First, in my gratitude, I wish to dedicate this Article to those kind and truly professional Guides at NGA, for introducing me and my fellow residents, courtesy of Goodwin, into a lifelong impression about mysteries of Art.
Second, unless otherwise stated, most of the materials for this Article paraphrased, and/or quoted verbatim, from the following philosophical sources:-
- Roger Scruton, ‘Modern Philosophy’. (An Introduction and Survey). ISBN 0 7493 1902 X. Sinclair Stevenson. GB. 1994;
- Thomas Moore, ‘Care of the Soul’. ISBN 978 0 7499 4120 8. Little, Brown Book Group. Piatkus.co. UK. – An Hachette.co.uk; 2012.
- Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D. ‘New Proofs for the Existence of God’, (Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy).ISBN 978-0-8028-6383-6. www.eerdmans.com; 2010; and
- Alvin Plantinga, ‘God, Freedom and Evil’; ISBN 978-0-8028-1731-0. www.eerdmans.com; 1978.
The main subjects of this article are:- Ascetic emotions of Beauty and Love; and in particular, our deep, transcendental experience, through their philosophical influence on fine Art.
The Aristotelian Western Philosophy, (also referred to as The Scholastic Philosophy), comprising two main branches, shown below for locating the subject matter of this article. The following are the two main subdivisions of Western Philosophy:-
- a): The Pure Philosophy with its four sub-branches: Logic, Epistemology, Metaphysics, Ethics and Aesthetics (dealing with the theories of Value, Virtue and Beauty).
- b): Applied Philosophy with its several sub-branches, primarily: Philosophy of Religion, The Philosophy of Science, The Philosophy of Mathematics, The Philosophy of Language, Political Philosophy, History of Philosophy and Applied Ethics (dealing with transcendental problems, such as metaphysical Freedom, Love, Goodness, Truth and Evil. Finally, Applied Psychology, Art and Business ethics.
Since about the 1960’s, however, modern day academics tend to ignore the complete Aristotelian Western Philosophy, preferring instead, to disseminate exclusively a fragment only The History of Philosophy, which they still label ‘Philosophy’.
History of Philosophy is ‘a prolonged search for its own definition’, and generally believed important for the understanding of past problem solving of outmoded concepts of the great thinkers, whose superior intellect guides us to uncover our prejudices and to see their origins.
Nevertheless, any detailed study of a dead hypothesis appears at odds with the basic definition of Aristotelian Philosophy, that is: Philosophical Questions understood being ultimate: hence, they lie at the limits of the human understanding. The question is then whether those academics have truly grasped the importance of the basic definition of Philosophy.
THE TERM OF AESTHETICS is the invention of Aristotelian Philosophy, derives from the Greek word for ‘perception’, and first employed in its modern sense by Kant’s teacher, A.G. Baumgarten, in order to characterise the distinction between poetry and science.
According to modernist philosophers, Aesthetics is the Philosophy of Art; therefore, those of us experiencing aesthetics ought to consider the subject matter of Art through this quintessential concept. Aesthetic experience is a lived encounter between object and subject.
Aesthetics, according to Aristotle, in its concern for Art, goes far beyond the phenomenon of aesthetic emotions of enjoyment of harmony and resplendence, etc. to the communication of a range of spiritually human relational emotions, (e.g. love, goodness, truth, beauty and morality; etc.).
We may reach broad agreement about fundamental aesthetic judgements, where there is corresponding reality that guarantees their truth. Our aesthetic judgements, however, not true simply because we decide to call them true, unless we could verify the conditions of truth with reference to their bases in physical reality.
Philosophers consider our judgement in aesthetics is true when there is no contradictory statement (communication) between the object of aesthetic experience and physical reality that causes it true. This metaphysical statement underscores the classic Aristotelian philosophical axiom: Art cannot have grades, nor can it contradict fundamental Laws of physical nature, because ultimately, as the axiom posits, Art deals with some verifiable Truth that is convertible with Reality itself; and Reality is the quintessence of Truth.
Note: If anyone would like to know more about Truth, Philosophers suggest that some prior information gained about Reality could help. (For definitions of Truth and Reality, see: perennialviews.com).
AESTHETIC INTERESTS stem from the universal Law of Reason, a law to itself that seeks logic wherever it appears in physical nature and us as part of it. This innate perception in us motivated by the pursuit of objective validity of practical world as it does of logical and mathematical argument; aesthetics is therefore an interest in objective value.
