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By Guy Sircello

Guy Sircello's research of the kinds of expression and his use of them to justify a specific view of the human brain make clear a few debatable subject matters in modern philosophy, between them the suggestion of "artistic acts," language as expression, the expression of principles, expressions as "natural signs," and the character of the causal courting among an expression and what's expressed.

Originally released in 1972.

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Extra resources for Mind and Art: An Essay on the Varieties of Expression

Sample text

57 THE MIND IN ART THE MIND IN ART lively way. But it is surely nonsense to characterize sculp­ not permit critical cliche to interfere-the aesthetic of tures, buildings, or novels in these sorts of ways. " ization and the abstraction we have remarked. In a novel in which a house falls physically to ruins from Consider next the following passage from a critical essay by Lionel Trilling on Dickens' Little Dorrit. the moral collapse of its inhabitants, in which the heav­ (9) which the devil has something like an actual existence, The imagination of ens open over London to show a crown of thorns, in Little Dorrit is marked not so much by its powers of particularization as by its pow­ we quite easily accept characters named nothing else ers of generalization and abstraction.

68 THE MIND IN ART Perhaps then another sort of argument will be more con­ vincing. Let us take two examples of what arc clearly and indubitably hypotheses made about an artist on the basis of his work and compare them to the critical statements quoted earlier. Suppose that upon reading The Iliad one notices in that work how objectively yet sympathetically Homer treats his characters no matter which side of the conflict they are on. Suppose that this observation leads us to speculate that the author must have been brought up in an exceptionally benign environment, that he must have come from a large and affectionate family in which no con­ flicts ever generated bitterness.

Here then arc two incom­ impersonal is equally justification for calling it nonsense. patible descriptions of a work which are equally well \Vhat the above three cases demonstrate is that a true grounded on facts which allegedly "entail" one of the de­ anthropomorphic description of an artistic act might pre­ scriptions. " The best I can say is that there seem to me to be no such additional features scribable. The conditions mentioned are tence of the artist, ( 2) ( l) the compe­ the coherence of the work, ( 3) the seriousness of the artist.

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