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Aesthetic as Science of Expression and General Linguistic by Benedetto Croce

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(until the _Henriade_, which slaked the thirsty throats of the critics).
Eulogies accorded to the inventors of new styles are connected with
these prejudices, so much so, that in the seventeenth century the
invention of the _mock-heroic_ poem seemed an important event, and the
honour of it was disputed, as though it were the discovery of America.
But the works adorned with this name (the _Secchia rapita_ and the
_Scherno degli Dei_) were still-born, because their authors (a slight
draw-back) had nothing new or original to say. Mediocrities racked their
brains to invent, artificially, new styles. The _piscatorial_ eclogue
was added to the _pastoral_, and then, finally, the _military_ eclogue.
The _Aminta_ was bathed and became the _Alceo_. Finally, there have been
historians of art and literature, so much fascinated with these ideas of
classes, that they claimed to write the history, not of single and
effective literary and artistic works, but of their classes, those empty
phantoms. They have claimed to portray, not the evolution of the
_artistic spirit_, but the _evolution of classes_.

The philosophical condemnation of artistic and literary classes is found
in the formulation and demonstration of what artistic activity has ever
sought and good taste ever recognized. What is to be done if good taste
and the real fact, put into formulas, sometimes assume the air of

[Sidenote] _Empirical sense of the divisions of classes._

Now if we talk of tragedies, comedies, dramas, romances, pictures of
everyday life, battle-pieces, landscapes, seascapes, poems, versicles,
lyrics, and the like, if it be only with a view to be understood, and to
draw attention in general and approximatively to certain groups of
works, to which, for one reason or another, it is desired to draw
attention, in that case, no scientific error has been committed. We
employ _vocables and phrases_; we do not establish _laws and
definitions_. The mistake arises when the weight of a scientific
definition is given to a word, when we ingenuously let ourselves be
caught in the meshes of that phraseology. Pray permit me a comparison.
It is necessary to arrange the books in a library in one way or another.
This used generally to be done by means of a rough classification by
subjects (among which the categories of miscellaneous and eccentric were
not wanting); they are now generally arranged by sizes or by publishers.
Who can deny the necessity and the utility of these groupings? But what
should we say if some one began seriously to seek out the literary laws
of miscellanies and of eccentricities from the Aldine or Bodonian
collection, from size A or size B, that is to say, from these altogether
arbitrary groupings whose sole object has been their practical use?
Well, whoever should undertake an enterprise such as this, would be
doing neither more nor less than those who seek out the aesthetic laws
of literary and artistic classes.



The better to confirm these criticisms, it will be opportune to cast a
rapid glance over analogous and opposite errors, born of ignorance as to
the true nature of art, and of its relation to history and to science.
These errors have injured alike the theory of history and of science, of
Historic (or Historiology) and of Logic.

[Sidenote] _Critique of the philosophy of history._

Historical intellectualism has been the cause of the many researches
which have been made, especially during the last two centuries,
researches which continue to-day, for _a philosophy of history_, for an
_ideal history_, for a _sociology_, for a _historical psychology_, or
however may be otherwise entitled or described a science whose object is
to extract from history, universal laws and concepts. Of what kind must
be these laws, these universals? Historical laws and historical
concepts? In that case, an elementary criticism of knowledge suffices to
make clear the absurdity of the attempt. When such expressions as a
_historical law_, a _historical concept_ are not simply metaphors
colloquially employed, they are true contradictions in terms: the
adjective is as unsuitable to the substantive as in the expressions
_qualitative quantity_ or _pluralistic monism_. History means concretion
and individuality, law and concept mean abstraction and universality.
If, on the other hand, the attempt to draw from history historical laws
and concepts be abandoned, and it be merely desired to draw from it laws
and concepts, the attempt is certainly not frivolous; but the science
thus obtained will be, not a philosophy of history, but rather,
according to the case, either philosophy in its various specifications
of Ethic, Logic, etc., or empirical science in its infinite divisions
and subdivisions. Thus are sought out either those philosophical
concepts which are, as has already been observed, at the bottom of every
historical construction and separate perception from intuition,
historical intuition from pure intuition, history from art; or already
formed historical intuitions are collected and reduced to types and
classes, which is exactly the method of the natural sciences. Great
thinkers have sometimes donned the unsuitable cloak of the philosophy of
history, and notwithstanding the covering, they have conquered
philosophical truths of the greatest magnitude. The cloak has been
dropped, the truth has remained. Modern sociologists are rather to be
blamed, not so much for the illusion in which they are involved when
they talk of an impossible science of sociology, as for the infecundity
which almost always accompanies their illusion. It is but a small evil
that Aesthetic should be termed sociological Aesthetic, or Logic, social
Logic. The grave evil is that their Aesthetic is an old-fashioned
expression of sensualism, their Logic verbal and incoherent. The
philosophical movement, to which we have referred, has borne two good
fruits in relation to history. First of all has been felt the desire to
construct a theory of historiography, that is, to understand the nature
and the limits of history, a theory which, in conformity with the
analyses made above, cannot obtain satisfaction, save in a general
science of intuition, in an Aesthetic, from which Historic would be
separated under a special head by means of the intervention of the
universals. Furthermore, concrete truths relating to historical events
have often been expressed beneath the false and presumptuous cloak of a
philosophy of history; canons and empirical advice have been formulated
by no means superfluous to students and critics. It does not seem
possible to deny this utility to the most recent of philosophies of
history, to so-called historical materialism, which has thrown a very
vivid light upon many sides of social life, formerly neglected or ill

[Sidenote] _Aesthetic invasions into Logic._

The principle of authority, of the _ipse dixit_, is an invasion of
historicity into the domains of science and philosophy which has raged
in the schools. This substitutes for introspection and philosophical
analyses, this or that evidence, document, or authoritative statement,
with which history certainly cannot dispense. But Logic, the science of
thought and of intellectual knowledge, has suffered the most grave and
destructive disturbances and errors of all, through the imperfect
understanding of the aesthetic fact. How, indeed, could it be otherwise,
if logical activity come after and contain in itself aesthetic activity?
An inexact Aesthetic must of necessity drag after it an inexact Logic.

Whoever opens logical treatises, from the _Organum_ of Aristotle to the
moderns, must admit that they all contain a haphazard mixture of verbal
facts and facts of thought, of grammatical forms and of conceptual
forms, of Aesthetic and of Logic. Not that attempts have been wanting to
escape from verbal expression and to seize thought in its effective
nature. Aristotelian logic itself did not become mere syllogistic and
verbalism, without some stumbling and oscillation. The especially
logical problem was often touched upon in the Middle Ages, by the
nominalists, realists, and conceptualists, in their disputes. With
Galileo and with Bacon, the natural sciences gave an honourable place to
induction. Vico combated formalist and mathematical logic in favour of
inventive methods. Kant called attention to _a priori_ syntheses. The
absolute idealists despised the Aristotelian logic. The followers of
Herbart, bound to Aristotle, on the other hand, set in relief those
judgments which they called narrative, which are of a character
altogether different from other logical judgments. Finally, the
linguists insisted upon the irrationality of the word, in relation to
the concept. But a conscious, sure, and radical movement of reform can
find no base or starting-point, save in the science of Aesthetic.

[Sidenote] _Logic in its essence._

In a Logic suitably reformed on this basis, it will be fitting to
proclaim before all things this truth, and to draw from it all its
consequences: the logical fact, _the only logical fact_, is _the
concept_, the universal, the spirit that forms, and in so far as it
forms, the universal. And if be understood by induction, as has
sometimes been understood, the formation of universals, and by deduction
the verbal development of these, then it is clear that true Logic can be
nothing but inductive Logic. But since by the word "deduction" has been
more frequently understood the special processes of mathematics, and by
the word "induction" those of the natural sciences, it will be advisable
to avoid the one and the other denomination, and to say that true Logic
is the Logic of the concept. The Logic of the concept, adopting a method
which is at once induction and deduction, will adopt neither the one nor
the other exclusively, that is, will adopt the (speculative) method,
which is intrinsic to it.

The concept, the universal, is in itself, abstractly considered,
_inexpressible_. No word is proper to it. So true is this, that the
logical concept remains always the same, notwithstanding the variation
of verbal forms. In respect to the concept, expression is a simple
_sign_ or _indication_. There must be an expression, it cannot fail; but
what it is to be, this or that, is determined by the historical and
psychological conditions of the individual who is speaking. The quality
of the expression is not deducible from the nature of the concept. There
does not exist a true (logical) sense of words. He who forms a concept
bestows on each occasion their true meaning on the words.

[Sidenote] _Distinction between logical and non-logical judgements._

This being established, the only truly logical (that is,
aesthetico-logical) propositions, the only rigorously logical judgments,
can be nothing but those whose proper and exclusive content is the
determination of a concept. These propositions or judgments are the
_definitions_. Science itself is nothing but a complex of definitions,
unified in a supreme definition; a system of concepts, or chief concept.

It is therefore necessary to exclude from Logic all those propositions
which do not affirm universals. Narrative judgments, not less than those
termed non-enunciative by Aristotle, such as the expression of desires,
are not properly logical judgments. They are either purely aesthetic
propositions or historical propositions. "Peter is passing; it is
raining to-day; I am sleepy; I want to read": these and an infinity of
propositions of the same kind, are nothing but either a mere enclosing,
in words the impression of the fact that Peter is passing, of the
falling rain, of my organism inclining to sleep, and of my will directed
to reading, or they are existential affirmation concerning those facts.
They are expressions of the real or of the unreal, of historical or of
pure imagination; they are certainly not definitions of universals.

[Sidenote] _Syllogistic._

This exclusion cannot meet with great difficulties. It is already almost
an accomplished fact, and the only thing required is to render it
explicit, decisive, and coherent. But what is to be done with all that
part of human experience which is called _syllogistic_, consisting of
judgments and reasonings which are based on concepts. What is
syllogistic? Is it to be looked down upon from above with contempt, as
something useless, as has so often been done in the reaction of the
humanists against scholasticism, in absolute idealism, in the
enthusiastic admiration of our times for the methods of observation and
experiment of the natural sciences? Syllogistic, reasoning _in forma_,
is not a discovery of truth; it is the art of exposing, debating,
disputing with oneself and others. Proceeding from concepts already
formed, from facts already observed and making appeal to the persistence
of the true or of thought (such is the meaning of the principle of
identity and contradiction), it infers consequences from these data,
that is, it represents what has already been discovered. Therefore, if
it be an _idem per idem_ from the point of view of invention, it is most
efficacious as a teaching and an exposition. To reduce affirmations to
the syllogistic scheme is a way of controlling one's own thought and of
criticizing that of others. It is easy to laugh at syllogisers, but, if
syllogistic has been born and retains its place, it must have good roots
of its own. Satire applied to it can concern only its abuses, such as
the attempt to prove syllogistically questions of fact, observation, and
intuition, or the neglect of profound meditation and unprejudiced
investigation of problems, for syllogistic formality. And if so-called
_mathematical Logic_ can sometimes aid us in our attempt to remember
with ease, to manipulate the results of our own thought, let us welcome
this form of the syllogism also, long prophesied by Leibnitz and essayed
by many, even in our days.

