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12 Conclusion: The Freedom of the Fine Artist

. . . to give this material a new shape, the form of his own mind or imagination.

ERICH FRANK

If the argument of this essay of human freedom is sound, the creativity of the artist is explicable on natural grounds. As we have observed, the aesthetic problem of the artist as creator has been obscured by a confusion between two quite diverse levels of speculation. At the first level, the long tradition of the analogy of the artist to God, the creator, and to God, the demiurgic maker, has made of the original mind and the adept craftsman an agent endowed with attributes of omniscience and omnipotence. The attraction for imagination of the figure of the genius lent this an obscurity which persisted even as the notion of genius impinged upon the aesthetic field. The benefits for aesthetic speculation of this tradition in the history of ideas are not, however, to be underestimated. More particularly, it served as a carrier of values which might well have disappeared.

At the second level of speculation, the aesthetic problem of freedom has been only somewhat less obscured by the antinomic aspects of an argument which made man's imagination the ground for unconditioned originality and, later, tended in reaction against one extreme form of speculation to reduce art to science. We have argued that to consider the work of fine art merely as a sign, a product of craft, or an expression of feeling is no less an error than to consider it as a product of one who believed that he could "make a braver show on the back of a wild horse than on the back of a trained animal." The value of the second level of speculation has been twofold: speculation

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