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Meditation IX: God Immanent as the Beautiful

God Immanent as the Beautiful1

Introduction—Beauty is objective: The Feeling of Beauty has its locus in Sense; but it is more than Sense alone can yield, and more than the Dialectic as interpreting Sense can yield—The feeling of Perfection not the feeling of the Beautiful—Beauty of Nature is the Objective display of the Sense—ideal—The Feeling of the Beautiful is a Feeling of sensualised Reason—Degrees of the Feeling as dependent on thought, viz., the perception of Being Universal; the reflective realisation of the Reason in things; association—The Educative effect of the Beautiful—Note on the Sublime.


Absolute Being as creative mediates its meaning through the finite externalisation. As Feeling it finds its vehicle in all sentient creatures: the Feeling of the Beautiful is mediated in and through Nature and is a “given” to the rational subject.

Man, as a Dialectic, seeks to create ideals of Beauty in sensible modes; and the various directions of his energy are summed up as the Poietic Arts or “Fine Arts”.

Some would seem to hold that Æsthetics, that is to say the philosophy of the Beautiful, is to be sought and found in Art. My interpretation of experience generally does not allow me to accept this restriction. If I am to find the explanation of The Beautiful in the creations of Art, I must first know what I mean by the Beautiful in Nature. I cannot but think that, if we give a liberal meaning to the word, Aristotle is right in saying that the Poietic—the making of a beautiful thing outside one's self, is essentially imitation; or, rather, let us say, sympathetic reproduction. And this would seem to presume that man must be conscious of the Beautiful in nature before it can occur to him to “make” the Beautiful in Form, Colour, Tone or Language.

Doubtless, if the sensible is mere appearance or seeming, there is a complete divorce between Nature (as phenomenon) and Art. But the philosophy that governs these meditations sees, in the phenomenon, the reality of Being and Mind-universal in sense-terms—the final moment in a concrete one. Nature is instinct with God, and the Beautiful in Nature is, like all else, a revelation of God. Accordingly, I must find in that which constitutes the Beauty of Nature the ultimate criterion of the Beautiful in Art.

God mediates “Art” ideals through Man, it is true. It is man's function, as free creative spirit, to form and utter these: but in the Beauty of Nature God is Himself the creative Spirit, and the joy that man has in the contemplation of it is not the work of his own ideal construction, but is “given” to him as God's modality. The “note” of all fine Art is the Beautiful; and that we already find as the living glory of God in the sensible. In the consummation of His work there is more than the satisfaction of dialectic fulfilment. There is an eradiation which we call the Beautiful. It may be called the effulgence thrown off from the sense-ideal.

When we speak of the “Feeling” or “Sense” of the Beautiful, we mean that an object is presented which, in addition to exciting “awareness” as such, evokes at the same time a pleasure-tone of a specific kind. Following our general interpretation of the relation of subject-object we say, Beauty is there in the object; that is to say, the world of nature has in itself those characteristics which, when they touch a conscious subject, are found to have an æsthetic, as well as cognitive, value. The things of sense are much more than mere things of sense finding their completion in that which senses, as we have amply seen. The Object, generally, is God giving Himself to His creature Man; and just as the phenomenal world is the modality of God, so the forms and colours and magnificent display that arrest the eye are the Beauty of immanent God in this His modality. The beauty of the stars is as much the display of God immanent as the stars themselves. The Beauty of God is mediated, I say, through His modality; and we might almost say that it is the expression of the joy of God in the result of His own activity as creative.

However this may be, God is immanent as the Beautiful in things.

If Beauty be there in the object and given to us, then the creations of the poet and painter rest ultimately on seeing. I have eyes as they have, but it is only through their more finely constituted organism that I learn to see the best and finest. But they see only what is there to be seen. Step by step man advances, by the help of his leaders, to ever-increasing subtlety of perception and emotion in the domain of Feeling as in the sphere of science; but he will never exhaust the riches of nature. The intimate bond that exists between the mind of man and nature, and which appears in its subtlest form in the artist, is a reality; for man is, as I have said, already in nature—a link in the one unbroken chain.

