« IndietroContinua »
to Lessing's principle of the constancy, limits and peculiar nature of each art, and therefore held that the concepts of the individual arts were speculative and not empirical concepts, he could not evade the duty of fixing the mutual relations of these concepts, arranging them in series, subordinating and co-ordinating them, and arriving at each of them either deductively or dialectically. He ought, in order to get definitely rid of these barren attempts at classification and at discovering the supreme art, to have criticized and dissolved Lessing's principle itself: to keep the principle and deny the need for a classification, as Lotze did, was obviously inconsistent. But not a single aesthetician has ever re-examined or investigated the scientific foundation of the distinctions enunciated by Lessing in his fluent and elegant prose; no one has probed to the bottom the truth which was illumined by Aristotle in a single lightning-flash, when he refused to allow an extrinsic difference, that of metre, as the real distinction between prose and poetry :1 no one, that is to say, save Doubts in perhaps Schleiermacher, who at least called attention to the difficulties of the current doctrine. He proposed to start from the general concept of art and prove by deduction the necessity of all its forms; and after finding two sides to artistic activity, the objective consciousness (gegenstdndliche) and the immediate consciousness (««mittelbare), and observing that art stands wholly neither in the one nor in the other and that the immediate consciousness or representation (Vorstellung) gives rise to mimicry and music, while the objective consciousness or image (Bild) gives rise to the figurative arts, he then, proceeding to analyse a painting, found the two forms of consciousness to be in this case inseparable, and remarks: "Here we arrive at the precise opposite: searching for distinction, we find unity." Nor did the traditional division of the arts into simultaneous and successive seem to him very solid, for " when looked at attentively, it evaporates entirely "; in architecture or gardening, contemplation is successive, while in the arts labelled as
1 Poet. ch. 1.
successive, such as poetry, the chief thing is coexistence and grouping: "from whichever side we look at it, the difference is but secondary and the antithesis between the two orders of art merely means that every contemplation, like every act of production, is always successive, but, in thinking out the relation of the two sides in a work of art, both seem indispensable: coexistence (Zugleichsein) and successive existence (das Successivsein)." In another passage he observes: "The reality of art as external appearance is conditioned by the mode, depending on our physical and corporeal organism, in which the internal is externalised: movements, forms, words. . . . That which is common to all arts is not the external, which is rather the element of diversification." When these observations are compared with the sharp distinction he himself drew between art and technique, it would be easy to deduce that he held the partitions of the arts and the concepts of the particular arts to be devoid of aesthetic value. But Schleiermacher does not draw this logical inference, he wavers and hesitates: he recognizes the inseparability of the subjective and objective, musical and figurative, elements in poetry, yet he struggles to discover the definitions and limits of the individual arts; sometimes he dreams of a union of the various arts from which a complete art would spring; and when composing the syllabus of his lectures on Esthetic, he arranged the arts into arts of accompaniment (mimicry and music), figurative arts (architecture, gardening, painting, sculpture) and poetry.1 Nebulous, vague, contradictory as this may be, Schleiermacher had the acumen to distrust the soundness of Lessing's theory and to inquire by what right particular arts are singled out from art in general.
1 Varies. iib. Asth. pp. n, 122-129, 137, 143, 151, 167, 172, 284-286, 487-488, 508, 635.
I. Schleierniacher also rejected the concept of Natural Beauty, giving Hegel greater praise than he deserved in the matter, because Hegel's denial of this concept was, Beauty as we have seen, more verbal than real. At all events, Schleiermacher's radical denial of the existence of a natural beauty external to and independent of the human mind marked a victory over a serious error, and appears to us imperfect and one-sided only so far as it seems to exclude those aesthetic facts of imagination which are attached to objects given in nature.1 Important contributions towards the correction of this imperfect and onesided element were supplied by the historical and psychological study of the "feeling for nature," promoted successfully by Alexander Humboldt in his dissertation to be found in the second volume of Cosmos,2 and continued by Laprade, Biese, and others in our own time.3 In his criticism of his own Asthetik, Vischer completes the passage from the metaphysical construction of beauty in nature to the psychological interpretation of it, and recognizes the necessity of suppressing the section devoted to Natural Beauty in his first aesthetic system, and incorporating it with the doctrine of imagination: he says that such treatments do not belong to aesthetic science, being a medley of zoology, sentiment, fantasy and humour, worthy of development in monographs in the style of the poet G. G. Fischer's on the life of birds, or Bratranek's on the aesthetic of the vegetable world.4 Hartmann, as heir of the old metaphysics, reproaches
1 See above, pp. 98-99.
* Das Naturgefuhl nach Verschiedenheit der Zeitett und Volksstamme, in Cosmos, ii.
