Immagini della pagina

claim no concern with the objects of art, which are obliged to keep themselves in real independence, rejecting all relation with the merely sensory. That which pleases these senses is not the beautiful of art." It was Schleiermacher once more who recognized the impossibility of disposing of the matter in this summary fashion. He refused to admit the distinction between confused senses and clear senses, and asserted that the superiority of sight and hearing over the other senses lay in the fact that the others “are not capable of any free activity, and indeed represent the maximum of passivity, whereas sight and hearing are capable of an activity proceeding from within, and are able to produce forms and notes without having received impressions from outside "; were eye and ear merely means of perception, there would be no visual or auditory arts, but they also operate as a function of voluntary movements which supply a content to the dominion of the senses. From another standpoint, however, Schleiermacher thinks that “the difference seems to be one rather of degree or quantity, and a minimum of independence must be recognized as existing in the other senses as well.” ” Vischer remains faithful to the traditional “two aesthetic senses,” “free organs and no less spiritual than sensuous,” which “have no reference to the material composition of the object,” but allow this “to subsist as a whole and work upon them.” “ Köstlin was of opinion that the inferior senses offer “nothing intuitible separate from themselves, and are only modifications of ourselves, but taste, smell and touch are not devoid of all aesthetic importance, since they assist the superior senses; without touch an image could not be recognized by the eye as being hard, resistant or rough ; without smell certain images could not be represented as sweet or scented.” " We cannot go into a detailed account of all doctrines connected with sensationalistic principles,” for all the

1 Vorles. iib. Asth. i. pp. 50-51. * Op. cit. p. 92 seqq. * Asth. i. p. 181. * Asth. pp. 80-83. * E.g. Grant Allen, Physiological AEsthetics, chs. 4 and 5.

senses are naturally accepted as aesthetic by the sensationalists, who use “aesthetic ’’ interchangeably with “ hedonistic ’’: it will suffice if we recall the “learned ’’ Kralik, who was ridiculed by Tolstoy for his theory of the five arts of taste, smell, touch, hearing and sight.” The few quotations already given show the embarrassing difficulty caused by the use of the word “aesthetic ’’ as a qualification of “sense,” compelling writers to invent absurd distinctions between various groups of senses, or to recognize all senses as being aesthetic, thus giving aesthetic value to every sensory impression, as such. No way out of this labyrinth can be found save by asserting the impossibility of effecting a union between such wholly disparate orders of ideas as the concept of the representative form of the spirit and that of particular physiological organs or a particular matter of sense-impressions.” III. A variety of the error of literary kinds is to be found in the theory of modes, forms or kinds of style (xapartsipes tos oppéoreos), considered by the ancients as consisting of three forms, the sublime, the medium and the tenuous, a tripartition due, it would seem, to Antisthenes,” modified later into subtile, robustum and floridum, or amplified into a fourfold division, or designated by adjectives of historic origin as in the Attic, Asiatic or Rhodian styles. The Middle Ages preserved the tradition of a tripartite division, sometimes giving it a curious interpretation, to the effect that the sublime style treats of kings, princes and barons (e.g. the Aeneid); the mediocre, of middle-class people (e.g. Georgics); the humble, of the lowest class (e.g. Bucolics); and the three styles were for this reason also called tragic, elegiac and comic.” It is a well-known fact that kinds in style have never ceased to afford matter for discussion in rhetorical text-books down to modern times; for instance, we find Blair distinguishing styles by such epithets as the diffuse, the * Tolstoy, What is Art 2 pp. 19-22. Kralik is the author of Weltschönheit, Versuch einer allgemeinen Asthetik, Vienna, 1894. * See above, pp. 18-20.

* Cf. Volkmann, Rhet. d. G. u. Röm. pp. 532-544. * Comparetti, Virgilio nel M. E. i. p. 172.

The theory of

kinds of style.

concise, the nervous, the daring, the soft, the elegant, the flowery, etc. In 1818 the Italian Melchiorre Delfico, in his book on The Beautiful, energetically criticized the “endless division of styles,” or the superstition “that there could be so many kinds of style"; saying that “style is either good or bad,” and adding that it is not possible “it should exist as a preconceived idea in the artist's mind,” but that “it should be the consequence of the principal idea, i.e. that conception which determines the invention and the composition.” " IV. The same error reappears in the philosophy of language, as the theory of grammatical forms or parts of speech,” first created by the sophists (Protagoras is credited with having first distinguished the gender of nouns), adopted by the philosophers, notably by Aristotle and the Stoics (the former was acquainted with two or three parts of speech, the latter with four or five), developed and elaborated by the Alexandrian grammarians in the famous and endless controversy between the analogists and the anomalists. The analogists (Aristarchus) aimed at introducing logical order and regularity into linguistic facts, and described as deviations all such as seemed to them irreducible to logical form. These they called pleonasm, ellipsis, enallage, parallage, and metalepsis. The violence thus wrought by the analogists upon spoken and written language was such that (as Quintilian tells us) some one wittily (non invenuste) remarked that it appeared to be one thing to talk Latin and quite another to talk grammar (aliud esse latine, aliud grammatice loqui).” The anomalists must be credited with restoring to language its free imaginative movement: the Stoic Chrysippus composed a treatise to prove that one thing (one same concept) may be expressed by different sounds, and one and the same sound may express different concepts (similes res dissimilibus verbis et similibus dissimiles esse vocabulis notatas). Another anomalist was the celebrated grammarian Apollonius Dyscolus, who rejected the metalepsis,

