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delineated with the trunk of a pine for a cane, big but not great, reveals not the sublime but the monstrous.
Sublimity is, therefore, essentially the same with beauty, with the additional idea that it suggests immensity and infinitude. As we rise from one order of beautiful things to another, continually ascending to ideals grander and more majestic, we presently come in sight of power and perfection transcending our power of measurement and too grand to be defined and contained in our ideals. Then the soul is awed and thrilled as in the presence of the Absolute and the Eternal.
IX. Ugliness is the contrary of beauty. An object is ugly when it suggests a deviation from the ideal perfection.
The majority of human beings are neither beautiful nor ugly. The same is true of brutes, plants and natural and artificial products. They have a mediocrity which suggests neither perfection nor imperfection. It is only a few men and women, a few dogs and horses, a few objects of any kind that we distinguish from others of the same kind as beautiful, and only a few that we distinguish as ugly. At the same time we properly speak of a fine cabbage or handsome potatoes, comparing the best of the species with the inferior specimens; while compared with the rational standard of beauty the best attain only to mediocrity.
Aay deformity is ugly--a wen, a hump, the paleness and emaciation of disease, a monstrous birth; for these are departures from the normal condition of the being. The same is true of stupidity, awkwardness and vice, revealed in the human face, action or character.
There are also species of creatures which are incapable of beauty, such as the hippopotamus and the alligator; the more completely the individual'accords with the type of the species, the more ugly it is. It is far from the rational standard of symmetry of form or grace of movement or animal beauty of any kind. There are grades of beauty from lower to higher; but the grades begin below zero and we describe their ascent only as a diminishing ugliness. On this principle, in the Spanish fable of the wart, the wen and the hump contending for the prize of beauty, the prize was given to the wart because there was least of it. Such objects cannot be beautiful, because however complete in their kind, their kind is ugly.
Why such creatures exist is a question of theodicy, a part of the broader question why evil exists, and its discussion is not in place here. It may be said, however, that their existence may be justified for other than æsthetic reasous; that as related to the Cosmos they may even add to its completeness and beauty, as shadows add to the beauty of a picture and an occasional discord to the effect of music, and as many homely bricks are built into a beautiful house; and that their existence may be, like other imperfections, incidental to the progressive development of the universe. It may be added, the common disgust at some animals results from a false association of ideas, and scientists when they study them find in them positive beauties.
There is also a certain technical beauty. A doctor collecting virus from a child that he had vaccinated, exclaimed as he rolled up the child's sleeve, " What a beautiful scab!” Another, examining a cataract, exclaimed, " It is a perfectly beautiful cataract." A third left the house of a patient who had just died, and rubbing his hands with glee, said to an inquirer, “ The most correct case of apoplexy I ever saw; all the symptoms perfect.” It is a perversion of all philosophy and common sense to call these deformities beautiful. And yet these incidents illustrate and confirm our ästhetical philosophy. When a man devotes his life to the study and cure of disease, it is natural that he should admire a case in which the disease develops and culminates according to its law and, contemplating it solely from that point of view, call it beautiful. And yet, compared with the universal standard of reason it is seen to be abnormal and ugly.
X. The apprehension of beauty or ideal perfection in any object is primarily an act of intellect, to which the æsthetic emotion is consequent. In this respect aesthetics is analogous to ethics. The aesthetic idea precedes the aesthetic emotion just as the ethical idea precedes the ethical emotion. All attempts to construct an æsthetical philosophy from the feelings must be failures. In this also the case is the same as in ethics. The principles involved are the same as in the discussion of the relation of the moral feelings to the moral ideas in ethical philosophy, and need not be repeated.
The capacity of asthetic emotion is, therefore, distinctive of rationality. The same is true of scientific and ethical emotion. They presuppose respectively a knowledge of the True, the Right and the Perfect. To care for a flower because it is beautiful, to perform an act because it is right, to solve a problem from interest in truth, are each distinctive of a rational being.
& 43. The Æsthetic Emotions. The emotion of beauty is the joy of the soul in discovering the ideally perfect in an object perceived or conceived. It is commonly called admiration.
I. This emotion is distinguished from all other feelings by the fact that its object is the ideally perfect revealed in concrete reality. Like all other simple emotions it cannot be defined analytically, but only by reference to the occasion on which it arises and the object which calls it
ferth in consciousness. What the emotion is can be known only by experiencing it.
It is distinguished from all the natural sensibilities. When one is admiring the beauty of a table richly spread for a banquet, he says, “It is too beautiful to eat.” When appetite comes in the beauty is forgotten; it all sinks into a heap of victuals which harpies are seizing and carrying off. In looking at a beautiful human form, or a painting or statue of it, so long as the beauty is admired every voluptuous desire is far away. No lust from the sphere of sense may thrust its satyr-hoof into the presence of beauty.
Æsthetic emotions are also distinct from the other rational sensibilities. In the sphere of thought reason shows us what is true; in the sphere of efficient action it shows us what is right; in the sphere of acquisition and enjoyment it shows us the good which has in itself true worth. Distinct from each of these, in the sphere of ästhetics it shows us what is perfect and in itself admirable.
The emotion of beauty is distinguished from the scientific emotions. The desire to know the truth prompts to ascertain and vindicate it. The emotion of beauty is not an interest in discovering, proving or propagating truth. It is simply joy in an ideal in which the truth reveals itself already dressed.
