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The Arts in the "Encyclopdie" Author(s): George Boas Source: The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol.

23, No. 1, In Honor of Thomas Munro (Autumn, 1964), pp. 97-107 Published by: Wiley on behalf of The American Society for Aesthetics Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/428142 . Accessed: 15/06/2013 08:55
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GEORGE BOAS

The

Arts

in

the

opea "Encyclopedie" .:ncyc

THE

"ENCYCLOPIDIE"

ATTEMPTED

to

ful-

fill a double role. It was both to expound and explain the interrelations among the various subjects known to men and also, as a "dictionary of the sciences, arts, and crafts," to point out the bases and most essential details of every science and art, be the latter liberal or, in the language of the time, mechanical. D'Alembert's Discours preliminaire emphasized the principle that both are closely linked, and it is likely that just as he believed one of the main problems of philosophy to be the relationship between what he called our sensations and our ideas, so he maintained that the arts in some way not fully explained were an expression of the former and the sciences an expression of the latter. We shall try to make the importance of this apparently innocent remark a bit clearer. Following the familiar route of the eighteenth-century sensationalist, D'Alembert argued that our sensations first put us in contact with an external world and reveal to us in the form of pleasure and pain the good and the bad. We soon learn to seek those things which will produce the good and to avoid those which will lead us into evil. This search reveals to us the existence of our fellowmen and we soon discover that only by association with them can our program be carried out. But such an association depends upon the communication of our ideas and out of this necessity arises the formation both of societies and of language. Both then are to be judged by their utility as instruments of self-preservation. This principle, which is enunciated on the third

page of the Discours, is, as far as possible in a work by so many hands, the guiding principle of the entire Encyclopedie. Primarily knowledge must center about the problem of preserving the body, either by preventing evils which might happen to it or by eliminating those which have already occurred. Such arts as agriculture and medicine are cited as the bases not only of the survival of primitive societies but also as the sources of all knowledge, even of those which seem remote from utility. To trace the development of the arts and sciences from such useful knowledge was a problem which both D'Alembert and his successors through the nineteenth century took as a central problem. It was one which we find later in Comte and might even be thought of as the kernel of what is now known as the sociology of knowledge. But D'Alembert, who was a mathematician as well as a social reformer and knew very well that some knowledge seemed to have no practical value whatsoever, said,
The mind, accustomed to meditation and hungry for the fruits thereof, must have found a sort of stimulation in the discovery of the properties of bodies that were simply curious, a discovery which knows no bounds. In fact, if a large number of agreeable bits of knowledge sufficed to console one for the privation of a useful truth, one could maintain that the study of Nature, when it cannot satisfy our needs, gives us at least a profusion of pleasures... Furthermore, amongst our needs and the objects of our passions, pleasure holds one of the foremost positions, and curiosity is a need for him who knows how to think, above all when this restless desire is animated by a sort of annoyance at not being able to be completely satisfied.

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Thus a great number of things were discovered simply because our curiosity concerning the useful cannot be assuaged. But here too we are likely to maintain that even the most apparently useless knowledge will some day prove useful. This, says the mathematical physicist, is the source of that vast science known as physics. The inconsistency of this point of view is obvious. It is an inconsistency which is common to the historian who does not believe that an idea can itself have a history, that societies may preserve instruments which originate in utility long after they have become obsolete, that human beings sometimes deceive themselves into thinking that a symbol cannot change its reference. D'Alembert's weakness was either his refusal to grant that simple pleasure was itself useful or that the human mind early in its career found that logically consistent systems turned out to be the more useful, in the sense of applicable, than inconsistent collections of ideas or random practices. In any event, as early as the fourth page of his Discours, he turned his back on the principle of utility and from then on spoke of both usefulness and amusement as the twin sources of knowledge. On this basis he was able to reconstruct the rise of all the sciences. But there was a second conflict in his ideas. The Encyclopedie was an instrument of public education. One of its main purposes was the reform of social abuses, most of which, its writers believed, could be cured by knowledge. D'Alembert was far from maintaining that all men were equal in their potentialities for knowledge; on the contrary, he was emphatic in stating that there was such a thing as innate genius, a gift of Nature and not of Art. Speaking of the orators, for whom he seems to have had great respect, he said,
[Eloquence] which was created to speak to our feelings, as Logic and Grammar speak to the intellect, imposes silence on the reason itself, and the marvels which it works in the hands of a single man upon a whole nation are perhaps the most brilliant testimony to the superiority of one man over another. What is most peculiar is that it has been believed possible to replace so rare a talent by rules. That is almost as if it were desired to reduce genius to precept. He who first maintained that we owed our orators to art

was either not of that number or was most ungrateful to nature.

