Aesthetic

Tomes of aesthetic criticism hang on a few moments of real delight and intuition.

No poet, no artist, of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists. You cannot value him alone; you must set him, for contrast and comparison, among the dead. I mean this as a principle of aesthetic, not merely historical, criticism. The necessity that he shall conform, that he shall cohere, is not one-sided; what happens when a new work of art is created is something that happens simultaneously to all the works of art which preceded it. The existing monuments form an ideal order among themselves, which is modified by the introduction of the new (the really new) work of art among them.

The internationalization of art becomes a factor contributing to the estrangement of art from the artist. The sum of works of all times and places stands against him as an entity with objectives and values of its own. In turn, since becoming aware of the organized body of artworks as the obstacle to his own aesthetic self-affirmation, the artist is pushed toward anti-intellectualism and willful dismissal of the art of the past.

Order is light, peace, inward liberty, free command over oneself; it is power... It is aesthetic and moral beauty, it is well-being, it is man's greatest need.

Art is the human disposition of sensible or intelligible matter for an aesthetic end.

Since the time of separation of church and state they have been classified as voluntary associations: they depend in principle upon voluntary membership and voluntary contributions. The collection plate in the Sunday Service is sometimes objected to for aesthetic reasons, but it is an earnest, a symbol, of the voluntary character of the association, and it should be interpreted in this fashion. It is a way of saying to the community, "This is our voluntary, independent enterprise, and under God's mercy we who believe in it will support it. We do not for its support appeal to the coercive power of the state."

In scientific thought we adopt the simplest theory which will explain all the facts under consideration and enable us to predict new facts of the same kind. The catch in this criterion lies in the world "simplest." It is really an aesthetic canon such as we find implicit in our criticisms of poetry or painting. The layman finds such a law as dx/dt = K(d^2x/dy^2) much less simple than "it oozes," of which it is the mathematical statement. The physicist reverses this judgment, and his statement is certainly the more fruitful of the two, so far as prediction is concerned. It is, however, a statement about something very unfamiliar to the plain man, namely, the rate of change of a rate of change.

Much has been said of the aesthetic values of chanoyu- the love of the subdued and austere- most commonly characterized by the term, wabi. Wabi originally suggested an atmosphere of desolation, both in the sense of solitariness and in the sense of the poverty of things. In the long history of various Japanese arts, the sense of wabi gradually came to take on a positive meaning to be recognized for its profound religious sense. ...the related term, sabi,... It was mid-winter, and the water's surface was covered with the withered leaves of the of the lotuses. Suddenly I realized that the flowers had not simply dried up, but that they embodied, in their decomposition, the fullness of life that would emerge again in their natural beauty.

If all feeling for grace and beauty were not extinguished in the mass of mankind at the actual moment, such a method of locomotion as cycling could never have found acceptance; no man or woman with the slightest aesthetic sense could assume the ludicrous position necessary for it.

Painting isn't an aesthetic operation; it's a form of magic designed as mediator between this strange hostile world and us.

Arguments for preservation based on the beauty of wilderness are sometimes treated as if they were of little weight because they are merely aesthetic. That is a mistake. We go to great lengths to preserve the artistic treasures of earlier human civilizations. It is difficult to imagine any economic gain that we would be prepared to accept as adequate compensation for, for instance, the destruction of the paintings in the Louvre. How should we compare the aesthetic value of wilderness with that of the paintings in the Louvre? Here, perhaps, judgment does become inescapably subjective; so I shall report my own experiences. I have looked at the paintings in the Louvre, and in many of the other great galleries of Europe and the United States. I think I have a reasonable sense of appreciation of the fine arts; yet I have not had, in any museum, experiences that have filled my aesthetic senses in the way that they are filled when I walk in a natural setting and pause to survey the view from a rocky peak overlooking a forested valley, or by a stream tumbling over moss-covered boulders set amongst tall tree-ferns, growing in the shade of the forest canopy, I do not think I am alone in this; for many people, wilderness is the source of the greatest feelings of aesthetic appreciation, rising to an almost mystical intensity.

In the twentieth century the magnificent sensate house of Western man began to deteriorate rapidly and then to crumble. There was, among other things, a disintegration of its moral, legal, and other values which, from within, control and guide the behavior of individuals and groups. When human beings cease to be controlled by deeply interiorized religious, ethical, aesthetic and other values, individuals and groups become the victims of crude power and fraud as the supreme controlling forces of their behavior, relationship, and destiny. In such circumstances, man turns into a human animal driven mainly by his biological urges, passions, and lust. Individual and collective unrestricted egotism flares up; a struggle for existence intensifies; might becomes right; and wars, bloody revolutions, crime, and other forms of interhuman strife and bestiality explode on an unprecedented scale. So it was in all great transitory periods.

