Mo.) Congress of Arts and Science (1904 : Saint Louis.

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Psychological Review, xi, 415.



THE RELATIONS OF .ESTHETICS 421

selves, are not ones upon which we can afford to rest: for clearly
they apply in very many cases where beauty does not claim sway.

Our whole mental life exemplifies the unification of the manifold,
and monarchic subordination, whether the processes be aesthetic or
not. It does not suffice us to show, what is thus shown, that the
aesthetic states conform with conditions of our mental life that
have a broad significance, although it is of great importance to
demonstrate the fact: for our mental functioning in the apprecia-
tion of beauty appears thus as in truth an important type, but
for all that but a special and peculiar type of the functioning which
we thus bring into prominence.

The problem then remains, what is the special nature of this
functioning which yields to us the sense of beauty?

And here in my view we have the problem which is of prime
importance to aesthetics to-day, and which psychology alone can
answer; namely, what is the characteristic that differentiates the
sense of beauty from all other of our mental states? Until this
question is answered, all else must seem of secondary importance
from the standpoint of theoretical psychology, however important
other forms of inquiry may be from a practical point of view.

When the psychologist turns his attention to this problem, he
at once perceives that he is unable to limit his inquiry to the experi-
ence of the technically trained artist, or even to that of the man of
culture who gives close attention to aesthetic appreciation.

Beauty is experienced by all men. But beauty is very clearly of
varied types, and the sense of beauty is evidently called out by
impressions of most varied nature; but the fields of what is considered
beautiful by different people so far overlap that we can rest assured
that we all refer to an experience of the same characteristic mental
state when we proclaim the existence of beauty; for when we by
general agreement use a special term as descriptive of an objective
impression, we do so because this impression excites in us certain
more or less specific mental states; and when different people use
the same term in reference to objects of diverse nature, we are wont
to assume, and are in general correct in assuming, that these objects
affect these different people in approximately the same way.

It seems probable, therefore, that if the child, who has learned how
to apply words from his elders, speaks of having a beautiful time at
his birthday party; and if the grown man speaks of a beautiful day;
and if the pathologist speaks of his preparation of morbid tissue as
beautiful; and if the artist or connoisseur speaks of the beauty of
a picture, a statue, a work of architecture, a poem, a symphony;
then the word beauty must be used to describe a certain special mental
state which is aroused in different people by very diverse objective
impressions.



422 ESTHETICS

This view is strengthened when we consider that the application
of the term by individuals changes as they develop naturally or by
processes of education; and that the standards of beauty alter in
like manner in a race from generation to generation as it advances
in its development.

We must then look for the essence of beauty in some quality of
our mental states which is called up by different objective impres-
sions in different people, and under diverse conditions by different
objects at different times in the same iiidividual.

Search for such a quality has led not a few psychologists to look
to pleasure as the quality of our mental states which is most likely
to meet our demand. It is true that the consideration of pleasure
as of the essence of the sense of beauty has not often been seriously
carried out; apparently because so many of what we speak of as our
most vivid pleasures appear as non-sesthetic ; and because pleasure
is recognized to be markedly evanescent, while beauty is thought of
as at least relatively permanent.

It is true, also, that there is a hesitancy in using the word pleasure
in this connection; many writers preferring the less definite word
"feeling" in English, and "gefiihl" in German. But by a large
number of psychologists the words pleasure and feeling are used as
synonyms; and those who, with me, agree that what we loosely call
feeling is broader than mere pleasure, must note that it is the pleas-
urable aspect alone of what is called "feeling" that is essentially
related to our experience of the sense of beauty.

All of us agree, in any event, that the sense of beauty is highly
pleasant; and, in fact, most of our aestheticians have come to assume
tacitly in their writings that the field of aesthetics must be treated
as a field of pleasure-getting; and this whether or not they attempt
to indicate the relation of pleasure-getting to the sense of beauty.