Feeling, we have seen to animate the world of our experience. There are grades of Feeling—Feeling generic and vague: intense Feeling exploding in desire; Feeling moulded by the Dialectic, which we have distinguished as ethical idea and ideal, in the heart of which is an emotion: there is, further, an emotion of pleasure in the mere activity of reason, and a still higher emotion in the perception of truth. There is also the feeling of which we are now speaking. It has a specific quality which, by common consent, is called the “Sense” of the Beautiful; but, in so far as it contains in it, as we shall see, the elements of reason, it might more strictly be called the emotion of the Beautiful. The attuitional plane of mind may have a vague pleasure in single colours; but the emotion experienced by man, while it is to be found in its rudimentary form in the percipience of the single, is at its full only under the conditions of the Many in One—variety in unity.

Unquestionably the Feeling of the Beautiful in nature has its locus in sense-percipience. But it is something different and something more than sense yields as a mere capacity of awareness; it is also more than the dialectic yields as a knowing energy when subsuming sense into its own form. To disentangle this specific Feeling entirely from the mere feeling-awareness of sensible things and from the activity of the dialectic in dealing with the sense-percipient record would be to define it; but even then we should not wholly explain it. It is an elusive element in our experience.

The Feeling of perfection or the Ideal is not, as such, the Feeling of the Beautiful.

I have referred to the emotion that is concurrent with, or rather inherent in, reason-activity and in the fulfilment of that activity in the perception of truth and the ideal. This emotion exists where the sense of the Beautiful is absent; and if this rational experience exhausted the content of the Feeling of the Beautiful, that feeling would be brought within the specific sphere of the Cognitive. Were this so, the success of the artist, whether he executed a work of imagination or of reproduction, would be measured by the extent to which he expressed in sensible shape what was seen to be the truest truth of the existent thing before him, or of the imaginative conception to which he was giving shape. Now, the “truth” in marble of an imagined god, in paint of a portion of nature, in tones of a sound-imagination, is not itself the Beautiful; but may we not say that the Beautiful is somehow inherent in the truth, the perfect, the ideal, whether the artist will or will not? I am disposed to think so; but with this important qualification that the imagination to which he gives shape and the reality which he reproduces are themselves Beautiful to begin with, that is to say, fit objects for Art. Accordingly to find a key to Art, we are driven to seek for some definition of the Beautiful itself, as I have already indicated.

By the “truth” of a representation, I mean the fully achieved expressiveness or characteristicalness of it. But while hesitating to differ from Professor Bosanquet,2 I feel compelled to qualify this criterion of the Beautiful in Art by the above condition, that the imagination or the object reproduced be in itself Beautiful. To define the Beautiful by expressiveness plus Beauty would, of course, be a logical blunder: but I may fairly say that the “expressive” does not exhaust the content of the concept Beautiful. In other words, there is a quality in the feeling of Beauty which is not contained in truth or expressiveness alone. In the “truth” of the artistic product I find only one, though a necessary, condition of the Beautiful; and hence it is that I must consider the subjective feeling of the Beautiful in presence of Nature, as a guide in my understanding of the Beautiful generally, and of Art in particular.

The Beautiful in Nature is the Objective display of the Sense-Ideal.

The question, accordingly, now is, What is it that in Nature elicits the response of a feeling of Beauty in me as distinguished from a mere perception of Truth? And the answer put shortly would seem to be this: while thought (subjective dialectic) yields me an ideal of The True and The Good in which an emotion is inherent, mere Sense-percipience, also, has its own ideal, and it does not owe this to the self-conscious thinking of the spectator. It is the field of sensuous experience that is the sphere of The Beautiful strictly speaking. Accordingly, the general answer to the above question would be “The Feeling of Beauty is mediated in me by the Sense—ideal as such”. The affinity between the emotion that is inherent in the contemplation of The Good and The True and that which we call the Beautiful is an affinity only, not an identity. The True is the ideal of Reason; The Good is the ideal of reasoned Emotion; Beauty is the ideal of Sense. The two former are the product of dialectic activity: the last is a Given, and, as the matter of the dialectic activity, it is creative Art.