As in other cultural systems, the ideology of each supersystem is based upon certain major premises or certain ultimate principles whose development, differentiation, and articulation makes the total ideology of a supersystem." Since the ideologies of the supersystems are the vastest, their major premises or ultimate principles deal with the ultimate and most general truth, proposition, or value. An ultimate or most general truth concerns the nature of the ultimate true reality or of the ultimate true value. Three main consistent answers have been given by humanity to the question 'What is the nature of the true, ultimate reality-value?'
One is: 'The ultimate, true reality-value is sensory. Beyond it there is neither other reality nor any other non-sensory value'. Such a major premise and the gigantic supersystem built upon it is called Sensate... Another solution to this problem is: 'The ultimate, true reality-value is a supersensory and superrational God (Brahma, and other equivalents of God). Sensory and any other reality or value are either a mirage or represent an infinitely more inferior and shadow pseudo-reality and pseudo-value.' Such a major premise and the corresponding cultural system is called Ideational... The third answer to the ultimate question is: 'The ultimate, true reality-value is the Manifold Infinity which contains all differentiations and which is infinite qualitatively and quantitatively. The finite human mind cannot grasp it or define it or describe it adequately. This Manifold Infinity is ineffable and unutterable. Only by a very remote approximation can we discern three main aspects in it: the rational or logical, the sensory, and the superrational-supersensory. All three of these aspects harmoniously united in it are real; real also are its superrational-supersensory, rational, and sensory values.' It has many names: God, Tao, Nirvana, the Divine Nothing of mystics, the Supra-Essence of Dionysius and Northrop's ‘undifferentiated aesthetic continuum'. This typically mystic conception of the ultimate, true reality and value and the supersystem built upon are described as Integral.

I think there are cultural reasons why we are suspicious of anything that has to do with beauty. One is that many of us believe that beauty requires culture. You have to have read many books and you have got to have studied in order to understand and enjoy say music or a beautiful painting. And that is absolutely not true. Reading may help us deepen our appreciation of beauty, but beauty is for everyone. It’s true that we have a possibility of increasing our gamut of beauty, increasing our aesthetic intelligence, our ability to appreciate beauty so that we don’t appreciate it only in great works of art or only in nature or only in music, but we appreciate it also in everyday life. Some people appreciate beauty even in things that are very banal and obvious. They have a greater aesthetic intelligence in my opinion. And of course there is an enormous world of inner beauty. I think we can learn to appreciate not only outer beauty, but the inner beauty of people. The beauty of honesty, the beauty of kindness, the beauty of intelligence. Appreciating beauty that is not immediately evident may take some time, but once we tune into it it’s there to stay.

If the universal is the essential, then it is the basis of all life and art. Recognizing and uniting with universal therefore gives us the greatest aesthetic satisfaction, the greatest emotion of beauty. the more this union with the universal is felt, the more individual subjectivity declines.

Neo-Plasticism has its roots in Cubism. It could just as easy be called the Painting of Real Abstraction. Since the abstract can be expressed by a plastic reality.. ..It achieves what all painting has tried to achieve but has been able to express only in a veiled manner. By their position and their dimension as well as by the importance of given to colour, the coloured planes express in a plastic way only relations and not forms. Neo-Plasticism imparts to these relations an aesthetic balance and thereby expresses universal harmony.. ..For the moment what art had discovered must still be limited to art itself. Our environment cannot yet be realized as a creation of pure harmony. Art today is at the very point formerly occupied by religion. In its deepest meaning art was the transposition of the natural (to another plane); in practice it always sought to achieve harmony between man and untransposed nature. Generally speaking, so do Theosophy and Anthroposophy, although these already possessed the original symbol of balance. And this is why they never were able to achieve equivalent relations, that is to say true harmony.

Scientific truth is too beautiful to be sacrificed for the sake of light entertainment or money. Astrology is an aesthetic affront. It cheapens astronomy, like using Beethoven for commercial jingles.

The feeling of awed wonder that science can give us is one of the highest experiences of which the human psyche is capable. It is a deep aesthetic passion to rank with the finest that music and poetry can deliver. It is truly one of the things that make life worth living and it does so, if anything, more effectively if it convinces us that the time we have for living is quite finite.

I believe in limited government. I believe that government should be limited in many ways, and what I am going to emphasize is only an intellectual thing. I don't want to talk about everything at the same time. Let's take a small piece, an intellectual thing. No government has the right to decide on the truth of scientific principles, nor to prescribe in any way the character of the questions investigated. Neither may a government determine the aesthetic value of artistic creations, nor limit the forms of literacy or artistic expression. Nor should it pronounce on the validity of economic, historic, religious, or philosophical doctrines. Instead it has a duty to its citizens to maintain the freedom, to let those citizens contribute to the further adventure and the development of the human race.

I have a friend who's an artist and has sometimes taken a view which I don't agree with very well. He'll hold up a flower and say look how beautiful it is, and I'll agree. Then he says I as an artist can see how beautiful this is but you as a scientist take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing, and I think that he's kind of nutty. First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people and to me too, I believe. Although I may not be quite as refined aesthetically as he is ... I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty. I mean it's not just beauty at this dimension, at one centimeter; there's also beauty at smaller dimensions, the inner structure, also the processes. The fact that the colors in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; it means that insects can see the color. It adds a question: does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms? Why is it aesthetic? All kinds of interesting questions which the science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the mystery and the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don't understand how it subtracts.