Topics Worth Investigating

  1. Reynolds states in the opening paragraph of this reading that the foundations of art are "laid in solid science." Carl Gustave Jung states:

    Art by its very nature is not science, and science by its very nature is not art; both these spheres of the mind have something in reserve that is peculiar to them and can be explained only in its own terms.[1]

    Is the apparent disagreement between Reynolds and Jung a factual disagreement or a merely verbal disagreement?

  2. Reynolds states that the principles or rules of Šsthetic creation are not intuitive but are based on science. Explain, then, how he accounts for artistic genius, which seems to go well beyond the rules for artistic accomplishment.

  3. If the principles or rules of art were based on science, then Hegel points out some difficulties:

    [A] work of art is a human activity … [With] such an activity, being the conscious production of an external object … one is able to efffect or to imitate, when he has once simply mastered the way of doing it.… But if rules are really to suffice for such a purpose their directions ought to be formulated with such directness of detail that, without any further co-operation of mind, then could be executed precisely in the manner they are prescribed. Such rules being, in respect of this content, abstract, clearly and entirely fall short of their pretension of being able to complete the artistic consciousness. Artistic production is not a formal activity in accordance with a series of defintions; it is, as an activity of soul, constrained to work out of its own own wealth, and to bring before the mind's eye a wholly other and far richer content, and a more embracing and unique creation thatn ever can be thus prescribed.[2]

    Speculate how Reynolds would answer this objection which seems to be common sense. In fact Reynolds, himself, writes:

    Could we teach taste or genius by rules, they would be no longer taste and genius. But though there neither are, nor can be, any precise invariable rules for the exercise or the acquisition of those great qualities, yet we may as truly say that they always operate in proportion to our attention in observing the works of nature, to our skill in selecting, and to our care in digesting, methodising, and comparing our observations. There are many beauties in our art, that seem, at first, to lie without the reach of precept, and yet may easily be reduced to practical principles.[3]

    Can these two points of view be reconciled by recognizing Hegel's argument that "we at once exclude the beauty of Nature from the scientific exposition of Fine Art?"[4] Or, perhaps they can be reconciled by distinguishing, as C.G. Jung does, two different forms of art:

    For in the one case it is a conscious product shaped and designed to have the effect intended. But in the other we are dealing with an event originating in unconscious nature …[5]

  4. Compare Reynold's notion of the intersubjective agreement of those who have acquired artistic taste with David Hume's account of empirically establishing standards of taste.[6]

  5. Benedetto Croce held that art is expression—it is identified with intuitive knowledge just as science is identified with logical knowledge. He writes,

    As to what is art—I will say at once, in the simplest manner, that art is vision or intuition.… [I]ntuition means, precisely, indistinction of reality and unreality, the image with its value as mere image, the pure ideality of the image; and opposing the intuitive or sensible knowledge to the conceptual or intelligible … [W]e deny that the universal is rendered logically explicit and is thought in the intuition.[7]

    Explain whether or not Reynold's notion of ideal representation could be translated to Croce's representation of the coherence of intuition in the feeling or expression of emotion.



Carl Gustav Jung. "On the Relation of Analytical Psychology to Poetry." In The Spirit in Man, Art, and Literature. Collected Works. New York: Macmillan, 1922. Vol. 15.


G.W.F. Hegel, The Philosophy of Fine Art. London: G. Bell Ltd., 1920. Ch. III.


Joshua Reynolds. "Discourse III: Delivered to the Students of the Royal Academy on the Distribution of the Prizes, December 14th, 1770, by the President." Seven Discourses on Art. London: Cassel. 1901.


Hegel, "Introduction" I.


C. G. Jung. "On the Relation of Analytical Psychology to Poetry." In British Journal of Medical Psychlogy. Translated by C.F. and H.G. Baynes. London. 1928.


David Hume. "Of the Standard of Taste." In Four Dissertations. London: A. Millar. 1757.


Benedetto Croce. The Essence of Ăsthetic. Trans. by Douglas Ainslee. London: William Heinemann, 1921.