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What is Art?

Use this forum to have philosophical discussions about aesthetics and art. What is art? What is beauty? What makes art good? You can also use this forum to discuss philosophy in the arts, namely to discuss the philosophical points in any particular movie, TV show, book or story.
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Hereandnow
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Re: What is Art?

Post by Hereandnow » August 23rd, 2018, 11:32 am

Sorry, but this 'god' term you use is too ambiguous to understand. What do you mean by it, or, what is it that Wikipedia means, that you in turn mean?

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Re: What is Art?

Post by Jan Sand » August 23rd, 2018, 11:51 am

I find it most curious you seem never to have heard of god. I didn't insert that word in the quote. I can only suggest that you consult Wikipedia for their understanding of the word. Perhaps you can inform me as to how it differs from the common understanding. If it fits into my concept as to how the universe functions I would be most grateful to find out.

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Re: What is Art?

Post by Hereandnow » August 23rd, 2018, 12:04 pm

If I ask you what a bank teller is, and you give me that kind of answer, I would be suspicious as to whether you understood banking at all. It's a simple matter of making yourself clear. 'God' is a difficult term, and most people think of some straw man argument, some personification of the moon and stars, and think they have, by virtue of its blatant absurdity, refuted the term. Kierkegaard is galaxies apart from this kind of thinking. But to see how, clearly, you need to read some German idealism, Kant, Schiller, Hegel, get some rationalism under your belt to see what Kierkegaard is complaining about.
Kierkegaard was Wittgenstein's favorite philosopher; he established the basic ideas found in Sartre, Heidegger, Husserl...in 20th century philosophy. Forget his references to god and other standard religious terms. One has to read him, see his arguments and think them through.

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Re: What is Art?

Post by Jan Sand » August 23rd, 2018, 12:23 pm

OK. I only presumed that Wikipedia presented the term as it is generally understood. Since bank tellers these days are disappearing a bit faster than god perhaps you have indicated a profound relationship between the two. I have a cataract in my left eye although my right eye functions perfectly and so reading books is something I don't attempt much anymore. The computer permits me to enlarge text so that works OK. If you locate a site that is explicit on Kierkegaard's understanding of god let me know and I'll give it a try.

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Re: What is Art?

Post by Jan Sand » August 23rd, 2018, 12:38 pm

This is a direct quote from Kierkegaard on God and it seems rather clear to me that his God differs not at all from the general understanding of the word. Obviously, bank tellers are not involved.

What a human being knows by himself about love is very superficial; he must come to know the deeper love from God-that is, in self-denial he must become what every human being can become (since self-denial is related to the universally human and thus is distinguished from the particular call and election), an instrument for God. Thus every human being can come to know everything about love, just as every human being can come to know that he, like every human being, is loved by God. Some find this thought adequate for the longest life (which doesn’t seem surprising to me); so even at the age of seventy they do not think that they have marveled over it enough, whereas others find this thought so insignificant (which seems to me very strange and deplorable), since to be loved by God is no more than every human being is-as if it were therefore less significant.

The work of praising love must be done outwardly in self-sacrificing unselfishness. Through self-denial a human being gains the ability to be an instrument by inwardly making himself into nothing before God. Through self-sacrificing unselfishness he outwardly makes himself into nothing, an unworthy servant. Inwardly he does not become self-important, since he is nothing, and outwardly he does not become self-important either, since he is nothing before God – and he does not forget that right where he is he is before God.

Alas, it can happen that a person makes a mistake at the last moment, in that he, though truly humble before God, becomes proud of what he is able to do as he turns toward people. It is then a temptation of comparison that becomes his downfall. He understood that he could not compare himself to God; before him he became conscious of himself as a nothing; but in comparison with people he still thought himself to be something. That is, he forgot the self-denial; he is trapped in an illusion, as if he were before God only during specific hours, just as one has an audience with His Royal Majesty at a specific hour.

Soren Kierkegaard, Works of Love 1847, Hong 1995 p. 364-365

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Re: What is Art?

