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universe. Vischer's work is divided into three parts: a Metaphysic of the Beautiful, which investigates the concept of Beauty in itself, no matter where and how it is realized : a treatise on concrete Beauty, which inquires into the two one-sided modes of realization, Beauty of nature and Beauty of imagination, one lacking subjective, the other lacking objective, existence : lastly, a theory of the arts, which studies the synthesis in art of the two artistic moments, the physical and psychical, the objective and subjective. It is easy to sum up Vischer's concept of æsthetic activity ; it is Hegel's concept, debased. For Vischer, Beauty belongs neither to the theoretical nor to the practical activity, but is placed in a serene sphere, superior to these antitheses; that is to say in the sphere of absolute Spirit, in company with Religion and Philosophy;? but, in contradistinction to Hegel, Vischer assigns the first place in this sphere to Religion, the second to Art, and the third to Philosophy. Much ingenuity was devoted in those days to moving these words about like pieces on a chess-board; it has been observed that of the six possible combinations of the three terms Art, Religion and Philosophy, four were actually adopted : by Schelling, P.R.A.; by Hegel, A.R.P.; by Weisse, P.A.R.; and by Vischer, R.A.P.2 But Vischer himself 3 states that Wirth, author of a System of Ethics, opted for the fifth combination, R.P.A., which leaves us but the sixth, A.P.R., unclaimed, unless (as is not improbable) some unrecognized genius seized upon it and made it the text of his system. Beauty, therefore, as the second form of the absolute Spirit, is the realization of the Idea, not as abstract concept but as union of concept and reality; and the Idea determines itself as species (Gattung), and every idea of a species, even on the lowest degree, is beautiful as being an integral part in the totality of Ideas; although the higher the degree of the idea the
1 Asth. introd. && 2-5.
greater is its beauty. Highest of all degrees is that of human personality : “in this spiritual world the Idea attains its true significance; the name of idea is given to the great moral motive powers to which the concept of species may also be applied in the sense that they stand to their restricted spheres in the same relation in which the genus stands to its species and individuals." At the head of all is the Idea of morality: “the world of moral and autonomous ends is destined to furnish the most important, the most worthy content of the Beautiful"; with the warning, however, that Beauty, in actualizing this world through intuition, excludes art having a moral tendency. So Vischer proceeds now to degrade Hegel's Idea to the simple class-concept, now to couple it with the idea of the Good ; now, in accord with the teaching of his master, to make it different from, yet superior to,
intellect and morality. Other
From the first, the Herbartian formalism was little tendencies. studied and less followed: two writers, Griepenkerl in
1827 and Bobrik in 1834, made some attempt to develop
1 A sth. $$ 15-17.
: Op. cit. $S 19-24. 3 Griepenkerl, Lehrb. d. Asth., Brunswick, 1827. Bobrik, Freie Verträge üb. A sth., Zürich, 1834.
4 Ub. d. Principien d. Ästh., Kiel, 1840.
lectual and rational thinking! The thought of a work of
The post-Hegelian metaphysical Æsthetic is chiefly Theory of the noteworthy for the fuller development of two theories nature, and or, to speak more accurately, of two very curious com- that of the binations of arbitrary assertion and fanciful caprice : the
of Beauty. so-called theory of Natural Beauty, and the theory of Modifications of the Beautiful. Neither of the two had any intimate or necessary connexion with this philosophical movement, to which they are rather linked by historical or psychological causes; by the relationship between facts of pleasure and pain and the inclination towards mysticism ; by the confusion arising from the really æsthetic (imaginative) quality of some representations wrongly described as observation of natural beauties; or by the scholastic and literary tradition of discussing these cases of pleasure and pain and extraæsthetic natural beauties in books devoted to the discussion of art. These metaphysicians were sometimes rather grotesque and remind one of the story told of Paisiello, that in the fury of composition he set even the stage directions of his libretto to music; bitten with the rage for construction and dialectic, they did not spare even the indexes of chaotic old books, but seized on them as suitable material for a dialectical exercise.