The sciences, whatever else they may be, are reflections of our ideas about real external objects. There is another side to our reflections. We sometimes compose in our imaginations beings similar to those which are "the object of our direct ideas." This is what is known as the imitation of nature or the arts. At the head of the list come painting and sculpture, for they most adequately imitate the objects which they represent. Architecture follows, though the object which it imitates is not so obvious, being the symmetry and order which are to be found in every natural object. Poetry comes next, speaking to the imagination rather than to the senses, and creating rather than depicting its objects, "by the warmth, the movement, and the life which it bestows upon them." Finally there is music, which is addressed to both the imagination and the senses, which in origin probably represented mere noises, but which evolved into the condition of a language capable of expressing the passions or even sensations. For though the objects of perception may differ as they are perceived by our different sense-organs, all perceptions originating in a single object are alike in the feelings of pleasure or displeasure which they cause us to experience. What now is the distinction between the arts and the sciences? Any system of knowledge to which it is possible to give rules which are "positive, invariable, and independent of caprice or opinion" is an art, and thus several of our sciences are arts when looked at from the point of view of their applicability. Some of the arts need but manual skill for their execution; these are called mechanical arts. Others require the force of the intellect or soul; these are called the liberal arts. D'Alembert here continues the Renaissance tradition in his terminology, a terminology which roughly corresponds to the modern distinction between the arts and crafts, or that between the fine and the useful arts. But he was far from believing that there is in principle any inferiority in the mechanical arts and indeed many of the most famous

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The Arts in the Encyclopedie articles in the Encyclopedie were given over to them. His own words follow.
The mechanical arts, depending upon manual operations and subservient, if I may be permitted the term, to a sort of routine, have been given over to those men whom prejudice has placed in the lowest class. Poverty which has forced these men to devote themselves to this work, rather than taste and genius, then became a reason for looking down on them, so greatly does poverty harm all that accompanies it. But the free operations of the mind have been the portion of those who have thought themselves in this respect Nature's darlings. The advantage, however, which the liberal arts have over the mechanical arts, by the work which they demand of the mind and by the difficulty of excelling in them, is sufficiently balanced by the much greater utility which the mechanical arts on the whole procure for us. It is this very utility which has reduced them forcibly to purely mechanical operations, so that the practice of them may be made easier for a large number of men. But society, while rightly respecting the great geniuses which enlighten it, should in no wise debase the hands which serve it. The discovery of the compass is no less advantageous to the human race than the explanation of the properties of its needle would be to physics. Finally, if we consider in itself the principle of the distinction of which we are speaking, how many would-be scientists are there whose science is really only a mechanical art and what real difference is there between a head stuffed with unordered facts, with neither practical employment nor interconnections, and the instinct of an artisan reduced to mechanical execution?

99 were current at the time and were to play so large a part in the polemics made by the Traditionalists against these very Encyclopedists. That language was a human invention and neither the expression of a universal and innate logical power nor a divine revelation was one of the reasons why secular education, divorced from ecclesiastical supervision, was a plausible program. That logic was an art rather than a science implied in the long run that it could be improved, that the scholastic method was not uniquely fruitful, and finally that its systematic structure was in no sense of the word a faithful portrait of the structure of the universe. D'Alembert had already expressed his doubts about the axiomatic method in mathematics. He had suggested, but with some caution, that formal reasoning was always tautological, and had asked,
What are most of those axioms of which Geometry is so proud, if not the expression of a simple and single idea by two different signs or words? Has he who says that two and two are four more knowledge than he who would be satisfied with saying that two and two are two and two? Are not the ideas of whole, part, of greater and less, properly speaking the same simple and individual idea, since one could not have the one without the others presenting themselves all together at the same time?

There follows a eulogy of those patient inventors who in a long series of tiny steps have succeeded in perfecting some of the machines, like the watch, which modern men accept as a matter of course. Among the fine arts there are two classes, those whose rules may be codified with exactitude, such as the arts of grammar, logic, and ethics, and those for which no rules are possible, except on the mechanical side, for they spring from natural genius. That grammar, logic, and ethics are arts and not sciences, and that precise rules for their formulation are possible, are two principles which lie at the very foundation of the Encyclopedie's program. It is unlikely that any Frenchman of the eighteenth century would have rejected the idea that grammar and logic were susceptible of precise codification, but we must not forget the disputes about the origin of language which

