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By Benedetto Croce

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For example, the fault found with the _Jerusalem Delivered_, based upon the history of the Crusades, or of the Homeric poems, upon that of the verisimilitude of the costume of the emperors and kings? At other times has been imposed upon art the duty of the aesthetic reproduction of historical reality. This is another of the erroneous significations assumed by the theory concerning _the imitation of nature_. Verism and naturalism have since afforded the spectacle of a confusion of the aesthetic fact with the processes of the natural sciences, by aiming at some sort of _experimental_ drama or romance.

They have claimed to portray, not the evolution of the _artistic spirit_, but the _evolution of classes_. The philosophical condemnation of artistic and literary classes is found in the formulation and demonstration of what artistic activity has ever sought and good taste ever recognized. What is to be done if good taste and the real fact, put into formulas, sometimes assume the air of paradoxes? _ Now if we talk of tragedies, comedies, dramas, romances, pictures of everyday life, battle-pieces, landscapes, seascapes, poems, versicles, lyrics, and the like, if it be only with a view to be understood, and to draw attention in general and approximatively to certain groups of works, to which, for one reason or another, it is desired to draw attention, in that case, no scientific error has been committed.

Nor do we employ it in the ample sense of other systems, which understand by will the energy of the spirit, the spirit or activity in general, making of every act of the human spirit an act of will. Neither such metaphysical nor such metaphorical meaning is ours. For us, the will is, as generally accepted, that activity of the spirit, which differs from the mere theoretical contemplation of things, and is productive, not of knowledge, but of actions. Action is really action, in so far as it is voluntary.

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AESTHETIC AS SCIENCE OF EXPRESSION AND GENERAL LINGUISTIC by Benedetto Croce


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