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Title: The Philosophy of Fine Art, volume 1 (of 4)

Author: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Translator: Francis Plumptre Beresford Osmaston

Release date: August 11, 2017 [eBook #55334]

Language: English

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The translation of Hegel's "Aesthetik" or "Philosophy of Fine Art," which is contained in the four volumes of the present work, is the first complete translation in English of the three volumes devoted to this subject in the collected edition (Berlin, 1835). I know of four partial translations in English of this work and one in French. These are Mr. W. M. Bryant's translation of Part II[1], Mr. Kedney's short analysis of the entire work[2], Mr. Hastie's translation of Michelet's short "Philosophy of Art[3]," prefaced by Hegel's Introduction, partly translated and partly summarized and lastly Professor B. Bosanquet's complete translation of Hegel's first Introduction with notes[4].

The French translation of M. Bénard purports to be more or less a reproduction of the entire work and runs into two large-sized volumes. It also is, however, so far as Hegel's Introduction and the first two Parts are concerned, merely a compressed summary, and only in particular passages is the translation anything but a very free rendering of the original, though there is a far closer approach to this in Part III.

I have not seen Mr. Bryant's translation. As any approach to an adequate reproduction of Hegel's[Pg i] writing Mr. Hastie's translation of Michelet's work and Mr. Kedney's analysis are of very little value[5]. Professor Bosanquet's translation is admirable within the limits imposed. To that extent I have merely followed, as I was able, in my friend's footsteps; but this advance covers little more than one sixteenth part of the entire work of 1,600 pages.

With regard to all such analyses I entirely concur with Professor Bosanquet's view stated in his preface, that such merely mislead if regarded as in any way a reflex of either Hegel himself or the German text. It is true that this work is—as are in their degree other volumes of the collected edition, the "Outlines of the Philosophy of Right" for example—a heterogeneous product, in our own instance not merely lacking the final revision of the author, but rather put together as such a connected treatise by the editor responsible (i) from several autograph MSS. of Hegel[6], some of which were little more than fragmentary notes for lectures, (ii) supplemented further from notes[7] taken by pupils who attended such lectures, the entire conglomerate being (iii) finally dovetailed together with connecting links by the editorial hand much as, to cite his own illustration, a careful picture restorer might do in order to secure the impression of a unified work, the unity aimed at by himself being rather that of a connected literary treatise than a series of lectures.

It is obvious that a product of this nature will vary considerably throughout in the degree that the personality and unique flavour of Hegel himself, whether viewed as writer or thinker, asserts itself.

[Pg ii]

The introductions[8] have been, it would appear, taken almost exclusively from Hegel's own MSS.; but even these remained unrevised for the press, owing to the premature and sudden death of their author.

Of the greater portion of the work we can merely form our judgment of the nature of its authenticity from the content itself. On the whole I should myself say that the result was more favourable than might under such conditions have been expected. The editor assures us expressly that so far as all illustrations and the substantive content of the work is concerned no attempt has been made whatever to supplement the same. Hegel is throughout here entirely responsible. I think, further, that the endeavour claimed by the editor to preserve the general character and tone (Kolorit) of Hegel's own diction has attained a degree of success that could only have been within the reach of devoted pupils and friends of the man himself, who for many years both attended his lectures and studied his published works. Whatever opinion, however, we may arrive at on this head there can hardly be two opinions as to the sources in which the main interest consists for a modern reader.

First, I should lay particular stress on the forceful and characteristic manner in which the fundamental philosophical conceptions which underlie the entire fabric are worked into and elaborated explicitly, throughout its detail. The very nature of this unwearied and insistent interfusion (Durchdringung) of positive fact, whether historical, scientific, or aesthetic, with the dialectic movement of the Idea is here as essentially the method of Hegel as it is elsewhere. And this is so despite the fact that it is here presented for the most part in a form less repellent to the[Pg iii] ordinary reader and less provocative of hostile criticism. Translators therefore, who, following the example of the French translator[9], deliberately seek to lighten the burden of their cargo by throwing overboard what they choose to call the "injurious dialectic," or the "dark labyrinth" of this aspect of our work may reproduce much that is of instruction or interest, but most certainly do not reproduce either the main strength of Hegel as a thinker, or the most characteristic impression—to say nothing of the repetitions—of such style or absence of literary style that he possessed.

Secondly, if there is one feature more striking than any other in this work, which is bound at least to surprise anyone who still harbours the obsolete notion that this philosopher moved in an exclusively abstract region of idea remote from the concrete experience of life and scientific or artistic knowledge, it is the wealth and extraordinary range of the illustrations in these volumes no less than the vigour and freshness of their application. In this respect two translations which merely amount to a summary of theoretical content simply omit the vital or at least the most attractive heart of the interest.

As to the present claim of this laborious work to recognition and study, its historical significance is, I think, admitted by the most acknowledged authorities on the subject. As Schasler has called it, it is the first complete system of a philosophy of Art. The nature of its importance to our own most able and[Pg iv] learned historian of the Philosophy of Fine Art may not only be deduced from his own summary of its contents and significance in his invaluable historical survey[10], but is further illustrated by the fact that he has reproduced the concluding portion of Hegel's Introduction in extenso in an Appendix to this work.

Other writers have been less judicious both as hostile critics and in the degree of their praise or enthusiasm. One German authority has called it Hegel's masterpiece. Such a title is, apart from any other ground, sufficiently excluded by its history alone. Whether Hegel might have made it his masterpiece had he lived is of course another question.

Other admirers, such as the late Professor Caird[11], have more legitimately accepted such a distinction for the "Phenomenologie des Geistes." Mr. Hastie will even have it that throughout "All is clear, radiant, harmonious and dim with the things that are a joy for ever." Such an effusive display of abstract Vorstellung reminds one little of either the dour temper of the Swabian philosopher, or the concrete intelligence which most distinguishes him from his rivals now and in his lifetime. I can promise no such garden of Hesperides, or even Platonic banquet, to any of my readers. It is true that we have here, the[Pg v] work being primarily built upon lectures intended to instruct the ordinary student, no such parade of the dialectic method in its formal structure such as constitutes the root of offence in some other works of Hegel. But if we approach it with the belief that all is therefore the plain sailing we meet with in the world of journalistic art criticism and the commonsense conceptions of everyday life, or with the assurance that the work is, or can be, intelligible without some real attempt to grapple with the fundamental ideas of Hegelian metaphysic, we may find our disappointment very considerable. As a humble translator I am bound to say that in a very large number of passages I have by no means discovered immediacy of intelligibility or radiance to be a conspicuous feature of the original. Radiance is indeed, I should say, not an attribute emphatically characteristic of any kind of Teutonic literature, and least of all of its scientific and philosophical literature. The present work is certainly no exception. With its untiring, not to say remorseless, effort to press home in repeated expression, often but slightly varied, the same fundamental points, its dogged and endless persistence in the careful explication through rational definition of every kind of positive material that presents itself from the nature of the divine in man, or the soul of living beast to the accurate determination in the terms of expressed thought of a musical sound or an epigram or simile, with its well-nigh total disregard of the beauty of literary style, and its by no means unfrequent disregard of all principle of proportion in the co-ordination of its varied subject-matter—whatever else such a product may be it is most assuredly not, at least to English apprehension, reminiscent of the radiance either of Homer or Apollo.

But though even sincere admiration may smile over such a description, it does unquestionably reflect to a remarkable extent the thoroughness, tenacity of[Pg vi] purpose, the absence of superficial rhetoric, the wide range, the extraordinary combination of constructive idea and detailed knowledge and research we rightly associate with the most valued works of German science and philosophy. It has never been more needful than at this time of day to draw attention to such qualities, when the national bias is to ignore or belittle their presence. It is, moreover, not without passages which attain to a very real elevation of eloquence, eloquence marked by the profoundest earnestness and entirely free from the least flavour of bombast or sentimentalism. To the right kind of reader it can hardly fail to convey a certain fascination which is not merely due to the presence of a powerful and original intellect, but is equally inseparable from the product of a human soul intent upon getting at the heart of its subject, and keeping its vision throughout fixed on that. Nor is the mere breadth of the canvas and the depth of its content its only attraction. The work is indeed full of digressions of exceptional interest to the general reader, and as such bears the indelible stamp of Hegel's manner as a lecturer, which his editor maintains stood out in such marked contrast to his more concise style as an author, drawing as he did when lecturing so largely on his encyclopaedic stores of knowledge.

To treat all the text as we now have it with the same respect may very possibly betoken to some an excess of zeal on the part of the translator; but after all the most important thing for an English reader is to know what the volumes actually contain. In dealing with Hegel the outlined sketch, whether secured through a process of distillation or adulteration, is by no means any compensation for the loss of the complete picture. If we are impatient over many aspects of this philosopher's particularity, we had much better dispense with him altogether.

Sympathetically studied it is hardly too much to[Pg vii] say that this monumental work is an education in itself. It is at any rate one which cannot fail to enlarge our conceptions of the significance and dignity of human art. Nor is this by any means impossible, even though we are unable to concur in, or indeed remain insufficiently qualified to express a judgment upon all or even a few of the most important of its conclusions. But it is perhaps not wholly unnecessary to observe that before venturing upon a verdict in our wisdom we must, as Robert Browning submitted in reference to the criticism passed upon his poetry, have awakened both our senses and intelligence "that they may the better judge." It is the modest aim of the present translation to make that preparatory process more easy for the English reader, to assist that intelligent assimilation of the truth as it appears to a great and world-famous thinker, which is the necessary condition of any criticism meriting respectful attention at all. Such assimilation is perhaps impossible in the case of Hegel without effort, and indeed something of sympathy with his general outlook and temper, making as he does little or no appeal whatever to the lover of literature as such, who had consequently far better leave him austerely alone to the consideration of others who are more attracted.

I do not propose in these prefatory remarks to enlarge further on the actual content of the work, or on the nature of the criticism which has been directed either to fundamental positions or matters of detail. Some of these I have referred to in my notes on the text where they are most obviously pertinent. The general reader will find a very useful introduction to some of the more primary difficulties in the study of Hegel in Professor Bosanquet's prefatory essay to his translation. The more serious student can hardly dispense with the perusal of a considerable portion of the same writer's history of Aesthetik, at least that portion which directly deals with the writings of Kant,[Pg viii] Schiller, Goethe, Schelling, and Hegel himself on the subject[12].

I hold my translation to be as literal as is possible consistently with an endeavour to render or interpret German philosophical language in the language or idiom of really expressive and intelligible English. It is now generally admitted that all translation is in the nature of an interpretation. However much I may have fallen short of my aim, that aim has been throughout to express the actual ideal content of the German, not merely with all the force and directness I could muster, but with as near an approach to the formal structure of the German text as was consistent with the like condition of really readable English. Above all I have striven to avoid the lassitude of mere paraphrase, that vague generalization of content which conceives itself to possess the right to eliminate from the text pretty much what it pleases.

The Index attached to the final volume is limited in its reference to proper names, and pre-eminently to illustrations in the text of works either of general literature, or other products of art, which I considered of use or interest to the general reader.

In the table of contents to the several volumes I have notified with brackets my own contributions to the German original. In all other respects I have retained the divisions of subject-matter as I found them recorded by Hegel or his editor.

F. P. O.

[1] New York, Appleton and Co.

[2] Chicago, Griggs and Co., 1885.

[3] Edinburgh, Oliver and Boyd, 1886. The translation is literal and of good quality for a little over thirty pages. After that it is a mere summary.

[4] Kegan Paul, Trench and Co., 1886.

[5] Mr. Kedney's volume only amounts to about three hundred small-sized pages altogether.

[6] The most important source were MSS. for lectures given in 1820. This formed the basis of further lectures in 1823, 1826, and 1829.

[7] The notes to which our editor had access referred to the lectures given in 1823 and 1826, with others of those in 1826 and 1829.

[8] The first Introduction is obviously taken from Hegel's MS., the editor not even venturing in this case to obliterate its form as an address in the lecture room. It represents perhaps the nearest approach we possess to the revised MS.

[9] An almost inevitable defect of such a translation is that criticism may be offered without supplying the material necessary for any satisfactory verdict upon its sufficiency. Thus M. Bénard cites with approval an adverse criticism passed upon what is called Hegel's inadequate treatment of the Idea of Beauty as a partial manifestation of the absolute Idea, but barely includes any of the passages which refer to this in his translation (note, p. 36). Such can lead to no conclusion whatever, though it obviously may entirely mislead his readers.

[10] "History of Aesthetik," by Bernard Bosanquet (Sonnenschein, 1892). See in particular pp. 333-362. With regard to the comparative value of the work of Schelling and Hegel on this subject the author says (p. 334): "It may be said that while we prefer Hegel to Schelling this is partly because Schelling is best represented in Hegel." I can claim but a very limited firsthand knowledge of modern German works on Aesthetik. But I may observe that the section of Lötze's history of German works on the subject devoted to Hegel's "Philosophy of Fine Art" appears to me by no means equal in ability to other portions of the work. The aim of the author appears rather that of proving that his own researches occupy a ground wholly unoccupied by Hegel than of defining with any completeness the ground actually appropriated by Hegel.

[11] "Life of Hegel," p. 110.

[12] The most authoritative introduction to the study of the Hegelian standpoint for English readers is, of course, the late Professor Wallace's Prolegomena to his translation of the lesser Logic, and the introduction to his translation of the Philosophy of Mind.

[Pg xv]




I. The Limits of Aesthetic defined, and certain Objections against the Philosophy of Art refuted     1

[(a) Aesthetic confined to Beauty of Art     2

(b) Is Art unworthy of scientific consideration?     4

(c) Or at least is it incapable of truly philosophical exposition? Negative answer to both these questions]     6

II. Scientific Methods which apply to the Beautiful and Art   17

[1. The Empirical Method   18

2. Abstract Reflection   27

3. The Philosophical Idea of artistic Beauty, that is, the notional concept thereof, provisionally defined]   28

III. The Notion of the Beauty of Art   29

Observations upon the ordinary ideas about Art

1. The art-work is a creation of human activity   33

[(a) Theory of imitation of Art by rule   33

(b) Art as direct inspiration   36

(c) The rank of Art relatively to Nature   38

(d) The nature of the human Art-impulse]   40

2. The art-work is addressed to human sense   43

[(a) Theory that its object is to excite feeling   43

(b) The nature of artistic taste   45

(c) The nature of art-scholarship as contrasted with artistic taste   46

(d) The more philosophical consequences of the fact that Art appeals to sense and requires a sensuous medium for its expression]   47

3. The End or Interest of Art   57

[(a) Is it imitation of Nature?   57

(b) Is the end or content identical with the dictum, "Humani nihil a me alienum," etc.   63

(c) How far it is a mitigation or purification of the passions   65

(d) The higher object of Art which consists in its revelation of truth in itself]   76

IV. Historical Deduction of the true Notion of Art   77

1. The philosophy of Kant   78

[(a) Feeling of aesthetic satisfaction not appetitive   80

(b) Beauty an object of universal satisfaction   80

(c) Teleological aspect of the Beautiful   81

(d) Pleasure in the Beautiful necessary, though felt   82

2. Schiller, Winckelmann, and Schelling   84

3. Irony]   90

V. Division of the Subject   95

[1. Inquiry as to the mode under which the divisions of the subject arise from the notional concept of Beauty   95

2. Part I. The Ideal   99

3. Part II. The particular general types of Beauty 100

(a) The Symbolic type of Art 103

(b) The Classical type of Art 104

(c) The Romantic type of Art 106

4. Part III. The specific arts 110

(a) Architecture 112

(b) Sculpture 113

(c) Romantic art, which includes

(α) Painting 117

(β) Music 118

(γ) Poetry 119

5. Conclusion] 122


I. The Position of Art relatively to finite Reality, Religion, and Philosophy 125

[(a) Theory that the Beautiful is no intelligible object of thought 125

(b) The relation of the human reason to Nature both empirically and speculatively 126

(c) The realm of Fine Art that of the Absolute Spirit 129

(d) How far Art responds to a genuine spiritual want in man 130

(e) The truth which forms the content of art, religion, and philosophy differs only in the modes under which it is presented] 139


1. The Idea 147

[(a) The Idea is concrete, not abstract 149

(b) Objectivity is the real existence of the notion, and the means whereby it is actualized 152

(c) The Idea is the harmonized totality of the two aspects] 152

2. The Determinate Existence of the Idea 153

3. The Idea of the Beautiful 153

[(a) Not apprehended alone by the faculty of the understanding, or the finite categories 154

(b) The nature of finite or abstract apprehension and practical volition considered 155

(c) The object of beauty resolves and the one-sidedness of both standpoints in a free and infinite totality] 157


A. The Beauty of Nature as such 160

1. The Idea as Life 160

[(a) The first mode under which the notion is in Nature asserted as objectivity is that of physical matter, the ideal unity whereof is not found as ideality 160

(b) A further step is the integration of natural objects under a unified system, as the solar system 161

(c) The third mode is that of organic Life. This alone is a determinate existence of the Idea] 163

2. The animated life of Nature as Beauty 171

[(a) The motion of life considered in relation to the conception of beauty 171

(b) The nature of organic unity, and the degree it contributes to the beauty of an object 173

(c) The inward unity of soul-life and the degree it contributes to the correlation of parts of an organism, or is asserted in external form to our senses rather than our reflection] 175

3. Modes under which the beauty of Nature is investigated 179

[(a) Where the form is immediately in the materia as its essence or conformative energy, as in crystals, or more concretely as the informing soul through the living organism 180

(b) Mobility in animals as a test of their apparent beauty 180

(c) Self-conscious life the culminating mode] 182

B. The external Beauty of abstract Form viewed as Uniformity, Symmetry, Conformity to Rule, and Harmony. Also Beauty regarded generally as abstract unity of the Sensuous Material 184

C. The Defective Aspects of the Beauty of Nature 196

1. The Inward principle in its immediacy as merely such inwardness 199

[(a) Immediate singularity as conserved in the purely animal organism 199

(b) Of the nature of the contrast between the above and the human body 200

(c) Social organizations viewed in such particularized immediacy, and the defects they betray as such external totalities] 201

2. The Dependence of particular existence as viewed in its immediate singularity 202

[(a) The dependence of animal life upon its natural environment 203

(b) The nature of a similar dependence in the case of the human organism 203

(c) The dependence of human souls, or spiritual interests, on the prose-life of ordinary existence] 204

3. The limitations implied by such conditions 205

[(a) The restriction of species in the animal world, and of the social condition as it affects human individuality 205

(b) The limitation of racial division, or of particular families, or particular professions, and the effect of such upon the aspect of beauty 206

(c) It is the very defects of this finite plane of reality, which stimulates man to recover the vision of his freedom in Art] 208


A. The Ideal as such 209

1. Individuality which partakes of Beauty 209

[(a) The nature of the conditions under which Art can express a profound and infinite spiritual content 210

(b) What Art rejects from natural embodiment in order to effect this revelation, which is also a purification 212

(c) This "referring back" of external form to spirituality, or inwardness, issuing in harmonious individuality, is the very nature of the Ideal 213

(α) The blythe serenity of antique art 214

(β) The treatment of emotion by romantic art 215

(γ) Irony] 217

2. The Ideal relatively to Nature 218

[(a) The formal ideality of a work of art, i.e., the element of poetry therein 220

(b) The creative faculty contrasted with Nature in its power to grasp ideal significance, with illustrations of this power 222

(c) The nature of this spiritual recreation of natural fact by Art originating in the energy of mind. Illustration with the example of Dutch art in its genre painting, also with that of portraiture and classical art] 227

B. The Determinate Character of the Ideal 236

I. Ideal determinacy as such 237

1. Thought apart from the plastic material can only comprehend the Divine in its universality and unity. Mohammedan and Hebrew art 237

2. The polytheistic aspect of Hellenic art considered, as also Christian art 237

3. The relation of the arts of painting and sculpture to the latter. The transition from the principle of spiritual repose to that of development and conflict 238

II. The Action 240

1. The universal World-condition 241


(α) The self-subsistency of such a condition as a necessary prius of the embodiment of the Ideal 242

(β) The nature of the reality adapted to artistic treatment as contrasted with what is not so adapted. The fixed order of the State as contrasted with conditions most favourable to free individuality 245

(γ) Further examination of contrast in relation to judicial functions and the ideas of punishment or revenge as we find it in the heroic age. The reappearance of an analogous condition in the Middle Ages 248

(b) Modern prosaic life the condition most favourable to the private or personal life as an object of interest 258

(c) Resistance by individual poets to this process of social change. The permanent demand for the heroic] 260

2. The Situation 263

[(a) The situation that is devoid of situation 267

(b) The situation as defined in its harmlessness or absence of further conflict 268

(α) The movement from pure tranquillity to movement or expression. Illustrations from classical art 269

(β) Movement as related to externality. The initial stage of action. Greek sculpture 269

(γ) Situation in movement presented as an opportunity to further expression. Illustrations from poetry] 271

(c) The Collision 272

[(α) Collisions which arise from wholly material conditions. Only of artistic interest as a consequence of natural misfortune. Illustrations 274

(β) Spiritual collisions dependent on natural conditions. Classified and illustrated. 276

(γ) The above only form the starting-point of the collision of the essential forces of spiritual life. The third and most important type is the collision caused by the disruption of Spirit alone. Illustrations] 283

3. The Action 289

(a) The universal forces operative in the action.

[(α) These forces are the eternally paramount religious and ethical modes of relationship, such as family, fatherland, church, friendship, status, honour, and love. They are children of the one absolute Idea. Illustration of their contention 292

(β) They must not act in discord with the main action. The position of evil powers as confronting them, and its treatment by classic and modern poetry 293

(γ) Such forces must appear in Art as embodied in particular personalities. Contrast between ancient and modern art in this respect] 296

(b) The individuals concerned in the action 299

[(α) The relations between gods and men in classical art, and that between the Divine and the human in Christian art 300

[β] Pathos considered in its relation to various modes of art] 302

(c) Character 313

[(α) Viewed as co-extensive or self-coherent individuality, relatively, that is, to the intrinsic wealth it connotes. Illustrations 315

(β) Viewed relatively to the particular form under which it is bound to appear 317

(γ) Viewed as a concrete unity coalescing wholly with its determinate form and as assured character. Illustrations classified in their stability and lack of such] 320

III. The External Determination of the Ideal. 325

1. The abstract Externality as such. 329

[(a) Spatiality, Uniformity, Figure, Time, and Colour. 330

(α) How far such contribute to artistic production 336

(β) The necessity of clear articulation of form and tone considered] 337

2. The Coalescence of the concrete Ideal with its external Reality 339

[(α) The bond of unity regarded as no positive reality, but as a mysterious or secret connection. The relation of external Nature to the work of art. The Homeric poems contrasted with the "Niebelungenlied" in this respect 340

(b) Where the unity is expressly due to human activity and human adaptation of means to ends 340

[(α) The use made by man of ornament or of anything used for mere show, e.g., precious metals for statuary 340

(β) The question how far objects used for practical purposes are suited for art. The idyllic, civilized and heroic condition compared in the degree they are thus adapted341

(γ) The spiritual environment itself in social institutions, etc., regarded in its relation to ideal character] 355

3. The Externality of a work of Art in relation to a Public 355

(a) What is implied in the assertion by the artist of the particular culture of his own times? 358

(b) What may be regarded as truth when the reference is to a Past, either in an exclusive or objective sense? 363

(c) What may still be regarded as valid in truth though the matter be appropriated from a time and nationality foreign to the artist? All three questions discussed and illustrated] 365

C. The Artist 379

1. Imagination, Genius, and Inspiration 380

2. The objective character of the artistic presentation 392

3. Manner, Style, and Originality. 394


[Pg 1]




The present inquiry[1] has for its subject-matter Aesthetic. It is a subject co-extensive with the entire realm of the beautiful; more specifically described, its province is that of Art, or rather, we should say, of Fine Art.

For a subject-matter such as this the term "Aesthetic" is no doubt not entirely appropriate, for "Aesthetic" denotes more accurately the science of the senses or emotion. It came by its origins as a science, or rather as something that to start with purported to be a branch of philosophy, during the period of the school of Wolff, in other words when works of art were generally regarded in Germany with reference to the feelings they were calculated to evoke, as, for example, the feelings of pleasure, admiration, fear, pity, and so forth. It is owing to the unsuitability or, more strictly speaking, the superficiality of this term that the attempt has been made by some to apply the name "Callistic" to this science. Yet this also is clearly insufficient inasmuch as the science here referred to does not investigate beauty in its general signification, but the beauty of art pure and simple. For this reason we shall accommodate ourselves to the term Aesthetic, all the more so as the mere question of[Pg 2] nomenclature is for ourselves a matter of indifference. It has as such been provisionally accepted in ordinary speech, and we cannot do better than retain it. The term, however, which fully expresses our science is "Philosophy of Art," and, with still more precision, "Philosophy of Fine Art."

(a) In virtue of this expression we at once exclude the beauty of Nature from the scientific exposition of Fine Art. Such a limitation of our subject may very well appear from a certain point of view as an arbitrary boundary line, similar to that which every science is entitled to fix in the demarcation of its subject-matter. We must not, however, understand the limitation of "Aesthetic" to the beauty of art in this sense. We are accustomed, no doubt, in ordinary life to speak of a beautiful colour, a beautiful heaven, a beautiful stream, to say nothing of beautiful flowers, animals, and, above all, of beautiful human beings. Without entering now into the disputed question how far the quality of beauty can justly be predicated of such objects, and consequently the beauty of Nature comes generally into competition with that of art, we are justified in maintaining categorically that the beauty of art stands higher than Nature. For the beauty of art is a beauty begotten, a new birth of mind[2]; and to the extent that Spirit and its creations stand higher than Nature and its phenomena, to that extent the beauty of art is more exalted than the beauty of Nature. Indeed, if we regard the matter in its formal aspect, that is to say, according to the way it is there, any chance fancy that passes through any one's head[3], is of higher rank than any product of Nature. For in every case intellectual conception and freedom are inseparable from such a conceit. In respect to content the sun appears to us an absolutely necessary constituent of actual fact, while the perverse fancy passes away as something accidental and evanescent. None the less in its own independent being a natural existence such as the sun possesses no power of self-differentiation; it is neither essentially free nor self-aware; and, if we regard it in its necessary cohesion with other things, we do not regard it[Pg 3] independently for its own sake, and consequently not as beautiful.

Merely to maintain, in a general way, that mind and the beauty of art which originates therefrom stand higher than the beauty of Nature is no doubt to establish next to nothing. The expression higher is obviously entirely indefinite; it still indicates the beauty of Nature and art as standing juxtaposed in the field of conception, and emphasizes the difference as a quantitative and accordingly external difference. But in predicating of mind and its artistic beauty a higher place in contrast to Nature, we do not denote a distinction which is merely relative. Mind, and mind alone, is pervious to truth, comprehending all in itself, so that all which is beautiful can only be veritably beautiful as partaking in this higher sphere and as begotten of the same. Regarded under this point of view it is only a reflection of the beauty appertinent to mind, that is, we have it under an imperfect and incomplete mode, and one whose substantive being is already contained in the mind itself.

And apart from this we shall find the restriction to the beauty of art only natural, for in so far as the beauties of Nature may have come under discussion—a rarer occurrence among ancient writers than among ourselves—yet at least it has occurred to no one to insist emphatically on the beauty of natural objects to the extent of proposing a science, or systematic exposition of such beauties. It is true that the point of view of utility has been selected for such exclusive treatment. We have, for example, the conception of a science of natural objects in so far as they are useful in the conflict with diseases, in other words a description of minerals, chemical products, plants, animals, which subserve the art of healing. We do not find any analogous exploitation and consideration of the realm of Nature in its aspect of beauty. In the case of natural beauty we are too keenly conscious that we are dealing with an indefinite subject-matter destitute of any real criterion. It is for this reason that such an effort of comparison would carry with it too little interest to justify the attempt.

These preliminary observations over beauty in Nature and art, over the relation of both, and the exclusion of the first-mentioned from the province of our real subject-matter[Pg 4] are intended to disabuse us of the notion that the limitation of our science is simply a question of capricious selection. We have, however, not reached the point where a demonstration of this fact is feasible for the reason that such an investigation falls within the limits of our science itself, and it is therefore only at a later stage that we can either discuss or prove the same.

Assuming, however, that we have, by way of prelude, limited our inquiry to the beauty of art, we are merely by this first step involved in fresh difficulties.

(b) What must first of all occur to us is the question whether Fine Art in itself is truly susceptible to a scientific treatment. It is a simple fact that beauty and art pervade all the affairs of life like some friendly genius, and embellish with their cheer all our surroundings, mental no less than material. They alleviate the strenuousness of such relations, the varied changes of actual life; they banish the tedium of our existence with their entertainment; and where nothing really worth having is actually achieved, it is at least an advantage that they occupy the place of actual vice. Yet while art prevails on all sides with its pleasing shapes, from the crude decorations of savage tribes up to the splendours of the sacred shrine adorned with every conceivable beauty of design, none the less such shapes themselves appear to fall outside the real purposes of life, and even where the imaginative work of art is not impervious to such serious objects, nay, rather at times even appear to assist them, to the extent at least of removing what is evil to a distance, yet for all that art essentially belongs to the relaxation and recreation of spiritual life, whereas its substantive interests rather make a call upon its strained energy. On such grounds an attempt to treat that which on its own account is not of a serious character with all the gravity of scientific exposition may very possibly appear to be unsuitable and pedantic. In any case from such a point of view art appears a superfluity if contrasted with the essential needs and interests of life, even assuming that the softening of the soul which a preoccupation with the beauty of objects is capable of producing, does not actually prove injurious in its effeminate influence upon the serious quality of those practical interests. Owing to this fundamental assumption that they are a luxury it has[Pg 5] often appeared necessary to undertake the defence of the fine arts relatively to the necessities of practical life, and in particular relatively to morality and piety; and inasmuch as this harmlessness is incapable of demonstration, the idea has been at least to make it appear credible, that this luxury of human experience contributes a larger proportion of advantages than disadvantages. In this respect serious aims have been attributed to art, and in many quarters it has been commended as a mediator between reason and sensuous associations, between private inclinations and duty, personified in short as a reconciler of these forces in the strenuous conflict and opposition which this antagonism generates. But it is just conceivable[4] that, even assuming the presence of such aims with all their indubitably greater seriousness, neither reason nor duty come by much profit from such mediation, for the simple reason that they are incapable by their very nature of any such interfusion or compromise, demanding throughout the same purity which they intrinsically possess. And we might add that art does not become in any respect more worthy thereby of scientific discussion, inasmuch as it remains still on two sides a menial, that is, subservient to idleness and frivolity, if also to objects of more elevated character. In such service, moreover, it can at most merely appear as a means instead of being an object for its own sake. And, in conclusion, assuming that art is a means, it still invariably labours under the formal defect, that so far as it in fact is subservient to more serious objects, and produces results of like nature, the means which actually brings this about is deception. For beauty is made vital in the appearance[5]. Now it can hardly be denied that aims which are true and serious ought not to be achieved by deception; and though such an effect is here and there secured by this means, such ought only to be the case in a restricted degree; and even in the exceptional case we are not justified in regarding deception as the right means. For the means ought to correspond with the dignity of the aim. Neither semblance nor deception, but only what is itself real and true, possesses a title to create what is real and true. Just in the same way science has to investigate the true interests of the mind in[Pg 6] accordance with the actual process of the real world and the manner of conceiving it as we actually find it.

We may possibly conclude from the above grounds that the art of beauty is unworthy of philosophical examination. It is after all, it may be said, only a pleasant pastime, and, though we may admit more serious aims are also in its purview, nevertheless it is essentially opposed to such aims in their seriousness. It is at the most merely the servant of specific amusements no less than the exceptional serious objects, and for the medium of its existence as also for the means of its operations can merely avail itself of deception and show.

But yet further in the second place, it is a still more plausible contention that even supposing fine art to be compatible generally with philosophical disquisition, none the less it would form no really adequate subject-matter for scientific enquiry in the strict sense. For the beauty of art is presented to sense, feeling, perception, and imagination: its field is not that of thought, and the comprehension of its activity and its creations demands another faculty than that of the scientific intelligence. Furthermore, what we enjoy in artistic beauty is just the freedom of its creative and plastic activity. In the production and contemplation of these we appear to escape the principle of rule and system. In the creations of art we seek for an atmosphere of repose and animation as some counterpoise to the austerity of the realm of law and the sombre self-concentration of thought; we seek for blithe and powerful reality in exchange for the shadow-world of the Idea. And, last of all, the free activity of the imagination is the source of the fair works of art, which in this world of the mind are even more free than Nature is herself. Not only has art at its service the entire wealth of natural form in all their superabundant variety, but the creative imagination is able inexhaustibly to extend the realm of form by its own productions and modifications. In the presence of such an immeasurable depth of inspired creation and its free products, it may not unreasonably be supposed that thought will lose the courage to apprehend such in their apparent range, to pronounce its verdict thereon, and to appropriate such beneath its universal formulae.

Science, on the other hand, everyone must admit, is formally[Pg 7] bound to occupy itself with thinking which abstracts from the mass of particulars: and for this very reason, from one point of view, the imagination and its contingency and caprice, in other words the organ of artistic activity and enjoyment, is excluded from it. On the other hand, when art gives joyous animation to just this gloomy and arid dryness of the notion, bringing its abstractions and divisions into reconciliation with concrete fact, supplementing with its detail what is wanting to the notion in this respect, even in that case a purely contemplative reflection simply removes once more all that has been added, does away with it, conducting the notion once again to that simplicity denuded of positive reality which belongs to it and its shadowland of abstraction. It is also a possible contention that science in respect to content is concerned with what is essentially necessary. If our science of Aesthetic places on one side natural beauty, not merely have we apparently made no advance, but rather separated ourselves yet further from what is necessary. The expression Nature implies from the first the ideas of necessity and uniformity, that is to say a constitution which gives every expectation of its proximity and adaptability to scientific inquiry. In mental operations generally, and most of all in the imagination, if contrasted in this respect with Nature, caprice and superiority to every kind of formal restriction, caprice, it is here assumed, is uniquely in its right place, and these at once put out of court the basis of a scientific inquiry.

From each and all these points of view consequently, in its origin, that is to say, in its effect and in its range, fine art, so far from proving itself fitted for scientific effort, rather appears fundamentally to resist the regulative principle of thought, and to be ill-adapted for exact scientific discussion.

Difficulties of this kind, and others like them, which have been raised in respect to a thoroughly scientific treatment of fine art have been borrowed from current ideas, points of view, and reflection, the more systematic expansion of which we may read ad nauseam in previous literature, in particular French literature, upon the subject of beauty and the fine arts. Such contain to some extent facts which have their justification; in fact, elaborate arguments[6] are deduced[Pg 8] therefrom, which also are not without their tincture of apparent plausibility. In this way, for instance, there is the fact that the configuration of beauty is as multifold as the phenomenon of beauty is of universal extension; from which we may conclude, if we care to do so, that a universal impulse towards beauty is enclosed in our common nature, and may yet further conceivably infer, that because the conceptions of beauty are so countless in their variety and withal are obviously something particular, it is impossible to secure laws of universal validity either relatively to beauty or our taste for it.

Before turning away from such theories to the subject, as we ourselves conceive it, it will be a necessary and preliminary task to discuss the questions and objections raised above.

First, as to the worthiness of art to form the object of scientific inquiry, it is no doubt the case that art can be utilized as a mere pastime in the service of pleasure and entertainment, either in the embellishment of our surroundings, the imprinting of a delight-giving surface to the external conditions of life, or the emphasis placed by decoration on other objects. In these respects it is unquestionably no independent or free art, but an art subservient to certain objects. The kind of art, however, which we ourselves propose to examine is one which is free in its aim and its means. That art in general can serve other objects, and even be merely a pastime, is a relation which it possesses in common with thought itself. From one point of view thought likewise, as science subservient to other ends, can be used in just the same way for finite purposes and means as they chance to crop up, and as such serviceable faculty of science is not self-determined, but determined by something alien to it. But, further, as distinct from such subservience to particular objects, science is raised of its own essential resources in free independence to truth, and exclusively united with its own aims in discovering the true fulfillment in that truth.

Fine art is not art in the true sense of the term until it is also thus free, and its highest function is only then satisfied when it has established itself in a sphere which it shares with religion, and philosophy, becoming thereby merely one[Pg 9] mode and form through which the Divine, the profoundest interests of mankind, and spiritual truths of widest range, art brought home to consciousness and expressed. It is in works of art that nations have deposited the richest intuitions and ideas they possess; and not infrequently fine art supplies a key of interpretation to the wisdom and religion of peoples; in the case of many it is the only one. This is an attribute which art shares in common with religion and philosophy, the peculiar distinction in the case of art being that its presentation of the most exalted subject-matter is in sensuous form, thereby bringing them nearer to Nature and her mode of envisagement, that is closer to our sensitive and emotional life. The world, into the profundity of which thought penetrates, is a supersensuous one, a world which to start with is posited as a Beyond in contrast to the immediacy of ordinary conscious life and present sensation. It is the freedom of reflecting consciousness which disengages itself from this immersion in the "this side," or immediacy, in other words sensuous reality and finitude. But the mind is able, too, to heal the fracture which is thus created in its progression. From the wealth of its own resources it brings into being the works of fine art as the primary bond of mediation between that which is exclusively external, sensuous and transitory, and the medium of pure thought, between Nature and its finite reality, and the infinite freedom of a reason which comprehends. Now it was objected that the element[7] of art was, if we view it as a whole, of an unworthy character, inasmuch as it consisted of appearance and deceptions inseparable from such. Such a contention would of course be justifiable, if we were entitled to assume that appearance had no locus standi[8] at all. An appearance or show is, however, essential to actuality. There could be no such thing as truth if it did not appear, or, rather, let itself appear[9], were it not further true for some one thing or person, for itself as also for spirit. Consequently it cannot be appearance in general against[Pg 10] which such an objection can be raised, but the particular mode of its manifestation under which art makes actual what is essentially real and true. If, then, the appearance, in the medium of which art gives determinate existence to its creations, be defined as deception, such an objection is in the first instance intelligible if we compare it with the external world of a phenomena, and its immediate relation to ourselves as material substance, or view it relatively to our own world of emotions, that is our inward sensuous life. Both these are worlds to which in our everyday life, the life, that is, of visible experience, we are accustomed to attach the worth and name of reality, actuality and truth as contrasted with that of art, which fails to possess such reality as we suppose. Now it is just this entire sphere of the empirical world, whether on its personal side or its objective side, which we ought rather to call in a stricter sense than when we apply the term to the world of art, merely a show or appearance, and an even more unyielding form of deception. It is only beyond the immediacy of emotional life and that world of external objects that we shall discover reality in any true sense of the term. Nothing is actually real but that which is actual in its own independent right and substance[10], that which is at once of the substance of Nature and of mind, which, while it is actually here in present and determinate existence, yet retains under such limitation an essential and self-concentred being, and only in virtue of such is truly real. The predominance of these universal powers is precisely that which art accentuates and manifests. In the external and soul-world of ordinary experience we have also no doubt this essence of actuality, but in the chaotic congeries of particular detail, encumbered by the immediacy of sensuous envisagement, and every kind of caprice of condition, event, character, and so forth. Now it is just the show and deception of this false and evanescent world which art disengages from the veritable significance of phenomena to which we have referred, implanting in the same a reality of more exalted rank born of mind. The phenomena of art therefore are not merely[Pg 11] not appearance and nothing more; we are justified in ascribing to them, as contrasted with the realities of our ordinary life, an actually higher reality and more veritable existence. To as little extent are the representations of art a deceptive appearance as compared with the assumed truer delineations of historical writing. For immediate existence also does not belong to historical writing. It only possesses the intellectual appearance of the same as the medium of its delineations, and its content remains charged with the entire contingent materia of ordinary reality and its events, developments and personalities, whereas the work of art brings us face to face with the eternal powers paramount in history with this incidental association of the immediate sensuous present and its unstable appearance expunged.

If, however, it is in contrast with philosophic thought and religious and ethical principles, that the mode of appearance of the shapes of art, is described as a deception, there is certainly this in support of the view that the mode of revelation attained by a content in the realm of thought is the truest reality. In comparison, nevertheless, with the appearance of immediate sensuous existence and that of historical narration, the show of art possesses the advantage that, in its own virtue, it points beyond itself, directing us to a somewhat spiritual, which it seeks to envisage to the conceptive mind. Immediate appearance, on the contrary, does not give itself out to be thus illusive, but rather to be the true and real, though as a matter of fact such truth is contaminated and obstructed by the immediately sensuous medium. The hard rind of Nature and the everyday world offer more difficulty to the mind in breaking through to the Idea than do the products of art.

But if from this particular point of view we place art thus highly, we must not, on the other hand, fail to remember that neither in respect to content or form is art either the highest or most absolute mode of bringing the true interests of our spiritual life to consciousness. The very form of art itself is sufficient to limit it to a definite content. It is only a particular sphere and grade of truth which is capable of being reproduced in the form of a work of art. Such truth must have the power in its own determinate character to go[Pg 12] out freely into sensuous shape and remain adequate to itself therein, if it is to be the genuine content of art, as is the case, for example, with the gods of Greece. On the other hand there is a profounder grasp of truth, in which the form is no longer on such easy and friendly terms with the sensuous material as to be adequately accepted and expressed by that medium. Of such a type is the Christian conception of truth; and above all it is the prevailing spirit of our modern world, or, more strictly, of our religion and our intellectual culture, which have passed beyond the point at which art is the highest mode under which the absolute is brought home to human consciousness. The type peculiar to art-production and its products fails any longer to satisfy man's highest need. We are beyond the stage of reverence for works of art as divine and objects deserving our worship. The impression they produce is one of a more reflective[11] kind, and the emotions which they arouse require a higher test and a further verification. Thought and reflection have taken their flight above fine art. To those who are fond of complaint and grumbling such a condition of things may be held as a form of decadence; it may be ascribed to the obsession of passion and selfish interests, which scare away the seriousness of art no less than its blithesomeness. Or we may find the fault to lie in the exigencies of the present day, the complex conditions of social and political life, which prevent the soul, entangled as it is in microscopic interests, from securing its freedom in the nobler objects of art, a condition, too, in which the intelligence itself becomes a menial to such trifling wants and the interests they excite in sciences, which subserve objects of a like nature, and are seduced into the voluntary exile of such a wilderness.

But however we may explain the fact it certainly is the case that Art is no longer able to discover that satisfaction of spiritual wants, which previous epochs and nations have sought for in it and exclusively found in it, a satisfaction which, at least on the religious side, was associated with art in the most intimate way. The fair days of Greek art, as also the golden time of the later middle ages, are over. The reflective culture of our life of to-day makes it inevitable,[Pg 13] both relatively to our volitional power and our judgment, that we adhere strictly to general points of view, and regulate particular matters in consonance with them, so that universal forms, laws, duties, rights, and maxims hold valid as the determining basis of our life and the force within of main importance. What is demanded for artistic interest as also for artistic creation is, speaking in general terms, a vital energy, in which the universal is not present as law and maxim, but is operative in union with the soul and emotions, just as also, in the imagination, what is universal and rational is enclosed only as brought into unity with a concrete sensuous phenomenon. For this reason the present time is not, if we review its conditions in their widest range, favourable to art. And with regard to the executive artist himself it is not merely that reflection on every side, which will insist on utterance, owing to the universal habit of critical opinion and judgment, leads him astray from his art and infects his mind with a like desire to accumulate abstract thought in his creations; rather the entire spiritual culture of the times is of such a nature that he himself stands within a world thus disposed to reflection and the conditions it presupposes, and, do what he may, he cannot release himself either by his wish or his power of decision from their influence, neither can he by means of exceptional education, or a removal from the ordinary conditions of life, conjure up for himself and secure a solitude capable of replacing all that is lost.

In all these respects art is and remains for us, on the side, of its highest possibilities, a thing of the past. Herein it has further lost its genuine truth and life, and is rather transported to our world of ideas than is able to maintain its former necessity and its superior place in reality. What is now stimulated in us by works of art is, in addition to the fact of immediate enjoyment, our judgment. In other words we subject the content, and the means of presentation of the work of art, and the suitability and unsuitability of both, to the contemplation of our thought. A science of art is therefore a far more urgent necessity in our own days than in times in which art as art sufficed by itself alone to give complete satisfaction. We are invited by art to contemplate it reflectively, not, that is to say, with the[Pg 14] object of recreating such art[12], but in order to ascertain scientifically its nature.

In doing our best to accept such an invitation we are confronted with the objection already adverted to, that even assuming that art is a subject adapted for philosophical investigation in a general way, yet it unquestionably is not so adapted to the systematic procedure of science. Such an objection, however, implies to start with the false notion that we can have a philosophical inquiry which is at the same time unscientific. In reply to such a point I can only here state summarily my opinion, that whatever ideas other people may have of philosophy and philosophizing, I myself conceive philosophical inquiry of any sort or kind to be inseparable from the methods of science. The function of philosophy is to examine subject-matter in the light of the principle of necessity, not, it is true, merely in accordance with its subjective[13] necessity or external co-ordination, classification, and so forth; it has rather to unfold and demonstrate the object under review out of the necessity of its own intimate nature. Until this essential process is made explicit the scientific quality of such an inquiry is absent. In so far, however, as the objective necessity of an object subsists essentially in its logical and metaphysical nature the isolated examination of art may in such a case, at any rate, or rather inevitably, must be carried forward with a certain relaxation of scientific stringency. For art is based upon many assumptions, part of which relate to its content, part to its material or conceptive[14] medium, in virtue of which art is never far from the borders of contingency and caprice. Consequently it is only relatively to the essential and ideal progression of its content and its means of expression that we are able to[Pg 15] recall with advantage the formative principle of its necessity[15].

The objection that works of fine art defy the examination of scientific thought, because they originate in the unregulated world of imagination and temperament, and assert their effect exclusively on the emotions and the fancy with a complexity and variety which defies exact analysis, raises a difficulty which still carries genuine weight behind it[16]. As a matter of fact the beauty of art does appear in a form which is expressly to be contrasted with abstract thought, a form which it is compelled to disturb in order to exercise its own activity in its own way. Such a result is simply a corollary of the thesis that reality anywhere and everywhere, whether the life of Nature or mind, is defaced and slain by its comprehension; that so far from being brought more close to us by the comprehension of thinking, it is only by this means that it is in the complete sense removed apart from us, so that in his attempt to grasp through thought as a means the nature of life, man rather renders nugatory this very aim. An exhaustive discussion of the subject is here impossible; we propose merely to indicate the point of view from which the removal of this difficulty or impossibility and incompatibility might be effected. It will at least be readily admitted that mind is capable of self-contemplation, and of possessing a consciousness, and indeed one that implies a power of thought co-extensive with itself and everything which originates from itself. It is, in fact, precisely thought, the process of thinking, which constitutes the most intimate and essential nature of mind. It is in this thinking-consciousness over itself and its products, despite all the freedom and caprice such may otherwise and indeed must invariably possess—assuming only mind or spirit to be veritably pregnant therein—that mind exhibits the activity congenial to its essential nature. Art and the creations of art, being works which originate in and are begotten of the spirit, are themselves stamped with the hall-mark of spirit,[Pg 16] even though the mode of its presentation accept for its own the phenomenal guise of sensuous reality, permeating as it does the sensuous substance with intelligence. Viewed in this light art is placed from the first nearer to spirit and its thought than the purely external and unintelligent Nature. In the products of art mind is exclusively dealing with that which is its own. And although works of art are not thought and notion simply as such, but an evolution of the notion out of itself, an alienation of the same in the direction of sensuous being, yet for all that the might of the thinking spirit is discovered not merely in its ability to grasp itself in its most native form as pure thinking, but also, and as completely, to recognize itself in its self-divestment in the medium of emotion and the sensuous, to retain the grasp of itself in that "other" which it transforms but is not, transmuting the alien factor into thought-expression, and by so doing recovering it to itself. And moreover in this active and frequent relation to that "other" than itself the reflective mind is not in any way untrue to itself. We have here no oblivion or surrender of itself; neither is it so impotent as to be unable to comprehend what is differentiated from that other[17]; what it actually does is to grasp in the notion both itself and its opposite. For the notion is the universal, which maintains itself in its particularizations, which covers in its grasp both itself and its "other," and consequently contains the power and energy to cancel the very alienation into which it passes. For this reason the work of art, in which thought divests itself of itself[18], belongs to the realm of comprehending thought; and mind, by subjecting it[19] to scientific contemplation, thereby simply satisfies its most essential nature. For inasmuch as thought is its essence and notion, it can only ultimately find such a satisfaction after passing all the products of its activity through the alembic of rational thought, and in this way making them for the first time in very truth part of its own substance. But though art, as we shall eventually see[Pg 17] with yet more distinctness, is far indeed from being the highest form of mind, it is only in the philosophy of art that it comes into all that it may justly claim.

In the same way art is not debarred from a philosophical inquiry by reason of its unregulated caprice. As already intimated, it is its true function to bring to consciousness the highest interests of mind. An immediate consequence of this is that, so far as the content of fine art is concerned, it cannot range about in all the wildness of an unbridled fancy; these interests of spirit posit categorically for the content that embodies them definite points of attachment[20], however multifold and inexhaustible may be the forms and shapes they assume. The same may be said of the forms themselves. They too do not remain unaffected by constraining principles. It is not every chance form which is capable of expressing and presenting these interests, capable of assimilating them and reproducing them. It is only through one determinate content that the form adequate to its embodiment is defined.

It is upon grounds such as these that we are also able to discover a track adapted to critical reflection through the apparently endless vistas of artistic creations and shapes.

We have now, I trust, by way of prelude, succeeded in restricting the content of our science on the lines of definition proposed. We have made it clear that neither is fine art unworthy of philosophical study, nor is such a philosophical study incapable of accepting as an object of its cognition the essence of fine art.


If we now investigate the required mode of such scientific investigation, we are here again face to face with two contradictory modes of handling the subject, each of which appears to exclude the other and to permit us to arrive at no satisfactory result.

On the one hand we observe the science of art, merely so[Pg 18] to speak, from an external point of view busying itself with actual works of art, cataloguing them in a history of art, drawing up a sort of commentary upon extant works, or propounding theories which are intended to supply the general points of view for artistic criticism no less than artistic production.

On the other hand we find science wholly giving itself up in its independence and self-assured to the contemplation of the beautiful, offering generalizations which do not concern the specific characteristics of a work of art, producing in short an abstract philosophy of the beautiful.

1. With regard to the first mentioned method of study, the starting-point of which is the empirical study of definite facts, such is the path everyone must tread who means to study art at all. And just as everyone nowadays, even though he does not actually concern himself with physical science, yet deems it indispensable to his intellectual equipment to have some kind of knowledge of the principles of that science[21], so too it is generally considered more or less essential to any man of real cultivation, that he should possess some general knowledge of art; and indeed the pretension to be ranked as dilletante, or even as genuine connoisseur, meets with comparatively few exceptions.

(a) If however knowledge of this kind is really to claim the rank of connoisseurship of the first class it must be both varied in its character and of the widest range. It is an indispensable condition to such that it should possess an accurate knowledge of the well-nigh limitless field of particular works of art both of ancient and modern times, some of which have already disappeared, while others are only to be found in distant countries or portions of the globe, and which it is the misfortune of our situation to be unable to inspect. Add to this that every work of art belongs to one age, one nationality, and depends upon particular historical or other ends and ideas. On account of this it is indispensable that the finest type of art-scholarship should have at its command not merely historical knowledge of a wide[Pg 19] range, but knowledge that is highly specialized. In other words, a work of art is associated with particular[22] detail in a peculiar sense, and a specific treatment, is imperative to the comprehension and interpretation of it. And in conclusion this connoisseurship of the finest class does not merely imply like every other a retentive memory, but also a keen imaginative sense, in order to hold clearly before the mind the images of such artistic representations in all their characteristic lines, and above all, to have them ready for comparison with other works of art.

(b) Within the limits of such a method of study which is primarily historical[23], distinct points of view will soon assert themselves which in the contemplation of such works we are not suffered to lose sight of, inasmuch as they are indispensable to a critical verdict. Such points of view, as is the case with other sciences the commencement of which is empirical, are summarized, after their due collection as separate units and comparison, in general criteria and propositions, emerging in a yet further stage of formal generalization in "Theories of the arts." This is not the place to dwell at length upon literature of this kind; we will merely recall a few specimens of such work in the most general way. There is, for instance, the "Poetics" of Aristotle, which contains a theory of tragedy still of real interest. With still more pertinency among the ancients the "Ars Poetica" of Horace and the Essay on the "Sublime" by Longinus will exemplify generally the manner in which this type of theorizing is carried out. The general theses which are therein formulated are intended to stand as premises and rules, in accordance with which works of art ought to be produced, their necessity being above all insisted on in times of the decadence of poetry and art. They are, in short, prescriptions to the practitioner. The prescriptions, however, of these physicians of art were even less successful in their curative effect on art than are the ordinary ones in the restoration of bodily health.

As to such theories I will merely remark that although in[Pg 20] their detail they contain much that is instructive, yet what they have to say is based on a very limited range of artistic production, which passed no doubt for the superlatively beautiful ones, but for all that occupied but a very restricted portion of the entire field of survey. From a further point of view such generalizations are in part very trivial reflections, which in their generality led up to no secure grasp of actual detail, though that is above all the matter of most importance. The epistle of Horace already cited is full of such general theses, and consequently a book for everyone, but one which for this very reason contains much of no importance at all. Take the lines:

Omne tulit punctum qui miscuit utile dulci
Lectorum delectando pariterque monendo—

"He carries all votes who has interfused the useful and the pleasant, by at the same time charming and instructing his reader." This is no better than copybook headings such as "Stay where you are and earn an honest sixpence"—which are good enough as generalization, but are defective in the concrete determinacy upon which action depends. An interest of another kind deducible from this type of artistic study does not so much consist in the expressed object to promote the production of genuine works of art: the intention appears to be rather that of influencing the judgment of others upon artistic works by such theories, creating, in short, a standard of taste. It is for an object of this kind that Horne's "Elements of Criticism," the writings of Batteux, and Ramler's "Introduction to the Fine Arts" have found many readers in their day. Taste, in this sense, has to do with co-ordination and artistic treatment, the thing in its right place, and all that concerns the finish of that which belongs to the external embodiment of a work of art. Add to this that to the principles of such a taste views were attached which belonged to the psychology in fashion at the time, views which had been discovered by empirical observations of capacities and activities of the soul, or of passions and their potential aggrandizement, succession, and so forth. It is, however, an invariable fact that every one forms his opinion of works of art, or characters, actions and events according to the measure of his insight and his perceptive[Pg 21] temperament; and inasmuch as the formation of taste to which we have referred merely touched what was external and therefore jejune, and apart from this deduced its prescriptions entirely from a limited circle of artistic works and an intellectual culture and emotional discipline equally restricted, its sphere of influence was ineffective, and it had neither the power to comprehend the profounder significance[24] and the true, nor to make the vision more keen for their apprehension.

Such theories proceed through generalization as do the rest of the non-philosophic sciences. The content which they submit to examination is accepted from ordinary ideas as something final and received as such. Questions are then asked about the constitution of such a concept, the need for more distinct specification making itself apparent, and this too is borrowed from current ideas, and forthwith finally established from it in definitions. But in such a procedure we at once find ourselves on an insecure basis exposed to controversy. It might in the first instance no doubt appear that the beautiful was quite a simple idea. But we soon discover it combines several aspects; one writer will emphasize one of these, another some other one; or, even assuming the same points of view are considered, the question for dispute still remains which aspect is to be regarded as essential.

With regard to such questions it is generally reckoned as inseparable from scientific completeness, that the various definitions of the beautiful should be enumerated and criticized. For ourselves we do not propose to attempt this with such historical exhaustiveness as would unfold all the many refinements of such essays at definition, nor indeed on account of their historical interest. We simply, by way of illustration, shall offer a few specimens of the more recent and more interesting ways of regarding the matter which do in fact hit off pretty nearly what is actually implied in the idea of the beautiful. With this in view it is of first importance to recall Goethe's definition of the beautiful, which Meyer has incorporated in his "History of the Creative Arts in Greece," in which work he also brings forward the views of Hirt, though he does not actually mention his name.[Pg 22] Hirt, one of the greatest among connoisseurs of the first class in our time, in his "Essay upon Fine Art" (Horen, 1797, seventh number), after considering the beautiful in the several arts, summarizes his conclusions in the statement that the basis of a just criticism of fine art and cultivation of taste is the idea of the Characteristic. In other words he defines the beautiful ultimately as the "Consummate[25] which is or can be an object of eye, ear, or imagination." He then proceeds to define this "consummate" as "that which is adequate to its aim, which nature or art aimed at producing in the constitution of the object—after its generic kind and specific type." For which reason it is necessary that, in order to instruct our critical sense of beauty, we should direct our attention, so far as possible, to the specific indications of the object's essential constitution. It is, in fact, these insignia of individuality which are its characteristic. Consequently under the term character as a principle of art he understands "that definite individual characterization[26], whereby forms, movement and gesture, mien and expression, local colouring, light and shadow, chiaroscuro and pose are severally distinguished in due relation of course to the requirements of the object previously selected." This formula is more significant in its actual terms than other definitions in vogue. If we proceed to ask what the "characteristic" is we find that it implies, first, a content, as, for instance, a definite emotion, situation, event, action, individual person or thing; secondly, the specific manner in accordance with which such a content is represented. It is to this mode or manner of presentation that the artistic principle of the "characteristic" is related. It requires that every aspect of detail in the mode of expression shall subserve the clearer definition of that expression's content, and become a vital member of such expression.

The abstract determination of the characteristic emphasizes therefore the pertinency with which particular detail[Pg 23] ought to bring into prominence the content which it is intended to reproduce. Attempting an elucidation of this conception apart from technical phrase we may state the limitation implied in it as follows: In the drama, for instance, it is an action which constitutes the content. That is to say, the drama has to represent how this or that action takes place. Now men do all kinds of different things. They speak to each other, take their meals, sleep, put on their clothes, say this and that, and all the rest of it. But in all this business of life what does not lie in immediate relation with the particular action selected as the real dramatic content, must be excluded in order that relatively to it everything shall be significant. In the same way in a picture which only includes one moment of that action, and it is possible to accumulate—such are the countless vistas into which the objective world draws us—a mass of circumstances, persons, situations or other occurrences, which stand in no relation to the specific action as it actually occurs, nor subserve in any way the clearer characterization of the same. But according to the definition given of the characteristic only that ought to enter into a work of art, which is appertinent to the manifestation and essential expression of precisely this one content and no other. Nothing must declare itself as idle or superfluous.

This definition is no doubt of real importance, and from a certain point of view admits of justification. Meyer, however, in the work cited, is of opinion that the view propounded has vanished, every vestige of it, and in his opinion only to the advantage of art. Such a conception he thinks would in all probability lead to caricature. This judgment is based on the previous idea that an attempt of this kind to define the beautiful once and for all is associated with the notion of prescription. The philosophy of art has absolutely nothing to do with precepts for artists. The object is to unfold the essential nature of the beautiful, and—apart from any intention to propound rules for the executant—how it is illustrated in actual work, that is works of art. To such a criticism we may observe that the definition of Hirt no doubt includes what is capable of being caricature, for caricature may also be characteristic. The obvious point to make, however, against it is this, that in caricature character[Pg 24] in its definition is emphasized to the point of exaggeration and is, if we may say so, a superfluity of the characteristic. But a surfeit of this kind is no longer appropriate to the characteristic, but a burdensome reiteration whereby the characteristic may itself be ousted from what it ought to be. Moreover, what is of the nature of caricature is displayed as the characteristic presentment of what is ugly, which is of course a mode of distortion. Ugliness is in its own right in this way more closely related to the content[27], so that it may be actually asserted that the principle of the characteristic includes also ugliness and the presentment of the same as a part of its essential determination. The definition of Hirt, of course, gives us no further account of the content of the beautiful. It merely supplies us in this respect with a purely formal statement, which, however, contains real truth in it although formulated in abstract terms.

There is, however, the further question—what Meyer would substitute for the artistic principle of Hirt, what he proposes himself? He deals in the first instance exclusively with the principle as we have it in ancient works of art, which, however, must contain in the widest connotation of the term the essential determinant[28] of beauty[29]. In doing so he finds occasion to refer to Mengs and to Winckelmann's definition of the Ideal, and expresses himself to the effect that he does not wish either to reject or wholly to accept this principle of beauty, but on the other hand that he feels no hesitation in subscribing to the opinion of an enlightened judge of art (that is Goethe), inasmuch as its meaning is distinct and it appears to solve the problem with more accuracy. Now what Goethe says is this: "The highest principle of the ancients was the significant; the[Pg 25] highest result of successful artistic handling is the beautiful."

If we look more closely at what this dictum implies we have again once more two aspects, that is to say a content or subject matter, and the mode of its presentation. In our consideration of a work of art we begin with that which is directly presented to us, and after seeing it we proceed to inquire what its significance or content is. That external husk possesses no value to us simply as such. We assume that there is an inward, an ideality or a significance behind it, in virtue of which the external appearance is made alive with mind or spirit. It is to this, its soul, that the external appearance points and attests. For an appearance which is significant of something does not present itself to us, and merely that which it is quâ externality, but something other than this; as also does the symbol for example and with yet more clarity the fable, the significance of which is simply the moral and teaching of the same. In fact there is no word which does not point to a meaning, possessing no value by itself. In the same way the human eye, the face, flesh, skin, the entire presence are a revelation of spirit, intelligence and soul; and in such a case the significance is without exception something beyond that which is offered in the bare appearance. In this way too the work of art must possess significance; it must not appear to have told its tale simply in the fact of particular lines, curves, surfaces, indentations, reliefs of stone-work, in particular colours, tones, sounds of words, whatever medium in fact art may employ. Its function is to unveil an inward or ideal vitality, emotion, soul, a content and mind, which is precisely what we mean by the significance of a work of art.

This demand, therefore, for significance in a work of art is to all intents, and in its embrace much the same thing as Hirt's principle of the characteristic.

According to this conception we find as characteristic constituents of the beautiful an inward somewhat, a content, and an external rind which possesses that content as its significance. The inner or ideal constituent appears in the external and thus enables itself to be recognized, that which is external pointing away from itself to the inward.

[Pg 26]

We cannot, however, pursue the matter here into further detail.

(c) But the earlier fashion of this "theory-spinning," no less than the laying down of rules for the executant already adverted to, has already been thrust on one side despotically in Germany—mainly owing to the appearance of genuine living poetry—and the right of genius, its work and effects, have had their full independence insisted upon as against the pretensions of such rules of thumb and the broad water-ducts of theory. From this foundation of an art which is itself of truly spiritual rank, as also of a sympathy and absorption of the same, have arisen the receptivity and freedom which make it possible for us to enjoy and appreciate great works of art which have long since been within our reach, whether it be those of the modern world, of the Middle Ages, or of wholly foreign peoples of the Past, the works of India for example; works, which, in virtue of their antiquity or the remoteness of their nationality, possess unquestionably for ourselves a side alien to ourselves; but which, if we consider the way in which their content passes over and beyond such national limits, and the matter in it of common appeal to all mankind, can only be hallmarked by the prejudice of theory among the products of a barbarous or corrupt taste. This recognition of works of art anywhere and everywhere, works which depart from the specific circle and forms of those upon which in the main the abstractions of theory were based, has, as a primary consequence, led to the recognition of a peculiar type of art—-the romantic art. It became necessary to apprehend the notion and the nature of the beautiful in a profounder way than these theories attempted. With this fact another, too, cooperated, viz., that the notions in its form of apperception, the mind as pure thought on its part reached in philosophy a point of profounder self-cognition, and was thereby compelled forthwith to grasp the essence of art too on profounder lines. In this way, even in virtue of the point in the process reached of this general evolution of human thought, the type of theorizing upon art we have described, both relatively to its principles no less than their elaboration, has become obsolete. It is only the scholarship of the history of art which retains an abiding value, and must continue to[Pg 27] retain it in proportion as the boundaries of its survey have enlarged in every direction by means of the advance made in man's powers of receptivity already noticed. Its business and function consists in the aesthetic appreciation of particular works of art and the knowledge of the historical, in other words the external conditions from which the work of art originates. It is an attitude of the mind, which, if assisted with sound sense and critical insight, supported too with historical knowledge, is an indispensable condition to the complete penetration into the individuality of a given work of art. The many writings of Goethe upon art and works of art are an excellent illustration. Theorizing, in the specific sense noticed, is not the aim of this type of examination, although no doubt it not unfrequently also busies itself with abstract principles and categories, and may drop into such a style unconsciously. If, however, without letting such deviations on our route detain us, we keep before our vision those concrete illustrations of artistic works, such at least, whatever else they may do, supply a philosophy of art with the visible warrant and confirmation of actual work, into the historical detail of which, in each particular case, philosophy is not permitted to enter.

This then may be accepted as the first method of art study. It starts from the particular work which we have before us.

2. The method or point of view to be contrasted with this, in other words an entirely theoretical reflection, which is concerned to cognize the beautiful as such from its own intrinsic wealth, and to penetrate to the idea of it, is essentially distinct from the first method. As is well known, Plato was the first to demand of philosophical inquiry in a profounder sense, that objects should not be cognized in their particularity, but in their universality, in their generic type, their essential being and its explicit manifestation. He maintained that this true essence[30] did not consist in particular actions which were good, in particular true opinions, handsome men or beautiful works of art, but in goodness, beauty, and truth in their universality. Now if in fact the beautiful ought to be cognized according to its essence and notion, this can only be effected by means of the thinking[Pg 28] notion[31], by means of which the logical and metaphysical nature of the Idea as such, as also of that of the particular Idea of the beautiful enters into the thinking consciousness. But the consideration of the beautiful in its self-independence and its idea may readily once more become an abstract metaphysic; and even though Plato is accepted as founder and pioneer, the Platonic abstraction no longer supplies all we require, not even for the logical Idea of the beautiful. We are bound to grasp this idea more profoundly and more in the concrete. The emptiness of content which clings to the Platonic Idea, no longer satisfies the richer philosophical requirements of the mind to-day. It is no doubt the case that we also in the philosophy of art must make the Idea of the beautiful our starting point; but it is by no means inevitable that we should adhere to the Platonic ideas in their abstraction, ideas from which the philosophy of the beautiful merely dates its origins.

3. The philosophical idea of the beautiful to indicate at any rate its true nature provisionally, must contain both extremes which we have described mediated in itself. It must combine, that is to say, metaphysical universality with the determinate content of real particularity. It is only by this means that it is grasped in its essential no less than explicit truth. For on the one hand it is then, as contrasted with the sterility of one-sided reflection, fruit-bearing out of its own wealth. It is its function, in consonance with its own notion, to develop into a totality of definite qualities, and this essential conception itself, no less than its detailed explication, comprises the necessary coherence of its particular features as also of the progress and transition of one phase thereof into another. On the other hand, these particulars into which the passage is made essentially carry the universality and essentiality of the fundamental notion, as the particulars of which they appear. The modes of inquiry hitherto discussed lack both these aspects, and for[Pg 29] this reason it is only the notion, as above formulated, in its completeness, which conducts us to definitive principles which are substantive, necessary, and self-contained in their completeness.


After these preliminaries we come to closer quarters with our actual subject-matter, namely, the philosophy of Fine Art[32]; and for the reason that we are undertaking to treat it scientifically, our commencement must be with the notional concept of the same. It is only after we have definitely ascertained this that we can map out the division of its parts, and with it the plan of the science as a whole. A division of this kind, if it is not to be, as is the case with non-philosophical inquiry, undertaken in a purely external way, must discover its principle in the notion of the subject treated itself.

Face to face with such a demand we are at once met by the question: "Whence do we arrive at such a conception?" If we begin with the notional concept of Fine Art itself the same at once becomes a pre-supposition and mere assumption. Mere assumptions, however, are excluded from the philosophical method; whatever here is allowed as valid must have its truth demonstrated, in other words must be established in its necessity.

We will endeavour to arrive at an understanding in a few words in the presence of this difficulty which invariably recurs in the introduction to every course of philosophical study if treated independently. The subject-matter of every[Pg 30] science presents in the first instance two aspects for consideration: first, the fact that a given object is; secondly, the question what it is.

Upon the question of fact in ordinary scientific inquiry little difficulty is experienced. Indeed it might on a cursory view even appear ridiculous if the demand were made that we had to prove in geometry, for instance, that there were such objects as space, and geometrical figures, or in astronomy and physics that there was a sun, stars, and magnetic phenomena. In these sciences, which are concerned with what is actually presented to sense perception, objects are accepted from objective experience, and so far from it being regarded necessary to demonstrate (beweisen) them, it is deemed sufficient to point to (weisen) the bare facts. Yet even within the limits of non-philosophical instruction doubts may arise as to the existence of certain objects. In psychology, for example, the science of mind, the doubt is possible whether there is a soul, an intelligence, i.e., something distinct from material conditions, something immaterial[33], independent and self-substantive, or in the theology whether a God actually exists. Moreover, assuming the objects of the science to be thus immaterial, in other words, merely present in the mind, and not a part of the objective world we perceive, we have to face the possible conviction that there is nothing in the mind, but that which it has evoked in virtue of its own activity. This brings up incidentally the question whether men have produced this idea or intuition which is inward to their minds or not, and even if we do actually accept the first alternative, whether they have not made such an idea once more to vanish, or depreciated, the same at any rate to an idea of wholly subjective validity, whose content possesses no independent or self-contained existence[34]. In this way, for example, the beautiful has been frequently regarded as possessing no necessarily essential and independent stability in the world of our ideas; rather it is accepted[Pg 31] as a pleasure purely personal to ourselves, due to the caprice of our senses[35]. Even our external intuitions, observations and perceptions frequently deceive and lead us astray; but still more is this the case with those ideas that do not arise from sense-perception, even though they possess in themselves the greatest vitality, and are able to transport us into passion, we are powerless to resist.

This doubt, then, whether an object of the inward world of our ideas and intuitions actually exists as an independent fact or not, as also that further incidental problem, whether the particular consciousness in question has produced it in itself, and whether the particular mode or process, in which it objectified it to itself, is also adequate to the object thus envisaged in its essential and independent nature—these are precisely the kind of questions which have awakened in men the higher demand of philosophy, which is that, even if there is every appearance that an object is, or that we have before us such an object, yet none the less that object must be expounded or demonstrated on the basis of its necessity. A demonstration of this kind, if developed on truly philosophical lines, ought at the same time to supply a sufficient answer to the question: What a given object is. To work this out fully would, however, carry us further than is now possible. We propose to limit ourselves to the following general remarks.

If we are to propound the necessity of our subject-matter, in other words the beauty of art, we are bound to prove that art, or the beautiful, is a result of antecedents such as, when regarded relatively to their true notional concept, conduct us with scientific necessity to the similar notion of fine art itself. Inasmuch as, however, we propose to make art the point of departure, and its idea and the objective presence of the same, and do not propose to deal with the antecedent conditions which are essential to the necessary exposition of its notional concept, for this reason art, in our treatment of it as a particular object of scientific[Pg 32] inquiry, involves a pre-assumption, which lies outside the boundary of our investigation; which, implying as it does a different content, belongs, as scientifically treated, to another course of philosophical inquiry. We have therefore now no other alternative than frankly to accept the notional idea of art, so to speak, provisionally[36], which is inevitable with every one of the particular philosophical sciences, if regarded in their abstract isolation. For it is the entire body of philosophy, and that alone, which either is or can be the comprehension of the universe as one essentially single organic totality; and which, as such a totality, self-evolved from its own notional Idea, and returning into itself so as to form a whole in virtue of the necessary principle in which it is placed relatively to itself, encloses itself, and all that is itself, into one single world of truth. In the coronal of this scientific necessity is every particular member thereof a self-complete circle which returns into itself, while, at the same time, and as imperatively, it possesses a necessary bond of connection with other parts. This bond of coherence is a backward from which it is self-derived, no less than a forward to which it is self-impelled onward, in so far as it fruitfully begets fresh material from its own resources, and renders the same open and pervious to scientific cognition. It is not therefore our purpose to demonstrate the Idea of the beautiful, which is our point of departure, or, in other words, to deduce it in all its necessity from the assumptions which are its antecedents in philosophy, and from the womb of which it is born. This is the object appropriate to an encyclopaedic development of philosophy as a whole and in its specific branches. For ourselves the notional concept of the beautiful and art is a pre-supposition supplied us by the system of philosophy. Inasmuch, however, as we are not prepared to discuss this system, and the association of art with it in the present context[37], we have not as yet the idea[Pg 33] of the beautiful before us in a scientific form: what we have and are able to deal with are simply the phases and aspects of the same as we find them in the various conceptions of beauty and art of our everyday conscious life, or as they have been conceived by previous writers. Having made our start at this point we shall then at a later stage pass on to the more fundamental investigation of those views, in order thereby to secure the advantage of, in the first instance, working out a general idea of our subject-matter no less than obtaining a provisional acquaintance, as a result of our necessarily brief criticism, with its higher principles, which will occupy our thoughts in the inquiry which follows[38]. By this means our final introduction[39] will supply a sort of overture to the exposition of the subject itself, and will aim at being a general concatenation and direction of our reflection on the real subject-matter before us. What in the first instance is known to us under current conceptions of a work of art may be subsumed under the three following determinations:

(1) A work of art is no product of Nature. It is brought into being through the agency of man.

(2) It is created essentially for man; and, what, is more, it is to a greater-or less degree delivered from a sensuous medium, and addressed to his senses[40].

(3) It contains an end bound up with it.

1. With regard to the first point, that a work of art is a product of human activity, an inference has been drawn from this (a) that such an activity, being the conscious production of an external object can also be known and divulged, and learned and reproduced by others. For that which one is able to effect, another—such is the notion—is able to[Pg 34] effect or to imitate[41], when he has once simply mastered the way of doing it. In short we have merely to assume an acquaintance with the rules of art-production universally shared, and anybody may then, if he cares to do so, give effect to executive ability of the same type, and produce works of art. It is out of reasoning of this kind that the above-mentioned theories, with their provision of rules, and their prescriptions formulated for practical acceptance, have arisen. Unfortunately that which is capable of being brought into effect in accordance with suggestions of this description can only be something formally regular and mechanical. For only that which is mechanical is of so exterior a type that only an entirely empty effort of will and dexterity is required to accept it among our working conceptions, and forthwith to carry it out; an effort, in fact, which is not under the necessity to contribute out of its own resources anything concrete such as is quite outside the prescriptive power of such general rules.

This is apparent with most vividness when precepts of this kind are not limited to what is purely external and mechanical, but extend their pretensions to the activity of the artist in the sense that implies wealth of significance and intelligence. In this field our rules pass off to purely indefinite generalities, such as "the theme ought to be interesting, and each individual person must speak as is appropriate to his status, age, sex and situation." But if rules are really to suffice for such a purpose their directions ought to be formulated with such directness of detail that, without any further co-operation of mind, they could be executed precisely in the manner they are prescribed. Such rules being, in respect to this content, abstract, clearly and entirely fall short of their pretension of being able to complete[42] the artistic consciousness. Artistic production is not a formal activity in accordance with a series of definitions; it is, as an activity of soul, constrained to work out of its own wealth, and to bring before the mind's eye a wholly other and far richer content, and a more embracing and unique[43] creation[Pg 35] than ever can be thus prescribed. In particular cases such rules may prove, of assistance, in so far, that is, as they contain something really definite and consequently useful for practice. But even here their guidance will only apply to conditions wholly external.

(b) This above indicated tendency has consequently been wholly given up; but writers in doing so have only fallen as unreservedly into the opposite extreme. A work of art came to be looked upon, and so far rightly, as no longer the product of an activity shared by all men, but rather as a creation of a mind gifted in an extraordinary degree. A mind of this type has in this view merely to give free vent to its peculiar endowment, regarded as a specific natural power. It has to free itself absolutely from a pursuit of rules of universal application, as also from any admixture of conscious reflection with its creative and, as thus viewed, wholly instinctive powers, or rather it should be on its guard therefrom, the assumption being that such an exercise of conscious thought can only act on its creations as an infection and a taint. Agreeably to such a view the work of art has been heralded as the product of talent and genius; and it is mainly the aspect of natural gift inseparable from the ordinary conception of talent and genius, which has been emphasized. There is to some extent real truth in this. Talent is specific, genius universal capacity. With neither[44] of these can a man endow himself simply by the exercise of his self-conscious activity. We shall consider this at greater length in a subsequent chapter[45].

In the present context we would merely draw attention to the false assumption in this view that in artistic production every kind of self-reflection upon the artist's own activity was regarded as not merely superfluous, but actually injurious. In such a view the process of creation by talent or genius simply is taken to be a general state; or we may define it more precisely as a condition of inspiration. To such a condition, it is said, genius is in some measure exalted by the subject-matter itself; it is also to some extent[Pg 36] voluntarily able to place itself under such a condition, a process of self-inhibition in which the genial service of the champagne bottle is not forgotten[46]. An idea of this kind was in vogue during the so-called "Epoch of Genius," which originated with the early poetical work of Goethe, receiving subsequent illustration in those of Schiller. These poets by their rejection of all rules hitherto fabricated made as it were an entirely new start; with deliberate intention they ran counter to such rules, and while doing so distanced all competitors by many lengths. I do not, however, propose to discuss with more detail the confusions which have prevailed over the conception of inspiration and genius, and the notion, which even at the present day finds advocates, that inspiration simply by itself can effect anything and everything. The real and indeed sole point to maintain as essential is the thesis that although artistic talent and genius essentially implies an element of natural power, yet it is equally indispensable that it should be thoughtfully cultivated, that reflection should be brought to bear on the particular way it is exercised, and that it should be also kept alive with use and practice in actual work. The fact is that an important aspect of the creating process is merely facility in the use of a medium[47]; that is to say, a work of art possesses a purely technical side, which extends to the borders of mere handicraft. This is most obviously the case in architecture and sculpture, less so in painting and music, least of all in poetry. A facility here is not assisted at all by inspiration; what solely indispensable is reflection, industry, and practice. Such technical skill an artist simply must possess[Pg 37] in order that he may be master over the external material, and not be thwarted by its obstinacy.

Add to this that the more exalted the rank of an artist the more profoundly ought he to portray depths of soul and mind; and these are not to be known by flashlight, but are exclusively to be sounded, if at all, by the direction of the man's own intelligence on the world of souls and the objective world. In this respect, therefore, once more study is the means whereby the artist brings to consciousness such a content, and appropriates the material and structure of his conceptions. At the same time no doubt one art will require such a conscious reception and cognitive mastery of the content in question more than another. Music, for example, which has exclusively to deal with the entirely undefined motion of the soul within, with the musical tones of that which is, relatively, feeling denuded of positive thought, has little or no need to bring home to consciousness the substance of intellectual conception[48]. For this very reason musical talent declares itself as a rule in very early youth, when the head is still empty and the emotions have barely had a flutter; it has, in fact, attained real distinction at a time in the artist's life when both intelligence and life are practically without experience. And for the matter of that we often enough see very great accomplishment in musical composition and execution hung together with considerable indigence of mind and character. It is quite another matter in the case of poetry. What is of main importance here is a presentation of our humanity rich in subject-matter and reflective power, of its profounder interests, and of the forces which move it. Here at least mind and heart must themselves[Pg 38] be richly and profoundly disciplined by life, experience, and thought before genius itself can bring into being the fruit that is ripe, the content that has substance, and is essentially consummate. The early productions of Goethe and Schiller are characterized by an immaturity, we may even call it a rawness and barbarity, which really are appalling. This phenomenon, that in the majority of those experiments we find a preponderating mass of features which are absolutely prosaic, or at least uninspired and commonplace, is a main objection to the ordinary notion that inspiration is inseparable from youth and its sirocco season. These two men of genius were the first beyond question to give our nation true works of poetry, are, in fact, our national poets; but for all that it was only their mature manhood, which made it a present of creations profound, sterling of their kind, creations of genuine inspiration, and no less technically complete in their artistic form[49]. We naturally recall the case of the veteran Homer, who only composed and uttered his immortal songs in his old age.

