Recent Developments in European Thought eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 337 pages of information about Recent Developments in European Thought.
to attract a more sophisticated female.  But again the only answer is that it isn’t; and that if all our ancestors were, not Whistler’s dreamers apart, but beaters of tom-toms to attract females, then there was something in the sound of the tom-tom that made them forget the female.  The reality of art is to be found not in its origins but in what it is trying to be; and what it is trying to be is always a communication between mind and mind; what we aim at in art is a fellowship not for purposes of use but for its own sake, the fellowship we feel when we are all together singing a great tune.

But now, since we have a hundred foolish ideas about art, its nature and value, it is of the greatest importance that we should attain to a right idea of it, not only as a matter of theory to be discussed, but as a religion to be practised.  And, if we can grasp this right idea of it, we shall not think of art as consisting merely of the fine arts, painting, poetry, music, sculpture.  We shall see that it is possible for men to be artists, to exercise this great activity of communication, in the work by which they earn their living, and that a happy society is one in which all men do so exercise it.  We are very far from that happiness now, and that is why Ruskin and Morris became almost desperate rebels against our present society.  What they said about art and its nature is still the best that has been said about it, far nearer to philosophic truth than all that the professed philosophers have said, and of the utmost moment to us now.  For if we could believe them we should change most of our values; we should see that the ordinary man, now being deprived of all the joy of art in his work, is living a mutilated life; we should place art among the rights of man.  Whereas Rousseau said—­All men are born free and everywhere they are in chains—­we should say—­All men are born artists and everywhere they are drudges.  With our curious English originality, which hits on so many momentous truths and then makes no use of them, it is we who have found the greatest truth about art, but neither we nor any other people is at present making much use of it.  Because we lack art, lack the power of communication, we lack fellowship; and as Morris said—­Fellowship is life and the lack of it is death.


W. Morris, Hopes and Fears for Art.




The general subject of this course is European Thought; and, to some, music may perhaps seem in this connexion rather like an intruder.  Indeed, if the musician is, in William Morris’s phrase, ’the idle singer of an empty day’, if his business is to administer alternate stimulants and soporifics to the nerves or, at best, the surface emotions, or to serve in Cinderella-like fashion any passing, shallow

Project Gutenberg
Recent Developments in European Thought from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook