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  1. #1
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Default On the virtues of passion

    "The question may be raised whether the epic or the tragic is the higher form of imitation. It may be urged that if the less vulgar is the higher, and the less vulgar is always which appeals to the better public, an art which makes its appeal to all and sundry is clearly one of a very low order indeed. The argument is that because the poet's public cannot grasp the meaning of a piece unless the author adds something, he is led to keep the performers in perpetual motion-- have flute players, for example, rolling about if the act of throwing a quoit is to be imitated, and pulling at the conductor if the music is descriptive of Scylla. Tragedy then is said to be an art of this sort, to be in fact just what the later actors were in the eyes of their predecessors; for Mynniscus used to call Callipedes 'the ape' because he thought his style was exaggerated, and a similar view was taken of Pindarus also. All Tragedy, however, is said to stand to Epic as the later to the older school of actors. The one is accordingly said to address a cultured audience, which has no need of gesture as an accompaniment; the other, an uncultured one. If therefore Tragedy is a vulgar art, it must clearly be lower than Epic." Aristotle.


    "Mathematics, rightly viewed, possess not only truth, but supreme beauty--a beauty cold and austere, like that of a sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeoues trappings of painting or music , yet sublimely pure, and capable of stern perfections such as only the greatest art can allow." Bertrand Russell

    "Mathematics is poetry of purely logical ideas" Albert Einstein

    In this very brief discussion I suggest we consider the nature of aesthetical judgment. What exactly do I mean when I say something is beautiful or good? Usually this reflects a mere emotive valuation, and that is what comprises the most significant part of such an idea. In other words, when I say something is beautiful or good, it is mostly about how I feel about the entity that I comment on.

    Clearly, how I feel about the entity is not all that this expression is about. In order to construct a sentence of 'I find this beautiful' some logical reasoning is necessary, as so is the case for all thoughts we express. Our minds are disorganized in their own element and only through conscious attempts at organization of our thoughts could they be more structured. Quite obviously, the convention of language does impose structure on our thinking.

    Inevitably, in such cases we use our faculties of structured contemplation to understand and express our emotive states of mind. Thus, we could adduce that aesthetical judgments primarily reflect how we feel about things.

    As a matter of truism, how we feel about things reflects who we are. As a man could easily be defined by his interests, or his likes and dislikes. Art clearly engages our emotions or faculties of aesthetical judgment. Inevitably, for this reason, art is an expression of ourselves. Thus, as noted by Aristotle, tragedy is a vulgar from of art because it is enjoyed by vulgar people more than by the lofty people. One should ask why this is the case, and the explanation that I have provided appears highly plausible. Almost a truism. In summary a man is defined by his likes and dislikes, or his aesthetical judgments, and art forces man to make aesthetical judgments, and therefore evinces the constitution of one's character.

    Novels, poetry and plays cover a myriad of subjects and are often highly emotionally charged. For this reason they force us to make aesthetical judgments regarding many topics. For this reason we can learn a lot about one's character by observing their aesthetic judgments concerning such works of literature. Now we should explore why Aristotle's claim that tragedy appeals to the vulgar people appears plausible. Clearly, it is the case that what separates us the most from the brutes is our intellect. Very often people who are regarded as the loftiest are the most intelligent ones. An intelligent person is one who is able to solve complex problems. For this reason Einstein, a physicist who was able to do so proficiently is regarded as an epitome of an intelligent person.

    Whilst the former is a prerequisite for the latter, the latter is more important than the former. Or in other words, analytical merits are more important than our faculties of imagination. Obviously, one cannot analyze a problem if he cannot envisage a problem to begin with. But, imagination without analysis is torrential. One is much less likely to intuit a solution to a complex problem than to solve it in a methodical fashion. For this reason, in mathematics, an intellectual discipline that is most concerned with solution of complex problems, careful and rigorous reasoning is highly vouched for.


    On these grounds we can conclude that analytical thinking is the most representative of our intellect. Analytical thinking is purely dispassionate. What is the complete opposite of this? Quite clearly, an emotionally charged impulse. That is clearly animalistic, or as Aristotle puts it, of the lower order. The lofty persons such as Bertrand Russell and Einstein see beauty in activities that are analytically oriented, specifically, mathematics. One may ask, why is there such a close connection between the term 'intellectual' and 'lofty'. That appears to be the case because we equate lofty with admirable, and as humans the quality we have that animals clearly lack is the intelligence, or ability to think proficiently about abstract ideas. Because of the close association of loftiness with intelligence, the following conclusion ensues.

