The World as Will and Representation/Third Book

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THE WORLD AS IDEA[edit]

SECOND ASPECT

THE IDEA INDEPENDENT OF THE PRINCIPLE OF SUFFICIENT REASON: THE PLATONIC IDEA: THE OBJECT OF ART

Τί τὸ ὂν μὲν ἀεὶ, γένεσιν δὲ οὐκ ἔχον; καὶ τί τὸ γιγνόμενον μὲν καὶ ἀπολλύμενον, ὄντος δε οὐδέποτε ὄν.

— ΠΛΑΤΩΝ


§ 30[edit]

In the First Book the world was explained as mere idea, object for a subject. In the Second Book we considered it from its other side, and found that in this aspect it is will, which proved to be simply that which this world is besides being idea. In accordance with this knowledge we called the world as idea, both as a whole and in its parts, the objectification of will, which therefore means the will become object, i.e., idea. Further, we remember that this objectification of will was found to have many definite grades, in which, with gradually increasing distinctness and completeness, the nature of will appears in the idea, that is to say, presents itself as object. In these grades we already recognised the Platonic Ideas, for the grades are just the determined species, or the original unchanging forms and qualities of all natural bodies, both organised and unorganised, and also the general forces which reveal themselves according to natural laws. These Ideas, then, as a whole express themselves in innumerable individuals and particulars, and are related to these as archetypes to their copies. The multiplicity of such individuals is only conceivable through time and space, their appearing and passing away through causality, and in all these forms we recog nise merely the different modes of the principle of sufficient reason, which is the ultimte principle of all that is finite, of all individual existence, and the universal form of the idea as it appears in the knowledge of the individual as such. The Platonic Idea, on the other hand, does not come under this principle, and has there fore neither multiplicity nor change. While the individuals in which it expresses itself are innumerable, and unceasingly come into being and pass away, it remains unchanged as one and the same, and the principle of sufficient reason has for it no meaning. As, however, this is the form under which all knowledge of the subject comes, so far as the subject knows as an individual, the Ideas lie quite outside the sphere of its knowledge. If, therefore, the Ideas are to become objects of knowledge, this can only happen by transcending the individuality of the knowing subject. The more exact and detailed explanation of this is what will now occupy our attention.

§ 31[edit]

First, however, the following very essential remark. I hope that in the preceding book I have succeeded in producing the conviction that what is called in the Kantian philosophy the thing-in-itself, and appears there as so significant, and yet so obscure and paradoxical a doctrine, and especially on account of the manner in which Kant introduced it as an inference from the caused to the cause, was considered a stumbling-stone, and, in fact, the weak side of his philosophy, — that this, I say, if it is reached by the entirely different way by which we have arrived at it, is nothing but the will when the sphere of that conception is extended and defined in the way I have shown. I hope, further, that after what has been said there will be no hesitation in recognising the definite grades of the objectification of the will, which is the inner reality of the world, to be what Plato called the eternal Ideas or unchangeable forms (εἴδη); a doctrine which is regarded as the principal, but at the same time the most obscure and paradoxical dogma of his system, and has been the subject of reflection and controversy of ridicule and of reverence to so many and such differently endowed minds in the course of many centuries.

If now the will is for us the thing-in-itself, and the Idea is the immediate objectivity of that will at a definite grade, we find that Kant's thing-in-itself, and Plato's Idea, which to him is the only ὄντος ὄν, these two great obscure paradoxes of the two greatest philosophers of the West are not indeed identical, but yet very closely related, and only distinguished by a single circumstance. The purport of these two great paradoxes, with all inner harmony arid relationship, is yet so very different on account of the remarkable diversity of the individuality of their authors, that they are the best commentary on each other, for they are like two entirely different roads that conduct us to the same goal. This is easily made clear. What Kant says is in substance this: — "Time, space, and causality are not determinations of the thing-in-itself, but belong only to its phenomenal existence, for they are nothing but the forms of our knowledge. Since, how ever, all multiplicity, and all coming into being and passing away, are only possible through time, space, and causality, it follows that they also belong only to the phenomenon, not to the thing-in-itself. But as our knowledge is conditioned by these forms, the whole of experience is only knowledge of the phenomenon, not of the thing-in-itself; therefore its laws cannot be made valid for the thing-in-itself. This extends even to our own ego, and we know it only as phenomenon, and not according to what it may be in itself". This is the meaning and content of the doctrine of Kant in the important respect we are considering. What Plato says is this: — "The things of this world which our senses perceive have no true being; they always become, they never are: they have only a relative being; they all exist merely in and through their relations to each other; their whole being may, therefore, quite as well be called a non-being. They are consequently not objects of a true knowledge (ἐπιστήμη), for such a knowledge can only be of what exists for itself, and always in the same way; they, on the contrary, are only the objects of an opinion based on sensation (δόξα μετ' αἰσθήσεως ἄλογου). So long as we are confined to the perception of these, we are like men who sit in a dark cave, bound so fast that they cannot turn their heads, and who see nothing but the shadows of real things which pass between them and a fire burning behind them, the light of which casts the shadows on the wall opposite them; and even of them selves nnd of each other they see only the shadows on the wall. Their wisdom would thus consist in predicting the order of the shadows learned from experience. The real archetypes, on the other hand, to which these shadows correspond, the eternal Ideas, the original forms of all things, can alone be said to have true being (ὄντος ὄν), because they always are, but never become nor pass away. To them belongs no multiplicity; for each of them is according to its nature only one, for it is the archetype itself, of which all particular transitory things of the same kind which are named after it are copies or shadows. They have also no coming into being nor passing away, for they are truly being, never becoming nor vanishing, like their fleeting shadows. (It is necessarily presupposed, however, in these two negative definitions, that time, space, and casuality have no significance or validity for these Ideas, and that they do not exist in them.) Of these only can there be true knowledge, for the object of such knowledge can only be that which always and in every respect (thus in-itself) is; not that which is and again is not, according as we look at it". This is Plato's doctrine. It is clear, and requires no further proof that the inner meaning of both doctrines is entirely the same; that both explain the visible world as a manifestation, which in itself is nothing, and which only has meaning and a borrowed reality through that which expresses itself in it (in the one case the thing-in-self, in the other the Idea). To this last, which has true being, all the forms of that phenomenal existence, even the most universal and essential, are, according to both doctrines, entirely foreign. In order to disown these forms Kant has directly expressed them even in abstract terms, and distinctly refused time, space, and casuality as mere forms of the phenomenon to the thing-in-itself. Plato, on the other hand, did not attain to the fullest expression, and has only distinctly refused these forms to his Ideas in that he denies of the Ideas what is only possible through these forms, multiplicity of similar things, coming into being and passing away. Though it is perhaps superfluous, I should like to illustrate this remarkable and important agreement by an example. There stands before us, let us suppose, an animal in the full activity of life. Plato would say, "This animal has no true existence, but merely an apparent existence, a constant becoming, a relative existence which may just as well be called non-being as being. Only the Idea which expresses itself in that animal is truly being, or the animal in-itself (αὐτό το θηρίον), which is dependent upon nothing, but is in and for itself (καθ' ἑαυτό, ἀεί ὡς αὐτός); it has not become, it will not end, but always is in the same way (ἀεί ὄν, καὶ μηδέποτε οὔτε γιγνόμενον οὔτε ἀπολλυμένον). If now we recognise its Idea in this animal, it is all one and of no importance whether we have this animal now before us or its progenitor of a thousand years ago, whether it is here or in a distant land, whether it presents itself in this or that manner, position, or action; whether, lastly, it is this or any other individual of the same species; all this is nothing, and only concerns the phenomenon; the Idea of the animal alone has true being, and is the object of real knowledge". So Plato; Kant would say something of this kind, "This animal is a phenomenon in time, space, and casuality, which are collectively the conditions a priori of the possibility of experience, lying in our faculty of knowledge, not determinations of the thing-in-itsef. Therefore this animal as we perceive it at this definite point of time, in this particular place, as an individual in the connection of experience (i.e., in the chain of causes and effects), which has come into being, and will just as necessarily pass away, is not a thing-in-itself, but a phenomenon which only exists in relation to our knowledge. To know it as what it may be in itself, that is to say, independent of all the determinations which lie in time, space, and casuality, would demand another kind of knowledge than that which is possible for us through the senses and the understanding".

In order to bring Kant's mode of expression nearer the Platonic, we might say: Time, space, and causality are that arrangement of our intellect by virtue of which the one being of each kind which alone really is, manifests itself to us as a multiplicity of similar beings, constantly appearing and disappearing in endless succession. The apprehension of things by means of and in accordance with this arrangement is immanent knowledge; that, on the other hand, which is conscious of the true state of the case, is transcendental knowledge. The latter is obtained in abstracto through the criticism of pure reason, but in exceptional cases it may also appear intuitively. This last is an addition of my own, which I am endeavouring in this Third Book to explain.

If the doctrine of Kant had ever been properly understood and grasped, and since Kant's time that of Plato, if men had truly and earnestly reflected on the inner meaning and content of the teaching of these two great masters, instead of involving themselves in the technicalities of the one and writing parodies of the style of the other, they could not have failed to discern long ago to what an extent these two great philosophers agree, and that the true meaning, the aim of both systems, is the same. Not only would they have refrained from constantly comparing riato to Leibnitz, on whom his spirit certainly did not rest, or indeed to a well-known gentleman who is still alive,[1] as if they wanted to mock the manes of the great thinker of the past; but they would have advanced much farther in general, or rather they would not have fallen so disgracefully far behind as they have in the last forty years. They would not have let themselves be led by the nose, to-day by one vain boaster and to-morrow by another, nor would they have opened the nineteenth century, which promised so much in Germany, with the philosophical farces that were performed over the grave of Kant (as the ancients sometimes did at the funeral obsequies of their dead), and which deservedly called forth the derision of other nations, for such things least become the earnest and strait-laced German. But so small is the chosen public of true philosophers, that even students who understand are but scantily brought them by the centuries — Εἰσί δή ναρθηκοφόροι μὲν πολλοί, βάκχοι δέ γε παῦροι (Thyrsigeri quidem multi, Bacchi vero pauci). Ἡ ἀτιμία φιλοσοφία διὰ ταῦτα προσπέπτωκεν, ὅτι οὐ κατ' ἀξίαν αὐτῇς ἅπτονται οὐ γὰρ νόθους ἔδει ἅπτεσθαι, ἀλλά γνησίους (Eam ob rem philosophia in infamiam incidit, quod non pro dignitate ipsam attingunt: neque enim a spuriis, sed a legitimis erat attrectanda). — Plato.

Men followed the words, — such words as "a priori ideas", "forms of perception and thought existing in consciousness independently of experience", "fundamental conceptions of the pure understanding", etc., etc., and asked whether Plato's Ideas, which were also original conceptions, and besides this were supposed to be reminiscences of a perception before life of the truly real things, were in some way the same as Kant's forms of perception and thought, which lie a priori in our consciousness. On account of some slight resemblance in the expression of these two entirely different doctrines, the Kantian doctrine of the forms which limit the knowledge of the individual to the phenomenon, and the Platonic doctrine of Ideas, the knowledge of which these very forms expressly deny, these so far diametrically opposed doctrines were carefully compared, and men deliberated and disputed as to whether they were identical, found at last that they were not the same, and concluded that Plato's doctrine of Ideas and Kant's "Critique of Reason" had nothing in common. But enough of this.[2]

§ 32[edit]

It follows from our consideration of the subject, that, for us, Idea and thing-in-itself are not entirely one and the same, in spite of the inner agreement between Kant and Plato, and the identity of the aim they had before them, or the conception of the world which roused them and led them to philosophise. The Idea is for us rather the direct, and therefore adequate, objectivity of the thing-in-itself, which is, however, itself the will — the will as not yet objectified, not yet become idea. For the thing-in-itself must, even according to Kant, be free from all the forms connected with knowing as such; and it is merely an error on his part (as is shown in the Appendix) that he did not count among these forms, before all others, that of being object for a subject, for it is the first and most universal form of all phenomena, i.e., of all idea; he should therefore have distinctly denied objective existence to his thing-in-itself, which would have saved him from a great inconsistency that was soon discovered. The Platonic Idea, on the other hand, is necessarily object, something known, an idea, and in that respect is different from the thing-in-itself, but in that respect only. It has merely laid aside the subordinate forms of the phenomenon, all of which we include in the principle of sufficient reason, or rather it has not yet assumed them; but it has retained the first and most universal form, that of the idea in general, the form of being object for a subject. It is the forms which are subordinate to this (whose general expression is the principle of sufficient reason) that multiply the Idea in particular transitory individuals, whose number is a matter of complete indifference to the Idea. The principle of sufficient reason is thus again the form into which the Idea enters when it appears in the knowledge of the subject as individual. The particular thing that manifests itself in accordance with the principle of sufficient reason is thus only an indirect objectification of the thing-in-itself (which is the will), for between it and the thing-in-itself stands the Idea as the only direct objectivity of the will, because it has assumed none of the special forms of knowledge as such, except that of the idea in general, i.e., the form of being object for a subject. Therefore it alone is the most adequate objectivity of the will or thing-in-itself which is possible; indeed it is the whole thing-in-itself, only under the form of the idea; and here lies the ground of the great agreement between Plato and Kant, although, in strict accuracy, that of which they speak is not the same. But the particular things are no really adequate objectivity of the will, for in them it is obscured by those forms whose general expression is the principle of sufficient reason, but which are conditions of the knowledge which belongs to the individual as such. If it is allowable to draw conclusions from an impossible presupposition, we would, in fact, no longer know particular things, nor events, nor change, nor multiplicity, but would comprehend only Ideas, — only the grades of the objectification of that one will, of the thing-in-itself, in pure unclouded knowledge. Consequently our world would be a nunc stans, if it were not that, as knowing subjects, we are also individuals, i.e., our perceptions come to us through the medium of a body, from the affections of which they proceed, and which is itself only concrete willing, objectivity of the will, and thus is an object among objects, and as such comes into the knowing consciousness in the only way in which an object can, through the forms of the principle of sufficient reason, and consequently already presupposes, and therefore brings in, time, and all other forms which that principle expresses. Time is only the broken and piecemeal view which the individual being has of the Ideas, which are outside time, and consequently eternal. Therefore Plato says time is the moving picture of eternity: αἰῶνος εἰκών κινητή ὁ χρόνος.[3]

§ 33[edit]

Since now, as individuals, we have no other knowledge than that which is subject to the principle of sufficient reason, and this form of knowledge excludes the Ideas, it is certain that if it is possible for us to raise ourselves from the knowledge of particular things to that of the Ideas, this can only happen by an alteration taking place in the subject which is analogous and corresponds to the great change of the whole nature of the object, and by virtue of which the subject, so far as it knows an Idea, is no more individual.

It will be remembered from the preceding book that knowledge in general belongs to the objectification of will at its higher grades, and sensibility, nerves, and brain, just like the other parts of the organised being, are the expression of the will at this stage of its objectivity, and therefore the idea which appears through them is also in the same way bound to the service of will as a means (μηχανή) for the attainment of its now complicated (πολυτελέστερα) for sustaining a being of manifold requirements. Thus originally and according to its nature, knowledge is completely subject to the will, and, like the immediate object, which, by means of the application of the law of causality, is its starting-point, all knowledge which proceeds in accordance with the principle of sufficient reason remains in a closer or more distant relation to the will. For the individual finds his body as an object among objects, to all of which it is related and connected according to the principle of sufficient reason. Thus all investigations of these relations and connections lead back to his body, and consequently to his will. Since it is the principle of sufficient reason which places the objects in this relation to the body, and, through it, to the will, the one endeavour of the knowledge which is subject to this principle will be to find out the relations in which objects are placed to each other through this principle, and thus to trace their innumerable connections in space, time, and causality. For only through these is the object interesting to the individual, i.e., related to the will. Therefore the knowledge which is subject to the will knows nothing further of objects than their relations, knows the objects only so far as they exist at this time, in this place, under these circumstances, from these causes, and with these effects — in a word, as particular things; and if all these relations were to be taken away, the objects would also have disappeared for it, because it knew nothing more about them. We must not disguise the fact that what the sciences consider in things is also in reality nothing more than this; their relations, the connections of time and space, the causes of natural changes, the resemblance of forms, the motives of actions, — thus merely relations. What distinguishes science from ordinary knowledge is merely its systematic form, the facilitating of knowledge by the comprehension of all particulars in the universal, by means of the subordination of concepts, and the completeness of knowledge which is thereby attained. All relation has itself only a relative existence; for example, all being in time is also non-being; for time is only that by means of which opposite determinations can belong to the same thing; therefore every phenomenon which is in time again is not, for what separates its beginning from its end is only time, which is essentially a fleeting, inconstant, and relative thing, here called duration. But time is the most universal form of all objects of the knowledge which is subject to the will, and the prototype of its other forms.

Knowledge now, as a rule, remains always subordinate to the service of the will, as indeed it originated for this service, and grew, so to speak, to the will, as the head to the body. In the case of the brutes this subjection of knowledge to the will can never be abolished. In the case of men it can be abolished only in exceptional cases, which we shall presently consider more closely. This distinction between man and brute is outwardly expressed by the difference of the relation of the head to the body. In the case of the lower brutes both are deformed: in all brutes the head is directed towards the earth, where the objects of its will lie; even in the higher species the head and the body are still far more one than in the case of man, whose head seems freely set upon his body, as if only carried by and not serving it. This human excellence is exhibited in the highest degree by the Apollo of Belvedere; the head of the god of the Muses, with eyes fixed on the far distance, stands so freely on his shoulders that it seems wholly delivered from the body, and no more subject to its cares.

§ 34[edit]

The transition which we have referred to as possible, but yet to be regarded as only exceptional, from the common knowledge of particular things to the knowledge of the Idea, takes place suddenly; for knowledge breaks free from the service of the will, by the subject ceasing to be merely individual, and thus becoming the pure will-less subject of knowledge, which no longer traces relations in accordance with the principle of sufficient reason, but rests in iixed contemplation of the object presented to it, out of its connection with all others, and rises into it.

A full explanation is necessary to make this clear, and the reader must suspend his surprise for a while, till he has grasped the whole thought expressed in this work, and then it will vanish of itself.

If, raised by the power of the mind, a man relinquishes the common way of looking at things, gives up tracing, under the guidance of the forms of the principle of sufficient reason, their relations to each other, the final goal of which is always a relation to his own will; if he thus ceases to consider the where, the when, the why, and the whither of things, and looks simply and solely at the what; if, further, he does not allow abstract thought, the concepts of the reason, to take possession of his consciousness, but, instead of all this, gives the whole power of his mind to perception, sinks himself entirely in this, and lets his whole consciousness be filled with the quiet contemplation of the natural object actually present, whether a landscape, a tree, a mountain, a building, or whatever it may be; inasmuch as he loses himself in this object (to use a pregnant German idiom), i.e., forgets even his individuality, his will, and only continues to exist as the pure subject, the clear mirror of the object, so that it is as if the object alone were there, without any one to perceive it, and he can no longer separate the perceiver from the perception, but both have become one, because the whole consciousness is filled and occupied with one single sensuous picture; if thus the object has to such an extent passed out of all relation to something outside it, and the subject out of all relation to the will, then that which is so known is no longer the particular thing as such; but it is the Idea, the eternal form, the immediate objectivity of the will at this grade; and, therefore, he who is sunk in this perception is no longer individual, for in such perception the individual has lost himself; but he is pure, will-less, painless, timeless subject of knowledge. This, which in itself is so remarkable (which I well know confirms the saying that originated with Thomas Paine, Du sublime au ridicule il n'y a qu'un pas), will by degrees become clearer and less surprising from what follows. It was this that was running in Spinoza's mind when he wrote: Meus aeterna est, quatenus res sub aeternitatis specie concipit (Eth. V. pr. 31, Schol.)[4] In such contemplation the particular thing becomes at once the Idea of its species, and the perceiving individual becomes pure subject of knowledge. The individual, as such, knows only particular things; the pure subject of knowledge knows only Ideas. For the individual is the subject of knowledge in its relation to a definite particular manifestation of will, and in subjection to this. This particular manifestation of will is, as such, subordinated to the principle of sufficient reason in all its forms; therefore, all knowledge which relates itself to it also follows the principle of sufficient reason, and no other kind of knowledge is fitted to be of use to the will but this, which always consists merely of relations to the object. The knowing individual as such, and the particular things known by him, are always in some place, at some time, and are links in the chain of causes and effects. The pure subject of knowledge and his correlative, the Idea, have passed out of all these forms of the principle of sufficient reason: time, place, the individual that knows, and the individual that is known, have for them no meaning. When an individual knower has raised himself in the manner described to be pure subject of knowledge, and at the same time has raised the observed object to the Platonic Idea, the world as idea appears complete and pure, and the full objectification of the will takes place, for the Platonic Idea alone is its adequate objectivity. The Idea includes object and subject in like manner in itself, for they are its one form; but in it they are absolutely of equal importance; for as the object is here, as elsewhere, simply the idea of the subject, the subject, which passes entirely into the perceived object, has thus become this object itself, for the whole consciousness is nothing but its perfectly distinct picture. Now this consciousness constitutes the whole world as idea, for one imagines the whole of the Platonic Ideas or grades of the objectivity of will, in their series passing through it. The particular things of all time and space are nothing but Ideas multiplied through the principle of sufficient reason (the form of the knowledge of the individual as such), and thus obscured as regards their pure objectivity. When the Platonic Idea appears, in it subject and object are no longer to be distinguished, for the Platonic Idea, the adequate objectivity of will, the true world as idea, arises only when the subject and object reciprocally fill and penetrate each other completely; and in the same way the knowing and the known individuals, as things in themselves, are not to be distinguished. For if we look entirely away from the true world as idea, there remains nothing but the world as will. The will is the "in-itself" of the Platonic Idea, which fully objectifies it; it is also the "in-itself" of the particular thing and of the individual that knows it, which objectify it incompletely. As will, outside the idea and all its forms, it is one and the same in the object contemplated and in the individual, who soars aloft in this contemplation, and becomes conscious of himself as pure subject. These two are, therefore, in themselves not different, for in themselves they are will, which here knows itself; and multiplicity and difference exist only as the way in which this knowledge comes to the will, i.e., only in the phenomenon, on account of its form, the principle of sufficient reason.

Now the known thing, without me as the subject of knowledge, is just as little an object, and not mere will, blind effort, as without the object, without the idea, I am a knowing subject and not mere blind will. This will is in itself, i.e., outside the idea, one and the same with mine: only in the world as idea, whose form is always at least that of subject and object, we are separated as the known and the knowing individual. As soon as knowledge, the world as idea, is abolished, there remains nothing but mere will, blind effort. That it should receive objectivity, become idea, supposes at once both subject and object; but that this should be pure, complete, and adequate objectivity of the will, supposes the object as Platonic Idea, free from the forms of the principle of sufficient reason, and the subject as the pure subject of knowledge, free from individuality and subjection to the will.

Whoever now, has, after the manner referred to, be come so absorbed and lost in the perception of nature that he only continues to exist as the pure knowing subject, becomes in this way directly conscious that, as such, he is the condition, that is, the supporter, of the world and all objective existence; for this now shows itself as dependent upon his existence. Thus he draws nature into himself, so that he sees it to be merely an accident of his own being. In this sense Byron says —

"Are not the mountains, waves, and skies, a part
Of me and of my soul, as I of them?"

