Truth and Art

Truth and Art

Truth and Art

Truth and Art

Excerpt

The essay that follows must speak for itself. Yet on the topic of truth one prefatory remark may not be without use. Truth, in one sense, is truth-about. If I say "Man is finite; his being is mixed with nonbeing," I have stated a truth about man. Such a truth can be known. It is essentially something knowable, and it is only knowable. Throughout the sphere of knowledge, truth in this sense of truth-about stands as standard and goal. When one speaks of truth, this is the sense that first comes to mind. Hence, when one speaks of truth in connection with art, what first comes to mind is the idea that the question is being raised of whether and how art may express such truth-about.

That is not the question raised in this essay. That some works of art attempt to state explicit truths is itself doubtless true -- witness, for instance, Pope Essay on Criticism. That others attempt to imply truths is equally true -- every great work of literature, at least, falls into this class. And it may be argued that all art, in one way or another, offers us insight into truth about man and the conditions of his existence. But none of these considerations enters into the course of thought of the present study.

Truth-about is not the only sense of truth, nor is it the ultimate sense of truth. Truth-about is the first in a sequence of forms of truth on which man must build in order to attain . . .

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