« IndietroContinua »
effective simile) like workmen piercing a tunnel : at a certain point they must hear the voices of their companions, the philosophers of AEsthetic, 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 AEsthetic; and this indeed it does without leaving a residue.
AESTHETIC IDEAS IN GRAECO-ROMAN
THE question whether Æsthetic is to be considered as an
Point of view of this history of Æsthetic.
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 intel
lectual, 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 * in an analogous case, we shall be
* 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.
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 aesthetic 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." 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.” The Graeco-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 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
Mistaken tendencies, and attempts towards an Æsthetic, in Graco-Roman antiquity.
* See above, pp. 83-84. * See above, p. 65.