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Title: Aesthetic as science of expression and general linguistic
Author: Croce, Benedetto
Language: English
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_As science of expression and general linguistic_



_translated, from the Italian by_ DOUGLAS AINSLIE


_A division of_

















Intuitive knowledge--Its independence with respect to intellectual
knowledge--Intuition and perception--Intuition and the concepts
of space and time--Intuition and sensation--Intuition and
association--Intuition and representation--Intuition and
expression--Illusion as to their difference--Identity of intuition and



Corollaries and explanations--Identity of art and intuitive
knowledge--No specific difference--No difference of intensity--The
difference is extensive and empirical--Artistic genius--Content and
form in Æsthetic--Criticism of the imitation of nature and of the
artistic illusion--Criticism of art conceived as a fact of feeling,
not a theoretical fact--Æsthetic appearance, and feeling--Criticism of
the theory of æsthetic senses--Unity and indivisibility of the work of
art--Art as liberator



Inseparability of intellectual from intuitive knowledge--Criticism
of the negations of this thesis--Art and science--Content and form:
another meaning--Prose and poetry--The relation of first and second
degree--Non-existence of other forms of cognition--Historicity--Its
identity with and difference from art--Historical criticism--Historical
scepticism--Philosophy as perfect science. The so-called natural
sciences, and their limits--The phenomenon and the noumenon



Criticism of the probable and of naturalism--Criticism of ideas in
art, of theses in art, and of the typical--Criticism of the symbol
and of the allegory--Criticism of the theory of artistic and literary
kinds--Errors derived from this theory in judgements on art--Empirical
sense of the divisions of kinds



Criticism of the philosophy of History--Æsthetic intrusions into
Logic--Logic in its essence--Distinction between logical and
non-logical judgements--Syllogistic--Logical falsehood and æsthetic
truth--Reformed logic--Note to the fourth Italian edition



The will--The will as an ulterior stage in respect to
knowledge--Objections and explanations--Criticism of practical
judgements or judgements of value--Exclusion of the practical from the
æsthetic--Criticism of the theory of the end of art and of the choice
of content--Practical innocence of art--Independence of art--Criticism
of the saying: the style is the man--Criticism of the concept of
sincerity in art



The two forms of the practical activity--The economically
useful--Distinction between the useful and the technical--Distinction
of the useful from the egoistic--Economic will and moral will--Pure
economicity--The economic side of morality--The merely economical and
the error of the morally indifferent--Criticism of utilitarianism and
the reform of Ethics and of Economics--Phenomenon and noumenon in
practical activity



The system of the spirit--The forms of genius--Non-existence of a
fifth form of activity--Law; sociability--Religion--Metaphysic--Mental
imagination and the intuitive intellect--Mystical Æsthetic--Mortality
and immortality of art



The characters of art--Non-existence of modes of
expression--Impossibility of translations--Criticism of the rhetorical
categories--Empirical sense of the rhetorical categories--Their use as
synonyms of the æsthetic fact--Their use to indicate various æsthetic
imperfections--Their use in a sense transcending æsthetic, in the
service of science--Rhetoric in the schools--The resemblances of
expressions--The relative possibility of translations



Various significations of the word feeling--Feeling as activity
--Identification of feeling with economic activity--Criticism
of hedonism--Feeling as a concomitant of every form of activity
--Meaning of certain ordinary distinctions of feelings--Value
and disvalue: the contraries and their union--The beautiful as the
value of expression, or expression without qualification--The ugly,
and the elements of beauty which compose it--Illusion that there exist
expressions neither beautiful nor ugly--True æsthetic feelings and
concomitant and accidental feelings--Criticism of apparent feelings



Criticism of the beautiful as that which pleases the higher
senses--Criticism of the theory of play--Criticism of the theory of
sexuality and of triumph--Criticism of the Æsthetic of the sympathetic:
meaning in it of content and form--Æsthetic hedonism and moralism--The
rigoristic negation, and the pedagogic justification of art--Criticism
of pure beauty



Pseudo-æsthetic concepts, and the Æsthetic of the
sympathetic--Criticism of the theory of the ugly in art and
of the overcoming of it--Pseudo-æsthetic concepts belong to
Psychology--Impossibility of rigorous definitions of them--Examples:
definitions of the sublime, of the comic, of the humorous--Relation
between these concepts and æsthetic concepts



Æsthetic activity and physical concepts--Expression in the æsthetic
sense, and expression in the naturalistic sense--Representations and
memory--The production of aids to memory--Physical beauty--Content and
form: another meaning--Natural beauty and artificial beauty--Mixed
beauty--Writings--Free and non-free beauty--Criticism of non-free
beauty--Stimulants of production



Criticism of æsthetic associationism--Criticism of æsthetic
Physics--Criticism of the theory of the beauty of the human
body--Criticism of the beauty of geometrical figures--Criticism of
another aspect of the imitation of nature--Criticism of the theory of
the elementary forms of the beautiful--Criticism of the search for the
objective conditions of the beautiful--The astrology of Æsthetic



The practical activity of externalization--The technique of
externalization--Technical theories of the different arts--Criticism of
æsthetic theories of particular arts--Criticism of the classification
of the arts--Criticism of the theory of the union of the arts--Relation
of the activity of externalization to utility and morality



Æsthetic judgement: its identity with æsthetic
reproduction--Impossibility of divergences--Identity of taste
and genius--Analogy with other activities--Criticism of æsthetic
absolutism (intellectualism) and relativism--Criticism of relative
relativism--Objection founded on the variation of the stimulus and
of psychic disposition--Criticism of the distinction of signs into
natural and conventional--The surmounting of variety--Restorations and
historical interpretation



Historical criticism in literature and art: its importance--Literary
and artistic history: its distinction from historical criticism and
from the æsthetic judgement--The method of artistic and literary
history--Criticism of the problem of the origin of art--The criterion
of progress and history--Non-existence of a single line of progress
in artistic and literary history--Errors committed against this law--
Other meanings of the word "progress" in relation to Æsthetic



Summary of the study--Identity of Linguistic with Æsthetic--Æsthetic
formulation of linguistic problems--Nature of language--Origin
of language and its development--Relation between Grammar and
Logic--Grammatical kinds or parts of speech--The individuality of
speech and the classification of languages--Impossibility of a
normative Grammar--Didactic organisms--Elementary linguistic facts, or
roots--Æsthetic judgement and the model language--Conclusion





Point of view of this History of Æsthetic--Mistaken tendencies, and
attempts towards an Æsthetic, in Græco-Roman antiquity--Origin of the
æsthetic problem in Greece--Plato's rigoristic negation--Æsthetic
hedonism and moralism--Mystical æsthetic in antiquity--Investigations
as to the Beautiful--Distinction between the theory of Art and the
theory of the Beautiful--Fusion of the two by Plotinus--The scientific
tendency: Aristotle--The concepts of imitation and of imagination after
Aristotle: Philostratus--Speculations on language



Middle Ages. Mysticism: Ideas on the Beautiful--The pedagogic theory
of art in the Middle Ages--Hints of an Æsthetic in scholastic
philosophy--Renaissance: Philography and philosophical and empirical
inquiries concerning the Beautiful--The pedagogic theory of art and
the Poetics of Aristotle--The "Poetics of the Renaissance"--Dispute
concerning the universal and the probable in art--G. Fracastoro--L.
Castelvetro--Piccolomini and Pinciano--Fr. Patrizzi (Patricius)



New words and new observations in the seventeenth
century--Wit--Taste--Various meanings of the word taste--Fancy or
imagination--Feeling--Tendency to unite these terms--Difficulties
and contradictions in their definition--Wit and intellect--Taste
and intellectual judgement--The "_je ne sais quoi_"--Imagination
and sensationalism: the corrective of imagination--Feeling and



Cartesianism and imagination--Crousaz and André--The English:
Locke, Shaftesbury, Hutcheson and the Scottish School--Leibniz:
"_petites perceptions_" and confused knowledge--Intellectualism of
Leibniz--Speculations on language--J. C. Wolff--Demand for an organon
of inferior knowledge--Alexander Baumgarten: his "Æsthetic"--Æsthetic
as science of sensory consciousness--Criticism of judgements passed on
Baumgarten--Intellectualism of Baumgarten--New names and old meanings



Vico as inventor of æsthetic science--Poetry and philosophy:
imagination and intellect--Poetry and history--Poetry and
language--Inductive and formalistic logic--Vico opposed to all
former theories of poetry--Vico's judgements of the grammarians and
linguists who preceded him--Influence of seventeenth-century writers on
Vico--Æsthetic in the _Scienza Nuova_--Vico's mistakes--Progress still
to be achieved



The influence of Vico--Italian writers: A. Conti--Quadrio and
Zanotti--M. Cesarotti--Bettinelli and Pagano--German disciples of
Baumgarten: G. F. Meier--Confusions of Meier--M. Mendelssohn and other
followers of Baumgarten--Vogue of Æsthetic--Eberhard and Eschenburg--J.
G. Sulzer--K. H. Heydenreich--J. G. Herder--Philosophy of language



Other writers of the eighteenth century: Batteux--The English:
W. Hogarth--E. Burke--H. Home--Eclecticism and sensationalism:
E. Platner--Fr. Hemsterhuis--Neo-Platonism and mysticism:
Winckelmann--Beauty and lack of significance--Winckelmann's
contradictions and compromises--A. R. Mengs--G. E. Lessing--Theorists
of ideal Beauty--G. Spalletti and the characteristic--Beauty and the
characteristic: Hirt, Meyer, Goethe



I. Kant--Kant and Vico--Identity of the concept of Art in Kant
and Baumgarten--Kant's "Lectures"--Art in the _Critique of
Judgment_--Imagination in Kant's system--The forms of intuition and the
Transcendental Æsthetic--Theory of Beauty distinguished by Kant from
that of Art--Mystical features in Kant's theory of Beauty



The _Critique of Judgment_ and metaphysical idealism--F.
Schiller--Relations between Schiller and Kant--The æsthetic sphere as
the sphere of Play--Æsthetic education--Vagueness and lack of precision
in Schiller's Æsthetic--Schiller's caution and the rashness of the
Romanticists--Ideas on Art: J. P. Richter--Romantic Æsthetic and
idealistic Æsthetic--J. G. Fichte--Irony: Schlegel, Tieck, Novalis--F.
Schelling--Beauty and character--Art and Philosophy--Ideas and the
gods: Art and mythology--K. W. Solger--Fancy and imagination--Art,
practice and religion--G. W. F. Hegel--Art in the sphere of absolute
spirit--Beauty as sensible appearance of the Idea--Æsthetic in
metaphysical idealism and Baumgartenism--Mortality and decay of art in
Hegel's system



Æsthetic mysticism in the opponents of idealism--A. Schopenhauer--Ideas
as the object of art--Æsthetic catharsis--Signs of a better theory in
Schopenhauer--J. F. Herbart--Pure Beauty and relations of form--Art as
sum of content and form--Herbart and Kantian thought



Æsthetic of content and Æsthetic of form: meaning of the
contrast--Friedrich Schleiermacher--Wrong judgements concerning
him--Schleiermacher contrasted with his predecessors--Place assigned
to Æsthetic in his Ethics--Æsthetic activity as immanent and
individual--Artistic truth and intellectual truth--Difference of
artistic consciousness from feeling and religion--Dreams and art:
inspiration and deliberation--Art and the typical--Independence of
art--Art and language--Schleiermacher's defects--Schleiermacher's
services to Æsthetic



Progress of Linguistic--Linguistic speculation at the beginning
of the nineteenth century--Wilhelm von Humboldt: relics of
intellectualism--Language as activity: internal form--Language and
art in Humboldt--II. Steinthal: the linguistic function independent
of the logical--Identity of the problems of the origin and the nature
of language--Steinthal's mistaken ideas on art: his failure to unite
Linguistic and Æsthetic



Minor æstheticians in the metaphysical school--Krause, Trahndorff,
Weisse and others--Fried. Theodor Vischer--Other tendencies--Theory
of the Beautiful in nature, and that of the Modifications of
Beauty--Development of the first theory: Herder--Schelling, Solger,
Hegel--Schleiermacher--Alexander von Humboldt--Vischer's "Æsthetic
Physics"--The theory of the Modifications of Beauty: from antiquity
to the eighteenth century--Kant and the post-Kantians--Culmination
of the development--Double form of the theory: the overcoming of the
ugly: Solger, Weisse and others--Passage from abstract to concrete:
Vischer--The "legend of Sir Purebeauty"



Æsthetic movement in France: Cousin, Jouffroy--English Æsthetic--
Italian Æsthetic--Rosmini and Gioberti--Italian Romantics. Dependence
of art



F. de Sanctis: development of his thought--Influence of
Hegelism--Unconscious criticism of Hegelism--Criticisms of German
Æsthetic--Final rebellion against metaphysical Æsthetic--De Sanctis'
own theory--The concept of form--De Sanctis as art-critic--De Sanctis
as philosopher



Revival of Herbartian Æsthetic--Robert Zimmermann--Vischer _versus_
Zimmermann--Hermann Lotze--Efforts to reconcile Æsthetic of
form and Æsthetic of content--K. Köstlin--Æsthetic of content.
M. Schasler--Eduard von Hartmann--Hartmann and the theory of
modifications--Metaphysical Æsthetic in France: C. Levêque--In
England: J. Ruskin--Æsthetic in Italy--Antonio Tari and his



Positivism and evolutionism--Æsthetic of H. Spencer--Physiologists of
Æsthetic: Grant Allen, Helmholtz and others--Method of the natural
sciences in Æsthetic--H. Taine's Æsthetic--Taine's metaphysic and
moralism--G. T. Fechner: inductive Æsthetic--Experiments--Trivial
nature of his ideas on Beauty and Art--Ernst Grosse: speculative
Æsthetic and the Science of Art--Sociological Æsthetic--Proudhon--J. M.
Guyau--M. Nordau--Naturalism: C. Lombroso--Decline of linguistic--Signs
of revival: H. Paul--The linguistic of Wundt



Neo-criticism and empiricism--Kirchmann--Metaphysic translated into
Psychology: Vischer--Siebeck--M. Diez--Psychological tendency.
Teodor Lipps--K. Groos--The modifications of the Beautiful in Groos and
Lipps--E. Véron and the double form of Æsthetic--L. Tolstoy--F. Nietzsche
--An æsthetician of Music: E. Hanslick--Hanslick's concept of form
--Æstheticians of the figurative arts: C. Fiedler--Intuition and
expression--Narrow limits of these theories--H. Bergson--Attempts
to return to Baumgarten: C. Hermann--Eclecticism: B. Bosanquet
--Æsthetic of expression: present state



Result of the history of Æsthetic--History of science and history of
the scientific criticism of particular errors


Rhetoric in the ancient sense--Criticism from moral point of
view--Accumulation without system--Its fortunes in the Middle Ages
and Renaissance--Criticisms by Vives, Ramus and Patrizzi--Survival
into modern times--Modern signification of Rhetoric: theory of
literary form--Concept of ornament--Classes of ornament--The
concept of the Fitting--The theory of ornament in the Middle
Ages and Renaissance--_Reductio ad absurdum_ in the seventeenth
century--Polemic concerning the theory of ornament--Du Marsais and
metaphor--Psychological interpretation--Romanticism and Rhetoric:
present day


The kinds in antiquity: Aristotle--In the Middle Ages and
Renaissance--The doctrine of the three unities--Poetics of the kinds
and rules: Scaliger--Lessing--Compromises and extensions--Rebellion
against rules in general--G. Bruno, Guarini--Spanish critics--G.
B. Marino--G. V. Gravina--Fr. Montani--Critics of the eighteenth
century--Romanticism and the "strict kinds": Berchet, V. Hugo--Their
persistence in philosophical theories--Fr. Schelling--E. von
Hartmann--The kinds in the schools


The limits of the arts in Lessing--Arts of space and arts of
time--Limits and classifications of the arts in later philosophy:
Herder and Kant--Schelling, Solger--Schopenhauer, Herbart--Weisse,
Zeising, Vischer--M. Schasler--E. v. Hartmann--The supreme art:
Richard Wagner--Lotze's attack on classifications--Contradictions in
Lotze--Doubts in Schleiermacher


The Æsthetic theory of natural beauty--The theory of æsthetic
senses--The theory of kinds of style--The theory of grammatical forms
or parts of speech--Theory of æsthetic criticism--Distinction between
taste and genius--Concept of artistic and literary history--Conclusion




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

It was at Naples, in the winter of 1907, that I first saw the
Philosopher of Æsthetic. 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 Æsthetic 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.

. . . . . . . . . .

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

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.

. . . . . . . . . .

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.

. . . . . . . . . .

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 Mæterlinck; 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?

. . . . . . . . . .

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 _Æsthetic,_
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 showing 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 _Æsthetic_ occurs for the first time; and _Schleiermacher_ for
the tributes paid to his neglected genius in the History of Æsthetic.
_La Critica,_ too, is full of generous appreciation of contemporaries
by Croce and by that profound thinker, Gentile.

. . . . . . . . . .

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.

. . . . . . . . . .

Of the popularity that his system and teaching have already attained
we may judge by the fact that the _Æsthetic,_ 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.

. . . . . . . . . .

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 philosophies.

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 _Æsthetic,_
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.





This second edition of the _Æsthetic_ will be found to contain the
complete translation of the historical portion, which I was obliged to
summarize in the first edition. I have made a number of alterations and
some additions to the theoretical portion, following closely the fourth
(definitive) Italian edition, and in so doing have received much advice
and assistance of value from Mrs. Salusbury, to whom I beg to tender
my best thanks. I trust that this new edition will enable all those
desirous of studying the work to get into direct touch with the thought
of the author.


_November_ 1920.


This volume is composed of a theoretical and of a historical part,
which form two independent but complementary books.

The nucleus of the theoretical part is a memoir, bearing the title
_Fundamental Theses of an Æsthetic as Science of Expression and General
Linguistic,_ which was read at the Accademia Pontaniana of Naples
during the sessions of February 18 and May 6, 1900, and printed in vol.
xxx. of its _Acts._ The author has added few substantial variations,
but not a few additions and amplifications in rewriting it, also
following a somewhat different sequence with a view to rendering the
exposition more plain and easy. The first five chapters only of the
historical portion were inserted in the Neapolitan review _Flegrea_
(April 1901), under the title _Giambattista Vico, First Discoverer of
Æsthetic Science,_ and these also reappear amplified and brought into
harmony with the rest.

The author has dwelt, especially in the theoretical part, upon general
questions which are side-issues in respect to the theme that he has
treated. But this will not seem a digression to those who remember
that, strictly speaking, there are no particular philosophical
sciences, standing by themselves. Philosophy is unity, and when we
treat of Æsthetic or of Logic or of Ethics, we treat always of the
whole of philosophy, although illustrating for didactic purposes only
one side of that inseparable unity. In like manner, owing to this
intimate connexion of all the parts of philosophy, the uncertainty and
misunderstanding as to the æsthetic activity, the representative and
productive imagination, this firstborn of the spiritual activities,
mainstay of the others, generates everywhere else misunderstandings,
uncertainties and errors: in Psychology as in Logic, in History as
in the Philosophy of Practice. If language is the first spiritual
manifestation, and if the æsthetic form is language itself, taken in
all its true scientific extension, it is hopeless to try to understand
clearly the later and more complicated phases of the life of the
spirit, when their first and simplest moment is ill known, mutilated
and disfigured. From the explanation of the æsthetic activity is also
to be expected the correction of several concepts and the solution
of certain philosophic problems which generally seem to be almost
desperate. Such is precisely the spirit animating the present work. And
if the present attempt and the historical illustrations which accompany
it may be of use in winning friends to these studies, by levelling
obstacles and indicating paths to be followed; if this happen,
especially here in Italy, whose æsthetic traditions (as has been
demonstrated in its place) are very noble, the author will consider
that he has gained his end, and one of his keenest desires will have
been satisfied.

NAPLES, _December_ 1901.

In addition to a careful literary revision, (in which, as well as in
the revision of the notes, I have received valuable help from my friend
Fausto Nicolini) I have in this third edition made certain alterations
of theory, especially in Chapters X. and XI. of Part I., suggested by
further reflexion and self-criticism.

But I have refrained from introducing corrections or additions of such
a kind as to alter the original plan of the book, which was, or was
meant to be, a complete but brief æsthetic theory set in the framework
of a general sketch of a Philosophy of the Spirit.

The reader who desires a complete statement of the general or
collateral doctrines or a more particular exposition of the other parts
of philosophy (_e.g._ the lyrical nature of art) is now referred to the
volumes on _Logic_ and the _Philosophy of Practice,_ which together
with the present work compose the _Philosophy of the Spirit_ which in
the author's opinion exhausts the entire field of Philosophy. The three
volumes were not conceived and written simultaneously; if they had
been, some details would have been differently arranged. When I wrote
the first I had no idea of giving it, as I have now done, two such
companions; and I therefore designed it to be, as I say, complete in
itself. In the second place, the present state of the study of Æsthetic
made it desirable to append to the theoretical exposition a somewhat
full history of the science, whereas for the other parts of Philosophy
I was able to restrict myself to brief historical notes merely designed
to show how, from my point of view, such a history would best be
composed. Lastly, there are many things which now, after a systematic
exposition of the various philosophical sciences, I see in closer
connexions and in a clearer, or at least a different, light; a certain
hesitation and even some doctrinal errors visible here and there in the
_Æsthetic,_ especially where subjects foreign to Æsthetic itself are
being treated, would now no longer be justified. For all these reasons
the three volumes, in spite of their substantial unity of spirit and of
aim, have each its own physiognomy, and show marks of the different
periods of life at which they were written, so as to group themselves,
and to demand interpretation, as a progressive series according to
their dates of publication.

With what may be called the minor problems of Æsthetic, and the
objections which have been or might be brought against my theory, I
have dealt and am continuing to deal in special essays, of which I
shall shortly publish a first collection which will form a kind of
explanatory and polemical appendix to the present volume.

_November_ 1907.

In revising this book once more for a fourth edition, I take the
opportunity of announcing that the supplementary volume of essays
promised above was published in 1910 under the title _Problems of
Æsthetic and Contributions to the History of Æsthetic in Italy._

B. C.

_May_ 1911.




[Sidenote: _Intuitive knowledge._]

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 _concepts._

In ordinary life, constant appeal is made to intuitive knowledge. It is
said that we cannot give definitions of certain truths; that they are
not demonstrable by syllogisms; that they must be learnt intuitively.
The politician finds fault with the abstract reasoner, who possesses no
lively intuition of actual conditions; the educational theorist 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 correspond to an equal and adequate
acknowledgment in the field of theory and of philosophy. There exists a
very ancient science of intellectual knowledge, admitted by all without
discussion, namely, Logic; but a science of intuitive knowledge is
timidly and with difficulty asserted by but a few. Logical knowledge
has appropriated the lion's share; and if she does not slay and devour
her companion outright, yet yields to her but grudgingly the humble
place of maid-servant or doorkeeper.--What can intuitive knowledge be
without the light of intellectual 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 with respect to intellectual 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 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
intellectual relation. But, think what one may of these instances,
and admitting further the contention 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 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 face does not there represent the red colour of
the physicists, but is a characteristic element of the portrait.
The whole is that which 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 there be 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 the total effect of the work of art is an intuition;
and notwithstanding all those intuitions, the total effect of the
philosophical dissertation is a concept. The _Promessi Sposi_ contains
copious ethical observations and distinctions, but does not for that
reason lose as a whole its character of simple story or intuition. In
like manner the anecdotes and satirical effusions to be found in the
works of a philosopher like Schopenhauer do not deprive those works
of their character of intellectual treatises. The difference between
a scientific work and a work of art, that is, between an intellectual
fact and an intuitive fact, lies in the difference of the total effect
aimed at by their respective authors. This it is that determines and
rules over the several parts of each not these parts separated and
considered abstractly in themselves.

[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
explicitly make intuition dependent upon the intellect, to obscure
and confuse the real nature of intuition. By intuition is frequently
understood _perception,_ or the knowledge of actual reality, the
apprehension of something as _real._

Certainly perception is intuition: the perceptions 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 imagine a human mind having intuitions
for the first time, it would seem that it could have intuitions of
actual reality only, that is to say, that it could have perceptions
of nothing but the real. But since knowledge of reality is based upon
the distinction between real images and unreal images, and since this
distinction does not at the first moment exist, these intuitions
would in truth not be intuitions either of the real or of the unreal,
not perceptions, 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 undifferentiated unity of the
perception of the real and of the simple image of the possible. In our
intuitions we do not oppose ourselves as empirical beings to external
reality, 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 an intuition is to place
it 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, when found mingled with intuitions.
We have intuitions without space and without time: the colour of a
sky, the colour of a feeling, a cry 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,
_vice versa_; and even where both are found, they are perceived by
later 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 arrangement. Who,
without an act of reflexion which for a moment breaks in upon his
contemplation, can think of space while looking at a drawing or a
view? Who is conscious of temporal sequence while listening to a story
or a piece of music without breaking into it with a similar act of
reflexion? What intuition reveals in a work of art is not space and
time, but _character, individual physiognomy._ The view here maintained
is confirmed in several quarters of modern philosophy. Space and time,
far from being simple and primitive functions, are nowadays conceived
as intellectual constructions of great complexity. And further, even
in some of those who do not altogether deny to space and time the
quality of formative principles, categories and functions, one observes
an effort to unite them and to regard them in a different manner from
that in which these categories are generally conceived. Some limit
intuition to the sole category of spatiality, maintaining that even
time can only be intuited in terms of space. Others abandon the three
dimensions of space as not philosophically necessary, and conceive the
function of spatiality as void of all particular spatial determination.
But what could such a spatial function be, a simple arrangement that
should arrange even time? It represents, surely, all that criticism
and refutation have left standing--the bare demand for the affirmation
of some intuitive activity in general. And is not this activity
truly determined, when one single function is attributed to it, not
spatializing nor temporalizing, but characterizing? Or rather, when it
is conceived as itself a category or function which gives us knowledge
of things in their concreteness and individuality?

[Sidenote: _Intuition and sensation._]

Having thus freed intuitive knowledge from any suggestion of
intellectualism and from every later and external addition, we must
now explain it and determine its limits from another side and defend
it from a different kind of invasion and confusion. On the hither side
of the lower limit is sensation, formless matter, which the spirit can
never apprehend in itself as simple matter. This it can only possess
with form and in form, but postulates the notion of it as a mere limit.
Matter, in its abstraction, is mechanism, passivity; it is what the
spirit of man suffers, but does not produce. Without it no human
knowledge or activity is possible; but mere matter produces animality,
whatever is brutal and impulsive in man, not the spiritual dominion,
which is humanity. How often 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. It is in such moments
as these that we best perceive the profound difference between matter
and form. These are not two acts of ours, opposed to one another; but
the one is outside us and assaults and sweeps us off our feet, while
the other inside us tends to absorb and identify itself with that
which is outside. Matter, clothed and conquered by form, produces
concrete form. It is the matter, the content, which differentiates one
of our intuitions from another: the form is constant: it is spiritual
activity, while matter is changeable. Without matter spiritual
activity would not forsake its abstractness to become concrete and
real activity, this or that spiritual content, this or that definite

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 often ignored or denied. Some confound the spiritual activity of
man with the metaphorical and mythological activity of what is called
nature, which is mechanism and has no resemblance to human activity,
save when we imagine, with Æsop, that "_arbores loquuntur non tantum
ferae._" Some 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, would
unify activity and mechanism in a more general concept, though they
are specifically distinct. Let us, however, refrain for the moment
from examining if such a final 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 to begin with the admission
of a difference between the two first. Here it is this difference that
concerns us and we set it in relief.

[Sidenote: _Intuition and association._]

Intuition has sometimes been confused with simple sensation. But since
this confusion ends by being offensive to common sense, it has more
frequently been attenuated or concealed with a phraseology apparently
designed at once to confuse and to distinguish them. Thus, it has
been asserted that intuition is sensation, but not so much simple
sensation as _association_ of sensations. Here a double meaning is
concealed in the word "association." Association is understood, either
as memory, mnemonic association, conscious recollection, and in that
case the claim to unite in memory elements which are not intuited,
distinguished, possessed in some way by the spirit and produced by
consciousness, seems inconceivable: or it is understood as association
of unconscious elements, in which case we remain in the world of
sensation and of nature. But if with certain associationists we speak
of an association which is neither memory nor flux of sensations, but
a _productive_ association (formative, constructive, distinguishing);
then our contention is admitted and only its name is denied to it.
For productive association is no longer association in the sense
of the sensationalists, 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 intellectual
concept: the _representation_ or _image._ What is the difference
between their representation or image and our intuitive knowledge?
Everything and nothing: for "representation" is a very equivocal word.
If by representation be understood something cut off and standing
out from the psychic basis of the sensations, then representation is
intuition. If, on the other hand, it be conceived as complex sensation
we are back once more in crude sensation, which does not vary in
quality according to its richness or poverty, or according to whether
the organism in which it appears is rudimentary or highly developed
and full of traces of past sensations. Nor is the ambiguity remedied
by defining representation as a psychic product of secondary degree
in relation to sensation, defined as occupying the first place. What
does secondary degree mean here? Does it mean a qualitative, formal
difference? If so, representation is an elaboration of sensation
and therefore intuition. Or does it mean greater complexity and
complication, a quantitative, material difference? In that case
intuition is once more 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 mere natural fact. The spirit only intuites in 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 proposition sound paradoxical, that is
partly because, as a general rule, a too restricted meaning is given to
the word "expression." It is generally restricted to what are called
verbal expressions alone. But there exist also non-verbal expressions,
such as those of line, colour and sound, and to all of these must
be extended our affirmation, which embraces therefore every sort of
manifestation of the man, as orator, musician, painter, or anything
else. But be it pictorial, or verbal, or musical, or in whatever other
form it appear, to no intuition can expression in one of its forms be
wanting; it is, in fact, an inseparable part of intuition. How can we
really possess an 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 the blackboard?

How can we really 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 feelings, but only so far as he is able
to formulate them. Feelings or impressions, then, pass by means of
words from the obscure region of the soul into the clarity of the
contemplative spirit. It is impossible to distinguish intuition from
expression in this cognitive process. The one appears with the other at
the same instant, because they are not two, but one.

[Sidenote: _Illusion as to their difference._]

The principal reason which makes our view 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 many great thoughts in their minds, but that they
are not able to express them. But if they really had them, they would
have coined them into just so many beautiful, sounding words, and thus
have expressed them. If these thoughts seem to vanish or to become few
and meagre in the act of expressing them, the reason is that they did
not exist or really were few and meagre. People think that all of us
ordinary men imagine and intuite countries, figures and scenes like
painters, and bodies like sculptors; save that painters and sculptors
know how to paint and carve such images, while we bear them unexpressed
in our souls. They believe that any one could have imagined a Madonna
of Raphæl; but that Raphæl was Raphæl owing to his technical ability
in putting the Madonna upon canvas. Nothing can be more false than
this view. The world which as a rule we intuite is a small thing. It
consists of little expressions, which gradually become greater and
wider with the increasing spiritual concentration of certain moments.
They are the words we say to ourselves, our silent judgments: "Here
is a man, here is a horse, this is heavy, this is sharp, this pleases
me," etc. It is a medley of light and colour, with no greater pictorial
value than would be expressed by a haphazard splash of colours, from
among which one could barely make 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 (it has been said) take the place of the
things themselves. This index and these labels (themselves expressions)
suffice for 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 easy. It has been
observed by those who have best studied the psychology of artists that
when, after having given a rapid glance at any one, they attempt to
obtain a real 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. Michæl Angelo said, "One paints, not with the hands,
but with the brain." Leonardo shocked the prior of the Convent of the
Graces by standing for days together gazing at the "Last Supper,"
without touching it with the brush. He remarked of this attitude: "The
minds of men of lofty genius are most active in invention when they are
doing the least external work." 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 of which it
is the sum, as the painter discovers them after he has worked upon
them and is thus able to fix them on the canvas. We do not intuitively
possess more even of our intimate friend, who is with us every day
and at all hours, than at most certain traits of physiognomy which
enable us to distinguish him from others. The illusion is less easy as
regards musical expression; because it would seem strange to every
one to say that the composer had added or attached notes to a motive
which was already in the mind of him who is not the composer; as if
Beethoven's Ninth Symphony were not his own intuition and his intuition
the Ninth Symphony. Now, just as one who is deluded as to the amount
of his material wealth is confuted by arithmetic, which states its
exact amount, so he who nourishes delusions as to the wealth of his
own thoughts and images is brought back to reality, when he is obliged
to cross the _Pons Asinorum_ of expression. Let us say to the former,
count; to the latter, speak; or, here is a pencil, draw, express

Each of us, as a matter of fact, has in him 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 bear those names, just
because they possess the most universal dispositions and energies
of human nature in so lofty a degree! How little too does a painter
possess of the intuitions of a poet! And 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 still falls short of the spirit and is
not assimilated by man; something postulated for the convenience of
exposition, while actually non-existent, since to exist also is a fact
of the spirit.

[Sidenote: _Identity of intuition and expression._]

We may thus add this to the various verbal descriptions of intuition,
noted at the beginning: intuitive knowledge is expressive knowledge.
Independent and autonomous in respect to intellectual function;
indifferent to later empirical discriminations, to reality and to
unreality, to formations and apperceptions of space and time, which are
also later: intuition or representation is distinguished as _form_ from
what is felt and suffered, from the flux or wave of sensation, or from
psychic matter; and this form, this taking possession, is expression.
To intuite is to express; and nothing else (nothing more, but nothing
less) than _to express._



[Sidenote: _Corollaries and explanations._]

Before proceeding further, it may be well to draw certain consequences
from what has been established and to add some explanations.

[Sidenote: _Identity of art and intuitive knowledge._]

We have frankly identified intuitive or expressive knowledge with the
æsthetic 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 a 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 a distinct species
differing from intuition in general by something _more_."

[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 would 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 prove what is intended, for the good
reason that it is not true that the scientific concept is the concept
of a concept. If this comparison proves anything, it proves 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; for those concepts
that are poor and limited it substitutes others, larger and more
comprehensive; 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 _par
excellence_ art, collects intuitions that are wider and more complex
than those which we generally experience, but these intuitions are
always of sensations and impressions.

Art is expression of impressions, not expression of expression.

[Sidenote: _No difference of intensity._]

For the same reason, it cannot be asserted that the intuition, which is
generally called artistic, differs from ordinary intuition as intensive
intuition. This would be the case if it were to operate differently on
the same matter. But since the artistic function is extended to wider
fields, yet does not differ in method from ordinary intuition, the
difference between them is not intensive but extensive. The intuition
of the simplest popular love-song, which says the same thing, or very
nearly, as any declaration of love that 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 is 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 not
often achieved, and these are called works of art. The limits of
the expression-intuitions that are called art, as opposed to those
that are vulgarly called non-art, are empirical and impossible to
define. If an epigram be art, why not a simple word? If a story, why
not the news-jottings 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 spoken prose for
forty years without knowing it, 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 Æsthetic, 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 club. No one
is astonished when he learns from physiology that every cell is an
organism and every organism a cell or synthesis of cells. No one is
astonished at finding in a lofty mountain the same chemical elements
that compose a small stone 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 as distinct from a science of greater
intuition, nor one of ordinary intuition as distinct from artistic
intuition. There is but one Æsthetic, the science of intuitive or
expressive knowledge, which is the æsthetic or artistic fact. And this
Æsthetic is the true analogue of Logic, which 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 were identity
of nature between their imagination and ours, and unless the difference
were only one of quantity? It were better to change _poeta nascitur_
into _homo nascitur poeta_: some men are born great poets, some small.
The cult of the genius with all its attendant superstitions 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 remote 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 can be
wanting to artistic genius is the _reflective_ consciousness, the
superadded consciousness of the historian or critic, which is not
essential to it.

[Sidenote: _Content and form in Æsthetic._]

The relation between matter and form, or between _content_ and
_form,_ as is generally said, is one of the most disputed questions
in Æsthetic. Does the æsthetic 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 emotionality not æsthetically elaborated, or impressions,
and form as intellectual activity and expression, then our view cannot
be in doubt. We must, that is to say, reject both the thesis that makes
the æsthetic fact to consist of the content alone (that is, the simple
impressions), and the thesis which makes it to consist of a junction
between form and content, that is, of impressions plus expressions.
In the æsthetic fact, expressive 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 æsthetic fact, therefore, is form, and nothing but form.

From this was inferred 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_ from the qualities of
the content to those of the form. It has sometimes been thought that
the content, in order to be æsthetic, that is to say, transformable
into form, should possess some determined or determinable qualities.
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 about it. It does not
become æsthetic content before, but only after it has been actually
transformed. The æsthetic content has also been defined as the
_interesting._ That is not an untrue statement; it is merely void of
meaning. Interesting to what? To the expressive activity? Certainly
the expressive activity would not have raised the content to the
dignity of form, had it not been interested in it. Being interested is
precisely the raising of the content to the dignity of form. But the
word "interesting" has also been employed in another and a illegitimate
sense, which we shall explain further on.

[Sidenote: _Criticism of the imitation of nature and of the artistic

The proposition that art is _imitation of nature_ has also several
meanings. Sometimes truths have been expressed or at least shadowed
forth in these words, sometimes errors have been promulgated. More
frequently, no definite thought has been expressed at all. One of
the scientifically legitimate meanings occurs when "imitation" is
understood as representation or intuition of nature, a form of
knowledge. And when the phrase is used with this intention, and in
order to emphasize the spiritual character of the process, another
proposition becomes legitimate also: 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, in the presence
of which is renewed the same tumult of impressions as that caused
by natural objects, then the proposition is evidently false. The
coloured waxen effigies that imitate the life, before which we stand
astonished in the museums where such things are shown, do not give
æsthetic intuitions. Illusion and hallucination have nothing to do
with the calm domain of artistic intuition. But on the other hand 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 have work
of the spirit and artistic intuition. Finally, if photography have in
it anything artistic, it will be to the extent that it transmits the
intuition of the photographer, his point of view, the pose and grouping
which he has striven to attain. And if photography be not quite an art,
that is precisely because the element of nature in it remains more or
less unconquered 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 all of

[Sidenote: _Criticism of art conceived as a fact of feeling, not a
theoretical fact. Æsthetic appearance, and feeling._]

The statements repeated so often, 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, and so forth, arise from the
failure to realize exactly the theoretic character of simple intuition.
This simple intuition is quite distinct from intellectual knowledge,
as it is distinct from perception of the real; and the statements
quoted above arise from the belief that only intellectual cognition is
knowledge. We have seen that intuition is knowledge, free from concepts
and more simple than the so-called perception of the real. Therefore
art is knowledge, form; it does not belong to the world of feeling or
to psychic matter. The reason why so many æstheticians have so often
insisted that art is _appearance_ (_Schein_), is precisely that they
have felt the necessity of distinguishing it from the more complex fact
of perception, by maintaining its pure intuitiveness. And if for the
same reason it has been claimed that art is _feeling_ the reason is
the same. For if the concept as content of art, and historical reality
as such, be excluded from the sphere of art, there remains no other
content than reality apprehended in all its ingenuousness and immediacy
in the vital impulse, in its _feeling,_ that is to say again, pure

[Sidenote: _Criticism of the theory of æsthetic senses._]

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

This theory can be reduced to the error just indicated of wishing to
find a passage from the qualities of the content to those of the form.
To ask, in fact, what the æsthetic senses are, implies asking what
sensible impressions are able to enter into æsthetic expressions, and
which must of necessity do so. To this we must at once reply, that
all impressions can enter into æsthetic expressions or formations,
but that none are bound to do so of necessity. Dante raised to the
dignity of form not only the "sweet colour of the oriental sapphire"
(visual impressions), but also tactual or thermic impressions, such as
the "dense air" and the "fresh rivulets" which "parch the more" the
throat of the thirsty. The belief that a picture yields only visual
impressions is a curious illusion. The bloom on a cheek, the warmth of
a youthful body, the sweetness and freshness of a fruit, the edge of a
sharp knife, are not these, too, impressions obtainable from a picture?
Are they visual? What would a picture mean to an imaginary man, lacking
all or many of his senses, who should in an instant acquire the organ
of sight alone? The picture we are looking at and believe we see only
with our eyes would seem to his eyes to be little more than an artist's
paint-smeared palette.

Some who hold firmly to the æsthetic character of certain groups of
impressions (for example, the visual and auditive), and exclude others,
are nevertheless ready to admit that if visual and auditive impressions
enter _directly_ into the æsthetic fact, those of the other senses
also enter into it, but only as _associated._ But this distinction is
altogether arbitrary. Æsthetic expression is synthesis, in which it
is impossible to distinguish direct and indirect. All impressions are
placed by it on a level, in so far as they are æstheticized. A man who
absorbs the subject of a picture or poem does not have it before him as
a series of impressions, some of which have prerogatives and precedence
over the others. He knows nothing as to what has happened prior to
having absorbed it, just as, on the other hand, distinctions made after
reflexion have nothing whatever to do with art as such.

The theory of the æsthetic senses has also been presented in another
way; as an attempt to establish what physiological organs are necessary
for the æsthetic fact. The physiological organ or apparatus is nothing
but a group of cells, constituted and disposed in a particular manner;
that is to say, it is a merely physical and natural fact or concept.
But expression does not know 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 comes to the same thing: it suffices
that they should be impressions.

It is true that the want of given organs, that is, of certain groups of
cells, prevents the formation of certain impressions (when these are
not otherwise obtained through a kind of organic compensation). The
man born blind cannot intuite and express light. But the impressions
are not conditioned solely by the organ, but also by the stimuli which
operate upon the organ. One who has never had the impression of the sea
will never be able to express it, in the same way as one who has never
had the impression of the life of high society or of the political
arena will never express either. This, however, does not prove the
dependence of the expressive function on the stimulus or on the
organ. It merely repeats what we know already: expression presupposes
impression, and particular expressions particular impressions. For the
rest, every impression excludes other impressions during the moment in
which it dominates; and so does every expression.

[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 single
expression. Activity is a fusion of the impressions in an organic
whole. A desire to express this has always prompted the affirmation
that the work of art should have _unity,_ or, what amounts to the same
thing, _unity in variety._ Expression is a synthesis of the various, or
multiple, in the one.

The fact that we divide a work of art into parts, a poem into scenes,
episodes, similes, sentences, or a picture into single figures and
objects, background, foreground, etc., may seem opposed 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
division gives rise to other living beings, but in such a case we must
conclude, maintaining the analogy between the organism and the work of
art, that in the latter case too there are numerous germs of life each
ready to grow, in a moment, into a single complete expression.

It may be said that expression sometimes arises from other expressions.
There are simple and there are _compound_ expressions. One must surely
admit some difference between the _eureka,_ with which Archimedes
expressed all his joy at his discovery, and the expressive act (indeed
all the five acts) of a regular tragedy.--Not in the least: expression
always arises directly from impressions. He who conceives a tragedy
puts into a crucible a great quantity, so to say, of impressions:
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 melting furnace formless pieces of bronze and choicest
statuettes. Those choicest statuettes must be melted just like the
pieces of bronze, before there can be a new statue. The old expressions
must descend again to the level of impressions, in order to be
synthesized in a new single expression.

[Sidenote: _Art as liberator._]

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 as activity. Activity is
the deliverer, just because it drives away passivity.

This also explains why it is usual to attribute to artists both the
maximum of sensibility or _passion_, and the maximum of insensibility
or Olympian _serenity._ The two characters are compatible, 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 subdues and
dominates the tumult of the sensations and passions.



[Sidenote: _Inseparability of intellectual from intuitive knowledge._]

The two forms of knowledge, æsthetic and intellectual or conceptual,
are indeed different, but this does not altogether amount to separation
and disjunction, as of two forces each pulling in its own direction.
If we have shown that the æsthetic 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 æsthetic. To
describe the independence as _reciprocal_ would not be true.

What is knowledge by concepts? It is knowledge of the relations of
things, and things are intuitions. Concepts are not possible without
intuitions, just as intuition is itself impossible without the matter
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 constant concept.

But the concept, the universal, if it be no longer intuition in one
respect, is intuition in another respect, and cannot fail of being
intuition. The man who thinks has impressions and emotions, in so far
as he thinks. His impression and emotion will be not love or hate,
not the passion of the man who is not a philosopher, not hate or love
for certain objects and individuals, 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 assume an intuitive form, in becoming objective
to the spirit. To speak is not to think logically; but to _think
logically_ is also to _speak._

[Sidenote: _Criticism 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 equivocations
and errors.

The first of the equivocations is that of those who observe that one
can likewise think with geometrical figures, algebraical numbers,
ideographic signs, without any word, even pronounced silently and
almost insensibly within one; that there are languages in which the
word, the phonetic sign, expresses nothing, unless the written sign
also be examined, and so on. But when we said "speak," we intended
to employ a synecdoche, by which was to be understood "expression"
in general, for we have already remarked that expression is not only
so-called verbal expression. It may or may not be true 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 expressions.

Others point out that animals, or certain animals, think and reason
without speaking. Now as to how, whether, and what animals think,
whether they be rudimentary men, like savages who refuse to be
civilized, rather than physiological machines, as the old spiritualists
maintained, 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 such conjectures as to
dogs or cats, lions or ants; but upon observations of what is called
animal and brutal in man: of the animal side or 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 in respect to them also we
must talk, not of "nature" as a whole, but of its animal basis, as
being perhaps larger and stronger in them than the animal basis of
man. And if we suppose that animals think and form concepts, what kind
of conjecture would justify the assertion that they do so without
corresponding expressions? Analogy with man, knowledge of the spirit,
human psychology, the instrument of all our conjectures as to animal
psychology, would constrain us on the contrary to suppose that if they
think in any way, they also somehow speak.

Another objection is derived from human psychology, and indeed literary
psychology, to the effect that the concept can exist without the word,
for it is certainly true that we all know books _well thought and
ill written_: that is to say, a thought which remains _beyond_ the
expression, or _notwithstanding_ faulty expression. But when we talk of
books well thought and ill written, we cannot mean anything but that in
such books are parts, pages, periods or propositions well thought and
well written, and other parts (perhaps the least important) ill thought
and ill written, not really thought and so not really expressed. Where
Vico's _Scienza nuova_ is really ill written, it is also ill thought.
If we pass from the consideration of big books to a short sentence, the
error or inaccuracy of such a contention will leap to the eyes. How
could a single sentence be clearly thought and confusedly written?

All that can be admitted is that sometimes we possess thoughts
(concepts) in an intuitive form, which is an abbreviated or rather
peculiar expression, sufficient for us, but not sufficient to
communicate it easily to any other given person or persons. Hence it
is incorrect to say that we have the thought without the expression;
whereas we should rather say that we have, indeed, the expression, but
in such a form that it is not easy to communicate it to others. This,
however, is a very variable, relative fact. There are always those who
catch our thought on the wing, prefer it in this abbreviated form,
and would be wearied by the greater development of it required by
others. In other words, the thought considered abstractly and logically
will be the same; but æsthetically we are dealing with two different
intuition-expressions, into which different psychological elements
enter. The same argument suffices to destroy, that is, to interpret
correctly, the altogether empirical distinctior between an _internal_
and an _external_ language.

[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 æsthetic side. Every scientific
work is also a work of art. The æsthetic 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 unnoticed when we pass from the activity of understanding to
that of contemplation and see that thought either develop itself before
us, limpid, exact, well-shaped, without superfluous or insufficient
words, with appropriate rhythm and intonation; or confused, broken,
embarrassed, tentative. Great thinkers are sometimes called great
writers, while other equally great thinkers remain more or less
fragmentary writers even if their fragments have the scientific value
of harmonious, coherent, and perfect works.

We pardon thinkers and men of science their literary mediocrity. The
fragments, the flashes, console us for the whole, because it is far
easier to recover the well-arranged composition from the fragmentary
work of genius, to liberate the flame latent in the spark, 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 souls of all: the expression alone, that is to say,
the form, makes the poet. And here appears the truth of the view
which denies all content to art, just the intellectual concept being
understood as content. 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._

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

The distinction between _poetry and prose_ also cannot be justified,
save as that between 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 rhymed or unrhymed form; that it was, on the
contrary, altogether internal. Poetry is the language of feeling, prose
of the intellect; but since the intellect is also feeling, in its
concreteness and reality, all prose has its poetical side.

[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 stand without the second, but the second cannot stand without the
first. There is poetry without prose, but not prose without poetry.
Expression, indeed, is the first affirmation of human activity. Poetry
is "the mother tongue of the human race"; the first men "were by nature
sublime poets." We assert this in another way, when we observe that
the passage from soul to spirit, 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 both. Where humanity
appears, the other 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: _Non-existence of other forms of knowledge._]

The cognitive spirit 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: _Historicity. Its identity with and difference from art._]

_Historicity_ is incorrectly held to be a third theoretical form.
Historicity is not form, but content: as form, it is nothing but
intuition or æsthetic 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 and here, the
_individuum omnimode determinatum,_ is its domain, as it is the domain
of art. History, therefore, is included in the universal concept of art.

As against this doctrine, in view of the impossibility of conceiving
a third mode of knowledge, objections have been brought forward which
would lead to the affiliation of history to intellectual or scientific
knowledge. The greater portion of these objections is animated 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. Its purpose is 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, but rather the concept of the individual.
From this it is argued that history is also a logical or scientific
form of knowledge. History, in fact, is supposed to work out 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 works out the concepts of spatial forms, or
Æsthetic that 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
sense in which logicians use the word "represent" when they say that
one cannot have a concept of the individual, but only a representation.
The so-called concept of the individual is always a universal or
general concept, full of characteristics, supremely full, if you like,
but however full it be, incapable of attaining to that individuality to
which historical knowledge, as æsthetic knowledge, alone attains.

To show how the content of history comes to be distinguished from
that of art in the narrow sense, we must recall 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. Only
at a later stage does the spirit form the concepts of external and
internal, of what has happened and what is desired, of object and
subject, and the like: only at this later stage, that is, does it
distinguish historical from non-historical intuition, the _real_ from
the _unreal,_ real imagination from pure imagination. Even internal
facts, what is desired and imagined, castles in the air, and countries
of Cockaigne, have their reality, and the soul, too, has its history.
His illusions form part of the biography of every individual as real
facts. But the history of an individual soul is history, because
the distinction between the real and the unreal is always active
in it, even when the illusions themselves are the real. But these
distinctive concepts do not appear in history like the concepts of
science, but rather like those that we have seen dissolved and melted
in the æsthetic intuitions, although in history they stand out in a
manner altogether special to themselves. 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 ascertaining whether an event in our lives was real or
imaginary. We must mentally reproduce the intuitions in the most
complete form, as they were at the moment of production. Historicity
is distinguished in the concrete from pure imagination as any one
intuition is distinguished from any other: in memory.

[Sidenote: _Historical criticism._]

Where this is not possible, where the delicate and fleeting shades
between the real and unreal intuitions are so slight as to mingle
the one with the other, we must either renounce for the time being 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 in fact dominates all
historical criticism. Examination of sources and authorities is devoted
to 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 wished to falsify,
nor had interest in falsifying the truth of things?

[Sidenote: _Historical scepticism._]

From this it follows that intellectualistic scepticism finds it easy
to deny the certainty of any history, for the certainty of history
differs from that of science. It is the certainty of memory and
of authority, not that of analysis and demonstration. To speak of
historical induction or demonstration is to make a metaphorical use of
these expressions, which bear a quite 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 grasps the
truth. That is why good sense is right against the intellectualists in
believing in history, which is not a "fable agreed upon," but what 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. Only in a spirit of paradox
can one doubt that there ever was a Greece or a Rome, an Alexander or a
Cæsar, a feudal Europe overthrown by a series of revolutions, that on
the 1st of November 1517 the theses of Luther were fixed to the door of
the church at Wittemberg, or that the Bastile was taken by the people
of Paris on the 14th of July 1789.

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

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

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

Science, true science, which is not intuition but concept, not
individuality but universality, cannot be anything but science of the
spirit, that is, of what reality has of universal: Philosophy. If
natural _sciences_ be spoken of, apart from philosophy, we must observe
that these are not perfect sciences: they are aggregates of cognitions,
arbitrarily abstracted and fixed. The so-called natural sciences
indeed themselves recognize that they are surrounded by limitations,
and these limitations are nothing but historical and intuitive data.
They calculate, measure, establish equalities and uniformities,
create classes and types, formulate laws, show in their own way how
one fact arises out of other facts; but while doing this they are
constantly running into facts known intuitively and historically.
Even geometry now states that it rests altogether on hypotheses,
since threedimensional or Euclidean space is but one of the possible
spaces, selected for purposes of study because more convenient. What
is true in the natural sciences is either philosophy or historical
fact. What of properly naturalistic they contain, is abstraction and
caprice. When the natural sciences wish to become perfect sciences,
they must leave their circle and enter philosophy. They do this when
they posit concepts which are anything but naturalistic, such as those
of the unextended atom, of ether or vibration, of vital force, of
non-intuitional space, and the like. These are true and proper attempts
at philosophy, 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 data which cannot be eliminated from the
natural sciences furthermore explain not only how, with the advance
of knowledge, what was once believed to be true sinks gradually to
the level of mythological belief and fantastic illusion, but also how
among natural scientists some are to be found who call everything in
their sciences upon which reasoning is founded _mythical facts, verbal
expedients,_ or _conventions._ Natural scientists and mathematicians
who approach the study of the energies of the spirit without
preparation, are apt to carry thither such mental habits and to speak
in philosophy of such and such conventions as "decreed by man." They
make conventions of truth and morality, and a supreme convention of
the Spirit itself! But if there are to be conventions, something must
exist which is no convention, but is itself the author of conventions.
This is the spiritual activity of man. The limitation of the natural
sciences postulates the illimitability 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 other forms (natural
sciences and mathematics) are impure, being mingled with extraneous
elements of practical origin. Intuition gives us the world, the
phenomenon; the concept gives us the noumenon, the Spirit.



These relations between intuitive or æsthetic 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 Æsthetic.

[Sidenote: _Criticism of probability and of naturalism._]

From the confusion between the demands of art in general and the
particular demands of history has resulted the theory (which has lost
ground to-day, but was once dominant) of the _probable_ as the object
of art. As is generally the case with erroneous propositions, the
meaning of those who employed and employ the concept of probability
has no doubt often been much more reasonable than their definition
of the word. By probability used really to be meant the artistic
_coherence_ of the representation, that is to say, its completeness
and effectiveness, its actual presence. If "probable" be translated
"coherent," a very just meaning will often be found in the discussions,
examples, and judgements of the critics who employ this word. 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 probability, that is to say, be really sprites and
fairies, coherent artistic intuitions. Sometimes the word "possible"
has been used instead of "probable." As we have already remarked in
passing, this word possible is synonymous with the imaginable or
intuitible. Everything truly, that is to say coherently, imagined, is
possible. But also, by a good many critics and theorists, the probable
was taken to mean the historically credible, or that historical truth
which is not demonstrable but conjecturable, not true but probable.
This was the character which these theorists sought to impose upon art.
Who does not remember how great a part was played in literary history
by criticism based on probability, for example, censure of _Jerusalem
Delivered,_ based upon the history of the Crusades, or of the Homeric
poems, upon the probable customs of emperors and kings? Sometimes too
the æsthetic reproduction of historical reality has been imposed upon
art. This is another of the erroneous forms taken by the theory of the
_imitation of nature._ Verism and naturalism also have afforded the
spectacle of a confusion of the æsthetic fact with the processes of the
natural sciences, by aiming at some sort of _experimental_ drama or

[Sidenote: _Criticism of ideas in art, of theses in art and of the

Confusions between the methods of art and those of the philosophic
sciences have been far more frequent. Thus it has often been held to
be the task of art to expound concepts, to unite an intelligible with
a 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 æsthetico-logical.

The theory of art as supporting _theses,_ of art considered as an
individual representation exemplifying scientific laws, can be proved
false in like manner. The example, as 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 vulgarizing.

The same may be said of the æsthetic theory of the _typical,_ when
by type is understood, as it frequently is, the abstraction or the
concept, and it is affirmed that art should make the _species_ shine
in the _individual._ If individual be here understood by typical, we
have here too 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 what is he a type, save
of all Don Quixotes? A type, so to speak, 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 Quixotes. In
other words, we find our own impressions fully determined and realized
in the expression of a poet (for example in a poetical personage). We
call that expression typical, which we might call simply æsthetic. Thus
poetical or artistic universals have sometimes been spoken of, only to
show that the artistic product is altogether spiritual and ideal.

[Sidenote: _Criticism of the symbol and of the allegory._]

Continuing to correct these errors, or to clear up misunderstandings,
we shall also remark that the _symbol_ has sometimes been given as the
essence of art. Now, if the symbol be conceived as inseparable from the
artistic intuition, it is a synonym for 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 conceived as separable--if the symbol can be on one side,
and on the other the thing symbolized, we fall back again into the
intellectualist error: the so-called symbol is the exposition of an
abstract concept, an _allegory_; it is science, or art aping science.
But we must also be just toward the allegorical. Sometimes it is
altogether harmless. Given the _Gerusalemme liberata,_ the allegory
was imagined afterwards; given the _A done_ of Marino, the poet of
the lascivious afterwards insinuated that it was written to show how
"immoderate indulgence ends in pain"; given a statue of a beautiful
woman, the sculptor can attach a label to the statue saying that
it represents _Clemency_ or _Goodness._ This allegory that arrives
attached to a finished work _post festum_ does not change the work of
art. What then is it? 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 believe; to the statue nothing but the single word:
_Clemency_ or _Goodness._

[Sidenote: _Criticism of the theory of artistic and literary kinds._]

But the greatest triumph of the intellectualist error lies in the
theory of artistic and literary kinds, 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 æsthetic to the logical, just because
the former is a first step in respect to the latter. It can destroy
expression, that is, the thought of the individual, by thinking of the
universal. It can gather up expressive facts into logical relations.
We have already shown that this operation becomes in its turn 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
æsthetico-logical expressions. When we are on the second step, we have
left the first.

One who enters a picture-gallery, or who reads a series of poems,
having looked and read, may go further: he may seek out the nature and
the relations of the things there expressed. Thus those pictures and
compositions, each of which is an individual inexpressible in logical
terms, are gradually resolved into universals and abstractions, such
as _costumes, landscapes, portraits, domestic life, battles, animals,
flowers, fruit, seascapes, lakes, deserts; tragic, comic, pathetic,
cruel, lyrical, epic, dramatic, chivalrous, idyllic facts,_ and the
like. They are often also resolved into merely quantitative categories,
such as _miniature, picture, statuette, group, madrigal, ballad,
sonnet, sonnet-sequence, poetry, poem, story, romance,_ and the like.

When we think the concept _domestic life,_ or _chivalry,_ or _idyll,_
or _cruelty,_ or one of the quantitative concepts mentioned above, the
individual expressive fact from which we started has been abandoned.
From æsthetes that we were, we have 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 arise,
which, if it have æsthetic expressions presupposed in it, must yet go
beyond them in order to fulfil its function? The logical or scientific
form, as such, excludes the æsthetic form. He who begins to think
scientifically has already ceased to contemplate æsthetically; although
his thought assumes of necessity in its turn an æsthetic form, as has
already been said, and as it would be superfluous to repeat.

Error begins when we try to deduce the expression from the concept, and
to find in what takes its place the laws of the thing whose place is
taken; 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 kinds._

"What is the _æsthetic_ form of domestic life, of chivalry, 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, when it has been shorn of excrescences
and reduced to a simple formula. It is in this that consists all
search after laws or rules of classes. Domestic life, chivalry, idyll,
cruelty and the like, are not impressions, but concepts. They are not
contents, but logical-æsthetic forms. You cannot express the form,
for it is already itself expression. For what are the words cruelty,
idyll, chivalry, domestic life, and so on, but the expression of those

Even the most refined of such distinctions, which possess the most
philosophic appearance, do not resist criticism; as when works of art
are divided into subjective and objective kinds, into lyric and epic,
into works of feeling and decorative works. In æsthetic analysis it is
impossible to separate subjective from objective, lyric from epic, the
image of feeling from that of things.

[Sidenote: _Errors derived from this theory in judgements on art._]

From the theory of artistic and literary kinds derive those erroneous
modes of judgement 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 is altogether silent, they ask if it obey the
_laws_ of epic or of tragedy, of historical painting or of landscape.
While making a verbal pretence of agreeing, or yielding a feigned
obedience, artists have, however, really always disregarded these _laws
of the kinds._ Every true work of art has violated some established
kind and upset the ideas of the critics, who have thus been obliged to
broaden the kinds, until finally even the broadened kind has proved too
narrow, owing to the appearance of new works of art, naturally followed
by new scandals, new upsettings and--new broadenings.

To the same theory are due the prejudices, owing to which at one time
(is it really passed?) people used to lament that Italy had no tragedy
(until one arose who bestowed such a wreath, which alone of adornments
was wanting to her glorious locks), nor France the epic poem (until the
_Henriade,_ which slaked the thirsty throats of the critics). Eulogies
accorded to the inventors of new kinds 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 drawback)
had nothing new or original to say. Mediocrities racked their brains to
invent new kinds artificially. The _piscatorial_ eclogue was added to
the _pastoral,_ and finally the _military_ eclogue. The _Aminta_ was
dipped and became the _Alceo._ Finally, there have been historians of
art and literature, so much fascinated with these ideas of kinds, that
they claimed to write the history, not of individual and real literary
and artistic works, but of those empty phantoms, their kinds. They have
claimed to portray, not the evolution of the _artistic spirit,_ but the
_evolution of kinds._

The philosophical condemnation of artistic and literary kinds is found
in the formulation and demonstration of what artistic activity has
always done and good taste always recognized. What are we to do if good
taste and the real fact, when reduced to formulas, sometimes assume
the air of paradoxes?

[Sidenote: _Empirical sense of the divisions of kinds._]

It is not scientifically incorrect to 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 to certain groups
of works, in general and approximately, to which, for one reason
or another, it is desired to draw attention. To employ _words_ and
_phrases_ is not to establish _laws_ and _definitions._ The mistake
only 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. The books in a library
must be arranged in one way or another. This used generally to be done
by a rough classification of 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 such arrangements? But what should we say if some one
began seriously to seek out the literary laws of miscellanies and of
eccentricities, of the Aldines or Bodonis, of shelf A or shelf B,
that is to say, of those altogether arbitrary groupings whose sole
object was their practical utility. Yet should any one attempt such
an undertaking, he would be doing neither more nor less than those do
who seek out the _æsthetic laws_ which must in their belief control
literary and artistic kinds.



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

[Sidenote: _Criticism of the philosophy of history._]

Historical intellectualism has opened the way to the many attempts,
made especially during the last two centuries and continued to-day, to
discover _a philosophy of history,_ an _ideal history,_ a _sociology,_
a _historical psychology,_ or whatever else a science may be called,
whose object is to extract from history concepts and universal laws.
What must these laws, these universals be? Historical laws and
historical concepts? In that case, an elementary acquaintance with
the theory 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 truly
contradictory terms: the adjective is as unsuitable to the substantive
as in the expressions "qualitative quantity" or "pluralistic monism."
History implies concreteness and individuality, law and concept
mean abstractness and universality. But if the attempt to extract
_historical_ laws and concepts from history 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 circumstances,
either philosophy in its various forms of Ethics, Logic, etc., or
empirical science with its infinite divisions and subdivisions. The
search is in fact either for those philosophical concepts which, as
already remarked, are the basis of every historical construction and
differentiate perception from intuition, historical intuition from pure
intuition, history from art; or already formed historical intuitions
are collected and arranged in types and classes, which is exactly the
method of the natural sciences. Great thinkers have sometimes donned
the ill-fitting cloak of the philosophy of history, and notwithstanding
the covering, they have attained philosophical truths of the greatest
magnitude. The cloak discarded, 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 matters little that Æsthetic should be called
"sociological Æsthetic," or Logic, "sociological Logic." The grave evil
is that such Æsthetic is an old-fashioned expression of sensationalism,
such Logic verbal and incoherent. The philosophical movement to which
we have referred has however borne two good fruits in relation to
history. First of all, a keener desire has arisen for a theory of
history, that is, a theory of the nature and the limits of history, a
theory which, in conformity with the analysis made above, cannot obtain
satisfaction save in a general science of intuition, in an Æsthetic, in
which the theory of history would form a special chapter, distinguished
by the insertion of universal functions. Furthermore, concrete truths
relating to historical events have often been expressed beneath the
false and presumptuous cloak of a philosophy of history; rules and
warnings have been formulated, empirical no doubt, yet by no means
useless to students and critics. It does not seem possible to deny this
utility even to the most recent of philosophies of history, known as
historical materialism, which has thrown a very vivid light upon many
sides of social life formerly neglected or ill understood.

[Sidenote: _Æsthetic intrusions into Logic._]

The principle of authority, of the _ipse dixit_, is an intrusion
by historicity into the domains of science and philosophy which
has dominated the schools and substitutes for introspection
and philosophical analysis 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 of all disturbances and errors
through an imperfect understanding of the æsthetic fact. How could it
be otherwise, if logical activity come after and contain in itself
æsthetic activity? An inexact Æsthetic must of necessity drag after it
an inexact Logic.

Whoever opens a logical treatise, from the _Organon_ of Aristotle
to the modern works on the subject, must agree that all contain a
haphazard mixture of verbal facts and facts of thought, of grammatical
forms and of conceptual forms, of Æsthetic and of Logic. Not that
attempts have been wanting to escape from verbal expression and to
seize thought in its true nature. Aristotelian logic itself did not
become mere syllogistic and verbalism without some hesitation and
indecision. The problem proper to logic was often touched upon in
their disputes by the nominalists, realists and conceptualists of the
Middle Ages. 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 the _a
priori_ synthesis. Absolute idealism despised the Aristotelian Logic.
The followers of Herbart, though still loyal to Aristotle, emphasized
those judgements which they called narrative and which have a character
altogether differing from that of other logical judgements. 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 basis or point of departure, save in the science of

[Sidenote: _Logic in its essence._]

In a Logic suitably reformed on this basis, this truth must first and
foremost be proclaimed, and all its consequences deduced: 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
by induction be understood, as sometimes it has been, the formation
of universals, and by deduction their verbal development, 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 the word "induction" those of the natural
sciences, it will be best to avoid both words and say that true Logic
is Logic of the concept. The Logic of the concept, while employing
a method which is both induction and deduction, will employ neither
exclusively, that is, it will employ the speculative method which is
intrinsic to it.

The concept, the universal, considered abstractly in itself, is
_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 be
absent; 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. The true sense of words is that which is conferred upon them on
each occasion by the person forming a concept.

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

This being so, the only truly logical (that is, æsthetico-logical)
propositions, the only rigorously logical judgements, must be those
whose proper and sole content is the determination of a concept. These
propositions or judgements are _definitions._ Science itself is nothing
but a collection of definitions, unified in a supreme definition; a
system of concepts, or highest concept.

It is therefore necessary (at least as a preliminary) to exclude
from Logic all those propositions which do not affirm universals.
Narrative judgements, not less than those termed non-enunciative by
Aristotle, such as the expression of desires, are not properly logical
judgements. They are either purely æsthetic 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 an
existential affirmation concerning those facts. They are expressions of
the real or of the unreal, historical-imaginative or pure-imaginative;
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 thought called _syllogistic,_ consisting of
judgements and reasonings based upon concepts? What is syllogistic?
Is it to be looked down upon with contempt, as something useless, as
has so often been done by the humanists in their reaction against
scholasticism, by absolute idealism, by the enthusiastic admiration of
our times for the methods of observation and experiment of the natural
sciences?--Syllogistic, reasonings _forma,_ is not the discovery of
truth; it is the art of expounding, debating, disputing with oneself
and others. Proceeding from concepts already formed, from facts already
observed, and appealing to the persistence of the true or of thought
(such is the meaning of the laws of identity and contradiction), it
infers consequences from those data, that is, it re-states what has
already been discovered. Therefore, if it be an _idem per idem_ from
the point of view of invention, it is most efficacious in teaching and
in exposition. To reduce affirmations to a syllogistic form is a way of
controlling one's own thought and of criticizing the thought of others.
It is easy to laugh at syllogizers, but, if syllogistic has been born
and persists, it must have good reasons of its own. Satire on 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, in
favour of syllogistic externality. And if so-called _mathematical
Logic_ can sometimes aid us in our attempt to remember with ease,
rapidly to control the results of our own thought, let us welcome this
form of syllogistic also, anticipated by Leibnitz among others and
again attempted by some in our own days.

But precisely because syllogistic is the art of exposition and debate,
its theory cannot hold the first place in a philosophical Logic, thus
usurping that belonging to the doctrine of the concept, which is
the central and dominating doctrine, to which everything logical in
syllogistic is reducible, without leaving a residuum (relations of
concepts, subordination, co-ordination, identification and so on). Nor
must it ever be forgotten that concept and (logical) judgement and
syllogism are not in the same line. 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, can only be examined
æsthetically (grammatically), and in so far as they possess logical
content, only by ignoring the forms themselves and passing to the
doctrine of the concept.

[Sidenote: _Logical falsehood and æsthetic truth._]

This confirms 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 æsthetic principle of coherence. It may be maintained that it
is possible to write and to speak exceedingly well, as it is also
possible to reason well though starting from erroneous concepts; that
some, though lacking the acuteness that makes a great discoverer,
are nevertheless exceedingly lucid writers; because to write well
depends upon having a clear intuition of one's own thought, even if
it be erroneous; not of its scientific, but of its æsthetic truth,
which indeed is the same thing as writing well. A philosopher like
Schopenhauer can imagine that art is a representation of the Platonic
ideas. This doctrine is scientifically false, yet he may develop this
false knowledge in excellent prose, æsthetically most true. But we
have already replied to these objections, when observing that at that
precise point where a speaker or a writer enunciates an ill-thought
concept, he is at the same time a bad speaker and a bad writer,
although he may afterwards recover himself in the many other parts
of his thought which contain true propositions not connected with
the preceding error, and therefore lucid expressions following upon
confused expressions.

[Sidenote: _Reformed logic._]

All researches as to the forms of judgements and of syllogisms, their
conversions and their various relations, which still encumber treatises
on Logic, are therefore destined to diminish, to be transformed, to be
converted into something else. The doctrine of the concept and of the
organism of concepts, of definition, of system, of philosophy and the
various sciences, and the like, will occupy the field and alone will
constitute true and proper Logic.

Those who first had some suspicion of the intimate connexion between
Æsthetic and Logic and conceived Æsthetic as a _Logic of sensible
knowledge_ were peculiarly addicted to applying logical categories to
the new knowledge, talking of _æsthetic concepts, æsthetic judgements,
æsthetic syllogisms,_ and so on. We who are less superstitious as
regards the permanence of the traditional Logic of the schools,
and better informed as to the nature of Æsthetic, do not recommend
the application of Logic to Æsthetic, but the liberation of Logic
from æsthetic forms. These have given rise to non-existent forms or
categories of Logic, due to the adoption of altogether arbitrary and
ill-considered distinctions.

Logic thus reformed will still be _formal_ Logic; it will study the
true form or activity of thought, the concept, excluding individual
and particular concepts. The old Logic is ill called formal; it would
be 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 no longer a science of thought, but thought itself in action;
not only a Logic, but the whole of Philosophy, in which Logic is also
included. The science of thought (Logic) is that of the concept, as
that of imagination (Æsthetic) is that of expression. The well-being
of both sciences lies in exactly carrying out in every particular the
distinction between the two domains.

_Note to the Fourth Italian Edition._--The observations contained in
this chapter on Logic, which are not all of them clear or accurate,
should be clarified and corrected by means of the further treatment
of the theme in the second volume of the _Philosophy of the Spirit,_
dedicated to Logic, where the distinction between logical and
historical propositions is again examined and their synthetic unity



The intuitive and intellectual forms contain between them, as we have
said, the whole theoretic domain of the spirit. But it is not possible
to know them thoroughly, nor to criticize another series of erroneous
æsthetic theories, without first establishing clearly the relations of
the theoretic spirit with the _practical_ spirit.

[Sidenote: _The will._]

The practical form or activity is the _will._ We do not here employ
this word in the sense of some philosophical systems, where the will
is the foundation of the universe, the ground of things and the true
reality. Nor do we employ it in the wide sense of other systems,
which understand by will the energy of the spirit, 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 understood, that activity of the spirit
which differs from the merely 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, we include, in the scientific sense, also what
is usually called not-doing: the will to resist, to reject, the will of
a Prometheus, which also is 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 æsthetic and logical activity, is repeated between
these two on a larger scale. A knowing independent of the will is
thinkable, at least in a certain sense; will independent of knowing 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
enlightens us as to the nature of those objects? How can we really
will, if we do not know the world which surrounds us or how to change
things by acting upon them?

[Sidenote: _Objections and explanations._]

It has been objected that men of action, practical men _par
excellence,_ 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 perfectly clear to him. Otherwise the
most ordinary actions could not be willed. 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 satisfactions. 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 a
Hamlet, divided between desire for action and his deficient 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 greater or less extent, to others, there is formed in
him the calm disposition of the artist, of the man of science, or of
the philosopher, who in practice are sometimes incompetent or downright
immoral. 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 the cognitive activity.

[Sidenote: _Criticism of practical judgements or judgements of value._]

Some psychologists, on the other hand, place before practical action
an altogether special class of judgements, which they call _practical_
judgements or _judgements of value._ They say that in order to resolve
on performing an action there must have been a judgement to the
effect: "this action is useful, this action is good." And at first
sight this seems to have the testimony of consciousness on its side.
But closer observation and analysis of greater subtlety reveal that
such judgements follow instead of preceding the affirmation of the
will, and are nothing but the expression of the volition already
exercised. A good or useful action is an action willed. It will always
be impossible to distil a single drop of usefulness or goodness from
the objective study of things. 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 rather, knowledge of the practical: to obtain this, we
must first have practical action. The third moment, therefore, of
practical judgements, or judgements of value, is altogether imaginary.
It does not come between the two moments or degrees of theory and
practice. For the rest, normative sciences in general, which regulate
or command, discover and indicate values to the practical activity,
do not exist; indeed none exist for any sort of activity, since every
science presupposes that activity to be already realized and developed,
which it afterwards takes as its object.

[Sidenote: _Exclusion of the practical from the æsthetic._]

These distinctions established, we must condemn as erroneous every
theory which annexes the æsthetic activity to the practical, 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 æsthetic 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 aim is not Æsthetic, nor within Æsthetic; it
is _outside and beside it_; and although often found united, they are
not united necessarily or by the bond of identity of nature.

The æsthetic fact is altogether completed in the expressive elaboration
of impressions. When we have achieved 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-_will_ to open them to speak,
or our throats to sing, that is to say, utter by word of mouth and
audible melody what we have completely said or sung to ourselves; or
if we should stretch out_--will_ to stretch out our hands to touch the
notes of the piano, or to take up the brush and chisel, thus making
on a large scale movements which we have already made in little and
rapidly, in a material in which we leave more or less durable traces;
this is all an addition, a fact which obeys quite different laws from
the former, with which we are not concerned for the moment, although
we recognize henceforth that this second movement is a production
of things, a _practical_ fact, or fact of _will_. It is usual to
distinguish the internal from the external work of art: the terminology
seems to us infelicitous, for the work of art (the æsthetic work) is
always _internal_; and what is called _external_ is no longer a work of
art. Others distinguish between _æsthetic_ fact and _artistic_ fact,
meaning by the second the external or practical stage, which may follow
and generally does follow the first. But in this case, it is simply a
question of a linguistic usage, doubtless permissible, though perhaps
not advisable.

[Sidenote: _Criticism of the theory of the end of art and of the choice
of 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 among impressions and
sensations implies that these are already expressions, otherwise how
could a selection be made among the continuous and indistinct? To
choose is to will: to will this and not to will that: and this and that
must be before us, 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 should
wish to sing of Atreus and of Alcides, his lyre would warn him of
his mistake, sounding only of Venus and of Love, notwithstanding his
efforts to the contrary.

[Sidenote: _Practical innocence of art._]

The theme or content cannot, therefore, be practically or morally
charged with epithets of praise or 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 failure of the expression due to the contradictions
which it contains. And when the same critics object to the theme or
content of works which they proclaim to be artistically perfect as
being unworthy of art and blameworthy; 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 can only derive inspiration from
what has moved their soul. They should rather direct their attention
towards effecting changes in surrounding nature and society, that
such impressions and states of soul should not recur. 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 feelings, but calm, innocent and joyous feelings,
Arcadians of a real Arcady. But so long as ugliness and turpitude
exist in nature and impose themselves upon the artist, to prevent
the expression of these things also is impossible; and when it has
arisen, _factum infectum fieri nequit._ We speak thus entirely from the
æsthetic point of view, and of pure criticism of art.

We are not concerned to estimate 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
conflict to which it gives rise between artistic impulse and critical
demands. It is true that sometimes it seems also to do some good, by
aiding 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," while believing that it generates, 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

[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 independent both of science
and of the useful and the moral. There should be no fear lest frivolous
or cold art should thus be justified, since what 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
æsthetic treatment, from failure to grasp a content, not from the
material qualities of the content itself.

[Sidenote: _Criticism 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 æsthetic
activity. Man is not simply knowledge and contemplation: he is will,
which contains the cognitive moment in itself. Hence the saying is
either altogether void, as when it is taken to mean that the style is
the man _qua_ style--is the man, that is, but only so far as he is
expressive activity; or it is erroneous, as when the attempt is made
to deduce what a man has done and willed from what he has seen and
expressed, thereby asserting that there is a logical connexion 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 feelings should not be a
noble and generous man in practical life; or that the dramatist whose
plays are full of stabbing, should not himself have done a little
stabbing in real life. Artists protest vainly: "_Lasciva est nobis
pagina, vita proba._" They are merely taxed in addition with lying
and hypocrisy. How far more prudent you were, poor women of Verona,
when you founded your belief that Dante had really descended to hell
upon his blackened countenance! Yours was at any rate a historical

[Sidenote: _Criticism of the concept of sincerity in art._]

Finally, _sincerity_ imposed as a duty upon the artist (a law of ethics
also said to be a law of æsthetic) rests upon another double meaning.
For by sincerity may be meant, in the first place, the moral duty not
to deceive one's neighbour; and in that case it is foreign to the
artist. For indeed he deceives no one, since he gives form to what
is already in his soul. He would only deceive if he were to betray
his duty as an artist by failing to execute his task in its essential
nature. If lies and deceit are in his soul, then the form which he
gives to these things cannot be deceit or lies, precisely because it
is æsthetic. If the artist be a charlatan, a liar, or a miscreant,
he purifies his other self by reflecting it in art. If by sincerity
be meant, in the second place, fulness and truth of expression, it is
clear that this second sense has no relation to the ethical concept.
The law, called both ethical and æsthetic, reveals itself here as
nothing but a word used both by Ethics and Æsthetic.



[Sidenote: _The two forms of the practical activity._]

The double degree of the theoretical activity, æsthetic 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 Æsthetic of practical life; Morality its

[Sidenote: _The economically useful._]

If this has not been clearly seen by philosophers; if the correct
place in the system of the spirit has not been given to the economic
activity, if it has been left to wander about in the prolegomena to
treatises on political economy, often vague and but little developed,
this is due, among other reasons, to the fact that the useful or
economic has been confused, sometimes with the concept of the
_technical,_ sometimes with that of the _egoistical._

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

_Technique_ is certainly not a special activity of the spirit.
Technique is knowledge; or rather, it is knowledge itself in general
which takes this name when it serves as basis, as we have seen it does,
for practical action. Knowledge which is not followed, or is supposed
not to be easily followed by practical action, is called "pure": the
same knowledge, if effectively followed by action, is called "applied";
if it is supposed that it can be easily followed by a particular
action, it is called "applicable" or "technical." This word, then,
indicates a _situation_ in which knowledge is, or may easily be, 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 it may be believed to be, may be a guide to practical
acts; a theoretical error in the ultimate principles of morality may be
reflected and always in some way is reflected in practical life. One
can only speak roughly and unscientifically of certain truths as pure
and of others as applied.

The same knowledge that is called technical may also be called
_useful._ But the word "_useful_" in conformity with the criticism of
judgements of value made above, is to be understood as used here in
a verbal 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 that
knowledge. The technique of the effects of the water is the theoretical
activity which precedes; the only useful thing is the _action_ of the
man who extinguishes the fire.

[Sidenote: _Distinction of the useful from the egoistic._]

Some economists identify utility, that is to say, merely economic
action or will, with the _egoistic,_ that is to say, with what 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 Economics would be a very strange science,
standing not beside but opposite Ethics, like the devil facing God, or
at least like the _advocatus diaboli_ in the processes of canonization.
Such a conception is altogether inadmissible: the science of immorality
is implied in that of morality, as the science of the false is implied
in Logic, science of the true, and a science of unsuccessful expression
in Æsthetic, science of successful expression. If, then, Economics were
the scientific treatment of egoism, it would be a chapter of Ethics,
or Ethics 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 act at hazard and consequently in a manner quite the
reverse of 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 expression and concept, Æsthetic 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_ end,
unless he also willed it _as his particular end_?

[Sidenote: _Pure economicity._]

The converse is not true; as it is not true in æsthetic 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, rather,
an end which would be held to be so at a higher grade of consciousness.

Examples of the economic, without the moral character, are
Machiavelli's hero Cæsar Borgia, or the Iago of Shakespeare. Who can
help admiring their strength of will, although their activity is only
economic, and is developed in opposition to what we hold moral? Who
can help admiring the Ser Ciappelletto of Boccaccio, who pursues and
realizes his ideal of the perfect rascal even on his death-bed, making
the petty 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 judgement-seat he must stand in
a little while, have been able to remove, nor to make him wish to die
otherwise than as he has lived?"

[Sidenote: _The economic side of morality._]

The moral man unites with the pertinacity and fearlessness of a Cæsar
Borgia, of an Iago, or of a Ser Ciappelletto, the good will of the
saint or of the hero. Or, rather, 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._ So a logical
thought which does not succeed in expressing itself is not thought, but
at the most a confused presentiment of a thought beyond yet to come.

It is not correct, then, to conceive of the amoral man as also
anti-economical, 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 felt as
such. The consciousness of the contradiction between what is desired
as a rational end and what is pursued egoistically cannot arise
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 indication of this, is
also economical remorse; that is to say, sorrow at not having known
how to will completely and to attain that moral ideal which was
willed at first, instead of allowing himself to be led astray by the
passions. _Video meliora proboque, deteriora sequor._ The _video_
and the _probo_ are here an initial _volo_ immediately contradicted
and overthrown. In the man without moral sense, we must admit a
remorse that is _merely economic_; like that of a thief or of an
assassin who, when on the point of robbing or of assassinating should
abstain from doing so, not owing to a conversion of his being, but
to nervousness and bewilderment, or even to a momentary awakening of
moral consciousness. When he has come back to himself, such a thief
or assassin will regret and be ashamed of his incoherence; his remorse
will not be due to having done wrong, but to _not_ having done wrong;
it is therefore economic, not moral, since the latter is excluded by
hypothesis. But since a lively moral consciousness is generally found
among the majority of men and its total absence is a rare and perhaps
non-existent monstrosity, it may be admitted that morality, in general,
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 that we support should
introduce afresh into science the category of the _morally
indifferent,_ of that which is in truth action and volition, but is
neither moral nor immoral; the category in short of the _licit_ and
of the _permissible,_ which has always been the cause or reflexion of
ethical corruption, as was the case with Jesuitical morality, 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 far from upsetting the established
parallelism, this confirms it. Are there by any chance 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 æsthetic
intuitions, the other the economic volitions of man, although neither
of them can appear in the concrete, save the one in the intuitive, the
other in the economic form.

[Sidenote: _Criticism of utilitarianism and the reform of Ethics and of

This combined identity and difference of the useful and the moral, of
the economic and the ethical, explains the success at the present time
and formerly of the utilitarian theory of Ethics. Indeed it is easy to
discover and to illustrate a utilitarian side in every moral action; as
it is easy to reveal the æsthetic side in every logical proposition.
The criticism of ethical utilitarianism cannot begin by denying this
truth and seeking out absurd and non-existent examples of _useless_
moral actions. It must admit the utilitarian side and explain it as
the concrete form of morality, which consists in this, that it is
_inside_ this form. Utilitarians do not see this inside. This is not
the place for the fuller development that such ideas deserve. Ethics
and Economics cannot however fail to be gainers (as we have said of
Logic and Æsthetic) by a more exact determination of the relations that
exist between them. Economic science is now rising to the activistical
concept of the useful, as it attempts to surpass the mathematical
phase in which it is still entangled; a phase which was in its turn
a progress when it superseded historicism, or the confusion of the
theoretical with the historical, and destroyed a number of capricious
distinctions and false economic theories. With this conception, it will
be easy on the one hand to absorb and to verify the semi-philosophical
theories of so-called pure economics, and on the other, by the
introduction of successive complications and additions, to effect a
transition from the philosophical to the empirical or naturalistic
method and thus to embrace the particular theories expounded in the
so-called political or national economy of the schools.

[Sidenote: _Phenomenon and noumenon in practical activity._]

As æsthetic intuition knows the phenomenon or nature, and the
philosophic concept the noumenon or spirit; so the economic activity
wills the phenomenon or nature, and the moral activity the noumenon or
spirit. _The spirit which wills 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 freedom._



In this summary sketch that we have given of the entire philosophy of
the spirit in its fundamental moments, the spirit is thus conceived
as consisting of four moments or degrees, disposed in such a way that
the theoretical activity is to the practical as the first theoretical
degree is to the second theoretical, and the first practical degree to
the second practical. The four moments imply one another regressively
by their concreteness. The concept cannot exist without expression, the
useful without both and morality without the three preceding degrees.
If the æsthetic fact is in a certain sense alone independent while
the others are more or less dependent, then the logical is the least
dependent and the moral will the most. Moral intention acts on given
theoretic bases, with which it cannot dispense, unless we are willing
to accept that absurd procedure known to the Jesuits as _direction of
intention,_ in which people pretend to themselves not to know what they
know only too well.

[Sidenote: _The forms of genius._]

[Sidenote: _The system of the spirit._]

If the forms of human activity are four, four also are the forms of
_genius._ Men endowed with genius in art, in science, and in moral
will or heroes, have always been recognized. But the genius of pure
economicity has met with repugnance. 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. To dispute as to whether the word "genius" should be
applied only to creators of æsthetic expression or also to men of
scientific research and of action would be a mere question of words. 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
show 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 derivative facts, in which the various activities are
mingled, and are filled with particular and contingent contents.

The _juridical_ 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 fixed an economic relation willed by an
individual or by a community, and 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 _sociability._ Now what is it that distinguishes sociability,
or the relations which are developed in a meeting of men, and not in a
meeting of sub-human 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?
Sociability, then, far from being an original, simple, irreducible
conception, is very complex and complicated. A proof of this would
be the impossibility, generally recognized, of enunciating a single
law which could be described as purely sociological. Those that are
improperly so called are shown to be either empirical historical
observations, or spiritual laws, that is to say judgements into which
the conceptions of the spiritual activities are translated, when
they are not simply empty and indeterminate generalities, like the
so-called law of evolution. Sometimes, too, nothing more is understood
by "sociability" than "social rule," and so law; thus confounding
sociology with the science or theory of law itself. Law, sociability,
and similar concepts, are to be dealt with in a mode analogous to that
employed by us in the consideration and analysis of historicity and

[Sidenote: _Religion._]

It may seem that _religious_ activity should be judged otherwise.
But religion is nothing but knowledge, and does not differ from its
other forms and sub-forms. For it is in turn either the expression of
practical aspirations and ideals (religious ideals), or historical
narrative (legend), or conceptual science (dogma).

It can therefore be maintained with equal truth either that religion
is destroyed by the progress of human knowledge, or that it is always
present there. Their religion was the whole intellectual patrimony of
primitive peoples: our intellectual patrimony 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 form 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,
such as religion, side by side with what has surpassed and disproved
it. Catholicism, which is always consistent, will not tolerate a
Science, a History, an Ethics, 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 in contradiction
with their whole theoretic world.

The religious affectations and weaknesses prevalent among the
rationalists of our time have their origin in the superstitious worship
so recklessly lavished upon the natural sciences. We know ourselves
and their chief representatives admit that these sciences 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 sought in 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
recrudescence of religious exaltation, which belongs to the hospital,
when it does not belong to the politician.

[Sidenote: _Metaphysic._]

Philosophy removes 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 sciences, with history and with art.
To the first it leaves enumeration, measurement and classification;
to the second, the chronicling of what has individually happened; to
the third, the individually possible. There is nothing left to allot
to 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 philosophical science of what is not form
and universal, but material and particular. This amounts to affirming
the impossibility of _Metaphysic._

The methodology or logic of history has supplanted the philosophy
of history; an epistemology of the concepts employed in the natural
sciences succeeded the Philosophy of Nature. What philosophy can
study of history is its mode of construction (intuition, perception,
document, probability, etc.); of the natural sciences the forms of the
concepts which constitute them (space, time, motion, number, types,
classes, etc.). Philosophy as metaphysic in the sense above described
would, on the other hand, claim to compete with history and with the
natural sciences, which alone are legitimate and effective in their
field. Such a challenge could do nothing but reveal the incompetence
of those who made it. In this sense we are _anti-metaphysicans,_
while declaring ourselves to be _ultra-metaphysicians,_ when the
word is used to claim and to affirm the office of philosophy as
self-consciousness of the spirit, distinguished from the merely
empirical and classificatory office of the natural sciences.

[Sidenote: _Mental imagination and the intuitive intellect._]

Metaphysic has been obliged to assert the existence of a specific
spiritual activity producing it, in order to maintain itself side
by side with the sciences of the spirit. This activity, called in
antiquity _mental or superior imagination,_ and more often in modern
times _intuitive intellect or intellectual intuition,_ was held to
unite the characters of imagination and intellect in an altogether
special form. It was supposed to provide the means of passing by
deduction or dialectic from the infinite to the finite, from form to
matter, from the concept to the intuition, from science to history,
acting by a method which was held to penetrate both the universal and
the particular, the abstract and the concrete, intuition and intellect.
A faculty marvellous indeed and most valuable to possess; but we, who
do not possess it, have no means of establishing its existence.

[Sidenote: _Mystical Æsthetic._]

Intellectual intuition has sometimes been considered to be the true
æsthetic activity. At others a no less marvellous æsthetic activity
has been placed beside, below, or above it, a faculty altogether
different from simple intuition. The glories of this faculty have been
celebrated, and the production of art attributed to it, or at least
of certain groups of artistic production, arbitrarily chosen. Art,
religion and philosophy have seemed in turn to be one only, or three
distinct faculties of the spirit, sometimes one, sometimes another of
them being supreme in the dignity shared by all.

It is impossible to enumerate all the various attitudes assumed or
capable of being assumed by this conception of Æsthetic, 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 out
of varying elements drawn from impressions and feelings. Suffice it
to mention that this mysterious faculty has been conceived, sometimes
as practical, sometimes as a mean between the theoretic and the
practical, at others again as a theoretic form side by side 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 has been
proclaimed the mortality, even the death, actual or at least imminent,
of art. This question has no meaning for us, because, seeing that the
function of art is a necessary degree of the spirit, to ask if art can
be eliminated is the same as to ask if sensation or intelligence can be
eliminated. But Metaphysic, in the above sense, transplanting itself
into an arbitrary world, is not to be criticized in its particulars,
any more than we can criticize the botany of the garden of Alcina or
the navigation of the voyage of Astolfo. Criticism can only exist when
we refuse to join in the game; that is to say, when we reject the very
possibility of Metaphysic, always in the sense above indicated.

There is therefore no intellectual intuition in philosophy, as there
is no surrogate or equivalent of it in art, or any other mode by which
this imaginary function may be called and represented. There does not
exist (if we may repeat ourselves) a fifth degree, a fifth or supreme
faculty, theoretic or practical-theoretic, imaginative-intellectual, or
intellectual-imaginative, or however otherwise it may be attempted to
conceive such a faculty.



[Sidenote: _The characters of art._]

It is customary to give long catalogues of the _characters_ of art.
Having reached this point of the treatise, after having studied
art as spiritual activity, as theoretic activity, and as special
theoretic activity (intuitive), we are able to discover that those
varied and numerous determinations of characters, where they refer
to anything real, do nothing but represent what we have already met
with as genera, species and individuality of the æsthetic form. To the
generic are reducible, as we have already observed, the characters, or
rather, the verbal variants of _unity,_ and of _unity_ in _variety,_
of _simplicity,_ or _originality,_ and so on; to the specific,
the characters of _truth,_ of _sincerity,_ and the like; to the
individual, the characters of _life,_ of _vivacity,_ of _animation,_ of
_concreteness,_ of _individuality,_ of _characteristicality_. The words
may change again, but they will not contribute anything scientifically
new. The analysis of expression as such is completely effected in the
results expounded above.

[Sidenote: _Non-existence of modes of expression._]

It might, on the other hand, be asked at this point if there be _modes_
or _degrees_ of expression; if, having distinguished two degrees of
activity of the spirit, each of which is subdivided into two other
degrees, one of these, the intuitive-expressive, is not in its turn
subdivided into two or more intuitive modes, into a first, second or
third degree of expression. But this further division is impossible;
a classification of intuition-expressions is certainly permissible,
but is not philosophical: individual expressive facts are so many
individuals, not one of which is interchangeable with another, save
in its common quality of expression. To employ the language of the
schools: expression is a species which cannot function in its turn
as a genus. Impressions or contents vary; every content differs from
every other content, because nothing repeats itself in life; and
the irreducible variety of the forms of expression corresponds to
the continual variation of the contents, the æsthetic synthesis of

[Sidenote: _Impossibility of translations._]

A corollary of this is the impossibility of _translations,_ in so
far as they pretend to effect the re-moulding 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 æsthetic form only; but we cannot reduce what has already
possessed its æsthetic form to another form also æsthetic. Indeed,
every translation either diminishes and spoils, or it creates a new
expression, by putting the former back into the crucible and mingling
it with the personal impressions of the so-called 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. "Faithful ugliness or
faithless beauty" is a proverb that well expresses the dilemma with
which every translator is faced. Un-æsthetic translations, such as
those that are word for word, or paraphrastic, are to be looked upon as
simple commentaries upon the original.

[Sidenote: _Criticism of the rhetorical categories._]

The illegitimate division of expressions into various grades is known
in literature by the name of doctrine of _ornament_ or of _rhetorical
categories._ But similar attempts at distinctions in other artistic
groups are not wanting: suffice it to recall the _realistic_ and
_symbolic_ forms, so often mentioned in relation to painting and

_Realistic_ and _symbolic, objective_ and _subjective, classical_
and _romantic, simple_ and _ornate, proper_ and _metaphorical,_ the
fourteen forms of metaphor, the figures of _word_ and _sentence,
pleonasm, ellipse, inversion, repetition, synonyms_ and _homonyms,_
these and all other determinations of modes or degrees of expression
reveal their philosophical nullity when the attempt is made to develop
them in precise definitions, because they either grasp the void or
fall into the absurd. A typical example of this is the very common
definition of metaphor as of _another word used in place of the proper
word._ Now why give oneself this trouble? Why substitute the improper
for the proper word? Why take the worse and longer road when you know
the shorter and better road? Perhaps, as is commonly said, because the
proper word is in certain cases not so _expressive_ as the so-called
improper word or metaphor? But if this be so the metaphor is exactly
the proper word in that case, and the so-called "proper" word, if
it were used, would be _inexpressive_ and therefore most improper.
Similar observations of elementary good sense can be made regarding the
other categories, as, for example, the general one of the _ornate._
Here for instance it may be asked how an ornament can be joined to
expression. Externally? In that case it is always separated from the
expression. Internally? In that case, either it does not assist the
expression and mars it; or it does form part of it and is not an
ornament, but a constituent element of the expression, indivisible and
indistinguishable in its unity.

It is needless to say how much harm has been done by rhetorical
distinctions. Rhetoric has often been declaimed against, but although
there has been rebellion against its consequences, its principles
have, at the same time, been carefully preserved (perhaps in order to
show proof of philosophic consistency). In literature the rhetorical
categories have contributed, if not to make dominant, at least to
justify theoretically, that particular kind of _bad writing_ which is
called _fine writing_ or writing according to rhetoric.

[Sidenote: _Use of these categories as synonyms of the æsthetic fact._]

The terms above mentioned would never have gone beyond the schools,
where we all of us learned them (only we never found an opportunity
of using them in strictly æsthetic discussions, or at most of doing
so jocosely and with a comic intention), were it not that they can
sometimes be employed in one of the following significations: as
_verbal variants_ of the æsthetic concept; as indications of the
_anti-æsthetic,_ or, finally (and this is their most important use), no
longer in the service of art and æsthetic, but of _science_ and _logic._

[Sidenote: _Empirical sense of the rhetorical categories._]

_First._ Expressions considered directly or positively are
not divisible into classes, but some are successful, others
half-successful, others failures. There are perfect and imperfect,
successful and unsuccessful expressions. The words recorded, and others
of the same sort, may therefore sometimes indicate the successful
expression, and the various forms of the failures. But they do this in
the most inconstant and capricious manner, so much so that the same
word serves sometimes to proclaim the perfect, sometimes to condemn the

For example, some will say of two pictures--one without inspiration, in
which the author has copied natural objects without intelligence; the
other inspired, but without close relation to existing objects--that
the first is _realistic,_ the second _symbolic._ Others, on the
contrary, utter the word _realistic_ before a picture strongly felt
representing a scene of ordinary life, while they apply that of
_symbolic_ to another picture that is 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. What wonder, then, that some hotly
maintain the true art form is the symbolic, and that the realistic is
inartistic; others, that the realistic is artistic and the symbolic
inartistic? We cannot but grant that both are right, since each uses
the same words in such a different sense.

