A bel esprit is not an artisan geometer but a born architect, who, while meditating on a building, is able to see it rising before his eyes complete in all its parts. He imagines and percieves its totality thanks to a reasoning that is imperceptible and instantaneous… In other words, a bel esprit is blessed with a disposition that gives him a fine and precise intuition of all the things he sees or imagines.

Pierre de Marivaux, as quoted in Styles of Enlightenment: Taste, Politics and Authorship in Eighteenth-Century France by Elena Russo.

As for the objective aspect of this aesthetic perception, that is to say the (Platonic) Idea, it may be described as that which we would have before us if time, the formal and subjective condition of our knowledge, were drawn away, like the glass lens from a kaleidoscpe.

Arthur Schopenhauer, ‘On Aesthetics’, Essays and Aphorisms, translated by R. J. Hollingdale.


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