But how shall he who feels this, regard himself as absolutely transitory, in contrast to imperishable nature? Such a man will rather be filled with the consciousness, which the Upanishad of the Veda expresses: Hae omnes creaturae in totum ego sum, et praeter me aliud ens non est (Oupnekhat, i. 122).[5]

§ 35[edit]

In order to gain a deeper insight into the nature of the world, it is absolutely necessary that we should learn to distinguish the will as thing-in-itself from its adequate objectivity, and also the different grades in which this appears more and more distinctly and fully, i.e., the Ideas themselves, from the merely phenomenal existence of these Ideas in the forms of the principle of sufficient reason, the restricted method of knowledge of the individual We shall then agree with Plato when he attributes actual being only to the Ideas, and allows only an illusive, dream-like existence to things in space and time, the real world for the individual. Then we shall understand how one and the same Idea reveals itself in so many phenomena, and presents its nature only bit by bit to the individual, one side after another. Then we shall also distinguish the Idea itself from the way in which its manifestation appears in the observation of the individual, and recognise the former as essential and the latter as unessential. Let us consider this with the help of examples taken from the most insignificant things, and also from the greatest. When the clouds move, the figures which they form are not essential, but indifferent to them; but that as elastic vapour they are pressed to gether, drifted along, spread out, or torn asunder by the force of the wind: this is their nature, the essence of the forces which objectify themselves in them, the Idea; their actual forms are only for the individual observer. To the brook that flows over stones, the eddies, the waves, the foam-flakes which it forms are indifferent and unessential; but that it follows the attraction of gravity, and behaves as inelastic, perfectly mobile, formless, transparent fluid: this is its nature; this, if known through perception, is its Idea; these accidental forms are only for us so long as we know as individuals. The ice on the window-pane forms itself into crystals according to the laws of crystallisation, which reveal the essence of the force of nature that appears here, exhibit the Idea; but the trees and flowers which it traces on the pane are unessential, and are only there for us. What appears in the clouds, the brook, and the crystal is the weakest echo of that will which appears more fully in the plant, more fully still in the beast, and most fully in man. But only the essential in all these grades of its objectification constitutes the Idea; on the other hand, its unfolding or development, because broken up in the forms of the principle of sufficient reason into a multiplicity of many-sided phenomena, is unessential to the Idea, lies merely in the kind of knowledge that belongs to the individual and has reality only for this. The same thing necessarily holds good of the unfolding of thai Idea which is the completest objectivity of will. Therefore, the history of the human race, the throng of events, the change of times, the multifarious forms of human life in different lands and countries, all this is only the accidental form of the manifestation of the Idea, does not belong to the Idea itself, in which alone lies the adequate objectivity of the will, but only to the phenomenon which appears in the knowledge of the individual, and is just as foreign, unessential, and indifferent to the Idea itself as the figures which they assume are to the clouds, the form of its eddies and foam-flakes to the brook, or its trees and flowers to the ice.

To him who has thoroughly grasped this, and can distinguish between the will and the Idea, and between the Idea and its manifestation, the events of the world will have significance only so far as they are the letters out of which we may read the Idea of man, but not in and for themselves. He will not believe with the vulgar that time may produce something actually new and significant; that through it, or in it, something absolutely real may attain to existence, or indeed that it itself as a whole has beginning and end, plan and development, and in some way has for its final aim the highest perfection (according to their conception) of the last generation of man, whose life is a brief thirty years. Therefore he will just as little, with Homer, people a whole Olympus with gods to guide the events of time, as, with Ossian, he will take the forms of the clouds for individual beings; for, as we have said, both have just as much meaning as regards the Idea which appears in them. In the manifold forms of human life and in the unceasing change of events, he will regard the Idea only as the abiding and essential, in which the will to live has its fullest objectivity, and which shows its different sides in the capacities, the passions, the errors and the excellences of the human race; in self-interest, hatred, love, fear, boldness, frivolity, stupidity, slyness, wit, genius, and so forth, all of which crowding together and combining in thousands of forms (individuals), continually create the history of the great and the little world, in which it is all the same whether they are set in motion by nuts or by crowns. Finally, he will find that in the world it is the same as in the dramas of Gozzi, in all of which the same persons appear, with like intention, and with a like fate; the motives and incidents are certainly different in each piece, but the spirit of the incidents is the same; the actors in one piece know nothing of the incidents of another, although they performed in it themselves; therefore, after all experience of former pieces, Pantaloon has become no more agile or generous, Tartaglia no more conscientious, Brighella no more courageous, and Columbine no more modest.

Suppose we were allowed for once a clearer glance into the kingdom of the possible, and over the whole chain of causes and effects; if the earth-spirit appeared and showed us in a picture all the greatest men, enlighteners of the world, and heroes, that chance destroyed before they were ripe for their work; then the great events that would have changed the history of the world and brought in periods of the highest culture and enlightenment, but which the blindest chance, the most insignificant accident, hindered at the outset; lastly, the splendid powers of great men, that would have enriched whole ages of the world, but which, either misled by error or passion, or compelled by necessity, they squandered uselessly on unworthy or unfruitful objects, or even wasted in play. If we saw all this, we would shudder and lament at the thought of the lost treasures of whole periods of the world. But the earth-spirit would smile and say, "The source from which the individuals and their powers proceed is inexhaustible and unending as time and space; for, like these forms of all phenomena, they also are only phenomena, visibility of the will. No finite measure can exhaust that infinite source; therefore an imdiminished eternity is always open for the return of any event or work that was nipped in the bud. In this world of phenomena true loss is just as little possible as true gain. The will alone is; it is the thing in-itself, and the source of all these phenomena. Its self-knowledge and its assertion or denial, which is then decided upon, is the only event in-itself".[6]

§ 36[edit]

History follows the thread of events; it is pragmatic so far as it deduces them in accordance with the law of motivation, a law that determines the self-manifesting will wherever it is enlightened by knowledge. At the lowest grades of its objectivity, where it still acts without knowledge, natural science, in the form of etiology, treats of the laws of the changes of its phenomena, and, in the form of morphology, of what is permanent in them. This almost endless task is lightened by the aid of concepts, which comprehend what is general in order that we may deduce what is particular from it. Lastly, mathematics treats of the mere forms, time and space, in which the Ideas, broken up into multiplicity, appear for the knowledge of the subject as individual. All these, of which the common name is science, proceed according to the principle of sufficient reason in its different forms, and their theme is always the phenomenon, its laws, connections, and the relations which result from them. But what kind of knowledge is concerned with that which is outside and independent of all relations, that which alone is really essential to the world, the true content of its phenomena, that which is subject to no change, and therefore is known with equal truth for all time, in a word, the Ideas, which are the direct and adequate objectivity of the thing in-itself, the will? We answer, Art, the work of genius. It repeats or reproduces the eternal Ideas grasped through pure contemplation, the essential and abiding in all the phenomena of the world; and according to what the material is in which it reproduces, it is sculpture or painting, poetry or music. Its one source is the knowledge of Ideas; its one aim the communication of this knowledge. While science, following the unresting and inconstant stream of the fourfold forms of reason and consequent, with each end attained, sees further, and can never reach a final goal nor attain full satisfaction, any more than by running we can reach the place where the clouds touch the horizon; art, on the contrary, is everywhere at its goal. For it plucks the object of its contemplation out of the stream of the world s course, and has it isolated before it. And this particular thing, which in that stream was a small perishing part, becomes to art the representative of the whole, an equivalent of the endless multitude in space and time. It therefore pauses at this particular thing; the course of time stops; the relations vanish for it; only the essential, the Idea, is its object. We may, therefore, accurately define it as the way of viewing things independent of the principle of sufficient reason, in opposition to the way of viewing them which proceeds in accordance with that principle, and which is the method of experience and of science. This last method of considering things may be compared to a line infinitely extended in a horizontal direction, and the former to a vertical line which cuts it at any point. The method of viewing things which proceeds in accordance with the principle of sufficient reason is the rational method, and it alone is valid and of use in practical life and in science. The method which looks away from the content of this principle is the method of genius, which is only valid and of use in art. The first is the method of Aristotle; the second is, on the whole, that of Plato. The first is like the mighty storm, that rushes along without beginning and without aim, bending, agitating, and carrying away everything before it; the second is like the silent sun beam, that pierces through the storm quite unaffected by it. The first is like the innumerable showering drops of the waterfall, which, constantly changing, never rest for an instant; the second is like the rainbow, quietly resting on this raging torrent. Only through the pure contemplation described above, which ends entirely in the object, can Ideas be comprehended; and the nature of genius consists in pre-eminent capacity for such contemplation. Now, as this requires that a man should entirely forget himself and the relations in which he stands, genius is simply the completest objectivity, i.e., the objective tendency of the mind, as opposed to the subjective, which is directed to one's own self — in other words, to the will. Thus genius is the faculty, of continuing in the state of pure perception, of losing oneself in perception, and of enlisting in this service the knowledge which originally existed only for the service of the will; that is to say, genius is the power of leaving one's own interests, wishes, and aims entirely out of sight, thus of entirely renouncing one's own personality for a time, so as to remain pure knowing subject, clear vision of the world; and this not merely at moments, but for a sufficient length of time, and with sufficient consciousness, to enable one to reproduce by deliberate art what has thus been apprehended, and "to fix in lasting thoughts the wavering images that float before the mind". It is as if, when genius appears in an individual, a far larger measure of the power of knowledge falls to his lot than is necessary for the service of an individual will; and this superfluity of knowledge, being free, now becomes subject purified from will, a clear mirror of the inner nature of the world. This explains the activity, amounting even to disquietude, of men of genius, for the present can seldom satisfy them, because it does not fill their consciousness. This gives them that restless aspiration, that unceasing desire for new things, and for the contemplation of lofty things, and also that longing that is hardly ever satisfied, for men of similar nature and of like stature, to whom they might communicate themselves; whilst the common mortal, entirely filled and satisfied by the common present, ends in it, and finding everywhere his like, enjoys that peculiar satisfaction in daily life that is denied to genius.

Imagination has rightly been recognised as an essential element of genius; it has sometimes even been regarded as identical with it; but this is a mistake. As the objects of genius are the eternal Ideas, the permanent, essential forms of the world and all its phenomena, and as the knowledge of the Idea is necessarily knowledge through perception, is not abstract, the knowledge of the genius would be limited to the Ideas of the objects actually present to his person, and dependent upon the chain of circumstances that brought these objects to him, if his imagination did not extend his horizon far beyond the limits of his actual personal existence, and thus enable him to construct the whole out of the little that comes into his own actual apperception, and so to let almost all possible scenes of life pass before him in his own consciousness. Further, the actual objects are almost always very imperfect copies of the Ideas expressed in them; therefore the man of genius requires imagination in order to see in things, not that which Nature has actually made, but that which she endeavoured to make, yet could not because of that conflict of her forms among themselves which we referred to in the last book We shall return to this farther on in treating of sculpture. The imagination then extends the intellectual horizon of the man of genius beyond the objects which actually present them selves to him, both as regards quality and quantity. Therefore extraordinary strength of imagination accompanies, and is indeed a necessary condition of genius. But the converse does not hold, for strength of imagination does not indicate genius; on the contrary, men who have no touch of genius may have much imagination. For as it is possible to consider a real object in two opposite ways, purely objectively, the way of genius grasping its Idea, or in the common way, merely in the relations in which it stands to other objects and to one's own will, in accordance with the principle of sufficient reason, it is also possible to perceive an imaginary object in both of these ways. Regarded in the first way, it is a means to the knowledge of the Idea, the communication of which is the work of art; in the second case, the imaginary object is used to build castles in the air congenial to egotism and the individual humour, and which for the moment delude and gratify; thus only the relations of the phantasies so linked together are known. The man who indulges in such an amusement is a dreamer; he will easily mingle those fancies that delight his solitude with reality, and so unlit himself for real life: perhaps he will write them down, and then we shall have the ordinary novel of every description, which entertains those who are like him and the public at large, for the readers imagine themselves in the place of the hero, and then iind the story very agreeable.

The common mortal, that manufacture of Nature which she produces by the thousand every day, is, as we have said, not capable, at least not continuously so, of observation that in every sense is wholly disinterested, as sensuous contemplation, strictly so called, is. He can turn his attention to things only so far as they have some relation to his will, however indirect it may be. Since in this respect, which never demands anything but the knowledge of relations, the abstract conception of the tiling is sufficient, and for the most part even better adapted for use; the ordinary man does not linger long over the mere perception, does not fix his attention long on one object, but in all that is presented to him hastily seeks merely the concept under which it is to be brought, as the lazy man seeks a chair, and then it interests him no further. This is why he is so soon clone with every thing, with works of art, objects of natural beauty, and indeed everywhere with the truly significant contemplation of all the scenes of life. He does not linger; only seeks to know his own way in life, together with all that might at any time become his way. Thus he makes topographical notes in the widest sense; over the consideration of life itself as such he wastes no time. The man of genius, on the other hand, whose excessive power of knowledge frees it at times from the service of will, dwells on the consideration of life itself, strives to comprehend the Idea of each thing, not its relations to other things; and in doing this he often forgets to consider his own path in life, and therefore for the most part pursues it awkwardly enough. While to the ordinary man his faculty of knowledge is a lamp to lighten his path, to the man of genius it is the sun which reveals the world. This great diversity in their way of looking at life soon becomes visible in the outward appearance both of the man of genius and of the ordinary mortal. The man in whom genius lives and works is easily distinguished by his glance, which is both keen and steady, and bears the stamp of perception, of contemplation. This is easily seen from the likenesses of the few men of genius whom Nature has produced here and there among countless millions. On the other hand, in the case of an ordinary man, the true object of his contemplation, what he is prying into, can be easily seen from his glance, if indeed it is not quite stupid and vacant, as is generally the case. Therefore the expression of genius in a face consists in this, that in it a decided predominance of knowledge over will is visible, and consequently there also shows itself in it a knowledge that is entirely devoid of relation to will, i.e., pure knowing. On the contrary, in ordinary countenances there is a predominant expression of will; and we see that knowledge only comes into activity under the impulse of will and thus is directed merely by motives.

Since the knowledge that pertains to genius, or the knowledge of Ideas, is that knowledge which does not follow the principle of sufficient reason, so, on the other hand, the knowledge which does follow that principle is that which gives us prudence and rationality in life, and which creates the sciences. Thus men of genius are affected with the deficiencies entailed in the neglect of this latter kind of knowledge. Yet what I say in this regard is subject to the limitation that it only concerns them in so far as and while they are actually engaged in that kind of knowledge which is peculiar to genius; and this is by no means at every moment of their lives, for the great though spontaneous exertion which is demanded for the comprehension of Ideas free from will must necessarily relax, and there are long intervals during which men of genius are placed in very much the same position as ordinary mortals, both as regards advantages and deficiencies. On this account the action of genius has always been regarded as an inspiration, as indeed the name indicates, as the action of a superhuman being distinct from the individual himself, and which takes possession of him only periodically. The disinclination of men of genius to direct their attention to the content of the principle of sufficient reason will first show itself, with regard to the ground of being, as fealike of mathematics; for its procedure is based upon the most universal forms of the phenomenon space and time, which are themselves merely modes of the principle of sufficient reason, and is consequently precisely the opposite of that method of thought which seeks merely the content of the phenomenon, the Idea which expresses itself in it apart from all relations. The logical method of mathematics is also antagonistic to genius, for it docs not satisfy but obstructs true insight, and presents merely a chain of conclusions in accordance with the principle of the ground of knowing. The mental faculty upon which it makes the greatest claim is memory, for it is necessary to recollect all the earlier propositions which are referred to. Experience has also proved that men of great artistic genius have no faculty for mathematics; no man was ever very distinguished for both. Alfieri relates that he was never able to understand the fourth proposition of Euclid. Goethe was constantly reproached with his want of mathematical knowledge by the ignorant opponents of his theory of colours. Here certainly, where it was not a question of calculation and measurement upon hypothetical data, but of direct knowledge by the under standing of causes and effects, this reproach was so utterly absurd and inappropriate, that by making it they have exposed their entire want of judgment, just as much as by the rest of their ridiculous arguments. The fact that up to the present day, nearly half a century after the appearance of Goethe's theory of colours, even in Germany the Newtonian fallacies still have undisturbed possession of the professorial chair, and men continue to speak quite seriously of the seven homogeneous rays of light and their different refrangibility, will some day be numbered among the great intellectual peculiarities of men generally, and especially of Germans. From the same cause as we have referred to above, may be explained the equally well-known fact that, conversely, admirable mathematicians have very little susceptibility for works of fine art. This is very naively expressed in the well-known anecdote of the French mathematician, who, after having read Racine's "Iphigenia", shrugged his shoulders and asked, "Qu'est ce que cela prouve?" Further, as quick comprehension of relations in accordance with the laws of causality and motivation is what specially constitutes prudence or sagacity, a prudent man, so far as and while he is so, will not be a genius, and a man of genius, so far as and while he is so, will not be a prudent man. Lastly, perceptive knowledge generally, in the province of which the Idea always lies, is directly opposed to rational or abstract knowledge, which is guided by the principle of the ground of knowing. It is also well known that we seldom find great genius united with pre-eminent reasonableness; on the contrary, persons of genius are often subject to violent emotions and irrational passions. But the ground of this is not weakness of reason, but partly unwonted energy of that whole phenomenon of will — the man of genius — which expresses itself through the violence of all his acts of will, and partly preponderance of the knowledge of perception through the senses and understanding over abstract knowledge, producing a decided tendency to the perceptible, the exceedingly lively impressions of which so far outshine colourless concepts, that they take their place in the guidance of action, which consequently becomes irrational. Accordingly the impression of the present moment is very strong with such persons, and carries them away into unconsidered action, violent emotions and passions. Moreover, since, in general, the knowledge of persons of genius has to some extent freed itself from the service of will, they will not in conversation think so much of the person they are addressing as of the thing they are speaking about, which is vividly present to them; and therefore they are likely to judge or narrate things too objectively for their own interests; they will not pass over in silence what would more prudently be concealed, and so forth. Finally, they are given to soliloquising, and in general may exhibit certain weaknesses which are actually akin to madness. It has often been remarked that there is a side at which genius and madness touch, and even pass over into each other, and indeed poetical inspiration has been called a kind of madness: amabilis insania, Horace calls it (Od. iii. 4), and Wieland in the introduction to "Oberon" speaks of it as "amiable madness". Even Aristotle, as quoted by Seneca (De Tranq. Animi, 15, 16), is reported to have said: Nullum magnum ingenium sine mixtura dementiae fuit. Plato expresses it in the figure of the dark cave, referred to above (De Rep. 7), when he says: "Those who, outside the cave, have seen the true sunlight and the things that have true being (Ideas), cannot afterwards see properly down in the cave, because their eyes are not accustomed to the darkness; they cannot distinguish the shadows, and are jeered at for their mistakes by those who have never left the cave and its shadows". In the "Phaedrus" also (p. 317), he distinctly says that there can be no true poet without a certain madness; in fact, (p. 327), that every one appears mad who recognises the eternal Ideas in fleeting things. Cicero also quotes: Negat enim sine furore, Democritus, quemquam poetam magnum esse posse; quod idem dicit Plato (De Divin., i. 37). And, lastly, Pope says —

"Great wits to madness sure are near allied,
And thin partitions do their bounds divide."

Especially instructive in this respect is Goethe's "Torquato Tasso", in which he shows us not only the suffering, the martyrdom of genius as such, but also how it constantly passes into madness. Finally, the fact of the direct connection of genius and madness is established by the biographies of great rnen of genius, such as Rousseau, Byron, and Alfieri, and by anecdotes from the lives of others. On the other hand, I must mention that, by a diligent search in lunatic asylums, I have found individual cases of patients who were unquestionably endowed with great talents, and whose genius distinctly appeared through their madness, which, however, had completely gained the upper hand. Now this cannot be ascribed to chance, for on the one hand the number of mad persons is relatively very small, and on the other hand a person of genius is a phenomenon which is rare beyond all ordinary estimation, and only appears in nature as the greatest exception. It will be sufficient to convince us of this if we compare the number of really great men of genius that the whole of civilised Europe has produced, both in ancient and modern times, with the two hundred and lifty millions who are always living in Europe, and who change entirely every thirty years. In estimating the number of men of out standing genius, we must of course only count those who have produced works which have retained through all time an enduring value for mankind. I shall not refrain from mentioning, that I have known some persons of decided, though not remarkable, mental superiority, who also showed a slight trace of insanity. It might seem from this that every advance of intellect beyond the ordinary measure, as an abnormal development, disposes to madness. In the meantime, however, I will explain as briefly as possible my view of the purely intellectual ground of the relation between genius and madness, for this will certainly assist the explanation of the real nature of genius, that is to say, of that mental endowment which alone can produce genuine works of art. But this necessitates a brief explanation of madness itself.[7]

A clear and complete insight into the nature of madness, a correct and distinct conception of what constitutes the difference between the sane and the insane, has, as far as I know, not as yet been found. Neither reason nor understanding can be denied to madmen, for they talk and understand, and often draw very accurate conclusions; they also, as a rule, perceive what is present quite correctly, and apprehend the connection between cause and effect. Visions, like the phantasies of delirium, are no ordinary symptom of madness: delirium falsifies perception, madness the thoughts. For the most part, madmen do not err in the knowledge of what is immediately present; their raving always relates to what is absent and past, and only through these to their connection with what is present. Therefore it seems to me that their malady specially concerns the memory; not indeed that memory fails them entirely, for many of them know a great deal by heart, and sometimes recognise persons whom they have not seen for a long time; but rather that the thread of memory is broken, the continuity of its connection destroyed, and no uniformly connected recollection of the past is possible. Particular scenes of the past are known correctly, just like the particular present; but there are gaps in their recollection which they fill up with fictions, and these are either always the same, in which case they become fixed ideas, and the madness that results is called monomania or melancholy; or they are always different, momentary fancies, and then it is called folly, fatuitas. This is why it is so difficult to find out their former life from lunatics when they enter an asylum. The true and the false are always mixed up in their memory. Although the immediate present is correctly known, it becomes falsified through its fictitious connection with an imaginary past; they therefore regard themselves and others as identical with persons who exist only in their imaginary past; they do not recognise some of their acquaintances at all, and thus while they perceive correctly what is actually present, they have only false conceptions of its relations to what is absent. If the madness reaches a high degree, there is complete absence of memory, so that the madman is quite incapable of any reference to what is absent or past, and is only determined by the caprice of the moment in connection with the fictions which, in his mind, fill the past. In such a case, we are never for a moment safe from violence or murder, unless we constantly make the madman aware of the presence of superior force. The knowledge of the madman has this in common with that of the brute, both are confined to the present. What distinguishes them is that the brute has really no idea of the past as such, though the past acts upon it through the medium of custom, so that, for example, the dog recognises its former master even after years, that is to say, it receives the wonted impression at the sight of him; but of the time that has passed since it saw him it has no recollection. The madman, on the other hand, always carries about in his reason an abstract past, but it is a false past, which exists only for him, and that either constantly, or only for the moment. The influence of this false past prevents the use of the true knowledge of the present which the brute is able to make. The fact that violent mental suffering or unexpected and terrible calamities should often produce madness, I explain in the following manner. All such suffering is as an actual event confined to the present. It is thus merely transitory, and is consequently never excessively heavy; it only becomes unendurably great when it is lasting pain; but as such it exists only in thought, and therefore lies in the memory. If now such a sorrow, such painful knowledge or reflection, is so bitter that it becomes altogether unbearable, and the individual is prostrated under it, then, terrified Nature seizes upon madness as the last resource of life; the mind so fearfully tortured at once destroys the thread of its memory, fills up the gaps with fictions, and thus seeks refuge in madness from the mental suffering that exceeds its strength, just as we cut off a mortified limb and replace it with a wooden one. The distracted Ajax, King Lear, and Ophelia may be taken as examples; for the creations of true genius, to which alone we can refer here, as universally known, are equal in truth to real persons; besides, in this case, frequent actual experience shows the same thing. A faint analogy of this kind of transition from pain to madness is to be found in the way in which all of us often seek, as it were mechanically, to drive away a painful thought that suddenly occurs to us by some loud exclamation or quick movement — to turn ourselves from it, to distract our minds by force.

We see, from what has been said, that the madman has a true knowledge of what is actually present, and also of certain particulars of the past, but that he mistakes the connection, the relations, and therefore falls into error and talks nonsense. Now this is exactly the point at which he comes into contact with the man of genius; for he also leaves out of sight the knowledge of the connection of things, since he neglects that knowledge of relations which conforms to the principle of sufficient reason, in order to see in things only their Ideas, and to seek to comprehend their true nature, which manifests itself to perception, and in regard to which one thing represents its whole species, in which way, as Goethe says, one case is valid for a thousand. The particular object of his contemplation, or the present which is perceived by him with extraordinary vividness, appear in so strong a light that the other links of the chain to which they belong are at once thrown into the shade, and this gives rise to phenomena which have long been recognised as resembling those of madness. That which in particular given things exists only incompletely and weakened by modifications, is raised by the man of genius, through his way of contemplating it, to the Idea of the thing, to com pleteness: he therefore sees everywhere extremes, and therefore his own action tends to extremes; he cannot hit the mean, he lacks soberness, and the result is what we have said. He knows the Ideas completely but not the individuals. Therefore it has been said that a poet may know mankind deeply and thoroughly, and may yet have a very imperfect knowledge of men. He is easily deceived, and is a tool in the hands of the crafty.