It is distinguished from the moral sentiments impelling to duty, rejoicing in self-approval, or suffering in remorse. It is simply joy in the beauty of perfection already revealed. In art its immediate object is to express an ideal, not to inculcate duty. A story or poem written to teach a truth or inculcate a duty is usually inferior as a work of art, because the author is occupied with preaching rather than creating. His mind is not full of beautiful ideals which come like free children of God and cry, Here we are,”* and whose beauty he is impelled to depict. Æsthetic emotion is not immoral, but it is non-moral.
“So, Lady Flora, take my lay,
And if you find no moral there,
What moral is in being fair.
"Oh, to what uses shall we put
The wildwood flower that simply blows ?
Within the bosom of the rose ?
But any man that walks the mead,
In bud, or blade, or bloom may find,
A moral fitted to his mind.”
* Goethe in Conversations with Eckermann, p. 63.
Æsthetic emotion is also distinguished from the prudential. It is disinterested. It holds itself aloof from all desires and calculations of gain. The beauties of the earth are not utilitarian conveniences. It may be objected that the abundance of blessing may itself be an element of beauty. This is not denied; it may be an element of the ideal. An example of it is in that beautiful description of the earth rejoicing under the rain in Psalm 65: 9–13. But while the poet was admiring the beauty, joyful with the rejoicing earth, if a farmer were calculating how much money the rain would put into his pocket, he must have been insensible to the beauty.
II. The emotion of beauty prompts to share it with others. When we see anything beautiful we are always impelled to point it out to others. Beauty is but half enjoyed when enjoyed alone. It seems to be an instinctive recognition of the universal and unchanging in beauty; it is for all, not merely for one.
III. In observing the beautiful the mind is in the attitude of a Seer; it contemplates the expressiveness of things; and only when the mind is in this attitude can emotions of beauty arise. In the sphere of empirical and philosophical science the mind is occupied with observing, generalizing and classifying, with inventing and combining, with analyzing, synthesizing and inferring; its whole aim is to discover truth. The “Eureka!" of Archimedes was an investigator's shout rejoicing in discovery achieved.
In practical life the mind deals with the same subjects, but with an end beyond the discovery of truth. It is applying knowledge to the conduct of life. It is dealing with facts and truths as disclosing means to ends, as motives to action, as guides to duty, as disclosing a good to be attained and the means of attaining it, as related to God and his service.
But in aesthetic emotion the mind is no longer busied with investigation, speculative or practical. It simply opens to an object to receive what it has to express, as a flower opens itself to the sun to receive its light. It is in the attitude of a Seer. Hence the name aesthetic, that is, perceiving, seeing. Beautiful things have an ideal to show us. When we get acquainted with them and, as it were, get their confidence, they tell us their secret; they open their hearts to us. Thus in æsthetic perception we come into friendly relations with nature, and see the very heart of things. Science tears nature to pieces to find out how it is made; practical art seizes its forces and compels them into service. In æsthetics we commune with nature lovingly and confidentially as a friend; and it discloses the great thoughts and ideals of reason intrusted to its keeping; it reveals the thoughts of God and makes us know that “He is not far from every one of us."
When Kepler was studying the heavens his mind was occupied with his hypotheses, his calculations, his verifications, and there was no place for æsthetic emotion. Afterwards, as he looked on the planetary system moving in accordance with the laws which he had discovered, he saw the expressiveness of the system and exclaimed, “Oh, God, I read thy thoughts after thee."
When Napoleon was planning and executing a campaign, he was occupied with the practical combinations, and thought only of victory, not of beauty. But as we look back on it depicted in the stillness of the past, we admire the masterly combinations of genius and feel their beauty.
While an orator is speaking, his whole speech is an action convincing, persuading, inspiring, and both he and his hearers are occupied with argument and appeal, and have no time to think of beauty. But as we look on the picture given in history of Paul on Mars Hill, of Demosthenes speaking against Philip, of Webster in the Senate, or Lincoln at Gettysburg, we feel that it is sublime.
And this is the difference between eloquence and an actor's performance. The former is an action to convince, to persuade and inspire, pressing so urgently on the hearers' intellect, conscience and heart as to leave no room for æsthetic admiration. But the end and aim of an actor's performance is aesthetic. The same is the difference between a speech and a poem. When public speaking, as commonly in popular lectures, addresses itself to ästhetic ends, it becomes a play with one dramatis persona, and eloquence is impossible. The people demand the impossible, for they demand eloquence as an amusement.
IV. Æsthetic emotions are frequently confounded with emotions not properly æsthetic.
1. The emotion of beauty is not mere wonder or surprise which arises on observing something new, unexpected or extraordinary, as a big squash or beet at an agricultural fair. The emotion of beauty is commonly called admiration. This, however, denotes asthetic approval of the object and joy in it as expressing or indicating an ideal of perfection. It is true that the pleasure felt in seeing beauty is usually accompanied with wonder, because beauty is rare. But the wonder is no part of the emotion of beauty. In heaven all things will be beautiful, so that beautiful objects will cause no wonder or surprise. And yet the intensity and freshness of the delight in beauty will not be less.
2. Some miscalled emotions of beauty are merely agreeable sensations; as the feeling of velvet, simple colors, or the pleasant quality of a voice. It is not always easy to decide where the ideal or rational beauty begins. Prof. Müller, in a course of lectures at Berlin, explained the beauty of the curved line as merely an agreeable sensation resulting