Immagini della pagina

so far as it is an individual judgement, immediately accompanying intuition), since its determining reason reposes, perhaps, in the concept of that which may be regarded as the supersensible substrate of mankind.” Beauty, then, is a symbol of morality. “The subjective principle alone, that is the indeterminate idea of the supersensible in us, can be considered the only key able to unlock this faculty springing from a source we cannot fathom ; excepting by its aid, no comprehension of it can possibly be reached.” " These cautious words, and all others here used by Kant to conceal his thoughts, do not hide his tendency to mysticism. A mysticism without conviction or enthusiasm, almost in spite of himself, but very evident nevertheless. His inadequate grasp of the aesthetic activity led him to see double, even triple, and caused the unnecessary multiplication of his explanatory principles. Although he was always ignorant of the genuine nature of the aesthetic activity, he was indebted to it for suggesting to him the pure categories of space and time as the Transcendental AEsthetic ; it caused him to develop the theory of imaginative embellishment of intellectual concepts by the work of genius; finally it forced him to acknowledge a mysterious faculty of feeling, midway between theoretical and practical activity, cognitive and yet not cognitive, moral and indifferent to morality, pleasing yet wholly detached from the pleasure of the senses. Great use of this power was made by Kant's immediate successors in Germany who were delighted to find their daring speculations supported by that severe critic of experience, the philosopher of Königsberg. * Kritik d. Urth. §§ 57-59.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]

IT is well known that Schelling held the Critique of Judg- The “Critique ment to be the most important of the three Kantian .so Critiques, and that Hegel together with the great majority physical of the followers of metaphysical idealism had a special “” affection for the book. According to them the third Critique was the attempt to bridge the gulf, to resolve the antitheses between liberty and necessity, teleology and mechanism, spirit and nature : it was the correction Kant was preparing for himself, the concrete vision which dispelled the last traces of his abstract subjectivism.

The same admiration and an opinion even more F. Schiller. favourable were extended by them to Friedrich Schiller, the first to elaborate that part of Kant's philosophy and to study the third sphere which united sensibility to reason. “It was the artistic sense dwelling in his also profoundly philosophical mind,” says Hegel, “which, against the abstract infinity of Kant's thought, against his living for duty, against his conception of nature and reality, and of sense and feeling as utterly hostile to intellect, asserted the necessity and enunciated the principle of totality and reconciliation, even before it had been recognized by professed philosophers: to Schiller must be allowed the great merit of having been the first to oppose the subjectivity of Kant, and of having dared try to go beyond it.” " * - ----- -

Discussion has raged around the true relation between

* Vorles. iiber die Asthetik (2nd ed., Berlin, 1842), vol. i. p. 78.

Relations / Schiller and Kant, and it has lately been maintained that

between Schiller and Kant.

[ocr errors]

his AEsthetic was not, as would seem to be the case, derived from Kant, but from the pandynamism which, starting from Leibniz, had propagated itself in Germany through Creuzens, Ploucket and Reimarus down to Herder, who had conceived a wholly animated nature.”

`--There can be no doubt that Schiller shared Herder's

conception, as may be seen from the theosophical tone of the fragment of correspondence between Julius and Raphael and in other writings. It cannot be denied, however, that whatever personal feelings Kant may have had towards Herder, or Herder towards his former teacher (against whose Critique of Judgment he published his Kaligone, as he had replied to the Critique of Pure Reason with his Metacritica), when Kant in a somewhat dubious manner made the first step towards a reconciliation, the breach was at all events partially healed. The dispute is therefore of small importance : we shall find it more useful to observe that Schiller introduced an important correction of Kant's views when he obliterated every trace of the double theory of art and the beautiful, giving no weight to the distinction drawn between pure and adherent beauty, and finally abandoning the mechanical conception of art as consisting in beauty joined to the intellectual concept. It was certainly his own experience of active artistic work that led him to this simplification.

