other representations, are still efficacious
elements in the actual processes of our spirit; and it is incumbent on
us not to forget them, or to be capable of recalling them when necessity
demands them. The will is always vigilant in this work of preservation,
for it aims at preserving (so to say) the greater and more fundamental
part of all our riches. Certainly its vigilance is not always
sufficient. Memory, we know, leaves or betrays us in various ways. For
this very reason, the vigilant will excogitates expedients, which help
memory in its weakness, and are its _aids_.

    [Sidenote] _The production of aids to memory._

We have already explained how these aids are possible. Expressions or
representations are, at the same time, practical facts, which are also
called physical facts, in so far as to the physical belongs the task of
classifying them and reducing them to types. Now it is clear, that if we
can succeed in making those facts in some way permanent, it will always
be possible (other conditions remaining equal) to reproduce in us, by
perceiving it, the already produced expression or intuition.

If that in which the practical concomitant acts, or (to use physical
terms) the movements have been isolated and made in some sort permanent,
be called the object or physical stimulus, and if it be designated by
the letter _e_; then the process of reproduction will take place in the
following order: _e_, the physical stimulus; _d-b_, perceptions of
physical facts (sounds, tones, mimic, combinations of lines and colours,
etc.), which form together the aesthetic synthesis, already produced;
_c_, the hedonistic accompaniment, which is also reproduced.

And what are those combinations of words which are called poetry, prose,
poems, novels, romances, tragedies or comedies, but _physical stimulants
of reproduction_ (the _e_ stage); what are those combinations of sound
which are called operas, symphonies, sonatas; and what those of lines
and of colours, which are called pictures, statues, architecture? The
spiritual energy of memory, with the assistance of those physical facts
above mentioned, makes possible the preservation and the reproduction of
the intuitions produced, often so laboriously, by ourselves and by
others. If the physiological organism, and with it memory, become
weakened; if the monuments of art be destroyed; then all the aesthetic
wealth, the fruit of the labours of many generations, becomes lessened
and rapidly disappears.

    [Sidenote] _The physically beautiful._

Monuments of art, which are the stimulants of aesthetic reproduction,
are called _beautiful things or the physically beautiful_. This
combination of words constitutes a verbal paradox, because the beautiful
is not a physical fact; it does not belong to things, but to the
activity of man, to spiritual energy. But henceforth it is clear through
what wanderings and what abbreviations, physical things and facts, which
are simply aids to the reproduction of the beautiful, end by being
called, elliptically, beautiful things and physically beautiful. And now
that we have made the existence of this ellipse clear, we shall
ourselves make use of it without hesitation.

    [Sidenote] _Content and form: another meaning._

The intervention of the physically beautiful serves to explain another
meaning of the words _content and form_, as employed by aestheticians.
Some call "content" the internal fact or expression (which is for us
already form), and they call "form" the marble, the colours, the rhythm,
the sounds (for us form no longer); thus they look upon the physical
fact as the form, which may or may not be joined to the content. This
serves to explain another aspect of what is called aesthetic ugliness.
He who has nothing definite to express may try to hide his internal
emptiness with a flood of words, with sounding verse, with deafening
polyphony, with painting that dazzles the eye, or by collocating great
architectonic masses, which arrest and disturb, although, at bottom,
they convey nothing. Ugliness, then, is the arbitrary, the
charlatanesque; and, in reality, if the practical will do not intervene
in the theoretic function, there may be absence of beauty, but never
effective presence of the ugly.

    [Sidenote] _Natural and artificial beauty._

Physical beauty is wont to be divided into _natural_ and _artificial_
beauty. Thus we reach one of the facts, which has given great labour to
thinkers: _the beautiful in nature_. These words often designate simply
facts of practical pleasure. He alludes to nothing aesthetic who calls a
landscape beautiful where the eye rests upon verdure, where bodily
motion is easy, and where the warm sun-ray envelops and caresses the
limbs. But it is nevertheless indubitable, that on other occasions the
adjective "beautiful," applied to objects and scenes existing in nature,
has a completely aesthetic signification.

It has been observed, that in order to enjoy natural objects
aesthetically, we should withdraw them from their external and
historical reality, and separate their simple appearance or origin from
existence; that if we contemplate a landscape with our head between our
legs, in such a way as to remove ourselves from our wonted relations
with it, the landscape appears as an ideal spectacle; that nature is
beautiful only for him who contemplates her _with the eye of the
artist_; that zoologists and botanists do not recognize beautiful
animals and flowers; that natural beauty is _discovered_ (and examples
of discovery are the points of view, pointed out by men of taste and
imagination, and to which more or less aesthetic travellers and
excursionists afterwards have recourse in pilgrimage, whence a more or
less collective _suggestion_); that, _without the aid of the
imagination_, no part of nature is beautiful, and that with such aid the
same natural object or fact is now expressive, according to the
disposition of the soul, now insignificant, now expressive of one
definite thing, now of another, sad or glad, sublime or ridiculous,
sweet or laughable; finally, that _natural beauty_, which an artist
would not _to some extent correct, does not exist_.

All these observations are most just, and confirm the fact that natural
beauty is simply a _stimulus_ to aesthetic reproduction, which
presupposes previous production. Without preceding aesthetic intuitions
of the imagination, nature cannot arouse any at all. As regards natural
beauty, man is like the mythical Narcissus at the fountain. They show
further that since this stimulus is accidental, it is, for the most
part, imperfect or equivocal. Leopardi said that natural beauty is
"rare, scattered, and fugitive." Every one refers the natural fact to
the expression which is in his mind. One artist is, as it were, carried
away by a laughing landscape, another by a rag-shop, another by the
pretty face of a young girl, another by the squalid countenance of an
old ruffian. Perhaps the first will say that the rag-shop and the ugly
face of the old ruffian are _disgusting_; the second, that the laughing
landscape and the face of the young girl are _insipid_. They may dispute
for ever; but they will never agree, save when they have supplied
themselves with a sufficient dose of aesthetic knowledge, which will
enable them to recognize that they are both right. _Artificial_ beauty,
created by man, is a much more ductile and efficacious aid to

    [Sidenote] _Mixed beauty._

In addition to these two classes, aestheticians also sometimes talk in
their treatises of a _mixed_ beauty. Of what is it a mixture? Just of
natural and artificial. Whoso fixes and externalizes, operates with
natural materials, which he does not create, but combines and
transforms. In this sense, every artificial product is a mixture of
nature and artifice; and there would be no occasion to speak of a mixed
beauty, as of a special category. But it happens that, in certain cases,
combinations already given in nature can be used a great deal more than
in others; as, for instance, when we design a beautiful garden and
include in our design groups of trees or ponds which are already there.
On other occasions externalization is limited by the impossibility of
producing certain effects artificially. Thus we may mix the colouring
matters, but we cannot create a powerful voice or a personage and an
appearance appropriate to this or that personage of a drama. We must
therefore seek for them among things already existing, and make use of
them when we find them. When, therefore, we adopt a great number of
combinations already existing in nature, such as we should not be able
to produce artificially if they did not exist, the result is called
_mixed_ beauty.

    [Sidenote] _Writings._

We must distinguish from artificial beauty those instruments of
reproduction called _writings_, such as alphabets, musical notes,
hieroglyphics, and all pseudo-languages, from the language of flowers
and flags, to the language of patches (so much the vogue in the society
of the eighteenth century). Writings are not physical facts which arouse
directly impressions answering to aesthetic expressions; they are simple
_indications_ of what must be done in order to produce such physical
facts. A series of graphic signs serves to remind us of the movements
which we must execute with our vocal apparatus in order to emit certain
definite sounds. If, through practice, we become able to hear the words
without opening our mouths and (what is much more difficult) to hear the
sounds by running the eye down the page of the music, all this does not
alter anything of the nature of the writings, which are altogether
different from direct physical beauty. No one calls the book which
contains the _Divine Comedy_, or the portfolio which contains _Don
Giovanni_, beautiful in the same sense as the block of marble which
contains Michael Angelo's _Moses_, or the piece of coloured wood which
contains the _Transfiguration_ are metaphorically called beautiful. Both
serve for the reproduction of the beautiful, but the former by a far
longer and far more indirect route than the latter.

    [Sidenote] _The beautiful as free and not free._

Another division of the beautiful, which is still found in treatises, is
that into _free and not free_. By beauties that are not free, are
understood those objects which have to serve a double purpose,
extra-aesthetic and aesthetic (stimulants of intuitions); and since it
appears that the first purpose limits and impedes the second, the
beautiful object resulting therefrom has been considered as a beauty
that is not free.

Architectural works are especially cited; and precisely for this reason,
has architecture often been excluded from the number of the so-called
fine arts. A temple must be above all things adapted to the use of a
cult; a house must contain all the rooms requisite for commodity of
living, and they must be arranged with a view to this commodity; a
fortress must be a construction capable of resisting the attacks of
certain armies and the blows of certain instruments of war. It is
therefore held that the architect's field is limited: he may be able to
_embellish_ to some extent the temple, the house, the fortress; but his
hands are bound by the _object_ of these buildings, and he can only
manifest that part of his vision of beauty in their construction which
does not impair their extrinsic, but fundamental, objects.

Other examples are taken from what is called art applied to industry.
Plates, glasses, knives, guns, and combs can be made beautiful; but it
is held that their beauty must not so far exceed as to prevent our
eating from the plate, drinking from the glass, cutting with the knife,
firing off the gun, or combing one's hair with the comb. The same is
said of the art of printing: a book should be beautiful, but not to the
extent of its being difficult or impossible to read it.

    [Sidenote] _Critique of the beautiful that is not free._

In respect to all this, we must observe, in the first place, that the
external purpose, precisely because it is such, does not of necessity
limit or trammel the other purpose of being a stimulus to aesthetic
reproduction. Nothing, therefore, can be more erroneous than the thesis
that architecture, for example, is by its nature not free and imperfect,
since it must also fulfil other practical objects. Beautiful
architectural works, however, themselves undertake to deny this by their
simple presence.

In the second place, not only are the two objects not necessarily in
opposition; but, we must add, the artist always has the means of
preventing this contradiction from taking place. In what way? By taking,
as the material of his intuition and aesthetic externalization,
precisely the _destination_ of the object, which serves a practical end.
He will not need to add anything to the object, in order to make it the
instrument of aesthetic intuitions: it will be so, if perfectly adapted
to its practical purpose. Rustic dwellings and palaces, churches and
barracks, swords and ploughs, are beautiful, not in so far as they are
embellished and adorned, but in so far as they express the purpose for
which they were made. A garment is only beautiful because it is quite
suitable to a given person in given conditions. The sword bound to the
side of the warrior Rinaldo by the amorous Armida was not beautiful: "so
adorned that it seemed a useless ornament, not the warlike instrument of
a warrior." It was beautiful, if you will, in the eyes and imagination
of the sorceress, who loved her lover in this effeminate way. The
aesthetic fact can always accompany the practical fact, because
expression is truth.

It cannot, however, be denied that aesthetic contemplation sometimes
hinders practical use. For instance, it is a quite common experience to
find certain new things so well adapted to their purpose, and yet so
beautiful, that people occasionally feel scruples in maltreating them by
using after contemplating them, which amounts to consuming them. It was
for this reason that King Frederick William of Prussia evinced
repugnance to ordering his magnificent grenadiers, so well suited for
war, to endure the strain of battle; but his less aesthetic son,
Frederick the Great, obtained from them excellent services.

    [Sidenote] _The stimulants of production._

It might be objected to the explanation of the physically beautiful as a
simple adjunct for the reproduction of the internally beautiful, that is
to say, of expressions, that the artist creates his expressions by
painting or by sculpturing, by writing or by composing, and that
therefore the physically beautiful, instead of following, sometimes
precedes the aesthetically beautiful. This would be a somewhat
superficial mode of understanding the procedure of the artist, who never
makes a stroke with his brush without having previously seen it with his
imagination; and if he has not yet seen it, he will make the stroke, not
in order to externalize his expression (which does not yet exist), but
as though to have a rallying point for ulterior meditation and for
internal concentration. The physical point on which he leans is not the
physically beautiful, instrument of reproduction, but what may be called
a pedagogic means, similar to retiring into solitude, or to the many
other expedients, frequently very strange, adopted by artists and
philosophers, who vary in these according to their various
idiosyncrasies. The old aesthetician Baumgarten advised poets to ride on
horseback, as a means of inspiration, to drink wine in moderation, and
(provided they were chaste) to look at beautiful women.



It is necessary to mention a series of scientific mistakes which have
arisen from the failure to understand the purely external relation
between the aesthetic fact or artistic vision, and the physical fact or
instrument, which serves as an aid to reproduce it. We must here
indicate the proper criticism, which derives from what has already been

    [Sidenote] _Critique of aesthetic associationism_

That form of associationism which identifies the aesthetic fact with the
_association of two_ images finds a place among these errors. By what
path has it been possible to arrive at such a mistake, against which our
aesthetic consciousness, which is a consciousness of perfect unity,
never of duality, rebels? Just because the physical and the aesthetic
facts have been considered separately, as two distinct images, which
enter the spirit, the one drawn forth from the other, the one first and
the other afterwards. A picture is divided into the image of the
_picture_ and the image of the _meaning_ of the picture; a poem, into
the image of the words and the image of the _meaning_ of the words. But
this dualism of images is non-existent: the physical fact does not enter
the spirit as an image, but causes the reproduction of the image (the
only image, which is the aesthetic fact), in so far as it blindly
stimulates the psychic organism and produces an impression answering to
the aesthetic expression already produced.

The efforts of the associationists (the usurpers of to-day in the field
of Aesthetic) to emerge from the difficulty, and to reaffirm in some way
the unity which has been destroyed by their principle of associationism,
are highly instructive. Some maintain that the image called back again
is unconscious; others, leaving unconsciousness alone, hold that, on the
contrary, it is vague, vaporous, confused, thus reducing the _force_ of
the aesthetic fact to the _weakness_ of bad memory. But the dilemma is
inexorable: either keep association and give up unity, or keep unity and
give up association. No third way out of the difficulty exists.

    [Sidenote] _Critique of aesthetic physic._

From the failure to analyze so-called natural beauty thoroughly, and to
recognize that it is simply an incident of aesthetic reproduction, and
from having, on the contrary, looked upon it as given in nature, is
derived all that portion of treatises upon Aesthetic which is entitled
_The Beautiful in Nature or Aesthetic Physic_; sometimes even
subdivided, save the mark! into Aesthetic Mineralogy, Botany, and
Zoology. We do not wish to deny that such treatises contain many just
remarks, and are sometimes themselves works of art, in so far as they
represent beautifully the imaginings and fantasies, that is the
impressions, of their authors. But we must state that it is
scientifically false to ask oneself if the dog be beautiful, and the
ornithorhynchus ugly; if the lily be beautiful, and the artichoke ugly.
Indeed, the error is here double. On one hand, aesthetic Physic falls
back into the equivoke of the theory of artistic and literary classes,
by attempting to determine aesthetically the abstractions of our
intellect; on the other, fails to recognize, as we said, the true
formation of so-called natural beauty; for which the question as to
whether some given individual animal, flower, or man be beautiful or
ugly, is altogether excluded. What is not produced by the aesthetic
spirit, or cannot be referred to it, is neither beautiful nor ugly. The
aesthetic process arises from the ideal relations in which natural
objects are arranged.

    [Sidenote] _Critique of the theory of the beauty of the human body._

The double error can be exemplified by the question, upon which whole
volumes have been written, as to the _Beauty of the human body_. Here it
is necessary, above all things, to urge those who discuss this subject
from the abstract toward the concrete, by asking: "What do you mean by
the human body, that of the male, of the female, or of the androgyne?"
Let us assume that they reply by dividing the inquiry into two distinct
inquiries, as to the virile and feminine beauty (there really are
writers who seriously discuss whether man or woman is the more
beautiful); and let us continue: "Masculine or feminine beauty; but of
what race of men--the white, the yellow, or the black, and whatever
others there may be, according to the division of races?" Let us assume
that they limit themselves to the white race, and let us continue: "What
sub-species of the white race?" And when we have restricted them
gradually to one section of the white world, that is to say, to the
Italian, Tuscan, Siennese, or Porta Camollia section, we will continue:
"Very good; but at what age of the human body, and in what condition and
state of development--that of the new-born babe, of the child, of the
boy, of the adolescent, of the man of middle age, and so on? and is the
man at rest or at work, or is he occupied as is Paul Potter's cow, or
the Ganymede of Rembrandt?"

Having thus arrived, by successive reductions, at the individual
_omnimode determinatum_, or, better, at the man pointed out with the
finger, it will be easy to expose the other error, by recalling what has
been said about the natural fact, which is now beautiful, now ugly,
according to the point of view, according to what is passing in the mind
of the artist. Finally, if the Gulf of Naples have its detractors, and
if there be artists who declare it inexpressive, preferring the "gloomy
firs," the "clouds and perpetual north winds," of the northern seas; let
it be believed, if possible, that such relativity does not exist for the
human body, source of the most various suggestions!

    [Sidenote] _Critique of the beauty of geometric figures._

The question of the _beauty of geometrical figures_ is connected with
aesthetic Physic. But if by geometrical figures be understood the
concepts of geometry, the concept of the triangle, the square, the cone,
these are neither beautiful nor ugly: they are concepts. If, on the
other hand, by such figures be understood bodies which possess definite
geometrical forms, these will be ugly or beautiful, like every natural
fact, according to the ideal connexions in which they are placed. Some
hold that those geometrical figures are beautiful which point upwards,
since they give the suggestion of firmness and of force. It is not
denied that such may be the case. But neither must it be denied that
those also which give the impression of instability and of being crushed
down may possess their beauty, where they represent just the ill-formed
and the crushed; and that in these last cases the firmness of the
straight line and the lightness of the cone or of the equilateral
triangle would, on the contrary, seem elements of ugliness.

Certainly, such questions as to the beauty of nature and the beauty of
geometry, like the others analogous of the historically beautiful and of
human beauty, seem less absurd in the Aesthetic of the sympathetic,
which means, at bottom, by the words "aesthetic beauty" the
representation of what is pleasing. But the pretension to determine
scientifically what are the sympathetic contents, and what are the
irremediably antipathetic, is none the less erroneous, even in the
sphere of that doctrine and after the laying down of those premises. One
can only answer such questions by repeating with an infinitely long
postscript the _Sunt quos_ of the first ode of the first book of Horace,
and the _Havvi chi_ of Leopardi's letter to Carlo Pepoli. To each man
his beautiful ( = sympathetic), as to each man his fair one. Philography
is not a science.

    [Sidenote] _Critique of another aspect of the imitation of nature._

The artist sometimes has naturally existing facts before him, in
producing the artificial instrument, or physically beautiful. These are
called his _models_: bodies, stuffs, flowers, and so on. Let us run over
the sketches, the studies, and the notes of the artists: Leonardo noted
down in his pocket-book, when he was working on the Last Supper:
"Giovannina, fantastic appearance, is at St. Catherine's, at the
Hospital; Cristofano di Castiglione is at the Pietà, he has a fine head;
Christ, Giovan Conte, is of the suite of Cardinal Mortaro." And so on.
From this comes the illusion that the artist _imitates nature_; when it
would perhaps be more exact to say that nature imitates the artist, and
obeys him. The theory that _art imitates nature_ has sometimes been
grounded upon and found sustenance in this illusion, as also its
variant, more easily to be defended, which makes art the _idealizer of
nature_. This last theory presents the process in a disorderly manner,
indeed inversely to the true order; for the artist does not proceed from
extrinsic reality, in order to modify it by approaching it to the ideal;
but he proceeds from the impression of external nature to expression,
that is to say, to his ideal, and from this he passes to the natural
fact, which he employs as the instrument of reproduction of the ideal

    [Sidenote] _Critique of the theory of the elementary forms of the

Another consequence of the confusion between the aesthetic and the
physical fact is the theory of the _elementary forms of the beautiful_.
If expression, if the beautiful, be indivisible, the physical fact, in
which it externalizes itself, can well be divided and subdivided; for
example, a painted surface, into lines and colours, groups and curves of
lines, kinds of colours, and so on; a poem, into strophes, verses, feet,
syllables; a piece of prose, into chapters, paragraphs, headings,
periods, phrases, words, and so on. The parts thus obtained are not
aesthetic facts, but smaller physical facts, cut up in an arbitrary
manner. If this path were followed, and the confusion persisted in, we
should end by concluding that the true forms of the beautiful are

The aesthetic law, several times promulgated, that beauty must have
_bulk_, could be invoked against the atoms. It cannot be the
imperceptibility of the too small, nor the unapprehensibility of the too
large. But a bigness which depends upon perceptibility, not measurement,
derives from a concept widely different from the mathematical. For what
is called imperceptible and incomprehensible does not produce an
impression, because it is not a real fact, but a concept: the requisite
of bulk in the beautiful is thus reduced to the effective reality of the
physical fact, which serves for the reproduction of the beautiful.

    [Sidenote] _Critique of the search for the objective conditions of
               the beautiful._

Continuing the search for the _physical laws_ or for the _objective
conditions of the beautiful_, it has been asked: To what physical facts
does the beautiful correspond? To what the ugly? To what unions of
tones, colours, sizes, mathematically determinable? Such inquiries are
as if in Political Economy one were to seek for the laws of exchange in
the physical nature of the objects exchanged. The constant infecundity
of the attempt should have at once given rise to some suspicion as to
its vanity. In our times, especially, has the necessity for an
_inductive_ Aesthetic been often proclaimed, of an Aesthetic starting
_from below_, which should proceed like natural science and not hasten
its conclusions. Inductive? But Aesthetic has always been both inductive
and deductive, like every philosophical science; induction and deduction
cannot be separated, nor can they separately avail to characterize a
true science. But the word "inductive" was not here pronounced
accidentally and without special intention. It was wished to imply by
its use that the aesthetic fact is nothing, at bottom, but a physical
fact, which should be studied by applying to it the methods proper to
the physical and natural sciences. With such a presupposition and in
such a faith did inductive Aesthetic or Aesthetic of the inferior (what
pride in this modesty!) begin its labours. It has conscientiously begun
by making a collection of _beautiful things_, for example of a great
number of envelopes of various shapes and sizes, and has asked which of
these give the impression of the beautiful and which of the ugly. As was
to be expected, the inductive aestheticians speedily found themselves in
a difficulty, for the same objects that appeared ugly in one aspect
would appear beautiful in another. A yellow, coarse envelope, which
would be extremely ugly for the purpose of enclosing a love-letter, is,
however, just what is wanted for a writ served by process on stamped
paper. This in its turn would look very bad, or seem at any rate an
irony, if enclosed in a square English envelope. Such considerations of
simple common sense should have sufficed to convince inductive
aestheticians, that the beautiful has no physical existence, and cause
them to remit their vain and ridiculous quest. But no: they have had
recourse to an expedient, as to which we would find it difficult to say
how far it belongs to natural science. They have sent their envelopes
round from one to the other and opened a _referendum_, thus striving to
decide by the votes of the majority in what consists the beautiful and
the ugly.

We will not waste time over this argument, because we should seem to be
turning ourselves into narrators of comic anecdotes rather than
expositors of aesthetic science and of its problems. It is an actual
fact, that the inductive aestheticians have not yet discovered _one
single law_.

    [Sidenote] _Astrology of Aesthetic._

He who dispenses with doctors is prone to abandon himself to charlatans.
Thus it has befallen those who have believed in the natural laws of the
beautiful. Artists sometimes adopt empirical canons, such as that of the
proportions of the human body, or of the golden section, that is to say,
of a line divided into two parts in such a manner that the less is to
the greater as is the greater to the whole line (_bc: ac=ac: ab_). Such
canons easily become their superstitions, and they attribute to such the
success of their works. Thus Michael Angelo left as a precept to his
disciple Marco del Pino of Siena that "he should always make a pyramidal
serpentine figure multiplied by one, two, three," a precept which did
not enable Marco di Siena to emerge from that mediocrity which we can
yet observe in his many works, here in Naples. Others extracted from the
sayings of Michael Angelo the precept that serpentine undulating lines
were the true _lines of beauty_. Whole volumes have been composed on
these laws of beauty, on the golden section and on the undulating and
serpentine lines. These should in our opinion be looked upon as the
_astrology of Aesthetic_.



    [Sidenote] _The practical activity of externalization._

The fact of the production of the physically beautiful implies, as has
already been remarked, a vigilant will, which persists in not allowing
certain visions, intuitions, or representations, to be lost. Such a will
must be able to act with the utmost rapidity, and as it were
instinctively, and also be capable of long and laborious deliberations.
Thus and only thus does the practical activity enter into relations with
the aesthetic, that is to say, in effecting the production of physical
objects, which are aids to memory. Here it is not merely a concomitant,
but really a distinct moment of the aesthetic activity. We cannot will
or not will our aesthetic vision: we can, however, will or not will to
externalize it, or better, to preserve and communicate, or not, to
others, the externalization produced.

    [Sidenote] _The technique of externalization._

This volitional fact of externalization is preceded by a complex of
various kinds of knowledge. These are known as _techniques_, like all
knowledge which precedes the practical activity. Thus we talk of an
artistic technique in the same metaphorical and elliptic manner that we
talk of the physically beautiful, that is to say (in more precise
language), _knowledge employed by the practical activity engaged in
producing stimuli to aesthetic reproduction_. In place of employing so
lengthy a phrase, we shall here avail ourselves of the vulgar
terminology, since we are henceforward aware of its true meaning.

The possibility of this technical knowledge, at the service of artistic
reproduction, has caused people to imagine the existence of an aesthetic
technique of internal expression, which is tantamount to saying, _a
doctrine of the means of internal expression_, which is altogether
inconceivable. And we know well the reason why it is inconceivable;
expression, considered in itself, is primary theoretic activity, and, in
so far as it is this, it precedes the practical activity and the
intellectual knowledge which illumines the practical activity, and is
thus independent alike of the one and of the other. It also helps to
illumine the practical activity, but is not illuminated by it.
Expression does not employ _means_, because it has not an _end_; it has
intuitions of things, but does not will them, and is thus indivisible
into means and end. Thus if it be said, as sometimes is the case, that a
certain writer has invented a new technique of fiction or of drama, or
that a painter has discovered a new mode of distribution of light, the
word is used in a false sense; because the so-called _new technique is
really that romance itself, or that new picture_ itself. The
distribution of light belongs to the vision itself of the picture; as
the technique of a dramatist is his dramatic conception itself. On other
occasions, the word "technique" is used to designate certain merits or
defects in a work which is a failure; and it is said, euphemistically,
that the conception is bad, but the technique good, or that the
conception is good, and the technique bad.

On the other hand, when the different ways of painting in oils, or of
etching, or of sculpturing in alabaster, are discussed, then the word
"technique" is in its place; but in such a case the adjective "artistic"
is used metaphorically. And if a dramatic technique in the artistic
sense be impossible, a theatrical technique is not impossible, that is
to say, processes of externalization of certain given aesthetic works.
When, for instance, women were introduced on the stage in Italy in the
second half of the sixteenth century, in place of men dressed as women,
this was a true and real discovery in theatrical technique; such too was
the perfecting in the following century by the impresarios of Venice, of
machines for the rapid changing of the scenes.

    [Sidenote] _The theoretic techniques of the individual arts._

The collection of technical knowledge at the service of artists desirous
of externalizing their expressions, can be divided into groups, which
may be entitled _theories of the arts_. Thus is born a theory of
Architecture, comprising mechanical laws, information relating to the
weight or to the resistance of the materials of construction or of
fortification, manuals relating to the method of mixing chalk or stucco;
a theory of Sculpture, containing advice as to the instruments to be
used for sculpturing the various sorts of stone, for obtaining a
successful fusion of bronze, for working with the chisel, for the exact
copying of the model in chalk or plaster, for keeping chalk damp; a
theory of Painting, on the various techniques of tempera, of
oil-painting, of water-colour, of pastel, on the proportions of the
human body, on the laws of perspective; a theory of Oratory, with
precepts as to the method of producing, of exercising and of
strengthening the voice, of mimic and gesture; a theory of Music, on the
combinations and fusions of tones and sounds; and so on. Such
collections of precepts abound in all literatures. And since it soon
becomes impossible to say what is useful and what useless to know, books
of this sort become very often a sort of encyclopaedias or catalogues of
desiderata. Vitruvius, in his treatise on Architecture, claims for the
architect a knowledge of letters, of drawing, of geometry, of
arithmetic, of optic, of history, of natural and moral philosophy, of
jurisprudence, of medicine, of astrology, of music, and so on.
Everything is worth knowing: learn the art and lay it aside.

It should be evident that such empirical collections are not reducible
to a science. They are composed of notions, taken from various sciences
and teachings, and their philosophical and scientific principles are to
be found in them. To undertake the construction of a scientific theory
of the different arts, would be to wish to reduce to the single and
homogeneous what is by nature multiple and heterogeneous; to wish to
destroy the existence as a collection of what was put together precisely
to form a collection. Were we to give a scientific form to the manuals
of the architect, the painter, or the musician, it is clear that nothing
would remain in our hands but the general principles of Mechanic, Optic,
or Acoustic. Or if the especially artistic observations disseminated
through it be extracted and isolated, and a science be made of them,
then the sphere of the individual art is deserted and that of Aesthetic
entered upon, for Aesthetic is always general Aesthetic, or better, it
cannot be divided into general and special. This last case (that is, the
attempt to furnish a technique of Aesthetic) is found, when men
possessing strong scientific instincts and a natural tendency to
philosophy, set themselves to work to produce such theories and
technical manuals.

    [Sidenote] _Critique of the aesthetic theories of the individual

But the confusion between Physic and Aesthetic has attained to its
highest degree, when aesthetic theories of the different arts are
imagined, to answer such questions as: What are the _limits_ of each
art? What can be represented with colours, and what with sounds? What
with simple monochromatic lines, and what with touches of various
colours? What with notes, and what with metres and rhymes? What are the
limits between the figurative and the auditional arts, between painting
and sculpture, poetry and music?

This, translated into scientific language, is tantamount to asking: What
is the connexion between Acoustic and aesthetic expression? What between
the latter and Optic?--and the like. Now, if _there is no passage_ from
the physical fact to the aesthetic, how could there be from the
aesthetic to particular groups of aesthetic facts, such as the phenomena
of Optic or of Acoustic?

    [Sidenote] _Critique of the classifications of the arts._

The things called _Arts_ have no aesthetic limits, because, in order to
have them, they would need to have also aesthetic existence; and we have
demonstrated the altogether empirical genesis of those divisions.
Consequently, any attempt at an aesthetic classification of the arts is
absurd. If they be without limits, they are not exactly determinable,
and consequently cannot be philosophically classified. All the books
dealing with classifications and systems of the arts could be burned
without any loss whatever. (We say this with the utmost respect to the
writers who have expended their labours upon them.)

The impossibility of such classifications finds, as it were, its proof
in the strange methods to which recourse has been had to carry them out.
The first and most common classification is that into arts of _hearing,
sight_, and _imagination_; as if eyes, ears, and imagination were on the
same level, and could be deduced from the same logical variable, as
foundation of the division. Others have proposed the division into arts
of _space and time_, and arts of _rest_ and _motion_; as if the concepts
of space, time, rest, and motion could determine special aesthetic
forms, or have anything in common with art as such. Finally, others have
amused themselves by dividing them into _classic and romantic_, or into
_oriental, classic, and romantic_, thereby conferring the value of
scientific concepts on simple historical denominations, or adopting
those pretended partitions of expressive forms, already criticized
above; or by talking of arts _that can only be seen from one side_, like
painting, and of arts _that can be seen from all sides_, like
sculpture--and similar extravagances, which exist neither in heaven nor
on the earth.

The theory of the limits of the arts was, perhaps, at the time when it
was put forward, a beneficial critical reaction against those who
believed in the possibility of the flowing of one expression into
another, as of the _Iliad_ or of _Paradise Lost_ into a series of
paintings, and thus held a poem to be of greater or lesser value,
according as it could or could not be translated into pictures by a
painter. But if the rebellion were reasonable and victorious, this does
not mean that the arguments adopted and the theories made as required
were sound.

    [Sidenote] _Critique of the theory of the union of the arts._

Another theory which is a corollary to that of the limits of the arts,
falls with them; that of the _union of the arts_. Granted different
arts, distinct and limited, the questions were asked: Which is the most
powerful? Do we not obtain more powerful effects by uniting several? We
know nothing of this: we know only, in each individual case, that
certain given artistic intuitions have need of definite physical means
for their reproduction, and that other artistic intuitions have need of
other physical means. We can obtain the effect of certain dramas by
simply reading them; others need declamation and scenic display: some
artistic intuitions, for their full extrinsication, need words, song,
musical instruments, colours, statuary, architecture, actors; while
others are beautiful and complete in a single delicate sweep of the pen,
or with a few strokes of the pencil. But it is false to suppose that
declamation and scenic effects, and all the other things we have
mentioned together, are _more powerful_ than simply reading, or than the
simple stroke with the pen and with the pencil; because each of these
facts or groups of facts has, so to say, a different object, and the
power of the different means employed cannot be compared when the
objects are different.

    [Sidenote] _Connexion of the activity of externalization with utility
               and morality._

Finally, it is only from the point of view of a clear and rigorous
distinction between the true and proper aesthetic activity, and the
practical activity of externalization, that we can solve the involved
and confused questions as to the relations between _art and utility_,
and _art and morality_.

That art as art is independent alike of utility and of morality, as also
of every volitional form, we have above demonstrated. Without this
independence, it would not be possible to speak of an intrinsic value of
art, nor indeed to conceive an aesthetic science, which demands the
autonomy of the aesthetic fact as a necessity of its existence.

But it would be erroneous to maintain that this independence of the
vision or intuition or internal expression of the artist should be at
once extended to the practical activity of externalization and of
communication, which may or may not follow the aesthetic fact. If art be
understood as the externalization of art, then utility and morality have
a perfect right to deal with it; that is to say, the right one possesses
to deal with one's own household.

We do not, as a matter of fact, externalize and fix all of the many
expressions and intuitions which we form in our mind; we do not declare
our every thought in a loud voice, or write down, or print, or draw, or
colour, or expose it to the public gaze. _We select_ from the crowd of
intuitions which are formed or at least sketched within us; and the
selection is governed by selection of the economic conditions of life
and of its moral direction. Therefore, when we have formed an intuition,
it remains to decide whether or no we should communicate it to others,
and to whom, and when, and how; all of which considerations fall equally
under the utilitarian and ethical criterion.

Thus we find the concepts of _selection_, of the _interesting_, of
_morality_, of an _educational end_, of _popularity_, etc., to some
extent justified, although these can in no wise be justified as imposed
upon art as art, and we have ourselves denounced them in pure Aesthetic.
Error always contains an element of truth. He who formulated those
erroneous aesthetic propositions had his eye on practical facts, which
attach themselves externally to the aesthetic fact in economic and moral

By all means, be partisans of a yet greater liberty in the vulgarization
of the means of aesthetic reproduction; we are of the same opinion, and
let us leave the proposals for legislative measures, and for actions to
be instigated against immoral art, to hypocrites, to the ingenuous, and
to idlers. But the proclamation of this liberty, and the fixation of its
limits, how wide soever they be, is always the affair of morality. And
it would in any case be out of place to invoke that highest principle,
that _fundamentum Aesthetices_, which is the independence of art, in
order to deduce from it the guiltlessness of the artist, who, in the
externalization of his imaginings, should calculate upon the unhealthy
tastes of his readers; or that licenses should be granted to the hawkers
who sell obscene statuettes in the streets. This last case is the affair
of the police; the first must be brought before the tribunal of the
moral conscience. The aesthetic judgment on the work of art has nothing
to do with the morality of the artist, in so far as he is a practical
man, nor with the precautions to be taken that art may not be employed
for evil purposes alien to its essence, which is pure theoretic



    [Sidenote] _Aesthetic judgment. Its identity with aesthetic

When the entire aesthetic and externalizing process has been completed,
when a beautiful expression has been produced and fixed in a definite
physical material, what is meant by _judging it_? _To reproduce it in
oneself_, answer the critics of art, almost with one voice. Very good.
Let us try thoroughly to understand this fact, and with that object in
view, let us represent it schematically.