(c) A third view, held relatively to the idea of a work of art as a product of human activity, concerns the position of such towards the phenomena of Nature. The natural tendency of ordinary thinking in this respect is to assume that the product of human art is of subordinate rank to the works of Nature. The work of art possesses no feeling of its own; it is not through and through a living thing, but, regarded as an external object, is a dead thing. It is usual to regard that which is alive of higher worth than what is dead. We may admit, of course, that the work of art is not in itself capable of movement and alive. The living, natural thing is, whether looked at within or without, an organization with the life-purpose of such worked out into the minutest detail. The work of art merely attains to the show of animation on its surface. Below this it is ordinary stone, wood, or canvas[50],[Pg 39] or in the case of poetry idea, the medium of such being speech and letters. But this element of external existence is not that which makes a work a creation of fine art. A work of art is only truly such in so far as originating in the human spirit, it continues to belong to the soil from which it sprang, has received, in short, the baptism of the mind and soul of man, and only presents that which is fashioned in consonance with such a sacrament. An interest vital to man, the spiritual values which the single event, one individual character, one action possesses in its devolution and final issue, is seized in the work of art and emphasized with greater purity[51] and clarity than is possible on the ground of ordinary reality where human art is not. And for this reason the work of art is of higher rank than any product of Nature whatever, which has not submitted to this passage through the mind. In virtue of the emotion and insight, for example, in the atmosphere of which a landscape is portrayed by the art of painting, this creation of the human spirit assumes a higher rank than the purely natural landscape. Everything which partakes of spirit is better than anything begotten of mere Nature. However this may be, the fact remains that no purely natural existence is able, as art is, to represent divine ideals.

And further, all that the mind borrows from its own ideal content it is able, even in the direction of external existence, to endow with permanence. The individual living thing on the contrary is transitory; it vanishes and is unstable in its external aspect. The work of art persists. At the same time it is not mere continuation, but rather the form and pressure thereon of the mintage of soul-life which constitutes its true pre-eminence as contrasted with Nature's reality.

But this higher position we have thus assigned to the work of art is yet further contested by another prevalent conception of ordinary ideas. It is contended that Nature and all that proceeds from her are a work of God, created by His goodness and wisdom. The work of art is on the contrary merely a human product fashioned by human hands according to human design. The fallacy implied in this contrast between the products of Nature viewed as a divine creation and human activity as of wholly finite energy consists[Pg 40] in the apparent assumption that God is not operative in and through man, but limits the sphere of His activity to Nature alone. We must place this false conception entirely on one side if we are desirous of penetrating to the true idea of art; or rather, as opposed to such a conception we ought to accept the extreme opposite thereto, namely, that God is more honoured by that which mind makes and creates than by everything brought into being and fashioned in the natural process. For not only is there a divinity in man, but it is actually effective in him in a form which is adequate to the essential nature of God in a far higher degree than in the work of Nature. God is a Spirit, and it is only in man that the medium, through which the Divine passes, possesses the form of spirit fully conscious of the activity in which it manifests its ideal presence. In Nature the medium correspondent to this is the unconscious sensuous[52] and external materia, which is by many degrees inferior to consciousness in its worth. In the products of art God works precisely as He works through the phenomena of Nature. The divine substance, however, as it is asserted in the work of art has secured, being begotten of spirit life itself, a highway commensurable to its existence; determinate existence in the unconscious sensuousness of Nature is not a mode of appearance adequate to the Divine Being.

(d) Assuming, then, that the work of art is a creation of man in the sense that it is the offspring of mind or spirit we have still a further question in conclusion, which will help us to draw a more profound inference still from our previous discussion. That question is, "What is the human need which stimulates art-production?" On the one hand the artistic activity may be regarded as the mere play of accident, or human conceits, which might just as well be left alone as attempted. For, it may be urged, there are other and better[Pg 41] means for carrying into effect the aims of art, and man bears within himself higher and more weighty interests, than art is capable of satisfying. In contrast to such a view art appears to originate in a higher impulse, and to satisfy more elevated needs, nay, at certain times the highest and most absolute of all, being, as it has been, united to the most embracing views of entire epochs and nations upon the constitution of the world and the nature of their religion.

This inquiry, however, concerning a necessity for art which shall not be merely contingent, but absolute, we are not as yet able to answer with completeness; it demands, in fact, a concreter mode of exposition than is compatible with the form of this introduction. We must accordingly deem it sufficient for the present merely to establish the following points.

The universal and absolute want from which art on its side of essential form[53] arises originates in the fact that man is a thinking consciousness, in other words that he renders explicit to himself and from his own substance[54], what he is and all in fact that exists. The objects of Nature exist exclusively in immediacy and once for all.[55] Man, on the contrary, as mind reduplicates himself. He is, to start with, an object of Nature as other objects; but in addition to this, and no less truly, he exists for himself; he observes himself, makes himself present to his imagination and thought, and only in virtue of this active power of self-realization is he actually mind or spirit. This consciousness of himself man acquires in a twofold way; in the first instance theoretically. This is so in so far as he is under a constraint to bring himself in his own inner life to consciousness—all which moves in the human heart, all that surges up and strives therein—and generally, so far as he is impelled to make himself an object of perception and conception, to fix for himself definitively that which thought discovers as essential being, and in all that he summons out of himself, no less than in that which is received from without, to recognize only himself. And secondly, this realization is effected through a[Pg 42] practical activity. In other words man possesses an impulse to assert himself in that which is presented him in immediacy, in that which is at hand as an external something to himself, and by doing so at the same time once more to recognize himself therein. This purpose he achieved by the alteration he effects in such external objects, upon which he imprints the seal of his inner life, rediscovering in them thereby the features of his own determinate nature. And man does all this, in order that he may as a free agent divest the external world of its stubborn alienation from himself—and in order that he may enjoy in the configuration of objective fact an external reality simply of himself. The very first impulse of the child implies in essentials this practical process of deliberate change in external fact. A boy throws stones into the stream, and then looks with wonder at the circles which follow in the water, regarding them as a result in which he sees something of his own doing. This human need runs through the most varied phenomena up to that particular form of self-reproduction in the external fact which is presented us in human art. And it is not merely in relation to external objects that man acts thus. He treats himself, that is, his natural form, in a similar manner: he will not permit it to remain as he finds it; he alters it deliberately. This is the rational ground of all ornament and decoration, though it may be as barbarous, tasteless, entirely disfiguring, nay, as injurious as the crushing of the feet of Chinese ladies, or the slitting of ears and lips. For it is among the really cultured alone that a change of figure, behaviour, and every mode and manner of self-expression will issue in harmony with the dictates of mental elevation[56].

This universal demand for artistic expression[57] is based on the rational impulse in man's nature to exalt both the world of his soul experience and that of Nature for himself into the conscious embrace of mind as an object in which he rediscovers himself. He satisfies the demand of this spiritual freedom by making explicit to, his inner life all that exists, no less than from the further point of view giving a[Pg 43] realized external embodiment to the self made thus explicit. And by this reduplication of what is his own he places before the vision and within the cognition of himself and others what is within him. This is the free rationality of man, in which art as also all action and knowledge originates. We shall investigate at a later stage the specific need for art as compared with that for other political and ethical action, or that for religious ideas and scientific knowledge.

2. We have hitherto considered the work of art under the aspect that it is fashioned by man; we will now pass over to the second part of our definition, that it is produced for his sense-apprehension, and consequently is to a more or less degree under obligations to a sensuous medium.

(a) This reflection has been responsible for the inference that the function of fine art is to arouse feeling, more precisely the feeling which suits us—that is, pleasant feeling. From such a point of view writers have converted the investigation of fine art into a treatise on the emotions and asked what kind of feelings art ought to excite—take fear, for example, and compassion—with the further question how such can be regarded as pleasant, how, in short, the contemplation of a misfortune can bring satisfaction. This tendency of reflection dates for the most part from the times of Moses Mendelssohn, and many such trains of reasoning may be found in his writings. A discussion of this kind, however, did not carry the problem far. Feeling is the undefined obscure region of spiritual life. What is felt, remains cloaked in the form of the separate personal experience under its most abstract persistence[58]; and for this reason the distinctions of feeling are wholly abstract; they are not distinctions which apply to the subject-matter itself. To take examples—fear, anxiety, care, dread, are of course one type of emotion under various modifications; but in part they are purely quantitative degrees of intensity, and in part forms which reflect no light, on their content itself, but are indifferent to it. In the case of fear, for instance, an existence is assumed, for which the individual in question[Pg 44] possesses an interest, but sees at the same time the negative approach which threatens to destroy this existence, and thereupon discovers in immediate fusion within himself the above interest and the approach of that negative as a contradictory affection of his personal life. A fear of this sort, however, does not on its own account condition any particular content; it may associate with itself subject-matter of the most opposed and varied character. The feeling merely as such is in short a wholly empty form of a subjective state. Such a form may no doubt in certain cases itself be essentially complex, as we find it is with hope, pain, joy, and pleasure; it may also in this very complexity appropriate various modes of content, as, for example, we have a feeling of justice, an ethical feeling, a sublime religious feeling, and so forth; but despite the fact that a content of this kind is present in different modes of feeling, no light whatever is thereby thrown on such content which will disclose its essential and definite character. The feeling throughout remains a purely subjective state which belongs to me, one in which the concrete fact vanishes, as though contracted to a vanishing point in the most abstract of all spheres[59]. For this reason an inquiry over the nature of the emotions which art ought or ought not to arouse, comes simply to a standstill in the undefined; it is an investigation which deliberately abstracts from genuine content and its concrete substance and notion. Reflection upon feeling is satisfied with the observation of the personal emotional state and its singularity, instead of penetrating and sounding the matter for study, in other words the work of art, and in doing so bidding good-bye to the wholly subjective state and its conditions. In feeling, however, it is just this subjective state void of content which is not merely accepted, but becomes the main thing; and that is precisely why people are so proud of having emotions. And for no other reason that is why such an investigation is tedious owing to its indefinite[Pg 45] nature and emptiness, and even repellent in its attention to trivial personal idiosyncrasies.

(b) Inasmuch, however, as the work of art is not merely concerned with exciting some kind of emotion or other—for this is an object it would share without any valid distinction with eloquence, historical composition, religious edification and much else—but is only a work of art in so far as it is beautiful, it occurred to reflective minds to discover a specific feeling for beauty, and a distinct sense faculty correspondent with it. In such an inquiry it soon became clear that a sense of this kind was no definite and mere[60] instinct rigidly fixed by Nature, which was able by itself and independently to distinguish the beautiful. As a consequence the demand was made for culture as a condition precedent to such a sense, and the sense of beauty as thus cultivated was called taste, which, albeit an instructed apprehension and discovery of the beautiful, was none the less assumed to persist in the character of immediate feeling. We have already discussed the way in which abstract theory attempted to form such a sense of taste, and how external and one-sided that sense remained. While the critical sense generally of the time when such ideas were in currency was lacking in the universality of its principles, as a specific critique of particular works of art it was less concerned to substantiate a judgment more decisive than hitherto—indeed the material to effectuate this was not as yet forthcoming—than to promote in a general way the cultivation of such a taste[61]. Consequently[Pg 46] this educative process also came to a halt in the region of the more indefinite, and merely busied itself by its reflections in the fitting out of feeling as a sense of beauty in such a way that beauty could immediately be discovered whenever and wherever it might chance to appear. The real depth of the subject-matter remained notwithstanding a closed book to such a taste. Profundity of this kind demands not merely sensitive reception and abstract thought, but the reason in its concrete grasp and the most sterling qualities of soul-life. Taste on the contrary is merely directed to the outside surfaces, which are the playground of the feelings, and upon which one-sided principles may very well pass, as currency. But for this very reason our so-called good taste is scared by every kind of profounder artistic effect, and is dumb where the ideal significance[62] is in question, and all mere externalities and accessories vanish. For when great passions and the movements of a profound soul assert themselves, we do not bother ourselves any more with the finer distinctions of taste and its retail traffic in trifles. It is[63] conscious that genius leaves such ground far behind it in its stride; and shrinking before that power feels on its part far from comfortable, not knowing very well which way to turn.

(c) Thus it is the further change has come about that critics of art-production no longer have an eye simply to the education of taste, or are intent upon the illustration of such a sense. The connoisseur, or art-scholar, has taken the place of the man, or judge of artistic taste. The positive side of art-scholarship, in so far as it implies a sound and exhaustive acquaintance with the entire embrace of what is distinctive and peculiar in a given work of art, we have already maintained to be a necessary condition of artistic research. A work of art, owing to its nature, which, if it is material from one point of view, is also related to a particular person, originates from specific conditions of the most varied kind, among which as exceptionally important we may mention the date and place of its origins, the characteristic personality of the artist, and, above all, the degree of executive accomplishment secured by the art. All[Pg 47] these points of view have to be taken into consideration if we wish to obtain a view and knowledge of such a work which is clear in its outlines, and founded on a true basis, nay, even wish to enjoy it rightly. It is with these that our art-scholarship is mainly occupied; and all that it can do for us in this way should be gratefully accepted. Though it is quite true such art-scholarship must be reckoned as of essential importance, it ought not to be regarded as the sole, or indeed the highest, constituent in the relation of the contemplative spirit to a work of art and art generally. Such art-scholarship (this is the defective tendency) may restrict itself wholly to a knowledge of purely external characteristics, either on the side of technique or historical condition, or in other directions; it may continue to possess the barest inkling of the true nature of a given work, or simply no knowledge at all. It may even form a depreciatory verdict on the value of profounder inquiries as compared with purely matter of fact, technical, and historical knowledge. Yet even so an art-scholarship, assuming it to be really genuine and thorough, at least proceeds upon grounds and knowledge which are definite, and an intelligent judgment; and it is association with such that our more accurate review of the distinct, if also to some extent exterior, aspects of a work of art, and our estimate of their relative significance, is secured.

(d) Following the above observations upon the modes of inquiry which were suggested by that aspect of a work of art in which, as itself an object with a material medium, it possessed an essential relation to man as himself receptive through sense, we will now examine this point of view in its more essential connection with art itself. We propose to do this partly (α) in respect to the art-product viewed as an object, partly (β) as regards the personal characteristics of the artist, his genius, talent, and so forth. We do not, however, propose to enter into matter which can in this connection exclusively proceed from the knowledge of art according to its universal concept[64]. The truth is we are not as yet in the full sense on scientific ground; we have merely reached the province of external reflection.

(α) There is no question, then, that a work of art is[Pg 48] presented to sensuous apprehension. It is submitted to the emotional sense, whether outer or inner, to sensuous perception and the imaged sense, precisely as the objective world is so presented around us, or as is our own inward sensitive nature. Even a speech, for example, may be addressed to the sensuous imagination and feeling. Notwithstanding this fact, however, the work of art is not exclusively directed to the sensuous apprehension, viewed, that is, as an object materially conditioned. Its position is of the nature, that along with its sensuous presentation it is fundamentally addressed to the mind. The mind is intended to be affected by it and to receive some kind of satisfaction in it.

This function of the work of art at once makes it clear how it is that it is in no way intended to be a natural product or, on the side where it impinges on Nature, to possess the living principle of Nature. This, at least, is a fact whether the natural product is ranked lower or higher than a mere work of art, as people are accustomed to express themselves in the tone of depreciation.

In other words the sensuous aspect of a work of art has a right to determinate existence only in so far as it exists for the human mind, not, however, in so far as itself, as a material object, exists for itself independently.

If we examine more closely in what way the sensuous materia is presented to man we find that what is so can be placed under various relations to the mind.

(αα) The lowest in grade and that least compatible with relation to intelligence is purely sensuous sensation. It consists primarily in mere looking, listening, just as in times of mental overstrain it may often be a relaxation to go about without thought, and merely listen and have a look round. The mind, however, does not rest in the mere apprehension of external objects through sight and hearing; it makes them objective to its own inward nature, which thereupon, is impelled itself to give effect to itself in these things as a further step under a sensuous mode, in other words, it relates itself to them as desire. In this appetitive relation to the external world man, as a sensuous[65] particular thing, stands in a relation of opposition, to things in general[Pg 49] as in the same way particulars. He does not address himself to them with open mind and the universal ideas of thought; he retains an isolated position, with its personal impulses and interests, relatively to objects as fixed in their obduracy as himself, and makes himself at home in them by using them, or eating them up altogether, and, in short, gives effect to his self-satisfaction by the sacrifice he makes of them. In this negative relation desire requires for itself not merely the superficial show of external objects, but the actual things themselves in their material concrete existence. Mere pictures of the wood, which it seeks to make use of, or of the animals, which it hopes to eat up, would be of no service to desire. Just as little is it possible for desire to suffer the object to remain in its freedom; its craving is just this to force it to annihilate this self-subsistency and freedom of external facts, and to demonstrate that these things are only there to be destroyed and devoured. But at the same time the particular person is neither himself free, begirt as he is by the particular limited and transitory interests of his desires, for his definite acts do not proceed from the essential universality and rationality of his will, neither is he free relatively to the external world, for desire[66] remains essentially determined by things and related to them.

This relation, then, of desire is not that in which man is related to the work of art. He suffers it to exist in its free independence as an object; he associates himself with it without any craving of this kind, rather as with an object reflective of himself[67], which exists solely for the contemplative faculty of mind. For this reason, as we have said, the work of art, although it possesses sensuous existence, does not require sensuous concrete existence, nor yet the animated life of such objects. Or, rather, we should add, it ought not to remain on such a level, in so far as its true function is exclusively to satisfy spiritual interests, and to shut the door on all approach to mere desire. Hence we can understand[Pg 50] how it is that practical desire rates the particular works of Nature in the organic or inorganic world, which are at its service, more highly than works of art, which are obviously useless in this sense, and only contribute enjoyment to other capacities of man's spirit.

(ββ) A second mode under which the externally present comes before the conscious subject is, as contrasted with the single sensuous perception and active desire, the purely theoretical relation to the intelligence. The theoretic contemplation of objects has no interest in consuming the same in their particularity and satisfying or maintaining itself through the sense by their means; its object is to attain a knowledge of them in their universality, to seek out their ideal nature and principle, to comprehend them according to their notional idea. Consequently this contemplative interest is content to leave the particular things as they are, and stands aloof from them in their objective singularity, which is not the object of such a faculty's investigation. For the rational intelligence is not a property of the particular person in the sense that desire is so; it appertains to his singularity as being itself likewise essentially universal. So long as it persists in this relation of universality to the objects in question, it is his reason in its universal potency which is attempting to discover itself in Nature, and thereby the inward or essential being of the natural objects, which his sensuous existence does not present under its mode of immediacy, although such existence is founded therein. This interest of contemplation, the satisfaction of which is the task of science, is, however, shared in this scientific form just as little by art as it shared in the common table of those impulses of the purely practical desire. Science can, it is true, take as its point of departure the sensuous thing in its singularity, and possess itself of some conception, how this individual thing is present in its specific colour or form. But for all that this isolated thing of sense as such possesses no further relation to mind, inasmuch as the interest of intelligence makes for the universal, the law, the thought and notion of the object, and consequently not only does it forsake it in its immediate singularity, but it actually transforms it within the region of idea[68],[Pg 51] converting a concrete object of sense into an abstract subject-matter of thought, that is converting it into something other than the same object of its sensuous perception actually was. The artistic interest does not follow such a process, and is distinct from that of science for this reason. The contemplation of art restricts its interest simply in the way in which the work of art, as external object, in the directness of its definition, and in the singularity wherein it appears to sense, is manifested in all its features of colour, form, and sound, or as a single isolated vision of the whole; it does not go so far beyond the immediately received objective character as to propose, as is the case with science, the ideal or conceptive thinking of this particular objectivity under the terms of the rational and universal notion which underlies it.

The interest of art, therefore, is distinguishable from the practical interest of desire in virtue of the fact that it suffers its object to remain in its free independence, whereas desire applies it, even to the point of destruction, to its own uses. The contemplation of art, on the other hand, differs from that of a scientific intelligence in an analogous way[69] in virtue of the fact that it cherishes an interest for the object in its isolated existence, and is not concerned to transform the same into terms of universal thought and notion.

(γγ) It follows, then, that, though the sensuous materia is unquestionably present in a work of art, it is only as surface or show of the sensuous that it is under any necessity to appear. In the sensuous appearance of the work of art it is neither the concrete material stuff, the empirically perceived completeness and extension of the internal organism which is the object of desire, nor is it the universal thought of pure ideality, which in either case the mind seeks for. Its aim is the sensuous presence, which, albeit suffered to persist in its sensuousness, is equally entitled to be delivered from the framework of its purely material substance. Consequently, as compared with the immediately envisaged and incorporated object of Nature, the sensuous presence in the[Pg 52] work of art is transmuted to mere semblance or show, and the work of art occupies a midway ground, with the directly perceived objective world on one side and the ideality of pure thought on the other. It is not as yet pure thought, but, despite the element of sensuousness which adheres to it, it is no longer purely material existence, in the sense at least that stones, plants, and organic life are such. The sensuous element in a work of art is rather itself somewhat of ideal intension[70], which, however, as not being actually the ideal medium of thought, is still externally presented at the same time as an object. This semblance of the sensuous presents itself to the mind externally as the form, visible appearance, and harmonious vibration of things. This is always assuming that it suffers the objects to remain in their freedom as objective facts, and does not seek to penetrate into their inward essence by abstract thought, for by doing so they would (as above explained) entirely cease to exist for it in their external singularity.

For this reason the sensuous aspect of art is only related to the two theoretical[71] senses of sight and hearing; smell, on the other hand, taste, and the feeling of touch are excluded from the springs of art's enjoyment. Smell, taste, and[Pg 53] touch come into contact with matter simply as such[72], and with the immediate sensuous qualities of the same; smell with the material volatization through the air; taste with the material dissolution of substance, and touch or mere bodily feeling with qualities such as heat, coldness, smoothness, and so forth. On this account these senses cannot have to do with the objects of art, which ought to subsist in their actual and very independence, admitting of no purely sensuous or rather physical relation. The pleasant for such senses is not the beauty of art. Thus art on its sensuous side brings before us deliberately merely a shadow-world of shapes, tones, and imaged conceptions[73], and it is quite beside the point to maintain that it is simply a proof of the impotence and limitations of man that he can only present us with the surface of the physical world, mere schemata, when he calls into being his creative works. In art these sensuous shapes and tones are not offered as exclusively for themselves and their form to our direct vision. They are presented with the intent to secure in such shape satisfaction for higher and more spiritual interests, inasmuch as they are mighty to summon an echo and response in the human spirit evoked from all depths of its conscious life. In this way the sensuous is spiritualized in art, or, in other words, the life of spirit comes to dwell in it under sensuous guise.

(β) For this reason, however, a product of art is only possible in so far as it has received its passage through the[Pg 54] mind, and has originated from the productive activity of mind. This brings us to another question we have to answer, and it is this: "How is the sensuous or material aspect, which is imperative as a condition of art, operative in the artist as conjoined to his personal productive activity[74]?" Now this mode or manner of artistic production contains, as an activity personal to the artist, in essentials just the same determinants which we found posited in the work of art. It must be a spiritual activity, which, however, at the same time possesses in itself the element of sensuousness and immediacy. It is neither, on the one hand, purely mechanical work, such as is purely unconscious facility in sleight of hand upon physical objects, or a stereotyped activity according to teachable rule of thumb; nor, on the other hand, is it a productive process of science, which tends to pass from sensuous things to abstract ideas and thoughts, or is active exclusively in the medium of pure thought. In contrast to these the two aspects of mental idea and sensuous material must in the artistic product be united. For example, it would be possible in the case of poetical compositions to attempt to embody what was the subject-matter in the form of prosaic thought in the first instance, and only after doing so to attach to the same imaginative ideas rhymes and so on, so that as a net result such imagery would be appendent to the abstract reflections as so much ornament and decoration. An attempt of this kind, however, could only lead us to a poor sort of poetry, for in it we should have operative a twofold kind of activity in its separation, which in the activity of genuine artistic work only holds good in inseparable unity. It is this true kind of creative activity which forms what is generally described as the artistic imagination. It is the rational element, which in its import as spirit only exists, in so far as it actively forces its way into the presence of consciousness, yet likewise, and only subject to this condition, displays all its content to itself[Pg 55] under a sensuous form. This activity possesses therefore a spiritual content, but it clothes the same in sensuous image, and for this reason that it is only able to come to a knowledge of the same under this sensuous garb. We may compare such a process with that of a man of experience in life, a man, shall we add, of real geniality and wit, who—while at the same time being fully conscious in what the main importance of life consists, what are the things which essentially bind men together, what moves them and is the mainspring of their lives—nevertheless has neither brought home this content in universal maxims, nor indeed is able to unfold it to others in the generalities of the reflective process, but makes these mature results of his intelligence without exception clear to himself and others in particular cases, whether real or invented, or by examples and such like which hit the mark. For in the ideas of such a man everything shapes itself into the concrete image determinate in its time and place, to which therefore the addition of names and any other detail of external condition causes no difficulty. Yet such a kind of imagination rather rests on the recollection of conditions, he has lived through, actual experience, than it is a creative power of itself. Memory preserves and renews the particularity and external fashion of such previous events with all their more distinct circumstances, but on the other hand does not suffer the universal to appear independently. The creative imagination of an artist is the imagination of a great mind and a big heart; it is the grasp and excogitation of ideas and shapes, and, in fact, nothing less than this grasp of the profoundest and most embracing human interests in the wholly definite presentation of imagery borrowed from objective experience. A consequence of this is, that imagination of this type[75] is based[Pg 56] in a certain sense on a natural gift, a general talent for it, as we say, because its creative power essentially implies an aspect of sense presentation. It is no doubt not unusual to speak in the same way of scientific "talent." The sciences, however, merely presuppose the general capacity for thought, which does not possess, as imagination does, together with its intellectual activity, a reference to the concrete testimony of Nature, but rather precisely abstracts from the activity that form in which we find it in Nature. It would be, therefore, truer to the mark if we said there is no specific scientific talent in the sense of a purely natural endowment. Imagination[76], on the other hand, combines within it a mode of instinct-like creativeness. In other words the essential plasticity and material element in a work of art is subjectively present in the artist as part of his native disposition and impulse[77], and as his unconscious activity belongs in part to that which man receives straight from Nature. No doubt the entire talent and genius of an individual is not wholly[Pg 57] exhausted by that we describe as natural capability. The creation of art is quite as much a spiritual and self-cognized process; but for all that we affirm that its spirituality contains an element of plastic or configurative facility which Nature[78] confers on it. For this reason, though almost anybody can reach a certain point in art, yet, in order to pass beyond this—and it is here that the art in question really begins—a talent for art which is inborn and of a higher order altogether is indispensable.

Considered simply as a natural basis a talent of this kind asserts itself for the most part in early youth, and is manifested in the restless persistency, ever intent with vivacity and alertness, to create artistic shapes in some particular sensuous medium, and to make this mode of expression and utterance the unique one or the one of main importance and most suitable. And thus also a virtuosity up to a certain point in the technique of art which is arrived at with ease is a sign of inborn talent. A sculptor finds everything convertible into plastic shape, and from early days takes to modelling clay; and so on generally whatever men of such innate powers have in their minds, whatever excites and moves their souls, becomes forthwith a plastic figure, a drawing, a melody, or a poem.

(γ) Thirdly, and in conclusion: the content of art is also in some respects borrowed from the objective world perceived in sense, that is Nature; or, in any case, if the content is also of a spiritual character, it can only be grasped in such a way, that the spiritual element therein, as human relations, for example, are displayed in the form of phenomena which possess objective reality.

3. There is yet another question to solve, namely, what the interest or the End is, which man proposes to himself in the creation of the content embodied by a work of art. This was, in fact, the third point of view, which we propounded relatively to the art-product. Its more detailed discussion will finally introduce us to the true notional concept of art itself.

If we take a glance at our ordinary ideas on this subject, one of the most prevalent is obviously

(a) The principle of the imitation of Nature. According[Pg 58] to this view the essential aim or object of art consists in imitation, by which is understood a facility in copying natural forms as present to us in a manner which shall most fully correspond to such facts. The success of such an exact representation of Nature is assumed to afford us complete satisfaction.

(α) Now in this definition there is to start with absolutely nothing but the formal aim to bring about the bare repetition a second time by man, so far as his means will permit of this, of all that was already in the external world, precisely too in the way it is there. A repetition of this sort may at once be set down as

(αα) A superfluous task for the reason that everything which pictures, theatrical performances represent by way of imitation—animals, natural scenery, incidents of human life—we have already elsewhere before us in our gardens or at home, or in other examples of the more restricted or extended reaches of our personal acquaintance. Looked at, moreover, more closely, such a superfluity of energy can hardly appear otherwise than a presumptuous trifling; it is so because

(ββ) It lags so far behind Nature. In other words art is limited in its means of representation. It can only produce one-sided illusions, a semblance, to take one example, of real fact addressed exclusively to one sense. And, moreover, if it does wholly rely on the bare aim of mere imitation, instead of Nature's life all it gives us ever is the mere pretence of its substance. For some such reason the Turks, who are Mohammedans, will not put up with any pictures or copies of men and other objects. When James Bruce, in his travels through Abyssinia, showed a painted fish to a Turk, that worthy was at first astonished; but, quickly recovering himself, he made answer as follows: "If this fish shall rise up against you at the last day, and say, 'You have certainly given me a body, but no living soul,' how are you going to justify yourself against such a complaint?" The prophet himself, moreover, if we may believe the Sunna, said to the two women Ommi Hubiba and Ommi Selma, who told him of certain pictures in the Aethiopian churches: "These pictures will rise up in judgment against their creators on the Last Day." There are, no doubt, no less examples of completely[Pg 59] deceptive imitation. The painted grapes of Zeuxis, have been accepted from antiquity and long after as an instance of art's triumph, and also of that of the principle of imitation, because, we are told, actual doves pecked at them. We might add to this ancient example that more modern one of Bültner's monkey, which bit to pieces a painted cockchafer in Rösel's "Diversions of Insects," and was consequently forgiven by his master, although he destroyed by this means a fine copy of the precious work, because he proved thus the excellence of its illustrations. But if we will only reflect a moment on such and other instances we can only come to the conclusion that instead of praising works of art, because they have deceived even doves and monkeys, the foolish people ought to be condemned who imagine that the quality of a work of art is enhanced if they are able to proclaim an effect of the same so miserable as the supreme and last word they can say for it. In short, to sum up, we may state emphatically that in the mere business of imitation art cannot maintain its rivalry with Nature, and if it makes the attempt it must look like a worm which undertakes to crawl after an elephant.

(γγ) Having regard, then, to this invariable failure, that is, relative failure of human imitation as contrasted with the natural prototype, we have no end left us but the pleasure offered by sleight of hand in its effort to produce something which resembles Nature. And it is unquestionably a fact that mankind are able to derive enjoyment from the attempt to reproduce with their individual labour, skill, and industry what they find around them. But a delight and admiration of this kind also becomes, if taken alone[79], indeed just in proportion as the copy follows slavishly the thing copied, so much the more icily null and cold, or brings its reaction of surfeit and repugnance. There are portraits which, as has been drily remarked, are positively shameless in their likeness[80]; and Kant brings forward a further example of this pleasure in imitation pure and simple to the effect that we are very soon tired of a man—and there really are such—who is able to imitate the nightingale's song quite perfectly;[Pg 60] for we no sooner find that it is a man who is producing the strain than we have had enough of it. We then take it to be nothing but a clever trick, neither the free outpouring of Nature, nor yet a work of art. We expect, in short, from the free creative power of men something quite other than a music of this kind, which only retains our interest when, as in the case of the nightingale's note, it breaks forth in unpremeditated fashion, resembling in this respect the rhythmic flood of human feeling, from the native springs of its life. And as a general rule this delight we experience in the skill of imitation can only be of a restricted character; it becomes a man better to derive enjoyment from that which he brings to birth from himself. In this respect the invention of every insignificant technical product is of higher rank; and mankind may feel more proud at having invented the hammer, nail, and so forth, than in making themselves adepts as imitators. For this abstract zest in the pursuit of imitation is on the same lines as the feat of the man who had taught himself to throw lentils through a small aperture without missing. He made an exhibition of this feat to Alexander, and Alexander merely made him a present as a reward for this art, empty and useless as it was, of a bushel of lentils.

(β) Inasmuch as, moreover, the principle of imitation is purely formal, objective beauty itself disappears, if that principle is accepted as the end. For the question is then no longer what is the constitution of that which is to be imitated, but simply whether the copy is correct or no. The object and the content of the beautiful comes to be regarded as a matter of indifference. When, in other words, putting the principle of mere imitation on one side, we speak, in connection with animals, human beings, places, actions, and characters, of a distinction between beauty and ugliness, it remains none the less the fact that relatively to such a principle we are referring to a distinction which does not properly belong to an art for which we have appropriated this principle of imitation to the exclusion of all others. In such a case, therefore, whenever we select objects and attempt to distinguish between their beauty and ugliness, owing to this absence of a standard we can apply to the infinite forms of Nature, we have in the final resort only left us the personal[Pg 61] taste, which is fixed by no rule, and admits of no discussion. And, in truth, if we start, in the selection of objects for representation, from that which mankind generally discover as beautiful and ugly, and accept accordingly for artistic imitation, in other words, form their particular taste, there is no province in the domain of the objective world which is not open to us, and which is hardly likely to fail to secure its admirer. At any rate, among men we may assume, that, though the case of every husband and his wife may be disputed, yet at least every bridegroom regards his bride as beautiful, very possibly being the only person who does so; and that an individual taste for a beauty of this kind admits of no fixed rules at all may be regarded as a bit of luck for both parties. If, moreover, we cast a glance wholly beyond mere individuals and their accidental taste to that of nations, this again is full of diversity and opposition. How often we hear it repeated that a European beauty would not please a Chinaman, or even a Hottentot—a Chinaman having a totally distinct notion of beauty from that of a black man, and the black man in his turn from that of a European. Indeed, if we consider the works of art of those extra-European peoples, their images of gods, for instance, which have been imaginatively conceived as worthy of veneration and sublime, they can only appear to us as frightful idols; their music will merely ring in our ears as an abominable noise, while, from the opposite point of view, such aliens will regard our sculptures, paintings, and musical compositions as having no meaning or actually ugly.

(γ) But even assuming that we abstract from an objective principle of art, and retain the beautiful as established on the subjective and individual taste, we shall soon discover, from the point of view of art itself, that the imitation of natural objects, which appeared to be a universal principle, and indeed one secured by important authorities, is not to be relied upon, at least under this general and wholly abstract conception of it. If we look at the particular arts we cannot fail to observe that, albeit painting and sculpture portray objects which resemble those of Nature, or the type of which is essentially borrowed from Nature, the works of architecture on the contrary—and this, too, is one of the fine arts—quite as little as the compositions of[Pg 62] poetry, to the extent at least that these latter are not restricted to mere description, cannot justly be described as imitations of Nature. At any rate, if we are desirous of maintaining such a thesis with respect to the arts thus excluded, we should find ourselves forced to make important deviations from the track, in order to condition our proposition in various ways, and level down our so-called truth at least to the plane of probability. But once accept probability, and we should again be confronted with a great difficulty in determining precisely what is and what is not probable; and in the end no one could really think of or succeed, even if he did so, in excluding from poetry all compositions of an entirely capricious and completely imaginative[81] character.

The end or object of art must therefore consist in something other than the purely formal[82] imitation of what is given to objective sense, which invariably can merely call into being technical legerdemain and not works of art[83]. It is no doubt an essential constituent of a work of art that it should have natural forms as a foundation, because the mode of its representation is in external form, and thereby along with it in that of natural phenomena. In painting it is obviously an important study to learn to copy with accuracy colours in their mutual relations, such as light effects and reflections, and so forth, and, with no less accuracy, the forms and shapes of objects carried into their most subtle gradations of line. It is in this respect that in modern times more particularly the principle of the imitation of Nature and naturalism generally has come into vogue. The object has been to recall an art, which has deteriorated[Pg 63] into weakness and nebulosity, to the strength and determinate outlines of Nature, or, in yet another direction, as against the purely arbitrary caprice and convention of a studio, which is in truth as remote from Nature as it is from art, and merely indicates the path of art's declension, to assert the claim of the legitimate, direct, and independent, no less than coherent stability of natural fact. But while admitting that from a certain point of view such an effort is reasonable enough, yet for all that the naturalism which it demands, taken by itself, is neither the substantive thing, not yet of primary importance, in the true basis of art; and although the external fact in its natural appearance constitutes an element of essential value, yet the objective fact alone does not supply the standard of rightness, nor is the mere imitation of external phenomena, in their external shape that is, the end of art.

(b) And as a consequence of this we have the further question—"What is the true content of art, and with what aim is that content brought before us?" On this head we are confronted by the common opinion that it is the task and object of art to bring before our sense, feeling, and power of emulation[84] every thing that the spirit of man can perceive or conceive. Art has in short to realize for us the well-known saying, "Nihil humani a me alienum puto." Its object is therefore declared to be that of arousing and giving life to slumbering emotions, inclinations, passions of every description, of filling the heart up to the brim; of compelling mankind, whether cultured or the reverse, to pass through all that the human soul carries in its most intimate and mysterious chambers, all that it is able to experience and reproduce, all that the heart is able to stir and evoke in its depths and its countlessly manifold possibilities; and yet further to deliver to the domain of feeling and the delight of our vision all that the mind may possess of essential and exalted being in its thought and the Idea—that majestic hierarchy of the noble, eternal, and true; and no less to interpret for us misfortune and misery, wickedness and crime; to make the hearts of men realize through and[Pg 64] through[85] all that is atrocious and dreadful, no less than every kind of pleasure and blessedness; and last of all to start the imagination like a rover among the day-dream playing-fields of the fancy, there to revel in the seductive mirage of visions and emotions which captivate the senses. All this infinitely manifold content—so it is held—it is the function of art to explore, in order that by this means the experience of our external life may be repaired of its deficiencies, and yet from a further point of view that the passions we share with all men[86] may be excited, not merely that the experiences of life may not have us unmoved, but that we ourselves may thereafter long to make ourselves open channels of a universal experience. Such a stimulus is not presented on the plane of actual experience itself[87], but can only come through the semblance of it, that is to say through the illusions which art, in its creations, substitutes for the actual world. And the possibility of such a deception, by means of the semblances of art, depends on the fact that all reality must for man pass through the medium of the vision and imaginative idea; and it is only after such a passage that it penetrates the emotional life and the will. In such a process it is of no consequence whether it is immediate external reality which claims his attention, or whether the result is effected by some other way, in other words by means of images, symbols, and ideas, which contain and display the content of such actuality. Men are able to imagine things, which do not actually exist, as if they did exist. Consequently it is precisely the same thing for our emotional life, whether it is the objective world or merely the show of the same, in virtue of which a situation, a relation, or any content of life, in short, is brought home to us. Either mode is equally able to stir in us an echo to the essential secret which it carries, whether it be in grief or joy, in agitation or convulsion, and can cause to flow through us the feelings and passions of anger, hate, pity, anxiety, fear, love, reverence and admiration, honour and fame.

[Pg 65]

The awakening of every kind of emotion in us, the drawing our soul through every content of life, the realization of all these movements of soul-life by means of a presence which is only external as an illusion—this it is which, in the opinion described, is pre-eminently regarded as the peculiar and transcendent power of artistic creation.

We must not, however, overlook the fact that in this view of art as a means to imprint on the soul and the mind what is good and evil alike, to make man more strong in the pursuit of what is noblest, no less than enervate his definite course[88], by transporting his emotional life through the most sensuous and selfish desires, the task as yet proposed to art remains throughout of an entirely formal character; without possessing independently an assured aim all that art can offer is the empty form for every possible kind of ideal and formative content.

(c) As a matter of fact art does not possess this formal side, namely, that it is able to bring before our senses and feeling and artistically adorn every possible kind of material, precisely as the thoughts of ordinary reflection[89] elaborate every possible subject-matter and modes of action, supplying the same with its equipment of reasons and vindications. In the presence, however, of such a variety of content we cannot fail to observe that these diversified emotions and ideas, which it is assumed art has to stimulate or enforce, intersect each other, contradict and mutually cancel each other. Indeed, under this aspect, the more art inspires men to emotions thus opposed, to that extent precisely it merely enlarges the cleavage in their feelings and passions, and sets them staggering about in Bacchantic riot, or passes over into sophistry and scepticism precisely as your ordinary free thinkers do. This variety of the material of art itself compels us, therefore, not to remain satisfied with so formal a determination. Our rational nature forces its way into this motley array of discord, and demands to see the resurrection[Pg 66] of a higher and more universal purpose from these elements despite their opposition, and to be conscious of its attainment. Just in a similar manner the social life of mankind and the State are no doubt credited with the aim that in them all human capacities and all individual potencies should meet with expansion and expression in all their features and tendencies. But in opposition to so formal a view there very quickly crops up the question in what unity these manifold manifestations are to be concentrated, and what single end they must have for their fundamental concept and ultimate end. Just as in the case of the notional concept of the human State so too there arises in that of human art the need, as to a part thereof, for an end common to the particular aspects, no less than in part for one which is more exalted and substantive in its character[90].

As such a substantive end the conclusion of reflection is readily brought home to us that art possesses at once the power and function to mitigate the savagery of mere desires.

(α) With regard to this first conception we have merely to ascertain what characteristic peculiar to art implies this possibility of eliminating this rawness of desire, and of fettering and instructing the impulses and passions. Coarseness in general has its ground-root in an unmitigated self-seeking of sensuous impulses, which take their plunge off and are exclusively intent on the satisfaction of their concupiscence. Sensual desire is, however, all the more brutal and domineering, in proportion as, in its isolation and confinement, it appropriates the entire man, so that he does not retain the power to separate himself in his universal capacity from this determinacy and to maintain the conscious presence of such universality[91]. Even if the man in such a case exclaims, "the[Pg 67] passion is mightier than myself," though it is true no doubt that for that man's mind the abstract ego is separate from the particular passion, yet it is purely so in a formal way. All that such a separation amounts to is that as against the force of the passion the ego, in its universal form or competency, is of no account at all. The savageness of passion consists therefore in the fusion[92] of the ego as such a universal with the confined content of its desire, so that a man no longer possesses volitional power outside this single passion. Such savageness and untamed force of the possibilities of passion art mitigates in the first instance to the extent that it brings home to the mind and imagination of man what he does actually feel and carry into effect in such a condition. And even if art restricts itself to this that it places before the vision of the mind pictures of passion, nay, even assuming such to be flattering pictures, yet for all that a power of amelioration is contained therein. At least we may say, that by this means is brought before a man's intelligence what apart from such presentment he merely is. The man in this way contemplates his impulses and inclinations; and whereas apart from this they whirl him away without giving him time to reflect, he now sees them outside himself and already, for the reason that they come before him rather as objects than a part of himself, he begins to be free from them as aliens. For this reason it may often happen that an artist, under the weight of grief, mitigates and weakens the intensity of his own emotions in their effect upon him by the artistic representation of them. Comfort, too, is to be found even in tears. The man who to start with is wholly given up to and concentrated in sorrow, is able thus, at any rate, to express that which is merely felt within in a direct way. Yet more alleviating is the utterance of such inner life in words, images, musical sound, and shapes.

It was therefore a good old custom in the case of funerals and layings-out to appoint wailing women, in order to give audible expression to grief, or generally to create an external sympathy. For manifestations of sympathy bring the content of human sorrow to the sufferer in an objective form; he is by their repetition driven to reflect upon it, and the burden is thereby made lighter. And so it has from of[Pg 68] old been considered that to weep or to speak oneself out are equally means whereby freedom is secured from the oppressing burden, or at least the heart is appreciably lifted. Consequently the mitigation of the violence of passions admits of this general explanation that man is released from his unmediated confinement[93] in an emotion, becomes aware of it as a thing external to himself, to which he is consequently obliged to place himself in an ideal relation. Art, while still remaining within the sphere of the senses, faces man from the might of his sensitive experience by means of its representations. No doubt we frequently hear that pet phrase of many that it is man's duty to remain in immediate union with Nature. Such union is in its unmediated purity nothing more or less than savagery and wildness; and art, precisely in the way that it dissolves this unity for human beings, lifts them with gentle hands over this inclosure in Nature. The way men are occupied with the objects of art's creation remains throughout of a contemplative[94] character; and albeit in the first instance it educates merely an attention to the actual facts portrayed, yet over and beyond this, and with a power no less decisive, it draws man's attention to their significance, it forces him to compare their content with that of others, and to receive without reserve the general conclusions of such a survey and all the ramifications[95] such imply.

(β) To the characteristic above discussed adheres in natural sequence the second which has been predicated of art as its essential aim, namely, the purification of the passions, an instruction, that is, and a building to moral completeness. For the defining role that art has to bridle savage nature and educate the passions remained one wholly formal and general, so that the further question must arise as to a specific kind and an essential and culminating point of such an educative process.

(αα) The doctrine of the purification of the passions shares in the defect previously noted as adhering to the mitigation[Pg 69] of desires. It does, however, emphasize more closely the fact that the representations of art needed a standard, by means of which it would be possible to estimate their comparative worth and unworth. This standard is just their effectiveness to separate what is pure from that which is the reverse in the passions. Art, therefore, requires a content which is capable of expressing this purifying power, and in so far as the power to assert such effectiveness is assumed to constitute the substantive end of art, the purifying content will consist in asserting that effective power before consciousness in its universality and essentiality.[96]

(ββ) It is a deduction from the point of view just described that it is the end of art to instruct. Thus, on the one hand, the peculiar character of art consists in the movement of the emotions and in the satisfaction which is found in this movement, even in fear, compassion, in painful agitation and shock—that is to say, in the satisfying concern of the feelings and passions, and to that extent in a complacent, delighted, or enthusiastic attitude to the objects of art and their presentation and effect: while, on the other hand, this artistic object is held to discover its higher standard exclusively in its power to instruct, in the fabula docet, and thereby in the usefulness, which the work of art is able to exercise on the recipient. In this respect the Horatian adage

Et prodesse volunt et delectare poetae[97]

contains, concentrated into a few words, all that in after times has been drawn out as a doctrine of art through every conceivable grade of dilution to the last extreme of insipidity.

In respect, then, to such instruction we have to ask whether the idea is that the same ought to be direct or indirect in the work of art, explicit or implicit.

Now if the question at issue is one of general importance[Pg 70] to art about a universal rather than contingent purpose, such an ultimate end, on account of the essential spirituality of art, can only be itself of spiritual import; in other words, so far from being of accidental importance it must be true in virtue of its own nature and on its own account. An end of this kind can only apply to instruction in so far as a genuine and essentially explicit content is brought before the mind by means of the work of art. From such a point of view we are entitled to affirm that it is the function of art to accept so much the more of a content of this nature within its compass in proportion to the nobility of its rank, and that only in the verity of such a content will it discover the standard according to which the pertinency of or the reverse of what is expressed is adjudged. Art is in truth the primary[98] instructress of peoples.

But, on the other hand, if the object of instruction is so entirely treated as an end that the universal nature of the content presented cannot fail to be asserted and rendered-bluntly and on its own account explicit as abstract thesis, prosaic reflection or general maxim, rather than merely in an indirect way contained by implication in the concrete embodiment of art, then and in that case, by means of such a separation, the sensuous, plastic configuration, which is precisely that which makes the artistic product a work of art, is merely an otiose accessory, a husk, a semblance, which are expressly posited as nothing more than shell and semblance. Thereby the very nature of a work of art is abused. For the work of art ought not to bring before the imaginative vision a content in its universality as such, but rather this universality under the mode of individual concreteness and distinctive sensuous particularity. If the work in question does not conform to such a principle, but rather sets before us the generalization of its content with the express object of instruction pure and simple, then the imaginative no less than the material aspect of it are merely an external and superfluous ornament, and the work of art is[Pg 71] itself a shattered thing within that ornament[99], a ruin wherein form and content no longer appear as a mutually adherent growth. For, in the case supposed, the particular object of the senses and the ideal content apprehended by the mind[100] have become external to one another.

Furthermore, if the object of art is assumed to consist in utilitarian instruction of this kind, that other aspect of delight, entertainment, and diversion is simply abandoned on its own account as unessential; it has now to look for its substance to the utility of the matter of instruction, to which it is simply an accompaniment. But this amounts to saying, that art does not carry its vocation and purpose in itself, but that its fundamental conception is in something else, to which it subserves as a means. Art becomes, in short, merely one of the many means, which are either of use, or may be employed to secure, the aim of instruction. This brings us to the boundary line where art can only cease to be an end on its own independent account; it is deliberately deposed either to the mere plaything of entertainment, or a mere means of instruction.

(γγ) The line of this limit is most emphasized when the question is raised as to the end or object of highest rank for the sake of which the passions have to be purified or men have to be instructed. This goal has frequently in modern times been identified with moral improvement, and the end of art is assumed to consist in this that its function is to prepare our inclinations and impulses, and generally to conduct us to the supreme goal of moral perfection. In this view we find instruction and purification combined. The notion is that art by the insight it gives us of genuine moral goodness, in other words, through its instruction, at the same time summons us to the process of purification, and in this way alone can and ought to bring about the improvement of mankind as the right use they can make of it and its supreme object.

[Pg 72]

With reference to the relation in which art stands to the end of improvement, we may practically say the same thing as we did about the didactic end. It may readily be admitted that art as its principle ought not to make the immoral and its advance its end. But it is one thing deliberately to make immorality the aim of its presentation and another not expressly to do so in the case of morality. It is possible to deduce an excellent moral from any work of art whatever; but such depends, of course, on a particular interpretation and consequently on the individual who draws the moral. The defence is made of the most immoral representations on the ground that people ought to become acquainted with evil and sin in order to act morally. Conversely, it has been maintained that the portrayal of Mary Magdalene, the fair sinner, who afterwards repented, has seduced many into sin, because art makes repentance look so beautiful, and you must first sin before you can repent. The doctrine of moral improvement, however logically carried out, is not merely satisfied that a moral should be conceivably deducible from a work of art through interpretation; on the contrary, it would have the moral instruction clearly made to emerge as the substantive aim of the work[101]; nay, further, it would deliberately exclude from art's products all subjects, characters, actions, and events which fail to be moral in its own sense. For art, in distinction from history and the sciences, which have their subject-matter determined for them, has a choice in the selection of its subjects.

In order that we may be in a position to estimate this view of the moral end of art on the basis of principle, we ought above all to raise the question as to the precise standpoint of the morality which is recommended for our reception by this view. If we examine more closely the standpoint of morality such, as is submitted us to-day under an enlightened interpretation[102], we soon discover that its conception does not immediately coincide with that which we describe[Pg 73] in a general way as virtue, respectability[103], uprightness, and so forth. To be a respectable honest man is not sufficient to make a man moral in the sense under discussion, for morality in this sense implies reflection and the definite consciousness of what is consonant with duty, and the acts which issue from such a consciousness. Now duty is itself the law of the will, which man, however, freely establishes out of himself, and thereon is taken to determine himself to this duty for duty's sake and its fulfilment's sake; in other words he only does good as acting under the conviction already secured that it is the good. This law—the duty which is selected and carried into effect for duty's sake to be the rule of conduct out of free conviction and the inner conscience—is, on its own account, the abstract universal of the will, which is the absolute antithesis to Nature, the impulses of sense, selfish interests, the passions and all that is commonly described collectively as emotional life and heart. In this opposition the one side is regarded as negating the other; and for the reason that both are present in the individual in their opposition, he is compelled, as determining himself from his own identity, to adopt the choice of one to the rejection of the other. Such a decision and the act carried out in accordance with it merely become moral from the standpoint now considered on the one hand in virtue of the free conviction of duty, and on the other by reason of the victory secured not only over the particular will, the natural motives, inclinations, passions and so on, but also in virtue of the noble feelings and higher impulses. For the modern ethic starts from the fixed opposition between the will in its spiritual universality and its sensuous natural particularity; it does not consist in the perfected mediation of these opposed aspects, but in their mutual conflict as[Pg 74] opposed to one another, which carries with it the demand, that the impulses in their antagonism to duty ought to yield to it.

An opposition of this nature is not merely present to mind in the restricted confines of moral action; it asserts itself as a fundamental severation and antithesis between that which is actual essentially, and on its own account, and that which is external reality and existence[104]. Apprehended in entirely formal terms it is the contrast exposed by the universal, in so far as it is fixed in its substantive independence over against the particular, as the latter is also on its part rigidly exterior to it. In more concrete form it appears in Nature as the opposition of the abstract law to the wealth of particular phenomena, each of which possesses its specific characteristics. It appears in mind as that between the sensuous and spiritual in man, as the conflict of spirit with the flesh; it is that of duty for duty's sake; of the cold imperative with particular impulses, the warm heart, the sensuous inclinations and impulses, in a word with man simply as individual. Or it appears as the harsh antagonism between the inward freedom and the external necessity of natural condition, and, lastly, as the contradiction of the dead, essentially emptied, concept, when confronted with the fulness of concrete life, in other words, of theory and subjective thought as contrasted with objective existence and experience.

Such are antithetical points of view, the discovery of which is not to be ascribed either to the ingenuity of reflective minds, or the pedantry of a philosophical cult. They have in all ages, if in manifold guise, occupied and disquieted the human consciousness, although it is our more modern culture which has emphasized their opposition most deliberately, and forced it in each case to the keenest edge of contradiction. Intellectual culture, or rather the rapier edge of the modern understanding, creates in man this contrast, which converts him into some amphibious animal. He is compelled to live in two worlds mutually contradictory; and in this divided house consciousness, too, wanders aimlessly; tossed over from one side to the other it is unable to discover[Pg 75] permanent satisfaction[105] for itself in either one side or the other. For, on the one hand, we see mankind confined within common reality and earthly temporal condition, oppressed by necessity and want, in Nature's toils, entangled in matter, in sensuous aims and their enjoyment, dominated and whirled away by impulse and passion. On the other hand he lifts himself up to eternal idea's, to a realm of thought and freedom. As Will he legislates for himself universal laws and destinations[106], he disrobes the world of the life and blossom of its reality; he dissolves it in abstractions, that the mind may vindicate its right and intrinsic worth by this very dissolution of Nature's rights and such maltreatment, a process in which he brings home to her again the necessity and violence he has experienced at her hands. Such a cleavage of life and mind is, however, accompanied for modern culture with the demand that a contradiction so deep-seated should be dissolved. The mere understanding of abstract reflection is unable to disengage itself from the obstinacy of such contradictions. The solution consequently remains here for consciousness a mere ought, and the present and reality is merely moved within the continuous unrest of a to and fro, which seeks for that reconciliation it is unable to find. The problem therefore arises whether such a many-sided and fundamental antagonism, which is unable to pass beyond the mere ought and postulate of its solution, can be the essential and wholly expressed truth, and[107], indeed, the final and supreme consummation. If the culture of the civilized world has fallen into such a contradiction it becomes the task of philosophy to dissolve the same, in other words to demonstrate that neither the one side or the other, in its one sided abstractness, should be held to possess truth, but that they contain within themselves the principle of their dissolution. The truth only then comes before us in the reconciliation and mediation of both; and this mediation is no mere postulate, but is, in its[Pg 76] essential nature, and in its actual presence the at the same time accomplished and self-accomplishing. And, in fact, this view agrees directly with unwitting[108] faith and will, which always has before its conscious life this contradiction in its resolution, and in action accepts it as its aim and carries it into effect. All that philosophy achieves is to contribute the insight of thought into the essence of such cleavage. It demonstrates, or seeks to demonstrate, how that which truth really is is simply the resolution of the fracture, and, be it added, not in the sense that this antagonism and its alternative aspects in any way are not, but in the sense that they are there[109] in reconciliation.

(d) When discussing moral improvement as the ultimate end accepted for art it was found that its principle pointed to a higher standpoint. It will be necessary also to vindicate this standpoint for art.

Thereby the false position to which we have already directed attention vanishes, namely, that art has to serve as a means for moral ends and the moral end of the world generally by means of its didactive and ameliorating influence, and by doing so has its essential aim not in itself, but in something else. If we therefore continue still to speak of an end or goal of art, we must at once remove the perverse idea, which in the question, "What is the end?" will still make it include the supplemental query, "What is the use?" The perverseness consists in this that the work of art would then have to be regarded as related to something else, which is[Pg 77] presented us as what is essential and ought to be. A work of art would in that case be merely a useful instrument in the realization of an end which possessed real and independent importance outside the realm of art. As opposed to this we must maintain that it is art's function to reveal truth under the mode of art's sensuous or material configuration, to display the reconciled antithesis previously described, and by this means to prove that it possesses its final aim in itself, in this representation in short and self-revelation. For other ends such as instruction, purification, improvement, procuring of wealth, struggle after fame and honour have nothing whatever to do with this work of art as such, still less do they determine the fundamental idea[110] of it.

It is then from this point of view, into which the reflective consideration of our subject-matter finally issues, that we have to grasp the fundamental idea of art in terms of its ideal or inward necessity, as it is also from this point of view that historically regarded the true appreciation and acquaintance with art took its origin. For that antithesis, to which we have drawn attention, did not merely assert its presence within the general thought of educated men, but equally in philosophy as such. It was only after philosophy was in a position to overcome this opposition absolutely that it grasped the fundamental notion of its own content, and, to the extent it did so, the idea of Nature and of art.

For this reason, as this point of view implies the reawakening of philosophy in the widest connotation of the term, so also it is the re-awakening of the science of art. We may go further and affirm that aesthetic as a science is in a real sense primarily indebted to this re-awakening for its true origination, and art for its higher estimation.


From this point of transition, I will briefly summarize the historical subject-matter that I have in my mind's eye, partly on account of the historical importance itself, and in part because thereby the points of view are more clearly indicated[Pg 78] to which importance is attached, and upon the basis of which we propose to continue the superstructure. In its most general definition that basis consists in this, that the beauty of art has become recognized as one of the means which resolve and bring back to unity that antithesis and contradiction between the mind and Nature as they repose in abstract alienation from each other in themselves, whether this latter is regarded as external phenomena or the inward world of individual feeling and emotion[111].

1. It was the philosophy of Kant which, in the first instance, not merely experienced the want of such a point of union, but secured definite knowledge of it and brought it clearly before the mind. Speaking generally, Kant accepted as his basis for intelligence no less than for the will the rationality which relates itself to itself or freedom, the self-consciousness that discovers and knows itself essentially as infinite. This knowledge of the absoluteness of reason in its essential substance, which has proved in more modern times the turning-point of philosophy, this absolute point of departure deserves recognition, and does not admit of refutation, even though in other respects the Kantian philosophy is inadequate. But at the same time it was Kant who through falling back upon the fixed opposition between subjective thought and objective things, between abstract universality and the sensuous individuality of the will, in a pre-eminent degree strained to the extremest limit the very antithesis of morality we have previously adverted to, inasmuch as over and above this he emphasized the practical operation of mind to the disadvantage of the contemplative. In virtue of this fixity of the antithesis as cognized by the faculty of the understanding he had no other alternative than to express the unity exclusively in the form of subjective ideas for which no adequate reality could be demonstrated as correspondent; or, on its practical side, as postulates, which it was no doubt possible to deduce from the practical reason, but whose essential being was not within the cognition of thought, and the practical fulfilment of which remained throughout a mere "ought" deferred to infinity. And for this reason, though Kant did actually bring the reconciled opposition within the compass of intelligible[Pg 79] ideas, he was neither able to develop its essential truth scientifically, nor to assert the same as actual and exclusive reality. Unquestionably Kant did press beyond this point, in the sense, that is to say, that he discovered the unity demanded in what he called the intuitive understanding; but in this respect too he is held up by the opposition of subjectivity and objectivity, so that, while he no doubt offers us a resolution in an abstract sense of the antithesis between conception and reality, universality and particularity, understanding and sense-perception, and suggests the Idea, yet he once more conceives this resolution and reconciliation itself in a wholly subjective sense, not as being true and real both essentially and on its own independent account. In this respect the Critique of the power of the judgment, in which he investigates the aesthetic and teleological power of the judgment is both instructive and remarkable. The beautiful objects of Nature and art, the products of Nature with their adaptations to ends, by means of which he approaches more closely the notion of the organic and the living, he considers wholly from the point of view of the reflection which judges them subjectively. And indeed Kant himself generally defines the power of judgment as "the capacity to think the particular as comprised under the universal," and calls the power of judgment reflective "when it has only the particular submitted to it, and has to discover the universal under which it is subsumed." To this end it requires a law, a principle, which it has to contribute to itself; and Kant affirms teleology to be this law. With regard to the conception of freedom which belongs to the practical reason the achievement of end or purpose gets no further than a mere "ought"; and in the teleological judgment, however, relatively to the living thing, Kant does manage to regard the living organism in such a way that the notional concept, the universal, succeeds in also including the particular, and as end does not determine the particular and external, the structure of the members from outside, but as an inward principle, and under the mode, that the particular conforms to the end spontaneously. Yet with such a judgment once more it is assumed that the objective nature of the thing is not known, but that it is only a mode of subjective reflection which is thereby expressed. In a similar way Kant so[Pg 80] conceives the aesthetic judgment that it neither proceeds from the understanding, as such, in other words as the faculty of ideas, nor yet from the sensuous perception as such, and its varied manifold, but from the free play of the understanding and the imagination. In this common agreement of the faculties of knowledge the object finds its relation to the individual consciousness, and its feeling of pleasure and contentment.

(a) Now this general feeling of contentment is, in the first place, without any interest, that is to say, it is devoid of relation to our appetitive faculty. If we have an interest of curiosity, shall we say, or a sensuous interest excited for a physical want, a desire for possession and use, then the objects are not important for their own sake, but in virtue of our need of them. In a case such as this what exists merely possesses a value in relation to such a need, and the relation is of the kind, that the object is on the one side and on the other is an attribute distinct from the object to which we relate it none the less. As an illustration if I consume the object in order to nourish myself therewith, this interest rests exclusively in me, and remains alien to the object. Now, in Kant's view, our position relatively to the beautiful is not of this description. The aesthetic judgment suffers that which is externally presented to subsist in free independence, proceeding as it does from the desire to permit the object to persist on its own account and to retain its end unimpaired within itself. This is, as we have already observed, an important observation.

(b) In the second place, Kant maintains that the beautiful is definable as that which without a conception, i.e., without a category of the understanding, is placed before us as the object of a universal satisfaction. To estimate the beautiful an educated mind is indispensable. The man in the street[112] has no judgment about the beautiful; this judgment, in fact, claims universal validity. The universal is no doubt in the first instance simply, as such, an abstraction, one which, however, is in its essential and on its independent account, true; and consequently carries essentially the[Pg 81] property and demand to pass also as universally valid. In this sense, too, the beautiful ought to be universally recognized, although the mere concepts of the understanding are compatible with no judgment thereupon. The good—the right which enters into particular actions, for example—is subsumed under universal concepts, and the action is accepted as good, if it is conformable to such concepts. The beautiful, on the contrary, ought, according to this view, to arouse a universal satisfaction without any such mediation of concept. This simply means that in the contemplation of the beautiful we are not conscious of the notional concept or any subsumption under it, and do not permit the independent passage of the separation between the particular object and the universal concept, which is present in all other cases of the judgment.

(c) Thirdly, in this view of Kant, the beautiful ought to have the teleological form to the extent that the teleological relation is apprehended in the object without the idea of an end. This is substantially a mere repetition of the view just discussed. Any natural product—take, for instance, a plant or an animal—is organized as adapted to an end, and is so immediately to us in this its teleological purpose, that we have no conception of the end on its own account as separate and distinct from the actual presence of the object. It is in this way that the beautiful also is presented us teleologically. In finite teleology end and means remain external to each other; the end stands in no essential inner relation to the material means of its execution[113]. In this case the idea of the end as recognized in apartness[114] is distinguishable from the object in which the end appears as realized. The beautiful, on the contrary, exists as teleological in the essential sense, without means and end appearing as disparate in aspects distinct from each other. For example, the purpose of the members of the organism is the principle of life which exists in the members as actual therein. In their[Pg 82] separation[115] the parts cease to be members of a whole. For in the living thing the end and material medium of the end are so immediately united, that the existing being only exists in so far as the end remains indwelling. The beautiful, as thus regarded and in Kant's view, does not carry its teleological purpose as an external form attached to it: but the teleological correspondence of the inner and outer is to be regarded as the immanent nature of the beautiful object.

(d) Fourthly and finally the view of Kant posits the beautiful under the mode that it is recognized without a universal concept as object of a necessary feeling of satisfaction. Necessity is an abstract category, and indicates an ideal and essential relation between two aspects or sides: if the one is, and because the one is, then, and for that reason, the other is also. The one likewise includes the other within its determinate nature. Cause is meaningless without effect. The pleasure which we obtain from beauty is necessary in this sense, and it is so wholly without a relation to conceptions, that is to say the categories of the understanding. Thus, no doubt, we derive pleasure from what is symmetrical, for this is constructed in accord with an idea of the understanding. Kant, however, demands more as a definition of delight in art than the unity and uniformity of such an idea as this.

Now what we find in all these theses of Kant is the non-severation of that which otherwise is assumed to be distinct in consciousness. In the beautiful this separation is found to be abolished. The universal and particular, purpose and means, idea and object completely interpenetrate each[Pg 83] other. Thus, too, Kant sees the beauty of art as a concurrence, in which the particular itself is conformable to the conception. Particulars, taken alone, are primarily, both as against each other and the universal, of a contingent nature; and this very contingent element, whether we find it in sense, feeling, susceptibility, or impulse, is now in the beauty of art not merely subsumed under the categories of the understanding, and dominated by the notion of freedom in its abstract universality, but united to the universal in such a way that it appears inwardly and on its own merits as realized fact adequate thereto. By this means thought is incorporated in fine art, and the material is not externally defined by such thought, but continues to exist in its own freedom. In other words, what is natural—the senses, emotional temperament, and so forth—possess in themselves measure, end, and agreement. Perception and feeling, too, in the same way are raised to a power of spiritual universality; and thought no less not merely renounces its hostility to Nature, but is made blithe therein. Feeling, pleasure, and enjoyment are thereby justified and sanctified, and thus it is that Nature and freedom, sense and idea in one presence discover their just place and their satisfaction. Yet even this apparently complete reconciliation is ultimately still assumed to be[116] merely subjective in respect to our judgment no less than our productive activity, and not to be essentially and on its own account either the true or real.

These may, I think, be taken to be the main results of the Critique of Kant so far as they affect our present inquiry. It constitutes the starting-point for the true conception of the beauty of art. Such a conception could, however, only make itself effective as the higher comprehension of the true union of necessity and freedom, particular and universal, sensuous and rational, by its overcoming the defects still latent in the previous standpoint.

It must in fact be admitted that the artistic sense of a profound and, at the same time, philosophical spirit anticipated philosophy in the stricter sense by its demand for and expression of the principle of totality and reconciliation in its opposition to that abstract finiteness of thought, that[Pg 84] duty for duty's sake, that understanding faculty devoid of any substantive content, which one and all apprehend nature and reality, sense and feeling, merely as a limits something downright alien or hostile. It is Schiller who must be credited with the important service of having broken through the Kantian subjectivity and abstractness of thought, and of having ventured the attempt to pass beyond the same by comprehending in thought the principles of unity and reconciliation as the truth, and giving artistic realization to that truth. For Schiller, in his aesthetic investigations, did not merely adhere to art and its interest unaffected by their relation to philosophy proper, but he compared his own interest in the beauty of art in their due relation to philosophical principles; and it is only from the starting-point of these latter and by their aid that he penetrated the profounder nature and notional concept of Beauty. Thus we are conscious that it was a feature of a certain period of his productive activity that he was actively engaged with reflective thought, more perhaps than was wholly favourable to the simple and direct beauty of his work as an art product. The deliberate character of abstract reflections, and even the interest of the philosophical notion, arrest the attention in several of his poems. He has, in fact, been made the subject of stricture on this account; and especially his work has been blamed and depreciated in its contrast with the equable serenity and straightforward simplicity of Goethe's ideas and more objective naturalism. But in this respect Schiller as poet did but pay the debt of his century. A real ideal evolution[117] was responsible, the recognition of which only redounds to the honour of this sublime soul and profound genius, as it has been no less of signal profit to science and knowledge. This stimulating movement of science during the same epoch also diverted Goethe from the sphere, most distinctively his own, as poet. But just as Schiller was absorbed in the study of the ideal depths of the mind, so the characteristic predilection of Goethe inclined to the physical aspect of art, to external nature, such[Pg 85] as animal and vegetable organization, crystals, cloud-formation and colours. To such scientific inquiry Goethe applied his extraordinary powers of intuition, which in these provinces have driven off the field the theories of the mere understanding and their errors, just as Schiller, on the other side, succeeded in demonstrating the Idea of the free totality of Beauty as against the theory of the analytical understanding relative to volition and thinking. An entire series of Schiller's productions is devoted to this insight into the nature of art. Above all in importance come the "Letters upon aesthetic education." In these letters the main point of departure is that every individual man contains within himself the natural capacity of an ideal humanity. This genuine human being is represented by the State, which, in his view, is the objective, universal, and, in short, normal form, in which the separate individuals or subjects of such human consciousness aim at making all coalesce and concentrate in unity. There were then, in his view, two imaginable ways in which man in the temporal process could thus coalesce with the human being in the notional Idea[118]. On the one hand this could be effected in the suppression of individuality by the State under its generic idea of morality, law, and intelligence[119]: while, on the other, a similar result could be effected by the individual himself raising himself to the level of such a generic conception, in other words, by the man of the particular temporal condition ennobling himself to the level of the essential man of the Idea. Now, in this view, reason demands unity as such, the generic attribution; Nature, however, asks for variety and individuality, and both these legislatures make a simultaneous claim upon man. Confronted with the conflict of these antagonistic rivals, aesthetic education simply consists in giving actual effect to the demand for their mediation and reconcilement. The aim of such an education is, according to Schiller, to give vital form to inclination, the senses, impulse and emotional life in such a way that they become essentially permeated with mind; and, from the reverse point of view, that reason, freedom, and spirituality come[Pg 86] forth from the grave-clothes of their abstractedness, are mated in union with the natural element thus essentially rationalized, and thus receive the substance of flesh and blood. Beauty is therefore affirmed to be the conformative unification[120] of the rational and the sensuous, and this union is pronounced the truly real.

This view of Schiller will in its general terms be all the more readily recognized in "Anmuth und Würde[121]," as also in his poems for the reason that the praise of women is in such works more particularly the theme. It was pre-eminently in their character that he recognized and emphasized the spontaneously present conjunction of the spiritual and natural.

This unity of the universal and particular, of freedom and necessity, of spirituality and the natural element, which Schiller conceived with scientific thoroughness as the principle and essence of art, and endeavoured indefatigably to call into actual life by means of art and aesthetic education, has received yet further recognition in the Idea itself, cognized as the supreme principle of knowledge and of existence, the Idea in this sense being apprehended as sole truth and reality. By means of this acknowledgment science, in the philosophy of Schelling, attained its absolute standpoint; and although art had already begun to assert its peculiar rights and dignity in their relation to the highest interests of man, it was only now that the notion itself and the scientific position of art were discovered. It was then that art was—even if, from a certain point of view, with a measure of perversity, which this is not the proper place to discuss—accepted with due reference to its exalted and true vocation. Even before this time and independently Winckelmann had been inspired by his observation of the ideals of the ancients in a way which prompted the creation of a new sense of artistic contemplation, the disengagement of it from the association of vulgar aims and mere imitation of Nature, and exercised a mighty influence in the discovery of the idea of art in works of art and in its history. Winckelmann ought, in fact, to be regarded as belonging to the type of men who have been able in the field of art to supply the mind with a new organ and wholly new methods of observation[Pg 87] His views have, however, exercised less influence on the theory and the scientific knowledge of art.

To summarize these historical antecedents further yet more briefly, in association with the renaissance of our modern philosophy, A. W. and Friedrich von Schlegel, impelled by their zest for novelty and all that was either distinctive or arresting, assimilated just so much of the philosophical ideas as was compatible with minds essentially critical, though by no means really philosophical in any strict sense of the term. Neither of these writers in fact can claim the reputation of being speculative thinkers. They did, however, in virtue of their critical sagacity, at least approach the standpoint of the Idea; and with the aid of remarkable boldness of speech and audacity of innovation—to which, however, but very few ingredients of genuine philosophy contributed—directed a brilliant polemic against views hitherto received, and by this means unquestionably introduced a novel standard of criticism and new ways of looking at things which were of superior value to those they attacked. For the reason, however, that their criticism was not accompanied with a knowledge of the nature of such a standard based on philosophical principles, a lack of definition and continuity was inseparable from this standard; and they at one time attempted too much and again at another too little. Despite, therefore, of the fact that it may be reckoned to their credit that they have once more drawn attention to and emphasized with genuine enthusiasm much hitherto regarded as obsolete and too little appreciated by their times, the works of the older Italian masters, for example, and certain Flemish paintings, as also the "Niebelungen Lied" among other things; despite the fact that they even endeavoured with zeal to acquire knowledge of matter barely known at all, such as the poetry and mythology of India, nevertheless they not only attached too high an importance to the works of such a period, but also themselves committed the mistake of admiring works of very average merit, such as the comedies of Holberg, or of attaching an absolute value to what possessed a purely relative worth, or even of boldly proving themselves the enthusiasts of a perverse tendency and a subordinate standpoint as though one of first-rate importance.

[Pg 88]

From this tendency, and particularly from the opinions[122] and doctrines of Friedrich von Schlegel, issued in all its manifold forms the so-called Irony. The idea had its profounder root, as to one of its aspects, in the philosophy of Fichte, in so far as the principles of that philosophy were applied to art. Friedrich von Schlegel, as also Schelling, made the standpoint of Fichte their point of departure. Schelling passed wholly beyond it; Fried, von Schlegel elaborated it in his own peculiar fashion, and then flung himself free of it. With reference to the more intimate connection of the doctrines of Fichte with one tendency of this irony, it is only necessary to emphasize the following point in our present context, namely this, that Fichte posits the Ego as the absolute principle of all knowledge, reason, and cognition, and in fact posits it as the Ego which persists throughout in its abstraction of pure form. For this reason this Ego is, in the second place, wholly and essentially simple, and, on the one hand, it is the negation of every particularity, attribute—in short, every content—for every positive subject-matter[123] is overwhelmed in this abstract freedom and unity. On the other hand, every content, which is to pass muster for the Ego, is posited and recognized as exclusively so in virtue of the activity of the Ego. Whatever is, is only in virtue of the Ego; whatever is through me (that is, my Ego) I am in turn able to annihilate.

Now if we abide in these entirely vacant forms, which originate in the absoluteness of the abstract Ego, nothing can then be regarded as of value in itself, that is, essentially and on its own account[124]. It is exclusively produced by the subjectivity of the Ego. But this being so, it follows that the Ego remains lord and master over everything. In no sphere of morals or law, of all that is human or divine, profane or sacred, is there anything at all which would not in the first instance have to be posited by the Ego, and which[Pg 89] consequently could not equally be nullified by the same agency. This is nothing less than making all that exists on its own actual and independent warranty a mere semblance, not true and a part of reality on account of itself and by its own instrumentality, but a mere show in virtue of the Ego, within whose power and caprice it remains at the free disposition of such. To suffer its presence and to destroy it stands purely in the favour of the Ego, which has attained the absolute standpoint as essentially the Ego, that and nothing more than that.

Thirdly, the Ego is a living, active individual, and its life consists in bringing home its individuality to itself no less than to others, in giving expression to itself and revealing itself among phenomena[125]. For every man during his life endeavours to realize himself and does realize himself. In relation to the beautiful and art this means that he lives the life of an artist, and shapes his life artistically. But, according to the principle now discussed, I live as artist when all my action and expression whatever, in so far as it has to do with a content, is for myself on the plane of mere semblance, and assumes a formal content which is wholly at my disposal. So I am not truly serious either about this content or, speaking generally, about its expression and realization. Genuine seriousness only issues from a substantive interest, a subject-matter which itself possesses a rich content, such as truth, morality, and so on—in other words, from a content which as it stands I regard as essential, so that I only become essential on my own account, in so far as I have absorbed myself in such a content, and have come to conform myself to it in the entire range of my thought and action. At the standpoint at which the artist is the Ego, which both posits and resolves everything through its own essential fiat[126], for which no content of consciousness appears as absolute and essentially independent, but only as itself a semblance created and destroyable, such seriousness can find no place,[Pg 90] nothing here receiving a right to be save the formalism of the Ego.

No doubt for others my self-revealment, in which I appear to them, may be taken seriously, inasmuch as they interpret me as though in reality I was in earnest about the business; but therein they are deluded, poor, borné creatures, without the faculty or the power to comprehend and attain to the height of my argument. And by this it is brought home to me that everyone is not so free (e.g., that is formally free) as to see in all which is usually of value, dignity and sanctity to mankind, merely a product of each man's own possibilities of inclination, which is operative in permitting him to determine and make rich the course of his life, or the reverse. It is thus that this virtuosity of your ironical artist's life comes to be credited as some god-like geniality, for which every conceivable thing is a purely spectral creature, to which the free creator, knowing himself to be absolutely unattached, does not yoke himself, for he can ever annihilate the same no less than create it. Whoever has reached such a standpoint of god-like geniality consequently looks down in his superior fashion on all other mortals. They are ruled out as narrow and dull, in so far, that is, as law, morals, and the rest retain for them a validity that is assured, obligatory, and essential. And the individual who thus lives this artist life, which he does no doubt associate with others, whether friends or mistresses or I know not what, yet as man of genius sets no real stock on such relations as they stand to his individual personality and particular actions. All these are as nothing in their contrast to the universal which is his in its own and independent warranty, namely that genius which faces all such with irony. This is the universal import of the genial god-like irony as this concentration of the Ego in itself, for which all bands are broken, and which can only live in the bliss of self-enjoyment. This irony was the discovery of Herr Fried, von Schlegel, and many have chattered about it after him, or it may be are giving us a fresh sample of such chatter.

The proximate form of this negativity which has been called irony is, then, on the one hand, the illusory nature[127] of[Pg 91] all that is matter of fact, or moral, or of substantive content, the nothingness of all that is objective and of essential and independent worth. So long as the Ego adheres to such, a standpoint as this, everything appears to be null and void, the personal subjectivity alone excepted, which thereby becomes hollow and empty, and nothing but conceit itself. Conversely, however, from the opposite point of view, the Ego may also fail to find satisfaction in this self-delight; it may prove an insufficient supply to its craving, so that it now feels a thirst for what is secure and substantive, definite and essential interests. From a situation such as this there arises unhappiness and the contradiction, that whereas, on the one hand, the individual seeks to penetrate into truth and longs after objectivity, yet on the other he is unable to divest himself of this isolation and self-seclusion, is unable to overcome this unsatisfied and abstract soul-inwardness, and consequently is seized with a fit of sentimental yearning, which we have also marked as one of the emanations of the philosophy of Fichte. The discontent of this quiescence and impotence, which is unable either to act or set its hands to anything, lest it have to surrender the harmony within, and which remains unreal and empty, even though it may be essentially unflecked, despite all its craving for reality and the absolute—is the source of morbid saintliness[128] and yearning. A soul that is fair or saintly in a true sense acts and is a reality. But all that yearning and heart burning is merely the feeling of the nothingness of the empty and vain personage, who has it, and yet has not the power to cast himself adrift of this empty void, and fill himself with that which is solid and substantive. In so far, however, as the irony is made an art type it did not restrict itself in giving artistic shape to the life and particular individuality of the man who appropriated the irony. Over and beyond the artistic content of his own actions, etc., the artist had also to produce objective works of art as the creations of his imagination. The principle of such productions, which mainly are confined to the domain of poetry, is once more the display of the god-like as Irony. The ironical here, however, as genial individuality, consists in[Pg 92] the self-annihilation of what is noble, great, and excellent. Consequently the independent figures of art will also have to illustrate the principle of absolute subjectivity, and to do so by exhibiting all that is of human worth and dignity as a mere naught in this process of self-annihilation. This implies not merely that we are not to take seriously justice, morality and truth, but that there is really nothing in what is highest and best. In short it amounts to this, that irony contradicts and annihilates itself as manifested in individuals, characters and actions, and consequently is an irony which overreaches itself[129]. This mode or art-type, abstractly considered, approaches closely to the principle of comedy. At the same time we ought fundamentally to distinguish the comic from the ironical as thus associated. For the comic must be limited to the making null what is essentially itself of no worth, that is to say, a false and contradictory appearance, a whim, for instance, a piece of egotism, a particular caprice, as set over against a mighty passion; or even some principle, assumed to be efficacious, or rigid maxims may be thus exposed in their nullity. But it is wholly a different matter, when what is in fact moral and true, generally something with really substantive core, is asserted in an individual and through the same as essentially of no account. Such an individual is then nugatory and despicable in his character, and the weakness and absence of character are thus introduced into the representation. In this distinction, therefore, between the ironical and the comic the point of real importance is what is the nature of the content which is destroyed. They are in the case of irony evil, good for nothing subjects, persons unable to hold staunchly to their fixed and important purposes, only too ready to give it up and to permit its destruction within them. Your "Irony" loves this irony of the characterless. For true character implies on the one hand an essential substance in its purpose, and on the other adherence to such a purpose, so that individuality would be rifled of its veritable existence, if it was compelled to let it drop and give it up. This doggedness and stability constitutes the keynote of character. Cato can only live as Roman and[Pg 93] republican. Now if irony is made the keynote of the representation, we have the extreme antithesis to art accepted as the true principle of the work of art. For what we have here is in part insipid figures, in part figures that have neither content nor defined position[130]. Seeing that what is of substance in them is proved to be an illusion. And, last of all, we have into the bargain those yearning floods and unresolved contradictions of the soul. Compositions of this kind are not likely to arouse real interest. And for this very reason it is precisely from the advocates of this Irony that we have the continuous round of lament over the public's want of critical sense, artistic insight and genius, which of course cannot appreciate the lofty ways of such an Irony; in other words what the public does not like is this very mediocrity, which is the half of it mere trifling[131], and the other half without distinctive character. And it is right that these spectre-like, moon-shine gazing natures are no favourites; it is a comfort to think that this insincerity and hypocrisy is not in fashion, and that what men, on the contrary, demand imperatively are full and veritable interests, and no less so characters which remain true to the weighty substance at their core. We may add as a matter of historical interest that it was Solger and Ludwig Tieck who above all accepted irony as the highest principle of art.