Schiller defined the aesthetic sphere as the sphere of play (Spiel); the unfortunate term, suggested to him partly by Some phrases of Kant, partly, perhaps, by an article on card-games by one Weisshuhn which he published in his review The Hours (Die Horen),” has given rise to the belief that he anticipated certain modern doctrines of artistic activity as the overflow of exuberant spirits, analogous with the play of children and animals. Schiller did not fail to warn his readers against such a mistaken interpretation (to which, however, he lent himself) when he begged them not to think of “games in real life, which are usually concerned with wholly material / things,” nor yet of the idle dreaming of the imagination left to itself.” The activity of the play of which he treated held the mean between the material activity of the senses, of nature, of animal instinct or passion as it is called, and the formal activity of intellect and morality. The man who plays, i.e. contemplates nature aesthetically and produces art, sees all natural objects as animated; in such a phantasmagoria mere natural necessity gives place to the free determination of the faculties; spirit.... appears as spontaneously reconciled with nature, form with matter." Beauty is life, the living form (lebende ) Gestalt); not life in the physiological sense, since beauty T does not extend throughout all physiological life, nor is it restricted to that alone : marble when worked by an artist may have a living form ; and a man, although possessed of life and form, need not be a living form.” Wherefore art must conquer nature with form : “in an artistic work of true beauty the content ought to be nil, the form everything : by form man is influenced in his - Sk entirety; by content in his separate faculties only. The true secret of great artists is that they cancel matter through form (den Stoff durch die Form vertilgt); the more imposing, overwhelming or seductive the matter is in itself, the greater its obstinacy in striving to emphasize its own particular effect, the more the spectator inclines to lose himself immediately in the matter, so much the more triumphant is the art which brings it into subjection and enforces its own sovereign power. The mind of hearer or spectator should remain perfectly free and calm ; from the magic circle of art it should issue as pure and perfect as when it left the hands of the Creator. The most frivolous object should be treated in such a manner as to enable us to pass at once to the most serious matters; and the most serious in such a way that we . may pass from them to the lightest game.” There is a fine art of passion ; a passionate fine art would be a )

The aesthetic sphere as the sphere of Play.

* Sommer, Gesch. d. Psych. u. Asth. pp. 365-432. * Danzel, Ges. Auss. p. 242.

1 Briefe üb. d. asth. Erzieh. (in Werke, ed. Goedecke), Letters 15, 27. * Op. cit. Letter 15.

contradiction in terms.” “So long as man in his early physical state passively absorbs the world of senses and simply feels it, he is one with it ; and precisely because he merely is a world there is for him as yet no world at all. Only when in his aesthetic state he places the world outside himself and contemplates it, does he detach his personality from the rest ; then a world appears to him, since he is no longer one with the world.” ” Schiller ascribed high educational value to art thus conceived as at once sensible and rational, material and formal. Not that it teaches moral precepts or excites to good actions; if it acted thus, or when it acted thus, it would at once cease, as we have seen, to be art. Determination in whatsoever direction, to the good or the bad, to pleasure or to duty, destroys the character of the aesthetic sphere, which is rather indeterminism. By means of art man frees himself from the yoke of the senses; but before putting himself spontaneously under that of reason and duty, he takes as it were a little breathing-space by staying in a region of indifference and serene contemplation. “While having no claim to promote exclusively any special human faculty, the aesthetic condition is favourable to each and all without favouritism ; and the reason why it favours none in particular is that it is the foundation of the possibility of all alike. Every other exercise gives some inclination to the soul, and therefore presupposes a special limit ; aesthetic activity alone is unlimited.” This indifference, which if not yet pure form is not pure matter, confers its educational value on art ; it opens a way to morality, not by preaching and persuading, that is to say, determining, but by making determination possible. Such is the fundamental concept of his celebrated Letters on the AEsthetic Education of Man (1795), in which Schiller took his cue from the conditions of his times and from the necessity of finding a middle way between supine acquiescence in tyranny and savage rebellion as exemplified by the revolution then raging in France.

AEsthetic education.

1 Briefe, Letter 22. * Op. cit. Letter 25.

« IndietroContinua »