Pages 8 et seq. We are concerned here with Æsthetics
as an independent science. It is of course possible to find treatises
on the fine arts by leading spirits in earlier times. A historian of
Æsthetics, however, could only treat this material as all human
effort in philosophy is appropriately treated, before the actual
beginning of philosophy in Greece, with Thales.
Pages 10 and 11. It is said of thought in the Middle Ages that it
‘found nothing at all in Nature.’ Against this the great
thinkers and mystics of the Middle Ages might be cited. Such an
objection is based on a complete misapprehension. It is not stated
that thought in the Middle Ages was incapable of forming a conception
of the importance of apprehension and so on, but simply that man's
spirit in those days was turned towards the spirit as such, in its
own primal form, and felt no inclination to come to terms with the
separate facts in Nature.
Page 20. With Schelling's fundamental error is by no means meant
the effort of the spirit to ‘rise to the heights where the
divine is enthroned,’ but Schelling's application of this
conception to his treatment of Art. This must be clearly pointed
out, so that what is said here against Schelling should not be
confused with the criticism nowadays frequently levelled against
that philosopher, and generally against philosophical idealism.
It is possible for the author of this treatise to hold Schelling
in high esteem, but still find much to object to in the details
of his achievement.
Pages 23 and 24. In Art, physical reality is transfigured through
its appearance as though it were spirit. To this extent, artistic
creation is not an imitation of anything already in existence, but
a continuation, springing from the human soul, of the cosmic process.
Something can just as little be created by mere physical imitation
as by the representation of spirit already in existence. Real
strength cannot be felt in the artist who impresses the observer
with the true imitation of reality, but by the artist who forces
us along with him when he creatively continues the cosmic process
in his work.