My epistemological analysis led me to the conclusion that in each monad and in all complex things the idea or essence finds its individuation in its modality (the revealing and negating phenomenon); and this modality, when fully moulded by the idea is the concrete fulfilment or truth of the idea in its individual characteristicalness—in other words, the Actual. This actual in its perfected form is the ideal; which is a fulfilled harmony—variety in unity perfected. If I could contemplate the whole universe of things as the completed concrete expression of Absolute Being, I should have a vision of The True, and the subjective dialectic would have attained the goal of its activity. Inherent in such a world-view there would be, in its highest intensity, the emotion in and of Reason. Now, it appears to me that this vision of The True would be identical with the vision of the Beautiful, if the sole or the dominant note of Beauty were the expressive and characteristic; and that to hope to distinguish the feeling of the Beautiful from the emotion of the True would then be vain.

We constantly speak of the “beauty” of The True, the “beauty” of The Good, because of the emotion inherent in all ideals; but this is not Beauty in its specific sense. Strictly speaking, the feeling of the Beautiful is a deliverance to us through the sense-modes which are the way in which God lives as finite manifestation. In other words, there is a presentation to Sense which is the modality of God; and just as there is the ideal (perfection) of The True and the ideal of The Good, there is also the ideal of the modality of God—of sense-qualities as such. And this feeling of the “given” ideal of sense-qualities is the feeling of The Beautiful. If it be not so, then we must identify the æsthetic feeling with the cognition of rational perfection. The fact seems to be that the ideal “True” must further contain the “Sense-ideal” before it can elicit the specific feeling of Beauty in us.

The Beautiful, then, objectively considered is, let us say, an effluence from the attained ideal of Sense—the modality of God: it is God verily immanent as the Beautiful in the external world.

The Feeling of the Beautiful is a Feeling of sensualised Reason.

The Feeling of the Beautiful in its rudimentary manifestation is to be found in the percipience of single lines and curves, single tones, single colours. I say rudimentary; for it is only in a complex presentation that we experience the full sense of the Beautiful—those displays of Absolute Being in sense-forms which furnish a theme to poets and painters. In accordance with what I have said above, I call the display which so touches and stimulates the mind of man, the sense-idealism of Nature. We have presented to us the ideal of the sensuous in form, colour or motion. The “ideal,” let us remember, is always a One in Many, the harmony of the various in unity: the singles in perception which please us are now gathered into a larger meaning—an æsthetic whole. A rational co-ordination of parts, each “pleasing” in itself, is now presented to the eye and is received by a conscious being who is capable of feeling rational co-ordination (which an animal, for example, is not). Accordingly, we may take a step further, and say that the feeling of the Beautiful may be subjectively called the sensuousness of reason; and objectively, the Beautiful is sense-modes, as such, rationalised into an ideal whole. (Or it may be a single sense-mode, for there is the ideal of a form, of a colour and of a tone, each of which, however, could, doubtless, be reduced to a one in many.) The effluence from the “sense-ideal” stirs the subjective feeling which we distinguish as the feeling of the Beautiful; and it is a feeling of the object as rationalised sense-qualities as such; and, consequently, a reason-feeling in the subject.

Such I conceive to be the nature and explanation of the feeling of The Beautiful in its purity. The note of objective sense—idealisation and a subjective response to the idealisation are always present. It is superficial, however, for it has to do with the surface of things; but it may be very vivid. Just as the pleasurable sensation yielded by single tones, or colours, or forms, may rise in certain organisms to great intensity, so the sense of the Beautiful in the sense-modes and combinations of nature as such may be of greater intensity in some men than in others. This depends on the sensitiveness of the organism, and is a gift of nature: when the gift is liberal we have a possible artist.

