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the colourless signs and labels of everyday life, and help others (non-artists) to catch a glimpse of what they themselves see, employing for this purpose colours, forms, rhythmic connexions of words, and those rhythms of life and breath even more intimate to man, the sounds and notes of music.
A healthy return to Baumgarten, a revival and correc- Attempts to tion of the old philosopher's theories in the light of later '/"umgarien discoveries, might perhaps have given ^Esthetic some c. Hermann. assistance, after the collapse of the old idealistic metaphysic, towards thinking the concept of art in its universality and discovering its identity with pure and true intuitive knowledge. But Conrad Hermann, who preached the return to Baumgarten 1 in 1876, did bad service to what might have been a good cause. According to him ^Esthetic and Logic are normative sciences; but Logic does not contain, as does ^Esthetic, "a definite category of external objects exclusively and specifically adequate to the faculty of thought "; and on the other hand "the products and results of scientific thought are not so external and sensibly intuitive as those of artistic invention." Logic and ^Esthetic alike refer not to the empirical thinking and feeling of the soul, but to pure and absolute sensation and thought. Art constructs a representation standing midway between the individual and the universal. Beauty expresses specific perfection, the essential or, so to speak, the rightful (seinsollend) character of things. Form is " the external sensible limit, or mode of appearance of a thing, in opposition to the kernel of the thing itself and to its essential and substantial content." Content and form are both aesthetic, and the aesthetic interest concerns the entirety of the beautiful object. The artistic activity has no special organ such as thought possesses in speech. The aesthetician, like the lexicographer, has the task of compiling a dictionary of tones and colours and of the different meanings which may possibly be attached to them.2 We can see that Hermann
1 Conrad Hermann, Die Asthetik in ihrer Geschichte und als wissenschaftliches System, Leipzig, 1876. 2 Die Asthetik, etc., passim.
accepted side by side the most inconsistent propositions. He welcomes even the aesthetic law of the golden section, and applies it to tragedy; the longer segment of the line is the tragic hero; the punishment which overtakes him (the entire line) exceeds his crime in the same proportion in which he oversteps the common measure (the shorter segment of the line).1 It reads almost like a joke.
Without direct reference to Baumgarten, a proposal that ^Esthetic be reformed and treated as the " science of intuitive knowledge " was made in a miserable little work by one Willy Nef (18g8),2 who makes the dumb animals share his " intuitive knowledge," in which he distinguishes a formal side (intuition) and a material side or content (knowledge), and considers the everyday relations between men, their games and their art, as belonging to intuitive knowledge.
Eclecticism. The English historian of ^Esthetic, Bosanquet (1892) B. Bosanquet. tried to find a reconciliation between content and form in unity of expression. "Beauty," says Bosanquet in the Introduction to his History, " is that which has characteristic and individual expressiveness for sensuous perception or imagination, subject to the conditions of general or abstract expressiveness by the same means." In another passage he observes: "The difficulty of real .(Esthetic is to show how the combination of decorative forms in characteristic representations, by intensifying the essential character immanent in them from the beginning, subordinates them to a central signification which stands to their complex combination as their abstract signification stands to each one of them taken singly." 3 But the problem, as propounded in a way suggested by the antithesis between the two schools (contentism and formalism) of German ^Esthetic, is in our opinion insoluble. De Sanctis founded no school of aesthetic science
expression: m Italy. His thought was quickly misunderstood and
present state. '" l
1 Die Asthetik, § 56.
1 Willy Nef, Die Asthetik als Wissenschaft der anschaulichen Erkemtniss, Leipzig, 1898.
* A History of /Esthetics, pp. 4-6, 372, 391, 447, 458, 466.
mutilated by those who presumed to correct it, and, in
fact, only returned to the outworn rhetorical conception
of art as consisting of a little content and a little form.