§ 37[edit]

Genius, then, consists, according to our explanation, in the capacity for knowing, independently of the principle of sufficient reason, not individual things, which have their existence only in their relations, but the Ideas of such things, and of being oneself the correlative of the Idea, and thus no longer an individual, but the pure subject of knowledge. Yet this faculty must exist in all men in a smaller and different degree; for if not, they would be just as incapable of enjoying works of art as of producing them; they would have no susceptibility for the beautiful or the sublime; indeed, these words could have no meaning for them. We must therefore assume that there exists in all men this power of knowing the Ideas in tilings, and consequently of transcending their personality for the moment, unless indeed there are some men who are capable of no aesthetic pleasure at all. The man of genius excels ordinary men only by possessing this kind of knowledge in a far higher degree and more continuously. Thus, while under its influence he retains the presence of mind which is necessary to enable him to repeat in a voluntary and intentional work what he has learned in this manner; and this repetition is the work of art. Through this he communicates to others the Idea he has grasped. This Idea remains unchanged and the same, so that aesthetic pleasure is one and the same whether it is called forth by a work of art or directly by the contemplation of nature and life. The work of art is only a means of facilitating the knowledge in which this pleasure consists. That the Idea conies to us more easily from the work of art than directly from nature and the real world, arises from the fact that the artist, who knew only the Idea, no longer the actual, has reproduced in his work the pure Idea, has abstracted it from the actual, omitting all disturbing accidents. The artist lets us see the world through his eyes. That he has these eyes, that he knows the inner nature of things apart from all their relations, is the gift of genius, is inborn; but that he is able to lend us this gift, to let us see with his eyes, is acquired, and is the technical side of art. Therefore, after the account which I have given in the preceding pages of the inner nature of aesthetical knowledge in its most general outlines, the following more exact philosophical treatment of the beautiful and the sublime will explain them both, in nature and in art, without separating them further. First of all we shall consider what takes place in a man when he is affected by the beautiful and the sublime; whether he derives this emotion directly from nature, from life, or partakes of it only through the medium of art, does not make any essential, but merely an external, difference.

§ 38[edit]

In the aesthetical mode of contemplation we have found two inseparable constituent parts — the knowledge of the object, not as individual thing but as Platonic Idea, that is, as the enduring form of this whole species of things; and the self-consciousness of the knowing person, not as individual, but as pure will-less subject of knowledge. The condition under which both these constituent parts appear always united was found to be the abandonment of the method of knowing which is bound to the principle of sufficient reason, and which, on the other hand, is the only kind of knowledge that is of value for the service of the will and also for science. Moreover, we shall see that the pleasure which is produced by the contemplation of the beautiful arises from these two constituent parts, sometimes more from the one, sometimes more from the other, according to what the object of the aesthetical contemplation may be.

All willing arises from want, therefore from deficiency, and therefore from suffering. The satisfaction of a wish ends it; yet for one wish that is satisfied there remain at least ten which are denied. Further, the desire lasts long, the demands are infinite; the satisfaction is short and scantily measured out. But even the final satisfaction is itself only apparent; every satisfied wish at once makes room for a new one; both are illusions; the one is known to be so, the other not yet. No attained object of desire can give lasting satisfaction, but merely a fleeting gratification; it is like the alms thrown to the beggar, that keeps him alive to-day that his misery may be prolonged till the morrow. Therefore, so long as our consciousness is filled by our will, so long as we are given up to the throng of desires with their constant hopes and fears, so long as we are the subject of willing, we can never have lasting happiness nor peace. It is essentially all the same whether we pursue or flee, fear injury or seek enjoyment; the care for the constant demands of the will, in whatever form it may be, continually occupies and sways the consciousness; but without peace no true well-being is possible. The subject of willing is thus constantly stretched on the revolving wheel of Ixion, pours water into the sieve of the Danaids, is the ever-longing Tantalus.

But when some external cause or inward disposition lifts us suddenly out of the endless stream of willing, delivers knowledge from the slavery of the will, the attention is no longer directed to the motives of willing, but comprehends things free from their relation to the will, and thus observes them without personal interest, without subjectivity, purely objectively, gives itself entirely up to them so far as they are ideas, but not in so far as they are motives. Then all at once the peace which we were always seeking, but which always tied from us on the former path of the desires, conies to us of its own accord, and it is well with us. It is the painless state which Epicurus prized as the highest good and as the state of the gods; for we are for the moment set free from the miserable striving of the will; we keep the Sabbath of the penal servitude of willing; the wheel of Ixion stands still.

But this is just the state which I described above as necessary for the knowledge of the Idea, as pure contemplation, as sinking oneself in perception, losing oneself in the object, forgetting all individuality, surrendering that kind of knowledge which follows the principle of sufficient reason, and comprehends only relations; the state by means of which at once and inseparably the perceived particular thing is raised to the Idea of its whole species, and the knowing individual tu the pure subject of will-less knowledge, and as such they are both taken out of the stream of time and all other relations. It is then all one whether we see the sun set from the prison or from the palace.

Inward disposition, the predominance of knowing over willing, can produce this state under any circumstances. This is shown by those admirable Dutch artists who directed this purely objective perception to the most insignificant objects, and established a lasting monument of their objectivity and spiritual peace in their pictures of still life, which the aesthetic beholder does not look on without emotion; for they present to him the peaceful, still, frame of mind of the artist, free from will, which was needed to contemplate such insignificant things so objectively, to observe them so attentively, and to repeat this perception so intelligently; and as the picture enables the onlooker to participate in this state, his emotion is often increased by the contrast between it and the unquiet frame of mind, disturbed by vehement willing, in which he finds himself. In the same spirit, landscape- painters, and particularly Ruisdael, have often painted very insignificant country scenes, which produce the same effect even more agreeably.

All this is accomplished by the inner power of an artistic nature alone; but that purely objective disposition is facilitated and assisted from without by suitable objects, by the abundance of natural beauty which invites contemplation, and even presses itself upon us. When ever it discloses itself suddenly to our view, it almost always succeeds in delivering us, though it may be only for a moment, from subjectivity, from the slavery of the will, and in raising us to the state of pure knowing. This is why the man who is tormented by passion, or want, or care, is so suddenly revived, cheered, and restored by a single free glance into nature: the storm of passion, the pressure of desire and fear, and all the miseries of willing are then at once, and in a marvellous manner, calmed and appeased. For at the moment at which, freed from the will, we give ourselves up to pure will-less knowing, we pass into a world from which every thing is absent that influenced our will and moved us so violently through it. This freeing of knowledge lifts us as wholly and entirely away from all that, as do sleep and dreams; happiness and unhappiness have disappeared; we are no longer individual; the individual is forgotten; we are only pure subject of knowledge; we are only that one eye of the world which looks out from all knowing creatures, but which can become perfectly free from the service of will in man alone. Thus all difference of individuality so entirely disappears, that it is all the same whether the perceiving eye belongs to a mighty king or to a wretched beggar; for neither joy nor complaining can pass that boundary with us. So near us always lies a sphere in which we escape from all our misery; but who has the strength to continue long in it? As soon as any single relation to our will, to our person, even of these objects of our pure contemplation, comes again into consciousness, the magic is at an end; we fall back into the knowledge which is governed by the principle of sufficient reason; we know no longer the Idea, but the particular thing, the link of a chain to which we also belong, and we are again abandoned to all our woe. Most men remain almost always at this standpoint because they entirely lack objectivity, i.e., genius. Therefore they have no pleasure in being alone with nature; they need company, or at least a book. For their knowledge remains subject to their will; they seek, therefore, in objects, only some relation to their will, and when ever they see anything that has no such relation, there sounds within them, like a ground bass in music, the constant inconsolable cry, "It is of no use to me"; thus in solitude the most beautiful surroundings have for them a desolate, dark, strange, and hostile appearance.

Lastly, it is this blessedness of will-less perception which casts an enchanting glamour over the past and distant, and presents them to us in so fair a light by means of self-deception. For as we think of days long gone by, days in which we lived in a distant place, it is only the objects which our fancy recalls, not the subject of will, which bore about with it then its incurable sorrows just as it bears them now; but they are forgotten, because since then they have often given place to others. Now, objective perception acts with regard to what is remembered just as it would in what is present, if we let it have influence over us, if we surrendered ourselves to it free from will. Hence it arises that, especially when we are more than ordinarily disturbed by some want, the remembrance of past and distant scenes suddenly flits across our minds like a lost paradise. The fancy recalls only what was objective, not what was individually subjective, and we imagine that that objective stood before us then just as pure and undisturbed by any relation to the will as its image stands in our fancy now; while in reality the relation of the objects to our will gave us pain then just as it does now. We can deliver ourselves from all suffering just as well through present objects as through distant ones when ever we raise ourselves to a purely objective contemplation of them, and so are able to bring about the illusion that only the objects are present and not we ourselves. Then, as the pure subject of knowledge, freed from the miserable self, we become entirely one with these objects, and, for the moment, our wants are as foreign to us as they are to them. The world as idea alone remains, and the world as will has disappeared.

In all these reflections it has been my object to bring out clearly the nature and the scope of the subjective element in aesthetic pleasure; the deliverance of knowledge from the service of the will, the forgetting of self as an individual, and the raising of the consciousness to the pure will-less, timeless, subject of knowledge, independent of all relations. With this subjective side of aesthetic contemplation, there must always appear as its necessary correlative the objective side, the intuitive comprehension of the Platonic Idea. But before we turn to the closer consideration of this, and to the achievements of art in relation to it, it is better that we should pause for a little at the subjective side of aesthetic pleasure, in order to complete our treatment of this by explaining the impression of the sublime which depends altogether upon it, and arises from a modification of it. After that we shall complete our investigation of aesthetic pleasure by considering its objective side.

But we must first add the following remarks to what has been said. Light is the pleasantest and most gladdening of things; it has become the symbol of all that is good and salutary. In all religions it symbolises salvation, while darkness symbolises damnation. Ormuzd dwells in the purest light, Ahrimines in eternal night. Dante's Paradise would look very much like Vauxhall in London, for all the blessed spirits appear as points of light and arrange themselves in regular figures. The very absence of light makes us sad; its return cheers us. Colours excite directly a keen delight, which reaches its highest degree when they are transparent. All this depends entirely upon the fact that light is the correlative and condition of the most perfect kind of knowledge of perception, the only knowledge which does not in any way affect the will. For sight, unlike the affections of the other senses, cannot, in itself, directly and through its sensuous effect, make the sensation of the special organ agreeable or disagreeable; that is, it has no immediate connection with the will. Such a quality can only be long to the perception which arises in the understanding, and then it lies in the relation of the object to the will In the case of hearing this is to some extent otherwise; sounds can give pain directly, and they may also be sensuously agreeable, dirvrtly and with out regard to harmony or melody. Touch, as one with the feeling of the whole body, is still more subordinated to this direct influence upon the will; and yet there is such a thing as a sensation of touch which is neither painful nor pleasant. But smells are always either agreeable or disagreeable, and tastes still more so. Thus the last two senses are most closely related to the will, and therefore they are always the most ignoble, and have been called by Kant the subjective senses. The pleasure which we experience from light is in fact only the pleasure which arises from the objective possibility of the purest and fullest perceptive knowledge, and as such it may be traced to the fact that pure knowledge, freed and delivered from all will, is in the highest degree pleasant, and of itself constitutes a large part of aesthetic enjoyment. Again, we must refer to this view of light the incredible beauty which we associate with the reflection of objects in water. That lightest, quickest, finest species of the action of bodies upon each other, that to which we owe by far the completest and purest of our perceptions, the action of reflected rays of light, is here brought clearly before our eyes, distinct and perfect, in cause and in effect, and indeed in its entirety, hence the aesthetic delight it gives us, which, in the most important aspect, is entirely based on the subjective ground of aesthetic pleasure, and is delight in pure knowing and its method.

§ 39[edit]

All these reflections are intended to bring out the subjective part of aesthetic pleasure; that is to say, that pleasure so far as it consists simply of delight in perceptive knowledge as such, in opppsition to will. And as directly connected with this, there naturally follows the explanation of that disposition or frame of mind which has been called the sense of the sublime.

We have already remarked above that the transition to the state of pure perception takes place most easily when the objects bend themselves to it, that is, when by their manifold and yet definite and distinct form they easily become representatives of their Ideas, in which beauty, in the objective sense, consists. This quality belongs preeminently to natural beauty, which thus affords even to the most insensible at least a fleeting aesthetic satisfaction: indeed it is so remarkable how especially the vegetable world invites aesthetic observation, and, as it were, presses itself upon it, that one might say, that these advances are connected with the fact that these organisms, unlike the bodies of animals, are not themselves immediate objects of knowledge, and therefore require the assistance of a foreign intelligent individual in order to rise out of the world of blind will and enter the world of idea, and that thus they long, as it were, for this entrance, that they may attain at least indirectly what is denied them directly. But I leave this suggestion which I have hazarded, and which borders perhaps upon extravagance, entirely undecided, for only a very intimate and devoted consideration of nature can raise or justify it.[8] As long as that which raises us from the knowledge of mere relations subject to the will, to aesthetic contemplation, and thereby exalts us to the position of the subject of knowledge free from will, is this fittingness of nature, this significance and distinctness of its forms, on account of which the Ideas individualised in them readily present themselves to us; so long is it merely beauty that affects us and the sense of the beautiful that is excited. But if these very objects whose significant forms invite us to pure contemplation, have a hostile relation to the human will in general, as it exhibits itself in its objectivity, the human body, if they are opposed to it, so that it is menaced by the irresistible predominance of their power, or sinks into insignificance before their immeasurable greatness; if, nevertheless, the beholder does not direct his attention to this eminently hostile relation to his will, but, although perceiving and recognising it, turns consciously away from it, forcibly detaches himself from his will and its relations, and, giving himself up entirely to knowledge, quietly contemplates those very objects that are so terrible to the will, comprehends only their Idea, which is foreign to all relation, so that he lingers gladly over its contemplation, and is thereby raised above himself, his person, his will, and all will: — in that case he is filled with the sense of the sublime, he is in the state of spiritual exaltation, and therefore the object producing such a state is called sublime. Thus what distinguishes the sense of the sublime from that of the beautiful is this: in the case of the beautiful, pure knowledge has gained the upper hand without a struggle, for the beauty of the object, i.e., that property which facilitates the knowledge of its Idea, has removed from consciousness without resistance, and therefore imperceptibly, the will and the knowledge of relations which is subject to it, so that what is left is the pure subject of knowledge without even a remembrance of will. On the other hand, in the case of the sublime that state of pure knowledge is only attained by a conscious and forcible breaking away from the relations of the same object to the will, which are recognised as unfavourable, by a free and conscious transcending of the will and the knowledge related to it.

This exaltation must not only be consciously won, but also consciously retained, and it is therefore accompanied by a constant remembrance of will; yet not of a single particular volition, such as fear or desire, but of human volition in general, so far as it is universally expressed in its objectivity the human body. If a single real act of will were to come into consciousness, through actual personal pressure and danger from the object, then the individual will thus actually influenced would at once gain the upper hand, the peace of contemplation would become impossible, the impression of the sublime would be lost, because it yields to the anxiety, in which the effort of the individual to right itself has sunk every other thought. A few examples will help very much to elucidate this theory of the aesthetic sublime and remove all doubt with regard to it; at the same time they will bring out the different degrees of this sense of the sublime. It is in the main identical with that of the beautiful, with pure will-less knowing, and the knowledge, that necessarily accompanies it of Ideas out of all relation determined by the principle of sufficient reason, and it is distinguished from the sense of the beautiful only by the additional quality that it rises above the known hostile relation of the object contemplated to the will in general. Thus there come to be various degrees of the sublime, and transitions from the beautiful to the sublime, according as this additional quality is strong, bold, urgent, near, or weak, distant, and merely indicated. I think it is more in keeping with the plan of my treatise, first to give examples of these transitions, and of the weaker degrees of the impression of the sublime, although persons whose aesthetical susceptibility in general is not very great, and whose imagination is not very lively, will only understand the examples given later of the higher and more distinct grades of that impression; and they should therefore confine themselves to these, and pass over the examples of the very weak degrees of the sublime that are to be given first.

As man is at once impetuous and blind striving of will (whose pole or focus lies in the genital organs), and eternal, free, serene sybject of pure knowing (whose pole is the brain); so, corresponding to this antithesis, the sun is both the source of light, the condition of the most perfect kind of knowledge, and therefore of the most delightful of things — and the source of warmth, the first condition of life, i.e., of all phenomena of will in its higher grades. Therefore, what warmth is for the will, light is for knowledge. Light is the largest gem in the crown of beauty, and has the most marked influence on the knowledge of every beautiful object. Its presence is an indispensable condition of beauty; its favourable disposition increases the beauty of the most beautiful. Architectural beauty more than any other object is enhanced by favourable light, though even the most insignificant things become through its influence most beautiful. If, in the dead of winter, when all nature is frozen and stiff, we see the rays of the setting sun reflected by masses of stone, illuminating without warming, and thus favourable only to the purest kind of knowledge, not to the will; the contemplation of the beautiful effect of the light upon these masses lifts us, as does all beauty, into a state of pure knowing. But, in this case, a certain transcending of the interests of the will is needed to enable us to rise into the state of pure knowing, because there is a faint recollection of the lack of warmth from these rays, that is, an absence of the principle of life; there is a slight challenge to persist in pure knowing, and to refrain from all willing, and therefore it is an example of a transition from the sense of the beautiful to that of the sublime. It is the faintest trace of the sublime in the beautiful; and beauty itself is indeed present only in a slight degree. The following is almost as weak an example.

Let us imagine ourselves transported to a very lonely place, with unbroken horizon, under a cloudless sky, trees and plants in the perfectly motionless air, no animals, no men, no running water, the deepest silence. Such surroundings are, as it were, a call to seriousness and contemplation, apart from all will and its cravings; but this is just what imparts to such a scene of desolate stillness a touch of the sublime. For, because it affords no object, either favourable or unfavourable, for the will which is constantly in need of striving and attaining, there only remains the state of pure contemplation, and whoever is incapable of this, is ignominiously abandoned to the vacancy of unoccupied will, and the misery of ennui. So far it is a test of our intellectual worth, of which, generally speaking, the degree of our power of enduring solitude, or our love of it, is a good criterion. The scene we have sketched affords us, then, an example of the sublime in a low degree, for in it, with the state of pure knowing in its peace and all-sufficiency, there is mingled, by way of contrast, the recollection of the dependence and poverty of the will which stands in need of constant action. This is the species of the sublime for which the sight of the boundless prairies of the interior of North America is celebrated.

But let us suppose such a scene, stripped also of vegetation, and showing only naked rocks; then from the entire absence of that organic life which is necessary for existence, the will at once becomes uneasy, the desert assumes a terrible aspect, our mood becomes more tragic; the elevation to the sphere of pure knowing takes place with a more decided tearing of ourselves away from the interests of the will; and because we persist in continuing in the state of pure knowing, the sense of the sublime distinctly appears.

The following situation may occasion this feeling in a still higher degree: Nature convulsed by a storm; the sky darkened by black threatening thunder-clouds; stupendous, naked, overhanging cliffs, completely shutting out the view; rushing, foaming torrents; absolute desert; the wail of the wind sweeping through the clefts of the rocks. Our dependence, our strife with hostile nature, our will broken in the conflict, now appears visibly before our eyes. Yet, so long as the personal pressure does not gain the upper hand, but we continue in aesthetic contemplation, the pure subject of knowing gazes unshaken and unconcerned through that strife of nature, through that picture of the broken will, and quietly comprehends the Ideas even of those objects which are threatening and terrible to the will. In this contrast lies the sense of the sublime.

But the impression becomes still stronger, if, when we have before our eyes, on a large scale, the battle of the raging elements, in such a scene we are prevented from hearing the sound of our own voice by the noise of a falling stream; or, if we are abroad in the storm of tempestuous seas, where the mountainous waves rise and fall, dash themselves furiously against steep cliffs, and toss their spray high into the air; the storm howls, the sea boils, the lightning flashes from black clouds, and the peals of thunder drown the voice of storm and sea. Then, in the undismayed beholder, the two-fold nature of his consciousness reaches the highest degree of distinctness. He perceives himself, on the one hand, as an individual, as the frail phenomenon of will, which the slightest touch of these forces can utterly destroy, helpless against powerful nature, dependent, the victim of chance, a vanishing nothing in the presence of stupendous might; and, on the other hand, as the eternal, peaceful, knowing subject, the condition of the object, and, therefore, the supporter of this whole world; the terrific strife of nature only his idea; the subject itself free and apart from all desires and necessities, in the quiet comprehension of the Ideas. This is the complete impression of the sublime. Here he obtains a glimpse of a power beyond all comparison superior to the individual, threatening it with annihilation.

The impression of the sublime may be produced in quite another way, by presenting a mere immensity in space and time; its immeasurable greatness dwindles the individual to nothing. Adhering to Kant's nomenclature and his accurate division, we may call the first kind the dynamical, and the second the mathematical sublime, although we entirely dissent from his explanation of the inner nature of the impression, and can allow no share in it either to moral reflections, or to hypostases from scholastic philosophy.

If we lose ourselves in the contemplation of the infinite greatness of the universe in space and time, meditate on the thousands of years that are past or to come, or if the heavens at night actually bring before our eyes innumerable worlds and so force upon our consciousness the immensity of the universe, we feel ourselves dwindle to nothing; as individuals, as living bodies, as transient phenomena of will, we feel ourselves pass away and vanish into nothing like drops in the ocean. But at once there rises against this ghost of our own nothingness, against such lying impossibility, the immediate consciousness that all these worlds exist only as our idea, only as modifications of the eternal subject of pure knowing, which we find ourselves to be as soon as we forget our individuality, and which is the necessary supporter of all worlds and all times the condition of their possibility. The vastness of the world which disquieted us before, rests now in us; our dependence upon it is annulled by its dependence upon us. All this, however, does not come at once into reflection, but shows itself merely as the felt consciousness that in some sense or other (which philosophy alone can explain) we are one with the world, and therefore not oppressed, but exalted by its immensity. It is the felt consciousness of this that the Upanishads of the Vedas repeatedly express in such a multitude of different ways; very admirably in the saying already quoted: Hae omnes creaturae in totum ego sum, et praeter me aliud ens non est (Oupnek'hat, vol. i. p. 122.) It is the transcending of our own individuality, the sense of the sublime.

We receive this impression of the mathematical-sublime, quite directly, by means of a space which is small indeed as compared with the world, but which has become directly perceptible to us, and atl ects us with its whole extent in all its three dimensions, so as to make our own body seem almost infinitely small. An empty space can never be thus perceived, and therefore never an open space, but only space that is directly perceptible in all its dimensions by means of the limits which enclose it; thus for example a very high, vast dome, like that of St. Peter's at Rome, or St. Paul's in London. The sense of the sublime here arises through the consciousness of the vanishing nothingness of our own body in the presence of a vastness which, from another point of view, itself exists only in our idea, and of which we are as knowing subject, the supporter. Thus here as everywhere it arises from the contrast between the insignificance and dependence of ourselves as individuals, as phenomena of will, and the consciousness of ourselves as pure subject of knowing. Even the vault of the starry heaven produces this if it is contemplated, without reflection; but just in the same way as the vault of stone, and only by its apparent, not its real extent. Some objects of our perception excite in us the feeling of the sublime because, not only on account of their spatial vastness, but also of their great age, that is, their temporal duration, we feel ourselves dwarfed to insignificance in their presence, and yet revel in the pleasure of contemplating them: of this kind are very high mountains, the Egyptian pyramids, and colossal ruins of great antiquity.