The great disputes about _classicism_ and _romanticism_ were frequently
based upon such equivocations. Sometimes the former was understood
as the artistically perfect, and the second as lacking balance and
imperfect; at others "classic" meant cold and artificial, "romantic"
pure, warm, powerful, truly expressive. Thus it was always possible
reasonably 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
said that every writer must have style. Here style is synonymous with
form of expression. At others the form of a code of laws or of a
mathematical work is said to be without style. Here the error is again
committed of admitting diverse modes of expression, an ornate and a
naked form, because, if style is form, the code and the mathematical
treatise must also be asserted, strictly speaking, to have each its
style. At other times, one hears the critics blaming some one 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, a form of the inartistic.

[Sidenote: _Their use to indicate various æsthetic imperfections._]

_Second._ The second not altogether meaningless use of these words
and distinctions is to be found when we hear in the examination of a
literal composition such remarks as these: here is a pleonasm, here an
ellipse, there a metaphor, here again a synonym or an ambiguity. The
meaning is: Here is an error consisting of using a larger number of
words than necessary (pleonasm); here, on the other hand, the error
arises from too few having been used (ellipse), here from the use of
an unsuitable word (metaphor), here of two words which seem to say
two different things, but really say the same thing (synonym); here,
on the contrary, of one word which seems to express the same thing,
whereas it says two different things (ambiguity). This depreciatory
and pathological use of the terms is, however, less common than the

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

_Thirdly_ and finally, when rhetorical terminology possesses no
æsthetic signification similar or analogous to those passed in review,
and yet one feels that it is not void of meaning and designates
something that deserves to be noted, this means that it is used in
the service of logic and of science. Granted that a concept used by
a writer in a scientific sense is designated by a definite term, it
is natural that other terms found in use by that writer on which he
incidentally employs himself to signify the same thought, become _in
respect to_ the vocabulary fixed upon by him as true, metaphors,
synecdoches, synonyms, elliptical forms and the like. We ourselves in
the course of this treatise have several times made use of, and intend
again to make use of such language, in order to make clear the sense of
the words we employ, or may find employed. But this proceeding, which
is of value in discussions pertaining to the criticism of science and
philosophy, has none whatever in literary and artistic criticism. There
are words and metaphors proper to science: the same concept may be
psychologically formed in various circumstances and therefore differ in
its intuitional expression. When the scientific terminology of a given
writer has been established and one of these modes fixed as correct,
then all other uses of it become improper or tropical. But in the
æsthetic fact there are none but proper words: the same intuition can
be expressed in one way only, precisely because it is intuition and not

[Sidenote: _Rhetoric in the schools._]

Some, while admitting the æsthetic non-existence of the rhetorical
categories, yet make a reservation as to 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 distinction, or aid the teaching of a science
which they disturb and obscure. Perhaps what is meant is that such
distinctions, as empirical classes, can aid memory and learning, as was
admitted above for literary and artistic kinds. To this there is no
objection. There is certainly another purpose for which the rhetorical
categories should continue to appear in schools: to be criticized
there. The errors of the past must not be forgotten and no more said,
and truths cannot be kept alive save by making them combat errors.
Unless an account of the rhetorical categories be given, accompanied
by a criticism of them, there is a risk of their springing up again,
and it may be said that they are already springing up among certain
philologists as the latest _psychological_ discoveries.

[Sidenote: _The resemblances of expressions._]

It might seem that we thus wished to deny all bond of resemblance
between different expressions and works of art. Resemblances
exist, and by means of 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 determinations.
That is to say, it would be incorrect to apply identification,
subordination, co-ordination and the other relations of concepts to
these resemblances, which consist wholly of what is called a _family
likeness,_ derived from the historical conditions in which the various
works have appeared and from relationship of soul among the artists.

[Sidenote: _The relative possibility of translations._]

It is in these resemblances that lies the _relative_ possibility of
translations; not as reproductions of the same original expressions
(which it would be vain to attempt), but as productions of _similar_
expressions more or less nearly resembling the originals. The
translation called good is an approximation which has original value as
a work of art and can stand by itself.



[Sidenote: _Various significations of the word feeling._]

Passing to the study of more complex concepts, where the æsthetic
activity is to be considered in conjunction with other orders of facts,
and showing the mode of their union or complication, we find ourselves
first face to face with the concept of _feeling_ and with those
feelings that are called _æsthetic._

The word "feeling" is one of the richest in meanings in philosophic
terminology. 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 so 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
æsthetic fact, that is to say, pure intuition, a form of truth which
defines no concept and affirms no fact.

[Sidenote: _Feeling as activity._]

But here it is not regarded in either of these two meanings, nor in
the others which have also been conferred upon it to designate other
_cognitive_ forms of the spirit, but only in that where feeling is
understood as a special activity, of non-cognitive nature, having its
two poles, positive and negative, in _pleasure_ and _pain._

This activity has always greatly embarrassed philosophers, who have
therefore attempted either to deny it as activity, or to attribute it
to _nature,_ excluding it from the spirit. But both these solutions
bristle with difficulties of such a kind as to prove them finally
unacceptable to any one who examines them with care. For what could
a non-spiritual activity ever be, an _activity of nature,_ when we
have no other knowledge of activity save as spirituality, nor of
spirituality save as activity? Nature is in this case, by definition,
the merely passive, inert, mechanical, 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, or, so to say, quivering.

[Sidenote: _Identification of feeling with economic activity._]

This critical conclusion should place us especially 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 the activity of feeling, if
it is activity, is not new. It has already had its place assigned to
it in the system that we have sketched, where, however, it has been
given another name, _economic_ activity. What is called the activity of
feeling is nothing but that more elementary and fundamental practical
activity which we have distinguished from the ethical activity and made
to consist of the appetition and volition for some individual end,
apart from any moral determination.

If feeling has been sometimes considered to be an organic or natural
activity, this has happened just because it does not coincide either
with logical, æsthetic or ethical activity. Looked at from the
standpoint of those three (which were the only ones admitted), it
has seemed to lie _outside_ the true and real spirit, spirit in its
aristocracy, and to be almost a determination of nature, or of the
soul in so far as it is nature. From this too results the truth of
another thesis, often maintained, that the æsthetic activity, like the
ethical and intellectual activities, is not feeling. This thesis is
inexpugnable, when feeling has already been understood implicitly and
unconsciously as economic volition.

[Sidenote: _Criticism of hedonism._]

The view refuted in this thesis is known as _hedonism._ This consists
in reducing all the various forms of the spirit to one, which thus also
loses its own distinctive character and becomes something obscure
and mysterious, like "the night in which all cows are black." Having
brought about 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 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 of 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,
known as feeling. But we must not confound a concomitant with the
principal fact, and substitute the one for the other. The discovery of
a truth, or the fulfilment of a moral duty, produces in us a joy which
makes vibrate our whole being, which, by attaining the aim of those
forms of spiritual activity, attains at the same time that to which
it was _practically_ tending, as its end. Nevertheless, _economic_
or _hedonistic_ satisfaction, _ethical_ satisfaction, _æsthetic_
satisfaction, _intellectual_ satisfaction, though thus united, remain
always distinct.

A question often asked is thus answered at the same time, one which
has correctly seemed to be a matter of life or death for æsthetic
science, namely, whether feeling and pleasure precede or follow, are
cause or effect of the æsthetic fact. We must widen this question to
include the relation between the various spiritual forms, and answer
it by maintaining that one cannot talk of cause and effect and of a
chronological before and after in the unity of the spirit.

And once the relation above expounded is established, all necessity for
inquiry as to the nature of æsthetic, moral, intellectual and even what
was sometimes called economic feelings, must disappear. In this last
case, it is clear that it is a question, not of two terms, but of one,
and inquiry as to economic feeling must be the same as that relating to
economic activity. But in the other cases also, we must attend, not to
the substantive, but to the adjective: the æsthetic, moral and logical
character will explain the colouring of the feelings as æsthetic, moral
and intellectual, whereas feeling, studied alone, will never explain
those refractions and colorations.

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

A further consequence is, that we no longer need retain the well-known
distinctions between values or feelings _of value,_ and feelings
that are merely hedonistic and _without value_; _disinterested_
and _interested_ feelings, _objective_ feelings and feelings not
_objective_ but simply _subjective_ feelings of _approbation_ and of
_mere pleasure_ (cf. the distinction of _Gefallen_ and _Vergnügen_
in German). Those distinctions were used to save the three spiritual
forms, which were recognized as the triad of the _True,_ the _Good_
and the _Beautiful,_ from confusion with the fourth form, still
unknown, and therefore insidious in its indeterminateness and mother
of scandals. For us this triad has completed its task, because we are
capable of reaching the distinction far more directly, by receiving
also the selfish, subjective, merely pleasurable feelings among the
respectable forms of the spirit; and where formerly antitheses were
conceived (by ourselves and others), between value and feelings, as
between spirituality and naturality, henceforth we see nothing but
differences between value and value.

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

As has already been said, feeling or the economic activity presents
itself as divided into two poles, positive and negative, pleasure
and pain, which we can now translate into useful and disuseful (or
hurtful). This bipartition has already been noted above, as a mark of
the activistic character of feeling, and one which is to be found in
all forms of activity. If each of these is _value,_ each has opposed
to it _antivalue_ or _disvalue._ Absence of value is not sufficient to
cause dis value, but activity and passivity must be struggling between
themselves, without the one getting the better of the other; hence
the contradiction and disvalue of the activity that is embarrassed,
impeded, 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, the problem of contraries (that is to say, whether
they are 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 the nature of æsthetic activity, and at this particular point one
of the most obscure and disputed concepts of Æsthetic: the concept of
the _Beautiful._

[Sidenote: _The Beautiful as the value of expression, or expression
without qualification._]

Æsthetic, intellectual, economic and ethical values and disvalues
are variously denominated in current speech: _beautiful, true, good,
useful, expedient, just, right_ and so on--thus designating the free
development of spiritual activity, action, scientific research,
artistic production, when they are successful; _ugly, false, bad,
useless, inexpedient, unjust,_ wrong designating embarrassed activity,
the product that is a failure. In linguistic usage, these denominations
are being continually shifted from one order of facts to another.
_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._ The attempt to keep up with
these infinitely varying usages leads into a trackless labyrinth of
verbalism in which many philosophers and students of art have lost
their way. For this reason we have thought it best studiously to avoid
the use of the word "beautiful" to indicate successful expression in
its positive value. But after all the explanations that we have given,
all danger of misunderstanding being now dissipated, and since on the
other hand we cannot fail to recognize that the prevailing tendency,
both in current speech and in philosophy, is to limit the meaning of
the word "beautiful" precisely to the æsthetic value, it seems now both
permissible and advisable to define beauty as _successful expression,_
or rather, 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,
for works of art that are failures, that the beautiful presents itself
as _unity,_ the ugly as _multiplicity._ Hence we hear of _merits_ in
relation to works of art that are more or less failures, that is to
say, of _those parts of them that are beautiful,_ which is not the case
with perfect works. It is in fact impossible to enumerate the merits or
to point out what parts of the latter are beautiful, because being a
complete fusion they have but one value. Life circulates in the whole
organism: it is not withdrawn into the several parts.

[Sidenote: _Illusion that there exist expressions neither beautiful nor

Unsuccessful works may have merit in various degrees, even the
greatest. 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 it would be without the contradiction
in which is the reason of its existence. The disvalue would become
non-value; activity would give place to passivity, with which it is not
at war, save when activity is really present to oppose it.

And because the distinctive consciousness of the beautiful and of the
ugly is based on the conflicts and contradictions in which æsthetic
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 instances
of expression. Hence the illusion that there are expressions neither
beautiful nor ugly, those which are obtained without sensible effort
and appear easy and natural being considered such.

[Sidenote: _True æsthetic 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 æsthetic expressions before which no pleasure is
felt, and others, perhaps even failures, which give him the greatest
pleasure, we must recommend him to concentrate his attention in the
æsthetic fact, upon that which is truly æsthetic pleasure. Æsthetic
pleasure is sometimes reinforced or rather complicated by pleasures
arising from extraneous facts, which are only accidentally found united
with it. The poet or any other artist affords an instance of purely
æsthetic pleasure at the moment when he sees (or intuites) 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 one who goes to the
theatre, after a day's work, to witness a comedy: when the pleasure of
rest and amusement, or that of laughingly snatching a nail from his
coffin, accompanies the moment of true æsthetic pleasure in the art
of the dramatist and 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 æsthetic pleasure, that very different one which
arises from the thought of self-complacency satisfied, or even of the
economic gain which will come to him from his work. Instances could be

[Sidenote: _Criticism of apparent feelings._]

A category of _apparent_ æsthetic feelings has been formed in modern
Æsthetic, not arising from the form, that is to say, from the works of
art as such, but from their content. It has been remarked that artistic
representations arouse pleasure and pain in their infinite shades
of variety. 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 and with the melody of music. But these
feelings are not such as would be aroused by the real fact outside
art; or rather, they are the same in quality, but are quantitatively
an attenuation of real things. Æsthetic and _apparent_ pleasure and
pain show themselves to be light, shallow, mobile. We have no need to
treat here of these _apparent feelings,_ for the good reason that we
have already amply discussed them; indeed, we have hitherto treated
of nothing but them. What are these apparent or manifested feelings,
but feelings objectified, intuited, expressed? And it is natural that
they do not trouble and afflict us as passionately as those of real
life, because those were matter, these are form and activity; those
true and proper feelings, these intuitions and expressions. The formula
of _apparent feelings_ is therefore for us nothing but a tautology,
through which we can run the pen without scruple.



As we are opposed to hedonism in general, that is to say, to the theory
based upon the pleasure and pain intrinsic to the economic activity and
accompanying every other form of activity, which, confounding container
and content, fails to recognize any process but the hedonistic; so we
are opposed to æsthetic hedonism in particular, which looks at any rate
upon the æsthetic, if not also upon all other activities, as a simple
fact of feeling, and confounds the pleasurable expression, which is the
beautiful, with the simply pleasurable and all its other species.

[Sidenote: _Criticism of the beautiful as that which pleases the higher

The æsthetic-hedonistic point of view has been presented in several
forms. One of the most ancient conceives the beautiful as that which
pleases sight and hearing, that is to say, the so-called _higher
senses._ When analysis of æsthetic facts first began, it was, indeed,
difficult to avoid the false belief that a picture and a piece of
music are impressions of sight or hearing and correctly to interpret
the obvious remark that the blind man does not enjoy the picture, nor
the deaf man the music. To show, as we have shown, that the æsthetic
fact does not depend upon the nature of the impressions, but that all
sensible impressions can be raised to æsthetic expression and that
none need of necessity be so raised, is an idea which presents itself
only when all other doctrinal constructions of this problem have been
tried. Any one who holds that the æsthetic fact is something pleasing
to the eyes or to the hearing, has no line of defence against him who
consistently proceeds to identify the beautiful with the pleasurable in
general, and includes in Æsthetic cooking, or (as some positivists have
called it) the viscerally beautiful.

[Sidenote: _Criticism of the theory of play._]

The theory of _play_ is another form of æsthetic hedonism. The concept
of play has sometimes helped towards the realization of the activistic
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 works 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 (which is a practical fact), the consequence of this theory
has been that every game has been called an æsthetic fact, or that the
æsthetic function has been called a game, because like science and
everything else, it may form part of a game. Morality alone cannot
ever be caused by the will to play (for it will never consent to such
an origin), but on the contrary itself dominates and regulates the act
itself of playing.

[Sidenote: _Criticism of the theories of sexuality and of triumph._]

Finally, some have tried to deduce the pleasure of art from the echo
of that of the sexual organs. And some of the most recent æstheticians
confidently find the genesis of the æsthetic fact in the pleasure of
_conquering_ and in that of _triumphing,_ or, as others add, in the
wish of the male to conquer the female. This theory is seasoned with
much anecdotal erudition, heaven knows of what degree of credibility,
as to the customs of savage peoples. But there was really no need for
such assistance, since in ordinary life one often meets poets who adorn
themselves with their poetry, like cocks raising their crests, or
turkeys spreading out their tails. But any one who does this, in so far
as he does it, is not a poet but a poor fool, in fact, a poor fool of
a cock or turkey, and the desire for the victorious conquest of women
has nothing to do with the fact of art. It would be just as correct to
look upon poetry as _economic,_ because there once were court poets
and salaried poets, and there are poets now who find in the sale of
their verses an aid to life if not a complete living. This deduction
and definition has not failed to attract some zealous neophytes in
historical materialism.

[Sidenote: _Criticism of the Æsthetic of the sympathetic. Meaning in it
of content and form._]

Another less vulgar current of thought considers Æsthetic as the
science of the _sympathetic,_ as that with which we sympathize,
which attracts, rejoices, arouses pleasure and 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 æsthetic element of representation, and a variable element, the
pleasing in its infinite forms, arising from all the various classes of

In ordinary language, there is sometimes a feeling of repugnance at
calling an expression "beautiful," unless it is an expression of the
sympathetic. Hence the continual conflicts between the point of view
of the æsthetician or art critic and that of the ordinary person,
who cannot succeed in persuading himself that the image of pain and
baseness can be beautiful or at least that it has as much right to be
beautiful as the pleasing and the good.

The conflict could be put an end to 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 and equivocal concept. If
predominance be given to the expressive fact, it enters Æsthetic as
science of expression; if to the pleasurable content, we fall back
to the study of facts essentially hedonistic (utilitarian), however
complicated they may appear. The particular origin of the doctrine
which conceives the relation between form and content as the sum of two
values is also to be sought in the doctrine of the sympathetic.

[Sidenote: _Æsthetic hedonism and moralism._]

In all the doctrines just now discussed, art is considered as a merely
hedonistic thing. But æsthetic hedonism cannot be maintained, save by
uniting it with a general philosophical 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,
truth or morality, when the following question must necessarily be
asked: What must be done with art? To what use should it be put? Should
a free course be allowed to the pleasures it procures? And if so, to
what extent? The question of the _end of art,_ which in the Æsthetic of
expression is inconceivable, has a clear significance in the Æsthetic
of the Sympathetic and demands a solution.

[Sidenote: _The rigoristic negation, and the pedagogic justification of

Now it is evident that such solution can have but two forms, one
altogether negative, the other of a restrictive nature. 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 as not only useless but
harmful. According to this theory, then, we must exert all our strength
to liberate the human soul from its disturbing influence. The other
solution, which we shall call _pedagogic_ or _moralistic-utilitarian,_
admits art, but only in so far as it co-operates with the end of
morality; in so far as it assists with innocent pleasure the work
of him who points the way to the true and the good; in so far as it
anoints the edge of the cup of wisdom and morality with sweet honey.

It is well to observe that it would be an error to divide this second
view into intellectualistic and moralistic-utilitarian, according as to
whether be assigned to art the end of leading to the true or to what
is practically good. The educational task 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 already become
the ground for practical action; it is not, therefore, intellectualism,
but pedagogism and practicism. Nor would it be more exact to subdivide
the pedagogic view into pure utilitarian and moralistic-utilitarian;
because those who admit only the satisfaction of the individual
(the desire of the individual), precisely because they are absolute
hedonists, have no motive for seeking an ulterior justification for

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

[Sidenote: _Criticism of pure beauty._]

The thesis that art consists of _pure beauty_ has often been brought
forward against hedonistic and pedagogic Æsthetic, and eagerly taken
up by artists: "Heaven places all our joy in _pure beauty,_ and the
Verse is everything." If by this be understood that art is not to be
confounded with sensual pleasure (utilitarian practicism), nor with
the exercise of morality, then our Æsthetic also must be permitted to
adorn itself with the title of _Æsthetic of pure beauty._ But if (as is
often the case) something mystical and transcendent be meant by this,
something 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 from all that is not the spiritual form of
expression,_ we are unable to conceive a beauty superior to this and
still less that it should be _purified of expression,_ or severed from



[Sidenote: _Pseudo-æsthetic concepts, and the æsthetic of the

The doctrine of the sympathetic (very often animated and seconded in
this by the capricious metaphysical and mystical Æsthetic, and by that
blind traditionalism which assumes an intimate connection between
things fortuitously treated together by the same authors in the same
books), has introduced and rendered familiar in systems of Æsthetic a
series of concepts a rapid mention of which 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,
humorous, majestic, dignified, serious, grave, imposing, noble,
decorous, graceful, attractive, piquant, coquettish, idyllic, elegiac,
cheerful, violent, ingenuous, cruel, base, horrible, disgusting,
dreadful, nauseating;_ the fist can be increased at will.

Since that doctrine took the sympathetic as its special object, it was
naturally unable to neglect any of the varieties of the sympathetic,
any of the mixtures or gradations by means of which, starting from
the sympathetic in its loftiest and most intense manifestation, its
contrary, the antipathetic and repugnant, is finally reached. And
since the sympathetic content was held to be the _beautiful_ and
the antipathetic the _ugly,_ the varieties (tragic, comic, sublime,
pathetic, etc.) constituted for that conception of Æsthetic the shades
and gradations intervening between the beautiful and the ugly.

[Sidenote: _Criticism of the theory of the ugly in art and of the
overcoming of it._]

Having enumerated and defined as well as it could, the chief of these
varieties, the Æsthetic 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-æsthetic or inexpressive, which can never form _part_ of the
æsthetic fact, being, on the contrary, its _antithesis._ But in the
doctrine which we are here criticizing the positing and discussion
of that problem meant neither more nor less than the necessity of
reconciling in some way the false and defective idea of art from which
it started--art reduced to the representation of the pleasurable--with
real 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

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 may issue more efficacious and
joy-giving. It is, indeed, a common observation that pleasure is more
vividly felt when preceded by abstinence and suffering. Thus the ugly
in art was looked upon as adapted for the service of the beautiful, a
stimulant and condiment of æsthetic pleasure.

That special refinement of hedonistic theory which used to be pompously
called the doctrine of the _overcoming of the ugly_ falls with the
Æsthetic of the sympathetic, and with it the enumeration and definition
of the concepts mentioned above, which show themselves to be completely
foreign to Æsthetic. For Æsthetic does not recognize the sympathetic or
the antipathetic or their varieties, but only the spiritual activity of

[Sidenote: _Pseudo-æsthetic concepts belong to Psychology._]

Nevertheless, the important place which, as we have said, those
concepts have hitherto occupied in æsthetic treatises makes it
advisable to supply a rather more complete explanation as to their
nature. What shall be their lot? Excluded from Æsthetic, in what other
part of Philosophy will they be received?

In truth, nowhere; for all those concepts are without philosophical
value. They are nothing but a series of classes, which can be fashioned
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 these classes, some have an especially
positive significance, like the beautiful, the sublime, the majestic,
the solemn, the serious, the weighty, the noble, the elevated; others
a significance chiefly negative, like the ugly, the painful, the
horrible, the dreadful, the tremendous, the monstrous, the insipid, the
extravagant; finally in others a mixed significance prevails, such as
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 proper to the natural sciences,
satisfied with making the best classification they can of that reality
which they can neither exhaust by enumeration, nor understand and
conquer speculatively. And since _Psychology_ is the naturalistic
science which undertakes to construct types and schemes of the
spiritual life of man (a science whose merely empirical and descriptive
character becomes more evident day by day), these concepts do not
belong to Æsthetic, nor to Philosophy in general, but must simply be
handed over to Psychology.

[Sidenote: _Impossibility of rigorous definitions of them._]

The case of those concepts is that of all other psychological
constructions: no rigorous definitions of them are possible; and
consequently they cannot be deduced from one another nor be connected
in a system, though this has often been attempted, with great waste
of time and without obtaining thereby any useful results. Nor can it
be claimed as possible to obtain empirical definitions, universally
acceptable as precise and true in the place of those philosophical
definitions recognized as impossible. For no single definition of a
single fact can be given, but there are innumerable definitions of it,
according to the cases and the purposes for which they are made; and
it is clear that if there were only one which had the value of truth
it would no longer be an empirical, but a rigorous and philosophical
definition. And as a matter of fact whenever one of the terms to which
we have referred has been employed (or indeed any other belonging to
the same class), a new definition of it has been given at the same
time, expressed or understood. Each one of those definitions differed
somehow from the others, in some particular, however minute, and in its
implied reference to some individual fact or other, which thus became a
special object of attention and was raised to the position of a general
type. Thus it is that not one of such definitions satisfies either the
hearer or the constructor of it. For a moment later he finds himself
before a new instance to which he recognizes that his definition is
more or less insufficient, ill-adapted, and in need of retouching. So
we must leave writers and speakers free to define the sublime or the
comic, the tragic or the humorous, on every occasion as they please and
as may suit the end they have in view. And if an empirical definition
of universal validity be demanded, we can but submit this one:--The
sublime (or comic, tragic, humorous, etc.) is _everything_ that is or
shall be so _called_ by those who have employed or shall employ these

[Sidenote: _Examples: definitions of the sublime, the comic, the

What is the sublime? The unexpected affirmation of an overwhelming
moral force: that is one definition. But the other definition is
equally good, which recognizes the sublime also where the force which
affirms itself is certainly overwhelming, but immoral and destructive.
Both remain vague and lack precision, until applied to a concrete
case, to an example which makes clear what is meant by "overwhelming,"
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 amid tears, bitter laughter, the sudden
spring from the comic to the tragic and from the tragic to the comic,
the romantic comic, the opposite of the sublime, war declared against
every attempt at insincerity, compassion ashamed to weep, a laugh,
not at the fact, but at the ideal itself; and what you will beside,
according as it is wished to get a view of the physiognomy of this or
that poet, of this or that poem, which, in its uniqueness, is its own
definition, and though momentary and circumscribed, is alone 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, strained in
expectation of a perception looked upon as important. While listening
to a narrative, which might, for example, be a description of the
magnificently heroic purpose of some individual, we anticipate in
imagination the occurrence of a magnificent and heroic action, and we
prepare for its reception by concentrating our psychic forces. All of
a sudden, however, instead of the magnificent and heroic action, which
the preliminaries and the tone of the narrative had led us to expect,
there is an unexpected change to a small, mean, foolish action, which
does not satisfy 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 conquered by that which immediately follows:
we are able to relax our strained attention, to free ourselves from
the provision of accumulated psychic energy henceforth superfluous, to
feel ourselves light and well. This is the pleasure of the comic, with
its physiological equivalent of laughter. If the unpleasant fact that
has appeared should painfully affect our interests, there would not
be pleasure, laughter would be at once suffocated, the psychic energy
would be strained and overstrained by other more weighty perceptions.
If on the other hand such more weighty perceptions do not appear, if
the whole loss be limited to a slight deception of our foresight,
then the feeling of our psychic wealth that ensues affords ample
compensation for this very slight disappointment. Such, expressed in
a few words, is one of the most accurate modern definitions of the
comic. It boasts of containing in itself, justified or corrected and
verified, the manifold attempts to define the comic, from Hellenic
antiquity to our own day, from Plato's definition in the _Philebus,_
and from Aristotle's, which is more explicit, and looks upon the comic
as an _ugliness without pain,_ to that of Hobbes, who replaced it in
the feeling of _individual superiority_; of Kant, who saw in it the
_relaxation of a tension_; or from the other proposals of those for
whom it was _the conflict between great and small, between the finite
and the infinite_ and so on. But on close observation, the analysis
and definition above given, although in appearance most elaborate
and precise, yet enunciates characteristics which are applicable,
not only to the comic, but to every spiritual process; such as the
succession of painful and pleasing moments and the satisfaction
arising from the consciousness of strength and of its free expansion.
The differentiation is here given by quantitative determinations
whose limits cannot be laid down. They therefore remain vague words,
possessing some degree of meaning from their reference to this or that
particular comic fact, and from the psychic disposition of qualities of
the speaker. 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 fix logically. And
who will ever logically determine the dividing line between the comic
and the non-comic, between laughter and smiles, between smiling and
gravity, or cut the ever varying continuum into which life melts into
clearly divided parts?

[Sidenote: _Relation between these concepts and æsthetic concepts._]

The facts, classified as far as possible in these psychological
concepts, bear no relation to the artistic fact, beyond the general
one, that all of them, in so far as they constitute the material of
life, can become the object of artistic representation; and the other,
an accidental relation, that æsthetic facts also may sometimes enter
the processes described, such as the impression of the sublime aroused
by the work of a Titanic artist, such as Dante or Shakespeare, and of
the comic produced by the attempts of a dauber or scribbler.

But here too the process is external to the æsthetic fact, to which
is linked only the feeling of æsthetic value and disvalue, of the
beautiful and of the ugly. Dante's Farinata is æsthetically beautiful
and nothing but beautiful: if the force of will of that personage seem
also sublime, or the expression that Dante gives him seem, by reason of
his great genius, sublime in comparison with that of a less energetic
poet, these are things altogether outside æsthetic consideration. We
repeat again that this last pays attention always and only to the
adequateness of the expression, that is to say, to beauty.



[Sidenote: _Æsthetic activity and physical concepts._]

Æsthetic activity, distinct from the practical activity, is always
accompanied by it in its manifestations. Hence its utilitarian or
hedonistic side, and the pleasure and pain which are, as it were, the
practical echo of æsthetic value and disvalue, of the beautiful and of
the ugly. But this practical side of the æsthetic activity has in its
turn a _physical_ or _psycho-physical_ 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,
through the construction which we put on it in physical science, and
the useful and arbitrary methods which we have already several times
set in relief as proper to the empirical and abstract sciences? Our
reply cannot be doubtful, that is, it must affirm to the second of the
two hypotheses.

However, it will be better to leave this point in suspense, since it
is not at present necessary to press this line of inquiry further. The
mere mention suffices to secure our speaking (for reasons of simplicity
and adhesion to ordinary language) of the physical element as something
objective and existing, against leading to hasty conclusions as to the
concepts of spirit and nature and their relation.

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

It is important, on the other hand, to make clear that as the existence
of the hedonistic side in every spiritual activity has given rise
to the confusion between the æsthetic activity and the useful or
pleasurable, so the existence of, or rather the possibility of
constructing, this physical side, has caused the confusion between
_æsthetic_ expression and expression _in a naturalistic sense_; that
is to say, between a spiritual fact 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 generally accompanies the feeling of
shame, the pallor often due to fear, the grinding of the teeth proper
to violent anger, the shining of the eyes and certain movements of the
muscles of the mouth, which manifest cheerfulness. We also say that a
certain degree of heat is the _expression_ of fever, that the falling
of the barometer is the _expression_ of rain, and even that the height
of the exchange _expresses_ the depreciation of the paper currency 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 verbal usage and classing together 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 æsthetically; between the appearance, the cries
and contortions of some one grieving at the loss of a dear one and the
words or song with which the same individual portrays his suffering
at another time; between the grimace of emotion and the gesture of
the actor. Darwin's book on the expression of the emotions in man and
animals does not belong to Æsthetic; 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 very character of activity and
of spirituality, and therefore the bipartition into the poles of
beauty and of ugliness. It is nothing but a relation between cause
and effect, fixed by the abstract intellect. The complete process
of æsthetic production can be symbolized in four stages, which are:
_a,_ impressions; _b,_ expression or spiritual æsthetic synthesis;
_c,_ hedonistic accompaniment, or pleasure of the beautiful (æsthetic
pleasure); _d,_ translation of the æsthetic fact into physical
phenomena (sounds, tones, movements, combinations of lines and colours,
etc.). Any one can see that the capital point, the only one that
is properly speaking æsthetic and truly real, is in _b,_ which is
lacking to the merely naturalistic manifestation or construction also
metaphorically called expression.

The expressive process is exhausted when these four stages have been
passed through. It begins again with new impressions, a new æsthetic
synthesis, and the accompaniments that belong to it.

[Sidenote: _Representations and memory._]

Expressions or representations follow one another, the one drives out
the other. Certainly, this passing away, this being driven out, is
not a perishing, it is not total elimination: nothing that is born
dies with that complete death which would be identical with never
having been born. If all things pass away, nothing can die. Even the
representations that we have forgotten persist somehow in our spirit,
for without this we could not explain acquired habits and capacities.
Indeed the strength of life lies in this apparent forgetting: one
forgets what has been absorbed and what life has superseded.

But other representations are also powerful elements in the present
processes of our spirit; and it is incumbent upon us not to forget
them, or to be capable of recalling them when they are wanted. The
will is always vigilant in this work of preservation, which aims at
preserving (we may say) the greater, the more fundamental part of all
our riches. But its vigilance does not always suffice. Memory, as we
say, abandons or betrays us in different ways. For this very reason,
the human spirit devises expedients which succour the weakness of
memory and are its _aids._

[Sidenote: _The production of aids to memory._]

How these aids are possible we have been informed from what has been
said. Expressions or representations are _also_ practical facts, which
are also called physical in so far as physics classifies and reduces
them to types. Now it is clear that if we can succeed in making those
practical or physical facts somehow permanent, it will always be
possible (all other conditions remaining equal) on perceiving them to
reproduce in ourselves the already produced expression or intuition.

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

And what else are those combinations of words called poetry, prose,
poems, novels, romances, tragedies or comedies, but _physical
stimulants of reproduction_ (the stage _e_); what else are those
combinations of sound called operas, symphonies, sonatas; or
those combinations of lines and colours called pictures, statues,
architecture? The spiritual energy of memory, with the assistance of
the physical facts above mentioned, makes possible the preservation and
the reproduction of the intuitions produced by man. The physiological
organism and with it the memory become weakened; the monuments of art
are destroyed, and lo, all that æsthetic wealth, the fruit of the
labours of many generations, diminishes and rapidly disappears.

[Sidenote: _Physical beauty._]

Monuments of art, the stimulants of æsthetic reproduction, are called
_beautiful things_ or _physical beauty._ This combination of words
constitutes a verbal paradox, for the beautiful is not a physical
fact; it does not belong to things, but to the activity of man, to
spiritual energy. But it is now clear through what transferences and
associations, physical things and facts which are simply aids to the
reproduction of the beautiful are finally called elliptically beautiful
things and physical beauty. And now that we have explained this
elliptical usage, we shall ourselves employ it without hesitation.

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

The intervention of "physical beauty" serves to explain another meaning
of the words "_content_" and "_form,_" as used by æstheticians. Some
call "content" the internal fact or expression (for us, on the other
hand, form), and "form" the marble, the colours, the rhythm, the sounds
(for us the antithesis of form); thus looking upon the physical fact
as the form, which may or may not be joined to the content. It also
serves to explain another aspect of what is called æsthetic "ugliness."
Somebody who has nothing definite to express may try to conceal his
internal emptiness in a flood of words, in sounding verse, in deafening
polyphony, in painting that dazzles the eye, or by heaping together
great architectural masses which arrest and astonish us without
conveying anything whatever. Ugliness, then, is the capricious, the
charlatanesque; and, in reality, if practical caprice did not intervene
in the theoretic function, there might be absence of beauty, but never
the real presence of something deserving the adjective "ugly."

[Sidenote: _Natural and artificial beauty._]

Physical beauty is usually divided into _natural_ and _artificial_
beauty. Thus we reach one of the facts which have given the greatest
trouble to thinkers: _natural beauty._ These words often designate
facts of merely practical pleasure. Any one who calls a landscape
beautiful where the eye rests upon verdure, where the body moves
briskly and the warm sun envelops and caresses the limbs, does not
speak of anything æsthetic. But it is nevertheless indubitable that
on other occasions the adjective "beautiful," applied to objects and
scenes existing in nature, has a completely æsthetic signification.

It has been observed that in order to enjoy natural objects
æsthetically, we must abstract from their external and historical
reality, and separate their simple semblance or appearance from
existence; that if we contemplate a landscape with our head between
our legs, so as to cancel our wonted relations with it, the landscape
appears to us to be 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,
to which more or less æsthetic travellers and excursionists afterwards
have recourse in pilgrimage, whence a kind of 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, according to the disposition of the soul, now expressive, now
insignificant, now expressive of one definite thing, now of another,
sad or glad, sublime or ridiculous, sweet or laughable; finally, that
a _natural beauty_ which an artist would not _to some extent correct,
does not exist._

All these observations are just, and fully confirm the fact that
natural beauty is simply a _stimulus_ to æsthetic reproduction,
which presupposes previous production. Without the previous æsthetic
intuitions of the imagination, nature cannot awaken any at all. As
regards natural beauty, man is like the mythical Narcissus at the
fountain. Leopardi said that natural beauty is "rare, scattered, and
fugitive": it is imperfect, equivocal, variable. Each refers the
natural fact to the expression in his mind. One artist is thrown into
transports by a smiling landscape, another by a rag-shop, another by
the pretty face of a young girl, another by the squalid countenance
of an old rascal. Perhaps the first will say that the rag-shop and
the ugly face of the old rascal are _repulsive_; the second, that the
smiling landscape and the face of the young girl are _insipid._ They
may dispute for ever; but they will never agree, save when they are
supplied with a sufficient dose of æsthetic knowledge to enable them to
recognize that both are right. _Artificial_ beauty, created by man,
supplies an aid that is far more ductile and efficacious.

[Sidenote: _Mixed beauty._]

In addition to these two classes, æstheticians also sometimes talk in
their treatises of a _mixed_ beauty. A mixture of what? Precisely of
natural and artificial. Whoever fixes and externalizes, operates with
natural data 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 sometimes happens that 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 already in place. On other occasions
externalization is limited by the impossibility of producing certain
effects artificially. Thus we can mix colouring matters, but we cannot
create a powerful voice or a face and figure appropriate to this or
that character in a play. We must therefore seek them among already
existing things, and make use of them when found. When, therefore, we
employ 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 resulting fact 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 pseudolanguages, from the language of flowers
and flags to the language of patches (so much in vogue in the society
of the eighteenth century). Writings are not physical facts which
arouse directly impressions answering to æsthetic 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 along the stave, all
this does not alter in any way 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 score which contains
_Don Giovanni,_ beautiful in the same sense in which the block of
marble which contains Michæl Angelo's _Moses,_ or the piece of coloured
wood which contains the _Transfiguration,_ is metaphorically called
beautiful. Both serve the reproduction of the beautiful, but the former
by a far longer and more indirect route than the latter.

[Sidenote: _Free and non-free beauty._]

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

Architectural works are especially cited; and just for this reason,
architecture has often been excluded from the number of what are called
the fine arts. A temple must above all things be for the use of a
cult; a house must contain all the rooms needed for the convenience
of life, and they must be arranged with a view to this convenience; a
fortress must be a construction capable of resisting the attacks of
given armies and the blows of given instruments of war. It is therefore
concluded that the architect's field is restricted: he may _embellish_
to some extent the temple, the house, the fortress; but he is bound by
the _object_ of those edifices, and he can only manifest that part of
his vision of beauty which does not impair their extra-æsthetic 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 be pushed so far 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 typography: a book should be beautiful, but not to
the extent of being difficult or impossible to read.

[Sidenote: _Criticism of non-free beauty._]

In respect of all this we must observe in the first place that the
extrinsic purpose is not necessarily, precisely because it is such,
a limit or impediment to the other purpose of being a stimulus to
æsthetic reproduction. It is therefore quite false to maintain that
architecture, for example, is by its nature imperfect and not free,
since it must also obey other practical purposes; in fact, the mere
presence of fine works of architecture is enough to dispel any such

In the second place, not only are the two purposes not necessarily
contradictory, but we must add that the artist always has the means
of preventing this contradiction from arising. How? by simply making
the _destination_ of the object which serves a practical end enter
as material into his æsthetic intuition and externalization. He will
not need to add anything to the object, in order to make it the
instrument of æsthetic 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 their end. A
garment is only beautiful because it is exactly 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
may seem a useless ornament, not the free instrument of war," or it
was beautiful, if you will, but to the eyes and imagination of the
sorceress, who liked to see her lover equipped in that effeminate way.
The æsthetic activity can always agree with the practical, because
expression is truth.

It cannot however be denied that æsthetic contemplation sometimes
hinders practical usage. For instance, it is a quite common experience
to find certain new objects seem so well adapted to their purpose,
and therefore so beautiful, that people occasionally feel scruples in
maltreating them by passing from their contemplation to their use. It
was for this reason that King Frederick William of Prussia showed
such repugnance to sending his magnificent grenadiers, so well adapted
to war, into the mud and fire of battle, while his less æsthetic son,
Frederick the Great, obtained from them excellent service.

[Sidenote: _Stimulants of production._]

It might be objected to the explanation of the physically beautiful
as a simple aid to the reproduction of the internally beautiful, or
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
æsthetically beautiful. This would be a somewhat superficial mode of
understanding the procedure of the artist, who never in reality 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 a kind of experiment and in order to have a point of departure
for further meditation and internal concentration. The physical
point of departure is not the physically beautiful instrument of
reproduction, but a means that may be called _pedagogic,_ like retiring
into solitude, or the many other expedients frequently very strange,
adopted by artists and scientists, who vary in these according to their
various idiosyncrasies. The old æsthetician Baumgarten advised poets
seeking inspiration to ride on horseback, to drink wine in moderation,
and (provided they were chaste) to look at beautiful women.



We must mention a series of fallacious scientific doctrines which have
arisen from the failure to understand the purely external relation
between the æsthetic fact or artistic vision and the physical fact
or instrument which aids in its reproduction, together with brief
criticisms of them deduced from what has already been said.

[Sidenote: _Criticism of æsthetic associationism._]

That form of associationism which identifies the æsthetic fact with the
_association_ of two images finds support in such lack of apprehension.
By what path has it been possible to arrive at such an error, so
repugnant to our æsthetic consciousness, which is a consciousness of
perfect unity, never of duality? Precisely because the physical and
æsthetic facts have been considered separately, as two distinct images,
which enter the spirit, the one drawn in by the other, first one and
then the other. A picture has been 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 æsthetic fact), in so far as it blindly
stimulates the psychic organism and produces the impression which
answers to the æsthetic expression already produced.

The efforts of the associationists (the usurpers of to-day in the field
of Æsthetic) to emerge from the difficulty, and to reaffirm in some way
the unity which has been destroyed by their principle of association,
are highly instructive. Some maintain that the image recalled is
unconscious; others, leaving unconsciousness alone, hold that, on the
contrary, it is vague, vaporous, confused, thus reducing the _force_ of
the æsthetic 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: _Criticism of æsthetic physics._]

From the failure to analyse so-called natural beauty thoroughly and to
recognize that it is simply an incident of æsthetic reproduction, and
from having looked upon it, on the contrary, as given in nature, is
derived all that portion of treatises upon Æsthetic entitled _Beauty
of Nature_ or _Æsthetic Physics_; sometimes even subdivided, save
the mark, into æsthetic Mineralogy, Botany and Zoology. We do not
wish to deny that such treatises contain many just observations, and
are sometimes themselves works of art, in so far as they represent
beautifully the imaginings and fancies or impressions of their authors.
But we must affirm it to be scientifically false to ask oneself if
the dog be beautiful and the ornithorhynchus ugly, the lily beautiful
and the artichoke ugly. Indeed, the error is here double. On the one
hand, æsthetic Physics falls back into the equivocation of the theory
of artistic and literary kinds, of attempting to attach æsthetic
determinations to the abstractions of our intellect; on the other, it
fails to recognize, as we said, the true formation of so-called natural
beauty, a formation which excludes even the possibility of the question
as to whether some given individual animal, flower or man be beautiful
or ugly. What is not produced by the æsthetic spirit, or cannot be
referred to it, is neither beautiful nor ugly. The æsthetic process
arises from the ideal connexions in which natural objects are placed.

[Sidenote: _Criticism of the theory of the beauty of the human body._]

The double error can be exemplified by the question as to the _Beauty
of the human body,_ upon which whole volumes have been written. Here
we must before everything turn 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, the female, or the hermaphrodite?" Let
us assume that they reply by dividing the inquiry into two distinct
inquiries, as to male and female 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, or any others that may
exist, according to the division you prefer?" Let us assume that they
limit themselves to the white race, and drive home the argument: "To
what sub-species of the white race?" And when we have restricted them
gradually to one corner of the white world, going, let us say, from
the Italian to the Tuscan, the Siennese, the Porta Camollia quarter,
we will proceed: "Very good; but at what age of the human body, and in
what condition and stage--that of the newborn babe, of the child, of
the boy, of the adolescent, of the man of middle age, and so on? and of
him who is at rest or of him who is at work, or of him who is occupied
like Paul Potter's bull, or the Ganymede of Rembrandt?"

Having thus arrived, by successive reductions, at the individual
_omnimode determinatum,_ or rather at "this man here," pointed out with
the finger, it will be easy to expose the other error, by recalling
what we have said about the natural fact, which is now beautiful, now
ugly, according to the point of view and to what is passing in the soul
of the artist. If even 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 northern seas; is it
really possible that such relativity does not exist for the human body,
source of the most varied suggestions?

[Sidenote: _Criticism of the beauty of geometrical figures._]

The question of the _beauty of geometrical figures_ is connected with
æsthetic Physics. But if by geometrical figures be understood the
concepts of geometry (the concepts of the triangle, the square, the
cone), these are neither beautiful nor ugly, just because they are
concepts. If, on the other hand, by such figures be understood bodies
which possess definite geometrical forms, they will be beautiful
or ugly, 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 power. We do not deny that this may be so. But
it must not be denied on the other hand that those also may possess
beauty which give the impression of instability and weakness, where
they represent just the insecure and the feeble; and that in these
last cases the firmness of the straight fine and the lightness of the
cone or of the equilateral triangle would seem to be on the contrary
elements of ugliness.

Certainly, such questions as to the beauty of nature and the beauty
of geometry, like others analogous as to the historically beautiful
and human beauty, seem less absurd in the Æsthetic of the sympathetic,
which really means by the words "æsthetic beauty" the representation
of the pleasing. But the claim to determine scientifically what are
sympathetic contents and what are irremediably antipathetic is none the
less erroneous, even in the sphere of that doctrine and after laying
down 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 science.

[Sidenote: _Criticism 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, studies and notes of artists: Leonardo noted down in his
pocket-book, when he was working on the Last Supper: "Giovannina, weird
face, is at St. Catherine's, at the Hospital; Cristofano di Castiglione
is at the Pietà, he has a fine head; Christ, Giovan Conte, of Cardinal
Mortaro's suite." 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 illusion that
_art imitates nature_ has sometimes found ground and support in this
illusion, as also in its variant, more easily maintained, which makes
of art the _idealizer of nature._ This last theory presents the process
out of its true order, which indeed is not merely upset but actually
inverted; for the artist does not proceed from external reality, in
order to modify it by approximating it to the ideal; he goes from
the impression of external nature to expression, that is to say, his
ideal, and from this passes to the natural fact, which he employs as
instrument of reproduction of the ideal fact.

[Sidenote: _Criticism of the theory of the elementary forms of the

Another consequence of the confusion between the æsthetic fact and the
physical fact is the theory of the _elementary forms of the beautiful._
If expression, if the beautiful, be indivisible, the physical fact on
the contrary, in which it externalizes itself, can easily 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 æsthetic facts, but smaller physical facts,
arbitrarily divided. If this path were followed and the confusion
persisted in, we should end by concluding that the true elementary
forms of the beautiful are _atoms._

The æsthetic law, several times promulgated, that beauty must
have _bulk,_ could be invoked against the atoms. It cannot be the
imperceptibility of the too small, or the inapprehensibility of the
too large. But a greatness determined by perceptibility, not by
measurement, implies a concept widely different from the mathematical.
Indeed, what is called imperceptible and inapprehensible does not
produce an impression, because it is not a real fact, but a concept:
the demand for bulk in the beautiful is thus reduced to the actual
presence of the physical fact, which serves for the reproduction of the

[Sidenote: _Criticism of the search for the objective conditions of the

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 persistent
fruitlessness of the attempt should have given rise before long to some
suspicion of its vanity. In our times, especially, necessity for an
_inductive_ Æsthetic has been often proclaimed, of an Æsthetic starting
_from below,_ proceeding like natural science and not jumping to its
conclusions. Inductive? But Æsthetic 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 "induction" was not pronounced here by
chance. The intention was to imply that the æsthetic fact is really
nothing but a physical fact, to be studied by the methods proper to the
physical and natural sciences.

With such a presupposition and in such a faith did inductive Æsthetic
or Æsthetic _from below_ (what pride in this modesty!) begin its
labours. It conscientiously began by making a collection of _beautiful
things,_ for example, a great number of envelopes of various shapes and
sizes, and asked which of these give the impression of beauty and which
of ugliness. As was to be expected, the inductive æstheticians speedily
found themselves in a difficulty, for the same objects that appeared
ugly in one aspect appeared beautiful in another. A coarse yellow
envelope, which would be extremely ugly for the purpose of enclosing
a love-letter, is just what is wanted for a writ served by process on
stamped paper, which in its turn would look very bad, or seem at any
rate an irony, enclosed in a square envelope of English paper. Such
considerations of simple common sense should have sufficed to convince
inductive æstheticians that the beautiful has no physical existence,
and cause them to desist from their vain and ridiculous quest. But no:
they had recourse to an expedient, as to which we should hardly like to
say how far it belongs to the strict method of natural science. They
sent their envelopes round and opened a _referendum,_ trying to settle
in what beauty or ugliness consists by the votes of the majority.

[Sidenote: _The Astrology of Æsthetic._]

We will not waste time over this subject, lest we should seem to be
turning ourselves into tellers of comic tales rather than expositors of
æsthetic science and of its problems. It is a matter of fact that the
inductive æstheticians have not yet discovered _one single law._

He who despairs of doctors is apt to abandon himself to charlatans.
This has befallen those who have believed in the naturalistic 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 (_be : ac
= ac : ab_). Such canons easily become their superstitions, and they
attribute to them the success of their works. Thus Michæl Angelo left
as a precept to his disciple Marco del Pino da Siena that "he should
always make a pyramidal serpentine figure multiplied by one two and
three," a precept which did not enable Marco da Siena to emerge from
that mediocrity which we can yet observe in many of his paintings that
exist here in Naples. Others took Michæl Angelo's words as authority
for 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 Æsthetic._



[Sidenote: _The practical activity of externalization._]

The fact of the production of physical beauty 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
may also need long and laborious deliberations. In any case, thus and
thus only does the practical activity enter into relations with the
æsthetic, that is to say, no longer as its simple accompaniment, but as
a really distinct moment of it. We cannot will or not will our æsthetic
vision: we can however will or not will to externalize it, or rather,
to preserve and communicate to others, or not, the externalization

[Sidenote: _The technique of externalization._]

This volitional fact of externalization is preceded by a complex of
various kinds of knowledge. These are known as _technique,_ like all
knowledge which precedes a 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 at the service of the practical activity directed
to producing stimuli to æsthetic reproduction._ In place of employing
so lengthy a phrase, we shall here avail ourselves of ordinary
terminology, whose meaning we now understand.

The possibility of this technical knowledge, at the service of artistic
reproduction, is what has led minds astray to imagine the existence
of an æsthetic technique of internal expression, which is tantamount
to saying, a doctrine of the _means of internal expression,_ a thing
that is altogether inconceivable. And we know well the reason of its
inconceivability; expression, considered in itself, is a primary
theoretic activity, and as such precedes practice and intellectual
knowledge which illumines practice and is independent alike of both.
It aids for its part to illumine practice, but is not illuminated by
it. Expression does not possess _means,_ because it has not an _end_;
it has intuitions of things, but it does not will and is therefore
unanalysable into the abstract components of volition, means and end.
Sometimes a certain writer is said to have invented a new technique
of fiction or of drama, or a painter is said to have discovered a new
technique of distributing light. The word is used here at hazard;
because the so-called _new technique_ is really _that romance itself,
or that new picture_ itself and nothing else. The distribution of
light belongs to the vision of the picture itself; 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 that is a failure; and it is euphemistically said that the
conception is bad but the technique good, or that the conception is
good but the technique bad.

On the other hand, when we talk of the different ways of painting
in oils, or of etching, or of sculpturing in alabaster, 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
æsthetic sense be impossible, a theatrical technique of processes of
externalization of certain particular æsthetic works is not impossible.
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 of machines for the rapid
changing of scenery by the impresarios of Venice.

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 arises
a theory of Architecture, comprising mechanical laws, information
relating to the weight or resistance of the materials of construction
or of fortification, manuals relating to the method of mixing lime 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 mixture of bronze, for working with the chisel, for
the accurate casting of the clay or plaster model, for keeping clay
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 attitude in impersonation 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 is impossible to say what is useful and what useless to
know, books of this sort become very often a sort of encyclopædias 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 have done with it.

[Sidenote: _Technical theories of the different arts._]

It should be evident that such empirical collections are not reducible
to science. They are composed of notions, taken from various sciences
and disciplines, and their philosophical and scientific principles
are to be found in the latter. To propose to construct 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 try to give 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 Mechanics, Optics, or Acoustics. And if we were to
extract and isolate what may be scattered among them of properly
artistic observations, to make of them a scientific system, then the
sphere of the individual art would be abandoned and that of Æsthetic
entered, for Æsthetic is always general Æsthetic, or rather it cannot
be divided into general and special. This last case (that is, the
attempt to furnish a technique which ends in composing an Æsthetic)
arises when men possessing strong scientific instincts and a natural
tendency to philosophy set themselves to work to produce such theories
and technical manuals.

[Sidenote: _Criticism of æsthetic theories of particular arts_.]

But the confusion between Physics and Æsthetic has attained to its
highest degree, when æsthetic theories of particular 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
tones, and what with metres and rhythms? What are the limits between
the figurative and the auditive arts, between painting and sculpture,
poetry and music?

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

[Sidenote: _Criticism of the classification of the arts._]

The so-called _arts_ have no æsthetic limits, because, in order to
have them, they would need to have also æsthetic existence in their
particularity; and we have demonstrated the altogether empirical
genesis of those partitions. Consequently, any attempt at an æsthetic
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 systematizations finds something like a proof
in the strange attempts made to carry it out. The first and most common
partition 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 _fundamentum divisionis._
Others have proposed the division into arts of _space_ and arts of
_time,_ arts of _rest_; and _movement_; as if the concepts of space,
time, rest and motion could determine special æsthetic forms and
possess 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 upon simple historical denominations, or
falling into those rhetorical partitions of expressive forms, already
criticized above; or into arts _that can only be seen from one side,_
like painting, and arts _that can be seen from all sides,_ like
sculpture--and similar extravagances, which hold good neither in heaven
nor on 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 remodelling one expression into another,
as the _Iliad_ or _Paradise Lost_ into a series of paintings, and
indeed 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 resulted in victory, this does not mean
that the arguments employed and the systems constructed for the purpose
were sound.

[Sidenote: _Criticism of the theory of the union of the arts._]

Another theory which is a corollary to that of the arts and their
limits, falls with them; that of the _union of the arts._ Given
particular arts, distinct and limited, it was asked: Which is the most
_powerful_? Do we not obtain _more powerful_ effects by _uniting_
several? We know nothing of this: we know only that in each particular
case certain given artistic intuitions have need of definite physical
means for their reproduction and other artistic intuitions of other
means. We can obtain the effect of certain plays by simply reading
them; others need declamation and scenic display: there are some
artistic intuitions which need for their full externalization words,
song, musical instruments, colours, statuary, architecture, actors;
while others are quite complete in a slight outline made with the
pen, or a few strokes of the pencil. But it is false to suppose that
declamation and scenic effects and all the other things together that
we have mentioned are _more powerful_ than a simple reading or a simple
outline of pen or pencil; because each of those facts or groups of
facts has, so to say, a different purpose, and the power of the means
cannot be compared when the purposes are different.

[Sidenote: _Relation of the activity of externalization to utility and

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

We have demonstrated above that art as art is independent both of
utility and of morality, as also of all practical value. Without this
independence, it would not be possible to speak of an intrinsic value
of art, nor indeed to conceive an æsthetic science, which demands the
autonomy of the æsthetic fact as its necessary condition.

But it would be erroneous to maintain that this independence of the
vision or intuition or _internal expression_ of the artist should
be simply extended to the practical activity of externalization and
communication which may or may not follow the æsthetic fact. If by art
be understood the externalization of art, then utility and morality
have a perfect right to enter into it; that is to say, the right to be
master in one's own house.

Indeed we do not externalize and fix all the many expressions and
intuitions which we form in our spirit; we do not declare our every
thought in a loud voice, or write it down, or print, or draw, or
paint, or expose it to the public. We _select_ from the crowd of
intuitions which are formed or at least sketched within us; and the
selection is ruled by the criteria of the economic disposition of life
and of its moral direction. Therefore, when we have fixed an intuition,
we have still to decide whether or no we should communicate it to
others, and to whom, and when, and how; all which deliberations come
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 way be justified when
imposed upon art as art, and we have ourselves rejected them in pure
Æsthetic. Error always contains an element of truth. He who formulated
those erroneous æsthetic propositions in reality had his eye on
practical facts, which attach themselves externally to the æsthetic
fact and belong to economic and moral fife.

It is well to advocate yet greater freedom in making known the means
of æsthetic reproduction; we are of the same opinion, and leave
projects for legislation and for legal action against immoral art,
to hypocrites, to the ingenuous and to wasters of time. But the
proclamation of this freedom, and the fixing of its limits, how
wide soever they be, is always the task of morality. And it would
in any case be out of place to invoke that highest principle, that
_fundamentum æsthetices,_ which is the independence of art, to deduce
from it the guiltlessness of the artist who calculates like an
immoral speculator upon the unhealthy tastes of his readers in the
externalization of his imaginings, or the freedom of hawkers to sell
obscene statuettes in the public squares. This last case is the affair
of the police, as the first must be brought before the tribunal of
the moral consciousness. The æsthetic judgement on the work of art
has nothing to do with the morality of the artist as a practical man,
or with the provisions to be taken that the things of art may not be
diverted to evil ends alien to her nature, which is pure theoretic



[Sidenote: _Æsthetic judgement. Its identity with æsthetic

When the entire æsthetic and externalizing process has been completed,
when a beautiful expression has been produced and it has been fixed
in a definite physical material, what is meant by _judging ill 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 anticipates, but has not yet expressed. See him trying
various words and phrases which may give the sought-for expression,
that expression which must exist, but which he does not possess. 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 at all, or does not see clearly._ The expression
still eludes him. After other vain attempts, during which he sometimes
approaches, sometimes retreats from the mark at which he aims, all of a
sudden (almost as though formed spontaneously of itself) he forms the
sought-for expression, and _lux facta est._ He enjoys for an instant
æsthetic pleasure or the pleasure of the beautiful. The ugly, with
its correlative displeasure, was the æsthetic 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 call B, is to judge
that 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 see this expression as 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. Strictly speaking, these two
cases are _impossible._

Expressive activity, just because it is activity, is not caprice, but
spiritual necessity; it cannot solve a definite æsthetic problem save
in one way, which is the right way. It will be objected to this plain
statement that works which seem beautiful to the artists are afterwards
found to be ugly by the critics; while other works with which the
artists were discontented and held to be imperfect or failures are, on
the contrary, held to be beautiful and perfect by the critics. But in
this case, one of the two is wrong: either the critics or the artists,
sometimes the artists, at other times the critics. Indeed, the producer
of an expression does not always fully realize what is happening in
his soul. Haste, vanity, want of reflexion, theoretic prejudices,
make people say, and others sometimes almost believe, that works of
ours are beautiful, which, if we really looked into ourselves, we
should see to be ugly, as they are in reality. Thus poor Don Quixote,
when he had reattached to his helmet as well as he could the vizor of
cardboard--the vizor 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 value
badly what he has successfully produced, or to strive to undo! and do
again for the worse what he has done well in artistic spontaneity.
An instance of this is Tasso and his passage from the _Gerusalemme
liberata_ to 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 ugly what is beautiful, and beautiful what is
ugly. Were they to eliminate such disturbing elements, they would feel
the work of art as it really is, and would not leave it 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 activity of judgement
which criticizes and recognizes the beautiful is identical with
what produces it. The only difference lies in the diversity of
circumstances, since in the one case it is a question of æsthetic
production, in the other of reproduction. The activity which judges is
called _taste_; the productive activity is called _genius_: genius and
taste are therefore substantially _identical._

The common remark that the critic should possess something of the
genius of the artist and that the artist should possess taste, gives
a glimpse of this identity; or the remark that there exists an active
(productive) and a passive (reproductive) taste. But it is also
negated 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 allude to quantitative or psychological
differences, those being called geniuses without taste who produce
works of art, inspired in their chief parts and neglected or defective
in their secondary parts, and men of taste without genius, those
who, while they succeed in obtaining certain isolated or secondary
merits, do not possess sufficient power for a great artistic
synthesis. Analogous explanations can easily be given of other similar
expressions. But to posit a substantial difference between genius and
taste, between artistic production and reproduction, would render both
communication and judgement alike inconceivable. How could we judge
what remained external to us? How could that which is produced by a
given activity be judged by a _different_ activity? The critic may
be a small genius, the artist a great one; the former may have the
strength of ten, the latter of a hundred; the former, in order to reach
a certain height, will have need of the assistance of the other; but
the nature of both must remain the same. 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 contemplation and
judgement, our spirit is one with that of the poet, and in that moment
we and he are one thing. In this identity alone resides the possibility
that our little souls can echo great souls, and grow great with them in
the universality of the spirit.

[Sidenote: _Analogy with other activities._]

Let us remark in passing that what has been said of the æsthetic
judgement holds good equally for every other activity and for every
other judgement; and that scientific, economic, and ethical criticism
is effected in a like manner. To limit ourselves to this last, only if
we place ourselves ideally in the same conditions in which he found
himself who took a given resolution, can we form a judgement as to
whether his decision 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 defence of society, which condemns both to the same
punishment, it is not indifferent to one who wishes to distinguish and
judge from the moral point of view, and we therefore cannot dispense
with reconstructing the individual psychology of the homicide, in order
to determine the true nature of his deed, not merely in its legal,
but also in its moral aspect. In Ethics, a moral taste or tact is
sometimes mentioned, answering to what is generally called the moral
consciousness, that is to say, to the activity of the good will itself.

[Sidenote: _Criticism of æsthetic absolutism (intellectualism) and

The explanation above given of æsthetic judgement or reproduction both
agrees with and condemns the absolutists and relativists, those who
affirm and those who deny the absoluteness of taste.

In affirming that the beautiful can be judged, the absolutists are
right; but the theory on which they found their affirmation is not
tenable, because they conceive of the beautiful, that is, æsthetic
value, as something placed outside the æsthetic activity, as a concept
or a model which an artist realizes in his work, and of which the
critic avails himself afterwards in judging the work itself. These
concepts and models have no existence in art, for when proclaiming
that every art can be judged only in itself and that it has its model
in itself, they implicitly denied the existence of objective models of
beauty, whether these are intellectual concepts, or ideas suspended in
a metaphysical heaven.

In proclaiming this, their-adversaries, the relativists, are perfectly
right, and effect an advance upon them. However, the initial
rationality of their thesis in its turn becomes converted into a false
theory. Repeating the ancient adage that there is no accounting for
tastes, they believe that æsthetic expression is of the same nature as
the pleasant and the unpleasant, which every one feels in his own way,
and about which there is no dispute. But we know that the pleasant and
the unpleasant are utilitarian, practical facts. Thus the relativists
deny the specific character of the æsthetic fact, and again confound
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 expresses itself in ratiocination. The criterion of taste is
absolute, with the intuitive absoluteness of the imagination. Thus any
act of expressive activity, which is so really, is to be recognized
as beautiful, and any fact as ugly in which expressive activity and
passivity are found engaged with one another in an unfinished struggle.

[Sidenote: _Criticism of relative relativism._]

Between absolutists and relativists is 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 it
in the field of Æsthetic. To dispute about science or morals seems to
them to be rational and justifiable, because science depends upon the
universal, common to all men, and morality upon duty, which is also
a law of human nature; but how dispute about art, which depends upon
imagination? Not only, however, is the imaginative activity universal
and no less inherent in human nature than the logical concept and
practical duty; but there is a preliminary objection to the thesis in
question. If the absoluteness of the imagination be denied, we must
also deny intellectual or conceptual truth and implicitly morality.
Does not morality presuppose logical distinctions? How could these be
known, otherwise than in expressions and words, that is to say, in
imaginative form? If the absoluteness of the imagination were removed,
the life of the spirit would tremble to its foundations. One individual
would no longer understand another, nor indeed his own self of a moment
before, which is already another individual considered a moment after.

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

Nevertheless, variety of judgements is an indubitable fact. Men
disagree as to logical, ethical, and economical valuations; and they
disagree equally or even more as to the æsthetic. If certain reasons
recorded by us above, such as haste, prejudices, passions, etc., may
lessen the importance of this disagreement, they do not on that account
annul it. When speaking of the stimuli of reproduction we have added a
caution, 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 an impression several times
by means of 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 fade, 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 I 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 phonetic manifestations or
words and verses of Dante's _Commedia_ must produce a very different
impression on an Italian citizen engaged in the politics of the
third Rome, from 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
to the Florentines of the thirteenth century? Even though she were not
also darkened by time, must we not suppose that the impression which
she now produces is altogether different from that of former times? And
even in the case of the same individual poet, will a poem composed by
him in youth make the same impression upon him when he re-reads it in
his old age, with psychic conditions altogether changed?

[Sidenote: _Criticism of the distinction of signs into natural and

It is true that certain æstheticians have attempted a distinction
between stimuli and stimuli, between _natural_ and _conventional_
signs. The former are held to have a constant effect upon all; the
latter only upon a limited circle. In their belief, signs employed
in painting are natural, those used in poetry conventional. But the
difference between them is at the most only one of degree. It has
often been said that painting is a language understood by all, while
with poetry it is otherwise. Here, for example, Leonardo found one
of the prerogatives of his art, "which hath not need of interpreters
of different tongues as have letters," and it pleases man and beast.
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 to be 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 all works of art only produce effects upon
souls prepared to receive them. Natural signs do not exist; because
all are equally conventional, or, to speak with greater exactness,
_historically conditioned._

[Sidenote: _The surmounting of variety._]

Granting this, 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 for the purpose, and that what is called
reproduction consists in ever new expressions? Such would indeed be the
conclusion if the varieties of physical and psychical conditions were
intrinsically insurmountable. But since the insuperability has none
of the characteristics of necessity we must on the contrary conclude
that 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

[Sidenote: _Restorations and historical interpretation._]

As regards the physical object, palæographers and philologists,
who _restore_ to texts their original physiognomy, _restorers_ of
pictures and of statues and other industrious toilers strive precisely
to preserve or to restore to the physical object all its primitive
energy. These efforts are certainly not always successful, or are
not completely successful, for it is never or hardly ever possible
to obtain a restoration complete in its smallest details. But the
insurmountable is here only present accidentally and must not lead us
to overlook the successes which actually are achieved.

_Historical interpretation_ labours for its part to reintegrate in
us the psychological conditions which have changed in the course of
history. It revives the dead, completes the fragmentary, and enables us
to see a work of art (a physical object) as its author saw it in 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 concentrate them
in one focus. With the help of memory we surround the physical stimulus
with all the facts among which it arose; and thus we enable it to act
upon us as it acted upon him who produced it.

Where 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 Mexican inscriptions are
unattainable; thus we still hear discussions among ethnographers as
to whether certain products of the art of savages are pictures or
writings; thus archæologists and prehistorians are not always able
to establish with certainty whether the figures found on the pottery
of a certain region, and on other instruments employed, are of a
religious or profane nature. But the arrest of interpretation, as that
of restoration, is never a definitely insurmountable barrier; and the
daily discoveries of new historical sources and of new methods of
better exploiting the old, which we may hope to see ever improving,
link up again broken traditions.

We do not wish to deny that erroneous historical interpretation
sometimes produces what may be called _palimpsests,_ new expressions
imposed upon the ancient, artistic fancies instead of historical
reproductions. The so-called "fascination of the past" depends in part
upon these expressions of ours, which we weave upon the historical.
Thus has been discovered in Greek plastic art the calm and serene
intuition of life of those peoples, who nevertheless felt the universal
sorrow so poignantly; thus "the terror of the year 1000" has recently
been discerned on the faces of the Byzantine saints, a terror which is
a misunderstanding, or an artificial legend invented later by men of
learning. But _historical criticism_ tends precisely to circumscribe
fancies and to establish exactly the point of view from which we must

By means of the above process we live in communication with other men
of the present and of the past; and we must not conclude because we
sometimes, and indeed often, meet with an unknown or an ill-known,
that therefore, when we believe we are engaged in a dialogue, we are
always speaking a monologue; or that we are unable even to repeat the
monologue which we formerly held with ourselves.



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

[Sidenote: _Historical criticism in literature and art. Its

Without tradition and historical criticism the enjoyment of all or
nearly all the 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. It is fatuous to despise and laugh
at one who reconstitutes an authentic text, explains the sense of
forgotten 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 a depreciatory or negative judgement is passed upon
historical research because of the presumed or proved inability of such
researches, in many cases, to give us a true understanding of works
of art. 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 customs of a period, have an interest of
their own, that is to say, extraneous to the history of art, but not to
other forms of historiography. 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 inglorious function of a collector
of facts. These facts remain for the time being formless, incoherent
and meaningless, but they are preserves or mines for the historian of
the future and for whosoever may afterwards want them for any purpose.
In the same way in a library, books which nobody asks for are placed
on the shelves and catalogued, because they may be asked for at some
time or other. Certainly, just as an intelligent librarian gives the
preference to the acquisition and cataloguing of those books which he
foresees may be of more or better service, so intelligent students
possess an instinct as to what is or may more probably be of use among
the material of facts which they are examining; while others less
well endowed, less intelligent or more hasty in producing, accumulate
useless rubbish, refuse and sweepings, and lose themselves in details
and petty discussions. But this appertains to the economy of research,
and does not concern us. It concerns at most the master who selects the
subjects, the publisher who pays for the printing, and the critic who
is called upon to praise or to blame the research workers.

On the other hand, it is clear that historical research directed to
illuminate a work of art does not alone suffice to bring it to birth
in our spirit and place us in a position to judge it, but presupposes
taste, that is to say, an alert and cultivated imagination. The
greatest historical erudition may accompany a gross or otherwise
defective taste, a slow imagination, or, as they say, a cold hard heart
closed to art. Which is the lesser evil, great erudition with defective
taste, or natural taste and much ignorance? The question has often been
asked, and perhaps it will be best to deny that it has any meaning,
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
direct communion with great spirits; he keeps wandering for ever about
the outer courts, the staircases and antechambers of their palaces; but
the gifted ignoramus either passes by masterpieces to him inaccessible,
or instead of understanding works of art as they really are, invents
others with his fancy. Now, the labour of the former may at least serve
to enlighten others; but the genius of the latter remains altogether
sterile in relation to knowledge. How then can we in a certain respect
fail to prefer the conscientious learned man to the inconclusive though
gifted man, who is not really gifted, if he resign himself and in so
far as he resigns himself, to his inconclusiveness?

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

We must accurately distinguish _the history of art and literature_
from those historical labours where works of art are used, but for
extraneous purposes (such as biography, civil, religious and political
history, etc.), and also from historical erudition directed to the
preparation of the æsthetic synthesis of reproduction.

The difference of the first two is obvious. The history of art and
literature has the works of art themselves as its principal subject;
those other labours invoke and interrogate works of art, but only
as witnesses from whom to discover the truth of facts which are not
æsthetic. The second difference to which we have referred may seem less
profound. It is, however, very great. Erudition directed to illuminate
the understanding of works of art aims simply at calling into existence
a certain internal fact, an æsthetic reproduction. Artistic and
literary history, on the other hand, does not appear until after such
reproduction has been obtained. It implies, therefore, a further stage
of labour.

Like all other history, its object is to record precisely such facts
as have really taken place, in this case 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 at the most express his own feeling with an
exclamation of praise or condemnation. This does not suffice for
the making of a historian of literature and art. Something else is
needed, namely, that a new mental operation succeed in him the simple
reproduction. This new operation 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, or applies 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 name "artistic" or "literary" critic is used in various senses:
sometimes it is applied to the scholar 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 treats of those
less recent. These are linguistic uses and empirical distinctions,
which may be neglected; because the true difference lies between
_the scholar, the man of taste_ and _the historian of art._ These
words designate three successive stages of work, each one independent
relatively to the one that follows, but not to that which precedes. As
we have seen, a man may be a mere scholar, and possess little capacity
for understanding works of art; he may even both be learned and possess
taste, yet be unable to portray them by writing a page of artistic and
literary history. But the true and complete historian, while containing
in himself both the scholar and the man of taste as necessary
pre-requisites, must add to their qualities the gift of historical
comprehension and representation.

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

The theory of artistic and literary historical method presents problems
and difficulties, some common to the theory of historical method in
general, others peculiar to it, because derived from the concept of art

[Sidenote: _Criticism of the problem of the origin of art._]

History is commonly divided into human history, natural history, and
the mixture of both. Without! examining here the question of the
solidity of this distinction, 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 _character_ of the artistic fact, in which case an attempt was
made to deal with a real scientific or philosophic problem, the very
problem in fact which our treatise has attempted 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, complementary to the preceding, coinciding
indeed with it, although it has sometimes been strangely interpreted
and solved by means of an arbitrary and semi-imaginary metaphysic.
But when the object was to discover further exactly in what way the
artistic function was _historically formed,_ the result has been the
absurdity which we have mentioned. If expression be the first form of
consciousness, how can we look for the historical origin of what is not
a product of nature and is presupposed by human history? How can we
assign a historical genesis to a thing which is a category by means of
which all historical processes and facts are understood? The absurdity
has arisen from the comparison with human institutions, which have been
formed in the course of history, and have disappeared or may disappear
in its course. Between the æsthetic fact and a human institution
(such as monogamic marriage or the fief) there exists a difference
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 investigate, not the formation of
the artistic category, 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 earliest
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 of a solution, and certainly tentative and
hypothetical solutions abound.

[Sidenote: _The criterion of progress and history._]

Every representation of human history has the concept of _progress_ as
foundation. But by progress must not be understood the imaginary _law
of progress_ which is supposed to lead the generations of man with
irresistible force to some unknown destiny, according to a providential
plan which we can divine and then understand logically. A supposed law
of this sort is the negation of history itself, of that accidentality,
that empiricity, that contingency, which distinguish concrete fact
from abstraction. And for the same reason, progress has nothing to do
with the so-called law of _evolution,_ which, if it mean that reality
evolves (and it is only reality in so far as it evolves or becomes),
cannot be called a law, and if it be given as a law, becomes identical
with the law of progress in the sense just described. The progress
of which we speak here is nothing but _the very concept of human
activity,_ which, working upon the material supplied to it by nature,
conquers its obstacles and bends it 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 unrelated facts, a mere
antiquary or inconsequent annalist, can put together the smallest
narrative of human doings unless he have a determined point of
view, that is to say, a personal conviction of his own regarding the
facts whose history he has undertaken to relate. No one can start
from the confused and discordant mass of crude facts and arrive at
the historical work of art save by means of this apperception, which
makes it possible to carve a definite representation in that rough and
formless mass. The historian of a practical action should know what is
economy and what is morality; the historian of mathematics, what is
mathematics; the historian of botany, what is botany; the historian
of philosophy, what is philosophy. If he does not really know these
things, he must at least have the illusion of knowing them; otherwise
he will not even be able to delude himself into believing that he is
writing history.

We cannot here expand the demonstration of the necessity and
inevitability of this subjective criterion in every narrative of human
affairs (which is compatible with the utmost objectivity, impartiality
and scrupulousness in dealing with data of fact and indeed forms a
constitutive element in these virtues), in every narrative of human
doings and happenings. 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 are 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. Purely historical historians do not and cannot exist.
Were Thucydides and Polybius, Livy and Tacitus, Machiavelli and
Guicciardini, Giannone and Voltaire, wholly without moral and political
views; and, in our time, was 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 height, to Ritter, Zeller,
Cousin, Lewes and our Spaventa, was there one who did not possess his
conception of progress and his criterion of judgement? Is there one
single work of any value on the history of Æsthetic which has not
been written from this or that point of view, with this or that bias
(Hegelian or Herbartian), from a sensationalist or from an eclectic
or some other point of view? If the historian is to escape from the
inevitable necessity of taking a side, he must become a political or
scientific eunuch; and history is not an occupation for eunuchs. Such
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, a concept of progress, a point of view, a criterion, be
inevitable, the best to be done is not to try and escape from it,
but to obtain the best possible. Every one tends to 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 trusted. This is at best the result
of ingenuousness and illusion on their part: they will always add
something of their own, if they be truly historians, even without
knowing it, or they will only believe that they have avoided doing
so because they have conveyed it only by hints, which is the most
insinuating, penetrative and effective of methods.

[Sidenote: _Non-existence of a single 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 has 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.

It is customary to represent the whole history of knowledge by one
single line of progress and regress. Science is the universal, and
its problems are arranged in one single vast system or comprehensive
problem. All thinkers labour upon the same problem as to the nature of
reality and of knowledge: contemplative Indians and Greek philosophers,
Christians and Mohammedans, bare heads and turbaned heads, wigged heads
and college-capped heads (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 does not repeat itself. 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 asserted that the history of æsthetic
productions shows progressive cycles, but each cycle with its own
problem and each progressive only in respect to that problem. When many
are at work in a general way upon the same subject, without succeeding
in giving to it the suitable form, yet drawing always more near to
it, there is said to be progress, and when appears the man who gives
it definite form, the cycle is said to be complete, and progress is
ended. A typical example of this would here be the progress in the
elaboration of the mode of using the subject-matter of chivalry, during
the Italian Renaissance, from Pulci to Ariosto (using this as an
example and excusing excessive simplification). Nothing but repetition
and imitation, diminution or exaggeration, a spoiling of what had
already been done, in short decadence could be the result of employing
that same material after Ariosto. The epigoni of Ariosto prove this.
Progress begins with the beginning 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 discovered. If the Italians
of this period had even been able to express their own decadence, they
would not have been altogether failures, but would have anticipated
the literary movement of the Risorgimento. Where the matter is not
the same, a progressive cycle does not exist. Shakespeare does not
represent an advance on Dante, nor Goethe upon Shakespeare. Dante,
however, represents an advance on the visionaries of the Middle Ages,
Shakespeare on the Elizabethan dramatists, Goethe, with _Werther_ and
the first part of _Faust,_ on the writers of the _Sturm und Drang_
period. This mode of presenting the history of poetry and art contains,
however, as we have remarked, something of the abstract, of the merely
practical, and is without strict philosophical value. Not only is the
art of savages not inferior, as art, to that of civilized peoples,
if 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; none of these worlds can be compared with any
other in respect of artistic value.

[Sidenote: _Errors committed against 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 Raphæl or in Titian; as though Giotto were not complete
and absolutely perfect, granted the material of feeling with which his
mind was furnished. He was certainly incapable of drawing a figure
like Raphæl, or of colouring it like Titian; but was Raphæl or Titian
capable of creating the _Marriage of Saint Francis with Poverty_ or
the _Death of Saint Francis_? The spirit of Giotto had not felt the
attraction of the body beautiful, which the Renaissance studied and
raised to a place of honour; the spirits of Raphæl and of Titian were
no longer interested in certain movements of ardour and of tenderness
with which the man of the fourteenth century was in love. How, then,
can a comparison be made, where there is no comparative term?

The celebrated divisions of the history of art into an oriental period,
representing a lack of equilibrium between idea and form, the latter
dominating, a classical representing an equilibrium between idea and
form, a romantic representing a new lack of equilibrium between idea
and form, the former dominating, suffer from the same defect. The same
is true of the division 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 alleged artistic ideal
of all humanity.

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

There is no such thing, then, as an _æsthetic_ progress of humanity.
However, by æsthetic 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 they say, makes 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 Greek
and Roman art, now better understood, Byzantine, mediæval, Arabic and
Renaissance art, the art of the Cinquecento, baroque art, and the art
of the eighteenth 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 is a complete man. The only
difference lies in this, 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 æsthetic progress is also meant, in another sense, which is also
improper, the greater abundance of artistic intuitions and the smaller
number of imperfect or inferior works which one epoch produces in
respect to another. Thus it may be said that there was æsthetic
progress, an artistic awakening in Italy, at the end of the thirteenth
or of the fifteenth century.

Finally, æsthetic progress is talked of in a third sense, with an eye
to the refinement and complications of soul-states 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 of the comprehensive psycho-social conditions, not of the
artistic activity, to which the material is indifferent.

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




[Sidenote: _Summary of the study._]

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 æsthetic or artistic
fact (I. and II.), and described the other form of knowledge, the
intellectual, and the successive complications of these forms (III.);
it thus became possible for us to criticize all erroneous æsthetic
theories arising from the confusion between the various forms and from
the illicit transference of the characteristics of one form to another
(IV.), noting at the same time the opposite errors to be found in the
theory of intellectual knowledge and of historiography (V.). Passing
on to examine the relations between the æsthetic activity and the
other activities of the spirit, no longer theoretic but practical, we
indicated the true character of the practical activity and the place
which it occupies in respect to the theoretic activity: hence the
criticism of the intrusion into æsthetic theory of practical concepts
(VI.); we have distinguished the two forms of the practical activity,
as economic and ethical (VII.), reaching the conclusion that there are
no other forms of the spirit beyond the four which we have analyzed;
hence (VIII.) the criticism of every mystical or imaginative Æsthetic.
And since there are no other spiritual forms co-ordinate with these,
so there are no original subdivisions of the four established, and
in particular of Æsthetic. From this arises the impossibility of
classes of expressions and the criticism of Rhetoric, that is, of
ornate expression distinct from simple expression, and of other similar
distinctions and subdistinctions (IX.) But by the law of the unity of
the spirit, the æsthetic fact is also a practical fact, and as such,
occasions pleasure and pain. This led us to study f the feelings of
value in general, and those of æsthetic value or of the beautiful in
particular (X.), to criticize æsthetic hedonism in all its various
manifestations and complications (XI.), and to expel from the system
of Æsthetic the long series of psychological concepts which had been
introduced into it (XII.). Proceeding from æsthetic production to the
facts of reproduction, we began by investigating the external fixing
of the æsthetic expression, for the purpose of reproduction. This
is called the physically beautiful, whether natural or artificial
(XIII.). We derived from this distinction the criticism of the errors
which arise from confounding the physical with the æsthetic side of
facts (XIV.). We determined the meaning of artistic technique, or that
technique which is at the service of reproduction, thus criticizing
the divisions, limits and classifications of the individual arts,
and establishing the relations of art, economy and morality (XV.).
Since the existence of physical objects does not suffice to stimulate
æsthetic reproduction to the full, and since, in order to obtain it,
we must recall the conditions in which the stimulus first operated,
we have also studied the function of historical erudition, directed
toward re-establishing the communication between the imagination and
the works of the past, and to serve as the basis of the æsthetic
judgement (XVI.). We have concluded our treatise by showing how the
reproduction thus obtained is afterwards elaborated by the categories
of thought, that is to say, by an examination of the method of literary
and artistic history (XVII.).

The æsthetic fact has in short been considered both in itself and in
its relations with the other spiritual activities, with the feelings
of pleasure and pain, with what are called physical facts, with
memory and with historical treatment. It has passed before us as
_subject_ until it became _object,_ that is to say, from the moment
of _its birth_ until it becomes gradually changed for the spirit into
_subject-matter of history._

Our treatise may appear to be somewhat meagre when externally compared
with the great volumes usually dedicated to Æsthetic. But it will not
seem so when we perceive that those volumes are nine-tenths full of
matter that is not pertinent, such as definitions, psychological or
metaphysical, of pseudo-æsthetic concepts (the sublime, the comic,
the tragic, the humorous, etc.), or of the exposition of the supposed
Zoology, Botany and Mineralogy of Æsthetic, and of universal history
æsthetically judged; that the whole history of concrete art and
literature has also been dragged into those Æsthetics and generally
mangled, and that they contain judgements upon Homer and Dante, Ariosto
and Shakespeare, Beethoven and Rossini, Michæl Angelo and Raphæl. When
all this has been deducted from them, we flatter ourselves that our
treatise will no longer be held to be too meagre, but, on the contrary,
far richer than ordinary treatises, which either omit altogether, or
hardly touch at all, the greater part of the difficult problems proper
to Æsthetic which we have felt it to be our duty to study.

[Sidenote: _Identity of linguistic and Æsthetic._]

But although Æsthetic as science of expression has been studied by us
in its every aspect, it remains to justify the sub-title which we have
added to the title of our book, _General Linguistic,_ to state and make
clear the thesis that the science of art and that of language, Æsthetic
and Linguistic, conceived as true sciences, are not two distinct
things, but one thing only. Not that there is a special Linguistic;
but the much-sought-for science of language, general Linguistic, _in
so far as what it contains is reducible to philosophy,_ is nothing
but Æsthetic. Whoever studies general Linguistic, that is to say,
philosophical Linguistic, studies æsthetic problems, and _vice versa.
Philosophy of language and philosophy of art are the same thing._

Were Linguistic really a _different_ science from Æsthetic it would
not have for its object expression, which is the essentially æsthetic
fact; that is to say, we must deny that language is expression. But an
emission of sounds which expresses nothing is not language. Language
is sound articulated, circumscribed and organized for the purposes of
expression. If, on the other hand, linguistic were a _special_ science
in respect to Æsthetic, it would necessarily have for its object a
_special class_ of expressions. But the non-existence of classes of
expression is a point which we have already demonstrated.

[Sidenote: _Æsthetic formulation of linguistic problems. Nature of

The problems which Linguistic tries to solve, and the errors in which
Linguistic has been and is involved, are the same that respectively
occupy and complicate Æsthetic. If it be not always easy, it is on
the other hand always possible to reduce the philosophic questions of
Linguistic to their æsthetic formula.

The disputes themselves 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 historical or a scientific 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, understanding by these latter empirical
Psychology as well as the Sciences of the spirit. The same has happened
with Æsthetic, which some have looked upon as a natural science
(confusing the æsthetic and the physical sense of the word expression).
Others have looked upon it as a psychological science (confusing
expression in its universality with the empirical classification of
expressions). Others again, denying the very possibility of a science
of such a subject, change it into a simple collection of historical
facts; not one of these attaining to the consciousness of Æsthetic as a
science of activity or of value, a science of the spirit.

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
perceived 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 is liable to
the same objection which destroyed æsthetic associationism in general:
speech is unity, not multiplicity of images, and multiplicity does
not explain, but indeed presupposes the expression to be explained. A
variant of linguistic associationism is the imitative, that is to say,
the theory of _onomatopœia,_ which the same philologists deride under
the name of the "bow-wow" theory, from the imitation of the dog's bark,
which, according to the onomatopœists, must have given 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 onomatopœia and
convention. This doctrine is altogether worthy of the philosophical
decadence of the second half of the nineteenth century.

[Sidenote: _Origin of language and its development._]

We must here note an error into which have fallen those very
philologists who have best discerned the activistic nature of language,
when they maintain that although language was _originally a spiritual
creation,_ yet that it afterwards increased by _association._ But the
distinction does not hold, for origin in this case cannot mean anything
but nature or character; and if language be spiritual creation, it must
always be creation; if it be association, it must have been so from the
beginning. The error has arisen from having failed to grasp the general
principle of Æsthetic, known to us: that expressions already produced
must descend 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 æsthetic and the
intellectual fact appears in Linguistic as that of the relations
between Grammar and Logic. This problem has been solved in two
partially true ways: the _inseparability_ and the _separability_ of
Logic and Grammar. But the complete solution is this: if the logical
form be inseparable from the grammatical (æsthetic), the grammatical is
separable from the logical.

[Sidenote: _Grammatical kinds or parts of speech._]

If we look at a picture which for instance portrays a man walking on a
country road we may say: "This picture represents a fact of _movement,_
which, if conceived as voluntary, is called _action_; and since every
movement implies a _material object,_ and every action a _being_ that
acts, this picture also represents a _material object_ or _being._
But this movement takes place in a definite place, which is a piece
of a definite heavenly body (the Earth), and precisely of a piece of
it which is called _terra-firma,_ and more precisely of a part of it
that is wooded and covered with grass, which is called _country,_
cut naturally or artificially into a form called _road._ Now, there
is only one example of that star, which is called Earth: the earth
is an _individual._ But _terra-firma, country, road_ are genera 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_ (material object or agent), of
_proper noun,_ of _common noun;_ and so on.

What have we done in both cases? Neither more nor less than submit to
logical elaboration what first presented itself only æsthetically;
that is to say, we have destroyed the æsthetic for the logical. But
since in general Æsthetic error begins when we wish to return from the
logical to the æsthetic and ask what is the _expression_ of motion,
action, matter, being, of the general, of the individual, etc.; so in
the case of 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 the parts of speech is really identical with
that of artistic and literary kinds, already criticized in our Æsthetic.

It is false to say that the verb or noun is expressed in definite
words, truly distinguishable from others. Expression is an indivisible
whole. Noun and verb do not exist in it, but are abstractions made by
us, destroying the sole linguistic reality, which is the _sentence._
This last is to be understood, not in the way common to grammars, but
as an organism expressive of a complete meaning, which includes alike
the simplest exclamation and a great poem. This sounds paradoxical, but
is nevertheless the simplest truth.

And since in Æsthetic the artistic productions of certain peoples
have been looked upon as imperfect, owing to the error above
mentioned, because the supposed kinds have seemed not yet to have
been discriminated, or to be in part wanting; so in Linguistic, the
theory of the parts of speech has caused the analogous error of judging
languages as _formed_ and _unformed,_ according to whether there appear
in them or no some of those supposed parts of speech; for example, the

[Sidenote: _The individuality of speech and the classification of

Linguistic also discovered the irreducible individuality of the
æsthetic 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, or from the so-called mother-tongue into the
so-called foreign tongue.

But the attempt to classify languages ill agrees with this just view.
Languages have no reality beyond the propositions and complexes of
propositions really written and pronounced by given peoples at definite
periods; that is to say, they have no existence outside the works of
art (whether little or great, oral or written, soon forgotten or long
remembered, does not matter) in which they exist concretely. And what
is the art of a given people but the whole of its artistic products?
What is the character of an art (for example of Greek art or Provençal
literature) but the whole physiognomy of those products? And how can
such a question be answered, save by narrating in its particulars the
history of the literature, that is to say, of the language in its

It may be thought that this argument, although possessing validity
as against many of the usual classifications of languages, yet
is without any as regards that queen of classifications, the
historico-genealogical, that glory of comparative philology. And this
it certainly is; but why? Precisely because that historico-genealogical
method is not a mere classification. He who writes history does not
classify, and the philologists themselves have hastened to say that
languages which can be arranged in historical series (those whose
series have hitherto been traced) are not distinct and separate species
but a single whole of facts in the various phases of its development.

[Sidenote: _Impossibility of a normative grammar._]

Language has sometimes been regarded as a voluntary or arbitrary act.
But at others the impossibility of creating language artificially, by
an act of will, has been clearly seen. "_Tu, Caesar, civitatem dare
potes homini, verbo non potes_" was once said to a Roman Emperor. And
the æsthetic (and therefore theoretic as opposed to practical) nature
of expression supplies the method of discovering the scientific error
which lies in the conception of a (normative) _Grammar_, establishing
the rules of correct speech. Good sense has always rebelled against
this error. An example of such rebellion is the "So much the worse for
grammar" attributed to Monsieur de 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 examples, which should
form the literary taste. The scientific reason of this impossibility
lies in the principle that we have demonstrated: that a technique of
the theoretical amounts to a contradiction in terms. And what could
a (normative) grammar be, but precisely a technique of linguistic
expression, that is to say of a theoretic fact?

[Sidenote: _Didactic organisms._]

The case in which Grammar is understood merely as an empirical
discipline, that is to say, as a collection of schemes 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 useful. And we must tolerate as merely
didascalic many books entitled "Treatises of Linguistic," where we
generally find 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 I results obtained by
Indo-European, Semitic, Coptic, Chinese, or other philologies; from
philosophical generalizations as to the origin or nature of language,
to advice on format, calligraphy and the arrangement of notes relating
to philological work. But this mass of notions, here administered in
a fragmentary and incomplete manner about language in its essence,
about language as expression, resolves itself into notions of Æsthetic.
Nothing exists outside _Æsthetic,_ 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 to say, the history of concrete literary productions, which is
substantially identical with the _History of literature._

[Sidenote: _Elementary linguistic facts or roots._]

The same error of taking the physical for the æsthetic, from which the
search for the _elementary forms_ of the beautiful originates, is made
by those who go in search of _elementary linguistic 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, all these elements of speech, which give
no definite sense when taken alone, must be called not _facts of
language,_ but mere sounds, or rather sounds abstracted and classified

Another error of the same sort is that of _roots,_ to which the most
distinguished philologists now accord but small value. Having confused
physical with linguistic or expressive facts, and considering that the
simple precedes the complex in the order of ideas, they necessarily
ended by thinking that the smallest physical facts indicated the
simplest linguistic facts. Hence the imaginary necessity that the most
ancient primitive languages had a monosyllabic character, and that
historical research must always lead to the discovery of monosyllabic
roots. But (to follow up the imaginary hypothesis) the first expression
that the first man conceived may have had not a phonetic but a mimetic
physical reflex; may have been externalized not in a sound but in
a gesture. And assuming that it was externalized in a sound, there
is no reason to suppose that sound to have been monosyllabic rather
than polysyllabic. Philologists readily blame their own ignorance and
impotence, when they do not always succeed in reducing polysyllabism to
monosyllabism, and rely upon the future to accomplish the reduction.
But their faith is without foundation, and their blame of themselves is
an act of humility arising from an erroneous presumption.

For the rest, the limits of syllables, as those of words, are
altogether arbitrary, and distinguished somehow or other by empirical
use. Primitive speech, or the speech of uneducated man, is a
_continuum,_ unaccompanied by any consciousness of divisions of the
discourse into words or syllables, imaginary beings created by schools.
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 diæresis or
synæresis, but merely laws of taste and convenience; that is to say,
_æsthetic_ laws. And what are laws of _words_ which are not at the same
time laws of _style_?

[Sidenote: _Æsthetic judgement and the model language._]

Finally, the search for a _model language,_ or for a method of reducing
linguistic usage to _unity,_ arises from the superstition of a
rationalistic measure of the beautiful, from that concept which we have
called false æsthetic absoluteness. In Italy we call this the question
of the _unity of the language._

Language is perpetual creation. What has been linguistically expressed
is not repeated, save by reproduction of what has already been
produced. The ever-new impressions give rise to continuous changes
of sound and meaning, that is, to ever-new expressions. To seek the
model language, then, is to seek the immobility of motion. Everyone
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 (whether by adopting a standard
Italian approximating to Latin, or to fourteenth-century usage, or
to the Florentine dialect) feels repugnance in applying his theory,
when he is speaking to communicate his thoughts and to make himself
understood. The reason is that he feels that in substituting the Latin,
fourteenth-century Italian, or Florentine word for that of different
origin, but which answers to his natural impressions, he would be
falsifying the genuine form of truth. He would become a vain listener
to himself instead of a speaker, a pedant in place of a serious man, an
actor instead of a sincere person. To write according to a theory is
not really to write: at the most, it is making _literature._

The question of the unity of language is always reappearing, because,
stated as it is, it is insoluble, being based upon a false conception
of what language is. Language is not an arsenal of arms already made,
and it is not a _vocabulary,_ a collection of abstractions, or a
cemetery of corpses more or less well embalmed.

Our dismissal of 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 fundamentally concerned with debates of æstheticity, not
of æsthetic science, of literature rather than of literary theory, of
effective speaking and writing, not of linguistic science. Their error
consisted in transforming the manifestation of a need into a scientific
thesis, the desirability, for example, of easier mutual understanding
among a people divided by dialects into the philosophic demand for
a single, ideal language. Such a search was as absurd as that other
search for a _universal language,_ a language possessing the immobility
of the concept and of abstraction. The social need for a better
understanding of one another cannot be satisfied save by the spread of
education becoming general, by the increase of communications, and by
the interchange of thought among men.

[Sidenote: _Conclusion._]

These scattered observations must suffice to show that all the
scientific problems of Linguistic are the same as those of Æsthetic,
and that the truths and errors of the one are the truths and errors
of the other. If Linguistic and Æsthetic 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 schematism or a pedagogic medley, and not
of a rational science and a pure philosophy of speaking. Grammar,
or something not unconnected with grammar, also introduces into the
mind the prejudice that the reality of language lies in isolated and
combinable words, not in living discourse, in the expressive organisms,
rationally indivisible.

Those linguists or philologists, philosophically endowed, who have
penetrated deepest into the problems of language, find themselves (to
employ a trite but effective simile) like workmen piercing a tunnel:
at a certain point they must hear the voices of their companions, the
philosophers of Æsthetic, who have been at work on the other side. At
a certain stage of scientific elaboration, Linguistic, in so far as it
is philosophy, must merge itself in Æsthetic: and this indeed it does
without leaving a residue.





[Sidenote: _Point of view of this history of Æsthetic._]

The question whether Æsthetic is to be considered as an ancient or a
modern science has on several occasions been a matter of controversy;
whether, that is to say, it arose for the first time in the eighteenth
century, or had previously arisen in the Græco-Roman world. This is
a question, not only of facts, but of criteria, as is easily to be
understood: whether one answers it in this way or that depends upon
one's idea of that science, an idea afterwards adopted as a standard or

Our view is that Æsthetic is the _science of the expressive_
(representative or imaginative) _activity._ In our opinion, therefore,
it does not appear until a precise concept is formulated of
imagination, representation or expression, or in whatever other manner
we prefer to name that attitude of the spirit, which is theoretical but
not intellectual, a producer of knowledge, but of the individual, not
of the universal. Outside this point of view, we for our part are not
able to discover anything but deviations and errors.

