Title: Semiosis as a theory of aesthetics
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00098921/00001
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Title: Semiosis as a theory of aesthetics
Physical Description: v, 233 leaves : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: McNeal, Barbara Lynn
Copyright Date: 1977
Subject: Semiotics   ( lcsh )
Aesthetics   ( lcsh )
Philosophy thesis Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- Philosophy -- UF
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: by Barbara Lynn McNeal.
Thesis: Thesis--University of Florida.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 231-232.
General Note: Typescript.
General Note: Vita.
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Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000209999
oclc - 04164702
notis - AAX6818


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This dissertation is dedicated to the Survivors--
and those who must live with them.



Without Question: Jay Zeman, Tom Auxter, Al Lewis, Norm Markel

Those who by word, deed, or presence made it possible for me to survive:

Jim Horvath
Jeff Allen
Henry Allison
Mike Chandler
Hugh Ellis
Bill Ferguson
Jim Giarelli

Jane Harper-Yarbrough
Keith Hoeller
Ken Megill
Tal Scriven
Jan Sugalski
George Welch
Amanda Banana

And, all members of the PHI 335 class, Spring Quarter, 1977, University
of South Florida.


i i i



ABSTRACT . . . . .



Leibniz . . . . .
Hobbes . . .
Kant . .
Hegel . . .
Vernon Lee ...
Notes . . .

Notes . . .

Preamble ...
Charles S. Peirce .
Notes . . .

Notes . . . . .

Notes . . .



: : I I : : : : :


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Barbara Lynn McNeal

August 1977

Chairperson: J. Jay Zeman
Major Department: Philosophy

The aesthetic experience has long been a controversial issue in

philosophy. The aesthetic experience has also been an issue virtually

ignored by philosophers working in semiosis. The basic argument of

this dissertation is that semiosis has something to offer the study of

aesthetics by articulating the aesthetic sign as an iconic symbol,

and by developing the pragmatic dimension of the aesthetic experience.

This needs to be done by re-emphasizing the phenomenological nature

of semiosis. To this end, there is a concentration upon the works of

Ernst Cassirer and Charles S. Peirce, as well as certain historical

figures pertinent to the study.



It is not history itself which is presented. We might more
properly designate it as a History of History.
--G. W. F. Hegel

History is a process of rebarbarization.
--John Dewey

The purpose of this introduction is neither to detail nor to refute

the philosophical work that has preceded this dissertation in this

study of aesthetics. Rather, the purpose is to "set the stage" for

the work to be done here. Since the truth of Hegel is accepted that the

present questions to be framed and considered must, to be completely

understood, be viewed from their past, an historical analysis is to be

included not so much for background, but for the appropriate ground

which will illuminate more fully the figure presented for consideration.

To this end, it is not necessary to proceed in an almost infinite

progression starting with the fragments of Thales, covering everyone,

until the present. But, it is, to gather up the movement correctly,

necessary to pick out certain individuals in the history of philosophy.

The ones explored in this introduction are Leibniz, Hobbes, Kant, Hegel,

and Vernon Lee. Of course no mere introduction could ever claim to

encompass the entire scope of the works of any one of the above, much

less all of them. So, the limit must be set; the limits of this intro-

duction will be the aspect that each took in explaining, in coping with,

that mysterious but prized human phenomenon, the aesthetic perception

or experience. The question necessarily arises as to why these par-

ticular individuals have been selected in lieu of the many that could

have been. Before any direct answer is given, let us turn to the

central themes and issues that will preoccupy the focus of this work.

Perhaps then the explanation of why these persons were included can

be explained more succinctly.

The central issue is, what is the (or perhaps, better--an)

aesthetic experience? It is important to take notice here that the

primary question is not whether there is such an event as an aesthetic

experience. The existence of the event is taken as fact, unalterable.

For the moment let us regard a rather simplistic, but serviceable dis-

tinction. There are two major groups of experiences--ordinary and non-

ordinary. In the grouping of the ordinary are such events as walking

to the local "7-11" to buy a package of cigarettes, taking a shower,

etc., in short, the kinds of unremarkable actions we all take in the

ordinary course of events of the "normal" day-to-day existence. As

the point will be later argued, what makes these events ordinary is

not so much the objective factor of the external end or scenery, but

the way in which the subject participates in the event. There are also

the non-ordinary events of one's existence. These can include many

sub-groups, the more traditional subdivisions being the religious, the

psychotic, and the aesthetic. Important to mark out here is that "non-

ordinary" is not to be taken as merely unusual. It would certainly

be unusual for a non-smoker to walk to the "7-11" to buy a pack of

cigarettes but that does not seem to mean that the non-smoker would be

participating in an aesthetic, religious, or psychotic experience,

simply one out of character. But it will also be argued that the walk

to the "7-11", the shower, etc. may well be or become non-ordinary

experiences,once again depending upon the way in which the subject

participates in the activity. With the outline of the basic argu-

ment described, if vaguely, let us make a return to the original ques-

tion. When the question is asked what is an aesthetic experience,

we must then be asking a question about one aspect of non-ordinary

experience. This of course, given the above boundaries,commits the

thesis to doing at least two tasks, demarking the aesthetic from the

other kinds of non-ordinary experiences and then going into some depth

on the aesthetic experience itself.

If it is granted that these are the proper results of our inquiry,

the next question, of what the proper method is, must be raised. This

presents some problems. What is the proper method for coming to terms

with any human experience? The zoological method of pinning it down

on a metaphorical bed of paraffin will not do because a human experience

is something, an event, lived by a cognizant subject. To remove it,

even metaphorically, from the livedness of its subjectness is to some-

how miss a vital element of its nature. It does not seem that a

geometer's method is applicable either. We cannot define abstractly,

objectively, an event which exists in the existential moment of the

human experience. Another possibility is the demographic method of

the sociologist. Perhaps we could simply go around asking people to

relate aesthetic experiences for us and publish a statistical report

delimited by age, sex, and geographical distribution. This also has

problems in that memories and reflections of an event are more often

than not tied to interpretative, social and personal frameworks, while,

as it will also be argued later, we are after the essence of the

experience as much as it can be retrieved in cognitive thought. Or

rather we are hunting the experience itself, not reflections upon that

experience. Also it is not clear what a method such as this would

gain us in our pursuit. It might give us the "seven warning signs of

an aesthetic experience" which one could check off. "Ah yes, my last

experience contained five of these signs. I must have had an aesthetic

experience." We must be careful not to try to track down the wily,

shadowy, aesthetic experience with a large flashlight. Is there a

method which will do? Perhaps this question can be answered if we re-

examine the central question of what is an aesthetic experience?

There are many contexts in which to ask such a question. We might be

asking for the truth of a proposition made about an experience. We

might be asking for the validity of such an experience. If either of

these is what we are asking, then it might seem that we are seeking

under all for objective criteria, which might well lead to the conclu-

sion that I might have sufficiently good reasons to deny your claim of

an aesthetic experience because there were, say only four of the seven

components associated with an aesthetic experience in your experience.

Since five are necessary for such a classification, I would be able to

point out to you that you were close, but "no banana." These kinds

of considerations have led philosophers down the garden path for a

long period. The basic problem being that the participation of the

subject is so vital in this existential situation, that either the

subject's participation was ignored, that is,the immediacy of the

experience was overlooked and so lost, or the aesthetic experience was

confined to the murky world not of subjectness but of subjectivity,

something on the order of a high-grade hallucination. Is there a way

to come to terms with the question, somehow to tread the thin line, to

come to some kind of cognitive understanding of the aesthetic

experience as a lived existential human experience? A main thrust

of this work is that the answer is yes and that consequently of this

answer we are asking: what is the meaning of an aesthetic experience?

This question has two aspects. What does it mean that the human species

is capable of experiencing aesthetically? And, what does it mean to

an individual to have an aesthetic experience? The two approaches

mentioned previously, of explaining and demarking have not been for-

gotten. Through the context of looking for meaning, the second question

can also be answered.

The point has now been reached where the initial question can be

answered. Why does this work choose to deal with Leibniz, Kant, Hegel,

and Lee as the historical ground for the work? The approach of looking

for meaning does not, alas, originate with this author. Giving credit

where credit is due, it is thought that the proper philosophic move

for this thesis is to present the work of two philosophers who recog-

nized that in the world of human experience, it is not truth or validity

which is paramount, but the meaning and significance of the experience

for both the individual and the species as a whole. Neither of the

people to whom we refer approached the task in exactly the same way

and it will be argued, neither of them is wholly complete for the task

at hand. But, it is felt that by working through both Charles Peirce's

theory of signs and Ernst Cassirer's philosophy of symbolic forms a

synthesis will be formed which will create a platform upon which to

anchor our inquiry. The reason for three of the historical figures

will become immediately apparent. Both Peirce and Cassirer were

strongly influenced by the works of Kant and Hegel. Cassirer would

also add Leibniz for whom he has inordinate praise in his book on the

Enlightenment. But why Thomas Hobbes? Hobbes, with his precocious

insight into the force of mind can set much of the stage for our work.

And why Vernon Lee? There seems to be no real historical connection

here. But it will be argued that in order to fully grasp the moves

made by both Peirce and Cassirer it is necessary not only to have the

most influential historical figures. included but also the theory of

empathy. And, while Vernon Lee is not the originator of the empathy

theory (Theodor Lipps was),she has been chosen as a fair representative

of the movement. With the explanation both of the present and future

of this work now given, it is time to turn to the past and paint in the

proper ground of the theme of the dissertation.


Generally, in beginning a section of work, the toughest part is

deciding where to begin. It might seem that in an historical section

this part of the problem has been solved, begin with the beginning,

the first writer,and move forward in time. But this simple decision

does not work out the best. Often the ideas articulated by an individ-

ual can be said to be well before his/her time. In this case,

chronology does not often suit thematic concerns of the work. This is

the case in this work. The study of the aesthetic experience in the

context of its meaning is a study of liberation, the liberation of

the human intellect and philosophical concerns from the "truth" of

certain statements. As we will argue in a later chapter, this

liberation reached its apex not in the superiority of mind over matter,

of subject over object, but in an equalization, a co-extensive rela-

tionship between subject and object, synthesizing into the unity of

an experience. It is to this end that our narrative begins not with

the work of Thomas Hobbes, but with the work done by Leibniz. As we

travel the path from Leibniz to Hobbes to Kant to Hegel and finally to

Vernon Lee we will unfold the progression of the concerns of philosophy

with aesthetic experience from one of mere awe to one of forceful

creativity. Let us now start this journey.


In our contemporary era where we seek causes that bind and make

understandable the relationships that exist between all the different

aspects of the universe, Leibniz and his monadology is sometimes hard

to take seriously. Taken literally with its necessary deus ex machine,

the monadology does present problems of credibility to a mind-set

dependent upon empirical verification. And, this paper intends no

defense of the exact theory of monads, but rather does intend to ex-

tract and make use of the essence of the monadology with a view towards

demonstrating the validity of Leibniz's insight for both the general

human condition of being in the world and more specifically for the

aesthetic experience.

Underlying the whole of Leibniz's philosophical position is a

wonder at the orderliness of things and actions in the world which

presents itself day to day. His philosophy will be approached from

the aspect of this wonder, this mystery of order and harmony. The way

in which Leibniz chose to come to terms with this mystery is steeped

in the ancient tradition of substances and faculties. It also ap-

pears to be at least in part a reaction to the problems inherent in

any theory which purports to explain how different substances inter-

relate with one another (i.e., Descartes). Since an understanding

of the monad is essential for understanding the relationships that

exist in experience in general and especially the aesthetic experience,

let us begin our study of Leibniz with a study of the monad.

A monad is a simple substance, indivisible, active and eternal.1

Each monad is "a living mirror" and "represents the universe according

to its point of view and is regulated as completely as is the universe

itself."2 Since each monad is a substance, each monad is unique. Since

monads are "windowless" they do not interrelate with each other, do not

interrelate in the sense that there is any cause/effect relationship

between them. So, what can we discover from this brief description of

the nature of the monad? What seems primary here is that monads are

the life-force of the universe. Not surprisingly, for Leibniz, since

the entire universe is made up of monads, there is some life in all

things in the universe, though Leibniz will back off on this point some-

what to say that the body that is coupled with the monad affects the

quality of its life. The fact that the monad, as a simple substance,

is eternal and indivisible, is nothing new and startling; these are

standard qualities of simple substances. But, what is important in the

nature of a monad is that it is a unity and a mirror of the universe.

The coupling of these two aspects of the nature of the monad indicates

that to call the unity of the monad simply equivalent to being in-

divisible is a mistake. If we view these two qualities of the monad

together, we can gain much knowledge about Leibniz's views on the

nature of the universe. Now generally when we speak of unity we are

speaking of something that has parts. But, what's important here is

not so much that the object has parts but that the relationship between

the parts is such that if even one of the parts were to be removed or

changed, the object would be destroyed or changed. So, what's essential

in a unity is not the parts but the interdependent nature of the parts

that make up, in a sense, create, the thing. Another aspect of unity

is that not only is the nature of the thing dependent upon the relation-

ship of the parts, but the nature, the meaning and significance of each

part, is dependent upon the nature of the unity. So, there is a type

of living give and take between the unity and the relationship of its

parts. Another important aspect of a unity is that there seems to be

no real sense in which we can say that the various relationships existing

between part and part, whole and parts are one of cause/effect. The

parts do not cause the object to be a unity nor does the unity cause

the meaning and significance of the parts. Rather, what seems more

meaningful is to say that the object as unity is embodied in the rela-

tionships between the parts and that the meaning and significance of

the parts are embodied in the unity of the object. But, a monad has no

parts, being a simple substance. So, where has this discourse on unity

taken us? Remember that a monad is a living mirror of the universe, a

representation of the universe. It seems that what Leibniz has done

is give us an analogy which turns on a double use of the word "unity."

There is a traditional use of "unity" in which it is simply equivalent

to "indivisible." Also, the discourse above is an accurate description

of another use of the term unity. The monad as living mirror used as

an analogy seems to run on these lines. The monad is a simple sub-

stance living, eternal, indivisible, a unity. The universe is a unity

of these different monads, a living process which is eternal. And while

it may to reflection seem divisible into all its various monads, in

reality it cannot be divided and understood. For the unity of the

universe is embodied in all the various relationships that exist among

all the various monads and the meaning and significance of each monad

is embodied in the unity of the universe. To tear down the relation-

ships, to list, as it were, all the monads and their unique nature

(even if possible) would not give us an understanding of the universe

at all. For this would be the destruction of the living process of the

universe which is the relationships of the parts to the whole and of the

whole to the parts. To add further to this discourse, it can be noted

that Leibniz also perceives that the relationship that exists in this

mobile of a universe is not one of cause/effect. The relationship is

one of "pre-established harmony." The process of pre-established

harmony is the ultimate of unity. For it embodies and is embedded in

that most magnificent of all monads, God. It seems that there is a real

sense in which it can be said that God is the epitome of unity, for

in him is rooted both senses of the term "unity." He is a simple in-

divisible substance and he is infinite and lies at the base of the

universe, where the second sense of the term is appropriate.

But, so far we have been speaking only of the pure state of

monads, how they work ideally. And, what of humanity, where does it

enter the picture? Since the main thrust of this thesis is the

aesthetic experience, it seems incumbent upon us to bring humanity into

the picture as quickly as possible. A human is not a monad but is a

compound substance with a monad at his/her core. For Leibniz the

soul is the monad of a human (and other living creatures). Except for

God all monads exist with a body and thus form what Leibniz calls a

"living substance." The body of a human is organic because it is a

"natural machine,"4 because not only is it a unity but each of its parts

is a unity. The physical body of a human reacts with the physical universe,

which gives rise to sensations and memories. While this is true of any

living creature, a human also has the ability to reason. Besides the

fact that the conjunction of monad and natural machine comprises a living

substance, it is also the case that being with a body affects the power

of the monad. As a foundation for the aesthetic views of Leibniz this

affectation is an important, even crucial, avenue of investigation.

Let us walk that path now.