Our explanation of the sublime applies also to the ethical, to what is called the sublime character. Such a character arises from this, that the will is not excited by objects which are well calculated to excite it, but that knowledge retains the upper hand in their presence. A man of sublime character will accordingly consider men in a purely objective way, and not with reference to the relations which they might have to his will; he will, for example, observe their faults, even their hatred and injustice to himself, without being himself excited to hatred; he will behold their happiness without envy; he will recognise their good qualities without desiring any closer relations with them; he will perceive the beauty of women, but he will not desire them. His personal happiness or unhappiness will not greatly affect him, he will rather be as Hamlet describes Horatio: —

" . . . for thou hast been,
As one, in suffering all, that suffers nothing;
A man that fortune's buffets and rewards
Hast ta'en with equal thanks", etc. (A. 3. Sc. 2.)

For in the course of his own life and its misfortunes, he will consider less his individual lot than that of humanity in general, and will therefore conduct himself in its regard, rather as knowing than as suffering.

§ 40[edit]

Opposites throw light upon each other, and therefore the remark may be in place here, that the proper opposite of the sublime is something which would not at the first glance be recognised, as such: the charming or attractive. By this, however, I understand, that which excites the will by presenting to it directly its fulfillment, its satisfaction. We saw that the feeling of the sublime arises from the fact, that something entirely unfavourable to the will, becomes the object of pure contemplation, so that such contemplation can only be maintained by persistently turning away from the will, and transcending its interests; this constitutes the sublimity of the character. The charming or attractive, on the contrary, draws the beholder away from the pure contemplation which is demanded by all apprehension of the beautiful, because it necessarily excites this will, by objects which directly appeal to it, and thus he no longer remains pure subject of knowing, but becomes the needy and dependent subject of will. That every beautiful thing which is bright or cheering should be called charming, is the result of a too general concept, which arises from a want of accurate discrimination, and which I must entirely set aside, and indeed condemn. But in the sense of the word which has been given and explained, I find only two species of the charming or attractive in the province of art, and both of them are unworthy of it. The one species, a very low one, is found in Dutch paintings of still life, when they err by representing articles of food, which by their deceptive likeness necessarily excite the appetite for the things they represent, and this is just an excitement of the will, which puts an end to all aesthetic contemplation of the object. Painted fruit is yet admissible, because we may regard it as the further development of the flower, and as a beautiful product of nature in form and colour, without being obliged to think of it as eatable; but unfortunately we often find, represented with deceptive naturalness, prepared and served dishes, oysters, herrings, crabs, bread and butter, beer, wine, and so forth, which is altogether to be condemned. In historical painting and in sculpture the charming consists in naked figures, whose position, drapery, and general treatment are calculated to excite the passions of the beholder, and thus pure aesthetical contemplation is at once annihilated, and the aim of art is defeated. This mistake corresponds exactly to that which we have just censured in the Dutch paintings. The ancients are almost always free from this fault in their representations of beauty and complete nakedness of form, because the artist himself created them in a purely objective spirit, filled with ideal beauty, not in the spirit of subjective, and base sensuality. The charming is thus everywhere to be avoided in art.

There is also a negative species of the charming or exciting which is even more reprehensible than the positive form which has been discussed; this is the disgusting or the loathsome. It arouses the will of the beholder, just as what is properly speaking charming, and therefore disturbs pure aesthetic contemplation. But it is an active aversion and opposition which is excited by it; it arouses the will by presenting to it objects which it abhors. Therefore it has always been recognised that it is altogether inadmissible in art, where even what is ugly, when it is not disgusting, is allowable in its proper place, as we shall see later.

§ 41[edit]

The course of the discussion has made it necessary to insert at this point the treatment of the sublime, though we have only half done with the beautiful, as we have considered its subjective side only. For it was merely a special modification of this subjective side that distinguished the beautiful from the sublime. This difference was found to depend upon whether the state of pure will-less knowing, which is presupposed and demanded by all aesthetic contemplation, was reached without opposition, by the mere disappearance of the will from consciousness, because the object invited and drew us towards it; or whether it was only attained through the free, conscious transcending of the will, to which the object contemplated had an unfavourable and even hostile relation, which would destroy contemplation altogether, if we were to give ourselves up to it. This is the distinction between the beautiful and the sublime. In the object they are not essentially different, for in every case the object of aesthetical contemplation is not the individual thing, but the Idea in it which is striving to reveal itself; that is to say, adequate objectivity of will at a particular grade. Its necessary correlative, independent, like itself of the principle of sufficient reason, is the pure subject of knowing; just as the correlative of the particular thing is the knowing individual, both of which lie within the province of the principle of sufficient reason.

When we say that a thing is beautiful, we thereby assert that it is an object of our aesthetic contemplation, and this has a double meaning; on the one hand it means that the sight of the thing makes us objective, that is to say, that in contemplating it we are no longer conscious of ourselves as individuals, but as pure will-less subjects of knowledge; and on the other hand it means that we recognise in the object, not the particular thing, but an Idea; and this can only happen, so far as our contemplation of it is not subordinated to the principle of sufficient reason, does not follow the relation of the object to anything outside it (which is always ultimately connected with relations to our own will), but rests in the object itself. For the Idea and the pure subject of knowledge always appear at once in consciousness as necessary correlatives, and on their appearance all distinction of time vanishes, for they are both entirely foreign to the principle of sufficient reason in all its forms, and lie outside the relations which are imposed by it; they may be compared to the rainbow and the sun, which have no part in the constant movement and succession of the falling drops. Therefore, if, for example, I contemplate a tree aesthetically, i.e., with artistic eyes, and thus recognise, not it, but its Idea, it becomes at once of no consequence whether it is this tree or its predecessor which flourished a thousand years ago, and whether the observer is this individual or any other that lived anywhere and at any time; the particular thing and the knowing individual are abolished with the principle of sufficient reason, and there remains nothing but the Idea and the pure subject of knowing, which together constitute the adequate objectivity of will at this grade. And the Idea dispenses not only with time, but also with space, for the Idea proper is not this special form which appears before me but its expression, its pure significance, its inner being, which discloses itself to me and appeals to me, and which may be quite the same though the spatial relations of its form be very different.

Since, on the one hand, every given thing may be observed in a purely objective manner and apart from all relations; and since, on the other hand, the will manifests itself in everything at some grade of its objectivity, so that everything is the expression of an Idea; it follows that everything is also beautiful. That even the most insignificant things admit of pure objective and will-less contemplation, and thus prove that they are beautiful, is shown by what was said above in this reference about the Dutch pictures of still-life (§ 38). But one thing is more beautiful than another, because it makes this pure objective contemplation easier, it lends itself to it, and, so to speak, even compels it, and then we call it very beautiful. This is the case sometimes because, as an individual thing, it expresses in its purity the Idea of its species by the very distinct, clearly defined, and significant relation of its parts, and also fully reveals that Idea through the completeness of all the possible expressions of its species united in it, so that it makes the transition from the individual thing to the Idea, and therefore also the condition of pure contemplation, very easy for the beholder. Sometimes this possession of special beauty in an object lies in the fact that the Idea itself which appeals to us in it is a high grade of the objectivity of will, and therefore very significant and expressive. Therefore it is that man is more beautiful than all other objects, and the revelation of his nature is the highest aim of art. Human form and expression are the most important objects of plastic art, and human action the most important object of poetry. Yet each thing has its own peculiar beauty, not only every organism which expresses itself in the unity of an individual being, but also everything unorganised and formless, and even every manufactured article. For all these reveal the Ideas through which the will objectifies itself at it lowest grades, they give, as it were, the deepest resounding bass-notes of nature. Gravity, rigidity, fluidity, light, and so forth, are the Ideas which express themselves in rocks, in buildings, in waters. Landscape-gardening or architecture can do no more than assist them to unfold their qualities distinctly, fully, and variously; they can only give them the opportunity of expressing themselves purely, so that they lend themselves to aesthetic contemplation and make it easier. Inferior buildings or ill-favoured localities, on the contrary, which nature has neglected or art has spoiled, perform this task in a very slight degree or not at all; yet even from them these universal, fundamental Ideas of nature cannot altogether disappear. To the careful observer they present themselves here also, and even bar buildings and the like are capable of being aesthetically considered; the Ideas of the most universal properties of their materials are still recognisable in them, only the artificial form which has been given them does not assist but hinders aesthetic contemplation. Manufactured articles also serve to express Ideas, only it is not the Idea of the manufactured article which speaks in them, but the Idea of the material to which this artificial form has been given. This may be very conveniently expressed in two words, in the language of the schoolmen, thus, — the manufactured article expresses the Idea of its forma substantialis, but not that of its forma accidentalis; the latter leads to no Idea, but only to a human conception of which it is the result. It is needless to say that by manufactured article no work of plastic art is meant. The schoolmen understand, in fact, by forma substantialis that which I call the grade of the objectification of will in a thing. We shall return immediately, when we treat of architecture, to the Idea of the material. Our view, then, cannot be reconciled with that of Plato if he is of opinion that a table or a chair express the Idea of a table or a chair (De Rep., x., pp. 284, 285, et Parmen., p. 79, ed. Bip.), but we say that they express the Ideas which are already expressed in their mere material as such. According to Aristotle (Metap. xi., chap. 3), however, Plato himself only maintained Ideas of natural objects: ὁ Πλάτων ἔφη ὄτι εἴδη ἐστὶν ὁπόσα φύσει (Plato dixit, quod ideae eorum sunt, quae natura sunt), and in chap. 5 he says that, according to the Platonists, there are no Ideas of house and ring. In any case, Plato's earliest disciples, as Alcinous informs us (Introductio in Platonicam Philosophiam, chap. 9), denied that there were any ideas of manufactured articles. He says: Ὁρίζονται δὲ τὴν ἰδέαν, παράδειγμα τῶν κατὰ φύσιν αἰώνιον. Οὔτε γὰρ τοῖς πλείστοις τῶν ἀπὸ Πλάτωνος ἀρέσκει, τῶν τεχνικῶν εἶναι ἰδέας, οἷον ἀσπίδος ἢ λύρας, οὔτε μὴν τῶν παρὰ φύσιν, οἷον πυρετοῦ καὶ χολέρας, οὔτε τῶν κατὰ μέρος οἷον Σωκράτους καὶ Πλάτωνος, ἀλλ' οὐδὲ τῶν εὐτελῶν τινός, οἷον ῥύπου καὶ κάρφους, οὔτε τῶν πρός τι, οἷον μείζονος καὶ ὑπερέχοντος· εἶναι γὰρ τὰς ἰδέας νοήσεις θεοῦ αἰωνίους τε καὶ αὐτοτελεῖς (Definiunt autem IDEAM exemplar aeternum eorum, quae secundum naturam existunt. Nam plurimis ex iis, qui Platonem secuti sunt, minime placuit, arte factorum ideas esse, ut clypei atque lyrae; neque rursus eorum, quae praeter naturam, ut febris et cholerae, neque particularium, ceu Socratis et Platonis; neque etiam rerum vilium, veluti sordium et festucae; neque relationum, ut majoris et excedentis: esse namque ideas intellectiones dei aeternas, ac seipsis perfectas). We may take this opportunity of mentioning another point in which our doctrine of Ideas differs very much from that of Plato. He teaches (De Rep., x., p. 288) that the object which art tries to express, the ideal of painting and poetry, is not the Idea but the particular thing. Our whole exposition hitherto has maintained exactly the opposite, and Plato's opinion is the less likely to lead us astray, inasmuch as it is the source of one of the greatest and best known errors of this great man, his depreciation and rejection of art, and especially poetry; he directly connects his false judgment in reference to this with the passage quoted.

§ 42[edit]

I return to the exposition of the aesthetic impression. The knowledge of the beautiful always supposes at once and inseparably the pure knowing subject and the known Idea as object. Yet the source of aesthetic satisfaction will sometimes lie more in the comprehension of the known I dea, sometimes more in the blessedness and spiritual peace of the pure knowing subject freed from all willing, and therefore from all individuality, and the pain that proceeds from it. And, indeed, this predominance of one or the other constituent part of aesthetic feeling will depend upon whether the intuitively grasped Idea is a higher or a lower grade of the objectivity of will. Thus in aesthetic contemplation (in the real, or through the medium of art) of the beauty of nature in the inorganic and vegetable worlds, or in works of architecture, the pleasure of pure will-less knowing will predominate, because the Ideas which are here apprehended are only low grades of the objectivity of will, and are therefore not manifestations of deep significance and rich content. On the other hand, if animals and man are the objects of aesthetic contemplation or representation, the pleasure will consist rather in the comprehension of these I deas, which are the most distinct revelation of will; for they exhibit the greatest multiplicity of forms, the greatest richness and deep significance of phenomena, and reveal to us most completely the nature of will, whether in its violence, its terribleness, its satisfaction or its aberration (the latter in tragic situations), or finally in its change and self-surrender, which is the peculiar theme of Christian painting; as the Idea of the will enlightened by full knowledge is the object of historical painting in general, and of the drama. We shall now go through the fine arts one by one, and this will give completeness and distinctness to the theory of the beautiful which we have advanced.

§ 43[edit]

Matter as such cannot be the expression of an Idea. For, as we found in the first book, it is throughout nothing but casuality: its being consists in its casual action. But casuality is a form of the principle of sufficient reason; knowledge of the Idea, on the other hand, absolutely excludes the content of that principle. We also found, in the second book, that in alter is the common substratum of all particular phenomena of the Ideas, and consequently is the connecting link between the Idea and the phenomenon, or the particular thing. Accordingly for both of these reasons it is impossible that matter can for itself express any Idea. This is confirmed a posteriori by the fact that it is impossible to have a perceptible idea of matter as such, but only an abstract conception; in the former, i.e., in perceptible ideas are exhibited only the forms and qualities of which matter is the supporter, and in all of which Ideas reveal themselves. This corresponds also with the fact, that casuality (the whole essence of matter) cannot for itself be presented perceptibly, but is merely a definite casual connection. On the other hand, every phenomenon of an Idea, because as such it has entered the form of the principle of sufficient reason, or the principium individuationis, must exhibit itself in matter, as one of its qualities. So far then matter is, as we have said, the connecting link between the Idea and the principium individuationis, which is the form of knowledge of the individual, or the principle of sufficient reason. Plato is therefore perfectly right in his enumeration, for after the Idea and the phenomenon, which include all other things in the world, he gives matter only, as a third thing which is different from both (Timaeus, p. 345). The individual, as a phenomenon of the Idea, is always matter. Every quality of matter is also the phenomenon of an Idea, and as such it may always be an object of aesthetic contemplation, i.e., the Idea expressed in it may always be recognised. This holds good of even the most universal qualities of matter, without which it never appears, and which are the weakest objectivity of will. Such are gravity, cohesion, rigidity, fluidity, sensitiveness to light, and so forth.

If now we consider architecture simply as a fine art and apart from its application to useful ends, in which it serves the will and not pure knowledge, and therefore ceases to be art in our sense; we can assign to it no other aim than that of bringing to greater distinctness some of those ideas, which are the lowest grades of the objectivity of will; such as gravity, cohesion, rigidity, hardness, those universal qualities of stone, those first, simplest, most inarticulate manifestations of will; the bass notes of nature; and after these light, which in many respects is their opposite. Even at these low grades of the objectivity of will we see its nature revealing itself in discord; for properly speaking the conflict between gravity and rigidity is the sole aesthetic material of architecture; its problem is to make this conflict appear with perfect distinctness in a multitude of different ways. It solves it by depriving these indestructible forces of the shortest way to their satisfaction, and conducting them to it by a circuitous route, so that the conflict is lengthened and the inexhaustible efforts of both forces become visible in many different ways. The whole mass of the building, if left to its original tendency, would exhibit a mere heap or clump, bound as closely as possible to the earth, to which gravity, the form in which the will appears here, continually presses, while rigidity, also objectivity of will, resists. But this very tendency, this effort, is hindered by architecture from obtaining direct satisfaction, and only allowed to reach it indirectly and by roundabout ways. The roof, for example, can only press the earth through columns, the arch must support itself, and can only satisfy its tendency towards the earth through the medium of the pillars, and so forth. But just by these enforced digressions, just by these restrictions, the forces which reside in the crude mass of stone unfold themselves in the most distinct and multifarious ways; and the purely aesthetic aim of architecture can go no further than this. Therefore the beauty, at any rate, of a building lies in the obvious adaptation of every part, not to the outward arbitrary end of man (so far the work belongs to practical architecture), but directly to the stability of the whole, to which the position, dimensions, and form of every part must have so necessary a relation that, where it is possible, if any one part were taken away, the whole would fall to pieces. For just because each part bears just as much as it conveniently can, and each is supported just where it requires to be and just to the necessary extent, this opposition unfolds itself, this conflict between rigidity and gravity, which constitutes the life, the manifestation of will, in the stone, becomes completely visible, and these lowest grades of the objectivity of will reveal themselves distinctly. In the same way the form of each part must not be determined arbitrarily, but by its end, and its relation to the whole. The column is the simplest form of support, determined simply by its end: the twisted column is taste less; the four-cornered pillar is in fact not so simple as the round column, though it happens that it is easier to make it. The forms also of frieze, rafter, roof, and dome are entirely determined by their immediate end, and explain themselves from it. The decoration of capitals, &c., belongs to sculpture, not to architecture, which admits it merely as extraneous ornament, and could dispense with it. According to what has been said, it is absolutely necessary, in order to understand the aesthetic satisfaction afforded by a work of architecture, to have immediate knowledge through perception of its matter as regards its weight, rigidity, and cohesion, and our pleasure in such a work would suddenly be very much diminished by the discovery that the material used was pumice-stone; for then it would appear to us as a kind of sham building. We would be affected in almost the same way if we were told that it was made of wood, when we had supposed it to be of stone, just because this alters and destroys the relation between rigidity and gravity, and consequently the significance and necessity of all the parts, for these natural forces reveal themselves in a far weaker degree in a wooden building. Therefore no real work of architecture as a line art can be made of wood, although it assumes all forms so easily; this can only be explained by our theory. If we were distinctly told that a building, the sight of which gave us pleasure, was made of different kinds of material of very unequal weight and consistency, but not distinguishable to the eye, the whole building would become as utterly incapable of affording us pleasure as a poem in an unknown language. All this proves that architecture does not affect us mathematically, but also dynamically, and that what speaks to us through it, is not mere form and symmetry, but rather those fundamental forces of nature, those first Ideas, those lowest grades of the objectivity of will. The regularity of the building and its parts is partly produced by the direct adaptation of each member to the stability of the whole, partly it serves to facilitate the survey and comprehension of the whole, and finally, regular figures to some extent enhance the beauty be cause they reveal the constitution of space as such. But all this is of subordinate value and necessity, and by no means the chief concern; indeed, symmetry is not in variably demanded, as ruins are still beautiful.

Works of architecture have further quite a special relation to light; they gain a double beauty in the full sunshine, with the blue sky as a background, and again they have quite a different effect by moonlight. Therefore, when a beautiful work of architecture is to be erected, special attention is always paid to the effects of the light and to the climate. The reason of all this is, indeed, principally that all the parts and their relations are only mado clearly visible by a bright, strong light; but besides this I am of opinion that it is the function of architecture to reveal the nature of light just as it reveals that of things so opposite to it as gravity and rigidity. For the light is intercepted, confined, and reflected by the great opaque, sharply outlined, and variously formed masses of stone, and thus it unfolds its nature and qualities in the purest and clearest way, to the great pleasure of the beholders, for light is the most joy-giving of things, as the condition and the objective correlative of the most perfect kind of knowledge of perception.

Now, because the Ideas which architecture brings to clear perception, are the lowest grades of the objectivity of will, and consequently their objective significance, which architecture reveals to us, is comparatively small; the aesthetic pleasure of looking at a beautiful building in a good light will lie, not so much in the comprehension of the Idea, as in the subjective correlative which accompanies this comprehension; it will consist preeminently in the fact that the beholder, set free from the kind of knowledge that belongs to the individual, and which serves the will and follows the principle of sufficient reason, is raised to that of the pure subject of knowing free from will. It will consist then principally in pure contemplation itself, free from all the suffering of will and of individuality. In this respect the opposite of architecture, and the other extreme of the series of the fine arts, is the drama, which brings to knowledge the most significant Ideas. Therefore in the aesthetic pleasure af lorded by the drama the objective side is throughout predominant.

Architecture has this distinction from plastic art and poetry: it does not give us a copy but the thing itself. It does not repeat, as they do, the known Idea, so that the artist lends his eyes to the beholder, but in it the artist merely presents the object to the beholder, and facilitates for him the comprehension of the Idea by bringing the actual, individual object to a distinct and complete expression of its nature.

Unlike the works of the other arts, those of architecture are very seldom executed for purely aesthetic ends. These are generally subordinated to other useful ends which are foreign to art itself. Thus the great merit of the architect consists in achieving and attaining the pure aesthetic ends, in spite of their subordination to other ends which are foreign to them. This he does by cleverly adapting them in a variety of ways to the arbitrary ends in view, and by rightly judging which form of aesthetical architectonic beauty is compatible and may be associated with a temple, which with a palace, which with a prison, and so forth. The more a harsh climate increases these demands of necessity and utility, determines them definitely, and prescribes them more inevi tably, the less free play has beauty in architecture. In the mild climate of India, Egypt, Greece, and Rome, where the demands of necessity were fewer and less definite, architecture could follow its aesthetic ends with the greatest freedom. But under a northern sky this was sorely hindered. Here, when caissons, pointed roofs and towers were what was demanded, architecture could only unfold its own beauty within very narrow limits, and therefore it was obliged to make amends by resorting all the more to the borrowed ornaments of sculpture, as is seen in Gothic architecture.

We thus see that architecture is greatly restricted by the demands of necessity and utility; but on the other hand it has in them a very powerful support, for, on account of the magnitude and costliness of its works, and the narrow sphere of its aesthetic effect, it could not continue to exist merely as a fine art, if it had not also, as a useful and necessary profession, a firm and honourable place among the occupations of men. It is the want of this that prevents another art from taking its place beside architecture as a sister art, although in an aesthetical point of view it is quite properly to be classed along with it as its counterpart; I mean artistic arrangements of water. For what architecture accomplishes for the Idea of gravity when it appears in connection with that of rigidity, hydraulics accomplishes for the same Idea, when it is connected with fluidity, i.e., formlessness, the greatest mobility and transparency. Leaping waterfalls foaming and tumbling over rocks, cataracts dispersed into floating spray, springs gushing up as high columns of water, and clear reflecting lakes, reveal the Ideas of fluid and heavy matter, in precisely the same way as the works of architecture unfold the Ideas of rigid matter. Artistic hydraulics, however, obtains no support from practical hydraulics, for, as a rule, their ends cannot be combined; yet, in exceptional cases, this happens; for example, in the Cascata di Trevi at Rome.[9]

§ 44[edit]

What the two arts we have spoken of accomplish for these lowest grades of the objectivity of will, is performed for the higher grades of vegetable nature by artistic horticulture. The landscape beauty of a scene consists, for the most part, in the multiplicity of natural objects which are present in it, and then in the fact that they are clearly separated, appear distinctly, and yet exhibit a fitting connection and alternation. These two conditions are assisted and promoted by landscape-gardening, but it has by no means such a mastery over its material as architecture, and therefore its effect is limited. The beauty with which it is concerned belongs almost exclusively to nature; it has done little for it; and, on the other hand, it can do little against unfavourable nature, and when nature works, not for it, but against it, its achievements are small.

The vegetable world offers itself everywhere for aesthetic enjoyment without the medium of art; but so far as it is an object of art, it belongs principally to landscape-painting; to the province of which all the rest of unconscious nature also belongs. In paintings of still life, and of mere architecture, ruins, interiors of churches, etc., the subjective side of aesthetic pleasure is predominant, i.e., our satisfaction does not lie principally in the direct comprehension of the represented Ideas, but rather in the subjective correlative of this comprehension, pure, will-less knowing. For, because the painter lets us see these things through his eyes, we at once receive a sympathetic and reflected sense of the deep spiritual peace and absolute silence of the will, which were necessary in order to enter with knowledge so entirely into these lifeless objects, and comprehend them with such love, i.e., in this case with such a degree of objectivity. The effect of landscape-painting proper is indeed, as a whole, of this kind; but because the Ideas expressed are more distinct and significant, as higher grades of the objectivity of will, the objective side of aesthetic pleasure already comes more to the front and assumes as much importance as the subjective side. Pure knowing as such is no longer the paramount consideration, for we are equally affected by the known Platonic Idea, the world as idea at an important grade of the objectification of will.