It would appear, then, that we must distinguish the feeling of the Beautiful from the emotion that accompanies the rational perception of the ideal of The True and The Good and, further, restrict the Feeling to the perception of the sense-display as such. The sensuousness of reason is evoked and satisfied by universal Reason as fulfilling itself in sense-modes. I say the sensuousness of Reason, because the ideal can be felt only by Sense which has been sublated into Reason.

Degrees of the Feeling of the Beautiful as dependent on thought.

It cannot be doubted that the feeling of the Beautiful may be more penetrating, profound and elevating in many men than in those whose sensibility to the sensuous ideal yielded by the surface of things is yet more vivid and intense. How and why is this? Have we exhausted the characterisation of the sense of the beautiful in Nature when we have recognised it to be primarily the objective sense-ideal satisfying the sensuousness of reason?

I think not: the objective sense-ideal receives a deeper significance and yields a higher emotion where there is Thought. According to the range of our thinking, so do we feel. For example:—

(a) When I contemplate the nature-display as a manifestation of Being mysterious and unsoundable, the concrete of sense spread out before me takes a new and deeper meaning. It is now no longer mere sense-modes; it is a revelation of Being infinite and universal. The feeling of The Beautiful is now much more than a joy in the reason-harmony of the sensuous. Thought has transformed it into something more spiritual and more profound, and has given it, moreover, infinitude and mystery. All consciousness of an object is, it is true, a consciousness of Being; but when our sensibilities are excited by the Beautiful in Nature, the feeling of Being partakes of the excitement. It is raised to a higher power, and that which, in ordinary circumstances, does not urge itself on our attention, now tends to occupy the whole field. The object not only is, but lives. The community and essential oneness of my particular being with Being universal are now alive in me. Let us take a common experience: The stir of the working day is over and night has drawn a veil over the earth—a translucent veil we shall say. I pause on the hillside. The moon and stars in the darkening vault, the gleam on the heaving ocean, the swelling hills, the sombre woods—all these communicate their varied shapes to my inmost consciousness in a strange, and almost bewildering, harmony; they vibrate through my whole being and elevate my spirit above all finite things. They convey into me more than themselves. This experience is the feeling of the Beautiful; but the content is now more than mere sense—harmony. For the mystery of existence is in and around me, the sense of something “deeply interfused”. I am a self-conscious atom in a breathing and stupendous whole, and yet in living touch with the whole. What is this intuition of mystery and universality? It is simply Being: all these things are: it is the thrill of the Eternal and Universal that I feel. Being infinite, and in the last resort inexplicable and incomprehensible, is showing itself to me, alluring me into its intimacy through these wonderful shapes and colours—these subtle phenomenal differences and harmonies. Being, ultimate and fountain of all that exists or can be, is translating itself into Sense and passing into me. For I, a man, am in organic continuity with all this; I am in close communion and community with the elemental—the sky, the air, the mountain, and the flood. Being universal, through its solemn, gracious and appealing modes, is seeking responsive being in me, and creates my mood while it consummates Itself in its vesture of Sense.

In truth, Nature and Man are woven of the same piece: in the former man may find all his moods. Thus it is that, at the meeting point of human sensibility and the natural world, there is a touch which startles us into a sense of the oneness of the whole. We are the universe: the universe is we ourselves. Happy contradiction in identity, felicitous opposition, out of which comes all our most living life! Nature is humanised, because before man was, he was already in and of Nature: and Nature is God, fountain of inexhaustible Being, offering to us Himself in all His varied charm and subtle suggestiveness. In the appreciation of the Beautiful we make Him our own in the very consummation of His creative mood as He puts the last touch of light and lustre to His work and pronounces it to be good. He is immanent, we have seen, as life, feeling and emotion; so also is He immanent as the Beautiful. Reality and actuality with the sheen of beauty on them are there, here, everywhere, if the unclouded eye is open to the revelation in the midst of which we stand, and of which we ourselves are a constituent part. In every flower, in every herb of the field, as well as in the larger aspects of nature, we have the living God showing Himself to us as Beauty. Let us accept the concrete as it is given—the fine modality of Absolute Being as creative.

