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date: 10 April 2020

Croce, Benedettolocked

  • F.E. Sparshott
  • , revised by Naomi Cumming


(b Pescasseroli, nr Aquila, Feb 25, 1866; d Naples, Nov 20, 1952). Italian philosopher, historian and critic. In its original and most influential formulation Croce's aesthetic theory is part of a general philosophy of civilization (largely derived from Vico and Hegel). Croce's view is both ‘idealist’ and ‘historicist’. His idealism is evident when he poses a strong contrast between ‘intuition’ and ‘intellect’, and argues that art is ‘intuition without intellectual relations’ (1915). His emphasis on the intuitive is motivated by a resistance to contemporary positivism, which gave weight to scientific understanding. His ‘intuition’ is a form of non-conceptual, non-experimental activity. It does not, however, consist in introspective knowledge, or vague impressions which can be known apart from any tangible form. Rather, that which is ‘known’ intuitively is grasped only in its expression (‘The spirit only intuits by making, forming, expressing’, 1902, Eng. trans., 1992, 8–9). ‘Expression’ itself gains an unusual meaning by this association with the intuitive. If the act of ‘expressing’ gives content to the intuition, it cannot be claimed that the expression is of something already ‘known’, as if intuition and expression were two separate things. To say that art ‘expresses’ intuitions is to say that it brings a state to clear and explicit consciousness by giving it a material and perceptible form....

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