Benedetto Croce’s Aesthetic as Science of Expression and General Linguistic is important because he was the first to expound the theory of Organic Unity, that form and content are one. Working from this principle and its corollaries, Croce evolved a conception of art and the means by which one could judge works of art of any time or place according to a consistent standard. He held that man’s activities are intelligible only as an effort to realize ideals—beauty, truth, ethics—and that history is the record of human intelligence building up civilization in all forms. Concrete reality, he stated, can only be reached through perception of the individual fact or historical knowledge. He saw the goal of philosophy as providing us with an understanding of history, of the spirit of man. But he felt every philosophy to be final only for the present problem which it solved, not for the problems that would inevitably arise afterwards. As a result he rejected all closed systems of philosophy and maintained the nondefinitive nature of philosophy.
The Aesthetic is divided into two parts: the Theory of aesthetic and the History of aesthetic. Croce revised this work several times, enlarging and changing it according to the development of his thought. In the first part he developed his theory of art as pure intuition, as a cognitive process concerned with the specific as differentiated from the universal. This cognitive...
(The entire section is 1556 words.)
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