The suggestion that pleasure of a certain type is of the essence of
beauty seems the more likely to prove to be satisfactory when we
consider that pleasure is universally acknowledged to be the con-
tradictory opposite of pain; and that we have in ugliness, which is
always unpleasant, a contradictory opposite of beauty-^

Clearly then it behooves the psychologist to give to the sesthetician
an account of the nature of pleasure which shall be compatible with
the pleasurable nature of the sense of beauty; and which shall either
explain the nature of this sense of beauty in terms of pleasure, or
explain the nature of pleasure in a manner which shall throw light
upon the nature of this sense of beauty to which -pleasure is so indis-
solubly attached.

^ It is of course agreed that beauty and ugliness may be held together in a
complex impression: but in such cases the beauty and the ugliness are inherent
in diverse elements of the complex.



THE RELATIONS OF ^ESTHETICS 423

The aesthetician thus demands urgently of the psychologist an
analysis of the nature of pleasure; and an analysis of this so-
called "feeling," which shall show the relation between the two
experiences.

Concerning the latter problem I hope some day to have something
to say.

Those of you who happen to be familiar with my published works
will realize that my efforts in this field in the past have been given
largely to the study of the former problem. My own view may be
succinctly stated thus.

While all aesthetic experiences are pleasant, very evidentljr much
that we call pleasant is not aesthetic. We must look then for sorne
special differentiation of aesthetic pleasure, and this I find in its
relative permanency.

This view is led up to by a preliminary study of the psychological
nature of pleasure.

Pleasure I find to be one phase of a general quality — Pleasure-
Pain — which, under proper conditions, may inhere in any emphasis
within the field of attention, or, to use more common language, may
belong to any element of attention.

Now pleasure, as we have said, is notably evanescent, but this
does not preclude the existence of pleasurable states of attention
which are relatively permanent. This permanency may be given by
the shifting of attention from one pleasurable element to another;
by the summation of very moderate pleasures, etc., etc.

Any pleasant psychic element may become an element of an
aesthetic complex : and any psychic complex which displays a relative
permanency of pleasure is in that fact aesthetic. Our aesthetic states
are those in which many pleasant elements are combined to produce
a relative permanency of pleasure.

Our "non-aesthetic pleasures," so called, are those states which
have been experienced in the past as vividly pleasant, and to which
the name pleasure has become indissolubly attached: but they are
states which do not produce a relatively permanent pleasure in
revival; and correctly speaking, are not pleasures at the moment
when they are described as such, and at the same time as non-
aesthetic.

I am glad to feel that this view of mine is not discrepant from that
of Dr. Santayana, as given in quite different terms in his book en-
titled The Sense of Beauty. For what is relatively permanent has ,.
the quality which I call realness; and that in experience which has ^ i.^^
realness we tend to objectify. Hence it is quite natural to find Dr.
Santayana defining beauty as objectified pleasure.

You will not blame me I believe for thinking that my own defini-
tion cuts down closer to the root of the matter than Dr. Santayana 's.



424 AESTHETICS

But if this theory of mine is found wanting, the sesthetician will
not cease to call upon the psychologist for some other which shall
meet the demands of introspection; and which shall accord with our
experiences of the sense of beauty, which in all their wealth of impres-
sion the sesthetician offers to the psychologist as data for the labor-
ious study asked of him.

Before leaving this subject I may perhaps be allowed to call
attention to the fact that the theoretical view, which places the essence
of the sense of beauty in pleasure-getting, if it prove to be true, is
not without such practical applications as are so properly demanded
in our time. For if this view is correct, it teaches to the critic a lesson
of sympathetic tolerance; for he learns from it that the sources from
which the sense of beauty are derived differ very markedly in people
of diverse types: and it warns him also against the danger of an
artificial limitation of his own a)sthetic sense, which will surely
result unless he carefully avoids the narrowing of his interests.

It teaches further that there is no validity in the distinction
between fine art and aesthetics on the one hand, and beauty on the
other, on the ground, commonly accepted by the highly trained
artist and connoisseur, that a work of art may deal with what is not
beautiful.

