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How could we better take a smiling leave of metaphysical AEsthetic in the German manner than by recording this quaint vernacular version of it made by Tari, that kindly little old man, “the last jovial high-priest of an arbitrary and confused AEsthetic " ? "
* V. Pica, L’Arte dell' Estremo Oriente, Turin, 1894, p. 13.
Positivism and Evolutionism.
THE ground lost by idealistic metaphysic was con-
Useful and the Beautiful (1852–1854), he shows how the useful becomes beautiful when it ceases to be useful, illustrating this by a ruined castle useless for the purposes of modern life, but a suitable scene for picnic parties and a good subject for a picture to hang on a parlour wall; which leads him to identify the principle of evolution from the useful to the beautiful as contrast. In another essay on the Beauty of the Human Face (1852) he explains this beauty as a sign and effect of moral goodness; in that on Grace (1852) he considers the sentiment of the graceful as sympathy for power in conjunction with agility. In the Origin of Architectural Styles (1852–1854) he discovers the beauty of architecture as consisting in uniformity and symmetry, an idea which is aroused in a man looking at the bodily equilibrium of the higher animals or, as in Gothic architecture, by analogy with the vegetable kingdom ; in his essay on Style, he places the cause of stylistic beauty in economy of effort; in his Origin and Function of Music (1857) he theorizes on music as the natural language of the passions, adapted to increase sympathy between men." In his Principles of Psychology, he maintains that the aesthetic feelings arise from the overflow of exuberant energy in the organism, and distinguishes various degrees of them, from simple sensation to that accompanied by representative elements, and so on until perception is reached, with more complex elements of representation, then emotion, and, last of all, that state of consciousness which transcends sensation and perception. The most perfect form of aesthetic feeling is attained by the coincidence of the three orders of pleasures, a coincidence produced by the full action of their respective faculties with the least possible subtraction due to the painful effect of excessive activity. But it is very rarely that we experience aesthetic excitement of this kind and strength ; almost all works of art are imperfect because they contain a mixture of artistic with anti-artistic effects; now the technique is unsatisfactory, now the emotion is of a low order. These works of art which are universally admired, are found when measured by this criterion to deserve a lower place than that accorded them by popular taste. “Beginning with the Greek epic and the representations of analogous legends given by their sculptors, tending to excite egoistic or ego-altruistic sentiments, and passing through the literature of the Middle Ages, equally impregnated with inferior sentiments, then through the works of the old masters, whose ideas and sentiments seldom compensate for the displeasing effect they inflict on our senses overrefined in study of appearances; and coming at last to the vaunted works of modern art, excellent for technical execution in many cases but deplorable for the emotions they arouse and express, such as Gérôme's battle-pieces, alternately sensual and sanguinary;-they are all far off indeed from the qualities deemed desirable, from the artistic forms corresponding to the highest forms of aesthetic feeling.”" These last critical denunciations, like the theories noticed above, are mere substitutions of one word for another; “facility" for “grace ’’; “economy" for “beauty,” and so on. Indeed, when one tries to define the exact philosophical position of Spencer, one can only possibly say that he wavers between sensationalism and moralism, and is never for a moment conscious of art as art. The same oscillation is noticeable in other English writers such as Sully and Bain, in whom, however, we find more familiarity with works of art.” In his numerous essays and in Physiological AEsthetics (1877), Grant Allen collected a great many records of physiological experiments, all of which may be of supreme value to physiology, for aught we know to the contrary, but most assuredly are worthless from the point of view of AEsthetic. He keeps to the distinction between necessary or vital activity * Principles of Psychology, 1855; 2nd ed. 1870, part viii. ch. 9,
* Essays, Scientific, Political, and Speculative, 1858–1862.
Physiologists of Æsthetic. Grant Allen, Helmholtz, and others.
* J. Sully, Outlines of Psychology, London, 1884; Sensation and Intuition, Studies in Psychology and Æsthetics, London, 1874; cf. Encycl. Britannica, ed. 9, art. “AEsthetics”; Alex. Bain, The Emotions and the Will, London, 1859, ch. I4.
and the superfluous or that of play, and defines aesthetic
Helmholtz, Principes scientifiques des beaux arts, Fr. ed., Paris, 1881;
Method of the natural sciences in AEsthetic.