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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 life.
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 aesthetices, 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 contemplation.
TASTE AND THE REPRODUCTION OF ART
Æsthetic judgement. Its identity with æsthetic reproduction.
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 it? To reproduce it in oneself, answer the critics of art, almost with one voice. Very good. Let us try thoroughly to understand this fact, and with that object in view, let us represent it schematically.
The individual A is seeking the expression of an impression which he feels or 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.
It may be observed that we have not taken into con- Impossibility sideration two other cases : that of A having a clear and of divergences. 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
Identity of taste and genius.
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.
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. Let us remark in passing that what has been said of Analogy with
. the æsthetic judgement holds good equally for every other other activities. 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