The individual A is seeking the expression of an impression, which he
feels or has a presentiment of, but has not yet expressed. Behold him
trying various words and phrases, which may give the sought-for
expression, which must exist, but which he does not know. He tries the
combination _m_, but rejects it as unsuitable, inexpressive, incomplete,
ugly: he tries the combination _n_, with a like result. _He does not see
anything, or he does not see clearly_. The expression still flies from
him. After other vain attempts, during which he sometimes approaches,
sometimes leaves the sign that offers itself, all of a sudden (almost as
though formed spontaneously of itself) he creates the sought-for
expression, and _lux facta est_. He enjoys for an instant aesthetic
pleasure or the pleasure of the beautiful. The ugly, with its
correlative displeasure, was the aesthetic activity, which had not
succeeded in conquering the obstacle; the beautiful is the expressive
activity, which now displays itself triumphant.

We have taken this example from the domain of speech, as being nearer
and more accessible, and because we all talk, though we do not all draw
or paint. Now if another individual, whom we shall term B, desire to
judge this expression and decide whether it be beautiful or ugly, he
_must of necessity place himself at A's point of view_, and go through
the whole process again, with the help of the physical sign, supplied to
him by A. If A has seen clearly, then B (who has placed himself at A's
point of view) will also see clearly and will find this expression
beautiful. If A has not seen clearly, then B also will not see clearly,
and will find the expression more or less ugly, _just as A did_.

    [Sidenote] _Impossibility of divergences._

It may be observed that we have not taken into consideration two other
cases: that of A having a clear and B an obscure vision; and that of A
having an obscure and B a clear vision. Philosophically speaking, these
two cases are _impossible_.

Spiritual activity, precisely because it is activity, is not a caprice,
but a spiritual necessity; and it cannot solve a definite aesthetic
problem, save in one way, which is the right way. Doubtless certain
facts may be adduced, which appear to contradict this deduction. Thus
works which seem beautiful to artists, are judged to be ugly by the
critics; while works with which the artists were displeased and judged
imperfect or failures, are held to be beautiful and perfect by the
critics. But this does not mean anything, save that one of the two is
wrong: either the critics or the artists, or in one case the artist and
in another the critic. In fact, the producer of an expression does not
always fully realize what has happened in his soul. Haste, vanity, want
of reflexion, theoretic prejudices, make people say, and sometimes
others almost believe, that works of ours are beautiful, which, if we
were truly to turn inwards upon ourselves, we should see ugly, as they
really are. Thus poor Don Quixote, when he had mended his helmet as well
as he could with cardboard--the helmet that had showed itself to possess
but the feeblest force of resistance at the first encounter,--took good
care not to test it again with a well-delivered sword-thrust, but simply
declared and maintained it to be (says the author) _por celada finisima
de encaxe_. And in other cases, the same reasons, or opposite but
analogous ones, trouble the consciousness of the artist, and cause him
to disapprove of what he has successfully produced, or to strive to undo
and do again worse, what he has done well, in his artistic spontaneity.
An example of this is the _Gerusalemme conquistata_. In the same way,
haste, laziness, want of reflexion, theoretic prejudices, personal
sympathies, or animosities, and other motives of a similar sort,
sometimes cause the critics to proclaim beautiful what is ugly, and ugly
what is beautiful. Were they to eliminate such disturbing elements, they
would feel the work of art as it really is, and would not leave to
posterity, that more diligent and more dispassionate judge, to award the
palm, or to do that justice, which they have refused.

    [Sidenote] _Identity of taste and genius._

It is clear from the preceding theorem, that the judicial activity,
which criticizes and recognizes the beautiful, is identical with that
which produces it. The only difference lies in the diversity of
circumstances, since in the one case it is a question of aesthetic
production, in the other of reproduction. The judicial activity is
called _taste_; the productive activity is called _genius_: genius and
taste are therefore substantially _identical_.

The common remark, that the critic should possess some of the genius of
the artist and that the artist should possess taste, reveals a glimpse
of this identity; or that there exists an active (productive) taste and
a passive (reproductive) taste. But a denial of this is contained in
other equally common remarks, as when people speak of taste without
genius, or of genius without taste. These last observations are
meaningless, unless they be taken as alluding to quantitative
differences. In this case, those would be called geniuses without taste
who produce works of art, inspired in their culminating parts and
neglected and defective in their secondary parts, and those men of taste
without genius, who succeed in obtaining certain isolated or secondary
effects, but do not possess the power necessary for a vast artistic
synthesis. Analogous explanations can easily be given of other similar
propositions. But to posit a substantial difference between genius and
taste, between artistic production and reproduction, would render
communication and judgment alike inconceivable. How could we judge what
remained extraneous to us? How could that which is produced by a given
activity be judged by a different activity? The critic will be a small
genius, the artist a great genius; the one will have the strength of
ten, the other of a hundred; the former, in order to raise himself to
the altitude of the latter, will have need of his assistance; but the
nature of both must be the same. In order to judge Dante, we must raise
ourselves to his level: let it be well understood that empirically we
are not Dante, nor Dante we; but in that moment of judgment and
contemplation, our spirit is one with that of the poet, and in that
moment we and he are one single thing. In this identity alone resides
the possibility that our little souls can unite with the great souls,
and become great with them, in the universality of the spirit.

    [Sidenote] _Analogy with the other activities._

Let us remark in passing that what has been said of the aesthetic
_judgment_ holds good equally for every other activity and for every
other judgment; and that scientific, economic, and ethical criticism is
effected in a like manner. To limit ourselves to this last, it is only
if we place ourselves ideally in the same conditions in which he who
took a given resolution found himself, that we can form a judgment as to
whether his resolution were moral or immoral. An action would otherwise
remain incomprehensible, and therefore impossible to judge. A homicide
may be a rascal or a hero: if this be, within limits, indifferent as
regards the safety of society, which condemns both to the same
punishment, it is not indifferent to him who wishes to distinguish and
to judge from the moral point of view, and we cannot dispense with
studying again the individual psychology of the homicide, in order to
determine the true nature of his deed, not merely in its judicial, but
also in its moral aspect. In Ethic, a moral taste or tact is sometimes
referred to, which answers to what is generally called moral conscience,
that is to say, to the activity itself of good-will.

    [Sidenote] _Critique of absolutism (intellectualism) and of aesthetic

The explanation above given of aesthetic judgment or reproduction at
once affirms and denies the position of the absolutists and relativists,
of those, that is to say, who affirm and of those who deny the existence
of an absolute taste.

The absolutists, who affirm that they can judge of the beautiful, are
right; but the theory on which they found their affirmation is not
maintainable. They conceive of the beautiful, that is, of aesthetic
value, as of something placed outside the aesthetic activity; as if it
were a model or a concept which an artist realizes in his work, and of
which the critic avails himself afterwards in order to judge the work
itself. Concepts and models alike have no existence in art, for by
proclaiming that every art can be judged only in itself, and has its own
model in itself, they have attained to the denial of the existence of
objective models of beauty, whether they be intellectual concepts, or
ideas suspended in the metaphysical sky.

In proclaiming this, the adversaries, the relativists, are perfectly
right, and accomplish a progress. However, the initial rationality of
their thesis becomes in its turn a false theory. Repeating the old adage
that there is no accounting for tastes, they believe that aesthetic
expression is of the same nature as the pleasant and the unpleasant,
which every one feels in his own way, and as to which there is no
disputing. But we know that the pleasant and the unpleasant are
utilitarian and practical facts. Thus the relativists deny the
peculiarity of the aesthetic fact, again confounding expression with
impression, the theoretic with the practical.

The true solution lies in rejecting alike relativism or psychologism,
and false absolutism; and in recognizing that the criterion of taste is
absolute, but absolute in a different way from that of the intellect,
which is developed by reason. The criterion of taste is absolute, with
the intuitive absoluteness of the imagination. Thus every act of
expressive activity, which is so really, will be recognized as
beautiful, and every fact in which expressive activity and passivity are
found engaged with one another in an unfinished struggle, will be
recognized as ugly.

    [Sidenote] _Critique of relative relativism._

There lies, between absolutists and relativists, a third class, which
may be called that of the relative relativists. These affirm the
existence of absolute values in other fields, such as Logic and Ethic,
but deny their existence in the field of Aesthetic. To them it appears
natural and justifiable to dispute about science and morality; because
science rests on the universal, common to all men, and morality on duty,
which is also a law of human nature; but how, they say, can one dispute
about art, which rests on imagination? Not only, however, is the
imaginative activity universal and belongs to human nature, like the
logical concept and practical duty; but we must oppose a capital
objection to this intermediary thesis. If the absolute nature of the
imagination were denied, we should be obliged to deny also that of
intellectual or conceptual truth, and, implicitly, of morality. Does not
morality presuppose logical distinctions? How could these be known,
otherwise than by expressions and words, that is to say, in imaginative
form? If the absoluteness of the imagination were removed, spiritual
life would tremble to its base. One individual would no longer
understand another, nor indeed his own self of a moment before, which,
when considered a moment after, is already another individual.

    [Sidenote] _Objection founded on the variation of the stimulus and
               on the psychic disposition._

Nevertheless, variety of judgments is an indisputable fact. Men are at
variance in their logical, ethical, and economical appreciations; and
they are equally, or even more at variance in their aesthetic
appreciations. If certain reasons detailed by us, above, such as haste,
prejudices, passions, etc., may be held to lessen the importance of this
disagreement, they do not thereby annul it. We have been cautious, when
speaking of the stimuli of reproduction, for we said that reproduction
takes place, _if all the other conditions remain equal_. Do they remain
equal? Does the hypothesis correspond to reality?

It would appear not. In order to reproduce several times an impression
by employing a suitable physical stimulus, it is necessary that this
stimulus be not changed, and that the organism remain in the same
psychical conditions as those in which was experienced the impression
that it is desired to reproduce. Now it is a fact, that the physical
stimulus is continually changing, and in like manner the psychological

Oil paintings grow dark, frescoes pale, statues lose noses, hands, and
legs, architecture becomes totally or partially a ruin, the tradition of
the execution of a piece of music is lost, the text of a poem is
corrupted by bad copyists or bad printing. These are obvious instances
of the changes which daily occur in objects or physical stimuli. As
regards psychological conditions, we will not dwell upon the cases of
deafness or blindness, that is to say, upon the loss of entire orders of
psychical impressions; these cases are secondary and of less importance
compared with the fundamental, daily, inevitable, and perpetual changes
of the society around us, and of the internal conditions of our
individual life. The phonic manifestations, that is, the words and
verses of the Dantesque _Commedia_, must produce a very different
impression on a citizen engaged in the politics of the third Rome, to
that experienced by a well-informed and intimate contemporary of the
poet. The Madonna of Cimabue is still in the Church of Santa Maria
Novella; but does she speak to the visitor of to-day as she spoke to the
Florentines of the thirteenth century? Even though she were not also
darkened by time, would not the impression be altogether different? And
finally, how can a poem composed in youth make the same impression on
the same individual poet when he re-reads it in his old age, with his
psychic dispositions altogether changed?

    [Sidenote] _Critique of the division of signs into natural and

It is true, that certain aestheticians have attempted a distinction
between stimuli and stimuli, between _natural and conventional_ signs.
They would grant to the former a constant effect on all; to the latter,
only on a limited circle. In their belief, signs employed in painting
are natural, while the words of poetry are conventional. But the
difference between the one and the other is only of degree. It has often
been affirmed that painting is a language which all understand, while
with poetry it is otherwise. Here, for example, Leonardo placed one of
the prerogatives of his art, "which hath not need of interpreters of
different languages as have letters," and in it man and brute find
satisfaction. He relates the anecdote of that portrait of the father of
a family, "which the little grandchildren were wont to caress while they
were still in swaddling-clothes, and the dogs and cats of the house in
like manner." But other anecdotes, such as those of the savages who took
the portrait of a soldier for a boat, or considered the portrait of a
man on horseback as furnished with only one leg, are apt to shake one's
faith in the understanding of painting by sucklings, dogs, and cats.
Fortunately, no arduous researches are necessary to convince oneself
that pictures, poetry, and every work of art, produce no effects save on
souls prepared to receive them. Natural signs do not exist; because they
are all conventional in a like manner, or, to speak with greater
exactitude, all are _historically conditioned_.

    [Sidenote] _The surmounting of variety._

This being so, how are we to succeed in causing the expression to be
reproduced by means of the physical object? How obtain the same effect,
when the conditions are no longer the same? Would it not, rather, seem
necessary to conclude that expressions cannot be reproduced, despite the
physical instruments made by man for the purpose, and that what is
called reproduction consists in ever new expressions? Such would indeed
be the conclusion, if the variety of physical and psychic conditions
were intrinsically unsurmountable. But since the insuperability has none
of the characteristics of necessity, we must, on the contrary, conclude:
that the reproduction always occurs, when we can replace ourselves in
the conditions in which the stimulus (physical beauty) was produced.

Not only can we replace ourselves in these conditions, as an abstract
possibility, but as a matter of fact we do so continually. Individual
life, which is communion with ourselves (with our past), and social
life, which is communion with our like, would not otherwise be possible.

    [Sidenote] _Restorations and historical interpretation._

As regards the physical object, paleographers and philologists, who
_restore_ to texts their original physiognomy, _restorers_ of pictures
and of statues, and similar categories of workers, exert themselves to
preserve or to give back to the physical object all its primitive
energy. These efforts certainly do not always succeed, or are not
completely successful, for never, or hardly ever, is it possible to
obtain a restoration complete in its smallest details. But the
unsurmountable is only accidentally present, and cannot cause us to fail
to recognize the favourable results which are nevertheless obtained.

_Historical interpretation_ likewise labours to reintegrate in us
historical conditions which have been altered in the course of history.
It revives the dead, completes the fragmentary, and affords us the
opportunity of seeing a work of art (a physical object) as its author
saw it, at the moment of production.

A condition of this historical labour is tradition, with the help of
which it is possible to collect the scattered rays and cause them to
converge on one centre. With the help of memory, we surround the
physical stimulus with all the facts among which it arose; and thus we
make it possible for it to react upon us, as it acted upon him who
produced it.

When the tradition is broken, interpretation is arrested; in this case,
the products of the past remain _silent_ for us. Thus the expressions
contained in the Etruscan or Messapian inscriptions are unattainable;
thus we still hear discussions among ethnographers as to certain
products of the art of savages, whether they be pictures or writings;
thus archaeologists and prehistorians are not always able to establish
with certainty, whether the figures found on the ceramic of a certain
region, and on other instruments employed, be of a religious or of a
profane nature. But the arrest of interpretation, as that of
restoration, is never a definitely unsurmountable barrier; and the daily
discoveries of historical sources and of new methods of better
exploiting antiquity, which we may hope to see ever improving, link up
broken tradition.

We do not wish to deny that erroneous historical interpretation produces
at times what we may term _palimpsests_, new expressions imposed upon
the antique, artistic imaginings instead of historical reproductions.
The so-called fascination of the past depends in part upon these
expressions of ours, which we weave into historical expressions. Thus in
hellenic plastic art has been discovered the calm and serene intuition
of life of those peoples, who feel, nevertheless, so poignantly, the
universality of sorrow; thus has recently been discerned on the faces of
the Byzantine saints "the terror of the millennium," a terror which is
an equivoke, or an artificial legend invented by modern scholars. But
_historical criticism_ tends precisely to circumscribe _vain imaginings_
and to establish with exactitude the point of view from which we must

Thus we live in communication with other men of the present and of the
past; and we must not conclude, because sometimes, and indeed often, we
find ourselves face to face with the unknown or the badly known, that
when we believe we are engaged in a dialogue, we are always speaking a
monologue; nor that we are unable even to repeat the monologue which, in
the past, we held with ourselves.



    [Sidenote] _Historical criticism in literature and art. Its

This brief exposition of the method by which is obtained reintegration
of the original conditions in which the work of art was produced, and by
which reproduction and judgment are made possible, shows how important
is the function fulfilled by historical research concerning artistic and
literary works; that is to say, by what is usually called _historical
criticism_, or method, in literature and art.

Without tradition and historical criticism, the enjoyment of all or
nearly all works of art produced by humanity, would be irrevocably lost:
we should be little more than animals, immersed in the present alone, or
in the most recent past. Only fools despise and laugh at him who
reconstitutes an authentic text, explains the sense of words and
customs, investigates the conditions in which an artist lived, and
accomplishes all those labours which revive the qualities and the
original colouring of works of art.

Sometimes the depreciatory or negative judgment refers to the presumed
or proved uselessness of many researches, made to recover the correct
meaning of artistic works. But, it must be observed, in the first place,
that historical research does not only fulfil the task of helping to
reproduce and judge artistic works: the biography of a writer or of an
artist, for example, and the study of the costume of a period, also
possess their own interest, foreign to the history of art, but not
foreign to other forms of history. If allusion be made to those
researches which do not appear to have interest of any kind, nor to
fulfil any purpose, it must be replied that the historical student must
often reconcile himself to the useful, but little glorious, office of a
cataloguer of facts. These facts remain for the time being formless,
incoherent, and insignificant, but they are preserves, or mines, for the
historian of the future and for whomsoever may afterwards want them for
any purpose. In the same way, books which nobody asks for are placed on
the shelves and are noted in the catalogues, because they may be asked
for at some time or other. Certainly, in the same way that an
intelligent librarian gives the preference to the acquisition and to the
cataloguing of those books which he foresees may be of more or better
service, so do intelligent students possess the instinct as to what is
or may more probably be useful from among the mass of facts which they
are investigating. Others, on the other hand, less well-endowed, less
intelligent, or more hasty in producing, accumulate useless selections,
rejections and erasures, and lose themselves in refinements and gossipy
discussions. But this appertains to the economy of research, and is not
our affair. At the most, it is the affair of the master who selects the
subjects, of the publisher who pays for the printing, and of the critic
who is called upon to praise or to blame the students for their

On the other hand, it is evident, that historical research, directed to
illuminate a work of art by placing us in a position to judge it, does
not alone suffice to bring it to birth in our spirit: taste, and an
imagination trained and awakened, are likewise presupposed. The greatest
historical erudition may accompany a taste in part gross or defective, a
lumbering imagination, or, as it is generally phrased, a cold, hard
heart, closed to art. Which is the lesser evil?--great erudition and
defective taste, or natural good taste and great ignorance? The question
has often been asked, and perhaps it will be best to deny its
possibility, because one cannot tell which of two evils is the less, or
what exactly that means. The merely learned man never succeeds in
entering into communication with the great spirits, and keeps wandering
for ever about the outer courts, the staircases, and the antechambers of
their palaces; but the gifted ignoramus either passes by masterpieces
which are to him inaccessible, or instead of understanding the works of
art, as they really are, he invents others, with his imagination. Now,
the labour of the former may at least serve to enlighten others; but the
ingenuity of the latter remains altogether sterile. How, then, can we
fail to prefer the conscientious learned man to the inconclusive man of
talent, who is not really talented, if he resign himself, and in so far
as he resigns himself, to come to no conclusion?

    [Sidenote] _Literary and artistic history. Its distinction from
               historical criticism and from artistic judgement._

It is necessary to distinguish accurately _the history, of art and
literature_ from those historical labours which make use of works of
art, but for extraneous purposes (such as biography, civil, religious,
and political history, etc.), and also from historical erudition, whose
object is preparation for the Aesthetic synthesis of reproduction.

The difference between the first of these is obvious. The history of art
and literature has the works of art themselves for principal subject;
the other branches of study call upon and interrogate works of art, but
only as witnesses, from which to discover the truth of facts which are
not aesthetic. The second difference to which we have referred may seem
less profound. However, it is very great. Erudition devoted to rendering
clear again the understanding of works of art, aims simply at making
appear a certain internal fact, an aesthetic reproduction. Artistic and
literary history, on the other hand, does not appear until such
reproduction has been obtained. It demands, therefore, further labour.
Like all other history, its object is to record precisely such facts as
have really taken place, that is, artistic and literary facts. A man
who, after having acquired the requisite historical erudition,
reproduces in himself and tastes a work of art, may remain simply a man
of taste, or express at the most his own feeling, with an exclamation of
beautiful or ugly. This does not suffice for the making of a historian
of literature and art. There is further need that the simple act of
reproduction be followed in him by a second internal operation. What is
this new operation? It is, in its turn, an expression: the expression of
the reproduction; the historical description, exposition, or
representation. There is this difference, then, between the man of taste
and the historian: the first merely reproduces in his spirit the work of
art; the second, after having reproduced it, represents it historically,
thus applying to it those categories by which, as we know, history is
differentiated from pure art. Artistic and literary history is,
therefore, _a historical work of art founded upon one or more works of

The denomination of artistic or literary critic is used in various
senses: sometimes it is applied to the student who devotes his services
to literature; sometimes to the historian who reveals the works of art
of the past in their reality; more often to both. By critic is sometimes
understood, in a more restricted sense, he who judges and describes
contemporary literary works; and by historian, he who is occupied with
less recent works. These are but linguistic usages and empirical
distinctions, which may be neglected; because the true difference lies
_between the learned man, the man of taste, and the historian of art_.
These words designate, as it were, three successive stages of work, of
which each is relatively independent of the one that follows, but not of
that which precedes. As we have seen, a man may be simply learned, yet
possess little capacity for understanding works of art; he may indeed be
both learned and possess taste, yet be unable to write a page of
artistic and literary history. But the true and complete historian,
while containing in himself, as necessary pre-requisites, both the
learned man and the man of taste, must add to their qualities the gift
of historical comprehension and representation.

    [Sidenote] _The method of artistic and literary history._

The method of artistic and literary history presents problems and
difficulties, some common to all historical method, others peculiar to
it, because they derive from the concept of art itself.

    [Sidenote] _Critique of the problem of the origin of art._

History is wont to be divided into the history of man, the history or
nature, and the mixed history of both the preceding. Without examining
here the question of the solidity of this division, it is clear that
artistic and literary history belongs in any case to the first, since it
concerns a spiritual activity, that is to say, an activity proper to
man. And since this activity is its subject, the absurdity of
propounding the historical _problem of the origin of art_ becomes at
once evident. We should note that by this formula many different things
have in turn been included on many different occasions. _Origin_ has
often meant _nature_ or _disposition_ of the artistic fact, and here was
a real scientific or philosophic problem, the very problem, in fact,
which our treatise has tried to solve. At other times, by origin has
been understood the ideal genesis, the search for the reason of art, the
deduction of the artistic fact from a first principle containing in
itself both spirit and nature. This is also a philosophical problem, and
it is complementary to the preceding, indeed it coincides with it,
though it has sometimes been strangely interpreted and solved by means
of an arbitrary and semi-fantastic metaphysic. But when it has been
sought to discover further exactly in what way the artistic function was
_historically formed_, this has resulted in the absurdity to which we
have referred. If expression be the first form of consciousness, how can
the historical origin be sought of what is _presupposed_ not to be a
product of nature and of human history? How can we find the historical
genesis of that which is a category, by means of which every historical
genesis and fact are understood? The absurdity has arisen from the
comparison with human institutions, which have, in fact, been formed in
the course of history, and which have disappeared or may disappear in
its course. There exists between the aesthetic fact and a human
institution (such as monogamic marriage or the fief) a difference to
some extent comparable with that between simple and compound bodies in
chemistry. It is impossible to indicate the formation of the former,
otherwise they would not be simple, and if this be discovered, they
cease to be simple and become compound.

The problem of the origin of art, historically understood, is only
justified when it is proposed to seek, not for the formation of the
function, but where and when art has appeared for the first time
(appeared, that is to say, in a striking manner), at what point or in
what region of the globe, and at what point or epoch of its history;
when, that is to say, not the origin of art, but its most antique or
primitive history, is the object of research. This problem forms one
with that of the appearance of human civilization on the earth. Data for
its solution are certainly wanting, but there yet remains the abstract
possibility, and certainly attempts and hypotheses for its solution

    [Sidenote] _History and the criterion of progress._

Every form of human history has the concept of _progress_ for
foundation. But by progress must not be understood the imaginary and
metaphysical _law of progress_, which should lead the generations of man
with irresistible force to some unknown destiny, according to a
providential plan which we can logically divine and understand. A
supposed law of this sort is the negation of history itself, of that
accidentality, that empiricity, that contingency, which distinguish the
concrete fact from the abstraction. And for the same reason, progress
has nothing to do with the so-called _law of evolution_. If evolution
mean the concrete fact of reality which evolves (that is, which is
reality), it is not a law. If, on the other hand, it be a law, it
becomes confounded with the law of progress in the sense just described.
The progress of which we speak here, is nothing but the _concept of
human activity itself_, which, working upon the material supplied to it
by nature, conquers obstacles and bends nature to its own ends.

Such conception of progress, that is to say, of human activity applied
to a given material, is the _point of view_ of the historian of
humanity. No one but a mere collector of stray facts, a simple seeker,
or an incoherent chronicler, can put together the smallest narrative of
human deeds, unless he have a definite point of view, that is to say, an
intimate personal conviction regarding the conception of the facts which
he has undertaken to relate. The historical work of art cannot be
achieved among the confused and discordant mass of crude facts, save by
means of this point of view, which makes it possible to carve a definite
figure from that rough and incoherent mass. The historian of a practical
action should know what is economy and what morality; the historian of
mathematics, what are mathematics; the historian of botany, what is
botany; the historian of philosophy, what is philosophy. But if he do
not really know these things, he must at least have the illusion of
knowing them; otherwise he will never be able to delude himself that he
is writing history.

We cannot delay here to demonstrate the necessity and the inevitability
of this subjective criterion in every narrative of human affairs. We
will merely say that this criterion is compatible with the utmost
objectivity, impartiality, and scrupulosity in dealing with data, and
indeed forms a constitutive element of such subjective criterion. It
suffices to read any book of history to discover at once the point of
view of the author, if he be a historian worthy of the name and know his
own business. There exist liberal and reactionary, rationalist and
catholic historians, who deal with political or social history; for the
history of philosophy there are metaphysical, empirical, sceptical,
idealist, and spiritualist historians. Absolutely historical historians
do not and cannot exist. Can it be said that Thucydides and Polybius,
Livy and Tacitus, Machiavelli and Guicciardini, Giannone and Voltaire,
were without moral and political views; and, in our time, Guizot or
Thiers, Macaulay or Balbo, Ranke or Mommsen? And in the history of
philosophy, from Hegel, who was the first to raise it to a great
elevation, to Ritter, Zeller, Cousin, Lewes, and our Spaventa, was there
one who did not possess his conception of progress and criterion of
judgment? Is there one single work of any value in the history of
Aesthetic, which has not been written from this or that point of view,
with this or that bias (Hegelian or Herbartian), from a sensualist or
from an eclectic point of view, and so on? If the historian is to escape
from the inevitable necessity of taking a side, he must become a
political and scientific eunuch; and history is not the business of
eunuchs. They would at most be of use in compiling those great tomes of
not useless erudition, _elumbis atque fracta_, which are called, not
without reason, monkish.

If, then, the concept of progress, the point of view, the criterion, be
inevitable, the best to be done is not to try and escape from them, but
to obtain the best possible. Everyone strives for this end, when he
forms his own convictions, seriously and laboriously. Historians who
profess to wish to interrogate the facts, without adding anything of
their own to them, are not to be believed. This, at the most, is the
result of ingenuousness and illusion on their part: they will always add
what they have of personal, if they be truly historians, though it be
without knowing it, or they will believe that they have escaped doing
so, only because they have referred to it by innuendo, which is the most
insinuating and penetrative of methods.

    [Sidenote] _Non-existence of a unique line of progress in artistic
               and literary history._

Artistic and literary history cannot dispense with the criterion of
progress any more easily than other history. We cannot show what a given
work of art is, save by proceeding from a conception of art, in order to
fix the artistic problem which the author of such work of art had to
solve, and by determining whether or no he have solved it, or by how
much and in what way he has failed to do so. But it is important to note
that the criterion of progress assumes a different form in artistic and
literary history to that which it assumes (or is believed to assume) in
the history of science.

The whole history of knowledge can be represented by one single line of
progress and regress. Science is the universal, and its problems are
arranged in one single vast system, or complex problem. All thinkers
weary themselves over the same problem as to the nature of reality and
of knowledge: contemplative Indians and Greek philosophers, Christians
and Mohammedans, bare heads and heads with turbans, wigged heads and
heads with the black berretta (as Heine said); and future generations
will weary themselves with it, as ours has done. It would take too long
to inquire here if this be true or not of science. But it is certainly
not true of art; art is intuition, and intuition is individuality, and
individuality is never repeated. To conceive of the history of the
artistic production of the human race as developed along a single line
of progress and regress, would therefore be altogether erroneous.

At the most, and working to some extent with generalizations and
abstractions, it may be admitted that the history of aesthetic products
shows progressive cycles, but each cycle has its own problem, and is
progressive only in respect to that problem. When many are at work on
the same subject, without succeeding in giving to it the suitable form,
yet drawing always more nearly to it, there is said to be progress. When
he who gives to it definite form appears, the cycle is said to be
complete, progress ended. A typical example of this would be the
progress in the elaboration of the mode of using the subject-matter of
chivalry, during the Italian Renaissance, from Pulci to Ariosto. (If
this instance be made use of, excessive simplification of it must be
excused.) Nothing but repetition and imitation could be the result of
employing that same material after Ariosto. The result was repetition or
imitation, diminution or exaggeration, a spoiling of what had already
been achieved; in sum, decadence. The Ariostesque epigoni prove this.
Progress begins with the commencement of a new cycle. Cervantes, with
his more open and conscious irony, is an instance of this. In what did
the general decadence of Italian literature at the end of the sixteenth
century consist? Simply in having nothing more to say, and in repeating
and exaggerating motives already found. If the Italians of this period
had even been able to express their own decadence, they would not have
been altogether failures, but have anticipated the literary movement of
the Renaissance. Where the subject-matter is not the same, a progressive
cycle does not exist. Shakespeare does not represent a progress as
regards Dante, nor Goethe as regards Shakespeare. Dante, however,
represents a progress in respect to the visionaries of the Middle Ages,
Shakespeare to the Elizabethan dramatists, Goethe, with _Werther_ and
the first part of _Faust_, in respect to the writers of the _Sturm und
Drang_. This mode of presenting the history of poetry and art contains,
however, as we have remarked, something of abstract, of merely
practical, and is without rigorous philosophical value. Not only is the
art of savages not inferior, as art, to that of civilized peoples,
provided it be correlative to the impressions of the savage; but every
individual, indeed every moment of the spiritual life of an individual,
has its artistic world; and all those worlds are, artistically,
incomparable with one another.

    [Sidenote] _Errors committed in respect to this law._

Many have sinned and continue to sin against this special form of the
criterion of progress in artistic and literary history. Some, for
instance, talk of the infancy of Italian art in Giotto, and of its
maturity in Raphael or in Titian; as though Giotto were not quite
perfect and complete, in respect to his psychic material. He was
certainly incapable of drawing a figure like Raphael, or of colouring it
like Titian; but was Raphael or Titian by any chance capable of creating
the _Matrimonio di San Francesco con la Povertà_, or the _Morte di San
Francesco_? The spirit of Giotto had not felt the attraction of the body
beautiful, which the Renaissance studied and raised to a place of
honour; but the spirits of Raphael and of Titian were no longer curious
of certain movements of ardour and of tenderness, which attracted the
man of the fourteenth century. How, then, can a comparison be made,
where there is no comparative term?

The celebrated divisions of the history of art suffer from the same
defect. They are as follows: an oriental period, representing a
disequilibrium between idea and form, with prevalence of the second; a
classical, representing an equilibrium between idea and form; a
romantic, representing a new disequilibrium between idea and form, with
prevalence of the idea. There are also the divisions into oriental art,
representing imperfection of form; classical, perfection of form;
romantic or modern, perfection of content and of form. Thus classic and
romantic have also received, among their many other meanings, that of
progressive or regressive periods, in respect to the realization of some
indefinite artistic ideal of humanity.

    [Sidenote] _Other meanings of the word "progress" in respect to

There is no such thing, then, as an _aesthetic_ progress of humanity.
However, by aesthetic progress is sometimes meant, not what the two
words coupled together really signify, but the ever-increasing
accumulation of our historical knowledge, which makes us able to
sympathize with all the artistic products of all peoples and of all
times, or, as is said, to make our taste more catholic. The difference
appears very great, if the eighteenth century, so incapable of escaping
from itself, be compared with our own time, which enjoys alike Hellenic
and Roman art, now better understood, Byzantine, mediaeval, Arabic, and
Renaissance art, the art of the Cinque Cento, baroque art, and the art
of the seventeenth century. Egyptian, Babylonian, Etruscan, and even
prehistoric art, are more profoundly studied every day. Certainly, the
difference between the savage and civilized man does not lie in the
human faculties. The savage has speech, intellect, religion, and
morality, in common with civilized man, and he is a complete man. The
only difference lies in that civilized man penetrates and dominates a
larger portion of the universe with his theoretic and practical
activity. We cannot claim to be more spiritually alert than, for
example, the contemporaries of Pericles; but no one can deny that we are
richer than they--rich with their riches and with those of how many
other peoples and generations besides our own?

By aesthetic progress is also meant, in another sense, which is also
improper, the greater abundance of artistic intuitions and the smaller
number of imperfect or decadent works which one epoch produces in
respect to another. Thus it may be said that there was aesthetic
progress, an artistic awakening, at the end of the thirteenth or of the
fifteenth centuries.

Finally, aesthetic progress is talked of, with an eye to the refinement
and to the psychical complications exhibited in the works of art of the
most civilized peoples, as compared with those of less civilized
peoples, barbarians and savages. But in this case, the progress is that
of the complex conditions of society, not of the artistic activity, to
which the material is indifferent.

These are the most important points concerning the method of artistic
and literary history.




    [Sidenote] _Summary of the inquiry._

A glance over the path traversed will show that we have completed the
entire programme of our treatise. We have studied the nature of
intuitive or expressive knowledge, which is the aesthetic or artistic
fact (I. and II.), and we have described the other form of knowledge,
namely, the intellectual, with the secondary complications of its forms
(III.). Having done this, it became possible to criticize all erroneous
theories of art, which arise from the confusion between the various
forms, and from the undue transference of the characteristics of one
form to those of another (IV.), and in so doing to indicate the inverse
errors which are found in the theory of intellectual knowledge and of
historiography (V.). Passing on to examine the relations between the
aesthetic activity and the other spiritual activities, no longer
theoretic but practical, we have indicated the true character of the
practical activity and the place which it occupies in respect to the
theoretic activity, which it follows: hence the critique of the invasion
of aesthetic theory by practical concepts (VI.). We have also
distinguished the two forms of the practical activity, as economic and
ethic (VII.), adding to this the statement that there are no other forms
of the spirit beyond the four which we have analyzed; hence (VIII.) the
critique of every metaphysical Aesthetic. And, seeing that there exist
no other spiritual forms of equal degree, therefore there are no
original subdivisions of the four established, and in particular of
Aesthetic. From this arises the impossibility of classes of expressions
and the critique of Rhetoric, that is, of the partition of expressions
into simple and ornate, and of their subclasses (IX.). But, by the law
of the unity of the spirit, the aesthetic fact is also a practical fact,
and as such, occasions pleasure and pain. This led us to study the
feelings of value in general, and those of aesthetic value, or of the
beautiful, in particular (X.), to criticize aesthetic hedonism in all
its various manifestations and complications (XI.), and to expel from
the system of Aesthetic the long series of pseudo-aesthetic concepts,
which had been introduced into it (XII.). Proceeding from aesthetic
production to the facts of reproduction, we began by investigating the
mode of fixing externally the aesthetic expression, with the view of
reproduction. This is the so-called physically beautiful, whether it be
natural or artificial (XIII.). We then derived from this distinction the
critique of the errors which arise from confounding the physical with
the aesthetic side of things (XIV.). We indicated the meaning of
artistic technique, that which is the technique serving for
reproduction, thus criticizing the divisions, limits, and
classifications of the individual arts, and establishing the connections
between art, economy, and morality (XV.). Because the existence of the
physical objects does not suffice to stimulate to the full aesthetic
reproduction, and because, in order to obtain this result, it is
necessary to recall the conditions in which the stimulus first operated,
we have also studied the function of historical erudition, directed
toward the end of re-establishing our communication with the works of
the past, and toward the creation of a base for aesthetic judgment
(XVI.). We have closed our treatise by showing how the reproduction thus
obtained is afterwards elaborated by the intellectual categories, that
is to say, by an excursus on the method of literary and artistic history

The aesthetic fact has thus been considered both in itself and in its
relations with the other spiritual activities, with the feelings of
pleasure and of pain, with the facts that are called physical, with
memory, and with historical elaboration. It has passed from the position
of _subject_ to that of _object_, that is to say, from the moment of
_its birth_, until gradually it becomes changed for the spirit into
_historical argument_.

