Saturday, December 21, 2013

Truth, Beauty, Justice

The Pangrammaticon divides experience into two broad domains, the epistemic (or scientific) and the ethical (or political), separated and connected by imagination, which can perhaps be considered a domain in its own right, namely, the aesthetic (equally philosophical and poetical).

Philosophy cultivates the aesthetic of knowledge and is, in that sense, the "love of wisdom". Poetry, meanwhile, cultivates the aesthetic of power and is, to that end, the wisdom of love.

Perhaps there is a "pure art", a cultivation of imagination for its own sake, separate from any epistemic or ethical interest. This is the modernist fantasy. A science that just and only knows. A politics that just and only masters. A philosophy that just and only thinks. A poetry that just and only feels. And an "art for art's sake" that just and only imagines. It can't ever be this way of course. The hope, ultimately, is that these professions could spare us the trouble of knowing, mastering, thinking, feeling, and imagining. But each of us must do these things for them to happen. All these things.

Art recovers the beauty that remains between the truth and the justice we have accomplished. Another way to put it: art seeks happiness in the space between our honesty and our decency. That is why art is always being accused of indecency and dishonesty.

It's always hard times for an honest man. A decent one. Happiness lies in overcoming the difficulty. Beauty is difficult.

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