That being so, the utility of mathematics is evident: it is the clarification of primitive ideas, and when one thinks of what the influence of the geometrical method had been in France, one begins to see the importance of D'Alembert's suggestions. But the greatest shock to the reader must have been delivered by the placing of ethics among the arts. For clearly if precise rules of being and doing good could be given, virtue could be taught from a book, and in that case all the discipline of religion become superfluous.1 This view emerges more definitely when D'Alembert discusses the three activities of the human being: history which is related to memory, philosophy which "is the fruit of the reason," and the fine arts which owe their birth to the imagination-here D'Alembert drops his previous principles of classification. Of these three, reason has first place, not in the sense of its occupying an otherwise undefined higher position in a

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hierarchy but in the sense that it should and can control the operations of the memory and the imagination lest they fall into error. There is no denial of the fact that both the imagination, by which D'Alembert means the creative imagination, and memory are needed by the reason if it is to have anything to reason about, but the notion that was to be expressed later, that an artist had only to let his imagination run freely, uncontrolled by either observation of fact or plausibility, was entirely foreign to D'Alembert's manner of thinking. Yet he never succeeded in absorbing what he called genius into his system and he never denied that the fine arts formed a class of human activities which could never be completely codified except on the manual side. We shall find the same conflict of ideas in the various articles concerning the arts which occur in the body of the work. Yet that works of art must follow the prescriptions of the reasons never fails to appear when it is a question of criticism. Thus even in the Explication du systeme des connaissances we find that
poetry like Nature has its monsters; here must be classified all the productions of the ungoverned imagination (I'imagination dereglee) and such productions can be found in all types of art.2

value of the mechanical arts might well have been extracted from it.
Put on one pan of the balance the real advantages of the most lofty sciences and the most honored arts and on the other those of the mechanical arts, and you will find that the esteem given to the one and to the other has not been allotted justly, and that people have praised much more highly those men who busied themselves with making us believe that we were happy than those engaged in making us so. How fantastic are our judgments! We ask that men engage in useful occupations and we despise our useful men.

With these general ideas in mind, we can consider articles on aesthetics. The article on Art, unsigned, follows the general outline indicated above. But art is now defined somewhat differently.
The birth of the sciences and the arts is due to human industry applied to the products of nature either by man's needs, his sense of luxury, his amusement or his curiosity.

The rules are a useful supplement to our bodily forces or to our mental weakness. There follow several pages on the position which the mechanical arts ought, by right of benefits conferred on society, to hold. The fine arts are barely mentioned. It is worth noting that in the second edition of the Encyclopedie (1777), this article is extended to great length by extracts and summaries from Sulzer's famous A llgemeine Theorie der schoenen Kuenste (1771-1774). The liberal arts now emerge in society after man's needs have been cared for. Pleasure, having been once felt, also became a need. But by a strange paradox those arts which demand the most intelligence, rare imagination, genius, and a delicacy of perception with which few men are endowed, have almost all become luxury-arts,
arts without which society could be happy and which have brought to society merely the pleasures of fantasy, habit, and opinion, or those of a necessity far removed from the natural state of men.

The differences between the sciences and the arts are purely formal. If the object is executed, then the collection and technical arrangement of the rules according to which it is executed are called an art. If it is simply contemplated, then the same rules of contemplation are called a science. "Thus," says the author, "Metaphysics is a science and Ethics an art. The same is true of Theology and Pyrotechnics." The distinction between the liberal and mechanical arts is that of the Discours preliminaire and the comments which follow on the

This article also modifies to some extent the theory of imitation. No longer is the main purpose of the liberal artist the imitation of nature but the choice of details and their composition and even, in the case of music and poetry, the embellishment of nature. Lest one think that the reader was being induced into an acceptance of art for art's sake, the article points out that in nature beauty and ugliness are signs of good and evil. Here we are in the period of the come'die larmoyante: the writer might be Diderot commenting on Greuze.
What is there more essential than the bonds of society for leading man to happiness and to the

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The Arts in the Encyclopedie


main object of his destiny? But these ties are linked with the mutual pleasures which men procure for one another. That is above all true of the happy union by which man, still isolated amid Society, takes to himself a companion who enters into ownership of his goods, redoubles his pleasures by sharing them, softens his sorrows, and alleviates his grief. And where else has Nature lavished her adornments as on the human face? There are tied the indissoluble knots of sympathy, the most irresistible charms of beauty are given to it as they should be if the happiest of unions is to be brought about. By her admirable and wise generosity Nature has known how to make expressive matter which is insensible and dumb and to give it the imprint of the perfection of mind and heart, that is to say, the most powerful of charms.

