Saturday, April 11, 2015

Beauty, Truth, Goodness

All desire finds its root in beauty, the desire to become, to consume, or to unite with the beautiful.  Thus, culture derives its origin in a common apprehension of beauty, across persons, across time, pulling these various individuals into a unity over generations.  Beauty forms the character of the beloved, and the beloved becomes the mirror of the beautiful essence it embodies.

Beauty expresses itself in many facets, there are many cultures after all, many schools of art, each developing organically from a common source of inspiration, however indefinable.  The beautiful is, of course, the source and the basis of the individual's submission, for the individual to put other things aside in order to chase after the beautiful.  In this sense, beauty is the source of truth, of meaning, for which the individual gladly lays down other things, perhaps even their life, for the preservation of this beauty.  These little deaths pay homage to the glory, the magnificence of the Beautiful.  One saves, and hordes, and calculates, only to lay it all down, madly, without thought, to waste all that one has accumulated.

Education, in a traditional sense, is about teaching what cannot be taught.  It amounts to pointing out to youth what is beautiful, what is most beautiful in the eyes of their elders.  But the pupil cannot see through the eyes of their elders, and so can never be forced to see, they can only be provided with the opportunity to discover for themselves. Will they to see the True Light?  And it is indeed not assured that they will see, or if they see, whether it will be apprehended more or less dimly.  Yet if the Light of Beauty is apprehended, and the youth are inspired, they will flourish and carry on the traditions of their elders, and society will thrive.

The Beautiful provides the basis of orientation and direction of activity.  In this sense, it is True, in that it inspires, directs and organizes the collective.  The Beautiful is also Good, in the sense of an end or telos to which the collective strives.  Through the apprehension and inspiration of the Beautiful, the human beings strive to create, to reproduce its beauty, becoming the image and likeness of the Beautiful as far as is humanly possible.

The key to the destruction of culture, in fact, the destruction of all cultures, is through the fragmentation of the Beautiful, the True and the Good.  For example, the fragmentation between the Beautiful and the True can be provided by attributing the Beautiful to subjectivity, and Truth to objectivity.  If this move is successful, then the Good itself disappears, and life becomes divested of meaning, absurd.  One decides on one's own beauty, one's own good, which is absurd because the good, virtue, presupposes the existence of a moral community with shared norms.  For example, scientific inquiry is centered around social institutions composed of multiple people acting in accordance with shared norms and practices.  How is science possible without the existence of agreement on intersubjective norms and customs as much as intersubjective agreement on judgments of fact?  If beauty is only in the eyes of the elders, what then do the pupils see?