This is not the place to speak of Solger at the length he really merits; and I must content myself with a few general remarks. Solger was not, as the others were, satisfied with a superficial philosophical culture. A truly speculative impulse of his innermost nature made him probe the very depths of the philosophical idea. And in doing so he came upon the dialectical phase of the Idea, that transition point which I call the infinite absolute negativity, the activity of the idea in its negation of itself as infinite and universal, in order to pass into finiteness and particularity, and with no less truth once more in order to annul this negation, and in so doing[Pg 94] to establish again the universal and infinite within the finite and particular. Solger did not get beyond this negativity; and unquestionably it is a phase[132] in the speculative idea; but nevertheless, as exclusively conceived in this dialectic unrest and dissolution of the infinite no less than the finite, it is only such a phase contributory, and not, as Solger imagined, the Entire Idea. Unfortunately Solger's life was too early broken off to permit him to grasp the concrete evolvement of the philosophical Idea in all it implies. And so he never got beyond this aspect of negativity, which possesses an affinity with the dissolution by irony of all that is determinate no less than essentially substantive, a negative movement which he identified with the principle of artistic activity. Yet in the actual conditions of his life, and with due reference to the stability, seriousness, and sterling qualities of his character, he was neither himself an ironic artist in the sense we have previously described, nor was his really profound instinct for true works of art, a sense which a long course of study of art had developed greatly, either of such an ironical character. So much we will venture in the vindication of Solger, whose life, philosophy, and actual contributions to art merit being wholly kept separate from the apostles of irony previously named.

With regard to Ludwig Tieck, his culture, too, dates from that period in which Jena was the literary centre. Tieck and others who belonged to these superior people are on excellent terms with such modes of expression, without being able to tell us much what they mean. Thus Tieck always insists on the importance of Irony. But when it comes to delivering judgment on great works of art, though his recognition and description of their greatness is no doubt beyond reproach, yet if one imagines that in any particular example—let us say "Romeo and Juliet"—we have the opportunity put for an explanation of that in which here the irony consists, we are wide of the mark. We hear nothing more whatever about Irony.

[Pg 95]


1. After the above introductory observations we may now pass on to the consideration of our subject itself. We are, however, still within the introduction; and being so I do not propose to attempt anything more than indicate by way of sketch the main outlines of the general course of the scientific inquiry which is to follow it. Inasmuch, however, as we have referred to art as issuing from the absolute Idea itself, and, indeed, have assigned as its end the sensuous presentation of the Absolute itself, it will be incumbent on us to conduct this survey of the entire field in such a way, as at least to disclose generally, how the particular parts originate in the notional concept of the beauty of art. We must therefore attempt to awaken some idea of this notion in its broadest significance.

It has already been stated that the content of art is the Idea, and the form of its display the configuration of the sensuous or plastic image. It is further the function of art to mediate these two aspects under the reconciled mode of free totality. The first determinant implied by this is the demand that the content, which has to secure artistic representation, shall disclose an essential capacity for such display. If this is not so all that we possess is a defective combination. A content that, independently, is ill adapted to plastic form and external presentment is compelled to accept this form, or a matter that is of itself prosaic in its character is driven to make the best it can of a mode of presentation which is antagonistic to its nature.

The second requirement, which is deducible from the first, is the demand that the content of art should be nothing essentially abstracts This does not mean, however, that it should be merely concrete in the sense that the sensuous object is such in its contrast to all that is spiritual and the content of thought, regarding these as the essentially simple and abstract. Everything that possesses truth for Spirit; no less than, as part of Nature, is essentially concrete, and,[Pg 96] despite its universality, possesses both ideality[134] and particularity essentially within it. When we state, for example, of God that he is simple One, the Supreme Being as such, we have thereby merely given utterance to a lifeless abstraction of the irrational understanding. Such a God, as He is thus not conceived in His concrete truth, can supply no content for art, least of all plastic art. Consequently neither the Jews nor the Turks have been able to represent their God, who is not even an abstraction of the understanding in the above sense, under the positive mode in which Christians have represented Him. For in Christianity God is conceived in His Truth, and as such essentially concrete, as personality[135], as the subjective focus of conscious life, or, more accurately defined, as Spirit. And what He is as Spirit is made explicit to the religious apprehension as a trinity of persons, which at the same time are, in their independence, regarded as One. Here is essentiality, universality, and particularity, no less than their reconciled unity, and it is only a unity such as this which gives us the concrete. And inasmuch as a content, in order to unveil truth at all, must be of this concrete character, art makes the demand for a like concreteness, and, for this reason, that a purely abstract universal does not in itself possess the property to proceed to particularity and external manifestation, and to unity with itself therein.

[Pg 97]

If, then, a sensuous form and configuration is to be correspondent with a true and therefore concrete content, such must in the third place likewise be as clearly individual, entirely concrete and a self-enclosed unity. This character of concreteness, predicable of both aspects of art, the content no less than the representation, is just the point in which both coalesce and fall in with one another. The natural form of the human body is, for example, such a sensuous concrete capable of displaying Spirit in its essential concreteness and of adapting itself wholly to such a presentment. For which reason we must quit ourselves of the idea that it is a matter of mere accident that an actual phenomenon of the objective world is accepted as the mode in which to embody such a form coalescent with truth. Art does not lay hold of this form either because it is simply there or because there is no other. The concrete content itself implies the presence of external and actual, we may even add the sensuous appearance. But to make this possible this sensuous concrete, which is essentially impressed with a content that is open to mind, is also essentially addressed to the inward conscious life, and the external mode of its configuration, whereby it is visible to perception and the world of idea, has for its aim the being there exclusively for the soul and mind of man. This is the sole reason that content and artistic conformation are dovetailed one into the other. The purely sensuous concrete, that is external Nature as such, does not exclusively originate in such an end. The variously coloured plumage of birds is resplendent unseen; the notes of this song are unheard. The Cereus[136], which only blossoms for a night, withers away without any admiration from another in the wilderness of the southern forests; and these forests, receptacles themselves of the most beautiful and luxuriant vegetation, with the richest and most aromatic perfumes, perish and collapse in like manner unenjoyed. The work of art has no such naïve and independent being. It is essentially a question, an address to the responding soul of man, an appeal to affections and intelligence.

Although the endowment by art of sensuous shape is not in this respect accidental, yet on the other hand it is not the[Pg 98] highest mode of grasping the spiritually concrete. Thought is a higher mode of presentment than that of the sensuous concrete. Though abstract in a relative sense; yet it must not be one-sided, but concrete thinking, in order to be true and rational. The extent to which a definite content possesses for its appropriate form sensuous artistic representation, or essentially requires, in virtue of its nature, a higher and more spiritual embodiment is a question of difference exemplified at once if we compare the Greek gods with God as conceived under Christian ideas. The Greek god is not abstract, but individual, and is in close association with the natural human form. The Christian God is also, no doubt, a concrete personality, but under the mode of pure spiritual actuality, who is cognized as Spirit and in Spirit[137]. His medium of determinate existence is therefore essentially knowledge of the mind and not external natural shape, by means of which His representation can only be imperfect, and not in the entire depths of His idea or notional concept.

Inasmuch, however, as it is the function of art to represent the Idea to immediate vision in sensuous shape and not in the form of thought and pure spirituality in the strict sense, and inasmuch as the value and intrinsic worth of this presentment consists in the correspondence and unity of the two aspects, that is the Idea and its sensuous shape, the supreme level and excellence of art and the reality, which is truly consonant with its notion, will depend upon the degree of intimacy and union with which idea and configuration appear together in elaborated fusion. The higher truth consequently is spiritual content which has received the shape adequate to the conception of its essence; and this it is which supplies the principle of division for the philosophy of art. For before the mind can attain to the true notion of its absolute essence, it is constrained to traverse a series of stages rooted in this very notional concept; and to this course of stages which it unfolds to itself, corresponds a coalescent series, immediately related therewith, of the plastic types of art, under the configuration whereof mind as art-spirit presents to itself the consciousness of itself[138].

[Pg 99]

This evolution within the art-spirit has further itself two sides in virtue of its intrinsic nature. First, that is to say, the development is itself a spiritual and universal one; in other words there are the definite and comprehensive views of the world[139] in their series of gradations which give artistic embodiment to the specific but widely embracing consciousness of Nature, man, and God. Secondly, this ideal or universal art-development has to provide for itself immediate existence and sensuous configuration, and the definite modes of this art-actualization in the sensuous medium are themselves a totality of necessary distinctions in the realm of art—that is to say, they are the particular types of art. No doubt the types of artistic configuration on the one hand are, in respect to their spirituality, of a general character, and not restricted to any one material, and the sensuous existence is similarly itself of varied multiplicity of medium. Inasmuch, however, as this material potentially possesses, precisely as the mind or spirit does, the Idea for its inward soul or significance, it follows that a definite sensuous involves with itself a closer relation and secret bond of association with the spiritual-distinctions and specific types of artistic embodiment[140].

Relatively to these points of view our philosophy will divided into three fundamental parts.

First, we have a general part. It has for its content object the universal Idea of fine art, conceived here as the Ideal, together with the more elaborated relation under which it is placed respectively to Nature and human artistic production.

Secondly, we have evolved from the notional concept of[Pg 100] the beauty of art a particular part, in so far as the essential distinctions, which this idea contains in itself, are unfolded in a graduated series of particular modes of configuration[141].

Thirdly, there results a final part which has to consider the particularized content of fine art itself. It consists in the advance of art to the sensuous realization of its shapes and its consummation in a system of the several arts and their genera and species.

2. In respect to the first and second of these divisions it is important to recollect, in order to make all that follows intelligible, that the Idea, viewed as the beautiful in art, is not the Idea in the strict sense, that is as a metaphysical Logic apprehends it as the Absolute. It is rather the Idea as carried into concrete form in the direction of express realization, and as having entered into immediate and adequate unity with such reality. For the Idea as such, although it is both potentially and explicitly true, is only truth in its universality and not as yet presented in objective embodiment. The Idea as fine art, however, is the Idea with the more specific property of being essentially individual reality, in other words, an individual configuration of reality whose express function it is to make manifest the Idea—in its appearance. This amounts to the demand that the Idea and its formative configuration as concrete realization must be brought together under a mode of complete adequacy. The Idea as so conceived, a reality, that is to-say, moulded in conformity with the notional concept of the Idea, is the Ideal. The problem of such consonancy might, in the first instance, be understood in the wholly formal sense that the Idea might be any idea so long as the actual shape, it matters not what the shape might be, represented this particular[Pg 101] Idea and no other. In that case, however, the required truth of the Ideal is a fact simply interchangeable with mere correctness, a correctness which consists in the expression of any significance in a manner adapted to it, provided that its meaning is thereby directly discoverable in the form. The Ideal, however, is not to be thus understood. According to the standard or test of its own nature any content whatever can receive adequate presentation, but it does not necessarily thereby possess a claim to be the fine art of the Ideal. Nay, more, in comparison with ideal beauty the presentation will even appear defective. And in this connection we may once for all observe—though actual proof is reserved to a later stage—that the defects of a work of art are not invariably to be attributed to defects of executive skill. Defectiveness of form arises also from defectiveness of content. The Chinese, Hindoos, and Egyptians, for example, in their artistic images, sculptured deities and idols, never passed beyond a formless condition, or a definition of shape that was vicious and false, and were unable to master true beauty. And this was so for the reason that their mythological conceptions, the content and thought of their works of art, were still essentially indeterminate, or only determinate in a false sense, did not, in fact, attain to a content which was absolute in itself. Viewed in this sense the excellence of works of art is so much the greater in the degree that their content and thought is ideal and profound. And in affirming this we have not merely in our mind the degree of executive mastery displayed in the grasp and imitation of natural form as we find it in the objective world. For in certain stages of the artistic consciousness and its reproductive effects the desertion and distortion of the conformations of Nature is not so much due to unintentional technical inexperience or lack of ability, as it is to deliberate alteration, which originates in the mental content itself, and is demanded by the same. From this point of view there is therefore imperfect art, which, both in technical and other respects, may be quite consummate in its own specific sphere, yet if tested with the true notion of art and the Ideal can only appear as defective. Only in the highest art are the Idea and the artistic presentation truly consonant with one another in the sense that the objective embodiment of the Idea is in itself essentially[Pg 102] and as realized the true configuration, because the content of the Idea thus expressed is itself in truth the genuine content. It is appertinent to this, as already noted, that the Idea must be defined in and through itself as concrete totality, thereby essentially possessing in itself the principle and standard of its particularization and definition as thus manifested objectively. For example, the Christian imagination will only be able to represent God in human form and with man's means of spiritual expression, because it is herein that God Himself is fully known in Himself as mind or Spirit. Determinacy is, as it were, the bridge to phenomenal presence. Where this determinacy is not totality derived from the Idea itself, where the Idea is not conceived as that which is self-definitive and self-differentiating, it remains abstract and possesses its definition, and with it the principle for the particular mode of embodiment adapted to itself not within itself but as something outside it. And owing to this the Idea is also still abstract and the configuration it assumes is not as yet posited by itself. The Idea, however, which is essentially concrete, carries the principle of its manifestation in itself, and is thereby the means of its own free manifestation. Thus it is only the truly concrete Idea that is able to evoke the true embodiment, and this appropriate coalescence of both is the Ideal.

3. But inasmuch as in this way the Idea is concrete unity, this unity can only enter the artistic consciousness by the expansion and further mediation of the particular aspects of the Idea; and it is through this evolution that the beauty of art receives a totality of particular stages and forms. Therefore, after we have considered fine art in its essence and on its own account, we must see how the beautiful in its entirety breaks up into its particular determinations. This gives, as our second part, the doctrine of the types of art. The origin of these types is to be found in the varied ways under which the Idea is conceived as the content of art; it is by this means that a distinction in the mode of form under which it manifests itself is conditioned. These types are therefore simply the different modes of relation which obtain between the Idea and its configuration, relations which emanate from the Idea itself, and thereby present us with the general basis of division for this sphere.[Pg 103] For the principle of division must always be found in the notional concept, the particularization and division of which it is.

We have here to consider three relations of the Idea to its external process of configuration.

(a) First, the origin of artistic creation proceeds from the Idea when, being itself still involved in defective definition and obscurity, or in vicious and untrue determinacy, it becomes embodied in the shapes of art. As indeterminate it does not as yet possess in itself that individuality which the Ideal demands. Its abstract character and one-sidedness leaves its objective presentment still defective and contingent. Consequently this first type of art is rather a mere search after plastic configuration than a power of genuine representation. The Idea has not as yet found the formative principle within itself, and therefore still continues to be the mere effort and strain to find it. We may in general terms describe this form as the symbolic type of art. The abstract Idea possesses in it its external shape outside itself in the purely material substance of Nature, from which the shaping process proceeds, and to which in its expression it is entirely yoked. Natural objects are thus in the first instance left just as they are, while, at the same time the substantive Idea is imposed upon them as their significance, so that their function is henceforth to express the same, and they claim to be interpreted, as though the Idea itself was present in them. A rationale of this is to be found in the fact that the external objects of reality do essentially possess an aspect in which they are qualified to express a universal import. But as a completely adequate coalescence is not yet possible, all that can be the outcome of such a relation is an abstract attribute, as when a lion is understood to symbolize strength.

On the other hand this abstractness of the relation makes present to consciousness no less markedly how the Idea stands relatively to natural phenomena as an alien; and albeit it expatiates in all these shapes, having no other means of expression among all that is real, and seeks after itself in their unrest and defects of genuine proportion, yet for all that it finds them inadequate to meet its needs. It consequently exaggerates natural shapes and the phenomena of Nature[Pg 104] in every degree of indefinite and limitless extension; it flounders about in them like a drunkard, and seethes and ferments, doing violence to their truth with the distorted growth of unnatural shapes, and strives vainly by the contrast, hugeness, and splendour of the forms accepted to exalt the phenomena to the plane of the Idea. For the Idea is here still more or less indeterminate, and unadaptable, while the objects of Nature are wholly definite in their shape.

Hence, on account of the incompatibility of the two sides of ideality and objective form to one another, the relation of the Idea to the other becomes a negative one. The former, being in its nature ideal, is unsatisfied with such an embodiment, and posits itself as its inward or ideally universal substance under a relation of sublimity over and above all this inadequate superfluity of natural form. In virtue of this sublimity the natural phenomena, of course, and the human form and event are accepted and left simply as they are, but at the same time, recognized as unequal to their significance, which is exalted far above all earthly content.

These features constitute in general terms the character of the primitive artistic pantheism of the East, which, on the one hand, charges the meanest objects with the significance of the absolute Idea, or, on the other, compels natural form, by doing violence to its structure, to express its world-ideas. And, in consequence, it becomes bizarre, grotesque, and deficient in taste, or turns the infinite but abstract freedom of the substantive Idea contemptuously against all phenomenal existence as alike nugatory and evanescent. By such means the significance cannot be completely presented in the expression, and despite all straining and endeavour the final inadequacy of plastic configuration to Idea remains insuperable. Such may be accepted as the first type of art—symbolic art with its yearning, its fermentation, its mystery, and sublimity.

(b) In the second type of art, which we propose to call "Classical," the twofold defect of symbolic art is annulled. Now the symbolic configuration is imperfect, because, first, the Idea here only enters into consciousness in abstract determinacy or indeterminateness: and, secondly, by reason of the fact that the coalescence of import with embodiment[Pg 105] can only throughout remain defective, and in its turn also wholly abstract. The classical art-type solves both these difficulties. It is, in fact, the free and adequate embodiment of the Idea in the shape which, according to its notional concept, is uniquely appropriate to the Idea itself. The Idea is consequently able to unite in free and completely assonant concord with it. For this reason the classical type of art is the first to present us with the creation and vision of the complete Ideal, and to establish the same as realized fact.

The conformability, however, of notion and reality in the classical type ought not to be taken in the purely formal sense of the coalescence of a content with its external form, any more than this was possible in the case of the Ideal. Otherwise every copy from Nature, and every kind of portrait, every landscape, flower, scene, and so forth, which form the aim of the presentment, would at once become classical in virtue of the fact of the agreement it offers between such content and form. In classical art, on the contrary, the characteristic feature of the content consists in this, that it is itself concrete Idea, and as such the concrete spiritual; for it is only that which pertains to Spirit which is veritable ideality[142]. To secure such a content we must find out that in Nature which on its own account is that which is essentially and explicitly appropriate to the spiritual. It must be the original notion itself[143], which has invented the form for concrete spirituality, and now the subjective notion—in the present case the spirit of art—has merely discovered it, and made it, as an existence possessed of natural shape, concordant with free and individual spirituality. Such a configuration, which the Idea essentially possesses as spiritual, and indeed as individually determinate spirituality, when it must perforce appear as a temporal phenomenon, is the human form. Personification and anthropomorphism have frequently been abused as a degradation of the spiritual. But art, in so far as its function is to bring to vision the spiritual in sensuous guise, must advance to such anthropomorphism, inasmuch as Spirit is only adequately presented[Pg 106] to perception in its bodily presence. The transmigration of souls in this respect an abstract conception[144], and physiology ought to make it one of its fundamental principles, that life has necessarily, in the course of its evolution, to proceed to the human form, for the reason that it is alone the visible phenomenon adequate to the expression of intelligence.

The human bodily form, then, is employed in the classical type of art not as purely sensuous existence, but exclusively as the existence and natural shape appropriate to mind. It has therefore to be relieved of all the defective excrescences which adhere to it in its purely physical aspect, and from the contingent finiteness of its phenomenal appearance. The external shape must in this way be purified in order to express in itself the content adequate for such a purpose; and, furthermore, along with this, that the coalescence of import and embodiment may be complete, the spirituality which constitutes the content must be of such a character that it is completely able to express itself in the natural form of man, without projecting beyond the limits of such expression within the sensuous and purely physical sphere of existence. Under such a condition Spirit is at the same time defined as particular, the spirit or mind of man, not as simply absolute and eternal. In this latter case it is only capable of asserting and expressing itself as intellectual being[145].

Out of this latter distinction arises, in its turn, the defect which brings about the dissolution of the classical type of art, and makes the demand for a third and higher form, namely the romantic type.

(c) The romantic type of art annuls the completed union of the Idea and its reality, and occurs, if on a higher plane, to the difference and opposition of both sides, which remained unovercome in symbolic art. The classical type of art no doubt attained the highest excellence of which the sensuous embodiment of art is capable. The defect, such as it is, is due to the defect which obtains in art itself throughout, the[Pg 107] limitations of its entire province, that is to say. The limitation consists in this, that art in general and, agreeably to its fundamental idea, accepts for its object Spirit, the notion of which is infinite concrete universality, under the guise of sensuously concrete form. In the classical type it sets up the perfected coalescence of spiritual and sensuous existence as adequate conformation of both. As a matter of fact, however, in this fusion mind itself is not represented agreeably to its true notional concept. Mind is the infinite subjectivity of the Idea, which as absolute inwardness[146], is not capable of freely expanding in its entire independence, so long as it remains within the mould of the bodily shape, fused therein as in the existence wholly congenial to it.

To escape from such a condition the romantic type of art once more cancels that inseparable unity of the classical type, by securing a content which passes beyond the classical stage and its mode of expression. This content, if we may recall familiar ideas—is coincident with what Christianity affirms to be true of God as Spirit, in contrast to the Greek faith in gods which forms the essential and most fitting content of classical art. In Greek art the concrete ideal substance is potentially, but not as fully realized, the unity of the human and divine nature; a unity which for the very reason that it is purely immediate and not wholly explicit, is manifested without defect under an immediate and sensuous mode. The Greek god is the object of naïve intuition and sensuous imagination. His shape is therefore the bodily form of man. The sphere of his power and his being is individual and individually limited; and in his opposition to the individual person[147] is an essence and a power with whom the inward life of soul[148] is merely potentially in unity, but does not itself possess this unity as inward subjective knowledge. The higher stage is the knowledge of this implied unity, which in its latency the classical art-type receives as its content and is able to perfectly represent in bodily shape. This elevation of mere potentiality into self-conscious[Pg 108] knowledge constitutes an enormous difference. It is nothing less than the infinite difference which, for example, separates man generally from the animal creation. Man is animal; but even in his animal functions he is not restricted within the potential sphere as the animal is, but becomes conscious of them, learns to understand them, and raises them—as, for instance, the process of digestion—into self-conscious science. By this means man dissolves the boundaries of his merely potential immediacy; in virtue of the very fact that he knows himself to be animal he ceases to be merely animal, and as mind is endowed with self-knowledge.

If, then, in this way the unity of the human and divine nature, which in the previous stage was potential, is raised out of this immediate into a self-conscious unity, it follows that the genuine medium for the reality of this content is no longer the sensuous and immediate existence of what is spiritual, that is, the physical body of man, but the self-aware inner life of soul itself. Now it is Christianity—for the reason that it presents to mind God as Spirit, and not as the particular individual spirit, but as absolute in spirit and in truth—which steps back from the sensuousness of imagination into the inward life of reason, and makes this rather than bodily form the medium and determinate existence of its content. So also, the unity of the human and divine nature is a conscious unity exclusively capable of realization by means of spiritual knowledge, and in Spirit. The new content secured thereby is consequently not indefeasibly bound up with the sensuous presentation, as the mode completely adequate, but is rather delivered from this immediate existence, which has to be hypostatized as a negative factor, overcome and reflected back into the spiritual unity. In this way romantic art must be regarded as art transcending itself, albeit within the boundary of its own province, and in the form of art itself.

We may therefore briefly summarize our conclusion that in this third stage the object of art consists in the free and concrete presence of spiritual activity[149], whose vocation it is to appear as such a presence or activity for the inner world of conscious intelligence. In consonance with such an object[Pg 109] art cannot merely work for sensuous perception. It must deliver itself to the inward life, which coalesces with its object simply as though this were none other than itself[150], in other words, to the intimacy of soul, to the heart, the emotional life, which as the medium of Spirit itself essentially strives after freedom, and seeks and possesses its reconciliation only in the inner chamber of spirit. It is this inward or ideal world which constitutes the content of the romantic sphere: it will therefore necessarily discover its representation as such inner idea or feeling, and in the show or appearance of the same. The world of the soul and intelligence celebrates its triumph over the external world, and, actually in the medium of that outer world, makes that victory to appear, by reason of which the sensuous appearance sinks into worthlessness.

On the other hand, this type of art, like every other, needs an external vehicle of expression. As already stated, the spiritual content has here withdrawn from the external world and its immediate unity into its own world. The sensuous externality of form is consequently accepted and represented, as in the symbolic type, as unessential and transient; furthermore the subjective finite spirit and volition is treated in a similar way; a treatment which even includes the idiosyncrasies or caprice of individuals, character, action, or the particular features of incident and plot. The aspect of external existence is committed to contingency and handed over to the adventurous action of imagination, whose caprice is just as able to reflect the facts given as they are[151], as it can change the shapes of the external world into a medley of its own invention and distort them to mere caricature. For this external element has no longer its notion and significance in its own essential province, as in classical art. It is now discovered in the emotional realm, and this is manifested in the medium of that realm itself rather than in the external and its form of reality, and is able to secure or to recover again the condition of reconciliation with itself in[Pg 110] every accident, in all the chance circumstance that falls into independent shape, in all misfortune and sorrow, nay, in crime itself.

Hence it comes about that the characteristics of symbolic art, its indifference, incompatibility and severance of Idea from configurative expression, are here reproduced once more, if with essential difference. And this difference consists in the fact that in romantic art the Idea, whose defectiveness, in the case of the symbol, brought with it the defect of external form, has to display itself as Spirit and in the medium of soul-life as essentially self-complete. And it is to complete fundamentally this higher perfection that it withdraws itself from the external element, It can, in short, seek and consummate its true reality and manifestation nowhere but in its own domain.

This we may take to be in general terms the character of the symbolic, classical, and romantic types of art, which in fact constitute the three relations of the Idea to its embodiment in the realm of human art. They consist in the aspiration after, the attainment and transcendency of the Ideal, viewed as the true concrete notion of beauty.

4. In contrast to these two previous divisions of our subject the third part presupposes the notional concept of the Ideal, and the universal art-types. It in other words consists in their realization through specific sensuous media. We have consequently no longer to deal with the inner or ideal evolution of the beauty of art in conformity with its widest and most fundamental determinations. What we have now before us to consider is how these ideal determinants pass into actual existence, how they are distinguishable in their external aspect, and how they give an independent and a realized shape to every element implied in the evolution of this Idea of beauty as a work of art, and not merely as a universal type. Now it is the peculiar differences immanent in the Idea of beauty which are carried over by it into external existence. For this reason in this third fundamental division these general art-types must themselves supply the basic principle for the articulation and definition of the particular arts. Or, to put the same thing another way, the several species of art possess in themselves the same essential differences, which we have already become acquainted[Pg 111] with as the universal art-types. External objectivity, however, to which these types are subjected in a sensuous and consequently specific material, necessitates the differentiation of these types into diverse and independent modes of realization, in other words, those of particular arts. Each general type discovers its determinate character in one determinate external material or medium, in which its adequate presentation is secured under the manner it prescribes. But, from another point of view, these types of art, inasmuch as their definition is none the less consistent with the fact of the universality of their typical import, break through the boundaries of their specific realization in some definite art-species, and achieve an existence in other arts no less, although their position in such is of subordinate importance. For this reason, albeit the particular arts belong specifically to one of these general art-types respectively, the adequate external embodiment whereof they severally constitute, yet this does not prevent them, each after its own mode of external configuration, from representing the totality of these art-types[152]. To summarize, then, in this third principal division we are dealing with the beauty of art, as it unveils itself in a world of realized beauty by means of the arts and their creations. The content of this world is the beautiful, and the true beautiful, as we have seen, is spiritual being in concrete form, the Ideal; or apprehended with still more intimacy it is the absolute mind and truth itself. This region of divine truth artistically presented to sensuous vision and emotion forms the centre of the entire world of art. It is the independent, free and divine Image[153], which has completely appropriated the externality of form and medium, and now wears them simply as the means of its self-manifestation. Inasmuch, however, as the beautiful is unfolded here as objective reality, and in this process is differentiated into particular aspects and phases, this centre posits its extremes, as realized in their peculiar actuality, in antithetical relation to itself. Thus one of these extremes[Pg 112] consists of an objectivity as yet devoid of mind, which we may call the natural environment of God. Here the external element, when it receives form, remains as it was, and does not possess its spiritual aim and content in itself, but in another[154]. The other extreme is the divine as inward, something known, as the manifold particularized subjective existence of Deity. It is the truth as operative and vital in sense, soul, and intelligence of particular persons, which does not persist as poured forth into its mould of external shape, but returns into the inward life of individuals. The Divine is under such a mode at once distinguishable from its pure manifestation as Godhead, and passes itself thereby into the variety of particularization which belongs to every kind of particular subjective knowledge, feeling, perception, and emotion. In the analogous province of religion with which art, at its highest elevation, is immediately connected, we conceive the same distinction as follows. First, we imagine the natural life on Earth in its finitude as standing on one side; but then, secondly, the human consciousness accepts God for its object, in which the distinction between objectivity and subjectivity falls away; then, finally, we advance from God as such to the devotion of the community, that is to God as He is alive and present in the subjective consciousness. These three fundamental modifications present themselves in the world of art in independent evolution.

(a) The first of the particular arts with which, according to their fundamental principle, we have to start is architecture considered as a fine art. Its function consists in so elaborating the external material of inorganic Nature that the same becomes intimately connected with Spirit as an artistic and external environment. Its medium is matter itself as an external object, a heavy mass that is subject to mechanical laws; and its forms persist as the forms of inorganic Nature co-ordinated with the relations of the abstract understanding such as symmetry and so forth. In this material and in these forms the Ideal is incapable of realization as concrete spirituality, and the reality thus presented remains confronting the Idea as an external fabric with[Pg 113] which it enters into no fusion, or has only entered so far as to establish an abstract relation. And it is in consequence of this that the fundamental type of the art of building is that of symbolism. Architecture is in fact the first pioneer on the highway toward the adequate realization of Godhead. In this service it is put to severe labour with objective nature, that it may disengage it by its effort from the confused growth of finitude and the distortions of contingency. By this means it levels a space for the God, informs His external environment, and builds Him His temple, as a fit place for the concentration of Spirit, and its direction to the absolute objects of intelligent life. It raises an enclosure for the congregation of those assembled, as a defence against the threatening of the tempest, against rain, the hurricane, and savage animals. It in short reveals the will thus to assemble, and although under an external relation, yet in agreement with the principles of art. A significance such as this it can to a greater or less extent import into its material and its forms, in proportion as the determinate content of its fabric, which is the object of its operations and effort, is more or less significant, is more concrete or more abstract, more profound in penetrating its own essential depth, or more obscure and superficial. Indeed architecture may in this respect proceed so far in the execution of such a purpose as to create an adequate artistic existence for such an ideal content in its very forms and material. In doing so, however, it has already passed beyond its peculiar province and is diverted into the stage immediately above it of sculpture. For the boundary of sculpture lies precisely, in this that it retains the spiritual as an inward being which persists in direct contrast to the external embodiment of architecture. It can consequently merely point to that which is absorbed in soul-life as to something external to itself.

(b) Nevertheless, as above explained, the external and inorganic world is purified by architecture, it is co-ordinated under symmetrical laws, and made cognate with mind, and as a result the temple of God, the house of his community, stands before us. Into this temple, in the second place, the God himself enters in the lightning-flash of individuality which smites its way into the inert mass, permeating the[Pg 114] same with its presence. In other words the infinite[155] and no longer purely symmetrical form belonging to intelligence brings as it were to a focus and informs the shape in which it is most at home. This is the task of sculpture. In so far as in it the inward life of Spirit, to which the art of architecture can merely point away to, makes its dwelling within the sensuous shape and its external material, and to the extent that these two sides come into plastic communion with one another in such a manner that neither is predominant, sculpture receives as its fundamental type the classical art-form.

For this reason the sensuous element on its own account admits of no expression here which is not affected by spiritual affinities[156], just as, conversely, sculpture can reproduce with completeness no spiritual content, which does not maintain throughout adequate presentation to perception in bodily form. What sculpture, in short, has to do is to make the presence of Spirit stand before us in its bodily shape and in immediate union therewith at rest and in blessedness; and this form has to be made vital by means of the content of spiritual individuality. The external sensuous material is consequently no longer elaborated either in conformity with its mechanical quality alone, as a mass of weight, nor in shapes of the inorganic world simply, nor in entire indifference to colour, etc. It is carried into the ideal forms of the human figure, and, we may add, in the completeness of all three spatial dimensions. In other words and relatively to such a process we must maintain for sculpture that in it the inward or ideal content of Spirit are first revealed in their eternal repose and essential self-stability. To such repose and unity with itself there can only correspond that external shape which itself persists in such unity and repose. And this condition is satisfied by configuration viewed in its abstract spatiality.[157] The spirit which sculpture represents is that which is essentially sound, not broken up in the play of chance conceits and passions; and for this reason its external form also is not dissolved in the manifold[Pg 115] variety of appearance, but exhibits itself under this one presentment only as the abstraction of space in the totality of its dimensions.

Assuming, then, that the art of architecture has executed its temple, and the hand of sculpture has placed therein the image of the god, we have in the third place to assume the community of the faithful as confronting the god thus presented to vision in the wide chambers of his dwelling-place. Now this community is the spiritual reflection into its own world of that sensuous presence, the subjective and inward animating life of soul, in its union with which, both for the artistic content and the external material which manifests it, the determining principle may be identified with particularization in varied shapes and qualities, individualization and the life of soul[158] which they imply. The downright and solid fact of unity the god possesses in sculpture breaks up into the multiplicity of a world of particular souls[159], whose union is no longer sensuous but wholly ideal.

Here for the first time God Himself is revealed as veritably Spirit—viz., the Spirit revealed in His community. Here at last He is seen apprehended as this moving to-and-fro, as this alternation between His own essential unity and His realization in the knowledge of individual persons and that separation which it involves, as also in the universal spiritual, being[160] and union of the many. In such a community God is disengaged from the abstraction of His unfolded self-seclusion and self-identity, no less than from the immediate absorption in bodily shape, in which He is presented by sculpture. He is, in a word, lifted into the actual sphere of spiritual existence and knowledge, into the reflected appearance, whose manifestation is essentially inward and the life of heart and soul. Thereby the higher content is now the nature of Spirit, and that in its ultimate or absolute shape. But at the same time the separation to which we have alluded displays this as particular spiritual being, a[Pg 116] specific emotional life. Moreover, for the reason that the main thing here is not the untroubled repose of the God in himself[161], but his manifestation simply, the Being which is for another, self-revealment in fact, it follows that, on the plane we have now reached, all the varied content of human subjectivity in its vital movement and activity, whether viewed as passion, action, or event, or more generally the wide realm of human feeling, volition and its discontinuance, become one and all for their own sake objects of artistic representation.

Agreeably with such a content the sensuous element of art has likewise to show itself potentially adapted to such particularization and the display of such an inward content of heart and mind. Media of this description are supplied by colour, musical tones, and finally in sound as mere sign for ideal perceptions and conceptions; and we further obtain the means of realizing with the use of such media a content of this kind in the arts of painting, music, and poetry. Throughout this sphere the sensuous medium is found to be essentially disparate in itself and throughout posited[162] as ideal. In this way it responds in the highest degree to the fundamentally spiritual content of art, and the coalescence of spiritual significance and sensuous material attains a more intimate union than was possible either in architecture or sculpture. At the same time such a union is necessarily more near to soul-life, leaning exclusively to the subjective side of human experience; one which, in so far as form and content are thus constrained to particularization and to posit their result as ideal, can only be actually effected at the expense of the objective universality of the content as also of the fusion with the immediately sensuous medium[163].

[Pg 117]

The arts, then, which are lifted into a higher strain of ideality, abandoning as they do the symbolism of architecture and the classical Ideal of sculpture, accept their predominant type from the romantic art-form; and these are the arts most fitted to express its mode of configuration. They are, however, a totality of arts, because the romantic type is itself essentially the most concrete.

(c) The articulation of this third sphere of the particular arts may be fixed as follows:

(α) The first art which comes next to sculpture is that of painting. It avails itself for a medium of its content and the plastic configuration of the same of visibility as such, to the extent that it is differentiated in its own nature, in other words is defined in the continuity of colour. No doubt the material of architecture and sculpture is likewise both visible and coloured. It is, however, not, as in painting, visibility in its pure nature, not the essentially simple light, which by its differentiating of itself in its opposition to darkness, and in association with that darkness gives rise to colour[164]. This quality of visibility made essentially ideal[165] and treated as such no longer either requires, as in architecture, the abstractly mechanical qualities of mass as appropriate to materials of weight, nor, as is the case with sculpture, the complete dimensuration of spatial condition, even when concentrated into organic forms. The visibility and the making apparent, which belong to painting, possess differences of quality under a more ideal mode—that is, in the specific varieties of colour—which liberates art from the objective totality of spatial condition, by being limited to a plane surface.

On the other hand the content also attains the widest[Pg 118] compass of particularity. Whatever can find a place in the human heart, as emotion, idea, and purpose, whatever it is capable of actually shaping—all such diversity may form part of the varied presentations of painting. The entire world of particular existence, from the most exalted embodiment of mind to the most insignificant natural fact, finds a place here. For it is possible even for finite Nature, in its particular scenes and phenomena, to form part of such artistic display, provided only that we have some reference to conscious life which makes it akin to human thought and emotion[166].

(β) The second art which continues the further realization of the romantic type and forms a distinct contrast to painting is that of music. Its medium, albeit still sensuous, yet proceeds into still profounder subjectivity and particularization. We have here, too, the deliberate treatment of the sensuous medium as ideal, and it consists in the negation and idealization into the isolated unity of a single point[167], the indifferent external collocation of space[168], whose complete appearance is retained by painting and deliberately feigned in its completeness. This isolated point, viewed as this process of negation, is an essentially concrete and active process of cancellation within the determinate substance of the material medium, viewed, that is, as motion and vibration of the material object within itself and in its relation to itself. Such an inchoate ideality of matter, which no longer appears under the form of space, but as temporal ideality[169], is sound[Pg 119] or tone. We have here the sensuous set down as negated, and its abstract visibility converted into audibility. In other words sound liberates the ideal content from its fetters in the material substance. This earliest[170] secured inwardness of matter and impregnation of it with soul-life supplies the medium for the intimacy and soul of Spirit—itself as yet indefinite—permitting, as it does, the echo and reverberation of man's emotional world through its entire range of feelings and passions. In this way music forms the centre of the romantic arts, just as sculpture represents the midway point of arrest between architecture and the arts of the romantic subjectivity. Thus, too, it forms the point of transition between the abstract, spatial sensuousness of painting and the abstract spirituality of poetry. Music carries within itself, like architecture, and in contrast to the emotional world simply and its inward self-seclusion, a relation of quantity conformable to the principles of the understanding and their modes of co-ordinated configuration[171].

(γ) We must look for our third and most spiritual type of artistic presentation among the romantic arts in that of poetry. The supreme characteristic of poetry consists in the power with which it brings into vassalage of the mind and its conceptions the sensuous element from which music and painting began to liberate art. For sound, the only remaining external material retained by poetry, is in it no longer the feeling of the sonorous itself, but is a mere sign without independent significance. And it is, moreover, a sign of idea which has become essentially concrete, and not merely[172] of indefinite feeling and its subtle modes and gradations. And this is how sound develops into the Word, as essentially articulate voice, whose intention it is to indicate ideas and thoughts. The purely negative moment to which music advanced now asserts itself as the wholly concrete point, the point which is mind itself, the self-conscious individual, which produces from itself the infinite expansion of its ideas[Pg 120] and unites the same with the temporal condition of sound. Yet this sensuous element, which was still in music immediately united to emotion, is in poetry separated from the content of consciousness. Mind, in short, here determines this content for its own sake and apart from all else into the content of idea; to express such idea it no doubt avails itself of sound, but employs it merely as a sign without independent worth or substance. Thus viewed, the sound here may be just as well reproduced by the mere letter, for the audible, like the visible, is here reduced to a mere indication of mind[173]. For this reason, the true medium of poetical representation is the poetical imagination and the intellectual presentation itself; and inasmuch as this element is common to all types of art it follows that poetry is a common thread through them all, and is developed independently in each. Poetry is, in short, the universal art of the mind, which has become essentially free, and which is not fettered in its realization to an externally sensuous material, but which is creatively active in the space, and time belonging to the inner world of ideas and emotion. Yet it is precisely in this its highest phase, that art terminates, by transcending itself; it is just here that it deserts the medium of a harmonious presentation of mind in sensuous shape and passes from the poetry of imaginative idea into the prose of thought.

Such we may accept as the articulate totality of the particular[Pg 121] arts; they are the external art of architecture, the objective art of sculpture and the subjective arts of painting, music, and poetry. Many other classifications than these have been attempted, for a work of art presents such a wealth of aspects, that it is quite possible, as has frequently been the case, to make first one and then another the basis of division. For instance, you may take the sensuous medium simply. Architecture may then be viewed as a kind of crystallization; sculpture, as the organic configuration of material in its sensuous and spatial totality; painting as the coloured surface and line, while in music, space, as such, passes over into the point or moment of time replete with content in itself, until we come finally to poetry, where the external medium is wholly suppressed into insignificance. Or, again, these differences have been viewed with reference to their purely abstract conditions of space and time. Such abstract divisions of works of art may, as their medium also may be consequentially traced in their characteristic features. They cannot, however, be worked out as the final and fundamental principle, because such aspects themselves derive their origins from a higher principle, and must therefore fall into subordination thereto.

This higher principle we have discovered in the types of art—symbolic, classical, and romantic—which are the universal stages or phases of the Idea of beauty itself.

Their relation to the individual arts in their concrete manifestation as embodiment is of a kind that these arts constitute the real and positive existence of these general art-types. For symbolic art attains its most adequate realization and most pertinent application in architecture, in which it expatiates in the full import of its notion, and is not as yet depreciated, as it were, into the merely inorganic nature dealt with by some other art. The classical type of art finds its unfettered realization, on the other hand, in sculpture, treating architecture merely as the enclosure which surrounds it, and being unable to elaborate painting and music into the wholly adequate[174] forms of its content. Finally, the romantic art-type is supreme in the products of painting and music, and likewise in poetical composition, as their preeminent and unconditionally adequate modes of expression.[Pg 122] Poetry is, however, conformable to all types of the beautiful, and its embrace reaches them all for the reason that the poetic imagination is its own proper medium, and imagination is essential to every creation of beauty, whatever its type may be.

To sum up, then, what the particular arts realize in particular works of art, are according to their fundamental conception, simply the universal types which constitute the self-unfolding Idea of beauty. It is as the external realization of this Idea that the wide Pantheon of art is being raised; and the architect and builder thereof is the spirit of beauty as it gradually comes to self-cognition, and to complete which the history of the world will require its evolution of centuries.

[1] The introduction begins as an introduction of lectures. But as the work is merely based to a large extent on notes for lectures, or on a manuscript which did not preserve the lectures as they were delivered, it will be found most convenient to ignore this fact, and in references to regard it simply as a written treatise.

[2] Hegel, alluding no doubt to the words of the Gospel, puts it "born and born again from mind (spirit)."

[3] It is assumed that such a fancy is seized and defined as such in separation from other experience.

[4] The sentence is slightly ironical.

[5] Dem Scheine.

[6] Raisonnements: a disparaging expression.

[7] Hegel here means the formal character, not the material on which it is imposed in the several arts.

[8] Hegel says, "as that which has no right to be," das Nichtseyn sollende.

[9] Erscheine as contrasted with scheine.

[10] Das An-und-Fürsichseyende. That which is explicitly to itself self-determinate being, no less than essentially such in its substantive right.

[11] Besonnener Art. Possibly Hegel means "one more compatible with common sense."

[12] I think by the words kunst wieder hervorzurufen Hegel rather means to call up art as it was previously cultivated than merely to "stimulate art production." The latter is, however, Professor Bosanquet's translation.

[13] Subjective apparently in the sense of being wholly personal to the writer or philosopher in so far as the form of his treatise deals in classification and arrangement peculiar to himself and so external, if not entirely arbitrary.

[14] I agree with the note of Professor Bosanquet (Trans., p. 21) that the word element refers here to the mental constituents of art, as contrasted with the sensuous medium.

[15] That is to say, the essential formative process involved in its necessity.

[16] There must be a misprint or oversight in Professor Bosanquet's rendering of this passage (p. 21). As the sentence now stands it does not appear to me to make sense.

[17] Von ihm. The pronoun, I take it, must refer here to das Andere rather than the subject of the verb.

[18] "Makes itself an alien to itself" perhaps expresses the German better.

[19] That is, the work of art.

[20] Haltpunkte. Points of arrest in essential ideas necessary which restrain this tendency to purely arbitrary caprice.

[21] I do not think the first part of this sentence ironical. Hegel admits that a general knowledge is a legitimate feature of modern culture. But he points out that people are only too ready to confuse such a general knowledge with real art scholarship. To bring out this I have translated rather freely.

[22] Detail of historical fact and artistic observation.

[23] It is historical, first, regarded as a survey of historical condition, and, secondly, because facts are collected whether in relation to ancient or modern art as a historian collects his facts.

[24] Lit., the inmost or most ideal (meaning).

[25] Vollkommen. Complete or rather completely articulate and rounded in itself. It is not easy to select the English word that exactly corresponds.

[26] Bestimmte Individualität. The definition may, as Hegel says, be more significant, but it is for all that not very clearly expressed. Professor Bosanquet translates the words "determinate individual modification."

[27] My view is that what Hegel means to say is that in caricature ugliness is emphasized and made more (näher) a part of the content than belongs to the true nature of the characteristic of which it is (in Hegel's opinion) no essential determinant or property. The view stated in the sentence is therefore a kind of reductio ad absurdum. Professor Bosanquet's translation appears to me to leave it doubtful whether the view stated is a just one or not. He translates näher by "closely," not the comparative. In my view Hegel agrees that caricature may be characteristic, but he does not agree that it is a genuine property of the characteristic where it is pressed to the excess of ugliness.

[28] Bestimmung.

[29] That is, in Hegel's view.

[30] Das Wahre.

[31] Den denkenden Begriff. It is possible that the "notion of thought" would express Hegel's meaning, as it would be a less strange expression. But I have retained the more literal translation as the reference may be to the self-evolution of Thought in its own dialectical process, thought or the Idea thinking out itself in the Hegelian sense. Professor Bosanquet seems to assume this, as he translates "the thinking Idea."

[32] Kunstschönen. I have translated this by the expression "fine art" because Hegel in the opening of the introduction makes the expression interchangeable with schöne kunst. At the same time it must be recollected that the emphasis here is even more on "beauty" than the fact that it is the beauty of human art. And it is for this reason, I presume, that Professor Bosanquet translates it here "artistic beauty." The only objection I have to make to this, apart from Hegel's words I have referred to, is that the expression "artistic beauty" is sometimes used to signify beauty that is capable of being expressed by art. Of course that is excluded from Hegel's use of the term; he means the beauty of artistic work.

[33] Subjektiven.

[34] Independent, that is, of the consciousness of any particular individual. Hegel does not necessarily mean independent of consciousness altogether. He has, no doubt, generally in his mind the kind of scepticism which received its most logical exposition in Hume.

[35] This appears to me the meaning of zufälliger Sinn. Professor Bosanquet translates it "accidental sense." By that I presume he understands the meaning to be "a sense of beauty that is entirely personal to the recipient," it may be possessed by one man, but not by another. Hegel's illustration hardly supports this, so it seems to me.

[36] I do not know the exact translation of lemmatisch, and by a curious slip the sentence is omitted from Professor Bosanquet's translation. The general sense is plain enough. Every particular science accepts its subject-matter as a datum. It starts from the empirical fact. Whether it admits the assumption or not, it does assume such facts. It is obvious that Hegel's adoption of this standpoint is only relatively true.

[37] Hegel means, I presume, mainly in the introduction. After that he does in a qualified degree discuss the profounder import of the Idea of Fine Art. His statements are not perhaps wholly free from inconsistency, because he has previously said that apart from an encyclopaedic consideration of all the sciences, it was not possible to do so, and also some of His statements seem to imply that he does not intend to do so.

[38] That is, in the first Part of the entire treatise.

[39] What Hegel means by the die letzte einleitende Betrachtung I am not quite sure. I presume he means the introduction to the first Part. The whole of this paragraph is not very clear.

[40] By man's sensitive life in its widest sense is, I think, intended.

[41] The German words are machen and nachmachen. We have no exact equivalents.

[42] Lit., "to fill out (ausfüllen) in complete equipment."

[43] Individuelle.

[44] The German will admit of the interpretation that the reference is merely to genius, but I think Hegel clearly means that neither one nor the other can be thus conjured up.

[45] At the end of the first main division of the work.

[46] One of Meredith's correspondents has put the question with all gravity whether he considered inspiration could be assisted by wine drinking. With equal gravity our humourist replied that though wine might be something of a restorative after mental effort it was not his experience that it contributed to first-rate artistic work. He actually mentions the case of Schiller. Though I have read somewhere that this poet used to be inspired by the smell of rotten apples I do not recollect reading that he favoured the champagne bottle. Meredith also mentions the case of Hoffmann, and adds that the type of his work does not increase our respect for the precedent.

[47] Eine äusserliche Arbeit. A craftsmanship which has to deal with the outside surface. We may translate "external craftsmanship"; but the translation in the text gives the meaning best, I think.

[48] Keinen geistigen Stoff. Professor Bosanquet translates "spiritual content." I imagine the emphasis to be mainly on the absence of positive ideas available to knowledge. In any case Hegel appears to press his point of contrast too far. Men of genius such as Mozart (who was probably in his mind) and Schubert may bear him out. But on the other hand we have a Keats, Shelley, and Raphael. Genius matures rapidly, but the greatest works of musical art no less than any other imply a real maturity of mind at least, and more than is here assumed of, I should say, a rich experience. Mozart, of course, upsets any theory, and it is questionable even whether Mozart is really an exception. It depends on the point of view from which we are estimating the intelligible content of music as an expression of soul-life.

[49] The "Iphigenie" was completed in Goethe's thirty-eighth year, fourteen years later than "Götz." The bulk of his more important works are of the same date or later. Schiller's "Wallenstein" was completed after his thirty-fifth year.

[50] This is surely not quite accurate. The medium of painting in the sense that speech or writing is the medium of poetry is not canvas or panel but oil or other colour. Canvas would correspond with the blank pages of a book.

[51] Free, that is, from accidental and irrelevant matter.

[52] Professor Bosanquet translates sinnliche here as "sensitive." I am inclined to think that Hegel here rather leaves out of sight the fact that in the process of Nature we have sensitive organic life no less than unconscious inorganic. His contrast is rather between the conscious life of man and unconscious nature, the conscious life that is not self-conscious being for the object of the contrast treated as equivalent to unconscious. He would also apparently ignore the fact that man himself and the higher beauty which attaches to him is also from ope point of view a part of the natural process.

[53] That is, apart from purely personal ends in its pursuit, which are accidental to its essential notion.

[54] That is, in the medium of conscious life.

[55] Einmal. They are there, but they do not know they are there.

[56] Aus geistiger Bildung, i.e., a high level of mental culture is necessary before the advent of civilized manners and customs in which spiritual life is reflected with real refinement and directness.

[57] Bedürfniss zur Kunst.

[58] Lit., "In the form of the most abstract single subjectivity." That is to say, that the main fact about it is that it is felt; but, except in respect to intensity, it cannot be described as an object of thought with defining attributes, It is abstract individual sensation.

[59] By the expression Kreis Hegel would mean rather an indefinite sphere than a definite circle. The simile is perhaps not very apt. The idea, apparently, is of a sphere of feeling, that is, such as being self-complete, but is so abstract or indefinable that the introduction into it of positive ideas such as justice, etc., are the mere entrance of spectral forms which vanish in such an indefinable medium, without disclosing their nature. They are felt but not cognized for what they really are.

[60] Blinder, blind in the sense that it is not guided by deliberate and self-conscious reason, i.e., mere animal instinct.

[61] A difficult sentence to translate. I have followed Professor Bosanquet in assuming that the substantive with which mangelhaft agrees must be borrowed from the following sentence, though it seems also to be carried on in a loose kind of way from the previous sentence (Gesckmacksinn.) The entire sentence is built, as we have it, on the further confusion that there are two parallels which before the sentence ends are regarded as one! That is to say, the general critical sense is contrasted with the critique of particular works of art and further the defect of that general sense in its neglect of universal principles is further contrasted with the way the specific critique deals with particular works. I hardly think, however, that my admirable predecessor is justified in ignoring the comparative degree of bestimmteres, or in his translation of Zeug as "power." I take it to mean the material of actual works of art. The sentence is a good example of, some of the difficulties of Hegel translation.

[62] Die Sache. The subject-matter in its most real sense as "content."

[63] That is, the so-called "good taste."

[64] Begriff. Concrete notional Idea.

[65] That is, in his physical form.

[66] Hegel is here considering desire abstractedly, that is, on its own account (als solche.) It may of course in its turn subserve a rational purpose, such as the preservation of health or life. But the contrast here is between the relation of appetite, and that of the theoretic faculty to objects.

[67] Sein Objekt. The object in which he finds himself; rather this, I think, than that which he has created.

[68] Innerlich, i.e., in the world of mind as contrasted with that of the sensuous vorhandene.

[69] Hegel or his editors have "in a converse way." This is obviously a mistake. In both examples the point is that the object is preserved as against desire with its destruction, and the contemplative intelligence with its ideal transformation.

[70] Ein ideelles. The meaning is, I think, that the materia is stamped with the hall-mark of deliberate artistic purpose. The ideality, though relatively jejune on such a work as the pyramids, in the higher reaches of art such as poetry and music affects of course the medium itself, the musical chord being pure ideality. Professor Bosanquet's translation omits this and the previous sentence, probably by an oversight. But it is also possible that this thinker conceived the statement as here expressed to be misleading, or at least open to misconception. In architecture and even painting it is obvious, from a certain point of view, the sensuous materia, if directed to an artistic end, remains none the less the material borrowed from natural fact though the fact as natural may be modified in its form. Painting may represent the semblance, but it employs a medium simply sensuous. Hegel has mainly before his attention here obviously the arts of painting, poetry, and music.

[71] They are theoretical because as applied to a work of art they imply the presence of the contemplative faculty. In a later section of the work Hegel makes a more complete analysis of what is implied in the sense of hearing as applied to musical composition and in the colour sense. In both cases it is obvious the mind contributes to the facts cognized. Hearing is, however, from Hegel's point of view the most ideal of the two, and he conceives the position of the ears itself points to this distinction.

[72] It may at least be questioned whether the ground given here of this distinction, or part of it, is strictly accurate. It may be said that our sense of sight and hearing are both in contact with the waves of the medium, the vibration of which produces the impression we call sound or light. The most obvious distinction then appears to be that the natural object is left as it is by hearing and sight. This at least holds good as against taste. But at least it may be questioned, I think, whether the sense of touch may not be the source of artistic enjoyment, certainly in the case of the blind. And the sense of smell at least leaves objects as they are, and some may contend that it is a source of enjoyment of the beauty of Nature. Hegel would reply, of course, that no works of human art are enjoyed by such means. The main ground is, however, that sight and hearing are the senses closest to intelligence.

[73] By Anschauungen Hegel apparently has in mind all the ideas of poetry. We should certainly rather have expected the word Vorstellungen, the word used being rather "visible perceptions." But the three words here seem generally to denote the subject-matter of painting, music, and poetry.

[74] Lit., "Operative in the artist viewed (i.e., the artist) as the personal energy (Subjektivität) which creates." Professor Bosanquet's translation "as a productive state of the person" would appear to make "the sensuous side" a subjective state of the artist. But apart from construction, can we speak of this as a "state"? It is modified by his energy—but it can hardly be regarded as a part of it.

[75] I find it impossible to fix any one English equivalent to Hegel's use of the words Einbildungskraft, Phantasie, or Vorstellung, in the sense at least that fancy, imagination, or phantasy have been used and defined by famous English writers. Generally speaking, I should say that Phantasie, or as it is called sometimes "artistic" or "creative" Phantasie, stands for the most intellectual faculty, though Vorstellung is also used in much the same sense. But it is impossible to arrive at any clear distinction such as was originally made so profoundly by Ruskin between fancy, the instrument of poetical talent, the surface gift, and imagination or, as he called it, penetrative imagination, which summarizes all the powers of a genius and personality and enters into the heart of the subject-matter by an illuminating flash which reveals reality rather than illustrates by means of image. The present passage appears to me even more unsatisfactory than the more carefully digested analysis at the end of Part I, when Hegel discusses the artist. It not merely ignores the indispensable presence of imagination in the pioneers of science, but appears to myself to confuse talent as the natural gift of a man with the mode in which it is exercised in presenting ideas in sensuous imagery, or at least makes the former depend on the latter. Professor Bosanquet translates Phantasie here by "fancy." But "fancy" is, in our way of looking at it, precisely not the faculty which distinctively belongs to "the great mind and the big heart or soul," though other parts of the description are more applicable. And in short, as I say, to fix definite English equivalents to Hegel's phraseology appears to me impossible.

[76] Die Phantasie.

[77] This is, I presume, Hegel's way of putting the simple fact, that much of the process of artistic production is unconscious. One man instinctively draws, or picks up his notes on the piano, another cannot. I think Hegel rather refers to this original talent than the much more important one in which genius, right into maturity, rides over difficulties without knowing how it does so. Such happy or even miraculous effects—such as artists sometimes playfully call them—are obviously in part, if only in part, the result of profound artistic experience. He is dealing almost exclusively with the natural bias, which makes one man naturally an artist, whether creative or executant, and is absent from another. He hardly approaches the question what constitutes the artist of genius as contrasted with the man of natural talent.

[78] This confirms the conclusion above.

[79] Für sich. If merely admired as imitation and nothing more.

[80] Zur Ekelhaftigkeit. "Sickeningly like" is Professor Bosanquet's closer translation. The expression "damnably like" is not unknown.

[81] I think with Professor Bosanquet that phantastischen is here not "fantastic" but strictly derived from Phantasie in its sense of imagination. "Completely," of course, as involving no direct imitation of Nature.

[82] Formal, i.e., implying no creative supplement from the artist, purely mechanical.

[83] It would be both instructive and interesting to discuss if, and how far, and by virtue of what, that distinct type of modern art known as "still life," such as a few objects of the library, or even a shell or two and so on up to more important organic life was excluded from this condemnation. It is quite clear that Ruskin would have a good deal to say that would imply important qualification.

[84] Begeisterung. I think this must be the meaning. Inspiration hardly makes sense. It is art that is inspired, not those who attend the celebration.

[85] Im Innersten is I think here obviously to be taken with the verb, not with the substantives.

[86] Ueberhaupt.

[87] The meaning of in diesem Gebiete is, I presume, the actual world. But if so it is simply otiose, and I have left it out.

[88] Bestimmung. The translation given appears to be the sense, though we should rather say weaken a man from the pursuit of a definite course. Professor Bosanquet, who translates the word "aim" a little lower down, evades the word here.

[89] Raisonnirende here and raissonnement below have a depreciatory sense—and signify ordinary reasoning in the first instance and the methods of the popular secularist in the second.

[90] A sentence omitted by Professor Bosanquet, and it seems to amount to little more than a more generalized statement of what has gone before. The end of art both directly and indirectly concerns its subject-matter, or rather, as Hegel puts it, the need of the notion or Idea of it carries us to a further end beyond the end shared in common by its particular content.

[91] I follow Professor Bosanquet in his translation of the words als Allgemeines für sich zu zuerden; but I am not sure that the more literal translation is not simply as the words stand, the sense being not to be self-conscious of himself (für sich) as the universal principle, to be aware of this property, but rather as universal principle to become for himself, i.e. "independent of desire."

[92] Einheit—unity to the point of fusion, identity.

[93] Unmittelbaren Befangenheit. "Sunkenness" is Professor Bosanquet's translation.

[94] Theoretic as a direct transcript of θεώρια, θεωρειν.

[95] Gesichtspunkte. The various points of view necessary to arrive at such a general conclusion.

[96] Though not entirely confident I am right in accepting the words zu bringen as a repetition of the hervorzubringen just before, the alternative of Professor Bosanquet which takes the words wird zu bringen seyn as equivalent to gebracht seyn sollte certainly appears to me no direct translation.

[97] "Poets aim at utility and entertainment alike."

[98] I think that Hegel in his use of erste here rather refers to the fact of past history than a fact in the individual history of nations. "Art is, in the early days of history, the instructress of nations," gives, I think, his meaning. It is the first instructress in the history of nations.

[99] I venture to think if Professor Bosanquet's translation were the right one the German would be ein in sich selbst gebrochenes. I do not think in ihm selbst can be a German rendering of "in itself." But I admit the translation is tempting whether Hegel had in his mind the "house divided against itself" or not.

[100] Lit., "the spiritual universal," i.e., the universal substance of its ideal content.

[101] Precisely as Ruskin, for example, in his "Modern Painters" condemns both Titian and Tintoret, not because they painted the Paradise or the Assunta, to produce fine paintings, or even because they did not or did themselves believe in the truth of their subject-matter, but because they did not paint in order to make converts, an extraordinary lapse of judgment.

[102] Im besten Sinne des Wortes.

[103] Professor Bosanquet points out in a note on this passage (p. 101) that Sittlichkeit here, which he translates, as I have done, "respectability," is the habit of virtue, without the reflective aspiration after goodness as an ideal. Of course there is no depreciation in the use of the term. It is simply the morality of ordinary people, who do generally what their neighbours think the right thing. The word moralität and moralisch, which I have only been able to translate by a paraphrase, is the morality of the standpoint discussed, which is very much that of Kant or "Duty for duty's sake" in Bradley's "Ethical Studies."

[104] That is the contingency of the world of Nature as contrasted with the essential stability of mind or spirit.

[105] Lit., "To satisfy itself in its real or independent self (für sich)." It cannot identify itself with either side as its wholly real self made therein explicit. It is neither fish nor fowl.

[106] Bestimmüngen may here be a reference to man's broadest spiritual characterizations as one of the human family, the race, the nation, and so forth, or, as I think, a reference to his vocation, future destiny, general welfare.

[107] An und für sich Wahre.

[108] Unbefangenen, i.e., the naïve outlook of ordinary life.

[109] Professor Bosanquet merely translates are not and are in italic as in the text, which of course, except that he adds a comma after are, is a literal translation. But the sense, as I understand it, is that the writer says it is not in the sense that these two contradictories do not exist at all (i.e., as relative reality), but rather in the sense that in philosophical thought which grasps their essence they are not only present but present as reconciled factors of one truth. Professor Bosanquet's translation appears to me to amount to this: that all Hegel maintains is that the sense he means is not that such contradictory elements are not reconciled, but in the sense that they are reconciled. Perhaps this is his view. But if so, I fail to see the importance of the antithesis, which appears to me between gar nicht sind and in Versöhnung sind. Hegel before had expressly said that such contradictory sides were reconciled in philosophy, so I do not see why he should so emphatically repeat himself. The comma, of course, may be a misprint.

[110] Begriff. Notion, or concrete Idea of it.

[111] Of that world in its opposition to reason.

[112] Der Mensch als er geht und steht. The man in ordinary conditions—-the average man, however, rather than the natural man, which carries slightly different associations.

[113] The difference between a material instrument, which is a mere means to an end conceived by the craftsman, such as a plough for ploughing, a rake for raking, and a purpose inseparable from the organic whole as a mouth for eating, for without life the organism collapses.

[114] Für sich.

[115] In his history of Aesthetic in Germany Lötze disputes this. It seems to some extent a question of definition. In Hegel's view a dead body is not a human body in the full sense, but the corpse of a man. A hand separated from the body, whether we call it a hand or not, is no longer, whatever it may be, a living member, its essential significance as a hand has disappeared. It was only a hand in its coherence as part of a larger whole. It may still for a time preserve the semblance of its life, but it is cut off as the withered leaf. These are facts at least that are undeniable, and the objection appears to me based on a misunderstanding. A hand is only an und für sich human when it is part of a living man. What is the organic reality in the complete sense is the man as a whole. The hand is merely the extremity of one of his arms. You may call a dead hand a hand if you like. The point is what was implied in the fact that you called it a hand at all whether alive or dead.

[116] That is, by Kant, of course.

[117] By Verwicklung I understand the general evolution of ideal philosophy which the defects of the Kantian Critique stimulated. Professor Bosanquet apparently limits it to a perplexity personal to Schiller. I doubt whether the word will bear this.

[118] That is, the concrete idea of humanity as a collective aggregate.

[119] That is, intelligence as asserted by a society of human beings as public opinion, etc.

[120] Die Ineinsbildung.

[121] "Grace and Dignity."

[122] Gesinnungen. "Sentimental views" is probably what is implied.

[123] Alle Sache.

[124] Professor Bosanquet is clearly right in his view that the order of the words here should be reversed. The words an und für sich are obviously the wider explication of in sick selbst, the auxiliary, as not unfrequently in Hegel, being almost equivalent to nämlich. Whether a misprint or an oversight I have translated subject to this correction.

[125] I presume the revelation is not merely that of visible shape or even mainly.

[126] Das alles aus sich setzende und auflösende Ich. The three points emphasized by Hegel in Fichte's "Philosophy" are: (a) The Ego is abstract; (b) Everything is a show for it; (c) Its own acts are a semblance.

[127] Hegel uses the word Eitelkeit and eitle in their double sense of empty-nothingness—futility and vain or conceited. This cannot be readily reproduced in English.

[128] Schönseligkeit. Borrowed no doubt from Goethe's notion of a "fair soul."

[129] Like the "vaulting ambition" of Shakespeare which falls on the other side, is über sich selbst.

[130] Haltung. Professor Bosanquet translates this "conduct." I rather think it refers to "bearing, demeanour." They are, as we say, "featureless, flaccid figures."

[131] Läppische. I am not quite sure what is exactly meant. Professor Bosanquet translates it "grotesque." But the word is a provincial form of Schlaff apparently—loose, flaccid and so childish, trifling.

[132] Moment. A phase in an evolutionary, or, as it is here, a dialectical process. A momentary feature of it.

[133] This final section is called the Division of the Subject.

[134] Subjektivität. That is, the ideality of consciousness, or thought.

[135] Professor Bosanquet, in his note on this passage, expresses the opinion that Hegel when he writes thus is referring "To the self-consciousness of individual human beings as constituting, and reflecting on, an ideal unity between them." This no doubt, as he suggests, does put a somewhat unnatural meaning on the word "person" or "subjekt." No doubt there is a sense in which we can ascribe personality to a state, or nation, in the concrete unity of its life. But while admitting that unity such as this, which is not sensuous but ideal, can be "effective and actual," I find it difficult to conclude that Hegel did himself hold that the unity of the Divine Being was merely identical with the unity or totality of concrete human life as reflected upon by single individuals. How far is human life as a whole on this Earth a unity or totality at all? That question has been discussed by Professor Bradley and others with very different conclusions. Nay, how far does human existence itself exhaust the actually present realization or self-realization of self-conscious Spirit or Intelligence? Whatever maybe the wisest answer to such and other questions I can hardly think that Hegel would have accepted Professor Bosanquet's interpretation as completely adequate.

[136] Fackeldistel. "Torch thistle," a plant of the genus Cereus.

[137] Or, "as mind and in mind."

[138] That is to say, presents to itself to conscious grasp of itself as such Art-spirit (als künstlerischer.)

[139] The two evolutions here alluded to are (i) that of a particular way of regarding Nature, man, and God in a particular age and nation such as the Egyptian, Greek, and Christian viewed in express relation to art; (ii) The several arts—sculpture, music, poetry, etc., each on their own foundation and viewed relatively to the former evolution.

[140] The point, of course, is that the different media of the several arts are inherently, and in virtue of the fact that we have not here mere matter as opposed to that which is intellectual rather than sensuous, but matter in which the notional concept is already essentially present or pregnant (sound is, for instance, more ideal than the spatial matter of architecture), adapted to the particular arts in which they serve as the medium of expression.

[141] Professor Bosanquet explains these "plastic forms" (Gestaltungs formen) as the various modifications of the subject-matter of art (Trans., p. 140 note). I am not quite sure of the meaning here intended. It would apparently identify the term with the Gebilde referred to in the third division. I should myself rather incline to think that Hegel had mainly in his mind the specific general types, that is, the three relations of the Idea itself to its external configuration, viewed as a historical evolution, which Hegel calls symbolic, classical, and romantic. Perhaps this is what Professor Bosanquet means. But in that case it does not appear to me so much the subject-matter as the generic forms in the shaping of that matter.

[142] Das wahrhaft Innere. That is, the inward of the truth of conscious life.

[143] Means apparently the notion in its absolute sense.

[144] Because it represents spirit as independent of an appropriate bodily form.

[145] What appears to be denoted by Geistigkeit is the generic term of intelligence—that activity of conscious life which does not necessarily make us think of a single individual—the common nature of all spirit.

[146] By Innerlichkeit, which might also be rendered as pure ideality, what is signified is that in a mental state there are no parts outside of each other.

[147] Subjekt, i.e., the individual Ego of self-consciousness.

[148] Das subjective Innere, lit., the subjective inner state.

[149] Geistigkeit. Professor Bosanquet translates it here "intellectual being."

[150] The distinction between a percipient and an external object falls away. The content displayed is part of the soul-life itself.

[151] Professor Bosanquet apparently assumes a negative has slipped out. But the text probably is correct in the rather awkward form in which it stands.

[152] Thus poetry is primarily a romantic art, but in the Epic it is affiliated with the objective character of classical art, or we may say that there is a romantic and classical type of architecture, though the art is primarily symbolic.

[153] Gestalt. Plastic power is perhaps a better translation.

[154] He means that in architecture the building is merely a shrine or environment of the image of the god.

[155] Infinite, of course, in the concrete sense of rounded in itself, as the circle, or, still more, the living organism.

[156] Lit., "which is not also that of the spiritual sphere."

[157] That is, an object limited only in space.

[158] Subjektivität. The particularization in romantic art implies the presence of an ideal element imported by the soul of the artist, which appeals directly to the soul in its emotional life. Compare a picture by an Italian master with a Greek statue.

[159] Lit., "A multiplicity of isolated examples of inwardness."

[160] That is, in the life shared by all as one community actuated by a common purpose.

[161] As in sculpture.

[162] Professor Bosanquet's note is here (Trans., p. 166) "Posited or laid down to be ideal. This almost is equal to made to be in the sense of not being. In other words musical sound is "ideal" as existing, quâ work of art, in memory only, the moment in which it is actually heard being fugitive. A picture is equally so in respect of the third dimension, which has to be read into it. Poetry is almost wholly ideal, uses hardly any sensuous element, and appeals almost wholly to what exists in the mind."

[163] By particularization is meant the variety in the material of colours, musical tones, and ideas, which latter are really quite as much the medium of poetry as written language. The sensuous medium is here an abstract sign and, as Hegel would contend, nothing more than this.

[164] Reference, of course, to Hegel's unfortunate acceptance of Goethe's theory of colour.

[165] The colour of art is not merely ideal as applied to only two dimensions of space, but also is "subjective" in the artistic treatment of it under a definite "scheme." It is not clear whether Hegel alludes also to this; apparently not, though it is the most important feature. In fact, even assuming his theory of light to be correct, it is difficult entirely to follow his distinction between the appearance of colour on a flat or a round surface. As natural colour the one would be as ideal as the other. Only regarded as a composition would painting present distinction.

[166] It is obvious that the reference here is mainly to an intentional appeal to the human soul through the content of the composition. But the appeal may also be made through the technique and artistic treatment of the medium itself.

[167] The parts of a chord are not in space, but are ideally cognized. Hegel describes this by saying that music idealizes space and concentrates it to a point. It would perhaps be more intelligible to say that it transmutes the positive effects of a material substance in motion into the positive and more ideal condition of time. The point which is continually negated is at least quâ music the point, or rather, moment, of a temporal process.

[168] By the indifferent externality of space is signified the fact that the parts of space, though external to each other, are not qualitatively distinguishable.

[169] Succession in time is "more ideal" than coexistence in space because it exists only as continuity in a conscious subject.

[170] Painting no doubt introduces ideal elements into the artistic composition of colour, but the colour still remains the appearance of a material thing or superficies.

[171] That is to say, music or harmony is based on a solid conformity to law on the part of its tones in their conjunction and succession, their structure and resolution.

[172] As in painting.

[173] The views here propounded suggest considerable criticism. It appears to me that the stress here laid upon the intelligible content of poetry as contrasted with the sensuous qualities of its form as modulated speech is certainly untenable. What we call the music of verse may unquestionably be most intimately associated with the ideal content expressed; but apart from the artistic collocation of language as sound no less than symbol we certainly do not get the art of poetry. Even where Hegel deals directly with rhythm and rhyme in the body of the treatise I think it is clear he underrates all that is implied in the difference between the musical expression of poetry as contrasted even with the sonorous language of mere prose. A further question upon which more doubt is permissible is how far the actual script in written or printed letters is not entitled to be regarded as at least in part the sensuous medium. No doubt the poem is not dependent upon it as a painting is upon colour, or the canvas which supports it, for it may be recited. But at least it is practically dependent upon it for its preservation. The point may very possibly appear, however, as nugatory or entirely unimportant, beside the question whether the medium of the art is not really imaginative idea rather than articulate speech.

[174] Absolute Formen. Adequate in the sense of being unconditionally so.

[Pg 123]



[Pg 124]
[Pg 125]


The conclusion of the introduction brings within sight the more methodical exposition of our subject. It will in the first place be useful as a point of departure for a true philosophy of the beautiful to sum up shortly the position of Fine Art in its general relation to the Real, no less than to emphasize the salient features which distinguish the philosophy of Fine Art from other philosophical inquiries.

(a) With this object in view we will first enumerate the diverse attempts which have been made to apprehend the beautiful in thought, placing each in the order which will best assist a critical verdict. We have already contributed something to this in our introduction. And, moreover, we may add that the mere inquiry what others have contributed either rightly or wrongly to our subject, at least with the hope of ascertaining something really instructive to an exposition which claims to be wholly scientific, will not assist us much. So far from this being so we must preface our remarks with the admission that, in the opinion of many, the beautiful, for the very reason that it is the beautiful, does not admit of such intellectual apprehension, is, in short, no object intelligible to human thought. To such a thesis we must for the present—in our response to those who at this time of day contend that all Truth is ultimately incomprehensible, and only the finiteness of the phenomenal and the contingent matters of temporal existence is within our mental grasp—reply that it is precisely Truth, and Truth alone, which is to be thus comprehended, and for this reason that it possesses the absolute notion, or, more succinctly, the Idea for its basic support. Now beauty is no other than a particular[Pg 126] determination under which the True is expressed and revealed to us; and it lies open to the fullest comprehension of thought in so far as such can equip it with the armoury of the concrete notion. It is quite true that no idea has suffered more severely in our own time from misconceptions than this which we call the notion in its fullest explication. One is only too often misunderstood to mean a determination which is abstract and one sided, or at least a conception of the analytical understanding. As thus understood neither the totality of Truth nor the idea of beauty as a concrete whole can be brought home to a thinking consciousness. But the idea of beauty, as we have already observed, and shall seek to make more intelligible as we proceed, is no such abstraction of the mind: rather it may be defined as the absolute notion in its self-evolved concreteness, or still more specifically defined, the absolute Idea.

(b) And, further, we cannot more succinctly define the absolute Idea, in the above use of the expression, than by saying it is mind (Spirit): and we may add that the mind thus referred to is not mind regarded as finite, that is, subject to the conditions and limitations of sense-perception, but the universal and absolute Intelligence[175], which, out of its own free activity, determines Truth in the profoundest signification of the term. To the ordinary consciousness of everyday life the object of perception, no doubt, breaks away from mind, as though our thought stood in opposition to Nature, which receives from us a validity equal at least to the consciousness which perceives it. But in this way of looking at Nature and the conscious subject as two neighbours set over against one another in territories equally self-subsistent it is only the finite and limited mind, not that which it is as an infinite substance and in its notional truth, which is apprehended. Nature is not thus to be set over against absolute Mind, either as conjoint with a sphere of the Real of equal worth, or as an independent boundary thereto. Rather the aspect which Nature appears to hold in this respect is that which mind or spirit itself sets up, and of which it becomes the product as a Nature in which limit and boundary are themselves determining constituents.[Pg 127] In fact, Mind in its absolute or infinite substance can only be apprehended as this free activity, which is manifested in self-development through differentiation. This object, this other, through which such differentiation proceeds, is regarded in such opposition as Nature, but as the object of intelligence it is quite as much indebted to Mind for the free gift and fulness of its own essential substance. We must therefore conceive Nature as herself containing in potency the absolute Idea. She is that Idea in apparent shape, which mind, in its synthetic power, posits as the object opposed to itself. She is so far a product, a creation. The truth of Nature therefore is simply the determination by mind of its own substance, its ideality and power of determination, through a process which no doubt begins with a separation of itself into two factors which apparently negate each other, but which, by the very activity of such negation and separation, passes beyond the contradiction it implies to a unity which heals the fracture. Instead of finding our-elves opposed to a limit and a barrier we have a totality in which the parts which opposed each other are fused together by the free universality of mind. This ideality, in other words this infinite power of determination[176], is that which constitutes the profound notion of Mind's subjectivity. As subjectivity mind is, in the first instance, merely Nature, Mind, or Spirit that is not explicitly unfolded, mind which has not arrived at the grasp of its true notion. Nature is here set up in opposition to Mind, not as an object which itself has created, but as one whose limits it fails to overcome, an object, moreover, which, as assumed to be already subsisting in independence, Mind remains alongside of in the internal seclusion of knowledge and volition, and is only able to constitute the other side of Nature. The finiteness of scientific theory, no less than that of practical life, is to be, found in this limited mode of consciousness, where intelligence is restricted to the use of finite categories and the formal "ought" in the realization of ethical perfection[177]. We find here, as we have pointed out[Pg 128] was the case with Nature, that the phenomenal is not adequate to the essential truth of that which appears; what we receive is still the confusing medley of abilities, passions, intentions, opinions, and talents, which no sooner make themselves felt than they are displaced, working at cross purposes as often against as on the side of each other, in a strife between volition, opinion, and reflection, which brings to the surface every phase of fortuitous experience in all its confusing variety. It is the standpoint of the entirely finite, temporal, contradictory, and for that reason transitory, unsatisfied, and unreconciled spirit. For the satisfactions which obtain in such a consciousness, through the finiteness which inseparably clings to its entire outlook, itself so limited and confused, are of a purely relative and isolated validity. It is inevitable that consciousness, volition, and thought should make an effort to rise above this condition and seek for the universality, unity, and satisfaction which it eventually finds in the infinite substance of Spirit and its Truth. This unity and satisfaction, to which mind is carried forward by the impulse of its own ideal activity, transmuting the raw material of its finite conditions, constitutes the first revelation of that which the world of appearances is under a more notional grasp of it. Mind grasps its finiteness as the negation of its own essential substance, and is aware of its infinity. And this essential truth of the finite mind is the absolute Mind or Spirit. In this form of self-consciousness mind is merely actualized as absolute negativity. The element of finitude which it confronts is apprehended as such and annulled. In this, the highest sphere of its activity, mind becomes the object of volition. The Absolute itself becomes the object of mind. Spirit, as self-consciousness, differentiates itself as the knowing subject from the absolute Spirit as the object of knowledge. Mind in this latter sense, in contradistinction from mind which has not overcome the conditions of finite perception, may therefore be defined as a finite mind in possession of the principle of differentiation from its true object. In the higher and more speculative consideration of truth, however, it is the absolute mind itself, which, in order to unfold explicitly the knowledge of itself, essentially becomes a principle of differentiation to itself, and thereby posits the finitude of mind, within[Pg 129] which it becomes for itself absolute object of the knowledge of itself. It is now absolute mind within the ideal community[178] which belongs to it, the actual Absolute of itself in the form of Mind and knowledge[179].