But precisely because syllogistic is the art of exposing and of
debating, its theory cannot hold the first place in a philosophical
Logic, usurping that belonging to the doctrine of the concept, which is
the central and dominating doctrine, to which is reduced everything
logical in syllogistic, without leaving a residuum (relations of
concepts, subordination, co-ordination, identification, and so on). Nor
must it ever be forgotten that the concept, the (logical) judgment, and
the syllogism do not occupy the same position. The first alone is the
logical fact, the second and third are the forms in which the first
manifests itself. These, in so far as they are forms, cannot be examined
save aesthetically (grammatically); in so far as they possess logical
content, only by neglecting the forms themselves and passing to the
doctrine of the concept.

[Sidenote] _False Logic and true Aesthetic._

This shows the truth of the ordinary remark to the effect that he who
reasons ill, also speaks and writes ill, that exact logical analysis is
the basis of good expression. This truth is a tautology, for to reason
well is in fact to express oneself well, because the expression is the
intuitive possession of one's own logical thought. The principle of
contradiction, itself, is at bottom nothing but the aesthetic principle
of coherence. It will be said that starting from erroneous concepts it
is possible to write and to speak exceedingly well, as it is also
possible to reason well; that some who are dull at research may yet be
most limpid writers. That is precisely because to write well depends
upon having a clear intuition of one's own thought, even if it be
erroneous; that is to say, not of its scientific, but of its aesthetic
truth, since it is this truth itself. A philosopher like Schopenhauer
can imagine that art is a representation of the Platonic ideas. This
doctrine is absolutely false scientifically, yet he may develop this
false knowledge in excellent prose, aesthetically most true. But we have
already replied to these objections, when we observed that at that
precise point where a speaker or a writer enunciates an ill-thought
concept, he is at the same time speaking ill and writing ill. He may,
however, afterwards recover himself in the many other parts of his
thought, which consist of true propositions, not connected with the
preceding errors, and lucid expressions may with him follow upon turbid

[Sidenote] _Logic reformed._

All enquiries as to the forms of judgments and of syllogisms, on their
conversion and on their various relations, which still encumber
treatises on Logic, are therefore destined to become less, to be
transformed, to be reduced to something else.

The doctrine of the concept and of the organism of the concepts, of
definition, of system, of philosophy, and of the various sciences, and
the like, will fill the place of these and will constitute the only true
and proper Logic.

Those who first had some suspicion of the intimate connexion between
Aesthetic and Logic and conceived Aesthetic as a _Logic of sensible
knowledge_, were strangely addicted to applying logical categories to
the new knowledge, talking of _aesthetic concepts, aesthetic judgments,
aesthetic syllogisms_, and so on. We are less superstitious as regards
the solidity of the traditional Logic of the schools, and better
informed as to the nature of Aesthetic. We do not recommend the
application of Logic to Aesthetic, but the liberation of Logic from
aesthetic forms. These have given rise to non-existent forms or
categories of Logic, due to the following of altogether arbitrary and
crude distinctions.

Logic thus reformed will always be _formal_ Logic; it will study the
true form or activity of thought, the concept, excluding single and
particular concepts. The old Logic is ill called formal; it were better
to call it _verbal_ or _formalistic_. Formal Logic will drive out
formalistic Logic. To attain this object, it will not be necessary to
have recourse, as some have done, to a real or material Logic, which is
not a science of thought, but thought itself in the act; not only a
Logic, but the complex of Philosophy, in which Logic also is included.
The science of thought (Logic) is that of the concept, as that of fancy
(Aesthetic) is the science of expression. The well-being of both
sciences lies in exactly following in every particular the distinction
between the two domains.



The intuitive and intellective forms exhaust, as we have said, all the
theoretic form of the spirit. But it is not possible to know them
thoroughly, nor to criticize another series of erroneous aesthetic
theories, without first establishing clearly their relations with
another form of the spirit, which is the _practical_ form.

[Sidenote] _The will._

This form or practical activity is the _will_. We do not employ this
word here in the sense of any philosophical system, in which the will is
the foundation of the universe, the principle of things and the true
reality. Nor do we employ it in the ample sense of other systems, which
understand by will the energy of the spirit, the spirit or activity in
general, making of every act of the human spirit an act of will. Neither
such metaphysical nor such metaphorical meaning is ours. For us, the
will is, as generally accepted, that activity of the spirit, which
differs from the mere theoretical contemplation of things, and is
productive, not of knowledge, but of actions. Action is really action,
in so far as it is voluntary. It is not necessary to remark that in the
will to do, is included, in the scientific sense, also what is vulgarly
called not-doing: the will to resist, to reject, the prometheutic will,
is also action.

[Sidenote] _The will as an ulterior stage in respect to knowledge._

Man understands things with the theoretical form, with the practical
form he changes them; with the one he appropriates the universe, with
the other he creates it. But the first form is the basis of the second;
and the relation of _double degree_, which we have already found
existing between aesthetic and logical activity, is repeated between
these two on a larger scale. Knowledge independent of the will is
thinkable; will independent of knowledge is unthinkable. Blind will is
not will; true will has eyes.

How can we will, without having before us historical intuitions
(perceptions) of objects, and knowledge of (logical) relations, which
enlighten us as to the nature of those objects? How can we really will,
if we do not know the world which surrounds us, and the manner of
changing things by acting upon them?

[Sidenote] _Objections and elucidations._

It has been objected that men of action, practical men in the eminent
sense, are the least disposed to contemplate and to theorize: their
energy is not delayed in contemplation, it rushes at once into will. And
conversely, that contemplative men, philosophers, are often very
mediocre in practical matters, weak willed, and therefore neglected and
thrust aside in the tumult of life. It is easy to see that these
distinctions are merely empirical and quantitative. Certainly, the
practical man has no need of a philosophical system in order to act, but
in the spheres where he does act, he starts from intuitions and concepts
which are most clear to him. Otherwise he could not will the most
ordinary actions. It would not be possible to will to feed oneself, for
instance, without knowledge of the food, and of the link of cause and
effect between certain movements and certain organic sensations. Rising
gradually to the more complex forms of action, for example to the
political, how could we will anything politically good or bad, without
knowing the real conditions of society, and consequently the means and
expedients to be adopted? When the practical man feels himself in the
dark about one or more of these points, or when he is seized with doubt,
action either does not begin or stops. It is then that the theoretical
moment, which in the rapid succession of human actions is hardly noticed
and rapidly forgotten, becomes important and occupies consciousness for
a longer time. And if this moment be prolonged, then the practical man
may become Hamlet, divided between desire for action and his small
amount of theoretical clarity as regards the situation and the means to
be employed. And if he develop a taste for contemplation and discovery,
and leave willing and acting, to a more or less great extent, to others,
there is formed in him the calm disposition of the artist, of the man of
science, or of the philosopher, who are sometimes unpractical or
altogether blameworthy. These observations are all obvious. Their
exactitude cannot be denied. Let us, however, repeat that they are
founded on quantitative distinctions and do not disprove, but confirm
the fact that an action, however slight it be, cannot really be an
action, that is, an action that is willed, unless it be preceded by
cognoscitive activity.

[Sidenote] _Critique of practical judgments or judgments of value._

Some psychologists, on the other hand, place before practical action an
altogether special class of judgments, which they call _practical_
judgments or judgments _of value_. They say that in order to resolve to
perform an action, it is necessary to have judged: "this action is
useful, this action is good." And at first sight this seems to have the
testimony of consciousness on its side. But he who observes better and
analyses with greater subtlety, discovers that such judgments follow
instead of preceding the affirmation of the will; they are nothing but
the expression of the already exercised volition. A good or useful
action is an action that is willed. It will always be impossible to
distil from the objective study of things a single drop of usefulness or
goodness. We do not desire things because we know them to be good or
useful; but we know them to be good and useful, because we desire them.
Here too, the rapidity, with which the facts of consciousness follow one
another has given rise to an illusion. Practical action is preceded by
knowledge, but not by practical knowledge, or better by the practical:
to obtain this, it is first necessary to have practical action. The
third moment, therefore, of practical judgments, or judgments of value,
is altogether imaginary. It does not come between the two moments or
degrees of theory and practice. That is why there exist no normative
sciences in general, which regulate or command, discover and indicate
values to the practical activity; because there is none for any other
activity, assuming every science already realized and that activity
developed, which it afterwards takes as its object.

[Sidenote] _Exclusion of the practical from the aesthetic._

These distinctions established, we must condemn as erroneous every
theory which confuses aesthetic with practical activity, or introduces
the laws of the second into the first. That science is theory and art
practice has been many times affirmed. Those who make this statement,
and look upon the aesthetic fact as a practical fact, do not do so
capriciously or because they are groping in the void; but because they
have their eye on something which is really practical. But the practical
which they are looking at is not Aesthetic, nor within Aesthetic; it is
_outside and beside it_; and although they are often found united, they
are not necessarily united, that is to say, by the bond of identity of

The aesthetic fact is altogether completed in the expressive elaboration
of the impressions. When we have conquered the word within us, conceived
definitely and vividly a figure or a statue, or found a musical motive,
expression is born and is complete; there is no need for anything else.
If after this we should open our mouths and _will_ to open them, to
speak, or our throats to sing, and declare in a loud voice and with
extended throat what we have completely said or sung to ourselves; or if
we should stretch out and _will_ to stretch out our hands to touch the
notes of the piano, or to take up the brushes and the chisel, making
thus in detail those movements which we have already done rapidly, and
doing so in such a way as to leave more or less durable traces; this is
all an addition, a fact which obeys quite different laws to the first,
and with these laws we have not to occupy ourselves for the moment. Let
us, however, here recognize that this second movement is a production of
things, a _practical_ fact, or a fact of _will_. It is customary to
distinguish the internal from the external work of art: the terminology
seems here to be infelicitous, for the work of art (the aesthetic work)
is always _internal_; and that which is called _external_ is no longer a
work of art. Others distinguish between _aesthetic_ fact and _artistic_
fact, meaning by the second the external or practical stage, which may
and generally does follow the first. But in this case, it is simply a
case of linguistic usage, doubtless permissible, although perhaps not

[Sidenote] _Critique of the theory of the end of art and of the
choice of the content._

For the same reasons the search for the _end of art_ is ridiculous, when
it is understood of art as art. And since to fix an end is to choose,
the theory that the content of art must be _selected_ is another form of
the same error. A selection from among impressions and sensations
implies that these are already expressions, otherwise, how can a
selection be made among what is continuous and indistinct? To choose is
to will: to will this and not to will that: and this and that must be
before us, they must be expressed. Practice follows, it does not precede
theory; expression is free inspiration.