    The vulgar people like art that involves their emotions directly because they are most animal-like of all people. They easily value emotional impulse as an end in itself, but cannot appreciate what requires intellectual capabilities. It is a fact of human nature that all wish to feel well, and our mind unconsciously gravitates towards positive sentiment. Tragedy, by definition is a plot where the protagonist suffers. People identify with the protagonist. Because of this, they always wish for him to prevail, but the fate of the protagonist conflicts with their feelings, therefore creates a complex emotional reaction within the mind of the observer. This is the case because in a tragedy the observers emotions are always working towards a state of a positive mindset, or a 'happy feeling'. In the case of a comedy this is not so as the occurences within the plot directly lead to a positive emotive state of mind which tends not to be long lasting. Thus, because the vulgar people are attracted to the sheer emotional experience in itself, they gravitate towards activities that lead to emotionally intense experiences the most. Tragedy clearly does. For the same reason the vulgar people enjoy watching soap operas where many of the characters they identify with suffer, racecar competitions where the drivers they identify with suffer a risk of dying, bull fighting, or many similar sports. This clearly explains the popularity of such sports.





    A lofty person on the other hand elects activities that do not directly involve his passions, but instead inspire him to rely on the intellect. For this reason the wise choose activities that are intellectually complex and not emotionally complex, such as mathematics.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Summary and additional notes.

    Axiom concerning human nature: All our emotive activities naturally strive towards acquistion of happiness.

    Proposition: The passions and the intellect are in a state of antithesis because the former is by definition emotionally involved, yet the latter is dispassionate.

    Proposition 2: Aesthetical judgments are expressions of our emotive mindset, or a reflection of ourselves.

    Lofty, by definition is associated with complex, or clever, which is part of the definition of 'intellectual'.

    In order to be as intellectual as possible, one must be emotionally detached. This is the case because if one is not detached, one is consumed by the current experience and therefore will be unable to place himself in the position where he can contemplate.

    In addition to a dispassionate approach to the situation, one needs an imagination to entertain complex ideas.

    Logical reasoning is the most dispassionate of intellectual activities and requires imagination because it is complicated. Mathematics is the sophistication of logical reasoning. Therefore mathematics is the loftiest of all intellectual endeavors.

    In proposition two we have established that our aesthetical judgments are a reflection of ourselves. Therefore lofty people like lofty activities and the vulgar like the vulgar activities.

    We know that mathematics is the loftiest of all because it requires dispassionate contemplation of abstract notions. The opposite of lofty is vulgar. Therefore what is most vulgar is what requires dispassionate contemplation of abstract ideas the least. That is appeasement of our emotive impulses. Therefore an activity that engages our emotions the most is the most vulgar.

    In axiom 1 we have established that we have a natural tendency towards feeling good. In order to feel good we must generate positive emotion. Tragedy gears us towards generating negative emotion. We will naturally combat our negative emotions and this will lead to emotional complexity. In a comedy or where the protagonist prevails easily, the positive emotion will not last long because our emotions were not engaged thoroughly. That is why most movies, plays and novels, whether they are tragic or comic (in the former the protagonist prevails and in the latter he suffers), the element of tragedy is highly emphasized, or the protagonist encounters difficulties to a significant degree.

    Thus, because the vulgar people wish to have their passions engaged significantly, they prefer tragedy. Whilst the lofty who are detached from their passions prefer activities of dispassionate contemplation such as mathematics most of all, physics, philosophy or other intellectual endeavors. The antithesis between passion and intellect is necessary because passion prevents one from removing oneself from the immediate experience in order to begin contemplating.
    Last edited by SolitaryWalker; 11-10-2008 at 02:21 AM.
    "Do not argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience." -- Mark Twain

    “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”---Samuel Johnson

    My blog: www.randommeanderings123.blogspot.com/

  2. #2
    Senior Member ThatsWhatHeSaid's Avatar
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    What's this? *wipes eyes in shock and disbelief* Seahorse denigrating feelings?

  3. #3
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    I liked it

  4. #4
    Senior Member Hirsch63's Avatar
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    Artistic activity or the pursuit of the aesthetic lies beyond and yet is still informed by demands of practical survival. Choices that will have an immediate and real effect on our bodies (hot vs. cold, big vs. small, colorful vs. plain) identified through direct experience form the basis of aesthetic choices we later made at comparitve liesure. Even the Bower bird makes the most serious evolutionary choice as a matter of aesthetics. In it's choice, aethetics = security much the same as one may wed for the promise of stability and comfort. Here the aesthetic choice may indeed be considered an emotional one; hard wired and eminently practical. Perhaps the choice, more instinctual than one of carefully cultivated reasoning could be considered superior in an economical sense; the desired outcome (security) is achieved with minimal expense of personal resource (energy).