‘The simplest way of identifying aesthetic interests in experiencing an artwork is in terms of the reason that might be given for it’.
The aesthetic interest always sees more information in an artwork beyond our sensual experience than its mere appearance; ‘otherwise why should we place such a high value on it.’; we search in contemplation for and try to understand the aesthetic meaning that lies deeper beyond the sensual perception of an artwork.
Our desire for experiencing aesthetic emotion in an artwork driven primarily by our yearning for perfection of aesthetic values expected from it. According to Aristotle, such emotional values come from the depth of our yearning for understanding and achieving the four Transcendentals:- Love, Goodness, Truth and Beauty.
We use these aesthetic values, as criteria, when comparing them subconsciously with our perceived aesthetic values in the reality of daily life experiences, and primarily in artwork.
Finding of adequate aesthetic values in some of the artwork, however, could become elusive, complex or outright disappointing when searching within our presently imperfect human world.
Reason being we find beyond the existing three Forces of nature and numerous physical Laws governing our physical existence and wellbeing, that there are surprisingly constants also of human nature, ‘those are moral, aesthetic and political, – which we defy at our peril, and which we ought to strive to obey’.
MEANING OR INFORMATION IN ARTWORK
While searching for aesthetic values in an artwork, we do not usually see only colours, lines and shapes, as we do in a painting or when we hear harmonious sounds in a music, but a world of emotion expressed also through them; i.e. we may perceive a certain meaning or information.
However, an artwork may or may not have any meaning or information at all about the four ascetic emotions of love, goodness, truth or beauty; because, as the saying goes, ‘it all is in the eye of the beholder’.
One may also consider that even if the meaning or information of an artwork would present a complete absence of aesthetic emotions, but violence or ugliness instead, one could still reason with the fact that since it is some kind of an artistic representation, hence, it also is in the eye of the beholder.
Furthermore, beyond the meaning or information, an artwork may also have a specific (abstract) purpose, as suggested my Daughter, Shari. Such purpose may be found in general, mostly e.g. for creating optical illusion, through unusually depicted or sculpted proportions of physical shapes and dimensions (cf. the entasis of tall, slender Greek columns, or the apparently unproportioned legs of Michelangelo’s David, as all were intended for viewing them from high or remote locations; etc.
Experts in the field of art (and my Daughter) suggest that our interests of aesthetics in artworks may be enhanced greatly by a certain amount of information gained in advance about the life history of the artists.
Such information may include the culture and principle ideologies of the time associated with and those personal experiences that could well have influenced the artists and their artwork. In effect, this is one practical way to become educated in artwork, i.e. through their creator.
However, personal information about an artist may not only depend just on our effort and time, but it may also be influenced inadvertently by our own socially constructed and present human world, ‘…in which reality of ourselves as self-conscious beings, with a conception of our place try to articulate and safeguard our individuality’.
Hence, the following factors may also influence our judgement:- The personal individuality, which is the hallmark of our identity exists within the great human world, (as zoon politikon), comprising social communities, with inherited institutions under lawfully elected authorities, sharing established aesthetic values in culture, religion and traditions of our society that we inherited.
Our individuality seems reinforced primarily by the profound dignity of our personality that has evidence in our yearning for and practical exercise of the four aesthetic emotions of Transcendentals and their source, the ‘Ultimate‘ perfection.
My earliest recollection at The Astronomical Society of NSW began with a visiting Astronomer’s novel view about the general meaning in our stargazing: he said, while looking into deep- space with our telescopes, searching for stars and distant galaxies, we are ultimately searching for our own identity.
AESTHETIC EXPERIENCE is a transcendental exchange between the art object (and also, possibly via the spirit of its creator, the artist), and the experiencing subject, (e.g. myself or the public), in which personal encounter the subject takes on a universal significance; that is what found in an object is a meaning or information that it contains all that its creator reflected in the experiencing subject.
Aesthetic experience is unsolicited and immediate and the experience leads to the value-judgement of taste. ‘Aesthetic judgement is a part of practical reason that we adapt the world to ourselves and ourselves to the world’. Aesthetic judgement makes appeal to ‘universal common sense and such experiences are therapies for our social existence’.
Furthermore, ‘aesthetic experience in artwork will survive in our minds long after the experience ceased. In experiencing aesthetics, these interests are curiously also insatiable because they have no goal’.