101 creases with an individual's knowledge. The word knowledge must be understood literally: the perception of order, proportion, and harmony are, in the words of the article, ideas "which pass through our senses to arrive in our understanding in the same way as les notions les plus viles." Moreover, there is no absolute beauty identical in all beautiful objects. Anticipating Delacroix, the article maintains that each species of thing has its own kind of beauty. "There are several relative beauties and a tulip can be beautiful or ugly as a tulip, beautiful or ugly as a flower, beautiful or ugly as a plant, beautiful or ugly as a product of nature." The degrees of beauty are measured by the complexity of relationships perceived; wherefore a beautiful face is more beautiful than a beautiful sky. But no two men perceive the same relationships. This article, since it is unsigned, should be by Diderot, but its emphasis upon the cognitive aspects of the perception of beauty and particularly the phrase indicating that it is perceived in exactly the same way as the meanest notions would seem to indicate that D'Alembert was either its author or its inspiration. When it is compared with the article on goodness (Bon), the contrast between the first and the second editions is more striking. For here goodness is said to have two branches, "one of which is the goodness which is beautiful, the other the goodness which is useful." The former is said to appeal to the mind (esprit), the latter to the heart. The former wins our esteem and our admiration, the latter our tendresse.

Needless to say, Sulzer concludes his paragraph with the simple remark that everything which is harmful in itself has been given by Nature a repulsive force which produces aversion. The artist, working in the fine arts, should therefore not merely reproduce the beauties of Nature but should follow her course by embellishing everything which is useful and making everything harmful as ugly and repulsive as possible. To save space, it is perhaps enough to say that the arts are to be put to the service of morality, and then men will be so attracted to the good and repelled by evil that society will be at its best. The fine arts become, in Sulzer's phrase, auxiliary troops which, alas for the metaphor, scatter flowers along the road to human felicity, the agreeable perfume of which attracts the traveler and invigorates his every step.3 It is clear that the emphasis of D'Alembert has shifted, as if A being which would be merely beautiful to us the main purpose of the first edition had would be merely esteemed and admired by us. been to point out the importance of the Even God, God though He be, would in vain crafts, which purpose, once achieved, could spread out before our minds all His infinite perthen be supplemented by lengthier remarks fections; He would never find the road to our about the so-called fine arts. hearts, did He not show us His benefactions. His One would imagine that if this theory of goodness to us is His sole attribute which can win the homage of our hearts. And what end Sulzer's had been anticipated in the first would the spectacle of His divinity serve, if He edition of the Encyclope'die, the article on did not render us happy?4 beauty would give some evidence of it. On the contrary, though there are several pages It would not have been difficult to take the on the subject, there is no indication that step of identifying the sense of goodness natural or any other kind of beauty is a which charms the heart with the sense of signpost to virtue. The perception of beauty beauty. But the step was not taken. is simply the perception of proportion and In fact the authors of the various subjects in a which innature, harmony perception concerning the arts maintain an uneasy bal-

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ance between what one might call the ra- mous collection of things which seem hopetionalistic and sentimentalistic points of lessly unorganized. But as soon as we see view, differences which are sometimes asso- that they are all subject to a single law, are ciated in histories of philosophy with Vol- ordered in accordance with an underlying taire and Rousseau respectively. Thus in pattern, grasped only by the reason, we are the article Eclectisme (V, 276) Diderot struck by their beauty. This, says Diderot, is exemplified in all experience, in music by wrote, the variety of sounds organized according I shall make the passing remark that it is imto the laws of harmony, in architecture by possible to achieve anything sublime in poetry, the balance between a boring uniformity painting, eloquence, or music without enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is a violent emotion (mouveand an extreme variety qui fait le goiut ment violent de 'dime) by which we are transgotique, in sculpture by the harmony beported into the heart of the objects which we tween the parts of a human body which in wish to represent. At that time we see an entire themselves are various. The unity, it would scene take place in our imagination as if it were external to us. It is external in fact, for as long seem, is the gift of reason, the variety of as this illusion lasts, all things before us are sensory perception. It is very tempting to annihilated, and our ideas are made real in their correlate these remarks with those of place. It is our ideas alone which we perceive. While our hands are touching material objects, D'Alembert in the Discours preliminaire our eyes are seeing animated beings, our ears on the rules which are always mechanical hearing voices. If this state is not one of madness, and the element contributed by genius it is very close to it. That is why one needs great which is above instruction. The temptation good sense to balance enthusiasm. should be resisted, for Diderot does not For that reason poets should always control say, nor does he imply, that there is anythemselves rationally. If they don't, there thing superrational in the perception of will be a predominance of enthusiasm in the underlying unity. their works which will eventuate in someIn Diderot's article the unity is one of thing gigantic, incredible, and enormous scientific law paralleled by what is vaguely -a prophecy which would be fulfilled, one called balance and harmony of perceptual might think, in some of the work of Victor elements. Jaucourt,6 who wrote many of Hugo. But while Diderot is making these the articles on the special arts, in his article strictures upon enthusiasm, Cahusac5 in his on La Belle Nature (XI, 42 if.), points out article on that very subject maintains that it that what the artist is seeking is not a simple alone gives life to the masterpieces of art, reproduction of natural things but an emthat it is not madness but reason itself. It bellishment of nature. Like Parrhasius in is a kind of emotion which accompanies the conversation with Socrates, the artist reason, an emanation, as he says, of the selects from various objects their most Supreme Being, who presumably is a cre- beautiful parts and unites them together ative reason. Thus one can be an excellent in a single whole. Thus he follows nature poet, a sublime musician without being con- in his selection of detail but improves upon sidered mad. nature in bestowing them upon one body. This interplay between reason and en- Though this article appeared at the same thusiasm is paralleled by one between unity time as Diderot's on the passions, the and variety. In the article on the passions editor apparently overlooked this discrep(XII, 142), which did not appear until ancy of opinion. Moreover, Jaucourt also 1765, we find Diderot dwelling on what he moved away from D'Alembert's theory of calls the pleasures of the mind and the the relation between the arts and crafts, for imagination, which are stimulated by the he maintains in a brief historical sketch of sight of beauty in the more general sense, the rise of the fine arts that at the time when that is, by the beauty of universal truths, men were solely occupied with preserving general laws, secondary causes. This kind of their life and were only husbandmen and beauty is of course a perception of the unity soldiers, there were no fine arts. It was only which underlies the variety of natural ob- after men grew tired of mutual maleficence jects. We are first confronted by an enor- and learned that happiness is to be found