    If we hunt and gather we must make choices. We can eat any number of berries, fungi or nuts...some plainly taste better than others...some may moratlly harm us and they may be identifiable by color, shape and location. They may form the basis for colorants and dyes where our direct interaction during harvesting, preparation and use informs their meaning in communicative works; something painted an intense red may indicate danger similar to the source from which it was it was derived...simple, primitive? Practical.

    As society stratifies choices become more circumscribed. Items coveted for
    nutrition,taste or appearance are claimed by those (few, elite)best able to
    extract or compel them from either the environment or those(common, less
    discerning) with fewer resources at their disposal. In time the privledged will prohibit ownership of certain rare or hard gotten goods by the great unwashed, whom the Gods or Fate have demonstrably not chosen to favor. This is the basis for establishing relative value. All this is to say that aesthetic choices seem to have many of their basis in emotional yet practical realities.

    Aesthetic judgement by it's very name implies a careful and considered approach to the evaluation of art. It requires knowledge of the basic elements and principles of art and to be truly effective experience with as many other works as possible for comparision. Even with all this intellectual resource brought to bear the ultimate opinion it must be admitted, is subjective, good or bad, ugly or beautiful. Though to be truly judicious one must(or should)act in the spirit of impartiality. There is no certainty in art; the best of it will require thoughtful engagement on the part of the viewer with no promise of a definitive resolution of opinion. It is a quandary, a puzzle...an intellectually stimulating game.

    Now there is good art and bad art just as there is good and bad food. We eat what we can afford to either produce or purchase. Cheap food can sustain us but perhaps without enough nutritional value to enhance our growth and health. Yet it may be all that we can afford or, are allowed to find. Those with greater resources can cultivate an appreciation of the esoteric at will or freely follow any end to obtain it. Goods that makes themselves more easily available in every sense will be the obvious choice of the less discriminating (in every sense). But if they believe that they are happy, that all of their practical needs are met what does the choice of their pastime matter?

    Those who possess the privledge may elect to follow pursuits which demand an abundance of resource either through natural intellectual gifts or accumulated wealth. Thus even the poor can choose to submit themselves to rigorous mental exertion in the pursuit of mathmatical splendor but how is this better than the opium addict if it cost those dependant upon them (including even themselves)their health and security? What have they produced? Something of perennial utility to the greater advancement of all? Have they gained wisdom or simply knowledge?

    If wisdom is defined as the judicious use of knowledge in the service of one's self interest, than how are the wise any different than the thug who sits at a well and extorts payment for water he discovered? All around him crops wither, people die and disease spreads from want. If wisdom is defined as the practical synthesis of experience, knowledge and empathy of the sort only gained by spending time in the realms of emotion (no matter how unpleasant)it's gifts can be productively bestowed to the ongoing benefit of all the children of the earth.

    A prudent yet fearful man may indeed commit himself to only intellectual pursuits in order to escape the ravages of emotion. But really, is he any more than an evolutionary abberation? Is he any better than the physical brute he despises who likewise has chosen the self-indulgence of his natural gifts and arrogantly dismisses the preferences of the weak? Can either of them wed to such absolute proof of authority have the ability to wisely judge anything subjective? Give me a well balanced human who chooses growth and knowledge in every sphere of their lives and by generous spirit most fairly repays the cost of their existence. Many of us have the luxury of choice that would not stand the judgement of our responsibility.
    Patriotism is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings...Steal a little and they throw you in jail, steal a lot and they make you a king

  5. #5
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hirsch63 View Post
    Artistic activity or the pursuit of the aesthetic lies beyond and yet is still informed by demands of practical survival. Choices that will have an immediate and real effect on our bodies (hot vs. cold, big vs. small, colorful vs. plain) identified through direct experience form the basis of aesthetic choices we later made at comparitve liesure. Even the Bower bird makes the most serious evolutionary choice as a matter of aesthetics. In it's choice, aethetics = security much the same as one may wed for the promise of stability and comfort. Here the aesthetic choice may indeed be considered an emotional one; hard wired and eminently practical. Perhaps the choice, more instinctual than one of carefully cultivated reasoning could be considered superior in an economical sense; the desired outcome (security) is achieved with minimal expense of personal resource (energy).