There are those who, not content naïvely to receive all this as Feeling, would with their understanding comprehend the whole under some logical expression or some objective analysis, thereby reducing it to terms of cognition: forgetting that fulfilment for a being of reason lies, in the realm of the Beautiful as everywhere, in the feeling of the infinite and unsoundable mystery of Being that rejects definition. Into Being he carries all that he is and all that he has, and loses it there in a final consummating intuition.

(b) The second thought-element in the feeling of the beautiful sense-presentation is reflective: As myself a dialectic, I see the great process of nature as Reason emanating from Being-universal and seeking and finding the glorified utterance of the idea in sense-shapes: which utterance is The True and, as end-fulfilling, The Good. Not only the consciousness of mysterious and unsound-able Being, then, which is immediate, but also of the objective dialectic as manifesting itself in sense and attaining its end, enters into the feeling of the Beautiful in the man of reflective thought. The feeling is heightened, deepened, widened, by the contemplation of Absolute Being alive and operative as a dialectic in all the brilliancy of sense modes. The Beautiful in nature is now much more than the co-ordination of forms and colours that appeals to the purely sensuous in me as the plain man or as the unreflective artist: it is now the eternal process beheld clothed in the garment of the Beautiful as its final and full and glorified expression. It is immanent God I see in all His elusive charm—the True and the Good in the garment of Beauty.

It would appear, then, that it is the alliance of sensuous beauty with the thought which it never fails to excite that gives to a reflective man a feeling of Beauty more profound than those possess who, however highly gifted sensuously, live merely on the surface of things. The advance of philosophical thought thus determines the full significance of the feeling of the Beautiful at different periods of the world's progress. And yet, it is not to be doubted that the feeling of Being and of Dialectic purpose lies concealed in the apprehension of Beauty by all—even the unreflecting; and, inasmuch as they are men, it cannot be otherwise.

Feelings have been said to be obscure “ideas,” and there is a certain justification for this view. In the sphere of consciousness of objects—i.e., consciousness as such,—we have found that there are grades of realisation of the object in and for ourselves, viz., feeling, sensation, attuition, perception, reason. The feeling of an object when it is first presented to us may, accordingly, be said to be the genetic moment of an experience which is on the way to be a clear and distinct actualisation in self-consciousness. The various moments of subjective mind as sentient may be said to be obscure “ideas” until the rational act of percipience is reached: and this act is the starting-point of a full rational realisation of the object—the Actual, the Notion. It is as feelings in this undeveloped sense—as inchoate ideas that Being and the Dialectic enter sub-selfconsciously into the sense of the Beautiful in the plain man as well as in the man of culture.

(c) Finally, to re-enforce and expand the pure æsthetic emotion, Association has its part to play. The inner record of our past lives—our joys, perplexities, sorrows, hopes and despairs—is evoked into more or less of activity through the stimulus that is given to the whole sentient and rational organism by the active feeling of the Beautiful in presence of nature. The net-work of suggestions varies greatly in different persons according to the extent of their experience and the liveliness of their imagination. Nay, life-associations enter so much into the complex feeling of the Beautiful that objects, not beautiful in themselves, will be loosely called beautiful, merely because they recall that which is in truth beautiful.

Such, I think, is the natural history of the sense of the Beautiful in a rational subject. God in His manifestation presents the concrete idea in the vesture of Beauty—the ideal of sense as such: Man is of the Whole, within the Whole, and the Beauty of God passes into him as a being in continuity with the world-system. The measure of his recipience is determined by the extent to which his body and mind are attuned to the Whole. A fine attunement is what we call genius, to which no man can by toil attain. It is the gift of God. Thought and life-experience, however, deepen and widen the emotion which the sense-ideal stirs in us, and help us to overtake genius.

