3 The Ugly

. . . Deus bonus est, unde malum? . . . the trackless labyrinth of verbalism . . .

The later Platonic theory of ideas tends to convert the idea of the good into the conception of power. It is asserted that being is inconceivable without motion, life, soul, and mind. We have already mentioned the development of nous and cause into the demiurge in Timaeus.1 It is not necessary, at this juncture, to elaborate a principal theme of Neoplatonic and Augustinean interpretations of Plato's theory of ideas, that of the location of ideas in nous in the former and of the rationes seminales in the latter philosophy.2 The conception of the genius in art is formulated, principally in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, in terms of this problem of knowledge. It is certainly true that the problems of epistemology and power in their relation to freedom may not be wholly separated.3 Nonetheless, it is power in relation to matter which raises the problem of evil and it is principally the problem of evil which conditions speculation upon the ugly and ugliness. Once omnipotence is

____________________
1
Vide supra, Ch. II, p. 77 ff. See Plotinus, Enneads, 5.4.1, on the "power" of the "First, the perfect."
2
See E. Gilson, Introduction ὰ l'Étude de Saint Augustin, Ch. 2, pp. 259-60. See supra, Ch. II, p. 70, n. 24.
3
This is not in any sense to deny that the notion of the genius as the "great man" is foreign to ancient theory of art. See Plato's Ion 532 and Longinus' de Sublimitate, particularly the suggestions concerning what William Smith translated as "a lofty and tow'ring genius" ( Dionysius on the Sublime, 4th ed. [ London, 1770], pp. 23-24, 62-63). The method here employed is principally dictated by the fact that it was Longinus' writing on inspiration and sublimity which influenced the great development of the theory of genius. It should be emphasized, as it will be later, that the notion of omnipotence did affect the notion of omniscience. As will be observed, Aristotle saw clearly that the problem of ugliness is one of defect and error, i. e., is not beyond judgment. See infra, this chapter, pp. 118 ff.

-84-

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The Artist as Creator
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iv
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • I - The Great Analogy"" 1
  • 1 - Creativity and Freedom 3
  • 2 - The Great Analogy"" 63
  • 3 - The Ugly 84
  • 4 - The Genius 125
  • 5 - The Genius and the Prophet 153
  • 6 - Genius, Its Philosophical Signifi­ Cance: The Sublime and the Beautiful 177
  • II - The Structure of Art and Fine Art 211
  • 7 - The Structure of the Work of Art 213
  • 8 - Structure and the Judgment of Art: Concrete Significant Form and the Free­ Dom of Making 241
  • 9 - The Aesthetic Relation of the Arts: 270
  • 10 281
  • 11 - The Structure of Fine Art: 292
  • 12 - Conclusion: The Freedom Of The Fine Artist 328
  • Bibliography 331
  • Index 345
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