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effective simile) like workmen piercing a tunnel: at a certain point they must hear the voices of their companions, the philosophers of Esthetic, 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 Esthetic; and this indeed it does without leaving a residue.






THE question whether Esthetic is to be considered as an Point of view ancient or a modern science has on several occasions of this history of Esthetic. 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 criterion.1

Our view is that Esthetic 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

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.

• Rosmini, Nuovo saggio sull' origine delle idee, sections iii. and iv., where theories of knowledge are classified.


attempts towards an Esthetic, in


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.1 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.2

The Græco-Roman world presents all these fundatendencies, and mental forms of deviation: pure hedonism, moralism or pedagogism, mysticism, and together with them the Graco-Roman 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 Esthetic is an ancient or modern science, we cannot but place ourselves upon the side of those who affirm its modernity.

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 1 See above, pp. 83-84.

2 See above, p. 65.

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