But a far higher grade is revealed by animal painting and sculpture. Of the latter we have some important antique remains; for example, horses at Venice, on Monte Cavallo, and on the Elgin Marbles, also at Florence in bronze and marble; the ancient boar, howling wolves, the lions in the arsenal at Venice, also in the Vatican a whole room almost filled with ancient animals, etc. In these representations the objective side of aesthetic pleasure obtains a marked predominance over the subjective. The peace of the subject which knows these Ideas, which has silenced its own will, is indeed present, as it is in all aesthetic contemplation; but its effect is not felt, for we are occupied with the restlessness and impetuosity of the will represented. It is that very will, which constitutes our own nature, that here appears to us in forms, in which its manifestation is not, as in us, controlled and tempered by intellect, but exhibits itself in stronger traits, and with a distinctness that borders on the grotesque and monstrous. For this very reason there is no concealment; it is free, naive, open as the day, and this is the cause of our interest in animals. The characteristics of species appeared already in the representation of plants, but showed itself only in the forms; here it becomes much more distinct, and expresses itself not only in the form, but in the action, position, and mien, yet always merely as the character of the species, not of the individual. This knowledge of the Ideas of higher grades, which in painting we receive through extraneous means, we may gain directly by the pure contemplative perception of plants, and observation of beasts, and indeed of the latter in their free, natural, and unrestrained state. The objective contemplation of their manifold and marvellous forms, and of their actions and behaviour, is an instructive lesson from the great book of nature, it is a deciphering of the true signatura rerum.[10] We see in them the manifold grades and modes of the manifestation of will, which in all beings of one and the same grade, wills always in the same way, which objectifies itself as life, as existence in such endless variety, and such different forms, which are all adaptations to the different external circumstances, and may be compared to many variations on the same theme. But if we had to communicate to the observer, for reflection, and in a word, the explanation of their inner nature, it would be best to make use of that Sanscrit formula which occurs so often in the sacred books of the Hindoos, and is called Mahavakya, i.e., the great word: "Tat twam asi" which means, "this living thing art thou".

§ 45[edit]

The great problem of historical painting and sculpture is to express directly and for perception the Idea in which the will reaches the highest grade of its objectification. The objective side of the pleasure afforded by the beautiful is here always predominant, and the subjective side has retired into the background. It is further to be observed that at the next grade below this, animal painting, the characteristic is entirely one with the beautiful; the most characteristic lion, wolf, horse, sheep, or ox, was always the most beautiful also. The reason of this is that animals have only the character of their species, no individual character. In the representation of men the character of the species is separated from that of the individual; the former is now called beauty (entirely in the objective sense), but the latter retains the name, character, or expression, and the new difficulty arises of representing both, at once and completely, in the same individual.

Human beauty is an objective expression, which means the fullest objectification of will at the highest grade at which it is knowable, the Idea of man in general, completely expressed in the sensible form. But however much the objective side of the beautiful appears here, the subjective side still always accompanies it. And just because no object transports us so quickly into pure aesthetic contemplation, as the most beautiful human countenance and form, at the sight of which we are instantly filled with unspeakable satisfaction, and raised above ourselves and all that troubles us; this is only possible because this most distinct and purest knowledge of will raises us most easily and quickly to the state of pure knowing, in which our personality, our will with its constant pain, disappears, so long as the pure aesthetic pleasure lasts. Therefore it is that Goethe says: "No evil can touch him who looks on human beauty; he feels himself at one with himself and with the world". That a beautiful human form is produced by nature must be explained in this way. At this its highest grade the will objectifies itself in an individual; and therefore through circumstances and its own power it completely overcomes all the hindrances and opposition which the phenomena of the lower grades present to it. Such are the forces of nature, from which the will must always first extort and win back the matter that belongs to all its manifestations. Further, the phenomenon of will at its higher grades always has multiplicity in its form. Even the tree is only a systematic aggregate of innumerably repeated sprouting fibres. This combination assumes greater complexity in higher forms, and the human body is an exceedingly complex system of different parts, each of which has a peculiar life of its own, vita propria, subordinate to the whole. Now that all these parts are in the proper fashion subordinate to the whole, and coordinate to each other, that they all work together harmoniously for the expression of the whole, nothing superfluous, nothing restricted; all these are the rare conditions, whose result is beauty, the completely expressed character of the species. So is it in nature. But how in art? One would suppose that art achieved the beautiful by imitating nature. But how is the artist to recognise the perfect work which is to be imitated, and distinguish it from the failures, if he does not anticipate the beautiful before experience? And besides this, has nature ever produced a human being perfectly beautiful in all his parts? It has accordingly been thought that the artist must seek out the beautiful parts, distributed among a number of different human beings, and out of them construct a beautiful whole; a perverse and foolish opinion. For it will be asked, how is he to know that just these forms and not others are beautiful? We also see what kind of success attended the efforts of the old German painters to achieve the beautiful by imitating nature. Observe their naked figures. No knowledge of the beautiful is possible purely a posteriori, and from mere experience; it is always, at least in part, a priori, although quite different in kind, from the forms of the principle of sufficient reason, of which we are conscious a priori. These concern the universal form of phenomena as such, as it constitutes the possibility of knowledge in general, the universal how of all phenomena, and from this knowledge proceed mathematics and pure natural science. But this other kind of knowledge a priori, which makes it possible to express the beautiful, concerns, not the form but the content of phenomena, not the how but the what of the phenomenon. That we all recognise human beauty when we see it, but that in the true artist this takes place with such clearness that he shows it as he has never seen it, and surpasses nature in his representation; this is only possible because we ourselves are the will whose adequate objectification at its highest grade is here to be judged and discovered. Thus alone have we in fact an anticipation of that which nature (which is just the will that constitutes our own being) strives to express. And in the true genius this anticipation is accompanied by so great a degree of intelligence that he recognises the Idea in the particular thing, and thus, as it were, understands the half-uttered speech of nature, and articulates clearly what she only stammered forth. He expresses in the hard marble that beauty of form which in a thousand attempts she failed to produce, he presents it to nature, saying, as it were, to her, "That is what you wanted to say!" And whoever is able to judge replies, "Yes, that is it". Only in this way was it possible for the genius of the Greeks to find the type of human beauty and establish it as a canon for the school of sculpture; and only by virtue of such an anticipation is it possible for all of us to recognise beauty, when it has actually been achieved by nature in the particular case. This anticipation is the Ideal. It is the Idea so far as it is known a priori, at least half, and it becomes practical for art, because it corresponds to and completes what is given a posteriori through nature. The possibility of such an anticipation of the beautiful a priori in the artist, and of its recognition a posteriori by the critic, lies in the fact that the artist and the critic are themselves the "in-itself" of nature, the will which objectifies itself. For, as Empedocles said, like can only be known by like: only nature can understand itself: only nature can fathom itself: but only spirit also can understand spirit.[11]

The opinion, which is absurd, although expressed by the Socrates of Xenophon (Stobaei Floril, vol. ii. p. 384) that the Greeks discovered the established ideal of human beauty empirically, by collecting particular beautiful parts, uncovering and noting here a knee, there an arm, has an exact parallel in the art of poetry. The view is entertained, that Shakespeare, for example, observed, and then gave forth from his own experience of life, the innumerable variety of the characters in his dramas, so true, so sustained, so profoundly worked out. The impossibility and absurdity of such an assumption need not be dwelt upon. It is obvious that the man of genius produces the works of poetic art by means of an anticipation of what is characteristic, just as he produces the works of plastic and pictorial art by means of a prophetic anticipation of the beautiful; yet both require experience as a pattern or model, for thus alone can that which is dimly known a priori be called into clear consciousness, and an intelligent representation of it becomes possible.

Human beauty was explained above as the fullest objectification of will at the highest grade at which it is knowable. It expresses itself through the form; and this lies in space alone, and has no necessary connection with time, as, for example, motion has. Thus far then we may say: the adequate objectification of will through a merely spatial phenomenon is beauty, in the objective sense. A plant is nothing but such a merely spatial phenomenon of will; for no motion, and consequently no relation to time (regarded apart from its development), belongs to the expression of its nature; its mere form expresses its whole being and displays it openly. But brutes and men require, further, for the full revelation of the will which is manifested in them, a series of actions, and thus the manifestation in them takes on a direct relation to time. All this has already been explained in the preceding book; it is related to what we are considering at present in the following way. As the merely spatial manifestation of will can objectify it fully or defectively at each definite grade, — and it is this which constitutes beauty or ugliness, — so the temporal objectification of will, i.e., the action, and indeed the direct action, the movement, may correspond to the will, which objectifies itself in it, purely and fully without foreign admixture, without superfluity, without defect, only expressing exactly the act of will determined in each case; — or the converse of all this may occur. In the first case the movement is made with grace, in the second case without it. Thus as beauty is the adequate representation of will generally, through its merely spatial manifestation; grace is the adequate representation of will through its temporal manifestation, that is to say, the perfectly accurate and fitting expression of each act of will, through the movement and position which objectify it. Since movement and position presuppose the body, Winckelmann's expression is very true and suitable, when he says, "Grace is the proper relation of the acting person to the action" (Works, vol. i. p. 258). It is thus evident that beauty may be attributed to a plant, but no grace, unless in a figurative sense; but to brutes and men, both beauty and grace. Grace consists, according to what has been said, in every movement being performed, and every position assumed, in the easiest, most appropriate and convenient way, and therefore being the pure, adequate expression of its intention, or of the act of will, without any superfluity, which exhibits itself as aimless, meaningless bustle, or as wooden stiffness. Grace presupposes as its condition a true proportion of all the limbs, and a symmetrical, harmonious figure; for complete ease and evident appropriateness of all positions and movements are only possible by means of these. Grace is therefore never without a certain degree of beauty of person. The two, complete and united, are the most distinct manifestation of will at the highest grade of its objectification.

It was mentioned above that in order rightly to portray man, it is necessary to separate the character of the species from that of the individual, so that to a certain extent every man expresses an Idea peculiar to himself, as was said in the last book. Therefore the arts whose aim is the representation of the Idea of man, have as their problem, not only beauty, the character of the species, but also the character of the individual, which is called, par excellence, character. But this is only the case in so far as this character is to be regarded, not as something accidental and quite peculiar to the man as a single individual, but as a side of the Idea of humanity which is specially apparent in this individual, and the representation of which is therefore of assistance in revealing this Idea. Thus the character, although as such it is individual, must yet be Ideal, that is, its significance in relation to the Idea of humanity generally (the objectifying of which it assists in its own way) must be comprehended and expressed with special prominence. Apart from this the representation is a portrait, a copy of the individual as such, with all his accidental qualities. And even the portrait ought to be, as Winckelmann says, the ideal of the individual.

That character which is to be ideally comprehended, as the prominence of a special side of the Idea of humanity, expresses itself visibly, partly through permanent physiognomy and bodily form, partly through passing emotion and passion, the reciprocal modification of knowing and willing by each other, which is all exhibited in the mien and movements. Since the individual always belongs to humanity, and, on the other hand, humanity always reveals itself in the individual with what is indeed peculiar ideal significance, beauty must not be destroyed by character nor character by beauty. For if the character of the species is annulled by that of the individual, the result is caricature; and if the character of the individual is annulled by that of the species, the result is an absence of meaning. Therefore the representation which aims at beauty, as sculpture principally does, will yet always modify this (the character of the species), in some respect, by the individual character, and will always express the Idea of man in a definite individual manner, giving prominence to a special side of it. For the human individual as such has to a certain extent the dignity of a special Idea, and it is essential to the Idea of man that it should express itself in individuals of special significance. Therefore we find in the works of the ancients, that the beauty distinctly comprehended by them, is not expressed in one form, but in many forms of different character. It is always apprehended, as it were, from a different side, and expressed in one way in Apollo, in another way in Bacchus, in another in Hercules, in another in Antinous; indeed the character istic may limit the beautiful, and finally extend even to hideousness, in the drunken Silenus, in the Faun, etc. If the characteristic goes so far as actually to annul the character of the species, if it extends to the unnatural, it becomes caricature. But we can far less afford to allow grace to be interfered with by what is characteristic than even beauty, for graceful position and movement are demanded for the expression of the character also; but yet it must be achieved in the way which is most fitting, appropriate, and easy for the person. This will be observed, not only by the sculptor and the painter, but also by every good actor; otherwise caricature will appear here also as grimace or distortion.

In sculpture, beauty and grace are the principal concern. The special character of the mind, appearing in emotion, passion, alternations of knowing and willing, which can only be represented by the expression of the countenance and the gestures, is the peculiar sphere of painting. For although eyes and colour, which lie outside the province of sculpture, contribute much to beauty, they are yet far more essential to character. Further, beauty unfolds itself more completely when it is contemplated from various points of view; but the expression, the character, can only be completely comprehended from one point of view.

Because beauty is obviously the chief aim of sculpture, Lessing tried to explain the fact that the Laocoon does not cry out, by saying that crying out is incompatible with beauty. The Laocoon formed for Lessing the theme, or at least the text of a work of his own, and both before and after him a great deal has been written on the subject. I may therefore be allowed to express my views about it in passing, although so special a discussion does not properly belong to the scheme of this work, which is throughout concerned with what is general.

§ 46[edit]

That Laocoon, in the celebrated group, does not cry out is obvious, and the universal and ever-renewed surprise at this must be occasioned by the fact that any of us would cry out if we were in his place. And nature demands that it should be so; for in the case of the acutest physical pain, and the sudden seizure by the greatest bodily fear, all reflection, that might have inculcated silent endurance, is entirely expelled from consciousness, and nature relieves itself by crying out, thus expressing both the pain and the fear, summoning the deliverer and terrifying the assailer. Thus Winckelmann missed the expression of crying out; but as he wished to justify the artist he turned Laocoon into a Stoic, who considered it beneath his dignity to cry out secundum naturam, but added to his pain the useless constraint of suppressing all utterance of it. Winckelmann therefore sees in him "the tried spirit of a great man, who writhes in agony, and yet seeks to suppress the utterance of his feeling, and to lock it up in himself. He does not break forth into loud cries, as in Virgil, but only anxious sighs escape him", etc. (Works, vol. vii. p. 98, and at greater length in vol. vi. p. 104). Now Lessing criticised this opinion of Winckelmann's in his Laocoon, and improved it in the way mentioned above. In place of the psychological he gave the purely aesthetic reason that beauty, the principle of ancient art, does not admit of the expression of crying out. Another argument which he added to this, that a merely passing state incapable of duration ought not to be represented in motionless works of art, has a hundred examples of most excellent figures against it, which are fixed in merely transitory movements, dancing, wrestling, catching, etc. Indeed Goethe, in the essay on the Laocoon, which opens the Propylaen (p. 8), holds that the choice of such a merely fleeting movement is absolutely necessary. In our own day Hirt (Horen, 1797, tenth St.) finally decided the point, deducing everything from the highest truth of expression, that Laocoon does not cry out, because he can no longer do so, as he is at the point of death from choking. Lastly, Fernow ("Römische Studien", vol. i p. 246) expounded and weighed all these opinions; he added, however, no new one of his own, but combined these three eclectically.

I cannot but wonder that such thoughtful and acute men should laboriously bring far-fetched and insufficient reasons, should resort to psychological and physiological arguments, to explain a matter the reason of which lies so near at hand, and is obvious at once to the unprejudiced; and especially I wonder that Lessing, who came so near the true explanation, should yet have entirely missed the real point.

Before all psychological and physiological inquiries as to whether Laocoon would cry out in his position or not (and I certainly affirm that he would), it must be decided as regards the group in question, that crying out ought not to be expressed in it, for the simple reason that its expression lies quite outside the province of sculpture. A shrieking Laocoon could not be produced in marble, but only a figure with the mouth open vainly endeavouring to shriek; a Laocoon whose voice has stuck in his throat, vox faucibus haesit. The essence of shrieking, and consequently its effect upon the onlooker, lies entirely in sound; not in the distortion of the mouth. This phenomenon, which necessarily accompanies shrieking, derives motive and justification only from the sound produced by means of it; then it is permissible and indeed necessary, as characteristic of the action, even though it interferes with beauty. But in plastic art, to which the representation of shrieking is quite foreign and impossible, it would be actual folly to represent the medium of violent shrieking, the distorted mouth, which would disturb all the features and the remainder of the expression; for thus at the sacrifice of many other things the means would be represented, while its end, the shrieking itself, and its effect upon our feelings, would be left out. Nay more, there would be produced the spectacle of a continuous effort without effect, which is always ridiculous, and may really be compared to what happened when some one for a joke stopped the horn of a night watchman with wax while he was asleep, and then awoke him with the cry of fire, and amused himself by watching his vain endeavours to blow the horn. When, on the other hand, the expression of shrieking lies in the province of poetic or histrionic art, it is quite admissible, because it helps to express the truth, i.e., the complete expression of the Idea. Thus it is with poetry, which claims the assistance of the imagination of the reader, in order to enable it to represent things perceptibly. Therefore Virgil makes Laocoon cry out like the bellowing of an ox that has broken loose after being struck by the axe; and Homer (II. xx. 48-53) makes Mars and Minerva shriek horribly, without derogating from their divine dignity or beauty. The same with acting; Laocoon on the stage would certainly have to shriek. Sophocles makes Philoctetus cry out, and, on the ancient stage at any rate, he must actually have done so. As a case in point, I remember having seen in London the great actor Kernble play in a piece called Pizarro, translated from the German. He took the part of the American, a half-savage, but of very noble character. When he was wounded he cried out loudly and wildly, which had a great and admirable effect, for it was exceedingly characteristic and therefore assisted the truth of the representation very much. On the other hand, a painted or sculptured model of a man shrieking, would be much more absurd than the painted music which is censured in Goethe's Propylaen. For shrieking does far more injury to the expression and beauty of the whole than music, which at the most only occupies the hands and arms, and is to be looked upon as an occupation characteristic of the person; indeed thus far it may quite rightly be painted, as long as it demands no violent movement of the body, or distortion of the mouth: for example, St. Cecilia at the organ, Raphael's violin-player in the Sciarra Gallery at Rome, and others. Since then, on account of the limits of the art, the pain of Laocoon must not be expressed by shrieking, the artist was obliged to employ every other expression of pain; this he has done in the most perfect manner, as is ably described by Winckelmann (Works, vol. vi. p. 104), whose admirable account thus retains its full value and truth, as soon as we abstract from the stoical view which underlies it.[12]

§ 47[edit]

Because beauty accompanied with grace is the principal object of sculpture, it loves nakedness, and allows clothing only so far as it does not conceal the form. It makes use of drapery, not as a covering, but as a means of exhibiting the form, a method of exposition that gives much exercise to the understanding, for it can only arrive at a perception of the cause, the form of the body, through the only directly given effect, the drapery. Thus to a certain extent drapery is in sculpture what fore-shortening is in painting. Both are suggestions, yet not symbolical, but such that, if they are successful, they force the understanding directly to perceive what is suggested, just as if it were actually given.

I may be allowed, in passing, to insert here a comparison that is very pertinent to the arts we are discussing. It is this: as the beautiful bodily form is seen to the greatest advantage when clothed in the lightest way, or indeed without any clothing at all, and therefore a very handsome man, if he had also taste and the courage to follow it, would go about almost naked, clothed only after the manner of the ancients; so every one who possesses a beautiful and rich mind will always express himself in the most natural, direct, and simple way, concerned, if it be possible, to communicate his thoughts to others, and thus relieve the loneliness that he must feel in such a world as this. And conversely, poverty of mind, confusion, and perversity of thought, will clothe itself in the most far-fetched expressions and the obscurest forms of speech, in order to wrap up in difficult and pompous phraseology small, trifling, insipid, or commonplace thoughts; like a man who has lost the majesty of beauty, and trying to make up for the deficiency by means of clothing, seeks to hide the insignificance or ugliness of his person under barbaric finery, tinsel, feathers, ruffles, cuffs, and mantles. Many an author, if compelled to translate his pompous and obscure book into its little clear content, would be as utterly spoilt as this man if he had to go naked.

§ 48[edit]

Historical painting has for its principal object, besides beauty and grace, character. By character we mean generally, the representation of will at the highest grade of its objectification, when the individual, as giving prominence to a particular side of the Idea of humanity, has special significance, and shows this not merely by his form, but makes it visible in his bearing and occupation, by action of every kind, and the modifications of knowing and willing that occasion and accompany it. The Idea of man must be exhibited in these circumstances, and therefore the unfolding of its many-sidedness must be brought before our eyes by means of representative individuals, and these individuals can only be made visible in their significance through various scenes, events, and actions. This is the endless problem of the historical painter, and he solves it by placing before us scenes of life of every kind, of greater or less significance. No individual and no action can be without significance; in all and through all the Idea of man unfolds itself more and more. Therefore no event of human life is excluded from the sphere of painting. It is thus a great injustice to the excellent painters of the Dutch school, to prize merely their technical skill, and to look down upon them in other respects, because, for the most part, they represent objects of common life, whereas it is assumed that only the events of the history of the world, or the incidents of biblical story, have significance. We ought first to bethink ourselves that the inward significance of an action is quite different from its outward significance, and that these are often separated from each other. The outward significance is the importance of an action in relation to its result for and in the actual world; thus according to the principle of sufficient reason. The inward significance is the depth of the insight into the Idea of man which it reveals, in that it brings to light sides of that Idea which rarely appear, by making individuals who assert themselves distinctly and decidedly, disclose their peculiar characteristics by means of appropriately arranged circumstances. Only the inward significance concerns art; the outward be longs to history. They are both completely independent of each other; they may appear together, but may each appear alone. An action which is of the highest significance for history may in inward significance be a very ordinary and common one; and conversely, a scene of ordinary daily life may be of great inward significance, if human individuals, and the inmost recesses of human action and will, appear in it in a clear and distinct light. Further, the outward and the inward significance of a scene may be equal and yet very different. Thus, for example, it is all the same, as far as inward significance is concerned, whether ministers discuss the fate of countries and nations over a map, or boors wrangle in a beer house over cards and dice, just as it is all the same whether we play chess with golden or wooden pieces. But apart from this, the scenes and events that make up the life of so many millions of men, their actions, their sorrows, their joys, are on that account important enough to be the object of art, and by their rich variety they must afford material enough for unfolding the many-sided Idea of man. Indeed the very transitoriness of the moment which art has fixed in such a picture (now called genre-painting) excites a slight and peculiar sensation; for to fix the fleeting, ever-changing world in the enduring picture of a single event, which yet represents the whole, is an achievement of the art of painting by which it seems to bring time itself to a standstill, for it raises the individual to the Idea of its species. Finally, the historical and outwardly significant subjects of painting have often the disadvantage that just what is significant in them cannot be presented to perception, but must be arrived at by thought. In this respect the nominal significance of the picture must be distinguished from its real significance. The former is the outward significance, which, however, can only be reached as a conception; the latter is that side of the Idea of man which is made visible to the onlooker in the picture. For example, Moses found by the Egyptian princess is the nominal significance of a painting; it represents a moment of the greatest importance in history; the real significance, on the other hand, that which is really given to the onlooker, is a foundling child rescued from its floating cradle by a great lady, an incident which may have happened more than once. The costume alone can here indicate the particular historical case to the learned; but the costume is only of importance to the nominal signifiance, and is a matter of indifference to the real significance; for the latter knows only the human being as such, not the arbitrary forms. Subjects taken from history have no advantage over those which are taken from mere possibility, and which are therefore to be called, not individual, but merely general. For what is peculiarly significant in the former is not the individual, not the particular event as such, but the universal in it, the side of the Idea of humanity which expresses itself through it. But, on the other hand, definite historical subjects are not on this account to be rejected, only the really artistic view of such subjects, both in the painter and in the beholder, is never directed to the individual particulars in them, which properly constitute the historical, but to the universal which expresses itself in them, to the Idea. And only those historical subjects are to be chosen the chief point of which can actually be represented, and not merely arrived at by thought, otherwise the nominal significance is too remote from the real; what is merely thought in connection with the picture becomes of most importance, and interferes with what is perceived. If even on the stage it is not right that the chief incident of the plot should take place behind the scenes (as in French tragedies), it is clearly a far greater fault in a picture. Historical subjects are distinctly disadvantageous only when they confine the painter to a field which has not been chosen for artistic but for other reasons, and especially when this field is poor in picturesque and significant objects — if, for example, it is the history of a small, isolated, capricious, hierarchical (i.e., ruled by error), obscure people, like the Jews, despised by the great contemporary nations of the East and the West. Since the wandering of the tribes lies between us and all ancient nations, as the change of the bed of the ocean lies between the earth s surface as it is to-day and as it was when those organisations existed which we only know from fossil remains, it is to be regarded generally as a great misfortune that the people whose culture was to be the principal basis of our own were not the Indians or the Greeks, or even the Romans, but these very Jews. But it was especially a great misfortune for the Italian painters of genius in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries that, in the narrow sphere to which they were arbitrarily driven for the choice of subjects, they were obliged to have recourse to miserable beings of every kind. For the New Testament, as regards its historical part, is almost more unsuitable for painting than the Old, and the subsequent history of martyrs and doctors of the church is a very unfortunate subject. Yet of the pictures, whose subject is the history or mythology of Judaism and Christianity, we must carefully distinguish those in which the peculiar, i.e., the ethical spirit of Christianity is revealed for perception, by the representation of men who are full of this spirit. These representations are in fact the highest and most admirable achievements of the art of painting; and only the greatest masters of this art succeeded in this, particularly Raphael and Correggio, and especially in their earlier pictures. Pictures of this kind are not properly to be classed as historical: for, as a rule, they represent no event, no action; but are merely groups of saints, with the Saviour himself, often still a child, with His mother, angels, etc. In their countenances, and especially in the eyes, we see the expression, the reflection, of the completest knowledge, that which is not directed to particular things, but has fully grasped the Ideas, and thus the whole nature of the world and life. And this knowledge in them, reacting upon the will, does not, like other knowledge, convey motives to it, but on the contrary has become a quieter of all will, from which proceeded the complete resignation, which is the innermost spirit of Christianity, as of the Indian philosophy; the surrender of all volition, conversion, the suppression of will, and with it of the whole inner being of this world, that is to say, salvation. Thus these masters of art, worthy of eternal praise, expressed perceptibly in their works the highest wisdom. And this is the summit of all art. It has followed the will in its adequate objectivity, the Ideas, through all its grades, in which it is affected and its nature unfolded in so many ways, first by causes, then by stimuli, and finally by motives. And now art ends with the representation of the free self-suppression of will, by means of the great peace which it gains from the perfect knowledge of its own nature.[13]