These deviations can lead in various directions. Following the
distinctions and terminology of an eminent Italian philosopher[2] in
an analogous case, we shall be inclined to say that they arise either
from _excess_ or from _defect._ The deviation from defect would be
that which denies the existence of a special æsthetic and imaginative
activity, or, which amounts to the same thing, denies its autonomy,
and thus mutilates the reality of the spirit. Deviation by excess is
that which substitutes for it or imposes upon it another activity,
altogether undiscoverable in the experience of the interior life, a
mysterious activity which does not really exist. Both these deviations,
as can be deduced from the theoretical part of this work, take
various forms. The first, that due to defect, may be: (_a_) _purely
hedonistic,_ in so far as it considers and accepts art as a simple fact
of sensuous pleasure; (_b_) _rigoristic-hedonistic,_ in so far as,
looking upon it in the same way, it declares it to be irreconcilable
with the highest life of man; (_c_) _hedonistic-moralistic_ or
_pedagogic,_ in so far as it consents to a compromise, and while still
considering art to be a fact of sense, declares that it need not be
harmful, indeed that it may render some service to morality, provided
always that it is submissive and obedient.[3] The forms of the second
deviation (which we shall call "mystical") are not determinable _a
priori,_ for they belong to feeling and imagination in their infinite
variety and shades of meaning.[4]

[Sidenote: _Mistaken tendencies, and attempts towards an Æsthetic, in
Græco-Roman antiquity._]

The Græco-Roman world presents all these fundamental forms of
deviation: pure hedonism, moralism or pedagogism, mysticism, and
together with them the most solemn and celebrated rigoristic negation
of art which has ever been made. It also exhibits attempts at the
theory of expression or pure imagination; but nothing more than
approaches and attempts. Hence, since we must now take sides in the
controversy as to whether Æsthetic is an ancient or modern science,
we cannot but place ourselves upon the side of those who affirm its

A rapid glance at the theories of antiquity will suffice to justify
what we have said. We say rapid, because to enter into minute
particulars, collecting all the scattered observations of ancient
writers upon art, would be to do again what has been done many times
and sometimes very well. Further, those ideas, propositions and
theories have passed into the common patrimony of knowledge, together
with what else remains of the classical world. It is therefore more
advisable here than in any other part of this history merely to
indicate the general lines of development.

[Sidenote: Origin of the æsthetic problem in Greece.]

Art, the artistic faculty, only became a philosophical problem in
Greece after the sophistical movement and as a consequence of the
Socratic dialectic. The historians of literature generally point to
the origins of Greek Æsthetic in the first appearance of criticism
and reflection upon poetical works, painting and sculpture; in the
judgements pronounced on the occasion of poetical competitions, in
the observations that were made as to the methods of the different
artists, in the analogies between painting and poetry as expressed in
the sayings attributed to Simonides and Sophocles; or, finally, in the
appearance of that word which served to group together the various
arts and to indicate in a certain way their relationship--the word
mimesis or mimetic (μίμησις)--which oscillates between the meaning of
"imitation" and that of "representation." Others make the origin of
Æsthetic go back to the polemics which were conducted by the first
naturalistic and moralistic philosophers against the tales, fantasies
and morals of poets, and to the interpretations of the hidden meaning
(υπόνοια), or, as the moderns call it, allegory, employed to defend the
good name of Homer and of the other poets; finally, to the _ancient
quarrel_ between philosophy and poetry, as Plato was afterwards to call
it.[5] But, to tell the truth, none of these reflections, observations
and arguments implied a true and proper philosophical discussion of
the nature of art. Nor was the sophistical movement favourable to its
appearance. For although attention was at that time certainly given to
internal psychical facts, yet these were conceived as mere phenomena
of opinion and feeling, of pleasure and pain, of illusion, whim or
caprice. And where there is no true and no false, no good and no evil,
there can be no question of beautiful and ugly, nor of a difference
between the true and the beautiful or between the beautiful and the
good. The most one has in that case is the general problem of the
irrational and the rational, but not that of the nature of art, which
assumes the difference between rational and irrational, material
and spiritual, mere fact and value, to have been already stated and
grasped. If, then, the sophistical period was the necessary antecedent
to the discoveries of Socrates, the æsthetic problem could only arise
after Socrates. And it did indeed arise with Plato, author of the
first, or indeed of the only really great negation of art of which
there remains documentary proof in the history of ideas.

[Sidenote: _Plato's rigoristic negation._]

Is art, mimesis, a rational or an irrational fact? Does it belong to
the noble region of the soul, where philosophy and virtue are found,
or does it dwell in that base lower sphere, with sensuality and crude
passionality? This is the question asked by Plato,[6] who thus states
the problem of Æsthetic for the first time. The sophist Gorgias was
able to note, with his sceptical acuteness, that tragic representation
is a deception, which (strangely enough) turns out to the honour
both of him who deceives and of him who is deceived, in which it is
shameful not to know how to deceive oneself and not to let oneself be
deceived.[7] With that remark he could rest content. That was for him
a fact like another. But Plato, the philosopher, was bound to solve
the problem: if it were a deception, then down with tragedy and the
rest of mimetic productions: down with them among the other things to
be despised, among the animal qualities of man. But if it were not
deception, what was it? What place did art occupy among the lofty
activities of philosophy and of good action?

The answer that he gave is well known. Mimetic does not realize the
ideas, that is to say the truth of things, but reproduces natural or
artificial things, which are pale shadows of them; it is a diminution
of a diminution, a third-hand work. Art, then, does not belong to the
lofty and rational region of the soul (του λογιστικοϋ ἐν ψυχή) but to
the sensual; it is not a strengthening but a corruption of the mind
(λώβη τής διάνοιας); it can serve only sensual pleasure, which troubles
and obscures. For this reason, mimetic, poetry and poets, must be
excluded from the perfect Republic.

Plato is the most consistent example of those who do not succeed in
discovering any other form of knowledge but the intellectual. It was
correctly observed by him that imitation stops at natural things,
at the image (το φάντασμα), and does not reach the concept, logical
truth (άλήθεια), of which poets and painters are altogether ignorant.
But his error consisted in believing that there is no other form of
truth below the intellectual; that there is nothing but sensuality and
passionality outside or prior to the intellect, that which discovers
the ideas. Certainly, the fine æsthetic sense of Plato did not echo
that depreciatory judgement of art; he himself declared that he would
have been very glad to have been shown how to justify art and to place
it among the forms of the spirit. But since none was able to give him
this assistance, and since art with its _appearance_ that yet lacks
_reality_ was repugnant to his ethical consciousness, and reason
compelled him (ό λόγος ήρει) to banish it and place it with its peers,
he resolutely obeyed his conscience and his reason.[8]

[Sidenote: _Æsthetic hedonism and moralism._]

Others were not troubled with these scruples, and although art was
always looked upon as a mere thing of pleasure among the later
hedonistic schools of various sorts, among rhetoricians and worldly
people the duty of combating or of abolishing it was not felt.
Nevertheless, this opposite extreme was also not calculated to meet
with the endorsement of public opinion, for the latter, if tender
towards art, is no less tender towards rationality and morality. For
this reason both rationalists and moralists, compelled to recognize
the force of such a condemnation as Plato's, sought for a compromise,
a half measure. Away with the sensual and with art: certainly. But
can we expel the sensual and the pleasurable without more ado? Can
fragile human nature nourish itself exclusively with the strong food of
philosophy and morality? Can we obtain observance of the true and of
the good from the young and from the people, without allowing them at
the same time some amusement? And has not man himself always something
of the child, has he not always something of the people in him, is
he not to be treated with the same precautions? Is there not a risk
that the over-bent bow will break?--These considerations prepared the
way for the justification of art, for they showed that if it were not
rational in itself, it could on the other hand serve a rational end.
Hence the search for the _external end_ of art, which takes the place
of the search for the essence or _internal end_. When art had been
lowered to the level of a simple pleasurable illusion, an inebriation
of the senses, it was necessary to subordinate the practical action
of producing such an illusion and inebriation, like any other action,
to the moral end. Art, being deprived of any dignity of its own,
was obliged to assume a reflected or secondhand dignity. Thus the
moralistic and pedagogic theory was constructed upon a hedonistic
basis. The artist, who, for the pure hedonist, was comparable to
a _hetaira,_ became for the moralist a _pedagogue._ Hetaira and
pedagogue, these are the symbols of the two conceptions of art that
were disseminated in antiquity, and the second was grafted upon the

Even before Plato's peremptory negation had directed thought to this
way of issue, the literary criticism of Aristophanes was already full
of the pedagogic idea: "What schoolmasters are to children, poets
are to young men" (τοΐς ήβώσιν δὲ ποιηταί), he says in a celebrated
verse[9] But we can find traces of it in Plato himself (in the
dialogues in which he seems to withdraw from the too rigid conclusions
of the _Republic)_ and in Aristotle, both in the _Politics,_ where he
determines the use of music in education, and perhaps in the _Poetics,_
where he speaks obscurely of a tragical _catharsis_; although as
regards this latter, it is not to be altogether denied that he may
have had a sort of glimpse of the modern idea of the liberating power
of art.[10] Later on, the pedagogic theory takes a form that was much
affected by the Stoics. Strabo develops and defends this at great
length, in the introduction to his geographical work, where he combats
Eratosthenes, who has made poetry consist in mere pleasure without any
notion of teaching. Strabo, on the contrary, maintained the opinion of
the ancients, that it was "a first philosophy (φιλοσοφίαν τινα πρωτήν),
which educated young men for life, and created customs, affections and
actions, by means of pleasure." Therefore, he said, poetry has always
been a part of education; one cannot be a good poet unless one is a
good man (άνδρα άγαθόν). Legislators and founders of cities were the
first to employ fables to admonish and to terrify: then this duty,
which must be performed for women and children and even for adults,
passed to the poets. We caress and dominate the multitude with fiction
and with falsehood.[11] "The poets tell many lies" (πολλά ψεύδονται
άοιδοί) is a hemistich recorded by Plutarch, who describes minutely in
one of his lesser works how the poets should be read to youths.[12]
For him too poetry is a preparation for philosophy; it is a disguised
philosophy, and therefore delights us in the same way as do fish and
meat at feasts, so prepared as not to seem to be fish and meat; it is
philosophy softened with fables, like the vine that grows close to the
mandragora, and produces a wine that is the giver of sweet slumbers.
It is not possible to pass from dense darkness to sunlight; one should
first accustom the eyes to moderate light. Philosophers, in order to
exhort and instruct, take their examples from true things; poets aim
at a like result, when they create fictions and fables.[13] Lucretius,
in Roman literature, gives us the well-known comparison of the boys for
whom the doctors "_prius or as pocula circum Contingunt mellis dulci
flavoque liquore,_" in order to administer the bitter wormwood.[14]
Horace, in certain verses of the Epistle to the Pisones which have
become proverbial (perhaps his source for them was the Greek of
Neoptolemus of Paros?), offers both views (that of art as courtesan and
of art as pedagogue) in his "_Aut prodesse volunt aut deledare poetae
... omne tulit punctum qui miscuit utile dulci._"[15]

Thus looked at, the office of the poet was confounded with that of the
orator, for he too was a practical man aiming at practical effects;
hence there arose discussions as to whether Virgil was to be considered
as a poet or as an orator ("_Virgilius poeta an orator?_"). To both was
assigned the triple end of _delectare, movere, docere_; in any case
this tripartition was very empirical, for we clearly perceive that
the _delectare_ is here a means-and the _docere_ a simple part of the
_movere_: to move in the direction of the good, and therefore, among
other goods, towards that of instruction. In like manner, it was said
of the orator and poet (recording the meretricious basis of their task,
and with a metaphor significant in its _naïveté_) that they were bound
to avail themselves of the _allurements_ (_lenocinium_) of form.

[Sidenote: _Mystical æsthetic in antiquity._]

The mystical view, which considers art as a special mode of
self-beatification, of entering into relation with the Absolute, with
the Summum Bonum, with the ultimate root of things, appeared only
in late antiquity, almost at the entrance to the Middle Ages. Its
representative is the founder of the neo-Platonic school, Plotinus.

It is strange that Plato should be usually selected as the founder
and head of this æsthetic tendency, and that for this very reason to
him should be attributed the honour of being the father of Æsthetic.
But how could he, who had expounded with such great limpidity and
clearness the reasons for which he was not able to accord to art a
high place among the activities of the spirit, be credited with having
accorded to it one of the highest places, equal, if not superior, to
philosophy itself? This misunderstanding has evidently arisen out of
the enthusiastic effusions about the Beautiful that we read in the
_Gorgias,_ the _Philebus,_ the _Phædrus,_ the _Symposium,_ and other
Platonic dialogues. It is well to dissipate it by declaring that the
_Beauty_ of which Plato discourses has nothing to do with art or with
_artistic beauty._

[Sidenote: _Investigations as to the Beautiful._]

The search for the meaning and scientific content of the word
"beautiful" could not but early attract the attention of the subtle
and elegant Greek dialecticians. Indeed, we find Socrates engaged
in discussing this question in one of the discourses that have been
preserved for us by Xenophon; and we find him disposed to stop for
the moment at the conclusion that the beautiful is _that which is
convenient and which answers to the end desired,_ or at the other
conclusion that it is _that which one loves_[16] Plato too examines
this sort of problem and proposes various sorts of solutions or
attempts at solutions of it. He sometimes speaks of a beauty that
dwells not only in bodies, but also in laws, in actions, in the
sciences; sometimes he seems to conjoin and almost to identify it
with the true, the good and the divine; now he returns to the view of
Socrates and confuses it with the useful; now he distinguishes between
a beautiful in itself (καλά καθ' αυτά) and a relatively beautiful (πρός
τι καλά); or he makes true beauty consist in pure pleasure (ήδονη
καθαρά), free from all shadow of pain; or he places it in measure and
proportion (μετριότης καί ξνμμετρία); or talks of colours and sounds
as possessing a beauty in themselves.[17] It was impossible to find
an independent dominion for the beautiful, if the artistic or mimetic
activity were deserted. This explains his wandering among so many
different conceptions, among which it is just possible to say that the
identification of the Beautiful with the Good prevails. Nothing better
describes this uncertainty than the dialogue of the _Hippias maior_
(which, if it be not Plato's, is Platonic). He here wishes to find
out not what things are beautiful things, but what the beautiful is;
that is to say, what it is that makes beautiful, not only a beautiful
virgin, but also a beautiful mare, a beautiful lyre, a beautiful pot
with two graceful ears of clay. Hippias and Socrates himself propose
in turn the most various solutions; but the latter ends by confuting
them all. "That which makes things beautiful is the gold that is added
to them by way of ornament." No: gold only embellishes where it is
_fitting_ (πρέπων): for instance, a pot should have a wooden rather
than a golden handle. "That is beautiful which cannot seem ugly to any
one." But it is not a question of _seeming_: the question is to define
what the beautiful is, whether it seems so or not. It is the _fitting_
which makes things seem to be beautiful. But in that case, the fitting
(which makes them _appear,_ not _be)_ is one thing, and the beautiful
another. "The beautiful is what leads to the end, that is to say, the
_useful_ (χρήσιμον)." But if that were so, then evil would also be
beautiful, because the useful leads also to the evil. "The beautiful
is the _helpful,_ that which leads to the good (ωφέλιμον)." But in
this case, the good would not be beautiful nor the beautiful good; for
the cause is not the effect, and the effect is not the cause. "The
beautiful is that which delights the sight and hearing." But this fails
to persuade for three reasons: firstly, because beautiful studies and
laws are beautiful, which have nothing to do with the eye or with the
ear; secondly, because we cannot discover a reason for limiting the
beautiful to those senses, while excluding the pleasure of eating and
smelling, and the extremely vivid pleasures of sex; thirdly, because,
if the foundation of the beautiful were _visibility,_ it would not be
_audibility,_ and if it were audibility it would not be visibility;
hence that which constitutes the beautiful cannot dwell in either
of the two qualities. And the question which has been repeated so
insistently in the course of the dialogue: _what is the beautiful?_ (τί
εστι το καλόν;) remains unanswered.[18]

Later writers also conducted inquiries into the beautiful, and we
possess the titles of several treatises upon the theme, which have
been lost. Aristotle shows himself changeable and uncertain upon the
point. In the scanty references which he makes to it, he at one time
confounds the beautiful with the good, defining it as that which is
both good and pleasing;[19] at another he notes that the good consists
of action (εν πράξει) and the beautiful also in things that are
immoveable (εν τοΐς άκινήτοις), drawing from this the argument that
mathematics should be studied in order to determine its characters,
order, symmetry and limit;[20] sometimes he places it in bigness and
in order (εν μεγεθει καί τάξει);[21] at others he was led to look upon
it as something apparently indefinable.[22] Antiquity also established
canons of beautiful things, such as that attributed to Polycletus on
the proportions of the human body. And Cicero said of the beauty of
bodies that they were "_quaedam apta figura membrorum cum coloris quadam
suavitate._"[23] All these affirmations, even when they are not mere
empirical observations, or verbal glosses and substitutions, meet with
unsurmountable obstacles.

[Sidenote: _Distinction between the theory of Art and the theory of the

In any case, not only is the conception of the beautiful, taken as
a whole, identified with art in none of them; but sometimes art and
beauty, mimesis and pleasing or displeasing material of mimesis, are
clearly distinguished. Aristotle notes in his _Poetics_ that it pleases
us to see the most faithful images of things that are repugnant to
us in reality, such, for instance, as the most contemptible forms of
animals, or corpses (τάς εικόνας τάς μάλιστα ήκριβωμενας χαίρομεν
θεωρουντες).[24] Plutarch demonstrates at length that works of art
please us not as beautiful but as _resembling_ (ούχ ως καλόν, άλλ,'
ως ομοιον); he affirms that if the artist beautified things that are
ugly in nature he would be offending against fitness and resemblance
(το πρεπον και το eίκός); and he proclaims the principle that _the
beautiful is one thing and beautiful imitation another_ (oύ yaρ εστι
ταυτό, το καλον και καλως τι μιμεισθαι). Paintings of horrible events
are pleasing, such as _Medea slaying her sons_ by Timomachus, _Orestes
the matricide_ by Theon, and the _Pretended madness of Ulysses_ by
Parrhasius; and if the grunting of a pig, the grating of a machine,
the noise of the winds and the tumult of the sea are unpleasing, they
pleased on the contrary in the case of Parmenon, who imitated the pig
perfectly, and in Theodorus, who was not less expert in rendering the
grating of machines.[25] If the ancients had really wanted to place
the beautiful and art in relation, a secondary and partial connexion
of the two conceptions was to hand in the shape of the category of the
_relatively_ as distinguished from the _absolutely_ beautiful. But
where the word _καλόν_ or _pulchrum_ is applied to artistic productions
in the writings of literary critics, it does not seem to be more than a
linguistic usage, as we find, for instance, in the case of Plutarch's
_beautiful_ imitation, or also in the terminology of the rhetoricians,
who sometimes called elegance and adornment of discourse _beauty_ of
elocution (το τής φράσεως κάλλος).

[Sidenote: _Fusion of the two by Plotinus._]

It is only with Plotinus that the two divided territories are united
and _the beautiful and art are fused into a single concept,_ not by
means of a beneficial absorption of the _equivocal_ Platonic conception
of beauty into the _unequivocal_ conception of art, but by absorption
of the clear into the confused, of _imitative art_ in the so-called
_beautiful._ And thus we reach an altogether new view: the beautiful
and art are now both alike melted into a mystical passion and elevation
of the spirit.

Beauty, observes Plotinus, resides chiefly in things visible; but it
is also to be found in things audible, such as verbal and musical
compositions, and it is not lacking in things supersensible, such as
works, offices, actions, habits, sciences and virtues. What is it
that makes beautiful sensible and supersensible things alike? Not, he
answers, the symmetry of their parts among themselves, and with the
whole (συμμετρία των μερών προς αλληλα και προς το ολον) and their
colour (ενχροια), according to one of the definitions most in vogue,
which we have quoted above in the words of Cicero; because there are
proportions in things ugly, and there are things that are simply
beautiful without any relation of proportion: beauty, then, is one
thing and symmetry another.[26] The beautiful is what we welcome as
akin to our own nature; the ugly is what repels us as our opposite,
and the affinity of beautiful things with our souls that perceive them
has its origin in the Idea, which produces both. That is beautiful
which is _formed_; the ugly is what is _unformed,_ that is to say,
something which is capable of receiving form, but does not receive it
or is not entirely dominated by it. A beautiful body is such, because
of its communion (κοινωνία) with the Divine; beauty is the Divine, the
Idea, shining through; and matter is beautiful, not in itself, but only
when it is illuminated by the Idea. Light and fire, which are nearest
to this state, shed beauty upon visible things, as the most spiritual
among bodies. But the soul must purify itself, in order to perceive the
beautiful, and make the power of the Idea that lies in it efficacious.
Moderation, strength, prudence, and every other virtue, what else are
they, according to the oracle, but _purification_? Thus there opens
another eye in the soul, beside that of sensible beauty, which permits
it to contemplate divine Beauty coincident with the Good, which is the
supreme condition of beatitude.[27] Art enters into such contemplation,
because beauty, in things made by man, comes from the mind. Compare two
blocks of stone, the one placed beside the other: one rough and crude,
the other reduced to the statue of a god or of a man, for example of
a Grace or of a Muse, or of a human being of such a shape, as art has
collected from many particular beauties. The beauty of a block of this
shape does not consist in its being of stone, but in the form that
art has been able to give to it (παρά του ειδους o ενηκεν η τέχνη);
and when the form is fully impressed upon it, the thing of art is more
beautiful than any other natural thing. Hence he who despised the arts
(Plato), because they imitated nature, was wrong; whereas the truth
is, in the first place, that nature itself imitates the idea, and then
that the arts do not simply limit themselves to imitating what the eyes
see, but go back to those reasons or ideas from which nature itself is
derived (ώς ούχ απλώς το όρώμενον μεμούνται, αλλ' άνατρέχουσιν επι τούς
λόγους έξ ων η φύσις). Art therefore does not belong to nature, but
adds beauty where it is wanting in nature: Phidias did not represent
Jove because he had seen him, but such as he would appear if he wished
to reveal himself to mortal eyes.[28] The beauty of natural things
is the archetype existing in the soul, the sole source of natural

[Sidenote: _The scientific tendency. Aristotle._]

This affirmation of Plotinus and of neo-Platonism is the first
true and proper affirmation of mystical Æsthetic, destined to such
high fortunes in modern times, especially in the first half of the
nineteenth century. But the attempts at a true Æsthetic, excluding
certain luminous but incidental observations to be found even in
Plato: for instance, that the poet should weave fables, not arguments
(μύθους άλλ' ού λόγους),[30] go back to Aristotle and are altogether
independent of his few and feeble speculations as to the beautiful.
Aristotle by no means agreed with the Platonic condemnation; he felt
(as indeed Plato himself had suspected) that such a result could not
be altogether true, and that some aspect of the problem must have been
neglected. When in his turn he attempted to find a solution, he found
himself in more advantageous conditions than his great predecessor,
since he had already overcome the obstacle that arose from the Platonic
doctrine of ideas, a hypostasis of concepts and abstractions. The ideas
were for him simply concepts, and reality presented itself in a far
more lively manner, not as a diminution of ideas, but as a synthesis of
matter and form, it was thus much more easy for him to recognize the
rationality of mimesis in his general philosophical doctrine and to
assign to it its right place; and indeed it seems generally clear to
Aristotle that mimesis, being proper to man by nature, is contemplation
or theoretic activity; although he sometimes seems to forget this (as
when he confuses imitation with the case of boys, who acquire their
first knowledge by following an example[31]), and although his system,
which admits practical sciences and poietic activities (distinguished
from the practical as leaving a material object behind them), disturbed
the firm and constant consideration of artistic mimesis and poetry as
a theoretical activity. But if it is a theoretical activity, by what
characteristic is poetry distinguished both from _scientific_ knowledge
and from _historical_ knowledge? This is the way Aristotle states the
problem concerning the nature of art, and this is the true and only
way of stating it. Even we moderns ask ourselves in what way art is
distinguished from history and from science, and what this artistic
form can be, which has the ideality of science and the concreteness
and individuality of history. Poetry, answers Aristotle, differs from
history, because, while the latter draws things that have happened
(τα γενόμενα), poetry draws things that may possibly happen (οια αν
γένοιτο), and differs from science, because, although it regards the
universal and not the particular (τα καθ' εκαστον) like history,
it does not regard it in the same way as science, but in a certain
measure, which the philosopher indicates by the word _rather_ (μαλλον
τα καθόλου). The point then is to establish the precise meaning of
the _possible,_ the _rather_ and the _historical particular._ But no
sooner does Aristotle attempt to determine the meaning of these words,
than he falls into contradictions and fallacies. That _universal_ of
poetry, which is the _possible,_ seems to identify itself for him with
the probable or the necessary (τα _κατά το είκος η το άναγκαΐον_),
and the particular of history is not explained at all, except by
giving instances: "that which Alcibiades did and what happened to
him."[32] Aristotle, in fact, after having made so good a beginning
in the discovery of the purely imaginative, proper to poetry, remains
half-way, perplexed and uncertain. Thus he sometimes makes the truth
of imitation consist in a certain learning and syllogizing that takes
place when we look at imitations, by which we recognize that "this is
that," that a copy answers to the original;[33] or, worse, he loses the
grains of truth that he has found and forgets that poetry has for its
content the possible, admitting, not only that it may also depict the
_impossible_ (το αδύνατον), and even the _absurd_ (το άτοπον), seeing
that both are _credible_ and that they do not injure the end of art,
but even that we must prefer impossible probabilities to incredible
possibilities.[34] Art, since it has to do even with the impossible
and absurd, will not therefore have in it anything of the rational,
but in accordance with the Platonic theory it will be an imitation of
the appearance in which empty sense indulges itself; that is to say, a
thing of pleasure. Aristotle does not attain to this result, because
he does not attain to any clear and precise result in this part of the
subject, but it is one of the results that can be deduced from what he
has said, or that, at any rate he is not able to exclude. This means
that he did not fulfil his tacitly assumed task, and that although
he re-examined the problem with marvellous acuteness after Plato, he
failed truly to rid himself of the Platonic definition, by substituting
a firmly-established one of his own.

[Sidenote: _The concepts of imitation and of imagination after A
ristotle. Philostratus._]

But the field of investigation toward which Aristotle had turned was
generally neglected in antiquity: the very _Poetics_ of Aristotle does
not seem to have been widely known or influential. Ancient psychology
knew fancy or imagination as a faculty midway between sense and
intellect, but always as conservative and reproductive of sensuous
impressions or conveying conceptions to the senses, never properly
as a productive autonomous activity. That faculty was rarely and with
little result placed in relation with the problem of art. Several
historians of Æsthetic attach singular importance to certain passages
in the _Life of Apollonius of Tyana_ by the elder Philostratus, in
which they believe that they discover a correction of the theory of
_mimesis_ and the first affirmation in history of the conception of
_imaginative creation._ Phidias and Praxiteles (says the extract in
question) did not need to go to heaven to see the gods, in order to
be able to depict them in their works, as would have been necessary
according to the theory of imitation. Imagination, without any need
of models, made them able to do what they did: imagination, which is
a wiser agent than simple imitation (φαντασία ... σοφωτόρα μιμήσεως
δημιουργός), and gives form, like the other, not only to what has been
seen, but also to what has never been seen, imagining it on the basis
of existing things and in that way creating Jupiters and Minervas.[35]
However, the imagination of which Philostratus speaks here is not
something different from the Aristotelian mimesis, which, as has been
noted, was concerned not only with real things but also and chiefly
with possible things. And had not Socrates observed (in the dialogue
with the painter Parrhasius, preserved for us by Xenophon) that
painters work by collecting what they need to form their figures from
several bodies (εκ πολλων συνάγοντες τα εξ εκάστου καλλιστα)?[36] And
was not the anecdote of Zeuxis, who was supposed to have taken the
best of five Crotonian maidens in order to paint his Helen, and other
anecdotes of a like sort, sufficiently widespread in antiquity? And
had not Cicero eloquently explained, some years before Philostratus,
how Phidias, when he was carving Jupiter, did not copy anything real,
but kept his looks fixed upon "_species pulcritudinis eximia quaedam,_"
which he had in his soul and which directed his art and his hand?[37]
Nor can it be said that Philostratus opened the way to Plotinus,
for whom the superior or intellectual imagination (νοητή), or eye of
supersensible beauty, when it is not a new designation for beautiful
imitation, is mystical intuition.

The vagueness of the concept of mimesis reached its apex in those
writers who gave it as a general title to any sort of work that had
nature for its object, employing the Aristotelian phrase to affirm
that "_omnis ars naturae imitatio est,_"[38] or saying, like the
painter Eupompus when he blamed his servile imitators, that "_natura
est imitanda, non artifex._"[39] And those who wished to escape this
vagueness did not know how to do so, save by conceiving the activity of
imitation as the practical producer of duplicates of natural objects, a
prejudice bora in the bosom of the pictorial and plastic arts, against
which Philostratus perhaps intended to argue, in common with the other
advocates of imagination.

[Sidenote: _Speculations on language._]

The speculations upon language had a close connexion with those upon
the nature of art begun by the sophists, for whom it became a matter
for wonder that sounds could signify colours or things inaudible; that
is to say, _speech_ presented itself as a _problem._[40] It was then
discussed whether language was by nature (φύσει or by convention νόμω).
By nature was sometimes understood mental necessity, and by convention
what we should call a merely natural fact, psychological mechanism or
sensationalism. In that sense of the terms, language would have been
better called φύσει than νόμω. But at other times the distinction led
to the question whether language answers to objective or logical truth
and to the real relations between things (όρθότης των ονομάτων); and
in this case, those would seem to be nearer the truth who proclaimed
it to be conventional or arbitrary in respect to logical truth: νόμω
or θέσει, and not φύσει Two different questions were consequently
being treated together, and both were confusedly and equivocally
discussed. They find their monument in the obscure _Cratylus_ of
Plato, which seems to fluctuate between different solutions. Nor did
the later affirmation that the word is a sign (σημείον) of the thought
solve anything, for it still remained to be shown in what way the sign
was to be understood, whether φύσει or νόμω. Aristotle, who looked
upon words as imitations (μιμηματα), in the same way as poetry,[41]
made an observation of first-rate importance: in addition to the
_enunciative_ propositions, which express the (logically) true or
false, there are others which do not express either the (logically)
true or false, as for example the expressions of aspirations and of
desires (εύχή), which therefore belong, not to logical exposition, but
to poetical and rhetorical exposition.[42] And in another place we
find him affirming in opposition to Bryson (who had said that a base
thing remained such with whatever word it were designated) that base
things can be expressed both with words that place them beneath the
eye in all their crudity, and with other words which surround them
with a veil.[43] All this might have led to the separation of the
linguistic faculty from the properly logical, and to its consideration
in union with the poetical and artistic faculty; but here too the
attempt stopped half-way. The Aristotelian logic assumed a verbal and
formalistic character, which became more and more accentuated as time
went on and formed an obstacle to the distinction between the two
theoretical forms. Nevertheless, Epicurus asserted that the diversity
of names designating the same thing with various peoples was due,
not to convention and caprice, but to the fact that the impressions
produced by things were different in each one of them.[44] And the
Stoics, although they connected language with thought (διάνοια) and
not with imagination, seem to have had a suspicion of the non-logical
nature of language, for they interposed between thought and sound a
_certain something_ which was indicated in Greek by the word λεκτόν,
and by the words _effatum_ or _dicibile_ in Latin. But we are not sure
what they really meant, and whether that vague concept were intended
by them to distinguish the linguistic representation from the abstract
concept (which would bring them into touch with the modern view), or
the meaning of sound in general.[45]

We cannot collect any other germ of truth from the ancient writers.
A philosophical Grammar, like a philosophical Poetics, remained
unattainable in antiquity.

[1] See above, pp. 128-131. Quotations which give only the name
of the author, or are otherwise abbreviated, refer to historical
or critical works of which the complete title is given in the
Bibliographical Appendix.

[2] Rosmini, _Nuovo saggio sull' origine delle idee,_ sections iii. and
iv., where theories of knowledge are classified.

[3] See above, pp. 83-84.

[4] See above, p. 65.

[5] _Republic_, x. 607.

[6] _Republic_, x. 607.

[7] Plutarch, _De audiendis poetis_, ch. i.

[8] _Republic_ x.

[9] _Frogs,_ 1, 1055.

[10] Plato, _Laws,_ bk. ii.; Aristotle, _Poet._ ch. 14; _Polit,_ bk.

[11] Strabo, _Geographica,_ i. ch. 2, §§ 3-9.

[12] Texts collected in E. Müller, _Gesch. d. Th. d. K._ i. pp. 57-85.

[13] Plutarch, _De aud. poetis,_ chs. 1-4, 14.

[14] _De rerum natura,_ i. 935-947.

[15] _Ad Pisones,_ 333-334.

[16] _Memorab._ iii. ch. 8; iv. ch. 6.

[18] _Hippias maior, passim._

[19] _Rhet._ i. ch. 9.

[20] _Metaphys._ xii. ch. 3.

[21] _Poet._ ch. 7.

[22] Diog. Lært. v. ch. i, § 20.

[23] _Tuscul. quæst._ bk. iv. § 13.

[24] _Poet._ ch. iv. 3.

[25] _De aud. poetis_, ch. 3.

[26] _Enneads,_ I. bk. vi. ch. i.

[27] _Enneads, loc. cit._ chs. 2-9.

[28] _Enneads,_ V. bk. viii. ch. i.

[29] _Enneads, loc. cit._ chs. 2-3.

[30] _Phædrus,_ ch. 4.

[31] Poet. ch. 4, § 2.

[32] Poet. ch. 9, §§ 1-4.

[33] Poet. ch. 4, §§ 4-5.

[34] Poet. chs. 24-25.

[35] _Apoll. vita,_ vi. ch. io.

[36] _Memorab._ iii. ch. io.

[37] _Orator ad Brutum,_ ch. 2.

[38] For example, Seneca, _Epist._ 65.

[39] Pliny, _Nat. Hist._ xxxiv. ch. 19.

[40] Gorgias in _De Xenoph., Zen. et Gorg._ (in Aristot., ed. Didot),
chs. 5-6.

[41] _Rhet._ bk. iii. ch. 1.

[42] _Rhet._ bk. iii. ch. 2.

[43] _De interp._ ch. 4.

[44] Diog. Lært. bk. x. § 75.

[45] Steinthal, _Gesch. d. Sprachw.,_ 2nd ed., i. pp. 288, 293,



[Sidenote: _Middle Ages, Mysticism, Ideas on the beautiful._]

Almost all the developments of ancient Æsthetic were continued by
tradition or reappeared by spontaneous generation in the course of the
Middle Ages. Neo-Platonic mysticism continued, entrusted to the care
of the pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (_De cœlesti hierarchia,
De ecclesiastica hierarchia, De divinis nominibus,_ etc.), to the
translations of these works made by John Scotus Eriugena, and to the
divulgations of the Spanish Jews (Avicebron). The Christian God took
the place of the Summum Bonum or Idea: God, wisdom, goodness, supreme
beauty, source of beautiful things in nature, which are a ladder to
the contemplation of the Creator. But these speculations continued to
recede further and further from the consideration of art, with which
Plotinus had connected them; and the empty definitions of the beautiful
by Cicero and other ancient writers were often repeated. Saint
Augustine defined beauty in general as unity (_omnis pulchritudinis
forma unitas est,_) and that of the body as _congruentia partium cum
quadam colons suavitate,_ and the old distinction between something
that is beautiful in itself and relative beauty reappeared in a book
of his, which has been lost, entitled _De pulchro et apto;_ the very
name shows that he reasserted the old distinction between the beautiful
in itself and the relatively beautiful, _quoniam apte accommodaretur
alicui._ Elsewhere he notes that an image is called beautiful _si
perfecte implei illud cujus imago est, et coaequatur ei._[1]

Thomas Aquinas varied but little from him in positing three requisites
for beauty: integrity or perfection, due proportion, and clearness;
following Aristotle, he distinguished the beautiful from the good,
defining the first as that which pleases in the mere contemplation of
it (_pulcrum ... id cujus ipsa apprehensio placet_); he referred to
the beauty that even base things possess if well imitated, and applied
the doctrine of imitation to the beauty of the Second Person of the
Trinity (_in quantum est imago expressa Patris_).[2] If it were wished
to discover references to the hedonistic conception of art, it would
be possible to do this, with a little goodwill, in some of the sayings
of jongleurs and troubadours. Æsthetic rigorism, the total negation
of art for religion or for divine and human science, shows itself in
Tertullian and among certain Fathers of the Church, at the entrance to
the Middle Ages; at their conclusion, in a certain crude scholastic
spirit, for example in Cecco d' Ascoli, who proclaimed against Dante:
"I leave trifles behind me and return to the _true_; fables are always
unpleasing to me," and later, in the reactionary Savonarola. But the
narcotic theory of pedagogic or moralistic art prevailed over every
other. It had contributed to send to sleep the æsthetic doubts and
inquiries of the ancients, and was well suited to a period of relative
decadence of culture. This was all the more the case, seeing that it
accorded well with the moral and religious ideas of the Middle Ages,
and afforded a justification not only for the new art of Christian
inspiration, but also for the surviving works of classical and pagan

[Sidenote: _The pedagogic theory of art in the Middle Ages._]

The allegorical interpretation was again a means of salvation for these
last. The _De continentia Virgiliana_ of Fulgentius (sixth century)
is a curious monument to this fact. This work made Virgil compatible
with the Middle Ages and opened his way to that great reputation which
he was destined to attain, as the "gentle sage who knew all things."
Even John of Salisbury says of the Roman poet, that "_sub imagine
fabularum totius philosophiae exprimit veritatem._"[3] The process of
interpretation became fixed in the doctrine of the _four meanings,_
literal, allegorical, moral and anagogic, which Dante afterwards
transferred to vernacular poetry. It would be easy to accumulate
quotations from mediæval writers, repeating in all keys the theory
that art inculcates the truths of morality and of faith and constrains
hearts to Christian piety, beginning with those well-known verses of
Theodulf: "_In quorum dictis_ (that is to say, in the utterances of the
poets) _quamquam sint frivola multa, Plurima sub falso tegmine vera
latent,_" and so on, until we reach the doctrines and opinions of our
own great men, Dante and Boccaccio. For Dante, poetry "_nihil aliud est
quam fictio rhethorica in musicaque posita._"[4] The poet should have
a "reasoning" in his verses "under a cloak of figure or of rhetorical
colour"; and it would be a shameful thing for him, if, "when asked,
he were not able to divest his words of such a garment, in such a way
as to show that they possessed a true meaning."[5] Readers sometimes
stop at the external vesture alone, and this indeed suffices for
those who, like the vulgar, do not succeed in penetrating the hidden
meaning. Poetry will say to the vulgar, which does not understand "its
argument," what a song of Dante's says at its conclusion, "At least
behold how _beautiful_ I am": if you are not able to obtain instruction
from me, at least enjoy me as a pleasing thing. Many, indeed, "their
beauty more than their goodness will delight," in poems, unless they
are assisted by commentaries in the nature of the _Convivio,_ "a light
which will allow every shade of meaning to reach them."[6] Poetry was
the "gay science," "_un fingimiento_" (as the Spanish poet the Marquis
of Santillana wrote) "_de cosas utiles, cubiertas ó veladas con muy
fermosa cobertura, compuestas, distinguidas é scandidas, por cierto
cuento, pessoé medida._"[7]

It would not then be correct to say that the Middle Ages simply
identified art with theology and with philosophy. Indeed it sharply
distinguished the one from the other, defining art and poetry, like
Dante, with the words _fictio rhethorica_, "figure" and "rhetorical
colour," "cloak," "beauty," or like Santillana with those of
_fingimiento_ or _fermosa cobertura._ This pleasing falsity was
justified from the practical point of view, very much in the same way
as sexual union and love were justified and sanctified in matrimony.
This did not exclude, indeed it implied, that the perfect state was
certainly celibacy--that is to say, pure science, free from admixture
of art.

[Sidenote: _Hints of an Æsthetic in scholastic philosophy._]

The only tendency that had no true and proper representatives was
the sound scientific tendency. The _Poetics_ of Aristotle itself was
hardly known or rather it was ill-known, from the Latin translation
that a German of the name of Hermann made, not earlier than 1256, of
the paraphrase or commentary of Averroes. Perhaps the best of the
mediæval investigations into language is that supplied by Dante's _De
vulgari eloquentia,_ where the word is, however, still looked upon as
a sign ("_rationale signum et sensuale ... natura sensuale quidem,
in quantum sonus est, rationale vero in quantum aliquid significare
videtur ad piacitum_").[8] The study of the expressive, æsthetic,
linguistic faculty would, however, have found an appropriate occasion
and a point of departure in the secular debate between nominalism and
realism, which could not avoid touching to some extent the relations
between the word and the flesh, thought and language. Duns Scotus wrote
a treatise _De modis significandi seu_ (the addition is due perhaps to
the editors) _grammatica speculativa_.[9] Abelard had defined sensation
as _confusa conceptio,_ and _imaginatio_ as a faculty that preserved
sensations; the intellect renders discursive what is intuitive in the
preceding stage, and we have finally the perfection of knowledge in
the intuitive knowledge of the discursive. We find the same importance
attached to intuitive knowledge, perception, of the individual or
_species specialissima,_ in Duns Scotus, together with the progressive
denominations of the different sorts of knowledge as _confusæ,
indistinctæ_ and _distinctæ._ We shall see this terminology reappear,
big with consequences, at the very commencement of modern Æsthetic.[10]

[Sidenote: _Renaissance. Philography and philosophical and empirical
inquiries concerning the beautiful._]

It may be said that the literary and artistic doctrines and opinions
of the Middle Ages have, with few exceptions, a value rather for the
history of culture than for the general history of science. The like
observation holds good of the Renaissance, for here, too, the circle of
the ideas of antiquity was not overstepped. Culture increases; original
sources are studied; the ancient writers are translated and commented
upon; many treatises are written and henceforth printed upon poetry
and the arts, grammars, rhetorics, dialogues, and dissertations upon
the beautiful: the proportions have increased, the world has become
bigger; but truly original ideas do not yet show themselves in the
domain of æsthetic science. The mystical tradition is refreshed and
strengthened by the renewed cult of Plato: Marsilio Ficino, Pico della
Mirandola, Cattani, Leon Battista Alberti, in the fifteenth century,
and Pietro Bembo, Mario Equicola, Castiglione, Nobili, Betussi, and
very many others in the following century, wrote upon the Beautiful
and upon Love. Among the most noteworthy productions of the sort, a
crossing of the mediæval and classical currents, is the book of the
_Dialogues of Love_ (1535), composed in Italian by the Spanish Jew
Leo, and translated into all the cultured languages of the time.[11]
The three parts into which it is divided treat of the nature and
essence, of the universality, and of the origin of love; and it is
demonstrated that every beautiful thing is good, but not every good
thing is beautiful; that beauty is a grace which dilates the soul and
moves it to love, and that knowledge of lesser beauties leads to that
of higher spiritual beauties. The author gave the name of "Philography"
to these and similar affirmations and effusions of which the book is
composed. Equicola's[12] work is also interesting, because it contains
historical accounts of those who wrote upon the subject before he did
so himself. The same intuition was versified and sighed forth by the
Petrarchists in their sonnets and ballads, while others, rebellious and
mocking, derided it in comedies, verses in _terza rima_ and parodies of
all sorts. Some mathematicians, reincarnations of Pythagoras, set to
work to determine beauty by exact relations: for instance Leonardo's
friend, Luca Paciolo, in the _De divina proportione_ (1509), in which
he laid down the pretended æsthetic law of the golden section.[13] And
side by side with these new Pythagoreans were those who revived the
canon of Polycletus as to the beauty of the human body, especially
of the female body, such as Firenzuola, Franco, Luigini, and Dolce.
Michæl Angelo fixed an empirical canon for painting in general, when
he stated that the means of giving movement and grace to figures[14]
consisted in the observance of a certain arithmetical relation. Others,
such as Fulvio Pellegrino Morato, investigated the symbolism or meaning
of colours. The Platonists generally placed beauty in the soul, the
Aristotelians rather in the physical qualities. The Averroist, Agostino
Nifo, amid much chatter and many inconclusive remarks, demonstrated
the existence of the beautiful in nature by describing the supremely
beautiful body of Joan of Aragon, Princess of Tagliacozzo, to whom the
book is dedicated.[15] Torquato Tasso, in the "Mintumo,"[16] imitated
the uncertainties of the _Hippias_ of Plato, not without making a free
use of the speculations of Plotinus. A chapter of the _Poetica_ of
Campanella possesses greater importance, where he describes the good as
_signum boni_ and the ugly as _signum mali,_ understanding by good the
three prime forces of Power, Wisdom and Love. Although Campanella was
still tied to the Platonic idea of the beautiful, the conception of a
sign or symbol, here introduced by him, represents progress. By this
means he succeeded in perceiving that material things or external facts
are neither beautiful nor ugly in themselves. "Mandricard called the
wounds in the bodies of his friends the Moors beautiful, for they were
large and gave evidence of the great strength of Roland who dealt them;
Saint Augustine called the gashes and the dislocations in the body of
Saint Vincent beautiful, because they were evidence of his endurance,
but they were on the other hand ugly in so far as they were signs of
the cruelty of the tyrant Dacianus and of his executioners. It is
beautiful to die fighting, said Virgil, for it is the sign of a strong
soul. The pet dog of his mistress will seem beautiful to the lover, and
doctors call even urine and fæces beautiful, when they indicate health.
Everything is both beautiful and ugly" (_quapropter nihil est quod non
sit pulcrum simul et turpe_).[17] In such observations as these we have
not a mere state of mystical exaltation, but to some extent a movement
in the direction of analysis.

[Sidenote: _The pedagogic theory of art and the Poetics of Aristotle._]

Nothing better serves to demonstrate that the Renaissance did not pass
beyond the confines of ancient æsthetic thought than the fact that
notwithstanding the renewed acquaintance with the thought of Aristotle,
the pedagogic theory of art not only persisted and triumphed, but was
transplanted bodily into the text of Aristotle, where its interpreters
read it with a certainty that we have to make efforts to achieve.
Certainly, a Robortelli (1548) or a Castelvetro (1570) stopped short
at the simple, purely hedonistic solution, giving simple pleasure as
the end of art: poetry, says Castelvetro, "was discovered solely
for the purpose of delighting and of recreating ... the souls of the
rude multitude and of the common people."[18] And here and there
some were able to free themselves from both the pleasure theory and
that of the didactic end; but the majority, such as Segni, Maggi,
Vettori,[19] were for the _docere delectando._ Scaliger (1561) declared
that mimesis or imitation was "_finis medius ad illum ultimum qui est
docendi cum delectatione,_" and believing himself to be altogether in
agreement with Aristotle as to this, he continued, "_docet affectus
poeta per actiones, ut bonos amplectamur atque imitemur ad agendum,
malos aspernemur ad abstinendum._"[20] Piccolomini (1575) observed
that "It must not be thought that so many excellent poets and artists,
ancient and modern, would have devoted such care and diligence to this
most noble study, had they not known and believed that in so doing
they were aiding human life," and if "they had not thought that we
were to be instructed, directed, and well established by it."[21] The
"truth preserved in soft verses, which attracts and persuades the most
reluctant" (Tasso),[22] with the comparison from Lucretius attached,
is the conception that even Campanella repeats. Poetry is for him
"_Rhetorica quaedam figurata, quasi magica, quae exempla ministrat ad
suadendum bonum et dissuadendum malum delectabiliter iis qui simplici
verum et bonum audire nolunt, aut non possunt aut nesciunt._"[23] Thus
returned the comparison of poetry with oratory; according to Segni
they only differ because the first occupies a more lofty situation:
"for since imitation representing itself in act by means of poetry, in
mighty, chosen words, in metaphors, images, and indeed the whole of
figured speech, which is to be found more in poetry than in the art
of oratory, the metrical qualities that are also required in verse,
the subjects of which it treats, which have something of the great and
delightful, make it appear most beautiful and worthy of being held all
the greater marvel."[24] "Three most noble arts" (wrote Tassoni in
1620, and he repeated common opinion), "History, Poetics, and Oratory,
come under the heading of Politics and depend upon it; the first of
these has reference to the instruction of princes and gentlemen, the
second of the people, the third of those who give counsel in public
trials or defend private ones that come up for judgment."[25]

According to these views, the tragical catharsis was regarded as
designed in general to demonstrate the instability of fortune, or to
terrify by example, or to proclaim the triumph of justice, or to render
the spectators insensible to the strokes of fortune, owing to their
familiarity with suffering. The pedagogic theory, thus renewed and
sustained by the authority of the ancients, was popularized in France,
Spain, England and Germany, together with all the Italian poetic
doctrines of the Renaissance. The French writers of the period of Louis
XIV. are altogether penetrated with it. "_Cette science agréable qui
mêle la gravité des préceptes avec la douceur du langage_," is what La
Ménardière calls poetry (1640), in the same way as Le Bossu (1675), for
whom "_le premier but du poète est d'instruire_,"[26] as Homer taught,
when he wrote two interesting didactic manuals relating to military and
political events: the _Iliad_ and the _Odyssey._

[Sidenote: _The "Poetics of the Renaissance."_]

This pedagogic theory has therefore been reasonably described by all
the modern critics in concert, as if by antonomasia, as the _Poetics
of the Renaissance._ It must, however, always be understood that it
did not appear for the first time in the fifteenth or sixteenth
century, but that it was prevalent and generally accepted at that
time. It may even be remarked, as has already been acutely done,[27]
that the Renaissance naturally did not distinguish the didactic kind
of poetry from the other kinds, since for it every kind of poetry was
didactic. But the Renaissance was not a real Renaissance, save when
and where it continued the interrupted spiritual work of antiquity,
and in this sense it would perhaps be more just to describe as its
Poetics, or rather, as the important element in its Poetics, not the
repetition of the pedagogic theory of antiquity and of the Middle Ages,
but the resumption, which also took place, of the discussions upon
the possible, the probable (_verisimile_, εικός) of Aristotle, on the
reasons of Plato's condemnation and on the procedure of the artist who
creates by imagining.

[Sidenote: _Dispute concerning the universal and the probable in art._]

It is in such discussions that is to be found the true contribution of
that epoch, not to learning, but to the formation of the science of
Æsthetic. The ground was prepared and enriched through the work of the
interpreters and commentators of Aristotle and of the new writers on
Poetics, especially the Italians, and it was also enriched with some
seed that was destined to sprout and to become a vigorous plant in
the future. The study of Plato also contributed not a little to call
attention to the function of the idea, or of the universal, in poetry.
What meaning was to be attached to the statement that poetry should aim
at the universal and history at the particular? What was the meaning of
the proposition that poetry should proceed according to _probability_?
What could that _certain idea_ consist of, which Raphæl said that he
followed in his painting?

[Sidenote: _Fracastoro._]

Girolamo Fracastoro was among the first to ask himself this question
seriously, in the dialogue _Naugerius, sive De poetica_ (1555). He
disdainfully rejected the thesis that the end of poetry is pleasure:
far be from us, he exclaimed, so bad an opinion of the poets, who the
ancients said were the inventors of all the good arts. Nor did the
end of instruction seem to him to be acceptable, which is the task,
not of poetry, but of other faculties, such as geography, history,
agronomy, philosophy. The poet's task is to represent or to imitate,
and he differs from the historian, not in the matter, but in the manner
of representation. The others imitate the particular, the poet the
universal: the others are like the painters of portraits, the poet
produces things as he contemplates the universal and most beautiful
idea of them: the others say only what they need to say for their
purposes, the poet that he may say everything beautifully and fully.

But the beauty of a poem must always be understood as relative to
the class of subject of which it treats; it is the most beautiful
in this class, not the supremely beautiful: one must be careful to
guard against the equivocal or double meaning of this word "beauty"
(_æquivocatio illius verbi_). A poet never utters what is false or
expresses what does not exist, for his words inevitably harmonize in
appearance or signification either with the opinions of men or with the
universal. Nor can we accept the Platonic axiom that the poet has no
knowledge of the things of which he treats; he does know them, but in
his own poet's manner.[28]

[Sidenote: _L. Castelvetro._]

While Fracastoro strives to elaborate the important passage in
Aristotle touching the universal of poetry, and though somewhat
vague in his treatment, keeps fairly close to the mark; Castelvetro,
on the contrary, judges the Aristotelian fragment with the freedom
and superior knowledge of the true critic. He recognizes that the
_Poetics_ is merely a notebook recording certain principles and
methods of compiling the art, not the art fully compiled. He remarks,
moreover, not without logical acumen, that Aristotle having adopted
the criterion of probability or of that "which presents an appearance
of historic truth," should have applied his theory in the first
case to history, not to poetry; for history being a "narrative
according to truth of memorable human actions," and poetry a narrative
according to probability of events which might possibly occur, the
second cannot receive "all its radiance" from the first. Nor does it
escape him that Aristotle describes two different things by the one
word "imitation": (_a_) "following the example of another," which is
"acting in exactly the same way as another without knowing the reason
of such action": and (_b_) the imitation "demanded by poetry," which
"does things in a manner totally different from that in which they
have been done hitherto and proposes a new example for imitation."
Nevertheless Castelvetro cannot extricate himself from the confusion
between the imaginary and the historical; for he himself says "the
realm of the former is generally that of certainty," but "the field
of certainty is often crossed with bars of uncertainty just as the
field of uncertainty is often crossed with bars of certainty." Also
what can be said of this curious interpretation of the Aristotelian
theory of pleasure experienced in the imitation of ugly models, that
such pleasure is based on the fact that since an imitation is always
imperfect, it is incapable of exciting the disgust and fear which would
arise from the contemplation of real ugliness? And what of his remark
that the characteristics of painting and poetry are so diverse as to
be in opposition one to the other; imitation of objects giving rise
to great pleasure in the former art and as great displeasure in the
latter? And so on in numberless cases of bold but scarcely felicitous

[Sidenote: _Piccolomini and Pinciano._]

In opposition to Robortelli, who asserted the identity of the probable
and the false, Piccolomini held that the probable (_verisimile_) is
inherently neither false nor true, only by accident becoming one or
other.[30] Of the same mind is the Spaniard Alfonso Lopez Pinciano
(1596), who says the scope of poetry "_no es la mentira, que seria
coincider con la sophística, ni la historia que seria tomar la materia
al histórico; y no siendo historia porque toca fabúlas ni mentira
porque toca historia, tiene por objeto el verisimil, que todo lo
abraza. De aqui resulta que es un arte superior á la metaphysica,
porqué comprende mucho mas, y se extiende a lo que es y á lo que no
es._"[31] What may lie behind this notion of probability is still
indefinite and impenetrable.

[Sidenote: _Fr. Patrizzi_ (_Patricius_).]

Moved by a wish to place poetry on a foundation other than the
probable, Francesco Patrizzi, the anti-Aristotelian, composed his
_Poetica_ between 1555 and 1586 in refutation of all Aristotle's main
doctrines. Patrizzi notes that the word "imitation" is given many
meanings by the Greek philosopher, who uses it now to denote a single
word, now to describe a tragedy; at times it stands for a figure of
speech, at others for a fiction: whence he draws the logical conclusion
(from which, however, he shrinks alarmed) "that all philosophic and
other kinds of writing and speaking are poetry, since they are made
of words which themselves are imitations." He observes further that,
according to Aristotle, it is impossible to distinguish between poetry
and history (since both are imitations), or to prove that verse is not
essential to poetry, or that history, science and art are unsuitable
material for it; since Aristotle in several passages says that poetry
may comprise "fable, actual occurrences, belief of others, duty,
the best, necessity, the possible, the probable, the credible, the
incredible, the suitable" as well as "all things worldly." After these
objections, some sound, others sophistical, Patrizzi comes to the
conclusion that "there is no truth in the dogma that poetry is wholly
imitation; and even if it be imitation at all, it belongs not to poets
alone, nor is it mere imitation of any kind, but something else not
mentioned by Aristotle nor pointed out by any one else, nor yet borne
into the mind of man. The discovery may possibly be made in course of
time, or some one may hit upon the truth and bring it to light"; but
up to the present "such discovery has not been made."[32]

Yet these confessions of ignorance, these endeavours, though vain, to
escape from the Aristotelian circle of ideas, and the great literary
controversies of the sixteenth century concerning the concept of poetic
truth and the probable had their use in that they stimulated interest
by directing attention to a mystery still unsolved. Thought had once
more begun to move upon the æsthetic problem, and this time it was not
destined to be broken off or to lose itself.

[1] _Confess,_ iv. x. ch. 13; _De Trinitate,_ vi. ch. 10; _Epist._
3, 18; _De civitate Dei,_ xxii. ch. 19 (in _Opera,_ ed. dei Maurini,
Paris, 1679-1690, vols. i. ii. vii. viii.).

[2] _Summa theol._ I. 1. xxxix. 8; I. 11. xxvii. I (ed. Migne, i. cols.
794-795; ii. col. 219).

[3] Comparetti, _Virg. nel medio evo,_ vol. i. _passim._

[4] _De vulg. eloq._ (ed. Rajna), bk. ii. ch. 4.

[5] _Vita nuova,_ ch. 25.

[6] _Convivio,_ i. 1.

[7] _Prohemio al Condestable de Portugal,_ 1445-1449 (in _Obras,_ ed.
Amador de los Rios, 1852), § 3.

[8] _De vulg. eloq._ bk. i. ch. 3.

[9] Lately reprinted under the editorship of padre M. Fernandez Garcia,
Ad claras Aquas (Quarracchi), 1902.

[10] Windelband, _Gesch. d. Phil._ ii. pp. 251-270; De Wulf, _Philos,
médiév.,_ Louvain, 1900, pp. 317-320.

[11] _Dialogi di amore, composti per Leone, medico ...,_ Rome, 1535.

[12] _Libro di natura e d' amore,_ Venice, 1525 (Ven. 1563).

[13] _De divina proportione,_ Venice, 1509.

[14] G. P. Lomazzo, _Trattato dell' arte della pittura, scultura ed
architettura,_ Milan, 1585, i. I, pp. 22-23.

[15] Aug. Niphi, _De pulcro el amore,_ Rome, 1529.

[16] _Il Minturno o vero de la belleza_ (in _Dialoghi,_ ed. Guasti,
vol. iii.).

[17] _Ration. philos._ part iv.; _Poeticor._ (Paris, 1638), art. vii.

[18] Fr. Robortelli, _In librum Arts, de arte poet, explicationes,_
Florence, 1548; Lud. Castelvetro, _Poetica d' Aristotele vulgarizzata
ed esposta,_ 1570 (Basle, 1576), part i. particella iv. pp. 29-30.

[19] Bern. Segni, _Rettor. e poet. trad._ Florence, 1549; Vinc. Madii,
_In Arist.... explanationes,_ 1550; Petri Victorii, _Commentarii,_
etc., Florence, 1560.

[20] _Poetica,_ 1561 (ed. 3, 1586), i. I; vii. 3.

[21] _Annotationi net libro della Poetica,_ Venice, 1575, preface.

[22] _Gerus. lib._ i. 3.

[23] _Poetic,_ ch. I, art. 1.

[24] _Poetica trad_. preface.

[25] _Pensieri diversi_, bk. x. ch. 18.

[26] La Ménardière, _Poétique_, Paris, 1640; Le Bossu, _Traité du poème
épique_, Paris, 1675.

[27] Borinski, _Poet. d. Renaiss._ p. 26.

[28] Hyeron. Frascatorii _Opera,_ Venetian edition, Giunti, 1574, pp.

[29] _Poet., ed. cit._ i. 1; ii. 1; iii. 7; v. I (pp. 64, 66, 71-72,
208, 580).

[30] _Annotationi,_ preface.

[31] _Philosophia antiqua poetica,_ Madrid, 1596 (reprinted Valladolid

[32] Francesco Patrici, _Della poetica, la Deca disputata,_ "in
which by history, by reason, by authority of the greatest worthies
of antiquity, is shown the falsity of the most received opinions
concerning Poetry down to our own day." Ferrara, 1586.



[Sidenote: _New words and new observations in the seventeenth century_]

Interest in æsthetic investigation increased rapidly in the early years
of the following century, owing either to the popularity acquired by
certain new words or to the novel meanings given to words already
familiar, which emphasized new aspects of artistic production and
criticism, complicating the problem and rendering it thereby more
puzzling and attractive. For example: wit, taste, imagination or fancy,
feeling, and several others, which must be examined rather closely.

Wit (_ingegno_) differed somewhat from intellect. Free use of the word
arose, if we mistake not, from its convenience in Rhetoric as conceived
by antiquity; that is to say, a suave and facile mode of knowledge, as
opposed to the severity of Dialectic; an "Antistrophe to Dialectic,"
which substituted for reasons of actual fact those of probability or
fancy; enthymemes for syllogisms, examples for inductions; so much
so that Zeno the Stoic figured Dialectic with her fist clenched and
Rhetoric with her hand open. The empty style of the decadent Italian
authors in the seventeenth century found its complete justification
in this theory of rhetoric; their prose and verse, Marinesque and
Achillinesque, professed to exhibit not the true but the striking,
subtly conceited, curious or nice. The word wit, _ingegno,_ was now
repeated much more frequently than in the preceding century; wit
was hailed as presiding genius of Rhetoric; its "vivacities" were
lauded to the skies; "_belli ingegni_" was a phrase seized upon by
the French, who rendered it as "_esprit_" or "_beaux esprits_."[1]
One of the most noteworthy commentators on these matters (although
opposed to the literary excesses of the times), Matteo Pellegrini
of Bologna (1650), defines wit as "that part of the soul which in
a certain way practises, aims, and seeks to find and create the
beautiful and the efficacious";[2] he considers the work of "wit" to
be the "conceits" and "subtleties" noted by him in a previous pamphlet
(1639).[3] Emmanuele Tesauro also descants at considerable length
in his _Cannochiale Aristotelico_ (1654) upon wit and subtleties,
not alone "verbal" and "lapidary" conceits, but also "symbolic" and
"figurative" (statues, stories, devices, satires, hieroglyphs, mosaics,
emblems, insignia, sceptres), and even "animated agents" (pantomimes,
play-scenes, masques and dances): all things which may be grouped under
"polite quibbling" or rhetoric as distinct from "dialectic."

Amongst such treatises, product of their age, one written by the
Spaniard Baltasar Gracian (1642) became celebrated throughout
Europe.[4] Wit became in his hands the strictly inventive or artistic
faculty, "genius"; _génie,_ "genius" were now used as synonyms of
wit, _ingegno_ and _esprit._ In the following century Mario Pagano[5]
wrote: "Wit may be taken as equivalent to the _génie_ of the French, a
word now commonly used in Italy." To return to the seventeenth century,
Bouhours, a Jesuit writer of dialogues on the _Manière de bien penser
dans les ouvrages d'esprit_ (1687), says that "'heart' and 'wit' are
greatly in fashion just now, nothing else is spoken of in polite
conversation, and all discourse is at last brought round to _l'esprit
et le cœur._"[6]

[Sidenote: _Taste._]

The word _taste_ or _good taste_ was equally widespread and
fashionable, signifying the faculty of judgement brought to bear
on the beautiful, distinct to some extent from intellectual power,
and sometimes divided into active and passive, so that it was usual
to speak of one kind of taste as "productive" or "fertile" (thus
coinciding with "wit"), and of another as "sterile."

[Sidenote: _Various meanings of the word taste._]

From the rough notes which we possess as to the history of the concept
of taste, several meanings of the word, not all of equal importance
as indications of the development of ideas, detach themselves in a
somewhat confused manner. "Taste," meaning "pleasure" or "delight," was
an old-established word in Italy and Spain, as is shown in such phrases
as "to have a taste for, to be to one's taste"; when Lope di Vega
and other Spaniards speak continually of the drama of their country
as seeking to please the popular taste ("_deleita el gusto_"; "_para
darle gusto_") they mean only the "pleasure" of the populace. In Italy
there was a very ancient use of the word in the metaphorical sense
of "judgement," either literary, scientific, or artistic; numberless
examples of this use occur in writers of the sixteenth century
(Ariosto, Varchi, Michæl Angelo, Tasso). To take but one of these: the
lines in _Orlando Furioso_ where it is said of the Emperor Augustus,
"_L' aver avuto in poesia buon gusto La proscrizione iniqua gli
perdona,_" "For having had good taste in poetry he shall be forgiven
his iniquitous proscriptions"; or the remark of Ludovico Dolce that'
some person "had such exquisite taste, he sang no verses save those of
Catullus and Calvus."[7] The word "taste," in the sense of a special
faculty or attitude of mind, appears to have been used for the first
time in Spain in the middle of the seventeenth century by Gracian,[8]
the moralist and political writer already quoted. It is evidently to
him that the Italian author Trevisano alludes in a preface to a book by
Muratori (1708) when he speaks of "Spaniards, above all others cunning
in metaphor," who express themselves in "that eloquent and laconic
phrase, good taste"; touching further on taste and genius he quotes,
"that ingenious Spaniard," Gracian,[9] who gave the word the sense of
"practical wit," enabling one to perceive the "true signification" of
things; his "man of good taste" becomes in our language "a man of tact"
in the affairs of life.[10]

The transference of the word to the domain of æsthetic seems to have
taken place in France during the last quarter of the century. "_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,_" writes La Bruyère[11] (1688). As attributes
or variants of taste it was usual to mention _delicacy_ and _variety_
or _variability._ Bearing its fresh critical--literary content,
but not freed from the encumbrance of its earlier practical and
moral significance, the word spread from France into other European
countries. Thomasius introduced it into Germany in 1687;[12] and in
England it becomes "good taste." In Italy it appears as early as 1696
as title of a large book written by Camillo Ettori, the Jesuit, _Il
buon gusto ne' componimenti rettorici_.[13] The preface notes: "The
expression 'good taste,' proper to those who rightly distinguish good
from bad flavour in foods, is now in general use and claimed by every
one as a title in connexion with literature and the humanities"; it
reappears in 1708 at the beginning of Muratori's[14] book already
quoted: Trevisano treats of it philosophically: Salvini discusses it
in his note upon the _Perfetta Poesia_ of Muratori above mentioned,
where the subject of good taste occupies several pages,[15] and finally
it gives its name to the Academy of Good Taste founded at Palermo in
1718.[16] Scholars of the day who took up the discussion of the theme,
recollecting some passages scattered throughout the ancient classics,
placed the new concept in relation with the "_tacitus quidam sensus
sine ulla ratione et arte_" of Cicero; and with the "_indicium_" which
"_nec magis arte traditur quam gustus aut odor_" of Quintilian.[17]
More particularly Montfaucon de Villars (1671)[18] wrote a book on
"Delicacy"; Ettori strove to find some definition more satisfactory
than those current at the time (_e.g._ "it is the finest invention
of wit, the flower of wit and extract of beauty's self," and similar
conceits);[19] Orsi made it the subject of his _Considerazioni_ written
in reply to Bouhours' book.

[Sidenote: _Fancy or Imagination._]

In Italy in the seventeenth century we find imagination or fancy
placed on a pinnacle. What do you mean by talking of probability
and historical truth (asks Cardinal Sforza Pallavicino in 1644), of
false or true in connexion with poetry; which deals not with fiction,
fact or historical probability but with primary apprehensions which
assert neither truth nor falsehood? Following this line of argument,
imagination takes the place of that probable, neither true nor false,
advocated by some commentators of Aristotle; a theory strongly
criticized by Pallavicino, here agreeing with Piccolomini, whom however
he does not name, and in opposition to Castelvetro whom he explicitly
mentions. He who goes to the play (continues Pallavicino) knows quite
well that the scenes acted on the stage are not real; although he has
no belief in them yet they please him greatly. For "if poetry desired
to be mistaken for truth, the end she had in view would be a he, by
the laws of nature and of God doomed inevitably to perish: for a lie
is nothing but an untruth uttered in the hope that it may be mistaken
for truth. How then should an art so tainted be allowed to flourish in
the best-regulated republics? How should it be commended and used by
the very writers of Holy Scripture?" _Ut pictura poësis_: poetry is
like painting, which is a "diligent imitation" aiming at a close copy
of the features, colours, acts, nay, even the hidden motives, of the
objects it represents: and it "does not pretend that fiction is truth."
The sole aim of poetic tales is "to adorn our understanding with
imagery, that is to say, with sumptuous, novel, marvellous and splendid
appearances. And this is known to diffuse so useful an influence on
mankind that humanity insists on rewarding poets with praise more
glorious than is bestowed on any other men; their books are protected
from the ravages of time with greater solicitude than is shown to
scientific treatises or productions of any other art; in the end the
names of poets are crowned with adoring veneration. See how the world
thirsts for beautiful first apprehensions, although these are neither
laden with science nor are they vehicles of truth."[20]

Sixty years later these ideas, although expressed by a Cardinal, seemed
all too daring to Muratori, who could not bring himself to allow poets
so much latitude, or to enfranchize them from their obligations to the
probable. Nevertheless Muratori allows a large space to imagination,
"an inferior apprehensive faculty" which, without caring whether
things be false or true, confines itself to apprehending them, and
"represents" the truth merely, leaving the task of "cognition" to the
"superior apprehensive faculty" or intellect.[21] Even the stony heart
of Gravina yields to the charm of imagination: he admits it occupies
a considerable place in the realm of poetry and suffers his own arid
prose to describe it as "a sorceress, but beneficent," "a delirium
which cures madness."[22]

Earlier than either of these, Ettori commended it to the good
rhetorician, "who in order that he may awaken images" must "familiarize
himself with whatever is subject to bodily feeling" and "encounter
the genius of imagination, which is a sensuous faculty," to these
ends using "species rather than genera (since the latter, being more
universal than the former, are less sensible), individuals rather than
species, effects than causes, the number of the greater rather than the
number of the less."[23]

As far back as 1578 the Spaniard Huarte had maintained that eloquence
is the product of imagination rather than of intellect or reason.[24]
In England Bacon (1605) ascribed science to intellect, history to
memory and poetry to imagination or fancy:[25] Hobbes inquired into
the procedure of poetry:[26] Addison (1712) devoted several numbers
of his _Spectator_ to analysis of the "pleasures of imagination."[27]
Somewhat later, the importance of imagination was felt in Germany,
where it found advocates in Bodmer, Breitinger and other writers of the
Swiss school, who owed much to the influence of the Italians (Muratori,
Gravina, Calepio) and the English: acting in their turn as teachers of
Klopstock and the new German critical school.[28]

[Sidenote: _Feeling._]

It was at this same period that opposition became clearly marked
between those accustomed "_à juger par le sentiment_" and those used
to "_raisonner par principes_."[29] The Frenchman, Du Bos, author of
_Réflexions critiques sur la poésie et la peinture_ (1719), upholds the
theory of feeling; according to him art is simply a self-abandonment
"_aux impressions que les objets étrangers font sur nous,_" setting
aside all reflective labour. He laughs at those philosophers who
deny the force of imagination, and Malebranche's eloquent discourse
founded on this denial draws from Du Bos the remark, "_c'est à notre
imagination qu'il parle contre l'abus de l'imagination._" He refuses
to see any intellectual nucleus in the productions of the arts, saying
that art consists not in instruction but in style: nor is he too
respectful towards the probable: he says he finds himself unable to
set limits between it and the marvellous, and leaves to "born poets"
the task of thus miraculously uniting opposites. For Du Bos there is
no criterion of art save feeling, which he calls a "_sixième sens,_"
against which dispute is vain since in such matters popular opinion
invariably wins the day over the dogmatic pronouncements of artists
and men of letters: all the ingenious conceits of the greatest
metaphysicians, though unimpeachable in themselves, will not in the
slightest degree diminish the lustre of poetry or despoil it of one
single attraction. Attempts to discredit Ariosto and Tasso in the eyes
of Italians were as vain as those made against the _Cid_ in France.
Other people's arguments can never persuade us of the contrary of
what we feel.[29] These notions were adopted by many French writers:
for example Cartaut de la Villate[30] observes, "_Le grand talent
d'un écrivain qui veut plaire, est de tourner ses réflexions en
sentiments_;" and Trublet, "_C'est un principe sûr, que la poésie doit
être une expression de sentiment._"[30] Nor were the English slow in
emphasizing the concept of "emotion" in their theories of literature.

[Sidenote: _Tendency to unite these terms._]

In the writings of this period _imagination_ was often identified with
_wit, wit_ with _taste, taste_ with _feeling,_ and _feeling_ with
first apprehensions or _imagination_;[31] we have already noted that
taste is sometimes critical and sometimes productive: this fusion,
identification and subordination of terms apparently distinct shows how
they gravitate round one single concept.

[Sidenote: _Difficulties and contradictions in their definition._]

A German critic, one of the very few who have sought to penetrate
the darkness surrounding the origins of modern Æsthetic, considers
the concept of taste (which we owe, he thinks, to Gracian) "the
most important æsthetic doctrine which remained for modern times to
discover."[32] But without going so far as to say that taste is the
chief doctrine of the science, and the foundation of all the rest,
instead of only a particular doctrine, and without recapitulating what
we have already said of Gracian's relation to the theory of taste,
it is well to repeat that taste, wit, imagination, feeling, and so
on, instead of new concepts scientifically grasped, were simply new
words corresponding to vague impressions: at most they were problems,
not concepts: apprehensions of ground still to be conquered, not yet
annexed and brought into subjection. It must not be forgotten that the
very men who made use of these terms could scarcely grope after the
ideas they suggested without falling back into the old traditions, the
only ones on which they had an intellectual grasp. To them the new
words were shades, not bodies: when they tried to embrace them their
arms returned empty to their own breasts.

[Sidenote: _Wit and intellect._]

Certainly wit differs to a certain extent from intellect. Yet
Pellegrini and Tesauro, with other writers of treatises, never fail to
point out that intellectual truth lies at the root of wit. Trevisano
defines it as "an internal virtue of the soul which invents methods
for expressing and executing its own concepts: it is recognizable now
in the arrangement of things we invent, now in the clear expression
of them: sometimes in cunning reconciliations of matters seemingly
opposed, sometimes in tracing analogies but faintly discernible." To
sum up, one must not "allow the actions of wit to go unaccompanied
by those of intellect," or even by those of practical morality.[33]
More ingenuously Muratori says, "Wit is that virtue and active force
with which the intellect is able to assemble, unite and discover the
similarities, relations and reasons of things."[34] In this manner wit,
after having been distinguished from intellect, eventually becomes a
part or a manifestation of it. By a somewhat different path the same
conclusion is reached by Alexander Pope when he counsels that wit be
reined in like a mettlesome horse, and observes:

    For wit and judgement often are at strife,
    Though meant each other's aid like man and wife.[35]

[Sidenote: _Taste and intellectual judgement._]

Similar vicissitudes befell the word "taste," outcome of a metaphor
(as was noted by Kant) whose effect was to stand in opposition
to intellectualistic principles, as if to say that the judgement
governing the choice of food destined solely for the delectation
of the palate is of the same nature as that which decides opinions
in matters of art.[36] Nevertheless, the very definition of this
anti-intellectualistic concept contained a reference to intellect and
reason; the implicit comparison with the palate was ultimately taken
as signifying an anticipation of reflexion: as Voltaire wrote in the
following century: "_De même que la sensation du palais anticipe
la réflexion._"[37] Intellect and reason glimmer through all the
definitions of taste belonging to this period. Mme. Dacier wrote in
1684, "_Une harmonie, un accord de l'esprit et de la raison._"[38]
"_Une raison éclairée qui, d'intelligence avec le cœur, fait
toujours un juste choix parmi des choses opposées ou semblables,_"
wrote the author of _Entretiens galants._[39] According to another
writer quoted by Bonhours, "taste" is "a natural feeling implanted in
the soul, independent of any science that can possibly be acquired"; it
is practically "an instinct of right reason."[40] The same Bouhours,
whilst deprecating this interpretation of one metaphor by another,
says, "Taste is more nearly allied to judgement than wit."[41] The
Italian Ettori thinks that it may generally be described as "judgement
regulated by art,"[42] and Baruffaldi (1710) identifies it with
"discernment" reduced from theory to practice.[43] De Crousaz (1715)
observes: "_Le bon goût nous fait d'abord estimer par sentiment ce que
la raison aurait approuvé, après qu'elle se serait donné le temps de
l'examiner assez pour en juger par des justes idées._"[44] And somewhat
prior to him Trevisano considered it "a sentiment always willing to
conform to whatsoever reason accepts," and in conjunction with divine
grace, a powerful help to man in revealing the true and good, no longer
able to circulate freely among mankind owing to original sin. For
König (1727) in Germany taste was "a power of the intellect, product
of a healthy mind and acute judgement which makes one able to feel
the true, good and beautiful"; and for Bodmer in 1736 (after lengthy
correspondence on the subject with his Italian friend Calepio) "a
practised reflexion, prompt and penetrating into the smallest details,
by which intellect is able to distinguish the true from the false, the
perfect from the imperfect." Calepio and Bodmer were opponents of pure
feeling, and made a distinction between "taste" and "good taste."[45]
Traversing the same intellectualistic path, Muratori speaks of "good
taste" in "erudition" and others of "good taste in philosophy."

[Sidenote: _The "je ne sais quoi."_]

Perhaps those authors were wise who preferred to remain vague and to
identify taste with an indefinable Something, a _je ne sais quoi_; a
_nescio quid_: a new expression which expressed nothing new, but at
least called attention to the problem. Bouhours (1671) discusses it at
length: "_Les Italiens, qui font mystère de tout, emploient en toutes
rencontres leur_ non so che: _on ne voit rien de plus commune dans
leurs poètes,_" and quotes Tasso and others in confirmation.[45] A
note upon it is found in Salvini: "This 'good taste' has but recently
come to the front; it seems a vague term applicable to nothing
particular, and is equivalent to the _non so che,_ to a happy or
successful turn of wit."[46] Father Feijóo, who wrote on the _Razón
del gusto_ and on _El no se qué_ (1733), says very wisely: "_En muchas
producciones no solo de la naturaleza, sino del arte, y aun mas del
arte que de la naturaleza, encuentran los hombres, fuera di aquellas
perfecciones sujetes á su comprehension racional, otro genero de primor
misterioso que, lisonjeando el gusto, atormenta el entendemento. Los
sentidos le palpan, pero no le puede dissipar la razon, y así, al
querer explicarle, no se encuentran voces ni conceptos que cuadren
á su idea, y salimos del paso con decir que hay un non se qué, que
agrada, que enamora que hechiza, sin que pueda encontrarse revelacion
mas clara da este natural misterio._"[47] And President Montesquieu:
"_Il y a quelquefois dans les personnes ou dans les choses un charme
invisible, une grâce naturelle, qu'on n'a pu définir, et qu'on a été
forcé d'appeler le je ne sais quoi. Il me semble que c'est un effet
principalement fondé sur la surprise._"[48] Some writers rebelled
against the subterfuge of the _je ne sais quoi,_ saying, rightly
enough, that it was a confession of ignorance: but they knew not how to
escape that ignorance without falling into confusion between taste and
intellectual judgement.

[Sidenote: _Imagination and sensationalism. The corrective of

If the attempt to define "wit" and "taste" usually resulted in
intellectualism, it was easy to transform imagination and feeling into
sensationalistic doctrines. We have seen how earnestly Pallavicino
insisted on the non-intellectuality of the fantasies and inventions
of the imagination. "Nothing presents itself to the admirer of the
beautiful (he writes) to enable him to verify his cognition and satisfy
himself that the object recognized is or is not that for which he takes
it; if either by vision or by strong apprehension he is led to think
it actually present by an act of judgement, his taste for beauty as
beauty does not arise from such act of judgement, but from the vision
or lively apprehension which might remain in ourselves even when the
deception of belief was corrected"; just as happens when we are drowsy
and know ourselves to be but half awake, yet are unwilling to tear
ourselves from sweet dreams. For Pallavicino imagination cannot err; he
assimilates it wholly to the sensations, which are incapable of truth
or falsity. And if imaginative knowledge pleases, it is not because
it holds a special truth (imaginative truth), but because it creates
objects which "though false are pleasing": the painter makes not
likenesses but images which, all resemblance apart, are pleasing to the
sight: the poet awakens apprehensions "sumptuous, novel, marvellous,
splendid."[49] His opinion coincides, if we mistake not, with Marino's
sensationalism: "The poet should aim only at the marvellous ... he who
cannot amaze his hearers is not worth a straw":[50] he applauds the
oft-repeated dictum of "Gabriel Chiabrera, that Pindar of Savona, that
poetry should cause the eyebrows to arch themselves."[51] But in the
_Treatise upon Style_ written later (1646) he repents of his youthful
achievement and appears willing to return to the pedagogic theory:
"And forasmuch as I theorized concerning poetry in the basest manner,
treating it solely as a minister of that delight which the mind enjoys
in the less noble operation of imagination or apprehension arising
from imagination; and, therefore, in consequence I somewhat relaxed the
strings which bind it to the probable: I now wish to demonstrate that
poetry has other functions more exalted and fruitful, while remaining
in strict servitude to the probable: which office is to guide our
minds in the noble exercise of judgement; thus it becomes the nurse of
philosophy which it nourishes with sweet milk."[52] The Jesuit Ettori,
while inculcating the use of imagination and recommending orators to go
to school with the "actors," points out that imagination should fulfil
the simple office of "interpreter" between intellect and truth, never
assuming dominion, otherwise the orator would be treating his audience
or readers "not as men, to whom intellect is proper, but as beasts whom
imagination satisfies."[53]

The conception of imagination as purely sensuous shows strongly in
Muratori, who is so convinced that the faculty, if left to itself,
would deteriorate into a riot of dreams and intoxication, that he links
it to intellect as to "an authoritative friend" who shall influence
the choice and combination of images.[54] The problem of the nature of
imagination had strong attraction for Muratori, and, while traducing
and vilifying, he returns to it again in his _Della forza della
fantasia umana_;[55] describing it as a material faculty essentially
different from the mental or spiritual, and denying it the validity of
knowledge. Although he had observed that the aim of poetry is distinct
from that of science, in that the latter seeks to "know," and the
former to "represent" truth,[56] he persisted in counting Poetry as an
"art of delectation" subordinate to Moral Philosophy, of whom she was
one of the three servants or ministers.[57] Very similarly Gravina held
that along with novelty and delight in the marvellous, poetry should
endow the mind of the vulgar with "truth and universal cognitions."[58]

Outside Italy the same movement was going on. Bacon, although he
assigned poetry to imagination, yet considered it as something
intermediary between history and science, approximating epic to
history and the most lofty style, the parabolic, to science: ("_poēsis
parabolica inter reliquas eminet"._) Elsewhere he calls poetry
_somnium_ or declares absolutely that "_scientias fere non parit,_" and
that "_pro lusu potius ingenii quam pro scientia est habenda_": music,
painting and sculpture are voluptuous arts.[59] Addison identified the
pleasures of the imagination with those produced by visible objects or
the ideas to which they give rise: such pleasures are not so strong as
those of the senses nor so refined as those of the intellect: he groups
together the pleasures experienced respectively in comparing imitations
with the objects imitated, and in sharpening by this means the faculty
of observation.[60]

[Sidenote _Feeling and Sensationalism._]

The sensationalism of Du Bos and other upholders of feeling appears
very clearly. For Du Bos art is a pastime whose pleasantness consists
in the fact that it occupies the mind without fatigue, and has
affinities with the pleasure provoked by gladiatorial contests,
bullfights and tourneys.[61]

For these reasons, whilst noting the importance, in the prehistory
of Æsthetic, of these new words and the new views they express; and
while recognizing their value as a ferment in the discussion of the
æsthetic problem, taken up by thinkers of the Renaissance at the point
at which it had been left by the ancients; we yet cannot discern in
their apparition the true origin of our science. By these words and the
discussions they aroused, the æsthetic fact clamoured even louder and
more insistently for its own philosophical justification; but this it
was not yet to attain either by this means or by any other.

[1] _E.g._ Molière, _Préc. ridic._ sc. i, 10.

[2] _I fonti dell' ingegno ridotti ad arte,_ Bologna, 1650.

[3] _Delle acutezze che altrimenti spiriti, vivezze e concetti
volgarmenti si appellano,_ Genova-Bologna, 1639.

[4] _Agudeza y arte de ingenio,_ Madrid, 1642; enlarged, Huesca, 1649.

[5] _Saggio del gusto e delle belle arti,_ 1783, ch. I, _note._

[6] Ital. trans. in Orsi, _Considerazioni,_ etc. (Modena, 1735), vol.
i. dial. 1.

[7] _Orl. Furioso_, xxxv. 26; L. Dolce, _Dial. del pittura_ (Venice,
1557); _ad init_.

[8] Borinski, _Poet. d. Renaiss._ p. 308 _seqq._; _B. Gracian_, pp.

[9] _Riflessioni sopra il buon gusto_ (Venice, 1766), introd. pp. 72-84.

[10] Gracian, _Obras_ (Antwerp, 1669); _El héroe, El discreto,_ with
introd. by A. Farinelli, Madrid, 1900. Cf. Borinski, _Poet. d. Renais,

[11] _Les Caractères, ou les mœurs du siècle,_ ch. I; _Des ouvrages de

[12] In the programme: _Von der Nachahmung der Franzosen,_ Leipzig,

[13] _Opera ... nella quale con alcune certe considerazioni si mostra
in che consista il vero buon gusto ne' suddetti componimenti,_ etc.,
etc., Bologna, 1696.

[14] _Delle riflessioni sopra il buon gusto nelle scienze e nell'
arti,_ 1708 (Venice, 1766).

[15] Muratori, _Della perfetta poesia italiana,_ Modena, 1706, bk. ii.
ch. 5.

[16] Mazzuchelli, _Scrittori d' Italia,_ vol. ii. part iv. p. 2389.

[17] Cicero, _De oratore,_ iii. ch. 50; Quintilian, _Inst. Orator,_ vi.
ch. 5.

[18] _De la délicatesse,_ Paris, 1671.

[19] _Il buon gusto,_ ch. 39, p. 367.

[20] _Del bene_ (Naples, 1681), bk. i. part i. chs. 49-53. Cf. the same
writer's _Arte della perfezion cristiana,_ Rome, 1665, bk. i. ch. 3.

[21] _Perfetta poesia,_ bk. i. chs. 14, 21.

[22] _Ragion poetica,_ in _Prose italiane,_ ed. De Stefano, Naples,
1839, i. ch. 7. 2 _Il buon gusto,_ p. 10.

[23] _Esame degl' ingegni degl' huomini per apprender le scienze_
(Ital. trans. by C. Camilli, Venice, 1586), chs. 9-12.

[24] _De dignitate et augmentis scientiarum,_ bk. ii. ch. 13.

[25] _De homine_ (in _Opera phil.,_ ed. Molesworth, vol. iii.), ch. 2.

[26] _Spectator,_ Nos. 411-421 (_Works,_ London, 1721, pp. 486-519).

[27] _Die Discourse der Mahlern,_ 1721--1723; _Von dem Einflüss und
Gebrauche der Einbildungskraft,_ etc., 1727; and other writings of
Bodmer and Breitinger.

[28] Pascal, _Pensées sur l'éloquence et le style,_ § 15.

[29] _Réflexions critiques sur la poésie et la peinture,_ 1719 (ed. 7,
Paris, 1770) _passim._; see especially sections 1, 23, 26, 28, 33, 34.

[30] Cartaut de la Villate, _Essais historiques et philosophiques sur
le goût,_ Aix, 1737; Trublet, _Essais sur divers sujets de littérature
et de morale,_ Amsterdam, 1755.

[31] Cf. Du Bos, _op. cit._ § 33.

[32] Borinski, _B. Gracian_, p. 39.

[33] Trevisano, _op. cit._ pp. 82, 84.

[34] _Perfetta poesia,_ bk. ii. ch. I (_ed. cit._ i. p. 299).

[35] A. Pope, _An Essay on Criticism,_ 1709 (in _Poetical Works,_
London, 1827), lines 81, 82.

[36] _Kritik der Urtheilskraft_ (ed. Kirchmann), § 33.

[37] _Essai sur le goût_ (in appendix to A. Gérard, _Essai sur le
goût,_ Paris, 1766).

[38] _Ibid._

[39] Quoted in Sulzer, _Allg. Th. d. s. K._ ii. p. 377.

[40] _Manière de bien penser_ (Ital. trans. _cit._), dial. 4. 2 _Ibid._

[41] _Op. cit._ chs. 2-4.

[42] _Osservazioni critiche_ (in vol. ii. of Orsi's _Considerazioni)_,
ch. 8, p. 23.

[43] _Traité du beau_ (Amsterdam ed., 1724), i. p. 170.

[44] J. Ulr. König, _Untersuchung von dem guten Geschmack in der Dicht-
und Redekunst,_ Leipzig, 1727, and (Calepio-Bodmer) _Briefwechsel von
der Natur des poetischen Geschmackes,_ Zürich, 1736; cf. for both
Sulzer, ii. p. 380.

[45] _Les Entretiens d'Ariste et d'Eugène,_ 1671 (Paris ed., 1734),
conversation v.; "_Le je ne sçai quoi_"; cf. Gracian, _Oraculo manual,_
No. 127, and _El héroe,_ ch. 13.

[46] In the notes to Muratori's _Perfetta poesia._

[47] Feijóo, _Theatro critico,_ vol. vi. Nos. 11-12.

[48] _Essai sur le goût dans les choses de la nature et de l'art._
Posthumous fragment (in appendix to A. Gérard, _op. cit._).

[49] _Del bene, cap. cit._

[50] Marino, in one of the sonnets in the _Murtoleide_ (1608).

[51] _Del bene,_ bk. i. part i. ch. 8.

[52] _Trattato dello stile_ (Rome, 1666), ch. 30.

[53] _Il buon gusto,_ pp. 12-13.

[54] _Perf. poesia,_ i. ch. 18, pp. 232-233.

[55] Venice, 1745.

[56] _Perf. poesia,_ i. ch. 6.

[57] _Op. cit._ i. ch. 4, p. 42.

[58] _Ragion poetica,_ i. ch. 7.

[59] _De dignitate,_ ii. ch. 13; iii. ch. I; iv. ch. 2; v. ch. 1.

[60] _Spectator, loc. cit._ esp. pp. 487, 503.

[61] _Op. cit._ § 2.



[Sidenote: _Cartesianism and imagination._]

The obscure world of wit, taste, imagination, feeling and the _je ne
sais quoi_ was not selected for examination or even, so to speak,
included in the picture of Cartesian philosophy. The French philosopher
abhorred imagination, the outcome, according to him, of the agitation
of the animal spirits: and though not utterly condemning poetry, he
allowed it to exist only in so far as it was guided by intellect, that
being the sole faculty able to save men from the caprices of the _folle
du logis._ He tolerated it, but that was all; and went so far as not to
deny it anything "_qu'un philosophe lui puisse permettre sans offenser
sa conscience._"[1] It has been observed that the æsthetic parallel
with Cartesian intellectualism is to be found in Boileau,[2] slave to
rigid _raison_ ("_Mais nous que la raison à ses règles engage ..._")
and enthusiastic partisan of allegory. We have already had occasion
to draw attention to the diatribe of Malebranche against imagination.
The mathematical spirit fostered in France by Descartes forbade all
possibility of a serious consideration of poetry and art. The Italian
Antonio Conti, living in that country and witness of the literary
disputes raging around him, thus describes the French critics (La
Motte, Fontenelle and their followers): "_Ils ont introduit dans les
belles lettres l'esprit et la méthode de M. Descartes; et ils jugent
de la poésie et de l'éloquence indépendamment des qualités sensibles.
De là vient aussi qu'ils confondent le progrès de la philosophie avec
celui des arts. Les modernes, dit l'Abbé Terrasson, sont plus grands
géomètres que les anciens: donc ils sont plus grands orateurs et plus
grands poètes._"[3] The fight against this mathematical spirit in the
matters of art and feeling was still going on in France in the day of
the encyclopædists; the din of the battle was heard in Italy, as is
shown by the writings of Bettinelli and others. At the time when Du Bos
published his daring book there was a counsellor in the parliament of
Bordeaux, Jean-Jacques Bel by name, who composed a dissertation (1726)
against the doctrine that feeling should be the judge of art.[4]

[Sidenote: _Crousaz and André._]

Cartesianism was incapable of an Æsthetic of imagination. The _Traité
du beau_ by the eclectic Cartesian J. P. de Crousaz (1715), maintained
the dependence of beauty not upon pleasure or feeling, matters about
which there can be no difference of opinion, but upon that which can
be _approved_ and therefore reduced to ideas. He enumerates five such
ideas: variety, unity, regularity, order and proportion, observing,
"_La variété tempérée par l'unité, la régularité, l'ordre et la
proportion, ne sont pas assurément des chimères; elles ne sont pas
du ressort de la fantaisie, ce n'est pas le caprice qui en décide_":
for him, that is to say, they were real qualities of the beautiful
founded in nature and truth. He discovered similar characteristics of
the beautiful in the individual beauties of the sciences (geometry,
algebra, astronomy, physics, history), of virtue, eloquence and
religion, finding in each the qualities laid down above.[5] Another
Cartesian, the Jesuit André (1742),[6] distinguished between an
_essential_ beauty, independent of every institution, human and even
divine; a _natural_ beauty, independent of the opinions of mankind;
and, lastly, a beauty to a certain extent _arbitrary_ and of human
invention: the first composed of regularity, order, proportion and
symmetry (here André relied upon Plato and also as an afterthought
brought in St. Augustine's definition): the second having its principal
measure in the light which generates colours (as a good Cartesian,
he took full advantage of Newton's discoveries): the third belonging
to fashion and convention, but never at liberty to violate essential
beauty. Each of these three forms of beauty was subdivided into
_sensible_ beauty pertaining to bodies, and _intelligible_ beauty of

[Sidenote: _The English: Locke, Shaftesbury, Hutcheson and the
Scottish School._]

Like Descartes in France, Locke in England (1690) is an
intellectualist, and recognizes no form of spiritual elaboration save
reflexion on the senses. None the less he takes over from contemporary
literature the distinction between wit and judgement; according to him
the former combines ideas with pleasing variety, discovering their
similarities and relations and thus grouping them into beautiful
pictures which divert and strike the imagination: the latter (judgement
or intellect) seeks dissimilarities, guided by the criterion of truth.
"The mind, without looking any further, rests satisfied with the
agreeableness of the picture, and the gaiety of the fancy; and it is
a kind of an affront to go about to examine it by the severe rules of
truth and good reason; whereby it appears that it consists in something
that is not perfectly conformable to them."[7] England produced
philosophers who developed an abstract and transcendent Æsthetic,
but one more tinged with sensationalism than that of the French
Cartesians. Shaftesbury (1709) raises taste to a sense or instinct for
the beautiful; a sense of order and proportion identical with moral
sense and, with its preconceptions or presentations, anticipating the
recognition of reason. Bodies, spirits, God are the three degrees of
beauty.[8] Lineal descendant of Shaftesbury was Francis Hutcheson
(1723), who succeeded in popularizing the idea of an inward sense of
beauty as something intermediate between sense and reason, and adapted
to distinguish unity in variety, concord in the manifold, the true,
the beautiful and the good in their substantial identity. Hutcheson
maintains that from this sense springs the pleasure we take in art,
in imitation and in the likeness between copy and original: the last
a relative, as distinct from an absolute, beauty.[9] This view on the
whole predominated in England during the eighteenth century and was
adopted by Adam Smith as well as by Reid, head of the Scottish school.

[Sidenote: _Leibniz. Petites perceptions and confused knowledge._]

Much more thoroughly and with much greater philosophical vigour Leibniz
opened the door to that crowd of psychic facts from which Cartesianism
recoiled in horror. In his conception of the real, governed by the law
of continuity (_natura non facit saltus_), presenting an uninterrupted
scale of existence from the lowest beings to God, imagination, taste,
wit and the like found ample room for shelter. The facts now called
æsthetic were identified by Leibniz with Descartes' _confused_
cognition, which might be _clear_ without being _distinct_: scholastic
terms borrowed, it would appear, from Duns Scotus, whose works were
reprinted and widely read in the seventeenth century.[10]

In his _De cognitione, veritate et ideis_ (1684), after dividing
_cognitio_ into _obscura vel clara,_ the _clara_ into _confusa vel
distincta,_ and the _distincta_ into _adaequata vel inadaequata,_ Leibniz
remarks that while painters and other artists are able to judge works
of art very fairly they can give no reason for their decisions, and
if questioned as to the reason of their condemnation of any work
of art, they reply it lacks a _je ne sais quoi_: ("_at iudicii sui
rationem reddere saepe non posse, et quaerenti dicere, se in re, quae
displicet, desiderare nescio quid_").[11] They do possess, in fact,
clear cognition, but confused and not distinct; what we should call
to-day imaginative, not _ratiocinative,_ consciousness: and indeed the
latter does not exist in the case of art. There are things impossible
to define: "_on ne les fait connaître que par des exemples, et, au
reste, il faut dire que c'est un je ne sais quoi, jusqu'à ce qu'on
en déchiffre la contexture_."[12] But these _perceptions confuses
ou sentiments_ have "_plus grande efficacité que l'on ne pense: ce
sont elles qui forment ce je ne sais quoi, ces goûts, ces images
des qualités des sens._"[13] Whence it appears plainly that in his
discussion of these perceptions Leibniz reposes upon the æsthetic
theories we discussed in the preceding chapter; indeed at one point[14]
he mentions Bouhours' book.

[Sidenote: _Intellectualism of Leibniz_]

It might seem that by according _claritas_ and denying _distinctio_
to æsthetic facts Leibniz recognized that their peculiar character is
neither sensuous nor intellectual. He might seem to have distinguished
them by their "_claritas_" from pleasure or sense-motions, and from
intellect by their lack of "_distinctio._" But the "_lex continui_"
and the Leibnitian intellectualism forbid this interpretation. In this
case obscurity and clarity are quantitative degrees of one single
consciousness, distinct or intellectual, towards which both converge
and with which in the extreme case they unite.