Our treatise may appear to be somewhat meagre, when compared with the
great volumes usually consecrated to Aesthetic. But it will not seem so,
when it is observed that these volumes, as regards nine-tenths of their
contents, are full of matter which does not appertain to Aesthetic, such
as definitions, either psychical or metaphysical, of pseudo-aesthetic
concepts (of the sublime, the comic, the tragic, the humorous, etc.), or
of the exposition of the supposed Zoology, Botany, and Mineralogy of
Aesthetic, and of universal history judged from the aesthetic
standpoint. The whole history of concrete art and literature has also
been dragged into those Aesthetics and generally mangled; they contain
judgments upon Homer and Dante, upon Ariosto and Shakespeare, upon
Beethoven and Rossini, Michelangelo and Raphael. When all this has been
deducted from them, our treatise will no longer be held to be too
meagre, but, on the contrary, far more copious than ordinary treatises,
for these either omit altogether, or hardly touch at all, the greater
part of the difficult problems proper to Aesthetic, which we have felt
it to be our duty to study.

    [Sidenote] _Identity of Linguistic and Aesthetic._

Aesthetic, then, as the science of expression, has been here studied by
us from every point of view. But there yet remains to justify the
sub-title, which we have joined to the title of our book, _General
Linguistic_, and to state and make clear the thesis that the science of
art is that of language. Aesthetic and Linguistic, in so far as they are
true sciences, are not two different sciences, but one single science.
Not that there is a special Linguistic; but the linguistic science
sought for, general Linguistic, _in so far as what it contains is
reducible to philosophy_, is nothing but Aesthetic. Whoever studies
general Linguistic, that is to say, philosophical Linguistic, studies
aesthetic problems, and _vice versa_. _Philosophy of language and
philosophy of art are the same thing_.

Were Linguistic a _different_ science from Aesthetic, it should not have
expression, which is the essentially aesthetic fact, for its object.
This amounts to saying that it must be denied that language is
expression. But an emission of sounds, which expresses nothing, is not
language. Language is articulate, limited, organized sound, employed in
expression. If, on the other hand, language were a _special_ science in
respect to Aesthetic, it would necessarily have for its object a
_special class_ of expressions. But the inexistence of classes of
expression is a point which we have already demonstrated.

    [Sidenote] _Aesthetic formulization of linguistic problems. Nature
               of language._

The problems which Linguistic serves to solve, and the errors with which
Linguistic strives and has striven, are the same that occupy and
complicate Aesthetic. If it be not always easy, it is, on the other
hand, always possible, to reduce the philosophic questions of Linguistic
to their aesthetic formula.

The disputes as to the nature of the one find their parallel in those as
to the nature of the other. Thus it has been disputed, whether
Linguistic be a scientific or a historical discipline, and the
scientific having been distinguished from the historical, it has been
asked whether it belong to the order of the natural or of the
psychological sciences, by the latter being understood empirical
Psychology, as much as the science of the spirit. The same has happened
with Aesthetic, which some have looked upon as a natural science,
confounding aesthetic expression with physical expression. Others have
looked upon it as a psychological science, confounding expression in its
universality, with the empirical classification of expressions. Others
again, denying the very possibility of a science of such a subject, have
looked upon it as a collection of historical facts. Finally, it has been
realized that it belongs to the sciences of activity or of values, which
are the spiritual sciences.

Linguistic expression, or speech, has often seemed to be a fact of
_interjection_, which belongs to the so-called physical expressions of
the feelings, common alike to men and animals. But it was soon admitted
that an abyss yawns between the "Ah!" which is a physical reflex of
pain, and a word; as also between that "Ah!" of pain and the "Ah!"
employed as a word. The theory of the interjection being abandoned
(jocosely termed the "Ah! Ah!" theory by German linguists), the theory
of _association or convention_ appeared. This theory was refuted by the
same objection which destroyed aesthetic associationism in general:
speech is unity, not multiplicity of images, and multiplicity does not
explain, but presupposes the existence of the expression to explain. A
variant of linguistic associationism is the imitative, that is to say,
the theory of the onomatopoeia, which the same philologists deride under
the name of the "bow-wow" theory, after the imitation of the dog's bark,
which, according to the onomatopoeists, gives its name to the dog.

The most usual theory of our times as regards language (apart from mere
crass naturalism) consists of a sort of eclecticism or mixture of the
various theories to which we have referred. It is assumed that language
is in part the product of interjections and in part of onomatopes and
conventions. This doctrine is altogether worthy of the scientific and
philosophic decadence of the second half of the nineteenth century.

    [Sidenote] _Origin of language and its development._

We must here note a mistake into which have fallen those very
philologists who have best penetrated the active nature of language.
These, although they admit that language was _originally a spiritual
creation_, yet maintain that it was largely increased later by
_association_. But the distinction does not prevail, for origin in this
case cannot mean anything but nature or essence. If, therefore, language
be a spiritual creation, it will always be a creation; if it be
association, it will have been so from the beginning. The mistake has
arisen from not having grasped the general principle of Aesthetic, which
we have noted: namely, that expressions already produced must redescend
to the rank of impressions before they can give rise to new impressions.
When we utter new words, we generally transform the old ones, varying or
enlarging their meaning; but this process is not associative. It is
creative, although the creation has for material the impressions, not of
the hypothetical primitive man, but of man who has lived long ages in
society, and who has, so to say, stored so many things in his psychic
organism, and among them so much language.

    [Sidenote] _Relation between Grammar and Logic._

The question of the distinction between the aesthetic and the
intellectual fact has appeared in Linguistic as that of the relations
between Grammar and Logic. This question has found two solutions, which
are partially true: that of the indissolubility of Logic and Grammar,
and that of their dissolubility. The complete solution is this: if the
logical form be indissoluble from the grammatical (aesthetic), the
grammatical is dissoluble from the logical.

    [Sidenote] _Grammatical classes or parts of speech._

If we look at a picture which, for example, portrays a man walking on a
country road, we can say: "This picture represents a fact of movement,
which, if conceived as volitional, is called _action_. And because every
movement implies _matter_, and every action a being that acts, this
picture also represents either _matter_ or a _being_. But this movement
takes place in a definite place, which is a part of a given _star_ (the
Earth), and precisely in that part of it which is called _terra-firma_,
and more properly in a part of it that is wooded and covered with grass,
which is called _country_, cut naturally or artificially, in a manner
which is called _road_. Now, there is only one example of that given
star, which is called Earth: Earth is an _individual_. But
_terra-firma_, _country_, _road_, are _classes or universals_, because
there are other terra-firmas, other countries, other roads." And it
would be possible to continue for a while with similar considerations.
By substituting a phrase for the picture that we have imagined, for
example, one to this effect, "Peter is walking on a country road," and
by making the same remarks, we obtain the concepts of _verb_ (motion or
action), of _noun_ (matter or agent), of _proper noun_, of _common
nouns_; and so on.

What have we done in both cases? Neither more nor less than to submit to
logical elaboration what was first elaborated only aesthetically; that
is to say, we have destroyed the aesthetical by the logical. But, as in
general Aesthetic, error begins when It is wished to return from the
logical to the aesthetical, and it is asked what is the expression of
movement, action, matter, being, of the general, of the individual,
etc.; thus in like manner with language, error begins when motion or
action are called verb, being, or matter, noun or substantive, and when
linguistic categories, or _parts of speech_, are made of all these, noun
and verb and so on. The theory of parts of speech is at bottom
altogether the same as that of artistic and literary classes, already
criticized in the Aesthetic.

It is false to say that the verb or the noun is expressed in definite
words, truly distinguishable from others. Expression is an indivisible
whole. Noun and verb do not exist in themselves, but are abstractions
made by our destroying the sole linguistic reality, which is _the
proposition_. This last is to be understood, not in the usual mode of
grammarians, but as an organism expressive of a complete meaning, from
an exclamation to a poem. This sounds paradoxical, but is nevertheless a
most simple truth.

And as in Aesthetic, the artistic productions of certain peoples have
been looked upon as imperfect, owing to the error above mentioned,
because the supposed kinds have seemed still to be indiscriminate or
absent with them; so, in Linguistic, the theory of the parts of speech
has caused the analogous error of dividing languages into formed and
unformed, according to whether there appear in them or not some of those
supposed parts of speech; for example, the verb.

    [Sidenote] _The individuality of speech and the classification of

Linguistic also discovered the irreducible individuality of the
aesthetic fact, when it affirmed that the word is what is really spoken,
and that two truly identical words do not exist. Thus were synonyms and
homonyms destroyed, and thus was shown the impossibility of really
translating one word into another, from so-called dialect into so-called
language, and from a so-called mother-tongue into a so-called foreign

But the attempt to classify languages agrees ill with this correct view.
Languages have no reality beyond the propositions and complexes of
propositions really written and pronounced by given peoples for definite
periods. That is to say, they have no existence outside the works of
art, in which they exist concretely. What is the art of a given people
but the complex of all its artistic products? What is the character of
an art (say, Hellenic art or Provençal literature), but the complex
physiognomy of those products? And how can such a question be answered,
save by giving the history of their art (of their literature, that is to
say, of their language in action)?

It will seem that this argument, although possessing value as against
many of the wonted classifications of languages, yet is without any as
regards that queen of classifications, the historico-genealogical, that
glory of comparative philology. And this is certainly true. But why?
Precisely because the historico-genealogical method is not a
classification. He who writes history does not classify, and the
philologists themselves have hastened to say that the languages which
can be arranged in a historical series (those whose series have been
traced) are, not distinct and definite species, but a complex of facts
in the various phases of its development.

    [Sidenote] _Impossibility of a normative grammar._

Language has sometimes been looked upon as an act of volition or of
choice. But others have discovered the impossibility of creating
language artificially, by an act of will. _Tu, Caesar, civitatem dare
potes homini, verbo non poles!_ was once said to the Roman Emperor.

The aesthetic (and therefore theoretic) nature of expression supplies
the method of correcting the scientific error which lies in the
conception of a (normative) _Grammar_, containing the rules of speaking
well. Good sense has always rebelled against this error. An example of
such rebellion is the "So much the worse for grammar" of Voltaire. But
the impossibility of a normative grammar is also recognized by those who
teach it, when they confess that to write well cannot be learned by
rules, that there are no rules without exceptions, and that the study of
Grammar should be conducted practically, by reading and by examples,
which form the literary taste. The scientific reason of this
impossibility lies in what we have already proved: that a technique of
the theoretical amounts to a contradiction in terms. And what could a
(normative) grammar be, but just a technique of linguistic expression,
that is to say, of a theoretic fact?

    [Sidenote] _Didactic purposes._

The case in which Grammar is understood merely as an empirical
discipline, that is to say, as a collection of groups useful for
learning languages, without any claim whatever to philosophic truth, is
quite different. Even the abstractions of the parts of speech are in
this case both admissible and of assistance.

Many books entitled treatises of Linguistic have a merely didactic
purpose; they are simply scholastic manuals. We find in them, in truth,
a little of everything, from the description of the vocal apparatus and
of the artificial machines (phonographs) which can imitate it, to
summaries of the most important results obtained by Indo-European,
Semitic, Coptic, Chinese, or other philologies; from philosophic
generalizations on the origin or nature of language, to advice on
calligraphy, and the arrangement of schedules for philological spoils.
But this mass of notions, which is here taught in a fragmentary and
incomplete manner as regards the language in its essence, the language
as expression, resolves itself into notions of Aesthetic. Nothing exists
outside _Aesthetic_, which gives knowledge of the nature of language,
and _empirical Grammar_, which is a pedagogic expedient, save the
_History of languages_ in their living reality, that is, the history of
concrete literary productions, which is substantially identical with the
_History of literature_.

    [Sidenote] _Elementary linguistic facts or roots._

The same mistake of confusing the physical with the aesthetic, from
which the elementary forms of the beautiful originate, is made by those
who seek for elementary aesthetic facts, decorating with that name the
divisions of the longer series of physical sounds into shorter series.
Syllables, vowels, and consonants, and the series of syllables called
words which give no definite sense when taken alone, are not facts of
language, but simple physical concepts of sounds.

Another mistake of the same sort is that of roots, to which the most
able philologists now accord but a very limited value. Having confused
physical with linguistic or expressive facts, and observing that, in the
order of ideas, the simple precedes the complex, they necessarily ended
by thinking that _the smaller_ physical facts were _the more simple_.
Hence the imaginary necessity that the most antique, primitive
languages, had been monosyllabic, and that the progress of historical
research must lead to the discovery of monosyllabic roots. But (to
follow up the imaginary hypothesis) the first expression that the first
man conceived may also have had a mimetic, not a phonic reflex: it may
have been exteriorised, not in a sound but in a gesture. And assuming
that it was exteriorised in a sound, there is no reason to suppose that
sound to have been monosyllabic rather than plurisyllabic. Philologists
frequently blame their own ignorance and impotence, if they do not
always succeed in reducing plurisyllabism to monosyllabism, and they
trust in the future. But their faith is without foundation, as their
blame of themselves is an act of humility arising from an erroneous

Furthermore, the limits of syllables, as those of words, are altogether
arbitrary, and distinguished, as well as may be, by empirical use.
Primitive speech, or the speech of the uncultured man, is _continuous_,
unaccompanied by any reflex consciousness of the divisions of the word
and of the syllables, which are taught at school. No true law of
Linguistic can be founded on such divisions. Proof of this is to be
found in the confession of linguists, that there are no truly phonetic
laws of the hiatus, of cacophony, of diaeresis, of synaeresis, but
merely laws of taste and convenience; that is to say, _aesthetic_ laws.
And what are the laws of _words_ which are not at the same time laws of

    [Sidenote] _Aesthetic judgment and the model language._

The search for a _model language_, or for a method of reducing
linguistic usage to _unity_, arises from the misconception of a
rationalistic measurement of the beautiful, from the concept which we
have termed that of false aesthetic absoluteness. In Italy, we call this
question that of the _unity of the language_.

Language is perpetual creation. What has been linguistically expressed
cannot be repeated, save by the reproduction of what has already been
produced. The ever-new impressions give rise to continuous changes of
sounds and of meanings, that is, to ever-new expressions. To seek the
model language, then, is to seek the immobility of motion. Every one
speaks, and should speak, according to the echoes which things arouse in
his soul, that is, according to his impressions. It is not without
reason that the most convinced supporter of any one of the solutions of
the problem of the unity of language (be it by the use of Latin, of
fourteenth-century Italian, or of Florentine) feels a repugnance in
applying his theory, when he is speaking in order to communicate his
thoughts and to make himself understood. The reason for this is that he
feels that were he to substitute Latin, fourteenth-century Italian, or
Florentine speech for that of a different origin, but which answers to
his impressions, he would be falsifying the latter. He would become a
vain listener to himself, instead of a speaker, a pedant in place of a
serious man, a histrion instead of a sincere person. To write according
to a theory is not really to write: at the most, it is _making

The question of the unity of language is always reappearing, because,
put as it is, there can be no solution to it, owing to its being based
upon a false conception of what language is. Language is not an arsenal
of ready-made arms, and it is not _vocabulary_, which, in so far as it
is thought of as progressive and in living use, is always a cemetery,
containing corpses more or less well embalmed, that is to say, a
collection of abstractions.

Our mode of settling the question of the model language, or of the unity
of the language, may seem somewhat abrupt, and yet we would not wish to
appear otherwise than respectful towards the long line of literary men
who have debated this question in Italy for centuries. But those ardent
debates were, at bottom, debates upon aestheticity, not upon aesthetic
science, upon literature rather than upon literary theory, upon
effective speaking and writing, not upon linguistic science. Their error
consisted in transforming the manifestation of a want into a scientific
thesis, the need of understanding one another more easily among a people
dialectically divided, in the philosophic search for a language, which
should be one or ideal. Such a search was as absurd as that other search
for a _universal language_, with the immobility of the concept and of
the abstraction. The social need for a better understanding of one
another cannot be satisfied save by universal culture, by the increase
of communications, and by the interchange of thought among men.

    [Sidenote] _Conclusion._

These observations must suffice to show that all the scientific problems
of Linguistic are the same as those of Aesthetic, and that the truths
and errors of the one are the truths and errors of the other. If
Linguistic and Aesthetic appear to be two different sciences, this
arises from the fact that people think of the former as grammar, or as a
mixture between philosophy and grammar, that is, an arbitrary mnemonic
scheme. They do not think of it as a rational science and as a pure
philosophy of speech. Grammar, or something grammatical, also causes the
prejudice in people's minds, that the reality of language lies in
isolated and combinable words, not in living discourse among expressive
organisms, rationally indivisible.

Those linguists, or glottologists with philosophical endowments, who
have best fathomed questions of language, resemble (to employ a worn but
efficacious figure) workmen piercing a tunnel: at a certain point they
must hear the voices of their companions, the philosophers of Aesthetic,
who have been piercing it from the other side. At a certain stage of
scientific elaboration, Linguistic, in so far as it is philosophy, must
be merged in Aesthetic; and indeed it is merged in it, without leaving a




The question, as to whether Aesthetic should be looked upon as ancient
or modern, has often been discussed. The answer will depend upon the
view taken of the nature of Aesthetic.

Benedetto Croce has proved that Aesthetic is _the science of expressive
activity_. But this knowledge cannot be reached, until has been defined
the nature of imagination, of representation, of expression, or whatever
we may term that faculty which is theoretic, but not intellectual, which
gives knowledge of the individual, but not of the universal.

Now the deviations from this, the correct theory, may arise in two ways:
by _defect_ or by _excess_. Negation of the special aesthetic activity,
or of its autonomy, is an instance of the former. This amounts to a
mutilation of the reality of the spirit. Of the latter, the substitution
or superposition of another mysterious and non-existent activity is an

These errors each take several forms. That which errs by defect may be:
(_a_) pure hedonism, which looks upon art as merely sensual pleasure;
(_b_) rigoristic hedonism, agreeing with (_a_), but adding that art is
irreconcilable with the loftiest activities of man; (_c_) moralistic or
pedagogic hedonism, which admits, with the two former, that art is mere
sensuality, but believes that it may not only be harmless, but of some
service to morals, if kept in proper subjection and obedience.

The error by excess also assumes several forms, but these are
indeterminable _a priori_. This view is fully dealt with under the name
of _mystic_, in the Theory and in the Appendix.

Graeco-Roman antiquity was occupied with the problem in all these forms.
In Greece, the problem of art and of the artistic faculty arose for the
first time after the sophistic movement, as a result of the Socratic

With the appearance of the word _mimesis_ or _mimetic_, we have a first
attempt at grouping the arts, and the expression, allegoric, or its
equivalent, used in defence of Homer's poetry, reminds us of what Plato
called "the old quarrel between philosophy and poetry."

But when internal facts were all looked upon as mere phenomena of
opinion or feeling, of pleasure or of pain, of illusion or of arbitrary
caprice, there could be no question of beautiful or ugly, of difference
between the true and the beautiful, or between the beautiful and the

The problem of the nature of art assumes as solved those problems
concerning the difference between rational and irrational, material and
spiritual, bare fact and value, etc. This was first done in the Socratic
period, and therefore the aesthetic problem could only arise after

And in fact it does arise, with Plato, _the author of the only great
negation of art which appears in the history of ideas_.

Is art rational or irrational? Does it belong to the noble region of the
soul, where dwell philosophy and virtue, or does it cohabit with
sensuality and with crude passion in the lower regions? This was the
question that Plato asked, and thus was the aesthetic problem stated for
the first time.

His Gorgias remarks with sceptical acumen, that tragedy is a deception,
which brings honour alike to deceived and to deceiver, and therefore it
is blameworthy not to know how to deceive and not to allow oneself to be
deceived. This suffices for Gorgias, but Plato, the philosopher, must
resolve the doubt. If it be in fact deception, down with tragedy and the
other arts! If it be not deception, then what is the place of tragedy in
philosophy and in the righteous life? His answer was that art or mimetic
does not realize the ideas, or the truth of things, but merely
reproduces natural or artificial things, which are themselves mere
shadows of the ideas. Art, then, is but a shadow of a shadow, a thing of
third-rate degree. The artificer fashions the object which the painter
paints. The artificer copies the divine idea and the painter copies him.
Art therefore does not belong to the rational, but to the irrational,
sensual sphere of the soul. It can serve but for sensual pleasure, which
disturbs and obscures. Therefore must mimetic, poetry, and poets be
excluded from the perfect Republic.

Plato observed with truth, that imitation does not rise to the logical
or conceptual sphere, of which poets and painters, as such, are, in
fact, ignorant. But he _failed to realize_ that there could be any form
of knowledge other than the intellectual.

We now know that Intuition lies on this side or outside the Intellect,
from which it differs as much as it does from passion and sensuality.

Plato, with his fine aesthetic sense, would have been grateful to anyone
who could have shown him how to place art, which he loved and practised
so supremely himself, among the lofty activities of the spirit. But in
his day, no one could give him such assistance. His conscience and his
reason saw that art makes the false seem the true, and therefore he
resolutely banished it to the lower regions of the spirit.

The tendency among those who followed Plato in time was to find some
means of retaining art and of depriving it of the baleful influence
which it was believed to exercise. Life without art was to the
beauty-loving Greek an impossibility, although he was equally conscious
of the demands of reason and of morality. Thus it happened that art,
which, on the purely hedonistic hypothesis, had been treated as a
beautiful courtezan, became in the hands of the moralist, a pedagogue.
Aristophanes and Strabo, and above all Aristotle, dwell upon the
didactic and moralistic possibility of poetry. For Plutarch, poetry
seems to have been a sort of preparation for philosophy, a twilight to
which the eyes should grow accustomed, before emerging into the full
light of day.

Among the Romans, we find Lucretius comparing the beauties of his great
poem to the sweet yellow honey, with which doctors are wont to anoint
the rim of the cup containing their bitter drugs. Horace, as so
frequently, takes his inspiration from the Greek, when he offers the
double view of art: as courtezan and as pedagogue. In his _Ad Pisones_
occur the passages, in which we find mingled with the poetic function,
that of the orator--the practical and the aesthetic. "Was Virgil a poet
or an orator?" The triple duty of pleasing, moving, and teaching, was
imposed upon the poet. Then, with a thought for the supposed
meretricious nature of their art, the ingenious Horace remarks that both
must employ the seductions of form.

The _mystic_ view of art appeared only in late antiquity, with Plotinus.
The curious error of looking upon Plato as the head of this school and
as the Father of Aesthetic assumes that he who felt obliged to banish
art altogether from the domain of the higher functions of the spirit,
was yet ready to yield to it the highest place there. The mystical view
of Aesthetic accords a lofty place indeed to Aesthetic, placing it even
above philosophy. The enthusiastic praise of the beautiful, to be found
in the _Gorgias_, _Philebus_, _Phaedrus_, and _Symposium_ is responsible
for this misunderstanding, but it is well to make perfectly clear that
the beautiful, of which Plato discourses in those dialogues, has nothing
to do with the _artistically_ beautiful, nor with the mysticism of the

Yet the thinkers of antiquity were aware that a problem lay in the
direction of Aesthetic, and Xenophon records the sayings of Socrates
that the beautiful is "that which is fitting and answers to the end
required." Elsewhere he says "it is that which is loved." Plato likewise
vibrates between various views and offers several solutions. Sometimes
he appears almost to confound the beautiful with the true, the good and
the divine; at others he leans toward the utilitarian view of Socrates;
at others he distinguishes between what is beautiful In itself and what
possesses but a relative beauty. At other times again, he is a hedonist,
and makes it to consist of pure pleasure, that is, of pleasure with no
shadow of pain; or he finds it in measure and proportion, or in the very
sound, the very colour itself. The reason for all this vacillation of
definition lay in Plato's exclusion of the artistic or mimetic fact from
the domain of the higher spiritual activities. The _Hippias major_
expresses this uncertainty more completely than any of the other
dialogues. What is the beautiful? That is the question asked at the
beginning, and left unanswered at the end. The Platonic Socrates and
Hippias propose the most various solutions, one after another, but
always come out by the gate by which they entered in. Is the beautiful
to be found in ornament? No, for gold embellishes only where it is in
keeping. Is the beautiful that which seems ugly to no man? But it is a
question of being, not of seeming. Is it their fitness which makes
things seem beautiful? But in that case, the fitness which makes them
appear beautiful is one thing, the beautiful another. If the beautiful
be the useful or that which leads to an end, then evil would also be
beautiful, because the useful may also end evilly. Is the beautiful the
helpful, that which leads to the good? No, for in that case the good
would not be beautiful, nor the beautiful good, because cause and effect
are different.

Thus they argued in the Platonic dialogues, and when we turn to the
pages of Aristotle, we find him also uncertain and inclined to vary his
definitions.[5] Sometimes for him the good and pleasurable are the
beautiful, sometimes it lies in actions, at others in things motionless,
or in bulk and order, or is altogether undefinable. Antiquity also
established canons of the beautiful, and the famous canon of
Polycleitus, on the proportions of the human body, fitly compares with
that of later times on the golden line, and with the Ciceronian phrase
from the Tusculan Disputations. But these are all of them mere empirical
observations, mere happy remarks and verbal substitutions, which lead to
unsurmountable difficulties when put to philosophical test.

One important identification is absent in all those early attempts at
truth. The beautiful is never identified with art, and the artistic fact
is always clearly distinguished from beauty, mimetic from its content.
Plotinus first identified the two, and with him the beautiful and art
are dissolved together in a passion and mystic elevation of the spirit.
The beauty of natural objects is the archetype existing in the soul,
which is the fountain of all natural beauty. Thus was Plato (he said) in
error, when he despised the arts for imitating nature, for nature
herself imitates the idea, and art also seeks her inspiration directly
from those ideas whence nature proceeds. We have here, with Plotinus and
with Neoplatonism, the first appearance in the world of mystical
Aesthetic, destined to play so important a part in later aesthetic

Aristotle was far more happy in his attempts at defining Aesthetic as
the science of representation and of expression than in his definitions
of the beautiful. He felt that some element of the problem had been
overlooked, and in attempting in his turn a solution, he had the
advantage over Plato of looking upon the ideas as simple concepts, not
as hypostases of concepts or of abstractions. Thus reality was more
vivid for Aristotle: it was the synthesis of matter and form. He saw
that art, or mimetic, was a theoretic fact, or a mode of contemplation.
"But if Poetry be a theoretic fact, in what way is it to be distinguished
from science and from historical knowledge?" Thus magnificently does the
great philosopher pose the problem at the commencement of his _Poetics_,
and thus alone can it be posed successfully. We ask the same question in
the same words to-day. But the problem is difficult, and the masterly
statement of it was not equalled by the method of solution then
available. He made an excellent start on his voyage of discovery, but
stopped half way, irresolute and perplexed. Poetry, he says, differs from
history, by portraying the possible, while history deals with what has
really happened. Poetry, like philosophy, aims at the universal, but in a
different way, which the philosopher indicates as something more (_mallon
tha katholon_) which differentiates poetry from history, occupied with the
particular (_malon tha kath ekaston_). What, then, is the possible, the
something more, and the particular of poetry? Aristotle immediately falls
into error and confusion, when he attempts to define these words. Since
art has to deal with the absurd and with the impossible, it cannot be
anything rational, but a mere imitation of reality, in accordance with
the Platonic theory--a fact of sensual pleasure. Aristotle does not,
however, attain to so precise a definition as Plato, whose erroneous
definition he does not succeed in supplanting. The truth is that he
failed of his self-imposed task; he failed to discern the true nature of
Aesthetic, although he restated and re-examined the problem with such
marvellous acumen.

After Aristotle, there comes a lull in the discussion, until Plotinus.
The _Poetics_ were generally little studied, and the admirable statement
of the problem generally neglected by later writers. Antique psychology
knew the fancy or imagination, as preserving or reproducing sensuous
impressions, or as an intermediary between the concepts and feeling: its
autonomous productive activity was not yet understood. In the _Life of
Apollonius of Tyana_, Philostratus is said to have been the first to
make clear the difference between mimetic and creative imagination. But
this does not in reality differ from the Aristotelian mimetic, which is
concerned, not only with the real, but also with the possible. Cicero
too, before Philostratus, speaks of a kind of exquisite beauty lying
hidden in the soul of the artist, which guides his hand and art.
Antiquity seems generally to have been entrammelled in the meshes of the
belief in mimetic, or the duplication of natural objects by the artist
Philostratus and the other protagonists of the imagination may have
meant to combat this error, but the shadows lie heavy until we reach

We find already astir among the sophists the question as to the nature
of language. Admitting that language is a sign, are we to take that
as signifying a spiritual necessity (_phusis_) or as a psychological
convention (_nomos_)? Aristotle made a valuable contribution to this
difficult question, when he spoke of a kind of proposition other than
those which predicate truth or falsehood, that is, logic. With him
_euchae_ is the term proper to designate desires and aspirations,
which are the vehicle of poetry and of oratory. (It must be remembered
that for Aristotle words, like poetry, belonged to mimetic.) The
profound remark about the third mode of proposition would, one would
have thought, have led naturally to the separation of linguistic
from logic, and to its classification with poetry and art. But the
Aristotelian logic assumed a verbal and formal character, which set
back the attainment of this position by many hundred years. Yet the
genius of Epicurus had an intuition of the truth, when he remarked
that the diversity of names for the same things arose, not from
arbitrary caprice, but from the diverse impression derived from the
same object. The Stoics, too, seem to have had an inkling of the
non-logical nature of speech, but their use of the word _lekton_
leaves it doubtful whether they distinguished by it the linguistic
representation from the abstract concept, or rather, generically, the
meaning from the sound.

[5] In the Appendix will be found further striking quotations from
    and references to Aristotle.--(D.A.)



Well-nigh all the theories of antique Aesthetic reappear in the Middle
Ages, as it were by spontaneous generation. Duns Scotus Erigena
translated the Neoplatonic mysticism of the pseudo-Dionysus. The
Christian God took the place of the chief Good or Idea: God, wisdom,
goodness, supreme beauty are the fountains of natural beauty, and these
are steps in the stair of contemplation of the Creator. In this manner
speculation began to be diverted from the art fact, which had been so
prominent with Plotinus. Thomas Aquinas followed Aristotle in
distinguishing the beautiful from the good, and applied his doctrine of
imitation to the beauty of the second person of the Trinity (_in quantum
est imago expressa Patris_). With the troubadours, we may find traces of
the hedonistic view of art, and the rigoristic hypothesis finds in
Tertullian and in certain Fathers of the Church staunch upholders. The
retrograde Savonarola occupied the same position at a later period. But
the narcotic, moralistic, or pedagogic view mostly prevailed, for it
best suited an epoch of relative decadence in culture. It suited
admirably the Middle Age, offering at once an excuse for the new-born
Christian art, and for those works of classical or pagan art which yet
survived. Specimens of this view abound all through the Middle Age. We
find it, for instance, in the criticism of Virgil, to whose work were
attributed four distinct meanings: literal, allegorical, moral, and
anagogic. For Dante poetry was _nihil aliud quam fictio rhetorica in
musicaque posita_. "If the vulgar be incapable of appreciating my inner
meaning, then they shall at least incline their minds to the perfection
of my beauty. If from me ye cannot gather wisdom, at the least shall ye
enjoy me as a pleasant thing." Thus spoke the Muse of Dante, whose
_Convivio_ is an attempt to aid the understanding in its effort to grasp
the moral and pedagogic elements of verse. Poetry was the _gaia
scienza_, "a fiction containing many useful things covered or veiled."

It would be inexact to identify art in the Middle Age with philosophy
and theology. Its pleasing falsity could be adapted to useful ends, much
in the same way as matrimony excuses love and sexual union. This,
however, implies that for the Middle Age the ideal state was celibacy;
that is, pure knowledge, divorced from art.

The only line of explanation that was altogether neglected in the Middle
Age was the right one.

The _Poetics_ of Aristotle were badly rendered into Latin, from the
faulty paraphrase of Averroes, by one Hermann (1256). The nominalist and
realist dispute brought again into the arena the relations between
thought and speech, and we find Duns Scotus occupied with the problem in
his _De modis significandi seu grammatica speculativa_. Abelard had
defined sensation as _confusa conceptio_, and with the importance given
to intuitive knowledge, to the perception of the individual, of the
_species specialissima_ in Duns Scotus, together with the denomination
of the forms of knowledge as _confusae, indistinctae_, and _distinctae_,
we enter upon a terminology, which we shall see appearing again, big
with results, at the commencement of modern Aesthetic.

The doctrine of the Middle Age, in respect to art and letters, may thus
be regarded as of interest rather to the history of culture than to that
of general knowledge. A like remark holds good of the Renaissance.
Theories of antiquity are studied, countless treatises in many forms are
written upon them, but no really new Ideas as regards aesthetic science
appear on the horizon.

We find among the spokesmen of mystical Aesthetic in the thirteenth
century such names as Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola. Bembo
and many others wrote on the Beautiful and on Love in the century that
followed. The _Dialogi di Amore_, written in Italian by a Spanish Jew
named Leone and published in 1535, had a European success, being
translated into many languages. He talks of the universality of love and
of its origin, of beauty that is grace, which delights the soul and
impels it to love. Knowledge of lesser beauties leads to loftier
spiritual beauties. Leone called these remarks _Philographia_.

Petrarch's followers versified similar intuitions, while others wrote
parodies and burlesques of this style; Luca Paciolo, the friend of
Leonardo, made the (false) discovery of the golden section, basing his
speculating upon mathematics; Michael Angelo established an empirical
canon for painting, attempting to give rules for imparting grace and
movement to figures, by means of certain arithmetical proportions;
others found special meanings in colours; while the Platonicians placed
the seat of beauty in the soul, the Aristotelians in physical qualities.
Agostino Nifo, the Averroist, after some inconclusive remarks, is at
last fortunate enough to discover where natural beauty really dwells:
its abode is the body of Giovanna d'Aragona, Princess of Tagliacozzo, to
whom he dedicates his book. Tasso mingled the speculations of the
_Hippias major_ with those of Plotinus.

Tommaso Campanella, in his _Poetica_, looks upon the beautiful as
_signum boni_, the ugly as _signum mali_. By goodness, he means Power,
Wisdom, and Love. Campanella was still under the influence of the
erroneous Platonic conception of the beautiful, but the use of the word
_sign_ in this place represents progress. It enabled him to see that
things in themselves are neither beautiful nor ugly.

Nothing proves more clearly that the Renaissance did not overstep the
limits of aesthetic theory reached in antiquity, than the fact that the
pedagogic theory of art continued to prevail, in the face of
translations of the _Poetics_ of Aristotle and of the diffuse labours
expended upon that work. This theory was even grafted upon the
_Poetics_, where one is surprised to find it. There are a few hedonists
standing out from the general trend of opinion. The restatement of the
pedagogic position, reinforced with examples taken from antiquity, was
disseminated throughout Europe by the Italians of the Renaissance.
France, Spain, England, and Germany felt its influence, and we find the
writers of the period of Louis XIV. either frankly didactic, like Le
Bossu (1675), for whom the first object of the poet is to instruct, or
with La Ménardière (1640) speaking of poetry as "cette science agréable
qui mêle la gravité des préceptes avec la douceur du langage." For the
former of these critics, Homer was the author of two didactic manuals
relating to military and political matters: the _Iliad_ and the

Didacticism has always been looked upon as the Poetic of the
Renaissance, although the didactic is not mentioned among the kinds of
poetry of that period. The reason of this lies in the fact that for the
Renaissance all poetry was didactic, in addition to any other qualities
which it might possess. The active discussion of poetic theory, the
criticism of Aristotle and of Plato's exclusion of poetry, of the
possible and of the verisimilar, if it did not contribute much original
material to the theory of art, yet at any rate sowed the seeds which
afterwards germinated and bore fruit. Why, they asked with Aristotle, at
the Renaissance, does poetry deal with the universal, history with the
particular? What is the reason for poetry being obliged to seek
verisimilitude? What does Raphael mean by the "certain idea," which he
follows in his painting?

These themes and others cognate were dealt with by Italian and by
Spanish writers, who occasionally reveal wonderful acumen, as when
Francesco Patrizio, criticizing Aristotle's theory of imitation,
remarks: "All languages and all philosophic writings and all other
writings would be poetry, because they are made of words, and words are
imitations." But as yet no one dared follow such a clue to the
labyrinth, and the Renaissance closes with the sense of a mystery yet to
be revealed.



