Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/757

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THE FESTAL DEVELOPMENT OF ART.

other powers of man's nature, under its guidance and command, is imagination. This is the combining faculty which, like an informing spirit, shapes the pre-existent elements and proximate forms of Nature for human needs and human pleasure. Its stimulus comes from the sphere of feeling, but its products are not the organic consequences of this stimulation. If they bore this relation of necessary effect to feeling as organic cause, they would be in the fullest sense the products of Nature, and the distinction between Nature and art would be effaced. But, in fact, the whole of man's being as rational intelligence intervenes between the impulse of feeling and the work of art. This is probably what Wilhelm von Humboldt intended when he said, "Art is the faculty of making imagination productive, according to law."

The primary impulse to imaginative activity is utility, the satisfaction of distinct vital needs. Of these the first is that of food, universal and peremptory for all living beings. Then shelter, clothing, weapons of defense and attack, implements, and utensils of various kinds, are demanded. In the lower animals, instinct directs the creature how to satisfy the simple organic needs; but in man, even with a low degree of intelligence, imagination contrives new ways and means of supplying these requirements. A sharpened flint serves as a knife; attached to a wooden handle, it becomes a spear; projected from a bow-string, it is an arrow. Thus, along lines of very gradual ascent, all the complicated equipment of home and chase and war was slowly acquired by the constant search for better means with which to accomplish necessary ends. In all invention, from the stone axe to the telephone, imagination has been the active faculty. The impulse of utility, "making imagination productive," has generated the "useful," "industrial," or "economic" arts; or, as the anthropologist Tylor calls them, the "arts of life."

A secondary impulse to imaginative activity is the sense of freedom, the satisfaction derived from a free exercise of power. After the strictly vital needs of the body are provided for, unless the whole store of force is exhausted in satisfying them, there remains a surplus, especially in the unused organs, which impels to activity not directed toward useful ends. The pressure of this exuberant energy for expression is probably the primitive impulse toward the decorative, representative, and imitative arts. These are called the "fine arts," the "æsthetic arts," and by Tylor the "arts of pleasure." In many languages they are designated as the "beautiful arts"—the Italian name being belli arti; the French, beaux arts; the German, schöne Künste. To these forms of art we shall confine the remainder of our discussion.

In his Principles of Psychology, Herbert Spencer begins his