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The Arts in the Encyclopedie only in virtue and justice, that societies arose under law and men gave themselves over to the pleasures of innocence. These pleasures were found in singing and dancing. In the third stage of history some genius cast his eyes on Nature and then upon himself. Jaucourt says,
He recognized that he had an innate taste for the relations which he had observed; that they gave him an agreeable emotion. He understood that the order, the variety, the proportion displayed with such brilliance in the works of nature should not only elevate us to a knowledge of the supreme intelligence, but that they might be looked upon also as lessons in conduct, directed to the profit of human society.

103 Cicero for his standards and points out (1) that one should follow the temporal order, using only common and appropriate terms, should recount the action without interruption and thus achieve clarity; (2) that one should include nothing contrary to common sense or received opinion, should select precise details, be simple and sincere, and thus achieve probability; (3) that one should follow Horace and not begin the story of the Trojan War gemino ab ove, in other words, be brief; and (4) that one should achieve agrement by using agreeable and gentle expressions, avoiding hiatus and dissonance, choosing for the subject-matter deeds which are new, great, and unexpected, embellishing the diction with tropes and figures, keeping up the suspense, and exciting-Mallet says nothing about catharsis here-the emotions of sadness or joy, terror or pity. What now has become of the moral question? Finally we discover the same attitude in regard to such an art as the opera, which Saint-Evremond had called "a wild union of poetry and music in which the poet and the musician mutually torture each other" (Opera, XI, 494). But, says Jaucourt, the author of this article, since music is a universal language, it will express the same emotions to all men. If it seems strange that a man should describe his sadness in music and then kill himself while singing, one should remember that the essence of singing is simply an arrangement of different sounds, and it will seem no more extraordinary that the sounds of a hero in an opera be sung to measure than that a prince in a play speak to his counselors in verse. It is thus assumed by Jaucourt that his task is to make opera seem reasonable. So in his article Duo (V, 166), Rousseau tries to make sense out of duets, pointing out that nothing is less natural than to see two people talking both together for a certain time, either to say the same thing or to contradict each other, without ever listening or replying to what the other has to say. And even if this might be granted in certain cases, it is certain that it should never happen in a tragedy, in which such lack of decorum is fitting neither to the dignity of the persons speaking nor to the upbringing which they are supposed to have. He at once as-

Here is the union of the agreable and utile, in its clearest expression. Neither is the agreable necessarily utile, nor the utile necessarily agreable. Moreover, one cannot say how man discovers the useful which can be united with the agreeable, for the vague word experience is scarcely of any help. These terms were apparently clear enough at the time to require no further definition. When one turns to comments which involve criticisms of specific works of art or arts, the same swing between what would have been called emotion and reason is emphasized. Thus Jaucourt in the article Tableau (XV, 804) argues against allegorical pictures on the ground that pictures should appeal to the mind through the eyes, whereas allegorical pictures please the eyes only after the mind has guessed their enigma. But in an earlier part of this article he maintains that many of the beauties of a picture can be discovered only after long study. And artist, he says, demands that a picture observe the three unities: that it represent (1) only what is taking place at a given moment, (2) what can be easily grasped from a single point of view, (3) what is enclosed in the space which the picture seems to cover. This is the application of "good sense" to pictorial composition, demanding the acceptance of certain principles which are prior to painting. Their perception is thus analogous to that of the allegorical principle, and one no more appeals to the mind before appealing to the eye than the other. Again, in the article on Narration, Mallet7 returns to