A work of art is not understood by finding a purpose for it, hence, it is a disinterested attitude; and yet, simultaneously, art is the expression of our interest of reason. So the paradox of this apparent purposelessness, characteristic of the definition of aesthetics of art (that is true art is for art’s sake, hence, without any purpose beyond itself), ‘and that there is yet a kind of purposefulness that we find in ourselves, who are searching aesthetic experience through values and/or information in an artwork.
Aesthetic experience is different from all other practical and spiritual concerns in order to appreciate it for itself. One can only say that those who experience a deep and purely aesthetic quality of emotion in a significant form feel affected by a peculiarly subliminal quality of reality, which could make a matter of infinite and lasting importance in their lives. Any further attempt to describe this spiritual experience, would probably end in the depth of, (quasi-religious), mysticism.
KNOWING THE ARTWORK
The success of our understanding of an artwork will greatly depend on an intimate knowledge of it, i.e. it would require certain knowledge of its transcendental values that may be intrinsically embedded in the artwork.
Hence, the essence of appreciating an artwork that is understanding and interpreting its overt and/or covert meaning or information, lies in our possession of related knowledge, obtained in advance.
Philosophy posits that ‘knowledge in general has as many varieties as there are kinds of rational success. Furthermore, the one who knows is the one who reaches the target of verifiable truth’.
However, reason does not always aim only at truth, because there are also other mental exercises of rationality, i.e. knowledge, with their specifically practical and theoretical aims; (cf. art itself, and transcendental values).
There are five kinds of knowledge:-
- Knowing that, which is a truth-based belief; i.e. the object of this knowledge is a proposition.
- Knowing who and knowing which; i.e. it identifies the person and/or the object.
- Knowing how; i.e. this explains a practical knowledge of a technique of how to do something reliably. It is a matter of physical skill.
- Knowing what; i.e. it is the ability of a person to know and reliably do what is right.
- Knowing what it is like ; i.e. one may know all about there is to know about something personal, and still not know what it is like without personal experience of having it.
This fifth kind of knowledge is the hardest thing to understand; and yet, this forms the subject matter of artwork and all value judgements of a person. We value this because we value all other acts that flow from a person familiar with the culture and moral traditions of our human experience.
‘Aesthetic judgement through knowledge is a part of practical reason, and our truest guide to the physical environment’.
The practical aspect of appreciating an artwork would comprise ‘dual purpose’, first, the subject matter of art offers certain aesthetic values to me; and second, if those values found acceptable to the mind, then, in contemplation, through some quasi-subliminal exchange, that is, the subject will identify itself with the object, thus unite with the artwork.
Schiller, the great German poet was arguing that aesthetics in philosophical education of a person is one true foundation for rational life, and of any ordered politics.
Hence, perhaps the principal task for Philosophy ought to be to vindicate the modern world, by showing how the social intimations that underlie our aesthetics experiences are necessary to us, and thus become an intimate part of our individual and collective mental wellbeing and happiness.
The above ideas, coupled with the following observations below, may highlight some controversial aspects of aesthetic values, and their dominant essence by which anything, but primarily Fine Art, can be recognised and appreciated.
The first comment: Dedicated art public may find there is not one single definition of art, perhaps, because, as again, quoted by my Daughter: ‘It is a universal belief that art can be anything a human being wants it to be’.
The second comment: It is surprising to find that not only aesthetics of art that has spiritual value for its own sake, because there are a few other spiritual activities also, which could provide similar aesthetic experience.
For example, when I work, my activity is a means to an end, making a valuable product; when I play, however, my activity is an end in itself. Play is not a means to enjoyment; it is the very thing enjoyed; it is said play, as in art, is for its own sake; Once we play for the sake of learning, then on we cease to play.
Schiller put it paradoxically: ‘If every activity is a means to the end, then no activity has intrinsic value. If, however, we are engaged in certain activities for their own sake, as in art, we do not ask what those activities are for because they are sufficient in themselves’.
‘An artistic representation is like a prop in a game of make-believe’, i.e. there is something inexplicable veiled from observation and its contemplation.
He adds further: ‘If work becomes play, regardless of what results from it, then work becomes the restoration of man to himself’. Those last words are Karl Marx’s, and contain the core of his theory of ‘unalienated labour’.
Some philosophers go as far as saying that the artwork and its viewer become one in an invitation to contemplate, which process is transcendental and yet such a typically human activity that it can hardly be put into words.