The seventeenth century is remarkable for the ferment of thought upon
this difficult problem. Such words as genius, taste, imagination or
fancy, and feeling, appear in this literature, and deserve a passing
notice. As regards the word "genius," we find the Italian "ingegno"
opposed to the intellect, and Dialectic adorned with the attributes of
the latter, while Rhetoric has the advantage of "ingegno" in all its
forms, such as "concetti" and "acutezze." With these the English word
ingenious has an obvious connection, especially in its earlier use as
applied to men of letters. The French worked upon the word "ingegno" and
evolved from it in various associations the expressions "esprit," "beaux
Esprits." The manual of the Spanish Jesuit, Baltasar Gracian, became
celebrated throughout Europe, and here we find "ingegno" described as
the truly inventive faculty, and from it the English word "genius," the
Italian "genio," the French "génie," first enter into general use.

The word "gusto" or taste, "good taste," in its modern sense, also
sprang into use about this time. Taste was held to be a judicial
faculty, directed to the beautiful, and thus to some extent distinct
from the intellectual judgment. It was further bisected into active and
passive; but the former ran into the definition of "ingegno," the latter
described sterility. The word "gusto," or taste as judgment, was in use
in Italy at a very early period; and in Spain we find Lope di Vega and
his contemporaries declaring that their object is to "delight the taste"
of their public. These uses of the word are not of significance as
regards the problem of art, and we must return to Baltasar Gracian
(1642) for a definition of taste as a special faculty or attitude of the
soul. Italian writers of the period echo the praises of this laconic
moralist, who, when he spoke of "a man of taste," meant to describe what
we call to-day "a man of tact" in the conduct of life.

The first use of the word in a strictly aesthetic sense occurs in France
in the last quarter of the seventeenth century. La Bruyère writes in his
_Caractères_ (1688): "Il y a dans l'art un point de perfection, comme de
bonté ou de maturité dans la nature: celui qui le sent et qui l'aime, a
le goût parfait; celui qui ne le sent pas, et qui aime au deçà ou au
delà, a le goût défectueux. Il y a donc un bon et un mauvais goût, et
l'on dispute des goûts avec fondement." Delicacy and variability or
variety were appended as attributes of taste. This French definition of
the Italian word was speedily adopted in England, where it became "good
taste," and we find it used in this sense in Italian and German writers
of about this period.

The words "imagination" and "fancy" were also passed through the
crucible in this century. We find the Cardinal Sforza-Pallavicino (1644)
blaming those who look for truth or falsehood, for the verisimilar or
for historical truth, in poetry. Poetry, he holds, has to do with the
primary apprehensions, which give neither truth nor falsehood. Thus the
fancy takes the place of the verisimilar of certain students of
Aristotle. The Cardinal continues his eloquence with the clinching
remark that if the intention of poetry were to be believed true, then
its real end would be falsehood, which is absolutely condemned by the
law of nature and by God. The sole object of poetic fables is, he says,
to adorn our intellect with sumptuous, new, marvellous, and splendid
imaginings, and so great has been the benefits accruing from this to the
human race, that poets have been rewarded with a glory superior to any
other, and their names have been crowned with divine honours. This, he
says in his treatise, _Del Bene_, has been the just reward of poets,
albeit they have not been bearers of knowledge, nor have they manifested

This throwing of the bridle on the neck of Pegasus seemed to Muratori
sixty years later to be altogether too risky a proceeding--although
advocated by a Prince of the Church! He reinserts the bit of the
verisimilar, though he talks with admiration of the fancy, that
"inferior apprehensive" faculty, which is content to "represent" things,
without seeking to know if they be true or false, a task which it leaves
to the "superior apprehensive" faculty of the intellect. The severe
Gravina, too, finds his heart touched by the beauty of poetry, when he
calls it "a witch, but wholesome."

As early as 1578, Huarte had maintained that eloquence is the work of
the imagination, not of the intellect; in England, Bacon (1605)
attributed knowledge to the intellect, history to memory, and poetry to
the imagination or fancy; Hobbes described the manifestations of the
latter; and Addison devoted several numbers of the _Spectator_ to the
analysis of "the pleasures of the imagination."

During the same period, the division between those who are accustomed "à
juger par le sentiment" and those who "raisonnent par les principes"
became marked in France, Du Bos (1719) is an interesting example of the
upholder of the feelings as regards the production of art. Indeed, there
is in his view no other criterion, and the feeling for art is a sixth
sense, against which intellectual argument is useless. This French
school of thought found a reflex in England with the position assigned
there to emotion in artistic work. But the confusion of such words as
imagination, taste, feeling, wit, shows that at this time there was a
suspicion that these words were all applicable to the same fact.
Alexander Pope thus distinguished wit and judgment:

  For wit and judgment often are at strife,
  Though meant each other's aid like man and wife.

But there was a divergence of opinion as to whether the latter should be
looked upon as part of the intellect or not.

There was the same divergence of opinion as to taste and intellectual
judgment. As regards the former, the opposition to the intellectual
principle was reinforced in the eighteenth century by Kant in his
_Kritik der Urtheilskraft_. But Voltaire and writers anterior to him
frequently fell back into intellectualist definitions of a word invented
precisely to avoid them. Dacier (1684) writes of taste as "Une harmonie,
un accord de l'esprit et de la raison." The difficulties surrounding a
true definition led to the creation of the expression _non so che_, or
_je ne sais quoi_, or _no se qué_, which throws into clear relief the
confusion between taste and intellectual judgment.

As regards imagination and feeling, or sentiment, there was a strong
tendency to sensualism. The Cardinal Sforza-Pallavicino talks of poetry
as ignoring alike truth or falsehood and yet delighting the senses. He
approves of the remark that poetry should make us "raise our eyebrows,"
but in later life this keen-eyed prince seems to have fallen back from
the brilliant intuition of his earlier years into the pedagogic theory.
Muratori was convinced that fancy was entirely sensual, and therefore he
posted the intellect beside it, "to refrain its wild courses, like a
friend having authority." Gravina practically coincides in this view of
poetic fancy, as a subordinate faculty, incapable of knowledge, fit only
to be used by moral philosophy for the introduction into the mind of the
true, by means of novelty and the marvellous.

In England, also, Bacon held poetry to belong to the fancy, and assigned
to it a place between history and science. Epic poetry he awarded to the
former, "parabolic" poetry to the latter. Elsewhere he talks of poetry
as a dream, and affirms that it is to be held "rather as an amusement of
the intelligence than as a science." For him music, painting, sculpture,
and the other arts are merely pleasure-giving. Addison reduced the
pleasures of the imagination to those caused by visible objects, or by
ideas taken from them. These pleasures he held to be inferior to those
of the senses and less refined than those of the intellect. He looked
upon imaginative pleasure as consisting in resemblances discovered
between imitations and things imitated, between copies and originals, an
exercise adapted to sharpen the spirit of observation.

The sensualism of the writers headed by Du Bos, who looked upon art as a
mere pastime, like a tournament or a bull-fight, shows that the truth
about Aesthetic had not yet succeeded in emerging from the other
spiritual activities. Yet the new words and the new views of the
seventeenth century have great importance for the origins of Aesthetic;
they were the direct result of the restatement of the problem by the
writers of the Renaissance, who themselves took it up where Antiquity
had left it. These new words, and the discussions which arose from them,
were the demands of Aesthetic for its theoretical justification. But
they were not able to provide this justification, and it could not come
from elsewhere.

With Descartes, we are not likely to find much sympathy for such studies
as relate to wit, taste, fancy, or feelings. He ignored the famous _non
so che_; he abhorred the imagination, which he believed to result from
the agitation of the animal spirits. He did not altogether condemn
poetry, but certainly looked upon it as the _folle du logis_, which must
be strictly supervised by the reason. Boileau is the aesthetic
equivalent of Cartesian intellectualism, Boileau _que la raison à ses
règles engage_, Boileau the enthusiast for allegory. France was infected
with the mathematical spirit of Cartesianism and all possibility of a
serious consideration of poetry and of art was thus removed. Witness the
diatribes of Malebranche against the imagination, and listen to the
Italian, Antonio Conti, writing from France in 1756 on the theme of the
literary disputes that were raging at the time: "They have introduced
the method of M. Descartes into belles-lettres; they judge poetry and
eloquence independently of their sensible qualities. Thus they also
confound the progress of philosophy with that of the arts. The Abbé
Terrasson says that the moderns are greater geometricians than the
ancients; therefore they are greater orators and greater poets." La
Motte, Fontenelle, Boileau, and Malebranche carried on this battle,
which was taken up by the Encyclopaedists, and when Du Bos published his
daring book, Jean Jacques le Bel published a reply to it (1726), in
which he denied to sentiment its claim to judge of art. Thus
Cartesianism could not possess an Aesthetic of the imagination. The
Cartesian J.P. de Crousaz (1715) found the beautiful to consist in what
is approved of, and thereby reduced it to ideas, ignoring the pleasing
and sentiment.

Locke was as intellectualist in the England of this period as was
Descartes in France. He speaks of wit as combining ideas in an agreeable
variety, which strikes the imagination, while the intellect or judgment
seeks for differences according to truth. The wit, then, consists of
something which is not at all in accordance with truth and reason. For
Shaftesbury, taste is a sense or instinct of the beautiful, of order and
proportion, identical with the moral sense and with its "preconceptions"
anticipating the recognition of reason. Body, spirit, and God are the
three degrees of beauty. Francis Hutcheson proceeded from Shaftesbury
and made popular "the internal sense of beauty, which lies somewhere
between sensuality and rationality and is occupied with discussing unity
in variety, concord in multiplicity, and the true, the good, and the
beautiful in their substantial identity." Hutcheson allied the pleasure
of art with this sense, that is, with the pleasure of imitation and of
the likeness of the copy to the original. This he looked upon as
relative beauty, to be distinguished from absolute beauty. The same view
dominates the English writers of the eighteenth century, among whom may
be mentioned Reid, the head of the Scottish school, and Adam Smith.

With far greater philosophical vigour, Leibnitz in Germany opened the
door to that crowd of psychic facts which Cartesian intellectualism had
rejected with horror. His conception of reality as _continuous_ (_natura
non facit saltus_) left room for imagination, taste, and their
congeners. Leibnitz believed that the scale of being ascended from the
lowliest to God. What we now term aesthetic facts were then identified
with what Descartes and Leibnitz had called "confused" knowledge, which
might become "clear," but not distinct. It might seem that when he
applied this terminology to aesthetic facts, Leibnitz had recognized
their peculiar essence, as being neither sensual nor intellectual. They
are not sensual for him, because they have their own "clarity,"
differing from pleasure and sensual emotion, and from intellectual
"distinctio." But the Leibnitzian law of continuity and intellectualism
did not permit of such an interpretation. Obscurity and clarity are here
to be understood as quantitative grades of a _single_ form of knowledge,
the distinct or intellectual, toward which they both tend and reach at a
superior grade. Though artists judge with confused perceptions, which
are clear but not distinct, these may yet be corrected and proved true
by intellective knowledge. The intellect clearly and distinctly knows
the thing which the imagination knows confusedly but clearly. This view
of Leibnitz amounts to saying that the realization of a work of art can
be perfected by intellectually determining its concept. Thus Leibnitz
held that there was only one true form of knowledge, and that all other
forms could only reach perfection in that. His "clarity" is not a
specific difference; it is merely a partial anticipation of his
intellective "distinction." To have posited this grade is an important
achievement, but the view of Leibnitz is not fundamentally different
from that of the creators of the words and intuitions already studied.
All contributed to attract attention to the peculiarity of aesthetic

Speculation on language at this period revealed an equally determined
intellectualist attitude. Grammar was held to be an exact science, and
grammatical variations to be explainable by the ellipse, by
abbreviation, and by failure to grasp the typical logical form. In
France, with Arnauld (1660), we have the rigorous Cartesian
intellectualism; Leibnitz and Locke both, speculated upon this subject,
and the former all his life nourished the thought of a universal
language. The absurdity of this is proved in this volume.

A complete change of the Cartesian system, upon which Leibnitz based his
own, was necessary, if speculation were ever to surpass the Leibnitzian
aesthetic. But Wolff and the other German pupils of Leibnitz were as
unable to shake themselves free of the all-pervading intellectualism as
were the French pupils of Descartes.

Meanwhile a young student of Berlin, named Alexander Amedeus Baumgarten,
was studying the Wolffian philosophy, and at the same time lecturing in
poetry and Latin rhetoric. While so doing, he was led to rethink and
pose afresh the problem of how to reduce the precepts of rhetoric to a
rigorous philosophical system. Thus it came about that Baumgarten
published in September 1735, at the age of twenty-one, as the thesis for
his degree of Doctor, an opuscule entitled, _Meditationes philosophicae
de nonnullis ad poèma pertinentibus_, and in it we find written
_for the first time_ the word "Aesthetic," as the name of a special
science. Baumgarten ever afterwards attached great importance to his
juvenile discovery, and lectured upon it by request in 1742, at
Frankfort-on-the-Oder, and again in 1749. It is interesting to know that
in this way Emmanuel Kant first became acquainted with the theory of
Aesthetic, which he greatly altered when he came to treat of it in his
philosophy. In 1750, Baumgarten published the first volume of a more
ample treatise, and a second part in 1762. But illness, and death in
1762, prevented his completing his work.

What is Aesthetic for Baumgarten? It is the science of sensible
knowledge. Its objects are the sensible facts (_aisthaeta_),
which the Greeks were always careful to distinguish from the mental
facts (_noaeta_). It is therefore _scientia cognitionis
sensitivae, theoria liberalium artium, gnoseologia inferior, ars pulcre
cogitandi, ars analogi rationis_. Rhetoric and Poetic are for him
special cases of Aesthetic, which is a general science, embracing both.
Its laws are diffused among all the arts, like the mariner's star
(_cynosura quaedam_), and they must be always referred to in all cases,
for they are universal, not empirical or merely inductive (_falsa regula
pejor est quam nulla_). Aesthetic must not be confounded with
Psychology, which supplies only suppositions. Aesthetic is an
independent science, which gives the rules for knowing sensibly, and is
occupied with the perfection of sensible knowledge, which is beauty. Its
contrary is ugliness. The beauty of objects and of matter must be
excluded from the beauty of sensible knowledge, because beautiful
objects can be badly thought and ugly objects beautifully thought.
Poetic representations are those which are confused or imaginative.
Distinction and intellectuality are not poetic. The greater the
determination, the greater the poetry; individuals absolutely determined
(_omnimodo determinata_) are very poetical, as are images or fancies,
and everything which refers to feeling. The judgment of sensible and
imaginative representations is taste.

Such are, in brief, the truths which Baumgarten stated in his
_Meditationes_, and further developed and exemplified in his
_Aesthetica_. Close study of the two works above-mentioned leads to the
conviction that Baumgarten did not succeed in freeing himself from the
unity of the Leibnitzian monadology. He obtained from Leibnitz his
conception of the poetic as consisting of the confused, but German
critics are wrong in believing that he attributed to it a positive, not
a negative quality. Had he really done this, he would have broken at a
blow the unity of the Leibnitzian monad, and conquered the science of

This giant's step he did not take: he failed to banish the
contradictions of Leibnitz and of the other intellectualists. To posit a
_perfection_ did not suffice. It was necessary to maintain it against
the _lex continui_ of Leibnitz and to proclaim its independence of all
intellectualism. Aesthetic truths for Baumgarten were those which did
not seem altogether false or altogether true: in fact, the verisimilar.
If it were objected to Baumgarten that one should not occupy oneself
with what, like poetry, he defines as confused and obscure, he would
reply that confusion is a condition of finding the truth, that we do not
pass at once from night to dawn. Thus he did not surpass the thought of
Leibnitz in this respect. Poor Baumgarten was always in suspense lest he
should be held to occupy himself with things unworthy of a philosopher!
"How can you, a professor of philosophy, dare to praise lying and the
mixture of truth and falsehood?" He imagined that some such reproach
might be addressed to him on account of his purely philosophical
speculations, and true enough he actually received a criticism of his
theory, in which it was argued, that if poetry consisted of sensual
perfection, then it was a bad thing for mankind. Baumgarten
contemptuously replied that he had not the time to argue with those
capable of confounding his _oratio perfecta sensitiva_ with an _oratio
perfecte (omnino!) sensitiva_.

The fact about Baumgarten is that apart from baptizing the new science
Aesthetic, and apart from his first definitions, he does not stray far
from the old ruts of scholastic thought. The excellent Baumgarten, with
all his ardour and all his convictions, is a sympathetic and interesting
figure in the history of Aesthetic not yet formed, but in process of

The revolutionary who set aside the old definitions of Aesthetic, and
for the first time revealed the true nature of art and poetry, is the
Italian, Giambattista Vico.

What were the ideas developed by Vico in his _Scienza nuova_ (1725)?
They were neither more nor less than the solution of the problem, posed
by Plato, attempted in vain by Aristotle, again posed and again unsolved
at the Renaissance.

Is poetry a rational or an irrational thing? Is it spiritual or animal?
If it be spiritual, what is its true nature, and in what way does it
differ from art and science?

Plato, we know, banished poetry to the inferior region of the soul,
among the animal spirits. Vico on the contrary raises up poetry, and
makes of it a period in the history of humanity. And since Vico's is an
ideal history, whose periods are not concerned with contingent facts,
but with spiritual forms, he makes of it a moment of the ideal history
of the spirit, a form of knowledge. Poetry comes before the intellect,
but _after_ feeling. Plato had _confused_ it with feeling, and for that
reason banished it from his Republic. "Men _feel_," says Vico, "before
observing, then they observe with perturbation of the soul, finally they
reflect with the pure intellect," He goes on to say, that poetry being
composed of passion and of feeling, the nearer it approaches to the
_particular_, the more _true_ it is, while exactly the reverse is true
of philosophy.

Imagination is independent and autonomous as regards the intellect. Not
only does the intellect fail of perfection, but all it can do is to
destroy it. "The studies of Poetry and Metaphysic are _naturally
opposed_. Poets are the feeling, philosophers the intellect of the human
race." The weaker the reason, the stronger the imagination. Philosophy,
he says, deals with abstract thought or universals, poetry with the
particular. Painters and poets differ only in their material. Homer and
the great poets appear in barbaric times. Dante, for instance, appeared
in "the renewed barbarism of Italy." The poetic ages preceded the
philosophical, and poetry is the father of prose, by "necessity of
nature," not by the "caprice of pleasure." Fables or "imaginary
universals" were conceived before "reasoned or philosophical
universals." To Homer, says Vico, belongs wisdom, but only poetic
wisdom. "His beauties are not those of a spirit softened and civilized
by any philosophy."

If any one make poetry in epochs of reflexion, he becomes a child again;
he does not reflect with his intellect, but follows his fancy and dwells
upon particulars. If the true poet make use of philosophic ideas, he
only does so that he may change logic into imagination.

Here we have a profound statement of the line of demarcation between
science and art. _They cannot be confused again_.

His statement of the difference between poetry and history is a trifle
less clear. He explains why to Aristotle poetry seemed more
philosophical than history, and at the same time he refutes Aristotle's
error that poetry deals with the universal, history with the particular.
Poetry equals science, not because it is occupied with the intellectual
concept, but because, like science, it is ideal. A good poetical fable
must be all ideal: "With the idea the poet gives their being to things
which are without it. Poetry is all fantastic, as being the art of
painting the idea, not icastic, like the art of painting portraits. That
is why poets, like painters, are called divine, because in that respect
they resemble God the Creator." Vico ends by identifying poetry and
history. The difference between them is posterior and accidental. "But,
as it is impossible to impart false ideas, because the false consists of
a vicious combination of ideas, so it is impossible to impart a
tradition, which, though it be false, has not at first contained some
element of truth. Thus mythology appears for the first time, not as the
invention of an individual, but as the spontaneous vision of the truth
as it appears to primitive man."

Poetry and language are for Vico substantially identical. He finds in
the origins of poetry the origins of languages and letters. He believed
that the first languages consisted in mute acts or acts accompanied by
bodies which had natural relations to the ideas that it was desired to
signify. With great cleverness he compared these pictured languages to
heraldic arms and devices, and to hieroglyphs. He observed that during
the barbarism of the Middle Age, the mute language of signs must return,
and we find it in the heraldry and blazonry of that epoch. Hence come
three kinds of languages: divine silent languages, heroic emblematic
languages, and speech languages.

Formal logic could never satisfy a man with such revolutionary ideas
upon poetry and language. He describes the Aristotelian syllogism as a
method which explains universals In their particulars, rather than
unites particulars to obtain universals, looks upon Zeno and the sorites
as a means of subtilizing rather than sharpening the intelligence, and
concludes that Bacon is a great philosopher, when he advocates and
illustrates _induction_, "which has been followed by the English to the
great advantage of experimental philosophy." Hence he proceeds to
criticize mathematics, which, had hitherto always been looked upon as
the type of the _perfect science_.

Vico is indeed a revolutionary, a pioneer. He knows very well that he is
in direct opposition to all that has been thought before about poetry.
"My new principles of poetry upset all that first Plato and then
Aristotle have said about the origin of poetry, all that has been said
by the Patrizzi, by the Scaligers, and by the Castelvetri. I have
discovered that It was through lack of human reason that poetry was born
so sublime that neither the Arts, nor the Poetics, nor the Critiques
could cause another equal to it to be born, I say equal, and not
superior." He goes as far as to express shame at having to report the
stupidities of great philosophers upon the origin of song and verse. He
shows his dislike for the Cartesian philosophy and its tendency to dry
up the imagination "by denying all the faculties of the soul which come
to it from the body," and talks of his own time as of one "which freezes
all the generous quality of the best poetry and thus precludes it from
being understood."

As regards grammatical forms, Vico may be described as an adherent of
the great reaction of the Renaissance against scholastic verbalism and
formalism. This reaction brought back as a value the experience of
feeling, and afterwards with Romanticism gave its right place to the
imagination. Vico, in his _Scienza nuova_, may be said to have been the
first to draw attention to the imagination. Although he makes many
luminous remarks on history and the development of poetry among the
Greeks, his work is not really a history, but a science of the spirit or
of the ideal. It is not the ethical, logical, or economic moment of
humanity which interests him, but the _imaginative_ moment. _He
discovered the creative imagination_, and it may almost be said of the
_Scienza nuova_ of Vico that it is Aesthetic, the discovery of a new
world, of a new mode of knowledge.

This was the contribution of the genius of Vico to the progress of
humanity: he showed Aesthetic to be an autonomous activity. It remained
to distinguish the science of the spirit from history, the modifications
of the human spirit from the historic vicissitudes of peoples, Aesthetic
from Homeric civilization.

But although Goethe, Herder, and Wolf were acquainted with the _Scienza
nuova_, the importance of this wonderful book did not at first dawn upon
the world. Wolf, in his prolegomena to Homer, thought that he was
dealing merely with an ingenious speculator on Homeric themes. He did
not realize that the intellectual stature of Vico far surpassed that of
the most able philologists.

The fortunes of Aesthetic after Vico were very various, and the list of
aestheticians who fell back into the old pedagogic definition, or
elaborated the mistakes of Baumgarten, is very long. Yet with C.H.
Heydenreich in Germany and Sulzer in Switzerland we find that the truths
contained in Baumgarten have begun to bear fruit. J.J. Herder (1769) was
more important than these, and he placed Baumgarten upon a pedestal,
though criticizing his pretension of creating an _ars pulchre cogitandi_
instead of a simple _scientia de pulchro et pulchris philosophice
cogitans_. Herder admitted Baumgarten's definition of poetry as _oratio
sensitiva perfecta_, perfect sensitived speech, and this is _probably
the best definition of poetry that has ever been given_. It touches the
real essence of poetry and opens to thought the whole of the philosophy
of the beautiful. Herder, although he does not cite Vico upon aesthetic
questions, yet praises him as a philosopher. His remarks about poetry as
"the maternal language of humanity, as the garden is more ancient than
the cultivated field, painting than writing, song than declamation,
exchange than commerce," are replete with the spirit of the Italian

But despite similar happy phrases, Herder is philosophically the
inferior of the great Italian. He is a firm believer in the Leibnitzian
law of continuity, and does not surpass the conclusions of Baumgarten.

Herder and his friend Hamann did good service as regards the philosophy
of language. The French encyclopaedists, J.J. Rousseau, d'Alembert, and
many others of this period, were none of them able to get free of the
idea that a word is either a natural, mechanical fact, or a sign
attached to a thought. The only way out of this difficulty is to look
upon the imagination as itself active and expressive in _verbal
imagination_, and language as the language of _intuition_, not of the
intelligence. Herder talks of language as "an understanding of the soul
with itself." Thus language begins to appear, not as an arbitrary
invention or a mechanical fact, but as a primitive affirmation of human
activity, as a _creation_.

But all unconscious of the discoveries of Vico, the great mass of
eighteenth century writers try their hands at every sort of solution.
The Abbé Batteux published in 1746 _Les Beaux-arts réduits a un seul
principe_, which is a perfect little bouquet of contradictions. The Abbé
finds himself confronted with difficulties at every turn, but with "un
peu d'esprit on se tire de tout," and when for instance he has to
explain artistic enjoyment of things displeasing, he remarks that the
imitation never being perfect like reality, the horror caused by reality

But the French were equalled and indeed surpassed by the English in
their amateur Aesthetics. The painter Hogarth was one day reading in
Italian a speech about the beauty of certain figures, attributed to
Michael Angelo. This led him to imagine that the figurative arts depend
upon a principle which consists of conforming to a given line. In 1745
he produced a serpentine line as frontispiece of his collection of
engravings, which he described as "the line of beauty." Thus he
succeeded in exciting universal curiosity, which he proceeded to satisfy
with his "Analysis of Beauty." Here he begins by rightly combating the
error of judging paintings by their subject and by the degree of their
imitation, instead of by their form, which is the essential in art. He
gives his definition of form, and afterwards proceeds to describe the
waving lines which are beautiful and those which are not, and maintains
that among them all there is but one that is really worthy to be called
"the line of beauty," and one definite serpentine line "the line of
grace." The pig, the bear, the spider, and the frog are ugly, because
they do not possess serpentine lines. E. Burke, with a like assurance in
his examples, was equally devoid of certainty in his general principles.
He declares that the natural properties of an object cause pleasure or
pain to the imagination, but that the latter also procures pleasure from
their resemblance to the original. He does not speak further of the
second of these, but gives a long list of the natural properties of the
sensible, beautiful object. Having concluded his list, he remarks that
these are in his opinion the qualities upon which beauty depends and
which are the least liable to caprice and confusion. But "comparative
smallness, delicate structure, colouring vivid but not too much so," are
all mere empirical observations of no more value than those of Hogarth,
with whom Burke must be classed as an aesthetician. Their works are
spoken of as "classics." Classics indeed they are, but of the sort that
arrive at no conclusion.

Henry Home (Lord Kaimes) is on a level a trifle above the two just
mentioned. He seeks "the true principles of the beaux-arts," in order to
transform criticism into "a rational science." He selects facts and
experience for this purpose, but in his definition of beauty, which he
divides into two parts, relative and intrinsic, he is unable to explain
the latter, save by a final cause, which he finds in the Almighty.

Such theories as the three above mentioned defy classification, because
they are not composed by any scientific method. Their authors pass from
physiological sensualism to moralism, from imitation of nature to
finalism, and to transcendental mysticism, without consciousness of the
incongruity of their theses, at variance each with itself.

The German, Ernest Platner, at any rate did not suffer from a like
confusion of thought. He developed his researches on the lines of
Hogarth, but was only able to discover a prolongation of sexual pleasure
in aesthetic facts. "Where," he exclaims, "is there any beauty that does
not come from the feminine figure, the centre of all beauty? The
undulating line is beautiful, because it is found in the body of woman;
essentially feminine movements are beautiful; the notes of music are
beautiful, when they melt into one another; a poem is beautiful, when
one thought embraces another with lightness and facility."

French sensualism shows itself quite incapable of understanding
aesthetic production, and the associationism of David Hume is not more
fortunate in this respect.

The Dutchman Hemsterhuis (1769) developed an ingenious theory, mingling
mystical and sensualist theory with some just remarks, which afterwards,
in the hands of Jacobi, became sentimentalism. Hemsterhuis believed
beauty to be a phenomenon arising from the meeting by the
sentimentalism, which gives multiplicity, with the internal sense, which
tends to unity. Consequently the beautiful will be that which presents
the greatest number of ideas in the shortest space of time. To man is
denied supreme unity, but here he finds approximative unity. Hence the
joy arising from the beautiful, which has some analogy with the joy of

With Winckelmann (1764) Platonism or Neo-platonism was vigorously
renewed. The creator of the history of the figurative arts saw in the
divine indifference and more than human elevation of the works of Greek
sculpture a beauty which had descended from the seventh heaven and
become incarnate in them. Mendelssohn, the follower of Baumgarten, had
denied beauty to God: Winckelmann, the Neoplatonician, gave it back to
Him. He holds that perfect beauty is to be found only in God. "The
conception of human beauty becomes the more perfect in proportion as it
can be thought as in agreement with the Supreme Being, who is
distinguished from matter by His unity and indivisibility." To the other
characteristics of supreme beauty, Winckelmann adds "the absence of any
sort of signification" (Unbezeichnung). Lines and dots cannot explain
beauty, for it is not they alone which form it. Its form is not proper
to any definite person, it expresses no sentiment, no feeling of
passion, for these break up unity and diminish or obscure beauty.
According to Winckelmann, beauty must be like a drop of pure water taken
from the spring, which is the more healthy the less it has of taste,
because it is purified of all foreign elements.

A special faculty is required to appreciate this beauty, which
Winckelmann is inclined to call intelligence, or a delicate internal
sense, free of all instinctive passions, of pleasure, and of friendship.
Since it becomes a question of perceiving something immaterial,
Winckelmann banishes colour to a secondary place. True beauty, he says,
is that of form, a word which describes lines and contours, as though
lines and contours could not also be perceived by the senses, or could
appear to the eye without any colour.

It is the destiny of error to be obliged to contradict itself, when it
does not decide to dwell in a brief aphorism, in order to live as well
as may be with facts and concrete problems. The "History" of Winckelmann
dealt with historic concrete facts, with which it was necessary to
reconcile the idea of a supreme beauty. His admission of the contours of
lines and his secondary admission of colours is a compromise. He makes
another with regard to the principle of expression. "Since there is no
intermediary between pain and pleasure in human nature, and since a
human being without these feelings is inconceivable, we must place the
human figure in a moment of action and of passion, which is what is
termed expression in art." So Winckelmann studied expression after
beauty. He makes a third compromise between his one, indivisible,
supreme, and constant beauty and individual beauties. Winckelmann
preferred the male to the female body as the most complete incarnation
of supreme beauty, but he was not able to shut his eyes to the
indisputable fact that there also exist beautiful bodies of women and
even of animals.

Raphael Mengs, the painter, was an intimate friend of Winckelmann and
associated himself with him in his search for a true definition of the
beautiful. His ideas were generally in accordance with those of
Winckelmann. He defines beauty as "the visible idea of perfection, which
is to perfection what the visible is to the mathematical point." He
falls under the influence of the argument from design. The Creator has
ordained the multiplicity of beauties. Things are beautiful according to
our ideas of them, and these ideas come from the Creator. Thus each
beautiful thing has its own type, and a child would appear ugly if it
resembled a man. He adds to his remarks in this sense: "As the diamond
is alone perfect among stones, gold among metals, and man among living
creatures, so there is distinction in each species, and but little is
perfect." In his _Dreams of Beauty_, he looks upon beauty as "an
intermediate disposition," which contains a part of perfection and a
part of the agreeable, and forms a _tertium quid_, which differs from
the other two and deserves a special name. He names four sources of the
art of painting: beauty, significant or expressive character, harmony,
and colouring. The first of these he finds among the ancients, the
second with Raphael, the third with Correggio, the fourth with Titian.
Mengs does not succeed in rising above this empiricism of the studio,
save to declaim about the beauty of nature, virtue, forms, and
proportions, and indeed everything, including the First Cause, which is
the most beautiful of all.

The name of G.E. Lessing (1766) is well known to all concerned with art
problems. The ideas of Winckelmann reappear in Lessing, with less of a
metaphysical tinge. For Lessing, the end of art is the pleasing, and
since this is "a superfluous thing," he thought that the legislator
should not allow to art the liberty indispensable to science, which
seeks the truth, necessary to the soul. For the Greeks painting was, as
it should always be, "imitation of beautiful bodies." Everything
disagreeable or ill-formed should be excluded from painting. "Painting,
as clever imitation, may imitate deformity. Painting, as a fine art,
does not permit this." He was more inclined to admit deformity in
poetry, as there it is less shocking, and the poet can make use of it to
produce in us certain feelings, such as the ridiculous or the terrible.
In his _Dramaturgie_ (1767), Lessing followed the Peripatetics, and
believed that the rules of Aristotle were as absolute as the theorems of
Euclid. His polemic against the French school is chiefly directed to
claiming a place in poetry for the verisimilar, as against absolute
historical exactitude. He held the universal to be a sort of mean of
what appears in the individual, the catharsis was in his view a
transformation of the passions into virtuous dispositions, and he held
the duty of poetry to be inspiration of the love of virtue. He followed
Winckelmann in believing that the expression of physical beauty was the
supreme object of painting. This beauty exists only as an ideal, which
finds its highest expression in man. Animals possess it to a slighter
extent, vegetable and inanimate nature not at all. Those mistaken enough
to occupy themselves with depicting the latter are imitating beauties
deprived of all ideal. They work only with eye and hand; genius has
little if any share in their productions. Lessing found the physical
ideal to reside chiefly in form, but also in the ideal of colour, and in
permanent expression. Mere colouring and transitory expression were for
him without ideal, "because nature has not imposed upon herself anything
definite as regards them." At bottom he does not care for colouring,
finding in the pen drawings of artists "a life, a liberty, a delicacy,
lacking to their pictures." He asks "whether even the most wonderful
colouring can make up for such a loss, and whether it be not desirable
that the art of oil-painting had never been invented."

This "ideal beauty," wonderfully constructed from divine quintessence
and subtle pen and brush strokes, this academic mystery, had great
success. In Italy it was much discussed in the environment of Mengs and
of Winckelmann, who were working there.

The first counterblast to their aesthetic Neo-platonism came from an
Italian named Spalletti, and took the form of a letter addressed to
Mengs. He represents the _characteristic_ as the true principle of art.
The pleasure obtained from beauty is intellectual, and truth is its
object. When the soul meets with what is characteristic, and what really
suits the object to be represented, the work is held to be beautiful. A
well-made man with a woman's face is ugly. Harmony, order, variety,
proportion, etc.--these are elements of beauty, and man enjoys the
widening of his knowledge before disagreeable things characteristically
represented. Spalletti defines beauty as "that modification inherent to
the object observed, which presents it, as it should appear, with an
infallible characteristic."

Thus the Aristotelian thesis found a supporter in Italy, some years
before any protestation was heard in Germany. Louis Hirt, the historian
of art (1797) observed that ancient monuments represented all sorts of
forms, from the most beautiful and sublime to the most ugly and most
common. He therefore denied that ideal beauty was the principle of art,
and for it substituted the _characteristic_, applicable equally to gods,
heroes, and animals.

Wolfgang Goethe, in 1798, forgetting the juvenile period, during which
he had dared to raise a hymn to Gothic architecture, now began seriously
to seek a middle term between beauty and expression. He believed that he
had found it, in certain characteristic contents presenting to the
artist beautiful shapes, which the artist would then develop and reduce
to perfect beauty. Thus for Goethe at this period, the characteristic
was simply the _starting-point_, or framework, from which the beautiful
arose, through the power of the artist.

But these writers mentioned after J.B. Vico are not true philosophers.
Winckelmann, Mengs, Hogarth, Lessing, and Goethe are great in other
ways. Meier called himself a historian of art, but he was inferior both
to Herder and to Hamann. From J.B. Vico to Emmanuel Kant, European
thought is without a name of great importance as regards this subject.

Kant took up the problem, where Vico had left it, not in the historical,
but in the ideal sense. He resembled the Italian philosopher, in the
gravity and the tenacity of his studies in Aesthetic, but he was far
less happy in his solutions, which did not attain to the truth, and to
which he did not succeed in giving the necessary unity and
systematization. The reader must bear in mind that Kant is here
criticized solely as an aesthetician: his other conclusions do not enter
directly into the discussion.