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sumes that he must propose some solution for this problem and maintains that one should treat the duet as a dialogue and have the singers sing alternately. When they have to sing together, they should do so in thirds and sixths. He says,
One should preserve the harshness of dissonances, the piercing and magnified sounds, the fortissimo of the orchestra for moments of transport and disorder in which the actors seem to forget themselves and carry their frenzy into the soul of every sensitive spectator, making him feel the power of harmony soberly composed.

superiority from which nothing could distract them, while an accomplished mime would do the acting with the same warmth and the same expressiveness.

But such moments should be infrequent. For otherwise they will exceed the bounds of nature and whatsoever "is beyond nature no longer affects us." But the most unmistakable example of the use of good sense as a critical principle is found in the article Poeme lyrique by Grimm. He opens with a long tirade against the French opera because of its silliness, its lack of naturalness. After pointing out what he believes to be an excessive use of the ballet in such spectacles, he says, "French opera has become a spectacle in which all the happiness and all the unhappiness of the characters are reduced to watching people dance around." The trouble, he continues, is that an attempt has been made to combine in a single work of art two ways of imitating nature, an attempt which is contrary both to good sense and true taste. He asks,
Would not such be a barbarity worthy of that gothic period in which the front of a picture was executed in relief, in which a beautiful statue was daubed with paint to give it black eyes or chestnut hair? Should it be permitted to confuse two different principles in the same poem and to carry them out half by people who say that they can speak only in song and half by people who pretend to have no other language than that of gesture and movement?

The best solution, he suggests in anticipation of Fokine's production of Le Coq d'or in New York in the 1920's, is to have all the action performed by dancers and to consider the singers simply as musical instruments, parts of the orchestra.8
Thus our castrati who are usually such excellent singers and such mediocre actors would be merely speaking instruments placed in the orchestra.... They would do the singing with a

Here "good sense" would seem to mean a kind of consistency of technique, not dissimilar to Ruskin's truth of material. The technical problem of the artist would appear to be the execution of his design in a single medium. He should recognize the limitations of that medium and never attempt to go beyond them. But he should also refrain from using mixed media. This is precisely what the Baroque artists had done and that for which they were most harshly criticized by the academic critics of the nineteenth century as well as by their Neo-Classic predecessors. Objections to polychrome sculpture, to the supplanting of grace by passion, to the introduction of violent movement into a material which appears to be, let us say, essentially heavy, were all based on the pseudo-logical principle that one could deduce the legitimate aim of an art from the material which it uses. That it might also be legitimate to attempt to escape from such limitations seemed impossible to critics of this sort. It was clear too that such an escape would usually, if not always, be made by mixing techniques or materials, for instance, by mixing the technique of painting with that of sculpture, of poetry with that of music. Consequently the two principles hung together historically, if not logically, and the application of what Grimm and his fellows called good sense in effect meant both resignation to the limitations of one's materials and consistency in technique. It was undeniable that if artists in each of the arts had accepted the prescriptions of the Encyclope'die, the task of the critic would have been much easier. Works of art would then fall into well-defined classes, each of course with its clear differentia, and the definition of the class would provide a criterion of excellence for its members. It would not be expected that any member of an artistic class would perfectly exemplify the class-traits, for even Aristotle was willing to admit that Nature herself had not succeeded in bringing that about in her productions. But the class-traits would

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The Arts in the Encyclopddie at least stand for an aim which the artist would strive to reach, though doomed to approximate it only. In other words, such a critical theory would bring works of art into line with the subject-matters of science and one could apply all the various devices of logic to the exercises of one's critical faculties. One could deduce by reasoning alone and prior to looking at any work of art just what its purpose should be and one had a measure of excellence all ready for use implicit in one's logical method. That was quite in line with the general program of the Encyclopedie. It would tend to induce artists to conform to rules which were supposedly analyses of generic characters, and where the program was applied, as it was in some of the historical paintings of David and later those of Ingres and his school, it produced a series of works which were about as similar to one another as the productions of several human beings could be. There was always a fringe of difference and that difference was excused not merely on the basis of personal peculiarities but on the basis of genius which, as we have seen, rose above all rules. We have here obviously precisely what we had in Plato, where in the Phaedrus (245) he has Socrates say that the poet who would gain admittance to the temple of the Muses through techne alone, without the aid of inspiration, will find the door closed before him. Though this conflict may seem to us the abandonment of the attempt to formulate a rational aesthetics, and indeed it does prevent such a formulation, it is analogous to Aristotle's admission that pure science never quite fits the material world, and one may hazard the guess that the reason why the Encyclopedists made no attempt to reconcile genius and enthusiasm with the rules was simply the historical reason that they were so used to the conflict that it presented no problem to their minds. The manual work of the artist, it had been said, can be submitted to rules; his imagination escapes them. It would be folly to try to harmonize these various conflicts. In the first place, some of them were resident in the traditional ways of thinking of the time, others arose because of the variety of authors who

