Three Lectures on Aesthetic/Preface


These lectures were delivered at University College, London, in the autumn of 1914, and are printed with hardly any alteration.

I must appear unfortunate in having laid so much stress on “feeling,” just when high authorities are expressing a doubt whether the word has any meaning at all (see Croce’s Aesthetic, and Professor J. A. Smith’s discussion in Aristotelian Proceedings for 1913-1914). I can only say here that the first and main thing which the word suggests to me is the concernment of the whole “body-and-mind” (cp. p. 7, note), as Plato puts it in building up his account of psychical unity on the simple sentence, “The man has a pain in his finger” (Republic, 462 D). It is the whole man, the “body-and-mind,” who has the pain, and in it is one, though it is referred to the finger and localised there. When a “body-and-mind” is, as a whole, in any experience, that is the chief feature, I believe, of what we mean by feeling. Think of him as he sings, or loves, or fights. When he is as one, I believe it is always through feeling, whatever distinctions may supervene upon it. That unity, at all events, is the main thing the word conveys to me.

I have not attempted to do justice to the sources of my ideas, for in the limits I had to observe my jus would have become injuria. Besides, I was trying my level best to talk straight and not learnedly to my audience; and now I want to preserve the same attitude towards my possible readers.


Oxshott, January 1915.