For it appears that while the sense of beauty is the same for each
of us, the objects which caU it out are in some measure different for
each.

Now it happens naturally that the objects which arouse the sense
of beauty in a large proportion of men of culture get the word beauty
firmly attached to them in common speech.

But under the view here maintained, it must be that the highly
trained artist or critic wUl pass beyond these commoner men, and
find his sense of beauty aroused by objects and objective relations
quite different from those which arouse the sense of beauty in the
commoner man; so that often he may deal with the beauty of
elements in connection with which beauty is unknown to the com-
moner man, and even with elements which arouse a sense of ugliness
in the commoner man; while on the other hand the objects which
the commoner man signalizes as most beautiful, and which are cur-
rently so called, may not arouse in the trained artist or critic the
sense of beauty which is now aroused in him by effects of broader
nature, and of less common experience.

The critic and the skilled artist thus often find their sesthetic sense
aroused no longer by the objects to which the word beauty has by com-
mon consent come to be attached ; although with the commoner man he
still uses the word beauty as descriptive of the object which arouses
the a3sthetic thrill in the mass of normally educated men. He may



THE RELATIONS OF ESTHETICS 425

even find his aesthetic sense aroused by what the common man calls
ugly; although it is for himself really beautiful. And he comes thus
quite improperly to think of the highest art as in a measure inde-
pendent of what he calls "mere beauty." What he has a right to
say, however, is merely this, that the highest art deals with sources
of beauty which are not appreciated bj^ even the generally well-
cultivated man.



I have dwelt, perhaps, too long on the psychological problems
presented when the psychologist attempts to describe to the sesthet-
ician the nature of the experience of one who appreciates beauty;
and have left perhaps too little time for the consideration of the
problems presented when he is asked to consider the nature of the
experience of the artist who creates.

The man who finds strongly developed within him the creative
tendency, is wont, when he turns to theory, to lay emphasis upon
expression as of the essence of beauty.

It is, of course, to be granted that the process of Einfuhlung, —
of introjection, — above referred to, leads us to find a source of
beauty in the vague imagination of ourselves as doing what others
have done; and we may take great aesthetic delight in reading,
through his work, the mind of the man who has created the object
of beauty for us. But evidently, when we lay stress upon this intro-
jection, we are dealing with the appreciation of beauty, and not with
the force which leads to its production.

Just as clearly is it impossible to hold that expression is of the
essence of the making of beauty. For expressiveness is involved in
all of man's creative activity, much of which has no relation what-
ever to the aesthetic. The expression of the character of the genius
of the inventor of a cotton loom, or of the successful leader of an
army in a bloody battle, excites our interest and wonder; but the
expression of his character as read in the result accomplished does
not constitute it a work of beauty.

I speak of this point at this length because in my opinion views
of the nature of that here objected to could not have been upheld
by such men as Bosanquet and Veron had they kept clear the dis-
tinction referred to above between the experience of one who ap-
preciates beauty, and the experience of the creative artist; and
especially because the teaching of the doctrine thus combated is
wont to lead the artist whose cry is " Art for Art's sake " to excessive
self-satisfaction, and to lack of restraint which leads to failure.^

1 In order to avoid misunderstanding, I may say here that notwithstanding
these remarks I am in full sympathy with the artist who thus expresses himself,
as will presently appear clear.



426 ESTHETICS

The strong hold which this theory has in many minds has its value,
however, in the emphasis of the fact that esthetic creation is due
to impulses which are born of innate instincts expressing them-
selves in the production of works of beauty. And if this be so, we see
how true it must be that each of us must have in him some measure
of this instinct; and that the appearance of its appropriate impulses
should not mislead us, and induce us to devote our lives to the
worship of the Muses, unless we become convinced that no other work
can adequately express the best that is in us.

But the true artist is not troubled by such questionings. He finds
himself carried away by what is a true passion; by what is instinct-
ive and not ratiocinative.