This is, in fact, the starting-point of the Philosophy of Fine Art. For the idea of Fine Art is neither the logical Idea, absolute Thought, that is, which develops itself in the medium of its freest activity, nor is it the Idea of Nature apprehended under more finite categories. Its province is rather that of Mind untrammelled by either the judgments or the actions of the finite spirit.

(c) The realm of Fine Art is the realm of absolute Spirit. We can but briefly indicate the reason why this is so. A fully philosophical proof belongs rather to treatises which immediately deal with those questions of philosophy we have noticed already, by which we mean those which treat of Logic, whose content, as above explained, is that of the absolute Idea, or the philosophy of Nature, or lastly, the philosophy of Mind in its determinate spheres of finitude. For in these sciences the object is to show not merely how the logical Idea presupposes the objective particularity of Nature as a vehicle to its determinate existence, but also how it is capable of passing from such externality to mind, and, finally, of freeing itself from all the finitude that clings to it and of attaining to Spirit in its eternal concreteness and truth.

From such a point of view, which is also applicable to art when regarded in all the fulness of worth it in truth implies, we are justified in associating it with the self-same province which belongs to religion and speculative philosophy. In every direction in which Mind or Spirit becomes identical with the absolute Mind it frees itself from the restricting limits of its positive existence, and, while liberating itself from the contingent relations, which pertain to it in its[Pg 130] temporal existence, and the finite content of its objects and interests, is made aware of and discloses the entire wealth of reality it contains.

It may be of service here to expand more completely the position which Art thus occupies in its relation respectively to the life of Nature and Spirit.

A survey of the entire field of human existence presents to the ordinary consciousness of mankind the widest variety of interests and means of satisfaction. There is, in the first instance, the complex system of purely physical necessities, to the satisfaction of which the whole economy of industrial enterprise, through all its complicated tissue of commerce, merchandize, and technical crafts, is actively pursued. If we raise the level of our review to a more spiritual range, we are confronted with the world where rights are established and enforced, the world of legislative enactment, family life, division of social classes, in a word, the concrete living organism of the State. And more than this, there is the religious want, which asserts itself in the hearts of particular men and women, and finds its satisfaction in the life of a church. Finally, there is the many-sided and intricately specialized activity of scientific research, the organized effort to integrate all knowledge, and the comprehension which that knowledge implies, in one all-embracing system. Within this latter are comprised the activities of the fine arts, the interest, that is to say, in beauty, and which derives its spiritual nutriment in the realization of that beauty in plastic shapes.

(d) The question becomes inevitable how far a spiritual want of this kind is bound up as a necessary element in the life of man and his world-history. In the first instance these two spheres[180] appear simply as immediate factors of our entire survey. It is, however, the requirement of philosophy to probe more deeply into that which binds them as essential and necessarily interacting constituents of one organic whole. For on closer inspection it will be found that they do not stand in relation to one another on the mere basis of utility; rather we shall discover that only through the one we shall fully comprehend the other. In other words,[Pg 131] the one circle overlaps the other, in the sense that the higher forms of its activity are found to be a part of the other; and that which is of less value in its own province is lifted into a finer atmosphere; and what had failed to free itself from its original bounds is now enlarged to liberty through the profounder satisfaction it receives in the widening of the range of its interests[181]. And it is this which makes clear the necessity of the ideal bond.

We will recall now for a moment the analysis we established of the notion of the beautiful and that of art generally. Two opposed aspects come under notice. In the first place we have a content, an end, a significance; and in addition to that we get the artistic expression of the same, the appearance and realization of such content; and, thirdly, these two aspects of the artistic product so pass into each other that the rationality or particularity is nothing short of the expression of the artistic purpose, nothing more or less is given us than the essential expression of the entire content. What we designate as content, "significance," is just this simplicity of idea, the work of art resolved into its simplest yet most comprehensive determinants, as it exists for mind in contrast with the actual work executed. As an example we may summarize the content of a book from a few words or sentences the book contains, and nothing may be necessary to expound the content of that book sufficiently in its general import. This simple idea, the thesis or main problem of our book, which forms the fundamental basis on which the entire structure is built, is the abstract significance. It is only the detailed exposition which gives us the concrete totality.

Both sides, however, of this opposition do not stand in an indifferent or purely external relation one to the other, as, for instance, is the case when we contrast with it the particular content of an abstract mathematical figure, such as a triangle or an ellipse, to which the external particularity of its size or figure is related without affecting its significance. Rather in the former case we shall find that the content[Pg 132] of its form, taken in abstraction in itself, possesses a determinate impulse in the direction of realization and thereby concreteness. There is in it essentially the "should" of purpose. However strongly form is here posited in independence, we are unable to rest satisfied with such abstraction, and ask for something more. This is at first apprehended merely as an unsatisfied want, a desire in the conscious subject, which strives to annul itself and secure satisfaction. From such a standpoint all we can say is that the content is purely self-contained, or subjective, over against which the objective other-than-itself is placed in opposition in such a way as to emphasize the desire to make the subjective content objective. Such a conflict between the subjective content and the objective, reality which confronts it, no less than the mere impulse to transcend the opposition, is a universal characteristic of the determination of all self-conscious life[182]. Even that aspect of human life which we call physical, and still more that world of man's spiritual aims and interests depends on this necessity to carry forward that which is at first purely subjective and ideal into the objective world, that a fuller satisfaction in its essential substance may be realized. But so long as the content of aims and interests is merely and at first apprehended in the one-sided form of subjective consciousness, and that one-sidedness is apprehended as a mere limit, this loss makes itself simply felt as unrest or pain. It is a negative something which is bound to resolve itself as such negativity, and, in order to remove the sense of defect, exerts an impulse to transcend the barrier itself, already an object of consciousness and thought. And, moreover, this transcendency does not merely amount to this, that the objective "other" ceases to be an opposed factor to the general subjective consciousness: rather in the more determinate connection, this defect of subjective thought is itself and within itself a defect and negation which involves an impulse to negate and pass beyond. In other words the conscious subject is implicitly and according to its essential notion the complete whole[183], that is, not merely what is inward,[Pg 133] but the realization no less of that which is inward or ideal in and through what is without. If we assume that it exists only abstractly in one form we have to face the contradiction that whereas it is, according to its concrete notion the whole, yet according to its mode of existence it remains merely one side of that totality. It is only through the entire resolution of such a contradiction that life becomes affirmative. To pass through each phase of this opposition, contradiction and its final abrogation is the higher and legitimate demand of conscious life. That which remains always affirmative, is, and remains, without life. Life is built upon negation and pain. It is only by crushing out such contradictions in the crucible of fuller life and knowledge that it remains in its affirmative substance. If it anchor wholly on contradiction without such a possibility of resolution it must be infallibly wrecked thereon.

Such, then, is the nature of these determinations of thought regarded in their abstraction to which it was necessary to draw attention at the present stage.

The most exalted content which lies within the grasp of self-conscious life may be concisely called freedom. Freedom is the highest determination of Spirit. In its formal aspect freedom, in its first instance, consists in this, that the subject thereof ceases to find a limit or barrier in the material which is set over against it; this is no longer an element foreign to it, but one in which it finds itself again. Even under this formal definition of it all necessity and misfortune disappears; the individual consciousness is reconciled with the world, finds satisfaction in such reconciliation, and all opposition and contradiction is thereby dissolved.

But over and above this, on closer inspection, we find that it is universally the rational—that is to say ethical relations in practical life, truth in thought—which constitutes the content of freedom. But, furthermore, inasmuch as freedom itself is in the first instance only subjective, not wholly carried into effect, there must remain for the individual[Pg 134] an element of unfreedom, a somewhat purely objective opposed to it as a necessity of Nature; and it is accompanied likewise with the demand to secure a reconciliation of this opposition. From the reverse point of view a similar contradiction is apparent in the internal domain of the subjective consciousness itself. We have, on the one hand, that which is universal and self-subsistent in its own right, in other words the universal dictates or principles of justice, goodness, and truth. On the other there are the various impulses of mankind, all the emotions, preferences, and passions which exercise their power over the heart of each man and woman individually. This opposition no less than the other excites conflict and contradiction, and in this strife man becomes subject to every conceivable longing, the profoundest grief, and, in a word, to every kind of worry and discontent. It is the prerogative of the spiritual life of mankind to be a veil severed and broken asunder, tossed as it must be on the waves of contradiction. The animal creation lives at peace with itself and its environment. Man is unable to find a complete refuge in that which is exclusively inward, the soul as such, pure thought, in the world of legal obligation and its universality. He is dependent also upon his sensuous existence, his emotions, and all that appeals to his heart and soul. It is the part of philosophy to give expression to this contradiction in thought, as it extends throughout its all-embracing compass, and to overcome the same with a reconciliation equally comprehensive.

In the immediacy of everyday life, however, man seeks to secure an immediate satisfaction. Perhaps the most obvious example of such a resolution is to be found in the domain of animal wants and their satisfaction.

The states of hunger, thirst, fatigue on the one hand, and feeding, drinking, sleep on the other, with all such similar states, illustrate the contradictions and resolutions to which we here refer.

In this sphere of human existence, which is fundamentally the same as purely animal life, the content of such satisfaction is, however, of a finite and limited range. Such satiety carries with it no permanence, but moves forward without rest to a renewed sense of want. Men eat, drink, and sleep, and on the morrow are as hungry and weary as[Pg 135] before. Man is compelled, therefore, to strive for a freedom more lasting in that element of the spiritual life which he appropriates in knowledge and volition, the sciences and his social activities. The ignorant man is unfree because he faces a world which is foreign to himself, a world which tosses hither and thither aimlessly, to which he is joined as an appendage, unable to unite that foreign world to itself, and to feel itself at home there as in its own demesne. The merest impulse of curiosity, the awakening of the love of knowledge, the lowest phase of animate unrest, and the highest grasp of philosophical insight are ultimately derived from the same source, namely, the desire to overcome every condition that is unfavourable to freedom, and to bring the world of everyday life, and that of the subject which reflects upon it, into one harmonious unity. If we consider the world of action the result is the same; freedom in human action is the attempt to make positive or real the reason of the Will. Reason is realized by voluntary action through the life of the State. In a State that is differentiated through itself on any rational principle, all the laws and social institutions which belong to it are simply a realization of freedom according to their own essential determinants. This being so, the reason that belongs to any citizen discovers in such institutions its own essential life: and, so long as such is not in revolt from those laws, proceeds with them as with its own kith and kin rather than a foreign adversary. We not infrequently find licence identified with freedom. But the freedom of licence is irrational; it depends upon a choice and self-determination which has nothing to do with a rational will, but is rather the product of accidental impulses and their dependence on the world of sense and physical Nature.

We may conclude, then, that the physical needs of man, no less than his knowledge and power of volition, receive in fact, each in its own sphere, a satisfaction in the world, and deliberately break up the contradiction between the subjective and objective, that is to say, between the freedom of consciousness and the external necessity of things with which it is confronted. The content, however, of such a freedom and the satisfaction which is therein experienced is still subject to limitations, and for this reason both still[Pg 136] retain an element of finitude. And wherever we find such an element supervening it is inevitable that the original contradiction should again reassert itself, and the self-satisfaction only maintain a relative significance. For example, in the sphere of jurisprudence and its realization in the State it is true enough that the rationality of each citizen, his will and his freedom are recognized; he is a person and as such is respected; he is the owner of property, and if that property is in danger the courts of law reassert his rights in their integrity. This recognition, however, and the freedom it establishes are confined to single relations and isolated objects, such as a particular house, a sum of money, some particular right or law, in fine some particular transaction in the practical world. What the consciousness has at any one time before it are particular things, which no doubt are related to one another, and in fact form a nucleus of such relations; but, on the other hand, they are appropriate to categories of purely relative validity, are subject to various conditions of tenure, which make the satisfaction only immediately experienced when their predominance is reasserted, or at any rate fail to establish any degree of permanence. And further than this the life of the State in its organic entirety, as a related whole of monarch, government, courts of justice, military control, and general grouping of all the various societies which compose it, no less than the obligations and duties which such arrangements presuppose, the aims and satisfaction to which they are directed, the entire scope of its civic and commercial activities already referred to, in one word the complete organism of a nation's life, is indeed in a genuine State complete in itself, and in a sense rounded off as a real totality. At the same time we must observe that the fundamental principle, for the realization of which the State exists, and wherein the individual man finds his satisfaction as a citizen, is, despite all the variety of that life, all the manifold differentiation of class within itself and as related to the world without, still a whole that is one-sided and in a real sense abstract. It is only the rational freedom of the will made explicit in a particular totality. It is, in short, only the national life, and further the life of a particular nation; a life, moreover, in which freedom is realized in a particular[Pg 137] sphere of existence as individualized reality. And on this account it is that we are necessarily conscious, that rights and obligations in the mere bounds of civic existence, on the plane, that is to say, of merely this world's or temporal existence, do not discover the absolute satisfaction we are seeking. We require as rational beings a higher realization of their objective truth as private individuals, a fuller sanction of their imperative validity than they themselves, in such a sphere, can offer us. What mankind, pressed on all sides by the boundaries of his purely terrestrial life, in fact requires is that region of more essential reality, in which every opposition and contradiction is overcome, and freedom can finally claim to be wholly at peace with itself. And this is, of course, nothing other than absolute Truth itself, no merely relative truth. In the Truth, according to its highest notion, all must be brought home to one unity. In it there can be no more opposition between freedom and necessity, Spirit and Nature, knowledge and the object of knowledge, law and impulse, between whatever form, in fact, the opposition of these contradictory phenomena of human experience may assume.

It is in virtue of such truth that proof is possible that neither a freedom which is essentially subjective and disparate from every element of necessity is true in the absolute sense; nor, on the other hand, is it admissible to predicate truth of a necessity conceived in absolute isolation from consciousness. Our ordinary conscious life fails to overcome this contradiction, and either plunges desperately into the same, or thrusts it on one side and makes its escape from it in some other way. Philosophy will, however, so address itself to the two determinating factors of the contradiction as to show that they are apprehended as isolate from each other in abstraction, not according to their concrete notion; and by the grasp of this latter it will demonstrate the one-sidedness in its relative character, placing these opposing aspects in the fuller union and harmony which is truth. It is the function of philosophy to grasp and formulate this notion of truth. Unquestionably philosophy recognizes the concrete notion throughout; and it is in virtue of this that it is Thought with full grasp of truth. But what we call the notion is something other than this,[Pg 138] truth, that is, in its essential verity together with the existence which is either adequate to it or is not so. In all finite reality the determinations, which are essential to ideal truth, appear separable from each other, dividing the veil of that which in its absolute Truth is a complete totality. Take the case of a living being. Under such finite categories we are forced to regard it as a subject in opposition to the inorganic Nature which environs it. Both the points of view are no doubt present in the notion, but they are there reconciled. Finite existence, however, thrusts them apart. It is, in short, an existence or reality which is unequal to the unity of the notion. We may therefore say that the notion is valid in every sphere of actuality. At the same time the main point to be determined is whether the notion in its ideal concreteness is actually completed in the particular unity presented, wherein the two aspects posited in opposition persist in no ultimate self-subsistence and coherence over against each other, but are rather ideal phases which tend to pass into a higher unity which cancels such opposition. And the reality of this highest mode of union is only reached when we enter the sphere of truth, freedom, and the satisfaction which they create. The higher life which belongs to this sphere, this supreme enjoyment of truth, which as feeling is called "blessedness," and as conscious thought "contemplation," we may describe generically as the life known to religion. For religion is just this universal domain[184], in virtue of which the one concrete totality of the World comes to each man in union with himself, as his essential substance, while it remains no less for consciousness the essential truth of Nature. And it is this profounder truth of the Real which alone proves itself invincible over all that is merely particular and finite, being as it is the one absolute harmony wherein all that is otherwise discordant and opposed is finally resolved. Now it is through its direct concern in the true, regarded as the absolute object of consciousness, that Art belongs to the supreme sphere of Spirit, and it is to be placed, in respect to its content, if in a more specific sense, on the same basis as religion and philosophy. I connect these two last for the reason that philosophy has no other[Pg 139] object than God. In its substance it is in fact rational theology, and in its service of the truth a continual service of God.

(e) Accepting, then, this fundamental similarity of content these three spheres of absolute Spirit only differ in the forms under which they present their object, that is, the Absolute, to human consciousness. The differences which are perceptible in these modes of presentment are due to the notion of the absolute Spirit (Mind) itself. Spirit, in its truth, is essential substance brought home to itself. It is, therefore, no essence which lies outside and in abstract relation to objectivity, but rather is, within the compass of that objectivity, the re-collected presence[185] of the substance of all objects within finite spirit. It is the finite which grasps its own essential universality, and, in doing so, grasps essential Being in the absolute sense. The first mode of this comprehension is an immediate one, that is to say, it is a sensuous cognition, a cognition in the form and semblance of the object of sense-perception, in which the Absolute is presented directly to the understanding[186] and feeling. The second form is that of the conceptive or imaginative consciousness. Last of all, we have the free thought of absolute Spirit. The form of sensuous perception is appropriate to art in the sense that it is art which presents truth to consciousness in its sensuous semblance; but it is a semblance which, under the mode of its appearance, possesses a higher and profounder meaning and significance, although it is not its function to render the universality of the notion wholly intelligible through the medium of sense. It is indeed rather the unity to which art attains with that of the particular appearance which constitutes the essence of the beautiful, the essence of the artistic product. This union is perfected in art not entirely through sensuous objectification, but also through the medium of imaginative conception. This is exceptionally so in the art of poetry. At the same time, even in this, the[Pg 140] most intellectual or ideal art, the union between significance and the individual mode of its presentation is present with the same, although it is displayed to the imaginative consciousness, and every part of its content is conceived in its immediacy and visualized for the imagination[187]. And generally we must accept the fact that art, possessing as it does truth or Spirit for its object, is unable to reproduce the same by merely copying particular objects of Nature, such as the sun, moon, earth, and stars. Such are, no doubt, objects of sensuous perception; but, simply as such, they are isolated and can offer no reflection of what is spiritual. In thus attributing to art this absolute significance as a manifestation of Spirit we have expressly set on one side the conception of art which finds its content of too various a nature, or too much occupied with interests foreign to it, to merit such a view. And at the other extreme religion, no doubt, frequently summons art to her service, in order to bring the truths of religion more near to the emotion, or to clothe the same in imaginative form. In both cases unquestionably art is rendering a service to a province not, in strictness, its own. At the same time where art is found in most exalted perfection, in that case no doubt it unfolds in plastic guise the mode of exposition most adequate and essentially necessary to the content of the truth accepted. Among the Greeks, for example, Art was the highest medium under which the community conceived its gods, and became conscious of truth. For this reason we may justly say that the poets and artists of Greece created the gods of their people. In other words, they defined for the imagination of their people the active life and energy of the Divine Presence, giving Them the definite content of a religion. And this statement must not merely be taken to imply that all Greek artists did was to clothe in imagery or embellish with the beauty of poesy vague conceptions and hearsays which, as general religious maxims or isolated determinations of conscious life, were already present before the era of such poetic creations. The truth of this artistic production is rather to be found in this, that art and poetry were the exclusive forms[Pg 141] in which these creative artists could bring to life and expression the ideas which fermented in themselves. In other phases of that consciousness, where we find the content less completely represented by the plastic imagery of art, the scope of Art as the handmaid of religion is of less importance.

We have thus indicated what was, at any rate, once the true position of Art in its relation to the highest interests of man's spiritual life.

But inasmuch as art is preceded in Nature and the finite processes of life by a kind of antenatal history, so too there is a history that follows its culmination, which in other terms passes over and beyond its purely conceptive or plastic grasp of the Infinite. For art carries in the notion that gives it life a limit; and it is from this boundary that the human consciousness passes beyond into forms more adequate to its spiritual import. It is this inherent shortness of the mark that fixes the subordinate position we are only too ready to assign to art in our daily life nowadays. For us European art is no longer the highest means in which the actuality of truth is possessed. Speaking generally, thought has long ago pronounced a verdict upon art when it defined it as the portrayal of the Divine by concepts which appeal to sense-perception. This was the judgment passed on it by the Jews and the followers of Mohammed. Nay, we find it present among the Greeks themselves, as the strong opposition of Plato and Homer and Hesiod to the popular conception of the gods proves clearly. There is a period in the education of every civilized nation, when art becomes a sign-post, as it were, to that which stands beyond her border. The evolution of Christendom is itself an illustration. The historical features of that religion, the resurrection of Christ, His life and death, have doubtless offered to the art of painting a mighty field on which to exercise its imaginative bounty; and the Church has either surrounded such art with its magnificent protection, or suffered it simply to work on unheeded. But as the love of knowledge and scientific research, and yet more the felt want of a more intimate and personal spirituality necessitated the Reformation, the religious imagination was called away from the sensuous medium which enwrapped it, and centred once for all upon the inward[Pg 142] spirituality of emotional life and conscious thought. In this way there grew up, so to speak, that posterior twilight of Art's history I referred to, where the want has found a dwelling in man to rest satisfied alone with the pure medium of the soul as the ultimate form of truth. In the earliest beginnings of art we shall find mystery still present, a secret strain and longing which persists because Art's imaginative powers are unable to envisage to sense the complete truth of its content. When once, however, the mind of man has succeeded in endowing such content with perfect outward shape in art, it is driven inevitably away from this objective realization to its own free spiritual activity as from something repellent to it. A period such as this is our own. We may, indeed, express the hope that art will rise to yet higher grades of technical perfection; but in any case Art in its specific form has ceased to meet the highest requirements of spiritual life. We may still wonder at the unrivalled excellence of the statues of the gods of Hellas, and imagine that God the Father, Christ, and the Virgin Mary have received ideal representation at the hands of more recent painters. But it is of no use. Our knees no longer bow to them.

The sphere of conscious life nearest to that of art is that of religion. The form which belongs to the religious consciousness is that of the imaginative concept. The Absolute is here removed from the externality of artistic production, and received in a more spiritual way by the imagination, so that the heart and emotions, the inner life of the individual that is to say, become its vehicle. This progress in spiritual insight from art to religion may be further defined by the statement that art is only one aspect of the religious consciousness. In other words, when a work of art objectifies the truth or mind for sense-perfection, and apprehends this form of the Absolute as the one appropriate to its vision, religion blends with the same the devotional attitude that flows from the inner life confronted with the absolute reality as thus presented. Devotion is a type of emotional existence which is, strictly speaking, outside the province of art. It originates in the fact that the individual suffers that object which art has rendered visible to sense to penetrate the arcana of his emotional life, and so completely identifies[Pg 143] himself with it that this inward presence, which the imagination and the inherent might of feeling has rendered possible, becomes an essential phase in the manifestation of absolute reality. Devotion is this cultus of the community in its purest, most intimate, and subjective form; a culture, in which the principle of objectivity is at the same time consumed and absorbed, and the content thereof is transmuted without such objectivity into the possession of heart and soul.

The third and last form or phase in the evolution of absolute mind (spirit) is philosophy. In the boundaries of the religious sphere, where God is apprehended in the first instance perforce as an external object, and men are taught that there is a God, and how He has revealed Himself and still is revealed to mankind, the subjective consciousness is indeed made the vehicle of such knowledge, and the religious sense imparted stirs and fills the heart of the community; but the inwardness of devotion which is born of the emotions and the imagination is not the highest form of inwardness. We are bound to recognize that the purest form of knowledge is conscious thought in its freest activity. In this alone the content of knowledge is, adequate to the demands of that which is consciously apprehended: here alone we are in the presence of that most intelligent form of cultus, which seeks wholly to appropriate to itself, and to grasp in concrete thought what is otherwise only the evanescent content of feeling or the imagination. In the purview of such a philosophy art and religion, as two aspects of one truth, become related under a unifying conception. On the one hand, though philosophy, by its surrender of all sensuous externality, has lost the objective presentation of art, yet it has exchanged it for the highest form under which concrete reality is objectively apprehended and redeemed, in other words, that of speculative reason. It has, on the other, lost the emotional subjectivity of the religious consciousness in the same pure medium. For while human thought is the most inward and appropriate vehicle of subjective life, such thought, in its fullest grasp of truth, the Idea, is actuality in the most objective and universal sense of the term, and is only to be apprehended by pure thought in the medium native to itself.

[Pg 144]

With this adumbration of the difference between the spheres of art, religion, and philosophy we must on the present occasion rest content.

The sensuous mode of consciousness is that which first appears in the history of mankind. The earliest stages of religion are for this reason indistinguishable from a religion of art and its sensuous manner of presentation. In the religion of Spirit for the first time is God as Spirit cognized also on a higher plane, and one more adequate to thought, wherein it likewise follows as a corollary, that the presentation of truth in sensuous shape is not truly adequate to Spirit.

Now that we know something of the position which art occupies in the field of spiritual activity, and that which belongs to the philosophy of art among the several philosophical sciences, we will proceed in this introductory portion of our work in the first place to investigate the general idea of the beauty of art.

[175] The German word here is Geist. I have translated it as best seems to suit the particular context in which the German word occurs.

[176] Unendliche Negativität.

[177] This is the "Ought" of practical feeling. As such just as in the case of the analytical sciences, what it lacks is objective determination (see "Phil. of Mind," trans. of W. Wallace, p. 94).

[178] In seiner Gemeinde. We should rather expect in seiner Gebiete.

[179] The reference here appears to be to the three attitudes of thought to the objective world which may be generally indicated as that of ordinary consciousness, that of empiricism and that of speculative Philosophy. In the paragraph which follows, however, Hegel mainly refers to the logical process of dialectic and the Idea of Nature (die natürliche Idee.) The latter may, however, refer to both the previous divisions, i.e., the commonsense point of view and the scientific.

[180] The spheres of art and social life are first perceived as merely independent circles of activity.

[181] That is to say, nations have not only found in Art the best means of expressing their religious consciousness, but, even where religion has been raised to a higher power, have found in it the most adequate form in which to express the ideality of their general spiritual life.

[182] Welche sick durch alles hindurchzieht, i.e., which permeates all experience.

[183] In this metaphysical passage Hegel appears to be contrasting his own philosophical standpoint, absolute idealism, with that of critical or empirical philosophy, those at least who conceive reality either as a thing-in-itself, or the materia supplied to sense-perception from a world outside the human consciousness. The entire content of the Real is, on the contrary, all included under the form of self-conscious thought.

[184] He means, I think, province of the universal, rather than "universal expansion of horizon."

[185] The words of Hegel are "innerhalb derselben im endlichen Geiste die Erinnerung des Wesens aller Dinge." He no doubt has in his mind the derivation of the word Erinnerung. It is the inwardization or idealization of such substance.

[186] Anschauung, that is to say, it is the object of man's receptive senses.

[187] The punctuation is clearly wrong. It is also very possible that derselben is a misprint for dieselbe. But in any case there should be comma rather than semicolon.

[Pg 146]
[Pg 147]



To arrive at the Idea of Fine Art in all its concreteness it will be necessary for us to consider it under three phases.

1. The first is concerned with the notion of the beautiful generally.

2. The second is that of natural beauty, the defects of which will demonstrate the necessity of the Ideal as Fine Art.

3. In the third of these aspects the subject of our investigation will be the Ideal in its positive realization, in other words as the artistic display of this Ideal in particular works of art.



We have defined beauty to be the Idea of the beautiful.

1. The Idea. By this definition is implied that we have to conceive the beautiful as Idea, and, moreover, as Idea in a determinate shape, as Ideal. Idea, as thus posited, is just this, the conceptive notion, the realization of the same, and the unity of both. The notion, as such, is not yet the Idea, although the terms notion and idea are often loosely interchanged. Idea is the notion only as presented in, and brought into coalescence with, its objective reality. This unity, however, is by no means to be regarded as the mere neutralization of notion and reality, so that the individual character and quality of either is absorbed; as, for example, where we find that in a chemical compound salt-potash and acid tend to neutralize each other in so far as they have weakened their opposition. In this unity, on the contrary, the notion is retained as the commanding factor. It is already implicitly, in virtue of its own nature, this very identity. Out of its own wealth it evolves the reality as part of itself, by means of a process which, being no other than that of development, surrenders nothing of its own nature, but brings into more concrete actuality the riches of the notion, and for this reason continues in unity with itself and its objective realization. Such a unity of the notional concept and its realization is the Idea defined in abstract terms. The word idea is, of course, frequently used by authors of works dealing with the theory of art. It must, however, be admitted that many connoisseurs of high standing are particularly severe upon its employment. The latest and most interesting example of[Pg 148] this polemical attitude is to be found in Herr von Rumohr's "Italian investigations." This work is based on the practical interest that the arts excite, and is wholly unconcerned with that which for brevity we may call the Idea. The truth is that this writer, who appears to have no knowledge of the development of philosophy in modern times, freely confuses the expression as above defined with the undetermined conceptions of the phantasy, or the abstract and characterless Ideal of well-known art theories or schools of art, ideas which present a lean contrast to the clearly defined and richly caparisoned objects of Nature in their truth, and which this writer opposes to the idea and empty Ideal, which the artist himself evolves from his own consciousness. We have, of course, no more right to suppose that creative work can be the result of such poverty, than we can with justice assume that a thinker can think with conceptions wholly indeterminate, and persist in his thought with a content destitute of all defined relation. Such an objection, however, does not apply in any respect to the Idea in the sense we use the expression. This Idea is through and through concrete; a whole which consists of relations and is simply beautiful from being in direct union with the objective form adequate to its expression.

Herr von Rumohr has placed on record in this very book (Book I, pp. 145-46) the following assertion, that "beauty in the most comprehensive meaning of the term, and as it is understood by intelligent people of our day, includes every quality of an object, which may either stir the sense of sight with satisfaction, or through that sense attune the soul and delight the mind."

These qualities are then further subdivided into three classes as follows: "First, there is all that is perceptible through the eye; secondly, that which is apprehended by means of the peculiar, presumably innate sense of mankind for spatial relations; and thirdly, all that in the first instance works upon the understanding, and only indirectly through cognition on the emotions." This third and most important determination rests apparently on forms "which quite independently of all pleasure to the sense and the beauty of extended shape arouse in us a specific delight which is ethical or spiritual in its quality, which in part to all appearance[Pg 149] proceeds from the enjoyment we derive from the images excited (I presume he means ethical or spiritual ones)[188], and in part from the pleasure which the mere activity of an intelligent appreciation infallibly brings with it."

Such are the principal factors according to which this undoubted connoisseur of art defines his subject relatively to the beautiful. It may very possibly pass muster with a certain type of uncritical reader. It is, however, very unsatisfactory regarded from the philosophical standpoint. For what does it at bottom amount to but this, namely, that the sense of vision or spiritual sense, we may add the understanding itself, are moved pleasurably, or excite a feeling which results in awakened pleasure. The entire argument hinges on this one aspect of awakened gratification. This reduction, however, of the activity of the beautiful to terms of feeling—that which pleases and charms us—has been disposed of once for all by Kant. His exposition has already left far behind the feeling for the beautiful.

We will direct our attention now from this polemical tractate to a further consideration of the Idea its hostility has failed to weaken. In this, as already stated, is comprehended the concrete unity of the notion and its objective realization.

(a) Now, first, we will observe, in directing our attention more closely to the essential nature of the notion, that it is no purely abstract unity opposed to the differences of phenomenal reality; rather, as the notion, it is already the unity that integrates those relations, and by doing so is concrete totality. The abstract conceptions such as man, the quality blueness, and their like, are not notions as such at all, but rather should be called abstract general concepts, which are only raised to the dignity of the notion, when we have demonstrated that they contain opposing factors in unity, and, in such a way, that this self-related nexus of unity constitutes their notional truth. For instance, the concept "blueness" as a colour receives such a notional value when it is grasped as the unity, and, indeed, the specific unity of light and darkness[189]. In the same way the concept "man" contains[Pg 150] within it the opposing factors of sense, life, and reason, body and mind (spirit); but a particular man is not to be regarded as a whole consisting in some way of these two aspects of his personality placed in a relation of indifference side by side as constituents of the same. Rather, in virtue of the notion, such a whole contains these constituents in concrete and mediated[190] union. Add to this that the notion is so completely the absolute bond and unity of its differences, that independently they cease to exist, they are unable to assert the particularity, in virtue of which they might escape from such a union. For this reason the notion includes all its determining constituents in the form of its own ideal unity and universality, which constitute its subjective character in contradistinction from the real as the object of sense-perception. For example, gold is, as a particular object, of specific weight, definite colour, and placed in a certain relation to specific acids. Such are varied characteristics of gold, and yet are invariably found in a unified whole. The smallest speck contains them all in inseparable union. By analysis or abstraction we indeed separate them, but in their notion they are inseparably one. The inability of the differences, which the notion in its truth essentially possesses, to stand alone in their isolated self-identity is of a similar nature. A still more apposite illustration is presented by the unique concept of the self-conscious Ego in its universality. For that which we call soul, or more appositely the Ego, is the notion itself in its free existence. The Ego contains a congeries of most distinct concepts and thoughts in itself; it is a world of ideas; yet none the less this infinitely complex content, in so far as it lies within the Ego, remains without a vestige of substantiality or materiality packed within this ideal unity, as the pure and throughout fluid transparency of the Ego itself reflected to itself. And this is precisely the way in which the notion retains its varied determinations in ideal unity.

The determinants of the notion which are most cognate to the notion as such are the universal, the particular, and the single. Every one of these determinate qualities taken[Pg 151] by itself is a mere abstraction. As thus regarded, however, abstract, that is to say, from one another, they are not present in the notion: that is rather their ideal unity. The notion is therefore the universal, which, on the one hand, negates itself to a condition of relativity and particularization, but, on the other, this riving asunder, in so far as it is negation of the universal, is itself again annulled. For the universal as present in the particular, which itself is only the particular aspects of the universal itself is present in no particular absolutely, but rather in that very particular reaffirms once more its essential unity as universal. In this return upon itself the notion is infinite negation; negation, I mean, not as against another, but self-determination, in which alone it subsists in its positive and correlative unity. In this way it is singularity in its truth; it is the universal nexus which shuts itself up with itself in its particulars. As the highest example of this property of the notion we would refer back to what we have already, if in a summary way, said about the essential activity of Spirit.

Through this infinite capacity of return upon itself the notion is already, by virtue of its intrinsic wealth, totality. It finds the unity of itself in the being of another, and for this reason possesses a free activity, being, however, negation as self-determination, not as the alien limitation of its own substance through something other than itself. But regarded as such totality the notion is already in potential possession of all phenomenal reality, and is that which mediates and restores the unity of the Idea. And whoever ventures to think that in the Idea we have presented to us something totally different and apart from the notion, has as little knowledge of the nature of the Idea as he has of the notion. At the same time there is, no doubt, a difference between the notion and the Idea, and it is this: in the former the particularization is only an abstract particularization, for this reason that in the notion the determinate relations are alone coherent in its transparent medium, that is to say, in its unity and ideal universality. The notion, therefore, itself remains subject to the one-sidedness of its particular material, and is hampered with the defect that although in its own nature it is a totality, yet it is only in the aspect of it as unity and universality that it is entitled to free self-development.[Pg 152] But inasmuch as this defect in its completeness is foreign to its own essential form, the process of its activity is to remove it. It negates itself as this very ideal unity and universality and allows that which is enclosed in the barren chamber of ideal subjectivity to flow forth freely into real and substantive objectivity. In other words, the notion through its own activity posits itself as objective reality.

(b) Objectivity is therefore, truly apprehended, the real existence of the notion. It is, however, the notion under the mode of self-substantive particularization and of a differentiation of all antithetical phases[191] of reality, whose ideal unity the notion in its subjective capacity constituted.

But inasmuch as it is the notion, and only the notion, whose function it is to endow objectivity with its determinate existence and reality, so too it is only through objectivity that the notion is unveiled in its actuality. The notion is, however, the mediating and ideal unity of all its particular antitheses. Within its differentiated reality this ideal unity, effective throughout particularity in modes adequate to the notion, has to establish itself in them, precisely in a way similar to that in which the realized particularity of their unity, as thus mediated to the point of ideality, has also to exist in them[192]. This is the might of the notion, which refuses to surrender or forfeit its universality among the disjecta membra of the objective world, but rather reveals its essential unity through such reality and within it. For it is nothing less than the very life of the notion to preserve its unity in the material which is offered it. Only by so doing is it real and veritable totality.

(c) This totality is the Idea. The Idea is not simply the ideal unity and subjectivity of the notion. It is quite as much its true and objective reality; it is, however, an objectivity which does not confront the notion as an opposing factor, but is rather that in which the notion itself is self-determined. In whichever aspect we contemplate the notion,[Pg 153] whether as subjective to our apprehension, or as objectively real, the Idea it manifests is a totality. But it is more than this. It is the unity which for ever is mediating between and bringing into more perfected harmony the two totalities. Only as thus apprehended is the Idea truth and indeed all truth.

2. All that exists, then, has only truth in so far as it is a definite existence of the Idea. For the Idea is alone the truly real. The truth of the phenomenal is not derived from the fact that its particular existence is of an inward or external character, and as such is in a general sense reality; it is so wholly in virtue of the fact that such reality is adequate to the notion. Then alone is determinate existence real and true. And the truth, to which we here refer, is not a subjective interpretation of it, namely, that a particular existence is accordant with my own conception of it. It is truth in the objective sense that the reality of the Ego, or of any external object, action, or circumstance actually contributes to the realization of the notion. If this identity is not established the existence remains purely phenomenal. Instead of the objectification of the notion in its completeness what obtains is purely a detached aspect of it; and with regard to this, whatever self-subsistence it may appear to have in opposition to the unity and universality of the notion, such can only work to its final confusion by setting it in hostility to the true notion itself. Our conclusion, therefore, is that only the reality which adequately expresses the notion is truly reality, and the reason it is so is that therein the Idea manifests itself as existence.

3. We have maintained that beauty is Idea. It follows that beauty and truth are, in one aspect of them, identical. In other words, beauty must itself in its intrinsic being be true. A closer investigation will further show to us that truth must be distinguished from beauty.

The idea is true in the sense that it is so by virtue of its essential being and according to its fundamental principle[193], and as such truth it is thought[194]. It is not its sensuous and external existence, but the universal Idea of thought as present in this. At the same time the Idea is driven to seek[Pg 154] its realization in external and objectively determined existence, both in the sphere of Nature and that of Mind. The true, in the absolute sense, also exists. And in so far as, in this its external existence, it is immediately apprehended by consciousness, and the notion rests in immediate unity with its external appearance, the Idea is not only true, but is also beautiful. The beautiful may therefore be defined as the sensuous semblance[195] of the Idea. For the sensuous condition and the objective world generally maintain no real self-subsistence in beauty, but have merely to surrender the immediacy of their being. In beauty such are posited simply as the determinate existence and externality of the notion, and as a form of reality, which itself manifests the notion in unity with its external appearance in this its particular objective existence. For this reason it can only pass as the semblance of the notion.

(a) Accordantly with this it is impossible for the understanding[196] alone to grasp the significance of beauty. For inasmuch as objective reality is apprehended by this faculty as something at least quite other than ideality, sensuous perception, as something very different from the notion, the external object as something that is anywhere rather than within world of the conscious self, to that extent it cannot fail to emphasize the contradictions implied in such separation, rather than penetrate to the ideal unity we have above described. The understanding remains rooted in the finite, the incomplete and untrue abstraction. The beautiful is on the contrary itself essentially infinite and free.

For although the content of beauty is stamped with particularity and to that extent limited, such content is essentially in its mode of environment a totality that is infinite[197] and a free existence; and it is both for the reason that it is the notion, which does not pass beyond this its objective semblance, and so fall into finite and one sided[Pg 155] abstraction with it, but rather is immersed as a blossom with this its objectification and through the imminent unity and perfection of such inclusion is revealed as essentially infinite. With equal truth we may affirm that the notion in sealing, as it were, with a soul the real existence, in which it is part of the objective world, is itself by itself freely manifest in that world. For the notion will not suffer that external existence in the sphere of beauty to follow, as it would otherwise, the laws that therein are paramount: rather it determines out of its own riches the articulation and form of its appearance therein; and it is precisely this harmony of the notion with the mode of its external existence which constitutes the essential life of beauty. And the bond which braces all together, no less than the power behind it, is self-conscious life, unity, soul, and artistic personality.

(b) We conclude, then, that if we consider beauty in its relation to conscious life, on the subjective side that is, it is neither to be adequately apprehended by an intelligence that persists in the unfree medium of purely finite existence, nor is it the object of the finite Will. We will enlarge a little on both points.

As finite intelligence we are aware in feeling of the inner no less than the outer objects of consciousness; we observe them, perceive them to be true to our senses, allow them to form part of the content of our perceptions, concepts, and finally, no doubt, to become the abstractions which our understanding presents to us, reflecting on their appearance, and endowing them with the abstract form of universality.

Now the finiteness and absence of freedom inseparable from this mental attitude consists in the assumption that the things perceived are self-subsistent. We direct our attention to these objects, suffer them to impress us, form our ideas of them, possessed with the faith in their material existence as objects, and convinced that all we have to do is to perceive them as they appear to our passive reception, to preserve, in short, the formal side of our attention intact, holding such unfettered by our fancies, opinions, and prejudices. In thus accepting this one-sided freedom of objects we posit at the same time the want of freedom in their mental apprehension. To such the content is one wholly given from outside; and instead of a true self-determination[Pg 156] through difference we have nothing but the reception and acceptance of what is presented as a part of the objective thing. We would arrive at truth by the suppression of all that belongs to ourselves[198].

A criticism of like nature, though the defect is here just at the other extreme, may be applied to the finite Will. In this theory interests, objects, intentions, and conclusions are all relegated to the subject, whose will it is to enforce them as against the existence and properties of the material thing. This it can only do by the annihilation of the object itself, or at least, in so far as it can modify or change its form and energies, by transmuting its qualities, or permitting them to exercise such a change on each other, as water may exercise on fire, fire on iron, iron on wood, and so forth. We now find that it is the particular things, which the subject has enrolled in its service, as things to be regarded and treated as useful, which in their turn have been deprived of their self-subsistence. In other words, they have come to be regarded as objects, whose notion and meaning is not their own, but derived from the reflecting consciousness, so that what is most essential to them is precisely this relation of service in which they stand to the subjective purpose, that is, our own intelligence. The values of either side of the relation are thus completely reversed. The objective thing has lost freedom and the conscious subject secured it. As a matter of fact, the freedom on both aspects of the relation is, owing to the finitude and abstraction it implies under such a view, a purely supposititious one.

In the sphere of theory here it is the assumed independence of the objective world which creates the finitude and bondage of the conscious Ego. In that of the practical world this dependence is due to its one-sidedness, the conflict and contradiction of its aims within and the impulses and passions which press from without, no less than to the unreconciled opposition of a world of objects. For the separation and opposition of these two aspects of one whole, that is, objects and relating self-conscious life, is presupposed in, and indeed is an accurate definition of, this point of view.

[Pg 157]

And, similarly, with reference to the lack of freedom in the object. Here, too, in the sphere of intelligible conception, the independence of the object is assumed, but the freedom assumed is only apparent. For it is only posited as bare objectivity without securing the presence of its notion, as the unity and universality of the conscious subject, within such objectivity. It still remains outside it. Every object thus placed external to the notion merely exists as particularity, which comes back to us in external guise together with its manifold, and is, in all the unlimited scope of its relations, through its contact with other objects, subject to the conditions of its origin, change, opposing force and final overthrow. In the practical world the dependence of the object is expressly, in this view, assumed, and the opposition of the thing is posited in definite relation to volition without possessing in itself the power of ultimate self-subsistency permitted to the latter.

(c) The apprehension of the object as beautiful unites these two abstract points of view. It in fact annuls the one-sidedness of both whether relatively to the subject of consciousness or its object, and by doing so cancels the finitude and lack of freedom which characterize them.

Philosophically regarded[199], the reason is this, that the object is not apprehended in its existence as an isolated thing whose notion as the object of human thought is removed from the objectivity which belongs to it as something outside it, and which in its particular reality extends and is dissipated in every conceivable direction as a manifold content of intelligible relations. An object which is beautiful suffers its own notion to appear as realized in its objective presence, and reveals in that appearance the unity and life inseparable from the conscious subject. For this reason the object may be conceived as sweeping back into the curve of its unity that impulse of continuous externality, cancelling its dependence on other objects, and transmuting to our vision its unfree finitude into free infinity.

Furthermore, the Ego in its relation to the object of beauty ceases to be merely the abstract attention or sensuous perception, and the floating away of such perceptions[Pg 158] into equally abstract reflections. Rather, it is itself concretely realized in this object, being at once the unity and reality of its notional idea, and uniting for itself in its rounded concreteness that which has hitherto remained, as abstractly perceived, apart in the Ego of the subject of perception and the thing perceived.

Coming now to the practical import of this relation as it applies to the object of beauty, we have already drawn attention to the fact at some length, that in the contemplation of it the element of sensuous passion drops away. All personal impulse that the individual may feel toward the object is done away with through that very aesthetic contemplation, which regards it as self-subsistent in itself, in other words, its own object. For this reason, the purely finite relation of the object also disappears, the relation, that is, in which it subserved, as a means for their realization, aims which were foreign to it, and towards the fulfilment of which it was either presented as unfree or was compelled to take up, however strange, into its own existence. At the same time that relation of the Ego in the practical world which we found to be unfree disappears, inasmuch as it differentiates itself no longer in subjective motives and their means or material, remaining fixed in the finite relation of the formal "ought" for the carrying out of its subjective ends in the object, but is here confronted with the notion and its aim completely realized.

We may say, then, that the aesthetic contemplation of the beautiful is a liberal education, a portrayal of the object in its free and infinite being, with no detracting consideration of its use or employment for finite wants and purposes. Further, the object as a thing of beauty is neither under force or compulsion at our hands, nor is it in conflict with and overcome by other things outside it. It is of the essence of beauty that the notion, end and soul thereof, no less than its existent form, and variety generally, manifest themselves out of their own intrinsic wealth rather than through the energy of something outside them. The reason of this lies in the fact, already insisted upon, that their truth consists solely in the unity and harmony of their notion with their objective existence. And inasmuch as the notion is itself concrete totality, its objective reality also appears as a manifestation[Pg 159] of the same, homogeneous in all its parts, which, as thus imbedded in the notion, appear to fall into such ideal unity and animation. For this harmony of the notion and its envisagement is nothing less than perfected suffusion[200]. Accordingly the exterior form and shape is manifested, not as such by its separation from other material, or as an impression mechanically related to aims which are foreign to it, but as the form of reality wherein the notion accommodates itself out of its own stuff and substance. Finally, however much the particular aspects, parts or articulations of the beautiful object are presented in the ideal unity of the notion and its unified envisagement, that harmony must be so rendered visible to sense, that in relation to one another they preserve the semblance of self-subsistent freedom; in other words they must not only possess the ideal unity of the notion as such, but must reflect back the side of a reality which is substantially objective also. Both aspects, in short, must be present in beautiful objects; for these are, on the one hand, the necessity posited through the notion and discovered in the harmonious conclusion of these particular aspects, and on the other, the envisagement of their freedom as essentially one with the whole, and not merely that of the unity which exists between the parts. Necessity in its full definition means the just relation of the two aspects, which coalesce so completely that to posit one is to posit the other. Such a necessity must unquestionably be present in beautiful objects. It is not, however, under the mode of necessity that it appears; rather it should conceal itself beneath the semblance of unintentional accident. Otherwise the particular parts of such a real presence lose the position they should occupy according to their own real existence, and only appear in the service of their ideal unity, to which they therefore remain in abstract subordination.

In virtue of the freedom and infinitude above analysed, which is inherent in the notion of beauty, whether we view it in its objective presence as a thing of beauty, or under its aesthetic contemplation, we disengage the province of the beautiful from the relations of finite condition, to exalt it into that of the Idea and its truth.

[188] This is, of course, a note of Hegel himself.

[189] This, of course, has reference to Hegel's unfortunate belief in Goethe's theory of colour.

[190] Mediated (vermittelt), because the concrete is first apprehended through its differences, and only after reflection do we arrive at the notional unity which transcends and unites them.

[191] Momente. Phases asserted and reconciled in the evolved notional unity, organic or otherwise. The notion is subjective because it is an ideal unity.

[192] The text is clearly corrupt. The full-stop after herzustellen should be a comma, and auch would be preferably changed to als die.

[193] As essentially reason.

[194] Not the substantive, but past participle.

[195] Das sinnliche Scheinen.

[196] Verstand in the technical sense of Kant's philosophy; that is, the faculty of scientific observation or ordinary perception—analytical, in contrast to reason (Vernunft), the synthetic faculty.

[197] Infinite, that is to say, as human freedom is infinite, as mind is infinite, an ideal totality, a whole complete in itself, not an endless progress, which is a contradiction.

[198] Or, as Hegel says, "by suppressing the subjective principle altogether."

[199] Theoretischen here used in sense of true philosophical theory, not one-sided views as above.

[200] Vollendete Durchdringung, i.e., a penetration through all parts.

[Pg 160]



Beauty is the Idea as the immediate unity of the notion and its objective reality, yet is only the Idea in so far as its unity is immediately present in shape apprehensible to the senses and as semblance of the real. The most elementary form of existence, which the Idea take to itself is Nature, and the first form of beauty is that of Nature.


1. In the world of Nature we must distinguish between the modes according to which the notion becomes existent reality in order to be part of the Idea.

(a) In the first place the notion is absorbed so immediately in pure objectivity, that, in its character of subjective and ideal unity, it wholly fails to assert itself, and passes over instead as a thing without a soul into the raw materia presented to sense. The purely mechanical or physical bodies in their isolated singularity are of this order. A particular metal is, for example, essentially no doubt a manifold of mechanical and physical qualities; every part of it, however, has such qualities equally in itself. Such a body not merely fails to possess any entire articulation of its parts in the sense that every one of its different parts receives for itself a particular material existence, but even the negative ideal unity of such differentiation is absent, which might assert itself as animating principle[201]. The difference[Pg 161] here is a purely abstract multiplicity, and the unity posited the indifferent equilibrium of identical qualities.

This is the first mode of the existence of the notion. The differences here receive no independent existence, and the ideal unity is not found as ideality. For this reason such isolated bodies are essentially defective and abstract existences.

(b) Natural objects of a higher order suffer the differences asserted by the notion to appear as free, so that each one as external to another is itself independently existent. Here we have for the first time the true character of objectivity. Objectivity is just this independent assertion of the segregated differences determined by the notion. On this plane of existence the notion asserts itself in such a way that it is at least a totality of its differences, which is truly realized, in so far as the particular bodies, while they each severally possess independent existence for themselves, are at the same time members of one inclusive system. Of such a character is the solar system. In one aspect of them the sun, comets, moon, and planets appear as independent heavenly bodies apart from one another; in another, however, they derive their definite character from being parts of one system of such material bodies. Not only their specific modes of motion, but also their physical qualities, are only to be deduced from their relation to this system. This nexus which binds them together constitutes that inward unity which relates these particular existences together in one whole.

But further than this, in this conception of system the operation of the notion is not exhausted in the existent unity of independent bodies as essential parts of it. For just as the differences are real the unity which relates them to the totality has to assert itself as real. This unity, in other words, differentiates itself from the multifold particularity of those objective bodies of which it is the integrating principle. And on this plane of existence it is differentiated therefore itself against such a particularity as real, independent and objective existence. In the solar system the sun exists over against all particularity related to that system, as such a unity of the system.

Such a material existence of the ideal unity of the notion[Pg 162] is still very defective; for whereas on the one hand we have this unity posited in its reality only as the relation or material connection between the severally independent bodies, on the other we have it posited as a body which belongs to that system, whose unity, in opposition to its real differences, it essentially represents. The sun, in short, which we take to be[202] the soul of the system, has itself an independent entity apart from the members which form the explicit content of this soul. It is itself only one particular mode or phase of the notion, that, namely, of unity in its difference from the actual separation of the several parts, a unity which remains outside itself, and is consequently abstract. For however much the sun by virtue of its physical quality is plainly a principle of unity, the illuminating body as such, this is after all merely an abstract identity. For light is simple, undifferentiated appearance and nothing more. We find therefore in the solar system the unity of the notion indeed objective, and the totality of its differences explicitly realized, each body making visible one particular phase[203] of the notion; but here, too, it lies absorbed in its objective reality, and it fails to assert itself in such material as is truly inherent and explicit ideality. The form of its existence which here prevails remains the independent segregation of its particular phasal units[204].

It is, however, essential to the true existence of the notion, that the differences of the objectively real, the reality, that is to say, of the separate independent parts and the equally independent unity that is therein objectively realized, should as such be together brought back into unity. Only thus such a totality of innate differences can make wholly explicit either the notion as the realized differentiation[Pg 163] of its characteristics, or at the same time release each particular that belongs to it from the element of isolated independence which it cancels by enabling the ideality, in which these differences recover their subjective unity, to assert itself fully as the universal principle of their animated being. In that case they become no longer parts hanging loosely to one another by a bond that still leaves their particularity unaffected, but genuine members of one body. They no longer possess an existence in their isolated singularity, but retain such truly in the ideal unity which binds them together. Only in such an organic articulation the ideal unity of the notion is present to the parts thus integrated. It is at once their support and immanent soul; here for the first time the notion is not overwhelmed in objective reality, but passes over into actual existence as the inward identity and universality, which it essentially is.

(c) But this third mode of Nature's manifestation is a determinate existence of the Idea, and the Idea as thus manifested in Nature is Life. Dead or inorganic nature is not adequate to express the Idea; only the organic life of Nature unfolds its reality. For in life we shall find, first, that the objective reality of the notion as differentiated is presented as such reality; secondly, however, that the negation of such differences is entirely one of distinction in that reality[205], the ideal subjectivity of the notion overcoming to itself this very reality; thirdly, the unifying principle of animation is now the positive appearance of the notion in the form of its bodily substance, that is to say, the form of infinity, which is sufficiently powerful to assert itself thus formally in its content.

(α) If we ask ordinary consciousness[206] for a definition of Life, we have two determinations presented, either the imaginative conception of it as bodily life, or as soul-life. In the same view we distinguish these two determinations with qualities peculiarly belonging to each. This contrast we set up between soul and body is also of great importance[Pg 164] in the more philosophical consideration of our subject. And it is no less part of our inquiry to investigate it. At the same time we would point out that the philosophical interest concentrates itself quite as much on the unity which exists between soul and body, a part of this inquiry which a really adequate survey of the subject has at all times found beset with the greatest difficulties. It is, however, precisely in virtue of this unity that Life is the first genuine appearance of the Idea in Nature. We must consequently apprehend the identity of soul and body as no fortuitous connection[207], but a union of profounder significance. In other words, we must recognize the body and its members as the objective existence of the notion itself in systematic articulation, which in the members of the living organism, secures an objective existence for its determinate features, analogously no doubt, if on a higher plane, to the facts presented by the solar system. Within this real existence the notion asserts itself in like manner as the ideal unity of all these determinate parts. This ideal unity is the soul. The soul is the substantive unity and interfused universality which is no less a simple relation of self-determining than it is ideal Being-for-itself or self-coherent totality. This is the higher view of the union between soul and body. To put it in other words both are not merely distinct aspects set side by side; they are one and the same totality of identical determinants. Just as the Idea generally can only be grasped in its explicit reality as the notion evolving itself as such[208], in which conception the differentiation and unity of both sides, that is both the notion and its objective reality, are inseparably present, in the same way Life must be conceived as the unity of both soul and body.

And further, the subjective no less than substantive unity of soul within the body is presented us and exemplified in Feeling. The feeling of a living organism is, that is to say, not merely an independent product of a particular member,[Pg 165] but it is also this ideal and simple unity of the entire organism. It is carried through every member of the body is felt throughout in more than a hundred places at once; and indeed, to put it shortly, rather than saying there are many thousand sensitive points[209] in a single organism we should more justly say there is but one, namely, the subject of consciousness. And inasmuch as the animating principle of organic Nature includes in itself this distinction between the real existence of the organic members, and the abstract or simple self-coherence within such parts, which we call the growing soul, mediating between them both by virtue of its inherent unity, such a principle of Life stands on a higher plane than that of inorganic Nature. Only with Life is the Idea existent, and only thus is the Idea truth. No doubt even in the organic world this truth can be extinguished. We find the body unable to perfect its essential ideality and animating energy. Such is the case in disease. Here we find the notion deprived of its controlling sovereignty, and other powers are potent with it. Such a life is, however, defective and crippled: it merely continues, because the inadequacy of reality to the notion has not reached the point of absolute contradiction; it is still only relatively valid. Once assume that all harmony between the two sides is broken, that all genuine articulation of the members of the body and their true identity has dropped away, and life is dissolved in death. The several members are now mere appendages to each other, with no principle of Life to hold them in unsevered unity.

(β) We must add that when we stated the soul is the totality of the notion regarded as the subjective and ideal unity, the body on the other hand, as distinguished by its members, is the same totality but rather in its material aspect as the juxtaposition and sensuous accretion of all the several parts, affirming at the same time that both soul and body are posited as one in the living organism, there is no doubt something contradictory in the statement. For the ideal unity, so far from being this material juxtaposition of parts, in which each particularity possesses its independent consistency and exclusive character, is rather in direct antithesis to such external reality. That what is diametrically[Pg 166] opposed should nevertheless be identical is obviously a contradiction in terms. The man, however, who declares the non-existence of anything from the fact that it carries in our notion of it a contradiction which implies the identity of opposed antitheses, simply excludes Life itself from the idea of existence. For the force of Life and still more the power of Spirit (mind) consists in this very movement, namely, to assert the law of contradiction inherent within them, to bear the burden thereof and to overcome it. This affirmation and resolution of the contradiction which obtains between the ideal unity and material juxtaposition of the members, constitutes the appointed process of life itself. And Life is simply process. And this process of life includes an activity which has two distinct functions. On the one hand it has continually to affirm the material existence of the physical distinctions[210] among the members of the organism thus determined; on the other, just in proportion as such distinctions grow obdurate in their independent particularity, and tend to remain fixed in absolute separation from each other, it has to make good once more that universal ideality, which is the principle of their life. This is the idealism of Life's process. Philosophy is not the only idealism; far from it. Nature herself in her domain of actuality creates in the life-process just that which the philosophy of idealism completes in the world of contemplative thought. Only where we have these two aspects of one activity, that is, the constant realization of the corporeal definition of the organism no less than the synthetic affirmation of such material presentment in the ideal unity, which it is as one with the notion[211], then and only then we have the completed process of Life, whose more primitive forms[212], however, this is not the place to discuss. Through this unity of Life's energy in both its branches all the members of the organism are up[Pg 167] held in their integrity, and continually flushed anew with the ideality of their life. This ideality is furthermore declared by the organic parts in the fundamental law of their being, that this unity of Life is not so much an accidental quality as, on the contrary, the substance of it. In this alone they are able to preserve their specific character. This it is which precisely constitutes the difference between the part of a mere conglomerate and the member of an organism. The particular parts of a house, for example, the stones, windows, and so forth, remain just what they are, whether they form part of the structure of a house, or whether they do not. Their relationship to one another is quite indifferent, and the conceptual notion remains in their case a purely external form, which possesses no life in these parts raising them to the ideality of a subjective unity.

The members of an organism have, it is true, an external reality, but for all that it is the notion of Life which constitutes the inward, nay, the characteristic being of such reality, a reality which is not expressed through one external form uniting them, but in the ideal coherence of their parts in one living whole. For this reason the limbs have no such reality as belongs to the stones of a building, or the planets, moon, and comets in the solar system. Their reality is one wholly within the content of the organism, and all appearance to the contrary is, as such, ideally imposed on them. Dissever the hand from the body and it loses its independent existence as a member of the organism which made it what it was. Its activity, form, and colour, all that constitutes it, is at once changed; it enters the process of corruption, and ultimately ceases to exist[213]. Consistent character it only possesses as a limb of organic life, reality only in constant reunion with that ideal unity which sustains it. And that is just the superior mode of reality which the living organism possesses in itself. The real or positive is for ever being set up as both the negation of itself and withal the ideal resumption of itself, such ideality constituting, in fact, both the maintenance and specific character of the mode under which each of the separate parts of the bodily presence are associated together.

[Pg 168]

(γ) The reality, then, which the Idea wins for itself in the life of Nature is reality as a phenomenal process. Such an appearance stated in its simplest terms is this, that a reality exists, but its potential being[214] is not immediately in its possession, rather it is at the same time negatively affirmed[215] in the particular form that belongs to it. The negation of the immediately external and particular members of a body is not only a negative relative relation as the activity of the inherent idealization[216], but is as such a positive realization[217].

Hitherto we have considered the particular objects of the real as positive in their self-exclusive particularity. This independence, however, is negated in the living object, and the ideal unity asserted within the bodily organism is alone found to assert over itself the full force of positive determination. Such a positive ideality in the principle of negation it asserts is the soul. On the appearance of the soul in the body we have at once such an affirmative presence as the one indicated. The soul not merely asserts itself as a power against the subdivision of the bodily members, it is their plastic creator[218], which preserves as inward and ideal that which is externally minted in the shape of physical members. And consequently it is this very positive and ideal inward[219] which appears in the outer structure; in other words, the external, so far as it is a mere external, is a mere abstraction, a mere aspect that is untrue for the whole. In organic life the external we are confronted with is an externality through which the inward is made visible. The outward, that is to say, declares itself in its potential nature as that inward, which is its notion. Further to this notion appertains the reality in which it as notion is made visible.[Pg 169] Inasmuch, however, as in the objective world the notion, strictly as such, is the principle of subjective life and self-determined life becoming explicit in its own objective reality[220], life exists only as a living thing, an individual subject. It is only with life thus concentrated to a point that we find this negating centrum of unity. And it is negative in this sense that the ideal explicitly self-unified totality[221] can only now stand forth in its reality by virtue of this principle of ideality being asserted through the differentiation of its positive presence, together with which the ideal unity of such totality is at the same time incorporated. It is of the greatest importance to make clear this aspect of the principle of subjectivity. It is only as the single living thing thus unified by such a principle that life is actually present.

If we inquire further in what manner the Idea is manifested within the actual life of such living individuals our survey will be as follows: first, this principle of Life will be realized as the totality of an organism possessing bodily shape; secondly, this physical shape is not presented as a rigid product[222], but as a continous process of ideal generation, in which a living soul asserts itself. Thirdly, the changes and determinations through which this totality passes are not imposed externally to it, but are changes of form which are evolved from its inherent nature, imposed on itself and for itself, in a process wherein it stands self-determined as the subjective unity no less than the ultimate end of its being.

This free self-subsistence of the subjective principle of life is especially exemplified in the spontaneous motion of a living organism. The inanimate bodies of inorganic Nature are fettered to the conditions of Space, which limits them to one place, or they are only moved from it by external forces. The motion, in short, does not originate in themselves; and, when it is visible upon them, it appears as an[Pg 170] energy which is foreign to them, to remove which the only force they exert is that of reaction. And if the motion of the planets with similar phenomena appear to be otherwise produced, such are at least wholly fettered by natural laws and their abstract necessity. The living animal, on the contrary, in its freedom of motion, negatives this enforced limitation to one spot by virtue of its own activity. It is through such self-determination the continuous liberation of itself from the material isolation. And for the same reason it is in this freedom of motion, if only in a subordinate degree, the release of itself from the former abstractness referable to the particular modes of motion, their direction and their speed. Under a yet closer view, moreover, the animal, regarded by itself in its organism, presents the same sensuous matter that is moved; and here, too, life is as before a freedom of motion within this organic reality, evidenced in the flow of blood and the movement of the limbs.

Motion, however, is not the only expression of animated life. The free tones of the voice of animals, which are unknown in the inorganic world, where bodies merely roar and clatter through the blow of objects external to them, these already present to us the higher expression of animated subjectivity. The most intimate and vital expression of such ideal activity is, however, brought before us when we find the living individual able to concentrate itself as individuality over against the objective world, while at the same time it appropriates and transfigures that world for its own. And this is accomplished in part through observation by means of vision, and partly for practical purposes, in so far as such an individual brings the outer world into subjection to himself, utilizes the same, assimilates it as a means of nourishment, and in this manner continually reproduces his individuality in that objective alterum. Such a process, of course, as it ascends through stronger organisms, assumes more and more emphatic degrees of unsatisfied desire, assimilation, satisfaction, or satiety.

Such, then, are the activities, in which the notion of animated life makes itself apparent. Moreover, the principle of Ideality thus rendered visible is not merely the result of our reflection; it is objectively real itself in the living subject, whose existence consequently we may go so far as to call[Pg 171] an objective idealism. And it is the soul, as before stated, which, as this ideal energy, brings about its own manifestation[223], always reducing the purely external reality of the body to an appearance, and thereby affirming itself as objective totality in that very bodily shape.

2. Now it is as the Idea made objectively visible to the senses that the animated life of Nature is beautiful; in so far, that is to say, as the truth or the Idea, presented in the form of Nature, where under it first appears, in other words life, is immediately given in the particular shape of reality adequate to it. Owing, however, to its sensuous immediacy the living beauty of Nature is neither beautiful for itself nor is the beauty strictly that which is the outcome of itself, a product, that is, of its purely objective appearance. The beauty of Nature is only beautiful for another, that is for us, the consciousness that apprehends its beauty. The question therefore arises in what way and by virtue of what characteristics the principle of life appears to us beautiful in its immediate existence.

(a) If we look at the practical way in which a living object becomes visible and preserves itself, the first thing which rivets our attention is spontaneous motion. This motion, regarded simply as motion, is nothing more than the entirely abstract freedom of motion from place to place and from time to time, which we find exemplified in the spontaneous, but entirely haphazard movements of animal life. In music and the dance we have, it is true, motion in its generic significance; but here motion is not merely a matter of chance and impulse, but it exhibits the laws which regulate it; it is defined, complete in itself and subject to measure; and it is all this, though we still abstract from it the significance whereof it is the beautiful expression. If we again interpret the motion of animals as the realization of an aim originating within themselves, this excited impulse is still entirely accidental, an end of most restricted import. If we further extend our survey and conceive such motion as the[Pg 172] activity and working together of all parts of the animal organism towards a definite purpose, we shall merely find that such a conception is rendered possible by our own effort of imagination[224]. The case is just the same if we reflect upon the way in which an animal gratifies its physical wants, obtains nourishment through the organs which grasp it, consume it, digest it, and generally is a subject of the process which preserves its life. For in this case also we have either only before us single desires and their spontaneous and haphazard gratification, in which the inward activity[225] of the organism is not present at all, or at least all these activities and their means of expression have become the subject of our imaginative reflection, which is at pains to understand such a process by relating it to definite ends, and to establish a harmony between aims assumed to belong to the animal itself and the organs which fulfill them.

We shall rather find that neither the sensuous perception of single haphazard appetites, arbitrary movements and efforts towards self-satisfaction, nor the fanciful consideration of the animal organism as one directed by purpose will present to us purely animal life as a part of the beauty of Nature. The beauty consists in the appearance of individual form, both in repose and motion, quite apart from the relation of its self-gratification to any purpose thus subserved, as it is apart from the entirely isolated contingency of self-imposed movement[226]. Such beauty is related to the form alone, because it is only as such that it is the external appearance, in which the objective idealism of the principle of life makes itself known to us as a thing perceived and contemplated upon through the senses. Thought apprehends this "objective idealism" in the medium of its notion, appropriating the same in the element of universality which belongs to it, albeit the contemplation of its[Pg 173] beauty is inseparably bound with its phenomenal reality. And this reality is the external form of the articulated organism, which is, in our view of it, quite as much determinate particularity as it is a semblance, namely, that of the physical manifold of the separate members, which can only form part of the concrete totality of the living form under the guise of phenomenal appearance.

(b) From the explanation of the notion of life already given we may deduce more narrowly the form of this appearance as follows. The form is one of spatial extension, limitation, and configuration, distinguished through its various shape, colour, and motion, being, in fact, a manifold of such distinctions. If, however, the organism which manifests these differences is a living organism, it will inevitably appear that the organism does not derive its true existence from such a manifold and its physical configurations. This is brought about by the fact that the different parts, which are apprehended by us through the senses, are at the same time conjoined together in one totality; they appear consequently as the members of one individual existence, which is a unity of such differences, and which not merely possesses them in their difference, but as parts of one homogeneous whole.

(α) In the first place, however, this unity will assert itself as the purposeless identity of such differences, that is to say with no abstract relation to any causal end whatever. The parts in such a case are not rendered visible to sense merely as a means to or in the service of some defined purpose, nor are they able to fix the determinate relation of form and structure which they occupy one over against the other.

(β) Rather the contrary is the case, for, in the second place, the bodily members have for our sense-perception the appearance of being quite accidental in their form; in other words the determination of one appears to be quite indifferent to that of another. In other words, we can never conclude because one has a certain form another will have the same, as would be the case if a material uniformity was clear between them. Where uniformity is the rule an abstract determination of some kind of form, size, or whatever it may be, is the property of all parts. The windows of a building, for example, are all of one size, or at least are placed together in one row. Or we may illustrate the same[Pg 174] similarity with the uniform worn by all soldiers belonging to one regiment. We have various parts of such clothing differing in colour, texture and the rest, but their formal opposition is no matter of chance; each has its causal connection with some other; it is there because the other is there. Neither is there here any complete distinction of form, nor any unique independence wholly asserted. With the individual organism of life the case is entirely otherwise. Here every part is absolutely distinguished; the nose from the forehead, the mouth from the cheek, the breast from the neck, the arms from the legs, and so on. Inasmuch as for our sense-perception every member possesses its unique form rather than one which belongs to another, or one which is determined by that of another, the members appear as self-subsistent parts, and for this reason free and spontaneous[227]. For the material juxtaposition of the parts alone throws no light upon their particular form.

(γ) Thirdly, it is obvious there must be for our imaginative perception a more inward bond of connection present in the self-subsistence of the organism, if the unity is not offered us in its rational, spatial, temporal, or quantitative relations such as are presented in the examples of uniformity referred to, which, as we have seen, the unique particularity of the parts can extinguish. This identity is not sensuous and immediately present to perception in the way the distinction between the members is presented; it is rather a secret and inward bond of necessity and harmonious relation between the members and their form. If it were only inward, quite out of reach of our vision, such a necessary unity would be apprehended only in thought, removed from our sense-perception altogether. In such a case, however, it would fail to enter into the beautiful object of our vision, and what we found as such in the living, object would cease to be the Idea in its own objective and phenomenal reality. Such a unity must consequently enter into what is externally perceived, although it is, as the ideal principle of life within it,[Pg 175] not entirely apparent to sense or confined in spatial dimensions. It appears in fact in the individual totality as the universal ideality of its members, constituting thus the fundamental basis which supports and holds them together, the subject of the living subject. And this subjective unity in organic life finds its first direct expression in feeling. In the emotional life the Soul finds its true expression as Soul. For soul the mere juxtaposition of limbs have no real truth, and in the presence of its subjective ideality the purely spatial multiplicity of external configuration ceases to exist. Such a manifold, with its unique differentiations, its organic articulation of parts[228] is no doubt presupposed; but when and in so far as the soul expresses itself through such in feeling the more inward unity ever-present to life asserts itself equally as the dissolution of all absolute independence between the physical parts, which reveal now not merely their materia, but also that wave of animation which fuses all in their soul.

(c) To start with, however, we must observe that the emotional expression of soul-life neither offers us the visual impression of any necessary inter-dependence between the separate members, nor indeed the perception of an identity which is necessary between such physical articulation and the subjective unity conferred on it by simple feeling. We will investigate this more narrowly.

(α) If indeed the form and only the form renders in some way visible this inward harmony and its necessity, it may be because we look upon this juxtaposition as the habitual relation of such members, a connection which brings to our view some specific type and the oft-repeated formal exemplifications of such a type. But the necessity of custom is after all only a subjective necessity.[229] According to such a principle we may find certain animals ugly for no other reason than that we find in them an organism which differs from our ordinary experience, or runs contrary to it. For this reason we call the organisms of certain animals bizarre in so far as the way in which their organs are related together is foreign to what is more common to our experience or[Pg 176] entirely contradicts it. Fishes whose bodies are in size out of all proportion to their length of tail, or those in which we find eyes together on one side of the head only, are an example. In the world of plants we are already prepared to find many such strange departures from type, although the cactus with its spines, and the more rectilinear shaping of its angular junctures[230] may still arouse our wonder. The more a man is educated, however, in all branches of natural history, the more able he will be to recognize in their truth the subordination of all parts of organic life, and carry in the memory the greatest variety of types in their proper classification, and the less anything he may observe will surprise him.

(β) A profounder penetration into this correlation of the parts will, however, in the second place, tend to give us that truer insight competent to determine from one of the parts the entire form to which it must belong. Cuvier is a famous example of such aptitude: a man of science, who by the examination of a single bone, whether fossil or otherwise, was able to specify at once by its characteristics the kind of animal to which it belonged. An excellent illustration this of ex ungue leonem. So from a claw or a thigh bone we may discover the conformation of the teeth, or vice versa from the teeth that of the hip-bone, or that of the vertebral column. Such a profound synthesis of the type and the knowledge it implies carries us, however, beyond habitual experience only. We must assume, to render it possible, previous thought and the systematic arrangement of the isolated facts of science. Our example Cuvier had no doubt secured from previous experience a determinate content and some specific quality which prevailed in each generic conception, and asserted itself as a unity of principle in all particulars however distinct, and so enabled him to recognize their affinity. Such a specific quality is that of flesh-eating, which is then the determinating principle of the form of the other members of the organism to which it belongs. A flesh-eating animal requires teeth and jaws of exceptional vigour; when hunting it will require claws to seize its prey, mere hoofs are insufficient. Here in short is a quality which[Pg 177] necessarily determines for us the form and principle of affinity among all the organic members. A conception of such a typical character is the ordinary one we form of the strength of an eagle or a lion. We may no doubt find something both beautiful and instructive[231] in this way of regarding the animal world, in so far as we derive from it some unified idea of its configuration, which is not a mere repetition of that unity in all the parts, but gives full value to the distinctions they possess. For all that it must be remembered the dominant factor of this survey is not the perception of our senses, but the generic thought of our minds with which it is made to conform. Reviewed in this light we ought not to say that we find the object as such beautiful, but rather attribute that beauty to the reflection of our own minds upon it. And if we examine these reflections more closely we shall find they are after all a deduction of our principle of unity from a limited aspect of the organic whole. We concentrate our attention, for example, on the mode in which it is nourished, i.e., whether such an animal is carnivorous or herbivorous. Through such a limited determination we are still removed from a vision of the coalescent unity of the whole we identified with the notion, the soul itself.

(γ) The truth is we can only, in this sphere, bring before our consciousness the entire unity of life by means of our thought and grasp of reason. In the natural world the soul, in its full activity, is not found; that is to say, the subjective unity, in its pure ideality, does not exist there for a self-consciousness.

If, however, by means of thought, we endeavour to grasp the nature of soul-life according to its essential notion we shall find two aspects under which we may regard it; first, as the form subject to such a principle of animation; secondly, as the notion of soul for thought in all that the conception implies. Such a complete grasp of its true nature is not possible in the sensuous perception of the objects of beauty. Such must neither pass before us as thought, nor must we allow the interest of Thought as such to form a barrier of difference or opposition between itself[Pg 178] and the vision revealed to us. We are left, then, with no alternative but to consider, under this point of view, the object as wholly presented to sense; we must assume that in the sphere of Nature a sensuous perception of the natural form is our genuine mode of contemplating the beautiful. "Sense," that is the master-key[232] to the position; a word which in itself is interpreted in two opposed senses. In the first place we may indicate thereby the organs of immediate[233] perception, secondly, by the "sense of a thing" we may refer to the significance, or the element of thought and the universal within it. In this way "Sense" is related on one side to the immediate externality of existence, and on the other to its inward or essential nature. A sensuous perception of that existence in fact preserves both sides in unity, or rather in one direction so presents the aspect that is opposed to it in the immediate sense vision as to include therein both the essence and notion of the object. But for the reason that it combines these opposed determinations in unfractured unity, the notion is not presented as such to consciousness, but is rather to be dimly foreshadowed there[234]. We accept, for example, as a determinate fact the existence of three realms of Nature, which we define as that of the mineral world, that of plants, and finally that of animals; we can conclude from this, as already foreshadowed by its truth regarded as a process rising from plane to plane, that there is an inward necessity inherent in the notional articulation of its divisions, and do not confine ourselves only to the purely imaginative conception of it as a world conforming on its exterior side only to a final end. In the same way when confronted with the variety of the external presentment in each of these realms, the sense-perception surmises a controlling unity intelligible to mind, a progress subject to laws of thought, visible no less in the formation of[Pg 179] mountain ranges than in the orderly succession of plant-life and of the animal races. The same tendency is presupposed when, after an examination of the form of any particular animal organism, an insect's, for example, as subdivided into head, body, abdomen, and extremities, we conclude the correlation of such parts to be based on a rational principle, and are confident that though, at first blush, it may appear quite accidental that we are in possession of five senses, we shall discover a true bond of relation between that number and the notion therein asserted. Of just this type is Goethe's method of observing and accounting for the innate reason of Nature and her phenomena. With an extraordinary intuitive sense he directed his attention directly to[235] the objects of experience, entirely convinced of the ideal bond of unity which explained their interconnection. History may be written with a like object. The narration of facts and individual lives is given in such a way as indirectly to throw a light on the essential significance which such events or persons contributed to the period in which they are necessarily bound together in one organic whole.

3. Consequently we may affirm that Nature generally, regarded as the sensuous manifestation of the concrete notion and the Idea, is to be considered an object of beauty in so far as by such a sensuous perception of natural forms some kind of foreshadowing of the notional unity consonant to them is surmised, and we are able through the channels of sense to discover not merely their form, but somewhat of the inner necessity which binds together all their parts. Further than this incomplete surmise of the notion the sensuous contemplation of Nature as beautiful is not carried. This way of comprehending things, for which the separate parts, despite their appearance of independent freedom among themselves, nevertheless reveal to the sight the harmony that exists there either in the characteristics of their form, or detached portions of it or their motion and so forth, remains for all that indefinite and abstract. The inward unity is not open to external sense, nor can it appear in its[Pg 180] ideal and concrete form to such perception[236], whether imaginative or no; such at most acquiesces generally in the universality of a law of connection inherent in every living thing.

(a) It is, then, in the first instance only in this bond of union which reveals itself as a necessary adjunct of vitality from the objectivity of Nature, in so far as the same is presented in forms adequate to the notion, that we have before us the beauty of Nature. With this coalescence the materia is wholly identical; the form is immediately at home in the matter, as its true essence and its conforming energy[237]. This description may in fact stand for us, so far as beauty at this stage is concerned, as a general definition of it. We admire, for example, the natural form of a crystal on account of the law of uniformity it manifests, a law which through no mere action of forces external to it, but by virtue of its own specific definition and free activity, free in all its aspects as itself an object, is manifested there. For although an activity external to it could as such equally be free, yet in crystals the conformative activity is not extraneous to the object; rather it is a form operative as belonging to the mineral's innate character. We may define it as the free force of its substance, which out of its own resources informs itself and is not merely passively receptive of its environment. Consequently we find here the constituent material in its realized form as a free and independent creation. In still higher and more concrete mode the immanent form projects itself through the living organism and all its parts, in the articulate form and, above all, in its motion and its vital expression as feeling. For in this last case we have the inward vitality pregnant itself as living.

(b) It is moreover through this indeterminacy of the beauty of Nature, originating in its inward principle of animation that (α) both in virtue of the conception of life and the intuition of its true notion no less than of the habitual types conformable to its adequate presentment, we are able to distinguish between animals which are beautiful[Pg 181] and those which are ugly. Animals incapable of vitality, such as the sloth, which creeps about with difficulty, and whose entire mode of life is suggestive of incapacity for motion or activity, offend our aesthetic sense for this very reason[238]. Activity and mobility are precisely the qualities which assert the higher ideality of life. For the same reason we condemn forms of amphibious life, certain species of fishes, crocodiles, toads, and many kinds of insects; an additional reason will influence our similar attitude to hybrid species, where confusion of form marks the passage from one determinate type to another; the ornithorhyncus is an example[239], an animal which with its mixture of bird and four-footed beast may indeed astonish us, but at the same time is repulsive to our sense of beauty. Such feelings of repulsion can no doubt be traced entirely to our habitual prepossessions which have moulded for the imagination a fixed type of animal species consonant to experience. But even so there is already actively present the intuitive surmise that the configuration of a bird, for example, is related in its parts by a necessary principle of unity, and cannot as such graft upon itself forms which belong to other species without being thereby transformed into a hybrid variety. Such abnormal deviations from type appear to us both strange and contradictory. Neither the one sided narrowness of organization, which is so defective and mean in its manifestation, that it exercises no activity over the straitened conditions of its environment, nor confusions and passages of type, which, albeit they are not so enclosed within themselves, are unable to hold fast the distinctive features of their type, belong strictly to the sphere of natural beauty.