The true artist, in fact, finds himself big with his theme, he knows not
how; he feels the moment of birth drawing near, but he cannot will it or
not will it. If he were to wish to act in opposition to his inspiration,
to make an arbitrary choice, if, born Anacreon, he were to wish to sing
of Atreus and of Alcides, his lyre would warn him of his mistake,
echoing only of Venus and of Love, notwithstanding his efforts to the

[Sidenote] _Practical innocence of art._

The theme or content cannot, therefore, be practically or morally
charged with epithets of praise or of blame. When critics of art remark
that a theme is _badly selected_, in cases where that observation has a
just foundation, it is a question of blaming, not the selection of the
theme (which would be absurd), but the manner in which the artist has
treated it. The expression has failed, owing to the contradictions which
it contains. And when the same critics rebel against the theme or the
content as being unworthy of art and blameworthy, in respect to works
which they proclaim to be artistically perfect; if these expressions
really are perfect, there is nothing to be done but to advise the
critics to leave the artists in peace, for they cannot get inspiration,
save from what has made an impression upon them. The critics should
think rather of how they can effect changes in nature and in society, in
order that those impressions may not exist. If ugliness were to vanish
from the world, if universal virtue and felicity were established there,
perhaps artists would no longer represent perverse or pessimistic
sentiments, but sentiments that are calm, innocent, and joyous, like
Arcadians of a real Arcady. But so long as ugliness and turpitude exist
in nature and impose themselves on the artist, it is not possible to
prevent the expression of these things also; and when it has arisen,
_factum infectum fieri nequit_. We speak thus entirely from the
aesthetic point of view, and from that of pure aesthetic criticism.

We do not delay to pass here in review the damage which the criticism of
choice does to artistic production, with the prejudices which it
produces or maintains among the artists themselves, and with the
contrast which it occasions between artistic impulse and critical
exigencies. It is true that sometimes it seems to do some good also, by
assisting the artists to discover themselves, that is, their own
impressions and their own inspiration, and to acquire consciousness of
the task which is, as it were, imposed upon them by the historical
moment in which they live, and by their individual temperament. In these
cases, criticism of choice merely recognizes and aids the expressions
which are already being formed. It believes itself to be the mother,
where, at most, it is only the midwife.

[Sidenote] _The independence of art._

The impossibility of choice of content completes the theorem of the
_independence of art_, and is also the only legitimate meaning of the
expression: _art for art's sake_. Art is thus independent of science, as
it is of the useful and the moral. Let it not be feared that thus may be
justified art that is frivolous or cold, since that which is truly
frivolous or cold is so because it has not been raised to expression; or
in other words, frivolity and frigidity come always from the form of the
aesthetic elaboration, from the lack of a content, not from the material
qualities of the content.

[Sidenote] _Critique of the saying: the style is the man._

The saying: _the style is the man_, can also not be completely
criticized, save by starting from the distinction between the theoretic
and the practical, and from the theoretic character of the aesthetic
activity. Man is not simply knowledge and contemplation: he is also
will, which contains in it the cognoscitive moment. Now the saying is
either altogether void, as when it is understood that the man is the
style, in so far as he is style, that is to say, the man, but only in so
far as he is an expression of activity; or it is erroneous, when the
attempt is made to deduce from what a man has seen and expressed, that
which he has done and willed, inferring thereby that there is a
necessary link between knowing and willing. Many legends in the
biographies of artists have sprung from this erroneous identification,
since it seemed impossible that a man who gives expression to generous
sentiments should not be a noble and generous man in practical life; or
that the dramatist who gives a great many stabs in his plays, should not
himself have given a few at least in real life. Vainly do the artists
protest: _lasciva est nobis pagina, vita proba_. They are merely taxed
in addition with lying and hypocrisy. O you poor women of Verona, how
far more subtle you were, when you founded your belief that Dante had
really descended to hell, upon his dusky countenance! Yours was at any
rate a historical conjecture.

[Sidenote] _Critique of the concept of sincerity in art._

Finally, _sincerity_ imposed upon the artist as a duty (this law of
ethics which, they say, is also a law of aesthetic) arises from another
equivoke. For by sincerity is meant either the moral duty not to deceive
one's neighbour; and in that case Is foreign to the artist. For he, in
fact, deceives no one, since he gives form to what is already in his
mind. He would deceive, only if he were to betray his duty as an artist
by a lesser devotion to the intrinsic necessity of his task. If lies and
deceit are in his mind, then the form which he gives to these things
cannot be deceit or lies, precisely because it is aesthetic. The artist,
if he be a charlatan, a liar, or a miscreant, purifies his other self by
reflecting it in art. Or by sincerity is meant, fulness and truth of
expression, and it is clear that this second sense has nothing to do
with the ethical concept. The law, which is at once ethical and
aesthetic, reveals itself in this case in a word employed alike by Ethic
and Aesthetic.



[Sidenote] _The two forms of practical activity._

The twofold grade of the theoretical activity, aesthetic and logical,
has an important parallel in the practical activity, which has not yet
been placed in due relief. The practical activity is also divided into a
first and second degree, the second implying the first. The first
practical degree is the simply _useful_ or _economical_ activity; the
second the _moral_ activity.

Economy is, as it were, the Aesthetic of practical life; Morality its

[Sidenote] _The economically useful._

If this has not been clearly seen by philosophers; if its suitable place
in the system of the mind has not been given to the economic activity,
and it has been left to wander in the prolegomena to treatises on
political economy, often uncertain and but slightly elaborated, this is
due, among other reasons, to the fact that the useful or economic has
been confused, now with the concept of _technique_, now with that of the

[Sidenote] _Distinction between the useful and the technical._

_Technique_ is certainly not a special activity of the spirit.
Technique is knowledge; or better, it is knowledge itself, in general,
that takes this name, as we have seen, in so far as it serves as basis
for practical action. Knowledge which is not followed, or is presumed to
be not easily followed by practical action, is called pure: the same
knowledge, if effectively followed by action, is called applied; if it
is presumed that it can be easily followed by the same action, it is
called technical or applied. This word, then, indicates a _situation_ in
which knowledge already is, or easily can be found, not a special form
of knowledge. So true is this, that it would be altogether impossible to
establish whether a given order of knowledge were, intrinsically, pure
or applied. All knowledge, however abstract and philosophical one may
imagine it to be, can be a guide to practical acts; a theoretical error
in the ultimate principles of morals can be reflected and always is
reflected in some way, in practical life. One can only speak roughly and
unscientifically of truths that are pure and of others that are applied.

The same knowledge which is called technical, can also be called
_useful_. But the word "useful," in conformity with the criticism of
judgments of value made above, is to be understood as used here in a
linguistic or metaphorical sense. When we say that water is useful for
putting out fire, the word "useful" is used in a non-scientific sense.
Water thrown on the fire is the cause of its going out: this is the
knowledge that serves for basis to the action, let us say, of firemen.
There is a link, not of nature, but of simple succession, between the
useful action of the person who extinguishes the conflagration, and this
knowledge. The technique of the effects of the water is the theoretical
activity which precedes; the _action_ of him who extinguishes the fire
is alone useful.

[Sidenote] _Distinction between the useful and the egoistic._

Some economists identify utility with _egoism_, that is to say, with
merely economical action or desire, with that which is profitable to the
individual, in so far as individual, without regard to and indeed in
complete opposition to the moral law. The egoistic is the immoral. In
this case Economy would be a very strange science, standing, not beside,
but facing Ethic, like the devil facing God, or at least like the
_advocatus diaboli_ in the processes of canonization. Such a conception
of it is altogether inadmissible: the science of immorality is implied
in that of morality, as the science of the false is implied in _Logic_,
the science of the true, and a science of ineffectual expression in
Aesthetic, the science of successful expression. If, then, Economy were
the scientific treatment of egoism, it would be a chapter of Ethic, or
Ethic itself; because every moral determination implies, at the same
time, a negation of its contrary.

Further, conscience tells us that to conduct oneself economically is not
to conduct oneself egoistically; that even the most morally scrupulous
man must conduct himself usefully (economically), if he does not wish to
be inconclusive and, therefore, not truly moral. If utility were egoism,
how could it be the duty of the altruist to behave like an egoist?

[Sidenote] _Economic will and moral will._

If we are not mistaken, the difficulty is solved in a manner perfectly
analogous to that in which is solved the problem of the relations
between the expression and the concept, between Aesthetic and Logic.

To will economically is to _will an end_; to will morally is to _will
the rational end_. But whoever wills and acts morally, cannot but will
and act usefully (economically). How could he will the _rational_,
unless he willed it also _as his particular end_?

[Sidenote] _Pure economicity._

The reciprocal is not true; as it is not true in aesthetic science that
the expressive fact must of necessity be linked with the logical fact.
It is possible to will economically without willing morally; and it is
possible to conduct oneself with perfect economic coherence, while
pursuing an end which is objectively irrational (immoral), or, better,
an end which would be so judged in a superior grade of consciousness.

Examples of the economic, without the moral character, are the Prince of
Machiavelli, Caesar Borgia, or the Iago of Shakespeare. Who can help
admiring their strength of will, although their activity is only
economic, and is opposed to what we hold moral? Who can help admiring
the ser Ciappelletto of Boccaccio, who, even on his death-bed, pursues
and realizes his ideal of the perfect rascal, making the small and timid
little thieves who are present at his burlesque confession exclaim:
"What manner of man is this, whose perversity, neither age, nor
infirmity, nor the fear of death, which he sees at hand, nor the fear of
God, before whose judgment-seat he must stand in a little while, have
been able to remove, nor to cause that he should not wish to die as he
has lived?"

[Sidenote] _The economic side of morality._

The moral man unites with the pertinacity and fearlessness of a Caesar
Borgia, of an Iago, or of a ser Ciappelletto, the good will of the saint
or of the hero. Or, better, good will would not be will, and
consequently not good, if it did not possess, in addition to the side
which makes it _good_, also that which makes it _will_. Thus a logical
thought, which does not succeed in expressing itself, is not thought,
but at the most, a confused presentiment of a thought yet to come.

It is not correct, then, to conceive of the amoral man as also the
anti-economical man, or to make of morality an element of coherence in
the acts of life, and therefore of economicity. Nothing prevents us from
conceiving (an hypothesis which is verified at least during certain
periods and moments, if not during whole lifetimes) a man altogether
without moral conscience. In a man thus organized, what for us is
immorality is not so for him, because it is not so felt. The
consciousness of the contradiction between what is desired as a rational
end and what is pursued egoistically cannot be born in him. This
contradiction is anti-economicity. Immoral conduct becomes also
anti-economical only in the man who possesses moral conscience. The
moral remorse which is the proof of this, is also economical remorse;
that is to say, pain at not having known how to will completely and to
attain to that moral ideal which was willed at the first moment, but was
afterwards perverted by the passions. _Video meliora proboque, deteriora
sequor_. The _video_ and the _probo_ are here an initial will
immediately contradicted and passed over. In the man deprived of moral
sense, we must admit a remorse which is _merely economic_; like that of
a thief or of an assassin who should be attacked when on the point of
robbing or of assassinating, and should abstain from doing so, not owing
to a conversion of his being, but owing to his impressionability and
bewilderment, or even owing to a momentary awakening of the moral
consciousness. When he has come back to himself, that thief or assassin
will regret and be ashamed of his inconsequence; his remorse will not be
due to having done wrong, but to not having done it; his remorse is,
therefore, economic, not moral, since the latter is excluded by
hypothesis. However, a lively moral conscience is generally found among
the majority of men, and its total absence is a rare and perhaps
non-existent monstrosity. It may, therefore, be admitted, that morality
coincides with economicity in the conduct of life.

