Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/600

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584
[FEELING
PSYCHOLOGY


d. Closely related to these formal intellectual feelings are certain of the higher aesthetic feelings. A reference to some Hygher of the commonplaces of aesthetical writers may be Aesfhefiv sufficient briefly to exhibit the leading characteristics F°°”"-35' of these feelings. There is a wide agreement among men in general as to what is beautiful and what is not, and it is the business of a treatise on empirical aesthetics from an analysis of these matters of fact to generalize the principles of taste-to do, in fact, for one source of pleasure and pain what we are here attempting in a meagre fashion for all. And these principles are the more important in their bearing upon the larger psychological question, because among aesthetic effects are reckoned only such as are pleasing or otherwise in themselves, apart from all recognition of utility, of possession, or of ulterior gratification of any kind whatever. Thus, if it should be objected that the intellectual satisfaction of consistency is really due to its utility, to the fact that what is incompatible and incomprehensible is of no avail for practical guidance, at least this objection will not hold against the aesthetic principle of unity in variety. In accordance with this primary maxim of art criticism, at the one extreme art productions are condemned for monotony, as incapable of sustaining interest because “ empty, ” “ bald” and “ poor ”; at the other extreme they are condemned as too incoherent and disconnected to furnish a centre of interest. And those are held as so far praiseworthy in which a variety of elements, be they movements, forms, colours or incidents, instead of conflicting, all unite to enhance each other and to form not merely a mass but a whole. Another principle that serves to throw light on our inquiry is that which has been called the principle of economy) viz. that an effect is pleasing in proportion as it is attained by little effort and simple means. The brothers Weber in their classic work on human locomotion discovered that those movements that are aesthetically beautiful are also physiologically correct; grace and ease, in fact, are wellnigh synonymous, as Herbert Spencer points out, and illustrates by apt instances of graceful attitudes, motions and forms. The same writer,2 again, in seeking for a more general law underlying the current maxims of writers on composition and rhetoric is led to a special formulation of this principle as applied to style, viz. that “ economy of the recipient's attention is the secret of effect.” Perhaps of all aesthetical principles the most wide-reaching, as well as practically the most important, is that which explains aesthetic effects by association. Thus, to take one example where so many are possible, the croaking of frogs and the monotonous ditty of the cuckoo owe their pleasantness, not directly to what they are in themselves, but entirely to their intimate association with spring-time and its gladness. At first it might seem, therefore, that in this principle there is nothing fresh that is relevant to our present inquiry, since a pleasure that is only due to association at once carries back the question to its sources; so that in asking why the spring, for example, is pleasant we should be returning to old ground. But this is not altogether true; aesthetic effects call up not merely ideas but ideals. A great work of art improves upon the real in two respects: it intensifies and it transfigures. It is for art to gather into one focus, cleared from dross and commonplace, the genial memories of a lifetime, the instinctive memories of a race; and, where theory can only classify and arrange what it receives, art-in a measure free from “ the literal unities of time and place ”-creates and glorifies. Still art eschews the abstract and speculative; however plastic in its hands, the material wrought is always that of sense. We have already noticed more than once the power which primary presentations have to sustain vivid re-presentations, and the bearing of this on the aesthetic effects of works of art must be straightway obvious. The notes and colours, rhymes and rhythms, forms and movements, which produce the lower aesthetic feelings also serve as the means of bringing into view, Cf. Fechner, Vorschule der Aesthetik, ii. 263. Fechner's full style for it is “ Princip der okonomischen Verwendung der Mittel oder des kleinsten Kraftmasses."

2 Essays, Scientific, Political and Speculative, vol. ii., Ess. I. and Vlll.

and maintaining at a higher level of vividness, a Wider range and flow of pleasing ideas than we can ordinarily command. When we reach the level at which there is distinct self consciousness (cf. § 44), we have an important class of

feelings determined by the relation of the presenta- Eguistiggnd tion of self to the other contents of consciousness. Socialism: And as the knowledge of other selves advances pari Feelingspassu with that of one's own self, so along with the egoistic feelings appear certain social or altruistic feelings. The two have much in common; in pride and shame, for example, account is taken of the estimate other persons form of us and of our regard for them; while, on the other hand, when we admire or despise, congratulate or pity another, we have always present to our mind a more or less definite conception of self in like circumstances. It will therefore amply serve all the ends of our present inquiry if we briefly survey the leading characteristics of some contrasted egoistic feelings, such as self-complacency and disappointment. When a man is pleased with himself, his achievements, possessions or circumstances, such pleasure is the result of a comparison of his present position in this respect with some former position or with the position of someone else. Without descending to details, we may say that two prospects are before him, and the larger and fairer is recognized as his own. Under disappointment or reverse the same two pictures may be present to his mind, but accompanied by the certainty that the better is not his or is his no more. So far, then, it might be said the contents of his consciousness are in each case the same, the whole difference lying in the different relationship to self. But this makes all the difference even to the contents of his consciousness, as we shall at once see if we consider its active side. Even the idlest and most thoughtless mind teems with intentions and expectations, and in its prosperity, like the fool in the parable, thinks to pull down its barns and build greater, to take its ease, eat, drink and be merry. The support of all this pleasing show and these far-reaching aims is, not the bare knowledge of what abundance 'will do, but the reflection-These many goods are mine. In mind alone final causes have a. place, and the end can produce the beginning; the prospect of a summer makes the present into spring. But action is paralysed or impossible when the means evade us. In so far as a man's life consists in the abundance of the things he possesseth, we see then why it dwindles with these. The like holds where self-complacency or displicency rests on a., sense of personal worth or on the honour or affection of others.

32. We are now at the end of our survey of certain typical pleasurable and painful states. The answer to our inquiry which it seems to suggest is that there is pleasure - - - - - - Summary

in proportion as a maximum of attentfon is effectively and Result exercised, and pain in proportion as such effective attention is frustrated by distractions, shocks, or incomplete and faulty adaptations, or fails of exercise, owing to the narrowness of the field of consciousness and the slowness and smallness of its changes. Something must be said in explication of this formula, and certain objections that might be made to it must be considered. First of all it implies that feeling is determined partly by quantitative, or, as we might say, material conditions, and partly by conditions that are formal or qualitative. As regards the former, both the intensity or concentration of attention and its diffusion or the extent of the field of consciousness have to be taken into account. Attention, whatever else it is, is a limited quantity-Pluribus

intentus minor est ad singula sensusto

quote Hamilton's pet adage. Moreover, as we have seen, attention requires time. If, then, attention be distributed over too wide a field, there is a corresponding loss of intensity, and so of distinctness: we tend towards a succession of indistinguishable—indistinguishable, therefore, from no succession.

We must not have more presentations in the field of consciousness than will allow of some concentration of attention: a maximum diffusion will not do. A maximum concentration, in like manner-even if there were no other objection to it-