To admit that artists judge with confused perceptions, clear but not
distinct, does not involve denying that these perceptions may be
capable of being connected and verified by intellectual consciousness.
The self-same object that is confusedly though clearly recognized by
imagination is recognized clearly and distinctly by the intellect;
which amounts to saying that a work of art may be perfected by being
determined by thought. In the very terminology adopted by Leibniz, who
represents sense and imagination as obscure and confused, there is a
tinge of contempt, as well as the suggestion of a single form of all
cognition. This will help us to understand Leibniz' definition of music
as "_exercitium arithmeticae occultum nescientis se numerare animi._"
Elsewhere he says: "_Le but principal de l'histoire, aussi bien que
de la poésie, doit être d'enseigner la prudence et la vertu par des
exemples, et puis de montrer le vice d'une manière qui en donne
l'aversion et qui porte ou serve à l'éviter._"[15]

The "_claritas_" attributed to æsthetic fact is not specifically
different from, but rather a partial anticipation of, the
"_distinctio_" of intellect. Undoubtedly this distinction of degree
marks a great advance: but careful analysis shows that Leibniz does
not differ fundamentally from those who, by inventing the new words
and empirical distinctions examined above, called attention to the
peculiarities of æsthetic facts.

[Sidenote: _Speculation on language._]

We find the same invincible intellectualism in the speculations on
language greatly in vogue at the time. When critics of the Renaissance
and sixteenth century tried to rise above merely empirical and
practical grammar and strove to reduce grammatical science to a
systematic form, they fell into logicism and described grammatical
forms by such terms as pleonastic, improper, metaphorical or elliptic.
Thus Julius Cæsar Scaliger (1540); thus, too, the most learned of
all, Francisco Sanchez (Sanctius or Sanzio), called Brocense, who, in
his _Minerva_ (1587), asserts that names are attached to things by
reason, exclusive of interjections which are not parts of speech but
merely sounds expressive of joy or sorrow; he denies the existence of
heterogeneous and heteroclitic words, and works out a system of syntax
by means of four figures of construction, proclaiming the principle
"_doctrinam supplendi esse valde necessarium,_" that is to say, that
grammatical diversities must be explained as ellipsis, abbreviation
or omission with reference to the typical logical form.[16] Gaspare
Scioppio follows him exactly, abusing the old grammar with his
accustomed violence and crying up the "Sanctian" method, at that time
still almost unknown, in his _Grammatica philosophica_ (1628).[17]
Amongst critics of the seventeenth century, Jacopo Perizonio must not
be forgotten; he wrote a commentary on Sanchez' book (1687). Amongst
recognized philosophers who studied the philosophy of grammar and
noted the merits and defects of various tongues, we find Bacon.[18] In
1660 Claude Lancelot and Arnauld brought out the _Grammaire générale
et raisonnée de Port-Royal,_ a work applying the intellectualism
of Descartes rigorously to grammatical forms, and dominated by the
doctrine of the artificial nature of language. Locke and Leibniz both
speculated about language,[19] but neither succeeded in creating a
fresh point of view, although the latter did much to provoke inquiry
into the historical origin of languages. All his life Leibniz cherished
the notion of a universal language and of an "_ars characteristica
universalis_" as a combination likely to result in great scientific
discoveries: prior to him, Wilkins had fostered the same hope, nor
indeed, in spite of its utter absurdity, is it even yet wholly extinct.

[Sidenote: _C. Wolff._]

In order to correct the æsthetic ideas of Leibniz it was necessary
to alter the very foundations of his system, the Cartesianism upon
which it rested. This could not be undertaken by disciples of
his own personal school, in whom we notice rather an increase of
intellectualism. Giving scholastic form to the brilliant observations
of the master, Johann Christian Wolff's system began with the theory
of knowledge conceived as an "organon" or instrument, followed by
systems of natural law, ethics and politics, together constituting
the "organon" of practical activity: the remainder was theology
and metaphysics, or pneumatology and physics (doctrine of the soul
and doctrine of phenomenal nature). Although Wolff distinguishes a
productive imagination, ruled by the principle of sufficient reason,
from the merely associative and chaotic,[20] yet a science of
imagination considered as a new theoretical value could find no niche
in his schematism. Knowledge of a lower order, as such, belonged to
Pneumatology and was incapable of possessing its own "organon": at most
it could be brought under the organon already existing, which corrected
and transcended it by means of logical knowledge in the same way in
which Ethics treats the "_facilitas appetitiva inferior._" As in France
the poetics of Boileau corresponded with the philosophy of Descartes,
so in Germany the rationalistic poetics of Gottsched[21] reflect the
Cartesian-Leibnitian theories of Wolff (1729).

[Sidenote: _Demand for an organon of inferior knowledge._]

It was no doubt dimly seen that even in the inferior faculties some
distinction was operative between perfect and imperfect, value and
non-value. A passage in a book (1725) by the Leibnitian Bülffinger
has often been quoted where he says: "_Vellem existerent qui circa
facultatem sentiendi, imaginandi, attendendi, abstrahendi et memoriam
praestarent quod bonus ille Aristoteles, adeo hodie omnibus sordens,
praestitit circa intellectum: hoc est ut in artis formant redigerent
quicquid ad illas in suo usu dirigendas et iuvandas pertinet et
conducid, quem ad modum Aristoteles in Organo logicam sive facultatem
demonstrandi redegit in ordinem._"[22] But on reading the extract in
its context one recognizes at once that the desired organon would have
been merely a series of recipes for strengthening the memory, educating
the attention, and so forth: a technique, in a word, not an æsthetic.
Similar ideas had been spread in Italy by Trevisano (1708), who, by
declaring that the senses might be educated through the mind, asserted
the possibility of an _art of feeling_ which should "endow manners
with prudence and judgement with good taste."[23] We notice, moreover,
that in his day Bülffinger was counted a depreciator of poetry, so
much so that a tract against him was written in order to show that
"poetry does not diminish the faculty of clear conception."[24] Bodmer
and Breitinger were ready "to deduce all the parts of eloquence with
mathematical precision" (1727), and the latter sketched a Logic of
the Imagination (1740) to which he would have assigned the study of
similitudes and metaphors; even had he carried out his project, it
is difficult to see how it could have differed materially, from a
philosophic point of view, from the treatises on the subject written by
the Italian rhetoricians of the seventeenth century.

[Sidenote: _Alexander Baumgarten: his "Æsthetic."_]

These discussions and experiments filled the boyhood and helped to
form the intellect of young Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten of Berlin,
a follower of the philosophy of Wolff and, at the same time, student
and teacher of Latin rhetoric and poetry; these studies led him to
reconsider the problem and search for some method by which the precepts
of rhetoricians could be reduced to a rigorous philosophical system.
On taking his doctor's degree in September 1735, when twenty-one years
old, he published a thesis _Meditationes philosophicae de nonnullis ad
poēma pertinentibus_:[25] in which the word "Æsthetic" appears for the
first time as name of a special science.[26] Baumgarten always remained
much attached to his youthful discovery, and in 1742 when called to
teach at the university of Frankfort-on-the-Oder, and again in 1749,
he gave by request a course of lectures on Æsthetic (_quaedam consilia
dirigendarum facultatum inferiorum novam per acroasin exposuit_).[27]
In 1750 he printed a voluminous treatise wherein the word "Æsthetic"
attained the honours of a title-page;[28] in 1758 he published a more
slender second part: illness and finally death in 1762 prevented him
from completing the work.

[Sidenote: _Æsthetic as science of sensory consciousness._]

What was Æsthetic to Baumgarten? Its objects are sensible facts
(ασθητά), carefully distinguished by the ancients from mental objects
(νοητά);[29] hence it becomes _scientia cognitionis sensitivae, theoria
liberalium artium, gnoseologia inferior, ars pulcre cogitandi, ars
analogi rationis_[30] Rhetoric and Poetry constitute two special
and interdependent disciplines which are entrusted by Æsthetic with
the distinction between the various styles in literature and other
small differences,[31] for the laws she herself investigates are
diffused throughout all the arts like guiding-stars for these various
subsidiary arts (_quasi cynosura quaedam specialium_)[32] and must be
extracted not from isolated cases only, or from incomplete induction
empirically, but from the totality of facts (_falsa regula peior est
quant nulla._)[33] Nor must Æsthetic be confounded with Psychology,
which furnishes its presuppositions only; an independent science, it
gives the norm of sensitive cognition (_sensitive quid cognoscendi_)
and deals with "_perfectio cognitionis sensitivae, qua talis,_" which is
beauty (_pulcritudo)_, just as the opposite, imperfection, is ugliness
(_deformitas_)[34] From the beauty of sensitive cognition (_pulcritudo
cognitionis_) we must exclude the beauty of objects and matter
(_pulcritudo obiectorum et materiae_) with which it is often confused
owing to habits of language, since it is easy to show that ugly things
may be thought of in a beautiful manner and beautiful things in an
ugly manner (_quacum ob receptam rei significationem saepe sed male
confunditur; possunt turpia pulcre cogitare ut talia, et pulcriora
turpiter_).[35] Poetical representations are confused or imaginative:
distinctness, that is intellect, is not poetical. The greater the
determination, the greater the poetry; individuals "_omnimode
determinata_" are highly poetical; poetical also are images or
phantasms as well as all that appertains to the senses.[36] That which
judges sensible or imaginary presentations is taste, or "_indicium
sensuum._" These, in brief, are the truths displayed by Baumgarten in
his _Meditationes_ and, with many distinctions and examples, in his

[Sidenote: _Cricisism of judgements based on Baumgarten._]

Nearly all German critics[38] are of opinion that from his own
conception of Æsthetic as the science of sensitive cognition Baumgarten
should have evolved a species of inductive Logic. But he can be cleared
of this accusation: a better philosopher, perhaps, than his critics,
he held that an inductive Logic must always be intellectual, since
it leads to abstractions and the formation of concepts. The relation
existing between "_cognitio confusa_" and the poetical and artistic
facts which belong to the realm of taste had been shown before his
day, by Leibniz: neither he nor Wolff nor any other of their school
ever dreamed of transforming a treatment of the "_cognitio confusa_"
or "_petites perceptions_" into an inductive Logic. On the other hand,
as a kind of compensation, these critics attribute to Baumgarten
a merit he cannot claim, at least to the extent implied by their
praises. According to them, he effected a revolution by converting[39]
Leibniz' differences of degree or quantitative distinctions into a
specific difference, and turning confused knowledge into something no
longer negative but positive[40] by attributing a "_perfectio_" to
sensitive cognition _qua talis_; and by thus destroying the unity of
the Leibnitian monad and breaking up the law of continuity, founded
the science of Æsthetic. Had he really accomplished such a giant
stride, his claim to the title of "father of Æsthetic" would have
been placed beyond question. But, in order to win this appellation,
Baumgarten ought to have been successful in unravelling all those
contradictions in which he was involved no less than Leibniz and all
intellectualists. It is not enough to posit a "_perfectio_"; even
Leibniz did that when he attributed _claritas_ to confused cognition,
which, when devoid of clearness, remains obscure, that is to say,
imperfect. It was imperative that this perfection "_qua talis_" should
be upheld against the "_lex continui,_" and kept uncontaminated by any
intellectualistic admixture. Otherwise he was bound to fall back into
the pathless labyrinth of the "probable" which is and is not false,
of the wit which is and is not intellect, of the taste which is and
is not intellectual judgement, of the imagination and feeling which
are and are not sensibility and material pleasure. And in that case,
notwithstanding the new name: notwithstanding (as we freely admit) the
greater insistence than that of Leibniz upon the sensible nature of
poetry, Æsthetic, as a science, would not have been born.

[Sidenote: _Intellectualism of Baumgarten._]

Now Baumgarten overcame none of the obstacles above mentioned.
Unprejudiced and continued study of his works forces one to this
conclusion. Already in his _Meditationes_ he does not seem able to
distinguish clearly between imagination and intellect, confused and
distinct cognition. The law of continuity leads him to set up a scale
of more and less: amongst cognitions, the obscure are less poetical
than the confused; the distinct are not poetical, but even those
of the higher kinds (that is the distinct and intellectual) are to
a certain extent poetical in proportion as they are lower in their
nature; compound concepts are more poetical than simple; those of
larger comprehension are "_extensive clariores._"[41] In the _Æsthetic_
Baumgarten expounds his thought more fully and thereby exposes its
defects. If the introduction of the book leads one to believe that he
sees æsthetic truth to consist in consciousness of the individual,
the belief is shattered by the explanations which follow. As a good
objectivist he asserts that truth in the metaphysical sense has its
counterpart in the soul, namely, subjective truth, logical truth in a
wide sense, or æsthetico-logical.[42] And the complete truth lies not
in the genus or species, but in the individual. The genus is true,
the species more true, the individual most true.[43] Formal logical
truth is acquired "_cum iactura,_" by jettisoning much great material
perfection: "_quid enim est abstractio, si iactura non est?_"[44]
So much being granted, logical truth differs from æsthetic in this:
metaphysical or objective truth is presented now to the intellect,
when it is logical truth in a narrow sense; now to the analogy of
reason and the lower cognitive faculties, when it is æsthetic;[45]
a lesser truth in exchange for the greater which man is not always
able to attain, thanks to the "_malum metaphysicum._"[46] Thus moral
truths are comprehended in one fashion by a comic poet, in another
by a moral philosopher; an eclipse is described in one way by an
astronomer and in another by a shepherd speaking to his friends or
his sweetheart.[47] Universals even are accessible, in part at least,
to the inferior faculty.[48] Take the case of two philosophers, a
dogmatic and a sceptic, arguing, with an æsthete listening to them. If
the arguments of either party are so balanced that the hearer cannot
determine which is true and which false, this appearance is to him
æsthetic truth: if one adversary succeed in overbearing the other
so that one argument is shown clearly to be wrong, the error just
revealed is likewise æsthetic[49] falsity. Truths strictly æsthetic are
(and this is the decisive point) those which appear neither entirely
true nor entirely false: probable truths. "_Talia autem de quibus
non complete quidem certi sumus, neque tamen falsitatem aliquam in
iisdem appercipimus, sunt verisimilia. Est ergo veritas æsthetica,
a potiori dicta verisimilitudo, ille veritatis gradus, qui, etiamsi
non evectus sit ad completam certitudinem, tamen nihil contineat
falsitatis observabilis._"[50] And especially the immediate sequel:
"_Cujus habent spectator es auditor esve intra animum quum vident
audiuntve, quasdam anticipationes, quod plerumque fit, quod fieri
solet, quod in opinione positum est, quod habet ad haec in se quandam
similitudinem, sive id falsum (logice et latissime), sive verum
sit (logice et strictissime), quod non sit facile a nostris sensibus
abhorrens: hoc illud_ est εἰκός _et verisimile quod, Aristotele et
Cicerone assentiente, sectetur æstheticus._"[51] The probable embraces
that which is true and certain to the intellect and the senses, that
which is certain to the senses but not to the intellect, that which
is probable logically and æsthetically, or logically improbable but
æsthetically probable, or, finally, æsthetically improbable but on the
whole probable or that whose improbability is not evident.[52] So we
reach the admission of the impossible and absurd, the _αδύνατον_ and
_ἄτοπον_ of Aristotle.

If after reading these paragraphs, highly important as revealing the
true thought of Baumgarten, we turn once more to the Introduction to
his work, we notice at once his commonplace and erroneous conception of
the poetic faculty. To a friend who suggested that there was no need
for him to concern himself with confused or inferior consciousness both
because "_confusio mater erroris_" and because "_facilitate inferior
es, caro, debellandae potius sunt quam excitandae et confirmandae,_"
Baumgarten replied that confusion is a condition wherein to find truth:
that nature makes no sudden leap from obscurity to clarity: that
noonday light is reached from night time through the dawn (_ex node per
auroram meridies_): that in the case of the inferior faculties a guide,
not a tyrant, is needed (_imperium in facilitates inferiores poscitur,
non tyrannis_).[53] This is still the attitude of Leibniz, Trevisano
and Bülffinger. Baumgarten is terrified lest he should be accused of
treating subjects unworthy a philosopher. "_Quousque tandem_" (says he
to himself), "dost thou, professor of theoretic and moral philosophy,
dare to praise lies and mixtures of true and false as though they were
noble works?"[54] And if there is one thing above all others from
which he is anxious to guard himself it is sensualism, unbridled and
non-moralized. The sensitive perfection of Cartesianism and Wolffianism
was liable to be confused with simple pleasure, with the feeling of
the perfection of our organism:[55] but Baumgarten falls into no such
confusion. When in 1745 one Quistorp combated his æsthetic theory by
saying that if poetry consisted in sensuous perfection it was a thing
hurtful to men, Baumgarten answered disdainfully that he did not expect
he should ever find time to reply to a critic of such calibre as to
mistake his "_oratio perfecta sensitiva_" for an "_oratio perfecte_
(that is _omnino) sensitiva._"[56]

[Sidenote: _New names and old meanings._]

Save in its title and its first definitions Baumgarten's _Æsthetic_ is
covered with the mould of antiquity and commonplace. We have seen that
he refers back to Aristotle and Cicero for the first principles of his
science; in another instance he attaches his Æsthetic to the Rhetoric
of antiquity, quoting the truth enunciated by Zeno the Stoic, "_esse
duo cogitandi genera, alterum perpetuum et latius, quod Rhetorices sit,
alterum concisum et contractius, quod Dialectices,_" and identifying
the former with the æsthetic horizon, the latter with the logical.[57]
In his _Meditationes_ he rests upon Scaliger and Vossius;[58] of
modern writers beside the philosophers (Leibniz, Wolff, Bülffinger)
he quotes Gottsched, Arnold,[59] Werenfels, Breitinger[60]; by means
of these latter he is able to make acquaintance with discussions upon
taste and imagination, even without direct acquaintance with Addison
and Du Bos, as well as the Italians, whose writings had immense vogue
in Germany in his day, and with whom his resemblances leap to the
eye. Baumgarten always feels himself to be in perfect accord with his
predecessors; never at variance with them. He never felt himself to
be a revolutionary; and though some have been revolutionaries without
knowing it, Baumgarten was not one of them. Baumgarten's works are but
another presentation of the problem of Æsthetic still clamouring for
solution in a voice so much the stronger as it uttered a commonplace:
he proclaims a new science and presents it in conventional scholastic
form; the babe about to be born receives the name of Æsthetic by
premature baptism at his hands: and the name remains. But the new name
is devoid of new matter; the philosophical armour covers no muscular
body. Our good Baumgarten, full of ardour and conviction, and often
curiously brisk and vivacious in his scholastic Latinism, is a most
sympathetic and attractive figure in the history of Æsthetic: of the
science in formation, that is to say, not of the science brought to
completion: of Æsthetic _condenda_ not _condita._

[1] Letters to Balzac and the Princess Elizabeth.

[2] _Art poétique_ (1669-1674).

[3] Letters to Marquis Maffei, about 1720, in _Prose e poesie,_ Venice,
1756, ii. p. cxx.

[4] Sulzer, _op. cit._ i. p. 50.

[5] _Traité du beau_ (2nd ed., Amsterdam, 1724; Paris ed., 1810).

[6] _Essai sur le beau,_ Paris, 1741.

[7] _An Essay concerning Human Understanding_ (French trans. in
_Œuvres,_ Paris, 1854), bk. ii. ch. 11, § 2.

[8] _Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times,_ 1709-1711.

[9] _Enquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue,_
London, 1723.

[10] See above, p. 179.

[11] _Opera philosophica_ (ed. Erdmann), p. 78.

[12] _Ibid,_ preface.

[13] _Nouveaux Essais,_ ii. ch. 22.

[14] _Op. cit._ ii. ch. 11.

[15] _Essais de Théodicée,_ part. ii. § 148.

[16] Francisci Sanctii, _Minerva seu de causis linguæ latinæ
commentarius,_ 1587 (ed. with add. by Gaspare Scioppio, Padua, 1663);
cf. bk. i. chs. 2, 9, and bk. iv.

[17] Gasperis Sciopii, _Grammatica philosophica,_ Milan, 1628 (Venice,

[18] _De dignitate,_ etc., bk. vi. ch. i.

[19] Locke, _Essay,_ etc., bk. lii.; Leibniz, _Nouveaux Essais,_ bk.

[20] _Psychol. empirica_ (Frankfurt and Leipzig, 1738), §§ 138-172.

[21] Joh. Chr. Gottsched, _Versuch einer critischen Dichtkunst,_
Leipzig, 1729.

[22] _Dilucidationes philosophicæ de Deo, anima humana et mundo,_ 1725
(Tübingen, 1768), § 268.

[23] Preface to _Rifless. sul gusto, ed. cit._ p. 75.

[24] Borinski, _Poetik d. Renaiss._ p. 380 note.

[25] Halæ Magdeburgicæ, 1735 (reprinted, ed. B. Croce, Naples, 1900).

[26] _Med._ § 116.

[27] _Æsthetica,_ i. pref.

[28] _Æsthetica. Scripsit_ Alex. Gottlieb Baumgarten, _Prof.
Philosoph., Traiecti eis Viadrum, Impens. Ioannis Christiani Kleyb,_
1750; 2nd part, 1758.

[29] _Med._ § 116.

[30] _Æsth._ § i.

[31] _Med.%_ 117.

[32] _Æsth._ § 71.

[33] _Ibid._ § 53.

[34] _Med._ § 115.

[35] _Æsth._ § 14.

[36] _Ibid._ § 18.

[37] _Med._ § 92.

[38] Ritter, _Gesch. d. Philos._ (Fr. trans., _Hist, de la phil. mod._
iii. p. 365); Zimmermann, _Gesch. d. Æsth._ p. 168; J. Schmidt, _L. u.
B._ p. 48.

[39] Danzel, _Gottsched,_ p. 218; Meyer, _L. u. B._ pp. 35-38.

[40] Schmidt, _op. cit._ p. 44.

[41] _Med._ §§ 19, 20, 23.

[42] _Æsth._ § 424.

[43] _Op. cit._ § 441.

[44] _Op. cit._ § 560.

[45] _Æsth._ § 424.

[46] _Op. cit._ § 557.

[47] _Op. cit._ §§ 425, 429.

[48] _Op. cit._ § 443.

[49] _Op. cit._ § 448.

[50] _Op. cit._ § 483.

[51] _Op. cit._ § 484.

[52] _Æsth._ §§ 485, 486.

[53] _Op. cit._ §§ 7, 12.

[54] _Op. cit._ § 478.

[55] Cf. Wolff, Psych, empir. § 511, and the passage there quoted from
Descartes; also §§ 542, 550.

[56] Th. Joh. Quistorp, in _Neuen Bücher-Saal,_ 1745, fasc. 5; _Erweis
dass die Poesie schon für sie selbst ihre Liebhaber leichtlich
unglücklich machen könne_; and A. G. Baumgarten, _Metaphysica,_ 2nd
ed., 1748, preface; cf. Danzel, _Gottsched,_ pp. 215, 221.

[57] _Æsth._ § 122.

[58] _Med._ § 9.

[59] _Op. cit._ §§ 111, 113.

[60] _Æsth._ § 11.



[Sidenote: _Vico as inventor of æsthetic science._]

The real revolutionary who by putting aside the concept of probability
and conceiving imagination in a novel manner actually discovered the
true nature of poetry and art and, so to speak, invented the science of
Æsthetic, was the Italian Giambattista Vico.

Ten years prior to the publication in Germany of Baumgarten's first
treatise, there had appeared in Naples (1725) the first _Scienza
nuova,_ which developed ideas on the nature of poetry outlined in
a former work (1721), _De constantia iurisprudentis,_ outcome of
"twenty-five years' continuous and harsh meditation."[1] In 1730 Vico
republished it with fresh developments which gave rise to two special
books (_Della sapienza poetica_ and _Della discoperta del vero Omero_)
in the second _Scienza Nuova._ Nor did he ever tire of repeating his
views and forcing them upon the attention of his hostile contemporaries
at every opportunity, seizing such occasion even in prefaces and
letters, poems on the occasion of weddings or funerals, and in such
press notices as fell to his duty as public censor of literature.

And what were these ideas? Neither more nor less, we may say, than
the solution of the problem stated by Plato, attacked but not solved
by Aristotle, and again vainly attacked during the Renaissance and
afterwards: is poetry rational or irrational, spiritual or brutal?
and, if spiritual, what is its special nature and what distinguishes
it from history and science?

As we know, Plato confined it within the baser part of the soul, the
animal spirits. Vico re-elevates it and makes of it a period in the
history of humanity: and since history for him means an ideal history
whose periods consist not of contingent facts but of forms of the
spirit, he makes it a moment in the ideal history of the spirit, a form
of consciousness. Poetry precedes intellect, but follows sense; through
confusing it with the latter, Plato failed to grasp the position it
should really occupy and banished it from his Republic. "Men at first
feel without being aware; next they become aware with a perturbed and
agitated soul; finally they reflect with an undisturbed mind. This
Aphorism is the Principle of poetical sentences which are formed by the
sense of passions and affections; differing thereby from philosophical
sentences which are formed by reflexion through ratiocination; whence
the latter approach more nearly to truth the more they rise towards
the universal, while the former have more of certainty the more they
approach the individual."[2] An imaginative phase of consciousness, but
one possessed of positive value.

[Sidenote: _Poetry and Philosophy: imagination and intellect._]

The imaginative phase is altogether independent and autonomous with
respect to the intellectual, which is not only incapable of endowing
it with any fresh perfection but can only destroy it. "The studies of
Metaphysics and Poetry are in natural opposition one to the other;
for the former purges the mind of childish prejudice and the latter
immerses and drowns it in the same: the former offers resistance to
the judgement of the senses, while the latter makes this its chief
rule: the former debilitates, the latter strengthens, imagination: the
former prides itself in not turning spirit into body, the latter does
its utmost to give a body to spirit: hence the thoughts of the former
must necessarily be abstract, while the concepts of the latter show
best when most clothed with matter: to sum up, the former strives that
the learned may know the truth of things stripped of all passion: the
latter that the vulgar may act truly by means of intense excitement
of the senses, without which stimulant they assuredly would not act
at all. Hence from all time, in all languages known to man, never has
there been a strong man equally great as metaphysician and poet: such a
poet as Homer, father and prince of poetry."[3] Poets are the senses,
philosophers the intellect, of mankind.[4] Imagination is "stronger in
proportion as reason is weaker."[5]

No doubt "reflexion" may be put in verse; but it does not become poetry
thereby. "Abstract sentences belong to philosophers, since they contain
universals; and reflexions concerning such passions are made by poets
who are false and frigid."[6] Those poets "who sing of the beauty and
virtue of ladies by reflexion ... are philosophers arguing in verses
or in love-rhymes."[7] One set of ideas belongs to philosophers,
another to poets: these latter are identical with those of painters,
from which "they differ only in colours and words."[8] Great poets are
born not in epochs of reflexion but in those of imagination, generally
called barbarous: Homer, in the barbarism of antiquity: Dante in that
of the Middle Ages, the "second barbarism of Italy."[9] Those who have
chosen to read philosophic reason into the verse of the great father
of Greek poetry have transferred the character of a later age into
an earlier, since the era of poets precedes that of philosophers and
countries in infancy were sublime poets. Poetic locutions arose before
prose, "by the necessity of nature" not "by caprice of pleasure";
fables or imaginative universals were conceived before reasoned, _i.e._
philosophical universals.[10]

With these observations Vico justified and at the same time corrected
the opinion of Plato in the _Republic,_ denying to Homer wisdom, every
kind of wisdom; the legislative of Lycurgus and Solon, the philosophic
of Thales, Anacharsis and Pythagoras, the strategic of military
commanders.[11] To Homer (he says) belongs wisdom, undoubtedly, but
poetic wisdom only: the Homeric images and comparisons derived from
wild beasts and the elements of savage nature are incomparable; but
"such success does not spring from talent imbued with domesticity and
civilized with any philosophy."[12]

When anybody takes to writing poetry in an era of reflexion, it is
because he is returning to childhood and "putting his mind in fetters";
no longer reflecting with his intellect, he follows imagination
and loses himself in the particular. If a true poet dallies with
philosophical ideas, it is not "that he may assimilate them and dismiss
imagination," but merely "that he may have them in front of him, to
examine as though on a stage or public platform."[13] The New Comedy
which made its appearance after Socrates is undeniably impregnated with
philosophic ideas, with intellectual universals, with "intelligible
kinds of human conduct"; but its authors were poets in so far only as
they knew how to transform logic into imagination and their ideas into

[Sidenote: _Poetry and History._]

The dividing line between art and science, imagination and intellect,
is here very strongly drawn: the two distinct activities are repeatedly
contrasted with a sharpness that leaves no room for confusion. The
line of demarcation between poetry and history is hardly less firm.
While not quoting Aristotle's passage, Vico implicitly shows why
poetry seemed to Aristotle more philosophical than history, and at
the same time he dispels the erroneous opinion that history concerns
the particular and poetry the universal. Poetry joins hands with
science not because it consists in the contemplation of concepts but
because, like science, it is ideal. The most beautiful poetic story
must be "wholly ideal": "by means of idea, the poet breathes reality
into things otherwise unreal; masters of poetry claim that their art
must be wholly compact of imagination, like a painter of the ideal,
not imitative like a portrait-painter: whence, from their likeness to
God the Creator, poets and painters alike are called divine."[15] And
against those who blame poets for telling stories which, they say, are
untrue, Vico protests: "The best stories are those approximating most
nearly to ideal truth, the eternal truth of God: it is immeasurably
more certain than the truth of historians who often bring into play
caprice, necessity or fortune; but such a Captain as, for instance,
Tasso's Godfrey is the type of a captain of all times, of all nations,
and so are all personages of poetry, whatever difference there may be
in sex, age, temperament, custom, nation, republic, grade, condition
or fortune; they are nothing save the eternal properties of the human
soul, rationally discussed by politicians, economists and moral
philosophers, and painted as portraits by the poet."[16] Referring
to an observation made by Castelvetro, and approving it in part, to
the effect that if poetry is a presentiment of the possible it should
be preceded by history, imitation of the real, yet finding himself
confronted by the difficulty that, nevertheless, poets invariably
precede historians, Vico solves the problem by identifying history
with poetry: primitive history was poetry, its plot was narration of
fact, and Homer was the first historian; or rather "he was a heroic
character amongst Greek men, in so far as they poetically narrated
their own history."[17] Poetry and history, therefore, are originally
identical; or rather, undifferentiated. "But inasmuch as it is not
possible to give false ideas, since falsity arises from an embroiled
combination of ideas, so is it impossible to give a tradition, however
fabulous, that has not had, at the beginning, a basis of truth."[18]
Hence we gain an entirely new insight into mythology: it is no longer
an arbitrary calculated invention, but a spontaneous vision of truth
as it presented itself to the spirit of primitive man. Poetry gives an
imaginative vision; science or philosophy intelligible truth; history
the consciousness of certitude.

[Sidenote: _Poetry and language._]

Language and poetry are, in Vico's estimation, substantially the same.
In refuting the "vulgar error of grammarians" who maintain the priority
of the birth of prose over that of verse, he finds "within the origin
of Poetry, so far as it has been herein discovered," the "origin of
languages and the origin of letters."[19] This discovery was made by
Vico after "toil as disagreeable and overwhelming as we should undergo
had we to strip off our own nature and enter into that of the primæval
men of Hobbes, Grotius, or Puffendorf; creatures possessing no language
at all, by whom were created the languages of the ancient world."[20]
But his painful labour was richly repaid by his refutation of the
erroneous theory that languages sprang from convention or, as he said,
"signified at will," whereas it is evident that "from their natural
origin words must have had natural meanings; this is plainly seen
in common Latin ... wherein almost all words have arisen by natural
necessity, either from natural properties or from their sensible
effects; and in general, metaphor forms the bulk of language in the
case of every people."[21] This argument strikes a blow at another
common error of the grammarians, "that the language of prose writers
is correct, that of poets incorrect."[22] The poetic tropes grouped
under the heading of metonymy seem to Vico to be "born of the nature
of primitive peoples, not of capricious selection by men skilled in
poetic art";[23] stories told "by means of similitudes, imagery and
comparisons," result "from lack of the genera and species required to
define things with propriety," and "are therefore, by reason of natural
necessities, common to entire peoples."[24] The earliest languages
must have consisted of "dumb gestures and objects which had natural
connexions with the ideas to be expressed."[25] He observes very
acutely that to these figurate languages belong not only hieroglyphics
but the emblems, knightly bearings, devices and blazons which he calls
"mediæval hieroglyphics."[26] In the barbarous Middle Ages "Italy was
forced to fall back on the mute language ... of the earliest gentile
nations in which men, before discovering articulate speech, were
obliged like mutes to use actions or objects having natural connexions
with the ideas, which at that time must have been exceedingly sensuous,
of the things which they wished to signify; such expressions, clad in
almost vocal words, must have had all the lively expressiveness of
poetic diction." [27] Hence arise three kinds or phases of language:
dumb show, the language of the gods; heraldic language, or that of the
heroes; and spoken language. Vico also looked forward to a universal
system of etymology, a "dictionary of mental words common to all

[Sidenote: _Inductive and formalistic_]

A man with ideas of this sort about imagination, language and poetry
could not say he was satisfied with formalistic and verbal Logic,
whether Aristotelian or scholastic. The human mind (says Vico) "makes
use of intellect when from things which it feels by sense it gathers
something that does not fall under sense: this is the true meaning
of the Latin _intelligere_."[28] In a rapid outline of the history
of Logic, Vico wrote: "Aristotle came and taught the syllogism, a
method more suited to expound universals in their particulars than to
unite particulars by the discovery of universals: then came Zeno with
his sorites, which corresponds with modern philosophic methods and
refines, without sharpening, the wits; and no advantage whatever was
reaped from either by mankind at large. With great reason, therefore,
does Verulam, equally eminent as politician and philosopher, propound,
commend and illustrate induction in his Organum: he is followed by the
English with excellent results to experimental philosophy."[29] From
this source is derived his criticism of mathematics, which have always,
but especially in his day, been considered as the type of perfect

[Sidenote: Vico opposed to all formal theories of poetry.]

In all this, Vico is not only a thorough revolutionary, but is quite
conscious of being so: he knows himself to be in opposition to all
previous theories on the subject. He says that his new principles of
poetry "are wholly opposed to, and not merely different from, all which
have been imagined from the time of Plato and his disciple Aristotle
to Patrizzi, Scaliger and Castelvetro among the moderns; poetry is now
discovered to have been the first language used by all nations alike,
even the Hebrew."[30] In another passage he says that by his theories
"is overthrown all that has ever been said of the origin of poetry,
beginning from Plato and Aristotle, right down to our own Patrizzi,
Scaliger and Castelvetro; and it is found that poetry arising through
defect of human ratiocination is as sublime as any which owes its
being to the later rise of philosophy and the arts of composition and
criticism; indeed, that these later sources never gave rise to any
poetry that could equal, far less surpass it."[31] In the Autobiography
he boasts of having discovered "other principles of poetry than those
found by Greeks and Latins and all others from those times down to the
present day; on these are founded other views on mythology."[32]

These ancient principles of poetry "laid down first by Plato and
confirmed by Aristotle" had been the anticipation or prejudice which
had misled all writers on poetic reason (among whom he cites Jacopo
Mazzoni). Statements "even of most serious philosophers such as
Patrizzi and others" upon the origin of song and verse are so inept
that he "blushes even to mention them."[33] It is curious to see him
annotating the _Ars Poetica_ of Horace, with a view to finding some
plausible sense in it by applying the principles of the _Scienza

It is probable that he was familiar with the writings of Muratori
among contemporaries, for he quotes him by name, and of Gravina, who
was a personal acquaintance; but if he read the _Perfetta Poesia_ and
the _Forza della fantasia_ he could not have been satisfied by the
treatment meted out to the faculty of imagination, so highly valued
and respected by himself; and if Gravina influenced him at all it must
have been by provoking him to contradiction. In this latter (if not
directly in such French writers as Le Bossu) he may have met with the
fallacy of regarding Homer as a repository of wisdom, a fallacy which
he combated with vigour and pertinacity. In his estimation, among the
gravest faults of the Cartesians was their inability to appreciate the
world of imagination and poetry. Of his own times he complained they
were "benumbed by analytical methods and by a philosophy which sought
to deaden every faculty of soul which reached it through the body,
especially that of imagination, now held to be mother of all human
error": times "of a wisdom which freezes the generous soul of the best
poetry," and prevents all understanding of it.[35]

[Sidenote: _Judgments of grammarians and linguists who preceded him_]

It is just the same with the theory of language. "The manner of birth
and the nature of languages has been the cause of much painful toil
and meditation: nor, from the _Cratylus_ of Plato, in which in our
other works we have falsely delighted and believed" (he alludes to
the doctrine followed by him in his own first book, _De antiquissima
Italorum sapientia_), "down to Wolfgang Latius, Julius Cæsar Scaliger,
Francisco Sanchez and others, can we find anything to satisfy our
understanding; so much that in discussing matters of this kind Signor
Giovanni Clerico says there is nothing in philology involved in such a
maze of doubt and difficulty."[36] The chief grammarian-philosophers do
not escape criticism. Grammar, says he, lays down rules for speaking
correctly: Logic for speaking truly; "and since in the order of
nature we must speak truly before learning to speak correctly, Giulio
Cesare della Scala, followed by the best grammarians, employs all his
magnificent energy to reason to the causes of the Latin language from
the principles of logic. But his great design ended in failure for this
reason, that he attached himself to the logical principles of a single
philosopher, namely Aristotle, whose principles are too universal to
explain the almost infinite particulars which naturally beset him who
would reason concerning a language. Whence it happened that Francisco
Sanchez, who followed him with admirable zeal, attempting in his
_Minerva_ to explain the innumerable particles which are found in
Latin by his famous principle of ellipsis, and trying thereby, though
without success, to vindicate the logical principles of Aristotle, fell
into the most cumbrous clumsinesses among an almost innumerable host
of Latin phrases whereby he meant to make good the slight and subtle
omissions employed by Latin in expressing its meaning."[37] The origin
of parts of speech and syntax is wholly different from that assigned
to them by folk who fancied that "the people who invented language
must first have gone to school to Aristotle."[38] The same criticism
undoubtedly must have extended to the logico-grammarians of Port-Royal,
for Vico remarked that the Logic of Arnauld was built "on the same plan
as that of Aristotle."[39]

[Sidenote: _Influence of seventeenth century writers on Vico._]

It may well be granted that Vico was more in sympathy with the
seventeenth-century rhetoricians, in whom we have detected a
premonition of æsthetic science. For Vico, as for them, wit (referring
to imagination and memory) was "the father of all invention": judgement
concerning poetry was for him a "judgement of the senses," a phrase
equivalent to "taste" or "good taste," expressions never used by him
in this connexion. There is no doubt he was familiar with the writers
of treatises on wit and conceits, for, in a dry rhetorical manual
written for the use of his school (in which one looks in vain for a
shadow of his own personal ideas), he quotes Paolo Beni, Pellegrini,
Pallavicino and the Marquis Orsi.[40] He highly esteems Pallavicini's
treatise on _Style_ and has knowledge of the book _Del bene_ by the
same author;[41] perhaps too his mind was not unaffected by the flash
of genius which had enabled the Jesuit for one instant to perceive that
poetry consists of "first apprehensions." He does not name Tesauro, but
there is no doubt he knew him; indeed the _Scienza nuova_ includes a
section, besides that on poetry, upon "blazons," "knightly bearings,"
"military banners," "medals," and so forth, precisely similar in
method to that of Tesauro when he treats of" figurate conceits" in
his _Cannochiale aristotelico_.[42] For Tesauro such conceits are
merely metaphorical ingenuities, like any other; for Vico they are
wholly the work of imagination, for imagination expresses itself not
in words only, but in the "mute language" of lines and colours. He
knew something also of Leibniz; the great German and Newton were by
him described as" the greatest wits of the time"[43]; but he seems to
have remained in complete ignorance of the æsthetic attempts of the
Leibnitian school in Germany. His "Logic of poetry" was a discovery
independent of, and earlier than, Bülffinger's Organon of the inferior
faculties, the _Gnoseologia inferior_ of Baumgarten, and the _Logik
der Einbildungskraft_ of Breitinger. In truth, Vico belongs on one
side to the vast Renaissance reaction against formalism and scholastic
verbalism, which, beginning with the reaffirmation of experience and
sensation (Telesio, Campanella, Galileo, Bacon), was bound to go on by
reasserting the function of imagination in individual and social life:
on the other side he is a precursor of Romanticism.

[Sidenote: _Æsthetic in the "Scienza nuova."_]

The importance of Vico's new poetic theory in his thought as a whole
as well as in the organism of his _Scienza nuova_ has never been fully
appreciated, and the Neapolitan philosopher is still commonly regarded
as the inventor of the Philosophy of History. If by such a science is
meant the attempt to deduce concrete history by ratiocination and to
treat epochs and events as if they were concepts, the only result of
Vico's efforts to solve the problem could have been failure; and the
same is true of his many successors. The fact is that his philosophy of
history, his ideal history, his _Scienza nuova d' intorno alia comune
natura delle nazioni,_ does not concern the concrete empirical history
which unfolds itself in time: it is not history, it is a science of the
ideal, a Philosophy of the Spirit. That Vico made many discoveries in
history proper which have been to a great extent confirmed by modern
criticism (_e.g._ on the development of the Greek epic and the nature
and genesis of feudal society in antiquity and in the Middle Ages)
certainly deserves all emphasis; but this side of his work must be kept
distinctly apart from the other, strictly philosophical, side. And
if the philosophical part is a doctrine expounding the ideal moments
of the spirit, or in his own words "the modifications of our human
mind," of these moments or modifications Vico undertakes especially
to define and fully describe not the logical, ethical and economic
moments (though on these too he throws much fight), but precisely the
imaginative or poetic. The larger portion of the second _Scienza nuova_
hinges on the discovery of the creative imagination, including the "new
principles of Poetry," the observations on the nature of language,
mythology, writing, symbolic figures and so forth. All his "system
of civilization, of the Republic, of laws, of poetry, of history, in
a word, of humanity at large" is founded upon this discovery, which
constitutes the novel point of view at which Vico places himself. The
author himself observes that his second book, dedicated to Poetic
Wisdom, "wherein is made a discovery totally opposed to Verulam's,"
forms "nearly the whole body of the work"; but the first and third
books also deal almost exclusively with works of the imagination. It
might be maintained, therefore, that Vico's "New Science" was really
just Æsthetic; or at least the Philosophy of the Spirit with special
emphasis upon the Philosophy of the Æsthetic Spirit.

[Sidenote: _Vico's mistakes._]

Among so many luminous points, or rather in such a general blaze of
light, there are yet dark nooks in his mind; corners that remain in
shadow. By not maintaining a rigid distinction between concrete history
and the philosophy of the spirit, Vico allowed himself to suggest
historical periods which do not correspond with the real periods, but
are rather allegories, the mythological expression of his philosophy
of the spirit. From the same source arises the multiplicity of those
periods (usually three in number) which Vico finds in the history of
civilization in general, in poetry and language and practically every
subject. "The first peoples, who were the children of the human race,
founded first the world of the arts: next, after a long interval, the
philosophers, who were therefore the aged among nations, founded the
world of the sciences: with which humanity attained completion."[44]
Historically, understood in an approximate sense, this scheme of
evolution has some truth; but only an approximate truth. In consequence
of the same confusion of history and philosophy he denied primitive
peoples any kind of intellectual logic, and conceived not only their
physics, cosmology, astronomy and geography as poetic in character, but
their morals, their economy and their politics as well. But not only
has there never been a period in concrete human history entirely poetic
and ignorant of all abstraction or power of reasoning, but such a state
cannot even be conceived. Morals, politics, physics, all presuppose
intellectual work, however imperfect they may be. The ideal priority of
poetry cannot be materialized into a historical period of civilization.

Linked with this error is another into which Vico often falls when
he asserts that "the chief aim of poetry" is to "teach the ignorant
vulgar to act virtuously" and to "invent fables adapted with the
popular understanding capable of producing strong emotion."[45]
Having regard to the clear explanations he himself gave of the
inessentiality of abstractions and intellectual artifice in poetry;
when we remember that for him poetry makes her own rules for herself
without consulting anybody, and that he clearly established the
peculiar theoretical nature of the imagination, such a proposition
cannot be taken as a return to the pedagogic and heteronomous theory
of poetry which in substance he had left far behind: therefore,
without doubt, it follows from his historical hypothesis of a wholly
poetical epoch of civilization, in which education, science and
morality were administered by poets. Another consequence is that
"imaginative universals" are apparently sometimes understood by him as
imperfect universals (empirical or representative concepts as they were
subsequently called); although, on the other hand, individualization
is so marked in them and their unphilosophical nature so accentuated
that their interpretation as purely imaginative forms may be taken
as normal. In conclusion, we remark that fundamental terms are not
always used by Vico in the same sense: it is not always clear how
far "sensation," "memory," "imagination," "wit" are synonymous
or different. Sometimes "sensation" seems outside the spirit, at
others one of its chief moments; poets are sometimes the organ of
"imagination," sometimes the "sensation" of humanity; and imagination
is described as "dilated memory." These are the aberrations of a
thought so virgin and original that it was not easy to regulate.

[Sidenote: _Progress still to be achieved._]

To sever the Philosophy of the Spirit from History, the modifications
of the human mind from the historic vicissitudes of peoples, and
Æsthetic from Homeric civilization, and by continuing Vico's analyses
to determine more clearly the truths he uttered, the distinctions he
drew and the identities he divined; in short, to purge Æsthetic of the
remains of ancient Rhetoric and Poetics as well as from some over-hasty
schematisms imposed upon her by the author of her being: such is the
field of labour, such the progress still to be achieved after the
discovery of the autonomy of the æsthetic world due to the genius of
Giambattista Vico.

[1] _Scienza nuova prima,_ bk. iii. ch. 5 (_Opere di G. B. Vico,_
edited by G. Ferrari, 2nd ed., Milan, 1852-1854).

[2] _Scienza nuova seconda, Elementi,_ liii.

[3] _Scienza nuova pr._ bk. iii. ch. 26.

[4] _Scienza nuova sec._ bk. ii. introd.

[5] _Op. cit. Elem._ xxxvi.

[6] _Op. cit._ bk. ii.; _Sentenze eroiche._

[7] Letter to De Angelis of December 25, 1725.

[8] Letter to De Angelis, _cit._

[9] _Scienza nuova sec._ bk. iii.; Letter to De Angelis, _cit._;
_Giudizio su Dante._

[10] _Scienza nuova sec._ bk. ii.; _Logica poetica._

[11] _Republica,_ x.

[12] _Scienza nuova sec._ bk. iii. _ad init._

[13] Letter to De Angelis, _cit._

[14] _Scienza nuova sec._ bk. iii. _passim._

[15] _Scienza nuova pr._ bk. iii. ch. 4.

[16] Letter to Solla, January 12, 1729; cf. _Scienza nuova sec. Elem._

[17] _Scienza nuova sec._ bk. iii.

[18] _Scienza nuova pr._ bk. iii. ch. 6.

[19] _Scienza nuova sec._ bk. ii., _Corollari d' intorno all' origine
della locuzion poetica,_ etc.

[20] _Scienza nuova pr._ bk. iii. ch. 22.

[21] _Scienza nuova sec._ bk. ii., _Corollari d' intorno all' origini
delle lingue_, etc.

[22] _Op. cit._ bk. ii., _Corollari d' intorno a' tropi,_ etc., § 4.

[23] _Scienza nuova pr._ bk. iii. ch. 22.

[24] _Scienza nuova sec._ bk. iii., _Pruove filosofiche._

[25] _Scienza nuova pr._ bk. iii.-ch. 22.

[26] _Op. cit._ bk. iii. chs. 27-33.

[27] Letter to De Angelis, _cit._

[28] _Scienza nuova sec._ bk. ii. introd.

[29] _Scienza nuova sec._ bk. ii., _Ultimi corollari,_ § vi.

[30] _Scienza nuova pr._ bk. iii. ch. 2.

[31] _Scienza nuova sec._ bk. ii., _Della metafisica poetica,_ etc.

[32] _Vita scritta da sè medesimo,_ in _Opere, ed. cit._ iv. p. 365.

[33] _Scienza nuova pr._ bk. iii. ch. 37.

[34] _Note all' Arte poetica di Orazio,_ in _Opere, ed. cit._ vi. pp.

[35] Letter to De Angelis, _cit._

[36] _Scienza nuova pr._ bk. iii. ch. 22; cf. the review of Clerico (Le
Clerc) in _Opere,_ iv. p. 382.

[37] _Giudizio intorno alia gram. d' Antonio d' Aronne,_ in _Opere,_
vi. pp. 149-150.

[38] _Scienza nuova sec._ bk. ii., _Corollari d' intorno all' origini
delle lingue,_ etc.

[39] _Vita, cit._ p. 343.

[40] _Instituzioni oratorie e scritti inediti,_ Naples, 1865, pp. 90
_seqq._: _De senteniiis, vulgo del ben parlare in concetti._

[41] Letter to the Duke of Laurenzana, March 1, 1732; and cf. letter to
Muzio Gæta.

[42] Cf. p. 190.

[43] _Scienza nuova sec._ bk. i., _Del metodo._

[44] _Scienza nuova sec., Ultimi corollari,_ § 5.

[45] _Scienza nuova sec._ bk. iii. ch. 3; _Scienza nuova sec._ bk. ii.,
_Della metafisica poetica_; and bk. iii. _ad init._



[Sidenote: _The influence of Vico._]

This step in advance had no immediate effect. The pages in the _Scienza
nuova_ devoted to æsthetic doctrine were actually the least read of any
in that marvellous book. Not that Vico exercised no influence at all;
we shall see that several Italian authors both of his own time and of
the generation immediately following show traces of his æsthetic ideas;
but these traces are all external and material and therefore sterile.
Outside Italy the _Scienza nuova_ (already announced by a compatriot
in 1726 in the _Acta_ of Leipzig with the graceful comment that _magis
indulget ingenio quam veritati_ and the pleasing information that _ab
ipsis Italis taedio magis quam applausu excipitur_)[1] was mentioned
toward the end of the century, as is well known, by Herder, Goethe,
and some few others.[2] In connection with poetry, especially with the
Homeric question, Vico's book was quoted by Friedrich August Wolf, to
whom it had been recommended by Cesarotti[3] after the publication of
the _Prolegomena ad Homerum_ (1795), but without any suspicion of the
importance of its general doctrine of poetry, of which the Homeric
hypothesis was a mere application. Wolf (1807) imagined himself in the
presence of a talented forerunner in an isolated problem, instead of
a man of intellectual stature towering above any philologist, however

[Sidenote: _Italian writers: Conti._]

Neither by reliance on the works of Vico, who founded no real school,
nor, it must be added, by any independent effort along new lines,
did thought succeed in maintaining or improving upon the position
already attained. A notable attempt to establish a philosophical
theory of poetry and the arts was made by the Venetian A. Conti, who
left numerous sketches for essays on imagination, the faculties of the
soul, poetic imitation and similar subjects, designed for inclusion
in a large treatise on the Beautiful and Art. Conti had started by
professing ideas very like those of Du Bos, affirming that the poet
must "put everything in images"; that taste is as indefinable as
feeling, and that there are persons without taste just as there are
blind and deaf persons; he also wrote polemical tracts against the
Cartesians. Later he abandoned his sensationalistic or sentimentalist
theories,[4] and, inquiring into the nature of poetry, declared
himself ill-satisfied with Castelvetro, Patrizzi, and even Gravina.
"Had Castelvetro," he observes, "who writes so subtly of Aristotle's
_Poetics,_ given two or three chapters to a philosophical explanation
of the idea of imitation, he would have solved many questions raised
but not clearly answered by himself concerning poetic theories. In his
_Poetica_ and in his controversy against Torquato Tasso, Patrizzi never
succeeded in clearly defining the philosophical idea of imitation; he
collected much useful information about the history of poetry, but
wilfully lost the Platonic doctrine by allowing it to mingle with the
historical detail instead of gathering it up without sophistry into a
single point, when it would have appeared in a very different guise.
The _Ragion poetica_ of Gravina shadows forth a sort of philosophical
idea of imitation; but so wholly engrossed is he in deducing therefrom
rules for lyrical, dramatical and epic poetry, and illustrating each
with examples from the most celebrated poets, Greek, Latin and Italian,
that he is too busy to question the sufficiency of the fertile idea he
has propounded."[5] A close follower of contemporary European thought,
Conti was familiar with Hutcheson, whose theories he vigorously
repudiated, observing, "Why this multiplication of faculties?" The
soul is one, and for scholastic convenience only has been divided into
three faculties: sense, imagination, intellect; the first "concerns
herself with objects present before her; imagination with those afar
into which memory gradually merges: but the object of sense and
imagination is always particular; it is only the mind, the intellect,
the spirit, that by comparing particulars apprehends the universal."
"Before introducing a new sense for the pleasure of beauty" Hutcheson
should have "assigned limits to these three faculties of cognition and
demonstrated that the pleasure occasioned by beauty does not arise from
the three pleasures of these three faculties, or from intellectual
pleasure alone, to which they all reduce, if the functions of the
soul be carefully analysed." Thus it would appear that the mistake
of the Scotchman[6] arose from his habit of separating pleasure from
the cognitive faculties, placing the former apart in a special empty
"sense of beauty."[7] On the other hand, when rewriting the history of
the opinions of various critics upon the Aristotelian doctrine of the
universal in poetry, Conti gave much weight to the dialogue _Naugerius
seu De poëtica_ of Fracastoro;[8] for an instant he seems on the
point of grasping the essence of the poetic universal and identifying
it with the characteristic, which makes us call even horrible things
wholly beautiful. "In all his journeys Balzac never saw a beautiful
old woman: in the poetic or picturesque sense an old woman is highly
beautiful, if depicted as having suffered all the dilapidations of
age": immediately after, however, he identifies the characteristic with
Wolff's concept of perfection: "It does not differ from being, nor does
being differ from the truth which the schoolmen call transcendental
and which is the object of all arts and all sciences; we call it the
object of poetry when by means of imaginary presentations it ravishes
the intellect and moves the wall, transporting both these faculties
into the ideal and archetypal world of which, following S. Augustine,
Father Malebranche discourses at length in his _Recherche de la
vérité_."[9] In the same way Fracastoro's universal gives place to the
universal of science: "Owing to the infinity of their determinations
all we can know of particulars is their common properties, which
is merely another manner of saying that we have no science save of
universal. Thus it is precisely the same if we say the object of
poetry is science or the universal; which is the doctrine of Navagero,
following Aristotle."[10] The "imaginative universals of Signor Vico"
(with whom he had interchanged some letters) opened no new views for
him: he notes that Signor Vico "talks a great deal about them" and
"holds that the most uncivilized men, having framed them not from any
wish to please or serve others, but from the necessity of expressing
their feelings as nature taught them, spoke in poetical language the
elements of a theology, a physics, and an ethics wholly poetical."
Conti excuses himself from immediate examination of "this critical
question" and only opines that "it can be shown in many ways that
these imaginative universals are the material or object of poetry,
in so far as they contain within them sciences or things considered
in themselves"[11]--a conclusion diametrically opposed to that which
"Signor Vico" meant to express. Conti is next obliged to ask himself
how it is possible that poetry's object should be not the true but the
probable, when the universal of poetry is the same as that of science.
He answers by coming down to the commonplace level of a Baumgarten:
"When sciences receive a particular colouring, we pass from the true to
the probable." Imitation means giving the impression of truth; that is
done by selecting a few of its features only; and this is the procedure
in which the probable just consists. If you wish to describe the
rainbow poetically, a great part of the Newtonian optics must be thrown
overboard; thus "many circumstances of mathematical demonstration" will
be neglected in poetical descriptions, and the rest, which is utilized,
will form the probable or that particular "which awakens the universal
idea, slumbering in the minds of the learned." The great art of poetry
consists "in selection of the image containing the greatest number of
points of universal doctrine which, by being inserted in the example,
may so colour the precept that I may find it without seeking it, or
recognize it through its connexion with events described."[12] Hence
poetry cannot be content with imitation; allegory too is needed: "in
ancient poetry one thing is read and another is meant." Here follows
the inevitable instance of the Homeric poems, in which Conti certainly
finds elements which cannot be reduced to instruction and allegory and
therefore to some extent deserve the Platonic condemnation.[13] He
recognizes a species of imagination differing from passive sensibility,
"which Father Malebranche calls active imagination, and Plato the art
of imagery; it comprises all that is meant by wit, sagacity, judgement
and good taste, which teach a poet to use or not to use at a given time
or place the rules and licences of art, and to control the extravagance
of his imagery."[14] On the question of literary taste he follows
the opinion of Trevisano and decides that it consists in "setting in
mutual harmony, that is to say restraining within limits, the soul's
cognitive faculties, memory, imagination and intellect, allowing none
to overwhelm another."[15]

[Sidenote: _Quadrio and Zanotti._]

By assiduous travail of thought and perpetual search for the best,
Conti kept himself at the highest level of æsthetic speculation in
contemporary Europe (Vico always excepted); at the same level as
Baumgarten in Germany. We pass rapidly over other Italian writers
such as Quadrio (1739), author of the first great encyclopædia of
universal literature, in which he defines poetry as "the science of
things human and divine, presented in pictures to the populace, and
written in words connected by measure";[16] and Francesco Maria Zanotti
(1768), who describes poetry as "the art of versification in order to
give pleasure":[17] the first is worthy of a mediæval anthologist,
the second of a no less mediæval composer of handbooks on rhythm and
methods of composition. The only serious student of æsthetic was
Melchior Cesarotti.

[Sidenote: _Cesarotti_]

Cesarotti called attention to popular and primitive poetry: he
translated Ossian and illustrated the text with dissertations; he
unearthed antique Spanish poems and even the folk-songs of Mexico and
Lapland; he studied Hebrew poetry; he dedicated the greater part of
his life to the Homeric poems, examining all the theories of critics
past and present, encountering Vico in this connexion and discussing
his views. Besides this, he debated the origin of poetry, the pleasure
given by tragedy, taste, the beautiful, eloquence, style, in short
every problem belonging to æsthetics which had been raised up to his
time.[18] One seems to catch an echo of Vico as one listens to his
words on La Motte: "He had logic, but knew not that the logic of
poetry differs somewhat from ordinary logic: he was a man of great
talent, but he recognized talent only, and was incapable of feeling the
immeasurable distance between judicious prose and poetry: the real
Homer with his attractive faults will always be more beloved than his
reformed Homer with his cold, affected virtue."[19] Cesarotti purposed
(1762) bringing out a great theoretico-historical book in whose first
part "we shall suppose the non-existence of poetry and poetic art and
try to trace by what path a man of illuminated reason can have reached
the idea of the possibility of such an art and how he can have attained
perfection by these means: every one will be able to see poetry growing
up under his eyes, so to speak, and attest the truth of theory by
the testimony of his own personal feelings."[20] Although celebrated
throughout Italy in his day as one who "with the most pure torch of
philosophy has thrown beams of light into the darkest recesses of
poetry and eloquence,"[21] it does not appear that the distinguished
scholar, the pleasing and desultory philosopher, offered any profound
or original solutions. In 1797 he defined poetry as "the art of
representing and perfecting nature by means of picturesque, animated,
imaginative and harmonious discourse."[22]

[Sidenote: _Bettinelli and Pagano._]

The fashion of the day in philosophy made men impatient of the ideas
found in writers of treatises of former times. Arteaga praises
Cesarotti for "that fine tact, that impartial criticism, that
logical spirit derived not from the trickling streamlets of Sperone,
Castelvetro, Casa and Bembo, but from the profound and inexhaustible
springs of Montesquieu, Hume, Voltaire, d'Alembert, Sulzer, and
writers of like temper."[23] Writing to Saverio Bettinelli, who was
preparing a work on _Enthusiasm,_ Paradisi hoped it would prove "a
metaphysical history of enthusiasm which shall outweigh all those
Poetics which are only fit to be burned," and would "make waste paper
of Castelvetro, the 'Mintumo,' and that stupid creature, Quadrio."[24]
In spite of these aspirations Bettinelli's book (1769) contains little
beyond vivacious and eloquent empirical observations concerning the
psychology of poets, "poetic enthusiasm," to which he assigns six
degrees, namely, elevation, vision, rapidity, novelty and surprise,
passion and transfusion. Equally empirical was Mario Pagano in his two
fragments, _Gusto e le belle arti_ and _Origine e natura della poesia_
(1783-1785), in which he grotesquely combines some ideas from Vico with
the current sensationalism. Theoretico-imaginative form and sensuous
pleasure are presented by him as two historical periods of art. "In
their cradle the fine arts are directed towards making a true imitation
of nature rather than towards loveliness. Their first steps are towards
expression rather than charm.... In the most ancient poetry, even in
the ballads of barbarous ages, there lives a most compelling pathos:
passions are expressed naturally, even the sound of the words is
alive with the expression of the things described." But "the period
of perfection is reached at the moment when exact imitation of nature
is coupled with complete beauty, accord and harmony," when "the taste
is refined and society reaches its most complete form of culture."
Fine arts "precede by a short time the dawn of philosophy, that is
to say, the time of the most intense perfection of society"; indeed,
certain modes of art, such as tragedy, must necessarily come later
than philosophy whose aid must be invoked to further "the purgation of

[Sidenote: _German disciples of Baumgarten. G. F. Meier._]

The compatriots and successors of Baumgarten, like those of Vico,
did little by way of understanding or improving upon his work. An
enthusiastic admirer and disciple of Baumgarten who had attended his
lectures at Frankfort-on-the-Oder, Georg Friedrich Meier, came forward
in 1746 to defend the _Meditationes_ against the attacks of Quistorp to
whom the master had deigned no reply;[26] already in 1748, prior to
the publication of the _Æsthetic,_ he had published the first volume
of his _Principles of all the Beautiful Sciences_,[27] followed in
1749 and 1750 by the second and third volumes. This book, which is
a complete exposition of Baumgarten's theory, is divided, according
to the master's method, into three parts: invention of beautiful
thoughts (heuristic), æsthetic method (methodic), and the beautiful
signification of thoughts (semiotic); the first of these (occupying
two and a half volumes) is subdivided into three sections: beauty
of sense-apprehension (æsthetic richness, grandeur, verisimilitude,
vivacity, certainty, sensitive life and wit), sensitive faculties
(attention, abstraction, senses, imagination, subtlety, acumen,
memory, poetic power, taste, foresight, conjecture, signification and
the minor appetitive faculties), and the diverse kinds of beautiful
thought (æsthetic concepts, judgements, and syllogisms). Elsewhere
than in this book, which was reprinted many times (in 1757 an epitome
was issued[28]), Meier discusses Æsthetic in several of his numerous
works, especially in a little tract, _Considerations on the First
Principles of all Fine Arts and Sciences_.[29] Who was more tenderly
inclined than he towards the science so recently born and baptized? He
was ardent in her defence against those who denied both her possibility
and her utility, and against those who admitted these yet complained,
not unreasonably, that she was substantially the same as that which in
former days had been treated as Poetics and Rhetoric. He parried this
accusation, of which he recognized the partial truth, by asserting
that it was impossible for one writer to have perfect knowledge of all
the arts: another of his excuses was to the effect that Æsthetic was
a science too young to show the perfection reached by other sciences
after the cultivation of centuries; in one place he says he has no
intention of arguing "with those enemies of Æsthetic who will not or
cannot see the true nature and aim of this science, but have built for
themselves in its place a deformed and miserable image against which,
when they fight, they fight against themselves." With philosophic
resignation he concludes that the same fate is in store for Æsthetic as
for every science: "At first when almost unknown they encounter enemies
and detractors who ridicule them through ignorance and prejudice;
but later they meet persons of intellect who, by working at them
conjointly, carry them on to their proper perfection."[30]

[Sidenote: _Confusions of Meier._]

Students of the new science flocked to Halle University to hear Meier
lecture on Æsthetic whose "chief author" or "inventor" (_Haupturheber,
Erfinder_), as Meier never tired of repeating, was "Herr Professor
Baumgarten"; at the same time warning them that his own _Anfangsgründe_
were no mere transcription of Baumgarten's lectures.[31] Still, while
recognizing the great gifts of Meier as publicity-agent, the facility,
clarity and wealth of his eloquence, and his shrewdness in polemic,
one cannot altogether deny the justice of the remark upon "Professor
Baumgarten of Frankfort and his ape (_Affe)_ Professor Meier of
Halle."[32] Every defect of Baumgarten's Æsthetic reappears accentuated
in Meier; the limits of the inferior cognitive faculties, alleged as
the domain of poetry and the arts, are laid down by him most strangely.
It is curious to note how, for example, he interprets the difference
between the confused (æsthetical) and the distinct (logical), and the
proposition that beauty disappears when made the object of distinct
thought. "The cheeks of a beautiful girl whereon bloom the roses of
youth are lovely so long as they are looked at with the naked eye. But
let them be examined with a magnifying glass. Where is their beauty?
One can hardly believe that such a disgusting surface, scaly, all
mounts and hollows, the pores full of dirt, with hairs sprouting here
and there, can be the seat of that amorous attraction which subdues
the heart."[33] That is described as "æsthetically false" whose truth
the inferior faculty is unable to grasp: for example, the theory that
bodies are composed of monads.[34] Once they have become intelligible
to these faculties, general concepts possess great æsthetic richness,
since they include infinite consequences and particular cases.[35]
Æsthetic also comprehends those things which cannot be thought
distinctly or, if so thought, might be capable of upsetting philosophic
gravity: a kiss may be an excellent subject for a poet; but whatever
would be thought of a philosopher who sought to demonstrate its
necessity by the mathematical method?[36] Moreover, Meier includes the
whole theory of observation and experiment in Æsthetic, to which this
theory belongs, he says, by right of its connexion with the senses,[37]
and also the whole theory of the appetitive faculties, because
"æsthetic requires not only a fine wit but a noble heart as well."[38]
He comes near truth sometimes, when, for example, he observes that
the logical form presupposes the æsthetic and that our first concepts
are sensitive, later becoming distinct by the help of logic;[39]
and when he condemns allegory as "among the most decadent forms of
beautiful thinking."[40] But, on the other hand, he thinks that logical
distinctions and definitions, although not necessarily sought after
by genius, are very useful in poetry; they are even indispensable as
regulators of beautiful thinking and make up, as it were, the skeleton
of the body poetic: great care, however, must be taken not to judge
æsthetical general concepts, _notiones æstheticæ universales,_ with
the rigorous exactitude demanded by philosophical. And since such
concepts, taken singly, may be likened to unstrung jewels, they must be
connected by the string of æsthetic judgement and syllogism, the theory
of which is identical with that presented by Logic, setting aside that
part which is of little or no use to genius, but belongs exclusively
to the philosopher.[41] In his _Considerations_ of 1757 Meier, having
combated the principle of imitation (which appeared to him at once too
broad, since science and morals are also imitations of nature, and too
narrow, since art does not imitate natural objects solely nor should
it imitate them all, for the immoral must be excluded), reaffirmed the
thesis that the æsthetic principle consists in the "greatest possible
beauty of sense-perception."[42] He upheld this by condemning as
erroneous the belief that this sense-perception is wholly sensuous
and confused, without any gleam of distinctness or rationality. The
perception of sweet, bitter, red, etc., is wholly sensuous; but there
is another perception which is both sensuous and intellectual, confused
and distinct, in which both faculties, the higher and the lower,
collaborate. When intellectuality prevails in this consciousness,
then we have science: when sensibility, then we have poetry. "From
our explanation it will be gathered that the inferior cognitive
faculties must collect all the material of a poem, and all its parts.
Intellect and judgement, on the other hand, watch and ensure that these
materials are placed side by side in such a way that in their connexion
distinction and order may be observed."[43] Here a plunge into
sensationalism, there a fugitive glimpse of truth: most often, and in
conclusion, an adherence to the old mechanical, ornamental, pedagogic
theory of poetry: this is the impression left on us by the æsthetic
writings of Meier.

[Sidenote: _M. Mendelssohn and other followers of Baumgarten. Vogue of

Another disciple of Baumgarten, Mendelssohn, conceiving beauty
as "indistinct image of a perfection," deduced that God can have
no perception of beauty, as this is merely a phenomenon of human
imperfection. According to him a primary form of pleasure is that
of the senses, arising from "the bettered state of our bodily
constitution"; a secondary form is the æsthetic fact of sensible
beauty, that is to say, unity in variety; a third form is perfection,
or harmony in variety.[44] He too repudiates Hutcheson's _deus ex
machina,_ the sense of beauty. Sensible beauty, perfection such as
can be apprehended by the senses, is independent of the fact that
the object represented is beautiful or ugly, good or bad by nature;
it suffices that it leaves us not indifferent: whence Mendelssohn
agrees with Baumgarten's definition, "a poem is a discourse sensibly
perfect."[45] Elias Schlegel (1742) conceived art as imitation, not
so servile as to seem a copy, but having similarity rather than
identity with nature: he considered the duty of poetry was first to
please and only afterwards to instruct.[46] Treatises on Æsthetic,
university lectures or slender volumes for use of the public, _Theories
of the Fine Arts and Letters, Manuals, Sketches, Texts, Principles,
Introductions, Lectures, Essays,_ and _Considerations on Taste_ poured
down thick and fast on Germany during the second half of the eighteenth
century. There are at least thirty full or complete treatises and many
dozens of minor tracts or fragments. After the Protestant universities,
the Catholic took up the new science, which was taught by Riedel at
Vienna, Herwigh at Würzburg, Ladrone at Mainz, Jacobi at Freiburg,
and by others at Ingolstadt after the expulsion of the Jesuits.[47] A
pretty little volume on the _First Principles of the Fine Arts_[48] was
written (1790) for Catholic schools by the notorious Franciscan friar
Eulogius Schneider, who, after being unfrocked, terrorised Strasburg in
the days of the Convention, and met his end under the guillotine. The
frenzied output of these German _Æsthetics_ resembles that of _Poetics_
in Italy in the sixteenth century, after the rise to popularity of
Aristotle's treatise. Between 1771 and 1774 the Swiss Sulzer brought
out his great æsthetic encyclopædia, _The General Theory of the Fine
Arts,_ in alphabetical order, with historical notes upon each article,
which were greatly enlarged in the second edition of 1792, edited by a
retired Prussian captain, von Blankenburg.[49] In 1799, one J. Roller
published a first _Sketch of the History of Æsthetic,_[50] in which he
observes not unjustly, "Patriotic youth will be pleased to recognize
that Germany has produced more literature on this subject than any
other country."[51]

[Sidenote: _Eberhard and Eschenburg._]

Confining ourselves to bare mention of the works of Riedel (1767),
Faber (1767), Schütz (1776-1778), Schubart (1777-1781), Westenrieder
(1777), Szerdahel (1779), König (1784), Gang (1785), Meiners (1787),
Schott (1789), Moritz (1788),[52] we will select from the crowd the
_Theory of Fine Arts and Letters_ (1783) of Johann August Eberhard,
successor to Meier in the Chair at Halle,[53] and the _Sketch of a
Theory and Literature of Letters_ (1783) by Johann Joachim Eschenburg,
one of the most popular books of the day for students.[54] Both
these authors are followers of Baumgarten, with inclinations towards
sensationalism; amongst other things Eberhard considered the beautiful
as "that which pleases the most distinct senses," that is to say, of
sight and hearing.

[Sidenote: _J. G. Sulzer._]

A word must be accorded to Sulzer, in whom we find the most curious
alternation of new and old, the romantic influence of the new Swiss
school and the utilitarianism and intellectualism of his day. He
asserts that beauty exists wherever unity, variety and order are found:
the work of an artist is strictly in the form, in lively expression
(_lebhafte Darstellung_): the material is irrelevant to art, but
the duty of every reasonable and sensible man is to make judicious
selection. The beauty which is used to clothe the good as well as the
bad is not the ineffable, celestial Beauty, offspring of the alliance
between the beautiful, the good and the perfect, which awakens more
than mere pleasure, a veritable joy which ravishes and beatifies our
soul. Such is the human face when, by filling the eye of the beholder
with the pleasure of form arising from the variety, proportion and
order of the features, it proceeds to arouse the imagination and
intellect by its suggestion of interior perfection; of the same
nature is the statue of a great man carved by Phidias, or a patriotic
oration by Cicero. If truth lie outside art and belong to philosophy,
the most noble use to which art may be put is to make us feel the
important truths which lend her strength and energy, not to mention
that truth itself enters into art in the shape of truthful imitation
or representation. Sulzer also repeats (and he is not the last) that
orators, historians and poets are intermediaries between speculative
philosophy and the people.[55]

[Sidenote: _K. H. Heydenreich._]

Karl Heinrich Heydenreich returns to a sounder tradition when he
defines art (1790) as "a representation of a determinate state of
sensibility," and observes that man, as a cognitive being, is impelled
to enlarge the sphere of his cognitions and impart his discoveries to
his fellows, while as a sensitive being he is impelled to represent
and communicate his sensations; whence arise science and art. But
Heydenreich does not clearly grasp the cognitive character of art; for
in his opinion sensations become objects of artistic representation
either because they are pleasing or, when not pleasing, because they
are useful to further the moral aims of man as a social being; the
objects of sensibility which enter into art must be possessed of
intrinsic excellence and value and bear reference not to a single
individual but to the individual as a rational being: hence the
objectivity and necessity of taste. Like Baumgarten and Meier, he
divides Æsthetic into three parts: a doctrine of _inventio,_ another of
_methodica,_ a third of the _ars significandi_.[56]

[Sidenote: J. G. Herder.]

Another disciple of Baumgarten is J. G. Herder, who had an unbounded
admiration for the old Berlin master, whom he calls "the Aristotle
of his day," and defends him warmly against those who think fit to
describe him as a "stupid and obtuse syllogizer" (1769). On the
other hand he had slight esteem for subsequent Æsthetic, for example
Meier's work, which he stigmatized accurately enough as "in part a
re-mastication of Logic, in part a patchwork of metaphorical terms,
comparisons and examples." "O Æsthetic!" he cries with emphasis,
"O Æsthetic! the most fertile, the most beautiful and by far the
most novel of all abstract sciences, in what cavern of the Muses is
sleeping the youth of my philosophic nation destined to bring thee
to perfection?"[57] He denied Baumgarten's claim to have established
an _Ars pulchre cogitandi_ instead of limiting himself to a simple
_Scientia de pulchro et pulchris philosophice cogitans,_ and ridiculed
the scruple which held Æsthetic to be unworthy of the dignity of
Philosophy.[58] To compensate for this, however, he accepted the
fundamental definition cf poetry as _oratio sensitiva perfecta_:
gem of definitions (says he), the best that has ever been invented,
that penetrates to the heart of the matter, touches the true poetic
principles and opens the most extended view over the entire philosophy
of the beautiful, "coupling poetry with her sisters, the fine
arts."[59] Like Cesarotti the Italian, but with much less vivacity and
brilliance, Herder the German had studied primitive poetry, Ossian and
the songs of ancient peoples, Shakespeare (1773), popular love-songs
(1778), the spirit of Hebrew poetry (1782), and oriental poetry; these
studies powerfully impressed upon his mind the sensitive nature of
poetry. His friend Hamann (1762) had written these memorable words,
which read like an extract from one of Vico's aphorisms: "Poetry is
the mother-tongue of mankind: in the same way that the garden is older
than the ploughed field, painting than writing, song than declamation,
barter than trade. The repose of our most ancient progenitors was a
slumber deeper than ours; their motion a tumultuous dance. They spent
seven days in the silence of thought or of stupor; and opened their
mouths to pronounce winged words. Their speech was sensation and
passion, and they understood nothing but images. Of images is composed
all the treasure of human knowledge and felicity."[60] Although
Herder, who knew and admired Vico,[61] does not mention him by name
when treating of language and poetry, one might suppose him to be
influenced by the great Neapolitan at least in the final consolidation
of his theories; but, on the contrary, the authors whom he chiefly
quotes in this connexion are Du Bos, Goguet and Condillac, and observes
"the first beginnings of human speech in tone, gesture, expression of
sensations and thoughts by means of images and signs, can only have
been a kind of crude poetry, and so it is among every savage nation
in the world." Not a speech with punctuation and a sense of syllable,
like ours, learning as we do to read and write, but an unsyllabled
melody which gave birth to the primitive epic. "Natural man depicts
what he sees and as he sees it, alive, powerful, monstrous; in order
or disorder, as he sees and hears, so he reproduces. Not alone did
barbarous tongues thus arrange their images, but Greek and Latin do
the same. As the senses offered material, so the poets utilized it;
especially in Homer we see how closely nature is followed in images
which glow and fade perpetually and inimitably. He describes things
and events line by line, scene by scene; and, in the same way, he
paints men in their very bodies, actually as they speak and move."
Later we distinguish epic from what we call history; because the former
"not only describes what has happened but describes the event in its
entirety, showing how it occurred in the only possible way, having
regard to surrounding circumstance of body and spirit": this is the
reason of the more philosophical character of poetry. As for pleasure,
no doubt we do find poetry pleasant; but the idea that the poet's
motive is merely to excite pleasure cannot be condemned too strongly.
"Homer's gods were as essential and indispensable to the poet's world
as the forces of motion are to the world of matter. Without the
deliberations and activities of Olympus, none of the necessary events
which happen on this earth could take place. Homer's magic island in
the western sea belongs to the map of his hero's wanderings by the same
necessity which placed it on the map of the world: it was necessary
to the plan of his poem. It is the same with the severe Dante and his
circles of Hell and Heaven." Art is formative: she disciplines, orders
and governs the imagination and every faculty of man: not only did she
generate history, "but, earlier yet, she created gods and heroes and
purified the uncouth imaginations and fables of peoples with their
Titans, monsters and Gorgons, reducing to limit and law the riotous
imagination of ignorant men which knows no bounds or rule."[62]

Notwithstanding these intuitions, so like those of Vico early in the
same century, Herder as a philosopher is inferior to his Italian
predecessor, and in point of fact does not rise superior to Baumgarten.
By application of Leibniz' law of continuity, he too arrived at the
opinion that the pleasing, the true, the beautiful and the good are
degrees of one single activity. For instance, sensible pleasure" is
a participation in the true and the good, so far as the senses may
comprehend them; the feeling of pleasure and pain is no other than the
feeling of the true and the good, that is to say, the consciousness
that the aim of our organism, the conservation of our well-being and
the avoidance of our hurt, has been attained."[63] Fine arts and
letters are all instructive (_bildend_): hence the terms _humaniora,_
the Greek _καλόν,_ the Latin _pulchrum,_ the _gentle_ arts of days
of chivalry, _les belles lettres et les beaux arts_ of the French. A
group of them (gymnastic, dance, etc.) educates the body; a second
group (painting, plastic, music) educates the nobler senses of man,
the eye, the ear, the hand and tongue; a third (poetry) touches the
intellect, the imagination and the reason: a fourth group governs human
tendencies and inclinations.[64] Herder disapproved of the facile
theorists of art who began straight away with a definition of beauty,
a complex and involved concept. He held that the theory of fine arts
should be subdivided into three theories, each to be built up from
the foundations, the theory of sight, of hearing and of touch, that
is to say of painting, music and sculpture, _i.e._ into æsthetical
Optics, æsthetical Acoustics and æsthetical Physiology. "Fairly well
elaborated in the psychological and subjective aspects, Æsthetic
is sadly undeveloped in all that belongs to the object and to the
sensation of beauty, without which there can never be a fertile theory
of the Beautiful capable of influencing all the arts."[65] Taste is not
"a fundamental faculty of the soul but a habitual application of our
judgement (intellectual judgement) to objects of beauty"; an acquired
facility of the intellect (of which Herder outlines the genesis).[66]
The poet is poet not only in his imagination but in his intellect.
In 1782 he writes: "The barbarous name Æsthetic of recent invention
indicates nothing beyond a section of Logic: that which we call taste
is neither more nor less than a quick and rapid judgement which does
not exclude truth and profundity, but rather presupposes and promotes
them. All didactic poetry is nothing more than philosophy rendered
sensible: the fable as exposition of a general doctrine is truth in
act, in activity.... When expounded and applied to human affairs,
Philosophy is not only a fine art in herself (_schöne Wissenschaft,_)
but the mother of Beauty: it is only through her that Rhetoric and
Poetry can ever be educational, useful, or in the truest sense

[Sidenote: _Philosophy of language._]

Herder and Hamann deserve our gratitude for having brought a current of
fresh air into the study of the philosophy of language. The lead given
by the Port-Royal authors had been followed since the beginning of
the century by many writers of logical or general grammars. According
to the French Encyclopædia, "_La grammaire générale est la science
raisonnée des principes immuables et généraux de la parole prononcée
ou écrite dans toutes les langues_,"[68] and d'Alembert spoke of
grammarians of invention and grammarians of memory, assigning to the
former the duty of studying the metaphysics of grammar.[69] General
grammars had been written by Du Marsais, De Beauzée, and Condillac
in France; Harris in England; and many others.[70] But what was the
relation between general grammar and particular grammars? If logic be
one, how comes it that languages are many? Is the variety of tongues
but a deviation on their part from one single model? And, if there be
no such deviation or error, what is the explanation of the fact? What
is language, and how was it born? If language be external to thought,
how can thought exist if not in language? "_Si les hommes_," says
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, "_ont eu besoin de la parole pour apprendre
à penser, ils ont eu bien plus besoin encore de savoir penser pour
trouver l'art de la parole_"; appalled at the difficulty, he declares
his conviction "_de l'impossibilité presque démontrée que les langues
aient pu naître et s'établir par des moyens purement humains._"[71]
Such questions became fashionable; books on the origin and formation
of language were written by de Brosses (1765) and Court de Gébelin
(1776) in France, by Monboddo (1774) in England, Süssmilch (1766) and
Tiedemann in Germany, and Cesarotti (1785) in Italy, and by others
who had some slight acquaintance with Vico, but profited little by
it.[72] None of the above-named writers was able to free himself of
the notion that speech was either natural and mechanical, or else a
symbol attached to thought: whereas in fact it was impossible to solve
the difficulties under which they were labouring except by dropping
the notion of a sign or symbol and attaining the conception of the
active and expressive imagination, verbal imagination, language as
the expression not of intellect but of intuition. An approach towards
this explanation was made by Herder in a brilliant and imaginative
thesis in 1770 upon this subject of the origin of language, chosen
for discussion by the Berlin Academy. In it he says that language is
the reflexion or consciousness (_Besonnenheit_) of man. "Man shows
reflexion when he puts forth freely such force of mind as enables him
to make selection from amongst the crowd of sensations by which he is
assailed: from the ocean of the senses, so to speak, to select a single
wave and consciously to watch it. He shows reflexion when, amidst the
thronging chaos of images which pass before him as in a dream, he can
in a waking moment collect himself and fasten his attention upon a
single image, examine it calmly and clearly, and separate it from its
neighbours. Once again, man shows reflexion when he is able not merely
to grasp vividly and clearly all the properties of an image, but also
to recognize one or more of its distinctive properties." The language
of man "does not depend on the organization of the mouth, for even he
who is dumb from birth has, if he reflects, a language; it is not a
cry of the senses, since it resides in a reflective creature, not in a
breathing machine; it is not an affair of imitation, since imitation
of nature is a means, and we are here trying to explain the end: much
less is it an arbitrary convention; a savage in the depths of the
forest would have had to create a language for himself even though he
never used it. Language is an understanding of the soul with herself,
necessary just in so far as man is man."[73] Here language begins to
show itself no longer as purely mechanical or as something derived
from arbitrary choice and invention, but as a creative activity and a
primary affirmation of the activity of the human mind. Herder's essay
may not state such a view unequivocally, but it points forward to such
a conclusion in a striking way for which its author has not received
the credit he deserves. Hamann, in reviewing his friend's theories,
agreed with him in denying the origin of language by invention or
arbitrary choice; while dwelling also on the liberty of man, he
regarded language as something which man could only have learned by
means of a mystical _communicatio idiomatum_ from God.[74] That, too,
was one way of recognizing that the mystery of language is not to be
solved except by placing it in the forefront of the problem of the

[1] Vico, _Opere, ed. cit._ iv. p. 305.

[2] Herder, _Briefe zur Beförderung der Humanität,_ 1793-1797, Letter
59; Goethe, _Italien. Reise,_ Mar. 5, 1787.

[3] Letters from Wolf to Cesarotti, June 5, 1802; in Cesarotti,
_Opere,_ vol. xxxviii. pp. 108-112; cf. _ibid._ pp. 43-44, and vol.
xxxvii. pp. 281, 284, 324; cf. on the question of the relations between
Wolf and Vico, Croce, _Bibliografia vichiana,_ pp. 51, 56-58, and
_Supplem._ pp. 12-14.

[4] Letter in French to Mme. Ferrant (1719), and to the Marquis Maffei
in _Prose e poesie,_ vol. ii. (1756), pp. lxxxv.-civ., cviii.-cix.

[5] _Prose e poesie,_ vol. i., 1739, pref.

[6] Francis Hutcheson (1694-1746) was an Irishman. Croce's mistake is
probably due to the fact that he studied and taught at Glasgow, or that
his family was ultimately of Scottish origin.--TR.

[7] _Prose e poesie,_ vol. ii. pp. clxxi.-clxxvii.

[8] See above, pp. 184-185.

[9] _Prose e poesie,_ vol. ii. pp. 242-246.

[10] _Op. cit._ ii. p. 249.

[11] _Op. cit._ ii. pp. 252-253.

[12] _Prose e poesie,_ vol. ii. pp. 233-234.

[13] _Op. cit._ i. pref.

[14] _Op. cit._ ii. p. 127.

[15] _Op. cit._ i. p. xliii.

[16] Fr. Sav. Quadrio, _Della storia e della ragione d' ogni poesia,_
Bologna, 1739, vol. i. part i. dist. i. ch. 1.

[17] Fr. M. Zanotti, _Dell' arte poetica, ragionamenti cinque,_
Bologna, 1768.

[18] On Ossian, _Opere,_ vols, ii.-v.; on Homer, vols, vi.-x.; _Saggio
copra il diletto della tragedia,_ vol. xxix. pp. 117-167; _Saggio sul
bello,_ vol. xxx. pp. 13-70; on _Filosofia del gusto,_ vol. i.; on
_Eloquenza,_ lecture, vol. xxxi.

[19] _Opere,_ vol. xl. p. 49.

[20] _Ibid._ p. 55.

[21] Letter from Corniani to Cesarotti, November 21, 1790, in _Opere,_
vol. xxxvii. p. 146.

[22] _Saggio sopra le istituzioni scolastiche, private e pubbliche,_ in
_Opere,_ vol. xxix. pp. 1-116.

[23] Letter of March 30, 1764, in _Opere,_ vol. xxxv. p. 202.

[24] Saverio Bettinelli, _Dell' entusiasmo nelle belle arti, 1769,_ in
_Opere,_ iii. pp. xi.-xiii.

[25] Fr. M. Pagano, _De' saggi politici,_ Naples, 1783-1785, vol. i.
Appendix to § 1, "Sull' origine e natura della poesia"; vol. ii. § 6,
"Del gusto e delle belle arti."

[26] See above, p. 217.

[27] _Anfangsgründe aller schönen Wissenschaften,_ Halle, 1748-1750.

[28] _Auszug aus den Anfangsgründe,_ etc., _ibid._ 1758.

[29] _Betrachtungen über den ersten Grundsätzen aller schönen Künste u.
Wissenschaften, ibid._ 1757.

[30] Preface to 2nd ed. (1768) of vol. ii. of _Anfangsgründe,_ and
_Betrachtungen, cit.,_ esp. §§ 1, 2, 34.

[31] Preface to vol. i., and cf. § 5.

[32] In a letter to Gottsched, 1747, in Danzel, _Gottsched,_ p. 215.

[33] _Anfangsgründe,_ § 23.

[34] _Op. cit._ § 92.

[35] _Op. cit._ § 49.

[36] _Op. cit._ § 55.

[37] _Op. cit._ §§ 355-370.

[38] _Op. cit._ §§ 529-540.

[39] _Op. cit._ § 5.

[40] _Op. cit._ § 413.

[41] Anfangsgründe, §§ 541-670.

[42] Betrachtungen, § 20.

[43] Op. cit. § 21.

[44] _Briefe über die Empfindungen,_ 1755 (in _Opere filosofiche,_
Ital. trans., Parma, 1800, vol. ii.). Letters 2, 5, 11.

[45] _Betrachtungen üb. d. Quellen d. sch. Wiss. u. K.,_ 1757, later
entitled _Über die Hauptgrundsätze,_ etc., 1761, in _Opere, ed. cit._
ii. pp. 10, 12-15, 21-30.

[46] J. E. Schlegel, _Von der Nachahmung,_ 1742; cf. Braitmaier,
_Gesch. d. poet. Th._ i. p. 249 _sqq._

[47] Koller, _Entwurf,_ p. 103.

[48] _Die ersten Grundsätze der schönen Kunst überhaupt, und der
schönen Schreibart insbesondere,_ Bonn, 1790; cf. Sulzer, i. p. 55, and
Koller, pp. 55-56.

[49] See Bibliographical Appendix.

[50] _Entwurf zur Geschichte u. Literatur d. Ästhetik,_ etc.,
Regensburg. 1799; see Bibl. App.

[51] Koller, _op. cit._ p. 7.

[52] Notices and extracts in Sulzer and Koller, _opp. citt._

[53] Joh. Aug. Eberhard, _Theorie der schönen Künste u.
Wissenschaften,_ Halle, 1783; reprinted 1789, 1790.

[54] Joh. Joach. Eschenburg, _Entwurf einer Theorie u. Literatur d. s.
W.,_ Berlin, 1783; reprinted 1789.

[55] Allgem. Th. d. sch. Künste, on words Schön, Schönheit, Wahrheit,
Werke des Geschmacks, etc.

[56] Karl Heinrich Heydenreich, _System der Ästhetik,_ vol. i.,
Leipzig, 1790, esp. pp. 149-154. 367-385. 385-392.

[57] _Kritische Wälder oder Betrachtungen über die Wissenschaft und
Kunst des Schönen,_ Fourth Forest, 1769, in _Sämmtliche Werke,_ ed. B.
Suphan, Berlin, 1878, vol. iv. pp. 19, 21, 27.

[58] _Kritische Wälder, loc. cit._ pp. 22-27.

[59] Fragment, _Von Baumgarten Denkart_; and cf. _op. cit._ pp. 132-133.

[60] _Æsthetica in mice,_ in _Kreuzzüge des Philologen,_ Königsberg,
quoted in Herder, _Werke,_ xii. 145.

[61] See above, p. 235.

[62] _Kaligone,_ 1800, in _Werke, ed. cit.,_ xii. pp. 145-150.

[63] _Kaligone,_ pp. 34-55.

[64] _Ibid._ pp. 308-317.

[65] _Kritische Wälder, loc. cit._ iv. pp. 47-127.

[66] _Op. cit._ pp. 27-36.

[67] _Sophron,_ 1782, § 4.

[68] _Encyclopédie, ad verb._

[69] _Éloge de Du Marsais,_ 1756 (introd. to _Œuvres de Du Marsais,_
Paris, 1797, vol. i.).

[70] Du Marsais, _Méthode raisonnée,_ 1722; _Traité des tropes,_
1730; _Traité de grammaire générale_ (in _Encyclopédie_); De Beauzée,
_Grammaire générale pour servir de fondement à l'étude de toutes les
langues,_ 1767; Condillac, _Grammaire française,_ 1755; J. Harris,
_Hermes, or a Philosophical Enquiry concerning Language and Universal
Grammar,_ 1751.

[71] _Discours sur l'origine de l'inégalité parmi les hommes,_ 1754.

[72] De Brosses, _Traité de la formation mécanique des langues,_ 1765;
Court de Gébelin, _Histoire naturelle de la parole,_ 1776; Monboddo,
_Origin and Progress of Language,_ 1774; Süssmilch, _Beweis dass der
Ursprung der menschlichen Sprache göttlich sei,_ 1766; Tiedemann,
_Ursprung der Sprache;_ Cesarotti, _Saggio sulla filosofia delle
lingue,_ 1785 (in _Opere,_ vol. i.); D. Colao Agata, _Piano, ovvero
ricerche filosofiche sulle lingue,_ 1774; Soave, _Ricerche intorno all'
istituzione naturale d'una società e d'una lingua,_ 1774.

[73] _Abhandlung über den Ursprung der Sprache,_ in a small book _Zwei
Preisschriften,_ etc. (2nd ed., Berlin, 1789), esp. pp. 60-65.

[74] Steinthal, _Ursprung der Sprache,_ 4th ed., pp. 39-58.



[Sidenote: _Other writers of the eighteenth century: Batteux._]

A great medley of heterogeneous ideas is noticeable among other writers
on Æsthetic during the same period. In 1746 appeared a little volume
by Abbé Batteux bearing the attractive title of _The Fine Arts reduced
to a Single Principle,_ in which the author attempted a unification
of all the different rules laid down by the writers of treatises. All
such rules (says Batteux) are branches emerging from one trunk; he who
possesses the simple principle will be able to deduce the rules one by
one without entangling himself in their mass, which can but involve him
in endless coils. The author had passed in review the _Ars Poetica_ of
Horace and that of Boileau, and the works of Rollin, Dacier, le Bossu
and d'Aubignac; but had found real help only in Aristotle's principle
of imitation, which he thought could be easily and strikingly applied
to poetry, painting, music and the art of gesture. But suddenly the
Aristotelian principle of imitation yields place to a wholly new
rendering, namely the "imitation of natural _beauty._" The business
of art is to "select the most beautiful parts of nature in order to
frame them into an exquisite whole which shall be more beautiful than
nature's self, without ceasing to be natural." Now, what may this
greater perfection, this beautiful nature, be? On one occasion Batteux
identifies it with truth: but "with the truth which may be; with
beauty-truth, which is represented as though it really existed with all
the perfections it could possibly receive," recalling one example from
the ancients in the Helen of Zeuxis, and one from the moderns in the
_Misanthrope_ of Molière. In another place he explains that beautiful
nature, _"tum ipsius (obiecti) naturæ, tum nostræ convenit," i.e._ that
it has the closest connexion with our own perfection, our advantage
and our interest, and is, at the same time, perfect in itself. The
aim of imitation is "to please, to move, to soften, in one word, to
delight"; so beautiful nature must be interesting and furnished with
unity, variety, symmetry and proportion. Embarrassed by the question
of artistic imitation of things naturally ugly or objectionable,
Batteux falls back on saying, as Castelvetro had said before him, that
displeasing objects please when imitated, since imitation, being always
imperfect, in comparison with the reality, cannot excite the horror and
disgust aroused by the latter. From pleasure he deduces the other aim
of utility: if the aim of poetry be to give pleasure, and "pleasure
by moving the passions, then in order to give a perfect and enduring
pleasure it ought to rouse such passions only as it is well to excite,
not those inimical to goodness."[1]

[Sidenote: _The English: W. Hogarth._]

It is difficult to string together a more insubstantial mass of
contradictions. But Batteux is rivalled and outdone by the English
philosophers or rather scribblers on Æsthetic or rather on things in
general which sometimes accidentally include æsthetic facts. Happening
to find in Lomazzo some words attributed to Michæl Angelo on the beauty
of shapes, Hogarth the artist took into his head the idea that the
figurative arts can be regulated by a special principle which can be
expressed in a particular fine.[2] Filled with this discovery, in 1745
he designed a frontispiece for a volume of his engravings; it depicted
a painter's palette scored across with an undulating line and the words
_The Line of Beauty._ Public curiosity was immediately aroused by this
hieroglyphic, to be satisfied a little later by the publication of
his book _The Analysis of Beauty_ (1753).[3] In this he combated the
mistake of judging pictures either by the subject or the excellence of
the imitation instead of by their form, which is the true essential
of art and is composed "of symmetry, variety, uniformity, simplicity,
intricacy and quantity; all things which co-operate in the production
of beauty, correcting and restraining each other as required."[4]
But immediately afterwards Hogarth proclaims that there must also be
correspondence and agreement with the thing copied; for "regularity,
uniformity and symmetry give pleasure in so far only as they serve
to give the illusion of faithful correspondence."[5] Further on, the
reader learns that "amongst the immense variety of undulating lines
which may be conceived, there is but one which truly merits the name of
the Line of Beauty, and this is a precisely serpentine line which may
be called the Line of Grace."[6] Again, we are told that intricacy of
lines is beautiful because "the active mind likes to be engaged," and
the eye delights in being "guided in a sort of hunt."[7] A straight
line has no beauty, and the pig, the bear, the spider and the toad are
ugly because devoid of undulating lines.[8] The ancients showed much
judgement in the management and grouping of lines, "varying from the
precise line of grace only on those occasions when the character or
action demanded."[9]

[Sidenote: _E. Burke._]

With similar indecision Edmund Burke wavers between the principle
of imitation and other heterogeneous or imaginary principles in his
book, _An Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and the
Beautiful_ (1756). He observes, "Natural properties contained in an
object give pleasure or displeasure to the imagination: beyond this,
however, imagination may delight in the likeness of a copy to its
original"; he asserts that from "these two reasons" arises the whole
pleasure of imagination.[10]

Without dwelling further on the second, he proceeds to a lengthy
discussion of the natural qualities which should be found in an object
of sensible beauty: "Firstly, comparative smallness; secondly, smooth
surface; thirdly, variety in disposition of the parts; fourthly, that
it have no angularity, all lines fusing one in another; fifthly, a
structure of great delicacy betraying no signs of violence; sixthly,
vivid colouring without glare or harshness; seventhly, if it have any
glaring colour, let it be different from the background." These are the
properties of beauty working in harmony with nature and least liable to
suffer from caprice and differences of taste.[11]

[Sidenote: _H. Home._]

These books of Hogarth and Burke are generally described as classical;
if so, they belong to the type of classic that fails to convince. To
a somewhat higher type belongs the _Elements of Criticism_ (1761)
of Henry Home, Lord Kaimes, who seeks "the true principles of the
fine arts" with the object of converting criticism into "a rational
science," and to this end chooses "the upward path of facts and
experiments." Home confines himself to feelings derived from objects
of sight and hearing, which, in so far as unaccompanied by desires,
are more truly described as simple feelings (emotions, not passions).
These occupy a middle position between mere sense-impressions and
intellectual or moral ideas, and are therefore akin to both; and it is
from these that the pleasures of beauty are derived. Beauty is divided
into beauty of relation and intrinsic beauty.[12] Of the latter, Home's
only account is that regularity, simplicity, uniformity, proportion,
order and other pleasing qualities have been "so disposed by the Author
of nature in order to increase our happiness here on earth which, as
is clearly shown in numberless instances, is not foreign to his care."
This notion is confirmed when he reflects that "our taste for such
details is not accidental, but uniform and universal, being a very
part of our nature"; adding that "regularity, uniformity, order and
simplicity help to facilitate perception and make it possible for us
to form clearer conception of objects than it would be possible to
gain by the most earnest attention were such qualities not present."
Proportions are often combined with a view to utility, "as we see that
the best proportioned amongst animals are also the strongest; but there
are also many examples in which this conjunction does not hold good";
wherefore the wisest plan "is to rest content with the final cause just
mentioned: that of the increase of our happiness intended by the Author
of nature."[13] In his _Essay on Taste_ (1758) and on _Genius_ (1774)
Alexander Gérard employs by turns, according to the various forms of
art, the principles of association, of direct pleasure, of expression,
and even of moral sense: the same kind of explanation reappears in
another _Essay on Taste_ by Alison (1792).