    If we hunt and gather we must make choices. We can eat any number of berries, fungi or nuts...some plainly taste better than others...some may moratlly harm us and they may be identifiable by color, shape and location. They may form the basis for colorants and dyes where our direct interaction during harvesting, preparation and use informs their meaning in communicative works; something painted an intense red may indicate danger similar to the source from which it was it was derived...simple, primitive? Practical.

    As society stratifies choices become more circumscribed. Items coveted for
    nutrition,taste or appearance are claimed by those (few, elite)best able to
    extract or compel them from either the environment or those(common, less
    discerning) with fewer resources at their disposal. In time the privledged will prohibit ownership of certain rare or hard gotten goods by the great unwashed, whom the Gods or Fate have demonstrably not chosen to favor. This is the basis for establishing relative value. All this is to say that aesthetic choices seem to have many of their basis in emotional yet practical realities.

    Aesthetic judgement by it's very name implies a careful and considered approach to the evaluation of art. It requires knowledge of the basic elements and principles of art and to be truly effective experience with as many other works as possible for comparision. Even with all this intellectual resource brought to bear the ultimate opinion it must be admitted, is subjective, good or bad, ugly or beautiful. Though to be truly judicious one must(or should)act in the spirit of impartiality. There is no certainty in art; the best of it will require thoughtful engagement on the part of the viewer with no promise of a definitive resolution of opinion. It is a quandary, a puzzle...an intellectually stimulating game.

    Now there is good art and bad art just as there is good and bad food. We eat what we can afford to either produce or purchase. Cheap food can sustain us but perhaps without enough nutritional value to enhance our growth and health. Yet it may be all that we can afford or, are allowed to find. Those with greater resources can cultivate an appreciation of the esoteric at will or freely follow any end to obtain it. Goods that makes themselves more easily available in every sense will be the obvious choice of the less discriminating (in every sense). But if they believe that they are happy, that all of their practical needs are met what does the choice of their pastime matter?

    Those who possess the privledge may elect to follow pursuits which demand an abundance of resource either through natural intellectual gifts or accumulated wealth. Thus even the poor can choose to submit themselves to rigorous mental exertion in the pursuit of mathmatical splendor but how is this better than the opium addict if it cost those dependant upon them (including even themselves)their health and security? What have they produced? Something of perennial utility to the greater advancement of all? Have they gained wisdom or simply knowledge?

    If wisdom is defined as the judicious use of knowledge in the service of one's self interest, than how are the wise any different than the thug who sits at a well and extorts payment for water he discovered? All around him crops wither, people die and disease spreads from want. If wisdom is defined as the practical synthesis of experience, knowledge and empathy of the sort only gained by spending time in the realms of emotion (no matter how unpleasant)it's gifts can be productively bestowed to the ongoing benefit of all the children of the earth.

    A prudent yet fearful man may indeed commit himself to only intellectual pursuits in order to escape the ravages of emotion. But really, is he any more than an evolutionary abberation? Is he any better than the physical brute he despises who likewise has chosen the self-indulgence of his natural gifts and arrogantly dismisses the preferences of the weak? Can either of them wed to such absolute proof of authority have the ability to wisely judge anything subjective? Give me a well balanced human who chooses growth and knowledge in every sphere of their lives and by generous spirit most fairly repays the cost of their existence. Many of us have the luxury of choice that would not stand the judgement of our responsibility.

    You have some interesting ideas in this post. I am not sure how to respond however, because I do not clearly see the point that you wish to make.

    Could clearly state the questions you wish to ask?
    "Do not argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience." -- Mark Twain

    “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”---Samuel Johnson

    My blog: www.randommeanderings123.blogspot.com/

  6. #6
    Senior Member Hirsch63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueWing View Post
    You have some interesting ideas in this post. I am not sure how to respond however, because I do not clearly see the point that you wish to make.

    Could clearly state the questions you wish to ask?
    If there are interesting points in the post I have to thank the OP for their inspiration.

    I sought to differentiate aesthetic choice based on an emotional response (and possible reasons for them)from rigorous aesthetic judgement. I went a bit further in considering the relative benefits of esoteric pursuits weighed against their cost.

    It must be admitted that even among the academy there is drama enough; turf wars, petty jealousies and bullying from those secure in their positions.
    Intellectual prowess or pursuit and a messy emotional existence are not mutually exclusive. One could seek shelter in an ivory tower but it would best be alone if you cared to avoid all the inconvenience of human interaction.