Only within the last ten years has there been a renewal of
philosophical studies, arising out of discussions concerning
the nature of history 1 and the relation in which it stands
to art and science, and nourished by the controversy
excited by the publication of De Sanctis' posthumous
•works.2 The same problem of the relation between
history and science, and their difference or antithesis,
reappeared also in Germany, but without being put in its
true connexion with the problem of ^Esthetic.3 These
inquiries and discussions, and the revival of a Linguistic
impregnated by philosophy in the work of Paul and some
others, appear to us to offer much more favourable ground
for the scientific development of ^Esthetic than can be
found on the summits of mysticism or the low plains of
positivism and sensationalism. XIX
1 B. Croce, La storia ridotta sotto il concetto generate dell' arte, 1893 (2nd ed. entitled // concetto della storia nelle sue relazioni col concetto dell' arte, Rome, 1896); P. R. Trojano, La storia come scienza sociale, vol. i., Naples, 1897; G. Gentile, // concetto della storia (in Crivellucci's Studi storici, 1889); see also F. de Sarlo, 77 problema estetico, in Saggi di filosofia, vol. ii., Turin, 1897; and by same author, / dati dell' esperienza psichica, Florence, 1903, concluding chapter.
* La letteratura italiana nel secolo XIX, edited by B. Croce, Naples, 1896; also Scritti vari, ed. Croce, Naples, 1898, 2 vols.
3 H. Rickert, Die Grenzen der naturwissenschaftlichen Begriffsbildung, Freiburg i. B., 1896-1902.
HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF SOME PARTICULAR
Result of the We have reached the end of our history. Having passed in review the travail and doubt through which the discovery of the aesthetic concept was achieved, the vicissitudes first of neglect, then of revival and rediscovery to which it was exposed, the various oscillations and failures in its exact determination, the resurrection, triumphant and overwhelming, of ancient errors supposed to be dead and buried; we may now conclude, without appearing to assert anything unproven, that of ^Esthetic in the proper sense of the word we have seen very little, even including the last two centuries' active research. Exceptional intellects have hit the mark and have supported their views with energy, with logic, and with consciousness of what they were doing. It would no doubt be possible to extract many true affirmations leading to the same point of view from the works of non-philosophical writers, art-critics and artists, from commonly received opinions and proverbial sayings; such a collection would show that this handful of philosophers does not stand alone, but is surrounded by a throng of supporters and is in perfect agreement with the general mind and universal common sense. But if Schiller was right in saying that the rhythm of philosophy is to diverge from common opinion in order to return with redoubled vigour, it is evident that such divergence is necessary, and constitutes the growth of science, which is science itself. During this tedious process ^Esthetic made mistakes which were
at once deviations from the truth and attempts to reach it: such were the hedonism of the sophists and rhetoricians of antiquity and of the sensationalists of the eighteenth and second half of the nineteenth century; the moralistic hedonism of Aristophanes, of the Stoics, of the Roman eclectics, of the mediaeval and Renaissance writers; the ascetic and logical hedonism of Plato and the Fathers of the Church, of some mediaeval and even some quite moder n rigorists; and finally, the aesthetic mysticism which first appeared in Plotinus and reappeared again and again until its last and great triumph in the classical period of German philosophy. In the midst of these variously erroneous tendencies, ploughing the field of thought in every direction, a tenuous golden rivulet seems to flow, formed by the acute empiricism of Aristotle, the forceful penetration of Vico, the analytical work of Schleiermacher, Humboldt, De Sanctis and others who echoed them with weaker voice. This series of thinkers suffices to remind us that aesthetic science no longer remains to be discovered; but at the same time the fact that they are so few and so often despised, ignored or controverted, proves that it is in its infancy.
The birth of a science is like that of a living being : History of its later development consists, like every life, in fighting the difficulties and errors, general and particular, which scientific lurk in its path on every side. The forms of error are numerous in the extreme and mingle with each other and errors with the truth in complications equally numerous: root out one, another appears in its stead; the uprooted ones also reappear, though never in the same shape. Hence the necessity for perpetual scientific criticism and the impossibility of repose or finality in a science and of an end to further discussion. The errors which may be described as general, negations of the concept of art itself, have been touched on from time to time in the course of this History; whence it may be gathered a simple affirmation of the truth has not always been accompanied by any considerable recapture of enemy territory. As to what we have called particular errors, it is clear that