The monad in a pure state, without a body, being a mirror of the

universe, would also mirror and participate in the infinity of the

universe. But, as was said before, except for God, monads do not exist

in the universe in this pure state. So, it seems as if we can expect

some type of modification of the monad in the real world. Leibniz sup-

ports this assumption when he says: . although each created

monad represents the whole universe, it represents more distinctly the

body which is particularly affected by it and of which it is the

entelechy."5 There is then some sense in which it is proper to say

that for Leibniz the body is the boundary of the monad. This presents

some interesting problems. This, at least at first glance, seems to

imply some type of cause/effect relationship between the monad and the

body where before Leibniz denied that in favor of pre-established

harmony. Also, if the cause/effect relationship can be taken care of,

just what is the nature of the "affecting?" Or, where is Leibniz left

if the cause/effect implications can not be resolved? First, let us

try to get Leibniz out of this apparent problem.

The monad, the soul of the human, is what is today called the mind

or consciousness. For Leibniz there are two levels of operations of the

mind, perception and apperception. A perception is the "representation

of the compound, or that which is without." Apperception is reflec-

tive reason. Perception seems more immediately tied to the body, so

let's look at that first. Perceptions change; Leibniz calls this ap-

petitions. He says, "For the simplicity of a substance does not pre-

vent the plurality of modifications which must necessarily be found

together in the same simple substance."7 So, the mind even though a

simple substance can be modified by perceptions. A perception, being

the representation of that which is without,implies that it is a re-

presenting to the monad of the external world. How is this accomplished?

Through the sense organs. While the monad may be windowless, a human,

being a specially embodied monad, is not windowless and does exist in

and with the physical world. To believe otherwise would be absurd.

But this still sounds like cause/effect, that the body causes the

modification of the mind. Now, even within Leibniz's system this could

be consistently maintained. For Leibniz does not deny cause/effect.

He only denies that the laws of monads cause the laws of the physical

and vice versa. It is through pre-established hannony that the two

sets of laws gear in with each other, that the thought in apperception

fits in with the laws of the physical universe. So, we may well be

able to save Leibniz yet by saying that being in a physical body causes

some modifications in the qualities of any unique monad but does not

affect as by cause any of the essential faculties of the monad. What

being in a body does to a monad is limit it by binding and shortening

the scope of each of the faculties. The qualities of monads in humans

are bounded by being in a body. Because our minds are embodied they

are limited in the aspects of the universe which they can show. The

finiteness of our bodies modifies the inherent infinity of the pure

monad to one of finiteness. For, only God is an infinite monad.

Theoretically, it can be said that if (or when) our minds are liberated

from our bodies, they too could represent the infinity of the universe.

It is not clear whether Leibniz holds that this could happen. If it

were to happen, then it would occur only with the death of the body.

But while he is clear that the monad, being eternal, survives the death

of the body, it is not clear what kind of perceptions it has under those

circumstances. But, concerning the bodied monad, it is clear that the

physical modifies it by limiting the aspects through which the monad

can represent the infinite universe.

This, it would seem,would also affect the apperceptions, the

reflective thoughts. The effect upon apperception is not that some

parts of the infinite are known and others not known. It is not the

case that some of our universe is shut off from us. But, it rather

seems to be the case that what we know, we confusedly and indistinctly

know. This is an obvious conclusion if we remember that each part of

the universe, whether monad or organic machine, is a unity within a unity.

So, to know any of the parts is to have some vague knowledge of the

entire, the unity. This view is supported when we remember that the

human monad is a special kind of soul because it can reason, because

it has apperception. Leibniz calls human monads "spirits." Spirits

are "not only a mirror of the universe of creatures but also an image

of divinity."8 Spirits, in their own aspect, have a vague knowledge of

the entire order and harmony of the universe. It appears that the

crucial difference between humans and God is that God is pure monad,

unfettered by the boundary of a body. Leibniz seems to support this

indirectly when he mentions the wonder of dreams when we often solve

great and perplexing problems without effort and will. Dreams appear to

be that stage of consciousness when we are as independent of the bounds

of the body as humanly possible. The human monad is in a sense the

divine monad as regulated and defined by the body. And what of the

relationship between the body and the monad? Cause/effect? No. Given

that without the body the human monad would be the divine monad, it

appears as a necessary implication that all of the aspects of the divine

monad are in us. So, the external world could not cause internal activity.

Rather it seems that our ideas are somehow occasioned by the body. An

external act is the occasion of our bringing forth ideas in our con-

sciousness. Because man has finite senses the aspect is limited by

having a finite, that is, an incomplete understanding of the way things


In way of a summation, it seems clear that it can be said that the

everyday, general understanding which a human has of the world is an incom-

plete one because of the finiteness of the vessel in which the monad

resides, which allows only finite or incomplete aspects of the nature

of the monad and the orderliness and harmony of the universe. Even

though human beings appear to have a thorough understanding of the

physical laws of the universe, humans still do not have a complete

understanding of how the laws fit into the total picture of nature.

In the understanding which humans share with God, they have an intima-

tion of the totality, but this intimation is, by the nature of the

finite modification of the human's central monad, unclear and indistinct.

This is the essence of the everyday understanding or experience of

humanity. What then is that very special experience, the aesthetic


As might well be expected, the aesthetic experience for Leibniz

involves beauty and pleasure. Pleasure is a feeling which can, but does

not have to, arise from understanding. But, both avenues of pleasure

arise from a sense of beauty. Before we look at pleasure, let us in-

vestigate what it is for an object to be beautiful, both a natural ob-

ject and a human-made one. On human-made objects Leibniz makes the fol-

lowing claim:

If we look at a very beautiful picture but cover up all
of it but a tiny spot, what more will appear in it, no
matter how closely we study it, than a confused mixture
of colors without beauty and without art. Yet when the
covering is removed and the whole painting is viewed
from a position that suits it, we come to understand
that what seemed to be a thoughtless smear on the canvas
has really been done with the highest artistry by the
creator of the work. And what the eyes experience in
painting is experienced by the ears in music.9

Since the spot is without beauty and art, there seem to be some

conclusions that can be drawn here about what it is to have beauty and

art in Leibniz's system. If it can be assumed from the above paragraph

that the entire painting or piece of music had beauty to begin with,

then it is clear that beauty lies in unity. This unity seems to in-

dicate that what is involved is the interdependence between the whole

and the relationships between the parts; an interdependence which is

a harmony where once again it is clear that the relationships between

the parts are the roots of the unity of the whole and the whole is the

meaning and significance of each part. The color, the texture, the

individual shapes are nothing, mere confusions when viewed separately,

without the context of the whole and of each other. And, although

Leibniz does not state this specifically, the whole would be devoid of

its unity without the color, texture, or shape of the parts in the

painting. Leibniz's views on beauty (the aesthetic) appears to be a form

of the old adage that form creates content, content creates form, and

that the essential interdependence of these various relationships is

the beauty of the art object. Given that painting usually had some

representation of objects in the external world, the unity of art can

perhaps be better seen in music. The discrete parts of music are in-

dividual notes. If we were to list the individual notes and even throw

in a description of the various tempo patterns contained in the piece,

we could not approximate the beauty of a musical piece. Yet, without

the notes and tempo patterns there would be no musical piece. So, the

beauty of the musical piece resides in this interdependence that exists

between the entirety of the piece and the relationships among the dif-

ferent parts. The beauty of the whole depends upon the order and harmony

of the parts. And, the beauty of any one part depends upon its relation-

ship to the whole. So, the beauty of the art object resides completely

in this double-edged aspect of unity which we have previously described.

As we already realize, each aspect of life has a place within

the system of the universe. What is the place, or perhaps more

properly speaking, the function of the art object and its beauty within

the context of the universe? The universe as perceived by Leibniz is

one of interlocking completeness. Each part has the dual nature of

being complete because it draws its fullness from the universe and of

being a complete because it contributes to the order and harmony of

the universe. The beautiful art object, like the monad, is a mirror

of the order and harmony of the entire universe. Art seems to be the

ultimate in our connection with the monad, God. For, as God created the

perfect harmony of the universe, the artist creates the perfect harmony

of the art or aesthetic object. The contemplation of the beauty of the

art object, with beauty defined as harmony and order, is as close as

we can come to a full understanding of the order and harmony of the

unity of the entire universe. In grasping this unity we come as close

as possible to God. The experience we have of the beauty of the art

object is pleasure. It seems to be the case that this is a pleasure

that arrives from understanding, if we look deeply enough into our-

selves. We can understand the unity of the art object because it is

finite and within our finite aspects. But beauty does not reside only

in human-made objects. Beauty resides in all of creation. For Leibniz,

we could even make the claim that the universe is beauty.

An aesthetic object exists throughout the universe and the beauty

is there to be perceived and felt by man. Because the universe is

infinite and man is finite, the beauty of the universe is not to be

understood completely. Also, for Leibniz, since the universe is, in a

sense, a living entity, it is in a constant progress of unfolding.

Leibniz likens the universe to a novel.l0 A novel is great when its

final unity has its germination in the initial chapters but needs the

entire work to allow the full flowering of its meaning and significance.

The greatness of a novel, like the greatness and beauty of the universe

lies in the flowering of order out of chaos. The aesthetic experience

of the natural world lies in the apprehension, even if it is only a

confused intimation, of the order and harmony that arises out of chaos.

In the individual the greatest pleasure is the realization that some

object, some event, which seemed chaotic and without meaning has order

and meaning and that this meaning is a mirror of the entire universe

and perhaps even more importantly, that this event or object gives and

extends meaning in the whole universe. As is fitting to a universe

system designed to embody the perfection of God, God's creations cause

us greater, intense pleasure than those creations of humans, even though

we can completely understand art. Since the pleasure of the aesthetic

experience is so great, it has no other motivations or purpose except to

allow one a glimpse, as a type of intuition, of the harmony of the

universe. I think that, given all that has been said in this section

on Leibniz's aesthetic experience, that God, being infinite and open to

all aspects of the universe knows the full order and harmony of the

universe. God must be experiencing a constant aesthetic experience.

For Leibniz, it is man's experience of the aesthetic that brings him

closer to the divine that is part of his nature. Art must hold a special

place in Leibniz's system of the universe for the greatest artistic

creation is the universe and the greatest artist is God.


The center of the relationship between mundane experience and the

aesthetic experience for Hobbes is the use of the word "fancy." Hobbes

uses it both to explain how one comes to understanding and to aesthetic

experience. The question of how one comes to experience objects as

objects is intimately tied up with how one comes to the aesthetic

experience. The pivotal section on how one experiences object as

object appears in a passage in chapter one of Leviathan:

The cause of sense, is the external body, or object which
presseth the organ proper to each sense . which pressure
by the mediation of the nerves, and other strings and mem-
branes of the body, continued inwards to the brain and heart,
causeth there a resistance, or counter-pressure, or endeavour
of the heart to deliver itself, which endeavour, because outward,
seemeth to be some matter without. And this seeming, or fancy,
is that which men call sense, . all which qualities, called
sensible, are in the object, that causeth them, but so many
several motions of the matter, by which it presseth our organs
diversly. Neither in us that are pressed, are they anything
else, but divers motions; for motion produceth nothing but
motion. But their appearance to us is fancy . . So that
sense, in all cases, is nothing else but original fancy, caused,
as I have said, by the pressure, that is, by the motion, of
external things upon our eyes, ears, and other organs there unto

All of us know that we do not experience motions impinging upon

our senses; we experience objects. I do not experience the motion of

"red" or "spherical." I experience a round red object, called a ball.

The obvious question is how we get from these motions that bombard us

to the objects that we experience, and simply to say "fancy" won't do

without an explanation of the process. First of all it is clear from

this passage that llobbes does believe in two separate types of being

to be distinguished, the subject and the object, each with its own set

of characteristics (that the subject can in other circumstances also

be object is obvious, but immaterial here). The subject is in contact

with the object through the physical. There are motions that impinge

upon "the appropriate" senses. Now, this impingement of the motion

affects the nervous system, the nervous system is the "mediator"

between the external force and the heart and brain where the motion

meets "resistance" and "counter-pressure," and an image is formed.

This is what Hobbes calls "original fancy." There are several ques-

tions that need to be asked in the unpacking of this section. The

first is what is the function of the nervous system in this process?

The first possibility to be examined is that the nervous system is simply

a conduit, leaving unaffected the final reformation of motion into image.

This possibility seems to be belied by Hobbes' use of the term "media-

tion." The nervous system is a mediating agent between the external

motions and the resistance of the heart and brain. In the general use

of the term, a mediating agent is one which brings two parties together

to get them to reconcile their differences, that is, the mediating agent's

function is to unite two parties with differences into an agreeable com-

promise. So, Hobbes' use of the word would seem to indicate some type

of active intervention as the function of the nervous system. Now, if

there is an object "out there" and my nervous system mediates between

the forces of that object out there and my brain to form the perception

of an image, it appears that the most obvious question to ask next is

about the status of the object. It seems that Hobbes here wants to

hold to the integrity of the object, for all which qualities called

sensible are in the object and once again there is the word mediation

to fall back on. The motions that impinge on us and our bodies are

mediated through the nervous system. Mediation also implies that there

is something to mediate between, something from which these forces emanate.

Hobbes, it seems evident from the above quote, wants tomake the move

that the compromise effected through the nervous system, in effect,

can be said to "belong" to the object, in the sense that the final

image comes from the interaction between body and force. But nowhere

does he claim or oppose the claim that the configuration finally formed

offers all the characteristics possible in the object. That is, he

would want to support the claim that my image belongs to the object in

the sense noted above but would not claim that my image is exactly like

the chair. "The object is one thing, the image or fancy other."12 Besides

from making the obvious claim that images and objects are different

types of things, it also appears that this, along with the passage quoted

above, could be interpreted as meaning that the image and object are not

(at least not necessarily) in one-to-one correspondence, that there

could be more to the object than our nervous system can assimilate. If,

as I believe, Hobbes can be interpreted in this fashion, his idea could

certainly be supported by present day data. There are whistles which

can make sounds out of range of human hearing; they are heard by other

animals, e.g.,dogs. There is another implication that can be drawn from

this interpretation of this passage from Hobbes--the external world is a

far richer place than the human nervous system can assimilate. Given

that dogs and humans have different nervous systems, say, then the

mediating factor could logically be said to reconcile the external and

brain (and heart) resistance into different images. Yet, it would seem

to make little sense to say that one or the other perceived "correct"

or "incorrect" images of the object, but it would make sense to say each

perceives the only image available through the reconciliation of

external force and nervous system. So, it seems that the conclusion is

defensible that according to Hobbes our experience of objects is the

synthesis of the capabilities of our nervous system and the motions

by which the characteristics of the objects impinge upon our senses.

Our perceptions of the objects of the world (for we do perceive objects,

not motions--if asked what I see in front of me, I will answer a "book"

or a "green book" but not a configuration of atoms in motion which cause

me to see an image of a green book) are a biological sorting out from

the characteristics that an object has to offer to us. Hobbes is saying

that in our perceptual experience there is a sense in which we create

the objects of our external world, create through the medium of the

innate structures of our biology from the rich offerings of the pos-

sibilities presented to us by the object itself. This is the process

of experience which Hobbes calls "original fancy" and some times

"imagination." So far, all we have discussed in this paper is the

mundane perceptual experience, that is, an interpretation of the

mechanism by which one perceives the usual, everyday objects of the

external world, such as desks, chairs, and other people. From here it

is an easy move to leave the everyday and begin the investigation of

Hobbes' views on the aesthetic experience. And, although I will not

stay merely in the realm of the art object per se, that is the place

to start, for it is in an investigation of the qualities that make

"art" that Hobbes himself gives us the most complete version of his

views on the aesthetic experience.

The essay where Hobbes writes the most fully on the topic of

art is "Answer to the Preface to Gondibert." The most striking thing

to be noticed in the essay is that once again Hobbes makes use of

the term fancy. Of course, it is not to be taken for granted that

the term is used by Hobbes in exactly the same way, in the same sense,

as before. To make that assumption with any writer is to verge on

philosophical suicide. Obviously, the most fruitful move in this

section is to investigate his use of the term when used in reference

to an aesthetic experience and then investigate the differences and

similarities between the use of the term in the aesthetic and in the

mundane contexts. The first important use of the term fancy comes in

the following passage:

Time and education beget experience; experience begets
memory; memory begets judgment and fancy; judgment
begets the strength and structure, and fancy begets the
ornaments of a poem .. For memory is the world,
though not really, yet so as in a looking-glass, in which
judgment, the severer sister, busieth herself in a grave
and rigid examination of all parts of nature, and in
registering by letters their order, causes, uses, dif-
ferences, and resemblances; whereby fancy, when any work
of art is to be performed, finds her materials at hand and
prepared for use, and needs no more than a swift motion
over them, that what she wants, and is there to be had, may
not lie too long espied . there the architect fancy
must take the philosophers part upon herself. He, therefore,
who undertakes an heroic poem, which is to exhibit a
venerable and amiable image of heroic virtue, must not only
be a poet, to place and connect, but also the philosopher,
to furnish and square his matter; that is to make both body
and soul, color and shadow of his poem out of his own
store . 13

In this passage, Hobbes has marked out the essentials of the good

poem and the good poet. The good poem is a product of the experience

in and of the world, from a direct and reflective communication with

the external world, for he says also in this essay that knowledge of

nature "which is taken out of books, the ordinary boxes of counterfeit

complexion" is not to be used without a great deal of caution, for the

world in a large sense is the subject of poetry (art). The memory

begotten by experience is not only the memory of things but the memories

of past reflections and reactions. Memory and experience are the

foundation necessary to yield those distinguishing marks of good

art (while Hobbes is discussing poetry here, we shall take the liberty

of substituting the term art from here out)--judgment and fancy.

