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THESE relations between intuitive or aesthetic knowledge and the other fundamental or derivative forms of knowledge having been definitely established, we are now in a position to reveal the errors of a series of theories which have been, or are, presented as theories of Æsthetic. Criticism of From the confusion between the demands of art in to: general and the particular demands of history has resulted the theory (which has lost ground to-day, but was once dominant) of the probable as the object of art. As is generally the case with erroneous propositions, the meaning of those who employed and employ the concept of probability has no doubt often been much more reasonable than their definition of the word. By probability used really to be meant the artistic coherence of the representation, that is to say, its completeness and effectiveness, its actual presence. If “probable” be translated “coherent,” a very just meaning will often be found in the discussions, examples, and judgements of the critics who employ this word. An improbable personage, an improbable ending to a comedy, are really badly-drawn personages, badly-arranged endings, happenings without artistic motive. It has been said with reason that even fairies and sprites must have probability, that is to say, be really sprites and fairies, coherent artistic intuitions. Sometimes the word “possible ’ has been used instead of “probable.” As we have already remarked in passing, this word possible is synonymous with the imaginable or intuitible. Everything truly, that is to say coherently, imagined, is possible. But also, by a good many critics and theorists, the probable was taken to mean the historically credible, or that historical truth which is not demonstrable but conjecturable, not true but probable. This was the character which these theorists sought to impose upon art. Who does not remember how great a part was played in literary history by criticism based on probability, for example, censure of Jerusalem Delivered, based upon the history of the Crusades, or of the Homeric poems, upon the probable customs of emperors and kings 2 Sometimes too the aesthetic reproduction of historical reality has been imposed upon art. This is another of the erroneous forms taken by the theory of the imitation of nature. Verism and naturalism also have afforded the spectacle of a confusion of the aesthetic fact with the processes of the natural sciences, by aiming at some sort of experimental drama or romance. Confusions between the methods of art and those of the philosophic sciences have been far more frequent. Thus it has often been held to be the task of art to expound concepts, to unite an intelligible with a sensible, to represent ideas or universals; putting art in the place of science, that is, confusing the artistic function in general with the particular case in which it becomes aesthetico-logical. The theory of art as supporting theses, of art considered as an individual representation exemplifying scientific laws, can be proved false in like manner. The example, as example, stands for the thing exemplified, and is thus an exposition of the universal, that is to say, a form of science, more or less popular or vulgarizing. The same may be said of the aesthetic theory of the typical, when by type is understood, as it frequently is, the abstraction or the concept, and it is affirmed that art should make the species shine in the individual. If individual be here understood by typical, we have here too a merely verbal variation. To typify would signify, in this case, to characterize; that is, to determine and D
to represent the individual. Don Quixote is a type; but
Criticism of Continuing to correct these errors, or to clear up mis
*::::::: * understandings, we shall also remark that the symbol has
gory. - - -
sometimes been given as the essence of art. Now, if the symbol be conceived as inseparable from the artistic intuition, it is a synonym for the intuition itself, which always has an ideal character. There is no double bottom to art, but one only; in art all is symbolical, because all is ideal. But if the symbol be conceived as separable—if the symbol can be on one side, and on the other the thing symbolized, we fall back again into the intellectualist error: the so-called symbol is the exposition of an abstract concept, an allegory; it is science, or art aping science. But we must also be just toward the allegorical. Sometimes it is altogether harmless. Given the Gerusalemme liberata, the allegory was imagined afterwards; given the Adone of Marino, the poet of the lascivious afterwards insinuated that it was written to show how “immoderate indulgence ends in pain "; given a statue of a beautiful woman, the sculptor can attach a label to the statue saying that it represents Clemency or Goodness. This allegory that arrives attached to a finished work post festum does not change the work of art. What then is it 2 It is an expression externally added to another expression. A little page of prose is added to the Gerusalemme, expressing another thought of the poet ; a verse or a strophe is added to the Adone,
expressing what the poet would like to make a part of
Criticism of the theory of artistic and literary kinds.
presupposed in it, must yet go beyond them in order to
(“What is the aesthetic form of domestic life, of chivalry,
Errors derived from this theory in judgements on art.
of the idyll, of cruelty, and so forth 2 How should