§ 49[edit]

The truth which lies at the foundation of all that we have hitherto said about art, is that the object of art, the representation of which is the aim of the artist, and the knowledge of which must therefore precede his work as its germ and source, is an Idea in Plato s sense, and never anything else; not the particular thing, the object of common apprehension, and not the concept, the object of rational thought and of science. Although the Idea and the concept have something in common, because both represent as unity a multiplicity of real things; yet the great difference between them has no doubt been made clear and evident enough by what we have said about concepts in the first book, and about Ideas in this book. I by no means wish to assert, however, that Plato really distinctly comprehended this difference; indeed many of his examples of Ideas, and his discussions of them, are applicable only to concepts. Meanwhile we leave this question alone and go on our own way, glad when we come upon traces of any great and noble mind, yet not following his footsteps but our own aim. The concept is abstract, discursive, undetermined within its own sphere, only determined by its limits, attainable and comprehensible by him who has only reason, communicable by words without any other assistance, entirely exhausted by its definition. The Idea on the contrary, although defined as the adequate representative of the concept, is always object of perception, and although representing an infinite number of particular things, is yet thoroughly determined. It is never known by the individual as such, but only by him who has raised himself above all willing and all individuality to the pure subject of knowing. Thus it is only attainable by the man of genius, and 1 >y him who, for the most part through the assistance of the works of genius, has reached an exalted frame of mind, by increasing his power of pure knowing. It is therefore not absolutely but only conditionally communicable, because the Idea, comprehended and repeated in the work of art, appeals to every one only according to the measure of his own intellectual worth. So that just the most excellent works of every art, the noblest productions of genius, must always remain sealed books to the dull majority of men, inaccessible to them, separated from them by a wide gulf, just as the society of princes is inaccessible to the common people. It is true that even the dullest of them accept on authority recognisedly great works, lest otherwise they should argue their own incompetence; but they wait in silence, always ready to express their condemnation, as soon as they are allowed to hope that they may do so without being left to stand alone; and then their long-restrained hatred against all that is great and beautiful, and against the authors of it, gladly relieves itself; for such things never appealed to them, and for that very reason were humiliating to them. For as a rule a man must have worth in himself in order to recognise it and believe in it willingly and freely in others. On this rests the necessity of modesty in all merit, and the disproportionately loud praise of this virtue, which alone of all its sisters is always included in the eulogy of every one who ventures to praise any distinguished man, in order to appease and quiet the wrath of the unworthy. What then is modesty but hypocritical humility, by means of which, in a world swelling with base envy, a man seeks to obtain pardon for excellences and merits from those who have none? For whoever attributes to himself no merits, because he actually has none, is not modest but merely honest.

The Idea is the unity that falls into multiplicity on account of the temporal and spatial form of our intuitive apprehension; the concept, on the contrary, is the unity reconstructed out of multiplicity by the abstraction of our reason; the latter may be defined as unitas post rem, the former as unitas ante rem. Finally, we may express the distinction between the Idea and the concept, by a comparison, thus: the concept is like a dead receptacle, in which, whatever has been put, actually lies side by side, but out of which no more can be taken (by analytical judgment) than was put in (by synthetical reflection); the (Platonic) Idea, on the other hand, develops, in him who has comprehended it, ideas which are new as regards the concept of the same name; it resembles a living organism, developing itself and possessed of the power of reproduction, which brings forth what was not put into it.

It follows from all that has been said, that the concept, useful as it is in life, and serviceable, necessary and productive as it is in science, is yet always barren and unfruitful in art. The comprehended Idea, on the contrary, is the true and only source of every work of art. In its powerful originality it is only derived from life itself, from nature, from the world, and that only by the true genius, or by him whose momentary inspiration reaches the point of genius. Genuine and immortal works of art spring only from such direct apprehension. Just because the Idea is and remains object of perception, the artist is not conscious in the abstract of the intention and aim of his work; not a concept, but an Idea floats before his mind; therefore he can give no justification of what he does. He works, as people say, from pure feeling, and unconsciously, indeed instinctively. On the contrary, imitators, mannerists, imitatores, servum pecus, start, in art, from the concept; they observe what pleases and affects us in true works of art; understand it clearly, fix it in a concept, and thus abstractly, and then imitate it, openly or disguisedly, with dexterity and intentionally. They suck their nourishment, like parasite plants, from the works of others, and like polypi, they become the colour of their food. We might carry comparison further, and say that they are like machines which mince fine and mingle together whatever is put into them, but can never digest it, so that the different constituent parts may always be found again if they are sought out and separated from the mixture; the man of genius alone resembles the organised, assimilating, transforming and reproducing body. For he is indeed educated and cultured by his predecessors and their works; but he is really fructified only by life and the world directly, through the impression of what he perceives; therefore the highest culture never interferes with his originality. All imitators, all mannerists, apprehend in concepts the nature of representative works of art; but concepts can never impart inner life to a work. The age, i.e., the dull multitude of every time, knows only concepts, and sticks to them, and therefore receives mannered works of art with ready and loud applause: but after a few years these works become insipid, because the spirit of the age, i.e, the prevailing concepts, in which alone they could take root, have changed. Only true works of art, which are drawn directly from nature and life, have eternal youth and enduring power, like nature and life themselves. For they belong to no age, but to humanity, and as on that account they are coldly received by their own age, to which they disdain to link them selves closely, and because indirectly and negatively they expose the existing errors, they are slowly and unwillingly recognised; on the other hand, they cannot grow old, but appear to us ever fresh and new down to the latest ages. Then they are no longer exposed to neglect and ignorance, for they are crowned and sanctioned by the praise of the few men capable of judging, who appear singly and rarely in the course of ages,[14] and give in their votes, whose slowly growing number constitutes the authority, which alone is the judgment-seat we mean when we appeal to posterity. It is these successively appearing individuals, for the mass of posterity will always be and remain just as perverse and dull as the mass of contemporaries always was and always is. We read the complaints of great men in every century about the customs of their age. They always sound as if they referred to our own age, for the race is always the same. At every time and in every art, mannerisms have taken the place of the spirit, which was always the possession of a few individuals, but mannerisms are just the old cast-off garments of the last manifestation of the spirit that existed and was recognised. From all this it appears that, as a rule, the praise of posterity can only be gained at the cost of the praise of one's contemporaries, and vice versa.[15]

§ 50[edit]

If the aim of all art is the communication of the comprehended Idea, which through the mind of the artist appears in such a form that it is purged and isolated from all that is foreign to it, and may now be grasped by the man of weaker comprehension and no productive faculty; if further, it is forbidden in art to start from the concept, we shall not be able to consent to the intentional and avowed employment of a work of art for the expression of a concept; this is the case in the Allegory. An allegory is a work of art which means something different from what it represents. But the object of perception, and consequently also the Idea, expresses itself directly and completely, and does not require the medium of something else which implies or indicates it. Thus, that which in this way is indicated and represented by something entirely different, because it cannot itself be made object of perception, is always a concept. There fore through the allegory a conception has always to be signified, and consequently the mind of the beholder has to be drawn away from the expressed perceptible idea to one which is entirely different, abstract and not perceptible, and which lies quite outside the work of art. The picture or statue is intended to accomplish here what is accomplished far more fully by a book. Now, what we hold is the end of art, representation of a perceivable, comprehensible Idea, is not here the end. No great completeness in the work of art is demanded for what is aimed at here. It is only necessary that we should nee what the thing is meant to be, for, as soon as this has been discovered, the end is reached, and the mind is now led away to quite a different kind of idea to an abstract conception, which is the end that was in view. Allegories in plastic and pictorial art are, therefore, nothing but hieroglyphics; the artistic value which they may have as perceptible representations, belongs to them not as allegories, but otherwise. That the "Night" of Correggio, the "Genius of Fame" of Hannibal Carracci, and the "Hours" of Poussin, are very beautiful pictures, is to he separated altogether from the fact that they are allegories. As allegories they do not accomplish more than a legend, indeed rather less. We are here again reminded of the distinction drawn above between the real and the nominal significance of a picture. The nominal is here the allegorical as such, for example, the "Genius of Fame". The real is what is actually represented, in this case a beautiful winged youth, surrounded by beautiful boys; this expresses an Idea. But this real significance affects us only so long as we forget the nominal, allegorical significance; if we think of the latter, we forsake the perception, and the mind is occupied with an abstract conception; but the transition from the Idea to the conception is always a fall. Indeed, that nominal significance, that allegorical intention, often injures the real significance, the perceptible truth. For example, the unnatural light in the "Night" of Correggio, which, though beautifully executed, has yet a merely allegorical motive, and is really impossible. If then an allegorical picture has artistic value, it is quite separate from and independent of what it accomplishes as allegory. Such a work of art serves two ends at once, the expression of a conception and the expression of an Idea. Only the latter can be an end of art; the other is a foreign end, the trilling amusement of making a picture also do service as a legend, as a hieroglyphic, invented for the pleasure of those to whom the true nature of art can never appeal. It is the same thing as when a work of art is also a useful implement of some kind, in which case it also serves two ends; for example, a statue which is at the same time a candelabrum or a caryatide; or a bas-relief, which is also the shield of Achilles. True lovers of art will allow neither the one nor the other. It is true that an allegorical picture may, because of this quality, produce a vivid impression upon the feelings; but when this is the case, a legend would under the same circumstances produce the same effect. For example, if the desire of fame were firmly and lastingly rooted in the heart of a man, because he regarded it as his rightful possession, which is only withheld from him so long as he has not produced the charter of his ownership; and if the Genius of Fame, with his laurel crown, were to appear to such a man, his whole mind would be excited, and his powers called into activity; but the same effect would be produced if he were suddenly to see the word "fame", in large distinct letters on the wall. Or if a man has made known a truth, which is of importance either as a maxim for practical life, or as insight for science, but it has not been believed; an allegorical picture representing time as it lifts the veil, and discloses the naked figure of Truth, will affect him powerfully; but the same effect would be produced by the legend: "Le temps découvre la verité". For what really produces the effect here is the abstract thought, not the object of perception.

If then, in accordance with what has been said, allegory in plastic and pictorial art is a mistaken effort, serving an end which is entirely foreign to art, it becomes quite unbearable when it leads so far astray that the representation of forced and violently introduced subtilties degenerates into absurdity. Such, for example, is a tortoise, to represent feminine seclusion; the downward glance of Nemesis into the drapery of her bosom, signifying that she can see into what is hidden; the explanation of Bellori that Hannibal Caracci represents voluptuousness clothed in a yellow robe, because he wishes to indicate that her lovers soon fade and become yellow as straw. If there is absolutely no connection between the representation and the conception signified by it, founded on subsumption under the concept, or association of Ideas; but the signs and the things signified are combined in a purely conventional manner, by positive, accidentally introduced laws; then I call this degenerate kind of allegory Symbolism. Thus the rose is the symbol of secrecy, the laurel is the symbol of fame, the palm is the symbol of peace, the scallop-shell is the symbol of pilgrimage, the cross is the symbol of the Christian religion. To this class also belongs all significance of mere colour, as yellow is the colour of falseness, and blue is the colour of fidelity. Such symbols may often be of use in life, but their value is foreign to art. They are simply to be regarded as hieroglyphics, or like Chinese word-writing, and really belong to the same class as armorial bearings, the bush that indicates a public-house, the key of the chamberlain, or the leather of the mountaineer. If, finally, certain historical or mythical persons, or personified conceptions, are represented by certain fixed symbols, these are properly called emblems. Such are the beasts of the Evangelist, the owl of Minerva, the apple of Paris, the Anchor of Hope, etc. For the most part, however, we understand by emblems those simple allegorical representations explained by a motto, which are meant to express a moral truth, and of which large collections have been made by J. Camerarius, Alciatus, and others. They form the transition to poetical allegory, of which we shall have more to say later. Greek sculpture devotes itself to the perception, and therefore it is aesthetical; Indian sculpture devotes itself to the conception, and therefore it is merely symbolical.

This conclusion in regard to allegory, which is founded on our consideration of the nature of art and quite consistent with it, is directly opposed to the opinion of Wincklemann, who, far from explaining allegory, as we do, as something quite foreign to the end of art, and often interfering with it, always speaks in favour of it, and indeed (Works, vol. i. p. 55) places the highest aim of art in the "representation of universal conceptions, and non-sensuous things". We leave it to every one to adhere to whichever view he pleases. Only the truth became very clear to me from these and similar views of Wincklemann connected with his peculiar metaphysic of the beautiful, that one may have the greatest susceptibility for artistic beauty, and the soundest judgment in regard to it, without being able to give an abstract and strictly philosophical justification of the nature of the beautiful; just as one may be very noble and virtuous, and may have a tender conscience, which decides with perfect accuracy in particular cases, without on that account being in a position to investigate and explain in the abstract the ethical significance of action.

Allegory has an entirely different relation to poetry from that which it has to plastic and pictorial art, and although it is to be rejected in the latter, it is not only permissible, but very serviceable to the former. For in plastic and pictorial art it leads away from what is perceptibly given, the proper object of all art, to abstract thoughts; but in poetry the relation is reversed; for here what is directly given in words is the concept, and the first aim is to lead from this to the object of perception, the representation of which must be undertaken by the imagination of the hearer. If in plastic and pictorial art we are led from what is immediately given to something else, this must always be a conception, because here only the abstract cannot be given directly; but a conception must never be the source, and its communication must never be the end of a work of art. In poetry, on the contrary, the conception is the material, the immediately given, and therefore we may very well leave it, in order to call up perceptions which are quite different, and in which the end is reached. Many a conception or abstract thought may be quite indispensable to the connection of a poem, which is yet, in itself and directly, quite incapable of being perceived; and then it is often made perceptible by means of some example which is subsumed under it. This takes place in every trope, every metaphor, simile, parable, and allegory, all of which differ only in the length and completeness of their expression. Therefore, in the arts which employ language as their medium, similes and allegories are of striking effect. How beautifully Cervantes says of sleep in order to express the fact that it frees us from all spiritual and bodily suffering, "It is a mantle that covers all mankind". How beautifully Kleist expresses allegorically the thought that philosophers and men of science enlighten mankind, in the line, "Those whose midnight lamp lights the world". How strongly and sensuously Homer describes the harmful Ate when he says: "She has tender feet, for she walks not on the hard earth, but treads on the heads of men" (II. xix. 91.) How forcibly we are struck by Menenius Agrippa's fable of the belly and the limbs, addressed to the people of Rome when they seceded. How beautifully Plato's figure of the Cave, at the beginning of the seventh book of the "Republic" to which we have already referred, expresses a very abstract philosophical dogma. The fable of Persephone is also to be regarded as a deeply significant allegory of philosophical tendency, for she became subject to the nether world by tasting a pomegranate. This becomes peculiarly enlightening from Goethe s treatment of the fable, as an episode in the Triumph der Empfindsamkeit, which is beyond all praise. Three detailed allegorical works are known to me, one, open and avowed, is the incomparable "Criticon" of Balthasar Gracian. It consists of a great rich web of connected and highly ingenious allegories, that serve here as the fair clothing of moral truths, to which he thus imparts the most perceptible form, and astonishes us by the richness of his invention. The two others are concealed allegories, "Don Quixote" and "Gulliver's Travels". The first is an allegory of the life of every man, who will not, like others, be careful, merely for his own welfare, but follows some objective, ideal end, which has taken possession of his thoughts and will; and certainly, in this world, he has then a strange appearance. In the case of Gulliver we have only to take everything physical as spiritual or intellectual, in order to see what the "satirical rogue", as Hamlet would call him, meant by it. Such, then, in the poetical allegory, the conception is always the given, which it tries to make perceptible by means of a picture; it may sometimes be expressed or assisted by a painted picture. Such a picture will not be regarded as a work of art, but only as a significant symbol, and it makes no claim to pictorial, but only to poetical worth. Such is that beautiful allegorical vignette of Lavater's, which must be so heartening to every defender of truth: a hand holding a light is stung by a wasp, while gnats are burning themselves in the flame above; underneath is the motto:

"And although it singes the wings of the gnats,
Destroys their heads and all their little brains,

Light is still light;

And although I am stung by the angriest wasp,

I will not let it go".

To this class also belongs the gravestone with the burnt-out, smoking candle, and the inscription —

"When it is out, it becomes clear
Whether the candle was tallow or wax".

Finally, of this kind is an old German genealogical tree, in which the last representative of a very ancient family thus expresses his determination to live his life to the end in abstinence and perfect chastity, and therefore to let his race die out; he represents himself at the root of the high-branching tree cutting it over himself with shears. In general all those symbols referred to above, commonly called emblems, which might also be defined as short painted fables with obvious morals, belong to this class. Allegories of this kind are always to be regarded as belonging to poetry, not to painting, and as justified thereby; moreover, the pictorial execution is here always a matter of secondary importance, and no more is demanded of it than that it shall represent the thing so that we can recognise it. But in poetry, as in plastic art, the allegory passes into the symbol if there is merely an arbitrary connection between what it presented to perception and the abstract significance of it. For as all symbolism rests, at bottom, on an agreement, the symbol has this among other disadvantages, that in time its meaning is forgotten, and then it is dumb. Who would guess why the fish is a symbol of Christianity if he did not know? Only a Champollion; for it is entirely a phonetic hieroglyphic. Therefore, as a poetical allegory, the Revelation of John stands much in the same position as the reliefs with Magnus Deus sol Mithra, which are still constantly being explained.

§ 51[edit]

If now, with the exposition which has been given of art in general, we turn from plastic and pictorial art to poetry, we shall have no doubt that its aim also is the revelation of the Ideas, the grades of the objectification of will, and the communication of them to the hearer with the distinctness and vividness with which the poetical sense comprehends them. Ideas are essentially perceptible; if, therefore, in poetry only abstract conceptions are directly communicated through words, it is yet clearly the intention to make the hearer perceive the Ideas of life in the representatives of these conceptions, and this can only take place through the assistance of his own imagination. But in order to set the imagination to work for the accomplishment of this end, the abstract conceptions, which are the immediate material of poetry as of dry prose, must be so arranged that their spheres intersect each other in such a way that none of them can remain in its abstract universality; but, instead of it, a perceptible representative appears to the imagination; and this is always further modified by the words of the poet according to what his intention may be. As the chemist obtains solid precipitates by combining perfectly clear and transparent fluids; the poet understands how to precipitate, as it were, the concrete, the individual, the perceptible idea, out of the abstract and transparent universality of the concepts by the manner in which he combines them. For the Idea can only be known by perception; and knowledge of the; Idea is the end of art. The skill of a master, in poetry as in chemistry, enables us always to obtain the precise precipitate we intended. This end is assisted by the numerous epithets in poetry, by means of which the universality of every concept is narrowed more and more till we reach the perceptible. Homer attaches to almost every substantive an adjective, whose concept intersects and considerably diminishes the sphere of the concept of the substantive, which is thus brought so much the nearer to perception: for example —

"Ἐν δ' ἔπεσ' Ὠκεανῷ λαμπρὸν φάος Ἠελίοιο
Ἕλκον νύκτα μέλαιναν ἐπὶ ζείδωρον ἄρουραν."

("Occidit vero in Oceanum splendidum lumen solis,
Trahens noctem nigram super almam terram.")

And —

"Where gentle winds from the blue heavens sigh,
There stand the myrtles still, the laurel high", —

calls up before the imagination by means of a few concepts the whole delight of a southern clime.

Rhythm and rhyme are quite peculiar aids to poetry. I can give no other explanation of their incredibly powerful effect than that our faculties of perception have received from time, to which they are essentially bound, some quality on account of which we inwardly follow, and, as it were, consent to each regularly recurring sound. In this way rhythm and rhyme are partly a means of holding our attention, because we willingly follow the poem read, and partly they produce in us a blind consent to what is read prior to any judgment, and this gives the poem a certain emphatic power of convincing independent of all reasons.

From the general nature of the material, that is, the concepts, which poetry uses to communicate the Ideas, the extent of its province is very great. The whole of nature, the Ideas of all grades, can be represented by means of it, for it proceeds according to the Idea it has to impart, so that its representations are sometimes descriptive, sometimes narrative, and sometimes directly dramatic. If, in the representation of the lower grades of the objectivity of will, plastic and pictorial art generally surpass it, because lifeless nature, and even brute nature, reveals almost its whole being in a single well-chosen moment; man, on the contrary, so far as he does not express himself by the mere form and expression of his person, but through a series of actions and the accompanying thoughts and emotions, is the principal object of poetry, in which no other art can compete with it, for here the progress or movement which cannot be represented in plastic or pictorial art just suits its purpose.