Judgment, as Hobbes tells us in the Leviathan, is the final opinion

on the truth of a matter, an opinion about the way things are. Judg-

ment gotten from experience in and of the world is surely to be the

mainstay, the bounding structure of art, for art can only be about

the world. But, the question arises as to how art is to be about the

world--as a mere repetition and regurgitation of it? The answer to this

question can only be in the form of the negative. For, if that were

the sole limit of art, what need would there be for fancy? And, so we

arrive at the question again which started off this section. What is

the function of fancy in art? Initially Hobbes tells us little that is

enlightening, he merely says that fancy begets the ornament of a poem.

Perhaps more can be learned. A richer section appears further down

in the passage. After judgment has scrutinized the situation carefully,

fancy "finds her material at hand and prepared for use . that what

she wants is to be had and soon discovered." The function of judgment

is to prepare one's experiences of the world for use by fancy, especially

that fancy may pick and choose from the wealth of available material.

Judgment stabilizes and structures fancy as much as the weight of the

person holding the string keeps a kite flying in the air. Without

the judgment that is earth(reality)-bound, fancy would fall to the

ground and be destroyed. Fancy in art has taken on a function of selec-

tion and combination, but selection and combination only within certain

structures.14 Hobbes puts one more important restriction on the

selection and combination function of fancy: "Beyond the actual works

of nature a poet may now go; but beyond the conceived possibility of

nature, never."15 The good work of art for Hobbes is not an exact duplicate

of nature but rather is an exploration of possibilities of and in nature.

By the selection and combination power of fancy new vistas, new aspects

of the world are demonstrated, by the structure of experiential judg-

ment, it is insured that these new aspects, new vistas, are indeed

aspects and horizons of this world. So, it seems that in the main, fancy

in the context of aesthetics performs the same function as fancy in the

context of the mundane. They cannot and are not exactly the same. This

is as it should be for the aesthetic experience is not the same as the

usual but is an aspect of the normal. To really "get at" the difference,

it seems incumbent upon us to shift our perspective from the similarities

between the function of fancy in both contexts to the difference in


From what has been said previously in this paper, it appears that

the general function of fancy in both spheres is quite, if not exactly,

alike. However, it does seem that the fact that the object to which

fancy is directed is different is the area that should be investigated

if we are to separate the aesthetic experience from the mundane. The

selection/combination factor of fancy in the aesthetic context is a

process done on the synthesis already accomplished between the external

and internal forces. So, the fancy involved in the aesthetic process

is a type of second order synthesis. And, in this way can be considered

another aspect of the way that we, as human beings, attribute meaning

and order to our world. The initial, or as Hobbes calls it "original

fancy" is the process that we have that brings a human order to the

myriad variety of the external world. Through the synthesizing inter-

action that exists between our biological structures and the world,

we bring the world under comprehensible assimilation, the balance is

struck and the I is an intimate aspect of the it, and vice versa. At

this level the synthesis, the selection process, is biologically structured.

But, art builds a new level on to this process of synthesis. For it is

a selection of the selection. For the artist is the one who takes the

knowledge gained through the intimacy between his personal physical

nature and the physical nature of external objects and views them with

a different awareness of the possible combinations. It is, as Hobbes

said, the grounding structure of the judgment of experience combined

with and balanced with the realm of the possible that the artist uses.

But, even though this is a selection of selection, it is not less than,

not a cheap imitation of, nature that is achieved but rather a deeper

understanding of the world that is found. Just as language gives us

insight into our world because it (at the very least) allows us the

expression of our understanding, so art gives us another way, another

aspect of exploring and expressing our relationship with the world.

The aesthetic experience is not reserved for the artist only,

nor is it reserved for art only. In fact, the function of fancy in

both "realms" as discussed and interpreted in this paper lends itself

readily to the idea that one can have an aesthetic experience in

balance with any object or group of objects, no matter what their

intended purpose or whether they are created on purpose or by nature.

For, if the essence of the process of fancy is the idea of selection

and combination, then it appears that an inherent implication of this

essence is that experience of being aware of different aspects in the

relationships that can and do exist between objects. At the level of

"original fancy" begins the possibility of the relationships of

causality, correlation, simple association. Again, as in the discussion

of fancy above, we can only draw the conclusion that the aesthetic ex-

perience is really a perception of relationships, actual and possible,

that exist between objects and objects, and objects and I. And once

again, this perception of possibilities leads not away from reality, but

only into another aspect, an aspect that, in conjunction with other aspects

leads us closer to reality as we can use the aesthetic experience to

gather more insight into the variety of possibilities that are in and

of this world.

While Hobbes took the step of allowing that there was a creative

force in the aesthetic experience, not just in the mind of the creator

but in the observer as well, while he realized that art as an exact

duplication of nature was not the hallmark of great art, he still tied

art and the aesthetic experience to earth. He did this by insisting

that art needs a purpose--it should instruct, it should bring the artist

and the observer either to a better understanding of nature or to some

higher moral or ethical law. Even though he recognized the importance

of form and style, these considerations were secondary to the fundamental

purpose of instruction,of "doing good." Art became for Hobbes a tool

through which man could be uplifted and educated. A work of art was

to be classified as good or bad depending upon how well-fitted it was

to perform this function. It is Kant who will take these restrictions

off the artistic and aesthetic endeavors. With Kant, art will no longer

be like the balloon which must be tied to the ground that it may fly,

but will be like the birds in their flight. For Kant will investigate

aesthetics as a creature, animate with its own way, and not as a tool

for the use of man. Kant will pave the way for the aesthetic perception

and for art to fly as high as they can, minus the earthbound ties.

Although Kant and Hobbes will be seen to have some points in common,

they will differ greatly in the path they take.


Kant presents a natural third section for this chapter. For, both

in his epistemology and aesthetics, he provides a synthesis of the dif-

ferent metaphysical/epistemological and aesthetic world-views of

Leibniz and Hobbes. Leibniz and Hobbes both sought to explain the

human position in and of the universe. While humanity was granted an

integral position in the universe in the Leibnizian system, the basic

duty of humanity was to be the appreciator of all there was to behold.

Hobbes granted humanity an organizational status in the workings of

the universe. The human mind organized and synthesized the materials

of the world. As has already been pointed out, the aesthetic theories

of both Hobbes and Leibniz reflect the basic human position they each

see humanity as having. Kant can be seen as having something in common

with both Leibniz and Hobbes. This is not to say that Kant is a mere

combination of the reconcilable ideas of Hobbes and Leibniz. Rather,

Kant can be seen as springing off from the platforms built by Leibniz

and Hobbes and, in the process, establishing the human mind as not

merely part of the world known to humanity but its central figure. As

a consequence of the liberation of the human mind, Kant will set the

aesthetic experience free.

At the heart of the Critique of Pure Reason is experience, human

experience. Kant attacks all the various problems of human experience--

what it is, what it is to have an experience, and for Kant certainly,

how it is that humans experience, i.e., what makes the human experience

possible. Involved in the analysis of human experience is the subject/

object distinction, and the role that human beings play in having that

type of experience that is fundamentally, if not peculiarly, human.

Although for Kant experience is not the end of philosophy (he uses it as

a starting point to discover the nature of knowledge and of the world)

the analysis of experience is the foundation for his study of epistemology,

metaphysics, as well as aesthetics. As he says, "There can be no doubt

that all our knowledge begins with experience" (81). 16 It will be from

experience, that Kant using a reduction ad absurdum argument, shall argue

to the answers of "all" the metaphysical questions plaguing philosophy.

Let this section of the essay begin then where Kant claims all knowledge

to begin--in experience--and work from this position to the metaphysical/

epistemological questions most important to this topic: the relation-

ship that exists between the experiencing subject and experienced object

in general and from this to the relationship that exists between

the experiencing subject and experienced object in Kant's aesthetic


The verb, "to experience" can be applied in several ways. It can

be said that we experience hot or cold; in this use "experience" can be

understood as synonomous with "sensation." We can say that we experience

hatred; in this use of the word,experience can be understood as synonomous

with either "feeling" or "sensation" (given the appropriate mind/body

context). We can say that we experience cause-and-effect; in this

use of the word experience, it is taken to mean a certain synthesis of

inferences which are made so automatically as to have been incorporated

into our lived-world. The noun experience can be applied to any of the

above situations. Kant will speak of experience in all of the above

ways. However, Kant will also use the word experience in a special

sense, a sense which must be kept apart from the various ordinary ways

the word is used. He defines "experience" as follows: "experience is

knowledge by means of connected perceptions" (B161). This paper will,

to avoid confusion of meaning make the following distinction in notation:

"experience" will from here on refer to the common, ordinary uses of

the word and "Experience" will refer to the special use for which Kant

reserves the word. It will be the nature of Experience which will be

the crucial issue of this paper; experience will be used as the founda-

tion of Experience. This distinction leaves us all with a problem.

When Kant says that all knowledge begins in experience, is he talking

about Experience or experience? Taken by itself or also with the

definition given for Experience in B161, the sentence could be taken

as either referring to Experience, in the sense that Experience is

knowledge, the first "type" that we become aware of; or it could be

taken as experience in the sense of the physical sensations we encounter

in the world which give rise to that first order of knowledge: Experience.

However, the problem is slight, for Kant clears up any possible con-

fusion on this matter in the second sentence of B1: "For how should

our faculty of knowledge be awakened into action did not objects

affecting our senses partly of themselves produce representations,

partly arouse the activity of our understanding to compare these

representations, and, by combining or separating them, work up the

raw material of the sensible impressions into that knowledge of objects

which is entitled experience?" (read Experience). This sentence makes

it clear that all knowledge begins in experience, the physical being

in the world which begets Experience, the connecting of perceptions

which is the knowledge from which all other types of knowledge can be

inferred. Let this work then proceed to the very beginning and set

forth Kant's notions of what experience is.

It is difficult to speak on Kant's notion of what it is to be

physically in the world. The relationships between subject and object

are so interwoven and intricate that they almost defy such separation.

With Hobbes we could divide the world up into sensations and synthesis;

with Leibniz the distinction ran smoothly into two parallel causalities.

But Kant offers no such nice divisions to be analyzed and resynthesized.

For an understanding of his "outer" world must continually fall back

upon an understanding of his inner world and vice versa. However, with

the full realization that it will be impossible to talk about the object

experienced and the subject experiencing separately, let us now plunge

into the task of trying to make sense out of the subject/object rela-

tionship. A generally fruitful starting point in any such discussion

is with the term sensation. Kant defines "sensation" in B34/A20: "The

effect of an object upon the faculty of representation, so far as we

are affected by it, is sensation." Now, one reason for starting with

an understanding of "sensation" is that for many philosophers sensations

are the atomic particles of experience and Experience. For sensations

are often agreed upon as the most immediate relationship existing

between the subject and object. (Let it be understood that here I am

referring to the sensation, not necessarily the naming of that sensa-

tion, which may, especially in alien circumstances, be a very conscious,

discursive act.) As an example, it was pointed out earlier in this

paper how Hobbes took raw sensations and through the function of the

mind turned them into ideas and images. If we simply stopped with the

definition of sensation given by Kant, it would be very easy to come to

the conclusion that Kant was reiterating in different words a concept

of experience broughtout previously by Hobbes. What prevents this from

being a valid interpretation of Kant's meaning is that sensations are

not for him the only immediate access that humanity has to the world

"out there." We also have "intuitions." "In whatever manner and by

whatever means a mode of knowledge may relate to objects, intuition

is that through which it is in immediate relation to them, and to which

all thought as a means is directed. But intuition takes place only

insofar as the object is given to us" (A19). The question now becomes,

what is the relationship that exists between sensations and intuitions?

One possibility for the relationship is that either sensation or in-

tuition is a subclass of the other, i.e., sensations are a type of

intuition or intuitions are a type of sensation. If the relationship

is to be understood, it seems necessary to go beyond the two definitions

stated above and look at the further development that Kant gives to

these concepts. There is one passage in which Kant specifically outlines

the differences between sensations and intuitions:

This subjective condition of all outer appearances cannot,
therefore, be compared to any other. The taste of wine does
not belong to the objective determinations of the wine, not
even if by the wine as an object we mean the wine as appearance,
but to the special constitution of sense in the subject that
tastes it. Colours are not properties of the bodies to the
intuition of which they are attached, but only modifications
of the sense of sight, which is affected in a certain manner
by light. Space, on the other hand, as condition of outer
objects, necessarily belongs to their appearance or intuition.
Taste and colours are not necessary conditions under which
alone objects can be for us objects of the senses. They are
connected with the appearances only as effects accidentally
added by the particular constitution of the sense organs.
Accordingly, they are not a priori representations, but are
grounded in sensation . as an effect of sensation ..
Whereas since space concerns only the pure form of intuition,
and therefore involves no sensation whatsoever. . ." (A29)

From the above passage, at least one thing seems clear. Whatever

the relationship is that exists between intuitions and sensation they

are neither the same thing nor can one be considered the subclass of

the other. Perhaps more importantly the above passage not only indicates

what the relationship between the two concepts is not but it also gives

us enough information to at least begin the proper delineation between

sensation and matter. Taste and colours are grounded in sensation and

as such do not necessarily give us objects because they are accidentally

added to the intuition by the particular constitution of the sense

organs. So, in the perception of an object it is not sensations that

are given priority but intuitions. Given just what has been discussed

it would be simple to try to explain perception simply in terms of in-

tuitions without reference to sensations. This however would not be a

valid interpretation of the Kantian thesis. For to say that intuition

has priority over sensation is not to say that sensation is unimportant.

For there is a real sense in which it can be said that sensation or

sensations while accidental are also necessary for perception. However,

to completely develop this strange turn it is necessary to first come

to an understanding of what Kant means when he talks about intuition

and sensation more fully.

That intuition which is in relation to the object through
sensation, is entitled empirical. The undetermined object
of an empirical intuition is entitled appearance.

That in the appearance which corresponds to sensation I
term its matter; but that which so determines the manifold
of appearance that it allows of being ordered in certain
relations, I term the form of appearance. (A34/B20)

From the first part of the passage just quoted, it seems evident

that objects are perceived both through sensation and through intuition,

which once again indicates that sensation and intuition are different

from each other. The second part of the passage states explicitly that

sensation is the matter of an object--its odor, colour, perhaps even

if we find the object appealing or disgusting. Since sensations and

intuitions are the only ways that Kant has discussed as being ways of

perceiving objects, it is reasonable to conclude that if the matter of

the object corresponds to sensation, then the way the object is formed,

the way the different sensations fit together to form an object, the

form of the object, corresponds to intuition. From what has been dis-

cussed so far, it seems clear that Kant is making a logical distinction

in the constitution and perception of an object. The distinction is

logical as opposed to an apparent one because Kant believes that in

the perception of an object both form and matter hold integrated im-

portance. Without form, various sensations could not hold together

to be an object, i.e., sensations without form would simply be a mish-

mash of data (if even that). Without sensation (or matter), there would

be no object at all. For, to have a matterless form constitute an object

would be to somehow propose that perception is possible without use

of the physical faculties or senses. So, while humanity can logically

deduce the presence of a form, the peculiar way an object has its

matter unified, that form cannot be perceived without the accompanying


There is a question that arises at this point in this explication

which demands to be answered and cannot be put off. If it is in fact

the case that the form/matter distinction is not a perceivable distinc-

tion but a logical one, if even to separate form and matter only logically

yields no knowledge of the object in that it destroys the object as

object, then why even bother making such a distinction? Of what use

is it in coming to terms with the position that humanity occupies in

the world? This is not an easy question to answer directly. However,

with the explication of a few more concepts, the answer can be found

obliquely, but fully.

