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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.” i 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.” 2
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. 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 ; 4 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, 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. 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.” ?
1 Trattato dello stile (Rome, 1666), ch. 30. 2 Il buon gusto, pp. 12-13.
s Perf. poesia, i. ch. 18, pp. 232-233. 4 Venice, 1745.
5 Perf. poesia, i. ch. 6. & Op. cit. i. ch. 4, p. 42. ? Ragion poetica, i. ch. 7.
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 : (“poësis 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. 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.2 The sensationalism of Du Bos and other upholders Feeling and
Sensationalism. 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.3
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 De dignitate, ii. ch. 13 ; iii. ch. 1 ; iv. ch. 2 ; v. ch. 1. 2 Spectator, loc. cit. esp. pp. 487, 503. 3 Op. cit. § 2.
ÆSTHETIC IDEAS IN THE CARTESIAN AND
LEIBNITIAN SCHOOLS, AND THE "ÆS-
Cartesianism THE obscure world of wit, taste, imagination, feeling
and the je ne sais quoi was not selected for examina-
1 Letters to Balzac and the Princess Elizabeth. 2 Art poétique (1669-1674).
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."i 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.2
Cartesianism was incapable of an Esthetic of imagina- Crousaz and tion. The Traité du beau by the eclectic Cartesian André. 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. Another Cartesian, the Jesuit André (1742),4 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
1 Letters to Marquis Maffei, about 1720, in Prose e poesie, Venice, 1756, ii. p. cxx.
2 Sulzer, op. cit. i. p. 50. 3 Traité du beau (2nd ed., Amsterdam, 1724 ; Paris ed., 1810). 4 Essai sur le beau, Paris, 1741.
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 soul. The English : Like Descartes in France, Locke in England (1690) is Locke, Shaftesbury,
an intellectualist, and recognizes no form of spiritual Hutcheson elaboration save reflexion on the senses. None the less and the Scottish School.
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.” i 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. Lineal descendant of Shaftesbury was Francis Hutcheson (1723), who succeeded in popularizing the idea of an inward sense of beauty as something
1 An Essay concerning Human Understanding (French trans. in Euvres, Paris, 1854), bk. ii. ch. 11, $ 2.
Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, 1709–1711.