(β) There is another sense in which we attribute beauty[Pg 182] to Nature, namely, when we have the collective picture of a landscape before us rather than observe the living form of a simple object. Here we have no organic articulation of parts such as is derived from their notion and is presented to us as such ideal unity in spontaneous life. We have instead a rich variety of objects both organic and inorganic, which are united together on one or more planes of vision in their distinctive features, contour of mountains, winding outlines of rivers, groups of trees, huts, dwellings, palaces, and cities of mankind, ships, roadways, heaven and sea, valley and rock-cleft. We find, in addition to this variety and proceeding therefrom, a delightful or imposing harmony which appeals to our sense and interests us.

It is lastly a peculiar characteristic of the beauty of Nature that it should excite or exercise a harmonious influence over our emotional life. A mood of this kind is aroused by the stillness of moonlight, the peace of a valley, through which some brook or other meanders, the sublimity of the immeasurable storm-tossed sea, the tranquil depth of the star-strewn heavens. But the significant factor in this case is not so much to be found in the objects as in the peculiar moods they arouse in our feelings and affections. On analogous grounds we attribute beauty to animals, when the expression of their life directly suggests human qualities, such as courage, strength, cunning, good nature, and the rest. Such, no doubt, in one aspect of it, truly expresses the nature of the animals themselves; but there is also our own conception of its affinity to ourselves, and the mood in which we receive it.

(c) However much animal life, as the culminating point of natural beauty, unfolds its freest expression as a living principle, it is comparatively narrow in its range and subject to very limited qualities. The circle of such existence is a strait one; and in this the predominant interests are those of the satisfaction of natural instincts such as hunger and sex-attraction. Soul-life, regarded as the inward principle expressed through external figure, is poor, abstract, and empty of content. Add to this the consideration that this inward is not manifested at all as inward. The soul in its essential substance is not revealed by the life of Nature; it is, in fact, the determining characteristic of Nature that its[Pg 183] soul remains shut in itself, does not, in other words, proclaim itself in its ideality. As already pointed out, the soul of an animal is not this ideal unity self-acknowledged. If it were otherwise we should have the manifestation of such personality brought home to others. Only in the self-conscious Ego do we find the ideal in its simplest terms, which is itself an ideal medium to itself, knows itself as this simple unity, and thereby endows itself with a reality, which is not limited to bodily and sensuous form, but is itself of an ideal character. Here, for the first time, reality is in possession of a form adequate to the notion; or rather the notion sets itself up as its own opposite, makes itself objectively real and finds its own realization in that objectivity. The animal life, on the contrary, is only potentially such a unity as that in which reality as bodily form is other than the ideal unity of soul. In self-consciousness we have this unity realized, whose opposing factors are constituent elements of one transparent ideality. And it is as this concrete totality of self-consciousness that the Ego is manifested to others. The forms of animal life merely enable us through imaginative perception to divine the soul's existence. Such only possess the troubled semblance of a soul, betrayed to us through the breath or exhalement which permeates the whole, gives some unity to all the members, and reveals in the entire instinctive life the first germs of an independent character. Herein lies the primary defect of the beauty of Nature, even when taken at its point of culminating form: and it is precisely this defect which will introduce us to the necessity of the Ideal as the beauty of art. But before we consider at length the nature of this Ideal, there are two determinations involved as the most immediate result of this inherent defect in natural beauty, which invite our attention.

We have stated that in the animal form the soul appears as the bond of connection within the organism and the unified point of animation only under a cloud[240] and destitute of any fully realized content. We only find there a quite indeterminate and restricted mode of soul-life. We will now consider the abstract limitations of this mode more closely.

[Pg 184]


There is in Nature an external reality which is, of course, visible and definitely objective, but the inward unity of which, instead of presenting itself in the concrete inwardness referable to the unity of soul-life, only goes to the point of indeterminacy and abstraction. In other words, it stops short of the inwardness self-actualized in an ideal form and as the particular existence conformable to its ideal content. Its appearance is that of the defining principle on the face of external reality. Now the specific characteristics of inwardness in all its concreteness should be these. First, the principle of soul-life is asserted for itself no less than is potentially replete with content. Secondly, external reality interpenetrates this ideal arcanum, and by so doing fully reveals its true form as such external reality. A concrete unity of this nature is not reached by mere natural beauty: it lies beyond as the Ideal. On this plane of existence we cannot say that such a concrete unity enters into the manifestation of form. We have to deduce it through analysis, examining in their separation and singularity the distinguishing features which the unity supports. The form that informs here and the sensuous external reality fall apart from one another; or rather we have two distinct aspects which we are compelled to consider separately. By virtue of this fact, which we may either regard as a division of the material of sense or as a review of certain facts taken in abstraction, the inward unity, which is one aspect of the external reality, itself falls outside it; that is to say, it is not itself asserted in that rational reality as the wholly immanent form of the entire notion which constitutes it, but rather as an Ideality and determinacy imposed externally.

Such are the points of view thus presented us which we will now consider more closely.

First, then, we have to discuss


The form of natural beauty in its abstraction is a form which is determinate and thus of limited range; in a further[Pg 185] aspect of it it is focussed in a unity of abstract relation to itself[241]. On closer inspection we shall, however, find that the external manifold controls this form of abstract beauty by reason of its own determinacy and unity. We must not, however, imply in these latter any immanent inwardness or form of vital ideality, but regard them as purely material definitions and unity of the external medium. Forms of such a character are uniformity, symmetry, or conformity to rule, and finally harmony.

(a) Uniformity

Uniformity is, speaking generally, equality in external presentment, or, more specifically, the unbroken repetition of one and the same definite form, supplied by the determining unity to the form of objects. Such a unity, in virtue of its initial abstraction, is at the furthest extreme removed from the rational totality of the concrete notion. Its beauty is therefore a beauty which is referable to the faculty of the analytical understanding. The fundamental process of that faculty is to perceive objects in their abstraction, not in their self-determined completeness and identity. For example, among all lines the straight line is that which is most uniform, because it alone manifests one abstract and undeviating direction. For the same reason the cube is a figure dominated by regularity of content. All its sides are of the same size, the same length of line and the same angles, which, on account of their being rectangular, however much their size is changed, manifest no change in the form of their angles as is the case with angles which are obtuse or acute.

With this characteristic of uniformity we must closely connect that of symmetry. Form is unable long to rest in that barest abstraction of its determination, namely, undifferentiated equality. A diverse relation is sure to assert itself, breaking into the empty form of identity. In this way we obtain symmetry, which consists in no mere identical repetition of one form, but in a combination with some such form analogous to it, identical, that is to say, in its[Pg 186] self-determination, and yet manifesting a distinct contrast with it. Through such a combination we obtain another kind of equality and unity, whose determination is more extensive and more varied. If, for example, on one side of a house we meet with three windows of the same size separated at equal intervals of distance, then three or four more of loftier size than the first-mentioned standing at more extended or closer intervals in relation to them, and again three more precisely similar in size and distance to our original ones, we have then before us a symmetrical arrangement. Mere uniformity and repetition of the same distinctions will never produce this result. We may find such distinguishing features in size, position, form, colour, tones, and many others like them, which, however, to produce symmetry must be harmoniously related to similar forms of construction. When we find a combination which presents to us an arrangement of such distinguishing characteristics according to some clearly uniform principle that then is symmetry.

Both these attributes, uniformity and symmetry, being the determinations of the form and unity of external appearance, are mainly applicable to distinctions in size. For it stands to reason that what is expressly posited as external rather than truly immanent determination is generally a quantitative[242] determination, whereas the qualitative fixes the inherent character of anything. Consequently that which is assumed only to affect the external appearance cannot be concerned with the changes which are found in the qualitative aspect. Size, on the other hand, and its alteration regarded merely as size, is for the qualitative determination, when it is unable to assert itself in terms of measure, an indifferent determination. That is to say, measure is quantity, precisely in so far as it can give to itself an aspect which qualifies it, and thereby a qualitative determination is united to the purely quantitative one. As thus explained[243] uniformity and symmetry are merely restricted to the determinations of size and their uniform appearance or arrangement[Pg 187] of differences in symmetrical order. Further inquiry will show us that this due co-ordination of size is as applicable to the forms of organic life as it is to those of inorganic Nature. The human organism is, for example, at least in a certain degree both uniform and symmetrical. We have two eyes, two arms, two legs, similar hip-joints, shoulder-blades, and so on. Of other portions of the body the reverse is the case. We find no conspicuous uniformity in the heart, lungs, bowels, or liver. The question arises what precisely constitutes the difference here. The side on which uniformity, whether of size, form, or position mainly asserts itself, is obviously the aspect of the organism viewed from the outside. The uniform and symmetrical determination, in complete conformity with what we should expect, is most apparent where the fact as objectively determined is itself the external envisagement itself, and carries with it the least impression of inherent life. The reality, which is most constant to this pure externality, rests satisfied with the abstract unity congenial to it. Within the organism, on the contrary, where we find the heart of the life-process, and still more openly in the medium of untrammelled reason uniformity gives way before the subjective unity of life. Nature is, no doubt, in its opposition to mind, a determinate existence external and independent; but even in her we find that uniformity only pre-eminently asserts itself where externality is the predominant principle.

(α) Reviewing, then, shortly the prominent classifications of natural objects, we observe, in the first place, that minerals, taking the crystal for an example, as structures destitute of the principle of life, are characterized in their fundamental form by uniformity and symmetry. As already remarked, their form, it is true, is one appropriate to themselves, is not merely the determination of external forces. Through an unseen energy the form that makes them what they are as products of Nature creates their configuration both within and without. This activity, however, is not yet the completed energy of the concrete notion as an ideal principle, which directs the independent consistency of the positive reality, subsuming them under an ideal totality such as is present in animal life. The unity and definition of their form persists in purely abstract one-sidedness, and we[Pg 188] have as the characteristics of a unity which is wholly on the outside the bare forms of uniformity and symmetry, the determinating factor in each case being an abstraction.

(β) Plant life is, of course, many degrees above the order of crystals. From the very commencement its evolution is marked by a harmonious articulation, and consumes material in a constantly active process of self-nourishment. But plant-life also is not yet really the living whole[244]. Although organically divided into parts, its activity is still one that consists wholly in assimilation[245]. It is rooted in the earth with no independent power of motion from place to place; its growth is continuous, and such energy of assimilation and self-nourishment as it possesses is not the tranquil self-subsistence of a completely individualized organic existence, but rather a continuous extension of its growth as an external object. An animal grows just as a plant grows, but at a determinate point that growth in its external size ceases, and that which reproduces itself in self-subsistence is one and the same individual. Plant-life, however, enlarges without intermission, and only its decease renders the further increase of its boughs and leaves impossible. And, moreover, all that it separately produces in this process is for ever the repeated pattern of the same organism in its entirety. For every bough is a new plant, and not, as in the case with the animal organism, only an isolated member. On account of this persistent enlargement of itself through all the separate plant formations whereof it consists plant-life is without the subjective animation peculiar to sensation and the ideal unity which belongs to it. And, generally speaking, we may say that plant-life, however much the digestive process is an inward one, in which we find nourishment is assimilated and the organism determines the form which is impressed on its substance out of itself by virtue of the increasing freedom of the notional type working through that substance, nevertheless substantially, through the entire process of its life, it remains rooted to externality without either a true independence or unity, and such self-subsistence as it possesses is continuous without a break.[Pg 189] And it is on account of this characteristic of plant-growth, namely, that it is for ever asserted on the side of externality, that we find uniformity and symmetry to be the fundamental unity of its self-expression as it is a predominant principle of its structure. No doubt uniformity is not so regnant here as we observed it to be in the formation of minerals, and it is not expressed in the same extreme degree through the abstract straight line and right angle: but it prevails here notwithstanding. The stem for the most part runs on a straight line; the rings of plants of higher type form themselves in circles; leaves closely approach the configuration of crystals; and, at least as the basis of their type, we find that the blossoms themselves in the number of their leaves, their position and form are determined with uniformity and symmetry.

(γ) Finally, in the living organism of animals a difference is asserted in the reduplicated structure of the members. In the bodies of animals, more particularly if we examine the higher species, the organism is a more inward, self-contained and self-determined totality; like a sphere, it returns, so to speak, on itself, while still remaining an external organism. It is an external process, and yet, as a process, asserted against externality. The more important organs are those within, such as heart, lungs, and liver, and in these the life is bound up. Such are not determined under the simple characteristics of uniformity. In those members, however, even of the animal organism, which are fixed in direct relation to the outside world, symmetrical arrangement prevails. Among such must be reckoned the members and organs which assert the subjective principle externally no less than those which are the instruments of the active life. The sense-organs, such as sight and hearing, belong to the former; all that we see and hear is left as we found it. The organs of smell and taste already mark the point of union with an activity exercised externally. We only smell that which is already assimilated[246] by the organ of sense, and we only exercise our taste through an act of destruction. We[Pg 190] have, it is true, but one nose, but it is subdivided into two sections, each of which is uniform in structure. The same description is applicable to the lips and teeth and other organs like them. Further than this the eyes and ears, and the limbs employed in motion from place to place, or for direct control over external objects, in other words, legs and arms, are entirely uniform in position, form, and other qualities. We find, therefore, that in the organic world no less than in the inorganic uniformity asserts a very real predominance, qualified, however, by the fact that its presence is limited to those members which are the instruments of the organism in its direct relation to the external world. On those through which the life-process returns on itself by virtue of its own subjective principle there is no such impression of uniformity.

Such, then, are the leading characteristics of the forms of uniformity and symmetry, and the manner in which they are asserted in the configuration of natural phenomena.

(b) Conformity to Rule

We now propose to distinguish the more generic conception of conformity to law[247], so far as it appears on a higher plane of organic evolution than that already adverted to, and marks the passage of the same to the freedom of natural no less than spiritual life, from the more abstract forms discussed above. Taken by itself, no doubt, conformity to rule is not alone sufficient to give us the subjective unity and freedom of totality; but we do find in the configuration to which it corresponds a totality of essentially distinguished characteristics, such as do not merely emerge in difference and opposition, but betray both unity and determinate connection in such totality. A unity thus controlled, albeit still only positively asserted in quantitative substance, is no longer referable to essentially exterior distinctions of mere size numerically ascertainable, but already introduces to our notice a qualitative relation of consistency between these contrasted determinations. In other words we have here neither the abstract repetition of one and the same determinant[248],[Pg 191] nor a uniform interchange of similarity and dissimilarity[249], but the contemporaneous association of aspects essentially distinct from one another. We find, in fact, our sense of sight gratified by the association of these distinguishing features in their completeness. And it is the principle of reason which affords us such satisfaction, gratifying our sense only through the totality, or rather through the very totality of differences the nature of the fact requires. Such a connection, however, still remains an unexplained nexus, which sense-perception arrives at partly on account of its persistent repetition, and in part through an intuition of deeper source.

A few examples will make clear the process of definition from uniformity to conformity with law. Parallel lines of equal length are abstractly uniform. A further step is taken when we compare geometrical figures of the same form, triangles, for example, but assume their size to be unequal. Here the angles subtended by the corners of each and the relation of line to line is the same, but we find such similarity in different quanta. Take again the circle, it does not possess the uniformity of the straight line, but at the same time the determination of abstract equality strictly applies to it, for all its radii are of equal length. The circle is consequently still but a curved line that awakes no particular interest[250].

On the other hand, there is still less uniformity in the ellipse and the parabola, and they are only understood through the law of their form. In other words the radii vectores of the ellipse are both unequal and in conformity with rule, and the same qualification applies to the greater and lesser axis of their lines of differentiation[251]; moreover, their foci are not central as is the case with the circle. We find in these examples, therefore, a qualitative relation of difference assert itself in the law applicable to such lines[Pg 192] and constructive of their interconnection. If, however, we divide the ellipse by means of its greater and lesser axes we obtain four equal sections; regarded as a whole, therefore, we still find the principle of uniformity paramount in this figure. Of a higher degree of freedom in its conformity to law is the oval. We know there is such a law, though mathematicians have been unable to express its formula. This figure is not an ellipse, but the higher curve differs from that below it. Still we find that even in this example of freer eccentricity in Nature, if we divide it through its greater axis, we have still two equal halves. The final expression of mere uniformity in conformity to law is shown in lines, which, as in the example of the oval, when divided through the smaller[252] axis, give us unequal sections, neither section being a mere repetition of the other. The so-called undulatory line is an example of this, in the sense Hogarth describes it as the line of beauty. Thus the inclination of the arms as they fall on either side of the human body is opposed. Here we have conformity to rule without uniformity pure and simple. Such a kind of conformity especially characterises with its variety the conformation of the nobler living organisms.

Conformity to law is, then, an attribute of substantiality, binding together both its differences and its unity; but it remains still abstract on the side of its controlling form, unable to supply individuality with the freedom of motion, or rather by virtue of that form is entirely without the higher freedom of subjectivity, and quite incapable of revealing the vitality and ideality proper to it.

(c) Harmony

On a higher plane in the sphere of abstract beauty must be placed harmony. In harmony we find qualitative distinctions are held together, and further held together in a totality of differentiation, such as is based on the essential nature of the fact itself. This consistency of support is derived from conformity to law, in so far as that form unfolds what is essentially uniformity, and thereby passes beyond the mere characteristics of equality and repetition. But in doing[Pg 193] this the distinctions of quality assert themselves not only in their difference of opposition and contradiction, but in aspects of a unity that rivets them together, a unity in which all distinguishing features, it is true, are maintained in their proper place, but still only as belonging to one single whole. This unity of accordance is what constitutes harmony. We may either regard it as a totality of aspects essentially distinct, or as the resolution of the element of mere contradiction asserted by them, revealing their more vital interconnection and ideal solidarity. In this sense we refer to the harmony of form, or colour, or musical tone. As an example, we have blue, yellow, green, and red as the fundamentally necessary differentiation of colour[253].

In these irresolvable data of the spectrum we have not merely the inequality we found in symmetry, but contradictory opposites, such as yellow and blue, their neutralization and withal concrete identity. The beauty of their harmony is revealed in the avoidance of their crude opposition, which is softened thereby in such a way as to put before us the concordance hidden beneath their difference. They do, in fact, emanate from one source, namely colour, which is not an abstract conception[254], but an essential totality. So far, indeed, can the compulsive force of such totality carry us, that we can, as Goethe has pointed out, when we have but one colour presented to us, still subjectively recognize another at the same time. In the same way the tonic, mediant, and dominant are essential distinctions among musical tones, which the unity of harmony associates through their difference in one whole. We may submit the harmony of form, which is differentiated through the varied aspects of position, repose, and motion to a similar analysis. If we suffer any one of the subordinate distinctions to assume an exclusive predominance the unity which relates them will be destroyed.

Harmony, however, is not to be confused with free ideal subjectivity and soul-life. In the latter the unity manifested[Pg 194] is not merely an interconnection and concordance, but a positive negation of difference, which, for the first time, reveals their concrete and ideal unity. A concrete unity such as this is not the result of harmony. Such concrete unity is, for example, that which we find in the actually melodious thing[255], which no doubt possesses harmony as its fundamental form, but at the same time possesses the higher characteristic of free subjectivity, and by means of song gives expression to that. Harmony alone has nothing to do with the appearance of subjective life, as such, nor of that of mind, although it is the highest manifestation of abstract form, and stands in close affinity to free subjectivity. Such, then, is our determination of abstract unity as we find it brought before us in the specific modes of abstract form.


The side of abstract unity which we have now to consider is not that directly related to form, but to the sensuous material simply in which it is asserted. The unity is manifested on this side as the entirely undifferentiated concordance of the particular sensuous material. It is the one form of unity, which the material of sense, in its purely objective aspect, is capable of receiving. On this plane and under the above noted relation[256] the abstract purity of the materia in its form, colour, or tone constitutes what is most essential to it. Entirely straight drawn lines, which run without a shadow of difference in their straightness or strength, bare superficies and similar examples please us by virtue of their persistent regularity and their uniform homogeneousness. The purity of the heavens, the translucence of the atmosphere, a mirror-like lake the smoothness of the ocean's face, all give pleasure by virtue of this unity. We find the same truth brought home to us by purity of tone. The voice when purely produced, though taken quite by itself, possesses an attraction for us inexpressibly delightful; vocal notes which are not thus pure on the contrary, by permitting us to hear the organ of production along with them, disturb or weaken the pure[Pg 195] resonance and definition of their music. In much the same way human speech possesses pure tones in its vowels, a, e, i, o, u, and its compound vowels, ae, ü, and ö. Popular dialects are particularly characterized by impurity of vocalization and mediate tones such as oa. Purity of tones consists further in this that the vowels are associated with consonants, whose sound does not tend to blurr the sonority of the vowel tones, as is too frequently the case with our northern languages, when contrasted with the way in which their purity is preserved by the Italian, a characteristic which makes that language so adaptable to singing. We experience an enjoyment of similar nature through the sight of colour in its simplest purity of tint, an absolutely pure red or blue for example, not by any means a common occurrence, such pristine colours being often weakened through the addition to them of yellow or tints of each other[257]. Violet can no doubt appear to us as a pure colour, but only in an external object, not, that is to say, as a compounded colour[258], for it is not itself an elementary colour belonging to colour's essential differentiation. It is these elementary or cardinal colours, easily recognized by sense in their purity, which, on account of their crude opposition, are most difficult to unite together in harmony. Colours, on the contrary, which are blurred in their transparency by many other tints, although not so antagonistic to general harmony, fail to give us such direct enjoyment from the very fact that the energy of opposition in them is weakened. Green, for instance, is a compound of blue and yellow, but it is the neutralization of these cardinal colours, and for that reason less attractive to us in its own purity than blue and yellow in their secure[259] opposition. Such are the points of most importance we[Pg 196] have to remark upon in dealing with the abstract unity of form no less than the simplicity and purity of the sensuous material. In whichever aspect we regard our subject-matter we have to review that which is by virtue of its abstract character destitute of life, and a unity with no true actuality. Ideal subjectivity is inseparable from this, and such is entirely absent from the beauty of Nature even at the highest potency of its manifestation. This essential defect points us imperatively forward to the Ideal, which Nature is unable to reveal to us, and in contrast with which the beauty of Nature appears as a subordinate mode.


The true object of our inquiry is the beauty of art viewed as the only reality adequate to the Idea of beauty. We have hitherto treated the beauty of Nature as the first mode of the existence of the beautiful. We have now to inquire more closely into that which distinguishes natural beauty from that of art.

As an abstract proposition we may affirm that the Ideal is beauty in its rounded completeness. Nature, on the contrary, brings before us beauty in its incompleteness. Such abstract predicates do not, however, help us much, for our real problem is rather to explain exactly what it is which makes the difference between the completeness of the one from the incompleteness of the other. Our inquiry therefore hinges on the question how it comes about that Nature is necessarily incomplete as a mode of beauty and how this incompleteness is asserted. When we have answered that we shall be in a better position to deduce both the necessity and essential significance of the Ideal.

We have already in following the process of Nature up to its culminating manifestation in animal life drawn attention to the modes of beauty revealed in that process. It is now of the first importance that we fix our attention more definitely on the culminating phase of that evolution where we find subjectivity and individuality presented to us in the living organism.

We have already referred to the beautiful as the Idea in a manner identical to that we employ when we speak of the[Pg 197] good and true as the Idea, in the sense, that is to say, where we characterize the Idea as the wholly substantial and universal, the absolute substance—with no sensuous material therewith—of reality, in short, the consistency of the world. Determined more strictly, however, as already pointed out, the Idea is not merely substantiality and universality, but the unity of the notion and its reality, just that, the notion revealed to us as notion in its coincident objectivity. It was Plato who, as we have remarked in our introduction, posited the Idea as that which was alone true and universal, and, indeed, as the one concrete Universal. The Platonic Idea is, however, not itself as yet the concrete real, for apprehended under the notion and its universality it is already coincident with the real. Apprehended, however, only in its universality[260], it is not realized, realized, that is to say, as Truth in its self-determinate realization. It is still only the potency of such self-realization. But just as the notion is not the notion of real existence without its full objectivity, in the same way the Idea without its realization in the objective world is not the Idea in its Truth as existent reality. The Idea must proceed to such realization, which is only present itself for the first time in a really existent subjectivity adequate to the notion, and its ideal unity and self-determination. In the generic species we find its reality first manifested as free and concrete individuality. Life only exists as a living thing; goodness is only realized in particular men; and all truth is simply the consciousness of knowledge—Spirit which has come to its own vital inheritance. Only the concrete singularity is both true and really existent, mere abstract universality and particularity is not so. This self-subsistent actuality, this subjectivity is the point on which everything turns, and which we must fully grasp in its significance. Subjectivity may be defined as ideal determination by virtue of a principle of ideal unity which asserts itself through negation of the differences presented to it as consistent parts of one objective reality[261]. The unity of the Idea and its realization is the negative unity of the[Pg 198] Idea as such and its reality; it is at once and at the same time the subsumption and deposition in a unified content of the difference asserted on either side. Only in this active process is the unity of the Idea affirmatively determined in its full activity, a unity and subjectivity whose process of self-determination is infinite. We have consequently to apprehend the Idea of the beautiful in its realized mode of existence as essentially concrete subjectivity and, moreover, as individual substantiality, by virtue of which it is the Idea really existent, possessing the form of its reality in concrete and individual singularity.

But here we must distinguish between two distinct modes of singularity or individuality, namely, that which is immediately presented us by Nature and that which is predicated of mind (spirit). In both forms it is given determinate existence, and consequently is in both substantive content, the Idea in short, and in the particular sphere of our inquiry for both forms the Idea as beauty. Viewed in this way we may affirm if we please that the beautiful of Nature has a similar content with that of the Ideal. In contradistinction, however, to such a point of view we must not fail to observe that the difference of form, in which the Idea herein attains reality, that is to say the difference between the individuality which prevails in the spheres of Nature and Spirit, the difference asserted in its respective appearance, this it is which constitutes an essential distinction. As we shall see, the real point of our inquiry is this, namely, which of these two forms is really the one most adequate to the Idea, for it is obvious that it is only in the entirely adequate form that the totality of the Idea is in its full content explicitly realized. This is the more immediate point we have now to examine in so far as the difference between natural beauty and the Ideal falls into line with the formal differentiation of singularity.

Immediate singularity is no doubt primarily found in the domain of Spirit no less than in Nature as such. For, in the first place, Spirit is possessed of an external existence in bodily form; secondly, even in spiritual relations, Spirit, in the first instance, only exists in its union with immediate reality. Subdividing our inquiry in conformity with such facts, we will consider the nature of immediate singularity from three different points of view.

[Pg 199]

1. (a) We have already seen that the animal organism preserves its determinate existence through a persistent evolutionary process of its own in opposition to an environing inorganic Nature, which it assimilates by means of consumption and digestion, compelling thereby what is external to submit to that process, and asserting its own independent existence by so doing. We found at the same time that this living process is a system of activities, which is realized in a system of organs, whose functional action consists in those very activities. The one and single aim of this homogeneous system is the self-preservation of the living totality thereof through such a process. The animal life consists, therefore, in a life of sensuous impulses, whose general course and satisfaction is realized in the above-mentioned organic system. The living organism is for this reason articulated in its parts under a teleological principle, and the principle or end subserved is self-preservation. Life is immanent in every member; they are united to life, and life is one with them. And the net result of this animate process is that the animal is maintained as a thing conscious of itself as an individual subject of feeling, life and the self-enjoyment its singularity procures for it. We have only to compare animal life with plant life to see the difference implied in the absence of such a sense-consciousness. The plant simply brings to the birth new specimens of its species, without even being able to concentrate any single one on that point of negation, which constitutes self-singularity. We must, however, add that even in the animal organism and its life we never have actually before our eyes the true manifestation of this centre of unity, but rather simply the manifold of its members. Life is still too deficient on the side of freedom and in opposition to the mere caprice of sense-life to manifest such a subjective individuality as is capable of breaking through the external envisagement of its organic parts. The vital centre of such activities in the animal organism still remains veiled from vision, and all that we see are the mere outlines of the figure, and this for the most part concealed from our view by feathers, scales, hair, fur, or spines. There can be no question that coverings of this nature, though characteristic of the animal world, are coverings which partake of the form of the vegetable world. And it[Pg 200] is precisely at this point that the beauty of animal life declares its essential insufficiency. That which the organism makes most visible to us is not the soul-principle. That which is directed outward and throughout appears is not the life within, but rather formations accepted from a lower plane of existence than the essential embodiment of life. The animal is only fully alive beneath that outer crust, and consequently for this very reason that its inwardness[262] is not wholly made real in a form adequate to reveal it, we are unable to see the principle of Life everywhere shine freely through it; it remains only an inwardness, and the shell is external only unpermeated by the vital principle.

(b) The human body, in virtue of its more exalted station, presents us with a striking contrast. In this we are everywhere reminded that man is in possession of a unity of feeling, a soul. The human skin is not covered over plant-like with an apparently lifeless sheath; the pulsation of the blood is visible throughout the entire surface; the beating heart of life is everywhere at the same time apparent; and we have in this outward manifestation, as it were, the real fount Of life made visible, the turgor vitae as it streams from its centre. In the same way the human skin, sensitive throughout in its minutest parts, reveals to us the morbidezza of its colouring, those tints of flesh-colour and vein-colour which are the despair of an artist. On the other hand, however much the human body presents, as the apparent mirror of Life, a contrast with that of animals, it undoubtedly expresses also the natural process of self-preservation in the subdivision of the skin, and the indentations, wrinkles, pores, small hairs and veins which we find attach thereto. In fact the skin itself, though permitting the inner life to shine through it, is none the less an external protection of that life, a means obviously intended for such self-preservation. The supreme significance, however, of the contrast here presented is traceable in this extraordinary sensitiveness of the human cuticle, which, although not absolutely the seat of feeling itself, alone renders such feeling possible. But at the same time even in this direction we are made conscious of the defect, that this sensitiveness does not[Pg 201] penetrate as a vital impulse of concentrated emphasis equally through all the members. We find in the human body itself certain organs whose form is entirely appropriate to mere animal functions, while others give a more adequate expression to the entire soul-life, its feelings and passions. Regarded in this way it is obvious that even in the human body the inner life of soul has not found its complete reflection in all parts of its external realization.

(c) The same defect is apparent on the higher plane of the spiritual world and its organizations, if we consider such under the aspect of life as immediately presented. The more extensive and the richer their configurations are, the more we shall find that the fundamental object of the inner life of such totalities requires other means co-operative with such externality for its adequate expression. Such organizations no doubt appear in immediate reality as organic wholes in which definite purpose is realized, and the realization of such purpose is manifested by the mediation of voluntary effort. Every centre of such a spiritual organism, such as the State or the family, that is to say each individual organic totality, is in possession of a will capable of such exercise, and appears in unity with the other members of the same organism; but the one inner soul of this nexus, the freedom and reason of the aim of all is not visible in external reality as such in the absolute freedom of its subjective and universal principle of life, nor is it thus manifested in every part.

The same thing may be observed in particular actions and events, where we find a similar organic totality present. The inner motive from which they proceed is not wholly made visible upon the external surface of their actual presence. What we do find is a total presentment of fact, whose most fundamental ground of unity and vitality still remains hidden from sight.

Finally, when we consider from the same point of view any single individual we are confronted with the same truth. Every human person is a self-rounded totality, held together by the central unity of life. In the immediate envisagement of reality, that is in his life, action, avoidance of action, desires and impulses, he only appears in a fragmentary way; none the less it is only from a general survey of all his[Pg 202] actions or sufferings that we are able to form an estimate of character. The centre of unity which thus concentrates to a point the entire subject-matter of our extended survey is not as such either visible or directly apprehended.

2. The second point of importance to which we would draw attention is this. With the immediate appearance of individuality the Idea, as we have already indicated, receives determinate existence. Through this very immediacy however it becomes interwoven with the complexity of the external world, is conditioned by the limitations of external circumstance and the relative character of means and ends which are found there, in one word is carried into the finitude of external Nature. For though immediate singularity is in the first place a fully rounded off unity, it is for the same reason only self-exclusive as a centre of negation opposed to others, and is, by virtue of its immediate singularity, influenced by, no less than related to, a totality of real existence other than its own, upon which it is dependent in a thousand different ways. The Idea, in short, is in this very immediacy realized in every direction as individual distinction. It is consequently now merely a reflex of the inherent energy of the notion which binds all individual existence, that of Nature no less than mind in reciprocal correlation[263]. Such a relation to the existences themselves is a purely external one, and appears also to them as a single external necessity uniting each part of the manifold in one shifting complexus of interrelated reciprocity. The immediacy of determinate existence is therefore, as thus regarded, a system of necessary relations between apparently self-subsistent individual things and forces, in which each singular entity is committed as a means to the service of ends foreign[Pg 203] to it, or itself is compelled to utilize that which is external to itself as such a means. And inasmuch as the Idea is under this aspect wholly realized on the ground of externality, there appears at the same time the unrestrained play of every caprice and accident, no less than the uncontrolled discharge of the burden of indigence. Singularity as immediate appearance lives and moves in the realm of unfreedom.

(a) The individual animal is, for example, fettered wholly within the bounds of its natural environment of air, water and land. Its entire way of living, the mode of its self-nourishment, everything that concerns it, is thereby determined. It is this which differentiates with such variety the species of animal life. We find, moreover, intermediate strains, such as swimming birds and suckling animals, which live in the water, amphibious species and others which still further mediate between the more obviously generic. These are, however, mere confusions of race, and indicate no higher mediation of considerable range. Throughout we find the animal subject in its self-preservation to the absolute necessities of external nature, cold, drought, or insufficient supply of the means of nourishment. Under this despotic dominion it is liable through the parsimony of circumstance to lose the fulness of external form, the blossom of its beauty, in short to become as it were the reflex of starving Nature herself. External conditions fix imperatively the measure of beauty it either preserves or forfeits.

(b) The human organism, in its particular bodily existence is subject, if not in the same measure, to external forces of Nature, and is compelled to face the same contingencies, deficient livelihoods, and every kind of harassing disease and misery.

(c) If we carry investigation further to that still higher plane of immediate reality where spiritual interests are predominant we shall find this dependence on external condition for the first time emphasized in its full relativity. Here we are face to face with the prose of human existence in its entire length and breadth. The contrast already noticed between ends subservient to purely physical wants, and those profounder aims of spiritual life, and the conflict which tends to inflict a loss on one side or the other, already[Pg 204] opens our view of it. Add to this every individual man, in order to preserve himself as such, is compelled to make himself in many ways subservient to others, and the limited aims of others, and on the other hand, in order to satisfy his own narrow interests, to accept the service of others as a mere means for their fulfilment. The individual, then, as he appears in the prose-life of everyday existence, is not therefore active out of his own particular totality, nor is he intelligible so much in virtue of himself as in virtue of that which he is not[264]. For individual man stands in a relation of dependence to the influences, laws, organizations and other social relations of civic life which he finds already existing around him, and to which he must submit whether he forfeit his own independent soul-life thereby or not. And more than this, each separate individual is not presented to others as such totality, but is only reflected in whatever isolated interest they may happen at the time to possess in his actions, desires, and opinions. And what interests mankind mainly is some relation to their own particular thoughts and aims. Even historically important actions and events, with which the community is expressly associated, appear in this field of relative appearances merely as a manifold of isolated efforts. It is a varied collection to which each contributes as he may, with aims by no means identical, some of which meet with success while others miscarry, and indeed, be they ever so fortunate, are significant in a very subordinate degree if we consider them as contributions to the wellbeing of all. What the majority may carry through, in contrast with the entire aggregate of events and the end applicable to all[265], to which it furnishes its quota, is after all a mere patch; nay, even men of eminent standing, who feel and are fully conscious of the universal passage of events[266], as their own world, are for all that clearly immeshed in the same net of particular circumstances, conditions, and a thousand other hindrances involved in their relative position. On all these grounds it is plain that in this sphere of exterior life the individual world is unable to offer us the vision of that[Pg 205] independent and complete freedom of the living principle, such as is essential to the true notion of beauty. It is, of course, true that the immediate appearance of human reality and its events and organizations is not without system, and as such is a totality of activities; but this whole is rather in its appearance a mere mass of isolated fragments. Moreover the practical concerns of such activities are divided and subdivided into countless parts, and in such a way that each single part is in touch with the merest fraction of all; and, in short, however much individuals may remain steadfast to their own purposes, and only bring forth to the light that which their own interest has employed as a means, the self-subsistence and freedom of their will remains more or less of a formal character, determined by external circumstance or accident, and constantly thwarted by natural causes[267].

This is the prose of the world, as presented to our own consciousness no less than to that of others; a world of finitude and change, a world immeshed in relation and submerged beneath the pressure of necessity, a world from which no individual can extricate himself. The central paradox of life confronts every unit of the living whole. On the one hand there is the impulse of individuality to perfect its isolated unity in self-exclusion; on the other there is the necessary condition of dependence on others from which none may claim immunity. However prolonged the struggle to overcome this contradiction may be the effort of that interminable battle only terminates with life itself.

3. Thirdly, the immediate singularity of the worlds of Nature and Mind is not merely conditioned by dependence on others, but is deficient in any complete self-subsistency owing to its confined nature, or with more accuracy, because it is particularized in its own specific mode of manifestation.

(a) We will explain our meaning further. Every single specimen of life in the animal world is from the first fettered by a definite, that is to say, a restricted and constant species, beyond the limits of which it cannot pass. There is in the spiritual world, no doubt, a general picture[Pg 206] of life and its organization, which floats vaguely before our vision; but in the real world, which is one with Nature, this universal organism breaks up into a multitude of particulars, each of which possesses the determinate type of form and grade of cultivation in which it is related to a definite portion of the social organism. In addition to this and within these insuperable limits, we find the pressure of that element of contingency, as regards general condition or external environment, predominantly asserted both uniquely and in haphazard fashion throughout every one of those individual units. Such a state of things disturbs our vision of the self-subsistency and freedom, which the idea of true beauty imperatively requires.

(b) As already observed, it is unquestionably true that Spirit discovers in its own bodily organism the notion of life completely realized. This is so much the case that, in contrast with it, the forms of the animal world appear not only as incomplete, but in inferior species as even pitiable objects. The human organism is also, however, broken up, if to a less, degree, in racial subdivisions and the ascending grades of beauty which distinguish such races. Moreover, in addition to this obviously very general line of demarcation, we have presented to us all the accidental variety of qualities, peculiar to distinct families and their interfusion with one another, such as modes of life, facial expression, and general demeanour. We must further associate with such characteristic traits, which all of them emphasize a condition of essentially unfree particularity, those peculiarities which are inseparable from activity employed in the endless round of commercial life or professional career; qualities which find their ultimate expression in the specific habits or idiosyncracies of any exceptionally marked character or temperament, or, as the reverse side of the picture, in the various confusions of arrested development. Poverty, care, anger, coldness, and indifference, the rage of passion, the obstinate retention of narrow purposes, indications of change and division in the spiritual world, entire dependence on that of Nature—in one word all that is implied in the transitory condition of human life—leaves its indelible, if quite incalculable, expression on the varied surface of the faces of mankind. Who has not crossed weather-beaten types of such, on which the[Pg 207] storm of all the passions has imprinted its disturbing wave; or others, where the coldness and superficiality of the soul within is all the impression we receive; or, lastly, as the final verdict of self-absorbed particularity[268], cases in which the general type seems almost totally to have disappeared. There is no end to the caprice of the human features. Speaking generally, we would associate with this ground the fact that the beauty of children most arrests us. In their faces we find all pronounced idiosyncracies slumber as it were beneath a quiet veil; no dominating passion as yet ravages their soul; not one of the thousand interests of the grown man has engraved for ever the expression of its necessity on these mobile features. This envisaged innocence of the child, however, though we may discover in its flexible animation the possibility of Life's completed fulness, obviously fails to reveal those profounder indications of a spirit which has been carried forward to explore the range of its own recesses and to make its life one with rational purpose.

We may regard, then, immediate existence, both in the purely physical and spiritual sense of the term, as a finitude, or more justly as a finitude which does not satisfy its notion and for this very reason declares its finitude. For the notion, and more concretely still, the Idea, is essentially independent and free. Purely animal life, although as Life it is the Idea, is no manifestation of infinity as such or freedom. This is alone possible under conditions, where we find the notion penetrate so completely the reality which is adequate to it, that it finds itself entirely at home therein, with no extraneous matter, to disturb its possession. Then alone do we find it a really free and concrete individuality. The natural life, on the contrary, is unable to overcome the element of feeling to which it is attached, and which renders it incapable of penetrating the entire reality which enrings it. It finds itself, moreover, immediately conditioned in itself, restricted in its range and dependent, a result which is due to the fact that its freedom is not truly self-determinate, but conditioned by the external: object. And the same thing is true of the immediate and finite reality of the spirit world in its knowledge,[Pg 208] volitional action, and fateful history. For although in this latter case we find centres of unity expressed which have a real significance, neither these any more than the particularities they unite have truth as they stand by themselves; but only that truth which, in their reciprocal relation to each other, they manifest as constituent parts of a whole. And this whole, albeit in a sense adequate to its notion, does not correspond to it in such a way as to manifest itself in its full totality[269], which consequently still remains aloof from such envisagement, or rather, is only apprehended in the ideal world of thought. In other words, the notion finds no fully adequate presentation in external reality, such as is powerful enough to marshal homogeneously all the numberless fragments of particularity, and to concentrate them into one expression and one single form.

(c) This, then, is the fundamental reason which prevents Spirit itself, on the finite planes of determinate existence, and under the restricting conditions of its externality and necessity, from rediscovering the immediate vision and enjoyment of its freedom. It is consequently driven by its absence to seek that vision in a higher sphere. That sphere is art, and its realization is the Ideal.

We have thus seen that it is the defects of immediate reality which drive us forward inevitably to the idea of the beauty of art. We are further under an obligation to prove that its fundamental object[270] is to manifest here on this very plane of rational reality and in its freedom the envisagement of life, and, most important of all, the life of Spirit. Here, then, we have at last the external revealed to us in a form adequate to the notion. Here, for the first time, truth is lifted up from its environment of temporal conditions, from its running to and fro among the whirl of finite particularity, and attains repose; nay, more than this, discovers an external form, from which the hunger of Nature and the prose of life no longer stare at us. Here at last we have a form worthy of substantial truth, which is wholly self-contained and self-dependent, determining with freedom its own content, and not driven from such self-assertion by the weight of that of others.

[201] Als Beseelung sich kund gäbe. The reference is to the second class which follows rather than truly animates life. The sun is such an animating principle. How far modern physics with its investigations of the laws of motion that obtain among the chemical atoms of any specific form of matter and its denial of all dead matter would have modified Hegel's view is an interesting question.

[202] Wir wollen betrachten. Hegel seems to be conscious himself that there is something fanciful in this interpretation of the significance of what is simply an arbitrary, if systematic, arrangement of bodies according to natural laws.

[203] Ein besonderes Moment. See note [191] on p. 152. I think what Hegel means here is that every body as a vehicle of light reflects the mode in which the identity of the notion as system in the different parts asserts itself.

[204] In other words what should be phasal elements (Momente) of a whole integrated within that unity remain independent units. They are not Momente in the full sense.

[205] Als bloss real unterschiedener. The meaning is that the distinction is only in the totality, not as in the former case in a body which though part of a system, could be viewed as an independent body like the sun.

[206] Gewöhnliches Bewustseyn, i.e., the ordinary view of understanding (Verstand) and sense-perception.

[207] Blosser Zusammenhang. Fortuitous is rather too strong. He means a bond of union cemented by one principle without which either side fails to possess its specific character, e.g., the human body apart from the human soul its animate individuality, ceases to be human.

[208] Als Begriff seyende Begriff. The reference I take to be to the logical or dialectical movement of the Idea.

[209] Viele tausend empfindende, or centres of feeling.

[210] Die realen Unterschiede, i. e., the distinctions of the body viewed as part of the physical process of Nature.

[211] Zu ihrer subjektiven Einheit, that is to say, their unity with the notion of Life as objectively realized in Nature, subjective only in the sense that it is ideal, not apprehended by sense-perception as such.

[212] Nähere. I think Hegel uses nähe in the idiomatic sense in which he uses it in the phrase (p. 150) when he speaks of Nature as das nächst Daseyn der Idee, i.e., most elementary, more near to it when the notion first presses out of abstraction into totality.

[213] Lötze apparently disputes this distinction, but it appears to me very clear.

[214] Seyn. The logical terms are here employed in their technical Hegelian sense. Seyn is "being" as part of a process, it is rather a tendency to become than a particular or determinate being (daseyn.)

[215] Das Negiren, the negation of them as entirely independent structures.

[216] Des Idealisirens, e.g., the principle of ideality which is in one aspect of it negation.

[217] Affirmatives Fürsichseyn, e.g., the explicit ideal totality of Life apart from the process.

[218] Bilderin.

[219] Das Innere, otherwise called subjective (see note above) and meaning what is not externally visible as materia, though it may be visible indirectly as explained further on.

[220] The rather difficult German here is: Da nun aber in der Objektivität der Begriff als Begriff die sich auf sich beziehende in ihrer Realität für sich seyende Subjektivität ist. The comma after Begriff is clearly a misprint.

[221] The words here are das subjektive Fürsichseyn, i.e., the self-conclusion of an explicit whole in virtue of a principle of ideal unity (i.e., life) asserted, throughout.

[222] Ein Beharrendes,> one that persists in an inert form.

[223] Hegel uses the word scheinen both for the ideal manifestation of the Idea in the object and the appearance of material reality reduced by it to mere "show" (herabgesetzt zum scheinen), i.e., deprived of its independent reality. This introduces a slight confusion I have endeavoured to avoid by using different terms.

[224] Unseres Verstandes. We supply the notion of intelligent purpose.

[225] That is, the assumed subordination of all organs to one definite end.

[226] Sichbewegens. The emphasis is of course on the self. But even then the statement is rather an excess. For it seems difficult to attribute all the beauty visible in the spontaneous movements of so many living creatures, notably that of birds, to their purely formal character. At least there is something given by such motion analogous to the impression we receive from music and the dance; they are gesetzmässig in short.

[227] Zufällig—capricious as opposed to a uniform principle. There is, however, one apparent bond of external similarity, between the majority of such members, namely, their covering of skin; this not merely relates the cheek to the neck, for example, but to some extent destroys the distinction.

[228] Physical parts, that is to say.

[229] That is to say, it is based on a purely limited experience which does not necessarily concern the true nature of the objects perceived.

[230] Stangen. The word may express the branches on which the flowers are carried or the stamens they carry at their apex.

[231] Geistreich, "intelligent," i.e., an ingenious way of regarding such facts.

[232] Dies wunderbare Wort.

[233] The use of the word Sinn to which Hegel here alludes is not quite identical with our word Sense. In the English use of the term there is more stress on the materia presented to sense-perception and perhaps less reference to intellect when the word is employed in such an expression as "That man has sense." However, Milton has "What surmounts the reach of human sense," and no doubt both are employed very similarly in many writers.

[234] Bleibt bei der Ahnung.

[235] Naiver Weise, a common epithet of Hegel to denote freedom from all philosophical prepossessions, a frank and simple attitude of reception.

[236] Betrachtung appears to imply in its contrast with Anschauung the presence of that intuitive sense or imaginative co-ordination above discussed.

[237] Gestaltende Macht, i.e., plastic force.

[238] This account of the criterium to be adopted in determining beauty in the animal creation is open to some criticism. Mobility is no doubt one element of beauty, but it is only one. Professor Bosanquet points out in his criticism of the passage ("Hist, of Aesthetik," p. 338) that it amounts to the assertion that ugliness is purely relative. The defect is not only due, it seems to me, to Hegel's insufficient regard for Nature as a modern painter would so regard it, but it may be traced also to his manifest preference for motion in all the manifestations of Nature.

[239] Schnabelthier, otherwise called the duck-billed platyptis, a mammal found in Australia, much the size of an otter, with the horny beak of a duck and paws formed for swimming.

[240] Getrübt, we have the word trüben above, translated there "troubled," life merely seen through the thick veil of instinctive sense.

[241] That is, the unity manifested is as abstract from all concrete totality as the form itself.

[242] This shows clearly that symmetry is only in an analogous way applicable to musical tones.

[243] In other words, uniformity is outside the purely qualitative relation, whereas symmetry is not so.

[244] Beseelte Lebendigkeit, lit., the insouled life-principle.

[245] Lit., "Is continually thrust out into the external." Its activity as life is directed outward.

[246] Was schon im Sichverzehren begriffen ist. I think the distinction implied is that in smell we are in actual contact with a part of the object. The same thing would, however, be true of sight according to former theory exploded by Newton's hypothesis.

[247] Gesetzmässigkeit. I cannot think of an English word that quite reproduces it. I am not sure that either conformity to rule or law singly quite expresses it. It implies both.

[248] As in uniformity.

[249] As in symmetry.

[250] That is to say, apart from symbolical meaning, it possesses no hidden law to be discovered in the relation of part to part.

[251] The words are die grosse und kleine Axe von wesentlichem Unterschiede. These refer primarily, it appears, to the axes of an ellipse, but the expression may possibly include the axes of a parabola parallel to the sides of a cone. However I admit frankly I find the words von wesentlichem Unterschiede difficult to interpret closely.

[252] In the text grossen, obviously a misprint.

[253] The incorrectness of this statement according to more recent analysis does not, of course, affect the argument.

[254] Nicht einseitig. I think the meaning here is that colour is not an abstract idea for independent qualities, but is the generic notion of a really existing totality.

[255] Alles melodische, primarily, organic, of course.

[256] Namely, that of abstract unity.

[257] Hegel expresses this rather differently by saying that they tend to pass over into pink (röthliche) or orange (gelbliche) and green. I have put the same statement rather more directly.

[258] I think this is the meaning of the words aber nur äusserlich, d.h., nicht beschmützt. Violet, however, is now regarded as a cardinal colour. It may also be doubted whether the difficulty of harmonizing pure colour is as Hegel states it.

[259] This of course is a very questionable position from the point of view of aesthetic taste no less than the conformity of our sight to natural objects. The obvious retort is, it all depends what the nature of the green is. Why is there such a preponderance of green in Nature as we find it?

[260] That is to say, under the Platonic view of universal.

[261] So I have interpreted the words, Die Subjectivität nun aber liegt in der Negativen Einheit als Ideellsetzen der Unterschiede und ihres realen Bestehens.

[262] Das Insichseyn, i.e., the incipient singularity of a feeling subject.

[263] I have translated the words bleibt nur die innre Macht "merely a reflex of the inherent energy," etc. I do not pretend thereby to clear up all the difficulties of this paragraph. I would rather remind the general reader that in this entire discussion of the principle of individuality and its modes of real existence we are face to face with one the fundamental difficulties of the Hegelian philosophy, the passage of the Idea to Nature. Readers who wish to see difficulties more fully developed on this aspect of Hegel's thought should read Professor Seth's interesting and on the whole moderately worded criticism contained in his little book "Hegelianism and Personality" (Blackwood and Sons; see particularly Lecture IV, Thought and Reality).

[264] Aus Anderem, e.g., the not-self of experience.

[265] Des totalen Zwecks.

[266] I think the expression das Ganze der Sache means this rather than the entire "organic whole of living reality."

[267] It is well for the general reader to remember that we have here no full account of what constitutes the content of a free will. The emphasis throughout is on human activity as exercised in a world conditioned in its external aspect by necessary laws of Nature.

[268] The reference here must I think he mainly, perhaps wholly, to the distorted face of the criminal, outcast, or insane classes. But it is just possible that a certain type of aggressive genius may also be denoted.

[269] The totality of the notion.

[270] Beruf, i.e., that which it professes to do.

[Pg 209]



In our consideration of the beauty of art we will confine our attention to three fundamental points of view:

First, the Ideal in its essential import.

Secondly, the determination of the Ideal in a particular work of art.

Thirdly, the creative subjectivity of the artist.


1. The most general conclusion which may be gathered from the examination we have already made in a merely formal way of the Ideal of art may be thus summarized. Truth, in its unravelment as external reality, is only fully in possession of a true and determinate existence, however much it may combine and retain in embracing unity a manifold content, in so far as every portion of the content thus unfolded permits this unity, which may be called either the animating soul or the unified totality, freely to appear. To take the human form once more under review as the most direct illustration of this, we have already remarked that it is a totality of organic members each of which is penetrated by the notion, differentiated thus in every particular organ by some particular mode of activity and the specific motion congenial to it. If we ask ourselves now in which particular organ the soul appears as such in its entirety we shall at once point to the eye. For in the eye the soul concentrates itself; it not merely uses the eye as its instrument, but is itself therein manifest. We have, however, already stated, when referring to the external covering of the human body, that in contrast with the bodies of animals,[Pg 210] the heart of life pulses through and throughout it. And in much the same sense it can be asserted of art that it has to convert every point of the external appearance into the direct testimony of the human eye, which is the source of soul-life, and reveals Spirit. Take the famous adjuration of Plato to the stars in the lines:

When thou gazest forth at the stars, my star,
Would that I were the heavens and thence on thee
Could gaze forth out of a thousand eyes.

Conversely we may exclaim that art gives to her forms the dilation of a thousand-eyed Argus, through which the inward life of Spirit at every point breaks into view. And not merely is it the bodily form, the expression of countenance, the attitude and demeanour which thus avails; the same appearance is everywhere visible in actions and events, speech and voice-modulation, in short, under every condition of life through which it passes, and under which it is possible for soul to make itself recognized in its freedom and ideal infinity.

(a) And, in close connection with this inquiry into the interpenetration through all parts of the animating soul, we may justly ask ourselves, what precisely we understand under this conception of a soul which is throughout visible: or to restrict attention to definite limits we may inquire what are the specific characteristics of the soul whereof art reveals to us the truest manifestation. For in ordinary parlance one refers to the animating principle[271] peculiar to metals, stones, wild animals, to say nothing of that belonging to every kind of human character and its expressions. To natural objects, however, such as stones and plants, the expression "soul" in the complete acceptation of the term above mentioned is not strictly applicable. Such soul as purely natural objects possess is entirely finite, transitory, and rather a specific nature than a soul. The determinate individuality of such existences is consequently completely exposed in their finite existence; and, inasmuch as all that[Pg 211] is present there is a positive limit of restriction, such appearance as there may be of a further claim to independence and freedom is only an appearance; ideal characteristics which may indeed be imported into them from without by means of art, but are not in the nature of the objects by themselves. In the same way the soul of sense-feeling, through which Nature manifests first the Life-principle only betrays a subjective individuality, which still remains shut within itself, unable to assert its reality in the further sense of a return upon itself in a consciousness which shall attach to it the form of infinity. Its content is, therefore, of a restricted nature, and its manifestation in part the unrest, power of motion, sexual impulse, anxiety or fear of the dependent life; and, in part, it is the mere expression of an inwardness capable of overcoming its finitude. The animating life of Spirit (mind) brings us first into contact with the free infinity capable within its own external and determinate existence of remaining constant to the inner principle of unity, and, in the act of expression, still reflected back upon its ideal substance. To Spirit consequently is it alone permitted to impress the hall-mark of its infinity and free self-recurrence on its external expression, even though by such expression it enters the realm of narrow boundaries. At the same time we may observe that Spirit, too, is only free and infinite in so far as it truly apprehends its universality, and deliberately posits for itself and accepts those ends which are adequate to its own notion. Consequently, in so far as it fails to grasp its own freedom it can only exist in a restricted content, a character that is stunted, a temperament at once crippled and superficial. In combination with nullity of this kind the manifestation of Spirit must perforce remain wholly formal. We shall only find here the abstract crust of self-conscious Spirit, whereof the content contradicts the infinity of its freedom. Only by virtue of a genuine and essentially substantive content through which the restricted and mutable particularity derives its essential self-subsistency—so that definite structure and intrinsic worth, determined limit and substantial content, are realized in one totality—is such existence thereby able, through the very mode of expression which confines it, to proclaim itself also in its universal substance of self-contained soul-life.[Pg 212] It is, in short, the province of art to comprehend and enunciate determinate and rational existence in its truth, that is to say, in the form adequate to its substance, the truly explicit content. And, consequently, the truth of art cannot consist in a mere conformity such as that to which we restrict the so-called imitation of Nature; external form must express harmoniously an internal content which is in itself harmonious throughout, and consequently can express itself as such.

(b) Art then, by comparing what is otherwise stained and rent through the contingent elements of external existence with the harmony that is essential to its notional truth, rejects that in the world of appearance which it is unable to combine in such a unity, and for the first time through this purification reveals the Ideal. It is possible to regard such a result as the flattery of art, as we sometimes hear it said, for example, that portrait-painters flatter. But even the portrait-painter, a type of art in which the Ideal is less prominent than in many others, should at least flatter in this sense, that he is bound to treat with indifference all that is merely the external detail of form, texture, and colour, the mere adjuncts, that is to say, of physical life such as hairs, pores, scars, and other external accidents, in his undivided effort both to apprehend and deliver the subject selected in its universal character and permanent spiritual individuality. It is one thing to imitate a physiognomy in the general outlines of purely superficial repose apparent at any time; it is quite another to detect and delineate the particular features which reveal the fundamental soul-life or character of the sitter. As already remarked, the Ideal is only truly found when the external presentment is in itself a vehicle of the soul. It is one of our latest fashions to attempt, by means of those so-called "living pictures," an intentional and gratifying imitation of famous masterpieces. In these we find a fair reproduction of general accessories, such as grouping and draping; but, instead of the spiritual expression of the figures, have only too often to put up with faces absolutely commonplace. Such a defect mars the entire reproduction. The Madonnas of Raphael, on the contrary, in every detail of their countenance—whether it be cheeks, eyes, nose, or mouth—exhibit with harmonious consistency[Pg 213] one supreme type of sacred joy, the pious, modest love of a devoted mother. We may affirm, if we will, that all women are capable of such emotion; but, at any rate, not every formal shape of feminine countenance is capable of expressing the depth of the same so consummately.

(c) This reference, then, of all points of external existence to their spiritual significance, so that the external appearance unveils in adequate measure the spirit thereof, is just what constitutes the nature of the Ideal. It is, however, a "carrying back" into inwardness, in which we do not find the universal thus carried back to its extremest limit to the form of abstract thought, that is to say, but is rather suffered to rest halfway at the point in which we find the purely external and the purely inward meet together harmoniously. The Ideal is consequently the reality selected out of the mass of chance particulars, in so far as the inner core in this external totality thus raised in opposition to universality is itself manifested as living individuality.[272] For the individual subjectivity, which not only carries in itself a substantive content, but permits the same to appear in its own external appearance, stands in this central position, that in it all that is substantially the content is not suffered in its universal aspect to appear as an abstraction of itself, but still remains enclosed within the sphere of individuality, and consequently appears associated with a determinate existence, which now for its part, freed from mere finitude and transitory condition, is gathered up in a free and harmonious expression of most intimate soul-life. Schiller, in his poem "The Ideal and Life," contrasts the reality and its pains and struggles with "the still shadowland of Beauty." Such a land of shadow is the Ideal. The spirits which rise up here have lost in death immediate existence, are released from the hunger of Nature, freed from the claims which fettered them in subjection to external forces and all the changes and confusions which are linked together with finite appearance. But however much the Ideal treads under foot the mere object of sense and natural form, it draws at the[Pg 214] same time the very wealth of it to itself, for it is art that is able to assign the very limits to all that the external appearance required for its self-preservation within which the external thing may appear as the manifestation of spiritual freedom. For this reason it is the Ideal which alone among things envisaged to sense presents a free and self-contained content reposing on its own resources, in complete sensuous enjoyment and satisfaction with itself. The music of this rapture may be heard through every embodiment of the Ideal. However far the external form may be carried the soul of the Ideal is never wholly absorbed in it. And in truth such manifestation is only beautiful in so far as its beauty not merely permeates the whole, but is a subjective unity, by virtue of which the subject-matter of the Ideal must appear emergent from all the fracture of its former individual parts and their respective ends and energies, raised in the Ideal itself to a higher totality and self-subsistence.

(α) We may in this respect point to the blessed repose[273], this self-contentment in its own self-secure consummation, as the crown of the Ideal. The ideal form of art stands like some blissful god before us. For the blessed gods are ultimately above and beyond the grim earnest of actual necessity, anger, and interest in finite existence and purely finite ends; and this positive withdrawal involved in the negation of all isolated particularity give them the characteristics of cheerfulness and repose. In this sense we may interpret that phrase of Schiller: "Life is earnest, Art is cheerful." Pedants, no doubt, have often enough cracked a joke over it, inasmuch as poetry in general, and Schiller's in particular, is a serious matter; and in truth no ideal art is without such a quality; but for all that in this very earnestness the essential character of cheerfulness[274] remains. This force of individuality, this triumph of self-concentrated freedom, is that which we recognize in an exceptional degree in ancient works of art and the blithesome repose of their figures. And this is not merely the case when we face a[Pg 215] satisfaction that involves no struggle, but even in an example where the subject is rent by some breach in the entire content of its existence. For when the heroes of tragedy are represented as subject to Fate we find that the demeanour they present, which may be summed up in the words, "It is so!" still remains a simple withdrawal into personality[275]. The subject thus depicted remains throughout true to himself. He surrenders that which is seized from him, but the aims he pursued are not simply taken away; he suffers them to lapse and consequently does not lose his initiative. The man who is the bondman of Destiny may lose his life, but not his freedom. This repose on the essential birthright of Spirit is that which is able to preserve and reveal the blithe atmosphere of repose in grief itself.

(β) In romantic art, it is true, the breach or dissonance of the subjective principle is carried further, inasmuch as in it the exposed contradictions are emphasized and their division can be preserved. Thus, to take an example, we find the art of painting, in its representation of the Passion, not unfrequently dallies round the expression of ribaldry visible in the hideous contortions and grimaces of tormenting common soldiers; and, in its attachment to such discordant emotions, especially when depicting what is criminal, shameless, or evil, permitting the glad serenity of the Ideal to pass away. Even when such disruption loses its force, we find frequently that ugliness, or, at least, the absence of real beauty, is set up in its place. In another school of the earlier Flemish art of painting the downright directness and truth of the representation, no less than the inextinguishable confidence of the faith to which it testifies, tend to assert, in despite of itself, a reconciliation in the feelings of all who behold it[276]. But such an unyielding result falls[277] short of the entire cheerfulness and satisfaction appropriate to the Ideal. However, it is possible also in romantic art, albeit here the representation of suffering and grief penetrates the soul and[Pg 216] its emotions more deeply than is the case with antique art, that the delineation may reveal to us a spiritual intimacy, a delight in resignation, a blessedness in pain, a rapture in sorrow, nay, even a voluptuous ecstasy in martyrdom[278]. Not only in painting but in the profoundly religious music of Italian composers, we find this ecstasy and illumination of grief abundantly expressed. We may, as a summary definition in romantic art, call it "the smile through tears." The tears have their origin in affliction, the smile in blithesome serenity, and consequently this smile through weeping indicates, as it were, the point of self-repose in the midst of pain and suffering. It is hardly necessary to add that the smile indicated here is no mere sentimental emotion, no mere vanity of the subject treated or dabbling with beauty[279] over painful effects and insignificant traits of subjective feeling; rather (on its artistic side) it must appear as the firm delineation and freedom of beauty in defiance of all pain, in the spirit of what was said of Ximenes in the romances of the Cid, "how beautiful she was in tears." In contrast to this emotional abandonment in men is either ugly and repellent, or actually ridiculous. Children, for example, break into tears at the slightest provocation, and we can only laugh at them. The tears, however, in the eyes of a man of earnest and self-contained character, under stress of deep feeling, betray a very different type of emotion. Laughter and tears can, however, very readily fall apart as unrelated, and are, as such, falsely utilized as a vehicle of art in such abstraction; the laughter chorus in Weber's "Freischütz" may be cited as an example. Laughter, after all, is a kind of explosion, which it is impossible to exercise without restraint and preserve the Ideal. Another example of this laughter, which is nothing but laughter, occurs in a duet of Weber's "Oberon," throughout which we are in a continual state of anxiety for the prima donna's throat and lungs. How very differently the inextinguishable laughter of the gods affects us in Homer, a sound which breaks from the blessed repose of divinity, and rather expresses gladsome serenity than abstract and wanton abandonment. Just as little ought weeping, devoid of all restraint, to be introduced into[Pg 217] the ideal work of art, of such a kind as that we may hear in all its comfortlessness in another part of the "Freischütz." And speaking generally, in music singing must take to itself the kind of joy and rapture which we catch from the lark in the open sky. Shrieking, whether of pain or delight, is not music at all. Even in the expression of suffering the sweet tones of the plaint must penetrate and clarify the sorrows, so that it continually may seem to us worth all the suffering to arrive at such sweetness of plaint in its expression. And this is the sweetness of melody, the singing of every kind of art.

(γ) Regarded in a certain relation to this fundamental axiom of art we may find some justification for the principle of irony in its modern sense; but it must not be overlooked that irony is frequently destitute of all real seriousness, and is particularly prone to expatiate over bad subject-matter; and, in another aspect of it, it is apt to run to seed in the mere yearning of emotion rather than actively participate in practical life, as is proved by the case of Novalis, one of the finer temperaments who have made this point of view their own, and for lack of definite interest, or through shrinking from the real world, are driven up and down, and cajoled into this sort of spiritual consumption. This is the kind of yearning which will not descend to mere practical business and production, because it is afraid of soiling itself with the contact of finite things, although it already secretly feels the defects of such exclusion. No doubt we find in irony that absolute principle of negativity, in which the subject of consciousness becomes self-centred through the annihilation of definite relations and particulars; but in this case the act of annihilation of definite relations and particulars, as we have already pointed out when discussing the principle, is not, as in comedy, essentially in its right place, simply exposing its own want of substance, but is directed quite as often against everything else excellent in itself and of sterling worth. Whether we regard irony, then, as this art of universal destruction, or as the yearning of which we have spoken in contrast with the true Ideal, it betrays a secret lack of proportion and restraint which is detrimental to the artist. Substantive form is what the Ideal demands, which, owing to the fact that it is clothed in the form and figure of[Pg 218] external things, is unquestionably qualified by particularity no less than limitation; but this limitation of its form is at the same time included in such a way that everything merely external in its appearance is annulled and abolished. Only through this negation of mere externality is the determinate form of the Ideal a real exposition of the substantive content which belongs to it in a mode of appearance susceptible to sense-perception and the imagination.

2. The plastic presentment of form, which is as much a constituent feature of the Ideal as it is of the essentially homogeneous character of its content, and the way these two aspects are fused together, render necessary an inquiry into the relation obtaining between the ideal representation of art and Nature. For this external aspect and its embodiment is closely associated with that which we generally call Nature. In this connection we once more come upon that old and ever-renewed and still unsettled dispute, whether the representation of art should follow the objects of Nature as they appear strictly to sense, or should rather ennoble and illumine them. The right of Nature, the rule of beauty, the Ideal and the truth of Nature—with indefinite conceptions such as these arguments for and against may be bandied about for ever. A work of art, we are told, should unquestionably be natural, but there is such a thing as a mean or ugly Nature, we must not of course imitate that; on the other hand—and so our disputants wrangle on and never come to a satisfactory conclusion.

In recent times the opposition between the Ideal and Nature has once more been emphasized and received an exceptional significance through the writings of Winckelmann. Winckelmann's enthusiasm, as already pointed out[280], was first awakened by his study of the antique and its ideal forms. This insight into the peculiar excellence of classic art he thoroughly mastered and only ceased from his labours after making all that he had learned through his study of such masterpieces famous throughout Europe. From this recognition, however, originated a kind of craze for ideal representation, which, despite all its belief in the discovery of beauty, was really a relapse into flatness, absence of vitality, and superficiality. It is this kind of emptiness more particularly[Pg 219] in the art of painting, which Herr von Rumohr had before him in the polemical writings I have already noticed.

The theory of art has to solve this difficulty. As for its interest, on the practical side of art, we shall do well to pass it wholly by. We may formulate principles as we please for mediocrity and the talents that express it, the result is always the same. Whether our theory is a distorted one or unexceptionable all we shall get is something commonplace or weak. At the same time Art and more particularly painting has unquestionably received a stimulus other than that we have deprecated from this very quest of so-called Ideals; and, through the renewed interest thereby excited in old Italian and German painters, has at least made an effort to secure a profounder and more vital content in its work.

The world is quite as tired of hearing the praises of that equally exclusive Ideal in the opposite camp, namely, that of undiluted realism in art. Theatregoers are, to take an example close at hand, heartily sick of the realistic type of domestic drama. The old story over and over again—disputes between husband and wife, sons and daughters, the source of our income, the inventory of our expenses, the servility of ministers and the intrigues of their lackeys and secretaries, down to the question of the last sixpence between the dame of the house and her kitchen-maid, or up to the last gossip of the daughters over their touching love-affairs in the parlour—such tales of woe most of us will prefer to take where, we may at least get them without adulteration—at home.

In this opposition between Ideal and Nature writers have been inclined to regard one type of art to the exclusion of others, with an especial predilection, however, for painting, whose subject-matter is the particularity of sense-perception. We will test our problem by putting the question to start with wholly in general terms, thus: "Is art to be prose or poetry?" Now what is truly poetical in art is just that which we have called the Ideal. If the question of difficulty in question is a mere matter of terminology we are quite prepared to call the Ideal something else. But, however called, the question remains what it is which constitutes poetry or[Pg 220] prose in art. And although the adherence to what is in itself poetical in the determination of it by certain crafts may lead those arts into confusion, and, indeed, has already done so, it is contended that in so far as any subject has an express affinity with poetry, such has been also the subject of genuine pictorial treatment, genuine for the simple reason that such a content is unquestionably of a true poetical nature.

Well, let us examine a concrete case. The present exhibition of art (1818) contains several pictures, all of which are of one school, the so-called Düsseldorf. Every one of these have borrowed subjects from poetry, and indeed from the emotional side of poetry peculiarly adapted to pictorial representation. The more often and carefully we examine these pictures, the more complete will be our impression of their excessive sweetness and insipidity[281].

In the foregoing contradiction there are present the following general characteristics[282]:

(a) First, there is the formal ideality of the work of art, that is to say, the element of poetry in its general signification, which is, as the term implies, something composed and brought together by man, which he has taken into his imagination[283] and then actively worked into the artistic composition.

(α) The nature of the content of such a translation may however, be a matter of indifference or, apart from the artistic representation we thus obtain of common life, may only interest us indirectly for the moment. In this way the Dutch school of painting, for example, has recreated, as it were, by means of human workmanship, the evanescent everyday appearances of natural objects in countless new artistic effects. Velvet, armour, light, horses, work-folk, old cronies, peasants puffing their smoke from old pipe stumps, the glitter of wine in transparent tumblers, rustics in soiled jackets playing with cards as ancient—such and a hundred other subjects like them which trouble us little enough in everyday life, for[Pg 221] the best of reasons, that although we too may have our game at cards, our drink, and our gossip we are really occupied with quite another class of interests—all this medley of objects is brought before us in their pictures. Now the claim of art in the representation of such things is precisely this external show, or reappearance of them as a product of spiritual activity, which has transmuted that which was purely external and sensuously material into a new medium supplied by mind. For instead of wool or silk that are tangible, instead of actual hair, glasses, flesh, and metals, all we see now is colour; instead of the three dimensions which are essential to external Nature, we have only superficies; and yet, despite all our losses, we have a representation identical with that of reality.

(β) In opposition to the immediate and prosaic reality of objects, then, this show of things which is effected by the mind is the wonder of ideality, a jest, if anyone cares to put it so, and an irony directed against purely external existence. Only contrast with it the preparations Nature or man has to make in ordinary life, the countless instruments of every kind they have to employ to effect the same result. What opposition the material of such objects—take a metal for example—may offer to any active effect upon it. The world of ideas, on the contrary, out of which art creates its products, is a malleable and simple element, which readily converts everything, which either Nature or man in his purely natural existence is forced to leave bluntly just as they are, to the uses which are appropriate to it. In the same way the objects of ordinary apprehension and man as we meet him in everyday life are of no incommensurable wealth, but subject to limitations—precious stones, plants, animals, etc., by themselves are of a certain positive and particular character. But man in his creative capacity is an entire world of content, which he has filched from Nature, and piled together in the comprehensive treasure-house of his world of images, and which he is now free to give forth again simply and without the restraint of external conditions and the detailed processes of actual phenomena. In this idealization art stands midway between the purely objective and restricted existence and the entirely subjective world of idea. It gives indeed objects, but they are supplied from[Pg 222] the life of mind; it offers them for uses other than those which belong to them; it concentrates their entire interest in the abstract form of the ideal show which it therewith manifests to aesthetic contemplation, and to that alone.

(γ) Art consequently, through the ideality above explained, exalts objects otherwise unimportant, determining them, despite their ordinary character, in a fixed relation to her own medium and essential aim, and by so doing secures from us a sympathy in subject-matter which otherwise would not have enlisted our serious attention. We find the same transformation in the relation of art to Time. Its position is here too frankly ideal. That which in Nature rapidly passes by in art is secured with permanence; the flash of a smile, the sudden curve of roguish merriment on the lips, a glance, a gleam of sunshine, together with all those evanescent traits of human life, events and accidents which come and are gone, and are as quickly lost to memory. There is nothing which she cannot wrest from momentary existence, and in this respect even becomes the vanquisher of Nature herself.

In this formal ideality of art, however, it is not the content itself which makes the pre-eminent claim upon us, but the satisfaction we derive from the act of artistic reproduction. The representation must certainly strike us as natural, but it is not the reality of Nature that we require; it is rather that of the process of reproduction, this very deposition, in fact, of material conditions which is the poetical and ideal element of the work in the formal sense above indicated[284]. We delight in a manifestation, which appears to us a product of Nature, and which is nevertheless a product of mind without the means at Nature's disposition. The objects charm us not so much by virtue of their approach to Nature, but rather because the artist has been able to effect that approach.

(b) A further and still profounder reason for our interest in artistic products consists in this, that the content is not brought before us in those forms in which it is found in[Pg 223] immediate existence, but, being itself minted by the mind, is capable of considerable extension and modification within such forms. All that exists in Nature is particular, and, indeed, limited in every direction by such particularity. The creative faculty[285], however, contains an intrinsic determination of universal import. And all that it produces possesses forthwith a character of universality distinct from the particularity of Nature. The creative faculty thereby secures this advantage; that being of a wider range it is more qualified to grasp ideal significance, and to insist on that explicitly in all that it shows us.

It is quite true that a work of art is not entirely the imaginative concept in its universal aspect, but rather the determinate form of its envisagement. It is for all that bound, emanating as it does from the creative medium and operations of mind, and despite the living resemblance to real things we may find upon it, to permeate the whole with this universal quality. And in this we have that higher ideality of the poetical product as contrasted with the purely formal ideality of the art of production. From this point of view it is the task of a work of art to grasp the object in its universal relations, and in the envisagement it presents to let fall everything which stands in a wholly external or indifferent relation to the content. An artist for this reason will refuse to accept all forms and means of expression offered him by the external world, on the mere ground that he finds them there. His main effort will be, if at least his aim be a real poetical creation, to secure that which will appropriately work in with his own imaginative conception; and, if he looks to Nature for assistance in supplying him with details, or, generally, as material to translate into his work, he will utilize such, not because he finds them so in Nature, but because they fall in their right place as a part of his composition and are rightly made for him. This "right" of the artist is a higher one than the mere right of immediate fact.

In his representation of the human form, for instance, an artist will not attempt such imitation as we find attempted by those restorers of ancient pictures, who reproduce old cracks, which through the swelling of either paint or varnish[Pg 224] have involved all the older parts of the picture in a kind of arabesque, even on the portions restored. The portrait-painter will rather permit the tracery of the flesh, and a fortiori such incidents as freckles, pustules, warts, and so forth, to disappear entirely. In this respect the painter Denner, so famous for his close realization of Nature, is by no means an ideal master. For the same reason indications of muscles and veins may be given, but their distinction and relief should be far slighter than that we observe in Nature. In all such impressions little or nothing of spirit is manifested, and the expression of spirit is what is essential in the human form[286]. I cannot think it therefore wholly a disadvantage that we moderns have less to do with the nude in sculpture than the ancients. On the other hand the general style of our dress in comparison with the ideal drapery of classical times is less artistic and more commonplace. The object in both cases is to cover the form. The drapery, however, we find in the antique is, taken by itself, a more or less formal smooth surface only so far determinate in its adjustment to the frame by its attachment to the shoulder. In other respects the garment remains entirely formal[287], hanging down simply and freely by virtue of its own immanent weight, or only determined through the position of the body and the pose and motion of the limbs. In the determination thus implied we find the external shape entirely reflecting the mutable expression of the spirit which animates the body. The particular form of the garment, the folds of it, the motion of it either up or down is clothed in the shape dictated direct from the inward impulse, and as each may momentarily appear appropriate to the particular pose or movement—and it is this form of determination which constitutes the ideality of such drapery. In the clothing we have adopted nowadays, on the contrary, the entire material is, from the first, cut out and worked up stiffly into the forms of particular limbs, so that anything approaching spontaneity[Pg 225] in its rise and fall is impossible. Even the character of the folds is determined by previous models, and generally both cut and fall are worked out wholly by the technical rules and craftsmanship of the tailor. It is true, of course, that the configuration of the limbs determines generally the form of such clothing; but in this arrangement of the bodily form we merely have either a perverse imitation, or an enveloping of human limbs according to the convention of fashion and the accidental taste of the times. The cut of our cloth once made is irrevocably made, and neither the position of the body nor the motion of the limbs can appreciably affect it. We may move our arms and legs about as much as we please, the sleeves of our jackets and our trousers remain unalterable. Folds or creases may perhaps appear in them, but even then only on the lines of the original cutting out, as we see them, for example, on the statue of Scharnhorst. Our modern way of clothing is consequently, as an external cover, not sufficiently differentiated from the inner life to appear on its reverse side as the formal expression of that life; instead of this we have a false imitation of the human form stereotyped in the preordained and unalterable cut of our tailor.

A criticism similar to that we have directed to the representation by art of the human form and its exterior clothing might be applied to a whole multitude of things which make up the external show of life, or minister to its wants, such as eating, drinking, and sleeping—things necessary enough in themselves and useful to all men, which, however much in their manifold variety, as constituent features of the physical life of mankind, they may blend with those activities more directly related to its spirit, do not themselves form part of such activities, or stand in essential relation either to their determinations or their interests, and thereby contribute to what is the truly ideal or universal element in the content of human life. Physical aspects of life such as these may no doubt receive poetical treatment in art; and it is generally admitted that the descriptions of a poet such as Homer in this direction adhere very closely to Nature. Yet we find that even Homer, despite all his ἐνἐέργεια, all the vividness of his presentment, is forced to limit his descriptions to general observations; no one expects[Pg 226] to find in him an entirely accurate picture of the facts in all their detail as they actually would occur in life. He may give us, no doubt, in his delineation of the bodily presence of Achilles, the lofty brow, the prominent nose, the long and stalwart legs, but he is not likely to include in the picture every detail of the veritable existence of limbs point for point, and the relation in which they stand to one another in colour, size, and so forth, in other words to offer us Nature's reality instead of an artist's portrait. And the reason is obvious inasmuch as in the art of poetry the type of expression is always the universal concept of the imagination as distinguished from the bare particularity of Nature. Instead of the fact the poet always gives us the denominant, the word, in which the particular thing is universalized; for the word is a product of mental conception, and as such already carries in itself the nature of a universal. One is entitled to say, of course, that it is natural in the formation of concepts and speech to employ a nomenclature, the word, as such an infinite[288] abridgment of the existence we find in Nature; but if we do so the Nature to which we refer it would not merely be opposed to the natural existence with which we compare it, but would be just that which cancels it. We are therefore confronted with the question in what sense we use the word Nature when we contrast it with the characteristic of poetry. The mere undefined use of the word Nature by itself tells us nothing at all. What poetry should always give us is the energetic, the essential, the truly characteristic; and this fundamental expressiveness is precisely the Ideal and not the merely immediate, to enumerate all the details of which in the narration of an event or the portrayal of a scene will render either of these simply dull, spiritless, tedious, and intolerable. In the manifestation of this universality, however, one type of art will reveal more clearly its ideal characteristics; another will rather emphasize, by a restricted use of material form, the infinite detail of external reality. Sculpture, for example, is in its presentments more abstract than painting; in poetry the epic type, in its realization of the external appearance of life[Pg 227] itself, will not be so complete as a dramatic poem should be. On the other hand it will surpass the latter in its portrayal of the fulness of its imaginative vision, the epic poet being most indebted to concrete pictures his imagination borrows from past history. In contrast with him the dramatist is mainly restricted to the motives of an action, the attitude of the will to it, the psychological problem in short.