We would say then, that the Feeling of the Beautiful is primarily the sensuousness of reason. It certainly emerges only in beings in whom reason has already proclaimed itself. In this primary feeling we are not aware of the activity of reason: there is merely the reason—feeling of the co-ordination of sense-impressions. Now, this is not to be distinguished from the ideal of the objective sensible manifestation of immanent God. Hence it demands no striving to reach it, as do the ideals of the Good and the True. It is graciously given, and is thus an easy mode of access to the Divine and Eternal. And further we conclude that, while the mere display to sense of the phenomenal ideal—the bloom on the surface of things, calls forth that specific feeling which we call the Feeling of the Beautiful, its depth and intensity depend on the spectator's capacity of thought and experience of life. Meanwhile, it is the primary pure feeling itself as freely given that this thought and these life-associations gather round; and that feeling is one of joy and completion in presence of the given ideal of sense. The ideal of sense is achieved not by us, but for us; and it requires no learning, no culture to feel this and be exalted by it. The unlettered man is “contented if he might enjoy”. To some extent, doubtless, he has his network of associations; for his experience of life is full of memories and, it may be, fertile in suggestions that are inchoate thoughts; but these cannot have the width and depth that belong to the cultured man of reflection.

The Educative effect of the Beautiful.

To feel the Beautiful, then, even as a sense-presentation only, is to stand on the highest step of the sensuous, and one step more will carry a man into the presence of Spirit. The Temple of the Beautiful is the porch of the Temple of Religion. In the education of a people we do wisely to cultivate that capacity in them which raises them to the spiritual meaning and enjoyment of the sensuous. For, in the sense-sphere, in which the humblest as well as the most cultured live, the ideal impulse in man—at the heart of the subjective dialectic—finds an easy road to a deep and disinterested satisfaction that brings him into touch with the highest; easy, because, as I have said, it demands no accompanying effort of Will. The Beautiful is a free gift, almost forced on man through his senses; and, when frankly received, it liberates the mind from the gross and material, and stirs it to a free and pleasing expatiation in the infinite of the ideal, thereby raising even the untutored mind into universal relations.

Thus it is also that the cultivation of the sentiment of the Beautiful in nature and art, while powerless to moralise a man or raise him into the higher sphere of religion or philosophy, yet unquestionably contributes to this; and where the moral and religious emotions already exist, it fortifies and irradiates them.

And just as the Beautiful—the divine glow on the face of things is the consummation of God as creative in the sphere of pure sense; so may we say that the Beautiful in life and in art is the consummation of the nature and activity of man. The life of each of us is self-directing, is self-creative, and its aim which is The Good and The True is finally consummated in us as Beauty of living. The creations of the poet and artist contribute powerfully to this. They are the highest concrete philosophy. The book of philosophy will indeed be closed when it shall have presented God and the world to us as an Epic.

Thus I would correlate the Feeling of the Beautiful with the general interpretation of God and of the mind and purpose of man which runs through these Meditations; and, in accordance with that, I hold that it is not enough to say that Nature, by presenting certain scenes that evoke the feeling of the Beautiful, is “in harmony” with the man-nature. This suggests an unphilosophic dualism. The external thing is beautiful for itself and finds its fulfilment in terms of consciousness, because man is himself in and of nature, which is ever reaching up to him and consummating itself in his Feeling and Thought.3 What we have in experience is always subject-object.

To sum up: the feeling of the Beautiful is primarily mediated in us by the presentation of the sense-ideal; this is deepened by the feeling of Being and its ever-present mystery; and, finally, by the perception of the objective dialectic (i.e. the fulfilment of the idea in the sense-concrete) as a harmony of parts, in which perception lies the true and “expressive”. Meanwhile the second and third element in the complex feeling are only sub-self-consciously present in the unthinking, who, notwithstanding, feel the beauty of nature according to their grade of culture. In apprehending Beauty, we are, more or less consciously, apprehending the ideal harmony of all experience, rational and moral—casting all in an æsthetic mould.

