The essence of the aesthetic - PDF book by Benedetto Croce

The essence of the aesthetic

The essence of the aesthetic

From introduction:

When I first visited Naples, in 1909, I was quite unprepared for making the discovery of a new philosopher, and nothing was further from my mind than to become his prophet to the English-speaking world. Yet so it has happened.

 If I may be permitted the use of metaphor and to take the eternal activities of the spirit of man as equi\Tilent to the eternal ideas of Plato, yet far more real than they, because immanent and not transcendental, and if I may push yet further the metaphor and figure these activities of the spirit as planets, then one might say that Croce is the Adams- Leverrier of philosophy, and his Theory of ./Esthetic the discovery of the planet Neptune. 

For just as those astronomer-mathematicians proved the independent existence of that planet, hitherto unknown, by obser\-ing the perturbations it set up throughout the planetary system, so Croce has proved the independent existence of Esthetic, the last of the great planetary activities of the spirit of man to come into line with thought. Just as the action of Neptune was falsely attributed to other causes, so the action of ./Esthetic has been falsely confused with Ethic, Economic and Logic. Croce has disentangled and proved its independence. 

And just as we can now say that there is no other planet to be discovered in the heavens, so we can say that there is no other activity of the spirit to be discovered. Returning to 1909 and my visit to Naples, I was not long in finding a copy of the " Estetica," and a single reading made clear to me its supreme importance. Although first was published in 1901, no notice whatever had been taken of it in the English -speaking world. How long this might have continued, it is idle to surmise, but the fact that by far the greatest history of Italian literature (De Sanctis'), which dates from about the middle of last century, yet awaits translation and is little known in Great Britain, leads one to suppose that a like fate might have been in store for Croce's discovery. 

That is now forever averted, as I have had the pleasure and privilege of presenting the English-speaking world with my translation of the " Complete System of the Philosophy of the Spirit," in four volumes, besides other works by the master, such as the application of the theories of the -Esthetic to the greatest poets of Europe: Dante, Ariosto, Shakespeare, Corneille, to name them chronologically. The present little volume, entirely original in a statement, contains, as the author says, the condensation of his most important thoughts upon the subject of aesthetics.

 In his belief, it may prove of use to young folk and others who wish to study poetry, and art in general, seriously. He is of opinion that the study of .aesthetic is perhaps better adapted to the understanding of philosophy than that of any other branch, for no other subject awakens youthful interest so soon as art and poetry. The logic remains, perhaps, rather severe and abstract. Ethics is apt to sound too Hke a "preachment," and what is called " Psychology " is rather a turning away from than a guide to Philosophy. 

The problems of art, on the other hand, not only lead more easily to the habit of thought upon themselves but also whet the appetite and sharpen the teeth for biting into the marrow of those other problems, which, since all are contained in the spirit, form with it an ideal whole.

the book details :
  • Author:Benedetto Croce
  • translator:  Douglas Ainslie
  • Publication date:1921
  • Company: London: William Heinemann

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