What was Kant's idea of art? The answer is: the same in substance as
Baumgarten's. This may seem strange to those who remember his sustained
polemic against Wolf and the conception of beauty as confused
perception. But Kant always thought highly of Baumgarten. He calls him
"that excellent analyst" in the _Critique of Pure Reason_, and he used
Baumgarten's text for his University lectures on Metaphysic. Kant looked
upon Logic and Aesthetic as cognate studies, and in his scheme of
studies for 1765, and in the _Critique of Pure Reason_, he proposes to
cast a glance at the Critique of Taste, that is to say, Aesthetic,
"since the study of the one is useful for the other and they are
mutually illuminative." He followed Meier in his distinctions between
logical and aesthetic truth. He even quoted the Instance of the young
girl, whose face when distinctly seen, i.e. with a microscope, is no
longer beautiful. It is true, aesthetically, he said, that when a man is
dead he cannot come to life, although this be opposed both to logical
and to moral truth. It is aesthetically true that the sun plunges into
the sea, although that is not true logically or objectively.

No one, even among the greatest, can yet tell to what extent logical
truth should mingle with aesthetic truth. Kant believed that logical
truth must wear the habit of Aesthetic, in order to become _accessible_.
This habit, he thought, was discarded only by the rational sciences,
which tend to depth. Aesthetic certainly is subjective. It is satisfied
with authority or with an appeal to great men. We are so feeble that
Aesthetic must eke out our thoughts. Aesthetic is a vehicle of Logic.
But there are logical truths which are not aesthetic. We must exclude
from philosophy exclamations and other emotions, which belong to
aesthetic truth. For Kant, poetry is the harmonious play of thought and
sensation, differing from eloquence, because in poetry thoughts are
fitted to suggestions, in eloquence the reverse is true. Poetry should
make virtue and intellect visible, as was done by Pope in his _Essay on
Man_. Elsewhere, he says frankly that logical perfection is the
foundation of all the rest.

The confirmation of this is found in his _Critique of Judgment_, which
Schelling looked upon as the most important of the three _Critiques_,
and which Hegel and other metaphysical idealists always especially

For Kant art was always "a sensible and imaged covering for an
intellectual concept." He did not look upon art as pure beauty without a
concept. He looked upon it as a beauty adherent and fixed about a
concept. The work of genius contains two elements: imagination and
intelligence. To these must be added taste, which combines the two. Art
may even represent the ugly in nature, for artistic beauty "is not a
beautiful thing but a beautiful representation of a thing." But this
representation of the ugly has its limits in the arts (here Kant
remembers Lessing and Winckelmann), and an absolute limit in the
disgusting and the repugnant, which kills the representation itself. He
believes that there may be artistic productions without a concept, such
as are flowers in nature, and these would be ornaments to frameworks,
music without words, etc., etc., but since they represent nothing
reducible to a definite concept, they must be classed, like flowers,
with free beauties. This would certainly seem to exclude them from
Aesthetic, which, according to Kant, should combine imagination and

Kant is shut in with intellectualist barriers. A complete definition of
the _imagination_ is _wanting_ to his system. He does not admit that the
imagination belongs to the powers of the mind. He relegates it to the
facts of sensation. He is aware of the reproductive and combinative
imagination, but he does not recognize _fancy_ (_fantasia_), which is
the true productive imagination.

Yet Kant was aware that there exists an activity other than the
intellective. Intuition is referred to by him as preceding intellective
activity and differing from sensation. He does not speak of it, however,
in his critique of art, but in the first section of the _Critique of
Pure Reason_. Sensations do not enter the mind, until it has given them
_form_. This is neither sensation nor intelligence. It is _pure
intuition_, the sum of the _a priori_ principles of sensibility. He
speaks thus: "There must, then, exist a science that forms the first
part of the transcendental doctrine of the elements, distinct from that
which contains the principles of pure thought and is called
transcendental Logic."

What does he call this new science? He calls it _Transcendental
Aesthetic_, and refuses to allow the term to be used for the Critique of
Taste, which could never become a science.

But although he thus states so clearly the necessity of a science of the
form of the sensations, that is of _pure intuition_, Kant here appears
to fall into grave error. This arises from _his inexact idea_ of the
_essence of the aesthetic faculty or of art_, which, as we now know, is
pure intuition. He conceives the form of sensibility to be reducible to
the _two categories of space and time_.

Benedetto Croce has shown that space and time are far from being
categories or functions: they are complex posterior formations. Kant,
however, looked upon density, colour, etc., as material for sensations;
but the mind only observes colour or hardness when it has _already_
given a form to its sensations. Sensations, in so far as they are _crude
matter_, are _outside_ the mind: they are a _limit_. Colour, hardness,
density, etc., are _already_ intuitions. _They are the aesthetic
activity in its rudimentary manifestation._

Characterizing or qualifying imagination, that is, _aesthetic activity_,
should therefore _take the place occupied by the study of space and
time_ in the _Critique of Pure Reason_, and constitute the true
_Transcendental Aesthetic_, prologue to Logic.

Had Kant done this, he would have surpassed Leibnitz and Baumgarten; he
would have equalled Vico.

Kant did not identify the Beautiful with art. He established what he
called "the four moments of Beauty," amounting to a definition of it.
The two negative moments are, "That is beautiful which pleases _without
interest_"; this thesis was directed against the sensualist school of
English writers, with whom Kant had for a time agreed; and "That is
beautiful which pleases without a concept," directed against the
intellectualists. Thus he affirmed the existence of a spiritual domain,
distinct from that of organic pleasure, of the useful, the good, and the
true. The two other moments are, "That is beautiful which has the form
of finality without the representation of an end," and "That is
beautiful which is the object of universal pleasure." What is this
disinterested pleasure that we experience before pure colours, pure
sounds, and flowers? Benedetto Croce replies that this mysterious domain
has no existence; that the instances cited represent, either instances
of organic pleasure, or are artistic facts of expression.

Kant was less severe with the Neoplatonicians than with the two schools
of thought above mentioned. His _Critique of Judgment_ contains some
curious passages, in one of which he gives his distinction of form from
matter: "In music, the melody is the matter, harmony the form: in a
flower, the scent is the matter, the shape or configuration the form."
In the other arts, he found that the design was the essential. "Not what
pleases in sensation, but what is approved for its form, is the
foundation of taste."

In his pursuit of the phantom of a beauty, which is neither that of art
nor of sensual pleasure, exempt alike from expression and from
enjoyment, he became enveloped in inextricable contradictions. Little
disposed as he was to let himself be carried away by the imagination, he
expressed his contempt for philosopher-poets like Herder, and kept
saying and unsaying, affirming and then immediately criticizing his own
affirmations as to this mysterious beauty. The truth is that _this
mystery is simply his own individual uncertainty before a problem which
he could not solve_, owing to his having no clear idea of an activity of
sentiment. Such an activity represented for him a logical contradiction.
Such expressions as "necessary universal pleasure," "finality without
the idea of end," are verbal proofs of his uncertainty.

How was he to emerge from this uncertainty, this contradiction? He fell
back upon the concept of a base of subjective finality as the base of
the judgment of taste, that is of the subjective finality of nature by
the judgment. But nothing can be known or disclosed to the object by
means of this concept, which is indeterminate in itself and not adapted
for knowledge. Its determining reason is perhaps situated in "the
suprasensible substratum of humanity." Thus beauty becomes a symbol of
morality. "The subjective principle alone, that is, the indeterminate
idea of the suprasensible in us, can be indicated as the sole key to
reveal this faculty, which remains unknown to us in its origin. Nothing
but this principle can make that hidden faculty comprehensible."

Kant had a tendency to mysticism, which this statement does not serve to
conceal, but it was a mysticism without enthusiasm, a mysticism almost
against the grain. His failure to penetrate thoroughly the nature of the
aesthetic activity led him to see double and even triple, on several
occasions. Art being unknown to him in its essential nature, he invents
the functions of _space_ and _time_ and terms this _transcendental
aesthetic_; he develops the theory of the imaginative beautifying of the
intellectual concept by genius; he is finally forced to admit a
mysterious power of feeling, intermediate between the theoretic and the
practical activity. This power is cognoscitive and non-cognoscitive,
moral and indifferent to morality, agreeable and yet detached from the
pleasure of the senses. His successors hastened to make use of this
mysterious power, for they were glad to be able to find some sort of
justification for their bold speculations in the severe philosopher of

In addition to Schelling and Hegel, for whom, as has been said, the
_Critique of Judgment_ seemed the most important of the three Critiques,
we must now mention the name of a poet who showed himself as great in
philosophical as in aesthetic achievement.

_Friedrich Schiller_ first elaborated that portion of the Kantian
thought contained in the _Critique of Judgment_. Before any professional
philosopher, Schiller studied that sphere of activity which unites
feeling with reason. Hegel talks with admiration of this artistic
genius, who was also so profoundly philosophical and first announced the
principle of reconciliation between life as duty and reason on the one
hand, and the life of the senses and feeling on the other.

To Schiller belongs the great merit of having opposed the subjective
idealism of Kant and of having made the attempt to surpass it.

The exact relations between Kant and Schiller, and the extent to which
the latter may have been influenced by Leibnitz and Herder, are of less
importance to the history of Aesthetic than the fact that Schiller
_unified_ once for all art and beauty, which had been separated by Kant,
with his distinctions between adherent and pure beauty. Schiller's
artistic sense must doubtless have stood him here in good stead.

Schiller found a very unfortunate and misleading term to apply to the
aesthetic sphere. He called it the sphere of _play_ (Spiel). He strove
to explain that by this he did not mean ordinary games, nor material
amusement. For Schiller, this sphere of play lay intermediate between
thought and feeling. Necessity in art gives place to a free disposition
of forces; mind and nature, matter and form are here reconciled. The
beautiful is life, but not physiological life. A beautiful statue may
have life, and a living man be without it. Art conquers nature with
form. The great artist effaces matter with form. The less we are
sensible of the material in a work of art, the greater the triumph of
the artist. The soul of the spectator should leave the magic sphere of
art as pure and as perfect as when it left the hands of the Creator. The
most frivolous theme should be so treated that we can pass at once from
it to the most rigorous, and _vice versa_. Only when man has placed
himself outside the world and contemplates it aesthetically, can he know
the world. While he is merely the passive receiver of sensations, he is
one with the world, and therefore cannot realize it. Art is
indeterminism. With the help of art, man delivers himself from the yoke
of the senses, and is at the same time free of any rational or moral
duty: he may enjoy for a moment the luxury of serene contemplation.

Schiller was well aware that the moment art is employed to teach morals
directly, it ceases to be art. All other teachings give to the soul a
special imprint. Art alone is favourable to all without prejudice. Owing
to this indifference of art, it possesses a great educative power, by
opening the path to morality without preaching or persuasion; without
determining, it produces determinability. This was the main theme of the
celebrated "Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man," which Schiller
wrote to his patron the Duke of Holstein-Augustenburg. Here, and in his
lectures at the University of Jena, it is clear that Schiller addresses
himself to a popular audience. He began a work, on scientific Aesthetic,
which he intended to entitle "Kallias," but unfortunately died without
completing it. We possess only a few fragments, contained in his
correspondence with his friend Körner. Körner did not feel satisfied
with the formula of Schiller, and asks for some more precise and
objective mark of the beautiful. Schiller tells him that he has found
it, but what he had found we shall never know, as there is no document
to inform us.

The fault of Schiller's aesthetic theory was its lack of precision. His
artistic faculty enabled him to give unsurpassable descriptions of the
catharsis and of other effects of art, but he fails to give a precise
definition of the aesthetic function. True, he disassociates it from
morality, yet admits that it may in a measure be associated with it. The
only formal activities that he recognizes are the moral and the
intellectual, and he denies altogether (against the sensualists) that
art can have anything to do with passion or sensuality. His intellectual
world consisted only of the logical and the intellectual, leaving out
the imaginative activity.

What is art for Schiller? He admits four modes of relation between man
and external things. They are the physical, the logical, the moral, and
the aesthetic. He describes this latter as a mode by which things affect
the whole of our different forces, without being a definite object for
any one in particular. Thus a man may be said to please aesthetically,
"when he does so without appealing to any one of the senses directly,
and without any law or end being thought of in connection with him."
Schiller cannot be made to say anything more definite than this. His
general position was probably much like Kant's (save in the case above
mentioned, where he made a happy correction), and he probably looked
upon Aesthetic as a mingling of several faculties, as a play of

Schiller was faithful to Kant's teaching in its main lines, and his
uncertainty was largely due to this. The existence of a _third sphere_
uniting form and matter was for Schiller rather an ideal conformable to
reason than a _definite_ activity; it was supposititious, rather than

But the Romantic movement in literature, which was at that time gaining
ground, with its belief in a superhuman faculty called imagination, in
genius breaker of rules, found no such need for restraint. Schiller's
modest reserve was set aside, and with J.P. Richter we approach a
mythology of the imagination. Many of his observations are, however,
just, and his distinction between productive and reproductive
imagination is excellent. How could humanity appreciate works of genius,
he asks, were it without some common measure? All men who can go as far
as saying "this is beautiful" before a beautiful thing, are capable of
the latter. He then proceeds to establish to his own satisfaction
categories of the imagination, leading from simple talent to the supreme
form of male genius in which all faculties flourish together: a faculty
of faculties.

The Romantic conception of art is, in substance, that of idealist German
philosophy, where we find it in a more coherent and systematic form. It
is the conception of Schelling, Solger, and Hegel.

Fichte, Kant's first great pupil, cannot be included with these, for his
view of Aesthetic, largely influenced by Schiller, is transformed in the
Fichtian system to a moral activity, to a representation of the ethical
ideal. The subjective idealism of Fichte, however, generated an
Aesthetic: that of irony as the base of art. The I that has created the
universe can also destroy it. The universe is a vain appearance, smiled
at by the Ego its creator, who surveys it as an artist his work, from
without and from above. For Friedrich Schlegel, art was a perpetual
farce, a parody of itself; and Tieck defined irony as a force which
allows the poet to dominate his material.

Novalis, that Romantic Fichtian, dreamed of a magical idealism, an art
of creating by an instantaneous act of the Ego. But Schelling's "system
of transcendental idealism" was the first great philosophical
affirmation of Romanticism and of conscious Neo-platonism reborn in

Schelling has obviously studied Schiller, but he brings to the problem a
mind more purely philosophical and a method more exactly scientific. He
even takes Kant to task for faultiness of method. His remarks as to
Plato's position are curious, if not conclusive. He says that Plato
condemned the art of his time, because it was realistic and
naturalistic: like all antique art, it exhibited a _finite_ character.
Plato's judgment would have been quite different had he known Christian
art, of which the character is _infinity_.

Schelling held firm to the fusion of art and beauty effected by
Schiller, but he combated Winckelmann's theory of abstract beauty with
its negative conception of the characteristic, assigning to art the
limits of the individual. Art is characteristic beauty; it is not the
individual, but the living conception of the individual. When the artist
recognizes the eternal idea in an individual, and expresses it
outwardly, he transforms the individual into a world apart, into a
species, into an eternal idea. Characteristic beauty is the fulness of
form which slays form: it does not silence passion, but restrains it as
the banks of a river the waters that flow between them, but do not

Schelling's starting-point is the criticism of teleological judgment, as
stated by Kant in his third Critique. Teleology is the union of
theoretic with practical philosophy. But the system would not be
complete, unless we could show the identity of the two worlds, theoretic
and practical, in the subject itself. He must demonstrate the existence
of an activity, which is at once unconscious as nature and conscious as
spirit. This activity we find in Aesthetic, which is therefore "the
general organ of philosophy, the keystone of the whole building."

Poetry and philosophy alone possess the world of the ideal, in which the
real world vanishes. True art is not the impression of the moment, but
the representation of infinite life: it is transcendental intuition
objectified. The time will come when philosophy will return to poetry,
which was its source, and on the new philosophy will arise a new
mythology. Philosophy does not depict real things, but their ideas; so
too, art. Those same ideas, of which real things are, as philosophy
shows, the imperfect copies, reappear in art objectified as ideas, and
therefore in their perfection. Art stands nearest to philosophy, which
itself stands nearest to the Idea, and therefore nearest to perfection.
Art differs from philosophy only by its _specialization_: in all other
ways it is the ideal world in its most complete expression. The three
Ideas of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty correspond to the three powers of
the ideal and of the real world. Beauty is not the universal whole,
which is truth, nor is it the only reality, which is action: it is the
perfect mingling of the two. "Beauty exists where the real or particular
is so adequate to its concept that this infinite thing enters into the
finite, and is contemplated in the concrete." Philosophy unites truth,
morality, and beauty, in what they possess in common, and deduces them
from their unique Source, which is God. If philosophy assume the
character of science and of truth, although it be superior to truth, the
reason for this lies in the fact that science and truth are simply the
formal determination of philosophy.

Schelling looked upon mythology as a necessity for every art. Ideas are
Gods, considered from the point of view of reality; for the essence of
each is equal to God in a _particular_ form. The characteristics of all
Gods, including the Christian, are _pure limitation and absolute
indivisibility_. Minerva has wisdom and strength, but lacks womanly
tenderness; Juno has power and wisdom, but is without amorous charm,
which she borrows with the girdle of Venus, who in her turn is without
the wisdom of Minerva. What would these Gods become without their
limitations? They would cease to be the objects of Fancy. Fancy is a
faculty, apart from the pure intellect and from the reason. Distinct
from imagination, which develops the products of art, Fancy has
intuitions of them, grasps them herself, and herself represents them.
Fancy is to imagination as intellectual intuition is to reason. Fancy,
then, is intellectual intuition in art. In the thought of Schelling,
fancy, the new or artistic intuition, sister of intellectual intuition,
came to dominate alike the intellect and the old conception of the fancy
and the imagination, in a system for which reason alone did not suffice.

C.G. Solger followed Schelling and agreed with him in finding but little
truth in the theories of Kant, and especially of Fichte. He held that
their dialectic had failed to solve the difficulty of intellectual
intuition. He too conceived of fancy as distinct from imagination, and
divided the former into three degrees. Imagination he held to appertain
to ordinary knowledge, "which re-establishes the original intuition to
infinity." Fancy "originates from the original antithesis in the idea,
and so operates that the opposing elements which are separated from the
idea become perfectly united in reality. By means of fancy, we are able
to understand things more lofty than those of common knowledge, and in
them we recognize the idea itself as real. In art, fancy is the faculty
of transforming the idea into reality."

For Solger as for Schelling, beauty belongs to the region of Ideas,
which are inaccessible to common knowledge. Art is nearly allied to
religion, for as religion is the abyss of the idea, into which our
consciousness plunges, that it may become essential, so Art and the
Beautiful resolve, in their way, the world of distinctions, the
universal and the particular. Artistic activity is more than
theoretical: it is practical, realized and perfect, and therefore
belongs to practical, not to theoretic philosophy, as Kant wrongly
believed. Since art must touch infinity on one side, it cannot have
ordinary nature for its object. Art therefore _ceases_ in the portrait,
and this explains why the ancients generally chose Gods or Heroes as
models for sculpture. Every deity, even in a limited and particular
form, expresses a definite modification of the Idea.

G.G.F. Hegel gives the same definition of art as Solger and Schelling,
All three were mystical aestheticians, and the various shades of
mystical Aesthetic, presented by these three writers, are not of great
interest. Schelling forced upon art the abstract Platonic ideas, while
Hegel reduced it to the _concrete idea_. This concrete idea was for
Hegel the first and lowest of the three forms of the liberty of the
spirit. It represented immediate, sensible, objectified knowledge; while
Religion filled the second place, as representative consciousness with
adoration, which is an element foreign to art alone. The third place was
of course occupied by Philosophy, the free thought of the absolute
spirit. Beauty and Truth are one for Hegel; they are united in the Idea.
The beautiful he defined as _the sensible appearance of the Idea_.

Some writers have erroneously believed that the views of the three
philosophers above mentioned lead back to those of Baumgarten. But that
is not correct. They well understood that art cannot be made a medium
for the expression of philosophic concepts. Not only are they opposed to
the moralistic and intellectualistic view, but they are its active
opponents. Schelling says that aesthetic production is in its essence
absolutely free, and Hegel that art does not contain the universal as

Hegel accentuated the _cognoscitive_ character of art, more than any of
his predecessors. We have seen that he placed it with Philosophy and
Religion in the sphere of the absolute Spirit. But he does not allow
either to Art or to Religion any difference of function from that of
Philosophy, which occupies the highest place in his system. They are
therefore inferior, necessary, grades of the Spirit. Of what use are
they? Of none whatever, or at best, they merely represent transitory and
historical phases of human life.

Thus we see that the tendency of Hegelianism is _anti-artistic_, as it
is rationalistic and anti-religious.

This result of thought was a strange and a sad thing for one who loved
art so fervently as Hegel. Our memories conjure up Plato, who also loved
art well, and yet found himself logically obliged to banish the poet
from his ideal Republic, after crowning him with roses. But the German
philosopher was as staunch to the (supposed) command of reason as the
Greek, and felt himself obliged to announce the death of art. Art, he
says, occupies a lofty place in the human spirit, but not the most
lofty, for it is limited to a restricted content and only a certain
grade of truth can be expressed in art. Such are the Hellenic Gods, who
can be transfused in the sensible and appear in it adequately. The
Christian conception of truth is among those which cannot be so
expressed. The spirit of the modern world, and more precisely the spirit
of our religion and rational development, seem to have gone beyond the
point at which art is the chief way of apprehending the Absolute. The
peculiarity of artistic production no longer satisfies our highest
needs. Thought and reflexion have surpassed art, the beautiful. He goes
on to say that the reason generally given for this is the prevalence of
material and political interests. But the true reason is the inferiority
in degree of art as compared with pure thought. Art is dead, and
Philosophy can therefore supply its complete biography.

Hegel's _Vorlesungen Über Aesthetik_ amounts therefore to a funeral
oration upon Art.

Romanticism and metaphysical idealism had placed art, sometimes above
the clouds, sometimes within them, and believing that it was no good
there to anyone, Hegel provided a decent burial.

Nothing perhaps better shows how well this fantastic conception of art
suited the spirit of the time, than the fact that even the adversaries
of Schelling, Solger, and Hegel either admit agreement with that
conception, or find themselves involuntarily in agreement with it, while
believing themselves to be very remote. They too are mystical

We all know with what virulence Arthur Schopenhauer attacked and
combated Schelling, Hegel, and all the "charlatans" and "professors" who
had divided among them the inheritance of Kant.

Well, Schopenhauer's theory of art starts, just like Hegel's, from the
difference between the abstract and the concrete concept, which is the
_Idea_. Schopenhauer's ideas are the Platonic ideas, although in the
form which he gives to them, they have a nearer resemblance to the Ideas
of Schelling than to the Idea of Hegel.

Schopenhauer takes much trouble to differentiate his ideas from
intellectual concepts. He calls the idea "unity which has become
plurality by means of space and time. It is the form of our intuitive
apperception. The concept is, on the contrary, unity extracted from
plurality by means of abstraction, which is an act of our intellect. The
concept may be called _unitas post rem_, the idea _unitas ante rem_."

The origin of this psychological illusion of the ideas or types of
things is always to be found in the changing of the empirical
classifications created for their own purposes by the natural sciences,
into living realities.

Thus each art has for its sphere a special category of ideas.
Architecture and its derivatives, gardening (and strange to say
landscape-painting is included with it), sculpture and animal-painting,
historical painting and the higher forms of sculpture, etc., all possess
their special ideas. Poetry's chief object is man as idea. Music, on the
contrary, does not belong to the hierarchy of the other arts. Schelling
had looked upon music as expressing the rhythm of the universe itself.
For Schopenhauer, music does not express ideas, but the _Will itself_.

The analogies between music and the world, between fundamental notes and
crude matter, between the scale and the scale of species, between melody
and conscious will, lead Schopenhauer to the conclusion that music is
not only an arithmetic, as it appeared to Leibnitz, but indeed a
metaphysic: "the occult metaphysical exercise of a soul not knowing that
it philosophizes."

For Schopenhauer, as for his idealist predecessors, art is beatific. It
is the flower of life; he who is plunged in artistic contemplation
ceases to be an individual; he is the conscious subject, pure, freed
from will, from pain, and from time.

Yet in Schopenhauer's system exist elements for a better and a more
profound treatment of the problem of art. He could sometimes show
himself to be a lucid and acute analyst. For instance, he continually
remarks that the categories of space and time are not applicable to art,
_but only the general form of representation_. He might have deduced
from this that art is the most immediate, not the most lofty grade of
consciousness, since it precedes even the ordinary perceptions of space
and time. Vico had already observed that this freeing oneself from
ordinary perception, this dwelling in imagination, does not really mean
an ascent to the level of the Platonic Ideas, but, on the contrary, a
redescending to the sphere of immediate intuition, a return to

On the other hand, Schopenhauer had begun to submit the Kantian
categories to impartial criticism, and finding the two forms of
intuition insufficient, added a third, causality.

He also drew comparisons between art and history, and was more
successful here than the idealist excogitators of a philosophy of
history. Schopenhauer rightly saw that history was irreducible to
concepts, that it is the contemplation of the individual, and therefore
not a science. Having proceeded thus far, he might have gone further,
and realized that the material of history is always the particular in
its particularity, that of art what is and always is identical. But he
preferred to execute a variation on the general motive that was in
fashion at this time.

The fashion of the day! It rules in philosophy as elsewhere, and we are
now about to see the most rigid and arid of analysts, the leader of the
so-called _realist_ school, or school of _exact science_ in Germany in
the nineteenth century, plunge headlong into aesthetic mysticism.

G.F. Herbart (1813) begins his Aesthetic by freeing it from the
discredit attaching to Metaphysic and to Psychology. He declares that
the only true way of understanding art is to study particular examples
of the beautiful and to note what they reveal as to its essence.

We shall now see what came of Herbart's analysis of these examples of
beauty, and how far he succeeded in remaining free of Metaphysic.

For Herbart, beauty consists of _relations_. The science of Aesthetic
consists of an enumeration of all the fundamental relations between
colours, lines, tones, thoughts, and will. But for him these relations
are not empirical or physiological. They cannot therefore be studied in
a laboratory, because thought and the will form part of them, and these
belong as much to Ethics as to the external world. But Herbart
explicitly states that no true beauty is sensible, although sensation
may and does often precede and follow the intuition of beauty. There is
a profound distinction between the beautiful and the agreeable or
pleasant: the latter does not require a representation, while the former
consists in representations of relations, which are immediately followed
by a judgment expressing unconditioned approval. Thus the merely
pleasurable becomes more and more indifferent, but the beautiful appears
always as of more and more permanent value. The judgment of taste is
universal, eternal, immutable. The complete representation of the same
relations always carries with it the same judgment. For Herbart,
aesthetic judgments are the general class containing the sub-class of
ethical judgments. The five ethical ideas, of internal liberty, of
perfection, of benevolence, of equity, and of justice, are five
aesthetic ideas; or better, they are aesthetic concepts applied to the
will in its relations.

Herbart looked upon art as a complex fact, composed of an external
element possessing logical or psychological value, the content, and of a
true aesthetic element, which is the form. Entertainment, instruction,
and pleasure of all sorts are mingled with the beautiful, in order to
obtain favour for the work in question. The aesthetic judgment, calm and
serene in itself, may be accompanied by all sorts of psychic emotions,
foreign to it. But the content is always transitory, relative, subject
to moral laws, and judged by them. The form alone is perennial,
absolute, and free. The true catharsis can only be effected by
separating the form from the content. Concrete art may be the sum of two
values, _but the aesthetic fact is form alone_.

For those capable of penetrating beneath appearances, the aesthetic
doctrines of Herbart and of Kant will appear very similar. Herbart is
notable as insisting, in the manner of Kant, on the distinction between
free and adherent beauty (or adornment as sensuous stimulant), on the
existence of pure beauty, object of necessary and universal judgments,
and on a certain mingling of ethical with his aesthetic theory. Herbart,
indeed, called himself "a Kantian, but of the year 1828." Kant's
aesthetic theory, though it be full of errors, yet is rich in fruitful
suggestions. Kant belongs to a period when philosophy is still young and
pliant. Herbart came later, and is dry and one-sided. The romantics and
the metaphysical idealists had unified the theory of the beautiful and
of art. Herbart restored the old duality and mechanism, and gave us an
absurd, unfruitful form of mysticism, void of all artistic inspiration.

Herbart may be said to have taken all there was of false in the thought
of Kant and to have made it into a system.

The beginning of the nineteenth century in Germany is notable for the
great number of philosophical theories and of counter-theories, broached
and rapidly discussed, before being discarded. None of the most
prominent names in the period belong to philosophers of first-rate
importance, though they made so much stir in their day.

The thought of Friedrich Schleiermacher was obscured and misunderstood
amid those crowding mediocrities; yet it is perhaps the most interesting
and the most noteworthy of the period.

Schleiermacher looked upon Aesthetic as an altogether modern form of
thought. He perceived a profound difference between the "Poetics" of
Aristotle, not yet freed from empirical precepts, and the tentative of
Baumgarten in the eighteenth century. He praised Kant as having been the
first to include Aesthetic among the philosophical disciplines. He
admitted that with Hegel it had attained to the highest pinnacle, being
connected with religion and with philosophy, and almost placed upon
their level.

But he was dissatisfied with the absurdity of the attempt made by the
followers of Baumgarten to construct a science or theory of sensuous
pleasure. He disapproved of Kant's view of taste as being the principle
of Aesthetic, of Fichte's art as moral teaching, and of the vague
conception of the beautiful as the centre of Aesthetic.

He approved of Schiller's marking of the moment of spontaneity in
productive art, and he praised Schelling for having drawn attention to
the figurative arts, as being less liable than poetry to be diverted to
false and illusory moralistic ends. Before he begins the study of the
place due to the artistic activity in Ethic, he carefully excludes from
the study of Aesthetic all practical rules (which, being empirical, are
incapable of scientific demonstration).

For Schleiermacher, the sphere of Ethic included the whole Philosophy of
the Spirit, in addition to morality. These are the two forms of human
activity--that which, like Logic, is the same in all men, and is called
activity of identity, and the activity of difference or individuality.
There are activities which, like art, are internal or immanent and
individual, and others which are external or practical. _The true work
of art is the internal picture_. Measure is what differentiates the
artist's portrayal of anger on the stage and the anger of a really angry
man. Truth is not sought in poetry, or if it be sought there, it is
truth of an altogether different kind. The truth of poetry lies in
coherent presentation. Likeness to a model does not compose the merit of
a picture. Not the smallest amount of knowledge comes from art, which
expresses only the truth of a particular consciousness. Art has for its
field the immediate consciousness of self, which must be carefully
distinguished from the thought of the Ego. This last is the
consciousness of identity in the diversity of moments as they pass; the
immediate consciousness of self is the diversity itself of the moments,
of which we should be aware, for life is nothing but the development of
consciousness. In this field, art has sometimes been confused with two
facts which accompany it there: these are sentient consciousness (that
is, the feelings of pleasure and of pain) and religion. Schleiermacher
here alludes to the sensualistic aestheticians of the eighteenth
century, and to Hegel, who had almost identified art and religion. He
refutes both points of view by pointing out that sentient pleasure and
religious sentiment, however different they may be from other points of
view, are yet both determined by an objective fact; while art, on the
contrary, is free productivity.

Dream is the best parallel and proof of this free productivity. All the
essential elements of art are found in dream, which is the result of
free thoughts and of sensible intuitions, consisting simply of images.
But dream, as compared with art, is chaotic: when measure and order is
established in dream, it becomes art. Thoughts and images are alike
essential to art, and to both is necessary ponderation, reflexion,
measure, and unity, because otherwise every image would be confused with
every other image. Thus the moments of inspiration and of ponderation
are both necessary to art.

Schleiermacher's thought, so firm and lucid up to this point, begins to
become less secure, with the discussion of typicity and of the extent to
which the artist should follow Nature. He says that ideal figures, which
Nature would give, were she not impeded by external obstacles, are the
products of art. He notes that when the artist represents something
really given, such as a portrait or a landscape, he renounces freedom of
production and adheres to the real. In the artist is a double tendency,
toward the perfection of the type and toward the representation of
natural reality. He should not fall into the abstraction of the type,
nor into the insignificance of empirical reality. Schleiermacher feels
all the difficulty of such a problem as whether there be one or several
ideals of the human figure. This problem may be transferred to the
sphere of art, and we may ask whether the poet is to represent only the
ideal, or whether he should also deal with those obstacles to it that
impede Nature in her efforts to attain. Both views contain half the
truth. To art belongs the representation of the ideal as of the real, of
the subjective and of the objective alike. The representation of the
comic, that is of the anti-ideal and of the imperfect ideal, belongs to
the domain of art. For the human form, both morally and physically,
oscillates between the ideal and caricature.

He arrives at a most important definition as to the independence of art
in respect to morality. The nature of art, as of philosophic
speculation, excludes moral and practical effects. Therefore, _there is
no other difference between works of art than their respective artistic
perfection (Vollkommenheit in der Kunst)_. If we could correctly
predicate volitional acts in respect of works of art, then we should
find ourselves admiring only those works which stimulated the will, and
there would thus be established a difference of valuation, independent
of artistic perfection. The true work of art depends upon the degree of
perfection with which the external in it agrees with the internal.

Schleiermacher rightly combats Schiller's view that art is in any sense
a game. That, he says, is the view held by mere men of business, to whom
business alone is serious. But artistic activity is universal, and a man
completely deprived of it unthinkable, although the difference here
between man and man, is gigantic, ranging from the simple desire to
taste of art to the effective tasting of it, and from this, by infinite
gradations, to productive genius.

The regrettable fact that Schleiermacher's thought has reached us only
in an imperfect form, may account for certain of its defects, such as
his failure to eliminate aesthetic classes and types, his retention of a
certain residue of abstract formalism, his definition of art as the
activity of difference. Had he better defined the moment of artistic
reproduction, realized the possibility of tasting the art of various
times and of other nations, and examined the true relation of art to
science, he would have seen that this difference is merely empirical and
to be surmounted. He failed also to recognize the identity of the
aesthetic activity, with language as the base of all other theoretic

But Schleiermacher's merits far outweigh these defects. He removed from
Aesthetic its _imperativistic_ character; he distinguished _a form of
thought_ different from logical thought. He attributed to our science a
_non-metaphysical, anthropological_ character. He _denied_ the concept
of the beautiful, substituting for it _artistic perfection_, and
maintaining the aesthetic equality of a small with a great work of art,
he looked upon the aesthetic fact as an exclusively _human

Thus Schleiermacher, the theologian, in this period of metaphysical
orgy, of rapidly constructed and as rapidly destroyed systems,
perceived, with the greatest philosophical acumen, what is really
characteristic of art, and distinguished its properties and relations.
Even where he fails to see clearly his way, he never abandons analysis
for mere guess-work.

Schleiermacher, thus exploring the obscure region of the _immediate
consciousness_, or of the aesthetic fact, can almost be heard crying out
to his straying contemporaries: _Hic Rhodus, hi salta_!

Speculation upon the origin and nature of language was rife at this time
in Germany. Many theories were put forward, among the most curious being
that of Schelling, who held language and mythology to be the product of
a pre-human consciousness, allegorically expressed as the diabolic
suggestions which had precipitated the Ego from the infinite to the

Even Wilhelm von Humboldt was unable to free himself altogether from the
intellectualistic prejudice of the substantial identity and the merely
historical and accidental diversity of logical thought and language. He
speaks of a _perfect_ language, broken up and diminished with the lesser
capacities of lesser peoples. He believed that language is something
standing outside the individual, independent of him, and capable of
being revived by use. But there were two men in Humboldt, an old man and
a young one. The latter was always suggesting that language should be
looked upon as a living, not as a dead thing, as an activity, not as a
word. This duality of thought sometimes makes his writing difficult and
obscure. Although he speaks of an internal form of speech, he fails to
identify this with art as expression. The reason is that he looks upon
the word in too unilateral a manner, as a means of developing logical
thought, and his ideas of Aesthetic are too vague and too inexact to
enable him to discover their identity. Despite his perception of the
profound truth that poetry precedes prose, Humboldt gives grounds for
doubt as to whether he had clearly recognized and firmly grasped the
fact that language is always poetry, and that prose (science) is a
distinction, not of aesthetic form, but of content, that is, of logical

Steinthal, the greatest follower of Humboldt, solved his master's
contradictions, and in 1855 sustained successfully against the Hegelian
Becker the thesis that words are necessary for thought. He pointed to
the deaf-mute with his signs, to the mathematician with his formulae, to
the Chinese language, where the figurative portion is an essential of
speech, and declared that Becker was wrong in believing that the
Sanskrit language was derived from twelve cardinal concepts. He showed
effectively that the concept and the word, the logical judgment and the
proposition, are not comparable. The proposition is not a judgment, but
the representation of a judgment; and all propositions do not represent
logical judgments. Several judgments can be expressed with one
proposition. The logical divisions of judgments (the relations of
concepts) have no correspondence in the grammatical division of
propositions. "If we speak of a logical form of the proposition, we fall
into a contradiction in terms not less complete than his who should
speak of the angle of a circle, or of the periphery of a triangle." He
who speaks, in so far as he speaks, has not thoughts, but language.

