The position of art in the scale of human knowledge is, perhaps, the most
eloquent symptom of the gulf between man’s progress in the physical sciences
and his stagnation (or, today, his retrogression) in the humanities . . . .
While, in other fields of knowledge, men have outgrown the practice of seeking
the guidance of mystic oracles whose qualification for the job was
unintelligibility, in the field of esthetics this practice has remained in full
force and is becoming more crudely obvious today. Just as savages took the
phenomena of nature for granted, as an irreducible primary not to be questioned
or analyzed, as the exclusive domain of unknowable demons—so today’s
epistemological savages take art for granted, as an irreducible primary not to
be questioned or analyzed, as the exclusive domain of a special kind of
unknowable demons: their emotions. The only difference is that the
prehistorical savages’ error was innocent.