3 V. Laprade, Le Sentiment de la nature avant le christianisme, 1866; also chez Us modernes, 1867; Alfred Biese, Die Enttvicklung des Naturgefilhlsbei den Griechen und Romern, Kiel, 1882-1884; Die Entwicklung des NaturgefuUs im Mittelalter und in der Neuzeit, 2nd ed., Leipzig, 1892.
* Kritische Gdnge, v. pp. 5-23.
Vischer for this exclusion, and maintains that, in addition to the beauty of imagination introduced by man into natural things (hineingelegte Schonheit), there exist a formal and a substantial beauty in nature, coinciding with realisation of the immanent ends or ideas of nature.1 But the way chosen ultimately by Vischer is the only one by which Schleiermacher's thesis can be successfully developed so as to show the precise meaning which may be given to the assertion of (aesthetic) beauty in nature. The theory II. That aesthetic senses or superior senses exist and "senses.**TM tnat beauty attaches to certain senses only, not to all, is a very old opinion. We have seen already 2 that Socrates, in the Hippias maior, mentions the doctrine of beauty as "that which pleases hearing and sight" (to tca\ov earl To Si' a/cofj<: Te /cat ctyrewv r)$v): and he adds, it seems impossible to deny that we take pleasure in looking at handsome men and fine ornaments, pictures and statues with our eyes, and hearing beautiful songs or beautiful voices, music, speeches and conversations with our ears. Nevertheless Socrates himself in the same dialogue confutes this theory by perfectly valid arguments, amongst which is that, besides the difficulty arising from the fact that beautiful things may be found outside the range of the sensible impressions of eye and ear, there is no reason for creating a special class for the pleasure arising from impressions on these two senses, to the exclusion of others. He also states the more subtle and philosophical objection that that which is pleasing to the sight is not so to the hearing, and vice versa; whence it follows that the ground of beauty must not be sought in visibility or audibility, but in something differing from either and common to both.3
The problem was never again, perhaps, attacked with such acumen and seriousness as in this ancient dialogue. In the eighteenth century Home remarked that beauty depended on sight, and that impressions received by the other senses might be agreeable but were not beautiful, and distinguished sight and hearing as superior to those of touch, taste and smell, the latter being merely bodily in nature and without the spiritual refinement of the other two. He held these to produce pleasures superior to organic pleasures though inferior to intellectual; decorous pleasures, that is to say; elevated, sweet, moderately exhilarating; as far removed from the turbulence of the passions as from the languor of indolence, and intended to refresh and soothe the spirit.1 Following suggestions of Diderot, Rousseau and Berkeley, Herder drew attention to the importance of the sense of touch (Gefuhl) in plastic art: of this "third sense, which perhaps deserves to be investigated first of all, and is unjustly relegated to a place amongst the grosser senses." Certainly " touch knows nothing of surface or colour," but "sight, for its part, knows nothing of forms and configurations." Thus "touch cannot be so gross a sense as it is reputed, if it is the very organ by which we sensate all other bodies, and rules over a vast kingdom of subtle and complex concepts. As the surface stands to the body, so does sight stand in respect of touch, and it is merely a colloquial abbreviation to speak of seeing bodies as surfaces and to suppose that we see with our eyes that which we have gradually learnt in infancy simply by the sense of touch." Every beauty of form or corporeity is a concept not visible, but palpable.2 From the triad of aesthetic senses thus established by Herder (sight for painting; hearing for music; touch for sculpture), Hegel returned to the customary dyad, saying that "the sensory part of art has reference only to the two theoretic senses of sight and hearing "; that smell, taste and touch must be excluded from artistic pleasures, since they are connected with matter as such and the immediate sensible quality it may possess (smell with material volatilization; taste with material solution of objects; and touch with hot, cold, smooth and so forth); and that hence they can
1 Dtsche. Asth. s. Kant. pp. 217-218; cf. Philos. d. Schonen, bk. ii. ch. 7. * See above, pp. 164-165. 3 Hippias maior, passim.