Wilfrid Richmond.

An essay on personality as a philosophical principle online

. (page 12 of 19)
Online LibraryWilfrid RichmondAn essay on personality as a philosophical principle → online text (page 12 of 19)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

seem to give us a pleasure simple and complete in itself,
but who shall say what flashes of remembrance and
association reach us through the seemingly simple
emotion and reawaken a thousand others ? In a well-
known passage in the opening paragraph of the *' Lamp
of Memory," Mr. Ruskin showed how the beauty of a
wild and natural scene is robbed of half its power, if
we deliberately take from it the emotions belonging to
the peaceful happiness of settled human life, with all
the history that lies behind it, by supposing it far away
from human habitations, the unsuspected memory of
whose near neighbourhood was all the while qualifying
the mere beauty of natural things by a context of other
and very difierent emotions.

The beauty of a person is an instance of a diflerent

Digitized by VjOOQIC

Emotion 143

kind of interdependence of emotions upon one another,
A lower grade of where the beauty of a face, or the car-
emotional perceptioa riage or the lines of a figure, not only

la oftetL aa in personal i • <• i

beauty, the means of Suggest but convey emotions of another
conveying a higher, order — beauties of character and intel-
ligence, the traditional courtesies and charities of social
life, the capacities and habits of upright loyal bearing,
of genuine and sympathetic sincerity, of tenderness,
self-sacrifice, and love.

In many cases, if not to a certain extent in all cases
where one emotion or apprehension of beauty suggests
ThereUtionofpiea. ^"^ conveys another, there is an inten-
sore to pleasure in- sification of pleasure in both through
gives risctoadMnct*!^®!^ relation to one another, even if
emotion of beauty there be not a distinct emotion arising

which consists in -i • ■• /• t • i •

their relation. directly out of their relation to one

E,g. music. another. Music, though it carries us

prematurely into the region of art, affords an instance
of this. A single pure note is a pleasurable and
l)eautiful sound. In melody we have something more
than this — ^a series of notes, each having this simple
l)eauty of sound, but having, as a succession, a new and
distinct beauty arising out of their relation to one
.another. In harmony, again, we have an added beauty,
in the combination of successions of notes with one
another such that the combinations of melodies or each
.successive combination of single notes is in itself
beautiful. Both kinds of relations of notes to one
another, melody and harmony, are beautiful in them-
selves, and both are beautiful as relations of notes
already beautiful in themselves. The emotion of beauty
•of the more complex kind arises from the relation to

Digitized by VjOOQIC

144 ^^ Essay on Personality

one another of emotions of the simpler kind. The dis-
tinct character of the more complex emotion cannot,
from the nature of the case, be tested by isolating it
from the simpler emotions. But an approach to such
isolation is obtained in the case of musicians who are
too deaf to hear musical sounds, but who still find
pleasure in reading a musical score. Memory and
imagination no doubt in such cases supply a likeness of
the actual sounds, though faint and dim in comparison
with reality. But in any case, the survival of a keen
pleasure in the relations of sounds to one another, where
the soimds themselves are at best the far echoes of
reality, helps us to see that there is a real and distinct
beauty in the relation of beautiful sounds to one
another. Instances might be taken in other arts, as,
for instance, the beauty of mere colour, and the beauty
of the scheme of colour, the beauty of mere line or
form, and the beauty of composition. And instances
no less real, though less obvious for purposes of expo-
sition, might be found without straying from the
regions of nature and fact into the domain of the
constructive imagination of the artist.

But it is difficult to separate the two regions from
one another. For the will to maintain emotion, which
Art arises from the ^ radical to emotion itself, takes shape
impulse to maintain in art. Every work of art must take
**"^**^ its rise in an initial moment of emotion,

a vision, a perception, which the artistic temperament
is able to recover and revive. Nor must the impulse
to maintain the level of the emotion of beauty be limited
to the immediate moment and the prolongation of a
particular emotion. When the perception of beauty

Digitized by VjOOQIC

Emotion 145

is not definite enough for this, it may still fill the mind
with a vague impulse to maintain the element of
beauty in some way in the life, though, in the majority
of mankind, it will be by acquiring rather than by
creating what to the individual mind, at such a stage
of culture, commend themselves as works of art. And
in most handicrafts and occupations there is some scope
for effort after something that resembles an dBsthetic
standard, although the characteristic results of the
creative effort, by which mankind endeavour to prolong
and to perpetuate their perceptions of beauty, belong to
the arts which are commonly dignified with the name.