Post by LuckyR » August 23rd, 2018, 3:27 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
August 23rd, 2018, 8:05 am
Jan Sand
The recent rush of developments of robots impress me in the same way as crude attempts to invade the world of life and leave it bloodless and frightening.
But on the other hand, it will lead to our emancipation from practical necessity one day. Imagine waking up in an age where there are no mechanics, trash collectors, plumbers, electricians, even doctors, and so on; because these are done by some self sustaining, maintenance free body of mechanized middlemen. And humanity then looks to art and speculation and finally discovers its freedom and the real meaning of religion (and those awful metaphysical books written thousands of years ago are committed to the dustbin of abandoned thinking).
As I am on a Kierkegaard reading binge, I am behooved to recommend reading him. His Philosophical Fragments is a good start. But Kant should be read before anyone else.
Good Luck to you Jan Sand!
It could work that way, though history tells us that when housewives had access to mechanical tools to do housework and cooking chores for them, the number of hours per week of housework and cooking... increased.
"As usual... it depends."

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Re: What is Art?

Post by Hereandnow » August 23rd, 2018, 7:40 pm

Of course, if this is what you're looking for, you can find it. He was a Christian. But if you want to know what he did to inspire an entire movement in philosophy, you have to look elsewhere: The Concept of Anxiety, Philosophical Fragments, Sickness Unto Death, to name a few. Here is a sample, but beware, it is part of a 200 page argument. It does, at least, give you a small bit of his better side.

But what is this unknown something with which the
Reason collides when inspired by its paradoxical passion,
with the result of unsettling even man's knowledge of
himself? It is the Unknown. It is not a human being, in [*]Reason does not encompass eternity. An idea is not an actuality, yet we
so far as we know what man is; nor is it any other known think of the world as if it were an idea. It is not. Actuality is entirely
thing. So let us call this unknown something: the God. transcendental, or, Unknown. Call it God.
It is nothing more than a name we assign to it. The idea
of demonstrating that this unknown something (the God)
exists, could scarcely suggest itself to the Reason. For if
the God does not exist it would of course be impossible
to prove it; and if he does exist it would be folly to attempt it.
For at the very outset, in beginning my proof, l [*]Arguments begin with assumptions, or, presuppositions; but all that one can
would have presupposed it, not as doubtful but as certain produce from a presupposition is the content of its propositions.
(a presupposition is never doubtful, for the very reason
that it is a presupposition), since otherwise I would not
begin, readily understanding that the whole would be
impossible if he did not exist. But if when I speak of proving the God's
existence I mean that I propose to prove
that the Unknown, which exists, is the God, then I express
myself unfortunately. For in that case I do not prove anything,
least of all an existence, but merely develop the
content of a conception. Generally speaking, it is a difficult
matter to prove that anything exists; and what is still
worse for the intrepid souls who undertake the venture,
the difficulty is such that fame scarcely awaits those who
concern themselves with it.


What Kierkegaard is doing here is setting the stage for his "proof" and it is not going to be merely an analysis of concepts. It will be someting else entirely, but it certainly is NOT going to be the repetition of dogmatic scripture. It will examine the structure of experience itself. This will, of course, later become a repudiation of Hegel's rational phenomenology, and the basis for "Sartre's Nothingness" (Being and Nothingness) and his thesis of radical contingency (see Roquetin's startling existential revelations in Nausea. Then read K's Repetition). Wittgenstein will later, in his Tractatus, discuss the nature of meaningful language (that whereof we cannot speak, we must remain silent, a Kierkegaardian notion). Heidegger's das man and his analysis of human dasein has Kierkegaard all over it. And it goes on and on.
Now, these themes are introduced by Kierkegaard, but they are likely not familiar nor important to you. I only put this out there for you to get a glimpse of what Kierkegaard is really about. Faith comes on the heels of arguments like this and he is worth the read. He has been accused of endorsing absurdity, and there is something to this. But so what: reading his thoughts possess extraordinary insight into what it is to be human.
Again, this is part of the birth of phenomenology which repudiates science's grand claims to understand the world. Science, Kant shows us, does not make it way past the perceptual act.

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Re: What is Art?

Post by Hereandnow » August 23rd, 2018, 7:42 pm

looks like my notes didn't turn out as they were supposed to. Gets messy because of this.

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Re: What is Art?