There are several possible ways to approach answering the question,

all of them having equal reasonableness. However, the most reasonable

way to begin is suggested by the fact that while the previous discussion

of sensation-vs.-intuition kept a general tone, Kant made a specific

distinction. In A34/B20, he spoke of empirical intuitions. Now if

he talks about intuitions being empirical, he must be at least sug-

gesting that there are intuitions which are not empirical. And, as

we all know, the other type of intuition is a pure intuition.

.While the matter of all appearance is given to us
aposteriori only, its form must lie ready for the sensa-
tions a priori in the mind, and so must allow of being con-
sidered apart from all sensation.

I term all representations pure (in the transcendental
sense) in which there is nothing that belongs to sensation.
The pure form of sensible intuitions in general, in which
all the manifold of intuition is intuited in certain relations,
must be found in the mind apriori. This pure form of sensi-
bility may also itself be called pure intuition. (B34/A20
and B35/A21)

In later sections Kant will tell us that the two forms of pure

intuition are time and space. With the definition and identification

of the pure intuitions and the section "defining" empirical intuitions,

let us now proceed to investigate this subdivision of intuition and

then to place it into the full context of how it positions humanity in

the world.

The sensations which we all experience, being empirical, are known

only a posteriori. Basically this means that we are in physical contact

with them and, more importantly, that the knowledge of sensation (the

matter of an object) can not be deduced but must be experienced. Also,

we have already seen in a previously cited passage that the realities

of sensations vary from individual to individual as indicated by the

fact that Kant includes "taste" as being among sensation. Intuitions,

though no more important in everyday experience than sensations, play

a more fundamental role in Experience than do sensations. The most

obvious case of priority of intuition over sensation is in the case

of the pure intuitions which are known a priori. Since empirical in-

tuitions, being a bit vaguer, are harder to pin down, let's begin with

the pure intuitions.

In order to be pure an intuition must not be contaminated by

sensation. To follow Kant's path of reasoning, since a pure intuition

must be without sensation or matter it cannot come from without us and

therefore, must come from within us and furthermore, intuitions (pure

ones) are not products of experience. Now, it certainly seems to fol-

low that if intuitions are not products of experience and do not come

from without us, they must then (at least) originate apart from ex-

perience, and be constitutions of the human mind. Not only do they

originate apart from experience, they "lie ready for the sensations a

prior in the mind." It seems from the information provided above and

the conclusions drawn from that information that Experience exists only

when the matter of the world integrates with the possibility of re-

ceiving these sensations that constitute the human mind. What can be

added to this is that the form (in this case the pure intuitions, i.e.,

time and space) are the ground of experience without which Experience

is impossible.

Taken at face value, Experience becomes the outcome of a co-con-

stituting process between mind and world. The relationship between

mind and world appears to be one of equality. The pure intuitions are

the forming faculty that exist, that is, at least one of the structures

of the mind and the sensations come from the objects "out there." At

face value, Kant simply states the Hobbesian materialistic position.

This is, however, not the case. The deviation point, at least the

most basic deviation point, is what each philosopher will describe

as the object "out there." The object to which Kant refers, the object

which has matter and form, is the object of representation, or an ap-

pearance. Kant makes a distinction between an appearance and the

famous (perhaps infamous) thing-in-itself. Kant postulates this object,

the thing-in-itself as existing and as having some connection with the

human world; certainly not a connection in the sense of having any real

knowledge of it, but some vague connection nevertheless. But, what-

ever the connection is that exists between the human world and the

thing-in-itself, the connection is not an experiential one. So, the

matter "out there" from which sensation arises is not the matter of

the thing-in-itself. It is, rather, the matter of an appearance, an

object of representation. Now, an object of representation is an

object grounded in the pure intuitions of time and space known through

the categories, which are faculties'of the mind and not of the world.

So, even matter and sensation which come from "out there," i.e., which

arise from the object are somehow also conditioned or constituted by

the human mind. "Out there" has then taken on a peculiar meaning.

What it certainly does not mean, at least in terms of human knowledge,

is the world as it exists apart from human knowledge and experience.

In a strange way, strange, at least so far in what it means to be

"out there," what it means to be an "it," is also within me. The pure

intuitions of time and space, the derived empirical forms which are

the forms of specific objects, and the highly personalized sensations

from matter are all parts of appearances, which are constitutions of

the mind rather than co-constitutions between mind and world (world as

having independent existence, not world as the outcome of the constituting

principles and faculties of the mind).

It would seem that Kant is developing a very solipsistic point of

view, solipsistic in consequence if not in actual fact and intent.

However, since Kant's position seems to be one of quieting and uniting

the bits of truth that he sees in the screaming skeptics and the

barking dogmatists, this seems to be unlikely as a valid conclusion

to be drawn from the Critique of Pure Reason. Kant's drive for an

objectivity of the human Experience has two possible vehicles--either

the thing-in-itself or an examination of that strange use of the

exterior world. Prima facie, the thing-in-itself would seem to be the

easiest way to ground human Experience in objectivity. Unfortunately,

it won't do. There are too many passages in the Critique where Kant

denies the availability of the thing-in-itself as a ground for objectivity.

And, if his denial of the usefulness of the thing-in-itself as an

explanatory force were not enough, there is the fact that Kant himself

works out no relationship. The thing-in-itself is admitted almost as a

mere possibility with no real relevance for human experience and know-

ledge. So, we need to return to the curious world of "out there." The

"out there" for Kant is still in us. The clue for extricating ourselves

from this paradox lies in the distinction that Kant will make between

"contingent" and "necessary." What is necessary ends up being also

universal and therefore objective. The pure intuitions and the categories

of the mind are universal throughout all humans because they are the

bare structure, the ground, the forms of thought, that define a human

as human. They are necessary because, for Kant, human experience and

Experience would be totally different than it is, if the fundamental

grounding structures of the mind were different. This then is the

objectivity of the world, those structures of the mind through which

experience is grounded commonly to all people. The subjective, the

"in here" as that part of experience which is not common, is not

necessary for, and not universal for all human experience. Sensation,

arising from matter is contingent and therefore subjective. But the

form of objects arises from these common faculties and is therefore

the objective part of experience and Experience. So, for Kant, the

form/matter distinction becomes a distinction between the subjective

and the objective. Thus far what we have seen is that whatever else

constitutes the nature of human Experience, its base, ground, and

delicate structure is all human centered, much more than Leibniz who

had the world running in systems of parallel causality and even more

than Hobbes who granted an independent existence to the material of

the world, even though he (Hobbes) granted the human mind as the

synthesizing agent and the objects of perception as the result of the

synthesis done by the mind (or brain, as the case may be). But, while

in this paper, we have established the ground of human experience, we

have not yet developed an explication of its full nature. For that,

we must return to the Critique and explicate the specific nature of

the process that Kant calls "synthesis."

By synthesis, in its most general sense, I understand
the act of putting different representations together, and
of grasping what is manifold in them in one act of know-
ledge. . Synthesis of a manifold (be it given empirically
or a priori) is what first gives rise to knowledge . .
the synthesis is that which gathers the elements for knowledge,
and unites them to form a certain content. (B103 and A78)

From the passage just cited, it is reasonable to conclude that

the foundation of knowledge and Experience is the act of synthesis.

While it would not be fair or valid to say the following of knowledge,

it also seems reasonable to infer that not only is synthesis the

foundation of Experience, it is in fact Experience; the synthesis of

the sensations given by matter and the forms of intuition is what is

known as human Experience. Experience becomes the pulling together of

all the relationships possible in the human world to give rise to a

unity, a consistent unity. From the manifold experience is born the

unity of existence and it cannot be said that one Experiences at all

until one experiences unity. Of course, the unity which is being dis-

cussed is not the unity of the world "out there" (traditional sense),

for there is an entire existence which is cut off from human knowledge,

given humanity's incasement in the body and mental faculties. But,

nevertheless, humanity cannot experience an object, even an object of

the senses without the synthesis of the manifold having taken place.

It seems reasonable and valid to here conclude that as the Experience

and knowledge of an object, even one merely of the senses, is an act of

creating through synthesis unity of many parts, so the advancement of

knowledge is a creating and synthesizing of all the seemingly disparate

parts of experience into a unity, a unity in which the parts form

together consistently, such that each part gives and takes meaning and

significance from the whole and the whole has meaning and significance

through the relationships that exist among all of these parts.

The time has arrived for this part of the paper to be synthesized

into unity. In the quest to come to an understanding of Kant's view

of human Experience, we began with perception. Perception must be of

something, an object. At first Kant seemed to be making the fairly

standard primary/secondary quality distinction. But as we dug more

deeply into what it meant to be an object, to be an object of represen-

tation, to be an appearance, it became clear that while a case might

be made to assign sensations the status of secondary quality and empirical

intuitions the status of primary quality, to do so would have been to

lose the thrust of the uniqueness of the Kantian world-view. Speaking

traditionally, nothing is "out there" for us. While empirical in-

tuitions being forms of specific objects are "in" the object, they are

in an object in which form and matter can not be separated from the

faculties of the mind. So, nothing in human knowledge is independent

of human experience. We have also seen that intuition, especially pure

intuition, though mind based, claims objectivity because it is universal

to all humanity and necessary for experience, and that sensation is sub-

jective because it differs from individual to individual. Because of

the greater objectivity of intuition, because it figures into experience

as the transcendental ground of experience, intuition is more important

for knowledge and experience than is sensation (though both are necessary).

Because intuition is form; because "everything in our knowledge which

belongs to intuition contains nothing but mere relations . ." (B67),

it is evident that the formal relationships that exist between the

representations, between the objects of Experience, are more important

to Kant than any specific experience. Kant sees the important task of

his critical philosophy as being an understanding of the framework,

the form of knowledge. It will be in the understanding of this frame-

work, that philosophy will come to an understanding of nature, of what

it is to be a human and to know and to Experience. The task of philosophy

is to lay bare the unity of the world which is composed of meaning,

significance, and consistency of the relationships between all the

discrete sections of the world that we come to understand. Also im-

portant in Kant's philosophy is that not only is nature a real unity,

but each part of nature also comprises a total unity, a unity of forms

and relationships.

There is obviously a great wealth of areas left to explore and

explicate in the Critique of Pure Reason. There are many problems

and areas which have not been discussed. The lack of discussion of

these areas is not caused by the ignorance of their existence, but by

the realization that the main point of the discussion of the views

found in the Critique of Pure Reason is to build a framework upon which

to weave the fabric of Kant's aesthetic theory. As small as the area

covered is, it is adequate to found both Kant's aesthetic theory and

to place him in the proper perspective in front of Hobbes and Leibniz.

Let us begin to discuss Kant's aesthetic theory.

There are many ways to approach someone's aesthetic theory. Art

objects or the experience of the subject can be discussed. As might

be presumed, given the central place of experience and Experience in

Kant's general epistemological/metaphysical theory, the quality of the

subject's aesthetic experience is the main theme of Kant's aesthetic

theory. It would seem to be an obvious deduction that Kant's view of

the aesthetic experience will differ from his view of general experience.

For, if this were not the case, there would be no point to the Critique

of Judgement. Everything concerning aesthetics could have been taken

care of in the Critique of Pure Reason. It was demonstrated in the

previous sections on Hobbes and Leibniz that the aesthetic experience

was essentially the same as any other experience; the aesthetic experience

being in its essentials a subset of the general experience. Any dif-

ferences were to be marked in the object being experienced and, perhaps,

the feeling of the subject in the experience. At most the distinction

rested in the psychological as opposed to the philosophical aspect.

However, with Kant, it will be found that the aesthetic experience

differs not only in the psychology of the subject but also at a more

fundamental, philosophical plane of exactly what constitutes that

experience. So, the task of this paper becomes more difficult with

Kant than it did with either Hobbes or Leibniz. For, with Hobbes and

Leibniz the task was completed when the aesthetic experience was

subsumed under general experience. But, with Kant, the task is two-

fold. First, it is necessary to delineate the aesthetic experience

from experience in general at that fundamental plane previously mentioned

and by this delineation come to an understanding of the aesthetic ex-

perience through the understanding of what it is not. The second task

involves coming to terms with the dynamics of the relationship between

experience in general and the uniqueness of the aesthetic experience.

That is, even though the aesthetic experience is not merely a subsection

of experience in general, it still remains part of that living unity

which is the world of human experience, human knowledge, and the world.

Exactly what this place is, is the question to be answered in the

completion of the second task to be handled in this final part of this

section on Kant.

Before a detailed discussion of Kant's view on the aesthetic

experience can be done, there is an important terminology change which

needs to be accounted for. What has been called the aesthetic "experience"

all through this paper becomes the aesthetic "judgment" in Kant's terms.

This change in terminology is more than a mere change in a word. With

the change in term Kant begins the delineation of aesthetic from general

experience which will mark his aesthetic theory. What then is a

judgment? Basically, judgment is that which links reason and under-

standing, or, theoretical and practical philosophy.17 Since it is not

of either practical or theoretical philosophy but links them with each

other, it cannot be part of either, for then it could not be a real

link. Since Kant feels that it is a link and not part of the two types

of philosophy, a search for the full meaning of what it is to be a

judgment cannot come out of either type of philosophy. Here we seem

to have a problematic paradox. The concept of judgment, being the

link between the two types of philosophy, must be different from them.

Yet, if it is to be a link, it at least seems necessary that judgment

must have some commonality with the two types of philosophy. For if

reason, judgment, and understanding were completely alien to each

other, there could be no relationship between the three processes of

consciousness. The tension that Kant exhibits between experience in

general as exemplified by both the processes of reason and understanding,

and the aesthetic experience, as exemplified in his discussion on judg-

ment in general, points out rather graphically the tension already

mentioned in this paper.

The question, though, of what is judgment is still far from

being answered. To say that judgment is different from understanding

and reason is not enough. What is necessary still is to determine

exactly what that difference is. Interestingly enough, the method

used to attack this problem is the same as the method and assumptions

used to get at both understanding and reason. The method for the deter-

mination of what judgment is and isn't rests upon the search for an

underlying, a priori, transcendental principle by which judgment,

aesthetic or otherwise, is possible. While Kant will maintain that

judgment is different from either understanding or reason in that

judgment has a different transcendental principle behind it than

either understanding or reason, he is also maintaining a commonality

between the three by his maintenance of a common method of discovery

in that all three, understanding, reason, and judgment are, in a sense,

"objects" understandable by the understanding. The search for a principle

necessary for the possibility of judgment is the admission that judg-

ment, even the aesthetic judgment, is a rational, logical, human

process. Kant's metaphysical/epistemological system covers judgments

also, for judgment is ego-centered.

Kant realizes that whatever principle behind judgment he finds or

proposes, that the aesthetic judgment will be the test case for the

validity or workability of his proposal. He says "This perplexity

about a principle (whether it is subjective or objective) presents

itself mainly in those judgments that we call aesthetical, which con-
cern the beautiful and the sublime of nature or of art."18 What Kant

seems to be painfully aware of here is that the field of aesthetics

is the battle ground of many theories and inadequacies. To say that

this principle is merely subjective is, according to the Critique of

Pure Reason, to say that aesthetic judgment differs from individual

to individual, that the whole thing is a matter of "taste." It is

also to make the claim that there is no commonality between people in

what constitutes an aesthetic experience (except possibly by luck).

This seems to run counter to common Experience. While there is a variety

in what people like in art, there are scenes, experiences, and art

objects which are held beautiful by many or all. It also does seem

to be the case that people do communicate about art and aesthetic

experiences. To say that the principle is objective again according

to the work done in the Critique of Pure Reason, is to say that the

principle is common to all humans, embedded somehow in human conscious-

ness. The problem is to account for the variety in human taste. Also,

too often, the view that there is such a principle and that that

principle has objective validity has led to the position that certain

rigid rules and regulations must be applied to the determination of

what in nature and/or art is beautiful or aesthetically pleasing. The

problem here is obvious. If those deduced rules are held to too

strictly, much of what "seems" aesthetically pleasing will be eliminated

from the vategory. If the rules are too vague, then there is no point

in having the principle or the rules and regulations. So, somehow,

the principle which Kant proposes and its scope and limitations must

tread the narrow ground left between the two positions described.