    I had no questions in mind. I simply had some thoughts I wanted to get down in front of me. Thanks for the inspiration, it was fun.
    Patriotism is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings...Steal a little and they throw you in jail, steal a lot and they make you a king

  7. #7
    ThatGirl
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    Ok, only got half way through the OP, and have only this to say.

    Aesthetic judgments do not disclose what is beneath the surface, as the man hangs his head in agreenment, nothing is as clear cut as it may seem. People are attracted to tragedy because they are seeking happieness as the player who throws his chips into the game, so does one bet on the quality of happieness that comes after loss. The cycle. People, me, find comfort in math because, that, is the organization of thought in which your efforts are most likley to reach concrete solution one way or the other.

    Everyone needs an explination.

    Your quest to find rationality and clarity in all reminds me of religious zealots (not sure if that was the right word forgot), philosophers and those who inevitably are the tragedy that we hope should prevail.

    Also analyses is not sign of intelligance, but of sight.

  8. #8
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatGirl View Post
    Ok, only got half way through the OP, and have only this to say.

    Aesthetic judgments do not disclose what is beneath the surface, as the man hangs his head in agreenment, nothing is as clear cut as it may seem. People are attracted to tragedy because they are seeking happieness as the player who throws his chips into the game, so does one bet on the quality of happieness that comes after loss. The cycle. People, me, find comfort in math because, that, is the organization of thought in which your efforts are most likley to reach concrete solution one way or the other.

    Everyone needs an explination.

    Your quest to find rationality and clarity in all reminds me of religious zealots (not sure if that was the right word forgot), philosophers and those who inevitably are the tragedy that we hope should prevail.

    Also analyses is not sign of intelligance, but of sight.
    Madame, I found your response not only very clear, but it also indicative of extraordinary reasoning capabilities!

    Please enlighten me more with your posts, rarely do I have an opportunity to learn as much from one paragraph as I do here!

    Would you like to co-author my next book with me? I certainly would be able to use the very thorough and rigorous critical feedback you have provided regarding this very small section of the upcoming book. With the evidence of a sharp intellect you have provided here , I have absolutely no doubt that you are the right person for this job!

    Hit me back,

    Your most humble and sincere admirer,

    Blue
    "Do not argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience." -- Mark Twain

    “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”---Samuel Johnson

    My blog: www.randommeanderings123.blogspot.com/

  9. #9
    ThatGirl
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    Being that I tend to be full of myself I question whether that was sarcasm or not.

    if it was not then I direct you to the national thatgirl is the shit thread

    If it was sarcasm, then please enlighten me as to what you didn't understand.

    I didn't know this was taken from your next book. I'm sure you worked very hard on it. And I'm sure you can agree none of the things I said were offensive.

    That said I could also if asked provide analysis of the excerpt

  10. #10
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatGirl View Post
    If it was sarcasm, then please enlighten me as to what you didn't understand.
    1)If I interpret your statement correctly, you suggest that our aesthetical judgments do not reflect our character because they only reflect what we appear to be on the surface. For this reason, it is a mistake to think that people who like vulgar activities are themselves vulgar.

    You need to explain further why this is so as you have not done so in your last post.

    I agree that very few activities are capable of reflecting the essence of our character thoroughly and deeply, or in other words are capable of showing what we are all about. This is not relevant. What is relevant is the following question. Do the activities we have in mind, in this case the arts such as literature and theatrical performance have the ability to tell us enough about a person in order for us to have a clear idea of who they are?

    The answer to this question appears to be yes because we notice, as Aristotle has pointed out, epic is favored more by the intellectuals and tragedy by the simple and ordinary people. Moreover, today the same appears to be the case. Only highly intelligent people deeply enjoy epic work represented by the writings of Tolstoy, Dostoevksy and Shakespeare, yet the masses enjoy even the most primitive forms of tragedy such as soap operas, bull fighting and racecar driving events.

    In order for you to argue this thesis "it is a mistake to think that people who like vulgar activities are themselves vulgar." you must show that my assertion in the paragraph above is false. You have not done so.

    I reiterate the most important claim of the paragraph above, the aesthetical judgments a person makes do reflect enough about his or her character for us to have a clear idea of the essence of his or her character because we notice that one form of art is favored by people possessing a certain set of character qualities and another form of art is favored by people possessing a different set of qualities.
    "Do not argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience." -- Mark Twain

    “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”---Samuel Johnson

    My blog: www.randommeanderings123.blogspot.com/

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