Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

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 subjectmatter 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-ästhetic 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, Michael Angelo and Raphael. 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. Identity of But although Æsthetic as science of expression has Linguistic and been studied by us in its every aspect, it remains to justify Æsthetic.

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.

The problems which Linguistic tries to solve, and the Esthetic errors in which Linguistic has been and is involved, are of linguistic

formulation the same that respectively occupy and complicate problems.

Nature of Æsthetic. If it be not always easy, it is on the other hand

language. 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 onomatopeia, 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 onomatopoists, 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 onomatopeia and convention. This doctrine is altogether worthy of the philosophical decadence of the second half of the nineteenth

century. Origin of We must here note an error into which have fallen language

those very philologists who have best discerned the development. 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

and its

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.

The question of the distinction between the æsthetic Relation and the intellectual fact appears in Linguistic as that of between the relations between Grammar and Logic. This problem and Logic. 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.

If we look at a picture which for instance portrays Grammatical a man walking on a country road we may say: “This kinds of parts

of speech. 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. 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

By

L

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 verb.

Linguistic also discovered the irreducible individuality ality of speech of the æsthetic fact, when it affirmed that the word is classification what is really spoken, and that two truly identical words of languages.

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 mothertongue into the so-called foreign tongue.

But the attempt to classify languages ill agrees with

The individu

and the

« IndietroContinua »