[Sidenote: _Eclecticism and sensationalism. E. Platner._]

It is impossible to classify works of such calibre, almost wholly
lacking as they are in scientific method; on each page their writers
pass from physiological sensationalism to moralism; from the imitation
of nature to mysticism and transcendent finalism without the slightest
sense of incongruity. It would be absurd to take them seriously; in
comparison it is almost refreshing to come across a frank hedonist
in the German, Ernst Plainer, who interpreted Hogarth's inquiry into
lines after a fashion of his own and was unable to see anything in
æsthetic facts except a reverberation of sexual pleasure. Where can we
find a beauty, he asks, that is not derived from the female figure,
the centre of all beauty? Undulating lines are beautiful because
found in a woman's body; beautiful are all movements distinctively
feminine; beautiful the tones of music melting one into another;
beautiful the poem where one thought embraces another with tenderness
and facility.[14] Condillac's sensationalism had already shown
itself wholly incapable of understanding æsthetic productivity; the
associationism especially promoted by the work of Hume fared no better.

[Sidenote: _Fr. Hemsterhuis._]

The Dutchman Hemsterhuis considered beauty as a phenomenon born of
the meeting between sensibility, which gives multiplicity, and the
internal sense, which tends to unity; hence the beautiful is "that
which exhibits the greatest number of ideas in the shortest time." Man,
to whom it is not permitted to attain ultimate unity, finds in beauty
an approximate unity which gives him a pleasure somewhat analogous
with the joy of love. This theory of Hemsterhuis, in which elements of
mysticism and sensationalism mingle with glimpses of truth, developed
later into the sentimentalism of Jacobi, for whom the totality of Truth
and Goodness and even the Supersensible itself are sensibly present to
the soul in the form of beauty.[15]

[Sidenote: _Neo-Platonism and mysticism. Winckelmann._]

Platonism or, more accurately, neo-Platonism was revived by the creator
of the history of figurative art, Winckelmann (1764). Contemplation
of the masterpieces of antique plastic art, and the impression of
superhuman loftiness and divine indifference which they create all
the more irresistibly because we cannot reawaken the life they once
possessed or understand their real significance, led Winckelmann, and
others with him, to the conception of a Beauty which, descending from
the seventh heaven of the divine Idea, embodied itself in works of this
description. Baumgarten's follower Mendelssohn had denied the enjoyment
of beauty to God: the neo-Platonist Winckelmann gave it back to him and
lodged it in his bosom.

[Sidenote: _Beauty and lack of significance._]

"Wise men who have meditated upon the causes of universal Beauty,
seeking her amongst created things and trying to gain the contemplation
of Supreme Beauty, have placed it in the perfect harmony of creatures
with their ends and of their parts with one another. But as this is
equivalent to perfection, which man is incapable of attaining, our
concept of universal beauty remains indeterminate, and arises by means
of particular cognitions which, when accurately collected and fitted
together, give us the highest idea we can attain of human beauty,
which we elevate in proportion as we raise it above matter. But,
again, since the Creator deals out perfection to all his creatures
in the proportion that befits them, and since every concept rests
on some cause which must be sought outside the concept itself, the
cause of Beauty which is to be found in every created thing cannot
be sought in anything outside these created things. For this reason,
and because our cognitions are comparative concepts, whereas Beauty
cannot be compared with anything higher, it is difficult to attain a
distinct and universal cognition of Beauty."[16] The only way out of
this difficulty and others like it is the recognition that "supreme
beauty resides in God": "the concept of human beauty becomes the more
perfect in proportion as it can be thought more in conformity and
agreement with supreme Being, which is distinguished from matter by
its own unity and indivisibility. This conception of Beauty is as a
spirit which, freed by fire from the prison of matter, strives to
conjure up a creature in the likeness of the first reasonable creature
formed by the divine intelligence. The forms of such an image are
simple and continuous and within this unity they are varied and for
that very reason harmonious."[17] 2 To these characteristics is added
"lack of significance" (_Unbezeichnung_), since supreme beauty cannot
be described with points or fines different from those which alone
can constitute that beauty; its form "is not peculiar to this or that
determinate person, neither does it express any state of feeling or
sensation of passion, things which disturb unity and overcloud beauty."
Winckelmann concludes: "We look upon Beauty as a purest water drawn
from the centre of the spring; the less taste it has the higher it is
esteemed because free from all impurities."[18]

To perceive pure beauty, a special faculty is required, which certainly
is not sense, but may perhaps be intellect or even, as Winckelmann
says, "a fine internal sense" free from all intentions or passions
of instinct, inclination or pleasure. Having asserted beauty to be
something supersensible, it is not surprising that Winckelmann should
wish, if not wholly to exclude colour, at least to reduce it to a
minimum, and treat it not as a constitutive element in beauty but as
secondary and ancillary.[19] True beauty is given in form: by which he
means line and surface, forgetting that these are only apprehended by
the senses, and could not be seen without being in some way coloured.

[Sidenote: _Winckelmann's contradictions and compromises._]

When error refuses to retire, hermit-like, to the narrow cell of a
brief aphorism, it finds itself condemned to self-contradiction in
order to live at all in the world of concrete facts and problems.
Although composed with a view to stating a theory, the work of
Winckelmann always led him among concrete historical facts clamouring
to be brought into relation with his formally stated idea of supreme
beauty. In his admission of line-drawing and his further admission, on
a lower plane, of colour, we have two compromises already; to which
a third is added in his principle of Expression. "Since human nature
has no state intermediate between pain and pleasure" and as living
creature without such feelings is inconceivable, "the human figure must
be represented in a condition of action and passion, which artists
call expression." Hence Winckelmann, after dealing with Beauty, goes
on to treat of Expression.[20] He then found himself obliged to effect
a fourth compromise between the single constant supreme beauty and
individual beauties; for while he preferred the male to the female body
as a completer embodiment of perfect beauty, he could not shut his eyes
to the obvious fact that we know and admire beautiful women's bodies
and even beautiful animals' bodies.

[Sidenote: _A. R. Mengs._]

Friend and, in a sense, collaborator of Winckelmann was Raphæl Mengs
the artist, no less eager than his archæological fellow-countryman to
understand the nature of that beauty which the one studied as a critic
while the other produced it as a painter. Remarking, writes Mengs,
that of the two chief duties of a painter, the imitation of appearances
and the selection of the most beautiful objects, much has been written
on the former, while the latter "has scarcely been touched by the
modems, who would have been ignorant of the art of drawing were it
not for the statues of ancient Greece";[21] pondering this, "I read,
asked and looked at everything likely to throw light on the subject,
but never was I satisfied; either they spoke of beautiful things or
of qualities which are the attributes of beauty, or they pretended to
explain, as the saying is, the obscure by the more obscure, or even
confused the beautiful with the pleasing: so that finally I determined
to search for the nature of beauty on my own account."[22] One of his
works on this subject was published during his lifetime by the advice
and assistance of Winckelmann (1761); many others appeared posthumously
(1780), all were reprinted several times and translated into several
languages. In his _Dreams of Beauty_ he says, "I have been sailing
a long time on a vast sea seeking the understanding of beauty, and
still I am far from any shore and in great doubt how to shape my
course: gazing around, my sight is confounded by the immensity of the
subject."[23] In truth it seems as though Mengs never arrived at a
formula satisfactory to himself, although he conformed more or less to
Winckelmann's doctrine that "beauty consists in material perfection
according to our ideas; and since God alone is perfect, beauty is
divine"; it is the "visible idea of perfection" and stands in the same
relation to it as does a visible to a mathematical point. Our ideas
proceed from the purposes which the Creator has willed to fulfil in
various things; hence the multiplicity of beauties. In general, Mengs
finds the types of things in natural species: _e.g._ "a stone, of
which we have the idea that it should be uniform in colour"; which"
is called ugly if it happen to be spotted"; or a child "would be
ugly if he were like a man of mature age, just as a man is ugly when
shaped like a woman, and a woman when she is like a man." He adds
surprisingly, "As among stones there is but one perfect species, the
diamond; among metals, gold; and among animated creatures, man only; so
there is difference and distinction in every order, and very rarely is
there perfection."[24] In his _Dreams of Beauty_ he considers beauty
as "a middle disposition, including perfection on the one hand and
the pleasing on the other"; in reality it is a third thing, differing
from perfection and the pleasing, and deserving a special name for
itself.[25] The art of painting arises from four sources: beauty,
significant or expressive character, the pleasing united to harmony,
and colouring. Mengs finds the first amongst the ancients, the second
in Raphæl, the third in Correggio and the fourth in Titian.[26] From
this empirical studio-gossip he rouses himself to exclaim, "The force
of beauty so transports me that I will tell thee, reader, what I
feel. All nature is beautiful, and so is virtue; beautiful are forms
and proportions; beautiful are appearances and beautiful the causes
thereof; more beautiful is reason, most beautiful of all is the great
first cause."[27]

[Sidenote: _G. E. Lessing._]

An attenuated, that is to say, a less metaphysical, echo of
Winckelmann's theory is found in Lessing (1766), who infused a new
spirit into the literature and social life of the Germany of his time.
According to Lessing the aim of art is "delight"; and since delight is
a "superfluous thing" it seems reasonable that the legislator should
not allow to art that liberty which is indispensable to science in
her search for truth, the soul's necessity. For the Greeks painting
was what by its nature it ought to be, "the imitation of beautiful
bodies." "Its (Hellenic) cultivator represented nothing but the
beautiful: common beauty of a low grade served him as an accidental
subject, an exercise, a diversion. The attractiveness of his work
must depend simply and solely on the perfection of his subject: he
was far too true an artist to wish his audience to content itself
with the barren pleasure arising from mere resemblance or from the
inspection of skilful workmanship: nothing in his art was dearer to
him, nothing seemed more noble, than the end at which it aimed."[28]
Pictorial representation must exclude everything unpleasing or ugly;
"painting as imitation may express ugliness: painting as a fine art
will refuse to do so: all visible objects belong to art taken under
the former title: the latter may claim only such objects as awaken
pleasing sensations." If, on the contrary, ugliness may be represented
by the poet, the reason is this: poetic description "conveys a less
displeasing sense of bodily malformation which, in the end, almost
loses its character as such; unable to use it for itself, the poet
uses it as a means to provoke certain mixed feelings (the ridiculous,
the terrible), in which we are content to remain, in the absence of
any purely pleasant feelings."[29] In his _Dramaturgie_ (1767) Lessing
takes his stand upon the Aristotelian _Poetics_: it is well known that
not only did he approve of rules in general but he believed those
laid down by Aristotle to be as incontrovertible as the theorems of
Euclid. His polemic against French writers and critics is waged in the
name of probability, not to be confounded with historical accuracy.
He understood the universal as a sort of average of what appears in
individuals, and catharsis as a conversion of passions into virtuous
dispositions, asserting it as beyond doubt that the aim of all
poetry is to inspire a love for virtue.[30] He follows the example
of Winckelmann in introducing the concept of ideal beauty into the
doctrine of figurative art: "expression of corporeal beauty is the aim
of painting: therefore supreme beauty of body is the supreme aim of
art. But this supreme beauty of body is found in man only, and for
him it exists only through the ideal. This ideal may be found among
the brute creation in inferior degree; but is entirely absent from
vegetable or inanimate nature." Landscape and flower painters are not
really artists because "they imitate beauties possessed of no ideal:
whereby they work by eye and hand alone, genius having little or no
part in their compositions." Nevertheless, Lessing prefers a landscape
painter to "the painter of historic pieces who, instead of making
beauty his aim, merely depicts a crowd in order to show his cunning in
simple expression, not in expression subordinate to beauty."[31] The
ideal of bodily beauty then consists "chiefly in the ideal of form,
but also in that of texture of the flesh, and in that of permanent
expression. Mere colouring and transitory expression have no ideal
since nature herself has placed no indelible seal upon them."[32] At
the bottom of his heart Lessing dislikes colour; and when he finds
the pen-sketches of painters showing "a life, a freedom, a brilliancy
never to be found in their painted pictures," he asks himself "whether
the most marvellous colouring can compensate so heavy a loss," and
whether it is not to be wished "that painting in oils had never been

[Sidenote: _Theorists of ideal beauty._]

Ideal beauty, that curious alliance between God and the subtle outline
traced with pen or graver, that cold academical mysticism, came into
fashion. In Italy (the home of Winckelmann and Mengs, who published
many of their works in Italian) it was much discussed by artists,
antiquaries and connoisseurs. The architect Francesco Milizia professed
himself a follower of "the principles of Sulzer and Mengs";[34]
the Spaniard d'Azara, living in Italy, edited and annotated Mengs,
adding his own definition of beauty: "The union of the perfect and
the pleasing made visible";[35] another Spaniard, Arteaga, one of
the many Jesuit refugees in Italy, wrote a treatise on _Ideal Beauty_
(1789);[36] the Englishman Daniel Webb on coming to Rome and making
the acquaintance of Mengs seized upon the ideas he heard him express
on beauty, collected them and actually published them in a book
anticipating Mengs' own.[37]

[Sidenote: _G. Spalletti and the characteristic._]

The first voice of dissent from this doctrine of ideal beauty was
raised in 1764 by a small circle of Italians who asserted the
characteristic to be the principle of art. As such appears to
be the necessary interpretation of the little _Essay on Beauty_
written by Guiseppe Spalletti in the form of a letter to Mengs,
with whom Spalletti had discussed the subject "in the solitudes of
Grottaferrata," and who had urged him to put all his thoughts in
writing.[38] Its polemical character, though not openly asserted, is
discernible in every page. "Truth in general, conscientiously rendered
by the artist, is the object of Beauty in general. When the soul finds
those characteristics which wholly converge upon the matter which the
work of art claims to represent, it judges that work beautiful. The
same is true of the works of nature: if the soul perceives a man of
fine proportions having the face of a lovely woman, which causes it to
doubt whether the object before it be man or woman, it esteems that man
ugly rather than the reverse, through deficiency of the characteristic
of truth; if this can be said of natural Beauty, how much more can
it be said of the Beauty of art." The pleasure given by Beauty is
intellectual, that is to say, it is the pleasure of apprehending
truth: when confronted by ugly things represented characteristically,
man "delights in having increased his cognitions": Beauty, "with its
property of supplying to the soul likeness, order, proportion, harmony
and variety, provides it with an immense field for the construction
of innumerable syllogisms, and by reasoning in this manner it will
take pleasure in itself, in the object which arouses such pleasure, and
in the feeling of its own perfection." Finally, the beautiful may be
defined as "the inherent modification of the object under observation
which presents it in the inevitably characteristic manner in which it
is bound to appear."[39] In contrast to the fallacious profundity of
Winckelmann and Mengs we welcome the sound good sense of this obscure
Spalletti, upholder of the Aristotelian position against the revived
neo-Platonism of the æstheticians.

[Sidenote: _Beauty and the characteristic: Hirt, Meyer, Goethe._]

Many years went by before a similar rebellion arose in Germany; at
length in 1797 the art-historian Ludwig Hirt, basing his case on
ancient works of art which depicted all things, even things utterly
vulgar and ugly, ventured to deny the view that ideal beauty is the
principle of art, and that expression has only a secondary place, above
which it must not rise for fear of disturbing ideal beauty. For the
ideal he substituted the characteristic, as a principle to be applied
equally to gods, heroes or animals. Character is "that individuality by
which form, movement, signs, physiognomy and expression, local colour,
fight, shade and chiaroscuro are distinguished and represented in the
manner demanded by the object."[40] Another historian of art, Heinrich
Meyer, who started from the position of Winckelmann and went on by
adopting a series of compromises, finally asserting an ideal of trees
and landscape side by side with the ideal of man and various other
animals, tried to find an intermediate position between this doctrine
and Hirt's, in the course of controversy with the latter. And Wolfgang
von Goethe, forgetful of his youthful days when he chanted the praises
of Gothic architecture, returning home from an Italian tour impregnated
with Greece and Rome in 1798, also sought a middle term between Beauty
and Expression; dwelling on the thought of certain characteristic
contents which should supply the artist with forms of beauty to be by
him remodelled and developed into complete beauty. The characteristic
was thus the mere point of departure, and beauty was simply the result
of the artist's elaboration: "we must start from the characteristic"
(says he) "in order to attain the beautiful."[41]

[1] _Les Beaux Arts réduits à un même principe,_ Paris, 1746; see esp.
part i. ch. 3; part ii. chs. 4, 5; part iii. ch. 3.

[2] See above, p. 110.

[3] _Analysis of Beauty,_ London, 1753 (Ital. trans., Leghorn, 1761).

[4] _Op. cit._ p. 47.

[5] _Op. cit._ p. 57.

[6] _Op. cit._ p. 93.

[7] _Op. cit._ pp. 61, 65.

[8] _Analisi della bellezza,_ p. 91.

[9] _Op. cit._ p. 176.

[10] _Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and the
Beautiful,_ 1756 (Ital. trans., Milan, 1804); cf. the preliminary
discourse on "Taste."

[11] _Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and the
Beautiful,_ part iii. § 18.

[12] _Elements of Criticism,_ 1761, vol. i. introd. and chs. 1-3.

[13] _Elements of Criticism,_ i. ch. 3, pp. 201-202.

[14] _Neue Anthropologie,_ Leipzig, 1790, § 814, and the lectures on
Æsthetic published posthumously in 1836; cf. Zimmermann, _op. cit._ p.

[15] Zimmermann, _op. cit._ pp. 302-309; v. Stein, _Entstehung d. n.
Ästh._ p. 113.

[16] _Geschichte der Kunst des Altertums,_ 1764 (in _Werke,_ Stuttgart,
1847, vol. i.), bk. iv. ch. 2, § 51, p. 131.

[17] _Op. cit._ § 22, pp. 131-132.

[18] _Op. cit._ § 23, p. 132.

[19] _Geschichte,_ § 19, pp. 130-131.

[20] _Op. cit._ bk. iv. ch. ii. § 24.

[21] _Geschichte,_ bk. v. chs. ii. and vi.

[22] Letter of January 2, 1778, _Opere,_ Rome, 1787 (reprinted Milan,
1836), ii. pp. 315-316.

[23] _Opere,_ i. p. 206.

[24] _Riflessioni sulla bellezza e sul gusto della pittura,_ in
_Opere,_ i. pp. 95, 100, 102-103.

[25] _Opere,_ i. p. 197.

[26] _Ibid._ p. 161.

[27] _Ibid._ p. 206.

[28] Laokoon, § 2.

[29] Op. cit. §§ 23, 24.

[30] Hamburg. Dramaturgie (ed. Göring, vols. xi. and xii.), passim,
esp. Nos. 11, 18, 24, 78, 89.

[31] _Laokoon,_ appendix, § 31.

[32] _Op. cit._ §§ 22, 23.

[33] _Op. cit. ad fin._ p. 268.

[34] _Dell' arte di vedere nelle belle arti del disegno secondo i
principi di Sulzer e di Mengs,_ Venice, 1871.

[35] D'Azara, in Mengs, _Opere,_ i. p. 168.

[36] _Investigaciones filosóficas sobre la belleza ideal, considerada
como objeto de todas las artes de imitación,_ Madrid, 1789.

[37] _Ricerche su le bellezze della pittura_ (Ital. trans., Parma,
1804); cf. D'Azara, _Vita del Mengs,_ in _Opere,_ i. p. 27.

[38] _Saggio sopra la bellezza,_ dated "Grottaferrata, July 14, 1764,"
and published at Rome, 1765, anonymously.

[39] _Saggio,_ esp. §§ 3, 12, 15, 17, 19, 34.

[40] _Über das Kunstschöne,_ in the review _Die Horen,_ 1797; cf.
Hegel, _Vorles. ii. Ästh._ i. p. 24; and Zimmermann, _Gesch. d. Ästh._
pp. 356-357.

[41] Goethe, _Der Sammler und die Seinigen_ (in _Werke,_ ed. Goedecke,
vol. xxx.)



[Sidenote: _I. Kant._]

Of all these writers, Winckelmann and Mengs, Home and Hogarth, Lessing
and Goethe, none was a philosopher in the true sense of the word: not
even those who like Meier laid claim to the title, nor those who had
some gifts for philosophy like Herder or Hamann. After Vico, the next
European mind of real speculative genius is Immanuel Kant, who now
comes before us in his turn.

[Sidenote: _Kant and Vico._]

That Kant took up the problem of philosophy where Vico laid it down
(not, of course, in a directly historical, but in an ideal, sense) has
already been noted by others.[1] How far he made an advance upon his
predecessor and how far he failed to reach the same level it is not
here our business to inquire; we must confine ourselves strictly to the
consideration of Æsthetic questions.

Summarizing the results of such a consideration, we may say at once
that though Kant holds an immensely important place in the development
of German thought; though the book containing his examination of
æsthetic facts is among his most influential works; and though in
histories of Æsthetic written from the German point of view, which
ignore practically the whole development of European thought from the
sixteenth to the eighteenth century, Kant can pose as the man who
discovered the problem of Æsthetic or solved it or brought it within
sight of solution; yet in an unprejudiced and complete history whose
aim is to take broad views and to consider not the popularity of a
book or the historical importance of a nation but the intrinsic value
of ideas, the judgement passed on Kant must be very different. Like
Vico in the serious tenacity with which he reflected upon æsthetic
facts, more fortunate than he in having a much larger stock of material
gathered from preceding discussion and argument, Kant was at once
unlike and less successful than Vico in that he was unable to attain a
doctrine substantially true, and unable also to give his thoughts the
necessary system and unity.

[Sidenote: _Identity of the concept of art in Kant and Baumgarten._]

In fact, what was Kant's idea of art? Strange as our reply may
seem to those who recollect the explicit and insistent war waged
by him against the school of Wolff, and the concept of beauty as a
perfection confusedly perceived, we must assert that Kant's idea of
art was fundamentally the same as that of Baumgarten and the Wolffian
school.[2] In that school his mind had been trained; he always had a
great respect for Baumgarten whom in the _Critique of Pure Reason_ he
calls "that excellent analyst"; he chose the text of Baumgarten for
two of his University lectures on Metaphysics, and that of Meier for
his lecture on Logic (_Vernunftlehre_). Kant, like them, therefore
considered Logic and Æsthetic (or theory of art) as conjoined sciences.
They were thus described by him in his _Scheme of Lectures_ in 1765,
when he proposed, while expounding the critique of reason, to "throw a
glance at that of taste, that is to say, at Æsthetic, since the rules
of one apply to the other and each throws light upon the other."

[Sidenote: _Kant's "Lectures."_]

In his University lectures he distinguished æsthetic truth from logical
truth in the style of Meier; even citing the example of the beautiful
rosy face of a girl which, when seen distinctly, _i.e._ through a
microscope, ceases to be beautiful.[3] It is æsthetically true (said
he) that a man once dead cannot come to life again, although this
is in opposition to logic and moral truth: it is æsthetically true
that the sun plunges into the sea, but it is false logically and
objectively. To what degree it is necessary to combine logical truth
with æsthetic the learned have never yet been able to decide; not even
the greatest æstheticians. In order to become accessible, logical
concepts must assume æsthetic forms; a garb to be abandoned only in
the rational sciences which seek profundity. Æsthetic certainty is
subjective: it is content with authority, _i.e._ the citation of the
opinions of great men. On account of our weakness, for we are strongly
attached to the sensible, æsthetic perfection often helps us to render
our thoughts distinct. In this, examples and images co-operate;
æsthetic perfection is the vehicle for logical perfection; taste is
the analogue of intellect. There are logical truths which are not
æsthetic truths: and on the other hand we must exclude from abstract
philosophy exclamations and other sentimental commotions proper to the
other truth. Poetry is a harmonious play of thoughts and sensations.
Poetry and eloquence differ in this: in the former, thoughts adapt
themselves to sensations; in the latter the contrary is the case.
In these lectures Kant sometimes taught that poetry is anterior to
eloquence because sensations come before thoughts; and he observed
(perhaps under Herder's influence) that the poetry of Eastern peoples,
lacking concepts, is wanting in unity and taste although rich in
imaginative detail. Poetry formed out of the pure play of sensibility
is doubtless a possibility, _e.g._ love-poems: but true poetry disdains
such productions, concerned as they are with sensations which every one
knows ought to be expelled from our breasts. True poetry must strive
to present virtue and intellectual truth in sensible form, as has been
done by Pope in his _Essay on Man,_ in which he attempts to vivify
poetry by means of reason. On other occasions Kant definitely says that
logical perfection is the basis of every other, æsthetic perfection
being merely an adornment of the logical; something of the latter may
be omitted in order to appeal to the audience, but it must never be
disguised or falsified.[4]

This is Baumgartenism pure and simple; unless we are prepared to look
on these Lectures as representing a pre-critical period of thought,
or an exoteric doctrine superseded eventually by Kant's own original
esoteric ideas in his _Critique of the Judgment_ (1790). Not to open
such a controversy, let us put these Lectures on one side (although
they often throw no little light on the signification of Kantian
phrases and formulæ), and refuse to raise the question what pages
of the _Critique of the Judgment_ are derived from Baumgarten and
Meier; he who reads the works of these disciples of Wolff and passes
immediately to the _Critique of Judgment_ often has the impression that
the atmosphere surrounding him is unchanged. But if the _Critique of
Judgment_ itself be examined without prejudice it will be seen that
Kant always adhered to Baumgarten's conception of art as the sensible
and imaginative vesture of an intellectual concept.

[Sidenote: _Art in the "Critique of Judgment."_]

According to Kant, art is not pure beauty wholly detached from the
concept, it is adherent beauty, which presupposes and attaches
itself to a concept.[5] This is the work of genius, the faculty of
representing æsthetic ideas. An æsthetic idea is "a representation of
the imagination which accompanies a given concept: a representation
conjoined with such truthful representation of particulars as to be
unable to find for it any expression that may mark a determinate
concept, thereby endowing the given concept with something of the
ineffable; a feeling which stimulates the cognitive faculties and
reinforcing the tongue, which is simply the letter, with the spirit."
Genius, then, has two constitutive elements, imagination and intellect;
it consists in "that happy disposition, which no science can teach or
diligence attain, to find ideas for a given concept and, also, to
select the expression by which the subjective commotion it excites
as accompaniment to a concept may be communicated to others." No
concept is adequate to the æsthetic idea, as no representation of the
imagination can ever possibly be adequate to the concept. Examples
of æsthetic attributes are found in the eagle of Jupiter with the
thunderbolt in its claws, and the peacock of the proud Queen of
Heaven: "they do not, like logical attributes, represent that which
is contained in our concepts of the sublimity or majesty of creation,
but something else which gives occasion to the imagination to run
riot over a multitude of kindred representations which make us think
more than we can express in a given concept by means of words, and
give us an æsthetic idea, which serves to this rational idea instead
of a logical representation, precisely with the aim of quickening our
feelings by throwing open to them a view over a vast field of kindred
representations." There are a _modus logicos_ and a _modus æstheticus_
of expressing our thoughts: the first consists in following determinate
principles: the other in the mere feeling of the unity of the
representation.[6] To imagination, to intellect and to spirit (_Geist_)
we must add taste, the link between imagination and intellect.[7] Art
may therefore represent natural ugliness: artistic beauty "is not a
beautiful _thing_ but a beautiful representation of a thing": although
the representation of ugliness has limits varying with the individual
arts (a reminiscence of Lessing and Winckelmann), and an absolute limit
at the disgusting and nauseating, which kill representation itself.[8]
In natural things, too, there is adherent beauty which cannot be judged
by the æsthetic judgement alone but demands a concept. Nature thus
appears as a work of art, though superhuman art: "the teleological
judgement is the basis and condition of the æsthetic." When we say
"this is a beautiful woman," we merely mean that "nature beautifully
represents in the form of this woman her purpose in the construction
of the female body": it is necessary therefore, besides noting simple
form, to aim at a concept, "so that the object may be apprehended
through an æsthetic judgement logically conditioned."[9] By this
means is formed the ideal of beauty in the human face, the expression
of moral life.[10] Kant admits that there may also be artistic
productions without a concept, comparable with the free beauties of
nature, flowers and some birds (parrot, humming-bird, bird of paradise,
etc.): ornamental drawings, cornice-mouldings, musical fantasies
without words, represent nothing, no object reducible to a determined
concept, and must be reckoned among free beauties.[11] But does not
this necessitate their exclusion from true and proper art, from the
operation of genius in which fancy and intellect must both, according
to Kant, have a place?

[Sidenote: _Imagination in Kant's system._]

This is Baumgartenism transposed into a higher key, more concentrated,
more elaborated, more suggestive, until from moment to moment it seems
about to burst into a wholly different conception of art. But it is
still Baumgartenism, from whose intellectualistic bonds it never
escapes. Nor was escape possible. A profound concept of imagination was
entirely lacking to Kant's system and his philosophy of the spirit.
Glancing over the table of faculties of the spirit which precedes
his _Critique of Judgment,_ we see that Kant co-ordinates with it
the cognitive faculty, the feeling of pleasure and pain, and the
appetitive faculty; to the first corresponds intellect, to the second,
judgement (teleological and æsthetic), to the third, reason;[12] he
finds no place for imagination amongst powers of the spirit but places
it among the facts of sensation. He knows a reproductive imagination
and an associative, but he knows nothing of a genuinely productive
imagination, imagination in the proper sense.[13] We have seen that, in
his doctrine, genius is the co-operation of several faculties.

[Sidenote: _The forms of intuition and the Transcendental Æsthetic._]

Yet sometimes Kant had an inkling that intellectual activity is
preceded by something which is not mere sensational material, but
is an independent non-intellectual theoretical form. He obtained a
glimpse of this latter form not when he was reflecting on art in the
strict sense but when he was examining the process of knowledge: he
does not treat of it in his _Critique of Judgment,_ but in the first
section of his _Critique of Pure Reason,_ in the first part of the
_Transcendental Doctrine of Elements._ He says here that sensations
only enter the spirit when the latter itself gives them form; a form
not identical with that which intellect gives to sensations, but
much simpler, namely pure intuition, the totality of the _a priori_
principles of sensibility. There must therefore be "a science which
forms the first part of the transcendental doctrine of elements,
distinct from that which contains the principles of pure thought and is
named transcendental Logic." Now, what name does Kant confer upon this
science whose existence he has deduced? None other than Transcendental
Æsthetic (_die transcendentale Ästhetik_). In a note he even insists
that this is the right name for the new science of which he treats, and
censures the Germans for their habit of applying it to the Critique of
Taste, which, as he thought at that time, could never become a science.
Thus, he concludes, we approach more closely to the usage of the
ancients, among whom the distinction between _αἰσθητὰ καὶ νοητά_[14]
was well known.

Nevertheless, after having so rightly postulated the necessity
for a science of the forms of sensation or pure intuition, purely
intuitive knowledge, Kant went on, simply because he had no exact idea
of the nature of the æsthetic faculty and of art, to fall into an
intellectualistic error by reducing the form of sensibility or pure
intuition into the two categories or functions of space and time,
and by asserting that the spirit emerges from the chaos of sensation
by organizing its sensations in space and time.[15] But space and
time as such are very far from being primitive categories; they are
relatively late and complex formations.[16] As examples of the matter
of sensation Kant quoted hardness, impenetrability, colour and so
forth. But the mind only recognizes colour and hardness in so far as it
has already given form to its sensations; considered as brute matter,
sensations fall outside the cognitive spirit, they are a limit; colour,
hardness, impenetrability and so on, when recognized, are already
intuitions, spiritual elaborations, the æsthetic activity in its
rudimentary manifestation. The characterizing or qualifying imagination
which is æsthetic activity ought to have occupied in the _Critique of
Pure Reason_ the pages devoted to the discussion of space and time,
and would thus have constituted a real Transcendental Æsthetic, a real
prologue to the transcendental Logic. In this manner Kant would have
achieved the truth aimed at by Leibniz and Baumgarten and would have
joined hands with Vico.

[Sidenote: _Theory of Beauty distinguished by Kant from that of Art._]

His repeatedly announced opposition to the school of Wolff concerns not
the concept of art but that of Beauty; two concepts for Kant entirely
distinct. First of all, he did not admit that sensation could be
called "confused knowledge," a confused form, that is, of intellectual
cognition; rightly judging this to be a false account of sensibility,
since a concept, however confused, is always a concept or a rough
sketch of a concept, never an intuition.[17] But he further denied that
pure beauty contained a concept, and therefore denied that it was a
perfection sensibly apprehended. These reflexions have no doubt some
connexion with those concerning the nature of art in the _Critique of
Judgment;_ but the connexion is far from close, still less are they
actually fused into a single whole. That Kant was minutely familiar
with eighteenth-century writers who had discussed beauty and taste is
shown by his Lectures, wherein they are all quoted and used.[18] Of
these the greater part, especially the English, were sensationalists,
others intellectualists; some few, as we have noted, were inclined
towards mysticism. Kant began by tending towards sensationalism
in æsthetic problems, then became the adversary of sensationalists
and intellectualists alike. This development can be traced in his
_Observations on the Beautiful and Sublime,_ as well as in his
Lectures; its final expression is reached in the _Critique of Judgment._

Of the four moments, as he calls them, _i.e._ the four determinations,
he accords to Beauty, the two negative are directed, one against the
sensationalists, the other against the intellectualists. "That is
beautiful which pleases _without interest_": "That is beautiful which
pleases _without concepts_."[19] Here he asserts the existence of a
spiritual region, distinct on one side from the pleasurable, the useful
and the good, and on the other from truth. But this region, as we know
very well, is not that of art, which Kant attaches to the concept: it
is the region of a special activity of feeling which he calls judgement
or, more exactly, æsthetic judgement.

[Sidenote: _Mystical features in Kant's theory of Beauty._]

The other two moments give some kind of a definition of this region:
"That is beautiful which has the form of finality without the
representation of an end": "That is beautiful which is the object of
universal pleasure."[20] What is this mysterious sphere? What this
disinterested pleasure we experience in pure colours and tones, in
flowers, and even in adherent beauty when we make abstraction from the
concept to which it adheres?

Our answer is: there is no such sphere; it does not exist; the
examples given are instances either of pleasure in general or of
facts of artistic expression. Kant, who so emphatically criticizes
the sensationalists and the intellectualists, does not show the same
severity towards the neo-Platonic line of thought whose revival we
remarked in the eighteenth century. Winckelmann in particular exercised
strong influence over his mind. In one course of his Lectures we find
him making a curious distinction between form and matter: in music
melody is matter and harmony form: in a flower the scent is material
and the shape (_Gestalt)_ is form (_Form_).[21] This reappears
slightly modified in the _Critique of Judgment._ "In painting,
statuary and all the figurative arts in architecture and gardening,
so far as they are fine arts, the drawing is the essential; in which
the foundation of taste lies not in what gratifies (_vergnügt_) in
sensation, but in that which pleases (_gefällt_) by its form. The
colours which illuminate the drawing belong to sensuous stimulus
(_Reiz_) and may bring the object more vividly before the senses, but
do not render it worthy of contemplation as a thing of beauty; they
are, moreover, often limited by the exigencies of the beautiful form,
and even where their sensuous stimulus is legitimate, they are ennobled
only by the beautiful form."[22] Continuing in pursuit of this phantasm
of beauty which is not the beauty of art nor yet the pleasing, and is
equally detached from expressiveness and pleasure, Kant loses himself
in insoluble contradictions. Little inclined to submit himself to the
charm of imagination, abhorring "poetic philosophers" like Herder,[23]
he makes statements and refuses to commit himself to them, affirms
and immediately criticizes his affirmations, and wraps up Beauty in
a mystery which, at bottom, was nothing more than his own individual
incertitude and inability to see clearly the existence of an activity
of feeling which, in the spirit of his sane philosophy, represented a
logical contradiction. "Necessary and universal pleasure" and "finality
without the idea of an end" are the organized expression in words of
this contradiction.

By way of clearing up the contradiction he arrives at the following
thought: "The judgement of taste is founded on a concept (the concept
of a general foundation of the subjective teleology of nature through
judgement); but it is a concept by which it is impossible to know or
demonstrate anything of the object, because the object in itself is
indeterminable and unsuited to cognition; on the other hand, it has
validity for every one (for every one, I say, in so far as it is an
individual judgement, immediately accompanying intuition), since its
determining reason reposes, perhaps, in the concept of that which may
be regarded as the supersensible substrate of mankind." Beauty, then,
is a symbol of morality. "The subjective principle alone, that is the
indeterminate idea of the supersensible in us, can be considered the
only key able to unlock this faculty springing from a source we cannot
fathom: excepting by its aid, no comprehension of it can possibly
be reached."[24] These cautious words, and all others here used by
Kant to conceal his thoughts, do not hide his tendency to mysticism.
A mysticism without conviction or enthusiasm, almost in spite of
himself, but very evident nevertheless. His inadequate grasp of the
æsthetic activity led him to see double, even triple, and caused the
unnecessary multiplication of his explanatory principles. Although he
was always ignorant of the genuine nature of the æsthetic activity, he
was indebted to it for suggesting to him the pure categories of space
and time as the Transcendental Æsthetic; it caused him to develop the
theory of imaginative embellishment of intellectual concepts by the
work of genius; finally it forced him to acknowledge a mysterious
faculty of feeling, midway between theoretical and practical activity,
cognitive and yet not cognitive, moral and indifferent to morality,
pleasing yet wholly detached from the pleasure of the senses. Great
use of this power was made by Kant's immediate successors in Germany
who were delighted to find their daring speculations supported by that
severe critic of experience, the philosopher of Königsberg.

[1] B. Spaventa, _Prolus. ed introd. alle lezioni di filosofia,_
Naples, 1862 pp. 83-102; _Scritti filosofici,_ ed. Gentile, pp.
139-145, 303-307.

[2] _Kritik d. rein. Vernunft_ (ed. Kirchmann), i. 1, § 1, note.

[3] See above, p. 244.

[4] Extract from Kant's lectures of 1764 and later, in O. Schlapp,
_Kant's Lehre vom Genie, passim,_ esp. pp. 17, 58, 59, 79, 93, 96,
131-134, 136-137, 222, 225, 231-232, etc.

[5] _Kritik d. Urtheilskraft_ (ed. Kirchmann), § 16.

[6] _Kritik d. Urth._ § 49.

[7] _Op. cit._ § 50.

[8] _Op. cit._ § 48.

[9] _Krit. d. Urth._ § 48.

[10] _Op. cit._ § 17.

[11] _Op. cit._ § 16.

[12] For the historical genesis of this tripartition, cf. remarks in
Schlapp, _op. cit._ pp. 150-153.

[13] See also _Anthropol._ (ed. Kirchmann), §§ 26-31; cf. Schlapp, _op.
cit._ p. 296.

[14] _Kritik d. rein. Vernunft,_ i. I, § 1 and note.

[15] _Op. cit._ §§ 1-8.

[16] See above, pp. 4-5.

[17] _Krit. d. r. Vern._ § 8, and introd. to § ii.; cf. _Krit. d.
Urth._ § 15.

[18] See catalogue in Schlapp, _op. cit._ pp. 403-404, and _passim._

[19] _Krit. d. Urth._ §§ 1-9.

[20] _Op. cit._ §§ 10-22.

[21] Schlapp, _op. cit._ p. 78.

[22] _Krit. d. Urth._ § 14.

[23] For Kant's judgement of Herder, see Schlapp, _op. cit._ pp.
320-327, note.

[24] _Kritik d. Orth._ §§ 57-59.



[Sidenote: _The "Critique of Judgment" and metaphysical idealism._]

It is well known that Schelling held the _Critique of Judgment_ to be
the most important of the three Kantian _Critiques,_ and that Hegel
together with the great majority of the followers of metaphysical
idealism had a special affection for the book. According to them the
third _Critique_ was the attempt to bridge the gulf, to resolve the
antitheses between liberty and necessity, teleology and mechanism,
spirit and nature: it was the correction Kant was preparing for
himself, the concrete vision which dispelled the last traces of his
abstract subjectivism.

[Sidenote: _F. Schiller._]

The same admiration and an opinion even more favourable were extended
by them to Friedrich Schiller, the first to elaborate that part
of Kant's philosophy and to study the third sphere which united
sensibility to reason. "It was the artistic sense dwelling in his
also profoundly philosophical mind," says Hegel, "which, against the
abstract infinity of Kant's thought, against his living for duty,
against his conception of nature and reality, and of sense and feeling
as utterly hostile to intellect, asserted the necessity and enunciated
the principle of totality and reconciliation, even before it had been
recognized by professed philosophers: to Schiller must be allowed the
great merit of having been the first to oppose the subjectivity of
Kant, and of having dared try to go beyond it."[1]

[Sidenote: _Relations between Schiller and Kant._]

Discussion has raged around the true relation between Schiller and
Kant, and it has lately been maintained that his Æsthetic was not, as
would seem to be the case, derived from Kant, but from the pandynamism
which, starting from Leibniz, had propagated itself in Germany through
Creuzens, Ploucket and Reimarus down to Herder, who had conceived
a wholly animated nature.[2] There can be no doubt that Schiller
shared Herder's conception, as may be seen from the theosophical tone
of the fragment of correspondence between Julius and Raphæl and in
other writings. It cannot be denied, however, that whatever personal
feelings Kant may have had towards Herder, or Herder towards his
former teacher (against whose _Critique of Judgment_ he published his
_Kaligone,_ as he had replied to the _Critique of Pure Reason_ with his
_Metacritica_), when Kant in a somewhat dubious manner made the first
step towards a reconciliation, the breach was at all events partially
healed. The dispute is therefore of small importance: we shall find it
more useful to observe that Schiller introduced an important correction
of Kant's views when he obliterated every trace of the double theory
of art and the beautiful, giving no weight to the distinction drawn
between pure and adherent beauty, and finally abandoning the mechanical
conception of art as consisting in beauty joined to the intellectual
concept. It was certainly his own experience of active artistic work
that led him to this simplification.

[Sidenote: _The æsthetic sphere as the sphere of Play._]

Schiller defined the æsthetic sphere as the sphere of play (_Spiel_);
the unfortunate term, suggested to him partly by some phrases of Kant,
partly, perhaps, by an article on card-games by one Weisshuhn which he
published in his review _The Hours_ (_Die Horen_),[3] has given rise
to the belief that he anticipated certain modern doctrines of artistic
activity as the overflow of exuberant spirits, analogous with the play
of children and animals. Schiller did not fail to warn his readers
against such a mistaken interpretation (to which, however, he lent
himself) when he begged them not to think of "games in real life,
which are usually concerned with wholly material things," nor yet of
the idle dreaming of the imagination left to itself.[4] The activity
of the play of which he treated held the mean between the material
activity of the senses, of nature, of animal instinct or passion as
it is called, and the formal activity of intellect and morality. The
man who plays, _i.e._ contemplates nature æsthetically and produces
art, sees all natural objects as animated; in such a phantasmagoria
mere natural necessity gives place to the free determination of the
faculties; spirit appears as spontaneously reconciled with nature,
form with matter. Beauty is life, the living form (_lebende Gestalt)_;
not life in the physiological sense, since beauty does not extend
throughout all physiological life, nor is it restricted to that alone:
marble when worked by an artist may have a living form; and a man,
although possessed of life and form, need not be a living form.[5]
Wherefore art must conquer nature with form: "in an artistic work of
true beauty the content ought to be nil, the form everything: by form
man is influenced in his entirety; by content in his separate faculties
only. The true secret of great artists is that they cancel matter
through form (_den Stoff durch die Form vertilgt)_; the more imposing,
overwhelming or seductive the matter is in itself, the greater its
obstinacy in striving to emphasize its own particular effect, the more
the spectator inclines to lose himself immediately in the matter, so
much the more triumphant is the art which brings it into subjection
and enforces its own sovereign power. The mind of hearer or spectator
should remain perfectly free and calm; from the magic circle of art
it should issue as pure and perfect as when it left the hands of the
Creator. The most frivolous object should be treated in such a manner
as to enable us to pass at once to the most serious matters; and the
most serious in such a way that we may pass from them to the lightest
game." There is a fine art of passion; a passionate fine art would be
a contradiction in terms.[6] "So long as man in his early physical
state passively absorbs the world of senses and simply feels it, he is
one with it; and precisely because he merely is a world there is for
him as yet no world at all. Only when in his æsthetic state he places
the world outside himself and contemplates it, does he detach his
personality from the rest; then a world appears to him, since he is no
longer one with the world."[7]

[Sidenote: _Æsthetic education._]

Schiller ascribed high educational value to art thus conceived as at
once sensible and rational, material and formal. Not that it teaches
moral precepts or excites to good actions; if it acted thus, or when
it acted thus, it would at once cease, as we have seen, to be art.
Determination in whatsoever direction, to the good or the bad, to
pleasure or to duty, destroys the character of the æsthetic sphere,
which is rather indeterminism. By means of art man frees himself from
the yoke of the senses; but before putting himself spontaneously under
that of reason and duty, he takes as it were a little breathing-space
by staying in a region of indifference and serene contemplation. "While
having no claim to promote exclusively any special human faculty, the
æsthetic condition is favourable to each and all without favouritism;
and the reason why it favours none in particular is that it is the
foundation of the possibility of all alike. Every other exercise gives
some inclination to the soul, and therefore presupposes a special
limit; æsthetic activity alone is unlimited." This indifference, which
if not yet pure form is not pure matter, confers its educational value
on art; it opens a way to morality, not by preaching and persuading,
that is to say, determining, but by making determination possible.
Such is the fundamental concept of his celebrated _Letters on the
Æsthetic Education of Man_ (1795), in which Schiller took his cue from
the conditions of his times and from the necessity of finding a middle
way between supine acquiescence in tyranny and savage rebellion as
exemplified by the revolution then raging in France.

[Sidenote: _Vagueness and lack of precision in Schiller's Æsthetic._]

The defects of Schiller's æsthetic doctrine are its lack of precision
and its generality. Who has given a better description of certain
aspects of art, the catharsis produced by artistic activity, the
serenity and calm resulting from the domination over natural
impressions? Equally just is his remark that art, although wholly
independent of morality, is in some way connected with it. But what
precisely this connexion may be, or what the exact nature of æsthetic
activity, Schiller does not succeed in explaining. Conceiving the
moral and intellectual as the only formal activities (_Formtrieb)_ and
denying as a convinced anti-sensationalist in opposition to Burke and
philosophers of his type that art can belong to the passionate and
sensuous nature (_Stofftrieb_), he cut himself off from the means of
recognizing the general category to which artistic activity belongs.
His own concept of the formal is too narrow: too narrow, also, his
concept of the cognitive activity, in which he is able to see the
logical or intellectual form, but not that of the imagination. What
for him was this art he describes as an activity neither formal nor
material, neither cognitive nor moral? Was it for him, as for Kant,
an activity of feeling, a play of several faculties at once? It would
seem so, since Schiller distinguishes four points of view or relations
of man with things: the physical, in which these affect our senses:
the logical, in which they excite knowledge: the moral, in which they
appear to us as an object of rational volition: and the æsthetic
"in which they refer to our powers in entirety without becoming the
determinate object of any one faculty." For example, a man is pleased
æsthetically when his feeling depends in no way on the pleasure of
the senses and when he is not conscious of thinking about any law or
end.[8] We look in vain for any more conclusive reply.

It must not be overlooked that Schiller delivered a course of lectures
on Æsthetic in Jena University in 1792, and that his writings on the
subject intended for reviews were couched in a popular style: no
less popular, in his own opinion, was the style of the book quoted
above, which grew out of a series of letters actually sent to his
patron the Duke of Holstein-Augustenburg. But the great work to be
entitled _Rallias,_ which he intended writing upon Æsthetic, was never
completed; the only fragments which have reached us are contained in
the correspondence with Körner (1793-1794). From the discussions between
the two friends we gather that Körner was not satisfied with Schiller's
formula and desired something objective, something more precise, a
positive characteristic of the beautiful: and one day Schiller told him
that he had definitely discovered such a characteristic. But what it
was that he had discovered we do not know; no mention of it occurs in
any further document, and we are left in doubt as to whether we have
lost an integral part of his thought or merely the momentary illusion
of a discovery.

[Sidenote: _Schiller's caution and the rashness of the Romanticists._]

The uncertainty and vagueness of Schiller's theory seem almost a merit
in contrast with that which followed. He had constituted himself
guardian of the teaching of Kant and refused to abandon the realm of
criticism; faithful disciple of his master, he conceived the third
sphere not as real but as an ideal, a concept not constitutive but
regulative, an imperative. "From transcendental motives, reason here
demands that communion be established between formal and material
activity; that is to say, there must be an activity of play, since the
concept of humanity can be complete only by the union of reality with
form, the accidental with the necessary, passivity with liberty. This
demand must be made because reason, in conformity with her essence,
aims at perfection and at sweeping away all obstacles; and every
exclusive operation of one or other activity leaves humanity incomplete
and confined within limits."[9] Schiller's thought, as it appears in
his correspondence with Körner, has been well represented as follows:"
The union of sensibility with liberty in the Beautiful, which does
not actually take place but is supposed to do so, suggests to man
an intuition of the union of these elements within himself: a union
which does not take place actually but ought to do so."[10] The times
which followed had no such nice scruples. Kant had given new vigour
to the production of works on æsthetic, and, as in the days following
Baumgarten, every new year saw a number of new treatises. It was the
fashion. "Nothing swarms like æstheticians" (wrote Jean Paul Richter
in 1804 when preparing his own book on the subject for publication):
"it is rare for a youth who has paid his fees for a course of lectures
on Æsthetic not to produce a book on some point of the science in the
hope that the public may refund him his expenses by buying his book:
some there are indeed who pay their professor's fees out of their
author's royalties."[11] It was hoped, not unreasonably, that the
exploration of the obscure region of æsthetic might throw some light
on metaphysics, and the procedure of artists seemed to offer a good
example to philosophers seeking to create a world for themselves:
so philosophy modelled itself upon art and, as though to render the
transition easier, the concept of art was brought as close as possible
to that of philosophy. Romanticism, gaining vogue daily, was a renewal
or continuation of that "age of genius" in which the youth of Goethe
and Schiller had been passed; and as the period of _Sturm und Drang_
had zealously worshipped the genius who breaks all rules and oversteps
all limitations, so did Romanticism hail the domination of a faculty
called Fancy, or more frequently Imagination, to which were attributed
the most diverse characteristics and the most miraculous effects.

[Sidenote: _Ideas on Art: J. P. Richter._]

The Romantic theorists, artists themselves for the most part, abounded
in truthful and subtle observations concerning artistic procedure. Jean
Paul Richter makes many excellent remarks about productive imagination,
which he distinguishes clearly from the reproductive and asserts to be
shared by all men as soon as they are able to say "This is beautiful";
for "how could a genius be acclaimed or even tolerated for a single
month, not to mention thousands of centuries, by the common herd, if
he had not a strong connecting-link of relationship with the herd?" He
also describes how imagination is variously divided among individuals:
as simple talent, as passive or feminine genius, and in the highest
degree as the active or masculine genius, formed by reflexion and
instinct, in which "all faculties flourish simultaneously and fancy
is no isolated flower, but the goddess Flora herself who, in order
to produce new combinations, crosses with each other those blossoms
whose conjunction is fertile, and is, so to speak, a faculty full of
faculties."[12] This latter sentence betrays a tendency on Richter's
part to exaggerate the functions of imagination and to construct upon
it a kind of mythology.

[Sidenote: _Romantic Æsthetic and idealistic Æsthetic._]

Contemporary systems of philosophy are partly impregnated with, and
partly the source of, such mythologies: the Romantic conception of
art may be said to have found its most complete expression in German
idealism, where this attained its most coherent and systematic form.

[Sidenote: _J. G. Fichte._]

It did not attain this form with Fichte, the first great pupil of Kant;
for though Fichte regarded imagination as the activity which creates
the universe, effects the synthesis of the ego and the non-ego, posits
the object and therefore precedes consciousness, he does not connect it
with art.[13] In his æsthetic notions Fichte is influenced by Schiller,
with the addition of a moralism imposed upon him by the general
character of his system; hence the ethical sphere, midway between the
cognitive and the æsthetic, becomes from his point of view a mere
appurtenance of morality, as being the representation of, and hence
reverence for, the moral ideal.[14] His subjective idealism eventually
produced an æsthetic doctrine through the work of Friedrich Schlegel
and Ludwig Tieck; the doctrine of Irony as the basis of art.

[Sidenote: _Irony: Schlegel, Tieck, Novalis._]

The ego which created the universe can also destroy it; the universe is
an empty appearance at which the only true reality, the ego, can smile,
holding itself aloof, like an artist or a creative god, from creatures
of its own which it does not take seriously.[15] Friedrich Schlegel
described art as a perpetual parody of itself and a "transcendental
farce." Tieck defined irony as "a power which allows the poet to
dominate the matter which he handles." Another Romantic Fichtian,
Novalis, dreamed of a magical idealism, an art of creation by the
instantaneous act of the ego and of realizing our dreams.

[Sidenote: _F. Schelling._]

But it is only to the _System of Transcendental Idealism_ (1800) of
Schelling, to his _Bruno_ (1802), to his celebrated course of lectures
on the _Philosophy of Art_ given at Jena in 1802-1803 (repeated at
Würzburg, and distributed subsequently in manuscript notes all over
Germany), to the no less celebrated lecture on the _Relation between
the Figurative Arts and Nature_ (1807), as well as to other works
of this eloquent and enthusiastic philosopher that we owe the first
great philosophical affirmation of Romanticism, and of a renewed and
conscious neo-Platonism in Æsthetic.

[Sidenote: _Beauty and character._]

Like all the other idealistic philosophers, Schelling held firmly to
the fusion of the theories of art and the beautiful already effected
by Schiller. From this point of view it is interesting to note his
explanation of the condemnation of art by Plato: this condemnation,
says Schelling, was directed against the art of his time, the natural
and realistic art of antiquity in general, with its character of
finitude: Plato could not have uttered such a condemnation (as we
moderns are unable to utter it) if he had known Christian art, whose
characteristic is infinity.[16] The pure abstract beauty of Winckelmann
is not enough; no less inadequate, false and negative is that concept
of the characteristic which would try to make art something dead, hard
and ugly by imposing upon it the limitations of the individual. Art is
beauty and characteristic in one; characteristic beauty, character from
which beauty is evolved, according to Goethe's saying; it is therefore
not the individual but the living concept of the individual. When the
artist's eye recognizes the creative idea of the individual and draws
it forth, he transforms the individual into a world in itself, into a
species (_Gattung_), an eternal idea (_Urbild_), and fears no more the
limitation or hardness which is the condition of life: characteristic
beauty is that plenitude of form which kills form; it does not inflame
passion, it regulates it, like the banks of a river which are filled
but not overflowed by the waters.[17] In all of this we feel the
influence of Schiller, with something added which Schiller could never
have expressed.

[Sidenote: _Art and Philosophy._]

Indeed, whilst gratefully acknowledging the excellent contributions to
the theory of art made by the writers who succeeded Kant, Schelling
laments that in none of them can he find exact scientific method
(_Wissenschaftlichkeit_),[18] The true point of departure in his
theory is in the philosophy of nature, _i.e._ in that criticism of
the teleological judgement which Kant places directly after that of
the æsthetic judgement in his third _Critique._ Teleology is the
union of theoretical and practical philosophy; but the system would
be incomplete but for the possibility of demonstrating in the subject
itself, in the ego, the identity of the two worlds, theoretical and
practical; an activity which has, and at the same time has not,
consciousness; unconscious as nature, conscious as spirit. This
activity is precisely the æsthetic activity: "the general organ of
philosophy, keystone of the whole edifice."[19] There are but two ways
open to one who is desirous of escaping from common realities: poetry,
which transports into the ideal world; and philosophy which annihilates
the real world.[20] Strictly speaking, "there is but one sole absolute
work of art; it may exist in various exemplars, but in itself it is
one, although it may not yet possess existence in its original form."
True art is not the impression of one moment, but the representation
of infinite life;[21] it is transcendental intuition become objective,
and is therefore not only the organ but the document of philosophy.
A time will come when philosophy will return to poetry, from which
she has detached herself; and from the new philosophy a new mythology
will arise.[22] The Absolute is thus the object of art as well as of
philosophy (as Schelling insists elsewhere in greater detail): the
first represents it in idea (_Urbild_), the second in its reflexion
(_Gegenbild)_: "philosophy portrays ideas, not realities: so is it with
art: those same ideas of which real things, as philosophy demonstrates,
are imperfect copies, themselves appear in the objective arts as
ideas, _i.e._ in all their perfection, and represent the intellectual
world in the world of reflexion."[23] Music is the "very ideal rhythm
of Nature and the Universe, which by means of this art makes itself
felt in the derivative world"; perfect creations of statuary are "the
very ideas of organic nature represented objectively"; the Homeric
epic, "the very identity constituting the foundation of history in the
Absolute."[24] But while philosophy gives an immediate representation
of the Divine, of absolute Identity, art can but give the immediate
representation of Indifference; and "since the degree of perfection
or reality in a thing becomes higher in proportion as it approaches
nearer to the absolute Idea and the fulness of infinite affirmation
and in proportion as it comprehends within itself other powers, it is
clear that art, above everything else, is in closest relation with
philosophy, from which it is distinguished merely by the character
of its specification: in everything else it may be considered as the
highest power in the ideal world."[25] To the three powers of the real
and ideal world correspond in a rising scale the three ideas of Truth,
Goodness and Beauty. Beauty is neither the mere universal (truth),
nor mere reality (action), but the perfect interpenetration of both:
"beauty exists when the particular (the real) is so adequate to its
concept that the latter, as infinite, enters the finite and presents
itself to our contemplation in concrete form. With the appearance of
the concept, the real becomes truly similar and equal to the idea,
wherein the universal and the particular find their absolute identity.
Without ceasing to be rational, the rational becomes at the same time
apparent and sensible."[26] But as above the three powers is poised
God, their point of union, so Philosophy stands supreme over the three
ideas; concerning itself not with truth or morality or even beauty
alone, but with that which belongs to all the three in common, deduced
from one common source. If philosophy assumes the character of science
and truth, while yet remaining superior to truth, this is made possible
by the fact that science and truth are its formal determination;
"philosophy is science in the sense that truth, goodness and beauty,
_i.e._ science, virtue and art, interpenetrate each other; therefore
it is also not science but is that which is common to science, virtue
and art." This interpenetration distinguishes philosophy from all other
sciences; for instance, if mathematics can dispense with morality and
beauty, philosophy cannot do so.[27]

[Sidenote: _Ideas and the gods. Art and mythology._]

In Beauty are contained truth and goodness, necessity and liberty. When
beauty appears to be in conflict with truth, the truth in question
is a finite truth with which beauty ought not to agree, because, as
we have seen, the art of naturalism and of the merely characteristic
is a false art.[28] The individual forms of art, being in themselves
representatives of the infinite and the universe, are called Ideas.[29]
Considered from the point of view of reality, Ideas are gods; their
essence, their "in-itself," is in fact equivalent to God; every idea
is an idea so far as it is God in a particular form; every idea,
therefore, is equal to God, but to a particular god. Characteristic of
all the gods is pure limitation and indivisible absoluteness: Minerva
is the idea of wisdom united with strength, but she is lacking in
womanly tenderness; Juno is power without wisdom and without the sweet
attraction of love, for which she is forced to borrow the cestus of
Venus; Venus again has not the weighty wisdom of Minerva. What would
become of these ideas if deprived of their limitations? They would
cease to be objects of Imagination.[30] Imagination is a faculty which
has no connexion with pure intellect or with reason (_Vernunft_) and is
distinct from fancy (_Einbildungskraft_) which collects and arranges
the products of art, whereas imagination intuits them, forms them out
of itself, represents them. Imagination is to fancy as intellectual
intuition is to reason: it is therefore the intellectual intuition of
art.[31] "Reason" no longer suffices in a philosophy such as this:
intellectual intuition, which for Kant was a limiting concept, is now
asserted as really existing: intellect sinks to a subordinate place:
even the genuine imagination which operates in art is overshadowed
by this new-fangled Imagination, twin with intellectual Intuition,
who sometimes changes places with this sister of hers. Mythology
is proclaimed a necessary condition of all art: mythology which is
not allegory, for in the latter the particular signifies only the
universal, while the former is already itself the universal; which
explains how easy it is to allegorize, and how fascinating are such
poems as those of Homer which lend themselves to such interpretations.
Christian, as well as Hellenic, art has its mythology: Christ; the
persons of the Trinity; the Virgin mother of God.[32] The fine between
mythology and art is as shadowy as that between art and philosophy.

[Sidenote: _K. W. Solger._]

The year 1815 saw the publication of Solger's principal work, _Erwin,_
a long philosophical dialogue on the beautiful; subsequently in
1819 he gave a course of lectures on Æsthetic which were published
posthumously. He was one of those who found but a glimpse of truth
in Kant and held the post-Kantians in very slight estimation,
particularly Fichte; in Schelling, who begins from the original unity
of the subjective and the objective, he detects for the first time a
speculative principle not adequately developed, since Schelling had
never triumphed dialectically over the difficulties of intellectual

[Sidenote: _Fancy and Imagination._]

Solger was one of those who conceived of Imagination as totally
distinct from Fancy: fancy (says he) belongs to common cognition
and is none other than "the human consciousness, in so far as it
continues, in temporal succession, infinitely reasserting an original
intuition"; it presupposes the distinctions between common cognition,
abstraction and judgement, concept and representation, amongst which
"it acts as mediator by giving to the general concept the form of
individual representation; and to the latter the form of a general
concept; in this manner it has its being among the antitheses of the
ordinary understanding." Imagination is totally different; proceeding
"from the original unity of the antitheses in the Idea, it acts so
that the elements in opposition, separated as they are from the idea,
find themselves united in the reality; by its means we are capable
of apprehending objects higher than those of common cognition and of
recognizing in them the idea itself as real: also, in art, it is the
faculty of transforming the idea into reality." It presents itself
in three modes or degrees: as Imagination of the Imagination, which
conceives the whole as idea, and activity as nothing more than the
development of the idea in reality; as Sensibility of the Imagination,
in so far as it expresses the life of the idea in the real and reduces
the one to the other; lastly (and here we have the highest grade of
artistic activity, corresponding with Dialectic in philosophy) as
Intellect of the Imagination or artistic Dialectic, conceiving idea and
reality in such a way that one passes over into the other, that is to
say, into reality. Other divisions and subdivisions are made on which
it is not necessary to dwell. Imagination is said to produce the Irony
essential to true art: this is the Irony of Tieck and Novalis, of whom
Solger is in a sense a follower.[34]

[Sidenote: _Art, practice and religion._]

Solger joins Schelling in placing beauty in the region of the Idea,
inaccessible to common consciousness. It is distinct from the idea
of Truth, because instead of dissolving the appearances of common
consciousness after the manner of truth, art accomplishes the
miracle of making appearance dissolve itself while still remaining
appearance; artistic thought, therefore, is practical, not theoretical.
Furthermore, it is distinct from the idea of Goodness, with which
at first sight it would seem to be closely related, because in the
case of Goodness the union of ideal with real, of the simple with the
multiple, of the infinite with the finite, is not real and complete,
but remains ideal, a mere ought-to-be. It is related more closely
to Religion, which thinks the Idea as the abyss of life where our
individual conscience must lose itself in order to become "essential"
(_wesentlich_), while in beauty and art the Idea manifests itself by
gathering into itself the world of distinctions between universal
and particular and placing itself in their place. Artistic activity
is more than theoretical, it is of a practical nature, but realized
and perfected; art, therefore, belongs not to theoretical philosophy
(as Kant thought, according to Solger), but to practical. Necessarily
attached on one side to infinity, it cannot have common nature as its
object; for example, art is absent from a portrait, and the ancients
showed their discrimination in selecting gods and heroes for objects
in sculpture since every deity--even in limited and particular
form--always signifies a determinate modification of the Idea.[35]

[Sidenote:_ G. W. F. Hegel_.]

The same concept of art appears in the philosophy of Hegel, whatever
may be the minor differences which he felt to separate himself from his
predecessors. Little concerned as we are with the shades and varieties
of mystical Æsthetic exhibited by each of these thinkers, we are
chiefly concerned to lay bare the substantial underlying identity,
the mysticism of arbitrarism which gives them their historic place in

[Sidenote: _Art in the sphere of absolute spirit._]

Opening the _Phenomenology_ and the _Philosophy of Spirit,_ one need
not expect to find any discussion of art in the analysis of the forms
of the theoretical Spirit, among definitions of sensibility and
intuition, language and symbolism, and various grades of imagination
and thought. Hegel places Art in the sphere of absolute Spirit,
together with Religion and Philosophy,[36] and in this he regards
Kant, Schiller, Schelling and Solger as his precursors, for like them
he strongly denies that art has the function of representing the
abstract concept, but not that it represents the concrete concept
or Idea. Hegel's whole philosophy consists in the affirmation of a
concrete concept, unknown to ordinary or scientific thought. "Indeed,"
says he, "no concept has in our day been more mishandled than the
concept in itself and for itself; for by concept is generally meant
the abstract determinateness or one-sidedness of representation and
intellectualistic thought, with which it is naturally impossible to
think either the entirety of truth or concrete beauty."[37] To the
realm of the concrete concept belongs art, as one of the three forms
wherein the freedom of the spirit is achieved; it is the first form,
namely that of immediate, sensible, objective knowledge (the second is
religion, a representative consciousness _plus_ worship, an element
extraneous to mere art: the third is philosophy, free thought of the
absolute spirit).[38]

[Sidenote: _Beauty as sensible appearance of the Idea._]

Beauty and truth are at the same time one yet distinct. "Truth is
Idea as Idea, according to its being-in-itself and its universal
principle, and so far as it is thought as such. There is no sensible
or material existence in Truth; thought contemplates therein nothing
but universal idea. But the Idea must also realize itself externally
and attain an actual and determinate existence. Truth also as such
has existence; but when in its determinate external existence it is
immediately for consciousness, and the concept remains immediately one
with the external appearance, the Idea is not only true but beautiful.
In this way Beauty may be defined as the sensible appearance of the
Idea."[39] The Idea is the content of art: its sensible and imaginative
configuration; its form: two elements which must interpenetrate and
form a whole, hence the necessity that a content destined to become
a work of art should show itself capable of such transformation;
otherwise we have but an imperfect union of poetic form with prosaic
and incongruous content.[40] An ideal content must gleam through the
sensible form; the form is spiritualized by this ideal light;[41]
artistic imagination does not work in the same way as the passive
or receptive fancy, it does not stop at the appearances of sensible
reality but searches for the internal truth and rationality of the
real. "The rationality of the object selected by him should not be
alone in awakening the consciousness of the artist: he should have
well meditated upon the essential and the true in all their extension
and profundity, for without reflexion a man cannot become conscious
of that which is within himself, and all great works of art show
that their material has been thought again and again from every
side. No successful work of art can issue from light and careless
imagination."[42] It is a delusion to fancy that poet and painter need
nothing beyond intuitions: "a true poet must reflect and meditate
before and during the execution of his poem."[43] But it is always
understood that the thought of the poet does not take the form of

[Sidenote: _Æsthetic in metaphysical idealism and Baumgartenism._]

Some critics[44] affirm that the æsthetic movement from Schelling to
Hegel is a revived Baumgartenism on the ground that this movement
regarded art as a mediator of philosophical concepts; they mention
the fact that a follower of Schelling, one Ast, was moved by the trend
of his system to substitute didactic poetry for drama as the highest
form of art.[45] Putting aside some isolated and accidental deviations,
there is no truth in this affirmation: these philosophers are hostile
to intellectualistic and moralistic views, frequently entering upon
definite and explicit polemic against them. Schelling wrote: "Æsthetic
production is in its origin an absolutely free production.... This
independence on any extraneous purpose constitutes the sanctity and
purity of art, enabling it to repel all connexion with mere pleasure, a
connexion which is a mark of barbarism, or with utility, which cannot
be demanded of art save at times when the loftiest form of the human
spirit is found in utilitarian discoveries. The same reasons forbid an
alliance with morality and hold even science at arm's length, although
nearest by reason of her disinterestedness; having her aim, however,
outside herself, she must restrict herself definitely to serve as means
to something higher than herself: the arts."[46] Hegel says, "Art
contains no universal as such." "If the aim of instruction is treated
as an aim, so that the nature of the content represented appears for
itself directly, as an abstract proposition, prosaic reflexion, or
general theory, and is not merely contained indirectly and implicitly
in the concrete artistic form, the result of such a separation is to
reduce the sensible and imaginative form, the true constituent of a
work of art, to an idle ornament, a covering (_Hülle)_ presented simply
as a covering, an appearance maintained as mere appearance. The very
nature of the work of art is thus completely altered, for a work of art
must not present to intuition a content in its universality, but this
universal individualized and converted into a sensible individual."[47]
It is a bad sign, he adds, when an artist sets himself about his work
from a motive of abstract ideas instead of that of the fulness of
life (_Überfülle des Lebens_).[48] The aim of art lies in itself, in
presentation of truth in a sensible form; any other aim is altogether
extraneous.[49] It would not be hard to prove, certainly, that by
separating art from pure representation and imagination and making it
in some sense the vehicle of the concept, the universal, the infinite,
these philosophers were facing in the direction of the road opened by
Baumgarten. But to prove this would mean accepting as a presupposition
the dilemma that if art be not pure imagination, it must be sensuous
and subordinate to reason; and it is just this presupposition and
dilemma that the metaphysical idealists denied. The road they tried to
follow was to conceive a faculty which should be neither imagination
nor intellect but should partake of both; an intellectual intuition or
intuitive intellect, a mental imagination after the fashion of Plotinus.

[Sidenote: _Mortality and decay of art in Hegel's system._]

In a greater degree than any of his predecessors Hegel emphasized the
cognitive character of art. But this very merit brought him into a
difficulty more easily avoided by the rest. Art being placed in the
sphere of absolute Spirit, in company with Religion and Philosophy,
how will she be able to hold her own in such powerful and aggressive
company, especially in that of Philosophy, which in the Hegelian
system stands at the summit of all spiritual evolution? If Art and
Religion fulfilled functions other than the knowledge of the Absolute,
they would be inferior levels of the Spirit, but yet necessary and
indispensable. But if they have in view the same end as Philosophy
and are allowed to compete with it, what value can they retain? None
whatever; or, at the very most, they may have that sort of value which
attaches to transitory historical phases in the life of humanity. The
principles of Hegel's system are at bottom rationalistic and hostile to
religion, and hostile no less to art. A strange and painful consequence
for a man like Hegel, endowed with a warmly æsthetic spirit and a
fervid lover of the arts; almost a repetition of the hard fate endured
by Plato. But as the Greek philosopher, in obedience to the presumed
command of religion, did not hesitate to condemn the mimetic art and
the Homeric poetry he loved, so the German refused to evade the logical
exigencies of his system and proclaimed the mortality, nay, the very
death, of art. "We have assigned," he says, "a very high place to
art: but it must be recollected that neither in content nor in form
can art be considered the most perfect means of bringing before the
consciousness of the mind its true interests. Precisely by reason of
its form, art is limited to a particular content. Only a definite
circle or grade of truth can be made visible in a work of art; that
is to say, such truth as may be transfused into the sensible and
adequately presented in that form, as were the Greek gods. But there
is a deeper conception of truth, by which it is not so intimately
allied to the sensible as to permit of its being received or expressed
suitably in material fashion. To this class belongs the Christian
conception of truth; and, furthermore, the spirit of our modern world,
more especially that of our religion and our mental evolution, seems to
have passed the point at which art is the best road to the apprehension
of the Absolute. The peculiar character of artistic production no
longer satisfies our highest aspirations.... Thought and reflexion
have superseded fine art." Many reasons have been adduced in order to
account for the moribund condition of modern art; in especial, the
prevalence of material and political interests; the true reason, says
Hegel, consists of the inferiority in grade of art in comparison with
pure thought. "Art in its highest form is and for us must remain a
thing of the past"; and just because the thing has vanished, one can
reason about it philosophically.[50] The Æsthetic of Hegel is thus a
funeral oration: he passes in review the successive forms of art, shows
the progressive steps of internal consumption and lays the whole in
its grave, leaving Philosophy to write its epitaph.

Romanticism and metaphysical idealism had elevated art to such a
fantastic height among the clouds that at last they were obliged to
admit that it was so far away as to be absolutely useless.

[1] _Vorles. über die Ästhetik_ (2nd ed., Berlin, 1842), vol. i. p. 78.

[2] Sommer, _Gesch. d. Psych. u. Ästh._ pp. 365-432.

[3] Danzel, _Ges. Aufs._ p. 242.

[4] _Briefe ü. d. Ästh. Erzieh._ (in Werke, ed. Goedecke), Letters 15,

[5] _Op. cit._ Letter 15.

[6] _Briefe_, Letter 22.

[7] _Op. cit._ Letter 25.

[8] _Briefe_, Letter 20.

[9] _Briefe,_ Letter 15.

[10] Danzel, _Ges. Aufs._ p. 241.

[11] _Vorschule der Ästh.,_ 1804 (French trans., _Poétique ou
introduction à l'Esth.,_ Paris, 1862), preface.

[12] _Vorschule d. Ästh._ chs. 2, 3.

[13] _Grundl. der Wissenschaftslehre,_ in _Werke_ (Berlin, 1845), vol.
i. pp. 214-217.

[14] Danzel, _Ges. Aufs._ pp. 25-30; Zimmermann, _G. d. A._ pp. 522-572.

[15] Hegel, _Vorles. üb. d. Ästh._ introd. vol. i. pp. 82-88.

[16] _Vorles. üb. d. Methode d. akadem. Stud._ (1803), lecture 14; in
_Werke_ (Stuttgart, 1856-1861), vol. v, pp. 346-347.

[17] _Üb. d. Verhältniss d. bild. Künste, z. d. Natur_ in _Werke,_ vol.
vii. pp. 299-310.

[18] _Philos, d. Kunst,_ posthumous, introd. in _Werke,_ v. p. 362.

[19] _System d. transcend. Idealismus,_ in _Werke,_ § i. vol. iii.
introd. § 3, p. 349.

[20] _Op. cit._ § 4, p. 351.

[21] _System d. transcend. Idealismus,_ in _Werke,_ part vi. § 3, p.

[22] _Op. cit._ § 3, pp. 627-629.

[23] _Phil. d. Kunst,_ pp. 368-369.

[24] _Op. cit._ p. 369.

[25] _Op. cit._ General Part, p. 381.

[26] _Phil. d. Kunst,_ p. 382.

[27] _Op. cit._ p. 383.

[28] _Op. cit._ p. 385.

[29] _Op. cit._ pp. 389-390.

[30] _Phil. d. Kunst,_ pp. 390-393.

[31] _Op. cit._ p. 395.

[32] _Op. cit._ pp. 405-451.

[33] _Vorles. üb. Ästhetik_, Heyse, Leipzig, 1829, pp. 35-43.

[34] Vorles. üb. Ästh. pp. 186-200.

[35] Op. cit. pp. 48-85.

[36] _Encykl. d. phil. Wiss._ §§ 557-563.

[37] _Vorles. üb. Ästh._ (_ed. cit._) i. p. 118.

[38] _Op. cit._ i. pp. 129-133.

[39] _Vorles. üb. Ästh._ i. p. 141.

[40] _Op. cit._ i. p. 89.

[41] _Op. cit._ i. pp. 50-51.

[42] _Op. cit._ i. pp. 354-355.

[43] _Encykl._ § 450.

[44] Danzel, _Ästh. d. hegel. Sch._ p. 62; Zimmermann, _G. d. A._ pp.
693-697; J. Schmidt, _L. u. B._ pp. 103-105; Spitzer, _Krit. St._ p. 48.

[45] Fr. Ast, _System der Kunstlehre,_ Leipzig, 1805; cf. Spitzer, _op.
cit._ p. 48.

[46] _System d. transcend. Idealismus_ (1800), part vi. § 2; in
_Werke,_ § I, vol. iii. pp. 622-623.

[47] _Vorles. üb. d. Ästh._ i. pp. 66-67.

[48] _Vorles. üb. d. Ästh._ i. p. 353.

[49] _Op. cit._ i. p. 72.

[50] _Vorles. üb. d. Ästh._ i. pp. 13-16.



[Sidenote: _Æsthetic mysticism in the opponents of Idealism._]

Nothing, perhaps, shows more clearly how well this imaginative
conception of art suited the spirit of the times (not only a particular
fashion in philosophy, but the psychological conditions expressed
by the Romantic movement) than the fact that the adversaries of
the systems of Schelling, Solger and Hegel either agreed with this
conception in general or, while believing themselves to be departing
widely from it, actually returned to it involuntarily.

[Sidenote: _A. Schopenhauer._]

Everybody knows with what lack, shall we say, of _phlegma
philosophicum_ Arthur Schopenhauer fought against Schelling, Hegel
and all the "charlatans" and "professors" who had divided amongst
themselves the heritage of Kant. But what was the artistic theory
accepted and developed by Schopenhauer?

[Sidenote: _Ideas as the object of art._]

His theory, like Hegel's own, turns upon the distinction between
the concept which is abstraction and the concept which is concrete,
or Idea; although Schopenhauer's Ideas are by himself likened to
Plato's, and in the particular form in which he presents them more
nearly resemble those of Schelling than the Idea of Hegel. They have
something in common with intellectual concepts, for like them they
are unities representing a plurality of real things: but "the concept
is abstract and discursive, entirely indeterminate in its sphere,
rigorously precise within its own limits only; the intellect suffices
to conceive and understand it, speech expresses it without need for
other intermediary, and its own definition exhausts its whole nature;
the idea, on the contrary (which may be defined clearly as the adequate
representative of the concept) is absolutely intuitive, and although
it represents an infinite number of individual things, it is not for
that any the less determined in all its aspects. The individual, as
individual, cannot know it; in order to conceive it he must strip
himself of all will, of all individuality, and raise himself to the
state of a pure knowing subject. The idea, therefore, is attained
by genius only, or by one who finds himself in a genial disposition
attained by that elevation of his cognitive powers inspired usually
by genius." "The idea is unity become plurality by means of space
and time, forms of one intuitive apperception; the concept, on the
contrary, is unity extracted from plurality by means of abstraction,
which is the procedure of our intellect: the concept may be described
as _unitas post yewi_ the idea, _unitas ante rem._"[1] Schopenhauer is
in the habit of calling ideas the genera of things; but on one occasion
he remarks that ideas are of species, not genera; that genera are
simply concepts, and that there are natural species, but only logical
genera.[2] This psychological illusion as to the existence of ideas for
types originates (as we find elsewhere in Schopenhauer) in the habit
of converting the empirical classifications of the natural sciences
into living realities. "Do you wish to see ideas?" he asks; "look at
the clouds which scud across the sky; look at a brooklet leaping over
rocks; look at the crystallization of hoar-frost on a window-pane
with its designs of trees and flowers. The shapes of the clouds, the
ripples of the gushing brook, the configurations of the crystals exist
for us individual observers, in themselves they are indifferent. The
clouds in themselves are elastic vapour; the brook is an incompressible
fluid, mobile, transparent, amorphous, the ice obeys the laws of
crystallization: and in these determinations their ideas consist."[3]
All these are the immediate objectification of will in its various
degrees; and it is these, not their pale copies in real things,
that art delineates; whence Plato was right in one sense and wrong
in another, and is justified and condemned by Schopenhauer exactly
in the same way as by Plotinus of old, as well as by Schopenhauer's
worst enemy, the modern Schelling.[4] In consequence, each art has
a special category of ideas for its own dominion. Architecture, and
in some cases hydraulics, facilitate the clear intuition of those
ideas which constitute the lower degrees of objectification--weight,
cohesion, resistance, hardness, the general properties of stone and
some combinations of light; gardening and (most curious association)
landscape painting represent the ideas of vegetable nature; sculpture
and animal painting those of zoology; historical painting and the
higher forms of sculpture that of the human body; poetry the very idea
of man himself.[5] As for music, that (let him who can justify the
logical discontinuity) is outside the hierarchy of the other arts.
We have seen how Schelling considered it to be representative of the
very rhythm of the universe;[6] differing but slightly from this,
Schopenhauer affirms that music does not express ideas but, parallel
with ideas, Will itself. The analogies between music and the world,
between the fundamental bass and crude matter, between the scale and
the series of species, between melody and conscious will, led him to
the conclusion that music was not, as Leibniz thought, an arithmetic
but a metaphysic: _exercitium metaphysices occultum nescientis se
philosophari animi_.[7]

[Sidenote: _Æsthetic catharsis._]

To Schopenhauer, no less than his idealistic predecessors, art
beatifies; it is the flower of life; he who contemplates art is no
longer an individual but a pure knowing subject, at liberty, free from
desire, from pain, from time.[8]

[Sidenote: _Signs of a better theory in Schopenhauer._]

Schopenhauer's system no doubt contains here and there premonitions
of a better and more profound treatment of art. Schopenhauer, who was
capable on occasion of clear and keen analysis, constantly insists
that the forms of space and time must not be applied to the idea
or to artistic contemplation, which admits of the general form of
representation only.[9] From this he might have inferred that art, so
far from being a superior and extraordinary level of consciousness, is
actually its most immediate level, namely that which in its primitive
simplicity precedes even common perception with its reference of
objects to a position in the spatial and temporal series. To free
oneself from common perception and to live in imagination does not mean
rising to a Platonic contemplation of the ideas, but descending once
more into the region of immediate intuition, becoming children again,
as Vico had seen. On the other hand Schopenhauer had begun to examine
the categories of Kant with an unprejudiced eye; he was not satisfied
with the two forms of intuition, and wished to add to them a third,
causality.[10] In conclusion, we note that, like his predecessors, he
makes a comparison between art and history, with this difference and
advantage over the idealist authors of the philosophy of history, that
for him history was irreducible to concepts; it was contemplation of
the individual, and therefore not science. Had he persevered in his
comparison between art and history, he would have arrived at a better
solution than that at which he stopped; that is to say, that the matter
of history is the particular in its particularity and contingency,
while that of art is that which is, and is always identical.[11] But
instead of pursuing these happy ideas Schopenhauer preferred to play
variations on the themes fashionable in his day.

[Sidenote: _J. F. Herbart._]

Most astounding of all is the fact that a dry intellectualist,
the avowed enemy of idealism, of dialectic and of speculative
constructions, head of the school calling itself realistic or the
school of exact philosophy, Johann Friedrich Herbart, when he
turns his attention to Æsthetic, turns mystic too, though in a
slightly different way. How weightily he speaks when expounding his
philosophical method! Æsthetic must not bear the blame of the faults
into which metaphysic has fallen; we must make it an independent study,
and detach it from all hypothesis about the universe. Nor must it be
confounded with psychology or asked to describe the emotions awakened
by the content of works of art, such as the pathetic or the comic,
sadness or joy; its duty is to determine the essential character of
art and beauty. In the analysis of particular cases of beauty and
in registering what they reveal lies the way of salvation. These
proposals and promises have misled numbers of people as to the nature
of Herbart's Æsthetic. But _ce sont là jeux de princes_; by paying
attention we shall see what Herbart meant by analysis of particular
case; and how he held himself aloof from metaphysics.

[Sidenote: _Pure Beauty and relations of form._]

Beauty, for him, consisted in relations: relations of tone, colour,
line, thought and will; experience must decide which of these relations
are beautiful, and æsthetic science consists solely in enumerating the
fundamental concepts (_Musterbegriffe)_ in which are summarized the
particular cases of beauty. But these relations, Herbart thought, were
not like physiological facts; they could not be empirically observed,
_e.g._ in a psycho-physical laboratory. To correct this error it is
only necessary to observe that these relations include not only tones,
lines and colours, but also thoughts and will, and that they extend to
moral facts no less than to objects of external intuition. He declares
explicitly "No true beauty is sensible, although it frequently happens
that sense-impressions precede and follow the intuition of beauty."[12]
There is a profound distinction between the beautiful and the pleasant;
for the pleasant needs no representation, while the beautiful consists
in representation of relations, followed immediately in consciousness
by a judgment, an appendix (_Zusatz)_ which expresses unqualified
approbation ("_es gefällt!_"). And while the pleasant and the
unpleasant "in the progress of culture gradually become transient and
unimportant, Beauty stands out more and more as something permanent and
possessed of undeniable value."[13] The judgment of taste is universal,
eternal, immutable: "the complete representation (_vollendete
Vorstellung_) of the same relations is always followed by the same
judgment; just as the same cause always produces the same effect.
This happens at all times and in all circumstances, conditions and
complications, which gives to the particularity of certain cases the
appearance of a universal rule. Granted that the elements of a relation
are universal concepts, it is plain that although in judging we think
only of the content of these concepts, the judgment must have a sphere
as large as that common to the two concepts."[14] Herbart considers
æsthetic judgements as a general class comprising ethical judgements as
a subdivision: "amongst other beauties is to be distinguished morality,
as a thing not only of value in itself but as actually determining the
unconditioned value of persons"; within morality in the narrowest sense
is distinguished in turn justice.[15] The five ethica ideas guiding
moral life (internal liberty, perfection, benevolence, equity and
justice) are five æsthetic ideas or rather æsthetic concepts applied to
relations of will.

[Sidenote: _Art as sum of content and form._]

Herbart looks on art as a complex fact, the combination of an
extra-æsthetic element, content, which may have logical or
psychological or any other kind of value, and a purely æsthetic
element, form, which is an application of the fundamental æsthetic
concepts. Man looks for that which is diverting, instructive, moving,
majestic, ridiculous; and "all these are mingled with the beautiful
in order to procure favour and interest for the work. The beautiful
thus assumes various complexions, and becomes graceful, magnificent,
tragic, or comic; it can become all these because the æsthetic
judgement, in itself calmly serene, tolerates the company of the most
diverse excitations of the soul which are no part of itself."[16] But
all these things have nothing to do with beauty. In order to discover
the objectively beautiful or ugly, one must make abstraction from
every predicate concerning the content. "In order to recognize the
objectively beautiful or ugly in poetry, one must show the difference
between this and that thought, and the discussion will concern itself
with thoughts; to recognize it in sculpture, one must show the
difference between this and that outline, and the discussion will turn
upon outlines; to recognize it in music, one should show the difference
between this and that tone, and the discussion will turn upon tones.
Now, such predicates as 'magnificent, charming, graceful' and so
forth contain nothing whatever about tones, outlines or thoughts, and
therefore tell us nothing about the objectively beautiful in poetry,
sculpture, or music; indeed they rather lead us to believe in the
existence of an objective beauty to which thought, outline, or tone are
equally accidental, which may be approached by receiving impressions
from poetry, sculpture, music and so forth, obliterating the object
and giving oneself up to the pure emotion of mind."[17] Very different
is the æsthetic judgement, the "cold judgement of the connoisseur"
who considers exclusively form, _i.e._ objectively pleasant formal
relations. This abstraction from the content in order to contemplate
pure form is the catharsis produced by art. Content is transitory,
relative, subject to moral law and liable to moral judgement: form is
permanent, absolute, free.[18] Concrete art may be the sum of two or
more values; but the æsthetic fact is form alone.

[Sidenote: _Herbart and Kantian thought._]

The reader who goes behind appearances and discounts diversities of
terminology will not fail to observe the close similarity of the
æsthetic doctrine of Herbart to that of Kant. In Herbart we again
find the distinction between free and adherent beauty, and between
form and the sensuous stimulus (_Reiz)_ attached to form: we find an
affirmation of the existence of pure beauty, the object of necessary
and universal, but not discursive, judgements; lastly, we find a
certain connexion between beauty and morality, between Æsthetic and
Ethics. In these matters Herbart is perhaps the most faithful follower
and propagator of the thought of Kant, whose doctrine contains the germ
of his own. In one passage he describes himself as "a Kantian, but of
the year 1828"; and he is quite right, even in pointing out the exact
difference in date. Amidst the errors and uncertainties of his æsthetic
thought, Kant is rich in suggestion and scatters fertile seed; he
belongs to a period when philosophy was still young and impressionable.
Herbart, coming later, is dry and one-sided; he takes whatever is
false in Kant's doctrine and hardens it into a system. If they had
done little else, the Romanticists and idealists had at least united
the theory of beauty to that of art, and destroyed the rhetorical
and mechanical view; and they had brought into relief (frequently
exaggerating, doubtless) various important characteristics of artistic
activity. Herbart re-states the mechanical view, restores the duality,
and presents a capricious, narrow, barren mysticism, devoid of all
breath of artistic feeling.

[1] _Welt als Wille u. Vorstellung,_ 1819 (in _Sämmtl. Werke,_ ed.
Grisebach, vol. i.). bk. iii. § 49.

[2] _Ergänzungen_ (ed. Grisebach, vol. ii.), ch. 29.

[3] _Welt a. W. u. V._ iii. § 35.

[4] See above, p. 291.

[5] _Welt a. W. u. V._ iii. §§ 42-51.

[6] See above, p. 293.

[7] _Welt a. W. u. V._ § 53.

[8] _Op. cit._ § 34.

[9] _Welt a. W. u. V._ § 32.

[10] _Kritik d. kantischen Philosophie,_ in append, to _op. cit._ pp.

[11] _Ergänzungen,_ ch. 38.

[12] _Einleitung in die Philosophie,_ 1813, in _Werke,_ ed.
Hartenstein, vol. 1. p. 49.

[13] _Einleitung in die Philosophie,_ pp. 125-128.

[14] _Allgemeine praktische Philosophie,_ in _Werke,_ viii. p. 25.

[15] _Einleitung,_ p. 128.

[16] _Einleitung,_ p. 162.

[17] _Op. cit._ pp. 129-130.

[18] _Op. cit._ p. 163.



[Sidenote: _Æsthetic of content and Æsthetic of form: meaning of the

We have now reached a point when we are able to give ourselves an exact
account of the signification and importance of the celebrated war
waged for over a century in Germany between the Æsthetic of content
(_Gehaltsästhetik)_ and the Æsthetic of form (_Formästhetik_); a war
which gave birth to vast works on the history of Æsthetic undertaken
from one or other point of view, and sprang from Herbart's opposition
to the idealism of Schelling, Hegel, and their contemporaries and
followers. "Form" and "Content" are among the most equivocal words
in the whole philosophical vocabulary, particularly in Æsthetic;
sometimes, indeed, what one calls form, others call content. The
Herbartians were specially given to quoting in their own defence
Schiller's dictum, that the secret of art consists in "cancelling
content by form." But what is there in common between Schiller's
concept of "form," which placed the æsthetic activity side by side
with the moral and intellectual, and Herbart's "form," which does not
penetrate or enliven, but clothes and adorns a content? Hegel, on
the other hand, often gives the name "form" to what Schiller would
call "matter" (_Stoff_), that is, the sensible matter which it is
the business of spiritual energy to dominate. Hegel's "content" is
the idea, the metaphysical truth, the constituent element of beauty:
Herbart's "content" is the emotional and intellectual element which
falls outside beauty. The Æsthetic of "form" in Italy is an æsthetic of
expressive activity; the form is neither a clothing nor a metaphysical
idea nor sensible matter, but a representative or imaginative faculty
with the power of framing impressions; yet there have been attempts
to confute this Italian æsthetic formalism with the same arguments
that are used against German æsthetic formalism, a totally different
thing in every respect. And so forth. Having given a plain account of
the thoughts of the post-Kantian æstheticians, we shall be able to
appreciate their opponents without seeking light from their obscure
terminology or allowing ourselves to be misled by the banners they
wave. The antithesis between the Æsthetic of content and that of
form, the Æsthetic of idealism and that of realism, the Æsthetic of
Schelling, Solger, Hegel and Schopenhauer and that of Herbart, will
appear in its true light, as the lamily quarrel between two conceptions
of art united by a common mysticism, although one is destined almost to
meet with truth during its long journey, while the other wanders ever
further away.

The first half of the nineteenth century was for Germany a period of
many fine-sounding philosophical formulæ: subjectivism, objectivism,
subjective--objectivism; abstract, concrete, abstract-concrete;
idealism, realism, idealism--realism; between pantheism and theism
Krause inserted his pan-en-theism. In the midst of this uproar, in
which the second-rate men shouted down the first-rate and made good
their claim to their only true property, namely words, it is not
surprising that a few modest clear thinkers, philosophers who preferred
to think about realities, should have the worst of it and remain
unheard and unnoticed, lost among the roaring crowd or labelled with a
false ticket.

[Sidenote: _Friedrich Schleiermacher._]

This, at least, seems to have been the lot of Friedrich Schleiermacher,
whose æsthetic doctrine is amongst the least known although it is
perhaps the most noteworthy of the day.

[Sidenote: _Wrong judgements concerning him._]

Schleiermacher delivered his first lectures on Æsthetic at Berlin
University in 1819, and from that date he began to study the subject
seriously with a view to writing a book on it. He repeated his
lectures on two occasions, in 1825 and 1832-1833; but his death,
which occurred in the following year, prevented him from carrying
out his plan, and all we know of his thoughts on Æsthetic comes from
his lectures, as collected by his pupils and published in 1842.[1] A
Herbartian historian of Æsthetic, Zimmermann, attacks the posthumous
work of Schleiermacher with real ferocity; after twenty pages of
invective and sarcasm he concludes by asking, how could his pupils
so dishonour their great master by publishing such a mass of waste
paper, "all play upon words, sophistical conceits and dialectical
subtleties"?[2] Nor was the idealistic historian Hartmann much more
benevolent when he describes the work as "a confused mess in which,
among much that is merely trivial, many half-truths and exaggerations,
one can detect a few acute observations"; and says that, in order
to make bearable "such unctuous afternoon sermons delivered by a
preacher in his dotage," it must be shortened by three-quarters; and
that, "as regards fundamental principles," it is simply useless,
offering no innovations upon concrete idealism as presented by Hegel
and others; and that, in any case, it seems impossible "to attach it
to any line of thought except the Hegelian, to which Schleiermacher's
contribution is only of second-rate importance." He further observes
that Schleiermacher was primarily a theologian, and in philosophy more
or less an amateur.[3] Now it cannot be denied that Schleiermacher's
doctrine has reached us in a hazy form, by no means free from
uncertainties and contradictions; and, which is more important,
it is here and there affected for the worse by the influence of
contemporary metaphysics. But, side by side with these defects, what
excellent method, really scientific and philosophical; what a number of
cornerstones well and truly laid; what wealth of new truths, and of
difficulties and problems not suspected or discussed before his day!

[Sidenote: _Schleiermacher contrasted with his predecessors._]

Schleiermacher considered Æsthetic as an essentially modern line
of thought, and drew a sharp distinction between the _Poetics_ of
Aristotle, which never shakes itself free from the empirical standpoint
of the maker of rules, and what Baumgarten tried to do in the
eighteenth century. He praised Kant for having been the first truly
to include Æsthetic among the philosophical sciences, and recognized
that in Hegel artistic activity had attained the highest elevation by
being brought into connexion and almost into equality with religion
and philosophy. But he was not satisfied either with the followers of
Baumgarten when they degenerated into the absurd attempt to construct
a science or theory of sensuous pleasure, or with the Kantian point of
view which made its principal aim the consideration of taste; or with
the philosophy of Fichte, in which art became a means of education; or
with the more widely received opinion which placed at the centre of
Æsthetic the vague and equivocal concept of Beauty. Schiller pleased
him by having called attention to the moment of artistic spontaneity or
productiveness, and he praised Schelling for having laid stress on the
importance of the figurative arts, which lend themselves less easily
than poetry to facile and illusory moralistic interpretations.[4]
Having with the utmost clearness excluded from Æsthetic the study of
practical rules as empirical, and therefore irreducible to a science,
he assigned to Æsthetic the task of determining the proper position of
artistic activity in the scheme of ethics.[5]

[Sidenote: _Place assigned to Æsthetic in his Ethics._]

To avoid falling into error over this terminology, we must call to
mind that the philosophy of Schleiermacher followed the ancient
traditions in its tripartite division into Dialectic, Ethics and
Physics. Dialectic corresponds with ontology; Physics embraces all
the sciences of natural facts; Ethics includes the study of all free
activities of mankind (language, thought, art, religion and morality).
Ethics represented to him not only the science of morality but what
others name Psychology or, better still, the Science or Philosophy of
the Spirit. This explanation once given, Schleiermacher's point of
departure seems to be the only one just and permissible, and we shall
not be surprised when he talks of will, of voluntary acts and so on,
where others would have simply spoken of activity or spiritual energy;
he even endows such expressions with a broader meaning than that
conferred upon them by practical philosophy.

