Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

III

Inseparability of intellectual from intuitii knowledge.

ART AND PHILOSOPHY

The two forms of knowledge, aesthetic and intellectual or conceptual, are indeed different, but this does not altogether amount to separation and disjunction, as of two forces each pulling in its own direction. If we have shown that the aesthetic form is altogether independent of the intellectual and suffices to itself without external support, we have not said that the intellectual can stand without the aesthetic. To describe the independence as reciprocal would not be true.

What is knowledge by concepts? It is knowledge of the relations of things, and things are intuitions. Concepts are not possible without intuitions, just as intuition is itself impossible without the matter of impressions. Intuitions are: this river, this lake, this brook, this rain, this glass of water; the concept is: water, not this or that appearance and particular example of water, but water in general, in whatever time or place it be realized; the material of infinite intuitions, but of one single constant concept.

But the concept, the universal, if it be no longer intuition in one respect, is intuition in another respect, and cannot fail of being intuition. The man who thinks has impressions and emotions, in so far as he thinks. His impression and emotion will be not love or hate, not the passion of the man who is not a philosopher, not hate or love for certain objects and individuals, but the effort of his thought itself, with the pain and the joy, the love and the hate joined to it. This effort cannot but assume an intuitive form, in becoming objective to the spirit. To speak is not to think logically; but to think logically is also to speak.

That thought cannot exist without speech, is a truth criticism of generally admitted. The negations of this thesis are all '<£n"i0/ founded on equivocations and errors.

The first of the equivocations is that of those who observe that one can likewise think with geometrical figures, algebraical numbers, ideographic signs, without any word, even pronounced silently and almost insensibly within one; that there are languages in which the word, the phonetic sign, expresses nothing, unless the written sign also be examined, and so on. But when we said "speak," we intended to employ a synecdoche, by which was to be understood "expression " in general, for we have already remarked that expression is not only so-called verbal expression. It may or may not be true that certain concepts may be thought without phonetic manifestations. But the very examples adduced to show this also prove that those concepts never exist without expressions.

Others point out that animals, or certain animals, think and reason without speaking. Now as to how, whether, and what animals think, whether they be rudimentary men, like savages who refuse to be civilized, rather than physiological machines, as the old spiritualists maintained, are questions that do not concern us here. When the philosopher talks of animal, brutal, impulsive, instinctive nature and the like, he does not base himself on such conjectures as to dogs or cats, lions or ants; but upon observations of what is called animal and brutal in man: of the animal side or basis of what we feel in ourselves. If individual animals, dogs or cats, lions or ants, possess something of the activity of man, so much the better, or so much the worse, for them. This means that in respect to them also we must talk, not of " nature " as a whole, but of its animal basis, as being perhaps larger and stronger in them than the animal basis of man. And if we suppose that animals think and form concepts, what kind of conjecture would justify the assertion that they do so without corresponding expressions? Analogy with man, knowledge of the spirit, human psychology, the instrument of all our conjectures as to animal psychology, would constrain us on the contrary to suppose that if they think in any way, they also somehow speak.

Another objection is derived from human psychology, and indeed literary psychology, to the effect that the concept can exist without the word, for it is certainly true that we all know books well thought and ill written: that is to say, a thought which remains beyond the expression, or notwithstanding faulty expression. But when we talk of books well thought and ill written, we cannot mean anything but that in such books are parts, pages, periods or propositions well thought and well written, and other parts (perhaps the least important) ill thought and ill written, not really thought and so not really expressed. Where Vico's Scienza nuova is really ill written, it is also ill thought. If we pass from the consideration of big books to a short sentence, the error or inaccuracy of such a contention will leap to the eyes. How could a single sentence be clearly thought and confusedly written?

