Monday, March 29, 2010


Things that caught my eye:

1. David Elkind in the Times describes the quickly vanishing traditional culture of childhood, although he doesn't mention the major implications for parenting.

2. In an interview physicist (and priest) John Polkinghorne contrasts the impersonal knowledge of science with the deeply personal knowledge of faith, which he attributes to irreducible and untestable individual experience. However, the argument from personal experience, while it has given me empathy with believers, never gets me myself beyond agnosticism. For my personal experience has always been of a transcendently ineffable mystery at the heart of reality, which only folly tries to collapse into the simplistic myths of the Bible or Koran. The devil is in the details, indeed. The religious impulse is profound, but it has no rightly specific implications. Even a disposition such as compassion, supposedly so basic to religiosity, does not necessarily follow from the possibility of a deity.

3. In a review of a biography of philosopher R. G. Collingwood, Simon Blackburn gives this wonderful summary of the function of art:

Collingwood carefully separates art proper from art as craft, where there is a predetermined, independent aim to be achieved; and from art as amusement, where the function is to arouse an emotion so that an audience can indulge it; and from art as magic, where the aim is to facilitate some practice or stance toward the world, by the arousal of an emotion that aids it. Art proper is none of these. It is the expression of the way in which the artist feels and thinks about the subject, and in great art it is the imaginativeness, the truthfulness, and the rarity of those feelings and thoughts that overcome us. Collingwood's description of what is involved in communication, expression, imagination, and truthfulness has never been bettered. Even stripped of its context, his final sentence bears remembrance: "Art is the community's medicine for the worst disease of the mind, corruption of consciousness."


Anonymous said...

From an evolutionary perspective, the social world in the flesh is becoming the minor context of existence lived. The virtual world will be the primary context in which life is navigated; hence, the creeping obsolescence of real-life socialisation.

"Art is the community's medicine for the worst disease of the mind, corruption of consciousness."

Conversely, can art corrupt consciousness? Is consciousness meant to be culturally breached/contaminated so that it may exist?

Novalis said...

Yes, to remain inviolate is to risk not having really lived.