[Sidenote: _Æsthetic activity as immanent and individual._]

A double distinction may be made amongst human activities. In the
first place, there are activities which we presume to be constituted
in the same manner in all men (such as the logical activity) and are
called activities of identity; and others whose diversity is presumed,
which are called activities of difference or individual activities.
Secondly, there are activities which exhaust themselves in the
internal life, and others which actualize themselves in the external
world: immanent activities and practical activities. To which of the
two classes in each of the two orders does artistic activity belong?
There can be no doubt of its different modes of development, if not
actually in each individual person, at least in different peoples and
nations; therefore it belongs properly to activities of difference or
individual activities.[6] As for the other distinction, it is true
that art does realize itself in the external world, but this fact is
something superadded ("_ein später Hinzukommendes_") "which stands to
the internal fact as the communication of thought by means of speech
or writing stands to thought itself": art's true work is the internal
image ("_das innere Bild ist das eigentliche Kunstwerk_"). Exceptions
to this might be adduced, such as mimicry; but they would be apparent
only. Between a really angry man and the actor who plays the part of
an angry man on the stage there is this difference: in the second case
anger appears as controlled and therefore beautiful; that is, the
internal image is in the actor's soul interposed between the fact of
passion and its physical manifestation.[7] Artistic activity "belongs
to those human activities in which we presuppose the individual in its
differentiation; it belongs equally to those activities developing
essentially within themselves and not completing themselves in any
external world. Art, therefore, is an immanent activity in which we
presuppose differentiation." Internal, not practical: individual, not
universal or logical.

[Sidenote: _Artistic truth and intellectual truth._]

But if art be one form of thought, there must be one form of thought
in which identity is presupposed, and another in which difference is
presupposed. We do not look for truth in poetry; or, rather, we do look
for truth, but for one that is totally different from that objective
truth to which there must correspond some being, either universal or
individual (scientific and historical truth). "When a character in a
poem is said to be devoid of truth, a slur is cast on the given poem;
but if the character is said to be a pure invention, corresponding with
no reality, that is quite a different matter." The truth of a poetic
character consists in the coherence with which a single person's divers
modes of thinking and acting are represented: even in portraits it is
not an exact correspondence with an objective reality that makes the
thing a work of art. From art and poetry "springs no iota of knowledge"
(_das Geringste vom Wissen_); "it expresses but the truth of the single
consciousness." There are then "productions of thought and of sensible
intuitions, opposed to the other productions because they do not
presuppose identity, and they express the singular as such."[8]

[Sidenote: _Difference of artistic consciousness from feeling and

The domain of art is immediate self-consciousness (_unmittelbare
Selbstbewusstsein_), which must be carefully distinguished from the
thought or concept of the ego or of the determinate ego. This latter is
the consciousness of identity in the diversity of moments; immediate
self-consciousness is "diversity itself, of which one must be aware,
since life in its entirety is but the development of consciousness." In
this domain art has often been confused with two facts which accompany
it: sensuous consciousness (the feeling of pleasure and pain), and
religion. A double confusion, of which the sensationalists fall into
the first half and Hegel into the second; Schleiermacher clears it up
by proving that art is free productivity, whereas sensuous pleasure and
religious feeling, however different in other ways, are both determined
by an objective fact (_äussere Sein_).[9]

[Sidenote: _Dreams and art: inspiration and deliberation._]

The better to understand this free productivity, we must further
circumscribe the domain of immediate consciousness. In this we can
find nothing more helpful than comparing it with the images produced
by dreams. The artist has his own dreams: he dreams with open eyes,
and from among the thick-thronging images of this dream-state those
having sufficient energy alone become works of art, the rest remaining
a mere background from which the others stand out. All the essential
elements of art are found in the dream-state, which is the production
of free thoughts and sensuous intuitions consisting of mere images.
Certainly something is lacking in dreams, and they differ from art not
only in their absence of technique, which has already been excluded as
irrelevant to art, but in another way, viz. that a dream is a chaotic
fact, without stability, order, connexion or measure. But when some
sort of order is introduced into the chaos the difference at once
disappears, and the likeness to art merges in identity. This internal
activity which introduces order and measure, fixes and determines the
image, is that which distinguishes art from a dream or transforms a
dream into art. It often involves struggle, labour, the obligation to
stem the involuntary flood of internal images; in a word, it means
reflexion or deliberation. But the dream and the cessation of dreaming
are equally indispensable elements of art. There must be production of
thoughts and images and, together with such production, there must
be measure, determination and unity, "otherwise each image would be
confused with its neighbour and have no definiteness." The instant of
inspiration (_Begeisterung_) is as essential as that of deliberation

[Sidenote: _Art and the typical._]

But in order to arrive at artistic truth it is also I necessary (here
Schleiermacher's thought becomes less clear and accurate) that the
singular be accompanied by consciousness of the species; consciousness
of the self as individual man is impossible without consciousness of
mankind; nor is a single object true unless referred to its universal.
In a pictured landscape "every tree must possess natural truth, that
is to say, it must be contemplated as a specimen of a given kind;
similarly, the whole complex of natural and individual life must have
effective truth of nature and constitute a single harmony. Just because
in art we do not strive after the production of individual figures
in themselves and for themselves, but their internal truth as well,
we commonly assign to them a high place as being a free realization
of that in which all cognition has its value, that is to say, in the
principle that all forms of being are inherent in the human spirit.
If this principle fails, truth is no longer possible; scepticism only
remains." The productions of art are the ideal or typical figures
which real nature would create were it not impeded by external
influences.[11] "The artist creates a figure on the basis of a general
scheme, rejecting whatever may hinder or impede the play of the living
forces of reality; such a production, founded on a general scheme, is
what we call the Ideal."[12]

In spite of all these determinations, Schleiermacher did not apparently
intend to limit the artist's scope. He remarks, "When an artist
represents something really given, whether portrait, landscape or
single human figure, he renounces the freedom of productivity and
adheres to the real."[13] There is a twofold tendency at work in the
artist: towards perfection of type, and towards representation of
natural reality. An artist must not fall into the abstractness of
the type or into the unmeaningness of empirical reality.[14] If in
flower-painting it is necessary to bring out the specific type, a much
more complete individualisation is demanded when representing man,
owing to the lofty position which he occupies.[15] Representation
of the ideal in the real does not exclude "an infinite variety,
such as is found in actual reality." "For instance, the human face
wavers between the ideal and caricature, in its moral conformation
no less than in its physical. Every human face contains elements of
disfigurement (_Verbildung,_) but it has also something by which it
is a determinate modification of human nature; this does not appear
openly, but a practised eye can seize it and ideally complete the face
in question."[16] Schleiermacher is keenly aware of the difficulties
and perplexities of' such problems as the question whether there exists
one or many ideals of the human face.[17] He observes that the two
views which strive for mastery in the field of poetry may be extended
to art as a whole. Some assert that poetry and art should represent the
perfect, the ideal, that which would have been produced by nature, had
she not been prevented by mechanical forces; others reject the ideal as
incapable of realisation and prefer that the artist should depict man
as he really is, with those perturbing elements which in reality belong
to him no less than his ideal qualities. Each view is a half-truth:
it is the duty of art to represent the ideal as well as the real, the
subjective as well as the objective.[18] The comic element, that is the
unideal and the faulty ideal, is included in the circle of art.[19]

[Sidenote: _Independence of art._]

In respect to morality, art is free just as philosophical speculation
is free: its essence excludes practical and moral effects. This leads
to the proposition that "there is no difference between various
works of art, except in so far as they can be compared in respect
of artistic perfection" (_Vollkommenheit in der Kunst._) "Given an
artistic object perfect of its kind, it has an absolute value which
cannot be increased or diminished by anything else. If motions of
the will could truly be described as consequences of works of art, a
different standard of values would apply to works of art: and since
the objects which an artist may depict are not all equally adapted to
influence volition, a scale of values would exist which did not depend
on artistic perfection." Nor must we confound the judgement passed
upon the varied and complex personality of the artist himself with the
strictly æsthetic judgement passed upon his work. "In this respect
the biggest, most complicated canvas is on a level with the smallest
arabesque, the longest poem with the shortest: the value of a work of
art depends on the perfect manner in which the external corresponds to
the internal."[20]

Schleiermacher rejects the doctrine of Schiller because in his opinion
it makes art a sort of game or pastime in contrast to the serious
affairs of life: a view, he says, for business men to whom their
business is the only serious thing. Artistic activity is universally
human, a man devoid of it is inconceivable; although, of course, there
are in this respect great differences betwixt man and man, running from
the mere desire to enjoy art to real taste, and from this again to
productive genius.[21]

[Sidenote: _Art and language._]

The artist makes use of instruments which, by their nature, are framed
not for the individual but for the universal; of this kind is language.
But it is the business of poetry to extract the individual from
language which is universal without giving to its productions the form
of the antithesis between individual and universal which is proper to
science. Of the two elements of language, the musical and the logical,
the poet claims the first for his own ends and constrains the other
to awaken individual images. In comparison with pure science as in
comparison with the individual image, there is something irrational
about language: but the tendencies of speculation and of poetry are
always contrary, even in their use of language; the former tends to
make language approximate to mathematical formulæ; the latter to
imagery (_Bild_)[22]

[Sidenote: _Schleiermacher's defects._]

Leaving out many details which will be touched on in their
proper places, the foregoing is a fair summary of the heads of
Schleiermacher's æsthetic thought. Adding up the accounts of the
whole statement of views, on the side of error and oversight we
find: first, ideas or types are not wholly excluded, in spite
of all Schleiermacher's care and anxiety to safeguard artistic
individualisation and to make the ideas and types superfluous.
Secondly, there is still, undefeated and unexpelled, a certain residue
of abstract formalism, visible at various points of his theories.[23]
Thirdly, the definition of art as an activity of mere difference may be
diluted but is not destroyed by making art a difference of complexes
of individuals, a national difference. A closer reflexion on the
history of art, a recognition of the possibility of appreciating the
art of various nations and various times, a more patient investigation
into the moment of artistic reproduction, even an examination of the
relation between science and art, would have led Schleiermacher to
treat this difference as empirical and surmountable, still holding
firmly to the distinctive character (individual as opposed to
universal) he assigned to art in comparison with science. Fourthly, he
did not recognize the identity of æsthetic activity with linguistic,
and failed to make it the basis of all other theoretic activity. It
would seem, moreover, that Schleiermacher had no clear ideas concerning
that artistic element which enters into the constitution of historic
narrative and is indispensable as the concrete form of science; or
concerning language, taken not as a complex of abstract means of
expression but as expressive activity.

[Sidenote: _Schleiermacher's services to Æsthetic._]

These defects and uncertainties may perhaps be attributable in part
to the fact that his thoughts on æsthetic have reached us in an
inchoate form, very far from a mature development. But if on the other
hand we wish to cast up the sum of his very striking merits, it will
suffice to run over the list of accusations heaped upon him by the two
historians before mentioned, Zimmermann and Hartmann. Schleiermacher
has denuded Æsthetic of its imperative character; he recognizes in it a
form of thought differing from logical thought; he gives this science
a non-metaphysical and merely anthropological character; he denies
the concept of beauty, substituting that of artistic perfection, and
actually affirms the æsthetic equivalence of small and great works of
art, so long as each is perfect in its own sphere; he considers the
æsthetic fact as pure human productivity: and so on and so forth. All
these criticisms are meant for blame and are really praise; for what
is blame to the mind of a Zimmermann or a Hartmann, is to ours praise.
In the metaphysical orgy of his day, in the perpetual building and
pulling down of more or less arbitrary systems, Schleiermacher the
theologian, with philosophic acumen, fixed his eye upon what was really
characteristic of the æsthetic fact and succeeded in defining its
properties and connexions; when he failed to see clearly and wandered
from the track, he never abandoned analysis for fantastic caprice.
By his discovery that the obscure region of immediate consciousness
is also that of the æsthetic fact, he seems to bid his distracted
contemporaries listen to the old adage: _Hic Rhodus, hic salta._

[1] _Vorlesungen üb. Ästhetik_ published by Lommatsch, Berlin, 1842
(_Werke,_ sect. iii. vol. vii.).

[2] Zimmermann, _G. d. A._ pp. 608-634.

[3] E. von Hartmann, _Deutsche Ästh. s. Kant,_ pp. 156-169.

[4] _Vorles. üb. Ästhetik_ pp. 1-30.

[5] _Op. cit._ pp. 35-51.

[6] _Vorles. üb. Ästh._ pp. 51-54.

[7] _Vorles. üb. Ästh._ pp. 55-61.

[8] _Op. cit._ pp. 61-66; cf. _Dialektik,_ ed. Halpern, pp. 54-55, 67.

[9] _Vorles. üb. Ästh._ pp. 67-77.

[10] _Vorles. üb. Ästh._ pp. 79-91.

[11] _Op. cit._ pp. 123, 143-150.

[12] _Op. cit._ p. 505; cf. p. 607.

[13] _Op. cit._ p. 505.

[14] _Vorles. üb. Ästh._ pp. 506-508.

[15] _Op. cit._ pp. 156-157.

[16] _Op. cit._ pp. 550-551.

[17] _Op. cit._ p. 608.

[18] _Op. cit._ pp. 684-686.

[19] _Op. cit._ pp. 191-196; cf. pp. 364-365.

[20] _Vorles. üb. Ästh._ pp. 209-219; of. pp. 527-528.

[21] _Op. cit._ pp. 98-111.

[22] _Vorles. üb. Ästh._ pp. 635-648.

[23] Cf. _e.g._ p. 467 _seqq._



[Sidenote: _Progress of Linguistic._]

About the time when Schleiermacher was meditating on the nature of the
æsthetic fact, a movement of thought was gaining ground in Germany
which, tending as it did to overthrow the old concept of language,
might have proved a powerful aid to æsthetic science. But not only had
the æsthetic specialists--if we may so call them--no notion of the
existence of this movement, the new philosophers of language never
brought their ideas into relation with the æsthetic problem, and
their discoveries languished imprisoned within the narrow scope of
Linguistic, condemned to sterility.

[Sidenote: _Linguistic speculation at the beginning of the nineteenth

Research into the relations between thought and speech, between the
unity of logic and the multiplicity of languages, had been promoted,
like many other things, by the _Critique of Pure Reason_: the earliest
Kantians often tried to apply the Kantian categories of intuition
(space and time) and of intellect to language. The first to make the
attempt was Roth[1] in 1795; the same who wrote an essay twenty years
later on _Pure Linguistic._ Many other noteworthy books on this subject
appeared in quick succession: those of Vater, Bernhardi, Reinbeck and
Koch were published one after another in the first ten years of the
nineteenth century. In all these treatises the dominating subject is
the difference between language and languages; between the universal
language, corresponding with Logic, and concrete, historical languages
disturbed by feeling and imagination or whatever other name was applied
to the psychological element of differentiation. Vater distinguishes a
general Linguistic (_all gemeine Sprachlehre_), constructed _a priori_
by means of the analysis of the concepts contained in the judgement,
from a comparative Linguistic (_vergleichende Sprachlehre_) which
attempts by means of induction to reach probable laws through the
study of a number of languages. Bemhardi considers language to be an
"allegory of intellect" and distinguishes it as functioning either
as the organ of poetry or that of science. Reinbeck speaks of an
Æsthetic Grammar and a Logical. Koch, more energetic than the others,
asserts positively that the character of language is "_non ad Logices
sed ad Psychologiae rationem revocanda._"[2] Some few philosophers
speculated on language and mythology: for example Schelling considered
them to be the products of a pre-human consciousness (_vormenschliche
Bewusstsein,_) presenting them, in a fantastic allegory, as diabolic
suggestions which precipitate the ego from the infinite to the

[Sidenote: _Wilhelm von Humboldt. Relics of intellectualism._]

Even the famous philologist, Wilhelm von Humboldt, was unable to detach
himself entirely from the prejudice of the substantial identity and
the purely historical, accidental diversity between logical thought
and language. His celebrated dissertation, _On the Diversity of
Structure of Human Languages_ (1836),[4] is based on the notion of a
perfect language split up and distributed amongst particular tongues
according to the linguistic or intellectual capacity of various
nations. "For," says he, "since disposition towards speech is general
in mankind, and all men must necessarily carry within themselves the
key to the comprehension of all languages, it follows that the form
of all languages must be substantially equal and all must attain the
same general end. Diversity can exist solely in the means, and within
the bounds permitted by the attainment of the end." Yet this same
diversity becomes a real divergence not only in sounds, but in the
use of sound made by the linguistic sense in respect to the form of
language, or rather, in respect to its own idea of the form of the
determinate language. "Languages being merely formal, the operation
of the linguistic sense by itself should produce mere uniformity;
the linguistic sense must exact from every tongue the same right and
legitimate construction that is found in one of them. In practice,
however, the facts are quite otherwise, partly owing to the reaction of
sounds, and partly by reason of the individual aspect assumed by the
same internal meaning in phenomenal reality." Linguistic force "cannot
maintain its equality everywhere or show the same intensity, vivacity
or regularity; it cannot be supported by an exactly equal tendency
towards the symbolic treatment of thought or by exactly equal pleasure
in richness and harmony of sound." These, then, are the causes which
produce in human languages that diversity which manifests itself in
every branch of the civilization of nations. But reflexion on languages
"ought to reveal to us a form which of all possible forms best fits the
purpose of language" and approaches most closely to its ideal; and "the
merits and defects of existing languages must be estimated by their
nearness or remoteness from this form." Humboldt finds the nearest
approximation to such an ideal in the Sanskrit tongues, which can
therefore be used as a standard of comparison. Setting Chinese apart in
a class by itself, he proceeds to the division of the possible forms of
language into inflective, agglutinative and incorporative; types which
are found combined in various proportions in every real language.[5] He
also inaugurated the division of languages into inferior and superior,
unformed and formed, according to the way in which verbs are treated.
He was never able to rid himself of a second prejudice connected with
the first, namely that language exists as something objective outside
the talking man, unattached and independent, and waking up when needed
for use.

[Sidenote: _Language an activity. Internal form._]

But Humboldt opposes Humboldt: amongst the old dross we detect the
brilliant gleams of a wholly new concept of language. Certainly his
work is for this very reason not always free from contradictions
and from a kind of hesitation and awkwardness which appear
characteristically in his literary style and make it at times laboured
and obscure. The new man in Humboldt criticizes the old man when he
says, "Languages must be considered not as dead products but as an act
of production. ... Language in its reality is something continually
changing and passing away. Even its preservation in writing is
incomplete, a kind of mummification: it is always necessary to render
the living speech sensible. Language is not a work, _ergon,_ but
an activity, _energeia._ ... It is an eternally repeated effort of
the spirit in order to make articulated tones capable of expressing
thought." Language is the act of speaking. "True and proper language
consists in the very act of producing it by means of connected
utterance; that is the only thing that must be thought of as the
starting-point or the truth in any inquiry which aims at penetrating
into the living essence of language. Division into words and rules is a
lifeless artifice of scientific analysis."[6] Language is not a thing
arising out of the need of external communication; on the contrary, it
springs from the wholly internal thirst for knowledge and the struggle
to reach an intuition of things." From its earliest commencement it is
entirely human, and extends without intention to all objects of sensory
perception or internal elaboration.... Words gush spontaneously from
the breast without constraint or intention: there is no nomad tribe in
any desert without its songs. Taken as a zoological species, man is a
singing animal which connects its thoughts with its utterances."[7]
The new man leads Humboldt to discover a fact hidden from the authors
of logico-universal grammars: namely the internal form of language
(_innere Sprachform_), which is neither logical concept nor physical
sound, but the subjective view of things formed by man, the product
of imagination and feeling, the individualization of the concept.
Conjunction of the internal form of language with physical sound is
the work of an internal synthesis; "and here, more than anywhere else,
language by its profound and mysterious operation recalls art. Sculptor
and painter also unite the idea with matter, and their efforts are
judged praiseworthy or not according as this union, this intimate
interpenetration, is the work of true genius, or as the idea is
something separate, painfully and laboriously imposed upon the matter
by sheer force of brush or chisel."[8]

[Sidenote: _Language and art in Humboldt._]

But Humboldt was content to regard the procedure of artist and speaker
as comparable by analogy, without proceeding to identify them. On the
one hand, he was too one-sided in his view of language as a means
for the development of thought (logical thought); on the other, his
own æsthetic ideas, always vague and not always true, prevented his
perception of the identity. Of his two principal writings on Æsthetic,
that on _Beauty Masculine and Feminine_ (1795) seems to be wholly
under the influence of Winckelmann, whose antithesis between beauty
and expression is revived, and the opinion expressed that specific
sexual characters diminish the beauty of the human body and that beauty
asserts itself only by triumphing over differences of sex. His other
work, which is inspired by Goethe's _Hermann und Dorothee,_ defines
art as "representation of nature by means of fancy; the representation
being beautiful, just because it is the work of fancy," a metamorphosis
of nature carried to a higher sphere. The poet reflects the pictures
of language, itself a complex of abstractions.[9] In his dissertation
on Linguistic, Humboldt distinguishes poetry and prose, treating
the two concepts philosophically, not by the empirical distinction
between free and measured or periodic and metric language. "Poetry
gives us reality in its sensible appearance, as it is felt internally
and externally; but is indifferent to the character which makes it
real, and even deliberately ignores that character. It presents the
sensuous appearance to fancy and, by this means, leads towards the
contemplation of an artistically ideal whole. Prose, on the contrary,
looks in reality for the roots which attach it to existence, the cords
which bind her to it: hence it fastens fact to fact and concept to
concept according to the methods of the intellect, and strives towards
the objective union of them all in an idea."[10] Poetry precedes
prose: before producing prose, the spirit necessarily forms itself in
poetry.[11] But, beside these views, some of which are profoundly true,
Humboldt looks on poets as perfecters of language, and on poetry as
belonging only to certain exceptional moments,[12] and makes us suspect
that after all he never recognized clearly or maintained firmly that
language is always poetry, and that prose (science) is a distinction
not of æsthetic form but of content, that is, of logical form.

[Sidenote: _H. Steinthal. The linguistic function independent of the

Humboldt's contradictions about the concept of language lost him his
principal follower, Steinthal. With the help of his master, Steinthal
restated the position that language belongs not to Logic but to
Psychology,[13] and in 1855 waged a gallant war against the Hegelian
Becker, author of _The Organisms of Language,_ one of the last logical
grammarians, who pledged himself to deduce the entire body of the
Sanskrit languages from twelve cardinal concepts. Steinthal declares it
is not true that one cannot think without words: the deaf-mute thinks
in signs; the mathematician in formulæ. In some languages, as in
Chinese, the visual element is as necessary to thought as the phonetic,
if not more so.[14] In this he may have overshot the mark, and failed
to establish the autonomy of expression with regard to logical thought;
for his examples only confirm the fact that if we can think without
words, we cannot think without expressions.[15] But he successfully
demonstrates that concept and word, logical judgement and proposition,
are incommensurable. The proposition is not the judgement but the
representation (_Darstellung_) of a judgement; and all propositions do
not represent logical judgements. It is possible to express several
judgements in a single proposition. The logical divisions of judgements
(the relations of concepts) find no counterpart in the grammatical
divisions of propositions. "A logical form of the proposition is just
as much a contradiction as the angle of a circle or the circumference
of a triangle." He who talks, in so far as he talks, possesses not
thoughts but language.[16]

[Sidenote: _Identity of the problems of the origin and the nature of

Having thus freed language from all dependence on Logic, having
repeatedly proclaimed the principle that language produces its forms
independently of Logic and in the fullest autonomy,[17] and having
purified Humboldt's theory from the taint of the logical grammar of
Port Royal, Steinthal seeks the origin of language, recognizing, with
his master, that the question of its origin is identical with that of
nature of language, its psychological genesis or rather the position
it occupies in evolution of the spirit. "In the matter of language
there is no difference between its original creation (_Urschöpfung_)
and the creation which is daily repeated."[18] Language belongs to the
vast class of reflex movements; but to say that is to look at it from
one side only and to omit its own essential peculiarity. Animals have
reflex movements and sensations like man; but in animals the senses
"are wide gates through which external nature rushes to the assault
with such impetus as to overwhelm the mind and deprive it of all
independence and freedom of movement." In man, however, language can
arise because man is resistance to nature, conqueror of his own body,
freedom incarnate: "language is liberation: even to-day we feel our
mind lightened and freed from a weight when we speak." In the situation
immediately preceding the production of speech man must be conceived as
"accompanying all his sensations and all the intuitions received by his
mind with the most lively contortions of body, attitudes of mimicry,
gestures, and above all tones, articulate tones." What element of
speech did he lack? One only, but a most important one: the conscious
conjunction of reflex bodily movements with the excitations of his
mind. If sensuous consciousness is already consciousness, it lacks the
consciousness of being conscious; if it is already intuition, it is
not intuition of intuition; what it lacks is in a word the internal
form of speech. When that arises, there arises too its inseparable
accompaniment, words. Man does not select sound: it is given him,
and he takes it of necessity, instinctively, without intention or

[Sidenote: _Steinthal's mistaken ideas on art: his failure to unite
Linguistic and Æsthetic._]

This is not the place for detailed examination of the whole of
Steinthal's theory and the various phases, not always progressive,
through which he travelled, especially after the beginning of
his spiritual collaboration with Lazarus, with whom he studied
ethnopsychology (_Völkerpsychologie_), of which they both took
Linguistic to be a part.[20] But, while giving him full credit for
bringing Humboldt's ideas into coherent order, and for clearly
differentiating, as had never before been done, between linguistic
activity and the activity of logical thought, it must be noted
that Steintha! never recognized the identity of the internal form
of language (which he also called the intuition of intuition, or
apperception) with the æsthetic imagination. The Herbartian psychology
to which he clung afforded him no clue to such a discovery. Herbart and
his followers divorced psychology from logic as a normative science
and never succeeded in discerning the true connection between feeling
and spiritual formation, soul and spirit; they never understood that
logical thought is one of these spiritual formations: an activity, not
a code of external laws. The domain allotted by them to Æsthetic we
already know; for them Æsthetic too was only another code of beautiful
formal relations. Under the influence of these doctrines Steinthal
was led to regard Art as the embellishment of thoughts, Linguistic as
the science of speech, and Rhetoric or Æsthetic as a thing differing
from Linguistic since it is science of fine or beautiful speaking.[21]
In one of his innumerable tracts he says, "Poetics and Rhetoric both
differ from Linguistic, since they are obliged to touch on many
important topics before reaching language. These sciences therefore
have but one section devoted to Linguistic, which is the concluding
section of Syntax. Moreover Syntax has a character entirely different
from Rhetoric and from Poetics; the former is occupied solely with
correctness (_Richtigkeit)_ of language; the latter two sciences
study beauty or grace of expression (_Schönheit oder Angemessenheit
des Ausdrucks_): the principles of the first are merely grammatical,
the others must consider matters outside language; for example, the
disposition of the orator and so forth. To speak plainly, Syntax is
to Stylistic as is the grammatical measure of the quantity of vowels
to the theory of metre."[22] That speaking invariably means good or
beautiful speaking, since speech that is neither good nor beautiful is
not really speech,[23] and that the radical renewal of the concept of
language inaugurated by Humboldt and himself must produce far-reaching
effects on the cognate sciences of Poetics, Rhetoric and Æsthetic and,
by transforming, unify them, never entered Steinthal's head. After
all this labour and all this minute analysis, the identification of
language and poetry, and of the science of language with the science of
poetry, the identification of Linguistic with Æsthetic, still found its
least faulty expression in the prophetic aphorisms of Giambattista Vico.

[1] _Antihermes oder philosophische Untersuchung üb. d. reine Begriff
d. menschl. Sprache und die allgemeine Sprachlehre,_ Frankfurt and
Leipzig, 1795.

[2] For these writers, see accounts and quotations in Loewe, _Hist,
crit. gramm. univ., passim,_ and Pott, introd. to Humboldt, pp.
clxxi.-ccxii.; cf. also Benfey, _Gesch. d. Sprachwiss.,_ introd.

[3] In _Philos, der Mythologie_: cf. Steinthal, _Urspr._ pp. 81-89.

[4] _Üb. d. Verschiedenheit d. menschl. Sprachbaues,_ posthumous work
(2nd ed. by A. F. Pott, Berlin, 1880).

[5] _Verschiedenheit_, etc. pp. 308-310.

[6] _Verschiedenheit,_ etc., pp. 54-56.

[7] _Verschiedenheit,_ etc., pp. 25, 73-74, 79.

[8] _Op. cit._ pp. 105-118.

[9] Zimmermann, _G. d. A._ pp. 533-544.

[10] _Verschiedenheit,_ etc., pp. 326-328.

[11] _Op. cit._ pp. 239-240.

[12] _Op. cit._ pp. 205-206, 547, etc.

[13] _Grammatik, Logik und Psychologie, ihre Principien u. ihr
Verhältn. z. einand.,_ Berlin, 1855.

[14] _Gramm., Log. u. Psych._ pp. 153-158.

[15] See above, pp. 28-30.

[16] _Gramm., Log. u. Psych,_ pp. 183, 195.

[17] _Einleitung i. d. Psych, u. Sprachwissenschaft_ (2nd ed., Berlin,
1881), p. 62.

[18] _Gramm., Log. u. Psych,_ p. 231.

[19] _Op. cit._ pp. 285, 292, 295-306.

[20] Steinthal, _Ursprung d. Sprache_ (4th ed. Berlin, 1888), pp.
120-124. M. Lazarus, _Das Leben der Seele,_ 1855 (Berlin, 1876-1878),
vol. ii. _Zeitschrift f. Völkerpsych. u. Sprachwiss._ from 1860
onwards, edited by Steinthal and Lazarus together.

[21] _Gramm., Log. u. Psych,_ pp. 139-140, 146.

[22] _Einleit._ pp. 34-35.

[23] See above, pp. 78-79.



[Sidenote: _Minor æstheticians in the metaphysical school._]

When we turn from the pages of methodical and serious thinkers such as
Schleiermacher, Humboldt and Steinthal, we are filled with distaste
by the books written in enormous quantities during the first half of
the nineteenth century by disciples of Schelling and Hegel. We are
fatigued and almost disgusted as we pass from this illuminating and
scientific study to something which oscillates between vapid fancies
and charlatanism; between the vanity of empty formulæ and the attempt,
not always free from dishonesty, to employ them in order to amaze and
overwhelm the reader or student.

[Sidenote: _Krause, Trahndorff, Weisse and others._]

Why should we encumber a general History of Æsthetic (which ought,
certainly, to take account of aberrations from the truth, but only in
so far as they indicate the general trend of contemporary thought) with
the theories of such men as Krause, Trahndorff, Weisse, Deutinger,
Oersted, Zeising, Eckardt and the crowd of manipulators of manuals and
systems? The only one who obtained a hearing outside his native Germany
was Krause, who was imported into Spain; we are justified, therefore,
in leaving them to the memory or forgetfulness of their compatriots.
For Krause,[1] the humanitarian, the freethinker, the theosophist,
everything is organism, everything is beauty; beauty is organism, and
organism is beauty: Essence, that is to say God, is one, free and
entire; one, free and entire is Beauty. There is but one artist, God;
but one art, the divine. The beauty of finite things is the Divinity,
or rather the likeness of Divinity manifested in the finite. Beauty
brings into play reason, intellect and imagination in a mode conforming
to their laws, and awakens disinterested pleasure and inclination in
the soul. Trahndorff,[2] describing the various degrees by which the
individual seeks to grasp the essence or form of the universe (the
degrees of feeling, intuition, reflexion and presentiment), and noting
the insufficiency of simple theoretical knowledge till supplemented
by the Will, the Will which is power (_Können_), in its three degrees
of Aspiration, Faith and Love, places the Beautiful in the highest
grade, in Love: it would seem, therefore, that Beauty is Love which
comprehends itself. Christian Weisse[3] attempted, like Trahndorff, to
reconcile the God of Christianity with the Hegelian philosophy: in his
estimation the æsthetic Idea is superior to the logical, and leads to
religion, to God; the idea of beauty, existing outside the sensible
universe, is the reality of the concept of beauty, and, as the idea of
divinity is absolute Love, so must that of Beauty be found truly in
Love. The same reconciliation was attempted by the Catholic theologian
Deutinger;[4] beauty, for him, is born of power (_Können_), an activity
parallel with those of the knowledge of truth and the doing of good
but (differing in this from knowledge, which is receptive) realizing
itself in an outward movement from within, mastering the world of
matter and imprinting upon it the seal of personality. An internal
ideal intuition, the Idea: an external shapable matter: the power of
interpenetrating internal with external, invisible with visible, ideal
with real: such is Beauty. Oersted[5] (the celebrated Danish naturalist
whose works were translated into German and gained him a considerable
reputation in Germany) defines beauty as the objective Idea in the
moment of subjective contemplation: the Idea expressed in things in so
far as it reveals itself to intuition. Zeising[6] turned his attention
partly to exploration of the mysteries of the golden section, and
partly to speculations on Beauty, which he considered as one of the
three forms of the Idea; first, the Idea which expresses itself in
object and subject; secondly, the Idea as intuition; and thirdly, the
Absolute which appears in the world and is conceived intuitively by
the spirit. Eckardt,[7] intent on creating a theistic Æsthetic which
should avoid the one-sided transcendence of deism on the one hand and
the one-sided immanence of pantheism on the other, maintained that its
principles must be sought not in the feelings of the contemplator, not
in works of art, not in the idea of the beautiful, not in the concept
of art, but in the creative spirit of the artist, the original fount
of beauty; and since a creative artist cannot be conceived except as
derived from the highest creative genius which is God, Eckardt invokes
aid from a psychology of God (_eine Psychologie des Weltkünstlers_).

[Sidenote: _Fried. Theodor Vischer._]

If quantity is as important as quality, we must devote some space to
Friedrich Theodor Vischer, the bulkiest of all German æstheticians,
indeed the German æsthetician _par excellence_: after publishing a book
on _The Sublime and the Comic, a contribution to the Philosophy of
the Beautiful_,[8] in 1837, he produced four huge tomes on _Æsthetic
as Science of the Beautiful_ between 1846 and 1857,[9] where, in
hundreds of paragraphs and long observations and sub-observations, is
massed a stupendous amount of æsthetic material, of matter foreign to
Æsthetic, and of subjects taken haphazard from the whole thinkable
universe. Vischer's work is divided into three parts: a Metaphysic of
the Beautiful, which investigates the concept of Beauty in itself, no
matter where and how it is realized: a treatise on concrete Beauty,
which inquires into the two one-sided modes of realization, Beauty
of nature and Beauty of imagination, one lacking subjective, the
other lacking objective, existence: lastly, a theory of the arts,
which studies the synthesis in art of the two artistic moments, the
physical and psychical, the objective and subjective. It is easy to
sum up Vischer's concept of æsthetic activity; it is Hegel's concept,
debased. For Vischer, Beauty belongs neither to the theoretical nor to
the practical activity, but is placed in a serene sphere, superior to
these antitheses; that is to say in the sphere of absolute Spirit, in
company with Religion and Philosophy;[10] but, in contradistinction to
Hegel, Vischer assigns the first place in this sphere to Religion, the
second to Art, and the third to Philosophy. Much ingenuity was devoted
in those days to moving these words about like pieces on a chess-board;
it has been observed that of the six possible combinations of the
three terms Art, Religion and Philosophy, four were actually adopted:
by Schelling, _P.R.A._; by Hegel, _A.R.P._; by Weisse, _P.A.R._; and
by Vischer, _R.A.P_.[11] But Vischer himself[12] states that Wirth,
author of a _System of Ethics_,[13] opted for the fifth combination,
_R.P.A.,_ which leaves us but the sixth, _A.P.R.,_ unclaimed, unless
(as is not improbable) some unrecognized genius seized upon it and made
it the text of his system. Beauty, therefore, as the second form of
the absolute Spirit, is the realization of the Idea, not as abstract
concept but as union of concept and reality; and the Idea determines
itself as species (_Gattung_), and every idea of a species, even on the
lowest degree, is beautiful as being an integral part in the totality
of Ideas; although the higher the degree of the idea the greater is
its beauty.[14] Highest of all degrees is that of human personality:
"in this spiritual world the Idea attains its true significance; the
name of idea is given to the great moral motive powers to which the
concept of species may also be applied in the sense that they stand
to their restricted spheres in the same relation in which the genus
stands to its species and individuals." At the head of all is the Idea
of morality: "the world of moral and autonomous ends is destined to
furnish the most important, the most worthy content of the Beautiful";
with the warning, however, that Beauty, in actualizing this world
through intuition, excludes art having a moral tendency.[15] So Vischer
proceeds now to degrade Hegel's Idea to the simple class-concept,
now to couple it with the idea of the Good; now, in accord with the
teaching of his master, to make it different from, yet superior to,
intellect and morality.

[Sidenote: _Other tendencies._]

From the first, the Herbartian formalism was little studied and less
followed: two writers, Griepenkerl in 1827 and Bobrik in 1834, made
some attempt to develop and apply the cursory notes with which Herbart
contented himself.[16] Schleiermacher's lectures, even before their
appearance in book form, had served as basis for a series of elegant
dissertations by Erich Ritter (1840)[17] (better known as a historian
of philosophy); his work is of little value, for instead of dwelling
on the important points of the master's doctrine Ritter brings into
prominence secondary matters relating to sociability and the æsthetic
fife. A penetrating critic of German Æsthetic from Baumgarten to the
post-Kantian school was Wilhelm Theodor Danzel, who lived about this
time and very properly rebelled against the claim to find "thought" in
works of art: "Artistic thought:" he writes; "unhappy phrase, which
helped to condemn an entire epoch to the Sisyphean labour of trying to
reduce art to intellectual and rational thinking! The thought of a
work of art is nothing save that which is contemplated in a definite
way; it is not represented, as is commonly asserted, in a work of art,
it is the work of art itself. Artistic thought can never be expressed
by concepts and words."[18] By his early death Danzel ended the hopes
he raised by his original views on the science and history of Æsthetic.

[Sidenote: _Theory of the Beautiful in nature, and that of the
Modifications of Beauty._]

The post-Hegelian metaphysical Æsthetic is chiefly noteworthy for
the fuller development of two theories or, to speak more accurately,
of two very curious combinations of arbitrary assertion and fanciful
caprice: the so-called theory of Natural Beauty, and the theory of
Modifications of the Beautiful. Neither of the two had any intimate
or necessary connexion with this philosophical movement, to which
they are rather linked by historical or psychological causes; by the
relationship between facts of pleasure and pain and the inclination
towards mysticism; by the confusion arising from the really æsthetic
(imaginative) quality of some representations wrongly described as
observation of natural beauties; or by the scholastic and literary
tradition of discussing these cases of pleasure and pain and
extra-æsthetic natural beauties in books devoted to the discussion
of art.[19] These metaphysicians were sometimes rather grotesque
and remind one of the story told of Paisiello, that in the fury of
composition he set even the stage directions of his libretto to music;
bitten with the rage for construction and dialectic, they did not spare
even the indexes of chaotic old books, but seized on them as suitable
material for a dialectical exercise.

[Sidenote: _Development of the first theory. Herder._]

Beginning with the theory of Natural Beauty, observations on beautiful
natural objects are found among the inquiries of the ancient
philosophers on beauty, and especially among the mystical effusions
of neo-Platonists and their followers in the Middle Ages and the
Renaissance.[20] Less frequently such questions were introduced into
treatises on Poetics: Tesauro (1654) is among the first who, in his
_Cannochiale aristotelico,_ discusses not only the conceits of men, but
also of God, the angels, nature and animals; and somewhat later (1707)
Muratori speaks of "the beauty of matter," of which examples are "the
gods, a flower, the sun, a rivulet."[21] Observations on that which
is outside art and is merely natural, are made by Crousaz, by André,
and especially by those authors of the eighteenth century who wrote
on Beauty and Art in an empirical and gallant style.[22] It was the
influence of these persons that led Kant, as we have seen, to sever the
theory of beauty from that of art, specially connecting free beauty
with objects of nature and those productions of man which reproduce
natural beauties.[23] When the adversary of Kant's theory of Æsthetic,
Herder (1800), in his sketch of an ethical system united spirit and
nature, pleasure and value, feeling and intellect, he inevitably made
much of natural beauty, and affirmed that everything in nature has its
own beauty, the expression of its own greatest content, and that this
accounts for the ascending scale of beautiful objects: beginning with.
outlines, colours and tones, light and sound, and proceeding by way of
flowers, water and sea, to birds, terrestrial animals, and man himself.
For instance "a bird is the sum of the properties and perfections of
its element, a representation of its potency, a creature of light, song
and air"; amongst terrestrial animals, the ugliest are those resembling
man, as the melancholy moping monkey; the most beautiful, those of
perfect build, well proportioned, noble, free in action; those which
express sweetness; those, in fine, which live in harmony and happiness,
endowed with a perfection of their own, harmless to man.[24]

[Sidenote: _Schelling, Solger, Hegel._]

Schelling, on the contrary, utterly, denies the concept of beauty
in nature, and considers that such beauty is purely accidental and
that art alone supplies the norm by which it can be discovered and
judged.[25] Solger also excludes natural beauty;[26] so does Hegel,
who distinguishes himself not by denying it but by proceeding with
the utmost inconsequence to deal at length with the beautiful in
nature. It is in fact not clear whether he means that really no beauty
exists in nature and that man introduces it in his vision of things,
or whether natural beauty really exists though inferior in degree
to the beauty of art. "The beauty of art," he says," stands higher
than that of nature; it is beauty born and reborn by the work of the
spirit, and spirit alone is truth and reality; hence beauty is truly
beauty only when it participates in spirit and is produced therefrom.
Taken in this sense, the beauty of nature appears as a mere reflexion
of the beauty appertaining to spirit, as an imperfect and incomplete
mode, which substantially is contained within the spirit itself." In
confirmation, he adds that nobody has attempted a systematic exposition
of natural beauties, whereas there actually is, from the point of view
of the utility of natural objects, a _materia medica_[27] But the
second chapter of the first part of his Æsthetic is devoted precisely
to natural Beauty on the ground that, in order to grasp the idea of
artistic beauty in its entirety, three stages must be traversed: beauty
in general, natural beauty (whose defects show the necessity for art),
and, lastly, the Idea; "the first existence of the Idea is nature,
and its first beauty is natural beauty." This beauty, which is beauty
for us and not for itself, has several phases, from that in which the
concept is immersed in matter to the point of disappearing, such as
physical facts and isolated mechanisms, to that higher phase in which
physical facts are united in systems (_e.g._ the solar system); but
the Idea first reaches a true and real existence in organic facts, in
the living creature. And even the living creature is liable to the
distinction between beautiful and ugly; for example, among animals,
the sloth, trailing itself laboriously and incapable of animation or
activity, displeases us by its apathetic somnolence; nor can beauty be
found in amphibians or in many kinds of fish, or in crocodiles, or
toads, as well as in many insects and especially in those equivocal
creatures which express a transition from one i class to another, such
as the ornithorhyncus, a mixture of bird and beast.[28] These samples
may suffice to show the general trend of Hegel's doctrine of natural
beauty; elsewhere he discusses the external beauty of abstract form,
regularity, symmetry, harmony, etc., which are; precisely the concepts
which the formalism of Herbart placed in the heaven of the Ideas of the

[Sidenote: _Schleiermacher._]

Schleiermacher, who praised Hegel for his attempt to exclude natural
beauty from his Æsthetic, excluded it from his own not verbally but
actually, by confining his attention to the artistic perfection of
the internal image formed by the energy of the human spirit.[29] But
the so-called Feeling for Nature which came in with Romanticism, and
the _Cosmos_ and other descriptive works of Humboldt,[30] directed
attention increasingly to the impressions awakened by natural facts.

[Sidenote: _Alexander Humboldt._]

This led to the compilation of those systematic lists of natural
beauties whose impossibility had been proclaimed by Hegel, though he
himself had furnished an example of them; amongst others, Bratranek
published an _Æsthetic of the Vegetable World._[31]

[Sidenote: _Vischer's "Æsthetic Physics."_]

The best-known and most widely circulated treatment of the subject was
contained in this very work of Vischer's; who following Hegel's example
devoted a section of his _Æsthetic,_ as we have seen, to the objective
existence of Beauty, _i.e._ to the Beauty of nature, and entitled it by
the perhaps new and certainly characteristic name of Æsthetic Physics
(_ästhetische Physik_). This Æsthetic Physics comprised the beauty of
inorganic nature (light, heat, air, water, earth); organic nature, with
its four vegetable types and its animals vertebrate and invertebrate;
and beauty of human beings, divided into generic and historic. The
generic was subdivided into sections on the beauty of general forms
(age, sex, conditions, love, marriage, family); of special forms
(races, peoples, culture, political life); and of individual forms
(temperament and character). Historical beauty included that of
ancient history (Oriental, Greek, Roman), of Mediæval or Germanic, and
of modern times; because, according to Vischer, it was the duty of
Æsthetic to cast a glance over universal history before summing up the
different degrees of the beautiful according to the varying phases of
the struggle for freedom against nature.[32]

[Sidenote: _The Theory of the Modifications of Beauty. From antiquity
to the eighteenth century._]

As regards the Modifications of Beauty, it should be remembered that
the ancient manuals of Poetics, and more frequently those of Rhetoric,
contained more or less scientific definitions of psychological states
and facts; Aristotle attempted in his _Poetics_ to determine the nature
of a tragic action or personality, and sketched a definition of the
comic; in his Rhetoric he writes at considerable length of wit;[33]
sections of the _De oratore_ of Cicero and the _Institutions_ of
Quintilian[34] are devoted to wit and the comic; the lofty style was
the subject of a lost treatise of Cæcilius, which anticipated that
attributed to Longinus, whose title was translated in modern times
as _De sublimitate_ or _On the Sublime._ Following the example of
the ancients, this kind of medley was perpetuated by writers of the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; whole treatises on the comic are
incorporated in, for instance, the _Argutezza_ of Matteo Pellegrini
(1639) and the _Cannochiale_ of Tesauro. La Bruyère treated of the
sublime[35] and Boileau by his translation gave a fresh vogue to
Longinus: the following century saw Burke inquiring into the origin
of our ideas of the beautiful and the sublime, and deriving the
former from the instinct for sociability, the latter from that of
self-preservation; he also tried to define ugliness, grace, elegance
and extraordinary beauty; Home, in his celebrated _Elements of
Criticism,_ discussed grandeur, sublimity, the ridiculous, wit,
dignity and grace: Mendelssohn discussed sublimity, dignity and
grace in fine art, and described some of these facts as due to mixed
feelings, in which he was followed by Lessing[36] and others: Sulzer
welcomed all these various concepts into his æsthetic encyclopædia
and collected round them an elaborate bibliography. A new and curious
meaning of the word humour reached the continent from England at this
time. Its original meaning was simply "temperament," and sometimes
"spirit," or "wit" ("_belli umori_" in Italy; in the seventeenth
century there was in Rome an Academy of _Umoristi_). Voltaire
introduced it into France and wrote in 1761, "_Les Anglais ont un terme
pour signifier cette plaisanterie, ce vrai comique, cette gaieté, cette
urbanité, ces saillies, qui échappent à un homme sans qu'il s'en doute;
et ils rendent cette idée par le mot_ humour ...";[37] in 1767 Lessing
distinguishes humour from the German _Laune_ (caprice, whim),[38] a
distinction maintained by Herder in 1769 in opposition to Riedel who
had confused the terms.[39]

[Sidenote: _Kant and the post-Kantians._]

Accustomed to find all these subjects treated in the same book,
philosophers at first theorized about them all without attempting to
link them up together by introducing an artificial logical connexion.
Kant, who had already in imitation of Burke written in 1764 a
dissertation on the beautiful and the sublime, ingenuously remarked
in the course of his lectures on Logic in 1771 that the beautiful and
the æsthetic are not identical, because "the sublime also belongs to
Æsthetic";[40] and in his _Critique of Judgment,_ while treating of
the comic in a mere digression (a magnificent piece of psychological
analysis)[41] places side by side with and as if on an equality with
the "Analytic of Beauty," an "Analytic of the Sublime."[42] We may
note in passing that, before the publication of the third Critique,
Heydenreich arrived at the same doctrine of the sublime which is
contained in Kant's book.[43] Did Kant ever think of uniting the
beautiful and the sublime and deducing them from a single concept?
Apparently not. By his declaration that the principle of beauty must
be sought outside ourselves, and that of the sublime within us, he
tacitly assumes that the two objects are wholly disparate. In 1805 Ast,
a follower of Schelling, declared the necessity of overcoming what he
called the Kantian dualism of the beautiful and the sublime:[44] others
reproached Kant with having treated the comic by the psychological, not
the metaphysical, method. Schiller wrote a series of dissertations on
the tragic, the sentimental, the ingenuous, the sublime, the pathetic,
the trivial, the low, the dignified and the graceful, and their
varieties, the fascinating, the majestic, the grave, and the solemn.
Another artist, Jean Paul Richter, discoursed at great length on wit
and humour, described by him as the romantic comic, or the sublime
reversed (_umgekehrte Erhabene)_.[45]

Herbart, in virtue of his formalistic principle, asserts that all
these concepts are irrelevant to Æsthetic; he attributes them to the
work of art, not to pure beauty;[46] Schleiermacher comes to the same
conclusion, but for much better reasons, as a result of his sane
conception of art. Amongst other things he observes: "It is usual
to describe the beautiful and the sublime as two kinds of artistic
perfection; and so accustomed have we grown to the union of these
two concepts that we must make an effort to convince ourselves how
very far they are from being co-ordinate or from together exhausting
the concept of artistic perfection"; he regrets that even the best
æstheticians should give rhetorical descriptions of them instead of
demonstrating them. "The thing," says he, "is not right and just" (_hat
keine Richtigkeit_), and he proceeds to exclude the whole subject from
his Æsthetic,[47] as he had done previously in the case of natural
beauty. Other philosophers, however, clung persistently to their search
for a connexion between these various concepts, and called in dialectic
to help them. The habit of applying dialectic to empirical concepts
affected everybody at that time; even the great enemy of dialectic,
Herbart, showed the cloven hoof, when in order to explain the union of
different æsthetic ideas in the beautiful he appealed to the formula
"they lose regularity in order to regain it."[48] Schelling asserted
that the sublime is the infinite in the finite, and the beautiful the
finite in the infinite, adding that the absolutely sublime includes the
beautiful, and the beautiful the sublime;[49] and Ast, whom we have
mentioned already, spoke of a masculine, positive element, which is the
sublime, and a feminine, negative element which is the graceful and
pleasing: between which there is a contrast and a struggle.

[Sidenote: _Culmination of the development._]

These exercises in dialectical system-building developed and increased
till about the middle of the nineteenth century they assumed two
distinct forms whose history must here be shortly outlined.

[Sidenote: _Double form of the theory. The overcoming of the ugly.
Solger, Weisse and others._]

The first form may be called the Overcoming of the Ugly. This theory
conceives the comic, the sublime, the tragic, the humorous, and so
forth, as so many engagements in the war between the Ugly and the
Beautiful, wherein the latter was invariably victorious, and arose by
means of this war to more and more lofty and complex manifestations.
The second form of the theory may be described as the Passage from
Abstract to Concrete; it held that Beauty cannot emerge from the
abstract, cannot become this or that concrete beauty, except by
particularizing itself in the comic, tragic, sublime, humorous, or
some other modification. The first form was already well developed in
Solgei, an adherent of the romantic theory of Irony: but historically
it presupposes the æsthetic theory of the Ugly, first sketched by
Friedrich Schlegel in 1797. We have already noted that Schlegel
considered the characteristic or interesting, not the beautiful, to
be the principle of modern art; hence the importance attached by him
to the piquant, the striking (_frappant_), the daring, the cruel, the
ugly.[50] Solger found here the basis for his dialectic; amongst other
things he maintains that the finite, earthly element may be dissolved
and absorbed in the divine, which constitutes the tragic: or else the
divine element may be entirely corrupted by the earthly, producing the
comic.[51] These methods of Solger were followed by Weisse (1830), and
by Ruge (1837); for the former, ugliness is "the immediate existence of
beauty" which is overcome in the sublime and the comic; for the latter,
the effort to achieve the Idea, or the Idea searching for itself,
generates the sublime; when the Idea loses instead of discovering
itself, ugliness is produced; when the Idea rediscovers itself and
rises out of ugliness to new life, the comic.[52] A whole treatise
entitled _The Æsthetic of the Ugly_[53] was published by Rosenkranz in
1853, presenting this concept as intermediate between the beautiful
and the comic, and tracing it from its first origin to that "sort
of perfection" it attains in the satanic. Passing from the common
(_Gemeine)_ which is the petty, the weak, the low, and the sub-species
of the low, viz. the usual, the casual, the arbitrary and the crude,
Rosenkranz goes on to describe the repugnant, trisected into the
awkward, the dead and empty, and the horrible: thus he proceeds from
tripartition to tripartition, dividing the horrible into the absurd,
the nauseating and the wicked: the wicked into criminal, spectral and
diabolical: the diabolical into demoniac, magical and satanic. He
opposes the childish notion that ugliness acts as a foil to beauty
in art, and justifies its introduction by the necessity for art to
represent the entire appearance of the Idea; on the other hand he
admits that the ugly is not on the same level as the beautiful, for,
if the beautiful can stand by itself alone, the other cannot do so and
must always be reflected by and in the beautiful.[54]

[Sidenote: _Passage from abstract to concrete: Vischer._]

The second form prevailed with Vischer. The following extract will
serve as an illustration of his manner: "The Idea arouses itself from
the tranquil unity in which it was fused with the appearance and
pushes onward, affirming, in face of its own finitude, its infinity";
this rebellion and transcendence is the sublime. "But Beauty demands
full satisfaction for this disruption of its harmony: the violated
right of the image must be reasserted: this can be accomplished only
by means of a fresh contradiction, that is to say by the negative
position now taken up by the image towards the Idea by rejecting all
interpenetration with it and by affirming its own separate existence
as the whole"; this second moment is the comic, negation of a
negation.[55] The same process is further enriched and complicated by
Zeising, who compares the modifications of Beauty to the refraction of
colours: the three primary modifications, the sublime, the attractive
and the humorous, correspond with the primary colours violet, orange
and green; the three secondary, pure beauty, comic and tragic, to
the colours red, yellow and blue. Each of these six modifications
(exactly like the degrees of the Ugly in Rosenkranz) branches out, like
fireworks, into three rays: pure beauty into the decorous, noble and
pleasing: the attractive into graceful, interesting and piquant: the
comic into buffoonery, the diverting and burlesque: the humorous into
the quaint, capricious and melancholy: the tragic into the moving,
pathetic and demoniac: the sublime into the glorious, majestic and

[Sidenote: _The Legend of Sir Purebeauty._]

All the works of this period on Æsthetic are filled in this way
with the _gest, chanson_ or romaunt of the knight Sir Purebeauty
(_Reinschon)_ and his extraordinary adventures, recounted in two
conflicting versions. According to one story, Sir Purebeauty is
constrained to abandon his beloved leisure by the Mephistophelean
devices of the temptress Ugliness, who leads him into countless
dangers from which he invariably emerges victorious; his victories and
successes (his Marengo, Austerlitz and Jena) are called the Sublime,
the Comic, the Humorous and so forth. The other story tells how the
knight, bored by his life of loneliness, sallies forth purposely to
seek adversaries and occasions for fighting; he is always vanquished,
but even in his overthrow _ferum victorem capit,_ he transforms
and irradiates the enemy. Beyond this artificial mythology, this
legend composed without the least imagination or literary skill,
this miserably dull tale, it is vain to look for anything whatever
in the much elaborated theory of German æstheticians known as the
Modifications of Beauty.

[1] _Abriss der Ästhetik,_ post. 1837; _Vorlesung üb. Ästh._
(1828-1829), post. 1882.

[2] _Ästhetik,_ Berlin, 1827.

[3] _Ästhetik,_ Leipzig, 1830; _System d. Ästh.,_ lectures, post.
Leipzig, 1872.

[4] _Kunstlehre,_ Ratisbon, 1845-1846 (_Grundlinien einer positiven
Philosophie,_ vols. iv. v.).

[5] _Der Geist in der Natur,_ 1850-1851; _Neue Beitrage z. d. Geist i.
d. Natur,_ post. 1855.

[6] _Ästhetische Forschungen,_ Frankfurt a. M. 1855.

[7] _Die theistische Begründung d. Ästhetik im Gegensatz z. d.
pantheistichen,_ Jena, 1857; same author, _Vorschule d. Ästh.,_
Karlsruhe, 1864-1865.

[8] _Üb. d. Erhabene u. Komische,_ Stuttgart, 1837.

[9] _Ästhetik oder Wissenschaft d. Schönen,_ Reutlingen, Leipzig and
Stuttgart, 1846-1857, 3 parts in 4 vols.

[10] _Ästh._ introd. §§ 2-5.

[11] Hartmann, _Dtsch. Ästh. s. Kant,_ p. 217, note.

[12] _Ästh._ introd. § 5.

[13] _System der spekulativen Ethik,_ Heilbronn, 1841-1842.

[14] _Ästh._ §§ 15-17.

[15] _Op. cit._ §§ 19-24.

[16] Griepenkerl, _Lehrb. d. Ästh.,_ Brunswick, 1827. Bobrik, _Freie
Verträge üb. Ästh.,_ Zürich, 1834.

[17] _Üb. d. Principien d. Ästh.,_ Kiel, 1840.

[18] _Ges. Aufs._ pp. 216-221.

[19] See above, pp. 87-93.

[20] See above, pp. 179-180.

[21] _Cannochiale arist._ ch. 3: _Perfetta poesia,_ bk. I. chs. 6, 8.

[22] See above, pp. 205-206, 258-261.

[23] See above, pp. 275-277.

[24] _Kaligone, op. cit._ pp. 55-90.

[25] _System d. transcend. Ideal,_ part vi. § 2.

[26] _Vorles. üb. Ästh._ p. 4.

[27] _Vorles. üb. Ästh._ I. pp. 4-5.

[28] _Vorles. üb. Ästh._ I. pp. 148-180.

[29] _Op. cit._ introd.

[30] _Ansichten der Natur,_ 1088; _Kosmos,_ 1845-1858.

[31] _Ästhetik. Pflanzenwelt,_ Leipzig, 1853.

[32] _Ästh._ § 341.

[33] _Poet._ 5. 13-14; _Rhet._ iii. 10, 18.

[34] _De orat._ ii. 54-71; _Inst. orat._ vi. 3.

[35] _Caractères,_ I.

[36] _Hamb. Dramat._ Nos. 74-75.

[37] Letter to abbé d'Olivet, August 20, 1761.

[38] _Hamb. Dramat._ No. 93; in _Werke, ed. cit._ xii. pp. 170-171,

[39] _Kritische Wälder,_ in _Werke, ed. cit._ iv. pp. 182-186.

[40] Schlapp, _op. cit._ p. 55.

[41] _Kr. d. Urth., Anmerkung,_ § 54.

[42] _Op. cit._ bk. ii. §§ 23-29.

[43] _System d. Ästh._ introd. p. xxxvi _n._

[44] _System der Kunstlehre:_ cf. Hartmann, _op. cit._ p. 387.

[45] _Vorschule d. Ästh._ chs. 6-9.

[46] See above, pp. 309-310.

[47] _Vorles. üb. Ästh._ p. 240 _seqq._

[48] Cf. Zimmermann, _G. d. Ästh._ p. 788.

[49] _Philos, d. Kunst,_ §§ 65-66.

[50] Cf. Hartmann, _Deutsch. Ästh. s. Kant,_ pp. 363-364.

[51] _Vorles üb. Ästh._ p. 85.

[52] _Neue Vorschule d. Ästh._ Halle, 1837.

[53] K. Rosenkranz, _Ästhetik des Hässlichen,_ Kœnigsberg, 1853.

[54] _Ästh. d. Hässl._ pp. 36-40.

[55] _Ästh._ §§ 83-84, 154-155.

[56] _Ästh. Forsch._ p. 413.



[Sidenote: _Æsthetic movement in France: Cousin, Jouffroy._]

In the last quarter of the eighteenth century and the first half of
the nineteenth century German thought, notwithstanding the glaring
errors which vitiated it, and were soon to bring about a violent and
indeed exaggerated reaction, must on the whole be awarded the foremost
place in the general history of European thought as well as in the
individual study of Æsthetic, the contemporary philosophy of other
countries standing on an inferior level of the second and third degree.
France still lay under the dominion of the sensationalism of Condillac
and, at the opening of the century, was quite incapable of grasping
the spiritual activity of art. A faint gleam of Winckelmann's abstract
spiritualism just appears in the theories of Quatremère de Quincy, who,
in criticism of Émeric-David (in his turn a critic of ideal beauty and
an adherent of the imitation of nature),[1] maintained that the arts
of design have pure beauty, devoid of individual character, as their
objective; they depict man and not; men.[2] Some sensationalists, such
as Bonstetten, vainly endeavoured to trace the peculiar processes
of imagination in life and in art.[3] Followers of the orthodox
spiritualism of the French universities date the beginning of a new
era, and the foundation of Æsthetic in France, to 1818, the year when
Victor Cousin first delivered at the Sorbonne his lectures on the
True, the Beautiful and the Good, which later formed his book with the
same name, frequently reprinted.[4] These lectures of Cousin are but
poor stuff, although some scraps of Kant are to be found in them here
and there; he denies the identity of the beautiful with the pleasant
or useful, and substitutes the affirmation of a threefold beauty,
physical, intellectual and moral, the last being the true ideal beauty,
having its foundations in God; he says that art expresses ideal Beauty,
the infinite, God, that genius is the power of creation, and that taste
is a mixture of fancy, sentiment and reason.[5] Academic phrases all
of them; pompous and void and, for that very reason, well received. Of
much greater value were the lectures on Æsthetic delivered by Théodore
Jouffroy in 1822, before a small audience, and published posthumously
in 1843.[6] Jouffroy allowed a beauty of expression, to be found alike
in art and nature: a beauty of imitation, consisting in the perfect
accuracy with which a model is reproduced: a beauty of idealisation,
which reproduces the model, accentuating a particular quality in
order to give it greater significance: and, finally, a beauty of the
invisible or of content, reducible to force (physical, sensible,
intellectual, moral), which, as force, awakens sympathy. Ugliness is
the negation of this sympathetic beauty; its species or modifications
are the sublime and the graceful. One sees that Jouffroy did not
succeed in isolating the strictly æsthetic fact in his analysis and
gave, instead of a scientific system, little beyond explanations of the
use of words. He could not see or understand that expression, imitation
and idealization are identical with each other and with artistic
activity. Moreover he had many curious ideas, chiefly concerning
expression. He said that if we were to see a drunkard with all the
most disgusting symptoms of intoxication on a road where there was also
an unhewn rock, we should be pleased by the drunken man, since he had
expression, and not by the rock, since it had none. Beside Jouffroy,
whose theories, crude and immature though they be, reveal an inquiring
mind, it is hardly worth while to cite Lamennais,[7] who like Cousin
regarded art as the manifestation of the infinite through the finite,
of the absolute through the relative. French Romanticism in de Bonald,
de Barante and Mme. de Staël had defined literature as "the expression
of society," had honoured, under German influence, the characteristic
and the grotesque,[8] and had proclaimed the independence of art by
means of the formula "art for art's sake"; but these vague affirmations
or aphorisms did not supersede, philosophically speaking, the old
doctrine of the "imitation of nature."

[Sidenote: _English Æsthetic._]

In England associationistic psychology still flourished (and has
continued to flourish uninterruptedly), unable to emancipate itself
wholly from sensationalism or to understand imagination. Dugald
Stewart[9] had recourse to the wretched expedient of establishing
two forms of association: one of accidental associations, the other
of associations innate in human nature and therefore common to all
mankind. England did not escape German influence, as appears, for
example, in Coleridge, to whom we owe a saner concept of poetry and
the difference between it and science[10] (in collaboration with
the poet Wordsworth), and in Carlyle, who placed intellect lower
than imagination, "organ of the Divine." The most noteworthy English
æsthetic essay of this period is the _Defence of Poetry_ by Shelley
(1821),[11] containing profound, if not very systematic, views on the
distinctions between reason and imagination, prose and poetry; on
primitive language and the faculty of poetic objectification which
enshrines and preserves "the record of the best and happiest moments of
the happiest and best minds."

[Sidenote: _Italian Æsthetic._]

In Italy, where neither Parini nor Foscolo[12] had been able to shake
off the fetters of the old doctrines (although the latter, in his later
writings, was in several ways an innovator in literary criticism), many
treatises and essays on Æsthetic were published during the earlier
decades of the century, the greater part showing the influence of
Condillac's sensationalism, which had a great vogue in Italy. Such
authors as Delfico, Malaspina, Cicognara, Talia, Pasquali, Visconti
and Bonacci belong more exclusively to the special, or rather, the
anecdotal, history of Italian philosophy. Now and then, however,
one comes across remarks that are not wholly contemptible, as in
Melchiorre Delfico (1818) who, after wandering aimlessly hither and
thither, fixes on the principle of expression, observing, "If it
were possible to establish that expression is always an element in
the beautiful, it would be a legitimate inference to regard it as
the real characteristic of beauty, _i.e._ a condition without which
the beautiful could not exist, and the pleasing modification which
arouses the sentiment of beauty could not take place in us"; he tries
to develop this principle by asserting that all other characters
(order, harmony, proportion, symmetry, simplicity, unity and variety)
have significance only by their subordination to the principle of
expression.[13] In opposition to Malaspina's definition of beauty
as "pleasure born of a representation"; and in opposition to the
then fashionable threefold division of beauty into sensible, moral
and intellectual, a critic of Malaspina observed that if beauty be
representation, it is inconceivable that there should be intellectual
beauty, which would be intelligible but not presentable.[14] Nor must
Pasquale Balestrieri be forgotten; he was a student of medicine who
in 1847 tried to construct an Æsthetic of an exact or mathematical
kind, with neither better nor worse result than many famous authors in
other countries. He noticed, while turning his algebraical expressions
into numerals, that such general formulæ "fulfil their object with an
infinite number of systems of different ciphers"; and that in art there
is an element "not arbitrary, but unknown."[15] Works by German authors
were frequently translated at this time, some of them, for example
the writings of the two Schlegels, being reprinted several times; the
_Æsthetic_ of Bouterweck, deriving from Kant and Schiller,[16] was read
and discussed; Colecchi gave an excellent statement of the æsthetic
doctrines of Kant;[17] and in 1831 a certain Lichtenthal adapted the
_Æsthetic_ of Franz Ficker[18] to the use of Italian readers; later the
same book was fully translated by another hand; some of Schelling's
writings were translated, _e.g._ his discourses on the relation between
figurative art and nature.

[Sidenote: _Rosmini and Gioberti._]

It must be admitted that in Italy Æsthetic received but inadequate
treatment in the revival of philosophical speculation effected by
the work of Galluppi, Rosmini and Gioberti. It is treated in a
merely incidental and popular manner by the first named.[19] Rosmini
devotes a section of his philosophical system to the deontological
sciences, which "treat of the perfection of being, and the method of
acquiring or producing such perfection or losing it"; among these
sciences is that of "beauty in the universal" under the name of
Callology, of which a special part is Æsthetic, the science of "beauty
in the sensible," establishing the "archetypes of beings."[20] In
his longest literary work, considered by him as his Æsthetic,[21]
his essay on _The Idyl_,[22] Rosmini declares the aim of art to be
neither imitation of nature nor direct intuition of the archetypes,
but the reduction of natural things to their archetypes, which are
arranged in a hierarchy of three ideals, natural, intellectual and
moral. Gioberti[23] is clearly under the influence of German idealism,
especially of Schelling's; for him the beautiful is "the individual
union of an intelligible type with an imaginative element called into
being by fancy"; the phantasm gives material, while the intelligible
type (concept) gives form, in the Aristotelian sense,[24] and since the
ideal element predominates over the sensible or fantastic, art is a
propædeutic to the true and the good. Gioberti is of opinion that Hegel
was wrong in detaching natural beauty from Æsthetic, for perfect beauty
of nature is "the full correspondence of sensible reality with the Idea
which informs and represents it," and as such "makes its appearance
in the sensible universe during the second period of the primordial
age described in detail by Moses in the six days of creation"; it is
only through original sin that imperfection and ugliness arose in
nature.[25] Art is nothing but a supplement to natural beauty, whose
decadence it presupposes, and thus art is at once record and prophecy,
referring to the first and last ages of the world. The Last Judgement
will reintroduce perfect beauty: "organic restitution, by empowering
the faculties to contemplate the intelligible in the sensible, and by
refining their capabilities, will greatly intensify and purify æsthetic
enjoyment. The contemplation of perfect beauty will be the beatitude of
imagination, of which Christ gave an ineffable foretaste by appearing
to his disciples visibly transfigured and shining with celestial
radiance."[26] Gioberti agrees with Schelling's division of art into
pagan and Christian, a "heterodox beauty" (Oriental and Græco-Italian
art), imperfect when compared with "orthodox beauty"; and between the
two, a "semi-orthodox" beauty,[27] transitional to Christian art; he
also attempted a doctrine of modifications of the beautiful, wherein he
held the sublime to be creator of the beautiful. Beauty is the relative
intelligibility of created things apprehended by fancy: the sublime
is the absolute intelligibility of time, space and infinite power as
presented to itself by the faculty of imagination: "The ideal formula:
the Being creates the Existing, translated into æsthetic language,
gives the following formula: by means of the dynamical sublime Being
creates the beautiful; and by means of the mathematical sublime
contains it: this shows the ontological and psychological connexions of
Æsthetic in First Science." Ugliness enters into the beautiful either
as relief and counterpoise, or to open a way to the comic, or to depict
the struggle between good and evil. The Christian ideal of artistic
beauty is the figure of the God-Man, absolute union of the two forms
of beauty, the sublime and the beautiful, a transfigured and divinely
illuminated expression of man.[28] However carefully we sift the
thoughts of Gioberti from their mythological Judaico-Christian husk, we
find nothing of the least value to science.

[Sidenote: _Italian Romantics. Dependence of Art._]

On the other hand, if Italian literature of the day chose to revive
and refurbish certain antiquated critical ideas, a much wider field
was opened by social and political upheavals which tended to make
use of literature as a practical instrument for spreading abroad the
truths of history, science, religion and morality. In 1816 Giovanni
Berchet wrote that "poetry ... is intended to improve the habits of
man and satisfy the cravings of his imagination and heart, since the
tendency towards poetry, like every other desire, awakens in us moral
needs";[29] and Ermes Visconti in his _Conciliatore_ of 1818 says that
æsthetic aims must be subordinated "to the improvement of mankind and
public and private weal, the eminent aim of all studies." Manzoni,
who subsequently took to philosophizing on art on the principles of
Rosmini, declared in his letter on Romanticism (1823) that "poetry
or literature in general should have utility as its objective, truth
as its subject and interest as its means";[30] and though noticing
the vagueness of the concept of truth in poetry, he inclined always
(as is seen also in his discourse on the historical novel) to its
identification with historical and scientific truth.[31] Pietro
Maroncelli proposed as a substitute for the classic formula of art,
"founded on imitation of the real and having pleasure as its object,"
a formula of art as "founded on inspiration, having the beautiful as
means and good as end"; this doctrine he baptized "cormentalism,"
contrasting it with the doctrine of art for art's sake found in the
writings of August Wilhelm Schlegel and Victor Hugo.[32] Tommaseo
defined beauty as "the union of many truths in one concept" effected
by the power of feeling.[33] Giuseppe Mazzini, too, always conceived
literature as the mediator of the universal idea or intellectual
concept.[34] Attempting to restore serious content to a literature
grown weak and frivolous, the Italian Romantics found themselves forced
on the theoretical side, by a natural reaction, into constant and
perpetual opposition to every tendency of thought likely to affirm the
independence of art.

[1] Émeric-David, _Recherches sur l'art du statuaire chez les anciens,_
Paris, 1805 (Ital. trans., Florence, 1857).

[2] Quatremère de Quincy, _Essai sur l'imitation dans les beaux arts,_

[3] _Recherches sur la nature et les lois de l'imagination,_ 1807.

[4] _Du vrai, du beau et du bien,_ 1818, many lines revised (23rd ed.
Paris, 1881).

[5] _Op. cit._ lectures 6-8.

[6] _Cours d' esthétique,_ ed. Damiron, Paris, 1843.

[7] _De l'art et du beau,_ 1843-1846.

[8] Victor Hugo, Preface to _Cromwell,_ 1827.

[9] Dugald Stewart, _Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind,_

[10] Gayley-Scott, _An Introd._ pp. 305-306.

[11] P. B. Shelley, _A Defence of Poetry_ (in _Works,_ London, 1880,
vol. vii.)

[12] Parini, _Principi delle belle lettere applicati alle belle arti,_
from 1773 onward; Foscolo, _Dell' origine e dell' uffizio della
letteratura,_ 1809, and _Saggi di critica,_ composed in England.

[13] M. Delfico, _Nuove ricerche sul bello,_ Naples, 1818, ch. 9.

[14] Malaspina, _Delle leggi del bello,_ Milan, 1828, pp. 26, 233.

[15] P. Balestrieri, _Fondamenti di estetica,_ Naples, 1847.

[16] Friedrich Bouterweck, _Ästhetik,_ 1806, 1815 (3rd ed., Göttingen,

[17] O. Colecchi, _Questions filosofiche,_ vol. iii., Naples, 1843.

[18] P. Lichtenthal, _Estetica ossia dottrina del bello e delle arti
belle,_ Milan, 1831.

[19] _Elementi di filosofia_ (5th ed., Naples, 1846), vol. ii. pp.

[20] _Sistema filosofico,_ by A. Rosmini-Serbati, Turin, 1886, § 210.

[21] Cf. _Nuovo saggio sopra l' orig. delle idee,_ § v. part iv. ch. 5.

[22] _Sull' idillio e sulla nuova letteratura italiana (opuscoli
filosofici,_ vol. i.).

[23] V. Gioberti, _Del buono e del bello_ (Florence ed., 1857).

[24] _Del bello,_ ch. 1.

[25] _Op. cit._ ch. 7.

[26] _Op. cit._ ch. 7.

[27] _Del bello,_ chs. 8-10.

[28] _Op. cit._ ch. 4.

[29] G. Berchet, _Opere,_ ed. Cusani, Milan, 1863, p. 227.

[30] Words suppressed in ed. of 1870.

[31] _Epistolario,_ ed. Sforza, i. pp. 285, 306, 308; _Discorso sul
romanzo storico,_ 1845; _Dell' invenzione,_ dialogue.

[32] _Addizioni alle Miei Prigioni,_ 1831 (in Pellico, _Prose,_
Florence, 1858); see pp. about the _Conciliatore._

[33] _Del bello e del sublime_, 1827; _Studî filosofici_ (Venice,
1840), vol. ii. part v.

[34] Cf. De Sanctis, _Lett. Hal. nel s. XIX,_ ed. Croce, Naples 1896,
pp. 427-431.



[Sidenote: _F. de Sanctis: development of his thought._]

On the other hand, the autonomy of art found a strong supporter in
Italy in the critical work of Francesco de Sanctis, who held private
classes in literature at Naples from 1838 to 1848, taught at Turin and
Zürich from 1852 to 1860 and in 1870 became professor in the University
of Naples. He expressed his doctrines in critical essays, in monographs
on Italian writers and in his classic _History of Italian Literature._
Receiving his first elements of old Italian culture in Puoti's
school, his natural bent! towards speculation led him to investigate
grammatical and rhetorical doctrines with the view of reducing them
to a system; but he soon began to criticize and to grow out of this
phase. He pronounced Fortunio, Alunno, Accarisio and Corso "empirics";
he had a slightly better opinion of Bembo, Varchi, Castelvetro and
Salviati, who introduced "method" into grammar, a process completed
subsequently by Buonmattei, Corticelli and Bartoli; and he proclaimed
Francisco Sanchez, author of the _Minerva,_ "the Descartes of
grammarians." From these his admiration spread to the French writers of
the eighteenth century and the philosophical grammars of; Du Marsais,
Beauzée, Condillac and Gérard; following in their wake and pursuing the
ideal of Leibniz, he conceived a "logical grammar"; in this effort,
however, he soon began to recognize the impossibility of reducing the
differences of languages to fixed logical principles., If he found
the French theorists admirable in their ability to reconstitute the
simple and primitive forms; from "I love" to "I am loving," something
disquieted him; "Such decomposition of 'I love' into 'I am loving'"
(said he) "deadens the word by depriving it of the movement proceeding
from active will."[1] In the same way he read and criticized the
writers of treatises on Rhetoric and Poetics from sixteenth-century
men such as Castelvetro and Torquato Tasso (whom he dared to describe
as an "indifferent critic," to the great scandal of Neapolitan men
of letters) to Muratori and Gravina, "more acute than accurate"; and
eighteenth-century Italians, Bettinelli, Algarotti and Cesarotti.
Coldly rational rules found no favour with him: he urged the young to
confront literary works boldly and freely absorb impressions, the only
possible foundation for taste.[2]

[Sidenote: _Influence of Hegelism._]

Philosophical study had not been abandoned and had not even fallen
into entire decadence in Southern Italy; in these days of renewed
interest in philosophy the theories on Beauty from over the Alps and
the new ideas of Gioberti and other Italians[3] aroused enthusiastic
discussion. Vico was read again, and Bénard's French translation of
Hegel's _Æsthetic_ appeared and was canvassed in Naples volume by
volume (the first in 1840, the second in 1843, and the rest between
1848 and 1852). In its desire for new intellectual food Italian youth
set itself to learn German: De Sanctis himself had to translate the
greater _Logic_ of Hegel and Rosenkranz's _History of Literature_
in the dungeon of the Bourbon prison where he was incarcerated on
account of his liberal opinions. The new critical tendency was named
"philosophism" to distinguish it from the old grammatical criticism
and from the vague, incoherent, exaggerated Romanticism. Philosophism
attracted De Sanctis; to show how deeply he was imbued with the
Hegelian spirit a tale was told that, having devoured the first volumes
of Bénard's translation, he guessed the contents of the remaining
volumes and, before they could appear, was expounding them publicly in
his classroom.[4]

His first writings show traces of metaphysical idealism and Hegelism;
and they still linger here and there in the terminology of his later
works. In a lecture prior to 1848 he placed the safety of criticism in
the philosophic school which, in works of literature, fixed its eyes
upon "that absolute part ... that uncertain idea which moves within the
mind of great writers, till it appears abroad clothed in fine raiment
only less beautiful than itself."[5] In a preface to Schiller's plays
(1850) he wrote, "The Idea is not thought, nor is poetry reason in
song, as a poet of our time is pleased to assert; the idea is at once
necessity and freedom, reason and passion, and its perfect form in
drama is action."[6] Elsewhere he calls attention to the death of faith
and poetry, absorbed by the development of philosophy: a thesis, he
remarked some years later, "imposed on our generation by Hegel with his
omnipotent thought."[7] In 1856 he attempted a definition of humour as
"an artistic form having for signification the destruction of limit,
with consciousness of such destruction."[8] Not to dwell too long on
other particulars, in the distinction to which De Sanctis always held
firm throughout his critical work, that between Fancy and Imagination,
the latter considered as the true and only faculty of poetry, arises
undoubtedly from suggestions of Schelling and Hegel (_Einbildungskraft,
Phantasie)_; from the same philosophers come the phrases "prosaic
content," "prosaic world," sometimes used by him.

[Sidenote: _Unconscious criticism of Hegelism._]

For De Sanctis the Hegelian Æsthetic was but a lever wherewith to
lift himself clear of the discussions and views of the old Italian
schools. A fresh, clear spirit such as his could not escape the
arbitrary shackles of grammarians and rhetoricians only to fall into
those of metaphysicians, the torturers of art. He absorbed the vital
part of Hegel's teaching and re-expressed the Hegelian theories in
correct or somewhat attenuated interpretations; but he only maintained
with hesitation, and in the end openly rebelled against, all that was
artificial, formalistic and pedantic in Hegel.

The following examples of such reductions and attenuations show how
substantial and radical was the change he effected. "Faith has vanished
and poetry is dead" (he wrote in 1856, echoing Hegel); "or it were
better to say" (here is De Sanctis' own correction) "faith and poetry
are immortal: what has disappeared is but one particular mode of their
being. To-day faith springs from conviction and poetry is the spark
struck from meditation; they are not dead, they are transformed."[9]
Certainly he distinguished between imagination and fancy; but for
him imagination was never the mystic faculty of transcendental
apperception, the intellectual intuition of German metaphysicians,
but simply the poet's faculty of synthesis and creation, contrasting
with fancy as the faculty of collecting particulars and materials in
a somewhat mechanical fashion.[10] When students of Vico and Hegel
understood and expounded their master's theories as emphasizing the
importance of concepts in art, De Sanctis replied, "The concept does
not exist in art, nature or history: the poet works unconsciously and
sees no concept but only form, in which he is involved and well-nigh
lost. If the philosopher, by means of abstraction, can extract the
concept thence and contemplate it in all its purity, he acts in a way
entirely contrary to that of art, nature and history." He warned his
hearers not to misunderstand Vico, who, when he extracts concepts and
exemplary types from the Homeric poems, is not writing as an art critic
but as a historian of civilization: Achilles is artistically Achilles,
not strength or any other abstraction.[11] Thus his polemic is directed
in the first instance against misunderstanding what he called the true
Hegelian thought, which was in fact usually a correction made upon
Hegel more or less consciously by himself. He was able to boast in
his latter years that even at the time when all Naples went wild over
Hegel, "at the time when Hegel was master of the field," he had always
"made certain reservations and refused to accept his apriorism, his
triad or his formulæ."[12]

[Sidenote: _Criticisms of German Æsthetic._]

De Sanctis also took up an independent attitude towards the other
German æstheticians. The views of Wilhelm Schlegel, very advanced
for the day in which they had been promulgated, seemed to him to
have been already superseded. In 1856 he wrote that Schlegel strives
to "transcend ordinary criticism, which leads a humdrum existence
among phraseology, versification and elocution, but loses its way
and never comes face to face with art: whereas Schlegel throws
himself headlong into the probable, the decorous and the moral; into
everything save art."[13] Thrown by the hazards of life into German
territory, he found himself at the Zürich Polytechnic, and found among
his colleagues (only imagine such a thing!) Theodor Vischer. What
opinion can he have formed of the ponderous Hegelian scholastic who
emerged dusty and panting from the systematic labours so well known to
us, and smiled disdainfully at the poetry and music of the decadent
Italian race? De Sanctis writes, "I went there with my opinions and
my prejudices and ridiculed their ridicule. Richard Wagner seemed to
me a corrupter of music, and nothing could be more inæsthetic than
the Æsthetic of Vischer."[14] His desire to correct the distorted
views of Vischer, Adolf Wagner, Valentin Schmidt and other German
critics and philosophers led him to undertake in 1858-59 a course of
lectures before an international audience at Zürich upon Ariosto
and Petrarch, the two Italian poets worst maltreated by these judges
because hardest to reduce to philosophical allegory. He sketched a
typical German critic and contrasted him with a French one, each with
his own characteristic defects. "The Frenchman does not indulge in
theories; he goes straight to the subject: his argument palpitates with
warmth of impression and sagacity of observation: he never leaves the
concrete: he estimates the quality of the talent and the work, studying
the man in order to understand the writer." He makes the mistake of
substituting reflexion on the psychology of the author and history of
his time for reflexion upon art. "Quite otherwise is your German: be a
thing never so plain, he makes it his business to manipulate, distort
and embroil: he accumulates a mass of darkness from whose centre rays
of dazzling light now and again shoot forth: truth is there at bottom,
in grievous pangs of parturition. Confronted with a work of art, he
labours to fasten down and fix the quality which is most evanescent
and impalpable. While nobody is more given to talk of life and the
world of the living, nobody on earth takes more pains to decompose and
disembody it in generalities: as consequence of this last process (last
in appearance, that is to say; in reality preconceived and _a priori_),
he is able to fit you the same boot on every foot and the same coat on
every back." "The German school is dominated by metaphysic, the French
by history."[15] About this time (1858) a Piedmontese review published
his exhaustive critical survey of the philosophy of Schopenhauer,[16]
which was then beginning to attract disciples among his friends
and companions in exile in Switzerland; the criticism provoked the
philosopher himself to confess that "this Italian" had "absorbed him
_in succum et sanguinem._"[17] What value did De Sanctis attach to
all Schopenhauer's subtleties concerning art? Having fully stated his
doctrine of ideas, he contents himself with the merest reference to the
third book "wherein is found an exaggerated theory of Æsthetic."[18]

[Sidenote: _Final rebellion against metaphysical Æsthetic._]

This moderate resistance and opposition to the partisans of the
concept and to the romantic Italian mystics and moralists (he directed
criticisms equally against Manzoni, Mazzini, Tommaseo and Cantù[19])
turned to open rebellion in one of his critical writings on Petrarch
(1868) in which this false tendency is characterized with biting
sarcasm. "According to this school" (he says, meaning the school of
Hegel and Gioberti), "according to this school the real and living is
art only in so far as it surpasses its form and reveals its concept or
the pure idea. The beautiful is the manifestation of the idea. Art is
the ideal, a particular idea. Under the gaze of the artist the body
becomes subtilized until it is nothing but the shadow of the soul, a
beautiful veil. The world of poetry is peopled with phantasms; and
the poet, eternal dreamer, with the eyes of one slightly intoxicated
sees bodies float unsteadily around him and change their shapes. Nor
do bodies merely become attenuated into forms and phantasms; these
forms and phantasms themselves become free manifestations of every
idea and every concept. The theory of the ideal has been driven to
its last victorious limit, to the destruction of the very phantasms
themselves, to concept as concept, form becoming a mere accessory."
"Thus the vague, the undecided, the undulating, the vaporous, the
celestial, the ærial, the veiled, the angelic, have now a high position
among artistic forms: whilst criticism revels in the beautiful,
the ideal, the infinite, genius, the concept, the idea, truth, the
superintelligible, the supersensible, the being and the existent, and
many more generalities cast into barbarous formulæ just like those
of the scholastics from whose influence we had so much difficulty in
escaping." All these things, instead of determining the character of
art, do nothing; save illustrate the contrary of art: its feebleness
and impotence, preventing it from slaying abstractions and laying hold
of life. If beauty and the ideal have actually the meaning given them
by these philosophers "the essence of art is neither the beautiful nor
the ideal, but the living, the form; the ugly too belongs to art since
ugliness lives also in nature; outside the domain of art lies nothing
but the formless and the deformed. Thais in Malebolge is more living
and poetical than Beatrice, who is pure allegory representing abstract
combinations. The Beautiful? Tell me of anything as beautiful as Iago,
a form uprisen from the profundity of real life; so rich, so concrete;
in every part, in each finest gradation, one of the most beautiful
creations in the world of poetry." If in the course of "wrangling
about the idea or the concept or real, moral, or intellectual beauty,
and confusing philosophical or moral truths with æsthetic" you choose
to call "a great part of the poetic world ugly, granting it a permit
merely that it may act as contrast, antagonist or foil to beauty,
accepting Mephistopheles as a foil to Faust, or Iago as foil to
Othello," you are imitating "those good folk who thought, _in illo
tempore,_ that the stars shone in the firmament in order to give light
to this earth."[20]

[Sidenote: _De Sanctis own theory_]

The æsthetic theory of De Sanctis himself arises entirely from the
criticism of the highest manifestations of European æsthetic as known
to him. Its nature is revealed by the contrast. "If you desire a statue
in the vestibule of art," says he, "let it be that of Form; gaze upon
this, question this, begin with this. Before form is attained, that
exists which existed before the creation: chaos. Chaos is no doubt a
respectable thing, with a most interesting history: science has not yet
uttered its last word about this pre-world of fermenting elements. Art
also has its pre-world: art also has its geology, born but yesterday
and as yet scarcely stretched, a science _sui generis,_ which is
neither Criticism nor Æsthetic. Æsthetic appears when form appears,
in which this pre-world is sunk, fused, forgotten and lost. Form is
itself as the individual is himself; and no theory is so destructive
to art as the continual harping upon the beautiful as manifestation,
clothing, light, or veil of truth or the idea. The æsthetic world
is not appearance, it is substance; to it indeed belongs everything
substantial and living: its criterion, its _raison d'être,_ lies
nowhere save in this motto: I live."[21]

[Sidenote: _The concept of form._]

For De Sanctis, form did not mean form "in the pedantic sense attached
to it until the end of the eighteenth century," that is to say, that
which first strikes a superficial observer, the words, the period, the
sense, the individual image;[22] or form in the Herbartian sense, the
metaphysical hypostatization of the former. "Form is not _a Priori,_ it
is not something existing of itself and distinct from the content as
though it were a kind of ornament or vesture or appearance or adjunct
of the content: it is generated by the content acting in the mind of
the artist: such as the content is, such is the form."[23] Between
form and content there is at the same time identity and diversity. In
a work of art the content, which had been lying in a chaotic state in
the mind of the artist, appears "not as it was originally, but as it
has become; the whole of it, with its own value, its own importance,
its own natural beauty enriched, not weakened, by the process."
Therefore content is essential for the production of concrete form;
but the abstract quality of the content does not determine that of
artistic form." If the content, though beautiful and important, remain
inoperative or lifeless or waste within the mind of the artist, if it
have not sufficient generative power and reveal itself in the form as
weak or false or vitiated, why trouble to sing its praises? In such
cases the content may be important in itself, but as literature or
art it is worthless. On the other hand the content may be immoral,
absurd, false or frivolous: but if at certain times or in certain
circumstances it has worked powerfully on in the brain of the artist,
and taken form, such content is immortal. The gods of Homer are dead;
the _Iliad_ remains. Italy may die and, with her, every memory of Guelf
and Ghibelline; the _Divina Commedia_ will remain. The content is
subject to all the hazards of history; it is born and it dies; the form
is immortal."[24] He held firmly to the independence of art, without
which there can be no Æsthetic; but he objected to the exaggeration of
the formula of art for art's sake in that it tended to the separation
of the artist from life, to the mutilation of the content and to the
conversion of art into a proof of mere cleverness.[25]

[Sidenote: _De Sanctis as art-critic._]

For De Sanctis, the concept of form was identical with that of
imagination, the faculty of expression or representation, artistic
vision. So much must be said by any one anxious to express clearly
the direction which his thought was taking. But De Sanctis himself
never succeeded in defining his own theory with scientific exactitude;
and his æsthetic ideas remained the mere sketch of a system never
properly interrelated and deduced. The speculative tendency shared his
attention with many other lively interests, the desire to understand
the concrete, to enjoy art and rewrite its actual history, to plunge
into practical and political life; so that by turns he was professor,
conspirator, journalist and statesman. "My mind inclines to the
concrete," he was wont to say. He philosophized just so much as was
necessary to the acquisition of a point of view in problems of art,
history and life; and, having procured light for his intellect, found
his bearings, derived some satisfaction from the consciousness of his
own activity, he plunged as quickly as possible into the particular and
the determinate. To immense power of seizing the truth in the highest
general principles was joined a no less intense abhorrence for the
pale region of ideas in which the philosopher takes an almost ascetic
delight. As critic and historian of literature he is unrivalled. Those
who have compared him with Lessing, Macaulay, Sainte-Beuve or Taine are
making rhetorical comparisons.

Gustave Flaubert wrote to George Sand: "In your last letter you speak
of criticism, and say you expect it soon to disappear. I think, on the
contrary, that it is just appearing over the horizon. Criticism to-day
is the exact opposite of what it was, but that is all. In the days of
Laharpe the critic was a grammarian; to-day he is a historian like
Sainte-Beuve and Taine. When will he be an artist, a mere artist, but a
real artist? Do you know a critic who interests himself whole-heartedly
in the work itself? They analyse with the greatest delicacy the
historical surroundings of the work and the causes which produced
it: but the underlying poetry and its causes? the composition? the
style? the author's own point of view? Never. Such a critic must have
great imagination and a great goodness of heart; I mean an ever-ready
faculty of enthusiasm; and then, taste; but this last is so rare, even
among the best, that it is never mentioned nowadays."[26] Flaubert's
ideal has been worthily reached by one critic only (that is to say,
amongst critics who have given themselves to the interpretation of
great writers and entire periods of literature) and that one is De
Sanctis.[27] No literature of any country possesses so perfect a mirror
as that possessed by Italy in the _History_ and the other critical
essays of Francesco de Sanctis.

[Sidenote: _De Sanctis as philosopher._]

But the philosopher of art, the æsthetician in De Sanctis is less
great than the critic and historian of literature. The critic is
primary, the philosopher a mere accessory. The æsthetic observations
scattered in aphorisms up and down his essays and monographs take
various colours from various occasions, and are expressed in uncertain
and often metaphorical language; this has led to his being accused of
contradictions and inexactitudes which had no existence in his inmost
thought and whose very appearance vanishes as soon as one takes into
account the particular cases with which he was dealing. But form,
forms, content, the living, the beautiful, natural beauty, ugliness,
fancy, feeling, imagination, the real, the ideal, and all the other
terms which he used with varying signification, demand a science both
on which to rest and from which to derive. Meditation on these words
stirs up doubts and problems on every side and reveals everywhere gaps
and discontinuities. Compared with the few philosophical æstheticians,
De Sanctis seems wanting in analysis, in order and in system, and
vague in his definitions. But these defects are outweighed by the
contact he establishes between the reader and real concrete works of
art, and by the feeling for truth which never leaves him. He has, too,
the attraction possessed by those writers who lead one on to suspect
and to divine new treasures in store beyond what they themselves
reveal--living thought, which stimulates living men to pursue and
prolong it.

[1] _Frammenti di scuola,_ in _Nuovi saggi critici,_ pp. 321-333; _La
giovinezza di Fr. de S._ (autobiography), pp. 62, 101, 163-166 (works
cited are those of De S. in stereotyped Naples ed. by Morano, 12 vols.).

[2] _La giovinezza di Fr. de S._ pp. 260-261, 315-316.

[3] _Saggi critici,_ p. 534.

[4] De Meis, _Comm, di Fr. de S._ (in vol. _In Memoria,_ Naples, 1884,
p. 116).

[5] _Scritti vori,_ ed. Croce, vol. ii. pp. 153-154.

[6] _Saggi critici,_ p 18.

[7] _Op. cit._ pp. 226-228; _Scritti varî,_ ii. pp. 185-187; cf. vol.
ii. p. 70.

[8] _Saggi critici,_ ed. Imbriani, p. 91.

[9] _Saggi critici,_ p. 228; cf. _Scritti varî,_ vol. ii. p. 70.

[10] _Storia della letteratura,_ i. pp. 66-67 _ Saggi critici,_ pp.
98-99; _Scritti varî,_ vol. i. pp. 276-278, 384.

[11] _La giovinezza di Fr. de S._ pp. 279, 313-314, 321-324.

[12] _Scritti varî,_ vol. ii. p. 83; cf. p. 274.

[13] _Op. cit._ vol. i. pp. 228-236.

[14] _Saggio sul Petrarca,_ new ed. by B. Croce, p. 309 _seqq._

[15] _Saggi critici,_ pp. 361-363, 413-414; cf. as touching Klein,
_Scritti varî,_ vol. i. pp. 32-34.

[16] _Op. cit., Schopenhauer e Leopardi,_ pp. 246, 299.

[17] Schopenhauer, _Briefe,_ ed. Grisebach, pp. 405-406; cf. pp.
381-383, 403-404, 438-439.

[18] _Saggi critici,_ p. 269, note.

[19] Cf. _Scritti varî,_ i. pp. 39-45, and _Letterat. ital. nel sec.
XIX,_ lectures, ed. Croce, pp. 241-243, 427-432.

[20] _Saggio sut Petrarca,_ introd. pp. 17-29.

[21] _Saggio sul Petrarca,_ p. 29 _seqq._

[22] _Scritti varî,_ vol. i. pp. 276-277, 317.

[23] _Nuovi saggi critici,_ pp. 239-240, note.

[24] _Nuovi saggi critici, loc. cit._

[25] _Ibid._ and cf. _Saggio sul Petrarca,_ p. 182; also _Scritti
varî,_ i. pp. 209-212, 226.

[26] _Lettres à George Sand,_ Paris, 1884 (Letter of Feb. 2, 1869), p.

[27] See above, p. 363, the judgement of De S. on French criticism.



[Sidenote: _Revival of Herbartian Æsthetic._]

When the cry "Away with metaphysic!" was raised in Germany, and a
furious reaction began against the kind of Walpurgis-night to which
the later Hegelians had reduced the life of science and history, the
disciples of Herbart came to the front and seemed to ask, with an
insinuating air: "What is all this? a rebellion against Idealism and
Metaphysic? why, it is exactly what Herbart wished and undertook all by
himself half a century ago! Here we stand, his legitimate descendants,
and we offer you our services as allies. We shall not find it hard to
agree. Our Metaphysic accords with the atomic theory, our Psychology
with mechanism, and our Ethics and Æsthetic with hedonism." Herbart
himself (had he not died in 1841) would most likely have spumed these
disciples of his who pandered to popularity, cheapened metaphysics and
gave naturalistic interpretations to his reals, his representations,
his ideas, and all his highest conceptions.

