Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

should be applied only to creators of æsthetic expression or also to men of scientific research and of action would be a mere question of words. To observe, on the other hand, that "genius," of whatever kind it be, is always a quantitative conception and an empirical distinction, would be to repeat what has already been explained as

regards artistic genius. Non-existence A fifth form of spiritual activity does not exist. It of a fifth form would be easy to show how all the other forms either do Law ; not possess the character of activity, or are verbal variants sociability.

of the activities already examined, or are complex and derivative facts, in which the various activities are mingled, and are filled with particular and contingent contents.

The juridical fact, for example, considered as what is called objective law, is derived both from the economic and from the logical activities. Law is a rule, a formula (whether oral or written matters little here) in which is fixed an economic relation willed by an individual or by a community, and this economic side at once unites it with and distinguishes it from moral activity. Take another example. Sociology (among the many meanings the word bears in our times) is sometimes conceived as the study of an original element, which is called sociability. Now what is it that distinguishes sociability, or the relations which are developed in a meeting of men, and not in a meeting of sub-human beings, if it be not just the various spiritual activities which exist among the former and which are supposed not to exist, or to exist only in a rudimentary degree, among the latter ? Sociability, then, far from being an original, simple, irreducible conception, is very complex and complicated. A proof of this would be the impossibility, generally recognized, of enunciating a single law which could be described as purely sociological. Those that are improperly so called are shown to be either empirical historical observations, or spiritual laws, that is to say judgements into which the conceptions of the spiritual activities are translated, when they are not simply empty

and indeterminate generalities, like the so-called law of evolution. Sometimes, too, nothing more is understood by “sociability” than

than “social rule," and so law; thus confounding sociology with the science or theory of law itself. Law, sociability, and similar concepts, are to be dealt with in a mode analogous to that employed by us in the consideration and analysis of historicity and technique.

It may seem that religious activity should be judged Religion. otherwise. But religion is nothing but knowledge, and does not differ from its other forms and sub-forms. For it is in turn either the expression of practical aspirations and ideals (religious ideals), or historical narrative (legend), or conceptual science (dogma).

It can therefore be maintained with equal truth either that religion is destroyed by the progress of human knowledge, or that it is always present there.

Their religion was the whole intellectual patrimony of primitive peoples : our intellectual patrimony is our religion. The content has been changed, bettered, refined, and it will change and become better and more refined in the future also; but its form is always the same. We do not know what use could be made of religion by those who wish to preserve it side by side with the theoretic activity of man, with his art, with his criticism and with his philosophy. It is impossible to preserve an imperfect and inferior kind of knowledge, such as religion, side by side with what has surpassed and disproved it. Catholicism, which is always consistent, will not tolerate a Science, a History, an Ethics, in contradiction to its views and doctrines. The rationalists are less coherent: they are disposed to allow a little space in their souls for a religion in contradiction with their whole theoretic world.

The religious affectations and weaknesses prevalent among the rationalists of our time have their origin in the superstitious worship so recklessly lavished upon the natural sciences. We know ourselves and their chief representatives admit that these sciences are all surrounded by limits. Science having been wrongly identi

fied with the so-called natural sciences, it could be foreseen that the remainder would be sought in religion ; that remainder with which the human spirit cannot dispense. We are therefore indebted to materialism, to positivism, to naturalism for this unhealthy and often disingenuous recrudescence of religious exaltation, which belongs to the hospital, when it does not belong to the

politician. Metaphysic. Philosophy removes from religion all reason for exist

ing, because it substitutes itself for religion. As the science of the spirit, it looks upon religion as a phenomenon, a transitory historical fact, a psychic condition that can be surpassed. Philosophy shares the domain of knowledge with the natural sciences, with history and with art. To the first it leaves enumeration, measurement and classification; to the second, the chronicling of what has individually happened; to the third, the individually possible. There is nothing left to allot to religion. For the same reason, philosophy, as the science of the spirit, cannot be philosophy of the intuitive datum ; nor, as has been seen, philosophy of history, nor philosophy of nature ; and therefore there cannot be a philosophical science of what is not form and universal, but material and particular. This amounts to affirming the impossibility of Metaphysic.