Philosophers posit also that any art-like human activity, having a special kind of rational interest in something for its own sake, could have, through its aesthetic emotions, deep connection with the aesthetic experience in art.
These art-like human activities are believed to include traditions, customs, play, simple conversation, storytelling, leisure activities, love and friendship (Greek philia), and even religious rights and ceremonies belong to this group.
Hence, art is not the only human activity having deep connection with aesthetic emotions, in which we are ‘at home’ in the world and at ease with ourselves, because all those activities are also among the highest of universal human goods.
It might just be true, as in stargazing, i.e. when looking for aesthetic experience in an artwork; ultimately, we could well be searching for our very own identity, (i.e. so called ‘the inner man’). This may also be an invitation of ‘immortality’ via contemplation; and thus, as if our innate desire would become identified with the Infinite.
While sometimes we may describe an aesthetic experience in quasi-religious (that is ‘ultimate’) terms, the definition of art becomes yet ever clearer by repeating simply its ultimate purpose, which is satisfying the subjects’ aesthetic desire through artworks that are worthy of it.
The third comment: Our limited understanding of aesthetics has been so deformed throughout the centuries by the ‘romantic idea of the artist’ that, without professional guides or printed information in galleries, viewers could hardly find in some of modern artworks any rational meaning.
The fourth comment: There appears as if there would be certain quasi-conspiracy among some artists and some lesser-informed public about the liberal, (modernised) re-interpretation of golden rules of aesthetics for ulterior motives.
The fifth comment: There appear major frauds by impostors, attempting to undermine the sacred mission of aesthetics of genuine artworks by masquerading through genuine artwork, promulgating, in subliminal ways, their nefarious messages and ideologies to the unsuspecting public.
The compounding effect of above-mentioned anomalies could generate in minds of the public a gradual deterioration of aesthetic values, the gold standard of art. This deterioration may manifest itself through blurring of the demarcation line that separates what might still constitute some elements of aesthetic values from what now could one call only a feeble imitation of art.
THE IMPORTANCE OF ARTFUL LIFE
Plato, Aristotle’s tutor, stressed the care of the soul that requires: ‘techme tou biou’ i.e. the craft (techme) of life, that is:- a) Engagement of the soul in our daily activities; b) Constant attention to small details; and c) Practise of artful living for the development of our soul and the soul of the world.
‘The soul is not the ego; it is the infinite depth of a person and of a society, comprising all the many mysterious aspects that go together to make up our identity’.
Intellect usually looking outward, wants continuous enlightenment and the pleasure of a burning enthusiasm and logical joy. On the other hand, Soul always drawn inward, seeks contemplation when we look deeply into ourselves.
On the other hand, the modernist syndrome urges people not to miss anything; otherwise, their lives would be empty.
Hence, there sometimes seems to be ‘an inverse relationship between information and wisdom’.
Furthermore, from the grand overview of modern life, it appears that most of us more interested in big events of the world around us, as being ultimately important to us.
Gradually we begin to overlook small details in our life, including the very own spiritual wellbeing, the basis of an artful living.
The spiritual wellbeing would require constant attention in our quest for achieving the Transcendental ways of Love, Goodness, Truth and Beauty, whose aesthetic emotions (owing to their absolute simplicities) are physically not measurable.
In the Florentine view, the human body was a manifestation of the soul. Hence, it was possible to imagine a soulless notion of the body, which was considered an aberration. ‘When we relate to our bodies as having soul, we attend to their expressiveness, beauty and poetry. We might do more for our body’s health by looking attentively at works of art that reveal some of the body’s expressiveness’.
Care of the ‘world-soul’ requires us to see things more for what they are than for what they can do. Art helps us in achieving this worldview by reframing physical beings and events in an aesthetic reference, and directing our attention ‘to form as well as function, to decay as well as invention, and to quality as well as efficiency’.
Whether we do all that with mindfulness, work affects the soul profoundly at many different levels. ‘All work is a vocation, a calling from a place that reinforces the meaning of identity, and roots of which lie beyond human intention and interpretation’.
Genuine artwork demands our attention; and for its deeper understanding usually invites us into contemplation for its own sake, without any influence of our personal interests. ‘Artful living requires something as simple as pausing in our daily activities a few minutes for quiet reflection and wonder’.
The soul-oriented spirituality could give our lives the spiritual depth and subtlety and generate a deep-rooted moral sensitivity towards those less fortunate and our physical environment.