105 were responsible for the articles printed. In the second place, such dualities present logical problems only if one has already assumed the exclusive legitimacy of unity. There is nothing inconsistent in concluding after a thorough investigation of things that they arise from the interplay of two or even more causes. We are so accustomed to unitary theories of the origin of works of art that pluralistic theories seem not merely untrue but logically fallacious. It is clearly not the business of a historian to substantiate the theories whose history he is describing and I shall make no attempt to write an apologia of this one. But it should be understood that the editors of the Encyclopedie were more interested in observing the practice of artists, in explaining what they had observed, and in integrating their practice into the total pattern of society, than in deducing an aesthetics from metaphysics in the manner later to be followed by Hegel at a time when artists were already beginning to assert their complete independence from society and its claims. Conscious of the social duties of artists, they saw no reason why they should not emphasize them. At the same time they were conscious of the technical problems of fulfilling those duties. Thus the fusion between good sense and good taste. Jaucourt says (XV, 33),
Good sense and good taste are but a single thing considered as faculties. Good sense is a certain rectitude (droiture) of soul which sees the true and the just and is drawn to it. Good taste is this same rectitude by which the soul sees the good and approves of it. The difference between them is found only on the side of their objects. Good sense is ordinarily restricted to things which are sensible, good taste to more refined and elevated objects. Thus good taste, understood in this way, is nothing but good sense refined and directed towards delicate and elevated objects. And good sense is but good taste limited to more sensible and material objects. The true is the object of taste as well as the good; and the mind has its taste as well as the heart.

This being so, one might conclude that art did not grow out of any special aesthetic faculty and that the conflict between knowledge and emotion, which was symbolized in the two words, mind and heart, was reduced to a minimum. It also meant that the function of the artist was the presenta-

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106

GEORGE

BOAS

tion of the truth. This presentation could be successful only if the artist had both good sense and good taste, and since both depend on accurate perceptions, technical rules could be devised and followed.9 But nowhere is there any suggestion that learning the rules will take the place of genius or insight. In general, then, one might conclude that the aesthetics of the Encyclopedie was based upon the following principles. 1. All the arts, fine as well as useful, serve a useful purpose. 2. That purpose is to make men morally better. 3. They accomplish this purpose by presenting virtue agreeably and vice disagreeably. 4. But only a man of keen perception can see in nature those things which are fitted to accomplish this end. 5. Training in technique is necessary to enable him to put into artistic form the things which he perceives. It will be observed that no training seems needed for the perceiver of works of art. On the contrary, it appears that the spectator will spontaneously get the point of a picture or poem or any other work of art simply by looking at it. Moreover, there were frequent attempts made by the editors to insert articles on new arts which could produce new pleasures for human beings. One of the most interesting of these is the article on the color-organ (Clavecin oculaire) by Diderot. This instrument, invented by Castel, a Jesuit, in 1725, is described in detail. The rules of its harmonies, its scale, its relation to the auditory clavecin are all described, and its purpose is given as merely that of "giving to the soul through the eyes the same agreeable sensations of melody and harmony... as the ordinary clavecin gives through the ear." Not a word is said of its moral effect. Again, in D'Alembert's article on schools of painting (Ecole) we find a passage on the decline of painting in Italy in the eighteenth century. One might imagine that he would attribute this supposed decline to a lack of moral earnestness on the part of such artists as Tiepolo, Canaletto, and Guardi. But on the contrary, not

a word is said about the social influence of such painters and the matter is left suspended in doubt. D'Alembert says,
Might it not be rather a caprice on the part of nature which, as far as talent and genius are concerned, delights in opening from time to time new mines, which she then closes tightly for several centuries? Several of the great painters of Italy and Flanders lived and died in poverty; some were persecuted, far from being encouraged. But nature laughs at both the injustice of fortune and of men. She produces rare geniuses amid a people of barbarians, as she brings to birth precious plants amid savages who know nothing of their virtues.