The theory of grammatical forms or parts of speech.

** * Nuove ricerche sul bello, ch. Io. * See above, pp. 145-146. * Inst. Orat. i. ch. 6.

the schemes, and the other artifices by which the analogists tried to explain facts which did not fit their categories, and pointed out that the use of one word for another, or one part of speech for another, is not a grammatical figure, but a blunder, a thing hardly to be attributed to a poet such as Homer. The upshot of the dispute between anomalists and analogists was the Science of Grammar (Téxvm opappatucis), as handed down by the ancients to the modern world, which is justly considered as a sort of compromise between the two opposed parties because, if the schemes of inflection (cavóves) satisfy the demands of the analogists, their variety satisfies those of the anomalists; hence the original definition of Grammar as theory of analogy was changed subsequently to “theory of analogy and anomaly" (ćuotov Te kai &vouotov 6eopia). The concept of correct usage, with which Varro hoped to settle the controversy, fell into the trap (common to compromises), merely stating the contradiction in set terms, like the “convenient ornament ’’ of Rhetoric or the kinds accorded a “certain licence ’’ in the literature of precept. If language follows usage (that is to say, the imagination), it does not follow reason (or logic); if it follows reason, it does not follow usage. When the analogists upheld logic as supreme at least inside the individual kinds and sub-kinds, the anomalists hastened to show that even this was not the case. Varro himself was forced to confess that “this part of the subject really is very difficult ’’ (hic locus maxime lubricus est)." In the Middle Ages grammar was cultivated to the point of superstition. Divine inspiration was found lurking in the eight parts of speech because octavus numerus frequenter in divinis scripturis sacratis invenitur,” and in the three persons of verbal conjugation, created simply “ut quod in Trinitatis fide credimus, in eloquiis inesse videdtur.”” Grammarians of the Renaissance and later recommenced the study of linguistic problems and worked to death ellipsis, pleonasm, licence, anomaly and exception ; only in comparatively recent times has Linguistic begun to question the very validity of the concept of parts of speech (Pott, Paul and others).” If they still survive, the reason may lie in the facts that empirical, practical grammar cannot do without them ; that their venerable antiquity disguises their illegitimate and shady origin; and that energetic opposition has been worn down by the fatigue of an endless war. V. The relativity of taste is a sensationalistic theory which denies a spiritual value to art. But it is rarely maintained by writers in the ingenuous categorical garb of the old adage : De gustibus non est disputandum (concerning which it would be useful to enquire when the saying was born, and what it first meant : whether, too, the word gustibus referred solely to impressions of the palate, and was only later extended to include aesthetic impressions); as though sensationalists, as if dimly conscious of the higher nature of art, have never been able to resign themselves to the complete relativity of taste. Their torments in the matter really move one to pity. “Is there,” Batteux asks, “such a thing as good taste, and is it the only good taste 2 In what does it consist 2 Upon what depend ? Does it depend upon the object itself or the genius at work upon it 2 Are there, or are there not, rules 2 Is wit alone, or heart alone, the organ of taste, or both together ? How many questions have been raised on this familiar often-treated subject, how many obscure and involved answers have been given " " This perplexity is shared by Home. Tastes, he says, must not be disputed ; neither those of the palate nor those of other senses. A remark which seems highly reasonable from one point of view ; but, from another, somewhat exaggerated. But yet how can one dispute it 2 how can one maintain that what actually pleases a man ought not to please him 2 The proposition then must be true. But no ; no man of taste will assent to it.

* For all this cf. the works of Lersch and of Steinthal, which contain the more important texts. * Comparetti, Virgilio nel M. E., i. pp. 169-17o.

Theory of asthetic criticism.

1 Pott, introd. to Humboldt, cit. Paul, Principien d. Sprachgeschichte, ch. 20. * Batteux, Les Beaux Arts, part ii. p. 54.

« IndietroContinua »