The soul is nurtured by beauty, which is a necessary part and surrounding us silently in our daily life. As the author experienced, sometimes a tree could tell us more than can be read in books; we only would have to listen and contemplate.
Small things and events, no matter how secular they may appear in our everyday life are no less important and sacred than great issues of human existence. ‘The soul of a piece of art is known intimately, not remotely, and it is felt, not just understood’.
Art teaches us to respect imagination about small thing as being something far beyond human creation and intention. ‘To live an ordinary life artfully is to have this sensibility about the things of daily life’; to live more intuitively and be willing to surrender a measure of our rationality in return for the spiritual richness of soul.
It is a fallacy to think that art only belongs in the artist’s studio, music hall or art gallery; it also has its place in homes and any other place where people work and live. ‘There, we can arrest the feverish tempo of public life and making it available through attention and imagination to small things for contemplation’. Thus, art captures the eternal in our everyday life that feeds the soul – ‘the whole world in a grain of sand’.
Spirituality is powerful, it has a potential for good and for evil acts. Carl Jung, the Psychologist remarked ‘What infinite rapture and wantonness lie dormant in our religions (the most subtle form of spiritual acts). We must bring to fruition its hymn of love’. He alludes here to our spirituality that would be supreme influence in one’s artful living.
A profound illumination of Moore says: ‘Eventually we might find that all aesthetic emotions, all human creativities, and all spheres of life have deep roots in the mysteries of the soul, and therefore holy’.
In addition, he continues, ‘A deep ecological sensibility can come only from the deep soul, which thrives in community that is not detached from the heart, and in-relatedness to particulars. It is a simple idea: if you do not love things in particular, you cannot love the world, because the world does not exist except in individual people and things’.
It is said that since there is no absolute separation between the soul of the physical world and our own, ‘we are truly the world and the world is us. Therefore, care of our soul requires that we have an eye for the world’s suffering, because when the world is in trouble, we will share in its burden’.
Soul being the seat of our deepest emotions and yet, we try to resolve our emotional problems without adequate spiritual awareness. ‘There is a major difference between the modern notion of psychology or psychotherapy and care of the soul in an artful spiritual awareness in everyday life’.
One important aspect of such awareness is that a religious belief is sublimely above all exercises of other types of modern day spirituality. It appears as if we arrived at the essence of difficulties of modern day living, which, according to Jung, mainly characterised by ‘a lack of spiritual awareness’, i.e. the ‘loss of religious sensibility, which is not at odd with the everyday and the lowly’.
Human creativity, foremost, is living in the world soulfully; for the only thing we make, whether in art, in culture, at work place or small things at home, is the ‘development of our soul’. Hence, our creativity in the microcosm is in essence a participation in the Divine act of continuous creation of the macrocosm.
Aristotle suggests that in his Transcendentals are ‘The Four Divine and Human Mysteries’. That is the four aesthetic emotions of Transcendentals are a manifestation of the same transcendental reality of perfect, ‘irreducible simplicity’ of the Divine, and the ultimate source of human beings universal desire.
Irreducible simplicity stands for, first, the essential attribute of the Creator, as the absolute simplicity, from whom we acquired the subconsciousness yearning for knowing and experiencing the Ultimate source of our aesthetic emotional simplicities.
Second, the irreducible simplicity of Transcendentals defined as having a complete absence of restricting physical boundaries of reality; in other words, they cannot be reduced to physical reality, because they are beyond it.
‘Furthermore, because Transcendentals reach so far in their universal ways in which human life plays itself out, they can be an indispensable guide in our self-understanding’.
In addition, artful life encourages also creative living that may best be materialised through following the aesthetic emotions of Transcendentals. ‘Creativity, however, finds its soul when it embraces its shadows, and not only artists, recognise that evaporation of ideas’.
Igor Stravinsky, one of the greatest composers, remarked that he saw his music less as personal expression and more as an object to be invented and worked. ‘Earlier, one had first to be a craftsman; now we have only talent’; he continued, ‘and we do not have the absorption in detail. He was also suspicious of artists as a pure channel of inspiration’.
Meantime, Moore encourages us: ‘The ultimate work, then, is an engagement with soul, responding to the demands of fate and tending to details of daily life as it presents itself.
And he continues: ‘Unexpectedly, we may get to a deep aesthetic experience where our labours and our soul will become one and the same, inseparable. Then the satisfaction of our work will be deep and long lasting, undone neither by failures nor by flashes of success’.