With the school thus coming into fashion, the Herbartian Æsthetic
too tried to put on flesh and acquire a pleasing plumpness so as not
to cut too miserable a figure beside the well-nourished _corpora_ of
science launched upon the world by idealists. The feeding-up process
was accomplished by Robert Zimmermann, professor of philosophy at
Prague and later at Vienna, who, after years of laborious effort and
an introductory sample in the shape of an ample history of Æsthetic
(1858), at length produced his _General Æsthetic as Science of Form_
in 1865.[1]

[Sidenote: _Robert Zimmermann._]

This formalistic Æsthetic, born under bad auspices, is a curious example
of servile fidelity in externals combined with internal infidelity.
Starting from unity, or rather from subordination of Ethics and
Æsthetic to a general Æsthetic defined as "a science which treats of
the modes by which any given content may acquire the right to arouse
approval or disapproval" (thereby differing from Metaphysic, science
of the real, and from Logic, science of right thinking), Zimmermann
places such modes in form, that is to say, in the reciprocal relation
of elements. A simple mathematical point in space, a simple impression
of hearing or sight, a simple note, is in fact neither pleasing nor
displeasing: music shows that the judgement of beauty or ugliness
always depends on the relation between two notes at least. Now these
relations, _i.e._ forms universally pleasing, cannot be empirically
collected by induction; they must be developed by deduction. By
the deductive method it can be demonstrated that the elements of
an image, which in themselves are representations, may enter into
relations either according to their force (quantity), or according to
their nature (quality); whence we have two groups--æsthetic forms of
quantity, and æsthetic forms of quality. According to the first, the
strong (large) is pleasing in comparison with the weak (small), and
these latter are displeasing when set beside the former; according
to the other form, that pleases which is substantially identical in
quality (the harmonious), and that displeases which is on the whole
diverse (the discordant).

But the substantial identity must not be pushed to the point of
absolute identity, for in that case the harmony itself would cease to
be. From harmonious form is deduced the pleasure of the characteristic
or expression; for what is the characteristic but a relation of
prevalent identity between the thing itself and its model? But while
similarity prevailing in the distinction produces accord (_Einklang_),
qualitative disharmony is as such disagreeable, and demands a
resolution. (It is easy to detect the sleight of hand with which
Zimmermann first slips the characteristic into the relations of pure
form, thereby entirely altering Herbart's original thought; and how, by
a second trick, he here introduces into pure beauty the variations and
modifications of the beautiful, by the help of the despised Hegelian
dialectic.) If such resolution is effected by the skilful substitution
of something other than the unpleasant image, we shall certainly have
removed the cause of offence and established quietude (not accord:
_Eintracht, nicht Einklang_), but we shall have gained the mere form
of correctness: it is better, then, to supersede this by means of the
true image so as to reach the form of compensation (_Ausgleichung_);
and, when the true image is also pleasing in itself, the final form
of definitive compensation (_abschliessende Ausgleich,_) with which
we exhaust the series of possible forms. And, in conclusion, what is
Beauty? It is a conjunction of all these forms: a model (_Vorbild_)
which has grandeur, plenitude, order, accord, correctness, definitive
compensation; all this appears in a copy (_Nachbild_) in the form of
the characteristic.

Putting on one side the artificial connexion Zimmermann makes between
the sublime, the comic, the tragic, the ironic, the humorous and
the æsthetic forms, notice must be taken (so that we may recognize
into which of the seven heavens he is wafting us) that these general
æsthetic forms concern art equally with nature and morality, whose
individual spheres are differentiated solely by the application of the
general æsthetic forms to particular contents. These forms, applied to
nature, give us natural beauty, the cosmos; applied to representation,
beauty of wit (_Schöngeist_) or imagination; applied to feeling,
the beautiful soul (_schöne Seele_) or taste; applied to the will,
character or virtue. On one side, then, is natural beauty, on the other
human beauty, in which (latter), on one hand, we have the beauty of
representation, that is to say æsthetic fact in the strict sense (art);
on the other, we have the beauty of will, or morality; and between the
two, lastly, we have taste, common to Ethics and Æsthetic. Æsthetic in
the narrow sense, as the theory of beautiful representation, determines
the beauty of representations, divided into the three classes of
the beauty of temporal and spatial connexion (figurative arts); the
beauty of sensitive representation (music); and the beauty of thoughts
(poetry). This tripartition of beauty into figurative, musical and
poetical brings to a conclusion theoretical Æsthetic, the only section
developed by Zimmermann.

[Sidenote: _Vischer versus Zimmermann._]

Zimmermann's work was a polemic against the principal representative
of Hegelian Æsthetic, Vischer, who had little difficulty in defending
his own position and counter-attacking that of his assailant. He
held Zimmermann up to ridicule, for example, in connexion with his
view of symbolism. Zimmermann defined a symbol as the object "round
which beautiful forms adhere." A painter depicts a fox simply for the
sake of painting a part of animal nature. Nothing of the sort: this
is a symbol, because the painter "makes use of fines and colours to
express things other than fines and colours." "You think I'm a fox,"
says the animal in the picture, "but you make a great mistake: I'm a
clothes-peg: I'm an appearance created by the painter with gradations
of grey, white, yellow and red." Even easier was it to make game of
Zimmermann's enthusiastic praises of the æsthetic quality of the sense
of touch. It was a pity, the latter had written, that the pleasures of
this sense were so difficult to attain; since "to touch the back of the
Resting Hercules and the sinuous limbs of the Venus of Melos or the
Barberini Faun would give to the hand a delight comparable only with
that felt by the ear when listening to the majestic fugues of Bach or
the suave melodies of Mozart." Vischer does not seem to be far wrong in
declaring formalistic Æsthetic to be "a grotesque union of mysticism
and mathematics."[2]

[Sidenote: _Hermann Lotze._]

The works of Zimmermann seem to have given satisfaction to nobody
save himself. Even Lotze, by no means an adversary of Herbartianism,
blames him severely in his _History of Æsthetic in Germany_ (1868) and
other writings. Still, Lotze was unable to offer any better substitute
for æsthetic formalism than of a variant of the old idealism. "Can
any one persuade us," he wrote in criticism of the formalists,
"that a spiritual discord expressed by a corresponding discord in
external appearances may have a value equal to that of the harmonious
expression of a harmonious content solely because, in both cases,
the formal relation of accord is respected? Can any one persuade us
that the human form is pleasing solely for its formal stereometric
relations, irrespective of the spiritual life by which it is animated?
In empirical reality the three domains of laws, facts and values
invariably appear as divided; and although they are united in the
Highest Good, in Goodness in itself, in the living Love of a Personal
God, in the Ought which is the basis of Being, our reason is unable to
attain or to know such union. Beauty alone can reveal it to us: it is
in close connexion with the Good and the Holy and reproduces the rhythm
of the divine ordinance and the moral government of the universe.
Æsthetic fact is neither intuition nor concept; it is idea, which
presents the essential of an object in the form of an end referred to
the ultimate end. Art, like beauty, must include the world of values
in the world of forms."[3] The war between the Æsthetic of content and
that of form, having Zimmermann, Vischer and Lotze as protagonists,
reached its culminating point between 1860 and 1870.

[Sidenote: _Efforts to reconcile Æsthetic of form and Æsthetic of

Several people were in favour of a reconciliation. But the
reconciliations they offered were not the right one, which was at
least glimpsed by a certain young Johann Schmidt, who in his thesis
for doctorate observed (1875) that, with all respect for Zimmermann
and Lotze, it seemed to him they were both wrong in confusing the
various meanings of the word "beauty," and discussed such an absurdity
as a beauty or ugliness of natural objects, that is to say, of things
external to the spirit; that Lotze, following Hegel, added the second
absurdity of an intuitive concept or conceptual intuition: lastly,
that neither of them grasped the fact that the æsthetic problem does
not turn upon the beauty or ugliness of the abstract content or of
form understood as a system of mathematical relations, but with the
beauty or ugliness of representation. Form undoubtedly must exist, but
"concrete form, full of content."[4] These utterances of Schmidt met
with a hostile reception: it is easy (he was told in reply) to identify
beauty with artistic perfection, but the whole crux of the matter lies
in finding whether, beside this perfection, there exists another beauty
dependent on a supreme cosmic or metaphysical principle: otherwise one
is guilty of a naïve _petitio principii_.[5] It was thought better,
therefore, to seek other modes of reconciliation, which consisted
in cooking up an appetizing dish in which a little formalism and a
little contentism were mixed to taste, the latter as a rule giving the
predominant flavour.

Some Herbartians were found in the ranks of the mediating or
conciliatory party. Hardly had Zimmermann's rigid formalism appeared,
when Nahlowsky jumped up to protest that it had never entered the
master's head to exclude content from Æsthetic;[6] but even the ablest
of the school, men such as Volkmann and Lazarus, chose a middle
course.[7] In the opposite camp Carrière,[8] and even Vischer himself
(in a criticism of his own old _Æsthetic_), began to concede a larger
part to the consideration of form; thus for Vischer beauty became
"life appearing harmoniously," which when it appears in space is called
form, and must always possess form, _i.e._ limitation (_Begrenzung_ )
in space and time, measure, regularity, symmetry, proportion, propriety
(these characters constituting its quantitative moments) and harmony
(qualitative moment), which includes variety and contrast and is
therefore the most important characteristic.[9]

[Sidenote: _K. Köstlin._]

A conciliatory Æsthetic in which formalism prevailed was attempted
by Karl Köstlin, a professor at Tübingen and formerly collaborator in
the musical section of the works of Vischer. Köstlin[10] had been
influenced by Schleiermacher, Hegel, Vischer and Herbart, but, truth
to tell, does not seem to have perfectly understood the teaching
of any one of his predecessors. According to him, the æsthetic
object presented three requirements: richness and variety of imagery
(_anregende Gestaltenfülle_), interesting content and beautiful form.
Under the first we recognize, with no little difficulty, a distorted
reflexion of Schleiermacher's "inspiration" (_Begeisterung_).
Interesting content he defined as that which concerns man; that which
he knows or does not know; that which he loves or hates (it is thus
always relative to the individual and the conditions in which he
exists); and he asserted that interest of content is joined to value
of form, that is, he conceived content as a second value, the same
of which we have heard Herbart speak. He also agreed with Herbart
that form is absolute, and that its general character is determined
as being easily perceptible by intuition (_anschaulich_), and by its
power of giving satisfaction, pleasure and delight, in fact, as being
beautiful. Its particular characteristics for Köstlin were, according
to quantity, circumscription, simplicity (_Einheitlichkeit_), extensive
and intensive size, and equilibrium (_Gleichmass_); according to
quality, determination (_Bestimmtheit_), unity (_Einheit_), importance
(_Bedeutung_) extensive and intensive, and harmony. But when Köstlin
sets himself to the empirical verification of his categories, he falls
into hopeless confusion. Greatness is pleasing, but so is smallness;
unity is pleasing, but so is variety; regularity is pleasing, but so,
confound it, is irregularity: uncertainties and contradictions at every
step; he was aware of them and made no effort to conceal them; but they
should have convinced him that the abstraction of "beautiful form,"
whose qualities and quantities he had so laboriously collected, is a
ghostly shape without body, since that alone gives æsthetic pleasure
which fulfils an expressive function. But having illustrated the three
demands of the æsthetic object, Köstlin wasted all his remaining breath
in constructing a kingdom of intuitive imagination in the manner of
Vischer, _i.e._ beauty of organic and inorganic nature; of civil life;
of morality; of religion; of science; of games; of conversations; of
feasts and banquets; and lastly of history, reviewing and passing
æsthetic comment on its three periods, patriarchal, heroic and

[Sidenote: _Æsthetic of content. M. Schasler._]

Schasler, who had written as vast a history on Æsthetic as Zimmermann's
own, found a starting-point for a movement toward formalism in absolute
idealism, or realism-idealism, as he called it. He began by defining
Æsthetic as "the science of the beautiful and of art" (a single
science ill defined as having two different objects), and proceeded
to justify his unmethodical definition by saying that beauty does not
exist in art alone, nor does art concern itself solely with beauty. The
sphere of Æsthetic he defines as that of intuition (_Anschauung_) in
which knowledge assumes a practical character and will a theoretical:
the sphere of indivisible unity and absolute reconciliation of the
theoretical and practical spirit, in which in a certain sense the
highest human activities are developed. Beauty is the ideal, but the
concrete ideal; this is why there is no ideal of a human body in
abstraction from sex, no ideal of a mammal in general, but only of such
and such species, as of horse or dog, and then only of determinate
kind of horse or dog. Thus by descending from the more to the less
abstract genus Schasler vainly attempted to reach the concrete, which
inevitably escaped his grasp. In art we pass from the typical, which
is natural beauty, to the characteristic, which is the typical of
human feeling; hence we can frame the ideal of an old woman, a beggar
or a ruffian. The characteristic of art is in closer relationship
to the ugly than to the beautiful in nature. On this head (passing
over the remainder, which is on familiar lines) it is well to notice
that Schasler has a bias towards that version of the romaunt of Sir
Purebeauty which ascribes the birth of the "modifications of Beauty" to
the influence of the Ugly.[11] "Although," he writes, "the thought may
disturb our minds, it must not be forgotten that were there no world
of ugliness there could be no world of beauty; for it is only when
the Ugly stirs up empty abstract Beauty, that it begins to combat the
enemy and thus to produce concrete Beauty."[12] He even succeeded in
converting Vischer himself, the chief supporter of the other version:
"Formerly I had been accustomed to think in the old-fashioned Hegelian
style," Vischer confesses, "that unrest, fermentation and strife dwelt
in the essence of Beauty; that the Idea prevails and thrusts the
image forth into the infinite; so arises the Sublime; that the image,
offended in its finitude, makes war on the Idea; whence arises the
Comic; this finished the struggle; Beauty returned to itself from the
conflict of the two moments, and was created." But now, he continues,
"I must acknowledge that Schasler is right, and so are his predecessors
Weisse and Ruge: the Ugly has a hand in the matter; this is the
principle of movement, the ferment of differentiation: without such
leaven we never reach the special forms of Beauty, for each single one
presupposes' the Ugly."[13]

[Sidenote: _Ed. von Hartmann._]

Closely allied to that of Schasler is the Æsthetic of Eduard von
Hartmann (1890), preceded by a historical treatise on _German Æsthetic
since Kant_[14] wherein with meticulous, critical and polemical study
he upholds the definition of Beauty as "the appearance of the Idea"
(_das Scheinen der Idee_). Inasmuch as he insisted on appearance
(_Schein_) as the necessary characteristic of Beauty, Hartmann held
himself justified in naming his Æsthetic the "Æsthetic of Concrete
Idealism," and in ranging himself alongside Hegel, Trahndorff,
Schleiermacher, Deutinger, Oersted, Vischer, Meising, Carrière
and Schasler, against the abstract idealism of Schelling, Solger,
Schopenhauer, Krause, Weisse and Lotze, all of whom, by placing
beauty in the supersensible idea, overlooked the sensory element and
reduced it to the rank of a mere accessory.[15] By his insistence on
the idea as the other indispensable and determining element, Hartmann
proclaimed himself as opposed to the Herbartian formalism. Beauty is
truth; neither historical, scientific nor reflective, but metaphysical
or idealistic, the very truth of Philosophy: "in proportion as Beauty
is in opposition to every science and to realistic truth, so much
nearer is it to Philosophy and metaphysical truth": "Beauty, with its
own peculiar efficacy, remains the prophet of idealistic truth in an
unbelieving age that abhors Metaphysic and recognizes no value in
anything but realistic truth." Æsthetic truth, which leaps immediately
from subjective appearance to ideal essence, is lacking in the control
and method possessed by philosophical truth; in compensation, however,
she possesses the fascinating power of conviction, the sole property of
sensible intuition, and unattainable by gradual or reflected mediation.
The higher Philosophy soars, the less does it need the gradual passage
through the world of the senses and of science, and the slighter
becomes the distance separating Philosophy and Art. The latter, for
its part, will be well advised to start on its journey towards the
ideal world as Bædeker's handbooks counsel the intending traveller,
"with as little luggage as possible"; "not overloading herself with a
weight which paralyses the wings and is made up of unnecessary and
indifferent trifles,"[16] Logical character, the microcosmic idea,
the unconscious are immanent in beauty; by means of the unconscious,
intellectual intuition operates in it,[17] and, from its being rooted
in the unconscious, it is a Mystery.[18]

[Sidenote: _Hartmann and the theory of Modifications._]

In his employment of the exciting or reactionary influence of the
Ugly, Hartmann exceeded Schasler himself. Lowest among the degrees of
Beauty, indeed forming the lower limit of æsthetic fact, lies sensuous
pleasure, which is unconscious formal beauty; its first true degree
is formal beauty of the first order, or the mathematically pleasing
(unity, variety, symmetry, proportion, the golden section, etc.); its
second degree is formal beauty of the second order, the dynamically
pleasing; its third is formal beauty of the third order, the passive
teleological, as in the case of utensils or machinery. Indeed it may
here be noted that among machines and utensils, on a level with jars,
plates and cups, Hartmann placed language: it is a dead thing, said
he; receiving the appearances of life (_Scheinleben_)[19] only at the
very instant of utterance. Language a "dead thing," an "utensil" for
the philosopher of the Unconscious, in the land of Humboldt, with a
Steinthal still living! There follow, as formal beauty of the fourth
order, the active teleological or living, and as formal beauty of the
fifth order, conformity to species (_das Gattungsmässige)_: lastly
and above all, since the individual idea is superior to the specific,
is beauty concrete beauty or the microcosmic individual, which is no
longer formal, but beauty of content. As is to be expected, the passage
from lower to Higher degrees is made by means of the Ugly: nobody has
laboured like Hartmann to recount in detail the services rendered by
Ugliness to Beauty. From ugliness, in the form of the destruction of
the beauty of equality, arises symmetry: from ugliness in the case of
the circle arises the ellipse; the beauty of a waterfall tumbling over
rocks is caused by the mathematically ugly; destruction, that is to
say, of a fall in a parabolic curve; beauty of spiritual expression is
achieved through the introduction of an ugliness relative to fleshly
perfection. Beauty of a higher degree is founded on ugliness at a
lower degree. When the highest degree is reached, that of individual
beauty beyond which there can be nothing, even then elemental ugliness
continues its work of beneficent irritation. The later phases thus
produced are well known to us as the famous Modifications of the
Beautiful: in this section also, nobody is so copious or detailed as
Hartmann. He certainly does admit, side by side with simple or pure
beauty, certain modifications free from conflict, such as the sublime
or graceful; but the more important modifications can arise only
through conflict. There are four cases, because the resolution must
be either immanent, logical, transcendent or combined: immanent in
the idyllic, the melancholy, the sad, the cheerful, the moving, the
elegiac; logical in the comic in all its varieties; transcendent in the
tragic; combined in the humorous with the tragi-comic and its other
varieties. When none of these resolutions is possible, there arises
ugliness; when an ugliness of content is expressed by an ugliness of
form, we have the maximum of ugliness, the real æsthetic devil.

[Sidenote: _Metaphysical Æsthetic in France. C. Levêque._]

Hartmann is the last considerable representative of the old æsthetic
school in Germany; he inspires terror by the mass of his literary
production, like many others of the school, who seem to accept it as
a dogma that art cannot be dealt with except in several volumes a
thousand pages long. Those who are not afraid of giants and are able
to attack this sort of Æsthetic, will find it a fat good-humoured
Magog full of vulgar prejudices, and so constituted that, despite his
apparent strength, a little blow will kill him.

In other countries metaphysical Æsthetic had few followers. In France
the celebrated competition of the Academy of Moral and Political
Sciences in 1857 crowned with their approval and presented to the
world the _Science of Beauty_ by Levêque;[20] of which nobody now
thinks or speaks, only remembering the author (who attitudinized
as a disciple of Plato) by his eight characteristics of Beauty,
derived by him from examination of a lily. The eight characteristics
were as follows:--sufficient size of form, unity, variety, harmony,
proportion, normal vivacity of colour, grace and propriety; ultimately
reducible to two, size and order. As supplementary proof of the truth
of his theory, Levêque applied it to three beautiful things: a child
playing with its mother, a symphony of Beethoven and the life of a
philosopher (Socrates). Really, it is somewhat difficult (says one of
his fellow-spiritualists, venturing to comment on this doctrine though
speaking with the utmost deference) to imagine what may be the normal
vivacity of colour in the life of a philosopher.[21] Translations and
explanatory articles by Charles Bénard[22] and books by various writers
belonging to French Switzerland (Töpffer, Pictet, Cherbuliez) were not
successful in popularizing the German systems of Æsthetic in France.

[Sidenote: _In England. J. Ruskin._]

England showed even less disposition to interest herself, although
John Ruskin may have some claim to be considered a metaphysical
æsthetician with a distinctive national stamp. But it is difficult
to treat of Ruskin in a history of science, for his temperament was
wholly opposed to the scientific. His disposition was that of the
artist, impressionable, excitable, voluble, rich in feeling; a dogmatic
tone and the appearance of theoretical form veil, in his exquisite
and enthusiastic pages, a texture of dreams and fancies. The reader
who recalls those pages will regard as irreverent any detailed and
prosaic review of Ruskin's æsthetic thought, which must inevitably
reveal its poverty and incoherence. Suffice it to say that, following
a finalistic, mystical intuition of nature, he considered beauty as a
revelation of divine intentions, the seal "God sets on his works, even
upon the smallest." For him the faculty which perceives the beautiful
is neither intellect nor sensibility, but a particular feeling which
he names the theoretic faculty. Natural beauty, which reveals itself
to a pure heart when contemplating any object untouched and unspoiled
by the hand of man, asserts itself for this reason as immeasurably
superior to any work of art. Ruskin was too hasty in analysis to
understand the complicated psychological and æsthetic process which
went on in his mind when he was moved to an artist's ecstasy by
contemplating some humble natural object such as a bird's nest or a
flowing rivulet.[23]

[Sidenote: _Æsthetic in Italy._]

In Italy the Abate Tornasi wrote a half-Hegelian, half-Catholic
Æsthetic, wherein the beautiful is identified with the second person of
the Trinity, the Word made man;[24] by this means he hoped to raise a
bank of opposition against the liberal criticism of De Sanctis, whom he
considered, from the sublime height of his own philosophy, as "a subtle
grammarian." Combined Giobertian and German, especially Hegelian,
influence produced several works of secondary importance; De Meis
developed at length the thesis of the death of Art in the historical
world.[25] Somewhat later Gallo also treated Æsthetic from the Hegelian
point of view,[26] and others repeated, nearly word for word, the
doctrines of Schasler and Hartmann on the overcoming of the Ugly.[27]

[Sidenote: _Antonio Tari and his lectures._]

The only genuine Italian teacher of metaphysical Æsthetic according
to the Germans was Antonio Tari, who lectured on this very subject
in Naples University from 1861 to 1884. He had a meticulous and
superstitiously minute knowledge of everything that issued from German
printing-presses, and was the author of an _Ideal Æsthetic_ as well
as essays on style, taste, serious work and play (_Spiel,_) music and
architecture, wherein he tried to keep the mean between the idealism
of Hegel and the formalism of Herbart:[28] his lectures on Æsthetic
attracted huge throngs and were one of the regular sights in the noisy,
crowded Neapolitan university. Tari divided his treatment under three
heads, Æsthesinomy, Æsthesigraphy and Æsthesipraxis, corresponding to
the Metaphysic of the beautiful, to the doctrine of beauty in nature,
and to that of beauty in art; like the German idealists, he defined the
æsthetic sphere as intermediate between the theoretical and practical:
he says emphatically that "in the world of spirit the temperate zone
is equidistant from the glacial, peopled by the Esquimaux of thought,
and from the torrid, peopled by the giants of action." He pulled Beauty
from her throne, substituting in her stead the Æsthetic, of which
Beauty is but an initial moment, the simple "beginning of æsthetic
life, eternal mortality, flower and fruit in one," whose successive
moments are represented by the Sublime, the Comic, the Humorous, and
the Dramatic.

[Sidenote: _Æsthesigraphy._]

But the most attractive part of Tari's lectures was that devoted
to Æsthesigraphy, subdivided into Cosmography, Physiography and
Psychography, in the course of which he frequently quoted Vischer with
great devotion; "the great Vischer" as he called him, in imitation of
whom he constructed his own "æsthetic physics," brightening it with
much varied erudition and enlivening it with quaint comparisons. Is
he speaking of beauty in inorganic nature--water, for example? He
says in his fanciful manner, "When water ripples in the sunshine, in
that act it has its smile; it has its frown in the breaking wave, its
caprice in the fountain, its majestic fury in the foam." Is he speaking
of geological configuration? "The vale, cradle perchance of the
human race, is idyllic; the plain, monotonous but fat, is didactic."
Of metals? "Gold is born great; iron, the apotheosis of human toil,
achieves greatness; the former boasts of its cradle when it does not
bring it to dishonour; the latter causes it to be forgotten." He looked
on vegetable life as a dream, repeating Herder's fine saying that the
plant is "the new-born babe that hangs sucking upon the breast of
mother nature." He divided vegetables into three types: foliaceous,
ramified and umbelliferous: "the foliaceous type," he says, "attains
gigantic proportions in the tropics, where the queen of monocotyledons,
the Palm-tree, represents despotism, the human scourge of those desert
regions. Of that solitary pinnacle, all crown, the negro may well be
identified as the reptile that crawls round its base." Amongst flowers,
the carnation is "symbol of betrayal, by reason of the variegation of
its colours and its deeply-dissected petals"; the celebrated comparison
by Ariosto of a rose with a young girl is permissible only when the
flower is still in bud, because "when it has unfolded its petals,
disdaining the protection of thorns, displaying itself in all the pomp
of its full colour, and boldly asking to be plucked by any hand, then
it is woman, all woman, to call it by no harsher name, giving pleasure
without feeling it, simulating love by its perfume and modesty by the
crimson of its petals." He searches for and comments upon analogies
between certain fruits and certain flowers; between the strawberry, for
instance, and the violet; between the orange and the rose; he admired
"the luxuriant spirals and the delicate architecture of a bunch of
grapes": the mandarin-orange reminded him of the nobleman _qui s'est
donné la peine de naître_; the fig, on the contrary, was the great
country bumpkin, "rough, rude, but profitable." In the animal kingdom,
the spider symbolized primitive isolation; the bee, monasticism; the
ant, republicanism. He noted, with Michelet, that the spider is a
living paralogism; it cannot feed itself without its web, and it cannot
spin its web without feeding. Fish he condemns as un-æsthetic: "they
are of stupid appearance with their wide--open eyes and incessant
gaping, which makes them look voraciously gluttonous." Not so with
amphibians, for which he entertains a sympathy: the frog and the
crocodile, "alpha and omega of the family, start from the comical, or
even the scurrilous, and attain the sublimity of the horrid." Birds
are especially æsthetic by nature, "possessing the three most genial
attributes of a living being: love, song, and flight"; moreover, they
present contrasts and antitheses: "opposite to the eagle, queen of the
skies, stands the swan, the mild king of the marshes; the libertine
vainglorious cock has its contrast in the humble uxorious turtle-dove;
the magnificent peacock is balanced by the rude and rustic turkey."
Amongst mammals, nature compensates for defects of pure beauty by
dramatic value; if they cannot throw their song into the air, they
have the rudiments of speech; if they have no variegated, myriad-hued
plumage, they have dark, heavily-marked colouring, instinct with life;
if they cannot fly, they have many other modes of powerful progression;
and, the higher they go, the more do they attain individuality in
appearance and life. "The epic of animal life is comedy in the donkey,
_iniquae mentis asellus_; idyl in the great wild beasts; downright
tragedy in the Kaffir bull, that cloven-hoofed Codrus, who gives
himself voluntarily to the lion in order to save the herd." As amongst
birds, so amongst beasts attractive contrasts are to be made:--the lamb
and the kid seem to typify Jesus and the devil; dog and cat, abnegation
and egoism; hare and fox, the foolish simpleton and crafty villain.
Many quaint and subtle observations does Tari let fall on human beauty
and the relative beauty of the sexes, allowing the female to have
charm, not beauty: "bodily beauty is poise, and woman's body is so
ill-poised that she falls easily when running; made for child-bearing,
she has knock-kneed legs, adapted to support the large pelvis; her
shoulders have a curve compensating the convexity of the chest." He
describes the various parts of the body: "curly hair expresses physical
force; straight hair, moral"; "blue, napoleonic eyes have sometimes
a depth like the sea; green eyes have a melancholy fascination; grey
eyes are wanting in individuality; black eyes are the most intensely
individual"; "a lovely mouth has been best described by Heine; two lips
evenly matched; to lovers the mouth will rather seem a shell whose
pearl is the kiss."[29]

How could we better take a smiling leave of metaphysical Æsthetic in
the German manner than by recording this quaint vernacular version
of it made by Tari, that kindly little old man, "the last jovial
high-priest of an arbitrary and confused Æsthetic"?[30]

[1] _Allgemeine Ästhetik als Formwissenschaft,_ Vienna, 1865; see
also Meyer's _Konversations-Lexikon_ (4th ed.), art. _Ästhetik,_ by

[2] _Kritische Gänge,_ vi., Stuttgart, 1873, pp. 6, 21, 32.

[3] _Geschichte d. Ästh. i. Deutschl., passim,_ esp. pp. 27, 97,
100, 125, 147, 232. 234, 265, 286, 293, 487; _Grundzüge der Ästh._
(posth., Leipzig, 1884), §§ 8-13; and two juvenile works, _Üb. d.
Begriff d. Schönheit,_ Göttingen, 1845, and _Üb. d. Bedingungen d.
Kunstschönheit,_ Göttingen, 1847.

[4] _Leibniz u. Baumgarten,_ Halle, 1875, pp. 76-102.

[5] G. Neudecker, _Studien z. Gesch. d. dtschn. Ästh. s. Kant,_ pp.

[6] Polemic in _Zeitschr. f. exacte Philos._ (Herbartian organ) for
1862-1863, ii. p. 309 _seqq.,_ ii. p. 384 _seqq,_ iv. pp. 26 _seqq.,_
199 _seqq.,_ 300 _seqq._

[7] Volkmann, _Lehrbuch der Psychologie,_ 3rd ed., Cöthen, 1884-1885.
Lazarus, _Das Leben der Seele,_ 1856-1858.

[8] Moriz Carrière, _Ästhetik,_ 1889 (3rd ed., Leipzig, 1885).

[9] _Kritische Gänge,_ v., Stuttgart, 1866, p. 59.

[10] _Ästhetik,_ Tübingen, 1869.

[11] See above, pp. 348-349.

[12] _Ästhetik,_ Leipzig, 1886, i. pp. 1-16, 19-24, 70; ii. p. 52:
cf. _Kritische Gesch. der Ästhetik,_ pp. 795, 963, 1041-1044, 1028,

[13] _Kritische Gänge,_ v. pp. 112-115.

[14] _Die dtsche. Ästh. s. Kant,_ 1886 (Part i. of _Ästh._).

[15] _Philosophie des Schönen_ (Part ii. of _Ästh._), Leipzig, 1890,
pp. 463-464; cf. _Deutsche Ästh. s. K._ pp. 357-362.

[16] _Phil. d. Sch._ pp. 434-437.

[17] _Op. cit._ pp. 115-116.

[18] _Op. cit._ pp. 197-198.

[19] _Op. cit._ pp. 150-152.

[20] Ch. Levêque, _La Science du beau,_ Paris, 1862.

[21] E. Saisset, _L'Esthétique française_ (in app. to vol. _L'Âme et la
vie,_ Paris, 1864), pp. 118-120.

[22] In _Revue philosophique,_ vols. i. ii. x. xii. xvi.

[23] J. Ruskin, _Modern Painters_ (4th ed., London, 1891); cf. De la
Sizeranne, pp. 112-278.

[24] Vito Fornari, _Arte del dire,_ Naples, 1866--1872; cf. vol. iv.

[25] A. C. De Meis, _Dopo la laurea,_ Bologna, 1868-1869.

[26] Nic. Gallo, _L' idealismo e la letteratura,_ Rome, 1880; _La
scienza dell' arte,_ Turin, 1887.

[27] _E.g._ F. Masci, _Psicologia del comico,_ Naples, 1888.

[28] _Estetica ideale,_ Naples, 1863; _Saggi di critica_ (collected
posthumously), Trani, 1886.

[29] A. Tari, _Lezioni di estetica generale,_ collected by C.
Scamaccia-Luvara, Naples, 1884; _Elementi di estetica,_ compiled by G.
Tommasuolo, Naples, 1885.

[30] V. Pica, _L'Arte dell' Estremo Oriente,_ Turin, 1894, p. 13.



[Sidenote: _Positivism and Evolutionism._]

The ground lost by idealistic metaphysic was conquered in the latter
half of the nineteenth century by positivistic and evolutionary
metaphysic, a confused substitution of natural for philosophical
sciences, and a hotch-potch of materialistic and idealistic, mechanical
and theological theories, the whole crowned with scepticism and
agnosticism. Characteristic of this trend of opinion was its contempt
of history, especially the history of philosophy; which prevented its
ever making that contact with the unbroken and age-long efforts of
thinkers without which it is idle to hope for fertile work and true

[Sidenote_Æsthetic of H. Spencer._]

Spencer (the greatest positivist of his day), whilst discussing
Æsthetic, actually did not know that he was dealing with problems for
all, or almost all, of which solutions had been already proposed and
discussed. At the beginning of his essay on the _Philosophy of Style,_
he remarks innocently: "I believe nobody has ever sketched a general
theory of the art of writing" (in 1852!); and in his _Principles of
Psychology_ (1855), touching the æsthetic feelings he remarks that
he has some recollection of observations concerning the relation of
art and play made "by some German author whose name I cannot recall"
(Schiller!). Had his pages on Æsthetic been written in the seventeenth
century, they would have won a low position amongst the early crude
attempts at æsthetic speculation; in the nineteenth century, one knows
not how to judge them. In his essay on _The Useful and the Beautiful_
(1852-1854), he shows how the useful becomes beautiful when it ceases
to be useful, illustrating this by a ruined castle useless for the
purposes of modern life, but a suitable scene for picnic parties and
a good subject for a picture to hang on a parlour wall; which leads
him to identify the principle of evolution from the useful to the
beautiful as contrast. In another essay on the _Beauty of the Human
Face_ (1852) he explains this beauty as a sign and effect of moral
goodness; in that on _Grace_ (1852) he considers the sentiment of the
graceful as sympathy for power in conjunction with agility. In the
_Origin of Architectural Styles_ (1852-1854) he discovers the beauty of
architecture as consisting in uniformity and symmetry, an idea which
is aroused in a man looking at the bodily equilibrium of the higher
animals or, as in Gothic architecture, by analogy with the vegetable
kingdom; in his essay on _Style,_ he places the cause of stylistic
beauty in economy of effort; in his _Origin and Function of Music_
(1857) he theorizes on music as the natural language of the passions,
adapted to increase sympathy between men.[1] In his _Principles of
Psychology,_ he maintains that the æsthetic feelings arise from the
overflow of exuberant energy in the organism, and distinguishes
various degrees of them, from simple sensation to that accompanied
by representative elements, and so on until perception is reached,
with more complex elements of representation, then emotion, and, last
of all, that state of consciousness which transcends sensation and
perception. The most perfect form of æsthetic feeling is attained
by the coincidence of the three orders of pleasures, a coincidence
produced by the full action of their respective faculties with the
least possible subtraction due to the painful effect of excessive
activity. But it is very rarely that we experience æsthetic excitement
of this kind and strength; almost all works of art are imperfect
because they contain a mixture of artistic with anti-artistic effects;
now the technique is unsatisfactory, now the emotion is of a low
order. These works of art which are universally admired, are found
when measured by this criterion to deserve a lower place than that
accorded them by popular taste. "Beginning with the Greek epic and
the representations of analogous legends given by their sculptors,
tending to excite egoistic or ego-altruistic sentiments, and passing
through the literature of the Middle Ages, equally impregnated with
inferior sentiments, then through the works of the old masters, whose
ideas and sentiments seldom compensate for the displeasing effect they
inflict on our senses overrefined in study of appearances; and coming
at last to the vaunted works of modern art, excellent for technical
execution in many cases but deplorable for the emotions they arouse
and express, such as Gérôme's battle-pieces, alternately sensual and
sanguinary;--they are all far off indeed from the qualities deemed
desirable, from the artistic forms corresponding to the highest forms
of æsthetic feeling."[2] These last critical denunciations, like the
theories noticed above, are mere substitutions of one word for another;
"facility" for "grace"; "economy" for "beauty," and so on. Indeed,
when one tries to define the exact philosophical position of Spencer,
one can only possibly say that he wavers between sensationalism and
moralism, and is never for a moment conscious of art as art.

[Sidenote: _Physiologists of Æsthetic. Grant Allen, Helmholtz, and

The same oscillation is noticeable in other English writers such as
Sully and Bain, in whom, however, we find more familiarity with works
of art.[3] In his numerous essays and in _Physiological Æsthetics_
(1877), Grant Allen collected a great many records of physiological
experiments, all of which may be of supreme value to physiology, for
aught we know to the contrary, but most assuredly are worthless from
the point of view of Æsthetic. He keeps to the distinction between
necessary or vital activity and the superfluous or that of play, and
defines æsthetic pleasure as "the subjective concomitant of the normal
sum of activity, not connected directly with the vital functions, in
the terminal peripheric organs of the cerebrospinal nervous system."[4]
Physiological processes considered as causes of pleasure in art are
presented under other aspects by later investigators, who assert that
such pleasure arises not only "from the activity of the visual organs
and the muscular systems associated with them, but also from the
participation of some of the more important functions of the organism,
as for instance breathing, circulation of the blood, equilibrium and
internal muscular accommodation." Art, then, indubitably originated
in "a prehistoric man who was habitually a deep-breather, having
no call to rearrange his natural habits when scratching lines on
bones or in mud and taking pains to draw them regularly spaced."[5]
Physical-Æsthetic researches were pursued in Germany by Helmholtz,
Brücke and Stumpf,[6] who generally confined themselves to the narrower
field of optics and acoustics, giving descriptions of the physical
processes of artistic technique and the conditions to which pleasurable
visual and auditive impressions must conform, without claiming to merge
Æsthetic in Physics, but even pointing out the divergences between
them. Degenerate Herbartians hastened to disguise in physiological
terms the metaphysical forms and relations of which their master had
spoken, and to coquet with the hedonism of the naturalists.

[Sidenote: _Method of the natural sciences in Æsthetic._]

The superstitious cult of natural sciences was often accompanied (as is
frequently the fate of superstition) by a sort of hypocrisy. Chemical,
physical and physiological laboratories became Sybilline grottoes,
resounding with the questions of credulous inquirers concerning the
profoundest problems of the human spirit; and many of those who were
really conducting their inquiries on inherently philosophic principles
pretended or deluded themselves into believing that they followed the
Method of Natural Science. A proof of this illusion or pretence is
Hippolyte Taine's _Philosophy of Art_[7]

[Sidenote: _H. Taine's Æsthetic._]

"If by studying the art of various peoples and various epochs," says
Taine, "we could define the nature and establish the conditions of
the existence of each art, we should have arrived at a complete
explanation of the fine arts and of art in general, _i.e._ at what
is called an Æsthetic." A historical Æsthetic, not a dogmatic, which
fixes characters and indicates laws "like Botany, and studies with
equal attention orange and ivy, pine and birch; indeed it is a sort of
botanical science applied to the works of man instead of to plants";
an Æsthetic which shall follow "the general movement which tends
daily more and more to join the moral to the natural sciences and by
extending to the former the principles, the safeguards and the rules of
the latter, enables both to attain the same security and maintain the
same progress."[8] The naturalistic prelude is followed by definitions
and doctrines indistinguishable from those offered by philosophers
whose infallibility is not guaranteed by scientific methods, indeed,
from those of the wildest of such philosophers. For, says Taine, art
is imitation, an imitation so carried out as to render sensible the
essential character of objects; the essential character being "a
quality from which all other qualities, or many others, are derived and
follow unalterably from it." The essential character of a lion, for
example, is to be "a great carnivore"; this determines the formation of
all its limbs; the essential character of Holland is to be "a country
formed by alluvial soil." This is why art is not restricted to objects
existing in reality, but is able, as in architecture or in music, to
represent essential characters without natural objects to correspond.[9]

[Sidenote: _Taine's metaphysic and moralism._]

Now, in what do these essential characters, this carnivorosity and this
alluviality differ, save perhaps in extravagance of example, from the
"types" and "ideas" which intellectualiste or metaphysical Æsthetic
had always considered as the proper content of art? Taine himself
clears away every doubt in the matter by explicitly stating that "this
character is what philosophers call the 'essence of things,' in virtue
of which they affirm that the aim and end of art is to make manifest
the essence of things"; he adds that, for his part, he "refuses to
make use of the word 'essence' as being a technical term":[10] of the
word itself, maybe; not of the concept for which it stands. There are
two ways (says Taine, for all the world as though he were a Schelling)
leading to the higher life of man, to contemplation: the way of
science and the way of art: "the former investigates the causes and
fundamental laws of reality, and expresses them in exact formulæ and
abstract terms: the latter makes manifest these causes and laws, not in
dry definitions inaccessible to the vulgar, and intelligible only to
the select few, but in a sensible manner, appealing not merely to the
reason but to the heart and senses of the most commonplace man; it has
the power of being both elevated and popular, of manifesting what is
most noble and elevated, and of manifesting it to every one."[11]

For Taine, as for the Hegelian æstheticians, works of art are arranged
in a scale of values; so that, having begun by condemning as absurd
every judgement of taste (every one to his taste[12]), he ends by
asserting that "personal taste has no value whatever," and that some
common measure should be abstracted and set up as a standard of
progress and retrogression, ornamentation and degeneracy; a standard
by which to approve and disapprove, praise and blame.[13] The scale of
values set up by him is twofold or threefold, in the first instance
it turns on the degree of importance of the character, _i.e._ the
greater or less generality in idea, and the degree of beneficent effect
(_degré de bienfaisance_), _i.e._ the greater or less moral value of
the representation (two grades which are aspects of one single quality,
viz. power, considered first for its own sake and then in its connexion
with others): in the second instance upon the degree of convergence of
effects, _i.e._ the fulness of expression, the harmony between idea
and form.[14] This intellectualistic, moralistic, rhetorical doctrine
is interrupted now and then by the usual naturalistic protests: "We
shall, according to our custom, study this question in the manner of
the natural scientist; that is to say methodically, by analysis; hoping
to raise not merely a song of praise, but a code of laws," etc.;[15] as
though that sufficed to alter the substance of the method adopted and
the doctrine expounded. Taine finally gave himself over to dialectical
treatments and solutions, and asserted that in the primitive period
of Italian art, in the pictures of Giotto, we have soul without body
(thesis); under the Renaissance, in Verrocchio's pictures, body without
soul (antithesis); in the sixteenth century, in Raphæl, there is
harmony of expression and anatomy, soul and body (synthesis).[16]

[Sidenote: _G. T. Feckner. Inductive Æsthetic._]

The same protests and similar methods are to be found in the works of
Gustav Theodor Fechner. In his _Introduction to Æsthetic_ (1876),
Fechner claims to "abandon the attempt at conceptual determination
of the objective essence of beauty," since he desires to compose not
a metaphysical Æsthetic from above (_von oben_), but an inductive
Æsthetic from below (_von unten)_ and to achieve clearness, not
sublimity; metaphysical Æsthetic should bear the same relation to
inductive, as the Philosophy of Nature to Physics.[17] Proceeding
on inductive lines, he discovers a long series of æsthetic laws or
principles: the æsthetic threshold; assistance or increment; unity in
variety; absence of contradictions; clarity; association; contrast;
consequence; conciliation; the correct mean; economic use; persistency;
change; measure; and so on without end. This chaos of concepts he
expounds with a chapter apiece, pleased and proud to show himself so
highly scientific and so wholly inconclusive.

[Sidenote: _Experiments._]

Next he describes the experiments he can recommend to his readers.
They are of this type. Take ten rectangular pieces of white cardboard
of fairly equal area (say ten square inches), but with sides variously
proportioned from a ratio of 1:1 to one of 2:5, including the ratio
of the golden section, 21:34; mix all these together on a black table
and collect persons of every kind and character, but all belonging
to the educated classes, and applying the method of choice ask these
people first to free their minds of all questions as to a particular
use and then to pick out the pieces of cardboard which give them the
highest sensation of pleasure and those which inspire them with the
strongest feelings of disgust; the answers to be most carefully noted,
keeping male and female subjects apart, and tabulated. Then see what
follows. Fechner admits that the chosen cardboard-pickers often made
reservations when questioned by himself, not knowing (very naturally)
how to tell whether they liked a shape or disliked it without referring
it to a definite use; sometimes they refused point-blank to make any
selection at all; and they almost always seemed vague and perplexed in
mind and generally, when submitted to a second test, answered in a way
totally different from the first. Still, we all know that errors cancel
out; and anyhow the tabulations showed that the highest sensations
of delight were aroused not by the square, but by rectangular forms
most nearly approaching the square, an enthusiastic rush being made
for the proportion 21:34.[18] This method of selection received an
extraordinarily felicitous definition; it was known as "an average of
arbitrary judgements by an arbitrary number of persons arbitrarily
selected."[19] Fechner also informs us (always in tabular form) of the
result of a statistical inquiry of his own, by means of countless heaps
of catalogues and gallery-guides, as to the dimensions and shapes of
pictures in relation to the subjects they depict.[20]

[Sidenote: _Trivial nature of his ideas on Beauty and Art._]

Nevertheless, when he tries to tell us what beauty is, he falls back
on using--whether well or ill--the old speculative method, which he
prefaces with the remark that for him the concept of beauty is "merely
an expedient in conformity with linguistic usage for indicating
briefly the link which unites the prevailing conditions of immediate
pleasure."[21] He distinguishes three meanings of the word "beauty":
first, in a broad sense, the pleasing in general: secondly, in a
narrow sense, a higher pleasure, but still sensuous: thirdly, in the
narrowest sense, true beauty, which "not only pleases, but has the
right of pleasing, possesses value in pleasing"; in it are united the
concepts of beauty (the pleasing) and of goodness.[22] Beauty, in fact,
is that which must please objectively and as such it corresponds with
the good of action. "The Good," says Fechner, "is like a serious man,
the capable organiser of his whole domestic life, sagaciously weighing
the present and future, setting himself to extract the greatest benefit
from both. Beauty is his florid spouse, careful of the present and
mindful of her husband's wishes. The Pleasing is the baby, all senses
and play: the Useful is the servant who puts his hands at his master's
disposal and is given bread solely in accordance with his deserts.
Truth, lastly, is the preacher and teacher to the household; preacher
in matters of faith, teacher in those of learning: he gives an eye to
the Good and a helping hand to the Useful, and holds up a looking-glass
to Beauty."[23] When speaking of art, he sums up all essential laws or
rules into the following: (1) art chooses a valuable or, at any rate,
an interesting, idea for representation: (2) it expresses the idea in
sensible material in the manner most suitable to its contents: (3) from
amongst the various means at its disposal, it selects those which in
themselves are more pleasing than the others: (4) the same procedure
is observed in all particulars: (5) in the event of conflict between
these rules, one is made to give way to another in such a way that the
greatest possible pleasure and that of highest value is attained (_das
grösstmögliche und werthvollste Gefallen_).[24] But why should Fechner,
who had this eudemonistic theory of beauty and art (as he calls it) all
ready made in advance,[25] take the trouble to enumerate principles
and laws and conduct experiments and tabulate statistics wholly
incapable of illustrating or proving it? One is tempted to believe
that these pseudo-scientific operations were to him, and still are to
his followers, a pastime or hobby neither more nor less important than
playing Patience or collecting stamps.

[Sidenote: _Ernst Grosse. Speculative Æsthetic and the science of art._]

Another example of the superstitious cult of the natural sciences is to
be found in Professor Ernst Grosse's _Origins of Art._[26] Contemner of
all philosophical research into art, which he dismisses under the title
of "Speculative Æsthetic," Grosse invokes a Science of art (_Kunst
wissenschaft)_ whose mission is to dig out all the laws lying hidden
in the mass of historical facts collected to date. It is his opinion
that all ethnographic and prehistoric material should be united to
historical matter proper, there being no possibility, according to him,
of framing general laws when study is restricted to the art of cultured
peoples "just as a theory of generation must necessarily be imperfect
if founded exclusively on the form of that function predominant among
mammals."[27] But immediately after his declaration of abhorrence for
philosophy, and of faith in scientific methods, Grosse finds himself
in the same difficulty as Taine and Fechner. Indeed, there is no
escape; in order to examine the artistic productions of primitive and
savage peoples, a start must be made from some sort of concept of
art. All the scientific metaphors, all the verbal emollients employed
by Grosse cannot hide the nature of the plan he is forced to adopt,
or its striking resemblance to the despised speculative Æsthetic.
"As a traveller who desires to explore an unknown land must provide
himself with a general outline of the country and have some knowledge
of the direction in which his path should lie, if he does not wish to
lose his way entirely; so we, before beginning our enquiry, need a
general preliminary orientation concerning the essence of the phenomena
(_über das Wesen der Erscheinungen_) about to engage our attention."
Most certainly "we may count upon having an exact and exhaustive
answer, at earliest, when our enquiry is finished; and it is not yet
begun. That characteristic which we seek to determine at the outset
... may be most radically modified by the time we reach the end:"
there is no question, fie on the suggestion! of imitating the old
æstheticians: the only question is how "to give a definition which may
serve as provisional scaffolding, to be broken away on completion of
the edifice."[28] Words, words, words: the mite of general ideas and
artistic laws to be found in his book has been quarried by Grosse not
from study of the reports brought back by travellers in savage lands,
but from speculation on the forms of the spirit; and (inevitably) his
interpretation of the former is reached by the light thrown on it by
the latter. In his final definition, Grosse concludes by considering
art as an activity which in its development or as its result, possesses
immediate feeling-value (_Gefühlswerth_), and is an end to itself;
practical and æsthetic activity are in direct mutual opposition between
which as a middle term lies the activity of play, which like the
practical activity has its end outside itself, but, like the æsthetic,
finds its enjoyment not in its external end, which is more or less
insignificant, but in its own activity.[29] At the end of his book he
remarks that the artistic activity of primitive peoples is hardly ever
unaccompanied by the practical; and that art began by being social and
became individual only in civilized times.[30]

The Æsthetics of Taine and Grosse have also been described by the
epithet sociological.

[Sidenote: _Sociological Æsthetic._]

But since no one knows what the science of Sociology is, we must deal
with the sociological superstition as we dealt with the naturalistic;
that is to say, by skipping the preface with its proposals that
can never be carried out, and seeing what it is that the objective
necessities of the case have forced the author to assert, and which of
the possible alternative views he accepts, or between what selection of
them his allegiance wavers. During this examination we shall ignore the
fairly common case of an author who while pretending to construct an
Æsthetic simply compiles a list of facts connected with the history of
art or civilization.

[Sidenote: _Proudhon._]

Some social reformers of our day, like Proudhon, have revived the
condemnations of Plato, or the mitigated moralism of antiquity and
the Middle Ages. Proudhon denied the formula Art for Art's sake; he
looked on art as a mere purveyor of sensuous pleasure, something which
must be subordinated to legal and economical ends; poetry, sculpture,
painting, music, romance, history, comedy, tragedy had for him no aim
save exhortation to virtue and dissuasion from vice.[31]

[Sidenote: _J. M. Guyau._]

Development of social sympathy is the whole duty of art in the
estimation of J. M. Guyau, who became famous as the founder of Social
Æsthetic and was, according to certain French critics, inaugurator
of the third epoch in the history of Æsthetic, the first being the
æsthetic of the ideal (Plato), the second that of perception (Kant),
and the third that of "Social Sympathy" (Guyau). In his _Problems
of Contemporary Æsthetic_ (1884) Guyau combats the theory of play,
and substitutes that of Life; in a posthumous publication _Art in
Its Sociological Aspect_ (1889) he explains more clearly that the
life of which he speaks is social life.[32] If the beautiful be the
intellectually pleasing, certainly it cannot be identified with the
useful which is only searching for what is pleasing; but the useful
(says Guyau, in the belief that he is correcting both Kant and
the evolutionists) does not always exclude the beautiful, of which
indeed it often forms the lowest degree. The study of art is embraced
partly,[33] not wholly, by Sociology: for art fulfils two ends, firstly
and primarily that of provoking pleasant sensations (of colour, sound,
etc.) and in this sense finds itself in the presence of practically
incontestable scientific laws which connect Æsthetic with the physics
(optics, acoustics, etc.), mathematics, physiology and psychophysics.
Sculpture, in fact, rests especially on anatomy and physiology:
painting on anatomy, physiology and optics: architecture on optics
(golden section, etc.): music on physiology and acoustics: poetry on
metrics, whose most general laws are acoustical and physiological. The
second function of art is to produce the phenomena of "psychological
induction," which bring to a head ideas and sentiments of most
complex nature (sympathy with personages represented, interest, pity,
indignation, etc.), in short all the social feelings, which constitute
it "the expression of life." Whence are derived the two tendencies
recognised in art; one inclining towards harmony, consonance, and
everything delightful to ear and eye: the other towards the transfusion
of life into the domain of art. Genius, true genius is destined to
preserve the balance of the two tendencies: decadents and degenerates
deprive art of its social sympathetic aim by setting æsthetic sympathy
at war against human sympathy.[34] Translating all this into familiar
terms, we may say that Guy au asserts one purely hedonistic art, above
which he superimposes another art, also hedonistic, but serviceable to
the cause of morality.

[Sidenote: _M. Nordau._]

The same polemic against decadents, degenerates and individualists
is carried on by another writer, Max Nordau, who gives art the task
of re-establishing the wholeness of life amongst the fragmentary
specialisation characteristic of industrial society; he asserts that
art for art's sake, art as the simple expression of internal states or
the objectification of the artist's feelings, no doubt exists, but is
merely "the art of Quaternary man, the art of the cave-dweller."[35]

[Sidenote: _Naturalism. C. Lombroso._]

Naturalistic is the best term with which to qualify the Æsthetic
derived from that identification of genius with degeneracy which made
the fortune of Lombroso and his school. This identification derives
its chief strength from the following piece of reasoning. Great mental
efforts, total absorption in one dominating thought, often bring about
physiological disorders in the bodily organism and weakness or atrophy
of various vital functions. But such derangements come under the
head of the pathological concept of illness, degeneration, madness.
Therefore genius is identical with illness, degeneration and madness.
A syllogism from particular to general, in which case, according to
traditional Logic, _non est consequentia._ But with sociologists such
as Nordau, Lombroso and company, we almost overstep the line separating
respectable error from that grosser form which we call a blunder.

A mere confusion between scientific analysis and historical inquiry
or description is visible in the works of certain sociologists and
anthropologists. Thus one of them, Carl Bücher, in studying the life of
primitive peoples, asserts that poetry, music and work were originally
fused in one single act; that poetry and music were used to regulate
the rhythms of labour.[36] This may be historically true or false,
important or no: it has nothing whatever to do with æsthetic science.
In the same way Andrew Lang maintains that the doctrine concerning the
origin of art as disinterested expression of the mimetic faculty finds
no confirmation from what we know of primitive art, which is decorative
rather than expressive:[37] as though primitive art, which is a mere
fact awaiting interpretation, could ever be converted into a criterion
for the interpretation of art in general.

[Sidenote: _Decline of Linguistic._]

The same vague naturalism exercised a baneful influence on Linguistic,
which of late years has been wholly lacking in such profound research
as that inaugurated by Humboldt and followed up by Steinthal. But
Steinthal never succeeded in founding a school. Max Müller, popular
and inaccurate, maintained the indivisibility of speech and thought,
confounding, or at least not distinguishing, æsthetic and logical
thought; although at one time he had noted that the formation of
names had a closer connexion with wit, in the sense of Locke, than
with judgement. He maintained, moreover, that the science of language
is not a historical but a natural science, because language is not
the invention of man: the dilemma of "historical" and "natural" was
canvassed and resolved over and over again with little result.[38]
Another philologist, Whitney, attacked the "miraculous" theory of
Müller and denied that thought is indivisible from speech: "The
deaf-mute does not speak, but he can think," he observes; "thought is
not function of the acoustic nerve." By this means Whitney relapsed
into the ancient doctrine that speech is a symbol or means of
expression, of human thought, subject to the will, the result of a
synthesis of faculties and of a capacity for intelligent adaptation of
means to end.[39]

[Sidenote: _Signs of revival. H. Paul._]

Philosophical spirit reappeared in Paul's _Principles of the History
of Language_ (1880),[40] though the author's efforts to defend himself
from the terrifying accusation of being a philosopher led him to hunt
out a fresh title to replace the scandalous "Philosophy of Language."
But if Paul is vague about the relation of Logic to Grammar, he must
be given every credit for identifying, as Humboldt had already done,
the question of the origin of language with that of its nature; and
reasserting that language is created afresh whenever we speak. He
must also be given credit for having conclusively criticized the
Ethnopsychology (_Völkerpsychologie_) of Steinthal and Lazarus, showing
that there is no such thing as collective psyche and that there can be
no language other than of the individual.

[Sidenote: _The linguistic of Wundt._]

Wundt[41] on the other hand attached the study of language, mythology
and customs to this non-existent science of Ethnopsychology; in his
latest work, on this very subject of language,[42] he foolishly echoes
Whitney's gibes and denounces as a "miracle theory" (_Wundertheorie_)
that glorious doctrine inaugurated by Herder and Humboldt, whom he
accuses of "mystical obscurity" (_mystiche Dunkel_): he observes that
this view may have had some justification before the principle of
evolution had reached its triumphant application to organic nature in
general and to man in particular. He has not the faintest notion of
the function of imagination, or of the true relation between thought
and expression; he finds no substantial difference between expression
in the naturalistic, and expression in the spiritual and linguistic
sense; he considers language as a special highly developed form of the
vital psychophysical manifestations and of the expressive movements
of animals. Out of these facts language is developed by imperceptible
gradations; so that, beyond the general concept of expressive movement
(_Ausdrucksbewegung_) "there is no specific mark by which language can
be distinguished in any but an arbitrary manner."[43] The philosophy
of Wundt betrays its own weakness by showing its inability to master
the problem of language and art. In his _Ethics_ æsthetic facts are
presented as a complex of logical and ethical elements; the existence
of æsthetic as a special normative science is denied, not for the good
and sufficient reason that there are no such things as "normative
sciences," but because this special science is said by him to be
absorbed by the two sciences of Logic and Ethics,[44] which amounts to
denying the existence of Æsthetic and the originality of art.

[1] _Essays, Scientific, Political, and Speculative, 1858-1862._

[2] _Principles of Psychology,_ 1855; 2nd ed. 1870, part viii. ch. 9,
§§ 533-540.

[3] J. Sully, _Outlines of Psychology,_ London, 1884; _Sensation
and Intuition, Studies in Psychology and Æsthetics,_ London, 1874;
cf. _Encycl. Britannica,_ ed. 9, art. "Æsthetics"; Alex. Bain, _The
Emotions and the Will,_ London, 1859, ch. 14.

[4] _Physiological Æsthetics,_ London, 1877; various arts, in _Mind,_
vols. iii. iv. v. (o. s.).

[5] Vernon Lee and C. Anstruther-Thomson, "Beauty and Ugliness," in
_Contemp. Review,_ October-November, 1897: (abstract in Arréat, _Dix
années de philosophie,_ pp. 80-85); same author's _Le Rôle de l'élément
moteur dans la perception esthétique visuelle, Mémoire et questionnaire
soumis au 4me Congrès de Psychologie,_ reprinted Imola, 1901.

[6] H. Helmholtz, _Die Lehre von der Tonempfindungen als physiologische
Grundlage für die Théorie der Musik,_ 1863, 4th ed., 1877;
Brücke-Helmholtz, _Principes scientifiques des beaux arts,_ Fr. ed.,
Paris, 1881; C. Stumpf, _Tonpsychologie,_ Leipzig, 1883.

[7] _Philosophie de l'art,_ 1866-1869 (4th ed. Paris, 1885).

[8] _Op. cit._ i. pp. 13-15.

[9] _Philosophie de l'art,_ i. pp. 17-54.

[10] _Op. cit._ i. p. 37.

[11] _Op. cit._ i. p. 54.

[12] _Op. cit._ i. p. 15.

[13] _Op. cit._ ii. p. 277.

[14] _Philos. de l'art,_ ii. pp. 257-400.

[15] _Op. cit._ ii. pp. 257-258.

[16] _Op. cit._ ii. p. 393.

[17] _Vorschule der Ästhetik,_ 1876 (2nd ed. Leipzig, 1897-1898).

[18] _Vorschule der Ästhetik,_ i. ch. 19.

[19] Schasler, _Krit. Geschichte d. Ästh._ p. 1117.

[20] _Vorschule der Ästh._ ii. pp 273-314.

[21] _Op. cit._ pref. p. iv.

[22] _Op. cit._ i. pp. 15-30.

[23] _Op. cit._ i. p. 32.

[24] _Vorschule der Ästh._ ii. pp. 12-13.

[25] _Op. cit._ i. p. 38.

[26] _Die Anfänge der Kunst,_ Freiburg i. B. 1894.

[27] _Op. cit._ p. 19.

[28] _Die Anfänge der Kunst,_ pp. 45-46.

[29] _Op. cit._ pp. 46-48.

[30] _Op. cit._ pp. 293-301.

[31] _Du principe de l'art et de sa destination sociale,_ Paris, 1875.

[32] M. Guyau, _L'Art au point de vue sociologique,_ 1889 (3rd ed.
Paris, 1895); _Les Problèmes de l'esthétique contemporaine,_ Paris,
1884; cf. Fouillée, pref. to the former work, pp. xli-xliii.

[33] _L'Art au point de vue sociologique,_ pref. p. xlvii.

[34] _Op. cit., passim,_ esp. ch. 4; cf. pp. 64, 85, 380.

[35] Max Nordau, _Social Function of Art,_ 2nd ed., Turin, 1897.

[36] Karl Bücher, _Arbeit u. Rhythmus,_ 2nd ed., Leipzig, 1899.

[37] _Custom and Myth,_ p. 276; quoted by Knight, _The Philosophy of
the Beautiful,_ vol. i. pp. 9-10.

[38] _Lectures on the Science of Language,_ 1861 and 1864 (Fr. tr.,
Paris, 1867).

[39] William Dwight Whitney, _The Life and Growth of Language,_ London,
1875 (It. tr., Milan, 1876).

[40] Hermann Paul, _Principien der Sprachgeschichte,_ 1880 (2nd ed.,
Halle, 1886).

[41] Wilh. Wundt, _Über Wege u. Ziele d. Völkerpsychologie,_ Leipzig,

[42] _Die Sprache,_ Leipzig, 1900, 2 vols, (part i. of
_Völkerpsychologie, eine Untersuchung der Entwicklungsgesetze von
Sprache, Mythus und Sitte_).

[43] _Die Sprache, passim;_ cf. i. p. 31 _seqq.,_ ii. pp. 599, 603-609.

[44] _Ethik,_ ed. 2, Stuttgart, 1892, p. 6.



[Sidenote: _Neo-criticism and empiricism._]

The neo-critical or neo-Kantian movement was powerless to make headway
against hedonistic, psychological and moralistic views of the æsthetic
fact, although it made every effort to save the concept of spirit from
the invading rush of naturalism and materialism.[1] Kant bequeathed to
neo-criticism his own failure to understand creative imagination, and
the neo-Kantians do not seem to have had the faintest notion of any
form of cognition other than the intellectual.

[Sidenote: _Kirchmann._]

Amongst German philosophers of any renown who clung to æsthetic
sensationalism and psychologism was Kirchmann, promoter of a so-called
realism, and author of _Æsthetic on a Realistic Basis_ (1868).[2]
In his doctrine the æsthetic fact is an image (_Bild_) of a real;
an animated (_seelenvolles_) image, purified and strengthened, that
is, idealized, and divided into the image of pleasure, which is the
beautiful, and that of pain, which is the ugly. Beauty admits of a
threefold series of varieties or modifications, being determined
according to the content as sublime, comic, tragic, etc.; according
to the image, as beauty of nature or of art; and according to the
idealization as idealistic or naturalistic, formal or spiritual,
symbolical or classical. Not having grasped the nature of æsthetic
objectification, Kirchmann takes the trouble to draw up a new
psychological category of ideal or apparent feelings, arising from
artistic images and being attenuations of the feelings of real life.[3]

[Sidenote: _Metaphysic translated into Psychology. Vischer._]

To the evolution or involution of the Herbartians into physiologists
of æsthetic pleasure corresponds a similar evolution or involution of
the idealists into adherents of psychologism. The first place must be
given to the veteran Theodor Vischer, who in a criticism of his own
work pronounced Æsthetic to be "the union of mimics and harmonics"
(_vereinte Mimik und Harmonik_), and Beauty the "harmony of the
universe," never actually realized because realized only at infinity,
so that when we think to seize it in the Beautiful, we are under an
illusion: a transcendent illusion, which is the very essence of the
æsthetic fact.[4] His son Robert Yischer coined the word _Einfühlung_
to express the life with which man endows natural objects by means of
the æsthetic process.[5] Volkelt, when treating of the _Symbol_[6] and
joining symbolism to pantheism, opposed associationism and favoured a
natural teleology immanent in Beauty.

[Sidenote: _Siebeck._]

The Herbartian Siebeck (1875) abandoned the formalistic theory and
tried to explain the fact of beauty by the concept of the appearance of
personality.[7] He distinguishes between objects which please by their
content alone (sensuous pleasures), those which please by form alone
(moral facts), and those which please by the connexion of content with
form (organic and æsthetic facts). In organic facts the form is not
outside the content, but is the expression of the reciprocal action and
conjunction of the constitutive elements: whereas in æsthetic facts
the form is outside the content, and as it were its mere surface; not
a means to the end, but an end in itself. Æsthetic intuition is a
relation between the sensible and the spiritual, matter and spirit,
and is thus form regarded as the appearance of personality. Æsthetic
pleasure arises from the spirit's consciousness of discovering itself
in the sensible. Siebeck borrows the theory of modifications of the
beautiful from the metaphysical idealists, who held that only in such
modifications can beauty be found in the concrete, just as humanity can
only exist as a man of determinate race and nationality. The sublime is
that species of beauty wherein the formal moment of circumscription is
lost, and is therefore the unlimited, which is a kind of extensive or
intensive infinity; the tragic arises when the harmony is not given but
is the result of conflict and development; the comic is a relation of
the small to the great; and so on. These traces of idealism, together
with his firm hold on the Kantian and Herbartian absoluteness of the
judgement of taste, make it impossible to regard Siebeck's Æsthetic as
purely psychological and empirical and wholly devoid of philosophical

[Sidenote: _M. Diez._]

It is the same with Diez, who, in his _Theory of Feeling as Foundation
of Æsthetic_ (1892),[8] tries to explain the artistic activity as
a return to the ideal of feeling (_Ideal des fühlenden Geistes_),
parallel with science (ideal of thought), morality (ideal of will)
and religion (ideal of personality). But whatever is this so-called
feeling? is it the empirical feeling of the psychologists, irreducible
to an ideal, or the mystic faculty of communication and conjunction
with the Infinite and the Absolute? the absurd "pleasure-value" of
Fechner, or the "judgement" of Kant? One is inclined to say that
these writers, and others like them, still under the influence of
metaphysical views, lack the courage of their opinions: they feel
themselves to be in an atmosphere of hostility and speak under
reservations or compromises. The psychologist Jodi asserts the
existence of elementary æsthetic feelings, as discovered by Herbart,
and defines them as "immediate excitations not resting upon associative
or reproductive activity or on the fancy," although "in ultimate
analysis they must be reduced to the same principles."[9]

[Sidenote: _Psychological tendency. Teodor Lipps._]

The purely psychological and associationistic tendency becomes clearly
defined in Professor Teodor Lipps and his school. Lipps criticizes
and rejects a whole series of æsthetic theories: (_a_) of play;
(_b_) of pleasure; (_c_) of art as recognition of real life, even
if displeasing; (_d_) of emotion and passional excitation; (_e_)
syncretism, attributing to art beside the primary purpose of play and
pleasure the further ends of recognition of life, in its reality,
revelation of individuality, commotion, freedom from a weight, or free
play of the imagination. His theory differs little at bottom from that
of Jouffroy, for in his thesis he assumes artistic beauty to be the
sympathetic. "The object of sympathy is our objectified ego, transposed
into others and therefore discovered in them. We feel ourselves in
others and we feel others in ourselves. In others, or by means of them,
we feel ourselves happy, free, enlarged, elevated, or the contrary
of all these. The æsthetic feeling of sympathy is not a mere mode of
æsthetic enjoyment, it is that enjoyment itself. All æsthetic enjoyment
is founded, in the last analysis, singly and wholly upon sympathy; even
that caused by geometrical, architectonic, tectonic, ceramic, etc.,
lines and forms." "Whenever in a work of art we find a personality (not
a defect of the man, but something positively human) which harmonizes
with and awakes an echo in the possibilities and tendencies of our
own life and vital activities: whenever we find positive, objective
humanity, pure and free from all real interests lying outside the work
of art, as art only can reproduce it and æsthetic contemplation alone
can demand; the harmony, the resonance, fills us with joy. The value
of personality is ethical value: outside it there is no possibility
or determination of ethical character. All artistic and in general
æsthetic enjoyment is, therefore, the enjoyment of something which has
ethical value (_eines ethische Werthvollen_); not as element of a
complex, but as object of æsthetic intuition."[10]

The æsthetic fact is thus deprived of all its own value and allowed
merely a reflexion from the value of morality.

Without lingering over Lipps's pupils (such as Stern and others[11])
and writers of similar tendency (such as Biese, with his theory
of anthropomorphism and universal metaphor;[12] or Konrad Lange,
who propounds a thesis that art is conscious self-deception),[13]
we will call attention to Professor Karl Groos (1892), who comes
within measurable distance of the concept of æsthetic activity as
a theoretic value.[14] Between the two poles of consciousness,
sensibility and intellect, are several intermediate grades, amongst
which lies intuition or fancy, whose product, the image or appearance
(_Schein_), is midway between sensation and concept. The image is
full like sensation, but regulated like the concept; it has neither
the inexhaustible richness of the former, or the barren nudity of the
latter. Of the nature of image or appearance is the æsthetic fact;
which is distinguished from the simple, ordinary image not by its
quality, but by its intensity alone: the æsthetic image is merely a
simple image occupying the summit of consciousness. Representations
pass through consciousness like a crowd of people hurrying over a
bridge, each bent on his own business; but when a passer-by halts on
the bridge and looks at the scene, then is it holiday, then arises the
æsthetic fact. This is therefore not passivity but activity; according
to the formula adopted by Groos it is internal imitation (_innere
Nachahnung_).[15] It may be objected against the theory that every
image, so far as it is an image at all, must occupy the summit of
consciousness if only for an instant; and that the mere image is either
the product of an activity just as is the æsthetic image, or it is not
a real image at all. It may also be objected that the definition of the
image as something sharing in the nature of sensation and concept may
lead back to intellectual intuition and the other mysterious faculties
of the metaphysical school, for which Groos professes abhorrence. His
division of the æsthetic fact into form and content is even less happy.
He recognizes four classes of content: associative (in the strict
sense), symbolic, typical, individual:[16] and into his inquiries
he introduces, quite unnecessarily, the concepts of infusion of
personality and of play. In connexion with the latter he remarks that
"internal imitation is the noblest game of man,"[17] and adds that "the
concept of play applies fully to contemplation, but not to æsthetic
production, save in the case of primitive peoples."[18]

[Sidenote: _The modifications of the Beautiful in Groos and Lipps._]

Groos does however free himself from the "modifications of Beauty,"
because, æsthetic activity having been identified with internal
imitation, it is clear that whatever is not internal imitation is
excluded from that activity as something different. "All Beauty
(beauty understood in the sense of 'sympathetic') belongs to the
æsthetic activity, but not every æsthetic fact is beautiful." Beauty,
then, is the representation of the sensuously pleasant; ugliness, the
representation of the unpleasant; the sublime, that of a mighty thing
(_Gewaltiges_) in a simple form; the comic, that of an inferiority
which arouses in us a pleasing sense of our own superiority. And so
forth.[19] With great good sense Groos holds up to derision the office
assigned to the ugly by Schasler and Hartmann with their superficial
dialectic. To say that an ellipse contains an element of ugliness
in comparison with the circle because it is symmetrical about its
two axes only and not about infinite diameters is like saying "wine
has a relatively unpleasant taste because in it is lacking (_ist
aufgehoben_) the pleasant taste of beer."[20] Lipps too, in his
writings upon Æsthetic, recognizes that the comic (of which he gives an
accurate psychological analysis)[21] has in itself no æsthetic value;
but his moralistic views lead him to outline a theory of it not unlike
that of the overcoming of the ugly; he explains it as a process leading
to a higher æsthetic value (_i.e._ sympathy).[22]

[Sidenote: _E. Viron and the double form of Æsthetic._]

Work such as that of Groos and, occasionally, of Lipps is of some
value towards the elimination of errors, as well as confining æsthetic
research to the field of internal analysis. Merit of the same kind
belongs to the work of a Frenchman, Véron,[23] who controverts the
Absolute Beauty of academical Æsthetic and, after accusing Taine of
confounding Art with Science and Æsthetic with Logic, remarks that if
it be the duty of art to make manifest the essence of things, their
one dominating quality, then "the greatest artists would be those who
have best succeeded in exhibiting this essence ... and the greatest
works would resemble each other more closely than any others and would
clearly demonstrate their common identity, whereas the exact opposite
happens."[24] But one looks in vain for scientific method in Véron; a
precursor of Guyau,[25] he asserts that art is at bottom two different
things; there are two arts: one decorative, whose end is beauty, that
is to say the pleasure of eye and ear resulting from determinate
dispositions of fines, forms, colours, sounds, rhythms, movements,
fight and shade, without necessary interventions of ideas and feelings,
and capable of being studied by Optics and Acoustics: the other,
expressive, which gives "the agitated expression of human personality."
He considers that decorative art prevails in the ancient world, and
expressive art in the modern.[26]

We cannot here examine in detail the æsthetic theories of artists
and men of letters; the scientific and historicist prejudices, the
theory of experiment and human document, which underlie the realism of
Zola, or the moralism which underlies the problem-art of Ibsen and the
Scandinavian school. Gustave Flaubert wrote of art profoundly, better
perhaps than any other Frenchman has ever written, not in special
treatises but throughout his letters, which were published after his

[Sidenote: _L. Tolstoy._]

Under the influence of Véron and his hatred for the concept of beauty,
Leo Tolstoy wrote his book on art,[28] which, according to the great
Russian artist, communicates feelings in the same way in which words
communicate thoughts. The meaning of this theory is made clear by the
parallel he drew between Art and Science, and his conclusion that "the
mission of art is to render sensible and capable of assimilation that
which could not be assimilated under the form of argumentation";
and that "true science examines truths considered as important for a
certain society at a given epoch and fixes them in the consciousness
of man, whereas art transports them from the domain of knowledge to
that of feeling."[29] There is therefore no such thing as art for art's
sake, any more than science for science' sake. Every human function
should be directed to increase morality and to suppress violence.
This amounts to saying that nearly all art, from the beginning of the
world, is false. Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Dante,
Tasso, Milton, Shakespeare, Raphæl, Michæl Angelo, Bach, Beethoven are
(according to Tolstoy) "artificial reputations created by critics."[30]

[Sidenote: _F. Nietzsche._]

Amongst artists rather than amongst philosophers must be reckoned
Friedrich Nietzsche, whom we should wrong (as we said of Ruskin) by
trying to expound his æsthetic doctrines in scientific language and
then holding them up to the facile criticism which, so translated,
they would draw upon themselves. In none of his books, not even in
his first, _The Birth of Tragedy,_[31] in spite of the title, does he
offer us a real theory of art; what appears to be theory is the mere
expression of the author's feelings and tendencies. He shows a kind
of anxiety concerning the value and aim of art and the problem of its
inferiority or superiority to science and philosophy, a state of mind
characteristic of the Romantic period of which Nietzsche was, in many
respects, a belated but magnificent representative. To Romanticism, as
well as to Schopenhauer, belong the elements of thought which issued in
the distinction between Apollinesque art (that of serene contemplation,
to which belong the epic and sculpture) and Dionysiac art (the art of
agitation and tumult, such as music and the drama). The thought is
vague and does not bear criticism; but it is supported by a flight of
inspiration which lifts the mind to a spiritual region seldom if ever
reached again in the second half of the nineteenth century.

[Sidenote: _An æsthetician of music: E. Hanslick._]

The most notable æsthetic students of that time were perhaps a group
of persons engaged in constructing theories of particular arts.
And since--as we have seen[32]--philosophical laws or theories of
individual arts are inconceivable, it was inevitable that the ideas
presented by such thinkers should be (as indeed they are) nothing more
than general æsthetic conclusions. First may be mentioned the acute
Bohemian critic Eduard Hanslick, who published his work _On Musical
Beauty_ in 1854; it was often reprinted and was translated into various
languages.[33] Hanslick waged war against Richard Wagner and in general
against the pretension of finding concepts, feelings and other definite
contents in music. "In the most insignificant musical works, where the
most powerful microscope can discover nothing, we are now asked to
recognize a _Night Before the Battle,_ a _Summer Night in Norway,_ a
_Longing for the Sea,_ or some such absurdity, should the cover have
the audacity to affirm that this is the subject of the piece."[34] With
equal vivacity he protests against the sentimental hearers who, instead
of enjoying the work of art, set themselves to extract pathological
effects of passionate excitement and practical activity. If it be true
that Greek music produced effects of this kind, "if it needed but a
few Phrygian strains to animate troops with courage in the face of
the enemy, or a melody in the Dorian mode to ensure the fidelity of
a wife whose husband was far away, then the loss of Greek music is
a melancholy thing for generals and husbands; but æstheticians and
composers need not regret it."[35] "If every senseless _Requiem,_ every
noisy funeral march, every wailing _Adagio_ had the power of depressing
us, who could put up with existence under such conditions? But let a
real musical work confront us, clear-eyed and glowing with beauty, and
we feel ourselves enslaved by its invincible fascination even if its
material is all the sorrows of the age."[36]

[Sidenote: _Hanslick's concept of form._]

Hanslick maintained that the sole aim of music is form, musical
beauty. This affirmation won him the goodwill of the Herbartians, who
hastened to welcome such a vigorous and unexpected ally; by way of
returning the compliment, Hanslick felt obliged in later editions of
his work to mention Herbart himself and his faithful disciple Robert
Zimmermann who had given (so he said) "full development to the great
æsthetic principle of Form."[37] The praises of the Herbartians and the
courteous declarations of Hanslick both arose from a misunderstanding:
for the words "beauty" and "form" have one meaning for the former and
quite another for the latter. Hanslick never thought that symmetry,
purely acoustical relations and pleasures of the ear constituted
musical beauty;[38] mathematics, he held, are utterly useless to
musical Æsthetic.[39] Musical beauty is spiritual and significative: it
has thoughts, undoubtedly; but those thoughts are musical. "Sonorous
forms are not empty, but perfectly filled; they cannot be compared
with simple lines delimiting a space; they are the spirit assuming body
and extracting from itself the stuff of its own incarnation. Rather
than an arabesque, music is a picture; but a picture whose subject
can neither be expressed in words nor enclosed in precise concept.
There are in music both meaning and connexion, but these are of a
specifically musical nature; music is a language we understand and
speak, but which it is not possible to translate."[40] Hanslick asserts
that though music does not portray the quality of feelings, it does
portray their dynamic aspect or tone: if not the substantives, then
the adjectives: it depicts not "murmuring tenderness" or "impetuous
courage," but the "murmuring" and the "impetuous."[41] The backbone of
the book is the denial that form and content can ever be separated in
music. "In music there can be no content in opposition to the form,
since there can be no form outside the content." "Take a motive, the
first that comes into your head; what is its content, what its form?
where does this begin, and that end? ... What do you wish to call
content? The sounds? Very well: but they have already received a form.
What will you call form? Also the sounds? but they are form already
filled; form supplied with content."[42] Such observations denote
acute penetration of the nature of art, though not scientifically
formulated or framed into a system. Hanslick thought he was dealing
with peculiarities of music,[43] instead of with the universal and
constitutive character of every form of art, and this prevented him
from taking larger views.

[Sidenote: _Æstheticians of the figurative arts. C. Fiedler._]

Another specialist æsthetician is Conrad Fiedler, author of many
essays on the figurative arts, the most important being his _Origin
of Artistic Activity_ (1887).[44] No one, perhaps, has better or
more eloquently emphasized the activistic character of art, which
he compares with language. "Art begins exactly where intuition
(perception) ends. The artist is not differentiated from other people
by any special perceptive attitude enabling him to perceive more or
with greater intensity, or endowing his eye with any special power
of selecting, collecting, transforming, ennobling or illuminating;
but rather by his peculiar gift of being able to pass immediately
from perception to intuitive expression; his relation with nature is
not perceptive, but expressive." "A man standing passively at gaze
may well imagine himself in possession of the visible world as an
immense, rich, varied whole: the entire absence of fatigue with which
he traverses the infinite mass of visual impressions, the rapidity
with which representations dart across his consciousness, convince
him that he stands in the midst of an immense visible world, although
he may quite well be unable at any one instant to represent it to
himself as a whole. But this world, so great, so rich, so immeasurable,
disappears the moment art seeks to become its master. The very first
effort to emerge from this twilight and arrive at clear vision
restricts the circle of things to be seen. Artistic activity may be
conceived as continuation of that concentration by which consciousness
makes the first step towards clear vision, which it reaches only by
self-limitation." Spiritual process and bodily process are here an
indivisible whole, which is expression.

[Sidenote: _Intuition and Expression._]

"This activity, simply because it is spiritual, must consist of forms
wholly determinate, tangible, sensibly demonstrative." Art is not in
a state of subjection to science. Like the man of science, the artist
desires to escape from the natural perceptive state and to make the
world his own; but there are regions to which we can penetrate not
by the forms of thought and science but only through art. Art is,
strictly speaking, not imitation of nature; for what is nature save
this confused mass of perceptions and representations, whose real
poverty has been demonstrated already? In another sense, however, art
may be called imitation of nature inasmuch as its aim is not to expound
concepts or to arouse emotions, that is to create values of intellect
and feeling. Art does create both these values, if you like to say so;
but only in one quite peculiar quality, which consists in complete
visibility (_Sichtbarkeit_). Here we have the same sane conception, the
same lively comprehension of the true nature of art which we found in
Hanslick, only expressed in a more rigorous and philosophical manner.
With Fiedler is connected his friend Adolf Hildebrand, who brought into
high relief the activistic, or architectonic as opposed to imitative,
character of art, illustrating his theoretical discussions especially
from sculpture, the art which he himself followed.[45]

[Sidenote: _Narrow limits of these theories._]

What we chiefly miss in Fiedler and others of the same tendency is the
conception of the æsthetic fact not as something exceptional, produced
by exceptionally gifted men, but as a ceaseless activity of man as
such; for man possesses the world, so far as he does possess it, only
in the form of representation-expressions, and only knows in so far as
he creates.[46] Nor are these writers justified in treating language
as parallel with art, or art with language; for comparisons are drawn
between things at least partially different, whereas art and language
are identical.

[Sidenote: _H. Bergson._]

The same criticism can be made in the case of the French philosopher
Bergson, who in his book on _Laughter_[47] states a theory of art very
similar to that of Fiedler and makes the same mistake of conceiving the
artistic faculty as something distinct and exceptional in comparison
with the language of everyday use. In ordinary life, says Bergson, the
individuality of things escapes us; we see only as much of them as
our practical needs demand. Language helps this simplification; since
all names, proper names excepted, are names of kinds or classes. Now
and then, however, nature, as if in a fit of absence of mind, creates
souls of a more divisible and detached kind (artists), who discover
and reveal the riches hidden under the colourless signs and labels
of everyday life, and help others (non-artists) to catch a glimpse of
what they themselves see, employing for this purpose colours, forms,
rhythmic connexions of words, and those rhythms of life and breath even
more intimate to man, the sounds and notes of music.

[Sidenote: _Attempts to return to Baumgarten. C. Hermann._]

A healthy return to Baumgarten, a revival and correction of the old
philosopher's theories in the light of later discoveries, might
perhaps have given Æsthetic some assistance, after the collapse of
the old idealistic metaphysic, towards thinking the concept of art
in its universality and discovering its identity with pure and true
intuitive knowledge. But Conrad Hermann, who preached the return to
Baumgarten[48] in 1876, did bad service to what might have been a good
cause. According to him Æsthetic and Logic are normative sciences;
but Logic does not contain, as does Æsthetic, "a definite category
of external objects exclusively and specifically adequate to the
faculty of thought"; and on the other hand "the products and results
of scientific thought are not so external and sensibly intuitive as
those of artistic invention." Logic and Æsthetic alike refer not to the
empirical thinking and feeling of the soul, but to pure and absolute
sensation and thought. Art constructs a representation standing midway
between the individual and the universal. Beauty expresses specific
perfection, the essential or, so to speak, the rightful (_seinsollend_)
character of things. Form is "the external sensible limit, or mode of
appearance of a thing, in opposition to the kernel of the thing itself
and to its essential and substantial content." Content and form are
both æsthetic, and the æsthetic interest concerns the entirety of the
beautiful object. The artistic activity has no special organ such as
thought possesses in speech. The æsthetician, like the lexicographer,
has the task of compiling a dictionary of tones and colours and of
the different meanings which may possibly be attached to them.[49]
We can see that Hermann accepted side by side the most inconsistent
propositions. He welcomes even the æsthetic law of the golden section,
and applies it to tragedy; the longer segment of the Une is the tragic
hero; the punishment which overtakes him (the entire line) exceeds his
crime in the same proportion in which he oversteps the common measure
(the shorter segment of the line).[50] It reads almost like a joke.

Without direct reference to Baumgarten, a proposal that Æsthetic be
reformed and treated as the "science of intuitive knowledge" was made
in a miserable little work by one Willy Nef (1898),[51] who makes the
dumb animals share his "intuitive knowledge," in which he distinguishes
a formal side (intuition) and a material side or content (knowledge),
and considers the everyday relations between men, their games and their
art, as belonging to intuitive knowledge.

[Sidenote: _Eclecticism. B. Bosanquet._]

The English historian of Æsthetic, Bosanquet (1892) tried to find
a reconciliation between content and form in unity of expression.
"Beauty," says Bosanquet in the Introduction to his _History,_ "is
that which has characteristic and individual expressiveness for
sensuous perception or imagination, subject to the conditions of
general or abstract expressiveness by the same means." In another
passage he observes: "The difficulty of real Æsthetic is to show how
the combination of decorative forms in characteristic representations,
by intensifying the essential character immanent in them from the
beginning, subordinates them to a central signification which stands
to their complex combination as their abstract signification stands to
each one of them taken singly."[52] But the problem, as propounded in a
way suggested by the antithesis between the two schools (contentism and
formalism) of German Æsthetic, is in our opinion insoluble.

[Sidenote: _Æsthetic of expression: present state._]

De Sanctis founded no school of æsthetic science in Italy. His thought
was quickly misunderstood and mutilated by those who presumed to
correct it, and, in fact, only returned to the outworn rhetorical
conception of art as consisting of a little content and a little
form. Only within the last ten years has there been a renewal of
philosophical studies, arising out of discussions concerning the nature
of history[53] and the relation in which it stands to art and science,
and nourished by the controversy excited by the publication of De
Sanctis' posthumous works.[54] The same problem of the relation between
history and science, and their difference or antithesis, reappeared
also in Germany, but without being put in its true connexion with the
problem of Æsthetic.[55] These inquiries and discussions, and the
revival of a Linguistic impregnated by philosophy in the work of Paul
and some others, appear to us to offer much more favourable ground for
the scientific development of Æsthetic than can be found on the summits
of mysticism or the low plains of positivism and sensationalism.

[1] A. F. Lange, _Geschichte des Materialismus, u. Kritik seiner
Bedeutung i. d. Gegenwart,_ 1866.

[2] J. F. v. Kirchmann, _Ästhetik auf realistischer Grundlage,_ Berlin,

[3] _Ästh. auf real. Grund._ vol. i. pp. 54-57; see above, pp. 80-81.

[4] _Kritische Gänge,_ vol. v. pp. 25-26, 131.

[5] R. Vischer, _Über das optische Formgefühl,_ Leipzig, 1873.

[6] _Der Symbol-Begriff in der neuesten Ästh.,_ Jena, 1876.

[7] _Das Wesen d. ästh. Anschauung, Psychologische Untersuchungen z.
Theorie d. Schönen u. d. Kunst,_ Berlin, 1875.

[8] Max Diez, _Theorie des Gefühls z. Begründung d. Ästhetik,_
Stuttgart, 1892.

[9] Friedr. Jodi, _Lehrb. der Psychologie,_ Stuttgart, 1896, § 53, pp.

[10] _Komik und Humor, eine psychol. ästhet. Untersuch.,_
Hamburg-Leipzig, pp. 223-227.

[11] Paul Stern, _Einfühling u. Association i. d. neueren Ästh.,_ 1898,
in _Beiträge z. Ästh.,_ ed. Lipps and R. M. Werner (Hamburg-Leipzig).

[12] Alfr. Biese, _Das Associationsprincip u. d. Anthropomorphismus i.
d. Ästh.,_ 1890; _Die Philosophie des Metaphorischen,_ Hamburg-Leipzig,

[13] Konrad Lange, _Die bewusste Selbsttäuschung als Kern des
künstlerischen Genusses,_ Leipzig, 1895.

[14] Karl Groos, _Einleitung i. d. Ästhetik,_ Giessen, 1892.

[15] _Op. cit._ pp. 6-46, 83-100.

[16] _Einleitung i. d. Ästh._ pp. 100-147.

[17] _Op. cit._ pp. 168-170.

[18] _Op. cit._ pp. 175-176.

[19] _Op. cit._ pp. 46-50, and all part iii.

[20] _Einleitung i. d. Ästh._ p. 292, note.

[21] See above, pp. 91-92.

[22] _Komik und Humor,_ p. 199 _seqq._

[23] Eug. Véron, _L'Esthétique,_ 2nd ed. Paris, 1883.

[24] _Op. cit._ p. 89.

[25] See above, pp. 399-400.

[26] _Esthétique,_ pp. 38, 109, 123 _seqq._

[27] _Correspondance,_ 1830-1880, 4 vols., new ed., Paris, 1902-1904.

[28] _What is Art?_ Eng. tr.

[29] _Op. cit._ pp. 171-172, 308.

[30] _Op. cit._ pp. 201-202.

[31] _Die Geburt der Tragödie oder Griechenthum und Pessimismus,_ 1872
(Ital. trans., Bari, 1907).

[32] See above, p. 114.

[33] _Vom Musikalisch-Schönen,_ Leipzig, 1854; 7th ed. 1885 (French
trans., _Du beau dans la musique,_ Paris, 1877).

[34] _Vom Musikalisch-Schönen,_ p. 20.

[35] _Op. cit._ p. 98.

[36] _Op. cit._ p. 101.

[37] _Op. cit._ p. 119, note.

[38] _Op. cit._ p. 50.

[39] _Op. cit._ p. 65.

[40] _Vom Musikalisch-Schönen,_ pp. 50-51.

[41] _Op. cit._ pp. 25-39.

[42] _Op. cit._ p. 122.

[43] _Op. cit._ pp. 52, 67, 113, etc.

[44] Conrad Fiedler, _Der Ursprung der künstlerischen Thätigkeit,_
Leipzig, 1887. Collected with others of same author in _Schriften tiber
die Kunst,_ ed. H. Marbach, Leipzig, 1896.

[45] _Das Problem der Form in der bildenden Kunst,_ 2nd ed. 1898 (4th
ed., Strassburg, 1903).

[46] See above, pp. 12-18.

[47] H. Bergson, _Le Rire, essai sur la signification du comique,_
Paris, 1900, pp. 153-161 (Eng. tr., London).

[48] Conrad Hermann, _Die Ästhetik in ihrer Geschichte und ah
wissenschaftliches System,_ Leipzig, 1876.

[49] _Die Ästhetik,_ etc., _passim._

[50] _Die Ästhetik,_ § 56.

[51] Willy Nef, _Die Ästhetik als Wissenschaft der anschaulichen
Erkenntniss,_ Leipzig, 1898.

[52] _A History of Æsthetics,_ pp. 4-6, 372, 391, 447, 458, 466.

[53] B. Croce, _La storia ridotta sotto il concetto generale dell'
arte,_ 1893 (2nd ed. entitled _Il concetto della storia nelle sue
relazioni col concetto dell' arte,_ Rome, 1896); P. R. Trojano, _La
storia come scienza sociale,_ vol. i., Naples, 1897; G. Gentile, _Il
concetto della storia_ (in Crivellucci's _Studî storici,_ 1889); see
also F. de Sarlo, _Il problema estetico,_ in _Saggi di filosofia,_
vol. ii., Turin, 1897; and by same author, _I dati dell' esperienza
psichica,_ Florence, 1903, concluding chapter.

[54] _La letteratura italiana nel secolo XIX,_ edited by B. Croce,
Naples, 1896; also _Scritti varî,_ ed. Croce, Naples, 1898, 2 vols.

[55] H. Rickert, _Die Grenzen der naturwissenschaftlichen
Begriffsbildung,_ Freiburg i. B., 1896-1902.



[Sidenote: _Result of the history of Æsthetic._]

We have reached the end of our history. Having passed in review the
travail and doubt through which the discovery of the æsthetic concept
was achieved, the vicissitudes first of neglect, then of revival and
rediscovery to which it was exposed, the various oscillations and
failures in its exact determination, the resurrection, triumphant and
overwhelming, of ancient errors supposed to be dead and buried; we
may now conclude, without appearing to assert anything unproven, that
of Æsthetic in the proper sense of the word we have seen very little,
even including the last two centuries' active research. Exceptional
intellects have hit the mark and have supported their views with
energy, with logic, and with consciousness of what they were doing.
It would no doubt be possible to extract many true affirmations
leading to the same point of view from the works of non-philosophical
writers, art-critics and artists, from commonly received opinions and
proverbial sayings; such a collection would show that this handful
of philosophers does not stand alone, but is surrounded by a throng
of supporters and is in perfect agreement with the general mind and
universal common sense. But if Schiller was right in saying that the
rhythm of philosophy is to diverge from common opinion in order to
return with redoubled vigour, it is evident that such divergence is
necessary, and constitutes the growth of science, which is science
itself. During this tedious process Æsthetic made mistakes which were
at once deviations from the truth and attempts to reach it: such were
the hedonism of the sophists and rhetoricians of antiquity and of the
sensationalists of the eighteenth and second half of the nineteenth
century; the moralistic hedonism of Aristophanes, of the Stoics, of
the Roman eclectics, of the mediæval and Renaissance writers; the
ascetic and logical hedonism of Plato and the Fathers of the Church,
of some mediæval and even some quite modern rigorists; and finally,
the æsthetic mysticism which first appeared in Plotinus and reappeared
again and again until its last and great triumph in the classical
period of German philosophy. In the midst of these variously erroneous
tendencies, ploughing the field of thought in every direction, a
tenuous golden rivulet seems to flow, formed by the acute empiricism
of Aristotle, the forceful penetration of Vico, the analytical work
of Schleiermacher, Humboldt, De Sanctis and others who echoed them
with weaker voice. This series of thinkers suffices to remind us that
æsthetic science no longer remains to be discovered; but at the same
time the fact that they are so few and so often despised, ignored or
controverted, proves that it is in its infancy.

[Sidenote: _History of science and history of the scientific criticism
of particular errors._]

The birth of a science is like that of a living being: its later
development consists, like every life, in fighting the difficulties
and errors, general and particular, which lurk in its path on every
side. The forms of error are numerous in the extreme and mingle with
each other and with the truth in complications equally numerous:
root out one, another appears in its stead; the uprooted ones also
reappear, though never in the same shape. Hence the necessity for
perpetual scientific criticism and the impossibility of repose or
finality in a science and of an end to further discussion. The errors
which may be described as general, negations of the concept of art
itself, have been touched on from time to time in the course of this
History; whence it may be gathered a simple affirmation of the truth
has not always been accompanied by any considerable recapture of enemy
territory. As to what we have called particular errors, it is clear
that when freed from confusing admixture of other forms and divested
of fanciful expression, they reduce themselves to three heads, under
which they have already been criticized in the first or theoretical
part of this work. That is to say, errors may be directed (_a_) against
the characteristic quality of the æsthetic fact; (_b_) against the
specific; (_c_) against the generic: they may involve denial of the
character of intuition, of theoretic contemplation, or of spiritual
activity, which together constitute the æsthetic fact. Among the errors
which fall into these three categories we are now to sketch in outline
the history of those which have had, or have to-day, the greatest
importance. Rather than a history it will be a historical essay,
sufficient to show that, even in the criticism of individual errors,
æsthetic science is in its infancy. If among these errors some appear
to be decadent and nearly forgotten, they are not dead; they have not
accomplished a legal demise at the hands of scientific criticism.
Oblivion or instinctive rejection is not the same thing as scientific



[Sidenote: _Rhetoric in the ancient sense._]

Proceeding according to rank in importance, we inevitably head the list
of theories for examination with the theory of Rhetoric, or Ornate Form.

It will not be superfluous to observe that the meaning given in
modern times to the word Rhetoric, namely, the doctrine of ornate
form, differs from that which it had for the ancients. Rhetoric in
the modern sense is above all a theory of elocution, while elocution
(λέξις, φράσις, ἑρμηνεία, elocutio) was but one portion, and not
the principal one, of ancient Rhetoric. Taken as a whole, it consisted
strictly of a manual or _vade-mecum_ for advocates and politicians;
it concerned itself with the two or the three "styles" (judicial,
deliberative, demonstrative), and gave advice or furnished models to
those striving to produce certain effects by means of speech.
No definition of the art is more accurate than that given by its
inventors the earliest Sicilian rhetoricians, scholars of Empedocles
(Corax, Tisias, Gorgias): Rhetoric is the creator of persuasion
(πειθος δημιουργός). It devoted itself to showing the method of
using language so as to create a certain belief, a certain state of
mind, in the hearer; hence the phrase "making the weaker case stronger"
(τὸ τὸν ἥττω λόgον κρείττω ποιεῖν); the "increase or diminution
according to circumstances" (_eloquentia in augendo minuendoque
consistit_); the advice of Gorgias to "turn a thing to a jest if the
adversary takes it seriously, or to a serious matter if he takes it as
a jest,"[1] and many similar well-known maxims.