This is far from the kind of praise which Jaucourt pours out on Poussin for his Et in Arcadia Ego,10 the same Jaucourt who in his article on modern painting (XII, 275) says that painting in Italy in 1450 was still crude and gross, for the artists were excellent draughtsmen but merely copied nature without ennobling her. He says,
No one had as yet imagined the beauty one might find in nude bodies in action; no one had discovered anything about chiaroscuro; no one knew anything about aerial perspective or the lovely movement of drapery. Painters knew how to arrange figures in a picture without knowing anything of how to dispose them according to the rules of pictorial composition so well known today.

All this is simply technical criticism. Again when Jaucourt grows enthusiastic, indeed ecstatic, over the work of the later Lombard School, Correggio, Parmigiano, the Carracci, Guido Reni, and their fellows, the best he can do is to point out the charm, the grace, the originality, the poetry of these men without a word about their moral lessons. And finally when he comes to speak of the Venetian School (V, 330), he throws up the sponge. He says,
It is useless to debate the question of the primacy of color or drawing or expression [three of the four criteria of Roger de Piles] never will people of opposing views agree on this question of primacy which is always judged in relation to oneself. If one has more or less voluptuous vision, one will be more or less sensitive to color; if one's heart is more or less easily moved by pictorial poetry, one will rank the colorist above the poet or the poet above the colorist. The greatest painter in our opinion, as Abbe du Bos has said

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The Arts in the Encyclopddie


so well, "is he whose works give us most pleasure. Men are not equally affected by color and expression, because their senses are not equally delicate, although they always imagine that others are affected in the same way as they are."

107 David, the David of the fetes revolutionnaires and the David of the portraits. The Johns Hopkins University

It would be absurd to extend this discussion and to heap up examples which would illustrate the discrepancy between the aesthetic principles which would seem to be basic, allowing for a certain wavering here and there, and the actual critical judgments made by the authors of the various articles. One will find, I think, that in general these writers, whether they are discussing painting or poetry or architecture or any other art, forget the program which D'Alembert had laid down in his Discours preliminaire and simply consider the pleasures which works of art can produce in an onlooker as these pleasures are stimulated by a perception of technical skill. This is quite in keeping with what one can only loosely call the technological interest of the Encyclopedists. They were on the whole men who were captivated by the material progress which could be made in society, if only people could be taught to guide their manual skill by applying scientific knowledge to the solution of human problems. But they yielded to the very human interest in virtuosity and the intrinsic value of the processes of artistry seems at times, if not always, to have captivated them more than the moral value of works of art. This is of course only a rough generalization, for it must not be forgotten that the various writers differed and that before the Encyclopedie was finished numerous schisms occurred. It is not hard, however, to see emerging from the program as described thus freely the duality of such a man as

1It should not be forgotten that la morale included economics, politics, and jurisprudence, defined respectively as la science des devoirs de l'homme en famille, celle des devoirs de l'homme en socie'te, et celle des devoirs de l'homme seul (Encycl. (1751), I, xlix). All translations in text are mine. 2Cf. Diderot's description of two paintings, one made according to the rules, the other by a genius, in the article on Manicheeism (X, 25). It occurs in a discussion of Leibniz. the comedie larmoyante and the sThough tragedie bourgeoise flourished in the middle of the century, Diderot's Fils naturel, written in 1757, was not publicly performed until 1771. Signed X. I have used the English mind for esprit, but the Encylopedists were only too aware of its ambiguity. In the article Esprit (V, 973) Voltaire wrote, "Ce mot...est un de ces termes vagues, auxquels tous ceux qui les prononcent attachent presque toujours des sens differents. Il exprime autre chose que jugement, genie, gouit, talent, penetration, etendue, grace, finesse; et il doit tenir de tous ces merites: on pourrait le definir, raison ingenieuse." Louis de Cahusac (d.1759), author of various works on poetry, drama, and the dance. 6Louis de Jaucourt (1704-1779), studied at Cambridge and Leyden, a practicing physician as well as a writer. 7Edme Mallet (1713-1751), author of several books on literature and history. 8A practice which approximates that of Wagner. 9Cf. the articles Passion (peinture) (XII, 150), by Jaucourt based on Watelet; Sujet (XV, 644), also by Jaucourt; Drame (V, 105), by Mallet; Eloquence (V, 529), by Voltaire; Fable (VI, 346), by Marmontel; Choreographie (III), by Goussier; Clairobscur (III, 499), by Landois, among others. These articles deal almost exclusively with the technical side of artistry. 10Art. Paysagiste (XII, 212).

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