Kant will go the route of holding that the principle of the aesthetic

judgment has some type of objective validity. That he does do this

and that he must hold this position is obvious from the position trans-

cendental philosophy holds in his philosophy. It is really a tautology

to say that transcendental philosophy is important to Kant. For, his

philosophy is transcendental philosophy. Transcendental philosophy

implies the use of the transcendental method which is a procedure of

arguing from what people do to the necessary, foundational principles

which make what we do possible to be done. This implies that what it

is to come to terms with the world and our actions is to reach back

to those necessary and universal principles which make possible our

actions and our world. Through various avenues of thought Kant

arrives at that principle of judgment which he believes will cover all

the bases of what it is to be a judgment and accord a unity and base

for the aesthetic judgment. The principle, which he designates as

the principle of "purposiveness" is defined in the following way:

As universal laws of nature have their ground in our
understanding, which prescribes them to nature (although
only according to the universal concept of it as nature),
so empirical laws, in respect of what is in them left
undetermined by these universal laws, must be considered
in accordance with such a unity as they would have if an
understanding (although not our understanding) had furnished
them to our cognitive faculties, so as to make possible a
system of experience according to particular laws of
nature . but this faculty thus gives a law only to
itself, and not to nature.19

Exactly what does this formulation mean? And what is implied by

this formulation? The first thing to note is that the formulation is

set up as an analogy based upon the work done on the understanding in

the Critique of Pure Reason. This implies two things. One is that there

is a relationship between the work done on the metaphysical/epistemological

system and the work to be done on the judgment. The second implication

to be derived is that since it is done as an analogy, the work to be

done on judgment is different from the work done on the understanding.

The principle behind judgment does not come from the understanding.

What is common between understanding and judgment is that judgment

acts as if it were based on the understanding, that is, judgment acts

upon the world given to us by understanding according to the principles

of the cognitive experience. So, judgment while not being cognitive

acts in accord with cognitive principles and makes a unified system of

experience possible. Analogies often supply more information about

something when viewed from the aspect of the difference between the

parts of the analogy than when viewed from the aspect of the similarities

between the parts of the analogy. This is especially true with the

analogy quoted above. As we know from the Critique of Pure Reason,

the outcome of the cognitive principles is to give objective validity to

the processes of the external world (objective in that cross-play

of inner and outer as discussed previously in this paper). In judg-

ment, however, the principle behind it gives validity only to judg-

ment, not the objects about which the judgments are made. It is there-

fore, self-reflecting and in a sense, subjective. But, it is, strangely

enough, subjective in an objective way. It is subjective because it

refers and gives validity only to judgment and not about the world.

But, it is objective in the sense that it is the common principle behind

human judgment, not merely a comment upon an individual's judgment.

So the principle behind judgment is objective as it crosses across all

human judgments. It is subjective as it tells only about what it is

to be a judgment not what it is to be an object in the world. Another

difference between understanding (cognitive knowledge) and judgment,

a difference which grows out of the objective/subjective distinction

is that there is a sense in which the principles of cognitive knowledge

are regulative and constitutive. That is they are determinants of

reality. But, the principle behind judgment is neither determinent

nor regulative. It serves, says Kant, not for determining objects

but rather for how to reflect upon objects. The most important con-

sequences of this distinction for the purposes of this paper, is that

the principle behind judgment cannot be used to make judgments about

objects, especially objects of aesthetic interest. As will become

more obvious in that section of the problem in the Critique of Judgement.

the investigation done by Kant on the principle upon which judg-

ment depends, and of course then, aesthetic judgment, is not being

done to find a standard by which to measure nature and art objects

for their aesthetic value. The truth of this statement has two aspects

which are important to the study being done in this paper. First, it

points to the fact that Kant, in his study of the aesthetic experience

will not go the way of trying to find some ultimate, rigid criteria

to be used to judge any specific scene or art object. The result of

the study will not be some check list with points to be compared with

the object in question, thereby to make some quantitative evaluation

of an object or experience. The second important aspect to be brought

forth is that just as Kant did descriptive metaphysics, he will also

be doing descriptive aesthetics. The point will be to come to terms

with the human aesthetic experience not to dictate how one should have

an aesthetic experience nor to evaluate an aesthetic experience as

good or bad, right or wrong.

This then is a general account of that principle behind any

judgment. But, it still remains to come to terms with exactly what

that principle is. A first step in coming to terms with an idea is

often in the naming of that idea. Let's try that approach here. The

name Kant gives to the principle in question is "purposiveness." As

the name implies, "purposiveness" carries with it the idea of having a

purpose, a reason, rather than being random or aimless. The name thus

fits perfectly with the explanation of the concept given previously.

Of purposiveness Kant says: "There is, then, something in our judg-

ments upon nature which makes us attentive to its purposiveness for

our understanding--an endeavor to bring, where possible, its dissimilar

laws under higher ones, though still always empirical--and thus, if

successful, makes us feel pleasure in that harmony of these with our

cognitive faculty, which harmony we regard as merely contingent."20

With this piece of information given to us by Kant, we can complete

our examination of the principle of purposiveness in all judgments.

While the passage quoted prior to the one above cited stressed the im-

portance of unity, the one just cited above gives to us where the

unity is. The unity exists not so much in the world, but between con-

sciousness and the world of experience. The principle behind judgment

comes from or causes that feeling of "harmony," that feeling of being

in perfect integration with the world. It's obvious that the question

which prompted the answer given above by Kant is, why do humans give

events or observations the meaning and significance which they do?

Logically speaking, given any event "A," there is an infinite number

of ways in which that event can be explained and understood, an infinite

number of meanings are possible for any given event. Why are some

selected and some rejected outright? The answer for Kant is that the

judgment rests upon the need, or perhaps, just the ability, to give

that event an integrated meaning, one which fits together with other

experiences and other principles. Basically, Kant seems to be making

the point also made later by C. I. Lewis that man is by nature a

meaning seeking creature. To give some event meaning and significance

is to be able to place that event in a context which both illuminates

the event and gives greater illumination to the context. As we at-

tribute meaning to events, we come closer to developing an understanding

of the context of the experienced world. The feeling of pleasure comes

from being able to fit or integrate the event, much like the pleasure

felt when one finishes a particularly difficult jig-saw puzzle. There

,is certainly some amount of pleasure in the reinforcement of the idea

that as humans we too fit into the big puzzle, fit into as being able

to come to terms with the puzzle. As we look at this passage more

closely, we can realize that there seems to be a paradox involved in

the passage. From the Critique of Pure Reason, we know that these laws

are laws of the experienced world, the world of phenomena, which is

the world synthesized through the categories, which lead to that strange

integration of external and internal. Since this is the case, then

there should be no surprise or pleasure at the harmony between the

cognitive faculties and the events of the world. For, in a sense,

the cognitive faculties generate those same events. Why doesn't Kant

explain the situation in that way? Why does he talk of the harmony

being contingent? One possible explanation is that purposiveness

involves the noumenal world popping up here and there. This seems

to be ruled out on the grounds that in order for the event of the

world to be experienced so that it can be integrated, it must be

synthesized through the categories. This of course means that the

event must be an event of the phenomenal world. Perhaps the paradox

can be explained by referring to different planes of explanations.

What Kant does in the Critique of Pure Reason is investigate the grounds

of rationality. What Kant is doing in the Critique of Judgement is

investigating the ground of being in the "immediate" world of experience.

It is one thing, a rational thing, to come to the formulation of general

principles about how the world is, how it works and why. It is another

thing to experience discrete events. The beauty, the wonder, comes

in perceiving that those everyday events can be adequately explained

in terms of those rational, more general, or higher principles. If

the paradox is to be explained in terms of the logical or "rational,"

it cannot be explained away. But, the paradox fades, even if it doesn't

entirely disappear, when we come to understand that what the Critique

of Judgement is trying to come to terms with is not so much why we

experience as we do, but how we experience those experiences. The unity

of the world, the unity of the mind, is not a given. It is a working

hypothesis. If there is no unity, either in consciousness or in the

world, it would then seem to be the case that there would be no under-

standing either of world or consciousness. What would result would be

a kind of hopelessness. Humanity would become no more than the rocks and

the sands. So, the harmony is neither necessary nor a given. But,

the harmony is contingent--everyday to be met and challenged. With each

event properly integrated into its proper theme and motif, our hold on

the world of experience is reaffirmed. What else but pleasure could be

the result of such ability?

With the knowledge thus far gleaned that purposiveness is the

concept which Kant gives as the name of the human ability to grant

meaning and significance to the events of the world and our place in

it, we also find that the principle of purposiveness is neither regulative

nor constitutive, but is self-reflexive, referring to the immediate

situation of the one making the judgment. Since these claims are about

judgments-in-general, it seems that we ought to turn our attention to

the specific case of the aesthetic judgment.

The aesthetic judgment is the judgment of taste. By "taste"
Kant means "the faculty of judging of the beautiful.21 Kant here does
Kant means "the faculty of judging of the beautiful." Kant here does

not break much ground. That aesthetics, its experience and judgment

is of the beautiful is old, old territory. What Kant will do with it

and why something is beautiful will be different than much of whatwas

done previous to his work. Since the aesthetic judgment, being a

judgment, is subjective in the sense of bestowing nothing objective

but rather on the subject and has reference to the feeling of pleasure,

Kant feels that he must make some discrimination. People have many

feelings with many referents. Many of these various feelings can be

classified as pleasure. Kant wants to make the case that all cases

of pleasure are not necessarily cases of the beautiful, that is, not

all pleasurable feelings result from the judgment of taste. So, Kant

begins by trying to sort out the feelings of pleasure brought on by

the judgment of taste from those not. One of the first aspects he

mentions is what he calls disinterestednesss." Since the aesthetic

judgment of taste bestows nothing on the object but is a comment on

the subject, any judgment upon an object which depends upon the existence

of the object, or of qualities of the object, must be disqualified as

being an aesthetic judgment. Kant places emphasis upon three types

of pleasure. People take pleasure in the beautiful, the pleasant, and

the good. The pleasure taken from the pleasant, and the good are not

aesthetic pleasures. They are not derivable from the judgment of taste.

Kant's reasoning is that both the pleasure from the pleasant and from

the good involve a decided interest in the object. If the pleasure is

from the pleasant then the pleasure is purely physical, which of course

needs an object. If the pleasure is derived from the judgment of

goodness, then that implies that the object has some use which we

classify as being worthwhile, as contributing to or for something. What's

left is the disinterestedness of the beautiful. What this concept

implies is not boredom but rather that the pleasure derived has no

other reason or purpose to it. Also implied is a type of calm,

reflective satisfaction in the feeling of pleasure rather than the

object or uses to which the object can be put. Although Hobbes and

Kant read quite similarly to a point, already Kant has begun a departure

from Hobbes. For Hobbes held as valuable to aesthetics or an aesthetic

object that it teach. He held this'to the point that some of his analysis

of what makes a poem worthwhile aesthetically is often the didactic

qualities. Certain themes were appropriate; others not. It is already

apparent that Kant can accept no such view. For that is to go beyond

the calm pleasure in the feeling to finding some use for the object such

as teaching proper morals. Kant has just cut one tether from the ties

that bound the aesthetic experience. In the conclusions that Kant

draws in the "First Moment" of the Critique of Judgement which are

sketched above, Kant sets the ground for the rest of the discussion on

the beautiful. The judgment of taste is concerned with the feelings

in the subject which do not extend to physical pleasure or to use,

as moral instructor or otherwise. This will bring Kant into that pro-

blem discussed earlier in this paper, the place of the aesthetic judg-

ment. If the judgment is not grounded in the object, what kind of

objectivity can it have? If it has some objectivity, why do so many

people disagree on what is beautiful? It if has no objectivity what-

soever, how can it then have a universal principle behind it? Why not

just write the whole thing off? Why then can people communicate to

each other about the beautiful?

Let us begin with the problem of objectivity. The question that

is asked in this context is, "Can aesthetic judgments be right or

wrong?" If "X" feels that a certain object is beautiful and "Y" feels

that it is not, is one of them correct and the other wrong? What would

it mean if this were true? Obviously, it would imply some standard,

a Form of the Beautiful, by which the object could be checked; it would

imply some check list in the heavens above the heavens which would be

the final referee in such a decision on the rightness or wrongness of

some opinion. Kant is prohibited from going this route by two aspects

of his philosophy. The first is his contention that the referent of

the aesthetic judgment is not the object qua object but the subject.

The second is his view that aesthetic judgments do not rest on con-

cepts for that would make them cognitive. What are the implications if

the answer to the question is that one is just as correct as the other?

This would mean that the judgment of beauty is a matter of personal

opinion on the order of a personal preference for frozen, prebreaded

fishsticks rather than fresh cooked lobster. Yet Kant cannot take this

view either for he distinguishes the taste of sense from the taste of

reflection and points out that the aesthetic judgment makes a claim on

universality.22 This is very strange indeed. A claim of universality

usually entails a right and wrong; the view that if one does not see a

certain thing in a certain way, then that vision is wrong. Generally,

also, a claim of universal validity implies some way to verify, even

if only theoretically. But, these usual entailments of a claim of

universal validity are negated in Kant. At least Kant recognizes this

problem. He says: .. the aesthetical universality which is

ascribed to a judgement must be of a particular kind, because it does

not unite the predicate of beauty with the concept of the object,

considered in its whole logical sphere, and yet extends it to the

whole sphere of judging persons."23 Even while recognizing the problem,

Kant appears to be holding out a contradiction as the answer to the

problem. It isn't universal and there are no verifying standards,

yet it extends to all judging persons, many of whom will have differing

opinions upon any particular object.

The resolution of this apparent paradox resides in the recognition

and understanding of exactly what Kant is up to in his Critiques. Kant

starts from his perception of what we do and moves to the reasons, the

causes, for what we do. As the Critique of Pure Reason was involved with

descriptive metaphysics/epistemology, so the Critique of Judgement is in-

volved in the task of descriptive aesthetics. His desire is not to

set down criteria for proper aesthetics but rather to come to terms

with what we do. The seeming contradiction of his formulation of the

principle behind the aesthetic judgment is not a fault in Kant's

philosophy but an accurate description of what we do. The contradiction

is not in Kant, but in ourselves, for all the reasons previously men-

tioned in this paper. This is another example of how Kant has managed

to set aesthetics free. While Hobbes and Leibniz were concerned with

establishing "proper" aesthetic theory, based loosely, if at all, on

what people do, Kant realizes that "proper" aesthetic theory must come

from, must in fact, end in, the variety of human experience.

Yet, Kant also tries to come to terms with what appears to be

the unity of the variety of the human aesthetic experience. Kant

divides the variety of the aesthetic sense into empirical and pure.24

Empirical aesthetic judgments take matters of the sense into account,

i.e., color, tone, etc. Pure aesthetic judgments abstract the objects

of sensation from the object until only the form is left. We can assume

here that the form is the way that the parts of the object fit together

to form a unity. From our knowledge of the Critique of Pure Reason, we

can reasonably assume that the "pure" judgment or the judgment based

upon the formal aspects of the object is higher, in that it is more

general and therefore, more universal. Both Hobbes and Leibniz were,

to a point, formalists, bearing down upon the harmony of the unity of

the parts of the object. What sets Kant apart from both Hobbes and

Leibniz is that they assumed that color, tone, texture, and/or moral

values in the piece could affirm or negate the form. That is, no

matter how well a poem were to be written, an "inappropriate" theme

could ruin the aesthetic value of the poem. Also, for Leibniz in

particular, but Hobbes also, if the theme were not founded in the reality

of the world, its worth would be less. Also for Leibniz and Hobbes,

an appropriate theme could raise a badly written poem or badly done

painting to a higher plane of aesthetic value. Kant appears to be

making the pure formalist claim that it is possible to find an object

unpleasant, yet aesthetically pleasing. This seems to be true. An

example of something which many people find aesthetically pleasing but

also unpleasant is Picasso's "Guernica."

If the pure aesthetic judgment is the more universal, what does

this say about the mental processes, about the aesthetic experience?

Certainly, it seems that there is a sense in which the aesthetic

experience bears similarity to experience-in-general. For, experience

in-general relies upon the synthesizing capabilities of the human

mind, the productive imagination. The pure judgment of taste relies

upon the productive imagination, also. For the appreciation of the

pure form of an object, whether natural or human-made, the ability

to synthesize the various parts into a harmonious unity is necessary.