And eminent among the endowments of the artist
properly so called is his sense for the relations of beauty.

and espedaUy what ^^ ^^ *^® ^*^ ^^' ^^^^ *^^®» *^® ^^^

we have caUed com- for pure colouT, pure line, pure form —
piex emotioiL ^^ j^ ^^ ^^^^ ^^^^ ^f artistic cndow-

ment ; and he is even more separated from his fellows
by his perception of harmonies in the beauties of sound
or sight. But though the pure artist is often said to
be this and no more, the endowments which enable
a man to produce really great art go far beyond

" The finer drees
Of flesh that amply lets in loveliness
By eye and ear,"

even if we add to this as a separate endowment the
impulse to reproduce, unless we further include in
loveliness, the moral and spiritual beauty of which we
have said that physical beauty is the exponent. A
E.^. landscape landscape picture in its motive as a
pictures. whole almost always includes some

human association. Often, where it seems to contain


Digitized by VjOOQIC

146 An Essay on Personality

no such element, its motive is the modem love for
solitary places, the renewal of the simple sense of com-
munion with the world in which we live, of which we
allow ourselves to be robbed by the complexity and din
of a crowded and busy life. But it includes in its
details, and as a subordinate element in its main
endeavour, the mere aim to reproduce the conditions
of natural beauty. And the simplest aim of the kind
involves, in the artist who paints the picture, and in
those who are to appreciate its beauty, a sensitiveness
not only to colour and line and form, but to endless
contrasts and harmonies of colour and line and form,
and the beauty of each detail of the picture is itself
a complex beauty, an emotion arising from the fusion
and harmony of emotions. And in the picturing of
nature the sense of communion claims a larger share
of the motive, as we include in the picturing of nature the
picturing of the life of tree and bird and beast, of which
the world is full. Man himself, with whom we enter
on a region of real spiritual communion, appears first
upon the scene of nature as pictured in art, as a part
of the life of nature itself. "Man goeth forth to his
work and to his labour until the evening."

In the pictures of human life for its own sake, it is
the picturing of the social scene rather than the por-
Human life as the traiture of the individual which is
SKwgteiSS first to be noted. Here first the beauty
of emotion, of human life strikes the mind, and

our emotion is a pleasure in beholding the beauty of
what more than all before, as beautiful, deserves the
name of life. We have been dwelling often on the
fact of spiritual intercourse and communion between

Digitized by VjOOQIC

Emotion 147

human persons as the cardinal fact of experience. This
common life of man, this communion of person with
person, is the aspect under which man is first the
subject of art. The group upon a Greek stele, touched
with some tenderness of feeling which made it fit its
end, the children round their mother at a cottage door,
the charge of a regiment of cavalry, or the busy pre-
paration for an Athenian pomp, — ^in these and in a
thousand other instances it is the common life and the
communion of life which has touched the artist's mind,
and given him the emotion which he perpetuates and
communicates to us. And of this emotion it is more
than ever true that it is complex ; it is something more
even than the emotion resultant on the play of emotions
upon one another. For at this point already we are
beginning to pass to a higher level of the emotion of
beauty, and a higher grade in art If
m. ympa y, ^^ chance upon the actual living scene,

the parting of lovers, the meeting of a mother and her
son, and are touched by the beauty of what we see,
it is because first of all the emotion of the scene we
witness is communicated to ourselves. There is some-
thing of this sympathy, this communicated emotion, in
every grade of emotion. But here it is unmistakable,
and is the main fact to be noted. The emotions which
arise on a survey of human social life begin in sympathy.
And this sympathy is not spontaneous ; it is roused in
us by the object which arouses the emotion itself, which
we describe in speaking of a scene as pitiful or touching ;
and further still, the power of such emotion is greatly
increased by the fact that the single scene of emotion
stands to us, and we know it, for the whole world

Digitized by VjOOQIC

148 An Essay on Personality

of human emotional experience — "mentem mortalia
tangunt." There is a sense of revelation in every such
experience. The convincing fact of human life and
love comes upon us with a fresh and, for the moment,
an overwhelming force.