[Sidenote] _The merely economic and the error of the morally

There need be no fear lest the parallelism affirmed by us should
introduce afresh into the category of the _morally indifferent_, of that
which is in truth action and volition, but is neither moral nor immoral;
the category in sum of the _licit_ and of the _permissible_, which has
always been the cause or mirror of ethical corruption, as is the case
with Jesuitical morality in which it dominated. It remains quite certain
that indifferent moral actions do not exist, because moral activity
pervades and must pervade every least volitional movement of man. But
this, far from upsetting the parallelism, confirms it. Do there exist
intuitions which science and the intellect do not pervade and analyse,
resolving them into universal concepts, or changing them into historical
affirmations? We have already seen that true science, philosophy, knows
no external limits which bar its way, as happens with the so-called
natural sciences. Science and morality entirely dominate, the one the
aesthetic intuitions, the other the economic volitions of man, although
neither of them can appear in the concrete, save in the intuitive form
as regards the one, in the economic as regards the other.

[Sidenote] _Critique of utilitarianism and the reform of Ethic and
of Economic._

This combined identity and difference of the useful and of the moral, of
the economic and of the ethic, explains the fortune enjoyed now and
formerly by the utilitarian theory of Ethic. It is in fact easy to
discover and to show a utilitarian side in every moral action; as it is
easy to show an aesthetic side of every logical proposition. The
criticism of ethical utilitarianism cannot escape by denying this truth
and seeking out absurd and inexistent examples of _useless_ moral
actions. It must admit the utilitarian side and explain it as the
concrete form of morality, which consists of what is _within_ this form.
Utilitarians do not see this within. This is not the place for a more
ample development of such ideas. Ethic and Economic cannot but be
gainers, as we have said of Logic and Aesthetic, by a more exact
determination of the relations that exist between them. Economic science
is now rising to the animating concept of the useful, as it strives to
pass beyond the mathematical phase, in which it is still entangled; a
phase which, when it superseded historicism, was in its turn a progress,
destroying a series of arbitrary distinctions and false theories of
Economic, implied in the confusion of the theoretical with the
historical. With this conception, it will be easy on the one hand to
absorb and to verify the semi-philosophical theories of so-called pure
economy, and on the other, by the introduction of successive
complications and additions, and by passing from the philosophical to
the empirical or naturalistic method, to include the particular theories
of the political or national economy of the schools.

[Sidenote] _Phenomenon and noumenon in practical activity._

As aesthetic intuition knows the phenomenon or nature, and philosophic
intuition the noumenon or spirit; so economic activity wills the
phenomenon or nature, and moral activity the noumenon or spirit. _The
spirit which desires itself_, its true self, the universal which is in
the empirical and finite spirit: that is the formula which perhaps
defines the essence of morality with the least impropriety. This will
for the true self is _absolute liberty_.



[Sidenote] _The system of the spirit._

In this summary sketch that we have given, of the entire philosophy of
the spirit in its fundamental moments, the spirit is conceived as
consisting of four moments or grades, disposed in such a way that the
theoretical activity is to the practical as is the first theoretical
grade to the second theoretical, and the first practical grade to the
second practical. The four moments imply one another regressively by
their concretion. The concept cannot be without expression, the useful
without the one and the other, and morality without the three preceding
grades. If the aesthetic fact is alone independent, and the others more
or less dependent, then the logical is the least so and the moral will
the most. Moral intention operates on given theoretic bases, which
cannot be dispensed with, save by that absurd practice, the jesuitical
_direction of intention_. Here people pretend to themselves not to know
what at bottom they know perfectly well.

[Sidenote] _The forms of genius._

If the forms of human activity are four, four also are the forms of
genius. Geniuses in art, in science, in moral will or heroes, have
certainly always been recognized. But the genius of pure Economic has
met with opposition. It is not altogether without reason that a category
of bad geniuses or of _geniuses of evil_ has been created. The
practical, merely economic genius, which is not directed to a rational
end, cannot but excite an admiration mingled with alarm. It would be a
mere question of words, were we to discuss whether the word "genius"
should be applied only to creators of aesthetic expression, or also to
men of scientific research and of action. 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.

[Sidenote] _Non-existence of a fifth form of activity. Law;

A fifth form of spiritual activity does not exist. It would be easy to
demonstrate how all the other forms, either do not possess the character
of activity, or are verbal variants of the activities already examined,
or are complex and derived facts, in which the various activities are
mingled, or are filled with special contents and contingent data.

The _judicial_ 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 contained an economic relation willed by an individual or by
a collectivity. 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
_sociality_. Now what is it that distinguishes sociality, or the
relations which are developed in a meeting of men, not of subhuman
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? Sociality, then, far from
being an original, simple, irreducible conception, is very complex and
complicated. This could be proved by the impossibility, generally
recognized, of enunciating a single sociological law, properly
so-called. Those that are improperly called by that name are revealed as
either empirical historical observations, or spiritual laws, that is to
say judgments, into which are translated the conceptions of the
spiritual activities; when they are not simply empty and indeterminate
generalizations, like the so-called law of evolution. Sometimes, too,
nothing more is understood by sociality than social rule, and so law;
and thus sociology is confounded with the science or theory of law
itself. Law, sociality, and like terms, are to be dealt with in a mode
analogous to that employed by us in the consideration of historicity and

[Sidenote] _Religiosity._

It may seem fitting to form a different judgment as to _religious_
activity. But religion is nothing but knowledge, and does not differ
from its other forms and subforms. For it is in truth and in turn either
the expression of practical and ideal aspirations (religious ideals), or
historical narrative (legend), or conceptual science (dogma).

It can therefore be maintained with equal truth, both that religion is
destroyed by the progress of human knowledge, and that it is always
present there. Their religion was the whole patrimony of knowledge of
primitive peoples: our patrimony of knowledge 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 function 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, like
religion, side by side with what has surpassed and disproved it.
Catholicism, which is always coherent, will not tolerate a Science, a
History, an Ethic, 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 which is in contradiction with their
whole theoretic world.

These affectations and religious susceptibilities of the rationalists of
our times have their origin in the superstitious cult of the natural
sciences. These, as we know and as is confessed by the mouth of their
chief adepts, are all surrounded by _limits_. Science having been
wrongly identified with the so-called natural sciences, it could be
foreseen that the remainder would be asked of 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 reflowering of religious exaltation. Such things are
the business of the hospital, when they are not the business of the

[Sidenote] _Metaphysic._

Philosophy withdraws from religion all reason for existing, 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 disciplines, with history and with art. It
leaves to the first, narration, measurement and classification; to the
second, the chronicling of what has individually happened; to the third,
the individually possible. There is nothing left to share with 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
philosophic science of what is not form and universal, but material and
particular. This amounts to affirming the impossibility of _metaphysic_.

The Method or Logic of history followed the Philosophy of history; a
gnoseology of the conceptions which are employed in the natural sciences
succeeded natural philosophy. What philosophy can study of the one is
its mode of construction (intuition, perception, document, probability,
etc.); of the others she can study the forms of the conceptions which
appear in them (space, time, motion, number, types, classes, etc.).
Philosophy, which should become metaphysical in the sense above
described, would, on the other hand, claim to compete with narrative
history, and with the natural sciences, which in their field are alone
legitimate and effective. Such a competition becomes in fact a labour
spoiling labour. We are _antimetaphysical_ in this sense, while yet
declaring ourselves _ultrametaphysical_, if by that word it be desired
to claim and to affirm the function of philosophy as the
autoconsciousness of the spirit, as opposed to the merely empirical and
classificatory function of the natural sciences.

[Sidenote] _Mental imagination and the intuitive intellect._

In order to maintain itself side by side with the sciences of the
spirit, metaphysic has been obliged to assert the existence of a
specific spiritual activity, of which it would be the product. This
activity, which in antiquity was called _mental or superior
imagination_, and in modern times more often _intuitive intellect or
intellectual intuition_, would unite in an altogether special form the
characters of imagination and of intellect. It would provide the method
of passing, by deduction or dialectically, from the infinite to the
finite, from form to matter, from the concept to the intuition, from
science to history, operating by a method which should be at once unity
and compenetration of the universal and the particular, of the abstract
and the concrete, of intuition and of intellect. A faculty marvellous
indeed and delightful to possess; but we, who do not possess it, have no
means of proving its existence.

[Sidenote] _Mystical aesthetic._

Intellectual intuition has sometimes been considered as the true
aesthetic activity. At others a not less marvellous aesthetic activity
has been placed beside, below, or above it, a faculty altogether
different from simple intuition. The glories of this faculty have been
sung, and to it have been attributed the fact of art, or at the least
certain groups of artistic production, arbitrarily chosen. Art,
religion, and philosophy have seemed in turn one only, or three distinct
faculties of the spirit, now one, now another of these being superior in
the dignity assigned to each.

It is impossible to enumerate all the various attitudes assumed by this
conception of Aesthetic, 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 with the varying elements of the
impressions and of the feelings. Let it suffice to mention that this
mysterious faculty has been conceived, now as practical, now as a mean
between the theoretic and the practical, at others again as a theoretic
grade together with philosophy and religion.

[Sidenote] _Mortality and immortality of art._

The immortality of art has sometimes been deduced 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 the mortality, even
the actual death, or at least the agony of art has been proclaimed.
These questions have no meaning for us, because, seeing that the
function of art is a necessary grade of the spirit, to ask if art can be
eliminated is the same thing as asking if sensation or intelligence can
be eliminated. But metaphysic, in the above sense, since it transplants
itself to an arbitrary world, is not to be criticized in detail, any
more than one can criticize the botany of the garden of Alcina or the
navigation of the voyage of Astolfo. Criticism can only be made by
refusing to join the game; that is to say, by rejecting the very
possibility of metaphysic, always in the sense above indicated.

As we do not admit intellectual intuition in philosophy, we can also not
admit its shadow or equivalent, aesthetic intellectual intuition, or any
other mode by which this imaginary function may be called and
represented. We repeat again that we do not know of a fifth grade beyond
the four grades of spirit which consciousness reveals to us.



[Sidenote] _The characteristics of art._

It is customary to give long enumerations of the characteristics of art.
Having reached this point of the treatise, having studied the artistic
function as spiritual activity, as theoretic activity, and as special
theoretic activity (intuitive), we are able to discern that those
various and copious descriptions mean, when they mean anything at all,
nothing but a repetition of what may be called the qualities of the
aesthetic function, generic, specific, and characteristic. To the first
of these are referred, as we have already observed, the characters, or
better, the verbal variants of _unity_, and of _unity_ in _variety_,
those also of _simplicity_, of _originality_, and so on; to the second of
these, the characteristics of _truth_, of _sincerity_, and the like; to
the third, the characteristics of _life_, of _vivacity_, of _animation_,
of _concretion_, of _individuality_, of _characteristicality_. The words
may vary yet more, but they will not contribute anything scientifically
new. The results which we have shown have altogether exhausted the
analysis of expression as such.