When Steinthal had several times solemnly proclaimed the independence of
language as regards Logic, and that it produces its forms in complete
autonomy, he proceeded to seek the origin of language, recognizing with
Humboldt that the question of Its origin is the same as that of its
nature. Language, he said, belongs to the great class of reflex
movements, but this only shows one side of it, not its true nature.
Animals, like men, have reflex actions and sensations, though nature
enters the animal by force, takes it by assault, conquers and enslaves
it. With man is born language, because he is resistance to nature,
governance of his own body, and liberty. "Language is liberation; even
to-day we feel that our soul becomes lighter, and frees itself from a
weight, when we speak." Man, before he attains to speech, must be
conceived of as accompanying all his sensations with bodily movements,
mimetic attitudes, gestures, and particularly with articulate sounds.
What is still lacking to him, that he may attain to speech? The
connexion between the reflex movements of the body and the state of the
soul. If his sentient consciousness be already consciousness, then he
lacks the consciousness of consciousness; if it be already intuition,
then he lacks the intuition of intuition. In sum, he lacks the _internal
form of language_. With this comes speech, which forms the connexion.
Man does not choose the sound of his speech. This is given to him and he
adopts it instinctively.

When we have accorded to Steinthal the great merit of having rendered
coherent the ideas of Humboldt, and of having clearly separated
linguistic from logical thought, we must note that he too failed to
perceive the _identity_ of the internal form of language, or "intuition
of the intuition," as he called it, with the aesthetic _imagination_.
Herbart's psychology, to which Steinthal adhered, did not afford him any
means for this identification. Herbart separated logic from psychology,
calling it a normative science; he failed to discern the exact limits
between feeling and spiritual formation, psyche or soul, and spirit, and
to see that one of these spiritual formations is logical thought or
activity, which is not a code of laws imposed from without. For Herbart,
Aesthetic, as we know, was a code of beautiful formal relations. Thus
Steinthal, following Herbart in psychology, was bound to look upon Art
as a beautifying of thought, Linguistic as the science of speech,
Rhetoric and Aesthetic as the science of beautiful speech.

Steinthal never realized that to speak is to speak well or beautifully,
under penalty of _not_ speaking, and that the revolution which he and
Humboldt had effected in the conception of language must inevitably
react upon and transform Poetic, Rhetoric, and Aesthetic.

Thus, despite so many efforts of conscientious analysis on the part of
Humboldt and of Steinthal, the unity of language and of poetry, and the
identification of the science of language and the science of poetry
still found its least imperfect expression in the prophetic aphorisms of

The philosophical movement in Germany from the last quarter of the
eighteenth century to the first half of the nineteenth, notwithstanding
its many errors, is yet so notable and so imposing with the philosophers
already considered, as to merit the first place in the European thought
of that period. This is even more the case as regards Aesthetic than as
regards philosophy in general.

France was the prey of Condillac's sensualism, and therefore incapable
of duly appreciating the spiritual activity of art. We hardly get a
glimpse of Winckelmann's transcendental spiritualism in Quatremère de
Quincy, and the frigid academics of Victor Cousin were easily surpassed
by Theodore Jouffroy, though he too failed of isolating the aesthetic
fact. French Romanticism defined literature as "the expression of
society," admired under German influence the grotesque and the
characteristic, declared the independence of art in the formula of "art
for art's sake," but did not succeed in surpassing philosophically the
old doctrine of the "imitation of nature." F. Schlegel and Solger indeed
were largely responsible for the Romantic movement in France--Schlegel
with his belief in the characteristic or _interesting_ as the principle
of modern art, which led him to admire the cruel and the ugly; Solger
with his dialectic arrangement, whereby the finite or terrestrial
element is absorbed and annihilated in the divine and thus becomes the
tragic, or _vice versa_, and the result is the comic. Rosenkranz
published in Königsberg an Aesthetic of the Ugly, and the works of
Vischer and Zeising abound in subtleties relating to the Idea and to its
expression in the beautiful and sublime. These writers conceived of the
Idea as the Knight Purebeautiful, constrained to abandon his tranquil
ease through the machinations of the Ugly; the Ugly leads him into all
sorts of disagreeable adventures, from all of which he eventually
emerges victorious. The Sublime, the Comic, the Humorous, and so on, are
his Marengo, Austerlitz, and Jena. Another version of their knight's
adventures might be described as his conquest by his enemies, but at the
moment of conquest he transforms and irradiates his conquerors. To such
a mediocre and artificial mythology led the much-elaborated theory of
the Modifications of the Beautiful.

In England, the associationist psychology continued to hold sway, and
showed, with Dugald Stewart's miserable attempt at establishing two
forms of association, its incapacity to rise to the conception of the
imagination. With the poet Coleridge, England also showed the influence
of German thought, and Coleridge elaborated with Wordsworth a more
correct conception of poetry and of its difference from science. But the
most notable contribution in English at that period came from another
poet, P.B. Shelley, whose _Defence of Poetry_ contains profound, though
unsystematic views, as to the distinction between reason and
imagination, prose and poetry, on primitive language, and on the poetic
power of objectification.

In Italy, Francesco de Sanctis gave magnificent expression to the
independence of art. He taught literature in Naples from 1838 to 1848,
in Turin and Zurich from 1850 to 1860, and after 1870 he was a professor
in the University of Naples. His _Storia della letteratura italiana_ is
a classic, and in it and in monographs on individual writers he exposed
his doctrines.

Prompted by a natural love of speculation, he began to examine the old
grammarians and rhetoricians, with a view to systematize them. But very
soon he proceeded to criticize and to surpass their theories. The cold
rules of reason did not find favour with him, and he advised young men
to go direct to the original works.

The philosophy of Hegel began to penetrate Italy, and the study of Vico
was again taken up. De Sanctis translated the _Logic_ of Hegel in
prison, where the Bourbon Government had thrown him for his liberalism.
Benard had begun his translation of the _Aesthetic_ of Hegel, and so
completely in harmony was De Sanctis with the thought of this master,
that he is said to have guessed from a study of the first volume what
the unpublished volumes must contain, and to have lectured upon them to
his pupils. Traces of mystical idealism and of Hegelianism persist even
in his later works, and the distinction, which he always maintained,
between imagination and fancy certainly came to him from Hegel and
Schelling. He held fancy alone to be the true poetic faculty.

De Sanctis absorbed all the juice of Hegel, but rejected the husks of
his pedantry, of his formalism, of his apriority.

Fancy for De Sanctis was not the mystical transcendental apperception of
the German philosophers, but simply the faculty of poetic synthesis and
creation, opposed to the imagination, which reunites details and always
has something mechanical about it. Faith and poetry, he used to say, are
not dead, but transformed. His criticism of Hegel amounted in many
places to the correction of Hegel; and as regards Vico, he is careful to
point out, that when, in dealing with the Homeric poems, Vico talks of
generic types, he is no longer the critic of art, but the historian of
civilization. De Sanctis saw that, _artistically_, Achilles must always
be Achilles, never a force or an abstraction.

Thus De Sanctis succeeded in keeping himself free from the Hegelian
domination, at a moment when Hegel was the acknowledged master of

But his criticism extended also to other German aestheticians. By a
curious accident, he found himself at Zurich in the company of Theodore
Vischer, that ponderous Hegelian, who laughed disdainfully at the
mention of poetry, of music, and of the decadent Italian race. De
Sanctis laughed at Vischer's laughter. Wagner appeared to him a
corrupter of music, and "nothing in the world more unaesthetic than the
Aesthetic of Theodore Vischer." His lectures on Ariosto and Petrarch,
before an international public at Zurich, were delivered with the desire
of correcting the errors of these and of other German philosophers and
learned men. He gave his celebrated definitions of French and German
critics. The French critic does not indulge in theories: one feels
warmth of impression and sagacity of observation in his argument. He
never leaves the concrete; he divines the quality of the writer's genius
and the quality of his work, and studies the man, in order to understand
the writer. His great fault is shown in substituting for criticism of
the actual art work a historical criticism of the author and of his
time. For the German, on the other hand, there is nothing so simple that
he does not contrive to distort and to confuse it. He collects shadows
around him, from which shoot vivid rays. He laboriously brings to birth
that morsel of truth which he has within him. He would seize and define
what is most fugitive and impalpable in a work of art. Although nobody
talks so much of life as he does, yet no one so much delights in
decomposing and generalizing it. Having thus destroyed the particular,
he is able to show you as the result of this process, final in
appearance, but in reality preconceived and apriorist, one measurement
for all feet, one garment for all bodies.

About this time he studied Schopenhauer, who was then becoming the
fashion. Schopenhauer said of this criticism of De Sanctis: "That
Italian has absorbed me _in succum et sanguinem_." What weight did he
attach to Schopenhauer's much-vaunted writings on art? Having exposed
the theory of Ideas, he barely refers to the third volume, "which
contains an exaggerated theory of Aesthetic."

In his criticism of Petrarch, De Sanctis finally broke with metaphysical
Aesthetic, saying of Hegel's school that it believed the beautiful to
become art when it surpassed form and revealed the concept or pure idea.
This theory and the subtleties derived from it, far from characterizing
art, represent its contrary: the impotent velleity for art, which cannot
slay abstractions and come in contact with life.

De Sanctis held that outside the domain of art all Is shapeless. The
ugly is of the domain of art, if art give it form. Is there anything
more beautiful than Iago? If he be looked upon merely as a contrast to
Othello, then we are in the position of those who looked upon the stars
as placed where they are to serve as candles for the earth.

Form was for De Sanctis the word which should be inscribed over the
entrance to the Temple of Art. In the work of art are form and content,
but the latter is no longer chaotic: the artist has given to it a new
value, has enriched it with the gift of his own personality. But if the
content has not been assimilated and made his own by the artist, then
the work lacks generative power: it is of no value as art or literature,
though as history or scientific document its value may be great. The
Gods of Homer's _Iliad_ are dead, but the _Iliad_ remains. Guelf and
Ghibelline have disappeared from Italy: not so the _Divine Comedy_,
which is as vigorous to-day as when Dante first took pen in hand. Thus
De Sanctis held firmly to the independence of art, but he did not accept
the formula of "art for art's sake," in so far as it meant separation of
the artist from life, mutilation of the content, art reduced to mere

For De Sanctis, form was identical with imagination, with the artist's
power of expressing or representing his artistic vision. This much must
be admitted by his critics. But he never attained to a clear definition
of art. His theory of Aesthetic always remained a sketch: wonderful
indeed, but not clearly developed and deduced. The reason for this was
De Sanctis' love of the concrete. No sooner had he attained from general
ideas a sufficient clarity of vision for his own purposes, than he
plunged again into the concrete and particular. He did not confine his
activity to literature, but was active also in politics and in the
prosecution and encouragement of historical studies.

As a critic of literature, De Sanctis is far superior to Sainte-Beuve,
Lessing, Macaulay, or Taine. Flaubert's genial intuition adumbrated what
De Sanctis achieved. In one of his letters to Georges Sand, Flaubert
speaks of the lack of an _artistic_ critic. "In Laharpe's time,
criticism was grammatical; in the time of Sainte-Beuve and of Taine, it
is historical. They analyse with great subtlety the historical
environment in which the work appeared and the causes which have
produced it. But the _unconscious_ element In poetry? Whence does It
come? And composition? And style? And the point of view of the author?
Of all that they never speak. For such a critic, great imagination and
great goodness are necessary. I mean an ever-ready faculty of
enthusiasm, and then _taste_, a quality so rare, even among the best,
that it is never mentioned."

De Sanctis alone fulfilled the conditions of Flaubert, and Italy has in
his writings a looking-glass for her literature unequalled by any other

But with De Sanctis, the philosopher of art, the aesthetician, is not so
great as the critic of literature. The one is accessory to the other,
and his use of aesthetic terminology is so inconstant that a lack of
clearness of thought might be found in his work by anyone who had not
studied it with care. But his want of system is more than compensated by
his vitality, by his constant citation of actual works, and by his
intuition of the truth, which never abandoned him. His writings bear the
further charm of suggesting new kingdoms to conquer, new mines of
richness to explore.

While the cry of "Down with Metaphysic" was resounding in Germany, and a
furious reaction had set in against the sort of Walpurgisnacht to which
the later Hegelians had reduced science and history, the pupils of
Herbart came forward and with an insinuating air they seemed to say:
"What is this? Why, it is a rebellion against Metaphysic, the very thing
our master wished for and tried to achieve, half a century ago! But here
we are, his heirs and successors, and we want to be your allies! An
understanding between us will be easy. Our Metaphysic is in agreement
with the atomic theory, our Psychology with mechanicism, our Ethic and
Aesthetic with hedonism." Herbart, who died in 1841, would probably have
disdained and rejected his followers, who thus courted popularity and
cheapened Metaphysic, putting a literal interpretation on his realities,
his ideas and representations, and upon all his most lofty

The protagonist of these neo-Herbartians was Robert Zimmermann. He
constructed his system of Aesthetic out of Herbart, whom he perverted to
his own uses, and even employed the much-abused Hegelian dialectic in
order to introduce modifications of the beautiful into pure beauty. The
beautiful, he said, is a model which possesses greatness, fulness,
order, correction, and definite compensation. Beauty appears to us in a
characteristic form, as a copy of this model.

Vischer, against whom was directed this work of Zimmermann, found it
easy to reply. He ridiculed Zimmermann's meaning of the symbol as the
object around which are clustered beautiful forms. "Does an artist paint
a fox, simply that he may depict an object of animal nature. No, no, my
dear sir, far from it. This fox is a symbol, because the painter here
employs lines and colours, in order to express something different from
lines and colours. 'You think I am a fox,' cries the painted animal.
'You are mightily mistaken; I am, on the contrary, a portmanteau, an
exhibition by the painter of red, white, grey, and yellow tints.'"
Vischer also made fun of Zimmermann's enthusiasm for the aesthetic value
of the sense of touch. "What joy it must be to touch the back of the
bust of Hercules in repose! To stroke the sinuous limbs of the Venus of
Milo or of the Faun of Barberini must give a pleasure to the hand equal
to that of the ear as it listens to the puissant fugues of Bach or to
the suave melodies of Mozart." Vischer defined the formal Aesthetic of
Zimmermann as a queer mixture of mysticism and mathematic.

Lotze, in common with the great majority of thinkers, was dissatisfied
with Zimmermann, but could only oppose his formalism with a variety of
the old mystical Aesthetic. Who, he asked, could believe that the human
form pleases only by its external proportions, regardless of the spirit
within. Art, like beauty, should "enclose the world of values in the
world of forms." This struggle between the Aesthetic of the content and
the Aesthetic of the form attained its greatest height in Germany
between 1860 and 1870, with Zimmermann, Vischer, and Lotze as

These writers were followed by J. Schmidt, who in 1875 ventured to say
that both Lotze and Zimmermann had failed to see that the problem of
Aesthetic concerned, not the beauty or ugliness of the content or of the
form as mathematical relations, but their representation; Köstlin, who
erected an immense artificial structure with the materials of his
predecessors modified; Schasler, who is interesting as having converted
the old Vischer to his thesis of the importance of the Ugly, as
introducing modifications into the beautiful and being the principle of
movement there. Vischer confesses that at one time he had followed the
Hegelian method and believed that in the essence of beauty is born a
disquietude, a fermentation, a struggle: the Idea conquers, hurls the
image into the unlimited, and the Sublime is born; but the image,
offended in its finitude, declares war upon the Idea, and the Comic
appears. Thus the fight is finished and the Beautiful returns to itself,
as the result of these struggles. But now, he says, Schasler has
persuaded him that the Ugly is the leaven which is necessary to all the
special forms of the Beautiful.

E. von Hartmann is in close relation with Schasler. His Aesthetic (1890)
also makes great use of the Ugly. Since he insists upon appearance as a
necessary characteristic of the beautiful, he considers himself
justified in calling his theory concrete idealism. Hartmann considers
himself in opposition to the formalism of Herbart, inasmuch as he
insists upon the idea as an indispensable and determining element of
beauty. Beauty, he says, is truth, but it is not historical truth, nor
scientific nor reflective truth: it is metaphysical and ideal. "Beauty
is the prophet of idealistic truth in an age without faith, hating
Metaphysic, and acknowledging only realistic truth." Aesthetic truth is
without method and without control: it leaps at once from the subjective
appearance to the essence of the ideal. But in compensation for this, it
possesses the fascination of conviction, which immediate intuition alone
possesses. The higher Philosophy rises, the less need has she of passing
through the world of the senses and of science: she approaches ever more
nearly to art. Thus Philosophy starts on the voyage to the ideal, like
Baedeker's traveller, "without too much baggage." In the Beautiful is
immanent logicity, the microcosmic idea, the unconscious. By means of
the unconscious, the process of intellectual intuition takes place in
it. The Beautiful is a mystery, because its root is in the Unconscious.

No philosopher has ever made so great a use of the Ugly as Hartmann. He
divides Beauty into grades, of which the one below is ugly as compared
with that above it. He begins with the mathematical, superior to the
sensibly agreeable, which is unconscious. Thence to formal beauty of the
second order, the dynamically agreeable, to formal beauty of the third
order, the passive teleological; to this degree belong utensils, and
language, which in Hartmann's view is a dead thing, inspired with
seeming life, only at the moment of use. Such things did the philosopher
of the Unconscious dare to print in the country of a Humboldt during the
lifetime of a Steinthal! He proceeds in his list of things beautiful,
with formal beauty of the fourth degree, which is the active or living
teleological, with the fifth, which is that of species. Finally he
reaches concrete beauty, or the individual microcosm, the highest of
all, because the individual idea is superior to the specific, and is
beauty, no longer formal, but of content.

All these degrees of beauty are, as has been said, connected with one
another by means of the ugly, and even in the highest degree, which has
nothing superior to it, the ugly continues its office of beneficent
titillation. The outcome of this ultimate phase is the famous theory of
the Modifications of the Beautiful. None of these modifications can
occur without a struggle, save the sublime and the graceful, which
appear without conflict at the side of supreme beauty. Hartmann gives
four instances: the solution is either immanent, logical,
transcendental, or combined. The idyllic, the melancholy, the sad, the
glad, the elegiac, are instances of the immanent solution; the comic in
all its forms is the logical solution; the tragic is the transcendental
solution; the combined form is found in the humorous, the tragi-comic.
When none of these solutions is possible, we have the ugly; and when an
ugliness of content is expressed by a formal ugliness, we have the
maximum of ugliness, the true aesthetic devil.

Hartmann is the last noteworthy representative of the German
metaphysical school. His works are gigantic in size and appear
formidable. But if one be not afraid of giants and venture to approach
near, one finds nothing but a big Morgante, full of the most commonplace
prejudices, quite easily killed with the bite of a crab!

During this period, Aesthetic had few representatives in other
countries. The famous conference of the Academy of Moral and Political
Sciences, held in Paris in 1857, gave to the world the "Science du Beau"
of Lévèque. No one is interested in it now, but it is amusing to note
that Lévèque announced himself to be a disciple of Plato, and went on to
attribute eight characteristics to the beautiful. These he discovered by
closely examining the lily! No wonder he was crowned with laurels! He
proved his wonderful theory by instancing a child playing with its
mother, a symphony of Beethoven, and the life of Socrates! One of his
colleagues, who could not resist making fun of his learned friend,
remarked that he would be glad to know what part was played in the life
of a philosopher by the normal vivacity of colour!

Thus German theory made no way in France, and England proved even more

J. Ruskin showed a poverty, an incoherence, and a lack of system in
respect to Aesthetic, which puts him almost out of court. His was the
very reverse of the philosophic temperament. His pages of brilliant
prose contain his own dreams and caprices. They are the work of an
artist and should be enjoyed as such, being without any value for
philosophy. His theoretic faculty of the beautiful, which he held to be
distinct alike from the intelligence and from feeling, is connected with
his belief in beauty as a revelation of the divine intentions, "the seal
which God sets upon his works." Thus the natural beauty, which is
perceived by the pure heart, when contemplating some object untouched by
the hand of man, is far superior to the work of the artist. Ruskin was
too little capable of analysis to understand the complicated
psychologico-aesthetic process taking place within him, as he
contemplated some streamlet, or the nest of some small bird.

At Naples flourished between 1861 and 1884 Antonio Tari, who kept
himself in touch with the movement of German thought, and followed the
German idealists in placing Aesthetic in a sort of middle kingdom, a
temperate zone, between the glacial, inhabited by the Esquimaux of
thought, and the torrid, dwelt in by the giants of action. He dethroned
the Beautiful, and put Aesthetic in its place, for the Beautiful is but
the first moment; the later ones are the Comic, the Humorous, and the
Dramatic. His fertile imagination found metaphors and similes in
everything: for instance, he called the goat the Devil, opposed to the
lamb, Jesus. His remarks on men and women are full of quaint fancies. He
granted to women grace, but not beauty, which resides in equilibrium.
This is proved by her falling down so easily when she walks; by her bow
legs, which have to support her wide hips, made for gestation; by her
narrow shoulders, and her opulent breast. She is therefore a creature
altogether devoid of equilibrium!

I wish that it were possible to record more of the sayings of the
excellent Tari, "the last joyous priest of an arbitrary Aesthetic,
source of confusion."

The ground lost to the German school of metaphysicians was occupied
during the second half of the nineteenth century by the evolutionary and
positivist metaphysicians, of whom Herbert Spencer is the most notable
representative. The peculiarity of this school lies in repeating at
second or third hand certain idealist views, deprived of the element of
pure philosophy, given to them by a Schelling or a Hegel, and in
substituting a quantity of minute facts and anecdotes, with a view to
providing the positivist varnish. These theories are dear to vulgar
minds, because they correspond to inveterate religious beliefs, and the
lustre of the varnish explains the good fortune of Spencerian positivism
in our time. Another notable trait of this school is its barbaric
contempt for history, especially for the history of philosophy, and its
consequent lack of all link with the series composed of the secular
efforts of so many thinkers. Without this link, there can be no fruitful
labour and no possibility of progress.

Spencer is colossal in his ignorance of all that has been written or
thought on the subject of Aesthetic (to limit ourselves to this branch
alone). He actually begins his work on the Philosophy of Style with
these words: "No one, I believe, has ever produced a complete theory of
the art of writing." This in 1852! He begins his chapter on aesthetic
feelings in the _Principles of Psychology_ by admitting that he has
heard of the observation made by a German author, whose name he forgets
(Schiller!), on the connexion between art and play. Had Spencer's
remarks on Aesthetic been written in the eighteenth century, they might
have occupied a humble place among the first rude attempts at aesthetic
speculation, but appearing in the nineteenth century, they are without
value, as the little of value they contain had been long said by others.

In his _Principles of Psychology_ Spencer looks upon aesthetic feelings
as arising from the discharge of the exuberant energy of the organism.
This he divides into degrees, and believes that we attain complete
enjoyment when these degrees are all working satisfactorily each on its
own plane, and when what is painful in excessive activity has been
avoided. His degrees are sensation, sensation accompanied by
representative elements, perception accompanied by more complex elements
of representation, then emotion, and that state of consciousness which
surpasses sensations and perceptions. But Spencer has no suspicion of
what art really is. His views oscillate between sensualism and moralism,
and he sees little in the whole art of antiquity, of the Middle Ages, or
of modern times, which can be looked upon as otherwise than imperfect!

The Physiology of Aesthetics has also had its votaries in Great Britain,
among whom may be mentioned J. Sully, A. Bain, and Allen. These at any
rate show some knowledge of the concrete fact of art. Allen harks back
to the old distinction between necessary and vital activities and
superfluous activities, and gives a physiological definition, which may
be read in his _Physiological Aesthetics_. More recent writers also look
upon the physiological fact as the cause of the pleasure of art; but for
them it does not alone depend upon the visual organ, and the muscular
phenomena associated with it, but also on the participation of some of
the most important bodily functions, such as respiration, circulation,
equilibrium, intimate muscular accommodation. They believe that art owes
its origin to the pleasure that some prehistoric man must have
experienced in breathing regularly, without having to re-adapt his
organs, when he traced for the first time on a bone or on clay regular
lines separated by regular intervals.

A similar order of physico-aesthetic researches has been made in
Germany, under the auspices of Helmholtz, Brücke, and Stumpf. But these
writers have succeeded better than the above-mentioned, by restricting
themselves to the fields of optic and acoustic, and have supplied
information as to the physical processes of artistic technique and as to
the pleasure of visual and auditive impressions, without attempting to
melt Aesthetic into Physic, or to deprive the former of its spiritual
character. They have even occasionally indicated the difference between
the two kinds of research. Even the degenerate Herbartians, converting
the metaphysical forms of their master into physiological phenomena,
made soft eyes at the new sensualists and aesthetico-physiologists.

The Natural Sciences have become in our day a sort of superstition,
allied to a certain, perhaps unconscious, hypocrisy. Not only have
chemical, physical, and physiological laboratories become a sort of
Sibylline grots, where resound the most extraordinary questions about
everything that can interest the spirit of man, but even those who
really do prosecute their researches with the old inevitable method of
internal observation, have been unable to free themselves from the
illusion that they are, on the contrary, employing _the method of the
natural sciences_.

Hippolyte Taine's Philosophy of Art represents such an illusion. He
declares that when we have studied the diverse manifestations of art in
all peoples and at all epochs, we shall then possess a complete
Aesthetic. Such an Aesthetic would be a sort of Botany applied to the
works of man. This mode of study would provide moral science with a
basis equally as sure as that which the natural sciences already
possess. Taine then proceeds to define art without regard to the natural
sciences, by analysing, like a simple mortal, what passes in the human
soul when brought face to face with a work of art. But what analysis and
what definitions!

Art, he says, is imitation, but of a sort that tries to express an
essential characteristic. Thus the principal characteristic of a lion is
to be "a great carnivore," and we observe this characteristic in all its
limbs. Holland has for essential characteristic that of being a land
formed of alluvial soil.

Now without staying to consider these two remarkable instances, let us
ask, what is this essential characteristic of Taine? It is the same as
the ideas, types, or concepts that the old aesthetic teaching assigned
to art as its object. Taine himself removes all doubt as to this, by
saying that this characteristic is what philosophers call the essence of
things, and for that reason they declare that the purpose of art is to
manifest things. He declares that he will not employ the word essence,
which is technical. But he accepts and employs the thought that the word
expresses. He believes that there are two routes by which man can attain
to the superior life: science and art. By the first, he apprehends
fundamental laws and causes, and expresses them in abstract terms; by
the second, he expresses these same laws and causes in a manner
comprehensible to all, by appealing to the heart and feeling, as well as
to the reason of man. Art is both superior and popular; it makes
manifest what is highest, and makes it manifest to all.

That Taine here falls into the old pedagogic theory of Aesthetic is
evident. Works of art are arranged for him in a scale of values, as for
the aesthetic metaphysicians. He began by declaring the absurdity of all
judgment of taste, "à chacun son goût," but he ends by declaring that
personal taste is without value, that we must establish a common measure
before proceeding to praise or blame. His scale of values is double or
triple. We must first fix the degree of importance of the
characteristic, that is, the greater or less generality of the idea, and
the degree of good in it, that is to say, its greater or lesser moral
value. These, he says, are two degrees of the same thing, strength, seen
from different sides. We must also establish the degree of convergence
of the effects, that is, the fulness of expression, the harmony between
the idea and the form.

This half-moral, half-metaphysical exposition is accompanied with the
usual protestations, that the matter in hand is to be studied
methodically, analytically, as the naturalist would study it, that he
will try to reach "a law, not a hymn." As if these protestations could
abolish the true nature of his thought! Taine actually went so far as to
attempt dialectic solutions of works of art! "In the primitive period of
Italian art, we find the soul without the body: Giotto. At the
Renaissance, with Verrocchio and his school, we find the body without
the soul. With Raphael, in the sixteenth century, we find expression and
anatomy in harmony: body and soul." Thesis, antithesis, synthesis!

With G.T. Fechner we find the like protestations and the like
procedure. He will study Aesthetic inductively, from beneath. He seeks
clarity, not loftiness. Proceeding thus inductively, he discovers a long
series of laws or principles of Aesthetic, such as unity in variety,
association and contrast, change and persistence, the golden mean, etc.
He exhibits this chaos with delight at showing himself so much of a
physiologist, and so inconclusive. Then he proceeds to describe his
experiments in Aesthetics. These consist of attempts to decide, for
instance, by methods of choice, which of certain rectangles of cardboard
is the most agreeable, and which the most disagreeable, to a large
number of people arbitrarily chosen. Naturally, these results do not
agree with others obtained on other occasions, but Fechner knows that
errors correct themselves, and triumphantly publishes long lists of
these valuable experiments. He also communicates to us the shapes and
measurements of a large number of pictures in museums, as compared with
their respective subjects! Such are the experiments of physiological

But Fechner, when he comes to define what beauty and what art really
are, is, like everyone else, obliged to fall back upon introspection.
But his definition is trivial, and his comparison of his three degrees
of beauty to a family is simply grotesque in its _naïveté_. He terms
this theory the eudemonistic theory, and we are left wondering why, when
he had this theory all cut and dried in his mind, he should all the same
give himself the immense trouble of compiling his tables and of
enumerating his laws and principles, which do not agree with his theory.
Perhaps it was all a pastime for him, like playing at patience, or
collecting postage-stamps?

Another example of superstition in respect to the natural sciences
is afforded by Ernest Grosse. Grosse abounds in contempt for what
he calls speculative Aesthetic. Yet he desires a Science of Art
(Kunstwissenschaft), which shall formulate its laws from those
historical facts which have hitherto been collected.

But Grosse wishes us to complete the collection of historical evidence
with ethnographical and prehistoric materials, for we cannot obtain
really general laws of art from the exclusive study of cultivated
peoples, "just as a theory of reproduction exclusively based upon the
form it takes with mammifers, must necessarily be imperfect!"

He is, however, aware that the results of experiences among savages and
prehistoric races do not alone suffice to furnish us with an equipment
for such investigations as that concerning the nature of Art, and, like
any ordinary mortal, he feels obliged to interrogate, before starting,
the spirit of man. He therefore proceeds to define Aesthetic on
apriorist principles, which, he remarks, can be discarded when we shall
have obtained the complete theory, in like manner with the scaffolding
that has served for the erection of a house.

Words! Words! Vain words! He proceeds to define Aesthetic as the
activity which in its development and result has the immediate value of
feeling, and is, therefore, an end in itself. Art is the opposite of
practice; the activity of games stands intermediate between the two,
having also its end in its own activity.

The Aesthetics of Taine and of Grosse have been called sociological.
Seeing that any true definition of sociology as a science is impossible,
for it is composed of psychological elements, which are for ever
varying, we do not delay to criticize the futile attempts at definition,
but pass at once to the objective results attained by the sociologists.
This superstition, like the naturalistic, takes various forms in
practical life. We have, for instance, Proudhon (1875), who would hark
back to Platonic Aesthetic, class the aesthetic activity among the
merely sensual, and command the arts to further the cause of virtue, on
pain of judicial proceedings in case of contumacy.

But M. Guyau is the most important of sociological aestheticians. His
works, published in Paris toward the end of last century, and his
posthumous work, entitled _Les problèmes de l'Esthétique contemporaine_,
substitute for the theory of play, that of _life_, and the posthumous
work above-mentioned makes it evident that by life he means social life.
Art is the development of social sympathy, but the whole of art does not
enter into sociology. Art has two objects; the production of agreeable
sensations (colours, sounds, etc.) and of phenomena of psychological
induction, which include ideas and feelings of a more complex nature
than the foregoing, such as sympathy for the personages represented,
interest, piety, indignation, etc. Thus art becomes the expression of
life. Hence arise two tendencies: one for harmony, consonance, for all
that delights the ear and eye; the other transforming life, under the
dominion of art. True genius is destined to balance these two
tendencies; but the decadent and the unbalanced deprive art of its
sympathetic end, setting aesthetic sympathy against human sympathy. If
we translate this language into that with which we are by this time
quite familiar, we shall see that Guyau admits an art that is merely
hedonistic, and places above it another art, also hedonistic, but
serving the ends of morality.

M. Nordau wages war against the decadent and unbalanced, in much the
same manner as Guyau. He assigns to art the function of re-establishing
the integrity of life, so much broken up and specialized in our
industrial civilization. He remarks that there is such a thing as art
for art's sake, the simple expression of the internal states of the
individual, but it is the art of the cave-dweller.

C. Lombroso's theory of genius as degeneration may be grouped with the
naturalistic theories. His argument is in essence the following. Great
mental efforts, and total absorption in one dominant thought, often
produce physiological disorders or atrophy of important vital functions.
Now these disorders often lead to madness; therefore, genius may be
identified with madness. This proof, from the particular to the general,
does not follow that of traditional Logic. But with Lombroso, Büchner,
Nordau, and the like we have come to the boundary between specious and
vulgar error. They confuse scientific analysis with historical research.
Such inquiries may have value for history, but they have none for
Aesthetic. Thus, too, A. Lang maintains that the doctrine of the origin
of art as disinterested expression of the mimetic faculty is not
confirmed in what we know of primitive art, which is rather decorative
than expressive. But primitive art, which is a given fact to be
interpreted, cannot ever become its own criterion of interpretation.

The naturalistic misunderstanding has had a bad effect on linguistic
researches, which have not been carried out on the lofty plane to which
Humboldt and Steinthal had brought them.

Max Müller is popular and exaggerated. He fails clearly to distinguish
thought from logical thought, although in one place he remarks that the
formation of names has a more intimate connexion with wit than with
judgment. He holds that the science of language is not historical, but
natural, because language is not the invention of man, altogether
ignoring the science of the spirit, philosophy, of which language is a
part. For Max Müller, the natural sciences were the only sciences. The
consciousness of the science of the spirit becomes ever more obscured,
and we find the philologist W.D. Whitney combating Max Müller's
"miracles" and maintaining the separability of thought and speech.

With Hermann Paul (1880) we have an awakening of Humboldt's spirit. Paul
maintains that the origin of language is the speech of the individual
man, and that a language has its origin every time it is spoken. Paul
also showed the fallacies contained in the _Völkerpsychologie_ of
Steinthal and Lazarus, demonstrating that there is no such thing as a
collective soul, and that there is no language save that of the

W. Wundt (1886), on the other hand, commits the error of connecting
language with Ethnopsychology and other non-existent sciences, and
actually terms the glorious doctrine of Herder and of Humboldt
_Wundertheorie_, or theory of miracle, accusing them of mystical
obscurity. Wundt confuses the question of the historical appearance of
language with that of its internal nature and genesis. He looks upon the
theory of evolution as having attained to its complete triumph, in its
application to organic nature in general, and especially to man. He has
no suspicion whatever of the function of fancy, and of the true relation
between thought and expression, between expression in the naturalistic,
and expression in the spiritual and linguistic sense. He looks upon
speech as a specially developed form of psycho-physical vital
manifestations, of expressive animal movements. Language is developed
continuously from such facts, and thus is explained how, "beyond the
general concept of expressive movement, there is no specific quality
which delimits language in a non-arbitrary manner."

Thus the philosophy of Wundt reveals its weak side, showing itself
incapable of understanding the spiritual nature of language and of art.
In the _Ethic_ of the same author, aesthetic facts are presented as a
mixture of logical and ethical elements, a special normative aesthetic
science is denied, and Aesthetic is merged in Logic and Ethic.

The neo-critical and neo-Kantian movement in thought was not able to
maintain the concept of the spirit against the hedonistic, moralistic,
and psychological views of Aesthetic, in vogue from about the middle of
last century. Neo-criticism inherited from Kant his view as to the
slight importance of the creative imagination, and appears indeed to have
been ignorant of any form of knowledge, other than the intellective.

Kirchmann (1868) was one of the early adherents to psychological
Aesthetic, defining the beautiful as the idealized image of pleasure,
the ugly as that of pain. For him the aesthetic fact is the idealized
image of the real. Failing to apprehend the true nature of the aesthetic
fact, Kirchmann invented a new psychological category of ideal or
apparent feelings, which he thought were attenuated images from those
of real life.