In the same sense that humanity creates the world in that strange inner/

outer relationship explored previously in this paper, humanity also

creates the object of the aesthetic experience. But, more than either

Hobbes or Leibniz, Kant recognizes that the aesthetic experience is

not the same as experience-in-general. For, experience-in-general

depends more upon the object than does the aesthetic experience. It

is this difference which sets the aesthetic experience apart. While

experience-in-general is bound to the object, the aesthetic experience

is free; the productive imagination is free to play with all the possible

combinations of the parts of the object. The joy which the individual

feels in the aesthetic Experience stems not only from the purposiveness,

the principle which enables us to bring unity to the chaos of the parts,

but from the freedom of being bound by no objective, external rules and

limitations. While it is clear that Kant's aesthetic theory is founded

in his general metaphysical/epistemological theory as set forth in the

Critique of Pure Reason, it is also clear that it is not imprisoned by

the conclusions of the First Critique. So, Kant sets aesthetics free

by liberating it from the compulsion to be only a subset of reality or

its mirror; by enlarging the available themes, since content is secondary

to form; and, perhaps most importantly of all, by both validating the

infinite variety of the aesthetic experience and by validating the

unity of its basic form which allows communication between different



When we first look at the works of Hegel, it might well seem dif-

ficult to include him in our saga as we have included the ones who

came before him. For Hobbes, Leibniz, and Kant, the aesthetic percep-

tion could well be blended in with other aspects of their work. An

aesthetic perception or experience was aesthetic regardless of the

object in question. For Hegel, however, the task of "aesthetics" (when

he allowed himself to use the term) was the study of art. To allow it

to do anything else was to muddle-up the whole study with irrelevancies

and perhaps, to miss the whole point. And as he says:

We shall . permit the name Aesthetics to stand, because
it is nothing but a name, and so is indifferent to us, and,
moreover, has up to a certain point passed into common
language. As a name, therefore, it may be retained. The
proper expression, however, for our science is "The Philosophy
of Art," or more definitely, the "Philosophy of Fine Art."25

So, the question is certainly a good one of how it is possible

to include the work of Hegel in an essay devoted to the aesthetic

experience in general without regard to the specific object involved.

How does Hegel help form the ground for the rest of this study? The

view that this thesis takes, which is surely not original with it, is

that there is a sense in which Hegel's view on fine art underpins the

rest of his philosophy. In an echo of the work done by Leibniz, all

of philosophy is the aesthetic experience. This of course is not to

say that Hegel simply repeats the words of Leibniz, but it will be

maintained that Hegel will articulate the same insight as Leibniz with

the important difference that Leibniz spoke of an already existing

external world while Hegel closets his philosophy in the ever-increasing

power of human consciousness, and to further consciousness in its

drive to become not the mere imitation of the aesthetic universe as

it was in Leibniz but a medium of power--power to open, to grasp the

absolute, the totality of the organic unity of existence. It is to

this end and with this emphasis that we allow ourselves to ignore the

scorn Hegel had of "aesthetics" and use him to demonstrate the expanding

freedom of the subject in the history of aesthetics. Let us quote at


But what we mean to consider, is the art which is free in
its end as its means.
That art is in the abstract capable of serving other aims,
and of being a mere pastime, is more over a relation which
it shares with thought. For, on the one hand, science, in
the shape of subservient understanding, submits to be used
for finite purposes, and as an accidental means, and in that
case is not self-determined but determined by finite objects
and relations; but, on the other hand liberates itself from
this service to rise in free independence to the obtainment
of truth, in which medium, free from all interference, it
fulfills itself in conformity with its proper aims.
Fine art is not real art till it is in this sense free,
and only achieves its highest task when it has taken its
place in the same sphere with religion and philosophy and
has become simply a mode of revealing to consciousness and
bringing to utterance the divine nature, the deepest interests
of humanity, and the most comprehensive truths of mind.26

The reason this passage has been quoted at such length is that it can

serve as a central point of departure for our study of Hegel's views

on "fine" art. From there we develop the main theses of liberation.

At first reading it might seem that Hegel is a step or two backwards.

While he talks about fine art being the only true art and thus being

the only aesthetic vehicle for the freedom of consciousness, he talks

about the obtainment of truth. Is there here, as might seem, a contra-

diction to our theme? The answer is a confirmed negative. For lodged

in this quote is an implication of the scope of knowledge that

constituted "truth" for Hegel. If we were going to devote a great

deal of time, say if Hegel were the main topic of this thesis, we

might well copy the device used in analyzing the work of Kant and speak

of Hegel's conception of Truth as opposed to truth. But, the truth to

which Hegel refers in this passage is not the everyday version cor-

responding to certain empirical facts, but is a truth of, pardon the

poetics, the soul, a truth of the essence of existence. This view will

be demonstrated by a sequence of quotes to be used at a slightly later

point in this work. But what is this higher truth? How does art,

truly free art, lead us to this truth? The beginning of the answers

to these questions can be found in two points that Hegel brings up at

the end of the quote above. Art, he says, must take its place alongside

religion and philosophy, and through the mechanism by which it works

reveal to us the "utterance of the divine nature, the deepest interests

of humanity, and the most comprehensive truths of the human mind." The

function of art, by which it marks its individuality is not to enter-
tain or arouse passions or even tell moral stories27 but is to provide

another medium by which the human can be raised to these comprehensive

truths. It is to somehow extend human consciousness beyond the every-

day mode of existence into a kind of spiritual elevation. We can also

mark that while Hegel believes that real art, free art, is to be free

from finite ends, believes that it must be elevated to the sphere of

religion and philosophy in its ability to encompass the spiritual truth

of existence, he does not conflate the three. If he does not conflate

these mediums of knowledge, it seems to follow that there is also some-

thing unique to the artistic or aesthetic endeavor. With these

generalities we have managed to set a focus for the theme we wish to

develop. As the others before him (except Hobbes) Hegel sees that

there is something important to the ability of humanity to have an

aesthetic experience, something beyond pleasure or morality, that some-

how the significance of this is inherent in the spiritual search for

meaning and truth, and that to dismiss this need and ability as merely

emotional, pleasurable, or moral is to lose grasp on the real function

or significance of the artistic and aesthetic ability. If we were just

to stop here with Hegel, it would seem that we have him glorying in the

ineffable splendor of the artistic and aesthetic. For a philosopher

who somehow manages to hold on to the concreteness of the Absolute,

to have him in this position is unthinkable. So, let us become concrete

and return to the words of the man himself.

We may, however, begin at once by asserting that artistic
beauty stands higher than nature. For the beauty of art
is the beauty2 hat is born-born again, that is-of the
mind . .

Art liberates the real import of appearances from the
semblance and deception of this bad and fleeting world
and imparts to phenomenal semblances a higher reality, born
of mind. The appearances of art, therefore, far from being
mere semblances, have the higher reality and the more
genuine existence in comparison with the realities of
common life. 29

There are several conceptions to get at here which will begin a more

concrete understanding of what Hegel is about. First of all, we can

note that Hegel's limitation of his work to art was not done as an

enslavement of the aesthetic experience but in recognition of the power

and freedom of that human experience. It seems safe to say that Hegel

felt that the ultimate expression of this mode of human liberation was

in the activity of human consciousness. It can be easily inferred

that he felt that an appreciation one might have of the beauty of

nature, even if it reached the depths of Kant's notion of the sublime,

was too passive for his taste. For human consciousness to be caught

in the throes of appreciation and awe was to render it a slave to the

object. But the art object was an expression of the human's ability

to take hold of experience, to render it again, not simply as a repro-

duction, a Platonic "bad" imitation, but to in a sense breathe new life

and meaning into the ordinary world of existence. This "re-presentation"

serves to illuminate, we think for Hegel two aspects of truth. The

first is that the human spirit has the capacity to see beyond the

particulars of the phenomenal world into the permanence, the structures

of the world. The second is that it drives home to the human spirit

its own importance and power. The world does not exist on its own,

dead to meaning and significance, but exists in its meaning as a con-

sequence of the human spiritual power of organization, distillation,

and re-interpretation. Or, as Hegel will tell us in his treatise on

the philosophy of history, knowledge is not simply the recognition

of particular empirical facts, but an understanding of the structures,

the tensions, the unity of the life force in which these particulars

exist,30 so art stands above nature as exhibiting a higher reality be-

cause art is an expression of the spirit's ability to see truth in the

varied ephemeral world of appearance. Fine art then does not rest in

the apprehension of the phenomenal world but is and allows us to transcend

this world. The liberation of art is necessary for its use as a liberation

of human consciousness. Fine art, free art, does not revel in the

passions which tie the human to the ephemeral, but works to free the

spirit, the mind. It touches the core of this drive for truth.

But here we still appear to have a problem. Once again we seem to

be singing praise to the ineffable. Is there any way to concretize?

Let us as a start, reassess our knowledge. We find that Hegel holds

that the real essence of art and the aesthetic comes by allowing it

the freedom to transcend the realms of the particular and phenomenal,

the ordinary human experience. Only when it is allowed this freedom

can it liberate human consciousness to seek for truth. Art, although

different, can be on the same level, be in the same sphere, as religion

and philosophy. So, at this point it seems that we have two tasks ahead

of us to complete our explication of Hegel. The first is to come to

terms with this truth of which Hegel sings, the second is to examine

and determine the uniqueness that art retains while contributing to

this same truth of philosophy and religion. Let us begin now the attack

on the first question. Hegel tells us:

.so far art . has, for us, a presupposition which
lies beyond our consideration, and which, being a different
content, belongs in a scientific treatment to a different
branch of philosophical study. We have thus no other
alternative than to presuppose the conception of art, some-
thing that is the case with all philosophical sciences when
considered individually and in isolation. For it is nothing
short of the whole of philosophy that is the knowledge of
the universe as in itself one single organic totality which
developed itself out of its own conception and which, returning
into itself so as to form a whole in virtue of the necessity
in which it is placed towards itself, binds itself together
with itself into one single word of truth.31

At last we have a clue as to the nature of this truth which fine

art expresses (along with philosophy and religion). Art, properly done

has the power to allow us to take hold of the world as "one single

organic totality." But, of course we must ask what this phrase means.

Let us examine the phrase closely, word-by-word and then attempt to put

it back together. The world, the universe is "one." It would seem safe

to infer that since we have for long been talking about both the world

as material and the world as consciousness that at least for starters,

we can say that for Hegel there is a oneness to mind and matter. But

does this mean that mind and matter'are the same? Does it mean that we

are dealing with Hegel as a Berkelyian Idealist or a Platonic Realist?

From this quote alone it would be difficult to say. But we have at our

disposal the realization that Hegel felt that human-made beauty was

"more real" than nature-made beauty. This seems to indicate that he is

making some distinction between the world of mind and the world of

matter with that of mind being more real. But, there is still some

kind of oneness to the universe, so let us turn to the next word. Un-

fortunately, the word is "single," and does not help. But, the next

word is "organic." The universe is organic. To be organic is to be

alive, to have a pattern of growth of spirit. It is also to have an

almost contradictory aspect of being both isolated as an individual

and a necessary dependence upon the rest of the environment. That is,

I might well claim that a certain plant is organic because it is a

living, growing, organism with a nature of its own and also claim that

there are certain conditions necessary in the environment for that

organism to change its potential qualities to actual existence. Let us

look at the last word: "totality." The universe is an organic totality.

This word immediately brings up images of addition, of totaling various

numbers up. This, when we put it back together does not seem to be

that far off from what Hegel meant. The universe is the totality of

its various diverse features. But, does this mean merely that if I

am to understand the universe, I, so to speak, "add-up" its many

diverse elements? This interpretation is contraindicated by several

things, not the least of which is that this totality has a one-ness, a

singleness. The truth of the universe is then the understanding that

the many diverse elements, the particulars of phenomenal experience,

together form a single truth, a single universe. What we have is not

an exercise in addition, but an exercise in synthesis, not throwing

together but uniting the parts of the one. There is one more element

to re-integrate into the definition, the idea of organic. This synthesis

of parts is organic. Let us take the fact that Hegel is in a special

sense speaking in an analogy--that the universe as a whole is like an

organism. It grows, it unfolds, it is sustained in this growth by

necessary environmental conditions such as the relationships that exist

between the diverse elements. Let us return to the example of the plant.

The plant, to grow needs both sun and water. But too much water and/or

too much sun will not sustain it but kill it. Just so is the universe.

The organic nature of the universe also implies that as far as truth or

meaning, each part takes it from the relationship it has with the other

parts and to the whole--and the whole, the unity would not be what it

is without the various parts being in their particular relationship.

This is the truth that free art holds out for us if we only allow it to

liberate the spirit of us. But it is also important to stress here

that this transcendent truth cannot survive cut-off from the particulars.

The universe is not all form and no content. The truth of the universe

rests upon this antithetical tension that empty structures are as

meaningless as structureless particulars. The universe is not simply

totality, it is organic totality. Now that we have finally managed to

capture this truth of which Hegel speaks, it is time that our attention

turns to the way art qua art serves as the medium for allowing us to

grasp this truth.

This brings us to the second question. What, if any, is the unique

place of art and the aesthetic in Hegel's philosophy? It certainly does

not exist in the object, the end. For, the object or end of art, the

truth of the organic totality of the universe is the same as that of

both religion and philosophy. But Hegel also maintains that art as

this medium of truth, while being in the sphere of philosophy and religion

is also worthy of study, is a worthy medium for truth. It seems, then,

that if we are to seek for the uniqueness of art and the aesthetic,

we must seek for it in the mode of apprehension of this truth. Hegel,

in his own way tells us and then leaves it for us to unpack the answer.

.art has the vocation of revealing the truth in the
form of sensuous artistic shape, of representing the
reconciled antithesis just described, and therefore, has 32
its purpose in itself, in this representation and revelation.

What antithesis? Perhaps this is the reference.

.it is the contrast of the universal and particular,
when the former is explicitly fixed over against the latter,
just as the latter is over against the former. More con-
cretely, it appears in nature as the opposition of the
abstract law against the abundance of individual phenomena,
each having its own character.33

When we check all through Hegel's works we realize that there is

a sense in which both religion and philosophy have as their vocation the

revelation of truth through the reconciliation of these tensions

between the particular and universal. Witness Hegel's exegesis of

Christianity as a progression because it embodied the Absolute in

Christ and Hegel's historical approach to the study of philosophy.

But, as we said before the distinction must reside in the mode of

apprehension. Art we see reveals this totality by reconciling the

tension through the sensuous artistic shape. That is, the way in which

art represents the particulars is the key to its use as a medium of

truth. This, however, is not sufficient to say. What does it mean?

Hegel appears to be making the move that art has in its own essence

found the way to reconcile universal tensions through the unique manner

in which it represents itself to the subject. Its own individual tension

rests in the fact that even in its most abstract form it utilizes as its

subject the most particular of all experience, the sensuous, that

which affects the senses and utilizes as its most perfect form an organic

totality. As we saw in Leibniz before and in our discussion of Hegel's

concept of the truth to which the spirit aspires, each part, the color,

the representational subject, etc., retains its own individual character,

but they gather together to expose the unity of the whole. The signifi-

cance, the "Idea of beauty,"34 is in this tension. Truth is won as

the tension built impacts to form the unity, to then of course, through

the progression of art, form new tensions. In art, the delicate

balance of the form/content tension is what allows art to "become what

it is."35

It is not to be imagined by anyone, especially this author, that

in these few words we have really come to grips with the entirety of

Hegel's philosophy. But we have, we believe, accurately sketched out

the outlines of his work on art and the aesthetic experience. What

is left is to sum-up what we wish to emphasize, to reveal as an

adequate ground for the main arguments to be presented in this thesis.

The easiest way to sum up is to state that Hegel has made the move of

harnessing Kant's free play of the imagination. Where Kant succeeded

in wresting art and the aesthetic from the jail of the moralists and

succeeded in setting it apart to pursue its own purposes, Hegel has

directed this activity, recognized that the expressions of art are more

than "play" but are expressions of, touch something profound in the

human, spirit. While we may (and in a sense, do) disagree with what

Hegel has it touch, that he has placed art in the range of the truly

significant human endeavors is a move most important and for which any-

one interested in studying aesthetics must be grateful.

Vernon Lee

Hegel is not the end of philosophy. Nor is he the last detail of

the narrative we have been trying to paint, against which to figure

the main arguments. The stage is, however, almost set. With the ad-

dition of one more piece we can proceed to the work of Ernst Cassirer.