One word on the large and complex subject of Art. If my analysis of Beauty be correct, the sense—ideal is an indispensable characteristic of all Art that seeks to express the Beautiful. It is this Beauty in the object which the true artist seeks and finds and reproduces, whether the object be in nature or in his own imagination.

Note on the Sublime.—When Nature exhibits itself in all its power and savagery, it presents to us the sense-ideal of abstract Will—the first moment of the Dialectic, and Man has then a feeling which seems to differ from the sense of the Beautiful so markedly as scarcely to belong to the same category: we call it the sense of the Sublime. In presence of the tornado, the flood, or the earthquake, the weakness of man gives rise to a fear and terror which is purely animal; but when the irresistible might of natural forces is suggested by the spectacle of the vast, the abrupt and the unusual, and is at the same time beheld as locked up in these forms, animal fear disappears and the spirit of man rises to the awed enjoyment of abstract Power. Life is not threatened, and the latent energy of man's spirit as Will is thus free to rise to meet the majesty of God in nature and contemplate the mighty Force which can sweep all before it, but which is now quiescent in the arrested masses and bridled forces of cloud, mountain, or torrent. The manifestation of immeasurable Power reflects the infiniteness that lies in man's own spirit and he rejoices in the new experience of his greatness.

Accordingly, it appears to me that the feeling which we differentiate as that of “The Sublime” is mediated not by the sense-ideal in which lies concealed the fulfilled dialectic of purpose achieved, thus stimulating in us the feeling of rationality, order and repose, but by the sensuous expression of the first “moment” of the Dialectic alone, viz., Will in its abstract power—its irresistible might and its magnificence. There is a disorder restrained from anarchy, or, it may be, the amorphous on its way to harmonious form. The feeling of beauty of line or colour or tone in the sublimity of a thunder-cloud, an ocean storm, or the tumbled mountain masses of an “earlier world,” seems to me to be subsidiary to the main impression, while intensifying it.

The close parallel between the Sublime in nature so interpreted and the Sublime in literature (e.g., passim in the Old Testament) is obvious. In Religion the sublime shows itself in the feeling of awe in presence of arbitrary power. The Hebrew literature is a theology in which Absolute Power and arbitrary Law dominate.

Mystery, and the arbitrary in power and size, govern also the art of Egypt and the Orient which is symbolic of these characteristics of mind-experience. Is it possible to symbolise the Sublime save by large masses of inorganic material which seem rather to be striving to reach the repose of The Beautiful than to have attained it?

Again we have the sense of the Sublime in vast expanses—the sky, the desert, the ocean, the moor. It is the infiniteness suggested by these that stir the emotion.

[The above explanation recalls vaguely to my memory that of some writer—I think Schiller.]

  • 1.

    My purpose here is to speak of the Beautiful in terms of the general philosophy of these Meditations. The subject is, however, so large and complex that what I say is to be regarded as a series of paragraphs—logically connected, I think, but not worked out into detail. It is, doubtless, a fair subject for inquiry whether we can find in the processes of the external world dynamical relations which of necessity give rise to the feeling of the Beautiful, or, at least, which are always present where the feeling is experienced. With this inquiry I have nothing to do. My interest is in the nature and conditions of the emergence of the Feeling as these are revealed by subjective analysis.

  • 2.

    And Professor Bosanquet himself would not admit Beauty in a work of art, however expressive, save under the Hellenic conditions of harmony or unity in variety, which he calls “general or abstract expressiveness”.

  • 3.

    If so, why, one may say, does not the primæval man see the beauty that is there? We may, with equal relevance, ask, Why does not nature, as in harmony with him, forcibly evoke the feeling? And so you may ask many other questions of a like kind. Man with the kindly help of Nature has progressed; he has learned to appreciate many things and among them Beauty: and if 10,000 years hence he has reached the fulness of his æsthetic possibilities, Nature will still be ahead of him, for he will not have exhausted her possibilities.