[Sidenote] _Inexistence of modes of expression._

But at this point, the question as to whether there be various _modes or
grades_ of expression is still perfectly legitimate. We have
distinguished two grades of activity, each of which is subdivided into
two other grades, and there is certainly, so far, no visible logical
reason why there should not exist two or more modes of the aesthetic,
that is of expression.--The only objection is that these modes do not

For the present at least, it is a question of simple internal
observation and of self consciousness. One may scrutinize aesthetic
facts as much as one will: no formal differences will ever be found
among them, nor will the aesthetic fact be divisible into a first and a
second degree.

This signifies that a philosophical classification of expressions is not
possible. Single expressive facts are so many individuals, of which the
one cannot be compared with the other, save generically, in so far as
each is expression. To use the language of the schools, expression is a
species which cannot in its turn perform the functions of genus.
Impressions, that is to say contents, vary; every content differs from
every other content, because nothing in life repeats itself; and the
continuous variation of contents follows the irreducible variety of
expressive facts, the aesthetic syntheses of the impressions.

[Sidenote] _Impossibility of translations._

A corollary of this is the impossibility of _translations_, in so far as
they pretend to effect the transference of one expression into another,
like a liquid poured from a vase of a certain shape into a vase of
another shape. We can elaborate logically what we have already
elaborated in aesthetic form only; but we cannot reduce that which has
already possessed its aesthetic form to another form also aesthetic. In
truth, every translation either diminishes and spoils; or it creates a
new expression, by putting the former back into the crucible and mixing
it with other impressions belonging to the pretended translator. In the
former case, the expression always remains one, that of the original,
the translation being more or less deficient, that is to say, not
properly expression: in the other case, there would certainly be two
expressions, but with two different contents. "Ugly faithful ones or
faithless beauties" is a proverb that well expresses the dilemma with
which every translator is faced. In aesthetic translations, such as
those which are word for word or interlinear, or paraphrastic
translations, are to be looked upon as simple commentaries on the

[Sidenote] _Critique of rhetorical categories._

The division of expressions into various classes is known in literature
by the name of theory of _ornament_ or of _rhetorical categories_. But
similar attempts at classification in the other forms of art are not
wanting: suffice it to mention the _realistic and symbolic forms_,
spoken of in painting and sculpture.

The scientific value to be attached in Aesthetic and in aesthetic
criticism to these distinctions of _realistic and symbolic_, of _style
and absence of style_, of _objective and subjective_, of _classic and
romantic_, of _simple and ornate_, of _proper and metaphorical_, of the
fourteen forms of metaphor, of the figures of _word_ and of _sentence_,
and further of _pleonasm_, of _ellipse_, of _inversion_, of
_repetition_, of _synonyms and homonyms_, and so on; is _nil_ or
altogether negative. To none of these terms and distinctions can be
given a satisfactory aesthetic definition. Those that have been
attempted, when they are not obviously erroneous, are words devoid of
sense. A typical example of this is the very common definition of
metaphor as of _another word used in place of the word itself_. Now why
give oneself this trouble? Why take the worse and longer road when you
know the shorter and better road? Perhaps, as is generally said, because
the correct word is in certain cases not so _expressive_ as the
so-called incorrect word or metaphor? But in that case the metaphor
becomes exactly the right word, and the so-called right word, if it were
used, would be _but little expressive_ and therefore most improper.
Similar observations of elementary good sense can be made regarding the
other categories, as, for example, the generic one of the ornate. One
can ask oneself how an ornament can be joined to expression. Externally?
In that case it must always remain separate. Internally? In that case,
either it does not assist expression and mars it; or it does form part
of it and is not ornament, but a constituent element of expression,
indistinguishable from the whole.

It is not necessary to dwell upon the harm done by these distinctions.
Rhetoric has often been declaimed against, but although there has been
rebellion against its consequences, its principles have been carefully
preserved, perhaps in order to show proof of philosophic coherence.
Rhetoric has contributed, if not to make dominant in literary
production, at least to justify theoretically, that particular mode of
writing ill which is called fine writing or writing according to

[Sidenote] _Empirical sense of the rhetorical categories._

The terms above mentioned would never have gone beyond the schools,
where we all of us learned them (certain of never finding the
opportunity of using them in strictly aesthetic discussions, or even of
doing so jocosely and with a comic intention), save when occasionally
employed in one of the following significations: as _verbal variants _of
the aesthetic concept; as indications of the _anti-aesthetic_, or,
finally (and this is their most important use), in a sense which is no
longer aesthetic and literary, _but merely logical_.

[Sidenote] _Use of these categories as synonyms of the aesthetic

Expressions are not divisible into classes, but some are successful,
others half-successful, others failures. There are perfect and
imperfect, complete and deficient expressions. The terms already cited,
then, sometimes indicate the successful expression, sometimes the
various forms of the failures. But they are employed in the most
inconstant and capricious manner, for it often happens that the same
word serves, now to proclaim the perfect, now to condemn the imperfect.

An instance of this is found when someone, criticizing two pictures--the
one without inspiration, in which the author has copied natural objects
without intelligence; the other inspired, but without obvious likeness
to existing objects--calls the first _realistic_, the second _symbolic_.
Others, on the contrary, pronounce the word _realistic_ about a strongly
felt picture representing a scene of ordinary life, while they talk of
_symbolic_ in reference to another picture representing but a cold
allegory. It is evident that in the first case symbolic means artistic,
and realistic inartistic, while in the second, realistic is synonymous
with artistic and symbolic with inartistic. How, then, can we be
astonished when some hotly maintain that the true art form is the
symbolic, and that the realistic is inartistic; others, that the
realistic is the artistic, and the symbolic the inartistic? We cannot
but grant that both are right, since each makes use of the same words in
senses so diverse.

The great disputes about the _classic_ and the _romantic_ are frequently
based upon such equivokes. Sometimes the former was understood as the
artistically perfect, and the second as lacking balance and imperfect;
at others, the classic was cold and artificial, the romantic sincere,
warm, efficacious, and truly expressive. Thus it was always possible to
take the side of the classic against the romantic, or of the romantic
against the classic.

The same thing happens as regards the word _style_. Sometimes it is
affirmed that every writer should have style. Here style is synonymous
with form or expression. Sometimes the form of a code of laws or of a
mathematical work is said to be devoid of style. Here the error of
admitting diverse modes of expression is again committed, of admitting
an ornate and a naked form of expression, because, since style is form,
the code and the mathematical treatise must also, strictly speaking,
have each its style. At other times, one hears the critics blaming
someone for "having too much style" or for "writing a style." Here it is
clear that style signifies, not the form, nor a mode of it, but improper
and pretentious expression, which is one form of the inartistic.

[Sidenote] _Their use to indicate various aesthetic imperfections._

Passing to the second, not altogether insignificant, use of these words
and distinctions, we sometimes find in the examination of a literary
composition such remarks as follow: here is a pleonasm, here an ellipse,
there a metaphor, here again a synonym or an equivoke. This means that
in one place is an error consisting of using a larger number of words
than is necessary (pleonasm); that in another the error arises from too
few having been used (ellipse), elsewhere from the use of an unsuitable
word (metaphor), or from the use of two words which seem to express two
different things, where they really express the same thing (synonym); or
that, on the contrary, it arises from having employed one which seems to
express the same thing where it expresses two different things
(equivoke). This pejorative and pathological use of the terms is,
however, more uncommon than the preceding.

[Sidenote] _Their use in a sense transcending aesthetic, in the
service of science._

Finally, when rhetorical terminology possesses no aesthetic
signification similar or analogous to those passed in review, and yet
one is aware that it is not void of meaning and designates something
that deserves to be noted, it is then used in the service of logic and
of science. If it be granted that a concept used in a scientific sense
by a given writer is expressed with a definite term, it is natural that
other words formed by that writer as used to signify the same concept,
or incidentally made use of by him, become, _in respect to_ the
vocabulary fixed upon by him as true, metaphors, synecdoches, synonyms,
elliptic forms, and the like. We, too, in the course of this treatise,
have several times made use of, and intend again to make use of such
terms, in order to make clear the sense of the words we employ, or may
find employed. But this proceeding, which is of value in the
disquisitions of scientific and intellectual criticism, has none
whatever in aesthetic criticism. For science there exist appropriate
words and metaphors. The same concept may be psychologically formed in
various circumstances and therefore be expressed with various
intuitions. When the scientific terminology of a given writer has been
established, and one of these modes has been fixed as correct, then all
other uses of it become improper or tropical. But in the aesthetic fact
exist only appropriate words. The same intuition can only be expressed
in one way, precisely because it is an intuition and not a concept.

[Sidenote] _Rhetoric in the schools._

Some, while they admit the aesthetic insufficiency of the rhetorical
categories, yet make a reserve as regards their utility and the service
they are supposed to render, especially in schools of literature. We
confess that we fail to understand how error and confusion can educate
the mind to logical clearness, or aid the teaching of a science which
they disturb and obscure. Perhaps it may be desired to say that they can
aid memory and learning as empirical classes, as was admitted above for
literary and artistic styles. But there is another purpose for which the
rhetorical categories should certainly continue to be admitted to the
schools: to be criticized there. We cannot simply forget the errors of
the past, and truth cannot be kept alive, save by making it fight
against error. Unless a notion of the rhetorical categories be given,
accompanied by a suitable criticism of these, there is a risk of their
springing up again. For they are already springing up with certain
philologists, disguised as most recent _psychological_ discoveries.

[Sidenote] _The resemblances of expressions._

It would seem as though we wished to deny all bond of likeness among
themselves between expressions and works of art. The likenesses exist,
and owing to them, works of art can be arranged in this or that group.
But they are likenesses such as are observed among individuals, and can
never be rendered with abstract definitions. That is to say, these
likenesses have nothing to do with identification, subordination,
co-ordination, and the other relations of concepts. They consist wholly
in what is called a _family likeness_, and are connected with those
historical conditions existing at the birth of the various works, or in
an affinity of soul between the artists.

[Sidenote] _The relative possibility of translations._

It is in these resemblances that lies the _relative_ possibility of
translations. This does not consist of the reproduction of the same
original expressions (which it would be vain to attempt), but in the
measure that expressions are given, more or less nearly resembling
those. The translation that passes for good is an approximation which
has original value as a work of art and can stand by itself.



Passing on to the study of more complex concepts, where the aesthetic
activity is found in conjunction with other orders of facts, and showing
the mode of this union or complication, we find ourselves at once face
to face with the concept of _feeling_ and with the feelings which are
called _aesthetic_.

[Sidenote] _Various significances of the word feeling._

The word "feeling" is one of the richest in meanings. We have already
had occasion to meet with it once, among those used to designate the
spirit in its passivity, the matter or content of art, and also as
synonym of _impressions_. Once again (and then the meaning was
altogether different), we have met with it as designating the
_non-logical_ and _non-historical_ character of the aesthetic fact, that
is to say pure intuition, a form of truth which defines no concept and
states no fact.

