Immagini della pagina

Rhetoric in the schools.

deserves to be noted, this means that it is used in the
Service of logic and of science. Granted that a concept
used by a writer in a scientific sense is designated by a
definite term, it is natural that other terms found in use
by that writer on which he incidentally employs himself
to signify the same thought, become in respect to the
vocabulary fixed upon by him as true, metaphors, synec-
doches, synonyms, elliptical forms and the like. We
ourselves in the course of this treatise have several
times made use of, and intend again to make use of such
language, in order to make clear the sense of the words
we employ, or may find employed. But this proceeding,
which is of value in discussions pertaining to the criticism
of science and philosophy, has none whatever in literary
and artistic criticism. There are words and metaphors
proper to science : the same concept may be psycho-
logically formed in various circumstances and therefore
differ in its intuitional expression. When the scientific
terminology of a given writer has been established and
one of these modes fixed as correct, then all other uses
of it become improper or tropical. But in the aesthetic
fact there are none but proper words: the same intuition
can be expressed in one way only, precisely because it
is intuition and not concept.
Some, while admitting the aesthetic non-existence of
the rhetorical categories, yet make a reservation as to
their utility and the service they are supposed to render,
especially in schools of literature. We confess that we
fail to understand how error and confusion can educate
the mind to logical distinction, or aid the teaching of a
science which they disturb and obscure. Perhaps what
is meant is that such distinctions, as empirical classes,
can aid memory and learning, as was admitted above
for literary and artistic kinds. To this there is no objec-
tion. There is certainly another purpose for which the
rhetorical categories should continue to appear in schools:
to be criticized there. The errors of the past must not
be forgotten and no more said, and truths cannot be
kept alive save by making them combat errors. Unless
an account of the rhetorical categories be given, ac-
companied by a criticism of them, there is a risk of their
springing up again, and it may be said that they are
already springing up among certain philologists as the
latest psychological discoveries.
It might seem that we thus wished to deny all
bond of resemblance between different expressions and
works of art. Resemblances exist, and by means of
them, works of art can be arranged in this or that group.
But they are likenesses such as are observed among
individuals, and can never be rendered with abstract
determinations. That is to say, it would be incorrect to
apply identification, subordination, co-ordination and the
other relations of concepts to these resemblances, which
consist wholly of what is called a family likeness, derived
from the historical conditions in which the various works
have appeared and from relationship of soul among the
It is in these resemblances that lies the relative possi-
bility of translations; not as reproductions of the same
original expressions (which it would be vain to attempt),
but as productions of similar expressions more or less
nearly resembling the originals. The translation called
good is an approximation which has original value as a
work of art and can stand by itself.

of expressions.

The relative possibility of translations.

Various signi

fications of the word feeling.

Feeling as activity.

[ocr errors]


PASSING to the study of more complex concepts, where the aesthetic activity is to be considered in conjunction with other orders of facts, and showing the mode of their union or complication, we find ourselves first face to face with the concept of feeling and with those feelings that are called aesthetic. The word “feeling ” is one of the richest in meanings in philosophic terminology. We have already had occasion to meet with it once, among those used to designate the spirit in its passivity, the matter or content of art, and so as synonym of impressions. Once again (and then the meaning was altogether different), we have met with it as designating the non-logical and non-historical character of the aesthetic fact, that is to say, pure intuition, a form of truth which defines no concept and affirms no fact. But here it is not regarded in either of these two meanings, nor in the others which have also been conferred upon it to designate other cognitive forms of the spirit, but only in that where feeling is understood as a special activity, of non-cognitive nature, having its two poles, positive and negative, in pleasure and pain. This activity has always greatly embarrassed philosophers, who have therefore attempted either to deny it as activity, or to attribute it to nature, excluding it from the spirit. But both these solutions bristle with difficulties of such a kind as to prove them finally unacceptable to any one who examines them with care. For what

could a non-spiritual activity ever be, an activity of
nature, when we have no other knowledge of activity
save as spirituality, nor of spirituality save as activity ?
Nature is in this case, by definition, the merely passive,
inert, mechanical, material. On the other hand, the
negation of the character of activity to feeling is energetic-
ally disproved by those very poles of pleasure and of
pain which appear in it and manifest activity in its
concreteness, or, so to say, quivering.
This critical conclusion should place us especially in
the greatest embarrassment, for in the sketch of the
system of the spirit given above we have left no room
for the new activity of which we are now obliged to
recognize the existence. But the activity of feeling, if
it is activity, is not new. It has already had its place
assigned to it in the system that we have sketched, where,
however, it has been given another name, economic
activity. What is called the activity of feeling is nothing
but that more elementary and fundamental practical
activity which we have distinguished from the ethical
activity and made to consist of the appetition and volition
for some individual end, apart from any moral determina-
If feeling has been sometimes considered to be an
organic or natural activity, this has happened just be-
cause it does not coincide either with logical, aesthetic
or ethical activity. Looked at from the standpoint of
those three (which were the only ones admitted), it has
seemed to lie outside the true and real spirit, spirit in its
aristocracy, and to be almost a determination of nature,
or of the soul in so far as it is nature. From this too
results the truth of another thesis, often maintained,
that the aesthetic activity, like the ethical and intellectual
activities, is not feeling. This thesis is inexpugnable,
when feeling has already been understood implicitly
and unconsciously as economic volition. The view
refuted in this thesis is known as hedonism. This consists
in reducing all the various forms of the spirit to one,
which thus also loses its own distinctive character and

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

Feeling as a concomitant of every form of activity.

becomes something obscure and mysterious, like “the
night in which all cows are black.” Having brought
about this reduction and mutilation, the hedonists
naturally do not succeed in seeing anything else in any
activity but pleasure and pain. They find no sub-
stantial difference between the pleasure of art and that
of easy digestion, between the pleasure of a good action
and that of breathing the fresh air with wide-expanded
But if the activity of feeling in the sense here defined
must not be substituted for all the other forms of spiritual
activity, we have not said that it cannot accompany
them. Indeed it accompanies them of necessity, because
they are all in close relation both with one another and
with the elementary volitional form. Therefore each of
them has for concomitants individual volitions and voli-
tional pleasures and pains, known as feeling. But we
must not confound a concomitant with the principal fact,
and substitute the one for the other. The discovery of
a truth, or the fulfilment of a moral duty, produces in
us a joy which makes vibrate our whole being, which,
by attaining the aim of those forms of spiritual activity,
attains at the same time that to which it was practically
tending, as its end. Nevertheless, economic or hedonistic
satisfaction, ethical satisfaction, asthetic satisfaction, in-
tellectual satisfaction, though thus united, remain always
A question often asked is thus answered at the same
time, one which has correctly seemed to be a matter of
life or death for aesthetic science, namely, whether
feeling and pleasure precede or follow, are cause or effect
of the aesthetic fact. We must widen this question to
include the relation between the various spiritual forms,
and answer it by maintaining that one cannot talk of
cause and effect and of a chronological before and after
in the unity of the spirit. -
And once the relation above expounded is established,
all necessity for inquiry as to the nature of aesthetic,
moral, intellectual and even what was sometimes called

« IndietroContinua »