Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

economic feelings, must disappear. In this last case, it is clear that it is a question, not of two terms, but of one, and inquiry as to economic feeling must be the same as that relating to economic activity. But in the other cases also, we must attend, not to the substantive, but to the adjective: the æsthetic, moral and logical character will explain the colouring of the feelings as æsthetic, moral and intellectual, whereas feeling, studied alone, will never explain those refractions and colorations.

A further consequence is, that we no longer need Meaning of cerretain the well-known distinctions between values or tain ordinary

distinctions of feelings of value, and feelings that are merely hedonistic feelings. and without value ; disinterested and interested feelings, objective feelings and feelings not objective but simply subjective feelings of approbation and of mere pleasure (cf. the distinction of Gefallen and Vergnügen in German). Those distinctions were used to save the three spiritual forms, which were recognized as the triad of the True, the Good and the Beautiful, from confusion with the fourth form, still unknown, and therefore insidious in its indeterminateness and mother of scandals. For us this triad has completed its task, because we are capable of reaching the distinction far more directly, by receiving also the selfish, subjective, merely pleasurable feelings among the respectable forms of the spirit ; and where formerly antitheses were conceived (by ourselves and others), between value and feelings, as between spirituality and naturality, henceforth we see nothing but differences between value and value.

As has already been said, feeling or the economic Value and activity presents itself as divided into two poles, positive contraries and and negative, pleasure and pain, which we can now their union. translate into useful and disuseful (or hurtful). This bipartition has already been noted above, as a mark of the activistic character of feeling, and one which is to be found in all forms of activity. If each of these is value, each has opposed to it antivalue or disvalue. Absence of value is not sufficient to cause disvalue, but activity and passivity must be struggling between themselves, with

without

out the one getting the better of the other ; hence the contradiction and disvalue of the activity that is embarrassed, impeded, or interrupted. Value is activity that unfolds itself freely : disvalue is its contrary.

We will content ourselves with this definition of the two terms, without entering into the problem of the relation between value and disvalue, that is, the problem of contraries (that is to say, whether they are to be thought of dualistically, as two beings or two orders of beings, like Ormuzd and Ahriman, angels and devils, enemies to one another; or as a unity, which is also contrariety). This definition of the two terms will be sufficient for our purpose, which is to make clear the nature of æsthetic activity, and at this particular point one of the most obscure and disputed concepts of Æsthetic :

the concept of the Beautiful. The Beautiful Æsthetic, intellectual, economic and ethical values as the value of and disvalues are variously denominated in current expression, or expression speech : beautiful, true, good, useful, expedient, just, right qualification.

and so on-thus designating the free development of spiritual activity, action, scientific research, artistic production, when they are successful; ugly, false, bad, useless, inexpedient, unjust, wrong designating embarrassed activity, the product that is a failure. In linguistic usage, these denominations are being continually shifted from one order of facts to another. Beautiful, for instance, is said not only of a successful expression, but also of a scientific truth, of an action successfully achieved, and of a moral action : thus we talk of an intellectual beauty, of a beautiful action, of a moral beauty. The attempt to keep up with these infinitely varying usages leads into a trackless labyrinth of verbalism in which many philosophers and students of art have lost their way. For this reason we have thought it best studiously to avoid the use of the word “beautiful ” to indicate successful expression in its positive value. But after all the explanations that we have given, all danger of misunderstanding being now dissipated, and since on the other hand we cannot fail to recognize that the prevailing

ՀՀ

!

LC

tendency, both in current speech and in philosophy, is to limit the meaning of the word “beautiful ” precisely to the æsthetic value, it seems now both permissible and advisable to define beauty as successful_expression, or rather, as expression and nothing more, because expression when it is not successful is not expression.

Consequently, the ugly is unsuccessful expression. The ugly, and The paradox is true, for works of art that are failures, the elements of

beauty which that the beautiful presents itself as unity, the ugly as compose il. multiplicity. Hence we hear of merits in relation to works of art that are more or less failures, that is to say, of those parts of them that are beautiful, which is not the case with perfect works. It is in fact impossible to enumerate the merits or to point out what parts of the latter are beautiful, because being a complete fusion they have but one value. Life circulates in the whole organism : it is not withdrawn into the several parts.

Unsuccessful works may have merit in various degrees, even the greatest.

The beautiful does not possess degrees, for there is no conceiving a more beautiful, that is, an expressive that is more expressive, an adequate that is more than adequate. Ugliness, on the other hand, does possess degrees, from the rather ugly (or almost beautiful) to the extremely ugly. But if the ugly were complete, that is to say, without any element of beauty, it would for that very reason cease to be ugly, because it would be without the contradiction in which is the reason of its existence. The disvalue would become non-value ; activity would give place to passivity, with which it is not at war, save when activity is really present to oppose it.

And because the distinctive consciousness of the Illusion that beautiful and of the ugly is based on the conflicts and there exist contradictions in which ästhetic activity is developed, it neither beautiis evident that this consciousness becomes attenuated to ful nor ugly. the point of disappearing altogether, as we descend from the more complicated to the more simple and to the simplest instances of expression. Hence the illusion that there are expressions neither beautiful nor ugly, those

which are obtained without sensible effort and appear

easy and natural being considered such. True æsthetic The whole mystery of the beautiful and the ugly is feelings and

reduced to these henceforth most easy definitions. Should concomitant or accidental any one object that there exist perfect æsthetic expressions feelings.

before which no pleasure is felt, and others, perhaps even failures, which give him the greatest pleasure, we must

recommend him to concentrate his attention in the ! æsthetic fact, upon that which is truly æsthetic pleasure.

Æsthetic pleasure is sometimes reinforced or rather complicated by pleasures arising from extraneous facts, which are only accidentally found united with it. The poet or any other artist affords an instance of purely æsthetic pleasure at the moment when he sees (or intuites) his work for the first time ; that is to say, when his impressions take form and his countenance is irradiated with the divine joy of the creator. On the other hand, a mixed pleasure is experienced by one who goes to the theatre, after a day's work, to witness a comedy : when the pleasure of rest and amusement, or that of laughingly snatching a nail from his coffin, accompanies the moment of true æsthetic pleasure in the art of the dramatist and actors. The same may be said of the artist who looks upon his labour with pleasure when it is finished, experiencing, in addition to the æsthetic pleasure, that very different one which arises from the thought of self-complacency satisfied, or even of the economic gain which will

come to him from his work. Instances could be multiplied. Criticism of A category of apparent æsthetic feelings has been apparent feelings.

formed in modern Æsthetic, not arising from the form, that is to say, from the works of art as such, but from their content. It has been remarked that artistic representations arouse pleasure and pain in their infinite shades of variety. We tremble with anxiety, we rejoice, we fear, we laugh, we weep, we desire, with the personages of a drama or of a romance, with the figures in a picture and with the melody of music. But these feelings are not such as would be aroused by the real fact outside art; or rather, they are the same in quality, but are quantitatively an attenuation of real things. Æsthetic and apparent pleasure and pain show themselves to be light, shallow, mobile. We have no need to treat here of these apparent feelings, for the good reason that we have already amply discussed them; indeed, we have hitherto treated of nothing but them. What are these apparent or manifested feelings, but feelings objectified, intuited, expressed? And it is natural that they do not trouble and afflict us as passionately as those of real life, because those were matter, these are form and activity; those true and proper feelings, these intuitions and expressions. The formula of apparent feelings is therefore for us nothing but a tautology, through which we can run the pen without scruple.

G

« IndietroContinua »