New Bearings in Esthetics and Art Criticism

A Study in Semantics and Evaluation

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"ART" AND "BEAUTY"                                  33
not only are susceptible to an idealistic metaphysic but who also are easily persuaded by language that is, in the main, loose, unspecific, and abstract; and conversely, his opponents will object not merely to his philosophic idealism but even more, if they are at all semantically minded, to the verbalistic manner in which it is expounded. Thus, while the esthetic writings of Croce raise real problems of great interest, these problems can only be intelligently discussed when Crocean verbal snares have been resolved. For example, Professor Bowers remarks in regard to the Crocean question: can we always express what we intuit?
This question is ambiguous: (1) If it means Can we always express for ourselves what we really intuit? the answer is yes, for we can always devise a symbolism whose meaning is clear to us. But Croce cannot mean the assertion in this form since it implies that there can be no degree of expressiveness. (2) If it means: can we always communicate to others what we really intuit? (which appears to be Croce's meaning) the answer is no; for communication presupposes a common language and a capacity to use it; and to have intuitions does not entail capacity to manipulate a common language.62
Croce's identification of intuition with expression and of both with art is the central feature, as everyone knows, of his esthetics. Now in the first place, nothing important is or could be accomplished by the substitution of these words one for another as strict synonyms, and in the second place, precisely what does Croce mean by any of these key terms? Does he define them? And if so, what sort of definitions does he give? In his discussion of intuition, Croce tells us that intuitive knowledge is one of the two possible types of knowledge, and that it is obtained through the imagination; he tells us further that intuition is not a sensation and that percep-
62. D. F. Bowers, in an unpublished lecture.