" Trades, arts, the politics of life, —

Say, have they, after all.
One other object, end, or use,

Than that for girl or boy
The punctual earth should still produce

This golden flower of joy?

''Ay, years may come and years may bring
The truth that is not bliss,
But will they bring another thing
That can compare with this ? "

This level of emotion may be illustrated in the
corresponding grade of art. In all art, the artist must
and a correspondtngij communicate to US his emotion; but
higher level of art, there are pictures where the primary
object of the artist is the representation of the
beautiful object, though in order to represent it he
must represent to us his own emotion in perceiving
it ; and there are others where Ids primary object is to
communicate to us his own view of the object represented,
his own emotion in imagining or perceiving it, where
he reckons upon the sympathy of the beholder and
where the artist ap- where this sympathy is, so to say, his
peals to sympathy, ^im. And it is characteristic of this
stage of art, not only that the emotion of the beholder
is an emotion sympathetic with that of the artist, but
creates in 118 a new that it is evoked and created rather
emotional experience, ^^^ merely revived by the embodi-
ment of the emotion of the artist in the picture. We

Digitized by VjCJOQIC

Emotion 149

owe to the artists emotions, which but for them
we should not have. And once more the power
of this emotion upon us is largely dependent upon its
discerning a universal element in life and experience.
amdingoftiniTeraai It is a reading of the emotional fact,
emotional fact ^ot merely of the individual artist or

the individual beholder, but of the world. In a
landscape picture the artist does necessarily, as a matter
of fact, communicate to us his own emotion, his own
perception of beauty. And in many landscape pictures
we owe our perception of beauty to the perception
of the artist, whose unique susceptibility and power
of discernment enable him to awaken in us dormant
powers of emotion, and to enrich us with faculties for
perception of beauty to which we should not otherwise
This power of ^*^® attained. But — to take only the

commimicating: or most obvious and familiar instances of
mSS^ wious de- another grade of art — in such pictures
««^anj™*°^"> as Sir Edwin Landseer's "Shepherd's
Chief Mourner," or Mr. Watts's " Love
and Death," the aim of the artist is to create a sympathy
with his own emotion, and the emotion roused in us
is distinctively the artist's own and communicated to
us, and its power over us is in great part due to the
fact that its pathos is part of the common human life
within which artist and beholder live, revealed to the
artist in his own perception and to the beholder through
his embodiment of it. But it is not a particular class
of pictures only which have this kind of power over us.
All art has it in various degrees. The emotion created
may be merely simple pity or aflfection appealing to the
sympathy of all mankind. It may be the rare and

Digitized by VjOOQIC

150 An Essay on Personality

indefinable emotion of a moment, a summer hour of
pause laden with feeling, suggested or conveyed to us —
who shall say how ? — ^by a Venetian landscape, peopled
with those whose pose speaks to us of no character, no
action, and yet is penetrated by the spirit of the slow
music which we almost seem to hear, the harmony
which might express the emotion that broods over the
remembered hour. It may rise to the mystic and
sublime solemnity where in the grandeurs and solitudes
of nature, or in the tragedies of a spiritual life that
bows to or defies inexorable laws, man is taught to feel
himself face to face with a Divine and universal

Language, in tenderness of tone, in the cadence of
a voice, in the rhythm of passionate words, is a universal
Language 18 a uni- iJ^edium for the expression and con-
v<tfsai medium for veyancc of emotion. And language
SS^S'^'^L^ ^^ become once more what through
of the arts of literal legend and ballad it was in the earliest
^^ ' days, the most widely effective medium
of artistic expression. Every use of spoken or printed
word, which adds to the appeal to the will and reason
the further appeal which speaker or writer makes, when,
through some magic of soul or tongue, he conveys to
others the emotion which gives his thoughts their hold
upon himself, is an instance of the same principle at
work. And in literature, the art of written words, the
dignity of the name may be said to be deserved, when
the form of the words is such as to convey the emotion
of the writer to the soul of the reader through the
universal language of beauty. And through poetry,
the intenser art of words, and lyric poetry, the poetry

Digitized by VjOOQIC

Emotion 151

of poetry itself, we pass only to language more and
more laden with feeling, more and more transfused
with emotion, with the sense of communion with
nature, or man, or God. And to the poet, as to the
artist in any other manner, this is, as artist, the end,
— the crown of contemplation, that under the form of

"The right,
And good, and infinite,

Be named here as thou caU^st thy hand thine own
With knowledge absolate,
Subject to no dispnte."

