How in its naked self Reason wer powerless showeth when philosophers wil treat of Art, the which they are full ready to do, having good intuition that their master-key may lie therein; but since they must lack vision of Art, (for elsewise they had been artists, not philosophers) they miss the way; . . .
ROBERT BRIDGES, The Testament of Beauty
Into the noble and ennobling theme of human freedom, the tradition of speculation in the West has introduced as a variation the creativity of the artist. The variation, which has tended to celebrate intimations of divine powers resident in the artist and manifest in fine art, has seized upon men's imaginations and has been voiced with conviction and eloquence. In consequence, the creativity of the artist has at times been wholly separated in theory from the theme of freedom; no less frequently, the sustaining theme has been subordinated to the variation. Despite these clearly marked historical tendencies, an essay of the artist as creator is basically a study of freedom. This theme of freedom is exceeded in significance by few in philosophy. It is one which provides the massive background against which much of speculation upon homo faber becomes intelligible and to which, in its turn, the creativity of the artist gives its unique interpretation.
It is not necessary to argue that freedom is omnipresent to speculation upon the artist as creator or, indeed, to aesthetic in its entirety as a portion of theory of value, in order to remark its significance and delineate the contours it assumes within the context of art. It is enough to point out at the outset that it is present to the earliest and continues to affect the latest interpretations of the subject. As Plato looks upon the poet