(c) It is, then, Mind (Spirit), which gives external realization in a particular form to the inward world of content which is of essential interest to it; and it is in close relation to this fact that we should consider the question, what precise significance we are to infer from the opposition above discussed between the Ideal and naturalness. And first we must observe that from such a point of view the word natural is not employed in the most genuine signification of the term. As a description of the external form imposed upon facts by mind it obviously is neither the immediate naturality we find in animal life, nor that presented in Nature's landscape. Rather its very form of determination, in so far, that is to say, as we see the mind here giving to itself an embodiment, will show us that it is an expression of mind, an expression moreover suffused with ideality. For this taking up into the mind, this plastic recreation of form on the part of mind is nothing less than idealization. It is sometimes remarked of the countenances of dead people that they take on themselves once more the lineaments of childhood. The obdurate expression of passion, custom and strife, the characteristic seal of their life of strenuous action, passes off, and the indeterminacy of the features of a child's face reappears. In life, however, all traits whatsoever, the entire presentment in fact, receive their characteristic expression from the world of soul; and in much the same way the different races and classes of mankind reflect the distinguishing features of their spiritual tendencies and activities in their external manifestation. In all such organizations that which is outward is visibly permeated with mind; and, by virtue of its energy, already confronts mere Nature as an idealized creation. Only a clear perception of this truth will enable us to sift this significant question of an opposition between Nature and the Ideal to the bottom. If we do not[Pg 228] possess this we shall find ourselves maintaining that the forms in which Spirit is visualized as a part of Nature have already lost in that real appearance, which is independent of art's imitative action, such an intrinsic completeness, beauty, and excellence, that it is quite impossible that there can be another and more exalted type of beauty, which presents itself as the Ideal in contradistinction to this immediate reality, and this all the more for the reason that art is unable entirely to attain even to that which is present in Nature herself. Or, if our thoughts lean to the opposite extreme, we shall look to art to supply us independently, in opposition to Nature's reality, with more ideal modes of representation. The polemics of Herr von Rumohr, which we have already criticized, are well worthy of attention in this connection. This writer, at any rate, whatever others may say who have the word Ideal so frequently on their lips in depreciation of the vulgarity of Nature, refers to the Idea and the Ideal in phrases of respect and contempt with absolute impartiality.

The real truth of the matter is rather this. There is in the spiritual world, both outwardly and inwardly regarded, a Nature of vulgar type, which testifies to its meanness outwardly for the simple reason that its inward content is mean, that is to say, when all that it can realize externally in its activities are the aims of envy, jealousy, and avarice in every detail of sensuous life. Such a poverty-stricken Nature can no doubt form part of the subject-matter of art, and has been treated as such. When this is the case, however, as we have already explained, it is not the subject-matter, but wholly the artistic handling of it, which creates an interest of any permanent character; and the artist will look in vain for sympathy in his subject, or rather the mere material of his subject from the true connoisseur. A particularly pertinent illustration of this type of art is the so-called genre painting, which has not shown itself above accepting subjects of this character, the artistic treatment of which has been carried by the Dutch school to the extreme limit of perfection. It may, however, be as well to ask ourselves, first, what the precise contribution of the Dutch has been to this genre-painting, what, in short, is the nature of content their dainty pictures express, pictures which at least have asserted an[Pg 229] extraordinary power of attraction and obviously cannot be shelved right away beneath the common stigma of vulgarity. We shall not improbably find, on closer examination, that the subject-matter of these pictures is not so contemptible as it is often taken to be[289].

The Dutch have selected the subject-matter of their artistic production out of their own substance, out of the actual presence of their daily life. To have once for all realized that presence even in art is no matter of reproach to them. To estimate the character of their artistic interest we must view them in close connection with the actual panorama of their own times. This is a problem of history. The Dutchman has in great measure himself created the ground wherein he lives and finds a home, and has been forced continuously to preserve and defend that home against the invasion of the sea. The citizens of the towns no less than the rural population have together, through courage, endurance, and bravery, repulsed the power of Spain in the hands of Philip II, son of Charles V, the sovereign of a world-wide empire, and in fighting their battle for civic freedom, they were fighting that of religious liberty. This staunch sense of citizenship, this passionate love of enterprise in the narrow limits of their fatherland, no less than abroad on the high seas, this careful and at the same time clean and dainty mode of life, together with the geniality and invincible self-respect which distinguishes them, all this is as much the fruit of their own actions as it is the general content of their artistic production. Such a content as this is no common material, though obviously it is not of the kind we must suppose we can approach with the supercilious superiority of critics for whom the exalted taste of courts and fine society is everything. From a sterling national self-consciousness of this sort Rembrandt painted his famous "Night-Watch" now in Amsterdam, Van Dyck so many of his portraits, Wouvermans so many of his battle-pieces; nor should even those reflections of rustic drinking-bouts, jovialities, and other scenes of merriment be wholly excluded from the category. And in illustration of its excellence we would point, by way of[Pg 230] contrast, to a work in this year's exhibition, which, though not downright bad genre-painting, is much inferior to the handling by old Dutch masters of similar subject-matter, coming nowhere near to their freedom and joy of life. In this picture a housewife is seen entering an alehouse to give her husband a good scolding. Here we have just a scene of cantankerous and waspish human-kind and nothing more. These Dutchmen painted their folk very differently; whether we find them among their cups, at weddings or dances, feasting or drinking, nay, even when the matter proceeds to ribaldry and blows, liveliness and lustiness is the prevailing temper. Young maids and women laugh with the rest, and a feeling of free and abandoned merriment carries all before it. This intimate delight in all enjoyment justifiably human, which will even absorb itself wholly in animal life and crop up at times as mere satiety and grossness; this freshly awakened sense of freedom and life, fully grasped and embodied in composition and colour, is what constitutes the higher spiritual import[290] of these Dutch pictures.

On much the same grounds the beggar boys of Murillo, in the central gallery of the Munich collection, are excellent. Superficially regarded, the subject here, too, is of a vulgar character. The mother is scolding one of the youngsters, as he quickly munches a piece of bread; two others hard by, ragged and poor, are eating melons and grapes[291]. But in this very poverty of half-nakedness what gleams forth from the entire composition as the soul of that beggar life is its complete carelessness and spontaneity. No dancing dervish himself could give it us more frankly in its impression of entire health and jubilant vitality. This freedom from all external care, this inward liberty reflecting itself in that which is visible, is precisely that which the notion of the Ideal demands. There is in Paris a certain portrait of a boy by Raphael; the head leans propped at leisure on one arm, and gazes with such ecstasy of careless contentment into the open landscape that we are loth to turn away from a picture expressive of such health and exuberant animation. We receive a delight of very much[Pg 231] the same nature from these lads of Murillo. It is obvious enough that neither their objects nor their interests aim high, but this is no result of stupidity; there they chaffer on God's earth with, we may almost say, the bliss and contentment of the Olympian gods themselves. They, too, have their business; but though we hear little about it they are a genuine sample of humanity, neither morose nor discontented with their lot. Feeling this ground-root in them of all sterling performance we can readily imagine that in favourable conditions youth such as this might be capable of most things. A composition of this kind is entirely on a different level from the one above mentioned of the scolding housewife, or two others we might also contrast with it, of a certain peasant mending his whip and a postillion sleeping on a straw pallet[292]. Such paintings of genre should unquestionably be of small size; and, indeed, in their total impression on the sense, they must be made to appear of comparative insignificance, that we may not feel the character of their subject-matter and its presentment has received undue prominence. It would be intolerable to have such subjects painted life size as though the fulness of the reality were sufficiently attractive to claim our attention.

Such are the principles which should regulate our artistic treatment of and sympathy with that which it is usual to stigmatize as mean or vulgar in ordinary life.

There is, no doubt, plenty of material for art to appropriate of higher grade than the representation of animal spirits and downright citizenship in all their essentially insignificant detail. Man has clearly more serious interests and objects than these, interests which have unfolded as his own spirit has widened and deepened, and in harmony with which it is his truest interest to remain. An art will take highest rank which sets before itself the task of giving adequate representation to this more vital, or at least more profound, content. And here at once we are confronted with the old question, what is the source which will supply us with the forms most fitting to such creations of mind. On the one side theorists maintain the opinion that, inasmuch as the artist creates these lofty ideas, which he desires[Pg 232] to clothe in artistic form, he must, also supply their artistic forms, create, for example, from his imagination the ideal figures of Greek gods, Christ, his apostles, saints, and so on. In strenuous opposition to this view Herr von Rumohr has entered the lists. This writer is of opinion that art is on a false track in supposing that the artist discovers the forms of his production in himself rather than in Nature, and it is under this conviction that he has reviewed the masterpieces both of Italian and Dutch painters. On this head he finds it a matter of censure ("Italian Investigations," i, p. 105) "that the theory of art, during the sixty years which have elapsed, should be at the pains to prove that it is an object, or rather the main object, of art to improve upon creation as it is particularised, and by doing so to substitute forms which have no particular relation to anything, which would ape Nature's creation by going several points beyond her, and release mortal man from all responsibility for the fact that Nature has not known how to make her appearance more beautiful." And consistently with such a point of view he further advises the artist "to have nothing to do with the gigantic task of attempting to ennoble or elucidate the natural form, or attempt any such exalted function of the human Spirit under what name soever it may be written down in works upon art" (ibid. p. 63). He is, in short, wholly convinced that, however exalted and spiritual[293] the subject to be treated may be, completely adequate forms are to be found in Nature as immediately perceived, and consequently maintains (p. 83), "that the exposition of Art, even in the case of subject-matter as highly spiritual as it is possible to conceive, is never indebted to a symbolism capriciously created by man[294], but depends wholly for its consistency upon what is presented as significant by Nature in organic form." No doubt in advancing this Herr von Rumohr has particularly under review the ideal types of antique art as they are expounded by Winckelmann. It is for all that the abiding service of Winckelmann to have pointed out and set forth in harmonious relation these very types, although he may doubtless have, committed errors of judgment with regard to particular masterpieces while carrying[Pg 233] through the same. As a possible example of such an oversight Herr von Rumohr thinks he has made out (p. 115) that the increase of length in the lower half of the body, which Winckelmann has characterized as an ideal feature of the antique, is really borrowed from Roman statuary. And naturally enough, as an opponent of the Ideal, improves the occasion by insisting that the artist should unreservedly take Nature into his confidence in the study of form. Here, and here alone, he will find the presence of true beauty. To quote this writer once more it is affirmed (p. 144), "that the beauty of most importance depends on a symbolic of forms rooted in Nature rather than human caprice, a beauty through which these forms are nourished into their characteristic and symbolic relations, in the vision of which we necessarily have brought back to our memory definite images and conceptions, and are made more definitely conscious of previously dormant feeling.[295]" I And so finally it appears that in this writer's view (p. 105) "a mysterious trait of our spiritual life, what many would perhaps call Idea, seems to bind together the artist and the appearances of Nature, in which latter he is constantly and continuously learning to recognize the true character of his own artistic purpose[296], and to find himself in a position through them to give expression to it."

There can be no question, of course, that ideal art has no business at all with "a symbolism capriciously created;" and, if it really is the case that these ideal types of the ancients have been composed only to reduce the veritable forms of Nature to false and empty abstraction, we may freely admit that Herr von Rumohr is justified in his most trenchant opposition.

For our own part we would emphasize the points of fundamental importance to be grasped in this antithesis between the ideal of art and Nature as follows:

The forms which are borrowed from immediate Nature to determine an ideal content must be assumed to be thus[Pg 234] taken symbolically in the usual sense of the term, namely, that they are not thus immediately significant in themselves, but only as the external embodiment of that which is inward and spiritual, the content, in fact, they express. It is only Spirit, even in the reality which they possess outside the limits of art, which constitutes their ideality in its contrast with that they entirely owe to Nature simply as such, and which is unable to reveal to us what is essentially mind. It is the object of art, on its more noble plane, to give external shape to the inward content of Spirit. This content we discover in the conscious life of men realized in the world. As such it possesses—we include with it our conscious human experience generally—an external semblance directly presented in and through which it finds expression. So much may readily be conceded. At the same time from a philosophical point of view it is simply futile to inquire whether we ought to look to the direct facts of Nature alone for objects and physiognomical traits of beauty and expression to serve as entirely adequate materials for art's representation, shall we say, of the majesty, repose, and power of a Jupiter or of a Juno, Venus, Peter, Christ, Madonna, or any other divinity, or saint. Arguments may be supported on either side, and the question can only remain finally undecided, being wholly empirical. For the only sufficient way of deciding the matter would be to contrast what is borrowed with the realities it purports to represent, and this, in the assumed case of the Greek gods, might be matter of some difficulty; and, to take the present day, one man will see traits of beauty in their perfection where another a thousand times more acute will see nothing. But over and above such considerations we must observe that the mere beauty of form will never give us that we have named the Ideal, inasmuch as the individuality of the content is a constituent part of it, and therein form is necessarily included. A human face, for example, may be both regular and beautiful in its outlines and yet remain cold and devoid of all expression. The ideal figures of the Greek gods are, on the contrary, true individualizations; the universality of their ideal conception does not exclude the characteristic determination which belongs to each of them. And the vitality of the Ideal consists just in this, that this determinate and[Pg 235] fundamental spiritual significance, which it is the function of art to exhibit, should wholly transfuse by appropriate artistic treatment all the particular aspects of the external embodiment, such as composition, pose, motion, physiognomy, and configuration of limbs, so that nothing empty or insignificant should be left, but the entire work should reflect that ideal significance. All that we have learned from Greek sculpture in recent times of a quality which, in fact, emanates from the school of Pheidias, is characterized by nothing so much as this penetrative vitality. The Ideal is preserved in all its severity without any lapse in the direction of mere grace, softness, elegance, and exuberance, yet retains the form in close relation to the ideal significance which should be embodied throughout the whole. This supreme vitality is the distinguishing mark of the great artist.

We may call a typical significance of this kind, in contrast to the particularity of the external world, essentially abstract. This is pre-eminently the case in sculpture and painting, arts which illuminate but a momentary state, without proceeding to such a varied development of exposition as we find, for example, in that where Homer is able to depict the character of Achilles as mild and courteous no less than severe and terrible, to say nothing of all his other characteristics. No doubt it is possible to find such a significance expressed in purely immediate reality. There are, for instance, few countenances which cannot reflect the moods of piety, devotion, and cheerfulness; but such faces also express countless other moods which either are quite inappropriate to that ideal significance, or are only indirectly related to it. For this reason it is by virtue of its particular realization that a portrait acquaints us of the fact that it is a portrait. In many old German and Flemish pictures we find the patron of the picture included in the composition with his entire family of sons and daughters. All are necessarily painted as though taken in an act of devotion, and this spirit illuminates every countenance; but at the same time we have quite as clearly set before us in the men stalwart warriors, men of vigorous action, disciplined on the strenuous field of life and commerce, and in the women dames of an equally doughty life-experience. If we compare with such[Pg 236] faces—and we may restrict our comparison wholly to these very pictures, which are famous for their close approach to Nature in their delineation of physiognomy—those of the Virgin Mary, and the saints and apostles who surround her, we shall find in these latter one preponderating expression; and all the physical lineaments, whether we look at build of bone, structure, or muscle, traits of that express motion or repose, are concentrated upon this one artistic effect. That which is felt to be appropriate to the one class and not to the other exactly differentiates the distinction between the genuine Ideal and mere portraiture.

Some may imagine it possible for the artist to compose the ideal content of genuine types by a process of sifting and selection from the facts of immediate Nature, or quite possibly from the various physiognomies and compositions which collections of engravings from the copper-plate or the wood may furnish. But a process such as this of mere collection and sifting is not the end of the matter. An artist must maintain the creative impulse alert throughout. He must himself, in the strength of his own imagination, already impregnated with the knowledge of appropriate form and made vital with profound experience and emotion, give such an embodiment to the significance, which is the inspiring motive of the work, as will make it appear throughout as metal cast at one time and is one state of fusion.


To comprehend the Ideal in its intrinsic significance, that is to say, according to its fundamental notion, was a comparatively easy task. But the beauty of art, in so far as it is the Idea, is not to be restricted to the purely universal standpoint of its notional concept; even as so comprehended it must necessarily include within it determination and particularity, and is compelled to take definite embodiment as external reality. The question consequently arises in what way is the Ideal able still to assert itself in this process of objectification in the medium of external things and their finitude, and despite all that is antagonistic to ideality; and as a corollary to this we have to inquire[Pg 237] how finite and determinate existence is enabled to attach to itself the ideality of the beauty of all art.

We propose to regulate this inquiry with the following division of our subject matter.

First, the determination of the Ideal in its simplest terms.

Secondly, the determination of it, in so far as it proceeds by virtue of its particularity to a condition of discordant parts within itself and to their resolution, a condition we may generally, define as action[297].

Thirdly, the determination of the Ideal from the point of view of it as an external object.


1. We have already observed that it is the function of art to make the Divine the focus or centre of its entire exposition. It is, however, only possible for thought in its pure medium, that is to say, apart from all the sensuous material of the figurative imagination, to comprehend the Divine in its essential significance of unity and universality. To attempt to do otherwise, by imagining a picture of God more readily grasped by the perception of the senses, is, as we know, forbidden both Jews and Mahommedans. This cuts away the ground of the figurative arts, which absolutely require form as their medium in all its concreteness of actual life; and we have only lyrical poetry left us to celebrate in its exaltation the praise of His power and glory.

2. Considered, however, from the reverse point of view, we must equally assert that however much unity and universality are predicable of the Divine, He is in His essential substance determined, and, so far as He withdraws Himself from the pure quality, of such predicates in their abstraction, is thereby an object for the figurative sense and external perception. If the Divine is consequently apprehended and figuratively embodied for us through the forms of the imagination, we are at once confronted with a possible variety in such determination; and it is at this point that the actual realm of ideal art finds its commencement. For, in the first place, the one Divine substance disunites and[Pg 238] breaks itself up into a multiplicity of self-subsistent gods, such as we find presented by the polytheistic system of Grecian art; and even in the religious consciousness of Christianity God is, in opposition to His purely spiritual unity, immediately revealed on Earth and in the world-process as man. And, secondly, the Divine, regarded generally in its determinate appearance and reality, is both present and realized in emotional feeling, will, and the education[298] of mankind. For this reason and in this sphere men who are filled with the Spirit of God, saints, martyrs, and, in short, all who share in the religious life, are equally the appropriate subject of ideal art. With this principle of the individuality of the Divine and its determinate existence realized necessarily in the world-process, we are face to face with—and this is the third point to be considered—the particularity of human existence. For the entire world of human emotion, with all that stirs it most profoundly—and what a power is implied in that open sea of feeling and passion, everything of deepest interest to the human heart—this entire content is nothing less than its exposition and expression. If it is true, then, that the Divine in its purest essence of reason is only the object of the thinking consciousness, it is equally true that Spirit, which takes to itself an actively bodily presence, so far, that is to say, and only so far as we find it reverberate in the heart of humanity, all this lies within the sphere of art. Once admit this, and we must admit the content of particular interests and actions, specific characters, and momentary situations, in short, the entire process of development in the external order; and it becomes of first importance to indicate under a general principle in what the relation between the Ideal and this positive determination consists.

3. In conformity with what we have already advanced it is clear that here, too, the Ideal will be most purely manifested in the representation—whether it be of gods, Christ, apostles, saints, or any other type of devout persons—which brings most clearly before us the qualities of beatified repose and satisfaction, a peace undisturbed with that which is earthly, and subject to the storms of life's manifolded[Pg 239] complexities, struggles, and contradictions. We are therefore not surprised to find that both the arts of sculpture and painting have been peculiarly fitted to incorporate under ideal form not merely the ancient gods, but Christ as saviour of the world, and individual apostles and saints. That which is the most essential truth in actual life is concentrated to a focus on itself in the determinate embodiment of art, rather than continually forced from its serenity through dependence upon finite conditions. This essential concentration is not destitute of particularity, but the divergent separation, which is a feature of the external and finite state, is purified to one simple definition, so that it appears as though all traces of external influence and the relation thus created were overcome. This deedless and infinite self-repose, this "taking a rest," as we find it, for example, in certain statues of Hercules, is just what constitutes the significance of the Ideal. If the gods are represented in contact with the process of Nature, they must still carry with them their immortal and unapproachable majesty. Jupiter, Juno, Apollo, Mars, and their like are, it is true, definite personalities, but they are at the same time unyielding potentates and powers, which preserve within them their self-subsistent liberty, even when they are actively related to the world. And for this reason it is not merely that a specific particularity must characterize the determinacy of the Ideal, but spiritual freedom must be manifested thereby as totality, and in this state of repose suggest the potency of unfettered freedom of action. If we turn now from the gods to the less exalted plane of temporal existence and human life, we shall find the Ideal active in its representation of the substantial content of such humanity, and its dominant repression of wholly subjective particularity. By this we mean that all that is entirely isolate in feeling and action is wrested from the element of contingency, and particularity is represented in its concreteness, that is to say in its wider bond of relation with what most truly and intimately belongs to its life. When, for instance, we speak of the nobility, excellence, or perfection in particular men, we assert in so many words that the substantial core of what is spiritual, ethical, and divine has announced itself as prevailing in the individual, and man has submerged his active life, his[Pg 240] volitions, his interests, and passions wholly in this substantive basis, that he may thereby give full satisfaction to the most authentic necessities of his soul.

At the same time, however much in the case of the Ideal the determination of Spirit and its external presence appears to be absorbed in the simple self-relation, the principle of development is likewise directly associated with the particularity unfolded[299] in determinate existence, and along with this in that relation to environment which necessitates both the opposition and conflict of clashing forces. This fact necessitates a closer examination of the determination of the Ideal regarded in this very aspect of differentiation and process, an aspect which we may in a general way define as action.


The gracious innocence of beatific enjoyment, the inactive repose, the majesty of power in self-reliant tranquillity, as also the concentrated compactness generally of that which is most substantial in a given content—all these are essentially ideal modes of determination. That which is inward, however, and spiritual is in an equal degree active movement and development. One-sidedness and division are inseparable from development. Spirit that is wholly itself and a totality will, expanding into all particularity, step forth out of its repose, in despite of all satisfaction therein, and involve itself in the contradictions of the broken and confused medley of earthly existence, and is by so doing unable in this divided world to withdraw itself from the ill-fortune and ill-health that clings to finite existence.

Even the immortal gods of Polytheism do not dwell in eternal peace, but take sides in mighty conflicts wherein contending passions and interests are roused, being subject themselves to Destiny; nay, more, even the God of Christians is, not delivered from a passage of humiliation endured through suffering and shame of death, is not spared the bitterness of soul, which perforce cried aloud: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me." And the mother of Christ experienced an agony of the same poignant character,[Pg 241] and human life in every direction is a life of struggle, battle, and pain. For greatness and force of character is evolved in the greatness and force of contending elements, out of which Spirit concentrates itself again and again upon its unity. The intensity and depth of subjectivity is only the more emphasized, the more unbroken and unexampled the resistance of circumstances to its unity grows, and the more irreconcilable the contradictions appear under which it has to preserve its own self-centred equilibrium. In this development and through this alone the might of the Idea and the Ideal is preserved, for power consists precisely in this self-preservation through a process of self-negation.

Inasmuch as it is the fact, then, that the particularity of the Ideal passes into a relation with the external world through such development, and by so doing is made partaker in a world, which, so far from manifesting the ideally free association of the notion and its external reality, presents an existence which is just that which it ought not to be, in apprehending the true nature of this relation we have to consider how far the determinations which affect the Ideal either in themselves contain immediately the principle of Ideality, or are to a more or less degree susceptible of it.

In this connection we would direct attention to three fundamental points of view.

In the first place we have the actual condition of the world generally, which is assumed as involved in individual action and its specific character. Secondly, we have the particularity of condition, the determination of which introduces difference and tension within the substantive unity, which is the motive-spring of the action, in other words the situation.

Thirdly, we have to consider the situation from the side of subjectivity, and furthermore the reaction by virtue of which the conflict and resolution of the element of difference is expressly asserted, in other words, the action in its strict sense.

1. The universal World-condition

The ideal subjectivity is as such essentially a personal relation, a relation, that is to say, of self to every aspect of motion or activity, in which the self has to assert or perfect[Pg 242] its own substance. And to effect this a world environment is necessary as the universal ground of its realization. When in reference to this we speak of condition we understand by this the universally prevailing mode, under which, within the sphere of spiritual reality, that which is the substantive and essentially coalescing fabric of the same is present. In this sense we refer to a condition of education, the sciences, the religious sense, or even of finance, administration of justice, family life, and similar examples. All these objects of reference are, however, merely aspects of one and the same spiritual content, which is thus in and through them rendered explicit and real. In further considering the general condition of the world as the universal mode of the reality of Spirit it will be necessary to pursue our examination from the point of view of the Will. It is through the exercise of volition that Spirit generally unites itself to-determinate existence; and the substantial nexi which are immediately present in reality betray themselves in the specific modes in which the determinations of Will, ethical and legal conceptions, and, indeed, all that belongs to that which we are accustomed, in a general way, to define as justice, actively asserts itself.

The question consequently arises how such a universal condition must be characterized in order that it may appear adequate to the individuality of the Ideal.

(a) Pursuant to the foregoing considerations we may, to begin with, emphasize the following points:

(α) The Ideal is essential unity; not a purely formal and external unity, but the immanent unity of the content in itself. This substantive repose on its own resources we have already characterized as the self-sufficiency, rest, and beatitude of the Ideal. We will, in direct relation to the plane of discussion we have now reached, develop this characteristic of self-subsistency[300], making it a primary demand of our argument that what we have termed the general condition of the world appear in such a self-subsistent form as will enable it to accept the embodiment of the Ideal.

(αα) Now self-subsistency is an equivocal expression to start with. In ordinary parlance that which is essentially[Pg 243] substantial is called simply self-subsistent by virtue of the element of causation being implied within this substantiality; we are wont to use it in this sense when describing the intrinsically divine and absolute. But as retained in this universality of substance merely as such it is not declared as itself subjective, and consequently meets with its irresolvable contradiction in the particularity of concrete individuality. In this bare antithesis all true self-subsistency disappears.

(ββ) On the other hand, it is not uncommon to find such subsistency ascribed to purely formal individuality, consisting solely in its self-reliance upon the fixed determinacy of its subjective characteristics. This subjectivity, however, in so far as the actual content of life drops away from it, so that the forces and substances which lie without it acquire in themselves an independent stability, and as such confront the subject and the inward life as a content wholly unrelated, lapses through this, too, into unequivocable contradiction with the actual substantiality of determinate existence, and forfeits all claim to self-subsistency and freedom of content. True self-subsistence consists alone in the unity and interpenetration of both individuality and universality with each other. The universal acquires through the individual a concrete existence; the subjectivity of the particular thing discovers for the first time in the universal the unassailable basis and the most genuine form of its realized totality.

(γγ) Consequently in making this demand of the universal world-condition we must ask for a form of self-subsistency in the same sense, namely, that the substantially universal in such a condition must contain within itself as the vehicle of its self-subsistence the form of subjectivity. The most obvious presentment of this identity is that of thought. For if thought is, in one aspect of it, subjective, in another it possesses universality as the product of its inherent activity, and encloses both universality and subjectivity in unfettered unity. The universal of thought is, however, not that of art, whose object is the beautiful. And, indeed, apart from this distinction, particular individuality as confronted by thought in its natural envisagement, or form, no less than in its active effects and complete realization, stands in no necessary correspondence with the universality of thought. There is, for example, a clear distinction[Pg 244] between the subject apprehended in its concrete content of the actual world and that which is simply the thinking subject, or at least it is open to such a distinction. The same kind of cleavage affects the form of the universal itself. In other words the moment the universal begins to assert itself in distinction from its otherwise related reality by that act it has in objective existence separated itself from all the varied play of its phenomenal particularity, and, in opposition to the same, has already established an independent position assured and powerful.

In the Ideal, however, it is precisely the particular individuality which ought to persist in inseparable co-ordination with the substantive reality, and to the full extent that freedom and the self-subsistency of the subjective principle may attach to the Ideal the world-environment of conditions and relations should possess no essential objectivity independent of the individual in the subjective aspect above referred to or already presupposed. For the ideal individual is a self-enclosed totality, which already includes the objective principle, and it must not be permitted to have independent motion and development apart from the individuality of the subject; otherwise the subject falls back into a purely subordinate position in contrast to a world whose independence is already assured. Consequently the universal must indeed be actual in the individual as that which is in a unique sense its own, but not so as the property of the individual, as a thinker, but as that of his character and temperament. To put the same truth in another way, what is required for this unity of the universal and individual in art as opposed to the mediation and differentiation of thought, is the form of immediacy; and the self-subsistency which we claim here is the form of immediate self-subsistency. With that, however, the element of contingency is associated. That is to say, so long as the universal and effective[301] constituents of spiritual life, such as the self-subsistency of individuals exhibits, are only presented to us in the immediate guise of subjective feeling, temperament, and disposition of character, and debarred any other category of existence, such are thereby already given over to the contingency of volition[Pg 245] and its realization. All we have left us, then, is what is peculiar to each individual viewed as such and his sensuous experience. Such a possession of what is nothing more than personal idiosyncracy is unable to assert for itself any further potency or necessity; it appears simply as inclusion of content, fixed achievement and at the same time arbitrary commitment of the wholly self-dependent subject to the influence of feeling, disposition, energy, general ability, cunning, and talents, instead of carrying out its realization over and over again according to a principle of universal import and acknowledged stability.

This type of contingency, then, is the characteristic quality of the condition which we required for the ground upon which all the varied wealth of the Ideal is to appear.

(β) In order to make more clear the actual character of the reality which is most adapted to artistic treatment we will contrast it with that aspect of existence which is not so adapted.

(αα) We find this pre-eminently where the ethical notion, that is, justice and rational freedom, have already won for themselves and maintain a fixed position in the social order regulated by law, so that, even in the external world, it appears as a positive and necessary power, which is quite independent of the individuality and subjectivity of specific temperament and characters. This is the case in the life of the State, where that life is manifested in a form adequate to the true notion of citizenship. For obviously it is not every chance association of human beings, any more than every patriarchal community, that will fulfil the requisites of State-life. In the true State laws, customs, and rights, in so far as they constitute the determinations of freedom applicable to all, are of paramount force even in this universal and abstract relation, and are not conditioned in their applicability by the chance requirements of any individual's idiosyncracy. As the consciousness of society has issued for itself commands and laws in a mode of statement of general application, in the same way these are externally valid as such universal fiat, which proceeds in the path of order thereby indicated, armed with powers of restraint and compulsion against any individual who may attempt to assert his caprice in an injurious opposition to such regulations.

[Pg 246]

(ββ) Such a condition at once assumes a dividing line between the universal ordinances of the regulative understanding and the immediate life, connoting by this latter term the unity in which all that is substantive and essential in morals and the conduct of justice only finds a form for its existence in the experience of individuals, their ethical feeling and opinion, that is to say, and thereby alone is exercised. In the civilized State right and justice, even religion and science, or, at any rate, provident interest in religious and scientific education, are subject to public control, which directs and co-ordinates the same.

(γγ) The position, then, that isolated individuals occupy in the State is one which contracts them within a fixed and organized order, and subordinates them thereto; and they stand in this relation for the reason that the character and disposition of each is not the only embodiment of ethical forces; but, if the State to which they belong is a genuine example, they are on the contrary compelled to regulate all the external detail of their actions, opinions, and feelings with a due regard to what is legally permissible, and to bring the same into line with it. This dependence upon the objective rationality of the State in its power of self-assertion above all subjective caprice may either be regarded as a mere subjection, inasmuch as laws and institutions possess, as the paramount power, a constraining force, or we may see in it merely the free recognition and acceptance of the reason that underlies such a necessity of fact, an acknowledgment through which the individual finds himself again in that objective order.

But even in the latter case isolated individuals continue to remain as merely incidental facts, and apart from the organic reality of the State possess no real substantiality in themselves. For substantiality, in the sense we here use the term, is by no means only the particular property of this or that individual, but a fully explicit reality[302], minted, as it were, in all aspects of it, and down to the merest detail in a mode universally applicable and necessary. All that mere individuals can effect with volition and accomplishment even in actions right, moral, and legal in themselves in the interest[Pg 247] of and attendant upon the progress of the whole, remains and must always remain, in contrast with that whole, insignificant and a mere example. Their actions are always only an entirely partial realization of a single case; and, moreover, the realization of the same has no universal significance in the sense that the particular example of it is thereby of objective validity as law, or, as such law, makes its appearance. And for the same reason, to put the matter the other way, it is wholly unimportant whether the validity of right and justice is acknowledged by private individuals judging as individuals. The validity is a vital fact of State life which holds whether it be acknowledged or no. No doubt it is a matter of interest to the general public that every one should fall in with the order established and desire it; but the wishes of isolated individuals have no influence upon that interest in the sense that it is only by virtue of the assent of this or that person that right and a moral order is preserved. Such require no such isolated example of assent; and a breach of either is followed by punishment.

The subordinate position of private persons in the civilized State is finally emphasized in the fact that, whatever share any one may have in the general civic life, it is of a definite and in every case restricted character. In the real State work must have some relation to the general good[303], just as the active enterprise of the bourgeoisie in the commercial business is subdivided in the most varied way, so that the entire life of the State shall not appear as the concrete achievement of any single person, or in general can be entrusted to the arbitrary wishes, enterprise, courage, resources, and discretion of such, but on account of the fact that it comprises activities and trades of countless complexity, and must be carried out by associations of business men at least as varied. The punishment of a criminal is no longer an affair of personal heroism or the virtue of any one individual, but is throughout the entire process, in the investigation and discovery of the felonious act, in the pronouncement of judicial sentence and its execution, contributed to by different persons; nay, every important phase of such a process is in the same way subject to some kind of division of labour. To see that the laws are properly administered, then, is not[Pg 248] within the special province of any one man, but results from an organized effort of great variety and the rules which direct it. Add to this every man who assists in such a process is bound to follow certain general principles which are laid down for his guidance, and all that is carried out under their direction is further subject to the criticism and control of yet higher officials.

(γ) In all such civic relations, then, we find that in a truly regulated State the public authority is not impressed with the imprimatur of any single person, but it is the general Will which prevails here in its universality, a condition under which the particular life of the individual has the appearance of vanishing or, at least, of becoming of a quite subsidiary importance. In a condition of things such as this the self-subsistency we were seeking for is out of the question. And for this reason we required for the free embodiment of individuality conditions which are precisely the reverse of this, in which the validity of the ethical principle derives its support from individuals, and only from individuals, men who make for themselves a great place in the arena of life through the activity of exceptional volitional power and the inherent greatness and effectiveness of their character. With such right is simply that which they choose to accept as such; and if that which is essentially moral is compromised by their action, there is no all-constraining public might which brings them to judgment and exacts punishment, but only the right of that inner voice of necessity, which accentuates itself as vital in particular character and through external circumstance and condition and only thus is actually existent. This is what differentiates punishment from revenge. The punishment exacted by law asserts the validity of the generally applicable and carefully defined right against the violation of that right, and makes use of the public power according to a definite process as its instrument, in other words, it employs a tribunal and a judge, an instrument to which personality is attached as something accidental. Even revenge may in a similar way find a justification; but such as it has is based entirely on the subjective conscience of those who deal with the criminal act, and, in pursuance of their own private convictions, avenge themselves on the unrighteous act and its perpetrator. The revenge[Pg 249] of Orestes is, for example, justifiable; but he exacted it under the direction of the law which his own virtue prescribed, not as the execution of a judgment and a right. In the condition, then, that we claim as the most suitable for artistic treatment, that which is moral and just must be throughout personal, in the sense that its source is exclusively in the individual life, and it only is actual in such dependence. Moreover, to proceed with our contrasted conditions, in regulated States the external environment of man is made secure, and properly is protected, and he is only permitted to retain in absolute independence for himself his private views and opinions. But in that condition where the essential features of a State are not found the protection of life and property depends on the isolated energy and courage of each individual by himself, who is compelled to look after his own security and that of everything which belongs to him. Such a condition we are accustomed to identify with the heroic age. It is not, of course, our province here either to discuss or decide which of these two contrasted conditions of life is the worthier; suffice it to say that, so far as the Ideal of art is concerned, it is imperatively necessary that this hard and fixed line between the universal as an independent existence and individuality should be removed, however much this distinction may be necessary in other directions for the realization of human existence. The reason of this is that Art and its Ideal is just that universal, in so far as it may be presented to the perception of the senses, and by such presentment is permitted to enter into the variety and living forms of the world of objects.

(αα) What we were looking for, therefore, is supplied us by the heroic age, for it is here that virtue, ἀρετὴ in the full sense of that Greek word, creates the root-basis of actions. In this connection it would appear that we must distinguish between ἀρετὴ and virtus as understood by the Roman themselves. The Romans had already their State, Fatherland, and legal institutions, and as contrasted with the State, as the controlling object of all, they had surrendered personality. To be simply a citizen of Rome, to have one object for the imagination and for every other personal energy to centre itself upon, namely, the fatherland and its sovereign majesty, therein lies the earnestness and grit of[Pg 250] Roman virtue. Heroes, on the contrary, are individuals who undertake and accomplish a complete enterprise in consistent reliance upon their personal resources and initiative, and with whom it is consequently a purely arbitrary act of their own when they execute anything in accordance with the moral principle. This immediate unity, however, of what we may call the substantive import and individuality of inclination, impulse, and will is the characteristic of Greek virtue. According to this view personality is a law to itself without any further subjection to a law, judgment, and tribunal of independent subsistence. The Greek heroes make their appearance in an epoch anterior to legal enactment, or they are themselves the founders of States, so that right and social order, law and ethical custom, emanate from them, and persist as their own creation in an indefeasible relation to them. In this way Hercules was regarded so highly by the ancients themselves, and represents an Ideal of original and heroic virtue. His free and self-reliant virtue, with which he championed the right and battled against the monstrosities of men and Nature is not a prevailing characteristic of the age, but belongs to him as an exclusive and unique possession. And we may add he was not strictly a moral hero, as his reception of the fifty daughters of Thespius in one night[304] clearly shows us; neither would it appear from the tale about the Augaean stables is he pre-eminent for gentility. He is rather the general type of self-reliant strength and resource in its championship of right and justice, to exemplify which he elected summarily and from a free choice to undergo countless toils and labours. It is true that some of his deeds were carried out at the instigation of Eurystheus, but this submission is, after all, rather a formal association than a real one, no connection at least of legal validity or inevitable necessity through which the strength of his self-reliant personality was diverted from its independent course.

The Homeric heroes are of a similar type. No doubt they have their clan chieftain; but the associating bond is no fixed relation already determined by law, which enforces their submission; of their own free will it is that they follow[Pg 251] Agamemnon, who is no monarch in the modern sense of the term. Consequently every hero volunteers his own advice, the enraged Achilles acts independently for himself in his separation, and, speaking generally, each and all come and go, act, or take their leisure as they please. In much the same independent position, that is to say, united in no fixed organization, to which they are as individuals entirely subordinate, we find the heroes of Arabian poetry portrayed, and even the Shah-Rameh of Ferdusi furnishes us with similar examples. In latter-day Christendom the age of feudalism and knighthood supplies a fertile field for the free growth of heroic enterprise and the type of individuality which belongs to it. Of such are the heroes of the round table, no less than the heroic circle of which Charles the Great is the focus. Charles is, much like Agamemnon, surrounded with independent chieftains of heroic mould, a union which as such is powerless[305]. He is consequently always compelled to take counsel with them, however much each of them may be influenced by private passions; he may bluster like a very Olympian Jupiter, and none the less find himself and his undertakings suddenly left in the lurch while his confederates are off on some adventures of their own. The Cid is perhaps the most complete example of the type. He, too, is the ally of a confederacy, the dependent of a king, and is bound to render duty as vassal; but in opposition to this obligation he is pre-eminently influenced by the principle of honour, the purely personal consideration of his own glory, nobility, and reputation[306]. And so in this case also the king can only determine a fixed line of action and make war after consulting and obtaining the consent of his vassals. If this is not given they do not fight, and, moreover, a mere majority of votes is not sufficient to compel them. Every man is independent of his neighbour, and exercises his will and steers his own course as such.[Pg 252] We find in the accounts given us of Saracen heroes an equally brilliant picture of self-reliant and still more inflexible personality. Even the Reinecke Fuchs fable is a fresh example of this state of things. Here, it is true, the lion is master and king, but the wolf and the bear sit in council. Even Reinecke and the rest do just what they like; and when there is a general outcry, the sly fellow either gets out of the mess with his story-telling, or manages to make some particular interest of king and queen work to his own advantage, and in his own cunning way talks over his sovereign somehow.

(ββ) Moreover, in much the same way that each individual example of this heroic type of personality persists in immediate unity with all that he may will, act, and accomplish, a similar unity is further maintained in all the consequences which flow from such initiative. When we ourselves, on the contrary, act or estimate a particular action, we assume that only full responsibility can attach where the individual under consideration is in complete possession of the true nature of his action and its attendant circumstances. If the content of those surrounding conditions is otherwise than that which is present to the agent's consciousness in such a case a man nowadays will not take upon himself the burden of all that is implied in his action. He will thrust on one side that part of it which he would not have done had he known completely or not misconceived the circumstances, and he only accepts that which was fully under his cognisance and carried out with deliberate intention in conformity thereto. The heroic character makes no such distinction. He adheres simply to all the consequences and makes good his personal responsibility for the whole. Œdipus on his way to consult the oracle meets a certain man, quarrels with him and strikes him. In those days such an act was not a crime at all. He only returned a blow after being vigorously attacked. But the stranger was his father. Œdipus further marries a royal lady. His wife is his mother. Without knowing it he commits an act of shame. On learning the truth he acknowledges such enormities to their full extent, inflicts a punishment on himself as murderer of his father and a man of incest, and this although he was entirely ignorant of the true nature of these acts, or had any intention of doing[Pg 253] them. The self-reliant stubbornness and entirety of the heroic character refuses to parcel out responsibility and knows nothing of such distinctions as personal intention and the objective act and its consequences. In the evolution and ramification of an action as we moderns regard it these opposed points of view constantly recur, and guilt is thrown into the background as far as possible. No doubt our view of the matter is more in accordance with ethical principle, in so far as the condition of a personal knowledge of the particular circumstances, or the consciousness of an object good in itself, in short, generally the intent of an act, is what materially assists us in our judgment. But in the heroic age, where we find the individual essentially indivisible and the objective act proceeding from himself as entirely his own, each person claims absolutely all that he may do, and refuses to surrender one jot or tittle of responsibility therefor.

To an extent equally minute the heroic figure is separated from the ethical whole, to which he belongs, and his self-consciousness is bound up wholly in substantial unity with that whole. According to the views in vogue now we draw a line of distinction as private individuals between objects which are wholly personal and those which affect the community. The individual acts in all that he does from his own private personality as distinct from others, and views even his actions rather as relative to this than as part of all that is farmed out by the organic whole to which he belongs. We consequently make a distinction between individuals and their families. Such is unknown in the heroic age. The guilt of ancestors adheres to their descendants, and an entire family will suffer for the original defaulter. Men inherit the fatality of guilt and transgression. A condemnation such as this appears to us unjust as an irrational subjection to a blind fate. With us the achievements of ancestors reflect no more honour on children and descendants than the punishments and crimes of such contaminate those that follow after them, and least of all is their private character thus affected; nay, modern opinion is already close to the view that the confiscation of family property is a punishment which violates the profounder conception of liberty. But in the ancient and more plastic totality the individual[Pg 254] is not so isolated, but rather a member of his family and race. For this reason the character, action, and fortunes of the family continue to be the private affair of each member of it; and so far from denying the actions of his parents, each man voluntarily accepts them as his own; they live in him, and he is just that which his fathers were, suffered, or transgressed. This appears to us a hardship, but that which we replace it with, this standing alone on our own possessions[307], and the more subjective self-stability thus acquired is also from another point of view only the abstract self-sufficiency of each. The individuality of heroic times is none the less of a more ideal type, because it does not declare itself as satisfied with the mere form of freedom and infinity, but remains in unalterable and immediate unity with all that is most substantial in the relations of spirit which it of itself endows with living actuality. In such an individuality the substantial is immediately individual, and the individual thereby himself essentially substantive.

(γγ) From considerations such as these we conclude that the ideal figures of art must be sought for in the age of mythos, that is to say, speaking generally, in past times, where we shall find the soil most congenial to their growth. If such material is taken from the age we live in, whose most native form, as we actually find it, is tightly shut off from the imagination, it matters not how we regard it, then the modifications which the poet can hardly avoid making in it will not readily escape the appearance of a purely artificial and intentional composition. The Past entirely belongs to memory, and memory perfects the infolding veil of character, events, and actions in the vesture of universality, through which the particular external or contingent detail is unable to penetrate. Many trifling circumstances and mediating conditions, many varied and isolated phases of activity, are inseparable from the actual existence of an action or a character: in the mirror of memory all these insignificant details are obliterated. In this liberation of his work from what is accidental in the external fact the artist has a freer hand for his artistic powers of composition, when dealing with that which is individual and particular in it, if the actions, histories, and characters are borrowed from[Pg 255] ancient times. He has, it is true, also historical memories, out of which he must mould a content conformable to the universal; but the picture of the Past possesses, as already observed, an advantage, taken simply as a picture of greater universality, while the manifold texture of mediating condition and circumstance, interwoven as it is in the entire framework of finite existence which surrounds it, offers him material ample enough to prevent his hand obliterating the individuality, which is essential to his work of art. The more closely we consider it, the clearer will be our conclusion that a heroic age has the advantage over later and more civilized times in that the isolated character and personality generally in such an age does not as yet find what is substantive either in the sphere of ethical custom, or moral obligation opposed to itself in the necessary embodiment of legal institution, and thereby presents immediately to the poet all that the form of the Ideal requires. Shakespeare has, for example, selected much material for his tragedies from chronicles and earlier romances, framed upon a condition of life which has not as yet received the impression of a fully articulated social order, but in which the energy of individuals, as emphasized in personal resolve and achievement, is still the prevailing characteristic. His genuine historical dramas have, on the contrary, a vein of historical substance running through them in the strictest sense, and for this reason lean farther away from an ideal exposition, although here, too, both circumstances and actions are made to fall in with, or are removed to suit, the unyielding self-sufficiency and wilfulness of particular characters. No doubt this characteristic remains for the most part in their case a purely formal self-inclusion, whereas if we contrast it with the self-subsistency of heroic characters we find that here the essential content of all such have proposed to accomplish is bound up therewith.

It is on account of this contrast that we should find a reason for repeating the general thesis in connection with the Ideal, to the effect that the Idyllic is exceptionally adapted for its expression, inasmuch as where that is presented the cleavage between what is determined by legal necessity and the living person is wholly absent. To this we must reply that, however simple and original idyllic situations may be,[Pg 256] however far removed they may be from the artificial prose-existence of society, such simplicity, if we consider the nature of its content, has, in fact, too insignificant an interest to satisfy the most substantial and essential requirements of the Ideal. Material of this sort fails entirely to include the most weighty motives of heroic character such as Fatherland, moral and family problems, and their development; it is a kind of treatment which is apt to select as the very core of its subject such a fact as the loss of a single sheep or the falling in love of a girl. In this way the Idyllic not unfrequently becomes merely the resource and recreation of our hearts, to which poets such as Gessner, for example, will add their dose of sickly sweetness and sentimentalism. The idyllic aspect of the days we live in have, further, this defect, that this naïveté, this domesticated or rural atmosphere in the emotional aspect of love or the enjoyment of a good cup of coffee in the open and things of that sort are not likely to awake much interest, when we find in them nothing but the country parson flavour—find them cut off, that is to say, from all wider relations with the outside world, and not a trace of the profounder web of purposes with which that world is interwoven. It is precisely here that we have reason to admire the genius of Goethe, when he concentrated his poetic talent on material of this kind in his poem of "Hermann and Dorothea." It is true that he selects from the life of the Present a particular theme of very limited extension, but at the same time he unfolds before us as the background and atmosphere of the picture in which his characters are portrayed the great interests of the revolution and his own native country, and, in short, associates with a subject-matter necessarily narrow in its range facts of world-history of the widest and most potent significance.

Generally speaking, we shall find that the ills of life and its evil, war, battles, and revenge, are not excluded from the subject-matter of the Ideal, but are frequently the very source and substance of the heroic age and its myths, whose form grows all the wilder and sterner in proportion to the remoteness of such a period from a fully developed society of law and moral order. In the chivalrous adventures of knight-errantry we find the heroes of such tales themselves[Pg 257] often enough sharing the savage and dissolute characteristics of the times, and in much the same way the martyrdom of the heroes of the Church presupposes a condition of ferocious cruelty around them. At bottom, however, the Christian ideal, which is based on the depth and inwardness of man's spiritual nature, stands in a relation of entire indifference to the external world.

We have demonstrated that the condition of particular centuries is more applicable to the Ideal; in the same way Art selects pre-eminently a particular class of society for the form under which the Ideal shall appear, the order, that is to say, of princes. And the selection is made not because art is necessarily aristocratic, or has any predilection for gentility[308], but simply on account of the perfection in which free will and its products may be exemplified imaginatively through the highly placed class. We have in the chorus of ancient tragedy the characteristics and universal background of general maxims, modes of imaginative thought, and emotion, before which the definite movements of the action proceed. In contrast to this appear the more clearly defined individualities of the personages immediately concerned in the action, men and women of authority, and belonging for the most part to royal families. On the other hand, the main impression forced upon us, when seeing representatives of a lower class carrying on pursuits which are of a narrower range, is one of subjection; and, indeed, in an artificial[309] state of society the freedom of action of such a class is fettered in every direction, and is necessarily involved with all its passions and interests in all the medley and despotic forces of external circumstance. It is, in fact, held closely behind the invincible power of the social order, which it is unable to come out of, and is an alien from the authority of the dominant order, even when that is asserted in accordance[Pg 258] with just principle. In this limitation of outlook through the hard conditions of life all real independence is wrecked. For this reason both the circumstances and characters which we find in such a sphere of life are more appropriate to the treatment of comedy, everybody being permitted in comedy to rate themselves as they please, and to lay claims to a self-sufficiency in all that they will and think, which is none the less immediately negatived by the spiritual no less than the external dependence of their lives. As a rule, such a false and second-hand self-subsistency must inevitably fall to pieces when confronted with the actual conditions of life and the distorted view which is formed of them. The force of circumstances is presented to the lower orders of society on a totally different level from that in which it acts upon rulers and princes. In Schiller's "Braut von Messina" Don Caesar is able to exclaim, and justly: "there stands no higher judge than myself!" And when he has to be punished he must himself give judgment and execute it. He is, in fact, subject to no external necessity of right and law, and even when punishment is the question is wholly dependent on himself. The characters in the Shakespearean drama do not entirely belong to the princely order and only partially are taken from mythical sources, but they are placed in the era of civil wars, in which the ties of social order and legislative enactment are either weakened or shattered, and they secure from such a condition the exceptional independence and self-sufficiency we are looking for.

(b) If we transfer our attention now from the characteristic conditions of society we have hitherto mainly considered to the actual state of the world around us and its carefully articulated scheme of ethical, judicial, and political institutions, we shall not fail to observe that the material we have here offered us for figures of truly ideal type is of a very restricted character. The province here in which an entirely open field is presented for the display of independent purpose in its fullest individuality is limited both in its range and the measure of opportunity. The qualities that make a man thorough in his relations to his own family and his business, the ideals, in short, of honest citizens and excellent wives, in so far as will and activity are concentrated on the field in which it is still possible for a man to exercise his free[Pg 259] personality, to carry out, in short, all that he has a mind to do, this is the prevailing feature of our modern society. Such ideals inevitably lack the depth of a fuller content, and the most significant feature of them is that of the attitude of the individual mind to their realization; for we find here the content is already presented by existing social institutions, and consequently the essential interest we take in it depends on the particular way in which that content is realized and appears in the personal life, its moral and inward significance. For this reason it is not possible, as in the case of former times, to create ideals from the positions of judgeship and kingship. If a man carries out his judicial functions nowadays in accordance with duty and the requirements of his office, he merely is acting within the bounds already marked out for him by legislative enactments in the social order as the sphere of his responsibilities. All that may characterize his tenure of office beyond this, as proceeding from personal qualities, such as suavity of demeanour or acuteness of judgment, is not the main point or the substantial content, but rather an aspect of it which it is possible to dispense with as something accidental. In the same way the monarchs of our own day are no longer, as was the case with the heroes of mythical times, in themselves the embodying and culminating unity of society itself, but rather a more or less unsubstantial centrum around which all legal and social institutions, however moulded in the course of time, group themselves in independent relations. All the most important functions of the executive have nowadays been separated from the royal prerogative. Kings do not lay down the law, control finance; the preservation of social order is not one of their most characteristic functions. Peace and war are determined through the particular circumstances of international politics, which it is not within their power exclusively either to direct or control; and, if it happens that any important decision with regard to either depends in the last resort on their judgment, such a decision is not generally so much in the nature of its substance the result of any personal preference, as it is the formal seal of monarchical authority on what is already determined on public grounds, the mere imposition of that which is strictly official rather than personal in its character. In the same way, a general[Pg 260] or field-marshal of our times has unquestionably great authority; objects and interests of profound importance are under his control and his circumspection; his courage, his determination, and his intelligence are involved in the weightiest decisions; nevertheless, whatever may be definitely traced to the essentially personal characteristics of the man has little opportunity for display in such a result. For, in the first place, the objects upon which his decisions turn are not of his own selection, and arise out of circumstances which lie beyond the sphere of his influence rather than are spontaneously fixed by himself; secondly, the means adopted to carry out such objects are not the sole result of his initiative. On the contrary, they are supplied him from sources which are not immediately under his authority or personal influence, but stand rather quite apart from the sphere of his individual powers as a general.

To sum up, then, though it is true that under the present condition of the civilized world a man may act independently for himself in many directions, the fact remains that in whatever direction he may turn he is still only a member of a fixed order of society and appears as such limited in his range rather than the vital representative and individual embodiment of society itself. He acts necessarily under such a condition of restriction, and our interest in such a personality, no less than in the content of his aims and activity, is entirely devoid of completeness. In the end we are invariably driven to concentrate our attention on the purely personal interest, how far, that is to say, he attained success, what was the nature of the obstacles and complications which, in either, through untoward chance or necessity, confronted or distracted his progress. And if it is, moreover, true that our modern personality is of infinite significance when we estimate the character thus manifested as a spiritual product, in its actions, sufferings, moral opinions, and conduct that is to say, it is also true that the moral content which is realized in such an individual is of a restricted character, rather than, as is the case in the heroic times, the realization of universal right, custom, and legality. The individual is no longer the exclusive vehicle and actual embodiment of these powers as in the previous times.

(c) Our interest, however, in and need to have presented[Pg 261] us such a completely realized individuality and living self-dependence will always persist, however strongly we may recognize the worth and reasonable nature of the more developed condition of an organized and trained civic society. It is this necessity which makes us regard with astonishment the youthful spirit of Schiller and Goethe when they sought to discover that lost self-sufficiency in the prevailing conditions of modern times. How do we find in particular this attempt is made by Schiller in his earliest works? Simply by a rebellion directed against the whole organic framework of civil society. Karl Moor, suffering injury from the existing order at the hands of those who abuse the power entrusted them, has the courage to break the bonds which bind him to law and order altogether, cuts himself adrift and creates for himself a heroic situation, in which he appears as the champion of right, and the self-constituted avenger of wrong, injustice, and oppression. None the less, how insignificant and isolated must a private revenge of this kind appear, if we estimate it from the practical point of view, according to the probability of its success; and, in fact, in one aspect of it, it already contains the germ of wrong which can only lead to the criminal act on which it will fall to pieces. No doubt, as personal to Karl Moor himself, this is a misfortune, a fatality, however, which, despite the tragical element in it, can only engraft on mere boys the blight of such a "robber-ideal." In much the same way the characters depicted in "Kabale und Liebe" suffer wrong under prevailing conditions of life, absorbed in the trivial facts and passions wholly personal to themselves. It is not until we come to the dramas of "Fiesco" and "Don Carlos" that we find characters of nobler significance and more substantive content, heroes, for example, resolved to liberate their country, or assert the liberty of religious conviction. With a nobility still more striking Wallenstein places himself at the head of his army that the crisis in the political situation may come to a focus. He is fully cognisant of the nature of the political forces upon which his only means of control, his army, is dependent; consequently he hesitates for long whether to follow his private inclination or his duty. He has barely arrived at a decision when he finds the instrument on which he most depended slip from his grasp; his means of action[Pg 262] is gone. For that which in the last instance unites the leading officers and generals is no gratitude for anything that may be due to him on the ground of past services rendered; his fame as a general has nothing to do with it, but rather the duty they owe to the universally recognized seat of government, the oath they have sworn to the head of the State, the emperor of the Austrian monarchy. He finds himself consequently in the end isolated, and is not so much fought with and overcome by an external foe as he is stripped of all means of executing his purpose. He is deserted by his army and from that moment is a lost man. The "Götz"[310] of Goethe starts from a dramatic situation of an analogous though somewhat inverse type. The times of Götz and Franz von Sickingen belong to the interesting epoch in which knight-errantry and the self-reliant individuality of the class of nobility is being superseded by the new creation of an external and legally constituted social order. To have selected precisely this critical time where we find the heroic characteristics of the Middle Ages and the legalized fabric of modern society meet and collide for the subject of his first artistic production shows much penetration on the part of Goethe. For Götz and Sickingen are still heroes in the genuine sense, who are resolved to exercise their influence over circumstances, whether immediately affecting them or of wider range, out of the resources of their own personalities, their courage, and their private sense of right. The new order of things involves Götz in acts of illegality and brings about the catastrophe of his life. It is only in the Middle Ages that knight-errantry and the relations of feudalism will supply a field entirely open to this type of self-reliant manhood. When we find, moreover, the legalized order co-ordinated more completely in its prosaic form, the predominant authority in fact, the adventurous self-dependence of knighthood is left outside it as an unrelated excrescence; and if an attempt is made to assert it as though it were still a valid means of attacking wrong, and assisting the oppressed, it becomes simply an object of ridicule, such as Cervantes illustrates for us in his "Don Quixote."

In this allusion to the opposition which exists between[Pg 263] two differently constituted régimes of society and the collision which results from action in defiance of their particular character we have already indicated what we have above defined generally as the closer determination and differentiation of the universal state of the world, that is to say, the situation as generally expressed.

2. The Situation

The ideal world-condition which it is the function of art to present in contrast to prosaic reality we may conclude from our previous discussion to be merely a general background of society of a specific kind; it is merely the possible condition necessary for the particular presentation, not the presentation itself. What we have hitherto directed attention to is, in fact, the general background upon which the living figures of art may appear. It is undoubtedly fructified with individuality and is supported by its self-subsistency; but as a general condition it is not yet the active movement of particular individuals in the very form of life, just as we may say that the temple which Art erects is not as yet the representation of the personal godhead, but only encloses the germ of the same. For this reason we must in the first instance regard this world-condition as a kind of medium in repose, a harmony, so to speak, of forces which are operative in it, and to this extent it possesses a substantial consistency of uniform worth, which, however, must not be accepted as identical with what has been called "the age of innocence." For it is a condition in the fulness and sovereignty of whose ethical atmosphere the terrors of division only are slumbering because, in our contemplation of it, we have before us, for the first time, the aspect of its substantial unity, and consequently are only presented with individuality in its most universal terms, a mode of viewing it which makes it fade away as though without definition or any essential disturbance of its unity, instead of giving to it the full value of definite characteristics. But such characterization is essential to individuality. And if the Ideal is to appear as definite form it is necessary for it to escape from such pure universality, or in other words for it to give the universal a particular expression, and by so doing impart to it both[Pg 264] existence and appearance. Art consequently has in this connection not only to translate into its medium a universal world-condition, but must proceed beyond this quite indefinite conception to the composition of pictures of definite character and action.

Regarded from the aspect under which it affects individual character this general condition is the environment of circumstance which, according to its specifically detached form, tends to excite both collisions and development, forcing thereby the individuals thus affected to express their nature and exhibit such expression in a definite form. From the point of view of the world-condition this self-revelation of particular individuals appears as the passing of its universality into the distinct embodiments of living individuality, an aggregate over which universal forces still assert the mastery.[311] For the eternal powers operative in the world-process constitute the substantive content of the Ideal as specifically defined in what it essentially is. The mode of existence, however, which is realized through the bare form of external condition is unworthy of this content. For in the first place such a condition is associated with habit, and the habitual is no adequate determination of those profounder interests which are active in self-conscious mind. Furthermore, as we have observed, it was the contingency and caprice of individuality, by virtue of whose spontaneous activity these very interests are permitted to appear in life; but this unessential contingency and caprice is again quite as little adequate to the substantive universality, which constitutes the notion of essential actuality. On these grounds respectively we are therefore compelled to seek an art-envisagement more worthy and better defined for the concrete content[312] of the Ideal.

This new configuration the universal powers can only retain in its determinate existence in virtue of the fact that they are manifested in their essential modes of difference and movement, or, to put the matter more specifically, through their assertion of the contradictions which they relatively unfold. Two aspects of the process of individualization into which the universal thus passes must be here emphasized. In the first place, there is the substance as an[Pg 265] embracing sphere of universal forces through the differentiation indicated, which is broken from its substantive unity into its component parts; secondly, there are the individuals, which spring forth as the active completion of these forces and give to them a specific objectification.

Now what we have characterized as the difference and opposition in which the world-condition, hitherto harmonious with the individuals conditioned by it, is involved, if we consider it from the point of view of universal condition, is the manifestation of the essential content which it carries in itself. On the other hand we observe that the substantive universal in that condition is articulated through particular units in such a way that this very universal procures for itself determinate existence, albeit it is thus immersed in the appearance of chance, disunion, and division, an appearance, which, however, is rendered nugatory by the fact that it is the universal which thus appears.

The separation of these forces and their objectification[313] in individuals can, however, further take place under definite conditions and circumstances, under which and as a constituent aspect of which the entire objective appearance receives a determinate form, or as the stimulative impulse of this very realization. By themselves such circumstances are without interest[314], and it is only through their relation to mankind that they receive such a significance, through whose self-consciousness the content of these spiritual forces is carried actively into objective appearance. The external circumstances are consequently only to be regarded of significance in so far as they supply an essential relation to Spirit, in so far, that is to say, as they are comprehended by those individual units and afford them a stimulus to actualize their inward spiritual needs, the aims, ideas, the determinate substance, in short, of all that requires an individual[Pg 266] embodiment. Regarded as a stimulating influence of this kind particular circumstances and conditions create what we have called the situation, which is specifically presupposed in the actual self-expansion and activity of all that still lies undeveloped in the universal world-condition; it is for this reason we have considered the previous determination of the notion of the situation as necessary to any inquiry into the true constituents of action.

The situation expressed in general terms is in one aspect of it the circumstance particularized to the point of definite character, and under this characterization it is, to put it another way, the stimulating impulse to a particular expression of content, which it is the function of artistic presentation to transmute into a specific form of existence. Looked at from this latter point of view especially the situation offers a wide field for contemplation, inasmuch as it has ever been one of the most essential objects of art to discover situations of real interest, that is to say, of such a kind as will present to us the profound and weighty interest, the truest content of spiritual life. The requirements of the several arts in this respect no doubt differ. Sculpture, for example, is pre-eminently limited in its reference to the inwardly detailed variety of situations. Painting and music are already operative in a freer and more comprehensive medium. Finally, we are least able among them all to exhaust the possibilities of poetry in this respect.

Since we have not yet arrived at that portion of our subject where we deal directly with the specific arts, it will be sufficient here to draw attention to a few of the most general aspects of that inquiry, which we may subdivide in the following manner.

First, we would observe that the situation still retains the form of universality and thereby of indeterminacy, so long as it is undeveloped and without definite characterization; we have, consequently, at first present before us a situation which is without situation. For the form of indeterminacy is itself only one form as opposed to its contradiction of determinacy, and is shown to be, by virtue of this very contrast, a one-sided aspect which as such possesses a determinate relation.

Secondly, however, the situation passes in separation away[Pg 267] from this universality, and becomes certainly determinate to that extent, but at first with a determinacy which produces no destructive consequences, that is to say, it is one which offers no stimulus to active opposition and its necessary resolution.

Thirdly, we find the element of disunion in all its vigour creating by the definition of its opposed characteristics the essence of the situation, which thereby is carried into a collision, which again proceeds to reactions, and, as such, forms the point of departure to the conception of artistic action properly so called.

We may, in fact, characterize the situation generally as the intermediate plane between the universal world-condition still in a state of equilibrium, and the concrete action unfolded in all its tendency to movement and reaction, a position which gives to it the characteristics of both extremes, and enables us to pass over from the one to the other.

(a) The Absence of Situation[315]

We passed from the notion of the universal world-condition in presenting to ourselves the form of it as essentially individual self-subsistency. Self-subsistency, however, regarded simply in its essential form, presents to us in the first instance merely the secure repose upon its own resources in its bare tranquillity. The form as thus defined is carried into no relation with another, but remains at one with itself in inclusion with its unity both, within and without. This presents us with the situation which is without situation, an illustration of which we may take those ancient types of temple-building dating from the earliest days of art, whose character of profound immutable seriousness, of tranquil, nay even of austere and grandiose, dignity has been the object of imitation even in more recent times proceeding on lines of a similar type. The Egyptian and most ancient Greek sculptures will further illustrate for us the same kind of indeterminate situation. In the plastic art of Christianity, especially if we consider particular examples of early bust-sculpture, we shall find both God the Father and Christ are presented in a similar spirit. Indeed, such a mode of delineation[Pg 268] is peculiarly adapted to present us with the secure substantiality of the Divine, whether such be apprehended as a definite and particular Godhead, or is grasped as essentially absolute personality; and this is so in virtue of the very defect of such a representation, that it gives us portraits of persons of middle-age which are without any trace of definite situations, in which the character of the individual as such can reveal itself, and only the attempt is made to express the entirety of determinate character in its quality of stability[316].

(b) The Situation defined in its Harmlessness[317]

The second point to emphasize is, inasmuch as the situation generally is reached in the definition of form, the passage from this tranquillity and blessed repose, or from the unbroken severity and force of self-consistency, forms which subsist in unfeatured equilibrium, that is to say, immutable both within and without, have to be set in motion and surrender their undressed simplicity. This bare progression to a more specific manifestation in some particular mode of expression is what we may describe certainly as definite situation, but a situation which has not yet asserted conflicting elements in itself, and is fully ripe for collision.

This first step in the process of individualized expression is consequently of a kind that carries with it no further result; it is set in no antagonistic opposition to something else, in a relation which evokes both collision and reaction; it is already in its character of unconstrainedness finished and complete in itself. With such a type of situation we may associate those which are mainly to be regarded as a kind of play, in so far as all that proceeds or is carried out in them indicates no real seriousness of purpose. For all earnestness in any kind of activity is generally the result of oppositions and contradictions, which drive on their way to the final removal or victory of one side or the other. For this reason situations of this kind cannot themselves be identified with actions, nor are they the stimulative impulse[Pg 269] of actions; they are indeed, in a certain aspect, of determinate character, but they are either circumstances of the most trivial significance, or a form of action which is without an essentially serious object, which either is the result of conflicts, or is able to carry the action yet further into conflicts.

(α) The first thing to arrest us in this process is the passage generally from the repose of the unfeatured situation to a condition of emotion and expression: this is asserted partly as purely mechanical motion, in part also as the first impulse and satisfaction of any internal want. The Egyptians, for example, represented the gods in their sculpture with closely locked limbs. The Greeks, on the contrary, released both arms and legs, and endowed the bodily form with all that is appropriate to the advance and general variety of movement. Permanent repose, a seated attitude, a tranquil gaze, are all of them simple conditions under which the Greeks apprehended their gods; they are modes which unquestionably gave to the self-subsistent figure of Godhead a certain characterization, but one nevertheless which is not carried forward into other relations and oppositions, but rather remains enclosed within itself, and permanently significant as such. Situations of this simple kind attach in a particular way to sculpture, and the ancients, above all others, were inexhaustible in discovering fit subjects for such a condition of unconstrained freedom. In this respect they showed an extraordinary insight; for it is precisely through contrast with the insignificance of the particular situation that the majesty and self-subsistency of the ideal types of the Greek Pantheon were made to appear so striking. It was, in fact, through the harmlessness and insignificance of what appeared to be done or left undone that the blessed peaceful tranquillity and immutability of the immortal gods was brought most clearly to consciousness. The situation merely indicates the particular character of either god or hero in quite a general way, such as brings them into no relation with other gods, or at least into no relation suggestive of hostility or division.

(β) It is a further step in the direction of more defined situation, when we find in such any particular purpose already represented in it, an activity which stands in definite[Pg 270] relation to something external, and the self-subsistent figure itself expressed as within the sphere of such purpose or activity. Even objectification such as these, however, which have no real disturbing influence upon the tranquillity and cheerful blessedness of the figures represented, are rather to be regarded as particular modes of presentation incidental to this very quality of cheerful contentment. The invention of the Greeks was here, too, exceptionally thoughtful and fruitful. It is essential to the unconstrainedness of such situations that the activity here presented should merely indicate an action in its initial stage in such a way that no further developments or oppositions are likely to proceed from it, but that all that appears necessary to complete it should be found enclosed in the action depicted.

As an illustration of this the situation of the Belvedere Apollo is seized at the moment when he moves forward in wrathful majesty after slaying the Python with his arrow. A situation of this kind has not the grandiose simplicity of the earlier Greek sculpture, which asserts for our intelligence the repose and open clarity of the gods by means of expressed actions of less significance. Take the case of Aphrodite peacefully gazing at herself while emerging from her bath in full possession of her charms; or of fauns and satyrs at play, play that is wholly absorbed in itself; or of that famous satyr who dandled the young Bacchus in his arms, while he looks down upon him with infinite tenderness and grace; to say nothing of the endless variety of unconstrained activities in which Eros is depicted. Such are a few examples of this type of situation. If the action is of more concrete character we are confronted with a more involved situation, which, at least for the artistic presentment of the Greek gods as self-substantive powers, is less appropriate. In a case of this kind the pure universality of the individual god is less able to transpierce the accumulated detail of the particular action which he expresses. The Mercury of Pigalli, which is a present of Louis XV to the exposition of statuary in Sanssouci, is fastening on his winged sandals. This is a perfectly harmonious action. The Mercury of Thorwaldsen, on the contrary, is depicted under a situation which is almost too complicated for sculpture. He listens attentively to the flute of Marsyas. At the[Pg 271] same time he is craftily spying him to see how he may slay him while his hand grasps maliciously for the dagger he has concealed. In opposition to this, if we may add one more illustration from a more modern work of art, is that representation by Rudolf Schadow, of a maiden binding her sandals in much the same simple manner as we find in the case of Mercury. In this example the naïveté of the situation does not contain the interest we experience when it is a god who exhibits such unconstrained action. When it is only a maiden who fastens her sandals or spins, there is little else to engage our attention but the simple action, which is by itself of little significance or importance.

(γ) We shall find further, if we follow up the above train of thought, that the more closely defined situation can be treated more generally, as merely a more or less definite stimulus presenting the opportunity for further development of expressed action of wider range related to the primary subject with varying degrees of affinity. Many lyrical poems have what we may call an occasional situation of this kind. A particular mood or a certain atmosphere of emotion is a situation which can be arrested poetically for consciousness, and, furthermore, in particular relation to external circumstances, festivals, or public victories, is able to carry us forward to this or that artistic expression, either of more comprehensive or restricted range, and in every kind of embodiment of feeling and idea. Pindar's odes of victory are supreme examples of this type of occasional poetry. Goethe, too, has selected as the subject-matter of his muse many lyrical situations of a similar character; and, in fact, if we look closely into the matter, we shall hardly be wrong in calling his "Werther" a poem of occasion. It is through the medium of "Werther" that Goethe has elaborated the convulsions and anguish of his own heart, incorporated, in short, the facts of his own experience in a work of art. This, after all, is true of every lyrical poet; he gives poetical expression to that which nearly affects him, and thereby throws the windows of his heart open to the fresh air. That which has hitherto been sealed up within is released in the external object, from which our humanity has freed itself, just as we are the lighter for the rain of tears, in which the sorrow is wept away. So Goethe, as in fact he has told us[Pg 272] himself, by his composition of Werther, liberated himself from the mastery and pressure of his heart troubles. At the same time we must point out that this last-mentioned situation is not really appropriate to the type with which we are now dealing; it obviously presents the profoundest contradiction in itself which calls for resolution. No doubt in the kind of lyrical situation we have identified with "the occasional" we may have declared a circumstance objectively determined, in other words, an activity in close relation to the external world; but, on the other hand, we find the poetic temperament equally able to withdraw itself within the atmosphere it creates wholly free from its external environment, and to make that inward world which is the combined product of circumstance and emotion its true point of departure.

(c) The Collision

All the situations to which we have hitherto directed attention are, as already observed, neither true actions in themselves nor indeed the stimulative source of such action. Their determination was to a greater or less degree the purely occasional circumstance or condition, or an action in itself of no significance, in which a substantive content was expressed in such a way that its specific character appeared as a mere harmless play, in which nothing of a truly serious nature was implied. The full seriousness and weighty import of a situation can only begin when we find in it the element of disruption, where the determination itself exposes an essential aspect of difference, and by its opposition to something else becomes the source of a collision.

The collision arises, as we are now considering it, in an act of violation, which is unable to retain its character as such, but is compelled to find a new principle of unity; it is a change in the previously existent condition of harmony, a change which is still in process. The collision is, however, not an action, and is to be taken simply as stimulus to action to all that characterizes the situation. And this is true, although the contradiction in which the collision is enclosed may be the result of previous action. As an example of this we may cite the trilogies of the ancients,[Pg 273] which carry forward the main theme by presenting at the close of one drama the collision which forms the stimulative impulse of the next, which, in its return, renders necessary the resolution which is carried out by the third. And, moreover, for this very reason that the collision always requires some resolution attendant on this conflict of opposing elements, the more a situation is full of it the more it is peculiarly adapted to the subject-matter of dramatic art, it being the especial claim of that art to present beauty in its completest and profoundest development. Sculpture, on the contrary, is not wholly suited to give embodiment to any action, through which the great spiritual forces are manifested either in their division or reconciliation, and indeed the art of painting, despite its more extended spatial significance, is only able to objectify a single moment of action.

These situations of tragic significance introduce a peculiar difficulty in dealing with them which is inherent in their very conception. For inasmuch as they obviously arise from violations of the world-condition they offer to our consideration circumstances which are unable to continue as they are, which render necessary something of a remedial nature to reclothe them. But the beauty of the Ideal consists precisely in its undisturbed unity, repose, and consummation with itself. The collision, on the other hand, disturbs this harmony of what is truly real and ethical, and drives this unity of the Ideal into discord and opposition. Through the representation of such disruption the Ideal itself suffers violation. The function of art will undoubtedly consist partly in preventing the entire destruction of free beauty in this difference, and partly in only carrying this breach of unity and the conflict it occasions to a point in which harmony may again be recovered as the result of such a conflict and its resolution, and in this way become manifest for the first time in its essential perfection. It is, however, impossible to determine on a general principle the precise limit to which such discordance may be carried inasmuch as the several arts in this respect preserve their independent character. The medium of the subjective idea can support a far intenser disruption than that of the plastic arts[318]. In[Pg 274] other words, poetry is quite within its right when it breaks up the unity of the world of the imagination even to the point of the extremest form of desperation, and in its delineation of external objects to that of absolute ugliness. In the case of the plastic arts, on the contrary, in painting, that is to say, and even more so in sculpture, the external form remains in unalterable fixity; it can neither be removed nor lightly passed over in such a way that it again disappears. Under such conditions it would be a serious defect to represent once and for all an ugliness, which could not possibly be transmuted. Consequently all that would be quite compatible in dramatic poetry, which is able to represent a momentary appearance that again vanishes, is not within the province of the plastic arts.

In discussing the more obvious types of collision we can only in this portion of our inquiry indicate the most general points of view. We would particularly draw attention to three fundamental aspects under which they may be co-ordinated.

First, there are those collisions which proceed from purely natural, that is to say, physical conditions, in so far as these are characterized with qualities which are negative or evil and consequently discordant.

Secondly, we have collisions which are of a spiritual nature, but which depend on natural conditions, conditions which may in themselves have a positive[319] character yet for the spirit contain within themselves the seeds of difference and contradiction.

Thirdly, there are divisions which are caused entirely by disruption in the Spirit alone; to these alone we are justified in attaching the peculiar interest of contradiction which is bound up with genuine human activity.

(α) Now with reference to the first type of conflicting forces—for the reason that here it is only external Nature, through the maladies and other evils and infirmities which are incidental to her creating, conditions which destroy the pre-existent harmony of life, replacing such with a state of antagonism—such can at most merely serve as a stimulus for[Pg 275] something outside them. Regarded wholly by themselves such collisions are of no interest; they are the subject-matter of art simply for the sake of the disruption which may follow as a consequence of some natural misfortune. The "Alcestis" of Euripides, we may add, too, that of Gluck, the subject of whose opera is practically the same, are examples of this; in both the sickness of Admetus is necessarily presupposed. That sickness merely by itself could not fitly supply a subject for artistic treatment. It only becomes, even in the handling of Euripides, associated with it by virtue of the individual characters, who, on account of such misfortune, are compelled to face a further collision. It is the word of the oracle that Admetus must die unless another will pass to the underworld for his sake. Alcestis, out of love for her husband, devotes herself to such a sacrifice, resolves to die, in order to restrain Death from touching her beloved, the father of her children, the king. In the Philoctetes of Sophocles a physical malady is also the cause of the collision. Here the Greeks during their voyage to Troy place the man who is suffering from a wounded foot, caused by the serpent's bite in Chrysas, on the island of Lemnos. In this case, too, the physical mishap is merely the extreme meeting point and incentive of a further collision. For, according to the prophecy, Troy can only fall when the arrows of Hercules are in the hands of the storming army. Philoctetes refuses to give them up because he has been compelled for nine years to suffer the martyrdom of his banishment. This refusal, no less than the fact of his unrighteous desertion from which it springs, could have been followed by every variety of result other than that which took place; the real interest accordingly does not centre in the malady and its physical necessity, but in the opposition which arises from the refusal of Philoctetes to surrender the arrows. The case of the plague in the Greek camp before Troy is very similar; although this is already represented entirely as the consequence of former transgression, as a punishment, in short, a mode of statement more adapted to epic than dramatic poetry, nevertheless it is closely associated with evils incidental to natural misfortune such as storm, shipwreck, and drought. As a rule, however, art will not represent such mischance as mere accident, but rather[Pg 276] as an obstruction and misfortune whose necessity simply consists in assuming precisely this particular form rather than another.

(β) But, to turn now to our second type of the collision, inasmuch as the external powers of Nature are not that which is most essential to the interests and contradictions of human life, in cases where they are found closely associated with such spiritual relations, they will present themselves merely as the ground from which the collision breaks forth in its true character. This is the point of view from which we must regard all situations, where we trace the original source of conflict in the facts of natural birth. We will shortly distinguish between three particular cases of this.