The fact that the artist is thus impelled by what may well be called
the "art instinct" is one he could only have learned from the psy-
chologist, or when in introspective mood he became a psychologist
himself; and it carries with it corollaries of great value, which the
psychologist alone can elucidate.

It teaches the artist, for instance, that his success must be deter-
mined by the measure of this instinct that is developed within him;
that he must allow himself to be led by this instinct; that his best
work will be his "spontaneous" work. This, of course, is very far
from saying that he cannot gain by training; but it does mean that
he must learn to treat this training as his tool; that he must not
trust overmuch to his ratiocinative work, the result of which must
be assimilated by, and become part of, his impulsive nature, if he is
to be a master.

An artist is one in whom is highly developed the instinct which
leads him to create objects that arouse the sense of beauty. The
expression of this instinct marks his appropriate functioning. He
may incidentally do many useful things, and produce results apart
from his special aptitude; but as an artist his work is solely and
completely bound up in the production of works of beauty.

We naturally ask here what may be the function in life of the
expressions of such an instinct as we have been studying, and this
leads us to consider a point of more than psychological interest,
and turns our thought to our second division.

II. The Relation of JEsthetics to Philosophy

For while the science of psychology must guide, it can never dom-
inate the thought of the philosopher who strives to gain a broad view
of the world of experience; and, as will appear below, the sesthetician
calls upon the philosopher for aid which the psychologist as such
cannot give.



THE RELATIONS OF AESTHETICS 427

a

In approaching this subject we may take at the start what we may
call the broadly philosophical view, and may consider the question
raised immediately above, where we ask what may be the function
in life of the art instinct, and what the significance of the aesthetic
production to which its expression leads.

We, in our day, are still strongly influenced by the awakening of
interest in til'? problems of organic development with which Darwin's
name is identified, and thus naturally look upon this problem from
a genetic point of vievv-; from which, to my mind, artistic expression
appears, as I have elsewhere argued at length, as one of nature's
means to enforce social consolidation. But it is possible that we
are led, by the present-day interest above spoken of, to over-
emphasize the importance of the processes of the unfolding of our
capacities, and it is not improbable that those who follow us, less
blinded by the brilliancy of the achievement of the evolutionists,
may be able to look deeper than we can into the essence of the
teleological problem thus raised.

That art is worthy for art's sake is the conviction of a large body
of artists, who labor in their chosen work often with a truly martyr-
like self-abnegation; and as an artist I find myself heartily in sym-
pathy with this attitude. But aesthetics looks to philosophy for
some account of this artistic reAo?, which shall harmonize the artist's
effort with that of mankind in general, from whom the artist all too
often feels himself cut off by an impassable gulf.

The study of aesthetics by the philosopher from the genetic stand-
point has, however, already brought to our attention some facts
which are both significant and helpful.

It has shown us how slow and hesitant have been the steps in the
development of aesthetic accomplishment and appreciation in the
past, and how dependent these steps have been upon economic con-
ditions. This on the one hand arouses in us a demand for a fuller
study of the relations of the artistic to the other activities of men;
and on the other hand is a source of encouragement to critic and
artist alike, each of whom in every age is apt to over-emphasize the
artistic failures of his time, and to minimize the importance of its
artistic accomplishment.

This genetic study has a further value in the guidance of our
critical judgment, in that it shows us that the artistic tendencies
of our time are but steps in what is a continuous process of develop-
ment. It shows us arts which have differentiated in the past, and
teaches us to look for further artistic differentiations of the arts in
the future; thus leading us to critical conclusions of no little im-
portance. This consideration seems to me to be of sufficient interest
to warrant our dwelling upon it a little at length.



428 ESTHETICS

The arts of greatest importance in our time may well be divided
into the arts of hearing (that is, literature, poetry, music), and the
arts of sight (that is, architecture, sculpture, painting, and the _
graphic arts).