The methodology or logic of history has supplanted the philosophy of history; an epistemology of the concepts employed in the natural sciences succeeded the Philosophy of Nature. What philosophy can study of history is its mode of construction intuition, perception, document, probability, etc.); of the natural sciences the forms of the concepts which constitute them (space, time, motion, number, types, classes, etc.). Philosophy as metaphysic in the sense above described would, on the other hand, claim to compete with history and with the natural sciences, which alone are legitimate and effective in their field. Such a challenge could do nothing but reveal the incompetence of those who made it. In this sense we are antimetaphysicans, while declaring ourselves to be ultra

and the intui.

metaphysicians, when the word is used to claim and to affirm the office of philosophy as self-consciousness of the spirit, distinguished from the merely empirical and classificatory office of the natural sciences.

Metaphysic has been obliged to assert the existence Mentat of a specific spiritual activity producing it, in order to imagination maintain itself side by side with the sciences of the spirit. tive intellect. This activity, called in antiquity mental or superior imagination, and more often in modern times intuitive intellect or intellectual intuition, was held to unite the characters of imagination and intellect in an altogether special form. It was supposed to provide the means of

assing by deduction or dialectic from the infinite to the finite, from form to matter, from the concept to the intuition, from science to history, acting by a.method which was held to penetrate both the universal and the particular, the abstract and the concrete, intuition and intellect. A faculty marvellous indeed and most valuable to possess; but we, who do not possess it, have no means of establishing its existence.

Intellectual intuition has sometimes been considered Mystical to be the true æsthetic activity. At others a no less Æsthetic. marvellous æsthetic activity has been placed beside, below, or above it, a faculty altogether different from simple intuition. The glories of this faculty have been celebrated, and the production of art attributed to it, or at least of certain groups of artistic production, arbitrarily chosen. Art, religion and philosophy have seemed in turn to be one only, or three distinct faculties of the spirit, sometimes one, sometimes another of them being supreme in the dignity shared by all.

It is impossible to enumerate all the various attitudes assumed or capable of being assumed by this conception of Æsthetic, which we will call mystical. We are here in the kingdom, not of the science of imagination, but of imagination itself, which creates its world out of varying elements drawn from impressions and feelings. Suffice it to mention that this mysterious faculty has been conceived, sometimes as practical, sometimes as a

F

art.

mean between the theoretic and the practical, at others again as a theoretic form side by side with philosophy

and religion. Mortality and

The immortality of art has sometimes been deduced immortality of from this last conception, as belonging with its sisters

to the sphere of absolute spirit. At other times, on the other hand, when religion has been looked upon as mortal and as dissolved in philosophy, then has been proclaimed the mortality, even the death, actual or at least imminent, of art. This question has no meaning for us, because, seeing that the function of art is a necessary degree of the spirit, to ask if art can be eliminated is the same as to ask if sensation or intelligence can be eliminated. But Metaphysic, in the above sense, transplanting itself into an arbitrary world, is not to be criticized in its particulars, any more than we can criticize the botany of the garden of Alcina or the navigation of the voyage of Astolfo. Criticism can only exist when we refuse to join in the game; that is to say, when we reject the very possibility of Metaphysic, always in the sense above indicated.

There is therefore no intellectual intuition in philosophy, as there is no surrogate or equivalent of it in art, or any other mode by which this imaginary function may be called and represented. There does not exist (if we may repeat ourselves) a fifth degree, a fifth or supreme faculty, theoretic or practical-theoretic, imaginative-intellectual, or intellectual-imaginative, or however otherwise it may be attempted to conceive such a faculty.

« IndietroContinua »