THE NATURE OF BEAUTY
We know already from previous definitions that our consciousness carries the perfection of Beauty; nevertheless, our aesthetic emotions of Beauty may yet be experienced in certain work that merely presented artistically, proves, that not all Art has to be beautiful.
Beauty, in general, believed as being one of the essential aesthetic experiences in art. According to Plato, inasmuch as there can only be one perfect Simplicity, (see previous Transcendentals), it would seem that Beauty itself would have to be identical with and inextricably linked to Love, Goodness and Truth, and thus, each manifestation of absolute Simplicity manifests and evokes other aesthetic emotions.
Albert the Great suggested that Beauty has three characteristic aesthetic qualities, namely:-
The First quality is when natural objects brought to near perfection by their individual form, pleasing proportion and appearance, when such an artwork appears intrinsically beautiful, and ‘when something appears what it was supposed to be’.
The Second quality is perhaps one of the most recognised qualities of harmonious blend in visual art forms and harmonious resonance in music, where individual hidden features and components would remain unrecognised in their isolation.
The Third quality of Beauty is ‘shining forth’ by the confluence of the first two transcendental aesthetic qualities. It is a complex, grand and sustained quality, full of splendour and luster, evokes the sublime and exalted emotions, connecting us with the glorious as it refers to access to perfection of harmony and form.
Sublime or exalted emotions elicited in us usually when experiencing the intrinsically beautiful in near-perfection of forms, proportions, appearance, or harmonious resonance in nature and/or in works of art.
One only has to walk in the Mosque of Isfahan, or listening to Bach’s Mass in B-minor in the Cathedral of Chartreuse, in order to sense the ‘third quality’ of other-worldly Beauty, grandeur and majesty of a Creator and His continuing work through human achievement.
According to Plato, ‘Love, Goodness and Truth, seem through their simplicities, inextricably linked in us to the purest form of exultation of the phenomenon of Beauty’. He posits also that Beauty in its every manifestation is one and a same, and the Beauty of the mind is infinitely more honourable than the Beauty in its any outward form.
He continues: Beauty, (with all its metaphysical elements), is the first we recognise in everything, by its exemplifying for us perfection. We have also an acute awareness of what is more beautiful, (as if we seem to carry it within our consciousness), which becomes evident with every examples of our dissatisfaction with the limits of worldly beauty surrounding us in everyday life.
Furthermore, we are able to sense at times also quite strongly this frustration over the glaring discrepancies in our own daily activities, when trying to imitate the infinite Divine perfection of Beauty with our finite artistic ability.
The effort, driven by our incessant yearning for achieving the consummate aesthetic emotions of Transcendentals, seems pronounced nowadays especially in the artistic community, which noble effort often followed by regrettable tragedy; because they judge themselves so harshly.
Where does this sense of yearning for the perfect Beauty come from?
THE NATURE OF LOVE
The following logical reasoning will attempt to demonstrate that not only Beauty, but Love, essentially has also a rightful place in Art:-
First, the aim of aesthetic emotions of Transcendentals is the same as those of Love; that is, aesthetic emotions of Love desired for themselves, and for their own sake.
Second, the aim of Art is the creation of same aesthetic emotions as those of Transcendentals; that is, aesthetic emotions of Art desired for themselves, and for their own sake.
Third, since Art and Love create same aesthetic emotions, Love also belongs in Art.
Love considered the queen of all aesthetic emotions because it can be the highest of all powers; and
Furthermore, Love may express itself in two types of aesthetic emotions, namely:-
First type of Love is the Desiring Love that tends to ‘possess’ its object; e.g. Philosophy is a love of wisdom that is striving to possess and to retain wisdom.
Second type of Love is the Well-wishing love that tends to do ‘good’ to its object. This type of Love begins in us with the experience of empathy, (in-feeling/en-pathos), deep awareness of others, developing gradually into realisation of self-giving and a caring-bond, often capable of self-sacrifice, (agape).
Where does this sense of yearning for the artistic perfection come from?
GOD, FREEDOM AND LOVE
In spite of the above yearning for artistic perfection, history of our century clearly demonstrated the proclivity of humanities’ neurotic psychosis of false spirituality in violence towards one another. With this regard, Novalis, the German poet put it quite simply: ‘Love, he says, was not made for this world’.
Furthermore, unbelievers often question why the endless suffering and grief in this world, and why a supposedly loving God could allow violence committed by human beings against one another? The apparent silence to these questions is the most common objection to both, the notion of Love, but in particular, the existence of a loving Creator, the Ultimate source of our desire.