But before we go to him, we need to skip about seventy years in time

and a few hundred miles to England, Victorian England, and the work of

Vernon Lee. Lee and her collaborator, C. Anstruther-Thomson (C.A-T)

are not strictly speaking, philosophers. As a matter of fact, both

would feel quite offended if we were to call them philosophers. They

were psychologists, alive with the fire and hope of a brand-new field

of study. There is however, a real need to include a sketch of the

theory put forth by her and Anstruther-Thomson if we are to proceed

with a correct historical perspective to our task. Once again, we

will take the view not that we agree and accept everything said by

her and "CAT" but that they articulated a new, important aspect to

the study of aesthetics which furthers the cause of the liberation of

aesthetics. Philosophically, we might well consider their work a step

backwards. For they were not in the least interested in philosophical

issues, but thought that the key to aesthetics was to place it squarely

in the psycho-physiological frame of reference. We will risk the wrath

of Lee and CAT and dare some philosophical inferences. Let us now turn

to a short study of the theory of "empathy."

Einfuhlung, i.e. the act of interpreting new visible facts
in terms of our previous experience, of seeing a new shape
in the light of a familial one, of attributing monument to
form, life to movement, and of miming initially the move-
ment thus attributed .6

. it was evident that the feelings in which one was
supposed to share were feelings which the branch of the
tree did not experience; they were the feelings which we
should have had, not in becoming a branch, but in trans-
porting into the branch our own human nature.37

to be beautiful implies a relation entirely sui generis
between visible and audible forms and ourselves 38

.all the real truth in the EinfUhlung hypothesis is
connected with the subjective existence of the work of art,
that is to say, with the idea of it which we make for
ourselves . .39

With these salient statements concerning the theory of empathy before

us, let us begin our explication. Let us begin with the third quote

cited rather than the first because it represents the most abstract

statement concerning the nature of aesthetic empathy. It is a fairly

simple statement but it bears emphasis. The realm of the beautiful

has been moved from the world and from the free play of the imagination

to exist not solely in the object, not solely in the subject, but

in the relationship between the forms of art and the beautiful and

the observer. We have moved finally into a kind of co-extensiveness

between self and object with the object existing somewhere "between"

the two, that is in the interplay between the two. But, what is the

nature of this relationship? For that we turn to the first quote.

That section can be rendered quite simply. The relationship exists in

the "re-seeing" of the familiar, that is in being able to take objects

or their representations out of the ordinary contexts in which we normally

view them and in the process instilling a new life into the object of

apprehension. The aesthetic experience is not a completely foreign one,

but one couched in a frame of reference of the familial but in someway

managing to escape the mundane, managing, we might say to re-figure

itself into a new significance. For a fuller explanation of what is

occurring let us turn our attention to the second quote. This section

can best be summarized by saying that part of this re-seeing is seeing

the object not as object but as subject, as a "thou" not an "it." This

"thou" is not an alien other, but an intimate "thou," a "thou" which

is more an "I" than an other. To complete the picture drawn we only

need refer to the last quote. We approach this quote last because it

would be very easy to misinterpret it without the others as context.

The truth, she says, of the theory resides in the observation that the

work of art is that which we made of it ourselves. Just taken by itself

this quote could mean that she means to say that if I look at a food

stain on my rug and see a representation of the organic totality of

the universe and you see a food stain, then we are both right. While

there may well be a sense in which this is true, what Lee really

seems to be getting at is that an object, be it a food stain or a

painting by Da Vinci, is only so much physical matter until it is

seen, and seen in the sense of re-seen. But the art object or object

of the aesthetic experience participates in the creation of the aesthetic

experience. It also participates of itself. That is a result of the

investment of the "thou-ness" in the object. When we create the ob-

ject in its subjectness we participate with it as it is, not how we

might think a particular author might have meant us to participate with

it. This is obviously a strict psychological interpretation of the

phenomenon in question. What, if any, are the philosophical implica-

tions? We wish to make only a summary sketch of an answer for this

question at this time. The full answer will unfold in the chapters

which follow. But, it opens up the avenue of approaching the aesthetic

experience from a more balanced view of looking not for truth in the

object or quirks in the subject but rather of viewing the aesthetic

experience as one of meaning and significance for the subject created

within the boundaries of the object. It also will lay the foundation

for arguing that there are many ways to be in the world, not just the

modes articulated by the relationship between a subject and a passive,

inert, fixed object. It will also give us the ground to argue in

perspective the importance of the existential context to determine the

meaning and significance of any experience, but particularly the aesthetic


Finally, the background has been painted in. Perhaps before we

begin the main figure of the work it will be worth our while to cast

an eye over the territory already covered. We started with Leibniz

who invested the unity and beauty of the universe "out there" to be

discovered in life and imitated in art. Then Hobbes showed us that

the human mind synthesized its information but chained art and the

aesthetic experience to didactics, not realizing, perhaps that we use

the word "good" in many contexts. Kant follows to liberate aesthetics,

to set it free of the necessity to conform to any kind of pre-stylized

reality. While Hegel clipped its wings a bit and brought its force

to use as a medium of good, he also-instilled it into a life where art

could unfold its potentiality through the apprehension of the balance

of tension between form and content. And finally we ended with Lee

who shows us the importance of the co-extension between self and ob-

ject in the framework of specific existential contexts. But, all of

these are beginnings. Let us now turn to the work of Ernst Cassirer

to reconcile some of the tensions created in this historical ground-



Gottfried Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz: Philosophical
Papers and Letters, edited by Leroy Loemker, Chicago, University
of Chicago Press, 1956, p. 1034, paragraphs 1 and 2.

21bid., p. 1035, paragraph 3.
Ibid., p. 1035, paragraph 4.

Ibid., p. 1035, paragraph 3.

5bid., p. 1055, paragraph 62.

Ibid., p. 1034, paragraph 2.


Ibid., p. 1041, paragraph 14.

9 bid., p. 795.

Collier Books, 1971, p. 21.

12Ibid., p. 22.

13Thomas Hobbes, The English Works of Thomas Hobbes, edited
by Sir William Molesworth, John Bohn, 1840, vol. iv, p. 4419.

14Clarence Thorpe, The Aesthetic Theory of Thomas Hobbes,
Ann Arbor, Mi., University of Michigan Press, 1940, p. 107.

15Thomas Hobbes, The English Works of Thomas Hobbes, edited by
Sir William Molesworth, vol. iv, p. 452.

161n Kant Scholarship reference to passages in the Critique of
Pure Reason are not done in the standard manner. References are
made in the text by noting the edition in which the quote appears
and the section number of the quote. Thus, (Bl) means that the quote
appears in the "B" edition, section 1. Sometimes the same section
was used by Kant in both editions. This is noted by listing both
places. For example, (A34/B20) means that the quote appears in the
"A" edition, section 34 and the "B" edition, section 20. All such
references in this chapter are taken from the Critique of Pure Reason
by Immanuel Kant, translated by Norman Kemp Smith, published by St.
Martin's Press of New York City in 1929.

Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgement, translated by J. H.
Bernard, New York, NY, Hafner Publishing, 1972, pp. 4 and 7.

18Ibid., p. 9.

19Ibid., pp. 16 and 17.

20Ibid., p. 24.

21Ibid., p. 37.

22Ibid., pp. 48 and 49.

23bid. p. 49.

24Ibid., p. 59.

G. W. F. Hegel, On Art, Religion, Philosophy, translated by
Bernard Bosanquet, edited by J. Glenn Gray, New York, NY, Harper
and Row, 1970, pp. 22 and 23.

26Ibid., p. 29.

27bid., p. 83.

28Ibid., p. 23.
Ibid., p. 23.

29 bid p. 31.
Ibid., p. 31.

30Ibid., p. 214.

3 Ibid., p. 50.

I3 bid., p. 87.

33Ibid., pp. 84 and 85.

34Ibid., p. 127.

35Ibid., p. 227.

36Vernon Lee and C. Anstruther-Thomson, Beauty and Ugliness And
Other Studies in Psychological Aesthetics, London, John Lane, The
Bodley Head, 1912, p. 336.

37Ibid., p. 47.

38Ibid., p. 10.

39Ibid., p. 59.



A person caught in a philosophical confusion is like a man
in a room who wants to get out. He tries the window but it
is too high; he tries the chimney but it is too narrow. And
if he would only turn around, he would see that the door has
been open all the time.

--Ludwig Wittgenstein

The first of the major figures to be painted on the canvas is

Ernst Cassirer, or rather his work. Once again we violate the interests

of chronology in the interest of thematic concerns. Cassirer will endow

our picture with the outlines, the insight of the work. This is not to

say that Peirce, too, did not have his insights, but that with Peirce

we see a more well-defined tool of inquiry and it seems more coherent

to set the question before attacking the method by which we can answer

the question. At the outset, let us make a few general remarks. Cassirer,

traditionally held to be a Neo-Kantian, strikes us more as a Neo-Hegelian

or maybe just a Hegel set in the context of the twentieth-century. That

this is closer to the proper background for him will become relevant as

we grapple with the ultimate vision of his work. Cassirer is also widely

viewed as principally a philosopher of science. While it is true that

some of this has been dispelled as the works with which we are concerned

have gained increasing popularity in philosophic circles, it is still

true that this fiction hangs on. We will not be concerned with his

philosophy of science except as it can be used as a foil to measure

his more comprehensive works against. As Cassirer matured philo-

sophically, he too seemed to use science not as the end of knowledge

but as a mode of knowledge only understood properly in its correct con-

textual relationship with both the other modes and with the totality

of existence (dare we say "The Absolute?"). We use this small digression

about science as a means of reminding both ourselves and the reader that

regardless of how lyrical both Cassirer and we shall wax on the special

significance of art and the aestheti-c perception or experience, that it

is a modality towards understanding reality, it is not the modality.

Perhaps one of Cassirer's major contributions to philosophy is that he

recast with genius the master insights of Kant and Hegel that philosophy

is the study of human consciousness and that philosophy is the modality

by which understanding understands understanding, that it is through

this that we make the world our own. With this general field articulated,

let us now turn to the specific study of Cassirer's work so relevant

to our study of the aesthetic experience.

Without specifically enunciating Hegel's concept of the aufgehoben

Cassirer maintains that there is a fundamental continuity in the order

of knowing, that new or different modes of knowledge must be considered

in the contexts of the other forms still existing or prior. This implies

that there was once, either historically or logically, one fundamental

mode of human experience which lives and can be understood in the various

modes that we have now. Since this is the basic form of human awareness,

it grounds all of the others. As the fundamental ground of consciousness,

it must be discovered and understood before any of the other modes can

adequately be objects of our understanding. This fundamental mode of

human experience, Cassirer terms "The phenomenon of pure expression"

and is defined as:

. a kind of experience of reality which is situated wholly
outside this form of scientific explanation and interpretation.
It is present wherever the being that is apprehended in percep-
tion confronts us not as a reality of things, of mere objects,
but as a kind of presence of living subjects. I

There are several points in this definition which need to be emphasized.

The first is that this mode of apprehension is a mode or experience of

reality, the real. It is not fantasy nor ignorance even though it lies

outside the realm of scientific interpretation. It is not a reality of

object-ness but rather a reality of subjectness. It is crucial to point

out here that this does not mean that the reality of scientific inter-

pretation is objective and the reality of this expression is subjective.

It is more the case that the phenomenon of pure expression is that state

of apprehension which perceives the world as a "living subject." This

is not the end of Cassirer's explication, though. As happens in all

definitions, it merely sets the borders which need to be filled in.

This filling in of detail presents something of a problem. Cassirer

is looking at what he sees to be the necessary precondition for all

our other modes of knowledge. One of these modes is language. Language,

then represents a mode of consciousness which follows from the phenomenon

of pure expression. Since this explanation of the phenomenon is done

through the medium of language, it cannot completely describe it. While

language, art, religion, science will be founded upon the phenomenon,

once the move has been made away from the immediacy of this pre-linguistic

consciousness, there is no way to grasp it qua immediacy but only through

the structures that we have now at our disposal. How then, do we come

to grips with it? Cassirer tells us to look at the work of myth. The

various myths that we have at our disposal are, of course, done in the

medium of language. But, they express a certain transition point.

Myth will take on a certain kind of schizophrenic frame, of articulating

through the medium of language, the world-view of this phenomenon of

pure expression. So, before we can return to the definition as such,

we must wind our way around it through the avenue of dealing with the

importance of myth.

There have been many attempts to place myth in the evolution of

human knowledge. Basically, the majority of thinkers have finally

ascribed to it the character of being either "bad" science or "bad"

religion. Cassirer will take another avenue altogether.

From the very start myth, as an original mode of con-
figuration, raises a certain barrier against the world of
passive sense impression: it too, like art and cognition,
arises in a process of separation from immediate reality,
i.e. that which is simply given.2

Myth, insofar as it has not yet deviated from
its fundamental and original form, sees real identity. The
"image" does not represent the "thing"; it is the thing;
it does not merely stand for the object, but has the same 3
actuality, so that it replaces the thing's immediate presence.

Let us examine the first of these quotes first. At initial glance it

seems that it might be contradictory to what has been written so far.

But if we re-examine our explication of and the definition of the

phenomenon of pure expression, we find that pure expression is the first

mode of apprehension, perhaps the first mode of experience. But where

Kant says that all knowledge is founded on experience, Cassirer says

that all experience is founded on perception. That is, logically

speaking, the reality of the given, the reality of "immediacy" is prior

to expression. Cassirer makes the point, though, that this is not a

part of experience. Experience "of the world is no mere receiving,

no repetition of a given structure of reality, but comprises a free

activity of the spirit."4 For Cassirer the basic element of human

consciousness (perhaps even all animal consciousness) is not the

physiological process of an atomic bombardment upon the various sense

organs resulting in discrete sensations which are then turned into

objects of sensation. The first element is the apprehension of the lived

subjectness of the world, which myth articulates.

Before we continue, it seems incumbent upon us to make a certain

set of points. Cassirer does not deny that there is a physiology of

perception; he does not deny the reality of the physicist's explanation.

But, it is important to remember that Cassirer says that he is doing

phenomenology. While he claims to be doing it in the manner of Hegel and

not in the sense of the "Moderns,6 it seems to us that he can be

explained in both ways. The "moderns" of phenomenology are concerned

not with theoretical constructs as such but with what is the significance

of human experience. No matter how adequate the physiological explana-

tions are, they have nothing whatsoever to do with the phenomena of

human experience. Cassirer's use of the possibility of the completely

given reality of the world seems close to Kant's assertion that the

noumenal conditioned the phenomenal. We would like to argue that the

positing of such of reality is more unfortunate for Cassirer than it

was for Kant. Kant was searching for truth and needed the relationship

between the noumenal and phenomenal to avoid charges of solipsism.

Cassirer, concerned with meaning and significance, needs no such logical

construct. That he feels he does is a denial of the true phenomenological

method, but then he did warn us to limit our expectations. But, with

this short and necessary digression completed, it is time to return to

the phenomenon of pure expression, at least as articulated through

the mode of mythic consciousness. This line will bring us back to

the second part of the above set of quotes.

Since Cassirer is speaking of myth that has not yet become re-

moved from the initial form of expression, it seems that we can take

this characteristic mentioned as being of the phenomenon of pure expres-

sion. What we see here is in that first grapple to articulate, the

world is a world of identity, that is, certain sharp distinctions given

the other modes of knowledge have not yet been formulated. It seems

reasonable to assume that if in myth there are "objects" and images,

even though they are taken to have the same actuality, that the original

form of expression was one without distinctions. What would this entail?

