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Posted by: Human ( )
Date: November 02, 2019 08:48PM

Beauty

Roger Scruton’s Beauty, preface, paragraph one:

“Beauty can be consoling, disturbing, sacred, profane; it can be exhilarating, appealing, inspiring, chilling. It can affect us in an unlimited variety of ways. Yet it is never viewed with indifference: beauty demands to be noticed; it speaks to us directly like the voice of an intimate friend. If there are people who are indifferent to beauty, then it is surely because they do not perceive it.”

Is this true? I think so.

Beauty’s existence hinges upon the idea that it cannot be viewed with indifference. Indifference to beauty is evidence of a lack of perception. If I reveal an object to you, and say this is an exhilarating, wonder filled example of beauty, and you are indifferent, then you obviously do not see the beauty in the object. It follows then that, if you are indifferent to every example of beauty, that you might conclude, despite all contrary testimony, that beauty does not exist.

Allow me to substitute ‘God’ for ‘Beauty’ into Scruton’s text:

God can be consoling, disturbing, sacred, profane; God can be exhilarating, appealing, inspiring, chilling. God can affect us in an unlimited variety of ways. Yet God is never viewed with indifference: God demands to be noticed; God speaks to us directly like the voice of an intimate friend. If there are people who are indifferent to God, then it is surely because they do not perceive God.

Is this true? I think so.

The problem with many of our mormon family, friends and neighbours, former or otherwise, is that they automatically pass judgement on everyone who does not see what they see, experience what they experience, think what they think, etc.

That problem, however, is much larger than just a fact about the mormons we left behind. It’s near universal, bred in the bone. It’s human.

Human

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Posted by: caffiend ( )
Date: November 02, 2019 08:53PM

"Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

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Posted by: Human ( )
Date: November 02, 2019 09:23PM

Yes, that is what the urn says, and it is good.

But not for Tolstoy:

"It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness."

--Leo Tolstoy--
--The Kreutzer Sonata--

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Posted by: caffiend ( )
Date: November 02, 2019 09:55PM

Acknowledging your subject is "beauty," Human--but I consider His words relevant here.

I find much to agree with your quote, "Beauty can be consoling, disturbing, sacred, profane; it can be exhilarating, appealing, inspiring, chilling. It can affect us in an unlimited variety of ways. Yet it is never viewed with indifference: beauty demands to be noticed; it speaks to us directly like the voice of an intimate friend..." in that it can be applied to God. I'll exclude the word, "profane," because God, by His very nature, cannot be profane.

Yes, there is much in God that is both troubling and consoling, depending upon us, our state, and temporal circumstances. For example, which is true?

A) "Pick up your cross and follow Me," or,
B) "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Well, both! "Depending," as I said above.

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Posted by: Human ( )
Date: November 06, 2019 02:29PM

Sacred and Profane.

God is Everything, in your sense, no?


I love this:

"A) "Pick up your cross and follow Me," or,
B) "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Well, both! "Depending," as I said above."

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Posted by: Dave the Atheist ( )
Date: November 02, 2019 10:47PM

Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.

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Posted by: caffiend ( )
Date: November 02, 2019 11:05PM


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Posted by: babyloncansuckit ( )
Date: November 03, 2019 12:00AM

Why is there so much beauty in the world?
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fidhVu_7W3c
It could be intrinsic to nature.

Even if existence is a lucky accident, Platonic values woven into the fabric of the Universe stretch the theory a bit.

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Posted by: caffiend ( )
Date: November 03, 2019 12:18AM

and paralleled (or borrowed) the concept in his argument for a Creator God:

"(H)is invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made." (Rom. 1:20 ESV)

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Posted by: Human ( )
Date: November 06, 2019 02:33PM

That guy is so thoughtful, so interesting.

Why he is treated as a pariah I'll never know.

How many scientists know how to properly quote Rilke?

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Posted by: Henry Bemis ( )
Date: November 03, 2019 09:28AM

This reminds me of an essay entitled “Spiritual Information and the Sense of Wonder,” where theologian, Alister E. McGrath, stated the following:

“Theory arises from a sustained engagement with the natural world, yet the paradox of the explanatory successes of the natural sciences is that theories developed on the basis of engagement with nature often lead us *away* from that engagement with nature. . . . This was the point made in 1814 by John Keats in his famous lines concerning the beauty of the rainbow:

Do not all charms fly
At the mere touch of cold philosophy?
There was an awful rainbow once in heaven:
We know her woof, her texture; she is given
In the dull catalogue of common things.
Philosophy will clip an Angel's wings. (Lamia, Pt. II)

Continuing with McGrath: "For Keats, a rainbow can be seen simply as yet another example of the laws of optics in action, preventing the observer from appreciating its full wonder. It becomes just another item in "the dull catalogue of common things," where the important thing is the process of "cataloging," not appreciation of the individual items being addressed.”