Art, throughout its age-long history, is the record
of the perceptions achieved by mankind at each stage in
In art emotion re^ ^*® civilisation. The eflfort of the in-
cords the perceptions tellect after the knowledge of the truth
o nmamty. ^^^^y energise in every form of science

or philosophy. Science and philosophy may pass on
from age to age the results, tentative or conclusive,
fragmentary or systematic, of the theoretic side of
human activity. And in the form assumed by sheer
philosophy the eloquence and poetry of the contemplative
reason seldom fail to give some expression to emotions,
from which once more the speculative impulse springs.
But art embodies the perceptions and ideas of the wider
human mass. The artists and the poets show us life
and truth, and earth and heaven, as they lived in the
experience of the intellectual community of the time.
They show us life as they saw it, when, living, they
paused to contemplate themselves and their life. Beauty
is too narrow and too poor a word to describe the
emotions of contemplation with which they recognised

Digitized by VjOOQIC

152 An Essay on Personality

the pathos, the mystery, the glory of the world, and
knew that thus fSeir at least by them

«* The truth of man, as by God first spoken,
Was re-uttered."

Of the emotion that belongs to man's perception and
contemplation of his own life and world, art is the
„ . .• .„ . . record. Art is the record, but life itself

But the will to main- '

tain the emotion leads is the embodiment of the emotion.

^^nSmoti^ ^^ ^ ^^ly *^® ^^^^^^ ^f ^^ moment
but to its embodiment of pause, the moment of contemplation

"* *■ in the life of an emotion. The will to

maintain emotion gives rise not only to its expression in
literature and art Art, rather, is only a subordinate and
incidental feature in the embodiment of emotion in life,
one form which is taken by the will to prolong emotion
— ^the form which it takes, as we have said, in the moment
of pause, when the mind perceives qt contemplates the
achievement of the will. Within the scope and field of
emotion are included the whole of life, every activity
and every achievement of the will and mind of man.
Emotion is their beginning and their end. The will to
prolong emotion is, as we have seen, the radical character
of will. And will is, as we have also seen, the principle
at work, not only in what we call the moral, but also in
what we call the intellectual life. The intellect, again,
both as pervading the moral life and in what we call
specifically the intellectual life, is always feeling its way
towards a result which bears more and more the character
of emotion. Emotion is the constant element in expe-
rience, its embracing medium. Emotion is experience ;
not emotion as contradistinguished from will and

Digitized by VjOOQIC

Emotion 153

intellect^ but as induding them. Emotion, as contra-
distinguished from will and intellect, follows on the act
of will as intellectually perceived, and thus closes what
may be called on a large scale or a small alike one cycle
of life. But the energy of emotion overflows in fresh
activity. The sustaining will that is in it, moved by
satisfied or dissatisfied contemplation of the result, finds
its way out in fresh eflForts directed towards a renewed
or completed satisfaction. This is the inexhaustible
creative energy of emotion which is the life of life itself.
What remains for us here is to dwell upon the emotions
of which this is pre-eminently true, those which are most
obviously the formative principles of life — the emotions,
namely, which can be summed up and treated of under
the name of love.