The revelation of the Idea, which is the highest grade of the objectivity of will, the representation of man in the connected series of his efforts and actions, is thus the great problem of poetry. It is true that both experience and history teach us to know man; yet oftener men than man, i.e., they give us empirical notes of the behaviour of men to eaca other, from which we may frame rules for our own conduct, oftener than they afford us deep glimpses of the inner nature of man. The latter function, however, is by no means entirely denied them; but as often as it is the nature of mankind itself that discloses itself to us in history or in our own experience, we have comprehended our experience, and the historian has comprehended history, with artistic eyes, poetically, i.e., according to the Idea, not the phenomenon, in its inner nature, not in its relations. Our own experience is the indispensable condition of understanding poetry as of understanding history; for it is, so to speak, the dictionary of the language that both speak. But history is related to poetry as portrait-painting is related to historical painting; the one gives us the true in the individual, the other the true in the universal; the one has the truth of the phenomenon, and can therefore verify it from the phenomenal, the other has the truth of the Idea, which can be found in no particular phenomenon, but yet speaks to us from them all. The poet from deliberate choice represents significant characters in significant situations; the historian takes both as they come. Indeed, he must regard and select the circumstances and the persons, not with reference to their inward and true significance, which expresses the Idea, but according to the outward, apparent, and relatively important significance with regard to the connection and the consequences. He must consider nothing in and for itself in its essential character and expression, but must look at everything in its relations, in its connection, in its influence upon what follows, and especially upon its own age. Therefore he will not overlook an action of a king, though of little significance, and in itself quite common, because it has results and influence. And, on the other hand, actions of the highest significance of particular and very eminent individuals are not to be recorded by him if they have no consequences. For his treatment follows the principle of sufficient reason, and apprehends the phenomenon, of which this principle is the form. But the poet comprehends the Idea, the inner nature of man apart from all relations, outside all time, the adequate objectivity of the thing-in-itself, at its highest grade. Even in that method of treatment which is necessary for the historian, the inner nature and significance of the phenomena, the kernel of all these shells, can never be entirely lost. He who seeks for it, at any rate, may find it and recognise it. Yet that which is significant in itself, not in its relations, the real unfolding of the Idea, will be found far more accurately and distinctly in poetry than in history, and, therefore, however paradoxical it may sound, far more really genuine inner truth is to be attributed to poetry than to histoiy. For the historian must accurately follow the particular event according to life, as it develops itself in time in the manifold tangled chains of causes and effects. It is, however, impossible that he can have all the data for this; he cannot have seen all and discovered all. He is forsaken at every moment by the original of his picture, or a false one substitutes itself for it, and this so constantly that I think I may assume that in all history the false out weighs the true. The pout, on the contrary, has comprehended the Idea of man from some definite side which is to be represented; thus it is the nature of his own self that objectifies itself in it for him. His knowledge, as we explained above when speaking of sculpture, is half a priori; his ideal stands before his mind firm, distinct, brightly illuminated, and cannot forsake him; therefore he shows us, in the mirror of his mind, the Idea pure and distinct, and his delineation of it down to the minutest particular is true as life itself.[16] The great ancient historians are, therefore, in those particulars in which their data fail them, for example, in the speeches of their heroes — poets; indeed their whole manner of handling their material approaches to the epic. But this gives their representations unity, and enables them to retain inner truth, even when outward truth was not accessible, or indeed was falsified. And as we compared history to portrait-painting, in contradistinction to poetry, which corresponds to his torical painting, we find that Winckelmann's maxim, that the portrait ought to be the ideal of the individual, was followed by the ancient historians, for they represent the individual in such a way as to bring out that side of the Idea of man which is expressed in it. Modern historians, on the contrary, with few exceptions, give us in general only "a dust-bin and a lumber-room, and at the most a chronicle of the principal political events". Therefore, whoever desires to know man in his inner nature, identical in all its phenomena and developments, to know him according to the Idea, will find that the works of the great, immortal poet present a far truer, more distinct picture, than the historians can ever give. For even the best of the historians are, as poets, far from the first; and moreover their hands are tied. In this aspect the relation between the historian and the poet may be illustrated by the following comparison. The mere, pure historian, who works only according to data, is like a man, who without any knowledge of mathematics, has investigated the relations of certain figures, which he has accidentally found, by measuring them; and the problem thus empirically solved is affected of course by all the errors of the drawn figure. The poet, on the other hand, is like the mathematician, who constructs these relations a priori in pure perception, and expresses them not as they actually are in the drawn figure, but as they are in the Idea, which the drawing is intended to render for the senses. Therefore Schiller says: —

"What has never anywhere come to pass,
That alone never grows old".

Indeed I must attribute greater value to biographies, and especially to autobiographies, in relation to the knowledge of the nature of man, than to history proper, at least as it is commonly handled. Partly because in the former the data can be collected more accurately and completely than in the latter; partly, because in history proper, it is not so much men as nations and heroes that act, and the individuals who do appear, seem so far off, surrounded with such pomp and circumstance, clothed in the stiff robes of state, or heavy, inflexible armour, that it is really hard through all this to recognise the human movements. On the other hand, the life of the individual when described with truth, in a narrow sphere, shows the conduct of men in all its forms and subtilties, the excellence, the virtue, and even holiness of a few, the perversity, meanness, and knavery of most, the dissolute profligacy of some. Besides, in the only aspect we are considering here, that of the inner significance of the phenomenal, it is quite the same whether the objects with which the action is concerned, are, relatively considered, trifling or important, farm-houses or kingdoms: for all these things in themselves are without significance, and obtain it only in so far as the will is moved by them. The motive has significance only through its relation to the will, while the relation which it has as a thing to other things like itself, does not concern us here. As a circle of one inch in diameter, and a circle of forty million miles in diameter, have precisely the same geometrical properties, so are the events and the history of a village and a kingdom essentially the same; and we may study and learn to know mankind as well in the one as in the other. It is also a mistake to suppose that autobiographies are full of deceit and dissimulation. On the contrary, lying (though always possible) is perhaps more difficult there than elsewhere. Dissimulation is easiest in mere conversation; indeed, though it may sound paradoxical, it is really more difficult even in a letter. For in the case of a letter the writer is alone, and looks into himself, and not out on the world, so that what is strange and distant does not easily approach him; and he has not the test of the impression made upon another before his eyes. But the receiver of the letter peruses it quietly in a mood unknown to the writer, reads it repeatedly and at different times, and thus easily finds out the concealed intention. We also get to know an author as a man most easily from his books, because all these circumstances act here still more strongly and permanently. And in an autobiography it is so difficult to dissimulate, that perhaps there does not exist a single one that is not, as a whole, more true, than any history that ever was written. The man who writes his own life surveys it as a whole, the particular becomes small, the near becomes distant, the distant becomes near again, the motives that influenced him shrink; he seats himself at the confessional, and has done so of his own free will; the spirit of lying does not so easily take hold of him here, for there is also in every man an inclination to truth which has first to be overcome whenever he lies, and which here has taken up a specially strong position. The relation between biography and the history of nations may be made clear for perception by means of the following comparison: History shows us mankind as a view from a high mountain shows us nature; we see much at a time, wide stretches, great masses, but nothing is distinct nor recognisable in all the details of its own peculiar nature. On the other hand, the representation of the life of the individual shows us the man, as we see nature if we go about among her trees, plants, rocks, and waters. But in landscape-painting, in which the artist lets us look at nature with his eyes, the knowledge of the Ideas, and the condition of pure will-less knowing, which is demanded by these, is made much easier for us; and, in the same way, poetry is far superior both to history and biography, in the representation of the Ideas which may be looked for in all three. For here also genius holds up to us the magic glass, in which all that is essential and significant appears before us collected and placed in the clearest light, and what is accidental and foreign is left out.[17]

The representation of the Idea of man, which is the work of the poet, may be performed, so that what is represented is also the representer. This is the case in lyrical poetry, in songs, properly so called, in which the poet only perceives vividly his own state and describes it. Thus a certain subjectivity is essential to this kind of poetry from the nature of its object. Again, what is to be represented may be entirely different from him who represents it, as is the case in all other kinds of poetry, in which the poet more or less conceals himself behind his representation, and at last disappears altogether. In the ballad the poet still expresses to some extent his own state through the tone and proportion of the whole; therefore, though much more objective than the lyric, it has yet something subjective. This becomes less in the idyll, still less in the romantic poem, almost entirely disappears in the true epic, and even to the last vestige in the drama, which is the most objective and, in more than one respect, the completest and most difficult form of poetry. The lyrical form of poetry is consequently the easiest, and although art, as a whole, belongs only to the true man of genius, who so rarely appears, even a man who is not in general very remarkable may produce a beautiful song if, by actual strong excitement from without, some inspiration raises his mental powers; for all that is required for this is a lively perception of his own state at a moment of emotional excitement. This is proved by the existence of many single songs by individuals who have otherwise remained unknown; especially the German national songs, of which we have an exquisite collection in the "Wunderhorn"; and also by innumerable love-songs arid other songs of the people in all languages; — for to seize the mood of a moment and embody it in a song is the whole achievement of this kind of poetry. Yet in the lyrics of true poets the inner nature of all mankind is reflected, and all that millions of past, present, and future men have found, or will find, in the same situations, which are constantly recurrmir, finds its exact expression in them. And because these situations, by constant recurrence, are permanent as man himself and always call up the same sensations, the lyrical productions of genuine poets remain through thousands of years true, powerful, and fresh. But if the poet is always the universal man, then all that has ever moved a human heart, all that human nature in any situation has ever produced from itself, all that dwells and broods in any human breast — is his theme and his material, and also all the rest of nature. Therefore the poet may just as well sing of voluptuousness as of mysticism, be Anacreon or Angelus Silesius, write tragedies or comedies, represent the sublime or the common mind — according to humour or vocation. And no one has the right to prescribe to the poet what he ought to be — noble and sublime, moral, pious, Christian, one thing or another, still less to reproach him because he is one thing and not another. He is the mirror of mankind, and brings to its consciousness what it feels and does.

If we now consider more closely the nature of the lyric proper, and select as examples exquisite and pure models, not those that approach in any way to some other form of poetry, such as the ballad, the elegy, the hymn, the epigram, etc., we shall find that the peculiar nature of the lyric, in the narrowest sense, is this: It is the subject of will, i.e., his own volition, which the consciousness of the singer feels; often as a released and satisfied desire (joy), but still oftener as a restricted desire (grief), always as an emotion, a passion, a moved frame, of mind. Besides this, however, and along with it, by the sight of surrounding nature, the singer becomes conscious of himself as the subject of pure, will-less knowing, whose unbroken blissful peace now appears, in contrast to the stress of desire which is always restricted and always needy. The feeling of this contrast, this alternation, is really what the lyric as a whole expresses, and what principally constitutes the lyrical state of mind. In it pure knowing comes to us, as it were, to deliver us from desire and its stain; we follow, but only for an instant; desire, the remembrance of our own personal ends, tears us anew from peaceful contemplation; yet ever again the next beautiful surrounding in which the pure will-less knowledge presents itself to us, allures us away from desire. Therefore, in the lyric and the lyrical mood, desire (the personal interest of the ends), and pure perception of the surrounding presented, are wonderfully mingled with each other; connections between them are sought for and imagined; the subjective disposition, the affection of the will, imparts its own hue to the perceived surrounding, and conversely, the surroundings communicate the reflex of their colour to the will. The true lyric is the expression of the whole of this mingled and divided state of mind. In order to make clear by examples this abstract analysis of a frame of mind that is very far from all abstraction, any of the immortal songs of Goethe may be taken. As specially adapted for this end I shall recommend only a few: "The Shepherd's Lament", "Welcome and Farewell", "To the Moon", "On the Lake", "Autumn"; also the songs in the "Wunderhorn" are excellent examples; particularly the one which begins, "Bremen, I must now leave thee". As a comical and happy parody of the lyrical character a song of Voss strikes me as remarkable. It describes the feeling of a drunk plumber falling from a tower, who observes in passing that the clock on the tower is at half-past eleven, a remark which is quite foreign to his condition, and thus belongs to knowledge free from will. Whoever accepts the view that has been expressed of the lyrical frame of mind, will also allow, that it is the sensuous and poetical knowledge of the principle which I established in my essay on the Principle of Sufficient Reason, and have also referred to in this work, that the identity of the subject of knowing with that of willing may be called the miracle κατ' ἐξοχήν, so that the poetical effect of the lyric rests finally on the truth of that principle. In the course of life these two subjects, or, in popular language, head and heart, are ever becoming further apart; men are always separating more between their subjective feeling and their objective knowledge. In the child the two are still entirely blended together; it scarcely knows how to distinguish itself from its surroundings, it is at one with them. In the young man all perception chiefly affects feeling and mood, and even mingles with it, as Byron very beautifully expresses —

"I live not in myself, but I become
Portion of that around me; and to me
High mountains are a feeling".

This is why the youth clings so closely to the perceptible and outward side of things; this is why he is only fit for lyrical poetry, and only the full-grown man is capable of the drama. The old man we can think of as at the most an epic poet, like Ossian, and Homer, for narration is characteristic of old age.

In the more objective kinds of poetry, especially in the romance, the epic, and the drama, the end, the revelation of the Idea of man, is principally attained by two means, by true and profound representation of sign iii cant characters, and by the invention of pregnant situations in which they disclose themselves. For as it is incumbent upon the chemist not only to exhibit the simple elements, pure and genuine, and their principal compounds, but also to expose them to the influence of such reagents as will clearly and strikingly bring out their peculiar qualities, so is it incumbent on the poet not only to present to us significant characters truly and faithfully as nature itself; but, in order that we may get to know them, he must place them in those situations in which their peculiar qualities will fully unfold themselves, and appear distinctly in sharp outline; situations which are therefore called significant. In real life, and in history, situations of this kind are rarely brought about by chance, and they stand alone, lost and concealed in the multitude of those which are insignificant. The complete significance of the situations ought to distinguish the romance, the epic, and the drama from real life as completely as the arrangement and selection of significant characters. In both, however, absolute truth is a necessary condition of their effect, and want of unity in the characters, contradiction either of themselves or of the nature of humanity in general, as well as impossibility, or very great im probability in the events, even in mere accessories, offend just as much in poetry as badly drawn figures, false perspective, or wrong lighting in painting. For both in poetry and painting we demand the faithful mirror of life, of man, of the world, only made more clear by the representation, and more significant by the arrangement. For there is only one end of all the arts, the represen tation of the Ideas; and their essential difference lies simply in the different grades of the objectification of will to which the Ideas that are to be represented belong. This also determines the material of the representation. Thus the arts which are most widely separated may yet throw light on each other. For example, in order to comprehend fully the Ideas of water it is not sufficient to see it in the quiet pond or in the evenly-flowing stream; but these Ideas disclose themselves fully only when the water appears under all circumstances and exposed to all kinds of obstacles. The effects of the varied circumstances and obstacles give it the opportunity of fully exhibiting all its qualities. This is why we find it beautiful when it tumbles, rushes, and foams, or leaps into the air, or falls in a cataract of spray; or, lastly, if artificially confined it springs up in a fountain. Thus showing itself different under different circumstances, it yet always faithfully asserts its character; it is just as natural to it to spout up as to lie in glassy stillness; it is as ready for the one as lor the other as soon as the circumstances appear. Now, what the engineer achieves with the fluid matter of water, the architect achieves with the rigid matter of stone, and just this the epic or dramatic poet achieves with the Idea of man. Unfolding and rendering distinct the Idea expressing itself in the object of every art, the Idea of the will which objectifies itself at each grade, is the common end of all the arts. The life of man, as it shows itself for the most part in the real world, is like the water, as it is generally seen in the pond and the river; but in the epic, the romance, the tragedy, selected characters are placed in those circumstances in which all their special qualities unfold themselves, the depths of the human heart are revealed, and become visible in extraordinary and very significant actions. Thus poetry objectifies the Idea of man, an Idea which has the peculiarity of expressing itself in highly individual characters.

Tragedy is to be regarded, and is recognised as the summit of poetical art, both on account of the greatness of its effect and the difficulty of its achievement. It is very significant for our whole system, and well worthy of observation, that the end of this highest poetical achievement is the representation of the terrible side of life. The unspeakable pain, the wail of humanity, the triumph of evil, the scornful mastery of chance, and the irretrievable fall of the just and innocent, is here presented to us; and in this lies a significant hint of the nature of the world and of existence. It is the strife of will with itself, which here, completely unfolded at the highest grade of its objectivity, comes into fearful prominence. It becomes visible in the suffering of men, which is now introduced, partly through chance and error, which appear as the rulers of the world, personified as fate, on account of their insidiousness, which even reaches the appearance of design; partly it proceeds from man himself, through the self-mortifying efforts of a few, through the wickedness and perversity of most. It is one and the same will that lives and appears in them all, but whose phenomena fight against each other and destroy each other. In one individual it appears powerfully, in another more weakly; in one more subject to reason, and softened by the light of knowledge, in another less so, till at last, in some single case, this knowledge, purified and heightened by suffering itself, reaches the point at which the phenomenon, the veil of Maya, no longer deceives it. It sees through the form of the phenomenon, the principum individuationis. The egoism which rests on this perishes with it, so that now the motives that were so powerful before have lost their might, and instead of them the complete knowledge of the nature of the world, which has a quieting effect on the will, produces resignation, the surrender not merely of life, but of the very will to live. Thus we see in tragedies the noblest men, after long conflict and suffering, at last renounce the ends they have so keenly followed, and all the pleasures of life for ever, or else freely and joyfully surrender life itself. So is it with the steadfast prince of Calderon; with Gretchen in "Faust"; with Hamlet, whom his friend Horatio would willingly follow, but is bade remain a while, and in this harsh world draw his breath in pain, to tell the story of Hamlet, and clear his memory; so also is it with the Maid of Orleans, the Bride of Messina; they all die purified by suffering, i.e., after the will to live which was formerly in them is dead. In the "Mohammed" of Voltaire this is actually expressed in the concluding words which the dying Palmira addresses to Mohammed: "The world is for tyrants: live!" On the other hand, the demand for so-called poetical justice rests on entire misconception of the nature of tragedy, and, indeed, of the nature of the world itself. It boldly appears in all its dulness in the criticisms which Dr. Samuel Johnson made on particular plays of Shakespeare, for ho very naively laments its entire absence. And its absence is certainly obvious, for in what has Ophelia, Desdemona, or Cordelia offended? But only the dull, optimistic, Protestant-rationalistic, or peculiarly Jewish view of life will make the demand for poetical justice, and find satisfaction in it. The true sense of tragedy is the deeper insight, that it is not his own individual sins that the hero atones for, but original sin, i.e., the crime of existence itself:

"Pues el delito mayor
Del hombre es haber nacido";

("For the greatest crime of man
Is that he was born";)

as Calderon exactly expresses it.

I shall allow myself only one remark, more closely concerning the treatment of tragedy. The representation of a great misfortune is alone essential to tragedy. But the many different ways in which this is introduced by the poet may be brought under three specific conceptions. It may happen by means of a character of extraordinary wickedness, touching the utmost limits of possibility, who becomes the author of the misfortune; examples of this kind are Richard III., Iago in "Othello", Shylock in "The Merchant of Venice", Franz Moor, Phaedra of Euripides, Creon in the "Antigone", etc., etc. Secondly, it may happen through blind fate, i.e., chance and error; a true pattern of this kind is the Oedipus Rex of Sophocles, the "Trachiniae" also; and in general most of the tragedies of the ancients belong to this class. Among modern tragedies, "Romeo and Juliet", " Tancred" by Voltaire, and "The Bride of Messina", are examples. Lastly, the misfortune may be brought about by the mere position of the dramatis personae with regard to each other, through their relations; so that there is no need either for a tremendous error or an unheard-of accident, nor yet for a character whose wickedness reaches the limits of human possibility; but characters of ordinary morality, under circumstances such as often occur, are so situated with regard to each other that their position compels them, knowingly and with their eyes open, to do each other the greatest injury, without any one of them being entirely in the wrong. This last kind of tragedy seems to me far to surpass the other two, for it shows us the greatest misfortune, not as an exception, not as something occasioned by rare circumstances or monstrous characters, but as arising easily and of itself out of the actions and characters of men, indeed almost as essential to them, and thus brings it terribly near to us. In the other two kinds we may look on the prodigious fate and the horrible wickedness as terrible powers which certainly threaten us, but only from afar, which we may very well escape without taking refuge in renunciation. But in the last kind of tragedy we see that those powers which destroy happiness and life are such that their path to us also is open at every moment; we see the greatest sufferings brought about by entanglements that our fate might also partake of, and through actions that perhaps we also are capable of performing, and so could not complain of injustice; then shuddering we feel ourselves already in the midst of hell. This last kind of tragedy is also the most difficult of achievement; for the greatest effect has to be produced in it with the least use of means and causes of movement, merely through the position and distribution of the characters; therefore even in many of the best tragedies this difficulty is evaded. Ye t one tragedy may he referred to as a perfect model of this kind, a tragedy which in other respects is far surpassed by more than one work of the same great master; it is "Clavigo". "Hamlet" belongs to a certain extent to this class, as far as the relation of Hamlet to Laertes and Ophelia is concerned. "Wallenstein" has also this excellence. "Faust" belongs entirely to this class, if we regard the events connected with Gretchen and her brother as the principal action; also the "Cid" of Corneille, only that it lacks the tragic conclusion, while on the contrary the analogous relation of Max to Thecla has it.[18]

§ 52[edit]

Now that we have considered all the fine arts in the general way that is suitable to our point of view, beginning with architecture, the peculiar end of which is to elucidate the objectification of will at the lowest grades of its visibility, in which it shows itself as the dumb unconscious tendency of the mass in accordance with laws, and yet already reveals a breach of the unity of will with itself in a conflict between gravity and rigidity — and ending with the consideration of tragedy, which presents to us at the highest grades of the objectification of will this very conflict with itself in terrible magnitude and distinctness; we find that there is still another fine art which has been excluded from our consideration, and had to be excluded, for in the systematic connection of our exposition there was no fitting place for it — I mean music. It stands alone, quite cut off from all the other arts. In it we do not recognise the copy or repetition of any Idea of existence in the world. Yet it is such a great and exceedingly noble art, its effect on the inmost nature of man is so powerful, and it is so entirely and deeply understood by him in his inmost consciousness as a perfectly universal language, the distinctness of which surpasses even that of the perceptible world itself, that we certainly have more to look lor in it than an exercitum arithmeticae occultum nescientis se numerare animi,[19] which Leibnitz called it. Yet he was perfectly right, as he considered only its immediate external significance, its form. But if it were nothing more, the satisfaction which it affords would be like that which we feel when a sum in arithmetic comes out right, and could not be that intense pleasure with which we see the deepest recesses of our nature find utterance. From our stand point, therefore, at which the aesthetic effect is the criterion, we must attribute to music a far more serious and deep significance, connected with the inmost nature of the world and our own self, and in reference to which the arithmetical proportions, to which it may be reduced, are related, not as the thing signified, but merely as the sign. That in some sense music must be related to the world as the representation to the thing represented, as the copy to the original, we may conclude from the analogy of the other arts, all of which possess this character, and affect us on the whole in the same way as it does, only that the effect of music is stronger, quicker, more necessary and infallible. Further, its representative relation to the world must be very deep, absolutely true, and strikingly accurate, because it is instantly understood by every one, and has the appearance of a certain infallibility, because its form may be reduced to perfectly definite rules expressed in numbers, from which it cannot free itself without entirely ceasing to be music. Yet the point of comparison between music and the world, the respect in which it stands to the world in the relation of a copy or repetition, is very obscure. Men have practised music in all ages without being able to account for this; content to understand it directly, they renounce all claim to an abstract conception of this direct understanding itself.

I gave my mind entirely up to the impression of music in all its forms, and then returned to reflection and the system of thought expressed in the present work, and thus I arrived at an explanation of the inner nature of music and of the nature of its imitative relation to the world — which from analogy had necessarily to be presupposed — an explanation which is quite sufficient for myself, and satisfactory to my investigation, and which will doubtless be equally evident to any one who has followed me thus far and has agreed with my view of the world. Yet I recognise the fact that it is essentially impossible to prove this explanation, lor it assumes and establishes a relation of music, as idea, to that which from its nature can never be idea, and music will have to be regarded as the copy of an original which can never itself be directly presented as idea. I can therefore do no more than state here, at the conclusion of this third book, which has been principally devoted to the consideration of the arts, the explanation of the marvellous art of music which satisfies myself, and I must leave the acceptance or denial of my view to the effect produced upon each of my readers both by music itself and by the whole system of thought communicated in this work. Moreover, I regard it as necessary, in order to be able to assent with full conviction to the exposition of the significance of music I am about to give, that one should often listen to music with constant reflection upon my theory concerning it, and for this again it is necessary to be very familiar with the whole of my system of thought.