(αα) In the first place we have the right that is bound up with natural condition, that which constitutes relationship and inheritance for example, which for the very reason that it stands in close connection with Nature carries with it a number of relations that are bound up with her, and this though the right, the fact is one and only one. The most important example of this is the right of succession to the throne. It is important to observe that this right must not as yet, in relation to the collisions which spring from it, be absolutely fixed by rule, otherwise the resultant conflict will be of quite another character. If, that is to say, the right of succession is not as yet entirely controlled by legislation and the social order which it implies, no wrong will necessarily attach to any one of the alternatives, namely, whether it be an older or younger brother, or any other relative of the royal household who obtains the sovereignty. But inasmuch as sovereignty is a qualitative rather than a quantitative possession, which cannot like gold and other material goods be divided up according to a just principle, dispute and contention is inevitably the result of such a form of succession. When Œdipus, for example, leaves the throne of Thebes without a ruler, he leaves his two sons confronting each other with a right and claim of equal strength. The brothers arrange to occupy the throne alternately from year to year. Eteocles, however, breaks the compact and Polynices brings an army against Thebes to enforce his right. The antagonism of brothers has always been in the history of art a fruitful[Pg 277] source of collision; it commences indeed with the story of Cain who slew his brother Abel. In the tale of Shah-Rameh, the earliest example we have of a Persian book of heroic legend, it is a contention of throne succession which is the source of the most varied conflicts. In this Feridu divided the Earth among his three brothers. Selm receives as his portion Rum and Chawer; Turan and Osin are given to Thur, and Fredysh becomes lord of the Earth from Iran. All three, however, claim the land which belongs to his brothers, and endless quarrels and wars are the result. In the Middle Ages we find just the same countless examples of family and dynastic broils. Such dissensions, however, appear in themselves to be due to accidental circumstance. It is not necessary that brothers should be at enmity; particular circumstances and more important causes must be attached, such as the in itself tragic birth of the sons of Œdipus, or, as we find in "the Bride of Messina," the author is at pains to shift the quarrel of the brothers on to still more fateful circumstances. In Shakespeare's "Macbeth" a similar collision is the foundation of the tragic dénouement. Duncan is king and Macbeth, as his nearest and oldest relation, is consequently heir to the throne with a right precedent even to Duncan's sons. The primary incentive of Macbeth's crime is the wrong which the king has done him in naming his own son as heir to the throne. This justification of Macbeth, which is supported by the chronicles of the time, Shakespeare has entirely passed over, because, it was solely his object to bring into startling relief the repulsive aspect of Macbeth's ambitious passion, in order thereby to make his work agreeable to King James, who would be naturally interested in finding the crime of Macbeth depicted without extenuating circumstances. As a consequence we can find no sufficient reason why, under Shakespeare's handling of the subject, Macbeth fails to murder the sons of Duncan no less than their father, lets them escape in fact; nor can we understand why they are wholly overlooked by the nobles. However, the entire collision upon which, the drama of Macbeth turns carries us beyond the particular type which we are now mainly considering.

(ββ) In the second of our examples in the type of collision[320][Pg 278] we are now discussing we find the reverse situation to that just discussed, and it consists in this that difference of birth, which carries within itself a wrongs is moreover, through ethical custom or law, held within the chains of an insuperable barrier, so that it receives at the same time the appearance of an innate wrong, and consequently is the cause of collisions. Slavery, serfdom, differences of caste, the position of Jews in many states and, with certain qualifications, even the contrast between an aristocratical and citizen class are all of them cases for consideration under this head. The conflict here consists in this, that on the one hand humanity has rights, relations, desires, aims and requirements which belong to it essentially in virtue of its fundamental idea, which nevertheless in each one of the above mentioned examples meet with dangerous restriction and obstruction owing to the compulsive necessity of natural birth. On this type of collision we have the following remarks to offer.

The differences which obtain between classes, such as the ruled and the rulers, are, no doubt, essential to the notion of state-life, and are founded on reason, for they are caused by the inevitable articulation of the organic community, and assert themselves as such through the specific forms of occupation, disposition, modes of life, and general levels of education in all their branches. It is another matter, however, when these differences as they affect individuals are determined absolutely by the accident of birth, so that the individual man from the very start is not on account of any quality in himself, but solely through the accident of Nature, irrevocably relegated to a particular class or caste. In such a case it is obvious these differences appear as innate and are, moreover, though purely external, girt with force in its highest and most aggressive mode. We are not bound to ask ourselves how this fixity and compulsive restraint came originally into existence. For the nation may originally have been united, and the natural distinction between freeman and serf been only evolved at a later time, or the difference between castes, classes, and privileged persons may have grown out of earlier distinctions of nations and races, as many are inclined to think is the explanation of the caste distinctions of India. All this is a matter of no moment to[Pg 279] us here. The main point simply consists in this, that vital relations of this kind, which regulate the entire course of human existence, have their source in natural conditions. On general principles, no doubt, distinctions of class can be justified, but at the same time no individual should be wholly robbed of his right to determine as his choice may direct to which particular class he shall belong. Natural capacity, talents, adaptability, and education are the only right means to direct the way and decide in this respect. When, however, the right of choice is debarred from birth onwards and a man is made thereby dependent on Nature and its contingency, there is always the possibility of conflict within the sphere of this necessity between the states thus enforced on the individual by natural conditions and the measure of spiritual education which he may acquire and the higher demand which it may justly make. This is a pathetic and unfortunate type of collision which has its source in an essential wrong which the freedom of art is quite unable to respect. In the social condition of our own days distinctions of class, with a few exceptions, are not determined by birth. The ruling dynasty and the peerage are the only exceptions, and these depend on a higher conception of the State altogether. For the rest, the mere fact of birth creates no essential distinction that can ultimately determine the class to which a man may belong if he is otherwise competent to join it. For this reason, however, we must condition the demand for entire liberty of choice with the requirement that in education, knowledge, ability, and general tastes the individual is equal to the particular society with which he may desire to associate. If, on the contrary, the fact of a man's birth presents an insuperable obstacle to such claims, which he would otherwise be quite competent to satisfy by virtue of his own vigorous activity, then such a situation must appear to us not merely a misfortune, but essentially a wrong under which he is compelled to suffer injury. He is thus separated by a purely natural partition wall which is essentially unjust, that is to say, one beyond which his talents, sentiments, and general education have already raised him, from that which he was competent to reach, and a purely natural condition whose legalized fixity has been determined wholly by caprice[Pg 280] presumes to oppose insuperable barriers to the freedom rightly demanded by all spiritual life.

To examine more closely the nature of this type of collision we shall do well to look at it from three different points of view, each of which are of essential importance.

In the first place, it is necessary that the individual should, in the strength of his own spiritual resources, already really have passed beyond the natural barriers whose opposition is to give way before his aims and desires, otherwise the demand is simply an act of folly. If, for example, a domestic servant, whose education and ability is merely that of a menial, falls in love with a princess or a lady of high society, or, inversely, either of these with him, such a love affair is both absurd and devoid of all taste, and this is so even if the artistic representation of this passion display all the depth and interest of which an ardent heart is capable. In such a case it is not so much the difference of birth which creates the obstacle; this is rather to be found in the entire content of interests, education, aims of life, requirements, and mode of sentiment which distinguish in status, material resources, and social qualifications a lady in high position from a domestic servant. If love is, as in the case assumed, the one and only bond of a union, and is associated with nothing else throughout the entire sphere of all that men and women have to live through in just accordance with that which a particular status requires from their intelligence and experience, it must necessarily remain devoid of content and is simply a union of the senses. Love, to be wholly complete, is nothing less than a real harmony of the entire conscious life, in which the full nobility of sentiment can be shared and appreciated.

The second case we wish to examine is that in which the dependence of birth surrounds an essentially free human life and the objects it may rightly set before itself with legalized fetters of obstruction. This collision also presents an element unadapted for artistic treatment, opposed, that is to say, to the notion of the Ideal, despite its love to make use of it and the facility with which it may attempt to do so. If distinctions of birth through positive laws and the powers which support them create a persistent wrong, as doubtless may be the case where a man is born an outcast or a Jew,[Pg 281] he obviously, from one point of view, is entirely right in holding with all the strength of his inward life, which rebels before such a barrier, that the same is dissolvable, that he, in fact, recognizes his individuality as apart from it. To oppose such restraint appears to be wholly justifiable. But in so far as it becomes impossible through the force of existing circumstances to overcome such a barrier, which is consequently converted into an irrevocable necessity, a situation of this kind can only be regarded as a misfortune which itself is not without an element of falsity. For the rational man is inevitably forced, in so far as he is unable to subjugate the opposing necessity, to submit to the same: it is not in reason to continue to fight against the inevitable, but rather quietly to let it pass over him. He must, in fact, abandon the sense of interest in and need of that which is, by virtue of this barrier, swept from his reach, and suffer what he fails to overcome with the quiet courage of passive endurance. Where a struggle is of no avail it is the part of wisdom to be quit of it in order at the least to retire into the formal independence of personal liberty. By doing so the forces of wrong have no longer power over him; if, on the contrary, he battles against them he must necessarily experience his dependence in its fullest extent. At the same time it remains unquestionable that neither this abstraction of formal independence any more than that content which can lead to no result are truly beautiful when artistically considered.

There is a third type of collision which, while being immediately connected with that we have just considered, is equally removed from the genuine Ideal. It is to be found affecting that class of persons who attempt to assert some privilege which the mere fact of birth concedes them and supports with the full weight of a religious title, positive enactments, and the prevailing conditions of society. In such a case, it is true, we have an independent position in harmonious relation with what is externally realized in positive institutions, but when considered as the mere consistency of that which is in itself unjust and irrational it is quite as much as in our former example a purely formal independence, and the notion of the Ideal disappears. We may, no doubt, very possibly persuade ourselves that the[Pg 282] Ideal is retained because we have here an appearance as though the personal life is in full union with the universal and its legalized constitution, remaining consistently in such unity; but it will be observed that here the universal does not assert its dominating power in the particular person, as we found the heroic Ideal demanded, but only in and through the public authority of positive laws and their administration; moreover, what the individual here asserts is assumed to be essentially wrong, and he loses in consequence the substantive significance which we have seen to be also essential to the Ideal. An affair in which the ideal subject of art is concerned must itself be at bottom true and justifiable. To this type belong the legalized lordship exercised over slaves or serfs, the right to rob a foreigner of his liberty, or to sacrifice the same to the gods. No doubt it is quite possible that such a right may be sustained by individuals with unquestioning belief that they are justified in so doing, as in India, for example, the higher castes make use of their privileges, or as Thoas ordered the sacrifice of Orestes, or in Russia the lords are wont to flout their serfs. In fact, those who are in authority are very likely to execute such rights as legalized rights on account of the interest they may have in preserving them. But in a case of this kind their right will be merely the unrighteous right of the barbarian, and they must themselves appear to us in the category of barbarians, at least, who resolve to carry out and perfect what is essentially injustice. The legalized form, under which the individual shelters himself, is, for the time to which it belongs, and its spirit and the educational standard adapted to it, no doubt to be respected and justified. But if we reflect upon it rationally and apart from that, it is wholly positive[321], containing no intrinsic claims or authority. Moreover, if the individual makes use of his privileges for purely personal objects, under the mastery of particular passions and the aims of mere selfishness, in addition to our barbarian we get a bad character to boot.

Poets have frequently sought to arouse our pity, and it may be our fear as well, through the presentation of conflicts of this kind, following the rule of Aristotle, who lays it[Pg 283] down that fear and compassion are objects of tragedy. Strictly speaking we experience neither fear nor reverence when confronted with rights which only exist among barbarians and are the misfortune of uncivilized times. Any compassion which such situations are likely to arouse is almost immediately converted into a spirit of indignant hostility. The only true artistic dénouement of such a conflict is one where we find such illegitimate rights are not carried into execution, as, for example, neither Iphigenia nor Orestes are respectively sacrificed in Aulis and Tauris.

(γγ) The third and last class of that type of collision which is based on purely natural condition is that which is duetto personal passion caused by natural peculiarities of temperament and character. The jealousy of Othello is a supreme example of this. Ambition, avarice, nay, even love itself in certain aspects, will furnish other illustrations. Collision of this kind is only properly referred to such passions in so far as individuals, seized and dominated exclusively by the power of such emotions, are thereby forced into antagonism with the truly ethical constitution and inherently justifiable course of human existence, and consequently are plunged into a still more serious conflict.

This carries our inquiry into the consideration of that third subdivision of our original classification of general types of collision, the type of which is based exclusively upon the conflict of spiritual forces, in so far as such opposition is the result of human activity.

(γ) We have already observed when dealing with purely natural collisions that they only form the starting-point as it were for further states of contradiction. And the same is more or less true of the second type of conflict already adverted to. All these, in artistic compositions of really profound significance, are unable to remain in such forms of opposition as we have hitherto discussed. Such disturbances and conflicting elements merely substantiate the opportune moment, out of which the true and essential forces of spiritual life will clash together in opposition and contend for the mastery. That which is spiritual can only be set in activity by virtue of spirit. Consequently the oppositions of Spirit can only win reality in actual human deed, can only thus manifest themselves in their true character.

[Pg 284]

The position we have arrived at, then, is this. We have on one hand a difficulty, an obstacle, a violation effected through something human life has carried out in action. We have on the other a violation of interests and forces intrinsically just and right. By treating these two forms of determination in close juxtaposition we, for the first time, are able to gauge the full depth of this last type of collision.

We may distinguish between the prominent examples which fall within the consideration of this class of cases as follows:

(αα) In passing from the sphere of that type of conflict which we have pointed out rests for its primary basis on what is entirely due to Nature we observe that the first class of cases which confronts us on crossing the boundary to the consideration of a new type is closely related to that we have just left behind us. If, then, human action is assumed to be responsible for the collision, it will follow that what is carried out as natural through human action, that is to say, in so far as humanity is not entirely spiritual, will consist in this that a particular action is performed unconsciously and without purpose, which will be found afterwards to be a positive infraction of the forces of self-respecting and civilized society. The consciousness which any man latterly acquires of the injurious nature of an action, of which he was previously unaware, will drive him who still accepts the responsibility of such an action into division and conflict. The ground of such a conflict, in fact, consists in the opposition with which the mind is confronted between that which was actually before it when the action took place, and the subsequent discovery of all that was really implied in the act itself. The cases of Œdipus and Ajax will at once suggest themselves as examples. The action of Œdipus, if viewed simply with reference to his will and knowledge, amounted merely to the fact that he killed a perfect stranger in a quarrel. The unconscious act was the reality in its full significance, that is to say, the murder of his own father. Ajax, in a fit of frenzy, slaughtered the cattle of the Greeks believing them to be the Greek chieftains. On regaining his senses and discovering what he really did he is seized with a sense of shame which drives him into collision with himself. We must, however, observe that what has been[Pg 285] unconsciously violated by a man in the type of collision we are now examining ought to be something which he himself, when fully in a position to judge, would both honour and revere. If such a reverential attitude has its roots merely in personal idiosyncrasy or superstition, such a collision can arouse, to say the least, no really profound interest.

(ββ) Further, inasmuch as in the cases we are now discussing the conflict arises from a spiritual violation of spiritual forces through human action, the collision more generally appropriate to the type will consist in a violation which is perpetrated with full consciousness proceeding out of such and the intention it implies. The point of departure here may centre again in passion, violence, folly, and other similar qualities. The Trojan war, for example, originates in the rape of Helen. Agamemnon afterwards sacrifices Iphigenia, and so violates the feelings of her mother, slaying thus the darling of her womb. Clytemnestra, in consequence, murders her spouse. Orestes avenges the murder of his father and king by assassinating his mother. In a similar way in "Hamlet" the father is sent to his grave by a stratagem, and the mother of Hamlet insults the manes of the dead man by a precipitate marriage with his murderer.

In the case of these collisions as in those already considered, the main point is this, that humanity is engaged in a self-imposed conflict with what is intrinsically moral, true, and worthy of reverence. If this is not so, then, for all who are really conscious of what is moral and right, such a conflict can only appear without worth or material significance, as is the case, for example, in the famous episode of the Mahâ-Bhârata, with reference to Nalas and Damayanti. King Nalas marries the princess Damayanti, who is allowed the privilege of making a free choice among her sisters. All the other suitors are genii floating in the air; Nalas stands on the Earth alone as a man, and she has the good sense to select him. The genii are consequently much enraged, and watch for the moment when they may find King Nalas tripping. For many years they can bring to his charge no offence, as he is capable of none. At last, however, they obtain power over him, for he commits a great crime; the crime is this, namely, that after making water, he treads with his[Pg 286] foot upon the earth thus watered. According to Indian ideas this is a severe offence which cannot escape punishment. From that moment the genii have him in their power; one renders all his amatory desires abortive, another excites his brother against him, and finally poor Nalas, after forfeiting his throne and being reduced to beggary, is driven forth a wanderer in wretchedness with Damayanti. At length he is even compelled to part with her, until, as the tale will have it, after many adventures, he is once more set on the throne of his original happiness. The real conflict upon which for the Indians of old days the whole of this story was supported was an essential desecration of a sacred thing: according to our notions the tale is absurd from beginning to end.

(γγ) Thirdly, it is not necessary that the disruption should be direct, or, in other words, that the action taken solely by itself should be an act of collision; the fact of collision may well appear out of relations and circumstances of opposition and antagonism which are forced upon the mind during the process of that action's execution. Juliet and Romeo are in love with one another. In the mere fact of their love there is nothing to suggest disunion. But they are aware that their families are living in mutual hate and hostility, that their parents will never consent to the marriage, and they are carried into collision by virtue of this preassumed situation of antagonistic forces.

We must content ourselves here with these very general remarks upon the relation which the determinate situation occupies in its opposition to the universal world-condition. Were we to extend our inquiry into all the divergent aspects, modifications, and nuances of the subject, attempting thereby to express an opinion upon every possible form of situation, this chapter would alone present us with sufficient matter for discussions of endless prolixity and diffuseness. The discovery of different situations implies a content of exhaustless possibilities; and in every particular example the essential question involved is how such may be adapted to the treatment of any specific art, in true subordination to the principles and character of such an art. To the fairy story much is permitted which is forbidden to a more stringent mode of artistic representation. And we may say that generally the[Pg 287] discovery[322] of the situation is a critical point in the process of art-production which often presents great difficulty to artists. In our own days the difficulty of obtaining a suitable subject-matter as a source for the circumstances and situations which the artist requires is a common complaint. At first sight it may appear to us more in keeping with our notion of poet if he borrow from his own resources, and invent situations himself; but such independence does little to increase his claims as a creative artist. For the situation does not directly constitute the spirituality of his work nor indeed give us its true artistic form: all that it does is to supply the external material in which as its appropriate medium a character or temperament is unfolded before us. It is only after working into this external material in which actions and characters find their starting-point that the true genius of the artist is actively displayed. The poet consequently has little or no claim to our thanks for merely having himself invented this least of all poetical aspects of his production. He is, in fact, fully entitled to draw as much and as frequently as he pleases from anything that comes to his hand, whether it be history, saga, mythos, or chronicle, nay, even from material and situations which have already been artistically treated. Just as we find in the art of painting the external matter of the situation is borrowed from legends of saints, and the process has been repeated on similar lines over and over again. To discover the real artistic significance of such artistic work we must penetrate far beyond the mere invention of particular situations. The same remarks will apply in full force to the entire wealth of the circumstances and developments artistically handled. In reference to this it is frequently claimed as a virtue of modern art in contrast with that of the ancients that we find in it an infinitely more exuberant imagination. As a matter of fact, we do find in the artistic creations of the Middle Ages and our modern world the most extraordinary variety and interfusion of situations, events, and occurrences, whether tragic or otherwise. This fulness of detail, however, does not take us far. In spite of it all we have very few dramas or epics of the first excellence. For the main point is not[Pg 288] the external course and interchange of a variety of events, when we find such events and histories merely complete the entire content of our work of art; rather it is the ethical and spiritual form which embodies them, and the masterful movements of temperament and character which are exposed and unveiled during the entire process of this artistic embodiment.

Glancing now at the main position we have arrived at, and from which our inquiry will proceed, we have found that circumstances, conditions, and relations, whether determined with a reference to the external world or the subjective consciousness, only create the situation by virtue of the temperament or passion which experiences them and derives its nutriment through them. We have further seen that the situation breaks up this determinate form in opposition, obstruction, development, and disruption, so that the emotional life feels itself compelled by the force of the affecting circumstances to react with energy against this disturbing and restraining influence, which stands in the way of its objects and passions. It is here, in truth, that the action, strictly speaking, commences, when, that is to say, the contradiction has fully asserted itself, which was already implied in the fully defined situation. Inasmuch as, however, the action which is based on this collision disturbs the unity of that which is opposed to it, it calls into being by its antagonism the opposing force of that which it confronts, and consequently the action is immediately associated with the reaction. With this analysis of the forces rendered necessary by dramatic action, we have at length arrived at the notion of the Ideal as a fully defined process. For we are here presented with two distinct spheres of interest, both of which have been rent, as it were, from the harmony they originally possessed, and confront each other in conflict. Such, by the contradiction which is involved in them, make a resolution of the discord necessary. This movement, regarded as a homogeneous whole, belongs no more to the province of the mere situation and its conflicts; we are carried now into that portion of our inquiry to which we have already given the name of the genuine action.

[Pg 289]

3. The Action

In the development of the subject under consideration, the action immediately follows after the universal world-condition and the particular situation. In considering the action in its external relation to that portion of our inquiry we have just concluded it will be well to bear in mind the result we arrived at, that it presupposes circumstances which necessitate collisions, action, and reaction. It is impossible to determine at what point in the circumstances thus presupposed the action will begin. For that which in one aspect will appear as commencement will very possibly present itself in another as the result of earlier developments, and to that extent will postpone the real starting-point. And in like manner this, too, we may regard as a fact resulting from former collisions. To take an example; in the house of Agamemnon Iphigenia in Tauris expiates the guilt and misfortune of her family. The commencement here of this deliverance on the part of Iphigenia is the fact that Diana carries her to Tauris. This circumstance is, however, merely the result of earlier stages of the story, such as the sacrifice in Aulis, which is again conditioned by the injury done to Menelaus in the rape of Helen by Paris, and so on, ever backward, until we come to the famous egg of Leda. In the same way the events which are the subject-matter of the Iphigenia in Tauris presuppose the murder of Agamemnon, and all the crimes associated with the house of Tantalus. An analysis of much the same character might be applied to the Theban circle of mythos. If an action is to be represented with all the facts that condition it, poetry is the only real art that can attempt this. Such a complete exposition of historical fact has already become, as a certain proverb reminds us, rather a wearisome business; it is, in fact, more within the province of simple prose, and, in contrast with such completeness, poetry will rather consider its true function to be that of taking its audience at once into the heart of the matter. There is a further important reason why it should not be to the interest of art to make its commencement from that point where we find the action under consideration is in the first instance externally conditioned, and it is this: such a point of departure is,[Pg 290] after all, only related to the process regarded as natural or historical fact[323]. The association of the action with this commencement merely concerns the empirical unity of its appearance; it may, however, in itself be of no significance at all to the real content of the action. This external unity of historical sequence remains just as it was, however it may chance that one particular person is affected by the involved threads of a varying series of fact. No doubt the entirety of the facts of life, its actions and fatalities, tends to make the individual what he is; but for all that his true nature, the real core of his thoughts and capacities, is manifested in one great situation and action independently of them. It is the progress of these which reveals to us really what a character is made of, a character which previously to their occurrence had been known merely in a nominal way, that is the name of one more fact among the external facts of experience.

We must therefore not look for the commencement of the action in that empirical source of it; we must rather centre the attention upon those circumstances which have taken a hold upon the particular nature with which we are dealing, and created or satisfied its needs; we must, in fact, reveal the particular collision in whose conflict and resolution the action in question consists. Homer, for example, in the "Iliad," makes a start at once with the particular fact on which his entire epic is founded, that is to say, with the wrath of Achilles. He tells us nothing of earlier history of the life of Achilles, but emphasizes at once the critical collision, and, moreover, does it in a way which unfolds a background of the greatest interest to his picture.

The representation, then, of the action as a process complete in itself, in which action, reaction, and resolution are constituent elements, is, above all, the function of the poetic art; all the other arts can at most only seize upon and secure in their presentation one moment of this process. It is quite true that if we direct our attention to that aspect of the medium they employ which is richest, they may appear to have an advantage over poetry; in painting especially[324] we[Pg 291] find a control asserted not merely over the entire external form, but also over the expression of external demeanour and the play of such relatively to other objects grouped around it. Such a means of expression, however, cannot compare as an interpreter of truth with human speech. The action itself is the clearest means of unfolding to us individual character, whether we view it relatively to the entire emotional life[325] or the objects of mind. All that a man is at the very root of his nature is first revealed to us through his acts; and action, for the reason that it is an expression of spirit, finds its ultimate expression as such most clearly and concisely in speech alone. When we speak in general terms of human action we are apt to figure to ourselves an incalculable variety of mode. For Art, however, the sphere of action suitable to artistic representation is, generally speaking, limited. Her province is wholly restricted to the type of action which is conformable to the necessary configuration of the Idea.

There are three points of essential importance necessary to grasp in connection with such action as is capable of artistic representation, and which we may emphasize as follows. The situation and the resulting conflict is that which generally stimulates it; the active movement, however, taken by itself, the element of difference, that is to say, of the Ideal in its activity, is made apparent first by virtue of the reaction. This movement may be resolved into the following component features:

First, we have the universal[326] forces, which constitute the essential content and object, for the sake of which the action takes place.

Secondly, we have the realization[327] of these forces in the individuals who act.

Thirdly, the two aspects above mentioned have to unite themselves in that which, in default of any better generic term, we will here call character.

[Pg 292]

(a) The Universal Forces of Action

(a) However much we have finally arrived in our consideration of the action at a point where the definition and differentiation of the Ideal is of the first importance, nevertheless the very notion of art renders it necessary that in the sphere of true beauty, be the aspect of it whatsoever it may, it must still have upon it the stamp of the Ideal; it cannot, that is to say, maintain itself without rationality and the justification it implies. Interests of an ideal character must inevitably be in conflict with another, so that might is opposed to might. These interests are, in fact, the eternal and universal forces of spiritual existence, the essential cravings of the human heart, the spontaneous and inevitable objects of human action, justifiable and rational in virtue of their own character, and consequently the very universal powers to which we have referred. They are indeed not the absolute Divine itself, but rather the sons of the one absolute Idea[328], and consequently dominant and valid. They are the children of the one universal truth, albeit only determinate, particular moments of the same. Through their very distinction, it is true, they can fall into contradiction or disunion, yet despite all the element of difference contained, they must possess the original essentiality within them in order to appear as the determinate Ideal. Such are the supreme motive forces of art. They are the eternal[329] religious and ethical modes of relationship, status, personal character[330], and in the world of romance, before everything else, honour and love. In the particular grade of their significance these powers differ, but all are essentially the product of reason. At the same time it is these powers in the human heart and mind, which man, by virtue of his humanity, is bound to recognize, to give free play to, and[Pg 293] to actualize. At the same time they ought not directly to appear as rights in positive legislation. For, to take one reason, the form of positive legislation, as we have seen, is already in partial conflict with the notion and content of the Ideal; furthermore, it is quite possible that the content of positive rights may contribute to that which is essentially unjust, albeit entirely clothed in the attributes of law. The relations we have above referred to, however, are not merely the supreme stable embodiment of the external world[331], but the essentially substantive powers, which for the very reason that they contain in themselves the actual content of human existence, continue to be the stimulating source of its activity, and ultimately all that ever carried it forward to perfection.

Of this kind are the interests and objects which contend against each other in the "Antigone" of Sophocles. Creon, the king, as ruler of the state, by a decree couched in the severest terms, forbade the right of burial to the son of Œdipus, who had proved himself an enemy of his country by bringing an army against Thebes. This proclamation was so far justifiable that it expressed care for the weal of the entire city. Antigone, however, is animated by an ethical principle of equal authority, in other words by her love for her brother, whom she finds it impossible to leave unburied, the prey of carrion birds. To leave such a duty unfulfilled would be in direct opposition to the sacred instincts of her personal relationship. She consequently violates the decree of Creon.

(β) Collisions of the type with which we are now dealing may be introduced in every possible way; the necessity of the reaction, however, must not be occasioned by means of anything out of place or at cross purposes[332] with the main action, but through that which is in itself reasonable and justifiable. For example, in the well-known German poem of Hartmann von der Aue, "The Poor Henry," the collision is repulsive. The hero in this poem is visited by a fatality, that is to say, an incurable disease. He turns for[Pg 294] assistance to the monks of Salermo. They state as the condition of his cure that a human being must willingly surrender his or her life, on the ground that the necessary salve can alone be forthcoming from a human heart. A poor maiden who is in love with the knight offers freely her own life and accompanies him into Italy. This is pure barbarism, and the silent love and pathetic devotion of the maiden are unable, consequently, to produce their full effect. It is true that we find the injustice of human sacrifice presented us by the ancients as the ground of the collision. The famous example is that of the story of Iphigenia, who is first offered as such a sacrifice, and afterwards is on the point of offering up her brother. But, in the first place, it is to be observed that in these examples the conflict is in close connection with other relations which are in themselves justifiable; secondly, the artistic principle is really satisfied, as we have already observed, by the fact that both Iphigenia and Orestes are finally delivered, and the power of a collision which is opposed to our notion of right is thus destroyed. And, indeed, this is also the case in the above mentioned poem of Hartmann, in so far as we may acknowledge the dénouement offered us in which, on Henry refusing to accept the sacrifice, God releases him from his malady, and the maiden is rewarded for her true love[333].

In apparent association with the positive powers we have enumerated must be added others set over against them, that is to say, the forces of that which is negative and bad, evil in short. That which is purely negative, however, ought not to be taken in the ideal representation of an action as the essential ground-motive for the necessary reaction. The reality of the purely negative case, it is true, corresponds to the negative and its appropriate character, but, if the implied[334] notion and object is already in itself rendered[Pg 295] nugatory, it is even less possible that the ugliness which is exposed in the inward life should manifest any genuine beauty upon its external reality. The sophistry of passion can, indeed, by means of the capacity, strength, and energy of a character, make the attempt to graft positive characteristics upon the negative, but we only obtain thereby the vision of a whitewashed grave. For that which is purely negative is generally flat and stale and leaves us consequently either void or drives us back, whether it be used as the motive force of an action or merely as a means to promote a reaction in another. The horrible, unfortunate, the harshness of dominion, and the obduracy of superior power may form part of the content and burden of the imagination when such characteristics are exalted and carried by the abundant greatness of a particular character or object. Evil, however, taken simply for what it is, envy, cowardice, and meanness, is merely repulsive. The devil, if we take him for what he really ought to be, is consequently a bad subject, or rather a figure for which Art has no uses at all. He is just a falsehood and nothing more, and consequently an extremely prosaic personality. In the same way it is perfectly true that the Furies of hate and many other allegorical figures of later times are potencies of a kind, but they are without affirmative subsistency and holdfastness[335], unfavourable to ideal representation, although in this respect a wide margin of difference is permissible in the several arts respectively, and in the particular mode in which they may immediately visualize such objects. Evil is, to express it in most general terms, essentially cold and devoid of content, because as such it is merely the source of negation, discord, and misfortune. All art, however, which is true to its essential notion, should reflect on us the vision of a harmony. Meanness, above all, is despicable, for it is a quality which arises from the envy and hatred of all that is noble, and does not shrink from distorting even a power that is essentially based upon the good into a means conformable to its own perverse and shameless passion. The great poets and artists of the classical world have in consequence never presented us with the vision of absolute evil and depravity.[Pg 296] Shakespeare, on the contrary, in his tragedy of "King Lear," unfolds before us the spectacle of wickedness in all its horrors. The old Lear divides his kingdom among his daughters, and, while doing so, is foolish enough to believe in their false and flattering speeches, and to misinterpret the silent and faithful Cordelia. There is already folly and madness in this, and it is followed by the most outrageous ingratitude and worthlessness of the elder daughters and their husbands to the point of absolute craze. As an antithesis of this the heroes of the French school of tragedy are stretched and puffed out with every sort of grandiose and sublime motive, and make a great parade of their honour and nobility, and yet despite of it all destroy the very meaning of such motives by the mere fact of what they really are and accomplish. But it is in modern times more especially that we find this unstable dissolution of everything spiritual[336], which forces its way through every dissonance, however repulsive, become quite à la mode; moreover, it has even given us what we may describe as the humour of the abominable thing, a kind of burlesque simulation of irony, an atmosphere in which a Theodor Hoffmann, for example, has found himself so much at home.

(γ) We may conclude, then, that it is the essentially positive and substantive powers in the spiritual world which supply the real content of the ideal action. These sources of energy, however, in their artistic embodiment, must not appear in their inherent universality, albeit within the reality of the action they are essential phases of the Idea. Rather they must receive the form of independent individuals. If this were not so they would remain as merely the universals of thought or abstract conceptions which do not properly fall within the province of art. Though in their origin they should be held as intact as it is possible to hold them from mere caprices of the fancy, it is equally necessary that in their development they should acquire determinacy no less than self-consistency[337], and in this way appear as essentially particularized. Such definition as they possess ought not to be carried to the point of the particularity of external objects, nor should their concentration be carried to that of the subjective[Pg 297] self-consciousness[338]. Otherwise the individuality of those universal powers is necessarily involved in all the developments of finite existence. In this respect we may say, then, that the determinacy of their individuality is not to be taken too seriously. The gods of the Greek Pantheon are the most conspicuous example of this manifestation and sway of the universal forces we have just discussed in their self-subsistent form. However they may be brought before us, their blessedness and cheerfulness remains unaffected. Regarded separately as particular gods no doubt they engage in conflict, but in all their battles we shall ultimately find they are not really serious in the sense that they concentrate themselves on any definite object with the entire consequential energy of their character and passion, fully prepared to stake their existence upon the result. They engage in this affair or that wherever it may take place, identify particular interests in concrete examples with their own; they are, however, equally ready to leave the matter at any point and wing their way back happily to Olympus. Such is the view we get of the gods when they engage in warfare on the pages of Homer. The determinacy of their characterization is capable of conflict, but they remain for all that the purely universal determinations which at bottom they are. A battle begins to rage; heroes advance singly one against another; then we lose sight of individuals altogether in the universal storm and crush; it is no longer the specific qualities of individuals which are now set in relief against each other—it is the universal rush of the fight, the daemon of war loosed and roaring, and now it is that the universal powers, the gods themselves, step forth on the scene of battle. From such a temporary display of the contrasts of their characterization they ever withdraw themselves into the solitude of their self-subsistency and repose. For though the individuality of their form carries them perforce into the region of time and contingency, nevertheless inasmuch as the universal they claim as gods is that which ultimately must prevail, the individual characteristic shrinks away into the determination of external form only; they are unable in[Pg 298] their personality to penetrate the true arcana of conscious spirit[339].

Their physical definition is, in fact, either more or less only the accommodating form of their divinity. But this self-subsistency and careless repose is precisely that which gives to them their plastic individuality, and relieves them of any anxiety and constraint[340] in relation to earthly objects and events[341]. For this reason we find in the gods of Homer no final result when actively occupied with the concrete facts of human life, although such activity is displayed for us in many and diverse directions. The material and interest of human events which happen in time is that which gives them something to do and nothing more. And in like manner we may remark other peculiar characteristics attached to the Greek gods, which we can only regard as essentially unrelated to the general notion of divinity which each god respectively connotes. Mercury is, for example, the slayer of Argus; Apollo that of the hydra; of the love affairs of Zeus we have countless tales, and, among other things, he hangs his wife on an anvil. These and many other stories like them are merely supplementary additions, which attach to the gods in their aspect of natural forces by virtue of symbol and allegory, the origin of which we propose to discuss more fully later on. In modern art we shall, it is true, find certain indications which point to a conception of definite and at the same time universal powers. These are, however, for the most part simply cold and frost-like allegories of hate, envy, hope, love, faithfulness, that is to say, generally of virtues and vices in the actual truth of which we can retain no belief. For with us moderns it is the concrete subjectivity alone, for which we, in the representations of art, feel that profounder interest, wherein abstractions such as these do not appear in their isolation, but are made to appear merely as phases or aspects of human character, whether we regard it in its particularity or as a concrete whole. In much the same way the angels possess no essential[Pg 299] universality and self-subsistency such as characterize Mars, Venus, and Apollo, or even Oceanus and Helios. They are, it is true, objects of imaginative conception, but their specific character is that of vassals of the one Divine and essential substance, which is not in this case broken up into self-subsistent individualities, as we find it in the Greek Pantheon. For this reason we have here no imaginative vision of many objective powers dwelling in a state of tranquillity, which may be represented as essentially Divine personalities. We find, on the contrary, the essential content of such either as subsisting in the Godhead, or realized in a mode which is both particular and subjective in wholly human characters and actions. Nevertheless it was precisely in the conception[342] of self-subsistency and individualization that the ideal representation of the gods originated.

(b) The Individuals in the Action

In the cases we have just discussed of the ideal gods it is not a difficult matter for art to secure the ideality she requires. But in approaching the concrete action, ideal representation is confronted with a real difficulty. For though it is here that the gods and, in general terms, the universal powers may be identified with a principle which stimulates and compels activity, we are not therefore on the plane of reality entitled to find in them the source of genuine individual action. Action is rather essentially the manifestation of human life. Consequently there are in this connection two distinct aspects of the problem to be considered. On the one hand we have these universal forces in their self-subsistent repose and for that reason more abstract substantiality; on the other there is the individuality of men, in which we must seek the final spring and determinating impulse to action no less than its actual accomplishment. It is, of course, only the simple truth that these eternally dominant powers are immanent in the identical nature of mankind, constituting, in fact, the substantive core of its character; but in so far as they are comprehended[Pg 300] in their Divine nature themselves as individuals[343], and thereby in an exclusive way, their relation to the subject of human consciousness must remain an external one. And this fact enables us to see the essential difficulty we noticed above. There is, in truth, a contradiction immediately involved in this relation between the gods and men. It is quite true that the content of the gods is that which belongs to humanity, and announces itself as his passion, resolve, and will. It is, however, equally true that the gods must not only be assumed to be and comprehended as independent from man individually considered in their actual existence, but, furthermore, as the forces at the root of all his activity and determination. And this, too, in such a way that we are forced to consider the same determinations at one time as personified in the self-subsistent and Divine personality, and at another that which appears most essentially to belong to the human heart. And it is for this reason that the free self-subsistency of the gods no less than the freedom of human individuals in their activity is seriously compromised if, to the detriment of human independence, which we have already stated to be of most essential importance to the Ideal of Art, we ascribe an exclusive power of command to the gods. And we may observe this is precisely the same kind of difficulty which confronts us in the form of the religious conceptions of Christianity. It is stated in terms that the spirit of God leads up to God. Taken strictly such a phrase can only imply that the inward life of man is regarded as a purely passive ground, upon which the spirit of God labours. In such a conception the human will disappears as a free will, and at the same time the Divine purpose which motives the "in working" above mentioned can only appear to man as a kind of Fate, under which he fails to come by his own true personality[344].

(α) If, however, this question of mutual relation[345] is so understood that man in his action is conceived as standing in a purely external opposition to God, here posited as[Pg 301] eternal substance, the relation of both is one of pure matter of fact[346]. God gives a command, and man is obliged to hearken. Even great poets have found themselves unable to dispense with this conception of external opposition between gods and men. In the "Philoctetes" of Sophocles, for example, we find that Philoctetes, after he has confounded the deceit of Odysseus, persists in his determination not to return to the Grecian camp until Heracles appears at length as Deus ex machina, and orders him to yield to the entreaty of Neoptolimus. The content of this apparition is, no doubt, sufficiently motived, and answers to our own expectation; the catastrophe itself, however, is for all that not rightly homogeneous, but rather outside the action; and in his noblest tragedies Sophocles makes no such use of this kind of representation, according to which, if we but carry it one step further, the gods are reduced to lifeless machines, and individual men simply to the instruments of a foreign caprice. In a similar way we constantly in epic poetry meet with the active intervention of the gods represented in a mode which is external to human freedom. Hermes, for example, conducts Priam to Achilles; Apollo gives Patroclus the blow between the shoulders which ends his life. We also frequently find mythological traits treated in such a way that they appear as wholly external to the actual lives of the individuals thus affected. Achilles, for example, is dipped by his mother in the Styx and thereby rendered invulnerable and invincible to the one point of his heels. If we reflect on this rationally it is obvious that all real bravery disappears, and all that is heroic in the character of Achilles is converted from a real trait of his essential manhood to a purely physical advantage. Such a mode of representation is, however, far more permissible to the epic than it is to the dramatic type of poetry, for the good reason that in the epic that aspect of spiritual life which is directly concerned with the intention implied in the execution of objects falls into the background and a larger field is, in general, offered for the play of external characteristics. Such a criticism of the prosaic understanding as the one above, which charges a poet with the absurdity that his heroes are no heroes at[Pg 302] all, should only be advanced with the greatest caution, for it is partly in such traits as will appear shortly, that the poetical relation between gods and men is preserved. It is another matter, and we have nothing left us but prose, when in addition the powers, which are posited as substantive individuals, are mere empty shadows, the creations of the caprice of fancy and the arbitrariness of a false originality. They are then for the most part only the adjuncts of superstition or imbecility.

(β) The truly poetic relation of ideality consists, then, in the identity of gods and men; and this must assert itself even though the universal powers are presented as independent and free from the particularity of human beings and passions. In other words, all that we attribute to the gods must at the same time establish itself as that which is essentially cognate with the spiritual life of particular men in this sense, that while the dominating powers appear as essentially personified, yet at the same time all that is thus posited in an external relation to man is none the less clearly that which is immanent in his own spirit and character. The true function of the artist is, therefore, to introduce a mediating link between the difference involved in these two aspects, to bind them, in short, by a finely conceived thread of relation which, while clearly emphasizing their springs in the spiritual life of man, shall make no less visible the universal and essential element which is therein implied and present such to the imagination in individual form. The emotional life of man must reveal itself in the gods, who, in fact, are the self-subsistent and universal embodiments of that which is active and dominant in his own spiritual experience. Then alone are the gods at the same time gods in cognate relation with his own heart and emotions. When, for example, we are told by the ancients that Venus or Amor has put a constraint upon the heart, no doubt in the first place these divinities are apprehended as external powers; but human love is equally a stimulus and a passion, which is implanted in the heart and is part of that it independently contains.

In much the same sense is the frequent reference to the Eumenides. We have to picture in the first instance no doubt these avenging maidens as Furies, who pursue the[Pg 303] transgressor in an external form. But this pursuit is but another aspect of the Fury which drives through the soul of the perpetrator of crime; and Sophocles in the Œdipus Colonus (I. 1434) actually refers to them in this sense of inward spiritual forces, as the Eumenides of Œdipus himself, that is to say, who signify the father's curse as the result of the stress of emotion caused by the conduct of his sons. We have, then, and equally have not reason on our side whether we identify the gods with powers external to man, or find in them that which belongs exclusively to his spiritual life. They are in fact both. In Homer, for example, the activity of gods and men is a constantly involved skein[347]. The gods appear to accomplish what is foreign to human activity, and yet for all that execute only that which is in vital co-ordination with his own emotional life. In the "Iliad," for example, when Achilles, in the stress of controversy, is about to raise his sword against Agamemnon, Athene steps forth behind him and takes hold of his head of flaxen hair, visible only to himself. Hero, who is equally anxious over Achilles and Agamemnon, sends for them from Olympus, and their admission there appears to be wholly independent of the desire of Achilles. On the other hand we have no difficulty in seeing that the sudden appearance of Athene, the wisdom which puts constraint upon the hero's wrath, is simply a reflection of internal conflict, that the entire description but states in imaginative form what was experienced in the heart of our hero. In fact Homer himself points this out a few verses previously ("Iliad," I, v, 190), when he relates about the debate that took place in his heart in the following terms:

ἢ ὅγε φάσγανον ὀξὺ ἐρυσσάμενος παρὰ μηροῦ
τοὺς μὲν ἀναστήσειεν, ὃ δ᾽ Ἀτρέιδην ἐναρίξοι,
ἡὲ χόλον πάυσειεν ἐρητύσείε τε θυμὀν.[348]

This inward breaking up of anger into a divided self, this constraint, for it is in opposition to the anger, and Achilles appears at first to be wholly filled with wrath, the epic poet has a perfect right to represent at the same time as an[Pg 304] external event. In a similar case in the "Odyssey" we find Minerva acting the part of escort for Telemachus. This attendance is rather more difficult to grasp as a personal experience of the emotional life of Telemachus, although we can readily fix on certain points of contact between the external image and the emotion experienced. And this it is we may generally say which constitutes the cheerful buoyancy of the Homeric gods, and the irony implied in the honour paid to them. Their self-consistency and seriousness are characteristics which tend to dissolve like a cloud, precisely to the extent that they unfold themselves as the very powers which are native to man's emotional life, and thereby, in their manifestation, leave humanity alone with its own possessions.

However, it is not necessary to look so far abroad for a complete example of the conversion of a purely mechanical conception of Divine activity into the atmosphere of the subjective consciousness, the sphere, that is, of freedom and ethical beauty. In his Iphigenia in Tauris Goethe has in this connection carried the process through with a beauty that we cannot sufficiently admire. In the drama of Euripides Orestes in complicity with Iphigenia carries off the statue of Diana. This is simply an act of stealing. Then Thoas comes on the scene, and orders their pursuit, and the recovery of the bust of the goddess. Finally, in very prosaic fashion, Athene appears and orders Thoas to stay his hand on the ground that she has independently commended Orestes to the charge of Poseidon, and he, in deference to her wishes, has already carried Orestes far over seas. Thoas submits to her advice and replies to it in the following terms (v, 1442, 43): "Lady Athene, whoever, on hearing the words of the gods, does not obey them is but a fool. For how could it be right and fit to contend with the mighty gods."

In this relation we can only see the bare external command of Athene on the one side, and an equally futile submission of Thoas on the other. In Goethe's treatment of the subject, on the contrary, Iphigenia becomes herself exalted to the rank of a goddess, in reliance upon the truth she feels within herself, the truth of a human heart. In this sense she turns to Thoas and exclaims:

[Pg 305]

Is it then man alone who has the right
To accomplish things none ever heard before!
Shall he alone impress upon the strength
Of hearts heroic the impossible?

That which in the drama of Euripides the command of Athene effects, the change in the attitude of Thoas, Goethe's Iphigenia endeavours to bring about, and in fact does bring about, through the depth of the feelings and ideas with which she confronts him.

With motions strange
An enterprise audacious soars within me;
A vast reproach and ills yet graver still
Will break on me if the event miscarry;
But, see, I place it on your knees! Be true,
Be only true and worthy of your fame,
So your assistance shall declare it truth,
Truth glorified through me.

And to this reply of Thoas:

What! you believe
The Scythian wild and the barbarian
Hear the wise voice of Truth and hearts humane
When Atreus of Greece still failed to hear.

she answers with the gentlest, purest trust:

Nay, all thus hear
Beneath whatever sky their birth was laid;
All needs must hear for whom the springs of life
Flow without let and purely through the soul.

Then it is she makes the final call upon her greatness of soul, and the tenderness of her faith at its highest point of effort; her entreaty touches, then masters and wrings from him, in a way that must appeal to every heart, the permission to return to her own. This alone is necessary. She has no need of the statue of the goddess; she can depart on her journey without deceit or betrayal of trust. And it is with the finest sense of beauty that Goethe refers here to the oracular word of the god:

Bring but to Greece again the sister who
All loth at heart in holy temple bides
On shores of Tauris, and the curse is gone.

The very human reconciliation disclosed in these words is[Pg 306] clearly that the pure and holy Iphigenia, the sister, is in fact the divine personification and the protectress of the house.

Noble and beautiful I wot in sooth
All that the goddess counselled seemed to me,

exclaims Orestes to Thoas and Iphigenia:

Like to a holy picture
The fate unalterable which walled our town
By one mysterious word, one word Divine,
Is banished, now that city takes thee back,
Who art the true protectress of our home;
Reserve thyself in holy quietness,
A blessing to thy brother and thine own;
It seemed that all deliverance on Earth
Had passed away, and all comes back with thee.

In the spirit of these healing words of reconciliation Iphigenia has already revealed herself to Orestes by virtue of the purity and ethical beauty of her inner life. It is true that her discernment drives him half mad, who in the convulsion of his spirit has lost all faith in peace; but the pure love of the sister does not fail to heal him from every pang with which he is tortured by the Furies of his soul:

Within thine arms
The evil clawed me with its direst clutch
For the last time, and to the very marrow
I shuddered horribly: and then it vanished,
E'en as a serpent to its lair. Anew,
And all through thee, the day's breadth I enjoy.

Here, as elsewhere throughout it, we can hardly emphasize sufficiently our admiration for the profound beauty of this poem.

The material which has the impress of Christianity upon it is more open to criticism than that which was the subject-matter of antique art. In the sacred legends, and generally speaking where the religious conceptions of Christendom prevail, no doubt we may find the appearance of Christ, the Virgin Mary and other saints the subject of universal belief; but along with them the imagination has clothed itself with fanciful aberrations in every direction, so that witches, ghosts, and every sort of spectral apparition are yet more conspicuous objects. In the face of such conceptions, so[Pg 307] far at least as they appear foreign powers to our human nature, and man submits himself unreservedly to the charm, seduction, and influence of their illusions, artistic representation is wholly given up to every kind of folly and caprice of mere contingency. It is of unique importance that in the treatment of such material the artist take care that the freedom and independence of judgment are in no way impaired. Shakespeare has shown us how to do this in most noble fashion. The witches in Macbeth, for example, appear as external powers, who foretell for Macbeth his future destiny. What they do foretell, however, is precisely that which is his own most secret wish, which is reflected back on him and declared in this, merely in appearance, external form[349]. With a still closer regard to beauty, yet profounder insight, is the ghost in Hamlet treated as the purely objective embodiment of Hamlet's own intuitions. We find Hamlet in the first instance overpowered with a vague feeling that something horrible has taken place. His father's ghost then appears and gives definite form to these awful premonitions. We naturally expect that Hamlet, after receiving the facts set forth in his father's warning, will at once proceed with energy and bring the murderer to book, a revenge which appears to have ample excuse. But he delays and delays. Critics have made this inactivity a matter of reproach to Shakespeare, blamed him, in fact, as though for this reason the play to some extent never gets properly off. But we must remember Hamlet is not a strongly practical nature, rather a finely strung one, with emotions held in persistent reserve; a nature which finds it difficult to tear itself from its internal harmony; melancholy too, prone to subtleties, hypochondriacal, with emotions deeply rooted. For this reason it is obvious that he is prima facie indisposed to prompt action. And this is fundamentally Goethe's conception of him when he tells us that what Shakespeare sought to represent "was the imposition of some supreme action on a soul whose growth was unadapted to its execution." He in fact interprets the entire drama relatively to[Pg 308] this conception of Hamlet. "We have here," he maintains, "an oak tree planted in an exquisite vase, which ought really only to contain and shelter the fair flowers; the roots spread, the vase is shattered." But it should be noticed that Shakespeare, when referring to the apparition of the ghost, contributes a far profounder trait of character in explanation of this debated point. Hamlet delays, because he does not right off wholly believe in the ghost.

The spirit that I have seen
May be a devil: and the devil hath power
To assume a pleasing shape; yea and perhaps,
Out of my weakness and my melancholy,
As he is very potent with such spirits,
Abuses me to damn me: I'll have grounds
More relative than this: the play's the thing,
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.

In this passage it is obvious that the apparition as such does not leave Hamlet merely devoid of all stability[350], but that he entertains a reasonable doubt, and is determined to make his conviction a certainty by his own experiments before he proceeds to act upon it.

(γ) As a summary description of these universal powers, which appear not merely in their external independence, but are the vital and moving forces in the human heart and all that is implied in its most intimate life, we may borrow an expression in use among the ancients, that is to say Pathos (πάθος.) To translate this word adequately is not easy. Passion almost always implies as its concomitant an element of meanness or baseness. We contend in ordinary parlance that a man should not surrender himself to his passions. It must therefore be understood that we use the expression pathos in a nobler and more universal sense than this without the slightest implication of anything blameworthy or egotistic. The devoted love of the sister Antigone is an excellent example of a pathos in the full significance of the Greek use of the term. Pathos in this sense is a power[Pg 309] of the emotional life which completely justifies itself, an essential part of the content of rationality and the free will. Orestes, for example, kills his mother not so much on account of any force of his emotional life which we strictly can call passion; rather it is a pathos in itself fully considered upon and essentially sane which carries him on to the awful deed. Thus understood we may add that it is impossible to say that the gods possess pathos. They are merely the universal content of that which is the stimulating energy in the resolves and actions of human individuality. The gods as such continue in their repose and freedom from passion, and however much they may quarrel or contend among themselves, there is nothing really serious in it all, or their strife possessed merely a symbolical significance in the view we may take of it as a universal war of the gods. We must therefore strictly limit pathos to the actions of mankind, and conceive thereunder the essential or rational content, which is present in the human consciousness identical with itself and throughout suffuses the emotional life.

(αα) We may say, then, that pathos constitutes the true mediating link[351], the veritable domain of art. The representation of it is the most truly effective part of a work of art, as it is its influence upon those who look at it. Pathos sets a string in motion, which vibrates through every human heart. Every one must know the type of worth and reason, which underlies the content of a genuine example of pathos, must recognize it at once when he sees it. And the cause of this is that pathos moves us because it is that which is essentially the vital force of our human existence. And it equally follows that that which is wholly external, the natural environment and particular scene, in its active support of the effect of pathos, need only be treated quite subordinately. Nature must in consequence be drawn upon as a fact essentially symbolical and suffer the pathos to re-echo from her walls, which is the most real subject-matter of artistic representation. Landscape is, for example, a type or genre of painting of less importance than historical painting; but even there we find that the school of landscape most independent[Pg 310] should not be without a general harmonic relation to human feeling, and, in fact, possesses a certain type of pathos. In this sense we are told art generally ought to touch the emotions. Before accepting this principle, however, we ought first to inquire through what means this peculiar effect of art must be brought about. "To touch the emotions" is in general the activity of something in union with feeling, and mankind, more particularly the mankind of to-day, are, or a more considerable portion of them are, only too readily open to such experiments. The man who showers tears on us, starts the seeds of tears, which grow up fast enough. In art, however, only that ought to move us which contains in itself the real import of pathos.

(ββ) For such reasons we may affirm that neither in comedy nor in tragedy ought pathos to be that which is only folly or personal idiosyncracy. Shakespeare's Timon, for example, is on purely material grounds a misanthrope; his friends have eaten him up, consumed his substance, and when he himself requires their gold desert him. He consequently becomes a passionate enemy of mankind. The situation is both conceivable and consistent with nature, but it contains no pathos that can be justified on principle. Even to a more striking extent is the hate we find in "The Misanthrope," that play of Schiller's apprenticeship, purely a vagary of modern ideas. For in this latter case the misanthrope is in addition a thoughtful, perspicacious, and entirely noble man, great-hearted towards his peasants, whom he has freed from their villeinage, and devoted to his daughter, who is, apart from her beauty, in all respects worthy of his love. In much the same way, in that novel of August Lafontaine, Quintius Heimeran von Flaming is worried with the follies of mankind. It is, however, our most latter-day poetry which, above all, loves to wind itself into every conceivable knot of fantastical falsehood[352], attempting thereby to secure an effect through mere oddity, but failing to find the slightest response in any sane person for the reason that every vestige of what is really present in human life has vanished from such refinements of mental athletics.

In another direction we may remark that everything which depends solely, that is to say, in so far as scientific apprehension[Pg 311] is the main requirement, upon instruction, testimony to the truth, and insight of what is offered as such, is no fit subject-matter for the representation of a genuine pathos. The facts of scientific knowledge are a part of this material. And the reason of this is that science demands a particular form of education, an effort towards and a knowledge of the specific forms of science and their relative importance of exceptional variety and extension; an interest in this type of study is by no means a universally moving influence in the hearts of men, but is limited and must ever remain limited to a narrow circle of votaries. The treatment of purely religious instruction presents similar difficulty, if we mean by that the development of the same in its profoundest import. No doubt the universal content of religion, such as the belief in God and similar theses, is of the deepest interest to anyone worthy of it. Art is, however, not directly concerned either in the exposition of religious dogmas, nor, indeed, in any exceptional insight into their truth; it is consequently of importance that she should be held aloof front such disquisitions. It is all the more necessary that we should through art entrust every type of pathos to the human heart, every motive of ethical significance, which are of practical and vital interest. The influence of religious ideas is rather upon the subjective world of emotion, the heaven of the heart, the ever-repeated consolation and uplifting of the individual life, than upon direct action in the strict sense. For that which is Divine in religion on its practical side is morality and the powers which are potent in the ethical life. These powers, however, in contrast with the heaven of religion in its purest form, are in definite relation to the world and that which is entirely human. Among the ancients this worldly content was fundamentally included in their conception of Deity, and consequently their gods could be related directly to human action and its artistic presentation.

From all this it will readily appear that the significant moments of volitional activity which present to us the pathos we have just endeavoured to define are numerically small and the range of them restricted. In the opera especially it is inevitable that the sphere from which such may be selected is a narrow one; we consequently have for ever[Pg 312] dinned in our ears the plaints and delights, the misfortunes and happiness of love, fame, honour, friendship, maternal and marital devotion.

(γγ) Now a pathos of this kind requires for its display not merely the power of exposition, but also that of perfected elaboration[353]. And what is more, the soul which entrusts to its pathos the spiritual wealth it possesses must be one with real wealth to dispose of, and not one that can rest in a condition of purely intensive self-concentration. It must, in short, be ready to give an outward semblance to its self-expression and rise to the finished perfection of that. The distinction between this power of self-concentration and that of self-revelation is of great importance; and we shall find that in this respect the types of individuality such as generically represent different races offer essential points of contrast. Nations whose reflective consciousness has been highly trained are more eloquent in the expression of their passions than others who are not so. The ancients, for example, were accustomed to unfold the pathos, which is the animating principle of human personality, in its profoundest significance, without running off into cold generalities or empty tattle. The French also in this respect are naturally gifted, and their eloquence in the expression of passion is not by any means always merely a piling up of words, as we Germans, following the bent of our national reserve, to which the repeated expression of emotion appears to be a kind of wrong inflicted upon it, are only too ready to think it is. In fact, we have gone so far in this direction that we could mention a distinct phase in our poetical history, when the younger spirits, at any rate, sick to death of that which they dubbed "the flush of French rhetorical water-drops," yearned to such an extent after the simplicity of Nature that their artistic energy could only express itself for the most part in interjections. It is hardly necessary to observe, however, that we shall arrive at no "open sesame" with Ahs and Ohs, a damn here and there thrown in, or any other random note of storm and bluster. The inspiration of mere interjections is a feeble one, or[Pg 313] rather is simply the way in which the still unrefined nature expresses itself. The spirit which is to reveal to us pathos must be a spirit which is full to running over, which is able to spread itself abroad and give expression to its virtue.

We may add, too, that in this respect Goethe and Schiller present a most marked contrast. Goethe is less pathetic than Schiller, makes use of a mode of artistic expression which is more intensive; more especially in his lyrics we are struck by this characteristic of self-reserve. His songs, and this is the true quality of the pure lyric, go naturally on their way, without entirely giving us all that they contain. Schiller, on the contrary, is clearly anxious to unfold the pathos of his subject to its furthest limit, and with all the clearness and force of expression he can muster. Claudius in "Wands-becker Boten"[354] has contrasted Voltaire and Shakespeare in much the same fashion, maintaining that the one is what the other only appears to be. "Master Arouet tells us: 'I weep'; Shakespeare really weeps!" To this we can only reply that it is precisely with such telling and appearance that art is concerned and not with the mere positive fact. If Shakespeare merely wept while Voltaire made others think he wept, so much the worse for the poet Shakespeare.

To conclude, then, it is necessary that pathos, in order to be in itself concrete, as it should be in ideal art, be presented in its artistic manifestation as the pathos issuing from a spiritual nature, rich and comprehensive. And this result carries us forward to that third aspect of our consideration of "the action" already adverted to, that is to say, an inquiry into what is implied by character in this connection.

(c) Character

We will summarize the proceeding argument. Our point of departure was the universal and substantive powers which are the original stimulus to action. Such require as the medium of their active realization human individuality, in which they then appear as affecting pathos[355]. But, furthermore,[Pg 314] the universal inherent in these powers must in particular individuals acquire the concentrated unity and concreteness of a whole, and a single whole. This totality is man apprehended in his fulfilled spiritual content and the subjectivity therein comprised, in one word the entire self-contained human individuality which we designate as character. The gods are born into the pathos of men, and pathos in its more concrete form of activity is human character.

In character, then, we find the real focus[356] of the ideal exposition of art, that is to say in so far as the embodiment unites in itself the separate aspects of it already developed as consistent phases, in the construction of its own totality. For the Idea as Ideal, by which we mean as clothed in a form within the grasp of sensuous imagination and perception, and in its activity as action and accomplishment, is, if we define it strictly, just this self-relation of the subjective individuality. The individuality, however, which is truly free, and nothing short of this will satisfy the Ideal, has not merely to declare itself as universality, but at the same time, to assert its nature as concrete singularity, as the mediating bond which unites and transpierces both sides thus related, which in their self-related actuality subsist as unity. And this is precisely what we understand by character, the ideal form of which consists in the wealth of energy with which all the constituent aspects of the subjective life are welded in one whole.

We will now inquire rather more closely into the nature of this conception of character viewed under three distinct aspects.

First, as co-extensive[357] individuality, that is to say, with, our attention directed to the wealth of substance contained in it.

[Pg 315]

Secondly, with direct reference to its particularity, the form in which it is bound to appear, albeit still a totality, as one that is more defined or specific.

Thirdly, in our final apprehension of it as a unity which is fully identified with its own determinate form, that is, which is throughout fused with the same by virtue of its own principle of subjective self-identity, and thereby attaches to the whole the significance of an essentially assured character.

We will now develop and elucidate more fully what we conceive to be implied in the above general propositions.

(α) And first we would draw attention to the fact that this pathos, though an essential feature in the development of completed individuality, is not, in the specific form of its appearance, the sole or exclusive interest of the individuality portrayed. It is, in fact, merely one aspect of the efficient[358] character, if one of paramount importance. To put it in rather a strong way, the human soul does not merely carry within it one god as the original of its pathos; on the contrary, the spiritual scope of humanity has wider borders, and we may affirm that many gods make their dwelling in one true man, or, rather, all the powers which are scattered throughout the heaven of the gods are enclosed within that one breast. It is co-extensive with the entire field of Olympus. In this sense one of old has said: "Out of thine own passions, O man, hast thou created the gods." And, as a matter of fact, in proportion as the intelligence of the Hellenic folk quickened, the number of their gods increased; and, furthermore, the gods of their earliest days were less intelligent, that is to say, they were god-like figures deficient both in individuality and determinate character.

In this wealth of content, accordingly, it is necessary that the character adequate to ideal art should display itself. And this is just that which creates the interest we feel in a character, namely, that a totality such as that we have above described emerges from it, and the character, while reposing on its abundance, nevertheless persists in perfect equality with itself, as one secure and self-excluding subject. If the character, however, be not conceived and depicted as this[Pg 316] rounded and subjective unity, is abstract in the sense that it is entirely the sport of one passion, such must then appear as self-destructive[359], or at least cracked, weak, and without real fibre. For the weakness and inertness of individuals is just this very thing, that the eternal forces of which we have spoken never assert themselves in them as a real part of their most essential substance, as, to put it logically, predicates which adhere to them as the subjects of such.

In Homer[360], for example, every hero is the living focus of a whole congeries of qualities and traits. Achilles is the most youthful hero in the host, but his youthful exuberance is represented as quite compatible with all other entirely human qualities, and Homer unfolds before us this variety through situations which offer the finest contrast. He loves his mother, Thetis, he weeps for Briseis, when she is snatched from him, and his violated sense of honour drives him into the conflict with Agamemnon, which is the original fount of all the events that follow after it in the "Iliad." Add to this he is the truest friend of Patroclus and Antilochus; moreover, he is the most blooming, fiery youth, swift of foot, brave, yet full of reverence for gray hairs; the faithful Phoenix and trusty servant are at his feet, and at the funeral of Patroclus the hoary Nestor is treated with the highest deference and honour. And, in contrast to all this, Achilles is represented as inflammable to a degree, effervescent, revengeful, and full of the most brutal austerity when face to face with the foe. He binds the slain Hector to his chariot, trails the corpse in fell hunter's fashion three times round the walls of Troy; yet stays his anger when the old Priam comes to his tent, and, as he thinks within his heart of his own old father, reaches to the weeping king the hand which has done to death his son. Of Achilles we may well exclaim: "here is a man indeed, and human nature, ay, noble human too, in all the length and breadth of its riches, is unveiled before us in this one man!" It is just the same with all the other Homeric characters—-Odysseus,[Pg 317] Diomedes, Ajax, Agamemnon, Hector, Andromache—every one of them is a whole, a world in itself, a complete and living member of humanity, something very different at least from your allegorical abstract of some one particular trait. What frosty, faded personalities, despite all their vigour and rigour, are the horned Siegfried, Hagen of Troy, nay, even Volker, the musician, in comparison.

It is this variety of characterization, and this alone, which can give to a character the interest of life. At the same time this fulness of detail must really appear as included in the personality itself, that is, it must not strike us as the mere diversion, passing freak, or suggestion of an excited fancy, such as we see in the case of children who will take up everything in turn, and even make something out of it, yet, for all that, are without essential character. Character in this latter sense will penetrate and make itself a home in the most diverse phases of the emotional life of man, will steep itself to overflowing with that abundance, and, at the same time, not remain thus immersed, but throughout all the congeries of interest, objects, qualities, all the traits that distinguish or arrest it, maintain the form of its self-exclusive and alert subjectivity intact.

For the representation of such exhaustive types of character epic poetry is, above all others, adapted, dramatic and lyrical poetry are less so.

(β) Art, however, will not be content to remain at the point which the course of our inquiry has reached, namely, the notion of character as a mere congeries of traits. For the object we have before us now is the Ideal in its specific determination, and singularity, or, rather, concrete individuality, are both of them prominent and necessary features. Action, more than anything else, in its conflict and reaction is impossible without some restriction and clear definition of form. For this reason the heroes of dramatic poetry are for the most part of simpler definition than those of epic poetry. And the way we get at a clear definition is through some pathos out of the ordinary which is so portrayed as to make some essential trait of character stand out in bold relief, and itself to be the stimulus to particular objects, resolves, and actions. If, however, this simplification[Pg 318] is carried so far that any character appears as though it were pared down to a mere shadow-like semblance of any form of pathos, such as love or honour, all real vitality and spiritual depth must necessarily vanish, and the representation, as is not unfrequently the case in the French school of drama for this very reason, can only offer us a cold and jejune result. We may therefore conclude that in this aspect of particularity the prominent feature which asserts itself pre-eminently will be this, that within the borders of this very limitation the fulness of life is completely preserved, so that the personality in question has free scope allowed it for further expansion in many directions, a power to adapt itself to every variety of situation, and, in short, is able to unfold and express in every possible way the wealth of a truly complete spiritual life[361]. Despite the supreme simplicity of their pathos the characters in the Sophoclean drama possess this intrinsic vitality. We may indeed compare them in their plastic self-seclusion to the figures of sculpture. For it is also quite possible that sculpture express very various delineations of character despite all the tenacity of its definition. In contrast to the bluster of overpowering passion, which concentrates all its forces upon one single point, it exhibits out of its tranquillity and speechlessness that predominant neutrality, which peacefully envelops all powers within itself; but this unperturbed unity does not, however, persist in any indissoluble union with mere formal definition, but, rather, in virtue of its beauty, suffers at the same time the birth-throes of all that pertains to it to disrobe itself as through a cloud of immediate possibility into fresh relations of every variety. In the finest figures of sculpture we behold a tranquil depth, which unfolds, as it were, the pregnant womb, from which all other potencies may be born. In contrast with sculpture it is yet of more vital importance to the arts of painting, music, and poetry, that they should display the inmost complexity of character, and real artists of every age have recognized this. In Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," for example, the most pathetic characteristic of Romeo is his love: but he is also placed before us under relations of the greatest contrast, whether[Pg 319] it be in reference to his parents, his friends, his love troubles, or his affair of honour in which he fights with Tybalt, his attitude of deference and trust to the monk, nay, even on the verge of the grave his conversation with the apothecary, from whom he purchases the poison. Throughout he is the same worthy and noble man of deep emotions. In the same way the character of Juliet is unfolded throughout the range of her relations to father, mother, nurse, the Count Paris, and father Lawrence. And, despite of this, she is as deeply immersed[362] in her one preoccupation as she is in every one of these situations, and her entire character is transpierced with and carried away by the one single emotion, her passionate love for her lover, which is as deep and broad as the unbounded sea, so that it is but the simple truth when she exclaims, "The more I give, the more I possess, both are infinite."

From all this it appears that even when there is but one pathos visible, it must unfold itself as the wealth of all it possesses. And this is what really happens even in lyrical poetry, where we find the pathos is not attached to actions determined by positive circumstances and conditions. For in this latter case the pathos can only assert itself as the spiritual state of an emotional nature otherwise complete in itself, which is, that is to say, free to express itself in any other conceivable circumstance and situation which may confront it. The use of words of vital significance, an imagination which can associate itself with all the world, can restore the Past to the Present, can transform the entire external environment of man's life to a symbolical expression of his spirit, can bravely adventure into the depths of comprehensive thought, and, while doing so, reveal an exuberant, capacious, clear, exalted, and noble nature—a wealth of character such as this, freely expressing such a world, is a prize indeed for the Lyric Muse. No doubt a purely logical reflection may find it impossible that such, variety of character should co-exist with a masterful clearness of type. We may be asked, for instance, in reference to the heroic character of Achilles, whose strength of youth is the pre-eminent, trait of his beauty, how it is possible to reconcile the tender heart so manifest in his relations to his father and his friend[Pg 320] with the cruel act of revenge wherewith he drags Hector round the walls. Precisely the same kind of inconsequence is to be met with in Shakespeare's clowns. They are, with scarcely an exception, bubbling over with wit and the humour of genius. And, no doubt, there will always be fools enough to ask us how men thus spiritually gifted could ever betake themselves to such tomfooleries. The truth is that the reflection of the formal logic is sure to emphasize one aspect of a character, and conclude that the entire man is minted under its impression to the exclusion of all others. To such everything that asserts itself as alien to the hallmark of its beggarly mintage can only appear as an inconsequence. In the truely rational contemplation of the whole as distinct from the parts, and thereby of the living thing, that which appears as inconsequent will be precisely that which brings all into fit co-ordination. For our humanity is just this very paradox. We have not merely to carry[363] the contradictions of our complex nature, but to suffer the load[363] with patience, and throughout prove staunch to our burden.

(γ) We may conclude, then, that character must fuse together its particularity in the element of its spiritual substance; it should possess a definite type, and at the same time retain in this distinction the force and stability of a single fully self-consistent pathos. Where we find our humanity represented without such a centre of unity, the different aspects of such variety it may possess will lose all relative meaning or significance and fall away from each other. In art we shall find that what we distinguish in our conception of personality as infinite or the Divine is just this self-consistency in unity. If this view be a just one it is obvious that such characterizations as stability and determination are of great importance in the ideal representation of character. And we shall only obtain such a result, as already observed, in so far as the universality of the powers inherent in our humanity are permitted to transpierce the mere particularity of the individual character and, by virtue of the unity thus set up, create a subjective and at the same time individual life which supplies its own principle of unity and self-identity.

[Pg 321]

Such a condition is all important, and we must now advert to a number of artistic compositions, more particularly of later times, in express relation to it.

In the "Cid" of Corneille, for example, the collision between the opposing principles of love and honour is a match, no doubt, of brilliant effects. A pathos of this kind, involved as it is in the opposition of distinct forces may, no doubt, be the operative ground of conflicts; but when we find such portrayed as the spiritual struggle of one and the same character, though such antagonism may very readily supply us with the material for brilliant rhetoric and effective monologue, the cataclysm which is here presented in the emotional life of one person driven thus by turns from its abstract subjection to honour into the equally abstract one of love, and forthwith hounded back again, is not favourable to the portrayal of a character of genuine stability and homogeneousness.

It is equally inconsistent with the delineation of resolute personality when a leading character, already under the predominant influence of some specific pathos, is portrayed as one overmastered by the direction or persuasion of a subordinate character, such is thus enabled to shift the responsibility upon other shoulders. This is what actually takes place in the "Phedra" of Racine when the mind of Phedra is depicted as entirely motived by the words of Oenone. A character of real distinction acts out of its own initiative, and will not suffer the views of a mere stranger to be that which determines its own resolution. Only when action is the direct result of its own reflections do we get that clear relation between personal initiative and the consequent result which carries with it the full weight of guilt or responsibility.

We find yet another type of this instability of character as quite a peculiar possession of the more recent literary output of Germany. It is a type of character in which a kind of flatulence in emotion is the rule no less than the source. The classic example is the Werther of Goethe's romance, a thoroughly morbid type of character, without any vestige of real manliness such as might carry him beyond the egotism of his love-passion. What makes him interesting is the passion and beauty of his emotional life, the[Pg 322] intimate fellowship between himself and Nature which the course of his spiritual experience and the pliability of his temperament accentuate. This effeminacy has yet more recently embodied itself in many other forms of expression which descend with increasing rapidity to the lowest circle of jejune and tasteless egotism. We must not even omit, for instance, to include in our list that illustration of the lovely soul which we find in Jacobi's "Woldemar." In this romance we are made a present of the glory of emotional volubility in all its pretensions. It would be difficult, indeed, to cite a better example of the self-deceptive illusion of personal virtue and excellence. Here we have all that sublimity and divinity of soul, which relates itself crookedly to every possible aspect of the actual world; that type of feebleness which is wholly unable to share in or tolerate any portion of the labours or interests of practical life as it really is. So rooted is it in its own consciousness of superiority it passes everything as unworthy of it on the other side. It is, in fact, a peculiar feature of this type of "lovely soul" that, even when face to face with the truly ethical interests and wholly sane objects of life, instead of meeting them frankly, it retires into the seclusion of itself, where it weaves its own threads of finery and passes its time in hatching out its exquisite brood of religious and moral reflections. And connected closely with this personal enthusiasm for our superabundant excellence, which we set forth in front of ourselves with such a brave show, there will always be an intense sensitiveness for all other beings who may appear at any moment to sympathize with, comprehend, and appreciate this beauty of the solitary life. If such fellow-feeling is not forthcoming we find the very heart of us troubled to its depths and infinitely bruised. We have lost at one stroke all humanity, friendship, and love. We are unable to put away with whatever act of pedantry or rudeness may be in question, some trivial circumstance or stupidity over which the vision of any character of breadth or strength would pass without a tremor. It whirls away the thought of everything else, and that which is by itself of least significance proves to be that which finally most reduces us to despair. Such is the source of all that endless train of melancholy, trouble, heartache, peevishness, sickness, dejection, and[Pg 323] poverty of spirit which follows, such the spring of all those self-torturing reflections one on the top of another, that cramp and obstinacy, nay, finally, that cruelty of soul, through which the wretchedness and weakness of the spiritual content of such a type, of "loveliness" consummates and declares itself. No heart that is truly sound can wish to unite itself with such an emotional hermitage. For it is a fundamental characteristic of all genuine character that it carries within itself both the courage and the strength to do and to will some actual thing. The interest, therefore, that such natures which are for ever revolving round themselves may arouse in us is after all an empty interest, and necessarily so despite all the conviction with which such natures may assure us that they belong to a higher and purer sphere than our own, a sphere which has revealed to our vision that peculiar type of the Divine they have uncovered from their secret parts and finally present to us, to borrow an apt figure, en negligée.

This want of genuine solidity of character appears in yet another form where we find the particular manifestations of this world of "fine feelings" turned as it were upside down and hypostatized as independent forces. Much that passes for magic, magnetism, spiritualism, the apparitions of clairvoyance, the morbid condition of sleep-walking, is attributable to this source. The living person in question is placed in a relation to these abstruse powers, which from one point of view identifies him with them, and in another makes them appear as something foreign to his spiritual life, which determines and controls it. It is assumed that underlying these undefined forces there is some inexplicable truth which borders on the marvellous, or at any rate passes comprehension. From the world of art, however, all such powers of darkness should be banished. In art there is no darkness at all, but all is lucid and transparent, and in adventuring after such types of myopy speech merely flounders into spiritual disease, or plays loose as poetry with the nebulous, empty, and trivial, a good example of which is the verse of Hoffmann, and that piece by Henry von Klust entitled the "Prince of Homburg." The truly ideal character has nothing in his composition, or the pathos which expresses it, of another world and its ghosts, but only actual interests,[Pg 324] in which he finds himself at home. More particularly is this feature of clairvoyance become a trivial and vulgar recipe of our more modern poets. In Schiller's "Tell," on the contrary, when the old Attinghausen on the brink of the grave foretells the destiny of his country, the prophetic instinct is quite in its right place. It is always, however, a misfortune for an artist to find himself forced to exchange the sanity of a character with some malady of the soul whether it be to motive the collision or excite interest. For this reason he should only avail himself of the condition of insanity in quite exceptional cases.

In conclusion we may connect with these distortions of a sane vision, which are so much opposed to all real unity and consistency of character, the principle of our latter-day irony. This false theory has betrayed the poet into grafting upon his characters qualities so essentially diverse that they are incapable of all homogeneous relation; the essential unity of every character is thus confounded. According to this theory a character is first presented as characterized in a certain way, and immediately after we have that very determination converted into its opposite, and the character itself is propounded to us as nothing more than the negation of what it was and is. Moreover this very futility is accepted by this irony as the supreme discovery of art. An audience should not, in short, be carried away by an essentially positive interest, but should be pulled up at the critical moment, much as the irony itself is no sooner launched upon anything than it is off again. They would even explain the characters of Shakespeare according to such a principle. We are informed that Lady Macbeth was an irreproachable wife of the tenderest feeling, despite the fact that she not only falls in with the suggestion of the murder, but actually eggs her husband on to its execution. But if the signet mark of Shakespeare is conspicuous on any one quality it is on the firm and decisive delineation of his characters, even when it is only the formal greatness and consistency of evil that is in question. Hamlet, it is true, is a case of mental indecision, but even he is only in doubt as to the way he shall carry out his purpose, not at all as to what has to be done. Yet nowadays they would assimilate even Shakespeare's characters to a world of ghosts, and appear to think[Pg 325] that this futility and indecision of ups and downs, this general squeamishness[364] in short can by itself contribute to our interest. The Ideal, however, is centred in this, that Idea is made actual, and our humanity is associated with such actuality as subject and consequently as a unity which is essentially firm-rooted.

We may here, so far at least as this portion of our inquiry is concerned, bring our observations upon the individuality which is consistent with real character to a close. That which we have mainly sought to emphasize is a pathos which is at once self-determined and essential, the possession of a rich and complete nature, the spiritual world of which such a pathos transfuses under such a form that this process of transfusion no less than the pathos itself receives its artistic presentment. At the same time this pathos must not be allowed to come into conflict with itself in the hearts of men so as to stultify its very nature and consistency as pathos.


Our consideration of the determination of the Ideal was in the first instance occupied with the general inquiry why it was and how it came about that the Ideal ever received at all the definite embodiment of a particular form. Following after this we arrived at the conclusion that inherent process was essential to our notion of it, that in fact the element of difference was only by this means asserted within it, and that this process viewed as a whole is presented us in the action. We discovered, however, that in virtue of the action the Ideal passes over into actual relations with the external world; we have therefore, and this is the third important step, to solve the further question what kind of form this its final aspect, as associated with external reality, the Ideal will receive under adequate artistic representation. We would recall the fact that the Ideal is the Idea under a[Pg 326] form which is in union with its own actuality. Up to the present point of our inquiry our attention has been exclusively occupied with that aspect or phase of this actuality which we may call in general terms human individuality and its character. Man is, however, also in possession of a concrete and external existence. In separation from this it is true he concentrates his spiritual life to a point in self-consciousness, but he remains for all that, even in this subjective unity, immediately related to the external world. To the actual existence of mankind the surrounding sphere of a world is as indispensable as the protection of a temple is to the statues of the god it contains. And for this very reason we must now advert to all or some of those many diverse threads, whereby the Ideal is woven in with this external environment and is shown in relief against it[365].

This opens to our view a practically immeasurable expanse of relations and modes under which the process of the external and relative world is determined. For in the first place we are confronted at once with the bare facts of external Nature such as particular locality, situation, whether habitable or not, temporal condition, the nature of the prevailing climate, whether in our earth's northern or southern hemispheres, and in fact in whatever direction we advance we have a fresh picture before us. Moreover, external Nature is made use of by man to satisfy his own needs and purposes; and all the ways under which he converts her to that use, that is to say the adroitness with which he discovers and then equips himself with tools and a home to live in, with weapons, with seats to recline upon, carriages to ride in, nay, all that the art of cooking may bring with it for his food, the entire apparatus of his luxury no less than his comfort, all this and much more fall within the limits of our inquiry. Add to this the further and yet more important consideration that every man lives within a comprehensive[Pg 327] and equally real world of spiritual relations, which itself, too, presents to his view all the different modes under which command and submission is maintained, that is to say the family, blood-relationship, property, country and town life, the cultus of religion, the organization of defence and offence, civic and political associations, private society, in short every conceivable form under which ethical customs and usages are organized in the institutions and permanent activities which contribute to the actual environment of human existence.

