« IndietroContinua »
or some amusing illustration from contemporary life, in the midst of a most profound and serious argument. This spirit of mirth is a sign of superiority. He who is not sure of himself can spare no energy for the making of mirth. Croce loves to laugh at his enemies and with his friends. So the philosopher of Naples sits by the blue gulf and explains the universe to those who have ears to hear. “One can philosophize anywhere,” he says—but he remains significantly at Naples.
Thus I conclude these brief remarks upon the author of the AEsthetic, confident that those who give time and attention to its study will be grateful for having placed in their hands this pearl of great price from the diadem of the antique Parthenope.
THE ATHENAEUM, PALL MALL,
NOTE BY THE TRANSLATOR TO THE SECOND ENGLISH EDITION
THIS second edition of the AEsthetic will be found to contain the complete translation of the historical portion, which I was obliged to summarize in the first edition. I have made a number of alterations and some additions to the theoretical portion, following closely the fourth (definitive) Italian edition, and in so doing have received much advice and assistance of value from Mrs. Salusbury, to whom I beg to tender my best thanks. I trust that this new edition will enable all those desirous of studying the work to get into direct touch with the thought of the author.
THE ATHENAEUM, PALL MALL, S.W.,
THIS volume is composed of a theoretical and of a historical part, which form two independent but complementary books. The nucleus of the theoretical part is a memoir, bearing the title Fundamental Theses of an AEsthetic as Science of Expression and General Linguistic, which was read at the Accademia Pontaniana of Naples during the sessions of February 18 and May 6, 1900, and printed in vol. xxx. of its Acts. The author has added few substantial variations, but not a few additions and amplifications in rewriting it, also following a somewhat different sequence with a view to rendering the exposition more plain and easy. The first five chapters only of the historical portion were inserted in the Neapolitan review Flegrea (April 1901), under the title Giambattista Vico, First Discoverer of Æsthetic Science, and these also reappear amplified and brought into harmony with the rest. The author has dwelt, especially in the theoretical part, upon general questions which are side-issues in respect to the theme that he has treated. But this will not seem a digression to those who remember that, strictly speaking, there are no particular philosophical sciences, standing by themselves. Philosophy is unity, and when we treat of AEsthetic or of Logic or of Ethics, we treat always of the whole of philosophy, although illustrating for didactic purposes only one side of that inseparable unity. In like manner, owing to this intimate connexion of all the parts of philosophy, the uncertainty and misunderstanding as to the aesthetic activity, the representative and productive imagination, this firstborn of the spiritual activities, mainstay of the others, generates everywhere else misunderstandings, uncertainties and errors: in Psychology as in Logic, in History as in the Philosophy of Practice. If language is the first spiritual manifestation, and if the aesthetic form is language itself, taken in all its true scientific extension, it is hopeless to try to understand clearly the later and more complicated phases of the life of the spirit, when their first and simplest moment is ill known, mutilated and disfigured. From the explanation of the aesthetic activity is also to be expected the correction of several concepts and the solution of certain philosophic problems which generally seem to be almost desperate. Such is precisely the spirit animating the present work. And if the present attempt and the historical illustrations which accompany it may be of use in winning friends to these studies, by levelling obstacles and indicating paths to be followed; if this happen, especially here in Italy, whose aesthetic traditions (as has been demonstrated in its place) are very noble, the author will consider that he has gained his end, and one of his keenest desires will have been satisfied.