Aesthetic as Science of Expression and General Linguistic

By Benedetto Croce; Douglas Ainslie | Go to book overview

IV
HISTORICISM AND INTELLECTUALISM IN ÆSTHETIC

THESE relations between intuitive or æsthetic knowledge and the other fundamental or derivative forms of knowledge having been definitely established, we are now in a position to reveal the errors of a series of theories which have been, or are, presented as theories of Æsthetic.

From the confusion between the demands of art in general and the particular demands of history has resulted the theory (which has lost ground to-day, but was once dominant) of the probable as the object of art. As is generally the case with erroneous propositions, the meaning of those who employed and employ the concept of probability has no doubt often been much more reasonable than their definition of the word. By probability used really to be meant the artistic coherence of the representation, that is to say, its completeness and effectiveness, its actual presence. If "probable" be translated "coherent," a very just meaning will often be found in the discussions, examples, and judgements of the critics who employ this word. An improbable personage, an improbable ending to a comedy, are really badly-drawn personages, badly-arranged endings, happenings without artistic motive. It has been said with reason that even fairies and sprites must have probability, that is to say, be really sprites and fairies, coherent artistic intuitions. Sometimes the word "possible" has been used instead of "probable." As we have already remarked in passing, this word possible is


Criticism of probability and of naturalism.

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