McGrath then cites the criticism of this Keats poem by Richard Dawkins:

“Keats has been heavily criticized for theses comments, not least by Richard Dawkins (1998). Dawkins regards Keats's poetry as typical antiscientific nonsense that rests on the flimsiest foundations:

Quoting Dawkins: “Why, in Keats' poem, is the philosophy of rule and line "cold," and why do all charms flee before it? What is so threatening about reason? Mysteries do not lose their poetry when solved. Quite the contrary -- the solution often turns out to be more beautiful than the puzzle. And, in any case, when you have solved one mystery you uncover others -- and perhaps inspire greater poetry.”

Finally, in response to Dawkins, McGrath states:

“Yet there is a deeper issue here that must be addressed by anyone concerned with the spirituality of the natural sciences. For Keats, a rainbow is meant to lift the human heart and imagination upward, intimating the transcendent dimensions of reality, pointing to a world beyond the bounds of experience. For Dawkins, the rainbow remains firmly located within the world of human experience. It has no transcendent dimension. The fact that it can be explained in purely natural terms is taken to deny that it can have any significance as an indicator of transcendence. The angel that was, for Keats, meant to lift our thoughts heavenward, disclosing the transcendent dimensions of reality, has had its wings clipped; it can no longer do anything save mirror the world of earthly events and principles.”

Now, the point of all this, as I see it, and in relation to your post, is that human experience can be very subtle and nuanced--and most importantly can reveal knowledge that transcends the mere "awe" of nature. In other words, no doubt Dawkins can appreciate the raw beauty of a rainbow, say, but his dogmatic insistence that knowledge is reserved for science is what keeps him from both understanding and appreciating the transcendent depth of beauty in human experience. Moreover, perhaps this also applies to the experience of God, and other spiritual experiences.

Nonetheless, when someone assumes a scientific, academic, and objective stance, they align themselves--perhaps temporarily--with facts and evidence. Mormonism in particular, and religion generally, does just that! And the result is disastrous because when you articulate beauty, or God, or a spiritual experience, by a string of adjectives, as you have done here, and then declare that somehow "truth" is preserved, the result is chaos and confusion, lending the attempt to a charge of irrationality.

So, if you want to preserve the transcendent as part of human experience, fine. I am with you. But this does not mean that there are no facts of the matter, particularly in religion, that can be objectively considered and evaluated. That is precisely why we are justified in proclaiming Mormonism as false, regardless of any of its transcendent claims.

(Sorry for the length of this. Much of it was in my database of essays, and as such I may have posted it before. I hope you deem it relevant and worthwhile to your post.)

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Posted by: Human ( )
Date: November 06, 2019 02:23PM

Henry Bemis Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> Nonetheless, when someone assumes a scientific,
> academic, and objective stance, they align
> themselves--perhaps temporarily--with facts and
> evidence. Mormonism in particular, and religion
> generally, does just that! And the result is
> disastrous because when you articulate beauty, or
> God, or a spiritual experience, by a string of
> adjectives, as you have done here, and then
> declare that somehow "truth" is preserved, the
> result is chaos and confusion, lending the attempt
> to a charge of irrationality.

Adjectives? A string of them? Irrational?

Henry, take the verb form of Scruton's "string" and you'll see better at what is meant.

That string is what beauty *does*, and it does it in such a way that we cannot be indifferent to it. That's Scruton's claim.

Beauty chills, it exhilarates, it consoles, etc. What is irrational about such experiences, except in the most literal sense that they are experiences and not arguments? Either you know the experience as described or you don't. That is all.


And yes, of course there are facts of the matter pertaining to a sculpture of The Three Graces, say. It's made of marble, white, of certain dimensions, etc. And then there is the *experience* of seeing the sculpture, perhaps touching it, holding it in one's memory, contemplating it.

I'd rather *experience* the rainbow than know about it, if made to choose. Others disagree.

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Posted by: Henry Bemis ( )
Date: November 06, 2019 02:49PM

Henry, take the verb form of Scruton's "string" and you'll see better at what is meant.

That string is what beauty *does*, and it does it in such a way that we cannot be indifferent to it. That's Scruton's claim.

Beauty chills, it exhilarates, it consoles, etc. What is irrational about such experiences, except in the most literal sense that they are experiences and not arguments? Either you know the experience as described or you don't. That is all.

COMMENT: Your point is well taken! It was entirely illegitimate for me to view this as the ontology of beauty, when what was intended was the varieties of human experience of beauty.
______________________________________

And yes, of course there are facts of the matter pertaining to a sculpture of The Three Graces, say. It's made of marble, white, of certain dimensions, etc. And then there is the *experience* of seeing the sculpture, perhaps touching it, holding it in one's memory, contemplating it.

COMMENT: Agree. And what I awkwardly tried to note was that there is a kind of knowledge to be gained in the *experience* of beauty separate and apart from the reductive facts.
______________________________________

I'd rather *experience* the rainbow than know about it, if made to choose. Others disagree.

COMMENT: I actually agree; although for me it is perhaps a harder choice. I like to think that factual knowledge enhances transcendent experiences, and related transcendent knowledge. But I think that in most cases it probably gets in the way.

Thanks for setting me straight!

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