Aesthetic as Science of Expression and General Linguistic

By Benedetto Croce; Douglas Ainslie | Go to book overview

XVI
TASTE AND THE REPRODUCTION OF ART

WHEN the entire aesthetic and externalizing process has been completed, when a beautiful expression has been produced and it has been fixed in a definite physical material, what is meant by judging it? To reproduce it in oneself, answer the critics of art, almost with one voice. Very good. Let us try thoroughly to understand this fact, and with that object in view, let us represent it schematically.


æsthetic judgement. Its identity with æsthetic reproduction.

The individual A is seeking the expression of an impression which he feels or anticipates, but has not yet expressed. See him trying various words and phrases which may give the sought-for expression, that expression which must exist, but which he does not possess. He tries the combination m, but rejects it as unsuitable, inexpressive, incomplete, ugly: he tries the combination n, with a like result. He does not see at all, or does not see clearly. The expression still eludes him. After other vain attempts, during which he sometimes approaches, sometimes retreats from the mark at which he aims, all of a sudden (almost as though formed spontaneously of itself) he forms the sought-for expression, and lux facta est. He enjoys for an instant aesthetic pleasure or the pleasure of the beautiful. The ugly, with its correlative displeasure, was the aesthetic activity which had not succeeded in conquering the obstacle; the beautiful is the expressive activity which now displays itself triumphant.

We have taken this example from the domain of

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