These diverse groups of arts were differentiated long before any
age of which we have a shadow of record. But many animals display
what seem to be rudimentary art instincts, in which rhythmical move-
ment (which is to be classed as an art of sight) and tonA accompani-
ment are invariably combined — as they are also in the dance and
song of the savage; and this fact would seem to indicate that in the
earliest times of man's rise from savagery the differentiation between
the arts of sight and the arts of hearing was at least very incom-
plete.

But leaving such surmises, we may consider the arts of sight and
the arts of hearing in themselves. We see them still in a measure
bound together; for many an artist, for instance, devotes his life
to the making of paintings which "tell a story," and many a poet
to the production of "word-pictures."

In general, however, it may be said that the arts of hearing and
the arts of sight express themselves in totally different languages,
so to speak, and they have thus differentiated because each can give
a special form of aesthetic delight.

Turning to the consideration of each great group, we note that
the arts of sight have become clearly differentiated on lines which
enable us to group them broadly as the graphic arts, painting,
sculpture, and architecture. Each of these latter has become im-
portant in itself, and has separated itself from the others, just so
far as it has shown that it can arouse the sense of beauty in a man-
ner which its kindred arts of sight cannot approach. It is true that
all the arts of sight hold together more closely than do the arts oi
sight, as such, with the arts of hearing, as such. But it is equally
clear that the bond between the several arts of sight was closer
in earlier times than it is to-day, in the fact that modeled paint-
ing, and colored sculpture, were common media of artistic expres-
sion among the ancients, the latter being still conventional even so
late as in the times of the greatest development of art among the
Greeks.

But the modern has learned that in painting and graphics the
artist can gain a special source of beauty of color and line which he
is able to gain with less distinctness when he models the surface upon
which he works : and the experience of the ages has gradually taught
the sculptor once for all that he in his own special medium is able
to gain a special source of beauty of pure form which no other arts
can reach, and that this special type of beauty cannot be brought
into as great emphasis when he colors his modeled forms.



THE RELATIONS OF ESTHETICS 429

In my view we may well state, as a valid critical principle, that,
other things being equal, in any art the artist does best who presents
in his chosen medium a source of beauty which cannot be as well
presented by any other art. That this principle is appreciated and
widely accepted (although implicitly rather than explicitly) is
indicated by the unrationalized objection of the cultivated critic in
our day to colored sculpture or to modeled painting, and in a more
special direction to the use of body-color in aquarelle work. The
objection in all cases is apparently to the fact that the artist fails to
bring into prominence that type of beauty which his medium can
present as no other medium can.

Personally I have no objection to raise to a recombination of the
arts of sight, provided a fuller sense of beauty can thereby be
reached. But it is clear that this recombination becomes more and
more difficult as the ages of development pass; and I believe the
principle of critical judgment above enunciated is valid, based as
it is upon the inner sense of cultivated men.

Better than attempts to recombine the already differentiated
arts of sight are attempts to use them in conjunction, so that our
shiftings of attention from one type of beauty to another may carry
with them more permanent and fuller aesthetic effects ; and such
attempts we see common to-day in the conjunction of architecture
and of sculpture and of painting, in our private and public galleries,
in which are collected together works of the arts of sight.

Now if we turn to the consideration of the arts of hearing, we find
a correspondence which leads to certain suggestions of no little
importance to the critical analyst in our day.

The arts of hearing have become differentiated on lines which
enable us to group them broadly as rhetoric, poetry and hterature,
and music. Each has become important in itself, and has gradually
separated itself from the others; — and this just so far as it has
shown that it can arouse in men, in a special and peculiar manner,
the sense of beauty.

It is true, as with the arts of sight, that the special arts of hearing
still hold well together.

But in relatively very modern times music, having discovered a
written language of its own, has differentiated very distinctly from
the other arts of hearing. Men have discovered that pure music



Online LibraryMo.) Congress of Arts and Science (1904 : Saint LouisCongress of Arts and Science : universal exposition, St. Louis, 1904 → online text (page 47 of 68)