[Sidenote] _Feeling as activity._

But feeling is not here understood in either of these two senses, nor in
the others in which it has nevertheless been used to designate other
_cognoscitive_ forms of spirit. Its meaning here is that of a special
activity, of non-cognoscitive nature, but possessing its two poles,
positive and negative, in _pleasure_ and _pain_. This activity has
always greatly embarrassed philosophers, who have attempted either to
deny it as an activity, or to attribute it to _nature_ and to exclude it
from spirit. Both solutions bristle with difficulties, and these are of
such a kind that the solutions prove themselves finally unacceptable to
anyone who examines them with care. For of what could a non-spiritual
activity consist, an _activity of nature_, when we have no other
knowledge of activity save as spiritual, and of spirituality save as
activity? Nature is, in this case, by definition, the merely passive,
inert, mechanical and material. On the other hand, the negation of the
character of activity to feeling is energetically disproved by those
very poles of pleasure and of pain which appear in it and manifest
activity in its concreteness, and, we will say, all aquiver.

[Sidenote] _Identification of feeling with economic activity._

This critical conclusion ought to place us in the greatest
embarrassment, for in the sketch of the system of the spirit given
above, we have left no room for the new activity, of which we are now
obliged to recognize the existence. But activity of feeling, if it be
activity, is not specially new. It has already had its place assigned to
it in the system which we have sketched, where, however, it has been
indicated under another name, as _economic_ activity. What is called the
activity of feeling is nothing but that more elementary and fundamental
practical activity, which we have distinguished from ethical activity,
and made to consist of the appetite and desire for some individual end,
without any moral determination.

[Sidenote] _Critique of hedonism._

If feeling has been sometimes considered as organic or natural activity,
this has happened precisely because it does not coincide either with
logical, aesthetic, or ethical activity. Looked at from the standpoint
of these three (which were the only ones admitted), it has seemed to lie
_outside_ the true and real spirit, the spirit in its aristocracy, and
to be almost a determination of nature and of the soul, in so far as it
is nature. Thus the thesis, several times maintained, that the aesthetic
activity, like the ethical and intellectual activities, is not feeling,
becomes at once completely proved. This thesis was inexpugnable, when
sensation had already been reduced confusedly and implicitly to economic
volition. The view which has been refuted is known by the name of
_hedonism_. For hedonism, all the various forms of the spirit are
reduced to one, which thus itself also loses its own distinctive
character and becomes something turbid and mysterious, like "the shades
in which all cows are black." Having effected this reduction and
mutilation, the hedonists naturally do not succeed in seeing anything
else in any activity but pleasure and pain. They find no substantial
difference between the pleasure of art and that of an easy digestion,
between the pleasure of a good action and that of breathing the fresh
air with wide-expanded lungs.

[Sidenote] _Feeling as a concomitant to every form of activity._

But if the activity of feeling in the sense here defined must not be
substituted for all the other forms of spiritual activity, we have not
said that it cannot _accompany_ them. Indeed it accompanies them of
necessity, because they are all in close relation, both with one another
and with the elementary volitional form. Therefore each of them has for
concomitants individual volitions and volitional pleasures and pains
which are known as feeling. But we must not confound what is
concomitant, with the principal fact, and take the one for the other.
The discovery of the truth, or the satisfaction of a moral duty
fulfilled, produces in us a joy which makes our whole being vibrate,
for, by attaining to those forms of spiritual activity, it attains at
the same time that to which it was _practically_ tending, as to its end,
during the effort. Nevertheless, economic or hedonistic satisfaction,
ethical satisfaction, aesthetic satisfaction, intellectual satisfaction,
remain always distinct, even when in union.

Thus is solved at the same time the much-debated question, which has
seemed, not wrongly, a matter of life or death for aesthetic science,
namely, whether the feeling and the pleasure precede or follow, are
cause or effect of the aesthetic fact. We must enlarge this question, to
include the relation between the various spiritual forms, and solve it
in the sense that in the unity of the spirit one cannot talk of cause
and effect and of what comes first and what follows it in time.

And once the relation above exposed is established, the statements,
which it is customary to make, as to the nature of aesthetic, moral,
intellectual, and even, as is sometimes said, economic feelings, must
also fall. In this last case, it is clear that it is a question, not of
two terms, but of one, and the quest of economic feeling can be but that
same one concerning the economic activity. But in the other cases also,
the search can never be directed to the substantive, but to the
adjective: aesthetic, morality, logic, explain the colouring of the
feelings as aesthetic, moral, and intellectual, while feeling, studied
alone, will never explain those refractions.

[Sidenote] _Meaning of certain ordinary distinctions of feelings._

A further consequence is, that we can free ourselves from the
distinction between values or feelings _of value_, and feelings that are
merely hedonistic and _without value_; also from other similar
distinctions, like those between _disinterested_ feelings and
_interested_ feelings, between _objective _feelings and the others that
are not _objective_ but simply _subjective_, between feelings of
_approval_ and others of _mere pleasure_ (_Gefallen_ and _Vergnuegen_ of
the Germans). Those distinctions strove hard to save the three spiritual
forms, which have been recognised as the triad of the _True_, the
_Good_, and the _Beautiful_, from confusion with the fourth form, still
unknown, yet insidious through its indeterminateness, and mother of
scandals. For us this triad has finished its task, because we are
capable of reaching the distinction far more directly, by welcoming even
the selfish, subjective, merely pleasurable feelings, among the
respectable forms of the spirit; and where formerly antitheses were
conceived of by ourselves and others, between value and feelings, as
between spirituality and naturality, henceforth we see nothing but
difference between value and value.

[Sidenote] _Value and disvalue: the contraries and their union._

As has already been said, the economic feeling or activity reveals
itself as divided into two poles, positive and negative, pleasure and
pain, which we can now translate into useful, and useless or hurtful.
This bipartition has already been noted above, as a mark of the active
character of feeling, precisely because the same bipartition is found in
all forms of activity. If each of these is a _value_, each has opposed
to it _antivalue or disvalue_. Absence of value is not sufficient to
cause disvalue, but activity and passivity must be struggling between
themselves, without the one getting the better of the other; hence the
contradiction, and the disvalue of the activity that is embarrassed,
contested, or interrupted. Value is activity that unfolds itself freely:
disvalue is its contrary.

We will content ourselves with this definition of the two terms, without
entering into the problem of the relation between value and disvalue,
that is, between the problem of contraries. (Are these to be thought of
dualistically, as two beings or two orders of beings, like Ormuzd and
Ahriman, angels and devils, enemies to one another; or as a unity, which
is also contrariety?) This definition of the two terms will be
sufficient for our purpose, which is to make clear aesthetic activity in
particular, and one of the most obscure and disputed concepts of
Aesthetic which arises at this point: the concept of the _Beautiful_.

[Sidenote] _The Beautiful as the value of expression, or expression
and nothing more._

Aesthetic, intellectual, economic, and ethical values and disvalues are
variously denominated in current speech: _beautiful, true, good, useful,
just_, and so on--these words designate the free development of
spiritual activity, action, scientific research, artistic production,
when they are successful; _ugly, false, bad, useless, unbecoming,
unjust, inexact_ designate embarrassed activity, the product of which is
a failure. In linguistic usage, these denominations are being
continually shifted from one order of facts to another, and from this to
that. _Beautiful_, for instance, is said not only of a successful
expression, but also of a scientific truth, of an action successfully
achieved, and of a moral action: thus we talk of an _intellectual
beauty_, of a _beautiful action_, of a _moral beauty_. Many
philosophers, especially aestheticians, have lost their heads in their
pursuit of these most varied uses: they have entered an inextricable and
impervious verbal labyrinth. For this reason it has hitherto seemed
convenient studiously to avoid the use of the word beautiful to indicate
successful expression. But after all the explanations that have been
given, and all danger of misunderstanding being now dissipated, and
since, on the other hand, we cannot fail to recognize that the
prevailing tendency, alike in current speech and in philosophy, is to
limit the meaning of the vocable _beautiful_ altogether to the aesthetic
value, we may define beauty as _successful expression_, or better, as
_expression_ and nothing more, because expression, when it is not
successful, is not expression.

[Sidenote] _The ugly, and the elements of beauty which compose it._

Consequently, the ugly is unsuccessful expression. The paradox is true,
that, in works of art that are failures, the beautiful is present as
_unity_ and the ugly as _multiplicity_. Thus, with regard to works of
art that are more or less failures, we talk of qualities, that is to say
of _those parts of them that are beautiful_. We do not talk thus of
perfect works. It is in fact impossible to enumerate their qualities or
to designate those parts of them that are beautiful. In them there is
complete fusion: they have but one quality. Life circulates in the whole
organism: it is not withdrawn into certain parts.

The qualities of works that are failures may be of various degrees. They
may even be very great. The beautiful does not possess degrees, for
there is no conceiving a more beautiful, that is, an expressive that is
more expressive, an adequate that is more than adequate. Ugliness, on
the other hand, does possess degrees, from the rather ugly (or almost
beautiful) to the extremely ugly. But if the ugly were _complete_, that
is to say, without any element of beauty, it would for that very reason
cease to be ugly, because in it would be absent the contradiction which
is the reason of its existence. The disvalue would become nonvalue;
activity would give place to passivity, with which it is not at war,
save when there effectively is war.

[Sidenote] _Illusions that there exist expressions which are neither
beautiful nor ugly._

And because the distinctive consciousness of the beautiful and of the
ugly is based on the contrasts and contradictions in which aesthetic
activity is developed, it is evident that this consciousness becomes
attenuated to the point of disappearing altogether, as we descend from
the more complicated to the more simple and to the simplest cases of
expression. From this arises the illusion that there are expressions
which are neither beautiful nor ugly, those which are obtained without
sensible effort and appear easy and natural being so considered.

[Sidenote] _True aesthetic feelings and concomitant or accidental

The whole mystery of the _beautiful_ and the _ugly_ is reduced to these
henceforth most easy definitions. Should any one object that there exist
perfect aesthetic expressions before which no pleasure is felt, and
others, perhaps even failures, which give him the greatest pleasure, it
is necessary to advise him to pay great attention, as regards the
aesthetic fact, to that only which is truly aesthetic pleasure.
Aesthetic pleasure is sometimes reinforced by pleasures arising from
extraneous facts, which are only casually found united with it. The poet
or any other artist affords an instance of purely aesthetic pleasure,
during the moment in which he sees (or has the intuition of) his work
for the first time; that is to say, when his impressions take form and
his countenance is irradiated with the divine joy of the creator. On the
other hand, a mixed pleasure is experienced by any one who goes to the
theatre, after a day's work, to witness a comedy: when the pleasure of
rest and amusement, and that of laughingly snatching a nail from the
gaping coffin, is accompanied at a certain moment by real aesthetic
pleasure, obtained from the art of the dramatist and of the actors. The
same may be said of the artist who looks upon his labour with pleasure,
when it is finished, experiencing, in addition to the aesthetic
pleasure, that very different one which arises from the thought of
self-love satisfied, or of the economic gain which will come to him from
his work. Examples could be multiplied.

