Immagini della pagina

or place it be realized; the material of infinite intuitions, but of one single and constant concept.

However, the concept, the universal, if it be no longer intuition in one respect, is in another respect intuition, and cannot fail of being intuition. For the man who thinks has impressions and emotions, in so far as he thinks. His impression and emotion will not be love or hate, but the effort of his thought itself, with the pain and the joy, the love and the hate joined to it. This effort cannot but become intuitive in form, in becoming objective to the mind. To speak, is not to think logically; but to think logically is, at the same time, to speak.

negations of

That thought cannot exist without speech, Critique of the is a truth generally admitted. The negations of this thesis." this thesis are all founded on equivoques and


The first of the equivoques is implied by those who observe that one can likewise think with geometrical figures, algebraical numbers, ideographic signs, without a single word, even pronounced silently and almost insensibly within one. They also affirm that there are languages in which the word, the phonetic sign, expresses nothing, unless the written sign also be looked at. But when we said "speech," we intended to

employ a synecdoche, and that "expression " generically, should be understood, for expression, is not only so-called verbal expression, as we have already noted. It may be admitted that certain concepts may be thought without phonetic manifestations. But the very examples adduced to show this also prove that those concepts never exist without expressions.

Others maintain that animals, or certain animals, think or reason without speaking. Now as to how, whether, and what animals think, whether they be rudimentary, half-savage men resisting civilization, rather than physiological machines, as the old spiritualists would have it, are questions that do not concern us here. When the philosopher talks of animal, brutal, impulsive, instinctive nature and the like, he does not base himself on conjectures as to these facts concerning dogs or cats, lions or ants; but upon observations of what is called animal and brutal in man: of the boundary or animal basis of what we feel in ourselves. If individual animals, dogs or cats, lions or ants, possess something of the activity of man, so much the better, or so much the worse for them. This means that as regards them also we must talk, not of their nature as a whole, but of its animal

basis, as being perhaps larger and more strong than the animal basis of man. And if we suppose that animals think, and form concepts, what is there in the line of conjecture to justify the admission that they do so without corresponding expressions? The analogy with man, the knowledge of the spirit, human psychology, which is the instrument of all our conjectures as to animal psychology, would oblige us to suppose that if they think in any way, they also have some sort of speech.

It is from human psychology, that is, literary psychology, that comes the other objection, to the effect that the concept can exist without the word, because it is true that we all know books that are well thought and badly written: that is to say, a thought which remains thought beyond the expression, notwithstanding the imperfect expression. But when we talk of books well thought and badly written, we cannot mean other than that in those books are parts, pages, periods or propositions well thought out and well written, and other parts (perhaps the least important) ill thought out and badly written, not truly thought out and therefore not truly expressed. Where Vico's Scienza nuova is really ill written, it is also ill thought out. If we pass from the considera

tion of big books to a short proposition, the error or the imprecision of this statement will be recognized at once. How could a proposition be clearly thought and confusedly written out?

All that can be admitted is that sometimes we possess thoughts (concepts) in an intuitive form, or in an abbreviated or, better, peculiar expression, sufficient for us, but not sufficient to communicate it with ease to another or other definite individuals. Hence people say inaccurately, that we have the thought without the expression; whereas it should properly be said that we have, indeed, the expression, but in a form that is not easy of social communication. This, however, is a very variable and altogether relative fact. There are always people who catch our thought on the wing, and prefer it in this abbreviated form, and would be displeased with the greater development of it, necessary for other people. In other words, the thought considered abstractly and logically will be the same; but æsthetically we are dealing with two different intuition-expressions, into both of which enter different psychological elements. The same argument suffices to destroy, that is, to interpret correctly, the altogether empirical distinction between an internal and an external language.


The most lofty manifestations, the summits Art and of intellectual and of intuitive knowledge shining from afar, are called, as we know, Art and Science. Art and Science, then, are different and yet linked together; they meet on one side, which is the æsthetic side. Every scientific work is also a work of art. The aesthetic side may remain little noticed, when our mind is altogether taken up with the effort to understand the thought of the man of science, and to examine its truth. But it is no longer concealed, when we pass from the activity of understanding to that of contemplation, and behold that thought either developed before us, limpid, exact, wellshaped, without superfluous words, without lack of words, with appropriate rhythm and intonation; or confused, broken, embarrassed, tentative. Great thinkers are sometimes termed great writers, while other equally great thinkers remain more or less fragmentary writers, if indeed their fragments are scientifically to be compared with harmonious, coherent, and perfect works.

We pardon thinkers and men of science their literary mediocrity. The fragments console us for the failure of the whole, for it is far more easy to recover the well-arranged composition from the fragmentary work of genius than to

« IndietroContinua »