The (Platonic) Ideas are the adequate objectification of will. To excite or suggest the knowledge of these by means of the representation of particular things (for works of art themselves are always representations of particular things) is the end of all the other arts, which can only be attained by a corresponding change in the knowing subject. Thus all these arts objectify the will indirectly only by means of the Ideas; and since our world is nothing but the manifestation of the Ideas in multiplicity, though their entrance into the principium individuationis (the form of the knowledge possible for the individual as such), music also, since it passes over the Ideas, is entirely independent of the phenomenal world, ignores it altogether, could to a certain extent exist if there was no world at all, which cannot be said of the other arts. Music is as direct an objectification and copy of the whole will as the world itself, nay, even as the Ideas, whose multiplied manifestation constitutes the world of individual things. Music is thus by no means like the other arts, the copy of the Ideas, but the copy of the will itself, whose objectivity the Ideas are. This is why the effect of music is so much more powerful and penetrating than that of the other arts, for they speak only of shadows, but it speaks of the thing itself. Since, however, it is the same will which objectifies itself both in the Ideas and in music, though in quite different ways, there must be, not indeed a direct likeness, but yet a parallel, an analogy, between music and the Ideas whose manifestation in multiplicity and incompleteness is the visible world. The establishing of this analogy will facilitate, as an illustration, the understanding of this exposition, which is so difficult on account of the obscurity of the subject.

I recognise in the deepest tones of harmony, in the bass, the lowest grades of the objectification of will, unorganised nature, the mass of the planet. It is well known that all the high notes which are easily sounded, and die away more quickly, are produced by the vibration in their vicinity of the deep bass-notes. When, also, the low notes sound, the high notes always sound faintly, anil it is a law of harmony that only those high notes may accompany a bass-note which actually already sound along with it of themselves (its sons harmoniques) on account of its vibration. This is analogous to the fact that the whole of the bodies and organisations of nature must be regarded as having come into existence through gradual development out of the mass of the planet; this is both their supporter and their source, and the same relation subsists between the high notes and the bass. There is a limit of depth, below which no sound is audible. This corresponds to the fact that no matter can be perceived without form and quality, i.e., without the manifestation of a force which cannot be further explained, in which an Idea expresses itself, and, more generally, that no matter can be entirely without will. Thus, as a certain pitch is inseparable from the note as such, so a certain grade of the manifestation of will is inseparable from matter. Bass is thus, for us, in harmony what unorganised nature, the crudest mass, upon which all rests, and from which everything originates and develops, is in the world. Now, further, in the whole of the complemental parts which make up the harmony between the bass and the leading voice singing the melody, I recognise the whole gradation of the Ideas in which the will objectifies itself. Those nearer to the bass are the lower of these grades, the still unorganised, but yet manifold phenomenal things; the higher represent to me the world of plants and beasts. The definite intervals of the scale are parallel to the definite grades of the objectification of will, the definite species in nature. The departure from the arithmetical correctness of the intervals, through some temperament, or produced by the key selected, is analogous to the departure of the individual from the type of the species. Indeed, even the impure discords, which give no definite interval, may be compared to the monstrous abortions produced by beasts of two species, or by man and beast. But to all these bass and complemental parts which make up the harmony there is wanting that connected progress which belongs only to the high voice singing the melody, and it alone moves quickly and lightly in modulations and runs, while all these others have only a slower movement without a connection in each part for itself. The deep bass moves most slowly, the representative of the crudest mass. Its rising and falling occurs only by large intervals, in thirds, fourths, fifths, never by one tone, unless it is a base inverted by double counterpoint. This slow movement is also physically essential to it; a quick run or shake in the low notes cannot even be imagined. The higher complemental parts, which are parallel to animal life, move more quickly, but yet without melodious connection and significant progress. The disconnected course of all the complemental parts, and their regulation by definite laws, is analogous to the fact that in the whole irrational world, from the crystal to the most perfect animal, no being has a connected consciousness of its own which would make its life into a significant whole, and none experiences a succession of mental developments, none perfects itself by culture, but everything exists always in the same way according to its kind, determined by fixed law. Lastly, in the melody, in the high, singing, principal voice leading the whole and progressing with unrestrained freedom, in the unbroken significant connection of one thought from beginning to end representing a whole, I recognise the highest grade of the objectification of will, the intellectual life and effort of man. As he alone, because endowed with reason, constantly looks before and after on the path of his actual life and its innumerable possibilities, and so achieves a course of life which is intellectual, and therefore connected as a whole; corresponding to this, I say, the melody has significant intentional connection from beginning to end. It records, therefore, the history of the intellectually enlightened will. This will expresses itself in the actual world as the series of its deeds; but melody says more, it records the most secret history of this intellectually-enlightened will, pictures every excitement, every effort, every movement of it, all that which the reason collects under the wide and negative concept of feeling, and which it cannot apprehend further through its abstract concepts. Therefore it has always been said that music is the language of feeling and of passion, as words are the language of reason. Plato explains it as ἥ τῶν μέλων κίνησις μεμιμημένη, εν τοῖς παθήμασιν ὅταν ψυχή γίνηται (melodiarum motus, animi affectus imitans), De Leg. vii.; and also Aristotle says: διὰ τί οἱ ῥυθμοί καὶ τά μέλη, φωνή οὖσα, ἤθεσιν ἔοικε (cur numeri musici et modi, qui voces sunt, moribus similes sese exhibent?): Probl. c. 19.

Now the nature of man consists in this, that his will strives, is satisfied and strives anew, and so on for ever. Indeed, his happiness and well-being consist simply in the quick transition from wish to satisfaction, and from satisfaction to a new wish. For the absence of satisfaction is suffering, the empty longing for a new wish, languor, ennui. And corresponding to this the nature of melody is a constant digression and deviation from the key-note in a thousand ways, not only to the harmonious intervals to the third and dominant, but to every tone, to the dissonant sevenths and to the superfluous degrees; yet there always follows a constant return to the key-note. In all these deviations melody expresses the multifarious efforts of will, but always its satisfaction also by the final return to an harmonious interval, and still more, to the key-note. The composition of melody, the disclosure in it of all the deepest secrets of human willing and feeling, is the work of genius, whose action, which is more apparent here than anywhere else, lies far from all reflection and conscious intention, and may be called an inspiration. The conception is here, as everywhere in art, unfruitful. The composer reveals the inner nature of the world, and expresses the deepest wisdom in a language which his reason does not understand; as a person under the influence of mesmerism tells things of which he has no conception when he awakes. Therefore in the composer, more than in any other artist, the man is entirely separated and distinct from the artist. Even in the explanation of this wonderful art, the concept shows its poverty and limitation. I shall try, however, to complete our analogy. As quick transition from wish to satisfaction, and from satisfaction to a new wish, is happiness and well-being, so quick melodies without great deviations are cheerful; slow melodies, striking painful discords, and only winding back through many bars to the keynote are, as analogous to the delayed and hardly won satisfaction, sad. The delay of the new excitement of will, languor, could have no other expression than the sustained keynote, the effect of which would soon be unbearable; very monotonous and unmeaning melodies approach this effect. The short intelligible subjects of quick dance-music seem to speak only of easily attained common pleasure. On the other hand, the Allegro maestoso, in elaborate movements, long passages, and wide deviations, signifies a greater, nobler effort towards a more distant end, and its final attainment. The Adagio speaks of the pain of a great and noble effort which despises all trifling happiness. But how wonderful is the effect of the minor and major! How astounding that the change of half a tone, the entrance of a minor third instead of a major, at once and inevitably forces upon us an anxious painful feeling, from which again we are just as instantaneously delivered by the major. The Adagio lengthens in the minor the expression of the keenest pain, and becomes even a convulsive wail. Dance-music in the minor seems to indicate the failure of that trifling happiness which we ought rather to despise, seems to speak of the attainment of a lower end with toil and trouble. The inexhaustibleness of possible melodies corresponds to the inexhaustibleness of Nature in difference of individuals, physiognomies, and courses of life. The transition from one key to an entirely different one, since it altogether breaks the connection with what went before, is like death, for the individual ends in it; but the will which appeared in this individual lives after him as before him, appearing in other individuals, whose consciousness, however, has no connection with his.

But it must never be forgotten, in the investigation of all these analogies I have pointed out, that music has no direct, but merely an indirect relation to them, for it never expresses the phenomenon, but only the inner nature, the in-itself of all phenomena, the will itself. It does not therefore express this or that particular and definite joy, this or that sorrow, or pain, or horror, or delight, or merriment, or peace of mind; but joy, sorrow, pain, horror, delight, merriment, peace of mind themselves, to a certain extent in the abstract, their essential nature, without accessories, and therefore with out their motives. Yet we completely understand them in this extracted quintessence. Hence it arises that our imagination is so easily excited by music, and now seeks to give form to that invisible yet actively moved spirit-world which speaks to us directly, and clothe it with flesh and blood, i.e., to embody it in an analogous example. This is the origin of the song with words, and finally of the opera, the text of which should therefore never forsake that subordinate position in order to make itself the chief thing and the music a mere means of expressing it, which is a great misconception and a piece of utter perversity; for music always expresses only the quintessence of life and its events, never these themselves, and therefore their differences do not always affect it. It is precisely this universality, which belongs exclusively to it, together with the greatest determinateness, that gives music the high worth which it has as the panacea for all our woes. Thus, if music is too closely united to the words, and tries to form itself according to the events, it is striving to speak a language which is not its own. No one has kept so free from this mistake as Rossini; therefore his music speaks its own language so distinctly and purely that it requires no words, and produces its full effect when rendered by instruments alone.

According to all this, we may regard tho phenomenal world, or nature, and music as two different expressions of the same thing, which is therefore itself the only medium of their analogy, so that a knowledge of it is demanded in order to understand that analogy. Music, therefore, if regarded as an expression of the world, is in the highest degree a universal language, which is related indeed to the universality of concepts, much as they are related to the particular things. Its universality, however, is by no means that empty universality of abstraction, but quite of a different kind, and is united with thorough and distinct definiteness. In this respect it resembles geometrical figures and numbers, which are the universal forms of all possible objects of experience and applicable to them all a priori, and yet are not abstract but perceptible and thoroughly determined. All possible efforts, excitements, and manifestations of will, all that goes on in the heart of man and that reason includes in the wide, negative concept of feeling, may be expressed by the infinite number of possible melodies, but always in the universal, in the mere form, without the material, always according to the thing-in-itself, not the phenomenon, the inmost soul, as it were, of the phenomenon, without the body. This deep relation which music has to the true nature of all things also explains the fact that suitable music played to any scene, action, event, or surrounding seems to disclose to us its most secret meaning, and appears as the most accurate and distinct commentary upon it. This is so truly the case, that whoever gives himself up entirely to the impression of a symphony, seems to see all the possible events of life and the world take place in himself, yet if he reflects, he can find no likeness between the music and the things that passed before his mind. For, as we have said, music is distinguished from all the other arts by the fact that it is not a copy of the phenomenon, or, more accurately, the adequate objectivity of will, but is the direct copy of the will itself, and therefore exhibits itself as the meta physical to everything physical in the world, and as the thing-in-itself to every phenomenon. We might, therefore, just as well call the world embodied music as embodied will; and this is the reason why music makes every picture, and indeed every scene of real life and of the world, at once appear with higher significance, certainly all the more in proportion as its melody is analogous to the inner spirit of the given phenomenon. It rests upon this that we are able to set a poem to music as a song, or a perceptible representation as a pantomime, or both as an opera. Such particular pictures of human life, set to the universal language of music, are never bound to it or correspond to it with stringent necessity; but they stand to it only in the relation of an example chosen at will to a general concept. In the determinateness of the real, they represent that which music expresses in the universality of mere form. For melodies are to a certain extent, like general concepts, an abstraction from the actual. This actual world, then, the world of particular things, affords the object of perception, the special and individual, the particular case, both to the universality of the concepts and to the universality of the melodies. But these two universalities are in a certain respect opposed to each other; for the concepts contain particulars only as the first forms abstracted from perception, as it were, the separated shell of things; thus they are, strictly speaking, abstracta; music, on the other hand, gives the inmost kernel which precedes all forms, or the heart of things. This relation may be very well expressed in the language of the schoolmen by saying the concepts are the universalia post rem, but music gives the universalia ante rem, and the real world the universalia in re. To the universal significance of a melody to which a poem has been set, it is quite possible to set other equally arbitrarily selected examples of the universal expressed in this poem corresponding to the significance of the melody in the game degree. This is why the same composition is suitable to many verses; and this is also what makes the vaudeville possible. But that in general a relation is possible between a composition and a perceptible representation rests, as we have said, upon the fact that both are simply different expressions of the same inner being of the world. When now, in the particular case, such a relation is actually given, that is to say, when the composer has been able to express in the universal language of music the emotions of will which constitute the heart of an event, then the melody of the song, the music of the opera, is expressive. But the analogy discovered by the composer between the two must have proceeded from the direct knowledge of the nature of the world unknown to his reason, and must not be an imitation produced with conscious intention by means of conceptions, otherwise the music does not express the inner nature of the will itself, but merely gives an inadequate imitation of its phenomenon. All specially imitative music does this; for example, "The Seasons", by Haydn; also many passages of his "Creation", in which phenomena of the external world are directly imitated; also all battle-pieces. Such music is entirely to be rejected.

The unutterable depth of all music by virtue of which it floats through our consciousness as the vision of a paradise firmly believed in yet ever distant from us, and by which also it is so fully understood and yet so inexplicable, rests on the fact that it restores to us all the emotions of our inmost nature, but entirely without reality and far removed from their pain. So also the seriousness which is essential to it, which excludes the absurd from its direct and peculiar province, is to be explained by the fact that its object is not the idea, with reference to which alone deception and absurdity are possible; but its object is directly the will, and this is essentially the most serious of all things, for it is that on which all depends. How rich in content and full of significance the language of music is, we see from the repetitions, as well as the Da capo, the like of which would be unbearable in works composed in a language of words, but in music are very appropriate and beneficial, for, in order to comprehend it fully, we must hear it twice.

In the whole of this exposition of music I have been trying to bring out clearly that it expresses in a perfectly universal language, in a homogeneous material, mere tones, and with the greatest determinateness and truth, the inner nature, the in-itself of the world, which we think under the concept of will, because will is its most distinct manifestation. Further, according to my view and contention, philosophy is nothing but a complete and accurate repetition or expression of the nature of the world in very general concepts, for only in such is it possible to get a view of that whole nature which will everywhere be adequate and applicable. Thus, whoever has followed me and entered into my mode of thought, will not think it so very paradoxical if I say, that supposing it were possible to give a perfectly accurate, complete explanation of music, extending even to particulars, that is to say, a detailed repetition in concepts of what it expresses, this would also be a sufficient repetition and explanation of the world in concepts, or at least entirely parallel to such an explanation, and thus it would be the true philosophy. Consequently the saying of Leibnitz quoted above, which is quite accurate from a lower standpoint, may be parodied in the following way to suit our higher view of music: Musica est exercitium metaphysices occultum nescientis se philosophari animi; for scire, to know, always means to have fixed in abstract concepts. But further, on account of the truth of the saying of Leibnitz, which is confirmed in various ways, music, regarded apart from its aesthetic or inner significance, and looked at merely externally and purely empirically, is simply the means of comprehending directly and in the concrete large numbers and complex relations of numbers, which otherwise we could only know indirectly by fixing them in concepts. Therefore by the union of these two very different but correct views of music we may arrive at a conception of the possibility of a philosophy of number, such as that of Pythagoras and of the Chinese in Y-King, and then interpret in this sense the saying of the Pythagoreans which Sextus Empiricus quotes (adv. Math., L. vii.): τῷ ἀριθμῷ δέ τά πάντ' ἐπέοικεν (numero cuncta assimilantur). And if, finally, we apply this view to the interpretation of harmony and melody given above, we shall find that a mere moral philosophy without an explanation of Nature, such as Socrates wanted to introduce, is precisely analogous to a mere melody without harmony, which Rousseau exclusively desired; and, in opposition to this mere physics and metaphysics without ethics, will correspond to mere harmony without melody. Allow me to add to these cursory observations a few more remarks concerning the analogy of music with the phenomenal world. We found in the second book that the highest grade of the objectification of will, man, could not appear alone and isolated, but presupposed the grades below him, as these again presupposed the grades lower still. In the same way music, which directly objectifies the will, just as the world does, is complete only in full harmony. In order to achieve its full effect, the high leading voice of the melody requires the accompaniment of all the other voices, even to the lowest bass, which is to be regarded as the origin of all. The melody itself enters as an integral part into the harmony, as the harmony enters into it, and only thus, in the full harmonious whole, music expresses what it aims at expressing. Thus also the one will outside of time finds its full objectification only in the complete union of all the steps which reveal its nature in the innumerable ascending grades of distinctness. The following analogy is also very remarkable. We have seen in the preceding book that notwithstanding the self-adaptation of all the phenomena of will to each other as regards their species, which constitutes their teleological aspect, there yet remains an unceasing conflict between those phenomena as individuals, which is visible at every grade, and makes the world a constant battle-field of all those manifestations of one and the same will, whose inner contradiction with itself becomes visible through it. In music also there is something corresponding to this. A complete, pure, harmonious system of tones is not only physically but arithmetically impossible. The numbers themselves by which the tones are expressed have inextricable irrationality. There is no scale in which, when it is counted, every fifth will be related to the keynote as 2 to 3, every major third as 4 to 5, every minor third as 5 to 6, and so on. For if they are correctly related to the key note, they can no longer be so to each other; because, for example, the fifth must be the minor third to the third, etc. For the notes of the scale may be compared to actors who must play now one part, now another. Therefore a perfectly accurate system of music cannot even be thought, far less worked out; and on this account all possible music deviates from perfect purity; it can only conceal the discords essential to it by dividing them among all the notes, i.e., by temperament. On this see Chladni's "Akustik", § 30, and his "Kurze Übersicht der Schall- und Klanglehre."[20]

I might still have something to say about the way in which music is perceived, namely, in and through time alone, with absolute exclusion of space, and also apart from the influence of the knowledge of causality, thus without understanding; for the tones make the aesthetic impression as effect, and without obliging us to go back to their causes, as in the case of perception. I do not wish, however, to lengthen this discussion, as I have perhaps already gone too much into detail with regard to some things in this Third Book, or have dwelt too much on particulars. But my aim made it necessary, and it will be the less disapproved if the importance and high worth of art, which is seldom sufficiently recognised, be kept in mind. For if, according to our view, the whole visible world is just the objectification, the mirror, of the will, conducting it to knowledge of itself, and, indeed, as we shall soon see, to the possibility of its deliverance; and if, at the same time, the world as idea, if we regard it in isolation, and, freeing ourselves from all volition allow it alone to take possession of our consciousness, is the most joy-giving and the only innocent side of life; we must regard art as the higher ascent, the more complete development of all this, for it achieves essentially just what is achieved by the visible world itself, only with greater concentration, more perfectly, with intention and intelligence, and therefore may be called, in the full significance of the word, the flower of life. If the whole world as idea is only the visibility of will, the work of art is to render this visibility more distinct. It is the camera obscura which shows the objects more purely, and enables us to survey them and comprehend them better. It is the play within the play, the stage upon the stage in "Hamlet".

The pleasure we receive from all beauty, the consolation which art affords, the enthusiasm of the artist, which enables him to forget the cares of life, — the latter an advantage of the man of genius over other men, which alone repays him for the suffering that increases in proportion to the clearness of consciousness, and for the desert loneliness among men of a different race, — all this rests on the fact that the in-itself of life, the will, existence itself, is, as we shall see farther on, a constant sorrow, partly miserable, partly terrible; while, on the contrary, as idea alone, purely contemplated, or copied by art, free from pain, it presents to us a drama full of significance. This purely knowable side of the world, and the copy of it in any art, is the element of the artist. He is chained to the contemplation of the play, the objectification of will; he remains beside it, does not get tired of contemplating it and representing it in copies; and meanwhile he bears himself the cost of the production of that play, i.e., he himself is the will which objectifies itself, and remains in constant suffering. That pure, true, and deep knowledge of the inner nature of the world becomes now for him an end in itself: he stops there. Therefore it does not become to him a quieter of the will, as, we shall see in the next book, it does in the case of the saint who has attained to resignation; it does not deliver him for ever from life, but only at moments, and is therefore not for him a path out of life, but only an occasional consolation in it, till his power, increased by this contemplation and at last tired of the play, lays hold on the real. The St. Cecilia of Raphael may be regarded as a representation of this transition. To the real, then, we now turn in the following book.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. F. H. Jacobi.
  2. See for example, "Imnmnuel Kant, a Reminiscence, by Fr. Bouterweck", p. 49, and Buhle's "History of Philosophy", vol. vi. pp. 802-815 and 823.
  3. Cf. Chap. xxix. of Supplement.
  4. I also recommend the perusal of what Spinoza says in his Ethics (Book II., Prop. 40, Schol. 2, and Book V., Props. 25-38), concerning the cognitio tertii generis, sive intuitiva, in illustration of the kind of knowledge we are considering, and very specially Prop. 29, Schol.; prop. 36, Schol., and Prop. 38, Demonst. et Schol.
  5. Cf. Chap. xxx. of the Supplement.
  6. This last sentence cannot be understood without some acquaintance with the next book.
  7. Cf. Chap. xxxi. of the Supplement.
  8. I am all the more delighted and astonished, forty years after I so timidly and hesitatingly advanced this thought, to discover that it has already been expressed by St. Augustine: Arbusta formas suas varias, quibus mundi hujus visibilis structura formosa est, sentiendas sensibus praebent; ut, pro eo quod NOSSE non possunt, quasi INNOTESCERE velle videantur. — De civ. Dei, xi, 27.
  9. Cf. Chap. 35 of Supplement.
  10. Jakob Böhm in his book, "de Signatura Rerum", ch. i., § 13-15, says, "There is nothing in nature that does not manifest its internal form externally; for the internal continually labours to manifest itself. . . . Everything has its language by which to reveal itself. . . And this is the language of nature when everything speaks out of its own property, and continually manifests and declares itself, ... for each thing reveals its mother, which thus gives the essence and the will to the form.
  11. The last sentence is the German of the il n'y a que I'esprit qui sente l'esprit, of Helvetius. In the first edition there was no occasion to point this out, but since then the age has become so degraded and ignorant through the stupefying influence of the Hegelian sophistry, that some might quite likely say that an antithesis was intended here between "spirit and nature". I am therefore obliged to guard myself in express terms against the suspicion of such vulgar sophisms.
  12. This digression is worked out more fully in the 36th Chapter of the Supplement.
  13. In order to understand this passage it is necessary to have read the whole of the next book.
  14. Apparent rari, nantes in gurgite vasto.
  15. Cf. Ch. xxxiv. of Supplement.
  16. It is scarcely necessary to say that wherever I speak of poets I refer exclusively to that rare phenomenon the great true poet. I mean no one else; least of all that dull insipid tribe, the mediocre poets, rhymsters, and inventors of fables, that flourishes so luxuriantly at the present day in Germany. They ought rather to have the words shouted in their ears unceasingly from all sides —

    Mediocribus esse poëtis

    Non homines, non Dî, non concessere

    columnae.

    It is worthy of serious consideration what an amount of time — both their own and other people's — and paper is lost by this swarm of mediocre poets, and how injurious is their influence. For the public always seizes on what is new, and has naturally a greater proneness to what is perverse and dull as akin to itself. Therefore these works of the mediocre poets draw it away and hold it back from the true masterpieces and the education they afford, and thus working in direct antagonism to the benign influence of genius, they ruin taste more and more, and retard the progress of the age. Such poets should therefore be scourged with criticism and satire without indulgence or sympathy till they are induced, for their own good, to apply their muse rather to reading is good tnan to writing what is bad. For if the bungling of the incompetent so raised the wrath of the gentle Apollo that he could flay Marsyas, I do not see on what the mediocre poets will base their claim to tolerance.

  17. Cf. Ch. xxxviii. of Supplement.
  18. Cf. Ch. xxxvii. of the Supplement.
  19. Leibnitii epistolae, collectio Kortholti, ep. 154.
  20. Cf. Ch. xxxix. of Supplement.