In all the directions enumerated above the Ideal is in immediate contact with the reality of the practical world in its everyday dress, or in other words, with the commonplace prose of life. And impressed by this fact we may easily be led to the conclusion, if we have already accepted the nebulous conception of idealism elaborated recently, that art can have no alternative but to dissever herself absolutely from all connection with this world of relative appearances. Such at least can only be logically inferred from a theory which assumes that this relation of externality is one of pure indifference, or rather, in contrast to the subjective world of spirit, is of no substantive significance or worth. Agreeably to this view art is a spiritual dominion, whose sole object is to exalt us above the sphere of material wants, necessities, and dependence, and to liberate us from the logic, and we may add the comedy, of facts, which in this field claim the exclusive attention of our humanity. For, apart from any other consideration, all that meets us upon this terra firma of life's prose is for the most part of a purely conventional character, and, conditioned as it is by time, space, and custom, simply a congeries of contingent facts, which it is derogatory to the nature of art to accept. This view of ideality, which is really an illusive one, is in part due to one of those highly flavoured abstractions of our latter-day thinking, in which we merely find that the thinker's courage has failed him to come to terms with the external world in question; in part also it is due to that type of prepossession which drives a man to assert summarily his independence of practical necessities when the advantages of birth, status, and social position have not already effected this for him. For such a man the only relief available is a complete withdrawal[Pg 328] into the secret world of the emotions, a prison-house of unreality he steps out of never. Here he remains in what he conceives to be the temple of wisdom gazing ecstatic at what he takes to be the stars, and naturally values at the price of a nutshell all that is found on the Earth. The real Ideal, however, is not confined to the shadow-like world of the emotions, but in its perfected whole must freely borrow from the definite structure of external objects of sight in every direction. And the reason of this is that man himself, whose nature is the central source that gives to that Ideal all its significance, is alive, and his life is only actual in a particular place and time, as one with the Present, as the individualized type of infinity[366]; and in short the opposition of an external garland of Nature is a fundamental characteristic of his life and its association with him and his activity is imperative. It follows that if this activity is to be apprehended by art, not merely as belonging to man alone, but in the specific form it may take in that world of appearance, the mode of its existence there will assert itself, as the mobility, reaction, and animating force of life itself in contact and transfusion with the material complex which surrounds it.

Man is, however, in virtue of his self-consciousness a world in himself[367], and as such is differentiated from the external world of Nature which confronts him; and this external world is equally with himself a rounded whole whose unity asserts itself in the principle of causality. This self-exclusion of these two worlds is, however, only apparent; they are in their separation essentially related, and it is precisely this association which constitutes concrete reality, whose artistic embodiment is the content of the Ideal. And this brings us once more to the question already mooted, namely, in what semblance or form the external material which we find in this mutually related world we have referred to as concrete reality[368] can be presented to us by art in a manner consistent with the Ideal of art.

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We will once more accept the triple division of our subject-matter, and examine a work of art from three distinct points of view. First, there is the material of externality accepted in the bare abstractness of its forms, such as space, figure, time, colour, which we must consider relatively to the artistic form most adapted to it.

Secondly, we must consider externality in its full and actualized concreteness, as above explained, a mode of reality which imperatively requires in a work of art that it should be in close affiliation with the subjective content of the spiritual life of man immediately related to it.

Thirdly, our consideration will be directed to the important fact that a work of art is created for the delight of human perceptions, for a public in short, which justly claims that the objects of art should bring home to it the interests of its spiritual life, its real beliefs, emotions, and ideas, so that it may enter with a genuine response into their artistic presentation.


The Ideal in passing out of the bare image of its essential form into external or determinate existence secures for itself a reality which presents two distinct aspects. From one point of view we see that a work of art discloses necessarily in the content of the Ideal the concrete semblance of reality, that is to say it presents that content as a definite situation or particular circumstance, action, event or character, and presents it moreover in the mode of external existence. From another it is equally obvious that art makes some specific and sensuous material the vehicle of the particular content in its entirety of all that we have above summarized; it creates in short a new world sensible to eye and ear, the world of art. Under both these aspects we may further observe that art penetrates to the remotest limits of externality which are compatible with its form as the self-including unity of the Ideal and conformable to its appearance as a concrete whole permeated with the energy of[Pg 330] spirit[369]. A work of art moreover itself may, as an object qualified by externality, be viewed in two distinct ways. We may regard it simply as an external thing, and as such only conformable to a unity that is external in the sense external objects are such. In considering it from this latter point of view we have once more to consider that relation of externality which we found it necessary to discuss in our examination of the beauty of Nature. And for this reason we shall again have to make use of those specific determinants which we previously discussed, and even then primarily in their connection with art. The modes under which external form was in the previous section exhaustively considered were then treated in a twofold way. First we analysed such conceptions as uniformity, symmetry, and conformity to rule; we then examined unity itself regarded as the simplicity and purity of the sensuous material, which art makes use of as the external medium for the existence of her expositions.

(a) We will start our inquiry by examining the position in which we now find ourselves relatively to such conceptions as uniformity and symmetry. It is obvious that these, expressing as they do the entirely lifeless unity of the geometrical logic, can by no means exhaust the nature of a work of art even when entirely regarded as an external object. Such determinations are only exhaustive in their relation to what is in itself lifeless, such as time and the configuration of space. Confined in this way though they be to the barest forms of externality, they are then true witnesses both to the power and substance of reason. And consequently we find they assert themselves in a twofold manner even in art. In the first of these, it is this very quality of their abstractness which operates by way of contrast to the living pulse of art, which is forced even in the confines of its sensuous material to raise itself over and beyond mere symmetry into the freedom of the Ideal. In this process of liberation which may be exemplified in the melodies of the art of music we do not, however, find that the conformity to rule disappears altogether, it is merely made subservient as a foundation. In[Pg 331] the second, this principle of measure and rule in its application to the indefinite and unlimited is the one and only qualifying principle which certain arts can accept owing to the nature of the media which those arts make use of. In such cases uniformity is itself and alone raised to the ideal significance of the art. The principal example of an art of this type is that of architecture; and the reason of this is that a work of art which is wholly architectonic is directed to the one object of reconstituting, by means of an artistic form, that which is essentially the external and inorganic environment of spirit. In this art, consequently, all that is rectilinear, right-angled, circular, or presents uniformity of pillars, windows, arches, piers, vaults, and so forth is the dominant principle of unity.

The artistic structure of architecture is not erected entirely as an object in itself, but rather as an external frame, embellishment and local habitation for something else which it subserves. A building is not complete until it has received the statue of the god or the society of human beings who make their dwelling therein. An artistic work of this kind should not therefore receive all or indeed the main attention. Holding this in our minds, it will appear obviously to the purpose that uniformity and symmetry should be here the prevailing characteristic of the structure; the mind passes over very readily one that is throughout uniform, and will not trouble itself about it for any length of time. Of course, we cannot here discuss the symbolical significance, which, in addition to that above examined, may attach to architectural form in its immediate relation to the spiritual content it envelops and emphasizes with a positive localization. The same principle applies to the art of making gardens, which we may define as a specific mode of architecture, in so far at least as an artistic conformation is imposed on external Nature[370]. In the garden no less than in the building man himself is the main object. There are two distinct types in this art of garden-construction. The one adopts as its main principle uniformity and symmetry; the other those[Pg 332] of variety and irregularity. As an artistic product the former is to be preferred. Labyrinths, however numerous and intricate, garden-beds in endless alternation of spiral lines, bridges over water usually stagnant, with every conceivable surprise that gothic church, temples, Chinese pagodas, hermitages, urns, summer-houses, mounds, statues may claim to afford us—one glance and only one glance at such things is sufficient, the vulgar and artificial pretensions of it all is too patent, and we do not seek for another. It is quite another matter when we cross any actual situation of real natural beauty, which has not at least been exploited expressly for our enjoyment[371], and by its own exceptional merit makes an irresistible appeal to our love of Nature and our sense of her beauty. A garden laid out with strict reference to the other extreme of regularity, makes no such attempts at surprises, but permits human beings to appear as the principal object in the external framework of natural beauty[372]. And this is really what a garden should be. Again in the art of painting the principle of uniformity and symmetry is clearly visible in the co-ordination of the whole, the grouping of the figures, their place and pose in the composition. But inasmuch as in painting the animation of life can assert itself through objects in a far profounder degree than is possible in architecture we find that it presents much less scope for the purely formal unity of the symmetrical, and the rule of uniformity in all its severity is for the most part to be traced only as the fundamental principle of composition in[Pg 333] the earliest phases of art, making way in its more advanced forms to the freer line, which is associated in our minds with organic form rather than such we meet with in the pyramid and similar geometrical shapes. Conformity to rule and symmetry are further important factors in the composition of music and poetry. Owing to the incident of duration in the length of tones we find in these arts an aspect of what is intrinsically a purely external relation, which is incompatible with any other more concrete mode of presentation. If we take the spatial condition it is obvious that here everything which lies in juxtaposition can be seen at a glance. It is otherwise with that which occurs in Time. Here we have merely a succession of moments, every one of which takes the place of another, and in this vanishing procession they flow on for ever. And it is precisely this indeterminacy which it is the function of musical time or beat to inform by adding thereto a real definition capable of uniform repetition. In this way the indefinite progression is subordinated to a rational principle. In musical time we have a power which exerts such a fascination upon us, that, so far from being able to treat it with indifference, we not unfrequently find ourselves beating time quite unconsciously with it while listening. This constant recurrence of equal lengths of time according to a definite measure has nothing to do with tones and their duration as we find them in Nature. Tone simply as musical sound and time abstractly regarded, are both of them equally indifferent to such uniform divisions and repetitions. Musical time is consequently something wholly created by the human mind; and indeed there is more than a suggestion of this in the fact that in listening to musical time we are at once impressed with the conviction, that we have, in this control of time according to fixed rule, nothing less than a real reflection of our spiritual nature, or rather that of the fundamental truth of self-identity, an illustration absolutely precise of the way in which the subject of consciousness applies this very principle of uniformity, unity with itself, that is to say, in constant recurrence, throughout all the variety and most intricate multiplicity of experience. And it is for this reason that the beat of musical time meets with such a startling response in the very depths of our being, gripping hold, as it does, of[Pg 334] that self-identity, which is the fundamental abstract principle of our inmost life. Considered in this relation it is not; the spiritual content, not the concrete soul of our emotions, any more than it is the musical tone as tone, which appeals to us so intimately; it is simply the formal unity which the unity of consciousness transfers to the temporal process, and which is thus re-echoed back to our conscious life. And the same remarks apply to the measure and rhyme of poetry. The sensuous medium is here, too, in the same way carried out of the sphere of that which is external to ourselves, and at once asserts there the presence of something over and above that which is expressed by our ordinary consciousness, which in its general use treats the time-divisions of tones with indifference or caprice.

A uniformity of similar character, if not so consistently defined, may be traced still further, and is involved in the living content of poetry itself, although the relation here is quite an external one. By this we mean that in an epic poem or a drama, both of which have their particular subdivisions, cantos, or acts, whatever may be the specific term applicable, there is an approximate principle of equality apparent in the division of subject-matter. And the same characteristic is generally true in the grouping of the subject in pictures, although such should not appear to be a necessary result of the nature of the subject-matter itself, nor create the impression that this uniform distribution is due to any controlling principle of first importance.

Conformity to rule and symmetry, which are the abstract unity and definition of all that is essentially spatial and its configuration no less than of all which is external under temporal condition, are mainly the co-ordinating principles of quantity and size, as we have already noticed in our consideration of the beauty of Nature. All that which does not, in virtue of its own specific medium[373], strictly form part of external extension, is consequently freed from the range of those principles which assert themselves exclusively in the relations of quantity, and are determined through relations of deeper significance, and the unity which co-ordinates them. It follows from this that the further art embraces subject-matter which is independent of the external condition,[Pg 335] so much the less significant the principle of uniformity becomes, in the co-ordination of that art's subject-matter and the more completely is it restricted to a subordinate position.

It will be, perhaps, advisable here to close the above discussion of symmetry with a few general observations upon harmony. The relation of harmony is no longer one to mere quantity, but rather one to essential distinctions of quality, differences of tone, that is to say, which do not persist against each other in their native opposition, but as harmony or music have to be brought into concord. In music we find that the relation of the tonic to the mediant and dominant notes of the scale is no relation of bare quantity[374], but implies the presence of tones whose difference is essentially a qualitative difference; which, that is to say, combine naturally in a unity, rather than continue to assert their distinguishing timbre in all its glaring antithesis and contradiction. The true discord, on the contrary, requires its harmonic resolution. The same qualitative consistency is to be found in the harmony of colour, in reference to which it is likewise one of the requirements of art that it should neither manifest itself in a picture as a motley and haphazard juxtaposition of pigments, nor as a neutral surface whereon all fundamental distinction is dissolved[375], but as the artistic expression of a whole in which essential contrast is mediated through some principle of harmonious unity. Furthermore, we observe that harmony contains in itself a definite number of contrasted differences, which have naturally a particular significance of their own. Thus we find under the differentiation of colour a definite number known as the cardinal colours, which are primary derivatives of the fundamental notion of colour, and are not due to accidental composition. Harmony consists in bringing together a number of positive colours such as this classification implies, and uniting them in concordant unity. We must, that is to say, have in a[Pg 336] picture not merely all the primary colours, yellow, blue, green, and red present, but also a harmonious scheme under which they are related; and the old masters have, without direct consciousness of the principle involved, paid express attention to this completeness of effect and arrived at artistic results which flowed out of it. And furthermore, for the very reason that we find in harmony the beginnings of a release from the bare condition of externality it is duly qualified to absorb and express a spiritual content of wider significance. We may mark an illustration of this in the way the old masters distinguished between the drapery of their principal figures and of those of less importance, painting that of the former in elementary colours of absolute purity, but only conceding to that of the rest compound varieties. The mantle of the Virgin Mary is almost always blue; blue in its assuaging sense of tranquillity is accepted as the counterfeit of the repose and tenderness of the heart. It is only rarely that we find her in a drapery of emphatic red.

(b) The second aspect of externality is the relation it occupies directly in the various material which art employs in the various media of its presentations. The unity here consists in the clear definition and homogeneousness of the material, which ought not to deviate in the direction of a vague characterization and mere confusion, or, speaking generally, give us the impression of dirtiness. This determinacy is also entirely dependent upon the spatial condition, that is to say, upon the purity of its delineation, the distinctness of its rectilinear and circular lines, and so on, no less than upon a consistent definition of Time such as we find in the accurate measure of the musical beat. It depends furthermore on the translucency both of specific tones and colours. In a good picture we shall find that there is nothing unclean or "dirty"[376] in the colours employed, but everything is clear and asserts itself openly for what it is. The directness of its purity is, in fact, that which constitutes the lovely impression of colour upon our sense; and those colours[Pg 337] which are most direct in their simplicity, such as a yellow which has no dash of green in it, or a red that is wholly independent of blue or yellow, produce the most emphatic effect. On the other hand, it is obviously more difficult to maintain a harmony of the whole when colours are thus contrasted in all their pristine simplicity. Yet in despite of this these essentially simple colours form the foundation of every true colour scheme, and although it may be impossible to dispense with a considerable use of their compounds, even these should not be allowed to appear in one dead and dull interfusion, but with their simple and luminous derivations shining through them[377]; otherwise instead of the clear lambency of colour we shall get nothing but a muddy residuum. We shall find that the same thing is necessary in the timbre of musical tone. In the case of strings whether of metal or catgut it is the vibration of the material, and, moreover, of a material of definite tension and length, which educes the musical note. If the tension is insufficient, or the length of the string which is struck is not the right one, the tone inevitably loses its clearness of definition, rings false, as we say, owing to the interfusion with it of other tones[378]. We have the same kind of result when a purely mechanical fretting or scraping is suffered to interfere with the purity of the vibratory motion, and so to render the emitted sound confused and harsh. In the same way, it is of the first importance to the art of singing that the human voice should be produced from throat and chest freely and with purest intonation; the voice should be heard without the least indication of its[Pg 338] organic instrument, or, as in the case of hoarseness, with an obstructive accompaniment the singer fails to repress. We may conclude, then, that this translucency and purity, free from all admixture with anything foreign to it, and consistent throughout in its clearness, is that which creates the beauty of tone as immediately apprehended by our senses, and which distinguishes it from every kind of mere noise. And we may add further it is this which in human speech conspicuously applies to the articulation of the vowels. A language which enunciates the five vowels with distinction and purity, as is strongly the case in the Italian, is essentially musical and adapted to song. The diphthongs, on the contrary, always produce a confused tone. In literature little attention is paid to the direct reproduction of folk-dialects; we find them rather reduced to the simplest form of expression. In actual speech, however, this clearness of intonation only too often entirely disappears, so that we find, and markedly so in the case of dialects such as the South German, Swabian, and Swiss, men actually speak with an articulation of sound it is quite impossible to write down. We do not regard this, however, to be necessarily a defect in human speech, but rather a reflection of the rawness of the common folk. And here we must close our observations upon that external aspect of art, which, from the fact that it is external, and nothing more, is only capable of receiving an external and abstract unity.

Now according to its more comprehensive definition it is the concrete individuality of the Ideal impregnated with reason, which takes to itself externality as the form of its embodiment, and, moreover, in such a way that the external semblance, which is thus the medium of its expression, is throughout suffused with the mind inherent in this concrete individual form. In consequence of this such modes of relation as uniformity, symmetry, and harmony, or, in other words, the more simple determinations of the sensuous material are no longer adequate. This defect naturally extends our inquiry to that second aspect of the external determination of the Ideal already stated.

[Pg 339]


The fundamental truth which we shall endeavour to substantiate before everything in the matter which now immediately engages our attention is this, that man is under an obligation to make himself at peace and at home in the environment of the world; or, to put it rather differently, his individuality must live itself into Nature and all the conditions of that external world, and by doing so assert its freedom visibly. And, moreover, this must take place in such a way that these two related factors, that is, on the one side, the entirety of his inward life and the character it possesses or displays in all conditions or actions whatsoever, and, on the other, that objective entirety of external existence which confronts him, must wholly lose the appearance of two worlds which are either indifferent to or not homogeneous with[379] each other, and forthwith proclaim themselves as harmoniously related and identical in substance. This externally objective world must, in so far as it is the reality of the Ideal, surrender the semblance of its own objective self-subsistency and stubbornness, in order that its fundamental unity with that to which it supplies the external and particular embodiment may be exhibited in truth.

To establish this unity with more conclusiveness we propose now to examine our subject under three different heads of discussion.

First, we may investigate the same from the point of view that this unity which binds the two factors already defined is merely a bond which possesses no positive reality[380], but is merely a mysterious and secret connection both in its origin and appearance, by virtue of which our humanity is looped together with its environment.

Secondly, however, as a deduction from the fact that it is the concrete spiritual life of man and the individuality[Pg 340] which pertains to it which constitutes the point of departure, or rather the essential content of the Ideal, we shall further examine this association, as in truth the creation of human activity itself and only possible as such a creation.

Finally, we shall prove that this unified world created by the human Spirit is itself a complete entirety, which, in the determinate form of its existence, is objectively valid, and in essential relation with which every unit of our common humanity who is actively engaged with the vital concerns of art must infallibly remain.

In opening our discussion of the position we proposed first we would at once point out an important conclusion involved in it. We have here posited that the environment of the Ideal is not directly due to human activity, it can therefore only be regarded in this first step of our inquiry as something external to man, that is to say Nature. How, then, is this something outside man to be exhibited in the ideal work of art? We will discuss this at least in its more general terms, and here, too, draw attention to three aspects of importance.

(α) In the first place external Nature, so far as the reproduction of its external form is concerned, is in every respect a reality which is embodied in some definite shape. If our representation is in every respect to satisfy really all that is implied in this condition it must be the exact counterpart of the phenomenal truth of Nature. We have, however, already drawn attention to material points of difference between the truth of Nature and its reproduction by art which cannot be disregarded. We may, however, observe that it is an almost universal characteristic of the great masters that they are conspicuously true in their delineation and elaboration of the broad facts of Nature. And this is not so much due to a love of imitation as it is due to the fact that Nature is not merely in a general way the objective facts of a heaven and an Earth with humanity suspended, as it were, in a vacuo between them; but rather that the emotional life and activity of man can only be rightly conceived as alive and operative in a given place with all its associations of streams, rivers, hills, mountains, plains, dales, and forests. Take the case, for example, of Homer, who is not at all a poet of[Pg 341] the picturesque in natural scenery as we now understand it; we shall, nevertheless, find even in him the descriptions and indications he gives us of actual places or natural features such as the rivers Scamander or Simois, the coast and bays of the sea and so forth correspond with such truth to Nature that geographical investigators only quite recently have been able to map out the locality to which he refers in entire accordance with his descriptions. The ballad-singers of the Middle Ages present a sordid[381] contrast to him in this respect, no less than in their power of depicting character; the effect of their productions either way is bald, jejune and nebulous. Even in the case of the Meistersingers, though they versify old biblical stories which they locate in Jerusalem and elsewhere, it is little more than the bare names which we get. In the Book of heroes[382] the effect is precisely similar. Otnith rides through the pine-forest, fights with the dragon, but it is no world of men or distinct locality we can recognize, and our imagination is consequently in this respect left without any support. Even in the Nibelungenlied there is no real increase of local interest. It is true the names of Worms, the Rhine, and the Danube are mentioned; but practically all further detail is omitted and the result is as barren as before. And yet it is clearly through this very clearness of definition that our narration becomes individual and real; without this it is a mere abstraction which directly gives the lie to the concrete reality it proposes to present.

(β) In addition to these fundamental requirements of clear definition and correspondence with the natural facts a certain elaboration of detail will frequently much assist us in presenting the external aspects of a picture which our perception or imagination can readily seize. Unquestionably, owing to the nature of the particular medium in which the several arts express themselves, there will be a marked difference of range to which, in any particular case, this process may be carried. If we take the art of sculpture, for example,[Pg 342] we shall find that the repose and universality, which are the fundamental features of its characterization, are less consistent with this elaboration of external detail than is the case in some other arts. Externality is here neither defined as a particular place nor a particular environment, but is entirely concentrated upon such details as drapery, arrangement of hair, dress, weapons of war, mode of seat and the like. Nay more, the actual definition of many figures in antique sculpture is only obtained through an entirely conventional arrangement of drapery or hair, or other distinguishing accessories. This is not, however, the place to discuss further the significance of the conventional. It is obviously outside the sphere of natural fact and rather related to the contingent; or, to put the matter in this particular case more fully, it is the means through which we arrive at that which is more universal and persistent in our final artistic effect.

As a reverse case to that of sculpture the subject-matter of lyrical poetry is pre-eminently man's emotional life; for this reason it is not so necessary in this type of poetry to lay stress on the detail of actual facts even when reference is made to the external world. It is, on the other hand, part of the function of epic poetry to state events as actual facts, to be precise as to the place where actions occurred and in what manner they were performed; and, in short, of all types of poetry it is the one to which the widest latitude and the closest accuracy of local detail is most essential. And, furthermore, if we contrast all the arts together in this respect we shall find that not one of them is, by virtue of its medium[383], so exclusively occupied with the detail of external Nature as that of painting. At the same time we must add a word that applies equally to all of them. Whatever the definition of Nature may be, it never ought to give the erroneous impression of Nature's prose reality, that is to say, as the immediate imitation of such; nor should that fulness of detail, which is devoted to the spiritual aspect of individual life and its events, be carried by enthusiasm out of the due relation of its importance to the whole. And generally we may affirm of both that such exclusive definition ought[Pg 343] not to be all that is anywhere presented, inasmuch as everywhere in a work of art that which is a natural fact should only receive its artistic embodiment in close relation to man's spiritual life.

(γ) We have here struck the very note we wish particularly to emphasize. We have already remarked that there are two essential conditions to any effective presentation of a real personality; we must have before us both the reflection of the man's inner life and the natural environment which surrounds him. And in order that this external surrounding appear as one that is truly his own an essential bond of relation must be established between him and it, one which to a greater or less degree is part of his own spiritual substance, where we may, doubtless, cross many traces of contingent matter and yet find the spiritual bed of this nexus still maintained. Throughout the entire spiritual apparatus of the heroes of Epic poetry, for example, their mode of life, that is, opinions, emotions, and all that they do we ought to be able to recognize a subtle homogeneousness, a harmonious en rapport, which fuses the two aspects of such a life into one concordant whole. The Arab is thus united with Nature, and, indeed, apart from his sky, his stars, his torrid deserts, his tents, his camels, and his horses is unintelligible. He is only truly himself and at home under such conditions. In the same way the heroes of Ossian possess in the highest degree an intense inward life; but in their very gloominess and melancholy they appear as the genuine growth of their hills of heather, whose thistles are swept by the wind, of their rain-clouds, mists, mountains, and dark caves. The physiognomy of the conditions under which they live reveals to us as nothing else can the secret of that inner life of emotion which is lived through with all its sadness, mourning, its pains, its battles, and its mist-like apparitions in such a natural setting; they are, in short, entirely at home in it and in it alone.

Such considerations supply us with ample ground for the statement we let fall previously unsupported that the subject-matter of history offers unrivalled opportunities for perfecting this intimate relation between the two aspects of human life we have been discussing, and enabling, us to carry the same directly into the minutest particulars. Very[Pg 344] rarely, indeed, are we likely to find that the imagination can simply through its own initiative create such a harmony, although we ought to feel its presence throughout, however little it may, in fact, have produced of the raw material it combines into artistic completeness. No doubt there is a common tendency to rate what we fancy is the free creation of imaginative genius above the effort of assimilating in artistic form a material which is borrowed; but it is for all that quite impossible that the imagination should alone create that harmonious entente, the unity of the Ideal requires in the consistent and defined form which lies before us in actual existence, where national traits, to cite the examples above, are the veritable growth of such a harmony.

And here we close our consideration of the principle accordant with which we have rendered more clear that aspect of the unity of the inner life with its natural environment which we posited as secret or potential, not at any rate directly due to human activity.

(b) The second phase of this harmonious relation may be explained more positively, being expressly due to man's own activity and his adaptation of means to ends. For man adapts external objects to his own uses and, by means of the satisfaction which his work supplies, places himself in a harmonious relation to them. In contrast therefore to our first indefinite[384], and, in fact, entirely general type of harmonious association the present one is directly concerned with what is particular, as exemplified in the particular needs of man and their satisfaction by his converting to his use such natural objects as he may require. The range of his wants and the consequent impulse of their satisfaction is of a practically unlimited variety; yet it is nothing in comparison with the variety of Nature herself. Simplification is therefore inseparable from the task whereby, our humanity imposes on the facts of Nature its own vital purposes, and interpenetrates the external world with its own volitions. In this way man's environment is humanized; he proves by his own acts that it is capable of satisfying his nature and is unable to preserve any predominant independence over against him. Here at last, by virtue, that is, of his own productive[Pg 345] exertions, we find him no longer in a merely general sense of the term, but actually in every detail of his particular surroundings a real centre of his own substance and at home.

The fundamental conception which it is most important to emphasize as that which affects art throughout in its relation to all we have above considered may be thus stated. If we look closely at the relative position man occupies in all the infinite variety of his material wants, desires, and aims, we shall find that it is not one merely of general significance, but one of actual dependence. The absence of freedom implied in this relative position is antagonistic to the Ideal; and in order that man may become a suitable object for art, he must have already released himself from the travail of this enforced condition, and thrown off the chains of his dependence. Moreover, this act of mutual accommodation, when we trace it to its origin, may strike us in one of two different ways. Either he may conclude that Nature in all friendliness on her own part supplies man with what he needs, and so far from throwing obstacles in the path of his interests and objects, rather freely gives them him as one who meets him half way wherever he goes. Or, on the contrary, we shall not fail to observe that our humanity has wants and desires, whose immediate satisfaction Nature is quite unable to secure. In cases that fall under the second type it is obvious that man can only work out the self-satisfaction vital to him through his own energies; he must take possession of that which Nature possesses, set to rights the defects which appear, modify their form, removing all that stands in his way with adroitness; and, in short, convert Nature's raw material into means through which he will be able to attain all that he proposes. The relation in which the unity between man and his environment will be most conspicuous must be sought for in an example, where there is already a real contact between them, where, that is to say, human ability is on such good terms with the amenability of Nature that all the severity of a conflict between them as unreconciled forces disappears, and we have forthwith the completed symphony under our eyes.

For the reasons, then, already advanced the ideal province[Pg 346] of art must be held secure from the bare necessities of life. Property and the favour of circumstances, in so far as they supply a condition, under which poverty and labour vanish not merely for this or that hour, but for the most part altogether, are for this reason, we will not say incompatible with art, but rather in full concurrence with the Ideal. Yet it would only betray a real lack of comprehension[385], if in cases where the conditions of our art compelled us to consider the facts of life in all their multifold variety, we nevertheless omitted from our composition all reference to the relation in which human life is placed to these very natural constraints. It is true enough that such are purely finite conditions; but art is not therefore able to dispense with them. They must not, in fact, even be treated by her as something merely bad. It is rather her function to reconcile them with the Real in her embracing unity. And indeed the finest actions and opinions which she reflects on her mirror, if we consider the particular form of the determination and content alone[386], are necessarily limited and consequently finite. That I find it necessary to provide myself with nourishment, food and drink, a house to live in, and clothing to wear, seats to sit upon, and everything else incidental to domestic life is no doubt an inevitable concomitant of the fact that I live in the world; but the life that only I myself experience within me permeates, this external aspect of my life so completely, that men are fain to clothe and arm the very gods themselves, and to picture them under conditions inseparable from a variety of things they seek to possess, and find their satisfaction in obtaining. In short, for art to be possible, this satisfaction of the necessities of life must be assured to us. Or to take an example where this is not so, there is that of adventurous knights who only secure their immunity from external hardship through the continued success of their enterprise, which is therefore itself but a contingency, in much the same way as the prosperity of savages is contingent[Pg 347] upon the amenities of Nature. The conditions in both cases are not favourable to Art. Her true Ideal is not merely to be found where our humanity is barely lifted above the most rigorous condition of dependence upon the smiles or frowns of Nature, but is most of all at home in that superfluity which suffers it in conjunction with Nature's bounty to expatiate with freedom no less than delight.

The above remarks are obviously of very general application. Two considerations, however, of a somewhat more restricted interest may be deduced from them.

(α) The first of these relates to the kind of use to which mankind put the objects of Nature in seeking for a satisfaction which is wholly aesthetic, or due to some habit of the mind. Everything in the nature of ornament and finery, or, in general terms, everything that men convert to their use for the sake of mere show comes under this head. And the point to which we draw attention is this, that when we find men thus decorating themselves no less than their immediate surroundings, we ought not so much to conclude that all that they thus collect together from Nature's most costly and beautiful storehouse, whatever may most attract their eyes in the same—whether it be gold, precious stones, pearls, ivory, or precious raiment—that all this unrivalled rarity and brilliancy, in short, is that which for its own sake, and primarily as a product of Nature, interests them: rather their interest in it all is essentially personal as a thing suitable for the houses they live in, or for that which they most love and honour, whether it be their rulers, their temples, or their gods. A man selects in this way that which already appears to him as externally beautiful, pure translucent colour, glitter of metals, fragrant woods, marble, and all the rest. Poetry, and particularly Oriental poetry, makes a willing use of such wealth, a fact we may even illustrate from such a poem as the Nibelungenlied: and generally it is true enough that Art in such matters is not merely content with a general description of the beauty or value of such fine things; but, where the artistic form and the occasion allows, will describe such works in all the detail of their workmanship with as royal a bounty as the works themselves. There was no stint of either gold or ivory on the statue of Pallas at Athens, or that of Zeus at Olympia;[Pg 348] and the temples of the ancient gods, the churches of Christendom, the pictures of saints, and the palaces of kings, are notable illustrations among all nations that possess any of them, to what kind of service splendour and brilliant show may be devoted; thus have nations in every age delighted in seeing upon their gods the visible presence of their own wealth, precisely as they have found delight in the splendour of their princes as a glory they still possessed, though ravished from themselves.

We all know, of course, that type of moralist who is only too ready to disturb the vision of such an enjoyment. We shall, no doubt, be reminded how many poor Athenians the aegis of Pallas could have supplied with a hearty meal, or how many slaves could have thus been liberated; and, doubtless, we must admit that in the case of the ancient world, no less than in days more near to our own wealth, all that has been lavished on temple, cloister, or cathedral, or other objects of public utility, has been expended under social conditions of the direst need to many. Nay, we may carry such melancholy reflections yet further, and find in them a condemnation not merely of particular works of art, but of Art herself and all that she gives us. What sums of money are involved in the building by the State of an Academy of Arts, or the purchase of ancient and modern works of art, and the appropriate embellishment of public galleries, theatres, and museums! But whatever the effect of such reflections may be upon us, whether ethical or otherwise, such is, after all, only due to the fact that we are once more reminded of those very constraints and hardships whose removal is a vital condition of the appearance of Fine Art. The appropriation of a unique sphere in its life for the exposition of its artistic treasures, which stands safe above the stress of that reality to which it contributes so largely, can therefore only redound to the glory and supreme honour of any people.

(β) But, further, mankind is not merely interested in the adornment of individuals and the environment of their life, but is actively employed in adapting the objects of Nature to its practical needs and purposes. It is on this plane that we come into contact for the first time with all the labour and struggle which the dependence of our humanity upon[Pg 349] the prose of its finite life implies. And the question inevitably arises, how far all that is involved in this practical effort is suitable to artistic presentation.

(αα) In attempting some answer to this problem, we would draw attention to the historical fact that the earliest way in which Art attempted to banish all the prose reality of human life was the conception of the well-known golden age or, if we care to call it so, the idyllic state. In this we have Nature depicted as satisfying man's every want with no trouble to himself: while he, for his part, enjoys in a state of innocence all that mead, wood, flocks, garden, shelter, and so forth, can supply him with nourishment, dwelling, and all other comforts incidental to such a life. Of the passions of ambition or avarice, indeed of every impulse that may appear to run counter to the nobility of man's spiritual nature, we hear no word at all. At first blush, no doubt, a state of this description may strike us more or less as ideal, and certain types of art, limited in their range, may find definite satisfaction in presenting us with a picture of it. But we have only to penetrate further below the surface and we shall quickly have enough of such a vision. The writings of Gessner are little read nowadays, and when we do read them we find in such little satisfaction. The truth is that a restricted state of life, such as the above described, presupposes a very elementary stage in human development. Manhood which has attained to any real fulness of spiritual stature is moved by impulses of loftier range, and is not likely to be satisfied with the life which clings closest to Nature and its immediate products. In such idyllic poverty of soul no man ought to live, but rather to accept his birthright of toil: that which his spiritual impulse urges him forward to, that he must secure through his own activity. Once regard the matter in this way and these very physical wants of man will be found to bring into being a wide and diverse range of activities, implanting in him the conscious sense of his own powers, from the heart of which the profounder interests and forces of his life can slowly unravel themselves. But, at the same time, it is necessary that here, too, the harmonious relation between the outward and inner life should be maintained as the fundamental principle of artistic presentation. Few[Pg 350] things are more offensive to our aesthetic taste than to find in a work of art the severity of some physical disaster portrayed through every detail of horror. Dante flashes on us the starvation of Ugolino in a few trenchant strokes. When a Gerstenberg, in his tragedy of Ugolino, wrings out every detail of the catastrophe to the last drop, telling us precisely how first Ugolino's two sons, and after them their father, were done to death by starvation, we feel at once that the subject, as thus handled, is entirely at variance with the principles of fine art.

(ββ) We shall, however, find that the condition of life which offers the strongest contrast to that we have described as the idyllic state, we will call it the generally civilized life[387], presents, though on other grounds, difficulties to an ideal exposition which are equally serious. In a Culture-State the complexus of social wants and labour, of interests and all that may go to satisfying the same, is throughout and in all its comprehensiveness completely evolved. Every individual here is immersed in an infinite network of relations with other units of the whole, and with so much loss to his complete independence. What he himself requires for himself is either nothing at all, or only, in a quite insignificant fraction of it, the result of his own labour: add to this the tendency of all a man's normal activities is to become more and more mechanical. We find, too, at the heart of this industrial development and the interchange of employment and rejection of human labour which it implies, on the one hand the most ruthless conditions of poverty, and on the other a class which, raised as it is above the bare necessities of existence, stands out in relief as wealthy, entirely released from all toil for the sake of a subsistence, able at any rate to devote individual attention to the finer interests of life and its pathetic contrasts. No doubt the possession of such a superfluity may create an impression as though for the favoured few the constant recurrence of a position of dependence had passed away, and a man is just so much the more released from the accidents incidental to property because his hands are at length free from the[Pg 351] grime which soils them in securing it. But such a consolatory reflection will never make a man thoroughly at home in all that immediately surrounds him in the real sense that such is the garland of his own labour. For he is the centre of that to the upraising of which he has not himself been instrumental; it has come there out of that provision store which was already full without him, which quite other persons and for the most part in a quite mechanical and, therefore, formal way have provided, and to which he is only introduced after a long series of effort and struggle wholly strange to himself.

(γγ) We are consequently led to the conclusion that it is rather a third type of human society, a society which we may place halfway between the idyllic golden age and the burgher State in its fully developed industrial form, which is most fitted to be the subject matter of ideal art. We have already analysed this state of society in another connection under the description of the heroic and pre-eminently ideal world-condition. The heroic age is no longer restricted to that idyllic garden of spiritual attenuation, but includes within its borders passions and aims of deeper moment; and yet withal that which in the circle of the individual life touches closest the satisfaction of each man's immediate wants is still the entire product of his own activity.

Moreover, the means of nourishment such as honey, milk, and wine are less complex and consequently lend themselves more readily to ideal treatment[388]. A diet which includes coffee, brandy, and such like luxuries is associated in our minds with countless industries which are necessary to their preparation. Our heroes, on the contrary, kill and roast their own food, break in their own chargers, are the makers to a considerable extent of all their household gods; ploughs, armour for defence, shields, coats of mail, swords, spears, all are either the work of the possessor, or[Pg 352] are made directly under his supervision. In a condition of life of this kind a man necessarily feels that in all the things he makes use of, and in all that encircles him, he is in touch with something produced by himself; that in contact with external objects he is in contact with his own substance rather than with objects which emanate from a world strange to himself and outside that in which he is himself master. It is, of course, assumed that all the energy he expends upon working up the material into forms adapted for his use is not so much troublesome labour, but a work which, through the satisfaction it brings him, falls easy from his shoulders, a work, in short, which he can carry over every obstacle to success.

We find a society of this type in Homer. Agamemnon's sceptre is a family staff which his ancestor himself shaped from the block and left as an heirloom to his descendants. Odysseus put together with his own hands the mighty bed he shared with Penelope; and if the famous weapons of Achilles are no work of his own we only find the various and interfused array of his own activities abated that a god, Hephaestus himself, may provide them at the request of his mother Thetis. In a word, we meet everywhere the youthful delight in novel discovery, the freshness of personal possession, the victorious sense of enjoyment. Everything is in its place and at home, in everything a man discovers the energy of his own sinew, the adroitness of his own hand, the cunning of his own spirit, or somewhat that follows from his own courage and bravery. In this way, and by this alone, the instruments which satisfy our human sense are not as yet relegated to a merely external relation, but men have before them the living process of the instruments themselves, the vital consciousness of the human worth they attach to them; and they find it there inasmuch as for them they are not mere lifeless things or things which habit has made lifeless, but creations impregnated with their own energies. And for the same reason we find here an idyllic condition of things, it is true, but not in that restricted sense of the term that the Earth and her streams, seas, forests, and cattle supply to mankind their sustaining substance, while man himself is only visible to us as a passive creature limited by the active powers which support him and their enjoyment.[Pg 353] Rather we already see within this morning-time of human life deep interests at work, in relation to which the great world itself is but a subordinate realm, the ground and the instrument for bringing into being the higher aims which are present, as a ground and environment, however, over which that harmonious concord, yet withal independence, of both sides of our human world prevails; and which does prevail in the sight of all for this reason that everything there exists as the product and for the use of human life, is at the same time the creation and enjoyment of the man who creates and enjoys its use[389].

To apply such a mode of artistic presentation to material borrowed from more recent times, whose completed culture offers the strongest contrast to the heroic age above-mentioned, is always beset with extreme difficulty and liable to failure. Yet for all that Goethe in his "Hermann and Dorothea" has furnished us in this respect with an admirable masterpiece. Here an attempt will only be made to elucidate a few significant points by contrasting the same with a composition of similar type. Voss, in his famous romance "Louise," had depicted on much the same idyllic lines our human life and activity in a quiet circle of narrow range, if also marked with independent characteristics of its own. The country parson, the tobacco-pipe, the dressing-gown, the garden-bench, and finally our coffee-pot, have all of them here important parts to play. Coffee and sugar are, however, products, which are really here out of place; they belong to an entirely different world[390] throughout associated with all the varied ramifications of commercial and textile industries. This circle of country life is consequently not self-inclusive. In the beautiful picture of "Hermann and[Pg 354] Dorothea" we are, on the contrary, under no necessity to demand such a consistency. As we already have pointed out in another connection, we find interwoven with the main threads of this poem, which is, no doubt, in its prevailing atmosphere entirely idyllic, the great political interests of the time, the struggles of the French Revolution, the defence of the Fatherland, asserted in a worthy way no less than with decision. The more limited scope of family life in a little country town is not so presented us as a whole which can even possibly remain in total ignorance of that mighty wave of the great world under stress of a real cataclysm of events, which is the view we are given of the pastor in the "Louise" of Voss. In Goethe's poem we have, on the contrary, by means of the interfusion of these great world-movements, within which the idyllic characters and events are portrayed, the picture of a life with a typical character of its own set in the frame of a world of more significant content; and the apothecary, who is here presented as the out-and-out Philistine, and who merely lives within the more narrow borders of that country life's surroundings, affected by that only, is excellently sketched for us with the good heart, but at the same time peevish isolation, which we find so natural. Add to this, in that which most closely touches the life of the characters thus portrayed, we find a particular emphasis laid on the fundamental aspect of this idyllic life as previously indicated in our former discussion of it. To mention one point only, we may observe that the host does not by any means drink coffee with his guests, the parson and the apothecary; on the contrary, to cite a line or two:

Carefully brought in the mother the sparkling and glorious red-wine,
Poured in the clear-cut glasses, with rimlets all polished of pewter,
Brought in the green-coloured rummers, those goblets most fit for the

They drink in the fresh air what has been grown at home, of the '83 vintage, and withal in glasses that, as home-made, are just the right ones for Rhine-wine. A few lines further on our fancy is yet further kindled with the "streams of the Rhine river and its dearly-loved banks," and we are even introduced to the vineyard of the host behind the house itself; and, in short, there is nothing to arrest our attention[Pg 355] outside the typical circle of a self-contented life which of its own bounty provides for its wants.

(c) In addition to both these types of human environment we must mention yet another in close association with which we all necessarily live. It is no other than the universally prevailing spiritual surroundings of our life whether they be religious, legal, or moral, the organization of the State, that is to say, the constitution of the government, the judicial institutions, the family, the institutions of both public and private life, and all other social relations. For the ideal character is not merely to be portrayed in its relation to all that satisfies material wants, but as itself a focus of spiritual interests. It is certainly true that all that is truly substantive, divine, and essentially necessary in all these relations is fundamentally an envisagement of one reality. In the objective world, however, the forms under which this reality is manifested are various, and they are, one and all, involved in that which is wholly contingent in particular examples, and the conventional usages which are only valid for definite periods of time and distinct nations. In this variety of form all the interests of men's spiritual life receive an external embodiment of reality, with which every man is confronted in the customs, usages, and habits of society. Every man thereby, in addition to possessing a self-exclusive individuality of his own, becomes, in virtue of his association with such spiritual realities, even more a member of a whole cognate with and vital to himself than as a unit of that external world of Nature with which he is similarly conjoined. Speaking generally, we may attach to this spiritual association, of human life very much the same terms and significance we have already discussed in the foregoing sections; consequently we will for the present pass over the more detailed consideration of it, whose most important features will apply more strictly to another aspect of our inquiry, and will then be more appropriately discussed.


It is therefore necessary that art, as the representation of the Ideal, must embody this Ideal in all the relations to[Pg 356] external reality we have above described, and thereby associate the inward possessions of character with the objective world. A work of art, however much in form it may be a self-including and harmonious world by itself, exists none the less as such an object, both real and particular, not for itself but for such as behold and enjoy it, that is the Public. Actors, for example, in the representation they give us of a particular drama do not merely enter into converse with one another, but appeal directly to ourselves, their audience; and it is equally important that they make themselves intelligible under both these aspects. Every work of art is in fact a direct appeal to the intelligence of everyone who confronts it. Now it is indeed true that the real Ideal, as envisaged for us in the universal interests and passions of its gods and men, is so far intelligible to everyone as it gives us a view of its characters within some typical external world of customs, usages, and everything else that characteristically distinguishes it. But the condition of art we have above formulated makes it further necessary that this element of external reality is not merely one with which the characters thereby represented are harmoniously associated, but must be also one within which we ourselves to whom the work is addressed feel equally at home. The appropriateness of the external environment to the characters enfolded within it must apply with equal force to our own attitude of mind in regarding both. But it so happens that from whatever period of the world's history the subject-matter of a work of art may be borrowed it will be sure to contain essential features, which are quite distinct from those which specifically determine other nations and periods. In other words artists of every description, whether they be poets, painters, sculptors, or musicians, select subject-matter from the Past, which in their particular state of culture and intelligence, ethical customs, usages, and the form of their government, differ from the civilization of the times they live in. Moreover, as we have already observed, this return upon the Past possesses the considerable advantage that in having thus recourse to memory instead of being face to face with all the facts of the present, there is an appreciable diminution of the material from which the artist selects his subject, and this he cannot readily dispense with. At the same time[Pg 357] the artist belongs only to his own century, and it is in the ethical customs, modes of conception, and generally the intellectual outlook of that he lives. The Homeric poems Homer, to take him for once as the individual creator of both "Iliad" and "Odyssey," may have actually lived through or he may not; but in any case they are at least four hundred years later[391] than the time of the Trojan war; and further a period twice as long separates the great Greek tragedians from the days of the ancient heroes, who, as translated into the atmosphere of their own time, form the subject-matter of their poetry. It is just the same in the case of the Niebelungenlied and the artist who finally fused together the various saga which that poem contains into one homogeneous work. We may no doubt admit that the artist finds himself entirely on congenial ground when dealing with everything truly pathetic, either in the history of gods or men; but the external and actual conditions of that ancient world, whose characters and actions he endeavours to portray, have altered in essential features and become consequently strange to him. And further than this a poet creates for the sake of a Public, and primarily for his own nation and his time, both of which should be able to enter into such a work of art with intelligence, and feel at home in it. The most genuine works of art no doubt assert a further claim to immortality, a hope that they may continue to be a source of delight to all times and nations. But even in the case of works of the highest class it is none the less true that nations and times situated far away from those which produced them can only fully apprehend them with the assistance of an extensive apparatus of geographical, historical, and it may be even philosophical knowledge and the results of much critical investigation.

Bearing in mind these fundamental, and to some extent incompatible differences which characterize the various[Pg 358] points of view from which a work of art must be regarded, the question arises what kind of form relatively to its external framework of locality, custom, usage, and generally any and every condition of religious, political or ethical significance a particular work of art should receive. Should an artist suffer his own times to pass from his mind altogether, and attempt only to secure the substantial appearance of the Past and what actually then existed, so that his work become simply a true portrayal of that; or is he not merely justified, but rather under an obligation, to pay an exclusive attention to his own nation and the life around him, elaborating his work with express regard to the principle that it should stand in harmonious relation to his own times? Or, to put the same thing in rather more technical language, we may propound the problem thus: Is the subject-matter of a work of art to be objectively valid in its content as one entirely appropriate historically considered, or should such matter be treated subjectively, that is, in complete subordination to the artist's personal standpoint relatively to the culture and social conditions of his own time? We would rather observe that both these positions, if thus pressed unduly, land us in extreme conclusions equally false; and we propose now to examine them briefly that we may by their means elucidate a more satisfactory theory.

And we would consider three fundamental aspects which this problem suggests. We will first examine what is implied in the above subjective assertion of the particular culture of the artist's own time; secondly, there is the question what may be regarded as exclusively and objectively true when we refer to the Past; thirdly, we have to consider what may still be objectively valid in the true sense, though we still have a representation and appropriation of material borrowed from a time and nationality foreign to that of the artists.

(a) Now to start with, if we consider this purely subjective assertion, it is obvious that when we press the position closely we are finally driven to exclude the objective embodiment of the Past altogether, and to maintain that artistic representation is exclusively concerned with the appearance of present times.

(α) Such a result may be doubtless, under one aspect of[Pg 359] it, presented by mere ignorance of the Past. It is, then, rather the result of a naïveté, which is unable to feel the contradiction between the object itself and the representation given, or at least fails to bring the same to consciousness. Such a form of artistic presentation is therefore fundamentally due to lack of sufficient culture. We could hardly wish for a more vivid illustration of this than we find in the naïve productions of Hans Sachs, who has, no doubt with a vivid freshness of imaginative vigour and spirit, as we may truly say, domesticated among us[392] our dear Lord and Father God no less than Adam, Eve, and the rest of the patriarchs. Here, for example, God the Father is portrayed as teaching a school in which Cain, Abel, and the rest of Adam's children—are the pupils, precisely as any pedagogue of the time might have done. He catechizes them upon the ten commandments and the Lord's Prayer. Abel knows his lesson as a pious and good boy ought to. Cain on the contrary behaves and replies to his teachers as only naughty and wicked boys would think of doing; and when it is his turn to repeat the commandments turns them inside out: thou shalt steal, thou shalt not honour thy father and mother, and so forth. A representation of much the same crude simplicity having for its subject the tale of our Lord's Passion used to be carried out in South Germany, was then made illegal, and has since once more been resuscitated. In this Pilate is portrayed in the character of an insolent, rough, and arrogant official, the common soldiers much in the same familiar way our own might, offer Christ surreptitiously a pinch of tobacco; he disdains it, and they flatten it out on his nose. Vulgarity finds all the more jest in such an incident for the reason that it wholly conforms to its notions of piety and reverence, indeed calls up such feelings all the more readily through its immediate reference to that which it finds in its own world, thereby making more vivid its own sense of devotional fervour. No doubt there is a certain justification for this mode of translating, so to speak, the appearance and form of objective history into modern equivalents, such as we have found in our literature; and we may even attach a[Pg 360] kind of greatness to the courage of Hans Sachs in making himself so familiar with God Almighty, and those old religious ideas that without the least vestige of impiety he could rivet them deep within the conditions of our most commonplace life. At the same time such an attempt is none the less a rude intrusion upon our feelings, and indicates lack of cultivation, inasmuch as it not merely disallows to the object itself a right to assert itself as it really is, but forces upon it a mode of appearance so directly contrary to that which it possesses, that the result can only impress us as an emphatic caricature.

(β) As an antithesis to the above type of subjectivity we find another equally supreme asserting itself out of sheer pride in its own culture under the belief that the views peculiar to its own times, its ethical customs, and social conventions are those alone worth preservation or acceptance. Owing to a bias of this kind it is quite unable to enjoy the content of a work of art until such a form of culture prevails in it. An illustration of this latter type is the so-called classical good taste of the French school. Everything that is here attempted must forthwith be Frenchified, and all that it presents under the form of any other nationality and more particularly with any reference to the Middle Ages is voted incorrect and barbarous and is cast on one side with absolute contempt. Voltaire expressed anything but the truth when he said that the French have improved the works of the ancient world. What they have done is to nationalize them; and by this process of recasting have corrupted them with every kind of foreign and angular quality of their own that such a taste as theirs could develop to any extent, requiring as it did throughout a culture absolutely based on court etiquette, and a conformity to conventional rule and generalization in both the meaning and mode of any dramatic work. Indeed, we shall find the trail of this abstraction of a superfine culture visible in the very diction of their poetry. Not a poet among them dare venture to use the word cochon, or add their own nomenclature to spoons, forks, and a thousand other simple objects. Consequently we have roundabout definitions and circumlocutions. We cannot have our spoons and forks; we get instead an instrument of the hand which conveys our victuals in a liquid or arid state[Pg 361] to the mouth; and this by no means stands alone. And with all its refinement their taste is vulgar to a degree; for the simple truth is that genuine art, so far from planing away and polishing its content to one flat and unruffled surface of generalities, is most of all anxious to set in full relief all that makes toward the well-defined characterization of life. It is on account of this very taste that the French can make less of Shakespeare than any other poet. And when they have attempted to work him up to their graces they have clipped off from him precisely that portion which we Germans find nearest to our hearts. For the same reason Voltaire makes merry over Pindar because he has made the remark, ἄριστον μὲν ὕδωρ.[393] And, consequently, in their works of art they find it necessary to make Chinese, Americans, or the heroes of Greek or Roman antiquity all speak in one tongue and in one manner—that of their French court. Achilles, for instance, in the "Iphigenie en Aulide"[394] is nothing more or less than a French prince; and if we had no name to help us no one could conceivably discover one particle of Achilles in him. It is true that in the theatrical representation of this drama he was habited as a Greek, appeared at least in helmet and coat of mail; but at the same time his hair was curled and powdered, with broad hips through poschen[395], with red claws worked on shoes fastened on the foot with coloured ribbons; and what is more, the "Esther" of Racine was expressly popular in the time of Louis XIV, for the particular reason that Ahasuerus, on his first entrance on the stage, copied the appearance of Louis XIV himself, when he entered the great hall of audience. No doubt, in this transcript, there was a considerable admixture of the oriental luxuriance; but a Ahasuerus he was none the less fully powdered and wearing the royal mantle of ermine, and followed by a complete retinue of curled and powdered chamberlains got up thoroughly en habit français with their wigs, their feathered caps under arm, their vests and hoses of drap d'or, with their silk stockings and red buckles on their shoes. All[Pg 362] that the court and a select circle of the privileged few were only permitted to see de facto was here open to all classes alike—the entrée of the king paraded in the poet's verses. The writing of history in France is not unfrequently conducted on very much the same principle. That is to say, history itself and the real objects of history are not the main purpose of the historian, whose interest is rather concentrated either on giving the government in vogue a lesson or teaching others how they ought to detest it. And in the same way there are a host of dramas which, either expressly throughout their entire content or in passing episodes, divert the attention to the events of the day; or, if passages occur in pieces which refer to former times presenting anything which may bear on matters of contemporary interest, the parallel or the contrast is deliberately emphasized with every expression of enthusiasm.

(γ) A third type of this personal treatment by the artist of his subject-matter may be sufficiently described as the separation of the same from all genuine artistic form whether it be characteristic of past or present works of art, a mode of production in fact which simply presents us with the entirely evanescent colour of "the man in the street" in his ordinary everyday action and vocation without adding aught to the same. In other words we may describe it as the bare counterpart of what the man of commonsense is conscious in the prosaic facts of life, that and nothing more. In such an atmosphere of prose no doubt everyone finds himself at home readily enough; or rather, he will only not find himself at home who takes up such a work with some definite conception of that which the very conditions of a work of art demand, and consequently is aware that it is precisely from this type of handling that Art undertakes to liberate us. Kotzebue, in his day, obtained all his popular effects through compositions of this kind, which aimed at nothing else but letting the general public both see and hear life's troubles and vexations, the pocketing of silver spoons, the risking of the pillory, or, to take particular characters, parsons, chamberlains, ensign-bearers, secretaries, and cavalry-majors, in their naked colours. Everyone might here recognize his own household, or, at least, that of some relation or friend, might see at a glance where in his[Pg 363] own precious circumstances and aims of life the shoe pinched. An originality of this sort necessarily fails to stir any real sense or idea of that which is the vital content of a work of art, however much it may awake an interest for its productions in hearts that are wont to ask for so little and are so ready to put up with the commonplaces of so-called ethical reflections. We may conclude, then, that the artistic presentation of the facts of external reality under any one of these three types just examined is subjective in a one-sided way, that is to say, it wholly fails to present us with any adequate form of that objective world as it really exists.

(b) We next propose to examine a mode of presentation the reverse of the above, one which endeavours to restore us the characters and events of the past so far as may be with every local detail of their former environment no less than any and every ethical or other particular characteristic which formerly distinguished them. We Germans have particularly come to the front in this class of work. As a rule we are, in striking contrast to the French, the most painstaking recorders of all that is peculiar in nations other than our own, and consequently make fidelity to the characteristic usages, dress, weapons, and all such antiquarian detail appropriate to particular epochs and localities a first requisite of our art. Add to this we have the necessary patience to put ourselves to no end of trouble in the way of hard study in order that we may thoroughly enter into the modes of thought and perception which belong to foreign nations and centuries distant from our own, and make ourselves thoroughly conversant with all their peculiarities. This power of looking at facts from many and diverse points of view in order to both apprehend and comprehend the spirit of every kind of national existence makes us not merely tolerant in our art towards all that strikes us as exceptionally strange in foreign customs, but clamorous even to a painful degree in our insistence that we have before us accurate correspondence with objective truth down to the most insignificant detail. The French are, no doubt, full of resource and energetic, but, however highly educated and practical men they may be, such qualities do not increase, but rather diminish the patience which they possess for quiet and exhaustive study.[Pg 364] Criticism is always of first importance with them. We Germans, on the contrary, are by nature inclined to accept any picture of real truth for what it is, and particularly this is so with foreign works of art. From whatever part of Nature's storehouse such may come, whether it is plants or other creations of foreign growth, implements of any kind or form, dogs and cats, even absurdities, we accept them all genially; and the result of this is we are able to be on excellent terms with modes of thought the most removed from our own, ay, sacrificial customs, legends of the saints and all the extraordinary follies that go with them, to say nothing of a host of other marvels equally surprising. And for the same reasons it only appears essentially rational that in attempting to represent characters in action we should make their conversation and pursuits conformable to their own substance, that is to say, in strict accord with the times when they lived and their own national characteristics, whether regarded individually or in association with each other.

This fundamental idea that the objective truth of a work of art is established by virtue of the type of historical accuracy above described has obtained currency in comparatively recent times, mainly, that is to say, since the literary work of Frederick von Schlegel. From that time the importance of a first principle in literary criticism has attached to it; and further than this, it is asserted that our purely personal interest should above all restrict itself to the enjoyment we may derive from historical accuracy of this kind and the life it thus reproduces. Once accept these hard and fast rules and the conclusion is obvious that we are allowed no additional interest of any superior quality which an enquiry into the essential significance of any artistic content may or may not provide for us any more than we are permitted to derive any interest more vital to ourselves from aspects of such a work directly associated with the culture and aims of our own times. It is much on these lines that we find also in Germany, where the enthusiasm of Herder in this direction started a closer attention on all sides to the "Volkslied," a poetic inundation of national folk-songs imitating native tones of every sort of nationality whether it be the Iroquois, latter-day Greek, Lap, Turk, Tartar, Mongol, and many another; and, of course, it is assumed to be indicative of[Pg 365] nothing less than first-rate genius[396] to possess the power of thus diving into the ways and ideas of other folk, and converting all we discover into poetry. At the same time it is clear that however completely your poet may work his way into and emotionally realize all this strange kind of world, it remains and must continue to remain for that public to whose enjoyment these songs are addressed as something very much aloof from it.

The truth is that such a theory, if pressed to its abstract logical conclusion, limits its boundaries solely to the truth of history in its formal accuracy, and by doing so neglects all consideration of the nature of Art's content and questions relative to its essential significance, just as it disregards every aspect of it in which the culture and resources of modern thought and contemporary life are asserted. But it is as impossible to detach ourselves from the truth implied in this theory as it is from equally important truths which it neglects; all equally claim satisfaction, and imperatively force upon us the necessity of finding a further solution in which the claims of historical truth may be reconciled with these rival aspects of truth in a very different way to that just examined. And this brings us to the third question we proposed as to the nature of that objectivity and subjectivity which can be fully sustained together as the reality to which a genuine work of art conforms.

(c) The point of essential importance which we should before all others wish to emphasize here is this, that no one of those various aspects of truth we have above indicated should be allowed a predominant significance such as would impair the relative force of the others; and, further, or rather notwithstanding this, historical accuracy pure and simple in external matters, such as local conditions, customs, usages, and social institutions generally, must receive in a work of art their due place, if a subordinate one, it being only right that the interest of mere historical truth should give way before that of a vitally true and imperishable content for the present no less than the past.

[Pg 366]

We cannot, perhaps, do better by way of explaining what we consider to be the true form of artistic representation than by setting up in contrast a few examples of some we take to be defective.

(α) Now, to start with, the presentation of the characteristic features of a given period may be entirely just, accurate, and impregnated with life, nay more, wholly intelligible to a modern audience, and notwithstanding fail to escape the ordinary atmosphere of prose, and present us with the real substance of poetry. Goethe's "Götz von Berlichingen" will alone furnish us with notable illustrations of this defect. It is only necessary to open the book at the first scene, which introduces us to an inn near Schwarzenberg in Franconia; the dramatis personae are Metzler, and Sievers sitting at a table, two grooms by the fire, also the landlord.

Sievers. Another glass of brandy, Hans, my boy, and good Christian measure.

Landlord. You carry a glass that is never full.

Metzler. [Aside to Sievers.] Tell us that once again about Berlichingen; the Bambergers are in a pretty fume out there; ay, black as thunder (etc.).

The same kind of thing we find in the third Act.

George. [Enters with a gutter-spout.] There you have lead and to spare; spot the target with but one half of it, and devil a soul shall get off, who is like to say to your Majesty, that's a miss this time[397].

Lerse. [Aloud.] A fine piece of metal.

George. The rain may take another road for all I care; a brave knight and a real good rain get through most things.

Lerse. [Pours into glass.] Hold the spoon. [Goes to the window.] There's one of those imperial cockades prowling about with his musket; they believe we have aimed a point too far. He shall have a taste of my bullet, hot too and fresh from the pan. [Loads.]

George. [Drops the spoon.] Let me have a look.

Lerse. [Fires.] There lies the fool (etc.).

All this is exceedingly vivid, intelligible, depicted in perfect keeping with the situation and the characters portrayed. Yet for all that these scenes are both trivial to a degree and essentially prosaic. All we get from either the matter or the form is just the ordinary man's way of seeing things and[Pg 367] reality as it appears to him or rather all of us to some extent. We find the same tendency in many another of Goethe's youthful productions, which no doubt were deliberately directed against everything which previously had passed for the rule of the guild, and which sought for their most impressive effect by means of the nearness made clear to ourselves, an impression gained by the extraordinary grasp with which the poet's imagination and feeling seized upon everything. But the nearness was itself too near, and the vital content in part so petty, that such compositions ran constantly into mere triviality. We are most conscious of this kind of triviality in dramatic works when we see them on the stage; it is then that after being worked up to some excitement by all the concomitants of a theatrical performance, lights, well-dressed folk, and the rest of it, we expect to see something more than a couple of peasants, and troopers and a glass of schnapps thrown in[398]. This phase has mainly found its admirers in readers; it never had a long run on the stage.

(β) If we now consider our subject from an opposite point of view it may be admitted that we can sufficiently make ourselves acquainted with and assimilate the historical content of a former mythology and all that is most strange to ourselves in earlier conditions of state-life and national custom to secure through such an intimacy with, the general culture then prevailing a varied knowledge of the past. In fact, this acquaintance with the art, mythology, literature, cultus, and usages of antiquity is the starting point of our present system of education. Every schoolboy knows something about the gods and heroes of Greece and the prominent characters in ancient history. It is therefore quite possible, in so far as they really enter into the imaginative life of our[Pg 368] own times, that we may find enjoyment in the imaginative representation of such characters and interests. It is further impossible to predict whether or no such an intimacy may not be eventually carried equally as far in the case of the Indian, Egyptian, and Scandinavian mythologies. We may further observe that in the religious conceptions of all these peoples the Universal God is presented. The determinate form, however, of such conceptions, that is to say, the particular gods of Greece or India, are no longer true for us as so personified. We do not believe in their existence, and the pleasure we take in them is derived from their appeal to our imagination. For this reason they stand entirely apart from our deepest emotional life, and we can imagine nothing more empty and cold than such exclamations we hear only too often in opera: "O ye gods!" or "O Jupiter!" or even "O Isis and Osiris!" And the folly of it all reaches its height when we have the wretched saws of oracular wisdom thrown in—and the opera can seldom get along without them—a position of dignity which nowadays for the first time in tragic drama is occupied by pure folly and clairvoyance.

The same criticism applies with equal truth to all other historical material relating to national customs, laws, and the like. Such historical fact is excellent in its way, but it belongs to the past; and when it has once ceased to have anything in common with present life it necessarily ceases, in spite of all our knowledge of it, to belong to us. We have, in short, no interest[399] in what has passed away on the mere ground that it once existed. What is historical can only truly be said to belong to us when it is the possession of the nation, to which we ourselves belong, or when we are able to regard the present as in a general way casually connected with the events in question, to whose continuous series the characters or actions represented are united by a bond of essential membership. For if we carefully consider[Pg 369] the matter we shall find that the mere fact of being formerly bound together with the same external environment and people to which we ourselves belong is not sufficient—rather the very part of our nation must present features in still closer relation to the conditions, life, and existence of our own times. To take an example of what we mean, we find ourselves in the Niebelungenlied geographically on a soil that belongs to us still, but the Burgundians and King Etzel are so absolutely cut off from all that touches our present civilization and every interest which is now coincident with patriotism that, without borrowing anything from the learning of the subject, it is but simple truth to say we feel infinitely more at home in the poems of Homer[400]. Klopstock, no doubt, in his enthusiasm for everything that concerned the Fatherland, was prompted to substitute his Scandinavian gods for those of Hellenic mythology; but, for all his zeal, Wotan, Walhalla, and Freja remain mere names for us, which appeal to our imaginations and patriotic emotions even less than Zeus and his compeers of Olympus.

The point above all we desire to emphasize is this. Works of art are not composed primarily for the mere student or the professor, but with the express purpose that they shall be intelligible on their face, and a source of enjoyment without any one having to undertake first a circuitous route of extensive historical investigation. For Art is not addressed to a small and select circle of the privileged few, but to the nation at large. What, moreover, is generally valid for a work of art applies also to the external form of the historical reality therein portrayed. Such exposition also must express itself with clearness open to the common apprehension requiring no considerable research to make it intelligible, must be clear to ourselves as representations of our century and our own people, so that we may be able to find ourselves entirely at home in it, and not have before[Pg 370] us a world foreign to that we live in, if not actually unintelligible.

(γ) Considerations such as the foregoing have already brought us within reach of the truer conception of the objective truth of art and the mode under which it assimilates the material of past history. We propose now to offer further illustrations in support of the same.

(αα) And we may start at once by drawing attention to a characteristic which is common alike to the genuine national poetry of all peoples and in every period of past history, namely, that the historical and formal aspect of that poetry is entirely national, that is to say, it retains nothing incongruous to the people for whom it is composed. This is a feature shared alike by the great epics of India, the Homeric poems and the Greek drama. Sophocles never made his Philoctetes, Antigone, Ajax, Orestes, Œdipus, his choregi and choruses speak in the speech and manner that would have been entirely appropriate to their own times. The Spaniards have written their romances of the Cid under the same guiding principle. Tasso in his "Jerusalem Liberated" celebrated the universal interests of Catholic Christendom. Camoens, the poet of Portugal, depicted the discovery of the seaway to the East Indies round the Cape of Good Hope, and all the infinitely various adventures of the sea heroes that made it possible; and these acts of daring were the acts of his own people. Shakespeare threw into dramatic form the tragic history of his own country and even a Voltaire wrote his "Henriade." Far indeed have we Germans strayed from the path thus marked for us when we hope to work up into national epics histories remote from our own, which carry no longer with them a national interest of any kind. Bodmer's "Noachide" and Kloptock's "Messias" have started a new fashion of their own, ay, as they have overturned that old one which taught us that it redounds to a nation's glory to have its Homer, to say nothing of its Pindar and Sophocles. Those biblical stories, it is true, present points of special affinity with the national imagination owing to our close acquaintance with the old and new Testaments; but the historical material in its association with ancient custom and the like remains for all that only intelligible to the savant, and all the most of us can pick up[Pg 371] from such epics is the prosaic interfusion of events and characters, which, in such a process of translation, have merely some novel form of speech thrust into their mouths, and the final result can only impress us as hollow and artificial.

(ββ) At the same time art cannot be restricted wholly to material borrowed from one nation. And as a matter of fact the more nationalities have come into contact with one another, the more their poets have looked abroad among all nations and times for the subject-matter of their poems. But however this may be the case, it is none the less an error to suppose that the mere fact that a poet is able, so to speak, to live into times aloof from his own at once stamps him as a man of creative genius. It is more to the point to recollect that this historical framework must, in the co-ordination of a poem, be retained only in strict subordination, and as a means of expressing that which permanently belongs to our humanity. Precisely in this way the Middle Ages long ago borrowed much from antiquity, but so absolutely suffused it with the content of its own epoch that, in this respect verging on the opposite extreme, we really get nothing from that antiquity but the bare names of Alexander, Aeneas, and the emperor Octavius.

First in importance, then, is this permanent condition of true art, immediate intelligibility. It will be found an invariable truth that all nations have emphasized precisely that in this life which was most agreeable to their artistic sense, their desire being always to find what was most intimate to themselves, their life and existence in their art. It was this independent flavour of patriotism which Calderon worked into such characters as his Zenobia and Semiramis; and Shakespeare in the same way was able to imprint upon the most varied subject-matter the hall-mark of his English ancestry, although he knew how to preserve along with it the essential traits of historical characters belonging to nations foreign to his own, the Roman for example, in a far profounder degree than was possible to the Spanish poets. Even the Greek tragedians had their eyes constantly directed to the actual conditions of their times and the particular city in which they lived. The "Œdipus Colonus" in its local references is not merely in a peculiar way associated with[Pg 372] Athens but, by virtue of the fact that Œdipus dies in this locality, at once indicates him as the future Preserver of that city. In somewhat other associations the "Eumenides" of Aeschylus is, owing to the decisive sentence of the Areopagus, marked by an interest of more vital interest to the Athenians[401]. On the other hand Greek mythology, despite all the varied and oft repeated use that has been made of it since the revival of the arts and learning, has never fully come home to the general sense of modern emotions and in various degrees in the plastic arts and still more in poetry, despite its very extensive influence here, has failed to arouse real enthusiasm. No one thinks now of writing an ode to Venus, Zeus, or Pallas[402]. Sculpture, it is true, can hardly get along even in modern times without the assistance of the Greek Pantheon, but for that very reason it is mainly only appreciated by and intelligible to a select circle of cultivated men who are either connoisseurs or critics. As one of these, Goethe spared no pains in his endeavour to arouse in contemporary artists an enthusiasm which should go so far as to imitate the pictures of Philostratus, but for the most part his pains were thrown away. Such examples of the work of antiquity, on account of the very flavour of past time and a life that has vanished, which clings to them, remain as strange to contemporary art as they do to the general public. As a contrary example of real success on the part of Goethe we may instance the far profounder insight he has shown us during the later period of his poetic activity in fusing by means of his "Westöstlicher Divan" the colour of the East with the poetry that really appeals to us to-day, giving to the Orient, in fact, its modern embodiment. In this process[Pg 373] of assimilation he has clearly shown himself alive to the fact that he is a poet of the West and a German as well, and consequently while preserving the fundamental key-note of the Oriental spirit in his delineation of characters and situations to which it was appropriate, was able at the same time fully to satisfy the claims of the modern spirit and those of his own personality. Subject to such reservations it is undoubtedly in the province of a poet to borrow his material from remote regions, past centuries and foreign nations, maintaining in their broad and most characteristic outlines the historical form of ancient mythology, custom, and institution. At the same time he will take care to utilize such forms only as the external frame of his delineations, never permitting the essential content of such productions to fall into any disharmony with the profounder instincts of his own native world. As the most extraordinary example of this Goethe's "Iphigenia" still stands without a rival.

In their relation to such a transformation the several arts dispose of their material very differently. In the love-poems of lyrical poetry very little use is made of local associations depicted with historical accuracy. The emotional situation and the movement of sentiment is here the main thing. We receive, for example, in the sonnets of Petrarch a very small substratum of natural fact relatively to Laura, hardly anything more than her name, which might just as well have been another. Of local interest we get the barest scraps, and that entirely of general significance, such as the existence of the fountain of Vaucluse and things of that kind. Epical poetry, on the contrary, requires the greatest detail in its natural descriptions, and we are most readily pleased with their historical truth, provided always that the picture is both clear and intelligible. The use of the external truth of historical facts presents the greatest pitfalls to dramatic art, more particularly in reference to its theatrical presentation, where everything is directly addressed to an audience, or purports to strike upon sense with the vividness of life, so that we are willing to recognize and entrust ourselves therein with equal directness. Here the delineation of historical truth in its external aspects must for the most part be of subsidiary importance, in fact retain little more than the framework of it. It must, in short, remain true to that[Pg 374] natural relation we find in love-poetry, in which at the same time that we are able completely to sympathize with the feelings expressed in every way another name is given to the beloved than that of the lady most loved by ourselves[403]. It does not here in the least signify whether or no our critics fail to discover absolute precision in the picture presented of the particular manners, culture, and emotional expression of the time. In Shakespeare's historical dramas we find a great deal that remains strange to us and of no considerable interest. We are contented enough on a mere reading, but in the theatre our enjoyment ceases. Critics and men of learning no doubt stick fast to their idea that such exquisite scraps of genuine history should be presented on the stage on their own merits and come down severely upon the wretched taste of the public, when it lets us see how bored it is over such things. Unfortunately a work of art and the direct enjoyment we receive from it is in no sense particularly for critics or savants, but for this very public. Critics have really no reason to give themselves such airs. They are after all but units of this public, and the mere attention to historical detail can be of as little serious interest to them as any other members of it. For this reason the English nowadays in their theatrical performances only include such scenes from the Shakespearean drama which require nothing further to make them clear and intelligible, being happily free from the pedantry of our aesthetic professors who held that all that is most remote in historical incident from the apprehension of an average audience should be thrust before their eyes. It follows also from our view of the matter that when foreign dramas are reproduced on the stage the public is clearly entitled to have them considerably remodelled[404].[Pg 375] Even that which is excellent in itself may require some alteration. No doubt it will be contended that what is essentially first-rate art retains its excellence for all times; but a work of art has also an aspect of transitory worth, which yields to the years, and it is this of course which requires remodelling. As people change so too the sense of beauty alters; and it is important that the particular public, before whom any work is represented, should feel themselves quite at home in the whole of such a work including that aspect which derives all its significance from external history.

It is this conditional acceptance of historical truth which at once explains and justifies that which is generally known in Art as anachronism, and which is usually attributed to artists as a serious defect. Primarily such examples of anachronism will be found to attach to matters of purely external interest. That a Falstaff should talk about pistols is no matter of consequence whatever. The case is more serious when we have a violin placed in the hands of Orpheus, for here the association of such prehistorical times with an instrument so essentially modern as the violin, one which everybody knows was not invented in those days, presents too glaring a violation of truth. For this reason it is now the fashion in theatrical circles to bestow incredible pains and care upon the historical accuracy of details in the matter of costume and the getting up of a piece, as, for example, the infinite trouble lavished upon the historical procession in the "Maid of Orleans."[405] Such efforts are in the majority of eases lost labour, for the simple reason that they only concern matters of relative interest or points that might be wholly passed over. The more important type of anachronisms has nothing whatever to do with stage costume and all that with which stage business is concerned, but consists in making characters express their emotions and ideas, venture upon soliloquies and actions in a form or of a substance which absolutely contradicts the conditions of their times and culture, their religious and general preconceptions. It is common to apply the conception of natural truth to such examples of anachronism, in other words, to say that it is unnatural for characters to speak or act otherwise than they would have spoken and acted in their own[Pg 376] days. If we stick, however, too closely to the logic of this naturalism we shall only land ourselves in further complications[406]. For an artist, in depicting the emotional life with all that results from it, and the fundamental passions that belong to it, being mainly interested in the affirmation of individuality, ought not merely to repeat that life under its ordinary daily dress; it is rather his business to show every true manifestation of pathos in the particular light which best reveals its real quality. The whole object of his attainment as an artist is not merely to understand what is of vital significance in the truth he faces, but to be able to give it the precise form which will best direct our own eyes and ears and heart to his own discovery. To attain this it is obvious that he must keep in view the particular culture of his own time no less than all its various powers of expression. In the time of the Trojan war the kind of speech in general use, and indeed the whole fabric of social life, was as far removed from the type of culture which is reflected on us from the pages of the "Iliad" as the mass of the nation and the pre-eminent worthies of the royal houses then reigning in Greece were separated from the fully developed form of ideas and expression such as arouse our wonder when we read our Aeschylus, or behold the perfected beauty of the style of Sophocles. A violation of the so-called "path of Nature" of this kind is in art an anachronism implied in her laws. The inward kernel of that which she reveals remains unaffected, but the more developed power at the artist's command, in revealing and disclosing this essential core of his subject, renders some change in the mode of its expression inevitable. It is a wholly different matter when a modification of this kind proceeds so far as to impose ideas and conceptions of a later form of the religious and moral consciousness on a century or a nation whose entire spiritual outlook is opposed to such more recent conceptions. The Christian religion has gathered in its train forms of the moral life, which were entirely foreign to the moral consciousness of ancient Greece. That inward introspection of conscience, for example, ever on the alert to decide the ethical significance of[Pg 377] action, with its accompanying remorse and repentance, first appears in the moral culture of a more modern date. The heroic character knows nothing of a repentance which sets itself in hostility to its past. What it has done it abides by. Orestes does not repent of his mother's murder. The Furies that rise out of the shadow of his action pursue him, no doubt; but the Eumenides are, at the same time, represented as universal powers, and not as voices that cry out to him from his own conscience simply. This very heart and substance of a given period of man's history a poet must master, and only when we find him interfusing with this central core of reality matter that directly contradicts it is he guilty of any truly grave anachronism. In conclusion, then, we may say that it is indeed part of the poet's function to live into the spirit of past times and foreign peoples, for this substance of their life, if it be truly such, remains a possession for all time; but to attempt to reflect with every accuracy of detail all the definition of that external show now buried beneath the rust of antiquity is merely the effort of a learning essentially childish, intent on preserving what is itself shadow rather than substance. No doubt even in this direction, the truth of general outlines should be carefully respected, but never to such lengths as would compel art to forfeit her claim of drawing upon the fiction of her invention, and the truth of fact with equal impartiality.

(γγ) We are now in a better condition to understand all that is really implied in the assimilation by art of that which is strange in the external features of remote history, and the true conception of the objective life of her creations. A work of art must primarily enclose for us within its embrace the higher interests of spirit and volitional power, all that is essentially human, and possesses real weight, the depths, that is to say, of man's emotional life. The main thing of all is that this embodied content[407] should transpierce all purely external conditions of manifestation, should ring, as it were, through all that is less vital in its significance[408] this fundamental chord of truth. The real objectivity,[Pg 378] therefore, unfolds as from a sheath, the pathos, that is the substantive content of a situation, unfolds, moreover, the rich and powerful personality in which the essential phases of spirit are alive, and find their realization and expression. For such embodiment all that is absolutely indispensable is a definition and determination of the real, which is generally suitable to the object thus defined, and which requires nothing further to explain it. If we have once got hold of such a form unfolded in strict accordance with our Ideal principle, then we have a work of art essentially objective in the true sense, and the question whether each and every historical detail is justified is of no further importance. We have before us a work of art which appeals directly to our inner life, and one which is our own possession. Once possessed of that, and we may take as much as we please of that element of the form which lay more closely to periods of life which have passed; but the eternal foundation is that which appeals to all men in all places, which is carried forward with a power that never wanes or fails to influence us, and it does so because the objective life it reveals is the same that abounds in and overflows our own souls. That which is merely historical in the appearance is, on the contrary, the element that vanishes; and, in dealing with works of art created in days remote from our own, we must do our best to resolve the discordance, and, indeed, must be fully prepared to blot out from our vision similar defects in works that spring from our own times. Thus it is that the Psalms of David, with their immortal celebration of the Lord in His goodness, and the wrath of His almightiness, no less than the profound sorrows of the Hebrew prophets as they face Babylon and Zion, touch men with the same force to-day as they did of old time: nay, even a moral diatribe, such as is sung by Sarastro in the "Zauberflöte," may come home to the hearts of us all, including the sons of Egypt[409], owing to the soul and vitality which rings through its melodies.

And we may add that every individual to whom a work[Pg 379] of art objective in this, the true sense, is presented, must on his part discard his own false prepossessions, wherein he merely wishes to find his own idiosyncrasies repeated. On the first reproduction of "William Tell," it appears, not a single Swiss among the audience was satisfied. In much the same way, when the most beautiful love-songs have been sung, many another, failing to find therein his own passions reflected, has presumed to think the beauty untrue to life; just as so many more, whose knowledge of love is confined to the perusal of romances, have imagined that the love-god would only then be their immortal possession when they found themselves face to face with precisely the same emotions and situations their favourite studies had propounded.


We have, in this first part of our aesthetical philosophy, examin