Post by Jan Sand » August 23rd, 2018, 10:27 pm

Your true concern in attempting to convey what you feel is very important and is very impressive and I am grateful for your effort. My own concerns are seated in my concept, not as a human, since, even as a child I felt as a stranger in a strange land although I spent my first 35 years as a New Yorker, I have lived in Paris, West Berlin, Oak Ridge Tennessee, Tel Aviv, and ended here in Helsinki. I have never felt at home anywhere and I have never identified with what is called humanity. And, more basically. I never found anything more attractive in being a mature human better than being a four year old child.

My own concerns are oriented in the very fundamental actuality of the fact that we each are a brain trapped within a dark prison of the skull receiving coded messages from our limited sense apparatus and trying to assemble some sort of coherent totality out of those odd messages. This system methodically fabricates an internal model of what may be outside and places within that model a place holding piece much as a chess piece on a chess board becomes the representative of the player. This representative piece is what we know as ourselves living in the fake reality of the inner construction we call actuality. Some of us have fabricated something called God in this fake reality. and some of us never felt the necessity of that construction. Nobody knows nor can know what really causes those sense signals from the various sense mechanisms to give us clues to the outside universe that we use to construct our inner model. Each of us, whether we are humans or ants or bats or grasshoppers are provided with a different set of sense apparatus since we need different signals to keep us alive to make children. I have no idea what a grasshopper or an octopus or a clam may have constructed inside to stay alive and what many other humans have manufactured certainly makes little sense to me. So I do the best I can with the crude materials I have and hope for the best. What I make of the current human civilization is that it is not only on the wrong track, but that track ends in a remarkable immense and very uncomfortable failure and there is nothing I can do to stop it.

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Re: What is Art?

Post by Hereandnow » August 24th, 2018, 11:34 am

Jan Sand
This system methodically fabricates an internal model of what may be outside and places within that model a place holding piece much as a chess piece on a chess board becomes the representative of the player. This representative piece is what we know as ourselves living in the fake reality of the inner construction we call actuality.
I want to look exclusively at this, and I make the effort just because the concerns you raise, and perhaps, as is true in my case, the resentment about the world they may present, have unexpected possibilities.
Consider: the rules of this chess game are those we impose on what we experience. I take up questions like, why are we born to suffer and die as a proposition that has truth value. But there are no propositions "out there" in the world, and Einstein's concepts of space and time are propositional representations, or, presentations, that latter suggesting that our experiences bear no resemblance at all to the world independent of our faculties. Pragmatists think like this, and so did Kierkegaard (though, like Nietzsche, you find inconsistencies on occasion). You think we are stuck here, in this kind of prison of the mind, if I take your meaning, Kierkegaard does not. Why? Because he gives an analysis of being here and if he is right, it shows a way to, not this representational actuality, which is not actuality at all, but to a revelation of your true self, and to god.
This analysis goes like this: the rational/sensory matrix Kant called empirical reality has a structure such that the past, memories manufacture the possiblities for an interpretation of future events, and when scholars, and all of us, speak with knowledge claims about the world they are in, they are really expressing, choosing(?), is not real, and all of our knowledge, our great theses of the world, our ontologies, are endless recapitulations. repetitions of the past. What is the past? Accumulations of inherited experience, and this is our world, every time we say good morning, make an appointment to see a friend, grieve, desire: it is all within the matrix of a past into future dynamic.
Eastern philosophers have a name for this, which is karma. Kierkegaard calls this inherited sin; eastern philosophers have a name for how to get out (keeping in mind that this is essentially what they are about, Buddhism and Hinduism are about nothing more that is essential, than liberation), which is yoga, and the way of philosophy is jnana yoga.
Kierkegaard insight is that the future and the past lack presence, and yet, presence is all there is. Presence, the eternal present (for what else could it be but eternal? Is there some point at which eternity ends and finitude begins? Such a thing requires serious examination, but it is at least prima facie impossible. I see no way to make sense of it). The Real we seek is not in the rationality of our experience grounded observations, for these are fictions of a past and future dynamic that dogmatically keeps us toeing the line for culture and science and constitute a totality that is interpretatively qualitatively different from the present that is before us. This presence is ourselves. The busy mind endlessly constituting the world in the image of thought and reason never "sees"' the present.
In a nut shell. Kierkegaard's religious faith is matter that takes a turn in the argument. The eternal present is very difficult realize, and Kierkegaard, like the dalai lama who has likely never achieved nirvana, did not, he confesses. But what has gravity and profundity is the revelation of the eternal present, seldom acknowledged at all because few are willing to give up living and breathing in the finite world their lives are bound up in, especially when by the time one can think competently, on is already deeply ensconced.
Is this life we live "sinful" and "evil"? That is a question worth discussion: why, I have repeatedly asked, are we born to suffer and die? Suffering and joy, recall, are things present to us; they are not interpretations, but realities in the eternal present.