The philosophers’ answer this conundrum may lie, first, in the Divine plan of creating the ‘best of all possible physical worlds’; (Note: However: just as there is no greatest Prime Number, so perhaps, there is no best of all possible worlds either, to which a little something better could not be added).
Second, if the Divine plan was to create morally responsible human beings (as we tend to believe it) within this quasi-pre-determined, and causally controlled, ‘physical Universe’, then God had to create human beings with metaphysical freedom of choice, enabling them to either accept or reject the means that are required for living moral life.
Put it simply, morality presupposes freedom of action; otherwise, morality would not be ‘morality’, because then we would be created programmed to live like robots.
In other words, philosophy posits that morality presupposes metaphysical freedom that is: ‘We can choose to do what we do not want, and want to do what we do not choose’. Kant made much of this philosophical axiom, for he labelled it as the foundation of morality.
This is also, paradoxically, the logical reason why even a loving Creator had to allow with this unique gift of freedom, human beings either to act morally or to commit, in this physical world, morally inexcusable acts against one another.
Note: For further reference to the Law of Causality and the beginning of the physical Universe, see the following Clause.
ARGUMENT FOR THE EXISTENCE OF A CREATOR
Contrary to many philosophers, there is no valid argument or proof for or against the existence of a Creator. Nevertheless, we may approximate some statement, (however lengthy it may appear to the uninitiated), through a simple basic logical deduction.
This deduction presented in a well-known philosophical format, using Aristotle’s two axioms juxtaposed, namely First, from the logic of the Beginning of our physical Universe; Second, from the logic of the philosophical Law of Causality.
First: The Standard Cosmological Model, based on the Beginning (and not the Origin) of our physical Universe with the hypothetical Big Bang theory. This Model also states that the Universe governed by three fundamental Forces and numerous Laws of nature. (Almost as if things could not have been any otherwise; and as if everything would seem pre-determined from the very beginning of the Universe).
Note: The twilight we can see after sunset proven scientifically as the remnant left from the initial brilliant explosion of the Big Bang. This twilight referred to as the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, having a constant temperature of approx. 3Deg. C., evenly distributed within our Observable Universe.
According to the above hypothetical theory, Cosmologists set the beginning of the Universe 13.75 billion years ago, and at 13.75 billion light years away from our present location in the Observable Universe).
Cosmologists were disinterested in reasoning any further what happened before the Big Bang, because, as they say, (and correctly), that they are not qualified to speculate into the realm of metaphysics; and with this response, they effectively silenced in advance as well the potentially scientific endorsement of a creation theory.
Aristotle, the pagan Philosopher, however, asserted 25 hundred years ago that in this physical Universe, every contingent entity (created animate and inanimate being) and event (physical change), must have its beginning either by itself (which is a physical impossibility), or by Others.
He posited further that the above disjunctive is equally applicable to the origin of our similarly contingent physical Universe.
Second: Aristotle juxtaposed his above disjunctive assertion about the Beginning of contingent beings with his Law of Causality. This Law states that universally, in physical nature, every contingent entity and event must have a First Cause and a Final Cause; (i.e. an origin and an end). If either of the two is missing, there is no causation to talk about.
Similarly, a chain of cause and effect’ (i.e. causal chain), must also have a beginning in its First Cause and an end, in its Final Cause. The first cause in a causal chain becomes an effect, which becomes cause of subsequent effect, and so they alternate their role until they reach the final cause and effect.
Note: According to the ‘arrow of time’, (that progresses only into the future and never into the past), generally speaking,, in any causal event, including causal chains, the First Cause may occur in any defined (historical) past, and possibly, in any (hypothetical) future; while the Final Cause, may occur definitely in both that is in any defined (historical) past as well as in any defined future time.
Consequently, an endless search for the First Cause (e.g. the origin of the Universe), could not extend into the historical past endlessly, otherwise, it would end in an ‘infinite regress’, which is a physical impossibility.
Similarly, an endless search for the Final Cause progressing into infinity of the future would also result in a physical impossibility.
This latter hypothetical scenario likened to someone, who would die of thirst before reaching the tap.