[Sidenote: _Criticism from moral point of view._]

He who acts in this manner is not only æsthetically accomplished,
as saying beautifully that which he wishes to say; he is also and
especially a practical man with a practical end in view. As a practical
man, however, he cannot evade moral responsibility for his actions;
this point was fastened upon by Plato's polemic against Rhetoric, that
is to say against fluent political charlatans and unscrupulous lawyers
and journalists. Plato was quite right to condemn Rhetoric (when
dissociated from a good purpose) as blameworthy and discreditable,
directed to arouse the passions, a diet ruinous to health, a paint
disastrous to beauty. Even had Rhetoric allied herself to Ethics,
becoming a true guide of the soul (ψυχαγωγία τις διὰ τῶν λόγον);
had Plato's criticism been directed solely against her abusers
(everything being liable to abuse save virtue itself, says Aristotle);
had Rhetoric been purified, producing such an orator as Cicero desired,
_non ex rhetorum officinis sed ex academiae spatiis_[2] and imposing on
him, with Quintilian, the duty of being _vir bonus dicendi peritus_;[3]
yet the unalterable fact remains that Rhetoric can never be considered
a regular science, being formed of a congeries of widely dissimilar

[Sidenote: _Accumulation without system._]

It included descriptions of passions and affections, comparisons of
political and judicial institutions, theories of the abbreviated
syllogism or enthymeme and of proof leading to a probable conclusion,
pedagogic and popular exposition, literary elocution, declamation and
mimicry, mnemonic, and so forth.

[Sidenote: _Its fortunes in the Middle Ages and Renaissance._]

The rich and heterogeneous content of this ancient Rhetoric (which
reached its highest development in the hands of Hermagoras of Temnos
in the second century B.C.) gradually diminished in volume with the
decadence of the ancient world and the change in political conditions.
This is not the place to dwell on its fortunes in the Middle Ages or
its partial replacement by formularies and _Artes dictandi_ (and later
by treatises upon the art of preaching), or to quote the reasons given
by such writers as Patrizzi and Tassoni for its disappearance from the
world of their day;[4] such history would be well worth writing, but
would be out of place here. We will merely state that whilst conditions
were at work on every side corroding this complex of cognitions, Louis
Vives, Peter Ramus and Patrizzi himself were busy criticizing it from
the point of view of systematic science.

[Sidenote: _Criticisms by Vives, Ramus and Patrizzi._]

Vives emphasized the confused methods of the ancient treatise-writers,
who embraced _omnia,_ united eloquence with morality, and insisted that
the orator must be _vir bonus._ He rejected four-fifths of ancient
Rhetoric as extraneous: namely, memory, which is necessary in all arts;
invention, which is the matter of each individual art; recitation,
which is external; and disposition, which belongs to invention. He
retained elocution only, not that which treats of _quid dicendum,_ but
of _quem ad modum,_ extending it beyond the three styles or kinds to
include history, apologue, epistles, novels and poetry.[5] Antiquity
furnishes us with few and faint attempts at such extension; now and
then a Rhetorician ventures to suggest that the γένος ίστορικόν and
ἐπιστολικόν be included in Rhetoric, and even (in spite of opposition)
"infinite" questions, that is to say merely theoretical questions
with no practical application, which amounts to a scientific or
philosophical genus;[6] others agreed with Cicero[7] that when one had
mastered the most difficult of all arts, forensic eloquence, all else
seemed child's-play (_ludus est homini non hebeti_ ...). Ramus and
his pupil Omer Talon reproached Aristotle, Cicero and Quintilian with
having confused Dialectic and Rhetoric; and they assigned invention
and disposition to the former, agreeing with Vives that "elocution"
alone should be allowed to Rhetoric.[8] Patrizzi, on the other hand,
refused the name of science to either, recognizing them as simple
faculties, containing no individual matter (not even the three genera),
and differentiating them only by attaching the term Dialectic to the
dialogue form and proof of the necessary, and Rhetoric to connected
discourse directed to persuasion in matters of opinion. Patrizzi
observes that "conjoined speech" is used by historians, poets and
philosophers, no less than by orators; and thus approaches the view of

[Sidenote: _Survival into modern times._]

In spite of these opinions the body of rhetorical doctrine continued
to flourish in the schools. Patrizzi was forgotten; if Ramus and Vives
had some followers (such as Francisco Sanchez and Keckermann), they
were generally held up to odium by the traditionalists. In the end,
Rhetoric found a supporter in philosophy when Campanella made the
following declaration in his _Rational Philosophy_: "_quodammodo Magiae
portiuncula, quae affectus animi moderator et per ipsos voluntatem ciet
ad quaecumque vult sequenda vel fugienda._"[10] Baumgarten owed to it
his tripartition of Æsthetic into heuristic, methodology and semeiotic
(invention, disposition and elocution), adopted later by Meier. Among
Meier's numerous works is a little book entitled _Theoretic Doctrine
of Emotional Disturbances in General_,[11] considered by him to be a
psychological introduction to æsthetic doctrine. On the other hand,
Immanuel Kant in his _Critique of Judgment_ observes that eloquence, in
the sense of _ars oratoria_ or art of persuasion by means of beautiful
appearance and dialectical form, must be distinguished from beautiful
speaking (_Wohlredenheit)_; and that the art of oratory, playing upon
the weakness of men to gain its own ends, "is worthy of no esteem"
(_gar keiner Achtungwürdig)_[12] But in the schools it flourished in
many celebrated compilations, including one by the French Jesuit Father
Dominique de Colonne, which was in use until some few decades ago. Even
to-day, in so-called Literary Institutions, we come across survivals of
ancient Rhetoric, notably in chapters devoted to the art of oratory;
and fresh manuals on judicial or sacred eloquence (Ortloff, Whately,
etc.[13]) are actually appearing, though rarely, to-day. Still,
Rhetoric in the ancient sense may be said to have disappeared from the
system of the sciences; to-day no philosopher would dream of following
Campanella in dedicating a special section of rational philosophy to

[Sidenote: _Modern signification of Rhetoric. Theory of literary form._]

In compensation for this process, the theory of elocution and beautiful
speech has been in modern times progressively emphasized and thrown
into scientific form. But the idea of such a science is ancient, as we
have seen; and equally ancient is the style of exposition, consisting
in the doctrine of a double form and the concept of ornate form.

[Sidenote: _Concept of ornament._]

The concept of "ornament" must have occurred spontaneously to the mind
as soon as attention was directed to the values of speech by listening
to poets reciting[14] or to oratorical contests in public gatherings.
It must very early have been thought that the difference between
good speaking and bad, or between that which gave more pleasure and
that which gave less, between grave or solemn, and commonplace or
colloquial, consisted in something additional superimposed upon the
canvas of ordinary speech like an embroidery by a skilful orator. These
considerations led the Græco-Roman rhetoricians to adopt the practice,
like the Indians, who arrived at the distinction independently, to
distinguish the bare (ψιλή) or purely grammatical form from another
form containing an addition which they called ornament, κόσμος: _ornatum
est_ (Quintilian will serve, as typical of all the rest) quod perspicuo
ac probabili plus est.[15]

The notion of ornament as something added on from outside forms the
basis of the theory which Aristotle, the philosopher of Rhetoric, gave
of the queen of ornaments, Metaphor. According to him the high pleasure
aroused by metaphor arises from the collocation of different terms
and the discovery of relations between species and genera, producing
"learning and knowledge by means of the genus" (μαθησιν καi γνῶσιν
διὰ τοῦ γένους), and that easy learning which is the greatest of human
pleasures,[16] which amounts to saying that metaphor adds to the
concept under consideration a group of minor incidental cognitions, as
a kind of diversion and relief and pleasant instruction for the mind.

[Sidenote: _Classes of ornament._]

Ornaments were divided and subdivided in a number of different ways.
Aristotle (and previously Isocrates, rather differently) classified
the ornaments which diversify bare or nude form, under the heads of
dialect forms, substitutions and epithets, prolongations, truncations
and abbreviations of words, and other departures from common usage,
and, finally, rhythm and harmony. Substitutions were of four classes:
species for genus; genus for species; species for species; and
proportionate.[17] After Aristotle, elocution was especially studied
by Theophrastus and Demetrius Phalereus; these rhetoricians and their
followers further solidified the classification of ornament by
distinguishing tropes from figures (σχήματα) and dividing figures
into figures of speech (scheimata τῆς λέχεως) and of thought
(τῆς διανοίας), figures of speech into grammatical and rhetorical,
and figures of thought into pathetic and ethic. Substitutions were
divided into fourteen principal forms, metaphor, synecdoche, metonymy,
antonomasia, onomatopeia, catachresis, metalepsis, epithet, allegory,
enigma, irony, periphrase, hyperbaton and hyperbole; each divided
into subspecies and contrasted with its relative vice. Figures of
speech amounted to a score or so (repetition, anaphora, antistrophe,
climax, asyndeton, assonance, etc.); figures of thought to about the
same number (interrogation, prosopopœia, ætiopœia, hypotyposis,
commotion, simulation, exclamation, apostrophe, aposiopesis, etc.).
If these divisions have any value as aids to memory in relation to
particular literary forms, considered rationally they are simply
capricious, as is evidenced by the fact that many classes of the ornate
appear now under the heading of tropes, now of figures; sometimes
under figures of speech, then as those of thought, no reason for the
alteration is given except the arbitrary caprice of an individual
rhetorician which so decrees and disposes. And since one function
which may be fulfilled by the rhetorical categories is to point
out the divergence between two ways of expressing the same thing,
one of which is arbitrarily selected as "proper,"[18] it is easy
to see why the ancients defined metaphor as "_verbi vel sermonis a
propria significatione in aliam cum virtute mutatio,_" and figure as
"_conformatio quaedam orationis remota a communi et primum se offerenti

[Sidenote: _The concept of the Fitting._]

So far as we know, antiquity raised no revolt against the theory of
ornament or of double form. We do sometimes hear Cicero, Quintilian,
Seneca and others saying, _Ipsae res verba rapiunt, Pectus est quod
disertos facit et vis mentis, Rem tene, verba sequentur, Curam
verborum rerum volo esse sollicitudinem,_ or _Nulla est verborum nisi
rei cohaerentium virtus._ But these maxims did not bear the weighty
meanings which we moderns might attach to them; they were perhaps in
contradiction with the theory of ornament, but as the contradiction was
unheeded, it was ineffective: they were the protests of common sense,
powerless to combat the fallacies of school doctrine. Moreover, the
latter was fitted with a safety-valve, a sage contrivance to disguise
its inherent absurdity. If the ornate consisted of a _plus,_ in what
degree should it be used? if it gave pleasure, must we not conclude
that the more it were used, the greater the pleasure derived? would its
extravagant use be attended by extravagant pleasure? Herein was peril:
instinctively the rhetoricians hastened to the defence, snatching
up the first weapon that came to hand, namely, the fitting (πρέπον)
Ornament must be used carefully; neither too much too little; _in medio
virtus_; as much as is fitting (ἀλλά πρέπον). Aristotle recommends
a style seasoned with "a certain dose" (δεῑ ἃρα κεκρᾶσθαί πως
τούτοις.) for ornament should be a condiment, not a food (ἤδυσμα, οὐκ
ἒδεσμα). [20] The fitting was a concept quite inconsistent with that of
ornament; it was a rival, and enemy, destined to destroy it. Fitting to
what? to expression of course; but that which is fitting to expression
cannot be called an ornament, an external addition; it coincides with
expression itself. But the rhetoricians contented themselves with
maintaining peaceful relations between the ornate and the fitting,
without troubling to mediate them through a third concept. The
pseudo-Longinus alone in answer to an observation of his predecessor
Cæcilius that more than two or three metaphors must not be used in
the same place, remarked that a larger number ought to be used where
passion (τὰ πάθη) rushes headlong like a torrent, carrying with it as
necessaries (ὡς ἀναγκαῑον) a multitude of such substitutions.[21]

[Sidenote: _The theory of ornament in the Middle Ages and Renaissance._]

Preserved in the compilations of later antiquity (such as the works of
Donatus and Priscian and the celebrated allegorical tract of Marcianus
Capella), and in the compendia of Bede, Rhabanus Maurus and others,
the theory of ornament passed to the Middle Ages. Throughout this
period Rhetoric, Grammar and Logic continued to form the _trivium_ of
the schools. The theory was to some extent favoured in mediæval times
by the fact that writers and scholars made use of a dead language;
this helped to reinforce the idea that beautiful form was not a
spontaneous thing but consisted in an addition or embroidery. Under the
Renaissance the theory continued to flourish and was revived by study
of the best classical sources; to the works of Cicero were added the
_Institutiones_ of Quintilian and the _Rhetoric_ of Aristotle, with the
host of minor Latin and Greek rhetoricians, amongst whom was Hermogenes
with his celebrated _Ideas,_ brought into fashion by Giulio Camillo.[22]

Even those writers who dared to criticize the organism of ancient
Rhetoric left the theory of ornament unassailed. Vives lamented
over the "exaggerated subtlety of the Greeks" which had multiplied
distinctions to infinity in this matter without diffusing light,[23]
but he never took up a definite stand against the theory of ornament.
Patrizzi was dissatisfied with the insufficient definition of
ornament given by the ancients; but he asserted the existence of
ornaments and metaphors as well as seven different modes of "conjoined
speech,"--narrative, proof, amplification, diminution, ornament with
its contrary, elevation and depression.[24] The school of Ramus
continued to entrust Rhetoric with the "embellishment" of thought.
Owing to the vast extension and intensification of life and literature
in the sixteenth century, it would be easy to quote phrases, as we have
done from ancient authors, asserting the strict dependence of speech
upon the things it wishes to express, and lively attacks on pedants
and pedantic forms and rules for beautiful speech. But what would be
the use? The theory of ornament was always in the background, tacitly
admitted as indisputable by all. Juan de Valdés, for instance, makes
the following confession of stylistic faith: "_Escribo como hablo;
solamente tengo cuidado de usar de vocablos que sinifiquen bien lo
que quiero decir, y dígolo cuanto más llanamente me es posible,
porqué, á mi parecer, en ninguna lengua está bien la afectación._"
But Valdés also says that beautiful language consists "_en que digais
lo que quereis con las menos palabras que pudiéredes, de tal manera
que ... no se pueda quitar ninguna sin ofender á la sentencia, ó
al encarescimiento, ó á la elegancia._"[25] Here it seems that
amplification and elegance are conceived as extraneous to the meaning
or content.--A gleam of truth is visible in Montaigne, who, confronted
by the laboured categories into which rhetoricians divide ornament,
observes: "_Oyez dire Métonymie, Métaphore, Allégorie et aultres tels
noms de la Grammaire; semble il pas qu'on signifie quelque forme de
langage rare et pellegrin? Ce sont tiltres qui touchent le babil de
vostre chambrière._"[26] That is to say, they are anything but language
remote from the _primum se offerens ratio._

[Sidenote: Reductio ad absurdum in the seventeenth century.]

The impossibility of upholding the theory of ornament was first noticed
during the decadence of Italian literature in the seventeenth century,
when literary production became but a play of empty forms, and the
convenient, long violated in practice, was abandoned and forgotten even
in theory, and came to be looked on as a limit arbitrarily imposed on
the fundamental principle of ornamentation. The opponents of that style
loaded with conceits which is known as "secentismo" from its prevalence
in the seventeenth century (Matteo Pellegrini, Orsi and others) felt
the viciousness of the literary production of their day; they were
aware that decadence was due to the fact that literature was no longer
the serious expression of a content; but they were embarrassed by the
reasoning of the champions of bad taste, who were able to demonstrate
that the whole business conformed in every particular with the literary
theory of ornament, the common ground of both parties. In vain did the
former appeal to the "convenient," the "moderate," the "avoidance of
affectation," to ornament as "condiment, not food," and all the other
weapons which had sufficed in times when healthy literary production
and sound æsthetic taste had automatically corrected faulty theory:
the other party replied, there was no reason to be sparing in use
of ornament when it lay in masses ready to hand, or to avoid an
ostentatious display of wit when one had an inexhaustible supply.[27]

[Sidenote: _Polemic concerning the theory of ornament._]

The same reaction against the abuse of ornament, against "Spanish and
Italian conceits" (whose supporters had been Gracian in Spain and
Tesauro in Italy), took place in France. "... _Laissez à l'Italie
De tous ces faux brillants l'éclatante folie"; "Ce que l'on conçoit
bien s'énonce clairement. Et les mots, pour le dire, arrivent
aisément._"[28] Among the sharpest critics of conceits was the Jesuit
Bouhours, already quoted, author of the _Manière de bien penser dans
les œuvres d'esprit._ The rhetorical forms were the subject of warm
controversy. Orsi, on national grounds the opponent of Bouhours (1703),
asserted that all the ornamental devices of wit rested on a middle
term and could be reduced to a rhetorical syllogism, and that wit
consists of a truth which appears false or a falsehood which appears
true.[29] If this controversy produced no great scientific result at
the time, at least it prepared the mind for greater liberty; and, as
we have remarked elsewhere,[30] it may have influenced Vico, who, in
framing his new concept of poetical imagination, recognized that it
necessitated a wholesale reconstruction of the theory of rhetoric
and the conclusion that its figures and tropes are not "caprices of
pleasure" but "necessities of the human mind."[31]

[Sidenote: _Du Marsais and metaphor._]

We find the theory of rhetorical ornament jealously kept intact by
Baumgarten and Meier, while in France it was as vigorously assailed
by César Chesneau du Marsais, who published in 1730 a treatise on
_Tropes_ (the seventh part of his _General Grammar_)[32] wherein he
develops, on the subject of metaphor, the observation already made by
Montaigne: indeed he was perhaps inspired by Montaigne, although he
does not mention his name. Du Marsais remarks that it is said that
figures are modes of speech and turns of expression removed from the
ordinary and common; which is an empty phrase, as good as saying "the
figured differs from the non-figured and figures are figures and not
non-figures." On the other hand it is wholly untrue that figures
are removed from ordinary speech, for "nothing is more natural,
ordinary and common than figures: more figures of speech are used
in the town square on a market-day than in many days of academical
discussion"; and no speech, however short, can be composed entirely of
non-figurative expressions. And Du Marsais gives instances of quite
obvious and spontaneous expressions in which Rhetoric cannot refuse
to recognize the figures of apostrophe, congeries, interrogation,
ellipsis, prosopopœia: "The apostles were persecuted and suffered
their persecutions with patience. What can be more natural than
the description given by St. Paul? _Maledicimur et benedicimus;
persecutionem patimur et sustinemus; blasphemamur et obsecramus._
Yet the apostle makes use of a fine figure of antithesis; cursing is
the opposite to blessing; persecution to endurance; blasphemy to
prayer." But further, the very language of the figure is figured,
since it is a metaphor.--But after such acute observations, Du Marsais
ends by himself becoming confused and defines figures as "manners of
speech differing from others in a particular modification by which it
is possible to reduce each one to a species apart, and give a more
lively, noble or pleasing effect than can be gained by a manner of
speech expressing the same content of thought without such particular

[Sidenote: _Psychological interpretation._]

But the psychological interpretation of figures of speech, the first
stage towards their æsthetic criticism, was not allowed to drop here.
In his _Elements of Criticism,_ Home says that he had long questioned
whether that part of Rhetoric concerning figures might not be reduced
to rational principles, and had finally discovered that figures consist
in the passional element;[34] he set himself therefore to analyse
prosopopœia, apostrophe and hyperbole in the light of the passional
faculty. From Du Marsais and Home is derived everything of value in the
_Lectures on Rhetoric and belles lettres_ of Hugh Blair, professor
at Edinburgh University from 1759 onwards;[35] published in book form,
these lectures had an immense vogue in all the schools of Europe
including those of Italy, and replaced advantageously, by their "reason
and good sense," works of a much cruder type. Blair defined figures
in general as "language suggested by imagination or passion."[36]
Similar ideas were promulgated in France by Marmontel in his _Elements
of Literature_.[37] In Italy Cesarotti was contrasting the logical
element or "cypher-terms" of language with the rhetorical element or
"figure-terms," and rational eloquence with imaginative eloquence.[38]
Beccaria, though a shrewd psychological analyst, held to the view of
literary style as "accessory ideas or feelings added to the principal
in any discourse"; that is, he failed to free himself from the
distinction between the intellectual form intended for the expression
of the principal ideas, and the literary form, modifying the first by
the addition of accessory ideas.[39] In Germany an effort was made by
Herder to interpret tropes and metaphors as Vico had done, that is to
say as essential to primitive language and poetry.

[Sidenote: _Romanticism and Rhetoric. Present day._]

Romanticism was the ruin of the theory of ornament, and caused it
practically to be thrown on the scrap-heap, but it cannot be said
to have gone under for good or to have been superseded by a new and
accurately stated theory. The chief philosophers of Æsthetic (not
only Kant, who as we know remained in bondage to the mechanical and
ornamental theory; not only Herder, whose knowledge of art seems to
have been confined to a little music and a great deal of rhetoric;
but such romantic philosophers as Schelling, Solger and Hegel) still
retained the sections devoted to metaphor, trope and allegory for
tradition's sake, without severe scrutiny. Italian Romanticism with
Manzoni at its head destroyed the belief in beautiful and elegant
words, and dealt a blow at Rhetoric: but was it killed by the stroke?
Apparently not, judging by the concessions unconsciously made by the
scholastic treatise-writer Ruggero Bonghi, whose _Critical Letters_
assert the existence of two styles or forms, which at bottom are
nothing else than the plain and the ornate.[40] German schools of
philology have pretty generally accepted the stylistic theory of
Gröber, who divides style into logical (objective) and affective
(subjective):[41] an ancient error masked by terminology borrowed from
the psychological philosophy in fashion at modern universities. In
the same spirit a recent writer rechristens the rhetorical doctrine
of tropes and figures by the title "Doctrine of the Forms of Æsthetic
Apperception," and divides them into the four categories (the ancient
wealth of categories reduced to a paltry four!) of personification,
metaphor, antithesis, and symbol.[42] Biese has devoted an entire
book to metaphor; but one searches it in vain for a serious æsthetic
analysis of this category.[43]

The best scientific criticism of the theory of ornament is found
scattered throughout the writings of De Sanctis, who when lecturing on
rhetoric preached what he called anti-rhetoric.[44] But even here the
criticism is not conducted from a strictly systematic point of view. It
seems to us that the true criticism should be deduced negatively from
the very nature of æsthetic activity, which does not lend itself to
partition; there is no such thing as activity type _a_ or type _b,_ nor
can the same concept be expressed now in one way, now in another. Such
is the only way of abolishing the double monster of bare form which
is, no one knows how, deprived of imagination, and ornate form which
contains, no one knows how, an addition on the side of imagination.[45]

[1] For Gorgias' saying see Aristotle, _Rhet._ iii. ch. 18.

[2] Cicero, _Orat. ad Brut.,_ introd.

[3] Quintilian, _Inst. orat._ xii. c. i.

[4] Fran. Patrizzi, _Della rhetorica,_ ten dialogues, Venice, 1582,
dial. 7; Tassoni, _Pensieri diversi,_ bk. x. ch. 15.

[5] _De causis corruptarum artium,_ 1531, bk. iv.; _De ratione
dicendi,_ 1533.

[6] Cicero, _De or at:_ i. chs. 10-11; Quintil. _Inst. oral._ iii. ch.

[7] _De orat._ ii. chs. 16-17.

[8] P. Ramus, _Instil, dialecticæ,_ 1543; _Scholæ in artes liberales,_
1555 etc.; Talæus, _Instit. orator.,_ 1545.

[9] _Della rhetorica,_ dial. 10, and _passim._

[10] _Ration. Philos.,_ part iii. _Rhetoricorum liber unus juxta
propria dogmata_ (Paris, 1636), ch. 3.

[11] _Theoretische Lehre von den Gemüthsbewegungen überhaupt,_ Halle,

[12] _Kritik d. Urtheils kraft,_ § 53 and _n._

[13] H. F. Ortloff, _Die gerichtliche Redekunst,_ Neuwied, 1887; R.
Whately, _Rhetoric,_ 1828 (for _Encyd. Brit._); Ital. trans., Pistoia,

[14] Aristotle, _Rhet._ iii. ch. 1.

[15] Quintil. _Inst. orat._ viii. ch. 3.

[16] _Rhet._ iii. ch. 10.

[17] _Poet._ chs. 19-22; cf. _Rhet._ iii. cc. 2, 10.

[18] See above, pp. 68-69.

[19] Quintilian, _Inst. orat._ viii. ch. 6; ix. ch. 1.

[20] Aristotle, _Rhet._ iii. ch. 2; _Poet._ ch. 22.

[21] _De sublimitate_ (in _Rhet. græci,_ ed. Spengel, vol. 1. § 32.)

[22] Giulio Camillo Delminio, _Discorso sopra le Idee di Ermogene_ (in
_Opere,_ Venice, 1560); and trans. of Hermogenes (Udine, 1594).

[23] _De causis corruptarum artium, loc. cit._

[24] _Della rhetorica,_ dial. 6.

[25] _Diálogo de las lenguas_ (ed. Mayans y Siscar, _Origines de la
lengua espanola,_ Madrid, 1873), pp. 115, 119.

[26] _Essais,_ i. ch. 52 (ed. Garnier, i. 285); ci. _ibid._ chs. 10,
25, 39; 10.

[27] Croce, _I trattatisti italiani del concettismo,_ pp. 8-22.

[28] Boileau, _Art poétique,_ i. 11. 43-44, 153-154.

[29] G. G. Orsi, _Considerazioni sopra la maniera di ben pensare,_
etc., 1703 (reprinted Modena, 1735, with all polemics relating thereto).

[30] See above, pp. 230-231.

[31] See above, pp. 225-226.

[32] _Des tropes ou des différens sens dans lesquels on peut prendre un
même mot dans une même langue._ Paris, 1730 (_Œuvres de Du Marsais,_
Paris, 1797, vol. i.).

[33] _Des tropes ou des différens sens dans lesquels on peut prendre un
même mot dans une même langue,_ part i. art. 1; cf. art. 4.

[34] _Elem. of Criticism,_ iii. ch. 20.

[35] Hugh Blair, _Lectures on Rhetoric and belles lettres_ (London,

[36] _Lect. on Rhet. and belles lettres,_ lecture 14.

[37] Marmontel, _Éléments de littéral,_ (in _Œuvres,_ Paris, 1819), iv.
p. 559.

[38] Cesarotti, _Saggio sulla filos. del linguaggio,_ part ii.

[39] _Ricerche intorno alla natura dello stile_ (Turin, 1853), ch. 1.

[40] R. Bonghi, _Lettere critiche,_ 1856 (4th ed., Naples, 1884), pp.
37 65-67, 90, 103.

[41] Gustav Gröber, _Grundriss d. romanischen Philologie,_ vol. 1. pp.
200-250, K. Vossler, _B. Cellinis Stil in seiner Vita, Versuch einer
psychol. Stilbetrachtung,_ Halle a. S., 1899; cf. the self-criticism
of Vossler, _Positivismus u. Idealismus in der Sprachwissenschaft,_
Heidelberg, 1904 (It. trans., Bari, Laterza, 1908).

[42] Ernst Elsteb, _Principien d. Literaturwissenschaft,_ Halle a. S.,
1097. vol. i. pp. 359-413.

[43] Biese, _Philos, des Metaphorischen,_ Hamburg-Leipzig, 1893.

[44] _La Giovinezza di Fr. de S._ chs. 23, 25; _Scritti varî,_ ii. pp.

[45] See above, pp. 67-73.



[Sidenote: _The kinds in antiquity. Aristotle._]

The theory of artistic and literary kinds and of the laws or rules
proper to each separate kind has almost always followed the fortunes of
the rhetorical theory.

Traces of the threefold division into epic, lyric and dramatic are
found in Plato; and Aristophanes gives an example of criticism
according to the canon of the kinds, particularly that of tragedy.[1]
But the most conspicuous theoretical treatment of the kinds bequeathed
us by antiquity is precisely the doctrine of Tragedy which forms a
large part of the Aristotelian fragment known as the Poetics. Aristotle
defines such a composition as an imitation of a serious and complete
action, having size, in language adorned in accordance with the
requirements of the different parts, its exposition to be by action and
not by narration, and using pity or terror as means to free or purify
us from these same passions;[2] he gives minute details as to the six
parts of which it is composed, especially the plot and the tragic
character. It has been often said, ever since the days of Vincenzo
Maggio in the sixteenth century, that Aristotle treated of the nature
of poetry, or particular forms of poetry, without claiming to give
precepts. But Piccolomini answered that "all these things and other
similar ones are shown or asserted with no other purpose but that we
may see in what way their precepts and laws must be obeyed and carried
out," just as, to make a hammer or saw, one begins by describing
the parts of which they are composed.[3] The error of which we take
Aristotle as representative lies in transmuting abstractions and
empirical partitions into rational concepts: this was almost inevitable
at the beginnings of æsthetic reflexion, and the Sanskrit theory of
poetry employed the same method independently when, for example, it
defines and legislates for ten principal and eighteen secondary styles
of drama; forty-eight varieties of hero; and we know not how many kinds
of heroines.[4]

[Sidenote: _In the Middle Ages and Renaissance_.]

After Aristotle, the theory of poetic kinds does not seem to have been
completely or elaborately developed in antiquity. The Middle Ages may
be said to have expressed the doctrine in treatises of the kind known
as "rhythmic arts" or "methods of composition." When the Aristotelian
fragment was first noticed, it is curious to see the way in which
the paraphrase of Averroes distorted the theory of kinds. Averroes
conceives tragedy as the art of praise, comedy as that of blame,
which amounts to identifying the former with panegyric, the latter
with satire; and he believes the _peripeteia_ to be the same thing as
antithesis, or the artifice of beginning the description of a thing by
describing its opposite.[5] This distortion demonstrates afresh the
merely historical character of these kinds and their unintelligibility
by the methods of pure logic to a thinker living in times and under
customs different from those of the Hellenic world. The Renaissance
seized upon Aristotle's text, partly expounded it, partly distorted it
and partly thought it out afresh, and thus succeeded in establishing
a long list of kinds and sub-kinds rigidly defined and subjected to
inexorable laws. Controversy now began over the correct understanding
of the unities of epic or dramatic poetry; over the moral quality and
social standing proper to the characters in this kind of poem and in
that; over the nature of the plot, and whether it includes passions and
thoughts, and whether lyrics should or should not be received as true
poetry; whether the material of tragedy should be historical; whether
the dialogue of comedy may be in prose; whether a happy ending may
be allowed in tragedy; whether the tragic character may be a perfect
gentleman; what kind and number of episodes is admissible in the poem,
and how they should be incorporated in the main plot; and so on.
Great anguish was caused by the mysterious rule of catharsis found in
black and white in Aristotle's text, and Segni naïvely predicted that
tragic poetry would be revived in its perfect spectacular entirety
for the sake of experiencing the effect spoken of by Aristotle, that
"purgation" which causes "the birth of tranquillity in the soul and of
freedom of all perturbation."[6]

[Sidenote: _The doctrine of the three unities._]

Amongst the many undertakings brought to a glorious end by the critics
and treatise-writers of the sixteenth century, the best known is the
establishment of the three unities of time, place and action. One
cannot indeed see why they are called unities, for in strictness they
could at most be spoken of as shortness of time, straitness of space
and limitation of tragic subjects to a certain class of action. It is
well known that Aristotle prescribed unity of action only, and reminded
his hearers that theatrical custom alone imposed on the action a
time-limit of one day. On this last point the critics of the sixteenth
century accorded six, eight, or twelve hours according to individual
taste or humour: some of them (amongst them Segni) allowed twenty-four
hours, including the night as particularly propitious to assassinations
and the other acts of violence which usually form the plot of
tragedies; others extended the limit to thirty-six or forty-eight
hours. The last, and most curious, unity, that of place, was slowly
developed by Castelvetro, Riccoboni and Scaliger until the Frenchman
Jean de la Taille joined it as a third to the existing two in 1572, and
in 1598 Angelo Ingegneri finally formulated it more explicitly.

[Sidenote: _Poetics of the kinds and rules. Scaliger._]

The Italian treatises were widely read and regarded as authoritative
all over Europe, and awakened the first effort towards a learned theory
of poetry in France, Spain. England and Germany. A good representative
of his class is Julius Cæsar Scaliger, who has been considered, with
some exaggeration, as the true founder of French pseudo-classicism or
neo-classicism; as one who (it has been said) "laid the first stone of
the classical Bastille." But if he was neither the first nor the only
one, he certainly helped greatly to reduce "to a system of doctrines
the principal consequences of the sovranty of Reason in works of
literature," with his minute distinctions and classifications of kinds,
the insurmountable barriers he erected between them, and his distrust
of free inspiration and imagination.[7] Scaliger numbers among his
descendants (beside Daniel Heinsius) d'Aubignac, Rapin, Dacier and
other tyrants of French literature and drama: Boileau turned the rules
of neo-classicism into neat verses.

[Sidenote: _Lessing._]

It has been noticed that Lessing entered the same field; his opposition
to the French rules (which was an opposition of rule to rule, in which
he had been forestalled by Italian writers, for example by Calepio in
1732) is anything but radical. Lessing maintained that Corneille and
other authors had misinterpreted Aristotle, to whose laws even the
Shakespearian drama could be shown to conform;[8] but on the other
hand he strongly opposed the abolition of all rules and those who
shouted "genius, genius," placing genius above the law and saying that
genius makes the law. For the very reason that genius is law, replied
Lessing, laws have their value and can be determined: negation of them
would entail the confinement of genius to its first trial flights,
making example or practice useless.[9]

[Sidenote: _Compromises and extensions._]

But the "kinds" and their "limits" could be maintained for centuries
solely by means of infinitely subtle interpretations, analogical
extensions and more or less concealed compromises. The Italian
Renaissance critics, while working at their Poetics in the style of
Aristotle, found themselves confronted with chivalric poetry, and had
to make the best of it; this they did by assigning it to a kind of poem
not foreseen by antiquity (Giraldi Cintio).[10] Here and there indeed
a rigorist was heard protesting that romances were in no way different
from heroic poetry, and were only "badly written heroics" (Salviati).
And since it was impossible to deny a place in Italian literature to
Dante's poem, Iacopo Mazzoni, in his _Defence of Dante,_ overhauled
once more the categories of Poetics in order to find a niche for the
sacred poem.[11] Farces made their appearance at this time, and Cecchi
(1585) declares "Farce is a third novelty, occupying a place between
tragedy and comedy ..."[12] The _Pastor fido_ of Guarini was published,
neither tragedy nor comedy, but tragicomedy; and discovering no heading
among the kinds deduced from moral or civil philosophy suitable for
the intruder, Jason de Nores proceeded to rule it out of existence;
Guarini made a valiant defence and claimed special protection for his
beloved _Pastor_ under a third, or mixed, style, representative of real
life.[13] Another rigorist, Fioretti (Udeno Nisieli) proclaimed the
poem "a poetic monster, so huge and deformed that centaurs, hippogriffs
and chimæras are comparatively graceful and charming ..., fit to bring
a blush to the cheek of the muse, a disgrace to poetry, a mixture of
ingredients in themselves discordant, inimical and incompatible";[14]
but will this bluster drive the delicious _Pastor fido_ from the hands
of lovers of poetry? The same thing occurred in the case of Marino's
_Adone,_ described by Chapelain as "a poem of peace" for want of
a better definition, though other supporters called it "a new form
of epic poem";[15] and the same thing happened again in the case of
the comedy of art and musical drama. Corneille, who had called down
a furious tempest from Scudéry and the Academicians on the head of
his _Cid,_ remarked in his discourse on Tragedy, though basing his
position on that of Aristotle, that there was necessity for "_quelque
modération, quelque favorable interprétation,... pour n'être pas
obligés de condamner beaucoup de poèmes, que nous avons vu réussir sur
nos théâtres." "Il est aisé de nous accommoder avec Aristote_..."[16]
he says in another place: a piece of literary hypocrisy which startles
by its verbal resemblance to "_les accommodements avec le Ciel_" of
the Tartuffian ethics. The following century saw the accepted kinds
augmented by "bourgeois tragedy" and pathetic comedy, nicknamed
"lachrymose" by its enemies; de Chassiron[17] attacked, and Diderot,
Gellert and Lessing[18] defended the new arrival. In this way the
schematism of the kinds continued to suffer violence and to cut a very
poor figure; nevertheless, in spite of adversity, it made every effort
to retain power even at the sacrifice of dignity: just as an absolute
king turns constitutional by force of circumstance, and chooses the
lesser evil of squaring his divine right with the will of the nation.

[Sidenote: _Rebellion against rules in general._]

This retention of power would have been more difficult had any success
attended the attempts at rebellion against all laws, against law in
general, which broke out in varying degrees at the end of the sixteenth
century. Pietro Aretino made mock of the most sacred precepts: in a
prologue to one of his comedies he remarks derisively, "If you see more
than five characters on the stage at once, do not laugh; for chains
which would fasten water-mills to the river could not hold the fools of

[Sidenote: _G. Bruno. Guarini._]

A philosopher, Giordano Bruno, entered the lists against the
"regulators of poetry": rules, said he, are derived from poetry: "there
are as many genera and species of true rules as there are genera and
species of true poets"; such an individualization of kinds dealt them
a deathblow. "How then" (asks the interlocutory opponent) "shall
veritable poets be recognized?" "By their singing of verse" (answers
Bruno); "of that which, being sung, either delights or instructs, or
delights and instructs at the same time."[20] In much the same way
Guarini defended his _Pastor fido_ in 1588, declaring "the world is the
judge of poets; against its sentence there is no appeal."[21]

[Sidenote: _Spanish critics._]

Amongst European countries, Spain was perhaps the sturdiest in her
resistance to the pedantic theories of the writers of treatises;
Spain was the land of freedom in criticism from Vives to Feijóo, from
the sixteenth to the middle of the eighteenth century when decadence
of the old Spanish spirit allowed Luzán, with others, to introduce
neo-classical poetry of Italian and French origin.[22] That rules
must change with the times and with actual conditions; that modern
literature demands modern poetics; that work carried out contrary to
established rule does not signify that it is contrary to all rule
or unwilling to submit itself to a higher law; that nature should
give, not receive, laws; that the laws of the three unities are
as ridiculous as it would be to forbid a painter to paint a large
landscape in a small picture; that the pleasure, taste, approbation of
readers and spectators are the deciding element in the long run; that
notwithstanding the laws of counterpoint, the ear is the true judge of
music; these affirmations and many like them are frequent in Spanish
criticism of the period. One critic, Francisco de la Barreda (1622),
went so far as to compassionate the strong wits of Italy bound by fear
and cowardice (_temerosos y acobardados_) to rules that hampered them
on every side;[23] he may have been thinking of Tasso, a memorable case
of such degradation. Lope de Vega wavered between neglect of rules in
practice, and obsequious acceptance of them in theory, alleging in
excuse for his conduct that he was forced to yield to the demands of
the public who paid money to see his plays; he said, "when I write my
comedies, I lock and double-lock the door against the precept-mongers,
that they may not rise up and bear witness against me"; "Art (that is,
Poetics) speaks truth which is contradicted by the vulgar ignorant";
"may the rules forgive us when we are induced to violate them."[24] But
a contemporary admirer of Lope's work writes of him that "_en muchas
partes de sus escritos dice que el no guardar el arte antiguo lo hace
por conformarse con el gusto de la plebe ... dicelo por su natural
modestia, y porqué no atribuya la malicia ignorante à arrogancia lo que
es politica perfeccion._"[25]

[Sidenote: _G. B. Marino._]

Giambattista Marino also protested "I assert that I have a more
thorough knowledge of the rules than have all the pedants in the
world; but the only true rule is to know how to break the rules at the
right place and time, and to conform with the custom and taste of the
day."[26] The drama of Spain, the comedy of art, and other literary
novelties of the seventeenth century caused Minturno, Castelvetro and
other rigid treatise-writers of the preceding century to be looked at
with contemptuous pity as "antiquaries"; this may be seen in Andrea
Perucci (1699), the theorist of improvised comedy.[27] Pallavicino
criticized the writers on "the disciplines of beautiful speech" on
the ground that they "generally base their precepts on observing by
experience what things in writers give pleasure, rather than pointing
out what would naturally conform to the particular affections and
instincts implanted by the Creator in the souls of men."[28]

[Sidenote: _G. V. Gravina._]

A note of distrust towards the fixed kinds may be heard in the
_Discorso sull' Endimione_ (1691), wherein Gravina severely blames
the "ambitious and miserly precepts" of rhetoricians, and makes the
penetrating comment: "No work can see the fight without finding itself
confronted by a tribunal of critics specially convened to examine it,
and questioned firstly as to its name and nature. Next begins the
action which lawyers call prejudicial, and controversy arises as to
its status, whether it is a poem, a romance, a tragedy, a comedy, or
another of the prescribed kinds. And if the said work have ignored the
slightest precept ... they decree forthwith its exile and perpetual
banishment. And yet, however they recast and expand their aphorisms,
they will never be able to include all the different kinds that can
be freshly created by the varied and ceaseless motion of human wit.
For this reason I cannot see why we should not free ourselves from
this insolent curb on the soaring grandeur of our imaginations, and
allow them to follow an open road amongst those immeasurable spaces
they are fitted to explore." He remarks on the work of Guidi which
forms the subject of his discourse, "I know not whether it be tragedy,
comedy, tragicomedy, or anything else invented by rhetoricians. It is a
representation of the loves of Endymion and Diana. If those terms have
sufficient breadth of extension, they will comprehend this work; if
they have not, let another be framed (a power which may be granted to
any one in so unimportant a matter); if no such term can be invented,
let us not, for want of a word, deprive ourselves of a thing so
beautiful."[29] These remarks have quite a modern ring, but Gravina can
hardly have thought out their implications very deeply, for later on he
wrote a special treatise on the rules of the tragic kind.[30] Antonio
Conti too declared at times his antagonism towards the rules, but he
referred to the Aristotelian rules only.[31]

[Sidenote: _Fr. Montani._]

More courage was displayed by Count Francesco Montani of Pesaro in the
polemic roused by Orsi's book against Bouhours; in 1705 he wrote: "I
know that there are immutable and eternal rules, founded on such sound
good sense and solid reason as will remain unshaken as long as mankind
lives. But these rules, whose incorruptibility gives them authority to
guide our spirits to the end of time, are rare enough to be counted
with the nose, and it seems to me somewhat arbitrary to claim to
test and regulate our new works by old laws now wholly abrogated and

[Sidenote: _Critics of the eighteenth century._]

In France the rigorism of Boileau was followed by the rebellion of Du
Bos, who unhesitatingly declared that "men will always prefer poetry
which moves them to that composed according to rule,"[33] and the like
heresies. In 1730, De la Motte made war against the unities of time
and place, asserting as the most general, and even superior to that of
action, the unity of interest.[34] Batteux tended to make free with
the rules; and Voltaire, though he opposed De la Motte and declared
the three unities to be the "three great laws of good sense," uttered
some bold sentiments in his _Essay on Epic Poetry,_ and it was he who
remarked that "_tous les genres sont bons hors le genre ennuyeux,_"
and that the best kind is "_celui qui est le mieux traité._" Diderot
was in certain respects a forerunner of Romanticism, and with him must
be mentioned Friedrich Melchior Grimm, who was influenced by him. A
breath of liberty was wafted into Italy by Metastasio, Bettinelli,
Baretti and Cesarotti: in 1766 Buonafede notes in his _Epistola della
libertà poetica_ that when erudite persons "define epic poetry, or
comedy, or odes, they ought to frame as many definitions as there
are compositions and authors."[35] In Germany the first to rise in
rebellion against the rules (opposing Gottsched and his disciples)
were the representatives of the Swiss school.[36] In England, after
examining the definitions by which critics endeavoured to distinguish
epic poetry from other compositions, Home wrote, "It affords no little
diversion to watch so many profound critics hunting after that which
does not exist. They presuppose--without shadow of proof--that there
exists a precise criterion by which to distinguish epic poetry from
all other kinds of composition. But literary compositions melt one
into another like colours: and if in their stronger shades it is easy
to recognize them, they are susceptible of such variety and of so many
different forms that it is impossible to say where one ends and another

[Sidenote: _Romanticism and the "strict kinds": Berchet, V. Hugo._]

Literary thought between the late eighteenth and the first decades of
the nineteenth century, that is to say from" the period of genius"
to that of romanticism properly so called, rose in rebellion against
separate individual rules and against all rules as such. But to
describe the battles fought, and their more important episodes; to
recount the names of captains victorious or discomfited, or to deplore
the excesses committed by the conquerors, is no part of our present
task. Upon the ruins of the strict kinds, the "_genres tranchés_"
beloved by Napoleon[38] (a Romanticist in the art of war, but a
Classicist in poetry), flourished the drama, the romance and every
other mixed kind: upon the ruins of the three unities, flourished the
unity of _ensemble._ Italy made her protest against rules of style in
Berchet's famous _Lettera semiseria di Grisostomo_ (1816); and France
made hers somewhat later in Victor Hugo's preface to _Cromwell_ (1827).
Henceforth men discussed not the kinds, but Art. What is the unity of
_ensemble_ but the demand of art itself, which is always an _ensemble,_
a synthesis? What else is the principle, introduced by August Wilhelm
Schlegel and adopted by Manzoni and other Italian romanticists, to the
effect that form of component parts must be "organic not mechanical,
resulting from the nature of the subject and its interior development
... not from the impress of an external and extraneous stamp"?[39]

[Sidenote: _Their persistence in philosophical theories._]

But it would be quite wrong to suppose that this victory over the
rhetoric of kinds was either the cause or the consequence of a final
victory over its philosophical presuppositions. In pure theory, none
of the critics above named wholly abandoned the kinds and the rules.
Berchet admitted four elementary forms, that is four fundamental
kinds, in poetry; lyrical, didactic, epic and dramatic, claiming for
the poet only the right of "uniting and fusing together the elementary
forms in a thousand fashions."[40] Manzoni's only real quarrel was
with those rules "founded on special facts instead of on general
principles; on the authority of rhetoricians instead of reason."[41]
Even De Sanctis was satisfied with a concept somewhat vague, though
true enough at bottom: "the most important rules are not those capable
of being applied to every content, but those which draw their force _ex
visceribus caussæ,_ from the very heart of the content itself."[42]
Even more diverting than the spectacle which had delighted Home, is
the sight of German philosophy according the honour of a dialectical
deduction to the empirical classification of kinds. We shall give two
examples, each representing one extreme end of the chain:

[Sidenote: _Fr. Schelling._]

Schelling at the beginning of the century (1803), and Hartmann at
the end (1890). One section of Schelling's _Philosophy of Art_ is
devoted to "the construction of individual poetic kinds"; in it he
remarks that were he to follow the historical order, Epic would come
first; whereas in the scientific order the Lyric occupies the first
place: indeed, if poetry is the representation of the infinite in
the finite, the Lyric, in which difference prevails (the finite, the
subject), is its first moment, corresponding with the first power of
the ideal series, reflexion, knowledge, consciousness, whereas Epic
corresponds with the second power, action.[43] From Epic, which is _par
excellence_ the objective kind (as being the identity of subjective and
objective), derive the Elegy and the Idyl if subjectivity be placed in
the object and objectivity in the poet: if objectivity be placed in
the object and subjectivity in the poet, didactic poetry results.[44]
To these differentiations of the Epic, Schelling adds the romantic or
modern Epic, the poem of chivalry; the novel; and the experiments in
an epic of ordinary life such as the _Luisa_ of Voss and the _Hermann
and Dorothea_ of Goethe; and, co-ordinate with all the foregoing, the
_Comedia_ of Dante, "an epic kind in itself" (_eine epische Gattung
für sich_). Finally, from the union on a higher plane of Lyric with
Epic, liberty with necessity, arises the third form, the Drama, the
reconciliation of antitheses in a totality, "supreme incarnation of the
essence and the in-itself of all art."[45]

[Sidenote: _E. von Hartmann._]

In Hartmann's _Philosophy of the Beautiful,_ poetry is divided into
spoken poetry and read poetry. The former is subdivided into Epic,
Lyric and Dramatic, with further subdivisions of Epic into plastic
Epic, or strictly epic Epic, and pictorial or lyrical Epic; of Lyric
into epical Lyric, lyrical Lyric and dramatic Lyric; of Dramatic into
lyrical Drama, epic Drama and dramatic Drama. Read poetry (_Lese
poesie_) is again subdivided into predominantly epical, lyrical or
dramatic form with tertiary partitions of the affecting, the comic, the
tragic and humorous; and into poems "to be read at a sitting" (like the
short story) or to be taken up again and again (like the novel).[46]

[Sidenote: _The kinds in the schools._]

Without these highly philosophical trivialities the divisions of kinds
still wander through the books called _Institutions of Literature,_
written by philologists and men of letters, and the ordinary
school-books of Italy, France and Germany; and psychologists and
philosophers still persist in writing about the Æsthetic of the tragic,
of the comic and of the humorous.[47] The objectivity of literary kinds
is frankly maintained by Ferdinand Brunetière, who looks on literary
history as "the evolution of kinds,"[48] and gives sharply defined form
to a superstition which, seldom confessed so truthfully or applied so
rigorously, survives to contaminate modern literary history.[49]

[1] _Republic,_ iii. 394; see also E. Müller, _Gesch. i. Th. d. Kunst,_
i. pp. 134-206; ii. pp. 238-239, note.

[2] _Poet._ ch. 6

[3] _Annotazioni,_ introd.

[4] Cf. for Sanskrit poetry S. Levi, _Le Théâtre indien,_ pp. 11-152.

[5] Cf. Menendez y Pelayo, _op. cit._ I., i. pp. 126-154, 2nd ed.

[6] Introd. to his tr. of the _Poetics._

[7] Lintilhac, _Un Coup d'état,_ etc., p. 543.

[8] _Hamburg. Dramat._ Nos. 81, 101-104.

[9] _Op. cit._ Nos. 96, 101-104.

[10] G. B. Giraldi Cintio, _De' romanzi, delle comedie e delle
tragedie,_ 1554 (ed. Dælli, 1864).

[11] Iacopo Mazzoni, _Difesa della commedia di Dante,_ Cesena, 1587.

[12] G. M. Cecchi, prologue to _Romanesca,_ 1585.

[13] Cf. besides the two _Veratti,_ the _Compendio della poesia
tragicomica,_ Venice, 1601.

[14] _Proginn. poet.,_ Florence, 1627, iii. p. 130.

[15] Cf. A. Belloni, _Il seicento,_ Milan, 1898, pp. 162-164.

[16] _Examens,_ and _Discours du poème dramatique, de la tragédie, des
trois unités,_ etc.

[17] _Réflexions sur le comique larmoyant,_ 1749 (trans. by Lessing,
_Werke, vol. cit._).

[18] Gellert, _De comædia commovente,_ 1751; Lessing, _Abhandlungen von
den weinerlichen oder rührenden Lustspiele,_ 1754 (in _Werke,_ vol.

[19] Prologue to the _Cortigiana,_ 1534.

[20] _Degli eroici furori_ in _Opere italiane,_ ed. Gentile, ii. pp.

[21] _Il Veratto_ (against Jason de Nores), Ferrara, 1588.

[22] Menendez y Pelayo, _op. cit._ iii. pp. 174-175 (1st ed.), i.

[23] Menendez y Pelayo, _op. cit._ iii. p. 468 (2nd ed.).

[24] _Arte nuevo de hacer comedias_ (1609), ed. Morel Fatio, 11. 40-41,
138-140, 157-158.

[25] Menendez y Pelayo, _op. cit._ iii. p. 459.

[26] Marino, letter to G. Preti, in _Lettere,_ Venice, 1627, p. 127.

[27] _Dell' arte rappresentiva meditata e all' improvviso,_ Naples,
1699; cf. pp. 47, 48, 65.

[28] _Trattato dello stile e del dialogo,_ 1646, preface.

[29] _Discorso su l' Endimione_ (in _Opere italiane, ed. cit._), ii.
pp. 15-16.

[30] _Della tragedia,_ 1715 (_ibid._ vol. i.).

[31] _Prose e poesie, cit.,_ pref. and _passim._

[32] In Orsi, _Considerazioni, ed. cit._ ii. pp. 8, 9.

[33] _Réflexions, cit._ sect. 34.

[34] _Discours sur la tragédie,_ 1730.

[35] _Opuscoli_ of Agatopisto Cromaziano, Venice, 1797.

[36] Danzel, _Gottsched,_ p. 206 _seqq._

[37] _Elements of Criticism,_ iii. pp. 144-145, note.

[38] See conversation of Napoleon with Goethe, in Lewes, _The Life and
Works of Goethe,_ ii. p. 441. [
F9] Manzoni, _Epistol._ i. pp. 355-356; cf. _Lettera sul romanticismo,
ibid._ pp. 293-299.

[40] _Lettera di Grisostomo, opere,_ ed. Cusani, p. 227.

[41] _Lettera sul romanticismo, ibid._ p. 280.

[42] _La giovinezza di F. de S._ chs. 26-28.

[43] _Philos, d. Kunst,_ pp. 639-645.

[44] _Op. cit._ pp. 657-659.

[45] _Op. cit._ p. 687.

[46] _Philosophie d. Schönen,_ ch. 2, § 2.

[47] See, _e.g.,_ Volkelt, _Ästh. d. Tragischen,_ Munich, 1897; Lipps,
_Der Streit über Tragödie,_ etc.

[48] See his other works, _L'évolution des genres dans l'histoire de la
littérature,_ Paris, 1890 _seqq.,_ and _Manuel de l'hist. de la littér.
française, ibid.,_ 1898.

[49] Croce, _Per la storia della critica e storiografia letter,_ pp.



To Lessing must be ascribed the merit and the sole glory of having
discovered that every art has its special character and inviolable
limits. But his merit lies not in his own theory, which, in itself,
is scarcely tenable,[1] but in having, though by an error, aroused
discussion of a highly important æsthetical point till then wholly
overlooked. After some slight notice from Du Bos and Batteux, some
preparation of the field by Diderot[2] and Mendelssohn,[3] and
long disquisitions by Meier and other Wolffians upon natural and
conventional symbols,[4] Lessing was the first to raise clearly the
question of the value attaching to the distinction between the various
arts. Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance had enumerated
the arts according to denominations of current phraseology, and had
composed numbers of technical hand-books distinguishing major and
minor arts; but in Aristoxenus or Vitruvius, Marchetto da Padova or
Cennino Cennini, Leonardo da Vinci or Leon Battista Alberti, Palladio
or Scamozzi, it would be vain to look for the problem proposed by
Lessing, for the spirit of these technical treatise-writers is entirely
different. Some rudiments of the question may be detected in the
comparisons made, and the questions of precedence raised, between
poetry and painting or painting and sculpture, to be found now and
then in stray paragraphs of their books (Leonardo da Vinci pressed
the claims of painting, Michæl Angelo those of sculpture): the theme
eventually became a favourite one for academic discussion, and was not
despised by Galileo himself.[5]

[Sidenote: _The limits of the arts in Lessing. Arts of space and arts
of time._]

Lessing was induced to raise the question in the attempt to controvert
the strange views of Spence concerning the close union between painting
and poetry among the ancients, and of Count Caylus, who held that
the excellence of a poem must be judged by the number of subjects
it offers to the brush of the painter. He was further instigated by
the comparisons between poetry and painting upon which were commonly
founded the most ridiculous rules for tragedy: the maxim _Ut pictura
poësis,_ whose original motive was to emphasize the representative or
imaginative character of poetry, and the community of nature among the
arts, had been converted by superficial interpretation into a defence
of the most vicious intellectualistic and realistic prejudices. Lessing
argued in this wise: "If painting in its imitations employs precisely
a medium or symbol different from that of poetry (the former employing
spatial forms and colours, the latter temporal articulated sounds),
since the symbol must certainly be in close relation with that
which is signified, coexistent symbols can only express coexistent
objects or parts of objects, and consecutive symbols can only express
consecutive objects or parts of objects. Objects mutually coexistent,
or having mutually coexistent parts, are called bodies. Bodies, then,
through their quality of visibility, are the true objects of painting.
Objects successively consecutive amongst themselves, or whose parts
are consecutive, are called in general actions. Actions, then, are
the suitable objects of poetry." Painting, undoubtedly, may represent
action, but only by means of bodies which indicate it; and poetry may
represent bodies, but only by indicating them by means of actions.
When a poet using language, _i.e._ arbitrary symbols, sets himself
to describe bodies, he is no longer a poet but a prose-writer, since
a true poet only describes bodies by the effect they produce on the
soul.[6] Retouching and developing this distinction, Lessing described
action or movement in a picture as an addition made by the imagination
of the beholder; so true is this, says he, that animals perceive
nothing save immobility in a picture. He further studied the various
unions of arbitrary with natural symbols, such as that of poetry with
music (in which the former is subordinate to the latter), of music
with dancing, of poetry with dancing, and of music and poetry with
dancing (union of arbitrary consecutive audible symbols with natural
visible symbols): of the pantomime of antiquity (union of arbitrary
consecutive visible symbols with natural consecutive visible symbols):
of the language of the dumb (the only art that employs arbitrary
consecutive visible symbols): and, lastly, of imperfect unions, such
as that of painting with poetry. If not every use to which language is
put is poetic, Lessing holds that not every use of natural coexistent
signs is pictorial: painting, like language, has its prose. Prosaic
painters are those who represent consecutive objects notwithstanding
the character of coexistence in their signs, allegorical painters
those who make arbitrary use of natural signs, and those who pretend
to represent the invisible or the audible by means of the visible.
Desirous of preserving the naturalness of symbolism, Lessing ended by
condemning the custom of painting objects on a diminished scale, and
concludes: "I think that the aim of an art should be that only to which
it is specially adapted, not that which can be performed equally well
by other arts. I find in Plutarch a comparison which illustrates this
admirably: he who would split wood with a key and open the door with an
axe not only spoils both utensils but deprives himself of the unity of
each alike."[7]

[Sidenote: _Limits and classifications of the arts in later

The principle of limitations or of the specific character of individual
arts, as laid down by Lessing, occupied the attention of philosophers
in later days, who, without discussing the principle itself, employed
it in classifying the arts and arranging them in series.

[Sidenote: _Herder and Kant._]

Herder here and there continued Lessing's examination in his fragment
on _Plastic_ (1769);[8] Heydenreich wrote a treatise (1790) on the
limits of the six arts (music, dance, figurative arts gardening,
poetry and representative art), and criticized the _clavecin oculaire_
of Father Castel, a contrivance for the combination of colours which
should act in the same way as the series of musical notes in harmony
and melody,[9] Kant appealed to the analogy of a speaking man, and
classified the arts according to speech, gesture and tone as arts of
speech, figurative arts, and arts producing a mere play of sensations
(mimicry and colouring).[10]

[Sidenote: _Schelling._]

Schelling differentiated the artistic identity according as it
consisted in the infusion of the infinite into the finite, or of the
finite into the infinite (ideal art or real art): into poetry and art
proper. Under the heading of real arts he included the figurative arts,
music, painting, plastic (which comprehended architecture, bas-relief
and sculpture): in the ideal series were the three corresponding forms
of poetry, lyrical, epical and dramatic.[11]

[Sidenote: _Solger._]

With a similar method, Solger placed poetry, the universal art,
side by side with art strictly so called, which is either symbolical
(sculpture) or allegorical (painting), and, in either case, is a union
of concepts and bodies: if you take corporality without concept, you
have architecture; if concept without matter, music.[12] Hegel makes
poetry the bond of union between the two extremes of figurative art and
of music.[13]

[Sidenote: _Schopenhauer._]

We have already seen how Schopenhauer destroyed the accepted
limitations of art and built them up again, following the order of
the ideas which they represent.[14] Herbart clung to Lessing's two
groups, simultaneous arts and successive arts, and defined the former
as "permitting themselves to be inspected from every side," the latter
as "rejecting complete investigation and remaining in semi-darkness":
in the first group he placed architecture, plastic, church music and
classical poetry; in the second ornamental gardening, painting, secular
music and romantic poetry.[15]

[Sidenote: _Herbart._]

Herbart was implacable against those who look in one art for the
perfections of another; who "look on music as a sort of painting,
painting as poetry, poetry as an elevated plastic and plastic as
a species of æsthetic philosophy,"[16] while admitting that a
concrete work of art, such as a picture, may contain elements of the
picturesque, the poetic and other kinds, held together by the skill of
the artist.[17]

[Sidenote: _Weisse. Zeising._]

Weisse divided the arts into three triads, intended to recall the
nine Muses.[18] Zeising invented-a cross-division into figurative
arts (architecture, sculpture, painting), musical arts (instrumental
music, song, poetry), and arts of mimicry (dance, musical mimicry,
representative art), and into macrocosmic arts (architecture,
instrumental music, dance), microcosmic arts (sculpture, song, musical
mimicry) and historical arts (painting, poetry and representative

[Sidenote: _Vischer._]

Vischer classified them according to the three forms of
imagination (figurative, sensuous and poetic), into objective arts
(architecture, plastic and painting), a subjective art (music) and an
objective-subjective art[20] (poetry). Gerber proposed to recognize a
special "art of language" (_Sprachkunst_), distinguishable alike from
prose and poetry and consisting in the expression of simple movements
of the soul. Such an art would correspond with plastic in the following
scheme: arts of the eye--(_a)_ architecture, (_b_) plastic, (c)
painting; arts of the ear--(_a)_ prose, (_b)_ the art of language, (c)

[Sidenote: _M. Schasler._]

The two most recent systems of classification are furnished by Schasler
and Hartmann, who have also submitted the schemes of their predecessors
to searching criticism. Schasler[22] arranges the arts in two groups,
adopting the criterion of simultaneity and succession: the arts of
simultaneity are architecture, plastic and painting; of succession,
music, mimicry and poetry. He says that by following the series in
the order indicated, it will be seen that simultaneity, originally
predominant, yields place to succession, which predominates in the
second group and subordinates without wholly displacing the other.
Parallel with this, another division is evolved, deduced from the
relation between the ideal and material elements in each separate art,
between movement and repose; which begins with architecture "materially
the heaviest, spiritually the lightest of all the arts," and ends
with poetry, in which the opposite relation is observed. Curious
analogies are established by this method between the first and second
group of arts: between architecture and music; between plastic and
mimicry; between painting in its three forms of landscape, _genre_ and
historical, and poetry in its three forms of lyric (declamatory), epic
(rhapsodic) and drama (representative).

[Sidenote: _E. v. Hartmann._]

Hartmann[23] divides the arts into arts of perception and arts of
imagination: the former tripartite into spatial or visual (plastic
and painting), temporal or auditory (instrumental music, linguistic
mimicry, expressive song) and temporal-spatial or mimic (pantomime,
mimic dances, art of the actor, art of the opera-singer); the second
contains but one single species, which is poetry. Architecture,
decoration, gardening, cosmetic and prosewriting are excluded from this
system of classification and lumped together as non-free arts.

[Sidenote: _The supreme art. Richard Wagner._]

Parallel with this search for a classification of the arts, the same
philosophers were led into the quest of the supreme art. Some favoured
poetry, others music or sculpture; others again claimed the supremacy
for combined arts, especially for Opera, according to the theory of
it already advanced in the eighteenth century[24] and maintained
and developed in our day by Richard Wagner.[25] One of the latest
philosophers to raise the question "whether single arts, or arts in
combination, had the greater value," concluded that single arts as such
possess their own perfection, yet the perfection of united arts is
still greater, notwithstanding the compromises and mutual concessions
enforced upon them by their union; that single arts, from another
point of view, have the greater value; and lastly, that both single
and combined arts are necessary to the realisation of the concept of

[Sidenote: _Lotze's attack on classifications._]

The capriciousness, emptiness and childishness of such problems
and their solutions must have excited feelings of impatience and
disgust, but we rarely find a doubt thrown on their validity. One such
dissentient is Lotze when he writes: "It is difficult to see the use
of such attempts. Knowledge of the nature and laws of individual arts
is but little increased by indication of the systematic place allotted
to each." He further observed that in real life the arts are variously
conjoined, forming themselves into no systematic series, while in
the world of thought an immense variety of orders can be created; he
therefore selected one of these possible orders, not because it was
the sole legitimate one, but because it was convenient (_bequem_). His
series begins with music, "the art of free beauty, determined only by
the laws of its matter, not by conditions imposed by a given task of
purpose or of imitation"; followed by architecture, "which no longer
plays freely with forms, but subjects them to the service of an end";
and then by sculpture, painting and poetry, excluding minor arts which
cannot be co-ordinated with the others, since they are incapable of
expressing with any approach to completeness the totality of the
spiritual life.[27] A recent French critic, Basch, opens his treatise
with the following excellent remarks: "Is it necessary to show there is
no such thing as an absolute art, differentiating itself later by means
of one knows not what immanent laws? What exists is the particular
forms of art, or rather artists who have striven to translate, as best
they can, according to the material means at their command, the song of
the ideal in their souls." But later on he thinks it possible to effect
a division of the arts by starting "from the artist, instead of the
art in itself," by proceeding "according to the three great types of
fancy, visual, motor and auditory"; and as for the debated point of the
supreme art, he thinks it must be settled in favour of music.[28]

Schasler is not altogether wrong in his spirited counterattack on
Lotze's criticism; he protests against the principle of indifference
and convenience, and remarks that "the classification of the arts
must be regarded as the real touchstone, the real differential test
of the scientific value of an æsthetic system; for on this point all
theoretical questions are concentrated and crowd together to find a
concrete solution."[29]

[Sidenote: _Contradictions in Lotze._]

The principle of convenience may be excellent as applied to the
approximative grouping of botanical or zoological classifications, but
it has no place in philosophy; and as Lotze, in common with Schasler
and other æstheticians, conformed to Lessing's principle of the
constancy, limits and peculiar nature of each art, and therefore held
that the concepts of the individual arts were speculative and not
empirical concepts, he could not evade the duty of fixing the mutual
relations of these concepts, arranging them in series, subordinating
and co-ordinating them, and arriving at each of them either deductively
or dialectically. He ought, in order to get definitely rid of these
barren attempts at classification and at discovering the supreme
art, to have criticized and dissolved Lessing's principle itself: to
keep the principle and deny the need for a classification, as Lotze
did, was obviously inconsistent. But not a single æsthetician has
ever re-examined or investigated the scientific foundation of the
distinctions enunciated by Lessing in his fluent and elegant prose; no
one has probed to the bottom the truth which was illumined by Aristotle
in a single lightning-flash, when he refused to allow an extrinsic
difference, that of metre, as the real distinction between prose and
poetry:[30] no one, that is to say, save perhaps Schleiermacher, who at
least called attention to the difficulties of the current doctrine.

[Sidenote: _Doubts in Schleiermacher._]

He proposed to start from the general concept of art and prove by
deduction the necessity of all its forms; and after finding two sides
to artistic activity, the objective consciousness (_gegenständliche)_
and the immediate consciousness (_unmittelbare)_, and observing that
art stands wholly neither in the one nor in the other and that the
immediate consciousness or representation (_Vorstellung)_ gives rise to
mimicry and music, while the objective consciousness or image (_Bild_)
gives rise to the figurative arts, he then, proceeding to analyse a
painting, found the two forms of consciousness to be in this case
inseparable, and remarks: "Here we arrive at the precise opposite:
searching for distinction, we find unity." Nor did the traditional
division of the arts into simultaneous and successive seem to him
very solid, for "when looked at attentively, it evaporates entirely";
in architecture or gardening, contemplation is successive, while in
the arts labelled as successive, such as poetry, the chief thing
is coexistence and grouping: "from whichever side we look at it,
the difference is but secondary and the antithesis between the two
orders of art merely means that every contemplation, like every act of
production, is always successive, but, in thinking out the relation of
the two sides in a work of art, both seem indispensable: coexistence
(_Zugleichsein_) and successive existence (_das Successivsein_)." In
another passage he observes: "The reality of art as external appearance
is conditioned by the mode, depending on our physical and corporeal
organism, in which the internal is externalised: movements, forms,
words.... That which is common to all arts is not the external, which
is rather the element of diversification." When these observations
are compared with the sharp distinction he himself drew between art
and technique, it would be easy to deduce that he held the partitions
of the arts and the concepts of the particular arts to be devoid
of æsthetic value. But Schleiermacher does not draw this logical
inference, he wavers and hesitates: he recognizes the inseparability
of the subjective and objective, musical and figurative, elements in
poetry, yet he struggles to discover the definitions and limits of
the individual arts; sometimes he dreams of a union of the various
arts from which a complete art would spring; and when composing the
syllabus of his lectures on Æsthetic, he arranged the arts into arts
of accompaniment (mimicry and music), figurative arts (architecture,
gardening, painting, sculpture) and poetry.[31] Nebulous, vague,
contradictory as this may be, Schleiermacher had the acumen to distrust
the soundness of Lessing's theory and to inquire by what right
particular arts are singled out from art in general.

[1] See above, pp. 113-115.

[2] D. Diderot, _Lettre sur les aveugles,_ 1749; _Lettre sur les sourds
et muets,_ 1751; _Essai sur la peinture,_ 1765.

[3] M. Mendelssohn, _Briefe über Empfind.,_ 1755; _Betrachtungen,
cit.,_ 1757.

[4] J. Chr. Wolff, _Psychol. empirica,_ §§ 272-312; Meier,
_Anfangsgründe,_ §§ 513-528, 708-735; _Betrachtungen,_ § 126.

[5] Letter to Lodovico Cardi da Cigoli, June 26, 1612.

[6] _Laokoon,_ §§ 16-20.

[8] _Laokoon,_ appendix, § 43.

[9] _Plastik einige Wahrnehmungen über Form und Gestalt aus Pygmalions
bildenden Träume,_ 1778 (Select Works of Herder in the collection
_Deutsche Nationlitteratur,_ vol. 76, part iii. § 2).

[10] _System der Ästhetik,_ pp. 154-236.

[11] _Kritik d. Urtheilskr._ § 51. 5 _Phil. d. Kunst,_ pp. 370-371.

[12] _Vorles. üb. Ästh._ pp. 257-262.

[13] _Op. cit._ ii. p. 222.

[14] See above, pp. 305-306.

[15] _Einleitung,_ § 115, pp. 170-171.

[16] _Schriften z. prakt. Phil,_ in _Werke,_ viii. p. 2.

[17] _Einleitung,_ § 110, pp. 164-165.

[18] Cf. Hartmann, _Dtsche. Ästh. s. Kant,_ pp. 539-540.

[19] _Ästh. Forsch._ pp. 547-549.

[20] _Ästh._ §§ 404, 535, 537, 838, etc.

[21] Gustav Gerber, _Die Sprache als Kunst,_ Bromberg, 1871-1874.

[22] _Das System der Künste,_ 2nd ed., Leipzig-Berlin, 1881.

[23] _Phil. d. Sch._ chs. 9, 10.

[24] _E.g._ by Sulzer, _Allg. Theorie,_ on word _Oper._

[25] Rich. Wagner, _Oper und Drama,_ 1851.

[26] Gustav Engel, _Ästh. der Tonkunst,_ 1884, abstracted in Hartmann,
_Dtsche. Ästh. s. Kant,_ pp. 579-580.

[27] Lotze, _Geschichte d. Ästh._ pp. 458-460; cf. p. 445.

[28] _Essai critique sur l'Esth. de Kant,_ pp. 89-496.

[29] _Das System der Künste,_ p. 47.

[30] _Poet._ ch. i.

[31] _Vorles. üb. Ästh._ pp. 11, 122-129, 137, 143, 151, 167, 172,
284-286, 487-488, 508, 635.



[Sidenote: _The æsthetic theory of Natural Beauty._]

I. Schleiermacher also rejected the concept of Natural Beauty, giving
Hegel greater praise than he deserved in the matter, because Hegel's
denial of this concept was, as we have seen, more verbal than real.
At all events, Schleiermacher's radical denial of the existence of a
natural beauty external to and independent of the human mind marked
a victory over a serious error, and appears to us imperfect and
one-sided only so far as it seems to exclude those æsthetic facts of
imagination which are attached to objects given in nature.[1] Important
contributions towards the correction of this imperfect and one-sided
element were supplied by the historical and psychological study of the
"feeling for nature," promoted successfully by Alexander Humboldt in
his dissertation to be found in the second volume of _Cosmos_,[2] and
continued by Laprade, Biese, and others in our own time.[3] In his
criticism of his own _Ästhetik,_ Vischer completes the passage from
the metaphysical construction of beauty in nature to the psychological
interpretation of it, and recognizes the necessity of suppressing
the section devoted to Natural Beauty in his first æsthetic system,
and incorporating it with the doctrine of imagination: he says that
such treatments do not belong to æsthetic science, being a medley
of zoology, sentiment, fantasy and humour, worthy of development in
monographs in the style of the poet G. G. Fischer's on the life of
birds, or Bratranek's on the æsthetic of the vegetable world.[4]
Hartmann, as heir of the old metaphysics, reproaches Vischer for
this exclusion, and maintains that, in addition to the beauty of
imagination introduced by man into natural things (_hineingelegte
Schönheit_), there exist a formal and a substantial beauty in nature,
coinciding with realisation of the immanent ends or ideas of nature.[5]
But the way chosen ultimately by Vischer is the only one by which
Schleiermacher's thesis can be successfully developed so as to show
the precise meaning which may be given to the assertion of (æsthetic)
beauty in nature.

[Sidenote: _The theory of æsthetic senses._]

II. That æsthetic senses or superior senses exist and that beauty
attaches to certain senses only, not to all, is a very old opinion. We
have seen already[6] that Socrates, in the _Hippias maior,_ mentions
the doctrine of beauty as "that which pleases hearing and sight" (τὸ
καlὸν eστὶ τὸ δι' ἀκοῆs τε καὶ ὃψεως ήδύ): and he adds, it seems
impossible to deny that we take pleasure in looking at handsome men
and fine ornaments, pictures and statues with our eyes, and hearing
beautiful songs or beautiful voices, music, speeches and conversations
with our ears. Nevertheless Socrates himself in the same dialogue
confutes this theory by perfectly valid arguments, amongst which is
that, besides the difficulty arising from the fact that beautiful
things may be found outside the range of the sensible impressions of
eye and ear, there is no reason for creating a special class for the
pleasure arising from impressions on these two senses, to the exclusion
of others. He also states the more subtle and philosophical objection
that that which is pleasing to the sight is not so to the hearing, and
_vice versa_; whence it follows that the ground of beauty must not be
sought in visibility or audibility, but in something differing from
either and common to both.[7]

The problem was never again, perhaps, attacked with such acumen and
seriousness as in this ancient dialogue. In the eighteenth century
Home remarked that beauty depended on sight, and that impressions
received by the other senses might be agreeable but were not
beautiful, and distinguished sight and hearing as superior to those
of touch, taste and smell, the latter being merely bodily in nature
and without the spiritual refinement of the other two. He held these
to produce pleasures superior to organic pleasures though inferior to
intellectual; decorous pleasures, that is to say; elevated, sweet,
moderately exhilarating; as far removed from the turbulence of the
passions as from the languor of indolence, and intended to refresh
and soothe the spirit.[8] Following suggestions of Diderot, Rousseau
and Berkeley, Herder drew attention to the importance of the sense of
touch (_Gefühl_) in plastic art: of this "third sense, which perhaps
deserves to be investigated first of all, and is unjustly relegated to
a place amongst the grosser senses." Certainly "touch knows nothing of
surface or colour," but "sight, for its part, knows nothing of forms
and configurations." Thus "touch cannot be so gross a sense as it is
reputed, if it is the very organ by which we sensate all other bodies,
and rules over a vast kingdom of subtle and complex concepts. As the
surface stands to the body, so does sight stand in respect of touch,
and it is merely a colloquial abbreviation to speak of seeing bodies as
surfaces and to suppose that we see with our eyes that which we have
gradually learnt in infancy simply by the sense of touch." Every beauty
of form or corporeity is a concept not visible, but palpable.[9] From
the triad of æsthetic senses thus established by Herder (sight for
painting; hearing for music; touch for sculpture), Hegel returned to
the customary dyad, saying that "the sensory part of art has reference
only to the two theoretic senses of sight and hearing"; that smell,
taste and touch must be excluded from artistic pleasures, since they
are connected with matter as such and the immediate sensible quality it
may possess (smell with material volatilization; taste with material
solution of objects; and touch with hot, cold, smooth and so forth);
and that hence they can claim no concern with the objects of art,
which are obliged to keep themselves in real independence, rejecting
all relation with the merely sensory. That which pleases these senses
is not the beautiful of art.[10]

It was Schleiermacher once more who recognized the impossibility of
disposing of the matter in this summary fashion. He refused to admit
the distinction between confused senses and clear senses, and asserted
that the superiority of sight and hearing over the other senses lay in
the fact that the others "are not capable of any free activity, and
indeed represent the maximum of passivity, whereas sight and hearing
are capable of an activity proceeding from within, and are able to
produce forms and notes without having received impressions from
outside"; were eye and ear merely means of perception, there would
be no visual or auditory arts, but they also operate as a function
of voluntary movements which supply a content to the dominion of the
senses. From another standpoint, however, Schleiermacher thinks that
"the difference seems to be one rather of degree or quantity, and a
minimum of independence must be recognized as existing in the other
senses as well."[11] Vischer remains faithful to the traditional "two
æsthetic senses," "free organs and no less spiritual than sensuous,"
which "have no reference to the material composition of the object,"
but allow this "to subsist as a whole and work upon them."[12] Köstlin
was of opinion that the inferior senses offer "nothing intuitible
separate from themselves, and are only modifications of ourselves, but
taste, smell and touch are not devoid of all æsthetic importance, since
they assist the superior senses; without touch an image could not be
recognized by the eye as being hard, resistant or rough; without smell
certain images could not be represented as sweet or scented."[13]

We cannot go into a detailed account of all doctrines connected with
sensationalistic principles,[14] for all the senses are naturally
accepted as æsthetic by the sensationalists, who use "æsthetic"
interchangeably with" hedonistic": it will suffice if we recall the
"learned" Kralik, who was ridiculed by Tolstoy for his theory of the
five arts of taste, smell, touch, hearing and sight.[15] The few
quotations already given show the embarrassing difficulty caused
by the use of the word "æsthetic" as a qualification of "sense,"
compelling writers to invent absurd distinctions between various groups
of senses, or to recognize all senses as being æsthetic, thus giving
æsthetic value to every sensory impression, as such. No way out of
this labyrinth can be found save by asserting the impossibility of
effecting a union between such wholly disparate orders of ideas as the
concept of the representative form of the spirit and that of particular
physiological organs or a particular matter of sense-impressions.[16]

[Sidenote: _The theory of kinds of style_.]

III. A variety of the error of literary kinds is to be found in
the theory of modes, forms or kinds of style (χαρακτῆρες τῆς
φράσεως), considered by the ancients as consisting of three forms,
the sublime, the medium and the tenuous, a tripartition due, it would
seem, to Antisthenes,[17] modified later into _subtile, robustum_
and _floridum,_ or amplified into a fourfold division, or designated
by adjectives of historic origin as in the Attic, Asiatic or Rhodian
styles. The Middle Ages preserved the tradition of a tripartite
division, sometimes giving it a curious interpretation, to the effect
that the sublime style treats of kings, princes and barons (_e.g._ the
_Aeneid_); the mediocre, of middle-class people (_e.g. Georgies)_; the
humble, of the lowest class (_e.g. Bucolics;_) and the three styles
were for this reason also called tragic, elegiac and comic.[18] It
is a well-known fact that kinds in style have never ceased to afford
matter for discussion in rhetorical text-books down to modern times;
for instance, we find Blair distinguishing styles by such epithets
as the diffuse, the concise, the nervous, the daring, the soft, the
elegant, the flowery, etc. In 1818 the Italian Melchiorre Delfico, in
his book on _The Beautiful,_ energetically criticized the "endless
division of styles," or the superstition "that there could be so many
kinds of style"; saying that "style is either good or bad," and adding
that it is not possible "it should exist as a preconceived idea in the
artist's mind," but that "it should be the consequence of the principal
idea, _i.e._ that conception which determines the invention and the

[Sidenote: _The theory of grammatical forms or parts of speech._]

IV. The same error reappears in the philosophy of language, as the
theory of grammatical forms or parts of speech,[20] first created by
the sophists (Protagoras is credited with having first distinguished
the gender of nouns), adopted by the philosophers, notably by Aristotle
and the Stoics (the former was acquainted with two or three parts of
speech, the latter with four or five), developed and elaborated by the
Alexandrian grammarians in the famous and endless controversy between
the analogists and the anomalists. The analogists (Aristarchus) aimed
at introducing logical order and regularity into linguistic facts,
and described as deviations all such as seemed to them irreducible
to logical form. These they called pleonasm, ellipsis, enallage,
parallage, and metalepsis. The violence thus wrought by the analogists
upon spoken and written language was such that (as Quintilian tells
us) some one wittily (_non invenuste_) remarked that it appeared to
be one thing to talk Latin and quite another to talk grammar (_aliud
esse latine_, _aliud grammatice loqui_).[21] The anomalists must be
credited with restoring to language its free imaginative movement: the
Stoic Chrysippus composed a treatise to prove that one thing (one same
concept) may be expressed by different sounds, and one and the same
sound may express different concepts (_similes res dissimilibus verbis
et similibus dissimiles esse vocabulis notatas._) Another anomalist
was the celebrated grammarian Apollonius Dyscolus, who rejected
the metalepsis, the schemes, and the other artifices by which the
analogists tried to explain facts which did not fit their categories,
and pointed out that the use of one word for another, or one part of
speech for another, is not a grammatical figure, but a blunder, a thing
hardly to be attributed to a poet such as Homer. The upshot of the
dispute between anomalists and analogists was the science of Grammar
(τεχνη γραμματική), as handed down by the ancients to the modern
world, which is justly considered as a sort of compromise between the
two opposed parties because, if the schemes of inflection (κανόνες)
satisfy the demands of the analogists, their variety satisfies those
of the anomalists; hence the original definition of Grammar as theory
of analogy was changed subsequently to "theory of analogy and anomaly"
(ὁμοίον τε καὶ ἀνoμoίου θεωρία). The concept of correct usage, with
which Varro hoped to settle the controversy, fell into the trap (common
to compromises), merely stating the contradiction in set terms, like
the "convenient ornament" of Rhetoric or the kinds accorded a "certain
licence" in the literature of precept. If language follows usage (that
is to say, the imagination), it does not follow reason (or logic); if
it follows reason, it does not follow usage. When the analogists upheld
logic as supreme at least inside the individual kinds and sub-kinds,
the anomalists hastened to show that even this was not the case. Varro
himself was forced to confess that "this part of the subject really is
very difficult" (_hic locus maxime lubricus est_).[22]

In the Middle Ages grammar was cultivated to the point of superstition.
Divine inspiration was found lurking in the eight parts of speech
because "_octavus numerus frequenter in divinis scripturis sacratis
invenitur,_" and in the three persons of verbal conjugation, created
simply "_ut quod in Trinitatis fide credimus, in eloquiis inesse
videatur._"[23] Grammarians of the Renaissance and later recommenced
the study of linguistic problems and worked to death ellipsis,
pleonasm, licence, anomaly and exception; only in comparatively recent
times has Linguistic begun to question the very validity of the concept
of parts of speech (Pott, Paul and others).[24] If they still survive,
the reason may lie in the facts that empirical, practical grammar
cannot do without them; that their venerable antiquity disguises their
illegitimate and shady origin; and that energetic opposition has been
worn down by the fatigue of an endless war.

[Sidenote: _Theory of æsthetic criticism._]

V. The relativity of taste is a sensationalistic theory which denies
a spiritual value to art. But it is rarely maintained by writers in
the ingenuous categorical garb of the old adage: _De gustibus non
est disputandum_ (concerning which it would be useful to enquire
when the saying was born, and what it fust meant: whether, too, the
word _gustibus_ referred solely to impressions of the palate, and
was only later extended to include æsthetic impressions); as though
sensationalists, as if dimly conscious of the higher nature of art,
have never been able to resign themselves to the complete relativity
of taste. Their torments in the matter really move one to pity. "Is
there," Batteux asks, "such a thing as good taste, and is it the only
good taste? In what does it consist? Upon what depend? Does it depend
upon the object itself or the genius at work upon it? Are there, or are
there not, rules? Is wit alone, or heart alone, the organ of taste, or
both together? How many questions have been raised on this familiar
often-treated subject, how many obscure and involved answers have
been given!"[25] This perplexity is shared by Home. Tastes, he says,
must not be disputed; neither those of the palate nor those of other
senses. A remark which seems highly reasonable from one point of view;
but, from another, somewhat exaggerated. But yet how can one dispute
it? how can one maintain that what actually pleases a man ought not
to please him? The proposition then must be true. But now no man of
taste will assent to it. We speak of good taste and bad taste; are all
criticisms which turn upon this distinction to be considered absurd?
have these everyday expressions no meaning? Home ends by asserting
a common standard of taste, deduced from the necessity of a common
life for mankind or, as he says, from a "final cause"; for without
uniformity of taste, who would trouble to produce works of art, build
elegant and costly edifices, or lay out beautiful gardens and so forth?
He does not fail to draw attention to a second final cause; that of
the advisability of attracting citizens to public shows and uniting
those whom class-differences and diversity of occupation tend to keep
apart. But how shall a standard of taste be established? This is a new
perplexity, which one cannot think to be escaped by observing that, as
in framing moral rules we seek the counsel of the most honourable of
educated men, not of savages; so to determine the standard of taste
we should have recourse to the few who are not worn out by degrading
bodily labour, not corrupted in taste, and not rendered effeminate
by pleasure, who have received the gift of good taste from nature,
and have brought it to perfection by the education and practice of a
lifetime: if, notwithstanding, controversies arise, then reference
must be made to the principles of Criticism as set forth by Home
himself in his own book.[26] Similar contradictions and vicious circles
reappear in David Hume's _Essay on Taste,_ where Hume tries in vain
to define the distinctive characteristics of the man of taste whose
judgement must be law, and, while asserting the uniformity of the
general principles of taste as founded in human nature, and warning
the reader against giving undue weight to individual perversions and
ignorances, at the same time asserts that divergences in taste may be
irreconcilable, insuperable, and yet blameless.[27]

But a criticism of æsthetic relativism cannot be based upon the
opposite doctrine which, by its affirmation of absoluteness, resolves
taste into concepts and logical inferences. The eighteenth century
offers examples of this mistake in Muratori, one of the first to
maintain the existence of a rule of taste and a universal beauty
whose rules are furnished by Poetics;[28] in André, who said that
"the beauty in a work of art is not that which pleases at the first
glance of fancy through certain individual dispositions of the mental
faculties or bodily organs, but that which has a right to please the
reason and reflexion by its own inherent excellence or rightness and,
if the expression be allowed, by its intrinsic agreeableness";[29]
in Voltaire, who recognized a "universal taste" which was
"intellectual";[30] and in very many others. This intellectualistic
error, no less than the sensationalistic, was attacked by Kant; but
even Kant, by making beauty consist in a symbolism of morality, failed
to grasp the concept of an imaginative absoluteness of taste.[31]
Succeeding generations of philosophers met the difficulty by passing it
over in silence.

Nevertheless, this criterion of an imaginative absoluteness, the idea
that in order to judge works of art one must place oneself at the
artist's point of view at the moment of production, and that to judge
is to reproduce, gathered weight little by little from the beginning
of the eighteenth century, when its first appearance is seen in the
work of the Italian Francesco Montani already quoted (1705), and by
the English poet Alexander Pope in his _Essay on Criticism._ ("A
perfect judge will read each work of wit With the same spirit that its
author writ."[32]) A few years later Antonio Conti recognized part of
the truth in the _règle du premier aspect_ advised by Terrasson as
a test for judging poetry, while noting it to be more applicable to
modern than to ancient works: "_quand on n'a pas l'esprit prévenu,
et que d'ailleurs on l'a assez pénétrant, on peut voir tout d'un
coup si un poète a bien imité son objet; car, comme on connaît
l'original, c'est-à-dire les hommes et les mœurs de son siècle,
on peut aisément lui confronter la copie, c'est-à-dire la poésie qui
les imite._" In judging ancient writers something more is necessary:
"_cette règle du premier aspect n'est presque d'aucun usage dans
l'examen de l'ancienne poésie, dont on ne peut pas juger qu'après
avoir longtemps réfléchi sur la religion des anciens, sur leurs lois,
leur mœurs, sur leurs manières de combattre et d'haranguer, etc.
Les beautés d'un poème, indépendantes de toutes ces circonstances
individuelles, sont très rares, et les grands peintres les ont toujours
évitées avec soin, car ils voulaient peindre la nature et non pas
leurs idées;_"[33] the necessary criterion, therefore, is to be found
in history. The end of the same century saw the concept of congenial
reproduction sufficiently defined by Heydenreich: "A philosophical
critic of art must himself be possessed of genius for art; reason
exacts this qualification and grants no dispensation, just as she will
refuse to appoint a blind man as judge of colours. The critic must
not pretend to be able to feel the attraction of beauty by means of
syllogisms (_Vernunftschlüsse_); beauty must manifest itself to feeling
with irresistible self-evidence and, attracted by its fascination,
reason must find no time to linger over the why and wherefore; the
effect, with its delightful and unexpected possession and domination
of the whole being, should suffocate at birth any inquiry into origins
or causes. But this state of fanatical admiration cannot last long;
reason must inevitably recover consciousness of itself and direct
its attention upon the state in which it was during the enjoyment
of beauty and upon its present memories of that state...."[34] This
was the wholesomely impressionistic theory which prevailed among the
Romanticists and was accepted even by De Sanctis.[35] Still there
was even then no definite theory of criticism, which demanded as its
condition of existence a precise concept of art and of the relations
of the work of art with its historical antecedents.[36] The very
possibility of æsthetic criticism was questioned in the second half
of the nineteenth century, when taste was relegated to a place amongst
the facts of individual caprice, and a so-called historical criticism
was proclaimed the sole scientific criticism and expounded in works of
irrelevant learning or buried beneath the preconceptions of positivists
and materialists. Those who reacted against such extremalism and
materialism generally made the mistake of supporting themselves by a
kind of intellectualistic dogmatism[37] or an empty æstheticism.[38]

[Sidenote: _Distinction between taste and genius._]

VI. We have seen that in the seventeenth century, when the words
"taste" and "genius" or "wit" were in fashion, the facts they
designated were sometimes interchanged amongst themselves and came to
be considered as one single fact, while sometimes each was conceived
as distinct in itself, genius being the faculty of production, and
taste the faculty of judgement, taste being further subdivided into
the sterile and the fertile: a terminology adopted by Muratori[39] in
Italy and Ulrich König[40] in Germany. Batteux said, "_le goût juge
des productions du génie_"[41]; and Kant speaks of defective works
having genius without taste or taste without genius, and of others in
which taste alone suffices;[42] now we find him distinguishing the two
concepts as the judging and producing faculties, now he speaks of them
as a single faculty existing in various degrees. An inherent difference
between taste and genius was accepted by later writers on Æsthetic and
assumed its most rigid form in the hands of Herbart and his followers.

[Sidenote: _Concept of artistic and literary history._]

VII. The evolutionary theory of art made its appearance towards the
end of the eighteenth century. This was the time when the distinction
between classical and romantic art was first made; a classification
later augmented by an introductory section on Oriental art, owing to
the increase of knowledge concerning the pre-Hellenic world. Towards
the end of his life Goethe told his friend Eckermann that the concepts
of classical and romantic had been formed by himself and Schiller, for
he himself had upheld the objective method in poetry, whilst Schiller,
in order to champion the subjective form to which he inclined, had
written the essay _On Naïve and Sentimental Poetry_, in which the word
naïve (_naiv_) expresses the style later called classical and the
word sentimental (_sentimentalisch)_ that later called romantic. "The
Schlegels," continues Goethe, "seized upon these ideas and disseminated
them, so that to-day everyone uses them and speaks of classical and
romantic, things perfectly unknown fifty years ago"[43] (Goethe was
speaking in 1831). Schiller's essay bears the imprint of Rousseau's
influence and is dated 1795-6.[44] It contains such statements as this:
"Poets are above all things the preservers of nature; and when they
cannot be so entirely, and have tried upon themselves the destructive
force of arbitrary and artificial forms or have fought against such
forms, they stand up to bear witness on her behalf. Poets, therefore,
either are nature or, having lost her, seek her. Hence arise two wholly
distinct kinds of poetic composition, exhausting between them the whole
field of poetry; all poets who are worthy of the name must belong,
according to the times and conditions in which they flourish, either
to the category of naïve or to that of sentimental poets." Schiller
recognized three kinds of sentimental poetry: satirical, elegiac and
idyllic; he defined a satirical poet as one "who takes as his object
the desertion of nature and the contrast of the real with the ideal."
The weak point of this division is the concept of two distinct kinds
of poetry, the reduction of the infinite forms in which poetry appears
to individuals, to two kinds. If one of these two kinds be taken the
perfect and the other as the imperfect kind, the mistake is made of
converting imperfection into a kind or species, the negative into a
positive. Wilhelm von Humboldt pointed out to his friend that if
form is the essence of art, there cannot be a kind of poetry, such
as the sentimental or romantic is supposed to be, in which matter
preponderates over form, for that would constitute a pseudo-art, not
a separate kind of art.[45] Schiller attached no historical meaning
to his classification, in fact he declared explicitly that in using
the words "ancient" and "modern" as equivalent to "ingenuous" and
"sentimental" he did not mean to deny that some "ancient" poets, in his
sense of the word, could be found among contemporary writers; the two
characters might even be united in the same poet or the same poetical
work, as (to give Schiller's own example) in _Werther_[46] The first to
assign a historical meaning to the division were Friedrich and Wilhelm
von Schlegel; the former in an early work of 1795, the latter in his
celebrated lectures on literary history given at Berlin in 1801-4. But
the two senses, systematic and historical, were variously alternated
and mixed by literary men and critics, and other distinctions were
added; "classical" was sometimes used to describe poetry of a frigid
and imitative style, while "romantic" poetry was the inspired; in some
countries the word "romantic" came to mean a political reactionary, in
Italy it stood for "liberal"; and so forth. In 1815, when Friedrich
Schlegel spoke of ancient Persian romantic poems, or when in our times
attention is called to the romanticism of the Greek, Latin or French
classics, the historical signification is lost in the theoretical, the
sense originally intended by Schiller.

But the historical sense was prevalent in German idealism, which
inclined towards the construction of a universal history, including
that of literature and art, upon a scheme of ideal evolution. Schelling
made a sharp division between pagan and Christian art; the second
being held an advance upon the former which was the lowest step.[47]
Hegel accepted this division and introduced a final regress by
dividing the history of art into three periods: symbolic (Oriental)
art, classical (Hellenic) and romantic (modern). Just as he conceived
Roman art (with its introduction of satire and other kinds indicative
of a failure to maintain harmony between form and content) as the
dissolution of classical art, a thought suggested by Schiller, so
he found in the subjective humour of Cervantes and Ariosto[48] the
dissolution of romantic art; and he regarded this series as completing
the possibilities of art, though some interpreters think that by a
self-contradiction he admitted the possibility of a fourth period, an
art of the modern or future world. Indeed amongst his disciples we
find Weiss rejecting the Oriental period in order to save the triadic
division, and placing as third the modern period, synthesis of the
ancient and the mediæval:[49] Vischer too inclines to recognize a
modern or progressive period.[50]

These arbitrary constructions reappear in the works of positivist
metaphysicians in the shape of an evolutionary or progressive history
of art. Spencer dreamed of writing some sort of treatise on the
subject, and in the published programme of his system (1860) we read
that the third volume of his _Principles of Sociology_ was to contain
amongst other things a chapter on æsthetic progress "with the gradual
differentiation of fine arts from primitive institutions and from each
other, with their increasing variety in development, their progress in
reality of expression and superiority of end." No grief need be felt
that the chapter was left unwritten when we remember the samples of it
preserved in the _Principles of Psychology_ and already reviewed in
these pages.[51]

The strong historical sense of our own day is leading us further and
further away from the evolutionary or abstractly progressive theories
which falsify the free and original movement of art. Fiedler remarked
not without justice that unity and progress cannot be introduced
into a history of art, and that the works of artists must be judged
discretely as so many fragments of the life of the universe.[52]
In recent times a remarkable student of the history of figurative
art, Venturi, has tried to bring evolutionism into fashion, and has
illustrated it in a _History of the Madonna,_ in which the presentment
of the Virgin is conceived as an organism which is born, grows, attains
perfection, grows old and dies! Others have claimed for artistic
history its true character, intolerant of outward curb and rule,
drawing her ever-varied productions from the well-head of the infinite


These hurried notes may suffice to show in how narrow a circle has
hitherto moved the scientific criticism of the errors we have called
"particular." Æsthetic needs to be surrounded and nourished by a
watchful and vigorous critical literature drawing its life from her and
forming in turn her safeguard and strength.

[1] See above, pp. 98-99.

[2] _Das Naturgefühl nach Verschiedenheit der Zeiten und Volksstämme,_
in _Cosmos,_ ii.

[3] V. Laprade, _Le Sentiment de la nature avant le christianisme,_
1866; also _chez les modernes,_ 1867; Alfred Biese, _Die Entwicklung
des Naturgefühls den Griechen und Römern,_ Kiel, 1882-1884; _Die
Entwicklung des Naturgefühls im Mittelalter und in der Neuzeit,_ 2nd
ed., Leipzig, 1892.

[4] _Kritische Gänge,_ v. pp. 5-23.

[5] _Dtsche. Ästh. s. Kant,_ pp. 217-218; cf. _Philos, d. Schönen,_ bk.
ii. ch. 7.

[6] See above, pp. 164-165.

[7] _Hippias maior, passim._

[8] _Elements of Criticism,_ introd., and cf. ch. 3.

[9] H