Reflections on Art: A Source Book of Writings by Artists, Critics, and Philosophers

By Susanne K. Langer | Go to book overview

Beauty as Feeling

VIRGIL C. ALDRICH

Stranger, when you appeared there on the horizon miles to the east, a speck silhouetted against the dawn, you stepped on my toes and bumped into me. Did you not feel the impact?

Before you appeared this whole expanse was my body, and the light and the colors in it my mind. Then the collision occurred. Now look at me. My body is shrunken to a midget-trunk with four midget-limbs. And my mind is in a skull.

I felt the impact, Stranger. I bid you good-morning -- and heartily farewell!

-- from an English sportsman's diary.

THE IDEA THAT beauty is a feeling is discredited by those whose aesthetic experience testifies that beauty is objective, since feelings are certainly subjective. Yet one is still disinclined to give it up. The aery radiance of a thing of beauty is very much akin to, if not identical with, the feeling of him whom it enthralls. That is why it is a joy forever. To him it seems as if he consummates his emotional self in the beautiful object. He swathes it with his own feelings, and thereby lends to it a good part of its appeal.

I do not want to deny outright the hypothesis that beauty is feeling but, rather, to supplement it with an account of how, under

-3-

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Reflections on Art: A Source Book of Writings by Artists, Critics, and Philosophers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction ix
  • Beauty as Feeling 3
  • Art and Feeling 10
  • Beauty and Significance 37
  • The Paradox of Aesthetic Meaning 62
  • On the Problem of Artistic Form 71
  • The Aesthetic Problem of Distance 79
  • The Nature of Dramatic Illusion 91
  • Music and Silence. 103
  • Time in the Plastic Arts 122
  • Bergsonism and Music 142
  • Music and Duration 152
  • Notes on the Superposition of Temporal Modes in the Works of Art 161
  • The Concept of "Tonal Body" 174
  • The Essence of Rhythm 186
  • Morphological Poetics 202
  • A Boston Criticism of Whitman 229
  • Modern Ballet 234
  • Art and Craftsmanship 240
  • The Eye Is A Part of the Mind 243
  • On the Problem of Musical Hearing 262
  • The Image in the Rock 298
  • Problems of A Song-Writer 301
  • The Histrionic Experience 311
  • Sketch for A Pychology of the Moving Pictures 317
  • Music and Myth in Their Mutual Relation 328
  • Modern Architecture: Toward A Redefinition of Style 342
  • Index 357
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