Love indicates a region, a character, of experience,
which above all else makes experience what it is. The
III. Love is the primary meaning of the word has been
higfaest type of narrowed by a similar limitation to

^®***^°' that which we noted earlier in the case

of the word " person." It remains the designation of
the highest type of emotion, but the emotion itself of
which it is the name is thought of rather as the feeling
and capacity of the individual than, as we have here to
treat it, the final social bond, the crowning reality of
life and experience. We have already found in emotion
that which seals the achievement and prompts the
endeavour of every stage and step in the moral and
the formative prin- intellectual lif a We have now to note
cipieoftheiiistita- how emotion, in this its highest stage,
tiont uman hfe, ^^ ^ tj^e most familiar and compre-
hensive realities of life the character which they bear,

Digitized by VjOOQIC

154 ^^ Essay on Personality

as the supreme creations of the spirit that lives and
moves in human things. For^ after all, the supreme
realities for man are the realities which man has made.
And in the realities that man has made, in the institu-
tions of human life, if we select for the illustration of
this character of emotion the institutions, the permanent
forms of human life, in which above all the ruling
emotions of life are embodied, we may say that in the
family, in society, in the various forms of religious com-
munion, we see the embodiments of emotion in this its
final character. Institutions are valued as the vehicles
of emotion, as emotion realised in fact. They are
valued because they give us the life that takes us out
of ourselves and absorbs us in that which comprehends
our very being and self. Not only these which we have
taken as the typical and central human institutions, but
whatever is established as a permanent social fact, obli-
gation, law, science, philosophy, art, hold their place in
the scheme of human things, as doing necessary service
towards the upbuilding of the fabric in which this social
spirit dwells. Its raison cCitre, its substantive existence
in the world, is, in this definite and final sense of emotion,
its emotional character. Not that, in the sense in which
we commonly use the word "emotion," emotion is in itself
the end ; rather it would be true to say that the true
being of emotion is not in this sense " in itself." For
the emotion of which we speak under the name of love,
as creating and maintaining the institutions of human
life, is the crown of many endeavours, the sum of many
activities, carrying in its very sub-
stance the virtue and activity of the
efiforts which it rewards. It is the soul and self of social

Digitized by VjOOQIC

Emotion 155

institutions, not a disembodied soul of " mere " emotion,
a soul rather which is one aspect of the body that it is
said to inhabit, the substantial reality and being of
human life itself.

Of the family it may be said, in a unique and
special sense, that it gives us the life that takes us out
L In the fiuniiy we of ouTselves, for in the family the indi-

S£SSJfrf*S5. ^diial ^^ and self emerges into con-
•elves ; scious being. To the child the family

is the world. The wider world, except in so far as it
intrudes upon the scene of family life, is like what lay
beyond the ringed Oceanus in the childlike geography
of early days. And this first world to which we wake
is far more intimately knit to our own awakening self
than the wider world is to the man in the broad day-
light of life. What is it, then, that gives to the
family its intimate hold upon our life ? It is to us
it is our moral and the field of all desire, the instruc-
inteiiectiiai world, ^^^ ^f ^y^jy instinct, the source of

every motive, that bears upon the will. The family
is to the child the supreme reality, first as the com-
manding and comprehensive moral fact. As agents
we live and move in our childhood within the wills
of others. The objects of desire are set before us, or
put within our reach. The laws of restraint are imposed
upon us. The principles of conduct are infused into
us, until they grow up into the beginning of our own
moral selves. And the family is also our first intel-
lectual world. It is to us, to begin with, that which
exists, the first type and test of reality, the region of
existence within which we ourselves exist. The family
is to us that which is, and the nature of the wider

Digitized by VjOOQIC

156 An Essay on Personality

world and of the universe is first interpreted to us by
analogies which are drawn from the field of family life.
But neither of these aspects of the family life as the

but it IS through love «P^®^^ ^^ childish existence is adequate
that we identify to explain itself, or to account for the
o wi It, yivid reality which even in memory

the fieimily must still retain. It is in the emotional
stage of the moral and intellectual life that the family
becomes to us the moral and intellectual sphere. And
it is by the energy proper to emotion itself that we
identify ourselves with the family and throw ourselves
into its life as our own. It is not merely a moral effort
of self-surrender, or an intellectual recognition of a fact
by which we regard ourselves as bound up with and
included in the family, or regard the family as living in
ourselves. Love is the principle by which we thus find
ourselves in something other than ourselves. There
are many grades of intensity in this particular form of
the emotion of love. There are large tracts of human
life where nothing that could seem to answer to the
family acts as the first school of love. And there are

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 12 14 15 16 17 18 19

Online LibraryWilfrid RichmondAn essay on personality as a philosophical principle → online text (page 12 of 19)