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Re: What is Art?

Post by Jan Sand » August 24th, 2018, 12:58 pm

So much of your language in this is so vague and undefined that as in aggregate it becomes a tangled bundle of mixed verbal twine with no relevance to any kind of inherent consistency. There is probably so much going on in actuality that our limited sense apparatus does not reveal that the foggy immensities you throw at me becomes totally incoherent. For one thing sin has no meaning without the requirement that there is a god which can be disobeyed and god plays no role in my concepts of reality. The philosophers you mention all elevate humanity to such hugely egotistical importance that it becomes a silly joke. This entire planet is a bit of overgrown dust lost in an unimaginably huge universe and all of humanity is a minor infection on its surface which has existed approximately two hundred thousand years which is not even a blink in geological time. Current likelihood indicates it will disappear within, at most, a few decades so it is hardly worth consideration from anyone but an ephemeral human. Humanity has never solved the prime problem of getting along with itself well enough to satisfy the bulk of its members and a species that cannot reach that most necessary solution is so totally inept its future is of little consequence.

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Re: What is Art?

Post by Hereandnow » August 24th, 2018, 1:53 pm

Jan Sand:
For one thing sin has no meaning without the requirement that there is a god which can be disobeyed and god plays no role in my concepts of reality.
God?? I don't use the term, or, I try not to and do so in very specialized way, as does Kierkegaard, though his faith warrants different jargon. His god term is first derived form the material argument of the affairs in plain sight, which are presented in the briefly sketched argument above. This argument does not discuss some sinners in the hands of an angry god notion. It is about the structure of experience and how our problems here in this world can be understood at the level of basic assumptions. My take on this is that one has to look at the basic assumptions first. One is that life suffering. It is other things as well, but suffering is far and away the most salient feature of our presence,and to argue against this would be folly. Another assumption is the drive toward truth, and the vehicle to do this is reason, but reson conceived int he abstract ignores the "passion" that is, the drive toward fixity, which Kierkegaard says is actually a drive toward a collision with actuality, for reason is not the actuality (Husserl, Heidegger have a somewhat different take).

The philosophers you mention all elevate humanity to such hugely egotistical importance that it becomes a silly joke. This entire planet is a bit of overgrown dust lost in an unimaginably huge universe and all of humanity is a minor infection on its surface which has existed approximately two hundred thousand years which is not even a blink in geological time.
And this perspective is shared by many who do not take the time to read anything else but scientific articles and the newspaper. My guess is that you have never once questioned what the relationship is between a given term and its referent "in the world", the term 'pen' and that bundle of impressions you receive. How did you come to know it is a pen? Did this bundle transpose itself into your consciousness, that is, did it leap into your skull and you had a revelation as to its essence? No. Your heard conversations in social settings and you witnessed "objects" (not objects at the time, though, eh? Because perhaps this term had not quite embedded itself in your thinking) and fingers pointing, and so on. Knowing a pen is a 'pen' is a social phenomenon, and knowledge claims about such things must FIRST realize this. "Over grown dust" ? From what perspective is this? Putting aside the derogatory connotation, how can dust be in any way a fitting comparison to the joys and tragedies of being human? And huge? What is size in eternity? How could you think size has any impact of the quality of nature of a thing? Pull my teeth without anesthetic: Is this an exhaustive analysis of such a thing? dust? Geological time? How does this, again, have any bearing whatever on an assessment of falling in love or haagen dazs? All of your ideas set up a conceptualization that completely ignores the phenomena that are before your every eyes, on favor of a scientific analysis that has no power whatever to observe the core features of these. Put a lighted match to your finger (I've used this before) and keep in there. What will happen is qualitatively distinct from any rational schematic based on objective data. This needs explaining. Terms such a 'universe' and 'geological time' are dwarfed in comparison.
Current likelihood indicates it will disappear within, at most, a few decades so it is hardly worth consideration from anyone but an ephemeral human. Humanity has never solved the prime problem of getting along with itself well enough to satisfy the bulk of its members and a species that cannot reach that most necessary solution is so totally inept its future is of little consequence.
But none of this goes to the matter of the qualitative analysis of what it means to be human. You ignore the meanings right before you in favor those at the discursive end of a scientific report. Time is big in your thinking, but have you asked the Kantian question, how is it that I know time at all? Time is an intuition (putting aside objections to this for now), it is conceived in a matrix of terminology, not in some tablet on a mountain.
What you seem to need is to read Kant first. He opens the door to questions about the perceptual act that all science rests on. Perception is originary (Husserl's word), not science.