The aged Theodore Fischer describes Aesthetic in his auto-criticism as
the union of mimetic and harmony, and the beautiful as the harmony of
the universe, which is never realized in fact, because it is infinite.
When we think to grasp the beautiful, we experience that exquisite
illusion, which is the aesthetic fact. Robert Fischer, son of the
foregoing, introduced the word _Einfühlung_, to express the vitality
which he believed that man inspired into things with the help of the
aesthetic process.

E. Siebeck and M. Diez, the former writing in 1875, the latter in 1892,
unite a certain amount of idealistic influence, derived from Kant and
Herbart, with the merely empirical and psychological views that have of
late been the fashion. Diez, for instance, would explain the artistic
function as the ideal of feeling, placing it parallel to science; the
ideal of thought, morality; the ideal of will and religion, the ideal of
the personality. But this ideal of feeling escapes definition, and we
see that these writers have not had the courage of their ideas: they
have not dared to push their thought to its logical conclusion.

The merely psychological and associationist view finds in Theodore Lipps
its chief exponent. He criticizes and rejects a series of aesthetic
theories, such as those of play, of pleasure, of art as recognition of
real life, even if disagreeable, of emotionality, of syncretism, which
attaches to art a number of other ends, in addition to those of play and
of pleasure.

The theory of Lipps does not differ very greatly from that of Jouffroy,
for he assumes that artistic beauty is the sympathetic. "Our ego,
transplanted, objectified, and recognized in others, is the object of
sympathy. We feel ourselves in others, and others in us." Thus the
aesthetic pleasure is entirely composed of sympathy. This extends even
to the pleasure derived from architecture, geometrical forms, etc.
Whenever we meet with the positive element of human personality, we
experience this feeling of beatitude, which is the aesthetic emotion.
But the value of the personality is an ethical value: the whole sphere
of ethic is included in it. Therefore all artistic or aesthetic pleasure
is the enjoyment of something which has ethical value, but this value is
not an element of a compound, but the object of aesthetic intuition.
Thus is aesthetic activity deprived of all autonomous existence and
reduced to a mere retainer of Ethic.

C. Groos (1895) shows some signs of recognizing aesthetic activity as a
theoretic value. Feeling and intellect, he says, are the two poles of
knowledge, and he recognizes the aesthetic fact as internal imitation.
Everything beautiful belongs to aestheticity, but not every aesthetic
fact is beautiful. The beautiful is the representation of sensible
pleasure, and the ugly of sensible displeasure. The sublime is the
representation of something powerful, in a simple form. The comic is the
representation of an inferiority, which provokes in us the pleasurable
feeling of "superiority." Groos very wisely makes mock of the supposed
function of the Ugly, which Hartmann and Schasler had inherited and
developed from a long tradition. Lipps and Groos agree in denying
aesthetic value to the comic, but Lipps, although he gives an excellent
analysis of the comic, is nevertheless in the trammels of his moralistic
thesis, and ends by sketching out something resembling the doctrine of
the overcoming of the ugly, by means of which may be attained a higher
aesthetic and (sympathetic) value.

Labours such as those of Lipps have been of value, since they have
cleared away a number of errors that blocked the way, and restrained
speculation to the field of the internal consciousness. Similar is the
merit of E. Véron's treatise (1883) on the double form of Aesthetic, in
which he combats the academic view of the absolute beauty, and shows
that Taine confuses Art and Science, Aesthetic and Logic. He acutely
remarks that if the object of art were to reveal the essence of things,
the greatest artists would be those who best succeeded in doing this,
and the greatest works would all be _identical_; whereas we know that
the very opposite is the case. Véron was a precursor of Guyau, and we
seek for scientific system in vain in his book. Véron looks upon art as
two things: the one _decorative_, pleasing eye and ear, the other
_expressive_, "l'expression émue de la personalité humaine." He thought
that decorative art prevailed in antiquity, expressive art in modern

We cannot here dwell upon the aesthetic theories of men of letters, such
as that of E. Zola, developing his thesis of natural science and history
mixed, which is known as that of the human document or as the
experimental theory, or of Ibsen and the moralization of the art
problem, as presented by him and by the Scandinavian school. Perhaps no
French writer has written more profoundly upon art than Gustave
Flaubert. His views are contained in his Correspondence, which has been
published. L. Tolstoï wrote his book on art while under the influence of
Véron and his hatred of the concept of the beautiful. Art, he says,
communicates the feelings, as the word communicates the thoughts. But
his way of understanding this may be judged from the comparison which he
institutes between Art and Science. According to this, "Art has for its
mission to make assimilable and sensible what may not have been
assimilated in the form of argument. There is no science for science's
sake, no art for art's sake. Every human effort should be directed
toward increasing morality and suppressing violence." This amounts to
saying that well-nigh all the art that the world has hitherto seen is
false. Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Dante, Tasso,
Milton, Shakespeare, Raphael, Michael Angelo, Bach, Beethoven, are all,
according to Tolstoï, "false reputations, made by the critics."

We must also class F. Nietzsche with the artists, rather than with the
philosophers. We should do him an injustice (as with J. Ruskin) were we
to express in intellectual terminology his aesthetic affirmations. The
criticism which they provoke would be too facile. Nowhere has Nietzsche
given a complete theory of art, not even in his first book, _Die Geburt
der Tragödie oder Griechentum und Pessimismus_. What seems to be theory
there, is really the confession of the feelings and aspirations of the
writer. Nietzsche was the last, splendid representative of the romantic
period. He was, therefore, deeply preoccupied with the art problem and
with the relation of art to natural science and to philosophy, though he
never succeeded in definitely fixing those relations. From Romanticism,
rather than from Schopenhauer, he gathered those elements of thought out
of which he wove his conception of the two forms of art: the Apollonian,
all serene contemplation, as expressed in the epic and in sculpture; the
Dionysaïc, all tumult and agitation, as expressed in music and the
drama. These doctrines are not rigorously proved, and their power of
resistance to criticism is therefore but slender, but they serve to
transport the mind to a more lofty spiritual level than any others of
the second half of the nineteenth century.

The most noteworthy thought on aesthetic of this period is perhaps to be
found among the aestheticians of special branches of the arts, and since
we know that laws relating only to special branches are not conceivable,
this thought may be considered as bearing upon the general theory of

The Bohemian critic E. Hanslick (1854) is perhaps the most important of
these writers. His work _On Musical Beauty_ has been translated into
several languages. His polemic is chiefly directed against R. Wagner and
the pretension of finding in music a determined content of ideas and
feelings. He expresses equal contempt for those sentimentalists who
derive from music merely pathological effects, passionate excitement, or
stimulus for practical activity, in place of enjoying the musical works.
"If a few Phrygian notes sufficed to instil courage into the soldier
facing the enemy, or a Doric melody to assure the fidelity of a wife
whose husband was absent, then the loss of Greek music may cause pain to
generals and to husbands, but aestheticians and composers will have no
reason to deplore it." "If every Requiem, every lamenting Adagio,
possessed the power to make us sad, who would be able to support
existence in such conditions? But if a true musical work look upon us
with the clear and brilliant eyes of beauty, we feel ourselves bound by
its invincible fascination, though its theme be all the sorrows of the

For Hanslick, the only end of music was form, or musical beauty. The
followers of Herbart showed themselves very tender towards this
unexpected and vigorous ally, and Hanslick, not to be behindhand in
politeness, returned their compliments, by referring to Herbart and to
R. Zimmermann, in the later editions of his work, as having "completely
developed the great aesthetic principle of form." Unfortunately Hanslick
meant something altogether different from the Herbartians by his use of
the word form. Symmetry, merely acoustic relations, and the pleasure of
the ear, did not constitute the musically beautiful for him. Mathematics
were in his view useless in the Aesthetic of music. "Sonorous forms are
not empty, but perfectly full; they cannot be compared to simple lines
enclosing a space; they are the spirit, which takes form, making its own
bodily configuration. Music is more of a picture than is an arabesque;
but it is a picture of which the subject is inexpressible in words, nor
is it to be enclosed in a precise concept. In music, there is a meaning
and a connexion, but of a specially musical nature: it is a language
which we speak and understand, but which it is impossible to translate."
Hanslick admits that music, if it do not render the quality of
sentiments, renders their tone or dynamic side; it renders adjectives,
if it fail to render substantives; if not "murmuring tenderness" or
"impetuous courage," at any rate the "murmuring" and the "impetuous."

The essence of his book is contained in the negation that it is possible
to separate form and content in music. "Take any motive you will, and
say where form begins and content ends. Are we to call the sounds
content? Very good, but they have already received form. What are we to
call form? Sounds again? But they are already form filled, that is to
say, possessing a content." These observations testify to an acute
penetration of the nature of art. Hanslick's belief that they were
characteristics peculiar to music, not common to every form of art,
alone prevented him from seeing further.

C. Fiedler, published in German (in 1887) an extremely luminous work on
the origin of artistic activity. He describes eloquently how the passive
spectator seems to himself to grasp all reality, as the shows of life
pass before him; but at the moment that he tries to realize this
artistically, all disappears, and leaves him with the emptiness of his
own thoughts. Yet by concentration alone do we attain to expression; art
is a language that we gradually learn to speak. Artistic activity is
only to be attained by limiting ourselves; it must consist of "forms
precisely determined, tangible, sensibly demonstrable, precisely because
it is spiritual." Art does not imitate nature, for what is nature, but
that vast confusion of perceptions and representations that were
referred to above? Yet in a sense art does imitate nature; it uses
nature to produce values of a kind peculiar to itself. Those values are
true visibility.

Fiedler's views correspond with those of his predecessor, Hanslick, but
are more rigorously and philosophically developed. The sculptor A.
Hildebrand may be mentioned with these, as having drawn attention to the
nature of art as architectonic rather than imitative, with special
application to the art of sculpture.

What we miss with these and with other specialists, is a broad view of
art and language, as one and the same thing, the inheritance of all
humanity, not of a few persons, specially endowed. H. Bergson in his
book on laughter (1900) falls under the same criticism. He develops his
theory of art in a manner analogous to Fiedler, and errs like him in
looking upon it as something different and exceptional in respect to the
language of every moment. He declares that in life the individuality of
things escapes us: we see only as much as suffices for our practical
ends. The influence of language aids this rude simplification: all but
proper names are abstractions. Artists arise from time to time, who
recover the riches hidden beneath the labels of ordinary life.

Amid the ruin of idealist metaphysics, is to be desired a healthy return
to the doctrine of Baumgarten, corrected and enriched with the
discoveries that have been made since his time, especially by
romanticism and psychology. C. Hermann (1876) announced this return, but
his book is a hopeless mixture of empirical precepts and of metaphysical
beliefs regarding Logic and Aesthetic, both of which, he believes, deal
not with the empirical thought and experience of the soul, but with the
pure and absolute.

B. Bosanquet (1892) gives the following definition of the beautiful, as
"that which has a characteristic or individual expressivity for the
sensible perception, or for the imagination, subject to the conditions
of general or abstract expressivity for the same means." The problem as
posed by this writer by the antithesis of the two German schools of form
and content, appears to us insoluble.

Though De Sanctis left no school in Italy, his teaching has been cleared
of the obscurities that had gathered round it during the last ten years;
and the thesis of the true nature of history, and of its nature,
altogether different from natural science, has been also dealt with in
Germany, although its precise relation to the aesthetic problem has not
been made clear. Such labours and such discussions constitute a more
favourable ground for the scientific development of Aesthetic than the
stars of mystical metaphysic or the stables of positivism and of

We have now reached the end of the inquiry into the history of aesthetic
speculation, and we are struck with the smallness of the number of those
who have seen clearly the nature of the problem. No doubt, amid the
crowd of artists, critics, and writers on other subjects, many have
incidentally made very just remarks, and if all these were added to the
few philosophers, they would form a gallant company. But if, as Schiller
truly observed, the rhythm of philosophy consist in a withdrawal from
public opinion, in order to return to it with renewed vigour, it is
evident that this withdrawal is essential, and indeed that in it lies
the whole progress of philosophy.

During our long journey, we have witnessed grave aberrations from the
truth, which were at the same time attempts to reach it; such were the
hedonism of the sophists and rhetoricians of antiquity, of the
sensualists of the eighteenth and second half of the nineteenth
centuries; the moralistic hedonism of Aristophanes and the Stoics, of
the Roman eclectics, of the writers of the Middle Age and of the
Renaissance; the ascetic and logical hedonism of Plato and the Fathers
of the Church; the aesthetic mysticism of Plotinus, reborn to its
greatest triumphs, during the classic period of German thought.

Through the midst of these variously erroneous theories, that traverse
the field of thought in all directions, runs a tiny rivulet of golden
truth. Starting from the subtle empiricism of Aristotle, it flows in the
profound penetration of Vico to the nineteenth century, where it appears
again in the masterly analyses of Schleiermacher, Humboldt, and De

This brief list shows that the science of Aesthetic is no longer to be
discovered, but it also shows _that it is only at its beginning_.

The birth of a science is like the birth of a human being. In order to
live, a science, like a man, has to withstand a thousand attacks of all
sorts. These appear in the form of errors, which must be extirpated, if
the science is not to perish. And when one set has been weeded, another
crops up; when these have been dealt with, the former errors often
return. Therefore _scientific criticism_ is always necessary. No science
can repose on its laurels, complete, unchallenged. Like a human being,
it must maintain its position by constant efforts, constant victories
over error. The general errors which reveal a negation of the very
concept of art have already been dealt with in the Historical Summary.
The particular errors have been exposed in the Theory. They may be
divided under three heads: (i.) Errors as to the characteristic quality
of the aesthetic fact, or (ii.) as to its specific quality, or (iii.) as
to its generic quality. These are contradictions of the characteristics
of intuition, of theoretic contemplation, and of spiritual activity,
which constitute the aesthetic fact.

The principal bar to a proper understanding of the true nature of
language has been and still is Rhetoric, with the modern form it has
assumed, as style. The rhetorical categories are still mentioned in
treatises and often referred to, as having definite existence among the
parts of speech. Side by side with such phrases goes that of the double
form, or metaphor, which implies that there are two ways of saying the
same thing, the one simple, the other ornate.

Kant, Herbart, Hegel, and many minor personages, have been shown to be
victims of the rhetorical categories, and in our own day we have writers
in Italy and in Germany who devote much attention to them, such as R.
Bonghi and G. Gröber; the latter employs a phraseology which he borrows
from the modern schools of psychology, but this does not alter the true
nature of his argument. De Sanctis gave perhaps the clearest and most
stimulating advice in his lectures on Rhetoric, which he termed

But even he failed to systematize his thought, and we may say that the
true critique of Rhetoric can only be made from the point of view of the
aesthetic activity, which is, as we know, _one_, and therefore does not
give rise to divisions, and _cannot express the same content now in one
form, now in another_. Thus only can we drive away the double monster of
naked form deprived of imagination, and of decorated form, which would
represent something more than imagination. The same remarks apply to
artistic and literary styles, and to their various laws or rules. In
modern times they have generally been comprised with rhetoric, and
although now discredited, they cannot be said to have altogether

J.C. Scaliger may be entitled the protagonist of the unities in
comparatively modern times: he it was who "laid the foundations of the
classical Bastille," and supplied tyrants of literature, like Boileau,
with some of their best weapons. Lessing opposed the French rules and
restrictions with German rules and restrictions, giving as his opinion
that Corneille and others had wrongly interpreted Aristotle, whose rules
did not really prevent Shakespeare from being included among correct
writers! Lessing undoubtedly believed in intellectual rules for poetry.
Aristotle was the tyrant, father of tyrants, and we find Corneille
saying "qu'il est aisé de s'accommoder avec Aristote," much in the same
way as Tartuffe makes his "accommodements avec le ciel." In the next
century, several additions were made to the admitted styles, as for
instance the "tragédie bourgeoise."

But these battles of the rules with one another are less interesting
than the rebellion against all the rules, which began with Pietro
Aretino in the sixteenth century, who makes mock of them in the
prologues to his comedies. Giordano Bruno took sides against the makers
of rules, saying that the rules came from the poetry, and "therefore
there are as many genuses and species of true rules as there are genuses
and species of true poets." When asked how the true poets are to be
known, he replies, "by repeating their verses, which either cause
delight, or profit, or both." Guarini, too, said that "the world judges
poetry, and its sentence is without appeal."

Strangely enough, it was priest-ridden Spain that all through the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries led the van of revolt against the
rules and precepts of the grammarians. While Torquato Tasso remained the
miserable slave of grammarians unworthy to lick the dust from his feet,
Lope de Vega slyly remarked that when he wrote his comedies, he locked
up the givers of precepts with six keys, that they might not reproach
him. J.B. Marino declared that he knew the rules better than all the
pedants in the world; "but the true rule is to know when to break the
rules, in accordance with the manners of the day and the taste of the
age." Among the most acute writers of the end of the seventeenth century
is to be mentioned Gravina, who well understood that a work of art must
be its own criterion, and said so clearly when praising a contemporary
for a work which did not enter any one of the admitted categories.
Unfortunately Gravina did not clearly formulate his views.

France of the eighteenth century produced several writers like Du Bos,
who declared that men will always prefer the poems that move them, to
those composed according to rule. La Motte combated the unities of place
and time, and Batteux showed himself liberal in respect to rules.
Voltaire, although he opposed La Motte and described the three unities
as the three great laws of good sense, was also capable of declaring
that all styles but the tiresome are good, and that the best style is
that which is best used. In England we find Home in his _Elements of
Criticism_ deriding the critics for asserting that there must be a
precise criterion for distinguishing epic poetry from all other forms of
composition. Literary compositions, he held, melt into one another, just
like colours.

The literary movement of the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of
the nineteenth centuries attacked rules of all sorts. We will not dwell
upon the many encounters of these periods, nor record the names of those
that conquered gloriously, or their excesses. In France the preface to
the _Cromwell_ of V. Hugo (1827), in Italy the _Lettera semiseria di
Grisostomo_, were clarions of rebellion. The principle first laid down
by A.W. Schlegel, that the form of compositions must be organic and not
mechanic, resulting from the nature of the subject, from its internal
development not from an external stamp, was enunciated in Italy. Art is
always a whole, a synthesis.

But it would be altogether wrong to believe that this empirical defeat
of the styles and rules implied their final defeat in philosophy. Even
writers who were capable of dispensing with prejudice when judging works
of art, once they spoke as philosophers, were apt to reassume their
belief in those categories which, empirically, they had discarded. The
spectacle of these literary or rhetorical categories, raised by German
philosophers to the honours of philosophical deduction, is even more
amusing than that which afforded amusement to Home. The truth is that
they were unable to free their aesthetic systems of intellectualism,
although they proclaimed the empire of the mystic idea. Schelling (1803)
at the beginning, Hartmann (1890) at the end of the century, furnish a
good example of this head and tail.

Schelling, in his Philosophy of Art, declares that, historically
speaking, the first place in the styles of poetry is due to Epic, but,
scientifically speaking, it falls to Lyric. In truth, if poetry be the
representation of the infinite in the finite, then lyric poetry, in
which prevails the finite, must be its first moment. Lyric poetry
corresponds to the first of the ideal series, to reflection, to
knowledge; epic poetry corresponds to the second power, to action. This
philosopher finally proceeds to the unification of epic and lyric
poetry, and from their union he deduces the dramatic form, which is in
his view "the supreme incarnation of the essence and of the _in-se_ of
every art."

With Hartmann, poetry is divided into poetry of declamation and poetry
for reading. The first is subdivided into Epic, Lyric, and Dramatic; the
Epic is divided into plastic epic, proper epic, pictorial epic, and
lyrical epic; Lyric is divided into epical lyric, lyrical lyric, and
dramatic lyric; Dramatic is divided into lyrical dramatic, epical
dramatic, and dramatical dramatic. The second (readable poetry) is
divided into poetry which is chiefly epical, lyrical, and dramatic, with
the tertiary division of moving, comic, tragic, and humoristic; and
poetry which can all be read at once, like a short story, or that
requires several sittings, like a romance.

These brief extracts show of what dialectic pirouettes and sublime
trivialities even philosophers are capable, when they begin to treat
of the Aesthetic of the tragic, comic, and humorous. Such false
distinctions are still taught in the schools of France and Germany, and
we find a French critic like Ferdinand Brunetière devoting a whole
volume to the evolution of literary styles or classes, which he really
believes to constitute literary history. This prejudice, less frankly
stated, still infests many histories of literature, even in Italy.

We believe that the falsity of these rules of classes should be
scientifically demonstrated. In our Theory of Aesthetic we have shown
how we believe that it should be demonstrated.

The proof of the theory of the limits of the arts has been credited to
Lessing, but his merit should rather be limited to having been the first
to draw attention to the problem. His solution was false, but his
achievement nevertheless great, in having posed the question clearly. No
one before him, in antiquity, in the Middle Age, or in modern times, had
seriously asked: What is the value of the distinctions between the arts?
Which of them comes first? Which second? Leonardo da Vinci had declared
his personal predilection for painting, Michael Angelo for sculpture,
but the question had not been philosophically treated before Lessing.

Lessing's attention was drawn to the problem, through his desire to
disprove the assertions of Spence and of the Comte de Caylus, the former
in respect to the close union between poetry and painting in antiquity,
the latter as believing that a poem was good according to the number of
subjects which it should afford the painter. Lessing argued thus:
Painting manifests itself in space, poetry in time: the mode of
manifestation of painting is through objects which coexist, that of
poetry through objects which are consecutive. The objects which coexist,
or whose parts are coexistent, are called bodies. Bodies, then, owing to
their visibility, are the true objects of painting. Objects which are
consecutive, or whose parts are consecutive, are called, in general,
actions. Actions, then, are the suitable object of poetry. He admitted
that painting might represent an action, but only by means of bodies
which make allusion to it; that poetry can represent bodies, but only by
means of actions. Returning to this theme, he explained the action or
movement in painting as added by our imagination. Lessing was greatly
preoccupied with the naturalness and the unnaturalness of signs, which
is tantamount to saying that he believed each art to be strictly limited
to certain modes of expression, which are only overstepped at the cost
of coherency. In the appendix to his _Laocoön_, he quotes Plutarch as
saying that one should not chop wood with a key, or open the door with
an axe. He who should do so would not only be spoiling both those
utensils, but would also be depriving himself of the utility of both. He
believed that this applied to the arts.

The number of philosophers and writers who have attempted empirical
classifications of the arts is enormous: it ranges in comparatively
recent times from Lessing, by way of Schasler, Solger, and Hartmann, to
Richard Wagner, whose theory of the combination of the arts was first
mooted in the eighteenth century.

Lotze, while reflecting upon the futility of these attempts, himself
adopts a method, which he says is the most "convenient," and thereby
incurs the censure of Schasler. This method is in fact suitable for his
studies in botany and in zoology, but useless for the philosophy of the
spirit. Thus both these thinkers maintained Lessing's wrong principle as
to the constancy, the limits, and the peculiar nature of each art.

Who among aestheticians has criticized this principle? Aristotle had a
glimpse of the truth, when he refused to admit that the distinction
between prose and poetry lay in an external fact, the metre.
Schleiermacher seems to have been the only one who was thoroughly aware
of the difficulty of the problem. In analysis, indeed, he goes so far as
to say that what the arts have in common is not the external fact, which
is an element of diversity; and connecting such an observation as this
with his clear distinction between art and what is called technique, we
might argue that Schleiermacher looked upon the divisions between the
arts as non-existent. But he does not make this logical inference, and
his thought upon the problem continues to be wavering and undecided.
Nebulous, uncertain, and contradictory as is this portion of
Schleiermacher's theory, he has yet the great merit of having doubted
Lessing's theory, and of having asked himself by what right are special
arts held to be distinct in art.

Schleiermacher _absolutely denied the existence of a beautiful in
nature_, and praised Hegel for having sustained this negation. Hegel did
not really deserve this praise, as his negation was rather verbal than
effective; but the importance of this thesis as stated by Schleiermacher
is very great, in so far as he denied the existence of an objective
natural beauty not produced by the spirit of man. This theory of the
beautiful in nature, when taken in a metaphysical sense, does not
constitute an error peculiar to aesthetic science. It forms part of a
fallacious general theory, which can be criticized together with its

The theory of aesthetic senses, that is, of certain superior senses,
such as sight and hearing, being the only ones for which aesthetic
impressions exist, was debated as early as Plato. The _Hippias major_
contains a discussion upon this theme, which Socrates leads to the
conclusion that there exist beautiful things, which do not reach us
through impressions of eye or ear. But further than this, there exist
things which please the eye, but not the ear, and _vice versa_;
therefore the reason of beauty cannot be visibility or audibility, but
something different from, yet common to both. Perhaps this question has
never been so acutely and so seriously dealt with as in this Platonic
dialogue. Home, Herder, Hegel, Diderot, Rousseau, Berkeley, all dealt
with the problem, but in a more or less arbitrary manner. Herder, for
instance, includes touch with the higher aesthetic senses, but Hegel
removes it, as having immediate contact with matter as such, and with
its immediate sensible qualities.

Schleiermacher, with his wonted penetration, saw that the problem was
not to be solved so easily. He refuted the distinction between clear and
confused senses. He held that the superiority of sight and hearing over
the other senses lay in their free activity, in their capacity of an
activity proceeding from within, and able to create forms and sounds
without receiving external impressions. The eye and the ear are not
merely means of perception, for in that case there could be no visual
and no auditive arts. They are also functions of voluntary movements,
which fill the domain of the senses. Schleiermacher, however, considered
that the difference was rather one of quantity, and that we should allow
to the other senses a minimum of independence.

The sensualists, as we know, maintain that all the senses are aesthetic.
That is the hedonistic hypothesis, which has been dealt with and
disproved in this book. We have shown the embarrassment in which the
hedonists find themselves, when they have dubbed all the senses
"aesthetic," or have been obliged to differentiate in an absurd manner
some of the senses from the others. The only way out of the difficulty
lies in abandoning the attempt to unite orders of facts so diverse as
the representative form of the spirit and the conception of given
physical organs or of a given material of impressions.

The origin of classes of speech and of grammatical forms is to be found
in antiquity, and as regards the latter, the disputes among the
Alexandrian philosophers, the analogists, and the anomalists, resulted
in logic being identified with grammar. Anything which did not seem
logical was excluded from grammar as a deviation. The analogists,
however, did not have it all their own way, and grammar in the modern
sense of the word is a compromise between these extreme views, that is,
it contains something of the thought of Chrysippus, who composed a
treatise to show that the same thing can be expressed with different
sounds, and of Apollonius Discolus, who attempted to explain what the
rigorous analogists refused to admit into their schemes and
classifications. It is only of late years that we have begun to emerge
from the superstitious reverence for grammar, inherited from the Middle
Age. Such writers as Pott, in his introduction to Humboldt, and Paul in
his _Principien d. Sprachgeschichte_, have done good service in throwing
doubt upon the absolute validity of the parts of speech. If the old
superstitions still survive tenaciously, we must attribute this partly
to empirical and poetical grammar, partly to the venerable antiquity of
grammar itself, which has led the world to forget its illegitimate and
turbid origin.

The theory of the relativity of taste is likewise ancient, and it would
be interesting to know whether the saying "there's no accounting for
tastes" could be traced to a merely gustatory origin. In this sense, the
saying would be quite correct, as it is _quite wrong_ when applied to
aesthetic facts. The eighteenth century writers exhibit a piteous
perplexity of thought on this subject. Home, for instance, after much
debate, decides upon a common "standard of taste," which he deduces from
the necessity of social life and from what he calls "a final cause." Of
course it will not be an easy matter to fix this "standard of taste." As
regards moral conduct, we do not seek our models among savages, so with
regard to taste, we must have recourse to those few whose taste has not
been corrupted nor spoilt by pleasure, who have received good taste from
nature, and have perfected it by education and by the practice of life.
If after this has been done, there should yet arise disputes, it will be
necessary to refer to the principles of criticism, as laid down in his
book by the said Home.

We find similar contradictions and vicious circles in the _Discourse on
Taste_ of David Hume. We search his writings in vain for the distinctive
characteristics of the man of taste, whose judgments should be final.
Although he asserts that the general principles of taste are universal
in human nature, and admits that no notice should be accorded to
perversions and ignorance, yet there exist diversities of taste that are
irreconcilable, insuperable, and blameless.

But the criticism of the sensualist and relativist positions cannot be
made from the point of view of those who proclaim the absolute nature of
taste and yet place it among the intellectual concepts. It has been
shown to be impossible to escape from sensualism and relativity save by
falling into the intellectualist error. Muratori in the eighteenth
century is an instance of this. He was one of the first to maintain the
existence of a rule of taste and of universal beauty. André also spoke
of what appears beautiful in a work of art as being not that which
pleases at once, owing to certain particular dispositions of the
faculties of the soul and of the organs of the body, but that which has
the right of pleasing the reason and reflection through its own
excellence. Voltaire admitted an "universal taste," which was
"intellectual," as did many others. Kant appeared, and condemned alike
the intellectualist and the sensualistic error; but placing the
beautiful in a symbol of morality, he failed to discover the imaginative
absoluteness of taste. Later speculative philosophy did not attach
importance to the question.

The correct solution was slow in making its way. It lies, as we know, in
the fact that to judge a work of art we must place ourselves in the
position of the artist at the time of production, and that to judge is
to reproduce. Alexander Pope, in his _Essay on Criticism_, was among the
first to state this truth:

  A perfect judge will read each work of wit
  With the same spirit that its author writ.

Remarks equally luminous were made by Antonio Conti, Terrasson, and
Heydenreich in the eighteenth century, the latter with considerable
philosophical development. De Sanctis gave in his adhesion to this
formula, but a true theory of aesthetic criticism had not yet been
given, because for such was necessary, not only an exact conception of
nature in art, but also of the relations between the aesthetic fact and
its historical conditions. In more recent times has been denied the
possibility of aesthetic criticism; it has been looked upon as merely
individual and capricious, and historical criticism has been set up in
its place. This would be better called a criticism of extrinsic
erudition and of bad philosophical inspiration--positivist and
materialist. The true history of literature will always require the
reconstruction and then the judgment of the work of art. Those who have
wished to react against such emasculated erudition have often thrown
themselves into the opposite extreme, that is, into a dogmatic,
abstract, intellectualistic, or moralistic form of criticism.

This mention of the history of certain doctrines relating to Aesthetic
suffices to show the range of error possible in the theory. Aesthetic
has need to be surrounded by a vigilant and vigorous critical literature
which shall derive from it and be at once its safeguard and its source
of strength.


I here add as an appendix, at the request of the author, a translation
of his lecture which he delivered before the Third International
Congress of Philosophy, at Heidelberg, on 2nd September 1908.

The reader will find that it throws a vivid light upon Benedetto Croce's
general theory of Aesthetic.


_A Lecture delivered at Heidelberg at the second general session of the
Third International Congress of Philosophy._

There exists an _empirical_ Aesthetic, which although it admits the
existence of facts, called aesthetic or artistic, yet holds that they
are irreducible to a single principle, to a rigorous philosophical
concept. It wishes to limit itself to collecting as many of those facts
as possible, and in the greatest possible variety, thence, at the most,
proceeding to group them together in classes and types. The logical
ideal of this school, as declared on many occasions, is zoology or
botany. This Aesthetic, when asked what art is, replies by indicating
successively single facts, and by saying: "Art is this, and this, and
this too is art," and so on, indefinitely. Zoology and botany renew the
representatives of fauna and of flora in the same way. They calculate
that the species renewed amount to some thousand, but believe that they
might easily be increased to twenty or a hundred thousand, or even to a
million, or to infinity.

There is another Aesthetic, which has been called hedonistic,
utilitarian, moralistic, and so on, according to its various
manifestations. Its complex denomination should, however, be
_practicism_, because that is precisely what constitutes its essential
character. This Aesthetic differs from the preceding, in the belief that
aesthetic or artistic facts are not a merely empirical or nominalistic
grouping together, but that all of them possess a common foundation. Its
foundation is placed in the practical form of human activity. Those
facts are therefore considered, either generically, as manifestations of
pleasure and pain, and therefore rather as economic facts; or, more
particularly, as a special class of those manifestations; or again, as
instruments and products of the ethical spirit, which subdues and turns
to its own ends individual hedonistic and economic tendencies.

There is a third Aesthetic, the _intellectualist_, which, while also
recognizing the reducibility of aesthetic facts to philosophical
treatment, explains them as particular cases of logical thought,
identifying beauty with intellectual truth; art, now with the natural
sciences, now with philosophy. For this Aesthetic, what is prized in art
is what is learned from it. The only distinction that it admits between
art and science, or art and philosophy, is at the most that of more or
less, or of perfection and imperfection. According to this Aesthetic,
art would be the whole mass of easy and popular truths; or it would be a
transitory form of science, a semi-science and a semi-philosophy,
preparatory to the superior and perfect form of science and of

A fourth Aesthetic there is, which may be called _agnostic_. It springs
from the criticism of the positions just now indicated, and being guided
by a powerful consciousness of the truth, rejects them all, because it
finds them too evidently false, and because it is too loth to admit that
art is a simple fact of pleasure or pain, an exercise of virtue, or a
fragmentary sketch of science and philosophy. And while rejecting them,
it discovers, at the same time, that art is not now this and now that of
those things, or of other things, indefinitely, but that it has its own
principle and origin. However, it is not able to say what this principle
may be, and believes that it is impossible to do so. This Aesthetic
knows that art cannot be resolved into an empirical concept; knows that
pleasure and pain are united with the aesthetic activity only in an
indirect manner; that morality has nothing to do with art; that it is
impossible to rationalize art, as is the case with science and
philosophy, and to prove it beautiful or ugly with the aid of reason.
Here this Aesthetic is content to stop, satisfied with a knowledge
consisting entirely of negative terms.

Finally, there is an Aesthetic which I have elsewhere proposed to call
_mystic_. This Aesthetic avails itself of those negative terms, to
define art as a spiritual form without a practical character, because it
is theoretic, and without a logical or intellective form, because it is
a theoretic form, differing alike from those of science and of
philosophy, and superior to both. According to this view, art would be
the highest pinnacle of knowledge, whence what is seen from other points
seems narrow and partial; art would alone reveal the whole horizon or
all the abysses of Reality.

Now, the five Aesthetics so far mentioned are not referable to
contingent facts and historical epochs, as are, on the other hand, the
denominations of Greek and Mediaeval Aesthetic, of Renaissance and
eighteenth-century Aesthetic, the Aesthetic of Wolff and of Herbart, of
Vico and of Hegel. These five are, on the contrary, mental attitudes,
which are found in all periods, although they have not always
conspicuous representatives of the kind that are said to become
historical. Empirical Aesthetic is, for example, called Burke in the
eighteenth, Fechner in the nineteenth century; moralistic Aesthetic is
Horace or Plutarch in antiquity, Campanella in modern times;
intellectualist or logical Aesthetic is Cartesian in the seventeenth,
Leibnitzian in the eighteenth, and Hegelian in the nineteenth century;
agnostic Aesthetic is Francesco Patrizio at the Renaissance, Kant in the
eighteenth century; mystic Aesthetic is called Neoplatonism at the end
of the antique world, Romanticism at the beginning of the nineteenth
century, and if it be adorned during the former period with the name of
Plotinus, in the latter it will bear the name of Schelling or of Solger,
And not only are those attitudes and mental tendencies common to all
epochs, but they are also all found to some extent developed or
indicated in every thinker, and even in every man. Thus it is somewhat
difficult to classify philosophers of Aesthetic according to one or the
other category, because each philosopher also enters more or less into
some other, or into all the other categories.

Nor can these five conceptions and points of view be looked upon as
increasable to ten or twenty, or to as many as desired, or that I have
placed them in a certain order, but that they could be capriciously
placed in another order. If this were so, they would be altogether
heterogeneous and disconnected among themselves, and the attempt to
examine and criticize them would seem altogether desperate, as also
would be that of comparing one with the other, or of stating a new one,
which should dominate them all. It is precisely thus that ordinary
sceptics look upon various and contrasting scientific views. They group
them all in the same plane, and believing that they can increase them at
will, conclude that one is as good as another, and that therefore every
one is free to select that which he prefers from a bundle of falsehoods.
The conceptions of which we speak are definite in number, and appear in
a necessary order, which is either that here stated by me, or another
which might be proposed, better than mine. This would be the necessary
order, which I should have failed to realize effectively. They are
connected one with the other, and in such a way that the view which
follows includes in itself that which precedes it.