Alternatively, if we apply this Alternatively,
Finally, recapitulating the previous description, Aristotle juxtaposed his two disjunctive hypotheses that is: Firstly, the Beginning concept of contingent beings, secondly, with the First Cause concept of the Law of Causality, and from that he concluded that since our physical Universe is also contingent, hence, the Beginning of the Universe must also have been caused by Others, whom he called the ‘First Mover’, (i.e. the First Cause); and according to the belief of three Abrahamic religions, He is our Creator.
ADDITIONAL PHILOSOPHICAL NOTES
One: The Final Cause of the physical Universe (i.e. End-state) is as yet unknown, nevertheless, according to cosmologists, finally, the End-state may have to be acted out between the Gravitational Force and the Law of Entropy. ( The meaning of Entropy defined in: perennialviews.com )
Others stipulate that some unknown Force or Forces of Nature could well have already begun winding down the physical Universe. Ultimately, the end-state of the Universe could depend on the physical degradation of all sub-atomic particles, which could take many billions of years yet.
Two: Contingency, as opposed to Absolute, means something or someone is not a necessary being, because it had a beginning caused by something or someone outside itself and will have also an end. Furthermore, the existence of a contingent being must also depend in its physical existence on causes outside itself.
Absolute, on the other hand, has its origin and a self-subsistent existence by and in itself, without any conditions outside itself whatsoever.
Three: Human Beings. There are several philosophical axioms in this Article about the nature of human beings, which may require additional clarifying comments.
Human beings created with five deeply linked characteristics that constitute their essence, namely:-
- a) We have a distinctly physical individuality; and, yet, paradoxically, we are physically related to and dependent for our physical existence, not only on other human beings, but also other living beings and on our immediate physical environment, whose caretakers we are expected to be.
- b) We are consciously aware of being aware of our metaphysical identity within the physical world around us; and through this awareness, we consider ourselves uniquely apart from all living beings, and , yet, just as in the previous item, paradoxically, we are psychologically related for our transcendental wellbeing, practically on all other human beings.
Alternatively, as some philosophers believe the fact that we are all associated with a ‘single body’. (Just consider for a moment the symbolic meaning of a group of elephants when they surround the dead body of a strange elephant, lying on the ground in the African savanna).
- c) Our identity in principle, characterised by being a person, i.e. having personality. Philosophers having arguments about either: i) to describe the concept of ‘person’ to determine the common use of the functional meaning of the term, or: ii) explain why the present – day application of the concept of person not entirely clear.
The differences between a human being when characterised as a person, may be analogous to a lump of clay when it is called a statue. Even if a lump of clay may lose its original shape when becomes a statue, still, it will in essence remain clay. However, if a statue would change its identity, could no longer be called a statue, because in essence, it would revert to a lump of clay.
Conversely, if a human being would lose its personality (i.e. being a person), it could not be characterised as a human being any longer, because it would lose its essence of being human.
- d) We are expected to be moral beings, because we possess metaphysical freedom for choosing either the right or wrong means for ourselves and for the benefit and welfare of our family, other human beings, the civil state and our environment.
- e) We have an instinctive awareness and appreciation of the four aesthetic emotions, called Transcendentals, which we attempt to practise in our daily life, and yearning subconsciously for their ultimate source in our absolute and infinitely perfect Creator that would almost certainly be our most creative act in an artful living.
I have been searching for this article the very essence, (by which concept Art could be defined), and the driving force of Art that keeps subconsciously attracting people, for the wellbeing of their psyche, like magnet, through eons.
I have learned two things: One, although yearning for aesthetic values of Art that is love, goodness, truth and beauty, is instinctive as well as they are being all around us, Art still may be elusive, like a hidden treasure, for the complex human mind to find especially in these modern times without conscious search and concentration. Reason being perhaps because of Art’s quasi-divine, transcendental simplicity, whereby it is truly its own purpose and end.
Two, there appears as if without Art, we would not have that instinctive and peculiarly subliminal yearning for the transcendental values of aesthetic experience; and then perhaps, there could not be eternity either.
Finally, there seems a kind of answer to what Art is all about; it came about like a spark of thought, which is surprising, since it is in accord with my very own recently acquired believe about the essence of Art. And that answer is set out in the following three logical steps of statements:-
Philosophy posits that Art comprise the simplicity of Transcendentals’ aesthetic emotions. However, since aesthetic emotions believed to emanate through their simplicity, from the ultimate source of Infinite Simplicity, as a Divine Gift. Hence, Logic indicates (from the above categorical statements) that Art is a Divine Gift.
“For Thou hast made us for Thyself and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee”. (Augustine).