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Re: What is Art?

Post by Jan Sand » August 24th, 2018, 2:29 pm

Thanks for trying. I cannot make sense of your comment. Since what humanity does in this civilization conveys almost no meaning to me I do not understand what meaning you find in it different from the basics of survival and humanity demonstrates little if any competence in that. Einstein's concept of time as a dimension is most satisfactory to me."Pen" is an English word which refers to a generality containing many variations from a writing instrument to an enclosed space and can be either a noun or a verb. I have no difficulty dealing with it.

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Re: What is Art?

Post by Hereandnow » August 24th, 2018, 8:57 pm

I see, I blame myself, Jan Sand. Some things I cannot explain convincingly.
At some point in my reading philosophy I started taking it seriously. I was taken, at first, by a kind of affliction, which was, I had to understand what suffering was doing in the world. I just didn't get it: there were beyond count, so many who were born simply to suffer and die, and each one of these was a world unto herself. For the real world is the one we live in and not just some scientific abstraction. It was real living, being infected by plague, watching your finger tips blacken with gangrene, then watching your children fall ill, suffer for months on end and die, and this was what human beings were about; and even when dentists and doctors came along, it was still there, and if not so gruesome as middle ages horror, still there, palpable existence, crashing your car and there pinned to the seat while the gas meanders a course around your face, then the flames start up. Look, civilization is built upon the suffering of the ages, and suffering is not a narrative. It is this intense phenomenon that will not be explained away just because we have better advanced medical science. Even if we do ameliorate the human condition, the singular events do not diminish one whit in there nature. One has to look hard at this reality before reality is properly defined. It is not star dust. This kind of thinking is reductionist--it reduces something to a different explanatory set of ideas, and suffering does not allow for this, for it is a given, it is presence itself, part and parcel of the world that is given, and while we may build our institutions around it, we may politicize it, we may educate our children about it, what is in the world is the original presence of suffering.
In a very real way, being in eternity DOES this to us. This is what we mean when we say, that's just the way things are, and we just yield. Philosophy needs to say no to this. We are Kafka's Gregor Samsa, and when we awaken in a kind of epiphany about being thrown into this world, we should not, like Gregor does, continue to to worry about our jobs and public opinion; it is absurd. We need to understand there is something else entirely going on.

There is, among the many victims of geworfenheit, as I call them, one. I would take this personal reality and look very closely at it: the moment of her worst horror. Here I ask, what does it mean for us to be here? If you can still think that there is nothing important going on here, move on...

That is likely the best I can do to convince a person to look beyond the veil of popular science to come to an understanding about our humaness. Reason begs for consummation, and there is none here.

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Re: What is Art?

Post by Jan Sand » August 24th, 2018, 9:36 pm

As I have tried to indicate I have had some difficult times in my life but I do not focus all my attention on suffering. Every moment of awareness has its fascinations and problems. When I read all the time of happiness that people are seeking all the time it puzzles me. I don't want to be happy all the time. I just want to exist and be aware and try to understand the many ways life presents itself. At my age I get random pains all the time and they fascinate me and I try to discover what they indicate. They pass and other things arise since life is about experiencing a wide spectrum of possibilities. I don't enjoy the bad moments but I use them to probe what they could teach me, I abhor drugs and other ways to hide all aspects of being alive since, even at my age, un3xpected things and thoughts occur and life itself is a short time to be not dead. Suffering happens and it passes, as do many other things. Everything is temporary.

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