Obviously, at the very least, that the world was apprehended without any

form of fixedness. But, how far does this lack of distinction go? "Life

is still a single unbroken stream of becoming, a dynamic flow which only

very gradually divides into separate waves."7 But this brings up an

important and considerable problem. If this undifferentiated becoming

is a method of apprehending the world and any form of apprehension is

the product of the activity of a subject, doesn't any mode of appre-

hension require a subject, an "I" in which to situate this subject,

this consciousness? Cassirer, we claim, would say that the answer to

this question is both yes and no. That consciousness is involved,

that some kind of apprehending subject is logically necessary, is cer-

tain. But that this subject is an "I" and is an "object" (for want of

a better word) of experience is not so certain, is, in fact neither

necessary nor correct. The key to his response is in the fact that the

"I", that which we call the self is in a world of distinctions an

object of experience. As yet in our drama of human consciousness there

are no objects, there are only subjects. And, as we look even more

closely at Cassirer's description of the phenomenon of pure expression

we will find that the world-at-large is understood, apprehended in the

same quality tones that later modes will reserve to the self. It is

important to realize even at this early point in our work, that we will

not lose this primal apprehension of reality, but will only begin a pro-

cess of restricting the qualities more and more until they become only

human characteristics. This restriction will occur to the point that

anyone who tries to throw them back into the world will be accused of

anthropomorphizingg." But exactly what is the phenomen of pure ex-

pression? We know that it is the product of an active subject which

is apprehending a world, universe, of object-less subjects, that it is,

to use a nice turn of words, undifferentiated becoming. But, for a

better grasp of what Cassirer is about here, let us turn our view towards

the term "pure expression." Both words of this term are operative in

coming to a full understanding of the significance of this mode. To

"express" something has really two connotations. One is to mean some-

thing, to mean something in a relationship even more intimate than to

represent. That is, if I say that a certain fashion of the day,

"represents" bourgeois morals, that is not quite as much a condemnation

as if I were to say that the fashion "expresses" the same kind of moral

values. To represent is, to "stand for something," that is to re-

present the "thing" stood for. It is not the thing, but a re-presenta-

tion of it. But it seems that when x expresses y, the connection is much

more intimate than when x represents y. There is a very good sense

in which we can say that the idea of x expressing y is done as a kind

of summation or culmination point, by which we come to really under-

stand that which we are trying to understand. With this additional

information, let us turn our attention to the idea of "pure." "Pure"

is usually taken to mean unadulterated. If something is "pure baloney"

then we want to say that there is absolutely nothing redeeming to

rationality in the statement. "Pure Expression" must then need to be

unadulterated expression. But what could expression be adulterated with,

anyway? The answer here is not obvious. But if we take a quick over-

view of where Cassirer is heading in his three works that comprise The

Philosophy of Symbolic Forms a guess that is coherent can be rendered.

Cassirer traces the development of the objectifying of reality, of

gradually making distinctions and discrimination between objects of

our apprehension and of catching and fixing these objects with qualities,

with attributes that remain constant throughout. Perhaps a better way

of putting it is that in the objectifying of existence we do not fix

objects but fix qualities, that is we situate them within the confines

of an object. Or, in Hegel's words that we move from pure form to

the concrete. When we realize what Cassirer is about we can with some

peace of mind hazard the guess that expression is pure if and only if

it has not been fixed to an object. This primal foundation of knowledge

must then be the apprehension of the world as pure quality, or a better

way to put it, pure emotion. It is the world of pain, of peace, of

fear, of joy but not painful objects, peaceful nights, frightening

objects, or even joyous moments. Perhaps it is the world reflected

in statements made by us today such as "the tension was so thick you

could cut it with a knife." People are not tense, but rather the mood

of the entire situation is tense. If this is the meaning of the

phenomenon of pure expression--the apprehension of an unsituated quality,

what is or are the consequences of it?

One obvious consequence of it was by fact not by necessity, that

the human consciousness began a process of discrimination, of catching

these qualities and pinning them into either the subject or the object.

But let us look at the necessary consequences of being in such a state

of apprehension: What is the meaning of this state in terms of experience?

This must be a world of total oneness. Realize that this is not a world

of unity. For, to be unified implies that there are discrete parts

which fit together. In this world of the constant, undifferentiated

becoming of quality, there are no parts. There is, to say it a bit

more succinctly, simply the existence of quality. For whatever reason,

this state of singularity does not for long exist as the mode of

apprehension. From these qualities the human consciousness will begin

a process of tearing the world into bits, not to destroy, but merely

to build up again, not into a oneness, but into a totality or unity

of these "parts" of existence and experience.

But the first product of this process of discrimination will not

be the "it" according to Cassirer. The new process of apprehension will

yield "another," the "Thou" of Cassirer's philosophy.

The farther back we trace perception, the greater becomes
the preeminence of the "thou" form over the "it" form, and
the more plainly the purely expressive character takes pre-
cedence over the matter or thing-character.8

If we take just a little time to consider this turn of events,

we soon see that there is really no other way it could occur when we

accept the explication of the phenomenon of pure expression as given

above. Two things seem evident at the outside. My first discrimination

is not going to be one radically different from the previous mode of

apprehension. The second evident fact of this discrimination is that

if I mark off the world in terms of another, then there must be some-

thing which is not an other, and that is the beginning, anyway, of the

concept of "I." This mark of the self, however, will not be the kind

of self that we consider today. For it also will, must, be cast in the

same context of the other. "Other," "Thou" do not grow out of some

concept of the self, the "I." Rather, each grows up together in a kind

of coextensive character of existence and experience. But what is the

nature of this boundary between "I" and "thou?"

In all these transitions we are again immediately aware
of that dynamic which belongs to the essence of every true
spiritual form of expression. In every such form the rigid
limit between "inside" and "outside," the "subjective" and
the "objective," does not subsist as such but begins, as it
were, to grow fluid.9

While Cassirer gives many examples of this fluidity in terms of mytho-

logical stories, we prefer the one of Zeus. Zeus was in a constant

state of changing his form, depending upon what young maiden he wished

to seduce. Yet, throughout his nefarious changes, such as being a bull

or a swan, he remained Zeus, only Zeus in another form. In this same

way, the boundaries set upon certain qualities could shift. This shift

was not a result, we believe, of some inherent mistake in the fixing of

qualities, but was a result of the context in which the attributes

were captured. Realize that this is the world of the "thou," the living

subject, not the world of the "it," the dead object. Living subjects

are ambiguous, filled with a multitude of possibilities. They change

around all the time, now being a real "bear," at another time being a

real "pussycat." And, it only seems natural that since the self is

co-extensive with the "thou" that not only will the boundaries between

the various others shift and flow, but that the boundary between the "I"

and the "thou" will also shift and flow.

Before we proceed on in the evolution of consciousness, particularly

the evolution of the mythic consciousness, it is important to realize

that there is a real distinction to be drawn between the primordial mythic

consciousness and mythology. Mythology, or rather, mythologies, are

the language-stories that have been passed down through time. Since

they have been communicated to us, they have undergone an alteration,

not so much of different cultures, but of language. Once the mythic

consciousness is expressible in a linguistic form, its character has

altered to fit the necessity of this form of articulation. Now, it may

well be argued that the first form of expressing mythic consciousness

was not words, but images, cave paintings and sculptures such as totems.

Historically, there is no way to demonstrate the possibility that language

arrives after images and totems. The use of images and totems may well

have been used prior to writing, but that says nothing about language

as such, language as articulation plus meaning. Fortunately, the temporal

priority of one or the other does not affect the significance of the

relationship we wish to explicate. The point is that something funda-

mental occurred when human consciousness began to use both language and

image to capture the world. Another point is that mythology ex-

presses a certain tension between the form of the phenomenon of pure

expression and the form of language and image.

It would also seem wise at this point to make an assessment of

where we have arrived The eventual point of this section will be

an explication and evaluation of Cassirer's work on the meaning and

significance of art and the aesthetic experience. The starting point was

the phenomenon of pure expression. To finish the journey, it is necessary

for us to travel this somewhat circuitous route. For, only by determining

exactly how language and image affect the fundamental mode of apprehension

of pure expression, will we be able to fully grasp the refraction of

art in the play of human consciousness. And it is only in capturing

this refraction that we will be able to grasp the meaning and signifi-

cance of the aesthetic experience. Now that we have re-established

the scope of this inquiry, let us turn to Cassirer's conception of

language and image and just how they affect the phenomenon of pure


At the bottom, the foundation, of language and the image is for

Cassirer, the sign. (We will see much more of this foundation of language

and image during the next chapter.) As such it is only by thoroughly

understanding the nature and function of a sign that we are able to

understand language and image and exactly how it is that they affect the

perception of the phenomenon of pure expression. Cassirer tells us:

the sign is no mere accidental cloak of the idea,
but its necessary and essential organ. It serves not
merely to connunicate a complete and given thought-
content, but is an instrument, by means of which this

content developed and fully defines itself. The con-
ceptual definition of a content goes hand in hand with
its stabilization in some characteristic sign.10

In the imminent development of the mind the acquisition
of the sign really constitutes a first and necessary step
towards knowledge of the objective nature of the thing.
For consciousness the sign is, as it were, the first stage
and the first demonstration of objectivity; because through
it the constant flux of the contents of consciousness is
for the first time halted, because in it something enduring
is determined and emphasized.11

These two sections have been quoted at length because they express

as completely as possible the effect of the growth of signs on the

phenomenon of pure expression. Essentially what we see is that with the

advent of the sign, consciousness moves from the apprehension of expres-

sion to the apprehension of representation. It might even be said that

it is with the advent of the sign that consciousness begins to have

"ideas," non-identical concepts that stand for, capture if you will,

the "thing" of our experience. It is important at this point to stop

and emphasize a few points. First we note that the sign is not a mere

reproduction of a "thing." Of course it would not be possible to make

such an interpretation in Cassirer's framework, since it is only through

the use of signs, that "things," "its" will enter consciousness. The

main point here is that the sign is an instrument whose essence

is its function, is its ability to begin the separation process of an-

alysis in which it can encase the whole of existence into particular

entities. The sign process then becomes the way we have of making a

distance between us and it, and it will be through this process that

consciousness will become not a mere apprehending "thing," but an "I"

which apprehends "the world out there." But as would seem evident,

it was not the case in this evolution of consciousness that there was

one great epiphany whereby consciousness suddenly "knew" that there

were objects in the world. It was a slow transition during which

the boundaries would move a bit here and there. One example is the

story of Zeus we gave earlier in this section. Another example is the

mythic consciousness as "expressed" or perhaps "represented" in the

image-magic of early cave drawings.

It is characteristic, for example, of the first seemingly
naive and unreflecting manifestations of linguistic thinking
and mythical thinking, that they do not clearly distinguish
between the content of the "thing" and the content of the
"sign," but indifferently merge the two. The name of a thing
and the thing itself are inseparably fused; the mere word
or image contains a magic force through which the essence of
the thing gives itself to us.12

There are several points to add to our explication here. Not only does

the passage immediately above show the transition stage, it points to

the future of the sign process. If we make the claim that in this

initial stage of sign consciousness the sign and the thing that the

sign stands for are often the same, what claim have we really made? It

seems that we need to take this stage of consciousness as having in

fact occurred or it would be very difficult to account for such phenomenon

of human experience as voodoo, where a drawing or a tiny sculpture can

be used to either kill or help a person not because of some acausal

relationship between the person and the "doll" but because the doll is

the person. Another kind of example, this time of name-magic, is the

"gold-eyed needle" act.13 If these human actions are to be understood

in terms of how they possess meaning in human experience, the fact of

the merging of sign and thing can only be accepted. But what does this

fact of evolution say about the importance of the surge of the sign

process? Cassirer locates the significance first of all in terms of
memory that process of merely reproducing the thing. But, we wish

to differ slightly from Cassirer's formulation that the point or at

least the result of being able to fix the thing in memory is to be

able to call forth the thing at will. Cassirer seems to believe that

this stage of consciousness provides simply a means of independence.

Our emphasis is not only one of independence but one of power. That is,

my ability to call forth the thing at my own will--to capture it on a

cave wall--implies both my independence and control. Perhaps the dif-

ference between the views expressed by Cassirer and me is more a matter

of emphasis, for in the end we will once again merge. But the emphasis

is important. Name- and image-magic become in our view, while also a

step towards objectification, a residual expression of the "thou" of the

phenomenon of pure expression. The world "out there" was still a world

of living subjects, of animate Being and Becoming which needed to be

held and dominated by human consciousness. This point of emphasis be-

comes also a way of explaining the difference between cave drawings

and the relationships expressed in the stories of Zeus. That Zeus, as

a god, changes forms can be seen not only or merely as the inability

or lack of desire to fix qualities but as that feeling that Zeus, as a

deity, is not the kind of being who can be fixed and dominated by human

consciousness. It is its own expression of the feeling that gods or

God is not dominated by consciousness but rather slips out of human

grasp, the beginning perhaps of the modern view of religion that God's

attributes are not to be fixed, not to be understood as other objects

are understood but in some, perhaps ineffable way. While it may seem

that we have come far afield in our study, this point will be referred

to and will become necessary to try to get at the difference between

the aesthetic and religious experiences. But, let us return to that

section of the world which consciousness feels that it can fix, can

capture, can dominate and use at will. Let us return to the idea of

the sign process as one of also marking distinctions, of creating dif-

ferences and thereby distances between self and the world. In terms

of this gaining control, what is the importance of the sign process?

There is the obvious, that control could not have been gained without

it. But is there more than this: that is, what are the consequences of

this taking control? To see where Cassirer will take us in this move-

ment, we need to return to the source once again.

In each one of its freely projected signs the human spirit
apprehends the object and at the same time apprehends itself
and its own formation laws. And this peculiar interpretation
prepares the way for the deeper determination both of
subject and object.15

For what language designates and expresses is neither ex-
clusively subjective nor exclusively objective; it effects
a new mediation, a particular reciprocal relation between
the two factors. . language arises where the two ends
are joined so creating a new synthesis of "I" and "world."

It is in this stage of explication that we must be extremely careful to

be precise. It cannot be doubted that in the move from the apprehension

of the pure expression of quality to the apprehension of distinction and

discrimination as provided by the vehicle of the sign process, that human

consciousness had, in a sense, set itself off from the world "out there."

No longer is there a single-ness to the nature of existence. There is

at least the fundamental distinction between the "I" of consciousness

and the "thou," or the "it" of the world-out-there. But in this

fundamental truth Cassirer does in no way claim to be making a judg-

ment that this now is bad, that it represents, say, an isolation of

human consciousness which denies the truth of real existence. Not only

does he claim that this move was made, but that this move was necessary

and, if we can be pardoned for bordering on a "naturalistic fallacy,"

that this movement was "good." Not only is sign process a prerequisite

for coming to grips with the nature of existence, but it begins the

drive for unity. That is, out of singleness is derived diversity and

out of diversity is derived unity. The sign process is a function, he

says, of mediating, of synthesizing "I" and "the world." It is not a

phantasy, solipsistic creation, nor is it merely the reception of a cer-

tain given. Only when the sign process functions can we, as human beings,

begin to understand the world of unity through the meaning and signifi-

cance of the "reciprocal relation" that exists between the parts. It

is at this point that we see not solely a throw-back to Kant's cate-

gories of human understanding being conditioned by the noumenal, but

the active spirit of Hegel's Aufgehoben rising up and in one move

destroying and preserving the world of the phenomenon of pure expression.

It is at this point in our exegesis that we can harken back to two points

which may well have been perceived by the reader as having been forgotten;

the full explication of the phenomenon of pure expression and the strange

twists which mythology gives to the mythic consciousness, a consciousness

based upon the phenomenon of pure expression. Some of what we will say

is in the form of a recapitulation. But perhaps it helps to bring

these points to a convergence. The beginning of this section was done

in an attempt to understand the nature of Cassirer's theory of the

phenomenon of pure expression. What we have discovered is that we

cannot make such a categorization. That is, we cannot understand the

phenomenon of pure expression in its own context. For to articulate,

to make a situation or concept my own, is to pin it down, to capture

it, to dominate it so that it does my own will. In terms of the language

we have spoken so far, we cannot come to an understanding of this form

of human consciousness except through the Aufgehoben. Only by losing it

to the world of the sign process, to the fixation of language and image

can we regather it to discover it once again, as it plays in our own

field of consciousness. We tie it up in this living contradiction--that

to know it is to lose it and to lose it is to know it. Mythic con-

sciousness expresses this living contradiction and knows the world of

expression only by losing it to the world of representation, through

the medium of the sign function. So, our words are hedging, metaphoric,

perhaps, if well done, poetic. They do not truly capture this form of

human consciousness. In truth, they are incapable of achieving such a

prize. For to completely tie it down would be to deny it the significance

of its own existence and that is something that we cannot allow ourself

to consider as a task. For, it will be the special nature of the con-

sciousness of pure expression which will serve as a vital foundation of

our explication of how art and the aesthetic experience are to be

grasped in their true meaning. But, it does seem that if, due to its

nature, the phenomenon of pure expression cannot be totally grasped,

the function-of the sign process, due to its nature can. And, it will

take a careful explication of Cassirer's view of how it functions before

we can understand the value of art and the aesthetic experience as not a

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