Beginning with the theory of Natural Beauty, observa- Development of tions on beautiful natural objects are found among the the first theory. inquiries of the ancient philosophers on beauty, and especially among the mystical effusions of neo-Platonists and their followers in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.3 Less frequently such questions were introduced into treatises on Poetics: Tesauro (1654) is among the first i Ges. Aufs. pp. 216-221.
2 See above, pp. 87-93. 3 See above, pp. 179-180.
who, in his Cannochiale aristotelico, discusses not only the conceits of men, but also of God, the angels, nature and animals; and somewhat later (1707) Muratori speaks of " the beauty of matter," of which examples are “ the gods, a flower, the sun, a rivulet."1 Observations on that which is outside art and is merely natural, are made by Crousaz, by André, and especially by those authors of the eighteenth century who wrote on Beauty and Art in an empirical and gallant style. It was the influence of these persons that led Kant, as we have seen, to sever the theory of beauty from that of art, specially connecting free beauty with objects of nature and those productions of man which reproduce natural beauties. When the adversary of Kant's theory of Æsthetic, Herder (1800), in his sketch of an ethical system united spirit and nature, pleasure and value, feeling and intellect, he inevitably made much of natural beauty, and affirmed that everything in nature has its own beauty, the expression of its own greatest content, and that this accounts for the ascending scale of beautiful objects: beginning with outlines, colours and tones, light and sound, and proceeding by way of flowers, water and sea, to birds, terrestrial animals, and man himself. For instance "a bird is the sum of the properties and perfections of its element, a representation of its potency, a creature of light, song and air ”; amongst terrestrial animals, the ugliest are those resembling man, as the melancholy moping monkey; the most beautiful, those of perfect build, well proportioned, noble, free in action; those which express sweetness; those, in fine, which live in harmony and
happiness, endowed with a perfection of their own, Schelling, harmless to man. Schelling, on the contrary, utterly Solger, Hegel. denies the concept of beauty in nature, and considers that
such beauty is purely accidental and that art alone supplies the norm by which it can be discovered and judged.5 Solger also excludes natural beauty ; 6 so does 1 Cannochiale arist. ch. 3 : Perfetta poesia, bk. I. chs. 6, 8.
See above, pp. 205-206, 258-261. 3 See above, pp. 275-277.
* Kaligone, op. cit. pp. 55-90. 5 System d. transcend. Ideal. part vi. $ 2. 6 Vorles. üb. A sth. p. 4.
Hegel, who distinguishes himself not by denying it but by proceeding with the utmost inconsequence to deal at length with the beautiful in nature. It is in fact not clear whether he means that really no beauty exists in nature and that man introduces it in his vision of things, or whether natural beauty really exists though inferior in degree to the beauty of art. “The beauty of art," he says, “ stands higher than that of nature ; it is beauty born and reborn by the work of the spirit, and spirit alone is truth and reality ; hence beauty is truly beauty only when it participates in spirit and is produced therefrom. Taken in this sense, the beauty of nature appears as a mere reflexion of the beauty appertaining to spirit, as an imperfect and incomplete mode, which substantially is contained within the spirit itself.” In confirmation, he adds that nobody has attempted a systematic exposition of natural beauties, whereas there actually is, from the point of view of the utility of natural objects, a materia medica. But the second chapter of the first part ! of his Æsthetic is devoted precisely to natural Beauty on the ground that, in order to grasp the idea of artistic beauty in its entirety, three stages must be traversed : beauty in general, natural beauty (whose defects show the necessity for art), and, lastly, the Idea; “the first existence of the Idea is nature, and its first beauty is natural beauty." This beauty, which is beauty for us and not for itself, has several phases, from that in which the concept is immersed in matter to the point of disappearing, such as physical facts and isolated mechanisms, to that higher phase in which physical facts are united in systems (e.g. the solar system); but the Idea first reaches a true and real existence in organic facts, in the living creature. And even the living creature is liable to the distinction between beautiful and ugly; for example, among animals, the sloth, trailing itself laboriously and incapable of animation or activity, displeases us by its apathetic somnolence; nor can beauty be found in amphibians or in many kinds of fish, or in crocodiles, or
1 Vorles. üb. Asth. I. pp. 4-5.