[Sidenote] _Critique of apparent feelings._

A category of _apparent_ aesthetic feelings has been formed in modern
Aesthetic. These have nothing to do with the aesthetic sensations of
pleasure arising from the form, that is to say from the work of art. On
the contrary, they arise from the content of the work of art. It has
been observed that "artistic representations arouse pleasure and pain in
their infinite variety and gradations. We tremble with anxiety, we
rejoice, we fear, we laugh, we weep, we desire, with the personages of a
drama or of a romance, with the figures in a picture, or with the melody
of music. But these feelings are not those that would give occasion to
the real fact outside art; that is to say, they are the same in quality,
but they are quantitively an attenuation. Aesthetic and _apparent_
pleasure and pain are slight, of little depth, and changeable." We have
no need to treat of these _apparent feelings_, for the good reason that
we have already amply discussed them; indeed, we have treated of them
alone. What are ever feelings that become apparent or manifest, but
feelings objectified, intensified, expressed? And it is natural that
they do not trouble and agitate us passionately, as do those of real
life, because those were matter, these are form and activity; those true
and proper feelings, these intuitions and expressions. The formula,
then, of _apparent feelings_ is nothing but a tautology. The best that
can be done is to run the pen through it.



As we are opposed to hedonism in general, that is to say, to the theory
which is based on the pleasure and pain intrinsic to Economy and
accompanies every other form of activity, confounding the content and
that which contains it, and fails to recognize any process but the
hedonistic; so we are opposed to aesthetic hedonism in particular, which
looks upon the aesthetic at any rate, if not also upon all other
activities, as a simple fact of feeling, and confounds the _pleasurable
of expression_, which is the beautiful, with the pleasurable and nothing
more, and with the pleasurable of all sorts.

[Sidenote] _Critique of the beautiful as that which pleases the
higher senses._

The aesthetic-hedonistic point of view has been presented in several
forms. One of the most ancient conceives the beautiful as that which
pleases the sight and hearing, that is to say, the so-called superior
senses. When analysis of aesthetic facts first began, it was, in fact,
difficult to avoid the mistake of thinking that a picture and a piece of
music are impressions of sight or of hearing: it was and is an
indisputable fact that the blind man does not enjoy the picture, nor the
deaf man the music. To show, as we have shown, that the aesthetic fact
does not depend upon the nature of the impressions, but that all
sensible impressions can be raised to aesthetic expression and that none
need of necessity be so raised, is an idea which presents itself only
when all the other ways out of the difficulty have been tried. But whoso
imagines that the aesthetic fact is something pleasing to the eyes or to
the hearing, has no line of defence against him who proceeds logically
to identify the beautiful with the pleasurable in general, and includes
cooking in Aesthetic, or, as some positivist has done, the viscerally

[Sidenote] _Critique of the theory of play._

The theory of _play_ is another form of aesthetic hedonism. The
conception of play has sometimes helped towards the realization of the
actifying character of the expressive fact: man (it has been said) is
not really man, save when he begins to play; that is to say, when he
frees himself from natural and mechanical causality and operates
spiritually; and his first game is art. But since the word _play_ also
means that pleasure which arises from the expenditure of the exuberant
energy of the organism (that is to say, from a practical act), the
consequence of this theory has been, that every game has been called an
aesthetic fact, and that the aesthetic function has been called a game,
in so far as it is possible to play with it, for, like science and every
other thing, Aesthetic can be made part of a game. But morality cannot
be provoked at the intention of playing, on the ground that it does not
consent; on the contrary, it dominates and regulates the act of playing

[Sidenote] _Critique of the theories of sexuality and of the triumph._

Finally, there have been some who have tried to deduce the pleasure of
art from the reaction of the sexual organs. There are some very modern
aestheticians who place the genesis of the aesthetic fact in the
pleasure of _conquering_, of _triumphing_, or, as others add, in the
desire of the male, who wishes to conquer the female. This theory is
seasoned with much anecdotal erudition, Heaven knows of what degree of
credibility! on the customs of savage peoples. But in very truth there
was no necessity for such important aid, for one often meets in ordinary
life poets who adorn themselves with their poetry, like cocks that raise
their crests, or turkeys that spread their tails. But he who does such
things, in so far as he does them, is not a poet, but a poor devil of a
cock or turkey. The conquest of woman does not suffice to explain the
art fact. It would be just as correct to term poetry _economic_, because
there have been aulic and stipendiary poets, and there are poets the
sale of whose verses helps them to gain their livelihood, if it does not
altogether provide it. However, this definition has not failed to win
over some zealous neophytes of historical materialism.

[Sidenote] _Critique of the Aesthetic of the sympathetic. Meaning in
it of content and form._

Another less vulgar current of thought considers Aesthetic to be the
science of the _sympathetic_, of that with which we sympathize, which
attracts, rejoices, gives us pleasure and excites admiration. But the
sympathetic is nothing but the image or representation of what pleases.
And, as such, it is a complex fact, resulting from a constant element,
the aesthetic element of representation, and from a variable element,
the pleasing in its infinite forms, arising from all the various classes
of values.

In ordinary language, there is sometimes a feeling of repugnance at
calling an expression beautiful, which is not an expression of the
sympathetic. Hence the continual contrast between the point of view of
the aesthetician or of the art critic and that of the ordinary person,
who cannot succeed in persuading himself that the image of pain and of
turpitude can be beautiful, or, at least, can be beautiful with as much
right as the pleasing and the good.

The opposition could be solved by distinguishing two different sciences,
one of expression and the other of the sympathetic, if the latter could
be the object of a special science; that is to say, if it were not, as
has been shown, a complex fact. If predominance be given to the
expressive fact, it becomes a part of Aesthetic as science of
expression; if to the pleasurable content, we fall back to the study of
facts which are essentially hedonistic (utilitarian), however
complicated they may appear. The origin, also, of the connexion between
content and form is to be sought for in the Aesthetic of the
sympathetic, when this is conceived as the sum of two values.

[Sidenote] _Aesthetic hedonism and moralism._

In all the doctrines just now discussed, the art fact is posited as
merely hedonistic. But this view cannot be maintained, save by uniting
it with a philosophic hedonism that is complete and not partial, that is
to say, with a hedonism which does not admit any other form of value.
Hardly has this hedonistic conception of art been received by
philosophers, who admit one or more spiritual values, of truth or of
morality, than the following question must necessarily be asked: What
should be done with art? To what use should it be put? Should a free
course be allowed to its pleasures? And if so, to what extent? The
question of the _end of art_, which in the Aesthetic of expression would
be a contradiction of terms, here appears in place, and altogether

[Sidenote] _The rigoristic negation, and the pedagogic justification
of art._

Now it is evident that, admitting the premisses, but two solutions of
such a question can be given, the one altogether negative, the other
restrictive. The first, which we shall call _rigoristic_ or _ascetic_,
appears several times, although not frequently, in the history of ideas.
It looks upon art as an inebriation of the senses, and therefore, not
only useless, but harmful. According to this theory, then, it is
necessary to drive it with all our strength from the human soul, which
it troubles. The other solution, which we shall call _pedagogic_ or
_moralistico-utilitarian_, admits art, but only in so far as it concurs
with the end of morality; in so far as it assists with innocent pleasure
the work of him who leads to the true and the good; in so far as it
sprinkles with dulcet balm the sides of the vase of wisdom and of

It is well to observe that it would be an error to divide this second
view into intellectualist and moralistico-utilitarian, according to
whether the end of leading to the true or to what is practically good,
be assigned to art. The task of instructing, which is imposed upon it,
precisely because it is an end which is sought after and advised, is no
longer merely a theoretical fact, but a theoretical fact become the
material for practical action; it is not, therefore, intellectualism, but
pedagogism and practicism. Nor would it be more exact to subdivide the
pedagogic view into the pure utilitarian and the moralistico-utilitarian;
because those who admit only the individually useful (the desire of the
individual), precisely because they are absolute hedonists, have no
motive for seeking an ulterior justification for art.

But to enunciate these theories at the point to which we have attained
is to confute them. We therefore restrict ourselves to observing that in
the pedagogic theory of art is to be found another of the reasons why it
has been erroneously claimed that the content of art should be _chosen_
with a view to certain practical effects.

[Sidenote] _Critique of pure beauty._

The thesis, re-echoed by the artists, that art consists of _pure
beauty_, has often been brought forward against hedonistic and pedagogic
Aesthetic: "Heaven places All our joy in _pure beauty_, and the Verse is
everything." If it is wished that this should be understood in the sense
that art is not to be confounded with sensual pleasure, that is, in
fact, with utilitarian practicism, nor with moralism, then our Aesthetic
also must be permitted to adorn itself with the title of _Aesthetic of
pure beauty_. But if (as is often the case) something mystical and
transcendental be meant by this, something that is unknown to our poor
human world, or something spiritual and beatific, but not expressive, we
must reply that while applauding the conception of a beauty, free of all
that is not the spiritual form of expression, we are yet unable to
conceive a beauty altogether purified of expression, that is to say,
separated from itself.



[Sidenote] _Pseudo-aesthetic concepts, and the aesthetic of the

The doctrine of the sympathetic (very often animated and seconded in
this by the capricious metaphysical and mystical Aesthetic, and by that
blind tradition which assumes an intimate connection between things by
chance treated of together by the same authors and in the same books),
has introduced and rendered familiar in systems of Aesthetic, a series
of concepts, of which one example suffices to justify our resolute
expulsion of them from our own treatise.

Their catalogue is long, not to say interminable: _tragic, comic,
sublime, pathetic, moving, sad, ridiculous, melancholy, tragi-comic,
humoristic, majestic, dignified, serious, grave, imposing, noble,
decorous, graceful, attractive, piquant, coquettish, idyllic, elegiac,
cheerful, violent, ingenuous, cruel, base, horrible, disgusting,
dreadful, nauseating_; the list can be increased at will.

Since that doctrine took as its special object the sympathetic, it was
naturally unable to neglect any of the varieties of this, or any of the
combinations or gradations which lead at last from the sympathetic to
the antipathetic. And seeing that the sympathetic content was held to be
the _beautiful_ and the antipathetic the _ugly_, the varieties (tragic,
comic, sublime, pathetic, etc.) constituted for it the shades and
gradations intervening between the beautiful and the ugly.

[Sidenote] _Critique of the theory of the ugly in art and of the
ugly surmounted._

Having enumerated and defined, as well as it could, the chief among
these varieties, the Aesthetic of the sympathetic set itself the problem
of the place to be assigned to the _ugly in art_. This problem is
without meaning for us, who do not recognize any ugliness save the
anti-aesthetic or inexpressive, which can never form part of the
aesthetic fact, being, on the contrary, its antithesis. But the question
for the doctrine which we are here criticizing was to reconcile in some
way the false and defective idea of art from which it started, reduced
to the representation of the agreeable, with effective art, which
occupies a far wider field. Hence the artificial attempt to settle what
examples of the ugly (antipathetic) could be admitted in artistic
representation, and for what reasons, and in what ways.

The answer was: that the ugly is admissible, only when it can be
_overcome_, an unconquerable ugliness, such as the _disgusting_ or the
_nauseating_, being altogether excluded. Further, that the duty of the
ugly, when admitted in art, is to contribute towards heightening the
effect of the beautiful (sympathetic), by producing a series of
contrasts, from which the pleasurable shall issue more efficacious and
pleasure-giving. It is, in fact, a common observation that pleasure is
more vividly felt when It has been preceded by abstinence or by
suffering. Thus the ugly in art was looked upon as the servant of the
beautiful, its stimulant and condiment.