Thus, if the last of the five doctrines indicated be taken, which may be
summed up as the proposition that art is a form of the theoretic spirit,
superior to the scientific and philosophic form--and if it be submitted
to analysis, it will be seen that in it is included, in the first place,
the proposition affirming the existence of a group of facts, which are
called aesthetic or artistic. If such facts did not exist, it is evident
that no question would arise concerning them, and that no
systematization would be attempted. And this is the truth of empirical
Aesthetic. But there is also contained in it the proposition: that the
facts examined are reducible to a definite principle or category of the
spirit. This amounts to saying, that they belong either to the practical
spirit, or to the theoretical, or to one of their subforms. And this is
the truth of practicist Aesthetic, which is occupied with the enquiry as
to whether these ever are practical facts, and affirms that in every
case they are a special category of the spirit. Thirdly, there is
contained in it the proposition: that they are not practical facts, but
facts which should rather be placed near the facts of logic or of
thought. This is the truth of intellectualistic Aesthetic. In the fourth
place, we find also the proposition; that aesthetic facts are neither
practical, nor of that theoretic form which is called logical and
intellective. They are something which cannot be identified with the
categories of pleasure, nor of the useful, nor with those of ethic, nor
with those of logical truth. They are something of which it is necessary
to find a further definition. This is the truth of that Aesthetic which
is termed agnostic or negative.

When these various propositions are severed from their connection; when,
that is to say, the first is taken without the second, the second
without the third, and so on,--and when each, thus mutilated, is
confined in itself and the enquiry which awaits prosecution is
arbitrarily arrested, then each one of these gives itself out as the
whole of them, that is, as the completion of the enquiry. In this way,
each becomes error, and the truths contained in empiricism, in
practicism, in intellectualism, in agnostic and in mystical Aesthetic,
become, respectively, falsity, and these tendencies of speculation are
indicated with names of a definitely depreciative colouring. Empiria
becomes empiricism, the heuristic comparison of the aesthetic activity
with the practical and logical, becomes a conclusion, and therefore
practicism and intellectualism. The criticism which rejects false
definitions, and is itself negative, affirms itself as positive and
definite, becoming agnosticism; and so on.

But the attempt to close a mental process in an arbitrary manner is
vain, and of necessity causes remorse and self-criticism. Thus it comes
about, that each one of those unilateral and erroneous doctrines
continually tends to surpass itself and to enter the stage which follows
it. Thus empiricism, for example, assumes that it can dispense with any
philosophical conception of art; but, since it severs art from
non-art--and, however empirical it be, it will not identify a
pen-and-ink sketch and a table of logarithms, as if they were just the
same thing, or a painting and milk or blood (although milk and blood
both possess colour)--thus empiricism too must at last resort to some
kind of philosophical concept. Therefore, we see the empiricists
becoming, turn and turn about, hedonists, moralists, intellectualists,
agnostics, mystics, and sometimes they are even better than mystics,
upholding an excellent conception of art, which can only be found fault
with because introduced surreptitiously and without justification. If
they do not make that progress, it is impossible for them to speak in
any way of aesthetic facts. They must return, as regards such facts, to
that indifference and to that silence from which they had emerged when
they affirmed the existence of these facts and began to consider them in
their variety. The same may be said of all other unilateral doctrines.
They are all reduced to the alternative of advancing or of going back,
and in so far as they do not wish to do either, they live amid
contradictions and in anguish. But they do free themselves from these,
more or less slowly, and thus are compelled to advance, more or less
slowly. And here we discover why it is so difficult, and indeed
impossible, exactly to identify thinkers, philosophers, and writers with
one or the other of the doctrines which we have enunciated, because each
one of them rebels when he finds himself limited to one of those
categories, and it seems to him that he is shut up in prison. It is
precisely because those thinkers try to shut themselves up in a
unilateral doctrine, that they do not succeed, and that they take a
step, now in one direction, now in another, and are conscious of being
now on this side, now on the other, of the criticisms which are
addressed to them. But the critics fulfil their duty by putting them in
prison, thus throwing into relief the absurdity into which they are led
by their irresolution, or their resolution not to resolve.

And from this necessary connection and progressive order of the various
propositions indicated arise also the resolve, the counsel, the
exhortation, to "return," as they say, to this or that thinker, to this
or that philosophical school of the past. Certainly, such returns are
impossible, understood literally; they are also a little ridiculous,
like all impossible attempts. We can never return to the past, precisely
because it is the past. No one is permitted to free himself from the
problems which are put by the present, and which he must solve with all
the means of the present (which includes in it the means of the past).
Nevertheless, it is a fact that the history of philosophy everywhere
resounds with cries of return. Those very people who in our day deride
the "return to Hume" or the "return to Kant," proceed to advise the
"return to Schelling," or the "return to Hegel." This means that we must
not understand those "returns" literally and in a material way. In
truth, they do not express anything but the necessity and the
ineliminability of the logical process explained above, for which the
affirmations contained in philosophical problems appear connected with
one another in such a way that the one follows the other, surpasses it,
and includes it in itself. Empiricism, practicism, intellectualism,
agnosticism, mysticism, are _eternal stages of the search for truth_.
They are eternally relived and rethought in the truth which each
contains. Thus it would be necessary for him who had not yet turned his
attention to aesthetic facts, to begin by passing them before his eyes,
that is to say, he must first traverse the empirical stage (about
equivalent to that occupied by mere men of letters and mere amateurs of
art); and while he is at this stage, he must be aroused to feel the want
of a principle of explanation, by making him compare his present
knowledge with the facts, and see if they are explained by it, that is
to say, if they be utilitarian and moral, or logical and intellective.
Then we should drive him who has made this examination to the
conclusion, that the aesthetic activity is something different from all
known forms, a form of the spirit, which it yet remains to characterize.
For the empiricists of Aesthetic, intellectualism and moralism represent
progress; for the intellectualists, hedonistic and moralistic alike,
agnosticism is progress and may be called Kant. But for Kantians, who
are real Kantians (and not neo-Kantians), progress is represented by the
mystical and romantic point of view; not because this comes after the
doctrine of Kant chronologically, but because it surpasses it ideally.
In this sense, and in this sense alone, we should now "return" to the
romantic Aesthetic. We should return to it, because it is ideally
superior to all the researches in Aesthetic made in the studies of
psychologists, of physio-psychologists, and of psycho-physiologists of
the universities of Europe and of America. It is ideally superior to the
sociological, comparative, prehistoric Aesthetic, which studies
especially the art of savages, of children, of madmen, and of idiots. It
is ideally superior also to that other Aesthetic, which has recourse to
the conceptions of the genetic pleasure, of games, of illusion, of
self-illusion, of association, of hereditary habit, of sympathy, of
social efficiency, and so on. It is ideally superior to the attempts at
logical explanation, which have not altogether ceased, even to-day,
although they are somewhat rare, because, to tell the truth, fanaticism
for Logic cannot be called the failing of our times. Finally, it is
ideally superior to that Aesthetic which repeats with Kant, that the
beautiful is finality without the idea of end, disinterested pleasure,
necessary and universal, which is neither theoretical nor practical, but
participates in both forms, or combines them in itself in an original
and ineffable manner. But we should return to it, bringing with us the
experience of a century of thought, the new facts collected, the new
problems that have arisen, the new ideas that have matured. Thus we
shall return again to the stage of mystical and romantic Aesthetic, but
not to the personal and historical stage of its representatives. For in
this matter, at least, they are certainly inferior to us: they lived a
century ago and therefore inherited so much the less of the problems and
of the results of thought which day by day mankind laboriously

They should return, but not to remain there; because, if a return to the
romantic Aesthetic be advisable for the Kantians (while the idealists
should not be advised to "return to Kant," that is to say, to a lower
stage, which represents a recession), so those who come over, or already
find themselves on the ground of mystical Aesthetic, should, on the
other hand be advised to proceed yet further, in order to attain to a
doctrine which represents a stage above it. This doctrine is that of the
_pure intuition_ (or, what amounts to the same thing, of pure
expression); a doctrine which also numbers representatives in all times,
and which may be said to be immanent alike in all the discourses that
are held and in all the judgments that are passed upon art, as in all
the best criticism and artistic and literary history.

This doctrine arises logically from the contradictions of mystical
Aesthetic; I say, _logically_, because it contains in itself those
contradictions and their solution; although _historically_ (and this
point does not at present concern us) that critical process be not
always comprehensible, explicit, and apparent.

Mystical Aesthetic, which makes of art the supreme function of the
theoretic spirit, or, at least, a function superior to that of
philosophy, becomes involved in inextricable difficulties. How could art
ever be superior to philosophy, if philosophy make of art its object,
that is to say, if it place art beneath itself, in order to analyse and
define it? And what could this new knowledge be, supplied by art and by
the aesthetic activity, appearing when the human spirit has come full
circle, after it has imagined, perceived, thought, abstracted,
calculated, and constructed the whole world of thought and history?

As the result of those difficulties and contradictions, mystical
Aesthetic itself also exhibits the tendency, either to surpass its
boundary, or to sink below its proper level. The descent takes place
when it falls back into agnosticism, affirming that art is art, that is,
a spiritual form, altogether different from the others and ineffable; or
worse, where it conceives art as a sort of repose or as a game; as
though diversion could ever be a category and the spirit know repose! We
find an attempt at overpassing its proper limit, when art is placed
below philosophy, as inferior to it; but this overpassing remains a
simple attempt, because the conception of art as instrument of universal
truth is always firmly held; save that this instrument is declared less
perfect and less efficacious than the philosophical instrument. Thus
they fall back again into intellectualism from another side.

These mistakes of mystical Aesthetic were manifested during the Romantic
period in some celebrated paradoxes, such as those of _art as irony_ and
of the _death of art_. They seemed calculated to drive philosophers to
desperation as to the possibility of solving the problem of the nature
of art, since every path of solution appeared closed. Indeed, whoever
reads the aestheticians of the romantic period, feels strongly inclined
to believe himself at the heart of the enquiry and to nourish a
confident hope of immediate discovery of the truth. Above all, the
affirmation of the theoretic nature of art, and of the difference
between its cognitive method and that of science and of logic, is felt
as a definite conquest, which can indeed be combined with other
elements, but which must not in any case be allowed to slip between the
fingers. And further, it is not true that all ways of solution are
closed, or that all have been attempted. There is at least one still
open that can be tried; and it is precisely that for which we resolutely
declare ourselves: the Aesthetic of the pure intuition.

This Aesthetic reasons as follows:--Hitherto, in all attempts to define
the place of art, it has been sought, either at the summit of the
theoretic spirit, above philosophy, or, at least, in the circle of
philosophy itself. But is not the loftiness of the search the reason why
no satisfactory result has hitherto been obtained? Why not invert the
attempt, and instead of forming the hypothesis that art is _one of the
summits or the highest grade_ of the theoretic spirit, form the very
opposite hypothesis, namely, that it is _one of the lower grades_, or
the lowest of all? Perhaps such epithets as "lower" and "lowest" are
irreconcilable with the dignity and with the splendid beauty of art? But
in the philosophy of the spirit, such words as lowest, weak, simple,
elementary, possess only the value of a scientific terminology. All the
forms of the spirit are necessary, and the higher is so only because
there is the lower, and the lower is as much to be despised or less to
be valued to the same extent as the first step of a stair is despicable,
or of less value in respect to the topmost step.

Let us compare art with the various forms of the theoretic spirit, and
let us begin with the sciences which are called _natural_ or _positive_.
The Aesthetic of pure intuition makes it clear that the said sciences
are more _complex_ than History, because they presuppose historical
material, that is, collections of things that have happened (to men or
animals, to the earth or to the stars). They submit this material to a
further treatment, which consists in the abstraction and systematization
of the historical facts. _History_, then, is less complex than the
natural sciences. History further presupposes the world of the
imagination and the pure philosophical concepts or categories, and
produces its judgments or historical propositions, by means of the
synthesis of the imagination with the concept. And _Philosophy_ may be
said to be even less complex than History, in so far as it is
distinguished from the former as an activity whose special function it
is to make clear the categories or pure concepts, neglecting, in a
certain sense at any rate, the world of phenomena. If we compare _Art_
with the three forms above mentioned, it must be declared inferior, that
is to say, less complex than the _natural Sciences_, in so far as it is
altogether without abstractions. In so far as it is without conceptual
determinations and does not distinguish between the real and the unreal,
what has really happened and what has been dreamed, it must be declared
inferior to _History_. In so far as it fails altogether to surpass the
phenomenal world, and does not attain to the definitions of the pure
concepts, it is inferior to _Philosophy_ itself. It is also inferior to
_Religion_, assuming that religion is (as it is) a form of speculative
truth, standing between thought and imagination. Art is governed
entirely by imagination; its only riches are images. Art does not
classify objects, nor pronounce them real or imaginary, nor qualify
them, nor define them. Art feels and represents them. Nothing more. Art
therefore is _intuition_, in so far as it is a mode of knowledge, not
abstract, but concrete, and in so far as it uses the real, without
changing or falsifying it. In so far as it apprehends it immediately,
before it is modified and made clear by the concept, it must be called
_pure intuition_.

The strength of art lies in being thus simple, nude, and poor. Its
strength (as often happens in life) arises from its very weakness. Hence
its fascination. If (to employ an image much used by philosophers for
various ends) we think of man, in the first moment that he becomes aware
of theoretical life, with mind still clear of every abstraction and of
every reflexion, in that first purely intuitive instant he must be a
poet. He contemplates the world with ingenuous and admiring eyes; he
sinks and loses himself altogether in that contemplation. By creating
the first representations and by thus inaugurating the life of
knowledge, art continually renews within our spirit the aspects of
things, which thought has submitted to reflexion, and the intellect to
abstraction. Thus art perpetually makes us poets again. Without art,
thought would lack the stimulus, the very material, for its hermeneutic
and critical labour. Art is the root of all our theoretic life. To be
the root, not the flower or the fruit, is the function of art. And
without a root, there can be no flower and no fruit.


Such is the theory of art as pure intuition, in its fundamental
conception. This theory, then, takes its origin from the criticism of
the loftiest of all the other doctrines of Aesthetic, from the criticism
of mystical or romantic Aesthetic, and contains in itself the criticism
and the truth of all the other Aesthetics. It is not here possible to
allow ourselves to illustrate its other aspects, such as would be those
of the identity, which it lays down, between intuition and expression,
between art and language. Suffice it to say, as regards the former, that
he alone who divides the unity of the spirit into soul and body can have
faith in a pure act of the soul, and therefore in an intuition, which
should exist as an intuition, and yet be without its body, expression.
Expression is the actuality of intuition, as action is of will; and in
the same way as will not exercised in action is not will, so an
intuition unexpressed is not an intuition. As regards the second point,
I will mention in passing that, in order to recognize the identity of
art and language, it is needful to study language, not in its
abstraction and in grammatical detail, but in its immediate reality, and
in all its manifestations, spoken and sung, phonic and graphic. And we
should not take at hazard any proposition, and declare it to be
aesthetic; because, if all propositions have an aesthetic side
(precisely because intuition is the elementary form of knowledge and is,
as it were, the garment of the superior and more complex forms), all are
not _purely_ aesthetic, but some are philosophical, historical,
scientific, or mathematical; some, in fact, of these are more than
aesthetic or logical; they are aestheticological. Aristotle, in his
time, distinguished between semantic and apophantic propositions, and
noted, that if all propositions be _semantic_, not all are _apophantic_.
Language is art, not in so far as it is apophantic, but in so far as it
is, generically, semantic. It is necessary to note in it the side by
which it is expressive, and nothing but expressive. It is also well to
observe (though this may seem superfluous) that it is not necessary to
reduce the theory of pure intuition, as has been sometimes done, to a
historical fact or to a psychological concept. Because we recognize in
poetry, as it were, the ingenuousness, the freshness, the barbarity of
the spirit, it is not therefore necessary to limit poetry to youth and
to barbarian peoples. Though we recognize language as the first act of
taking possession of the world achieved by man, we must not imagine that
language is born _ex nihilo_, once only in the course of the ages, and
that later generations merely adopt the ancient instrument, applying it
to a new order of things while lamenting its slight adaptability to the
usage of civilized times. Art, poetry, intuition, and immediate
expression are the moment of barbarity and of ingenuousness, which
perpetually recur in the life of the spirit; they are youth, that is,
not chronological, but ideal. There exist very prosaic barbarians and
very prosaic youths, as there exist poetical spirits of the utmost
refinement and civilization. The mythology of those proud, gigantic
Patagonians, of whom our Vico was wont to discourse, or of those _bons
Hurons_, who were lately a theme of conversation, must be looked upon as
for ever superseded.

But there arises an apparently very serious objection to the Aesthetic
of pure intuition, giving occasion to doubt whether this doctrine, if it
represent progress in respect to the doctrines which have preceded it,
yet is also a complete and definite doctrine as regards the fundamental
concept of art. Should it be submitted to a dialectic, by means of which
it must be surpassed and dissolved into a more lofty point of view? The
doctrine of pure intuition makes the value of art to consist of its
power of intuition; in such a manner that just in so far as pure and
concrete intuitions are achieved will art and beauty be achieved. But if
attention be paid to judgments of people of good taste and of critics,
and to what we all say when we are warmly discussing works of art and
manifesting our praise or blame of them, it would seem that what we seek
in art is something quite different, or at least something more than
simple force and intuitive and expressive purity. What pleases and what
is sought in art, what makes beat the heart and enraptures the
admiration, is life, movement, emotion, warmth, the feeling of the
artist. This alone affords the supreme criterion for distinguishing true
from false works of art, those with insight from the failures. Where
there are emotion and feeling, much is forgiven; where they are wanting,
nothing can make up for them. Not only are the most profound thoughts
and the most exquisite culture incapable of saving a work of art which
is looked upon as _cold_, but richness of imagery, ability and certainty
in the reproduction of the real, in description, characterization and
composition, and all other knowledge, only serve to arouse the regret
that so great a price has been paid and such labours endured, in vain.
We do not ask of an artist instruction as to real facts and thoughts,
nor that he should astonish us with the richness of his imagination, but
that he should have a _personality_, in contact with which the soul of
the hearer or spectator may be heated. A personality of any sort is
asked for in this case; its moral significance is excluded: let it be
sad or glad, enthusiastic or distrustful, sentimental or sarcastic,
benignant or malign, but it must be a soul. Art criticism would seem to
consist altogether in determining if there be a personality in the work
of art, and of what sort. A work that is a failure is an incoherent
work; that is to say, a work in which no single personality appears, but
a number of disaggregated and jostling personalities, that is, really,
none. There is no further correct significance than this in the
researches that are made as to the verisimilitude, the truth, the logic,
the necessity, of a work of art.

It is true that many protests have been made by artists, critics, and
philosophers by profession, against the characteristic of _personality_.
It has been maintained that the bad artist leaves traces of his
personality in the work of art, whereas the great artist cancels them
all. It has been further maintained that the artist should portray the
reality of life, and that he should not disturb it with the opinions,
judgments, and personal feelings of the author, and that the artist
should give the tears of things and not his own tears. Hence
_impersonality_, not personality, has been proclaimed to be the
characteristic of art, that is to say, the very opposite. However, it
will not be difficult to show that what is really meant by this opposing
formula is the same as in the first case. The theory of impersonality
really coincides with that of personality in every point. The opposition
of the artists, critics, and philosophers above mentioned, was directed
against the invasion by the empirical and volitional personality of the
artist of the spontaneous and ideal personality which constitutes the
subject of the work of art. For instance, artists who do not succeed in
representing the force of piety or of love of country, add to their
colourless imaginings declamation or theatrical effects, thinking thus
to arouse such feelings. In like manner certain orators and actors
introduce into a work of art an emotion extraneous to the work of art
itself. Within these limits, the opposition of the upholders of the
theory of impersonality was most reasonable. On the other hand, there
has also been exhibited an altogether irrational opposition to
personality in the work of art. Such is the lack of comprehension and
intolerance evinced by certain souls for others differently constituted
(of calm for agitated souls, for example).

Here we find at bottom the claim of one sort of personality to deny that
of another. Finally, it has been possible to demonstrate from among the
examples given of impersonal art, in the romances and dramas called
naturalistic, that in so far and to the extent that these are complete
artistic works, they possess personality. This holds good even when this
personality lies in a wandering or perplexity of thought regarding the
value to be given to life, or in blind faith in the natural sciences and
in modern sociology.

Where every trace of personality was really absent, and its place taken
by the pedantic quest for human documents, the description of certain
social classes and the generic or individual process of certain
maladies, there the work of art was absent. A work of science of more or
less superficiality, and without the necessary proofs and control,
filled its place. There is no upholder of impersonality but experiences
a feeling of fatigue for a work of the utmost exactitude in the
reproduction of reality in its empirical sequence, or of industrious and
apathetic combination of images. He asks himself why such a work was
executed, and recommends the author to adopt some other profession,
since that of artist was not intended for him.

Thus it is without doubt that if pure intuition (and pure expression,
which is the same thing) are indispensable in the work of art, the
personality of the artist is equally indispensable. If (to quote the
celebrated words in our own way) the _classic_ moment of perfect
representation or expression be necessary for the work of art, the
_romantic_ moment of feeling is not less necessary. Poetry, or art in
general, cannot be exclusively _ingenuous_ or _sentimental_; it must be
both ingenuous and sentimental. And if the first or representative
moment be termed _epic_, and the second, which is sentimental,
passionate, and personal, be termed _lyric_, then poetry and art must be
at once epic and lyric, or, if it please you better, _dramatic_. We use
these words here, not at all in their empirical and intellectualist
sense, as employed to designate special classes of works of art,
exclusive of other classes; but in that of elements or moments, which
must of necessity be found united in every work of art, how diverse
soever it may be in other respects.

Now this irrefutable conclusion seems to constitute exactly that
above-mentioned apparently serious objection to the doctrine which
defines art as pure intuition. But if the essence of art be merely
theoretic--and it is _intuibility_--can it, on the other hand, be
practical, that is to say, feeling, personality, and _passionality_? Or,
if it be practical, how can it be theoretic? It will be answered that
feeling is the _content_, intuibility the _form_; but form and content
do not in philosophy constitute a duality, like water and its recipient;
in philosophy content is form, and form is content. Here, on the other
hand, form and content appear to be different from one another; the
content is of one quality, the form of another. Thus art appears to be
the sum of two qualities, or, as Herbart used to say in his time, of
_two values_. Accordingly we have an altogether unmaintainable
Aesthetic, as is clear from recent largely vulgarized doctrines of
Aesthetic as operating with the concept of the _infused personality_.
Here we find, on the one hand, things intuible lying dead and soulless;
on the other, the artist's feeling and personality. The artist is then
supposed to put himself into things, by an act of magic, to make them
live and palpitate, love and adore. But if we start with the
_distinction_, we can never again reach _unity_: the distinction
requires an intellectual act, and what the intellect has divided
intellect or reason alone, not art or imagination, can reunite and
synthetize. Thus the Aesthetic of infusion or transfusion--when it does
not fall into the antiquated hedonistic doctrines of agreeable illusion,
of games, and generally of what affords a pleasurable emotion; or of
moral doctrines, where art is a symbol and an allegory of the good and
the true;--is yet not able, despite its airs of modernity and its
psychology, to escape the fate of the doctrine which makes of art a
semi-imaginative conception of the world, like religion. The process
that it describes is mythological, not aesthetic; it is a making of gods
or of idols. "To make one's gods is an unhappy art," said an old Italian
poet; but if it be not unhappy, certainly it is not poetic and not
aesthetic. The artist does not make the gods, because he has other
things to do. Another reason is that, to tell the truth, he is so
ingenuous and so absorbed in the image that attracts him, that he cannot
perform that act of abstraction and conception, wherein the image must
be surpassed and made the allegory of a universal, though it be of the
crudest description.

This recent theory, then, is of no use. It leads back to the
difficulties arising from the admission of two characteristics of art,
_intuibility_ and _lyricism_, not unified. We must recognize, either
that the duality must be destroyed and proved illusory, _or_ that we
must proceed to a more ample conception of art, in which that of pure
intuibility would remain merely secondary or particular. And to destroy
and prove it illusory must consist in showing that here too form is
content, and that pure intuition is _itself_ lyricism.

Now, the truth is precisely this: _pure intuition is essentially
lyricism_. All the difficulties concerning this question arise from not
having thoroughly understood that concept, from having failed to
penetrate its true nature and to explore its multiple relations. When we
consider the one attentively, we see the other bursting from its bosom,
or better, the one and the other reveal themselves as one and the same,
and we escape from the desperate trilemma, of either denying the lyrical
and personal character of art, or of asserting that it is adjunctive,
external and accidental, or of excogitating a new doctrine of Aesthetic,
which we do not know where to find. In fact, as has already been
remarked, what can pure intuition mean, but intuition pure of every
abstraction, of every conceptual element, and, for this reason, neither
science, history, nor philosophy? This means that the content of the
pure intuition cannot be either an abstract concept, or a speculative
concept or idea, or a conceptualized, that is historicized,
representation. Nor can it be a so-called perception, which is a
representation intellectually, and so historically, discriminated. But
outside logic in its various forms and blendings, no other psychic
content remains, save that which is called appetites, tendencies,
feelings, and will. These things are all the same and constitute the
practical form of the spirit, in its infinite gradations and in its
dialectic (pleasure and pain). Pure intuition, then, since it does not
produce concepts, must represent the will in its manifestations, that is
to say, it can represent nothing but _states of the soul_. And states of
the soul are passionality, feeling, personality, which are found in
every art and determine its lyrical character. Where this is absent, art
is absent, _precisely because pure intuition is absent_, and we have at
the most, in exchange for it, _that reflex_, philosophical, historical,
or scientific. In the last of these, passion is represented, not
immediately, but mediately, or, to speak exactly, it is no longer
represented, but thought. Thus the origin of language, that is, its true
nature, has several times been placed in _interjection_. Thus, too,
Aristotle, when he wished to give an example of those propositions which
were not _apophantic_, but generically _semantic_ (we should say, not
logical, but purely Aesthetic), and did not predicate the logically true
and false, but nevertheless said something, gave as example invocation
or prayer, _hae enchae_. He added that these propositions do not
appertain to Logic, but to Rhetoric and Poetic. A landscape is a
state of the soul; a great poem may all be contained in an exclamation
of joy, of sorrow, of admiration, or of lament. The more objective is a
work of art, by so much the more is it poetically suggestive.

If this deduction of lyricism from the intimate essence of pure
intuition do not appear easily acceptable, the reason is to be sought in
two very deep-rooted prejudices, of which it is useful to indicate here
the genesis. The first concerns the nature of the _imagination_, and its
likenesses to and differences from _fancy_. Imagination and fancy have
been clearly distinguished thus by certain aestheticians (and among
them, De Sanctis), as also in discussions relating to concrete art: they
have held fancy, not imagination, to be the special faculty of the poet
and the artist. Not only does a new and bizarre combination of images,
which is vulgarly called _invention_, not constitute the artist, but _ne
fait rien à l'affaire_, as Alceste remarked with reference to the length
of time expended upon writing a sonnet. Great artists have often
preferred to treat groups of images, which had already been many times
used as material for works of art. The novelty of these new works has
been solely that of art or form, that is to say, of the new _accent_
which they have known how to give to the old material, of the new way in
which they have _felt_ and therefore _intuified_ it, thus creating _new
images_ upon the old ones. These remarks are all obvious and universally
recognized as true. But if mere imagination as such has been excluded
from art, it has not therefore been excluded from the theoretic spirit.
Hence the disinclination to admit that a pure intuition must of
necessity express a state of the soul, whereas it may also consist, as
they believe, of a pure image, without a content of feeling. If we form
an arbitrary image of any sort, _stans pede in uno_, say of a bullock's
head on a horse's body, would not this be an intuition, a pure
intuition, certainly quite without any content of reflexion? Would one
not attain to a work of art in this way, or at any rate to an artistic
motive? Certainly not. For the image given as an instance, and every
other image that may be produced by the imagination, not only is not a
pure intuition, but it is not a _theoretic_ product of any sort. It is a
product of _choice_, as was observed in the formula used by our
opponents; and choice is external to the world of thought and
contemplation. It may be said that imagination is a practical artifice
or game, played upon that patrimony of images possessed by the soul;
whereas the fancy, the translation of practical into theoretical values,
of states of the soul into images, is the _creation_ of that patrimony

From this we learn that an image, which is not the expression of a state
of the soul, is not an image, since it is without any theoretical value;
and therefore it cannot be an obstacle to the identification of lyricism
and intuition. But the other prejudice is more difficult to eradicate,
because it is bound up with the metaphysical problem itself, on the
various solutions of which depend the various solutions of the aesthetic
problem, and _vice versa_. If art be intuition, would it therefore be
any intuition that one might have of a _physical_ object, appertaining
to _external nature_? If I open my eyes and look at the first object
that they fall upon, a chair or a table, a mountain or a river, shall I
have performed by so doing an aesthetic act? If so, what becomes of the
lyrical character, of which we have asserted the necessity? If not, what
becomes of the intuitive character, of which we have affirmed the equal
necessity and also its identity with the former? Without doubt, the
perception of a physical object, as such, does not constitute an
artistic fact; but precisely for the reason that it is not a pure
intuition, but a judgment of perception, and implies the application of
an abstract concept, which in this case is physical or belonging to
external nature. And with this reflexion and perception, we find
ourselves at once outside the domain of pure intuition. We could have a
pure perception of a physical object in one way only; that is to say, if
physical or external nature were a metaphysical reality, a truly real
reality, and not, as it is, a construction or abstraction of the
intellect. If such were the case, man would have an immediate intuition,
in his first theoretical moment, both of himself and of external nature,
of the spiritual and of the physical, in an equal degree. This
represents the dualistic hypothesis. But just as dualism is incapable of
providing a coherent system of philosophy, so is it incapable of
providing a coherent Aesthetic. If we admit dualism, we must certainly
abandon the doctrine of art as pure intuition; but we must at the same
time abandon all philosophy. But art on its side tacitly protests
against metaphysical dualism. It does so, because, being the most
immediate form of knowledge, it is in contact with activity, not with
passivity; with interiority, not exteriority; with spirit, not with
matter, and never with a double order of reality. Those who affirm the
existence of two forms of intuition--the one external or physical, the
other subjective or aesthetic; the one cold and inanimate, the other
warm and lively; the one imposed from without, the other coming from the
inner soul--attain without doubt to the distinctions and oppositions of
the vulgar (or dualistic) consciousness, but their Aesthetic is vulgar.

The lyrical essence of pure intuition, and of art, helps to make clear
what we have already observed concerning the persistence of the
intuition and of the fancy in the higher grades of the theoretical
spirit, why philosophy, history, and science have always an artistic
side, and why their expression is subject to aesthetic valuation. The
man who ascends from art to thought does not by so doing abandon his
volitional and practical base, and therefore he too finds himself in a
particular _state of the soul_, the representation of which is intuitive
and lyrical, and accompanies of necessity the development of his ideas.
Hence the various styles of thinkers, solemn or jocose, troubled or
gladsome, mysterious and involved, or level and expansive. But it would
not be correct to divide intuition immediately into two classes, the one
of _aesthetic_, the other of _intellectual_ or _logical_ intuitions,
owing to the persistence of the artistic element in logical thought,
because the relation of degrees is not the relation of classes, and
copper is copper, whether it be found alone, or in combination as

Further, this close connection of feeling and intuition in pure
intuition throws much light on the reasons which have so often caused
art to be separated from the theoretic and confounded with the practical
activity. The most celebrated of these confusions are those formulated
about the relativity of tastes and of the impossibility of reproducing,
tasting, and correctly judging the art of the past, and in general the
art of others. A life lived, a feeling felt, a volition willed, are
certainly impossible to reproduce, because nothing happens more than
once, and my situation at the present moment is not that of any other
being, nor is it mine of the moment before, nor will be of the moment to
follow. But art remakes ideally, and ideally expresses my momentary
situation. Its image, produced by art, becomes separated from time and
space, and can be again made and again contemplated in its ideal-reality
from every point of time and space. It belongs not to the _world_, but
to the _superworld_; not to the flying moment, but to eternity. Thus
life passes, but art endures.

Finally, we obtain from this relation between the intuition and the
state of the soul the criterion of exact definition of the _sincerity_
required of artists, which is itself also an essential request. It is
essential, precisely because it means that the artist must have a state
of the soul to express, which really amounts to saying, that he must be
an artist. His must be a state of the soul really experienced, not
merely imagined, because imagination, as we know, is not a work of
truth. But, on the other hand, the demand for sincerity does not go
beyond asking for a state of the soul, and that the state of soul
expressed in the work of art be a desire or an action. It is altogether
indifferent to Aesthetic whether the artist have had only an aspiration,
or have realized that aspiration in his empirical life. All that is
quite indifferent in the sphere of art. Here we also find the
confutation of that false conception of sincerity, which maintains that
the artist, in his volitional or practical life, should be at one with
his dream, or with his incubus. Whether or no he have been so, is a
matter that interests his biographer, not his critic; it belongs to
history, which separates and qualifies that which art does not
discriminate, but represents.


This attitude of indiscrimination and indifference, observed by art in
respect to history and philosophy, is also foreshadowed at that place of
the _De interpretatione_ (_c_. 4), to which we have already referred, to
obtain thence the confirmation of the thesis of the identity of art and
language, and another confirmation, that of the identity of lyric and
pure intuition. It is a really admirable passage, containing many
profound truths in a few short, simple words, although, as is natural,
without full consciousness of their richness. Aristotle, then, is still
discussing the said rhetorical and poetical propositions, semantic and
not apophantic, and he remarks that in them there rules no distinction
between true and false: _to alaetheueion hae pseudeothai ouk
hyparchei_. Art, in fact, is in contact with palpitating reality, but
does not know that it is so in contact, and therefore is not truly in
contact. Art does not allow itself to be troubled with the abstractions
of the intellect, and therefore does not make mistakes; but it does not
know that it does not make mistakes. If art, then (to return to what we
said at the beginning), be the first and most ingenuous form of
knowledge, it cannot give complete satisfaction to man's need to know,
and therefore cannot be the ultimate end of the theoretic spirit. Art is
the dream of the life of knowledge. Its complement is waking, lyricism
no longer, but the concept; no longer the dream, but the judgment.
Thought could not be without fancy; but thought surpasses and contains
in itself the fancy, transforms the image into perception, and gives to
the world of dream the clear distinctions and the firm contours of
reality. Art cannot achieve this; and however great be our love of art,
that cannot raise it in rank, any more than the love one may have for a
beautiful child can convert it into an adult. We must accept the child
as a child, the adult as an adult.

Therefore, the Aesthetic of pure intuition, while it proclaims
energetically the autonomy of art and of the aesthetic activity, is at
the same time averse to all _aestheticism_, that is, to every attempt at
lowering the life of thought, in order to elevate that of fancy. The
origin of aestheticism is the same as that of mysticism. Both proceed
from a rebellion against the predominance of the abstract sciences and
against the undue abuse of the principle of causation in metaphysic.
When we pass from the stuffed animals of the zoological museums, from
anatomical reconstructions, from tables of figures, from classes and
sub-classes constituted by means of abstract characters, or from the
fixation and mechanization of life for the ends of naturalistic science,
to the pages of the poets, to the pictures of the painters, to the
melodies of the composers, when in fact we look upon life with the eye
of the artist, we have the impression that we are passing from death to
life, from the abstract to the concrete, from fiction to reality. We are
inclined to proclaim that only in art and in aesthetic contemplation is
truth, and that science is either charlatanesque pedantry, or a modest
practical expedient. And certainly art has the superiority of its own
truth; simple, small, and elementary though it be, over the abstract,
which, as such, is altogether without truth. But in violently rejecting
science and frantically embracing art, that very form of the theoretic
spirit is forgotten, by means of which we can criticize science and
recognize the nature of art. Now this theoretic spirit, since it
criticizes science, is not science, and, as reflective consciousness of
art, is not art. Philosophy, the supreme fact of the theoretic world,
is forgotten. This error has been renewed in our day, because the
consciousness of the limits of the natural sciences and of the value of
the truth which belongs to intuition and to art, have been renewed. But
just as, a century ago, during the idealistic and romantic period, there
were some who reminded the fanatics for art, and the artists who were
transforming philosophy, that art was not "the most lofty form of
apprehending the Absolute"; so, in our day, it is necessary to awaken
the consciousness of Thought. And one of the means for attaining this
end is an exact understanding of the limits of art, that is, the
construction of a solid Aesthetic.


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