Immagini della pagina
[ocr errors]

of clear and keen analysis, constantly insists that the forms of space and time must not be applied to the idea or to artistic contemplation, which admits of the general form of representation only. From this he might have inferred that art, so far from being a superior and extraordinary level of consciousness, is actually its most immediate level, namely that which in its primitive simplicity precedes even common perception with its reference of objects to a position in the spatial and. temporal series. To free oneself from common perception and to live in imagination does not mean rising to a Platonic contemplation of the ideas, but descending once more into the region of immediate intuition, becoming children again, as Vico had seen. On the other hand Schopenhauer had begun to examine the categories of Kant with an unprejudiced eye; he was not satisfied with the two forms of intuition, and wished to add to them a third, causality. In conclusion, we note that, like his predecessors, he makes a comparison between art and history, with this difference and advantage over the idealist authors of the philosophy of history, that for him history was irreducible to concepts; it was contemplation of the individual, and therefore not science. Had he persevered in his comparison between art and history, he would have arrived at a better solution than that at which he stopped ; that is to say, that the matter of history is the particular in its particularity and contingency, while that of art is that which is, and is always identical. But instead of pursuing these happy ideas Schopenhauer preferred to play variations on the themes fashionable in his day.

Most astounding of all is the fact that a dry in- J. F. Herbart. tellectualist, the avowed enemy of idealism, of dialectic and of speculative constructions, head of the school calling itself realistic or the school of exact philosophy, Johann Friedrich Herbart, when he turns his attention

1 Welt a. W. u. V. $ 32.
2 Kritik d. kantischen Philosophie, in append. to op. cit. pp. 558-576.
3 Ergänzungen, ch. 38.

to Æsthetic, turns mystic too, though in a slightly different way. How weightily he speaks when expounding his philosophical method! Æsthetic must not bear the blame of the faults into which metaphysic has fallen; we must make it an independent study, and detach it from all hypothesis about the universe. Nor must it be confounded with psychology or asked to describe the emotions awakened by the content of works of art, „such as the pathetic or the comic, sadness or joy; its duty is to determine the essential character of art and beauty. In the analysis of particular cases of beauty and in registering what they reveal lies the way of salvation. These proposals and promises have misled numbers of people as to the nature of Herbart's Æsthetic. But ce sont jeux de princes; by paying attention we shall see what Herbart meant by analysis of particular cases

and how he held himself aloof from metaphysics. Pure Beauty Beauty, for him, consisted in relations : relations of and relations tone, colour, line, thought and will ; experience must of form.

decide which of these relations are beautiful, and ästhetic science consists solely in enumerating the fundamental concepts (Musterbegriffe) in which are summarized the particular cases of beauty. But these relations, Herbart thought, were not like physiological facts; they could not be empirically observed, e.g. in a psycho-physical laboratory. To correct this error it is only necessary to observe that these relations include not only tones, lines and colours, but also thoughts and will, and that they extend to moral facts no less than to objects of external intuition. He declares explicitly “No true beauty is sensible, although it frequently happens that sense-impressions precede and follow the intuition of beauty."i There is a profound distinction between the beautiful and the pleasant; for the pleasant needs no representation, while the beautiful consists in representation of relations, followed immediately in consciousness by a judgment, an appendix (Zusatz) which expresses unqualified ap

1 Einleitung in die Philosophie, 1813, in Werke, ed. Hartenstein, vol. 1. p. 49.

probation ("es gefällt!"). And while the pleasant and the unpleasant “in the progress of culture gradually become transient and unimportant, Beauty stands out more and more as something permanent and possessed of undeniable value."1 The judgment of taste is universal, eternal, immutable: “the complete representation (vollendete Vorstellung) of the same relations is always followed by the same judgment; just as the same cause always produces the same effect. This happens at all times and in all circumstances, conditions and complications, which gives to the particularity of certain cases the appearance of a universal rule. Granted that the elements of a relation are universal concepts, it is plain that although in judging we think only of the content of these concepts, the judgment must have a sphere as large as that common to the two concepts."? Herbart considers æsthetic judgements as a general class comprising ethical judgements as a subdivision : amongst other beauties is to be distinguished morality, as a thing not only of value in itself but as actually determining the unconditioned value of persons"; within morality in the narrowest sense is distinguished in turn justice.3 The five ethical ideas guiding moral life (internal liberty, perfection, benevolence, equity and justice) are five æsthetic ideas or rather æsthetic concepts applied to relations of will.