That special theory of hedonistic refinement, which used to be pompously
called the _surmounting of the ugly_, falls with the general theory of
the sympathetic; and with it the enumeration and the definition of the
concepts mentioned above remain completely excluded from Aesthetic. For
Aesthetic does not recognize the sympathetic or the antipathetic In
their varieties, but only the spiritual activity of the representation.

[Sidenote] _Pseudo-aesthetic concepts belong to Psychology._

However, the large space which, as we have said, those concepts have
hitherto occupied in aesthetic treatises makes opportune a rather more
copious explanation of what they are. What will be their lot? As they
are excluded from Aesthetic, in what other part of Philosophy will they
be received?

Truly, in none. All those concepts are without philosophical value. They
are nothing but a series of classes, which can be bent in the most
various ways and multiplied at pleasure, to which it is sought to reduce
the infinite complications and shadings of the values and disvalues of
life. Of those classes, there are some that have an especially positive
significance, like the beautiful, the sublime, the majestic, the solemn,
the serious, the weighty, the noble, the elevated; others have a
significance especially negative, like the ugly, the horrible, the
dreadful, the tremendous, the monstrous, the foolish, the extravagant;
in others prevails a mixed significance, as is the case with the comic,
the tender, the melancholy, the humorous, the tragi-comic. The
complications are infinite, because the individuations are infinite;
hence it is not possible to construct the concepts, save in the
arbitrary and approximate manner of the natural sciences, whose duty it
is to make as good a plan as possible of that reality which they cannot
exhaust by enumeration, nor understand and surpass speculatively. And
since _Psychology_ is the naturalistic discipline, which undertakes to
construct types and plans of the spiritual processes of man (of which,
in fact, it is always accentuating in our day the merely empirical and
descriptive character), these concepts do not appertain to Aesthetic,
nor, in general, to Philosophy. They must simply be handed over to

[Sidenote] _Impossibility of rigoristic definitions of them._

As is the case with all other psychological constructions, so is it with
those concepts: no rigorous definitions are possible; and consequently
the one cannot be deduced from the other and they cannot be connected in
a system, as has, nevertheless, often been attempted, at great waste of
time and without result. But it can be claimed as possible to obtain,
apart from philosophical definitions recognised as impossible, empirical
definitions, universally acceptable as true. Since there does not exist
a unique definition of a given fact, but innumerable definitions can be
given of it, according to the cases and the objects for which they are
made, so it is clear that if there were only one, and that the true one,
this would no longer be an empirical, but a rigorous and philosophical
definition. Speaking exactly, every time that one of the terms to which
we have referred has been employed, or any other of the innumerable
series, a definition of it has at the same time been given, expressed or
understood. And each one of these definitions has differed somewhat from
the others, in some particular, perhaps of very small importance, such
as tacit reference to some individual fact or other, which thus became
especially an object of attention and was raised to the position of a
general type. So it happens that not one of such definitions satisfies
him who hears it, nor does it satisfy even him who constructs it. For,
the moment after, this same individual finds himself face to face with a
new case, for which he recognizes that his definition is more or less
insufficient, ill-adapted, and in need of remodelling. It is necessary,
therefore, to leave writers and speakers free to define the sublime or
the comic, the tragic or the humoristic, on every occasion, as they
please and as may seem suitable to their purpose. And if you insist upon
obtaining an empirical definition of universal validity, we can but
submit this one:--The sublime (comic, tragic, humoristic, etc.) is
_everything_ that is or will be so _called_ by those who have employed
or shall employ this _word_.

[Sidenote] _Examples: definitions of the sublime, the comic, and
the humoristic._

What is the sublime? The unexpected affirmation of an ultra-powerful
moral force: that is one definition. But that other definition is
equally good, which also recognizes the sublime where the force which
declares itself is an ultra-powerful, but immoral and destructive will.
Both remain vague and assume no precise form, until they are applied to
a concrete case, which makes clear what is here meant by
_ultra-powerful_, and what by _unexpected_. They are quantitative
concepts, but falsely quantitative, since there is no way of measuring
them; they are, at bottom, metaphors, emphatic phrases, or logical
tautologies. The humorous will be laughter mingled with tears, bitter
laughter, the sudden passage from the comic to the tragic, and from the
tragic to the comic, the comic romantic, the inverted sublime, war
declared against every attempt at insincerity, compassion which is
ashamed to lament, the mockery not of the fact, but of the ideal itself;
and whatever else may better please, according as it is desired to get a
view of the physiognomy of this or that poet, of this or that poem,
which is, in its uniqueness, its own definition, and though momentary
and circumscribed, yet the sole adequate. The comic has been defined as
the displeasure arising from the perception of a deformity immediately
followed by a greater pleasure arising from the relaxation of our
psychical forces, which were strained in anticipation of a perception
whose importance was foreseen. While listening to a narrative, which,
for example, should describe the magnificent and heroic purpose of a
definite person, we anticipate in imagination the occurrence of an
action both heroic and magnificent, and we prepare ourselves to receive
it, by straining our psychic forces. If, however, in a moment, instead
of the magnificent and heroic action, which the premises and the tone of
the narrative had led us to expect, by an unexpected change there occur
a slight, mean, foolish action, unequal to our expectation, we have been
deceived, and the recognition of the deceit brings with it an instant of
displeasure. But this instant is as it were overcome by the one
immediately following, in which we are able to discard our strained
attention, to free ourselves from the provision of psychic energy
accumulated and, henceforth superfluous, to feel ourselves reasonable
and relieved of a burden. This is the pleasure of the comic, with its
physiological equivalent, laughter. If the unpleasant fact that has
occurred should painfully affect our interests, pleasure would not
arise, laughter would be at once choked, the psychic energy would be
strained and overstrained by other more serious perceptions. If, on the
other hand, such more serious perceptions do not arise, if the whole
loss be limited to a slight deception of our foresight, then the
supervening feeling of our psychic wealth affords ample compensation for
this very slight displeasure.--This, stated in a few words, is one of
the most accurate modern definitions of the comic. It boasts of
containing, justified or corrected, the manifold attempts to define the
comic, from Hellenic antiquity to our own day. It includes Plato's
dictum in the _Philebus_, and Aristotle's, which is more explicit. The
latter looks upon the comic as an _ugliness without pain_. It contains
the theory of Hobbes, who placed it in the feeling of _individual
superiority_; of Kant, who saw in it a _relaxation of tension_; and
those of other thinkers, for whom it was _the contrast between great and
small, between the finite and the infinite_. But on close observation,
the analysis and definition above given, although most elaborate and
rigorous in appearance, yet enunciates characteristics which are
applicable, not only to the comic, but to every spiritual process; such
as the succession of painful and agreeable moments and the satisfaction
arising from the consciousness of force and of its free development. The
differentiation here given is that of quantitative determinations, to
which limits cannot be assigned. They remain vague phrases, attaining to
some meaning from their reference to this or that single comic fact. If
such definitions be taken too seriously, there happens to them what Jean
Paul Richter said of all the definitions of the comic: namely, that
their sole merit is _to be themselves comic_ and to produce, in reality,
the fact, which they vainly try to define logically. And who will ever
determine logically the dividing line between the comic and the
non-comic, between smiles and laughter, between smiling and gravity; who
will cut into clearly divided parts that ever-varying continuity into
which life melts?

[Sidenote] _Relations between those concepts and aesthetic concepts._

The facts, classified as well as possible in the above-quoted
psychological concepts, bear no relation to the artistic fact, beyond
the generic that all of them, in so far as they designate the material
of life, can be represented by art; and the other accidental relation,
that aesthetic facts also may sometimes enter into the processes
described, as in the impression of the sublime that the work of a
Titanic artist such as Dante or Shakespeare may produce, and that of the
comic produced by the effort of a dauber or of a scribbler.

The process is external to the aesthetic fact In this case also; for the
only feeling linked with that is the feeling of aesthetic value and
disvalue, of the beautiful and of the ugly. The Dantesque Farinata is
aesthetically beautiful, and nothing but beautiful: if, in addition, the
force of will of this personage appear sublime, or the expression that
Dante gives him, by reason of his great genius, seem sublime by
comparison with that of a less energetic poet, all this is not a matter
for aesthetic consideration. This consists always and only in adequation
to truth; that is, in beauty.



[Sidenote] _Aesthetic activity and physical concepts._

Aesthetic activity is distinct from practical activity but when it
expresses itself is always physical accompanied by practical activity.
Hence its utilitarian or hedonistic side, and the pleasure and pain,
which are, as it were, the practical echo of aesthetic values and
disvalues, of the beautiful and of the ugly. But this practical side of
the aesthetic activity has also, in its turn, a _physical_ or
_psychophysical_ accompaniment, which consists of sounds, tones,
movements, combinations of lines and colours, and so on.

Does it _really_ possess this side, or does it only seem to possess it,
as the result of the construction which we raise in physical science,
and of the useful and arbitrary methods, which we have shown to be
proper to the empirical and abstract sciences? Our reply cannot be
doubtful, that is, it cannot be affirmative as to the first of the two

However, it will be better to leave it at this point in suspense, for it
is not at present necessary to prosecute this line of inquiry any
further. The mention already made must suffice to prevent our having
spoken of the physical element as of something objective and existing,
for reasons of simplicity and adhesion to ordinary language, from
leading to hasty conclusions as to the concepts and the connexion
between spirit and nature.

[Sidenote] _Expression in the aesthetic sense, and expression in
the naturalistic sense._

It is important to make clear that as the existence of the hedonistic
side in every spiritual activity has given rise to the confusion between
the aesthetic activity and the useful or pleasurable, so the existence,
or, better, the possibility of constructing this physical side, has
generated the confusion between _aesthetic_ expression and expression
_in the naturalistic sense_; between a spiritual fact, that is to say,
and a mechanical and passive fact (not to say, between a concrete
reality and an abstraction or fiction). In common speech, sometimes it
is the words of the poet that are called _expressions_, the notes of the
musician, or the figures of the painter; sometimes the blush which is
wont to accompany the feeling of shame, the pallor resulting from fear,
the grinding of the teeth proper to violent anger, the glittering of the
eyes, and certain movements of the muscles of the mouth, which reveal
cheerfulness. A certain degree of heat is also said to be the
_expression_ of fever, as the falling of the barometer is of rain, and
even that the height of the rate of exchange _expresses_ the discredit
of the paper-money of a State, or social discontent the approach of a
revolution. One can well imagine what sort of scientific results would
be attained by allowing oneself to be governed by linguistic usage and
placing in one sheaf facts so widely different. But there is, in fact,
an abyss between a man who is the prey of anger with all its natural
manifestations, and another man who expresses it aesthetically; between
the aspect, the cries, and the contortions of one who is tortured with
sorrow at the loss of a dear one, and the words or song with which the
same individual portrays his torture at another moment; between the
distortion of emotion and the gesture of the actor. Darwin's book on the
expression of the feelings in man and animals does not belong to

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