All that can be admitted is that sometimes we possess thoughts (concepts) in an intuitive form, which is an abbreviated or rather peculiar expression, sufficient for us, but not sufficient to communicate it easily to any other given person or persons. Hence it is incorrect to say that we have the thought without the expression; whereas we should rather say that we have, indeed, the. expression, but in such a form that it is not easy to communicate itjto others. This, however, is a very variable, relative~"fact. There are always those who catch our thought on the wing, prefer it in this abbreviated form, and would be wearied by the greater development of it required by others. In other words, the thought considered abstractly and logically will be the same; but aesthetically we are dealing with two different intuitionexpressions, into which different psychological elements enter. The same argument suffices to destroy, that is,

to interpret correctly, the altogether empirical distinction between an internal and an external language.

The most lofty manifestations, the summits of in- Art and tellp.ctiiat and of intuitive knowledge shining^ jrom_aiar, sctmceare called, as we know, Art and Science. Art and Science, then, are different and yet linked together; they meet on one side, which is the aesthetic side. Every scientific work is also a work of art. The aesthetic side may remain little noticed when our mind is altogether taken up with the effort to understand the thought of the man of science and to examine its truth. But it is no longer unnoticed when we pass from the activity of understanding to that of contemplation and see that thought either develop itself before us, limpid, exact, well-shaped, without superfluous or insufficient words; with appropriate rhythm and intonation; or confused, broken, embarrassed, tentative. Great thinkers are sometimes called great writers, while other equally great thinkers remain more or less fragmentary writers even if their fragments have the scientific value of harmonious, coherent, and perfect works.

We pardon thinkers and men of science their literary mediocrity. The fragments, the flashes, console us for the whole, because it is far easier to recover the wellarranged composition from the fragmentary work of genius, to liberate the flame latent in the spark, than to achieve the discovery of genius. But how can we pardon mediocre expression in pure artists ?" Mediocribus esse poetis non di, non homines, non concessere columnae." The poet or painter who lacks form, lacks everything, because he lacks himself. Poetical material permeates the souls of all: tne expression alone, that is to say, the fo1m, makes the poet. And here appears the truth of content and the view which denies all content to art, just the intellectual concept being understood as content. In this Prose and sense, when we take " content " as equal to "concept " poetryit is most true, not only that art does not consist of content, but also that it has no content.

The distinction between poetry and prose also cannot

The relation of first and second degree.

Non-existence of other forms of knowledge.

Historicity. Its identity with and difference from art.

be justified, save as that between art and science. It was seen in antiquity that such distinction could not be founded on external elements, such as rhythm and metre, or on rhymed or unrhymed form; that it was, on the contrary, altogether internal. Poetry is the language of feeling, prose of the. intellect; but since the inlellect_is also feeling, in its concreteness and reality, allj>rpsejias ItsjxJeEical side.

The relation between intuitive knowledge or ex^

between

pression and intellectual knowledge or concej

art and science, poetr^rlmd^prose, cannot be otherwise

({defined than by saying that it is one of double degree.

'/The first degree is the expression^ the second the concept: the first can stand without the second, but the second cannot stand without the first. There is poetry without prose, but not prose without poetry. jSxpression. indeed. is the first affirmation of human Activity. Poetry is "the mother tongue of the human race "; the first men "were by nature sublime poets." We assert this in another way, when we observe that the passage from soul to spirit, from animal to human activity, is effected by means of language. And this should be said of intuition or expression in general. But to us it appears somewhat inaccurate to define language or expression as an intermediate link between nature and humanity, as though it were a mixture of both. Where humanity appears, the other has already disappeared; the man who expresses himself, certainly emerges from the state of nature, but" he really does emerge: he does not stand half within and half without, as the use of the phrase " intermediate link " would imply.

The cognitive spirit has no form other than these two. Expression and concept exhaust it completely. The whole speculative life of man is spent in passing from one to the other and back again.

Historicity is incorrectly held to be a third theoretical form. Historicity is not form, but content: as form, it is nothing but intuition or aesthetic fact. History does not seek for laws nor form concepts; it employs neither

« IndietroContinua »