Herbart looks on art as a complex fact, the combina- Art as sum of tion of an extra-æsthetic element, content, which may form.

content and have logical or psychological or any other kind of value, and a purely æsthetic element, form, which is an application of the fundamental æsthetic concepts. Man looks for that which is diverting, instructive, moving, majestic, ridiculous ; and "all these are mingled with the beautiful in order to procure favour and interest for the work. The beautiful thus assumes various complexions, and becomes graceful, magnificent, tragic, or comic; it can

1 Einleitung in die Philosophie, pp. 125-128.
· Allgemeine praktische Philosophie, in Werke, viii. p. 25.
3 Einleitung, p. 128.

become all these because the æsthetic judgement, in itself calmly serene, tolerates the company of the most diverse excitations of the soul which are no part of itself.” 1 But all these things have nothing to do with beauty. In order to discover the objectively beautiful or ugly, one must make abstraction from every predicate concerning the content. “In order to recognize the objectively beautiful or ugly in poetry, one must show the difference between this and that thought, and the discussion will concern itself with thoughts; to recognize it in sculpture, one must show the difference between this and that outline, and the discussion will turn upon outlines ; to recognize it in music, one should show the difference between this and that tone, and the discussion will turn upon tones. Now, such predicates as 'magnificent, charming, graceful' and so forth contain nothing whatever about tones, outlines or thoughts, and therefore tell us nothing about the objectively beautiful in poetry, sculpture, or music ; indeed they rather lead us to believe in the existence of an objective beauty to which thought, outline, or tone are equally accidental, which may be approached by receiving impressions from poetry, sculpture, music and so forth, obliterating the object and giving oneself up to the pure emotion of mind.” Very different is the æsthetic judgement, the "cold judgement of the connoisseur " who considers exclusively form, i.e. objectively pleasant formal relations. This abstraction from the content in order to contemplate pure form is the catharsis produced by art. Content is transitory, relative, subject to moral law and liable to moral judgement : form is permanent, absolute, free.3 Concrete art may be the sum of two or more values ; but the æsthetic fact is form alone.

The reader who goes behind appearances and discounts diversities of terminology will not fail to observe the close similarity of the æsthetic doctrine of Herbart to that of Kant. In Herbart we again find the distinction between free and adherent beauty, and between form and the

1 Einleitung, p. 162. 2 Op. cit. pp. 129-130. 3 Op. cit. p. 163.

Herbart and Kantian thought.

sensuous stimulus (Reiz) attached to form : we find an affirmation of the existence of pure beauty, the object of necessary and universal, but not discursive, judgements; lastly, we find a certain connexion between beauty and morality, between Æsthetic and Ethics. In these matters Herbart is perhaps the most faithful follower and propagator of the thought of Kant, whose doctrine contains the germ of his own. In one passage he describes himself as “a Kantian, but of the year 1828”; and he is quite right, even in pointing out the exact difference in date. Amidst the errors and uncertainties of his æsthetic thought, Kant is rich in suggestion and scatters fertile seed; he belongs to a period when philosophy was still young and impressionable. Herbart, coming later, is dry and one-sided; he takes whatever is false in Kant's doctrine and hardens it into a system. If they had done little else, the Romanticists and idealists had at least united the theory of beauty to that of art, and destroyed the rhetorical and mechanical view ; and they had brought into relief (frequently exaggerating, doubtless) various important characteristics of artistic activity. Herbart restates the mechanical view, restores the duality, and presents a capricious, narrow, barren mysticism, devoid of all breath of artistic feeling.

« IndietroContinua »