Aesthetic as Science of Expression and General Linguistic

By Benedetto Croce; Douglas Ainslie | Go to book overview

XII
THE ÆSTHETIC OF THE SYMPATHETIC AND PSEUDO-ÆSTHETIC CONCEPTS

THE doctrine of the sympathetic (very often animated and seconded in this by the capricious metaphysical and mystical sthetic, and by that blind traditionalism which assumes an intimate connection between things fortuitously treated together by the same authors in the same books), has introduced and rendered familiar in systems of Æsthetic a series of concepts a rapid mention of which suffices to justify our resolute expulsion of them from our own treatise.


Pseudoæsthetic concepts, and the æthetic of the sympathetic.

Their catalogue is long, not to say interminable: tragic, comic, sublime, Pathetic, moving, sad, ridiculous, melancholy, tragi-comic, humorous, majestic, dignified, serious, grave, imposing, noble, decorous, graceful, attractive, piquant, coquettish, idyllic, elegiac, cheerful, violent, ingenuous, cruel, base, horrible, disgusting, dreadful, nauseating; the list can be increased at will.

Since that doctrine took the sympathetic as its special object, it was naturally unable to neglect any of the varieties of the sympathetic, any of the mixtures or gradations by means of which, starting from the sympathetic in its loftiest and most intense manifestation, its contrary, the antipathetic and repugnant, is finally reached. And since the sympathetic content was held to be the beautiful and the antipathetic the ugly, the varieties (tragic, comic, sublime, pathetic, etc.) constituted for that conception of Æsthetic the shades and gradations intervening between the beautiful and the ugly.

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