Aesthetics and Ethics

Aesthetics and Ethics

  • Aesthetics and Ethics are interdependent on each other
  • Steps to an Ecology of mind

Why do good? Why be moral?

  • Do good because its a good value for a virtuous person
  • Do good out of compassion and love for others
  • Do good because it is good for one’s self
  • Do good because world outside is none other than yourself. (Vedantic Perspective)

Aesthetics

  • of Design
  • of Arts
  • of Performance Arts
  • of Rituals
  • of Traditions
  • of Narrative Arts
  • of Culture
  • of Architecture
  • of Actions
  • of Thoughts
  • of Senses
  • of Emotions
  • of Values
  • of Experience

Key Terms

  • Virtues
  • Values
  • Aesthetics
  • Arts
  • Morals
  • Ethics
  • Good ness
  • Art and Morals
  • Aesthetics and Ethics
  • Beauty and Goodness
  • Ist person and 2nd Person
  • Integral Theory
  • Ken Wilber
  • Self, Culture, Nature
  • I, We, It/Its
  • Immanual Kant
  • Wittgenstein
  • Sameness and Otherness
  • Difference
  • Boundaries and Networks
  • Hierarchy and Networks
  • Plato and Aristotle
  • Action Learning
  • Reflexive Action
  • Social Ethics
  • Communities of Goodness
  • Environmental Ethics
  • Inter-objectivity
  • Inter-subjectivity
  • Subject and Object
  • Phenomenology and Hermenutics
  • Virtue Ethics
  • Development and Relations
  • Internal vs External
  • Individual vs Collective
  • Culture, Society, and Ethics
  • Narrative Arts
  • Intentions and Actions
  • Sewa and Service
  • Altruism
  • Philosophy of Arts
  • Aesthetics of living culture
  • Traditions, Rituals, and Culture
  • Classical Education
  • Arts and Humanities
  • Dance, Music and Performance Arts
  • Universals
  • Transcendentals
  • Ethnomethodology
  • Nondual Vedanta (Advait Vedanta)
  • Steps to an Ecology of Mind
  • Value Theory
  • Virtue Theory
  • Art Criticism
  • Taste, Style, Manners
  • Relational
  • Aesthetics and Relatedness
  • Consciousness
  • Nondual Awareness
  • Interconnectedness

Ethics as Aesthetics: Foucault’S Critique of Moralization of Ethics

This study found a new idea of ethics to bridge the gap between morality and aesthetics. This new idea is called aesthetics morality. This study concluded as follows: 1) ethics as morality is in the form of teleology, deontology and virtue ethics; 2) ethics is a synthesis of aesthetics and morality; and 3) ethics is aesthetics in the form of care of the self. 

Ethics as Style:
Wittgenstein’s Aesthetic Ethics and Ethical Aesthetics

An inquiry into Wittgenstein’s ethics and aesthetics has to start with the following questions: Can an aesthetics and/or ethics be extracted from his philosophical texts at all? If yes, what kind of aesthetics and/or ethics does Wittgenstein offer beyond his well-known aphoristic comments on the subject? Finally, how can we understand the meaning of his claim that ‘‘ethics and aesthetics are one’’? This article responds to the above questions by presenting an account of Wittgenstein’s ethical aesthetics and aesthetic ethics, elucidating both through the prism of his notion of style as ‘‘general necessity seen sub specie eterni.’’ It explains how logical necessity implodes within the limits of propositional language to open onto the realm of style, within which ethical necessity is to be understood in terms of aesthetic life-form and aesthetic expression is to be understood in terms of ethical enactment.

Es ist klar, daß sich die Ethik nicht aussprechen läßt. Die Ethik ist transzendental.
(Ethik und Ästhetik sind Eins.)

[It is clear that ethics cannot be expressed. Ethics is transcendental.
(Ethics and aesthetics are one.)]
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Aesthetics and Ethics: Essays at the Intersection

This book brings together a number of new essays in an area of growing concern, namely the intersection or overlap of aesthetics and ethics. Recent developments aside, for the past thirty years or so in Anglo-American philosophy, aesthetics and ethics have been pursued in relative isolation, with aesthetics being generally regarded as the poorer, if flashier, cousin. The attention aestheticians have recently given to moral aspects of art and art criticism, and that ethicists have recently paid to aesthetic aspects of moral life and moral evaluation, give hope of ending this rather artificial isolation, though without necessarily forcing us to accede in Wittgenstein’s gnomic dictum that “ethics and aesthetics are one.”

The intersection of aesthetics and ethics can be understood to comprise three spheres of inquiry. The first is that of problems or presuppositions common to aesthetics and ethics, the two traditional branches of value theory. The second is that of ethical issues in aesthetics, or in the practice of art. And the third sphere is that of aesthetic issues in ethics, theoretical and applied.

As it turns out, the concerns of the present collection do not span the full intersection of aesthetics and ethics as just explained. For reasons of both unity and manageability, the decision was made to foreground aesthetics in the present venture. The result is that the essays fall under the first and second, but not the third ways of understanding the intersection of the two fields.

2 – Three versions of objectivity: aesthetic, moral, and scientific

How does the objective validity of aesthetic judgments compare with the objective validity of moral judgments and scientific beliefs? There are two traditional answers. According to one, aesthetic and moral appraisals both utterly lack the cognitive authority of scientific inquiry, since neither kind of appraiser has access to a fact independent of her own judgments and neither is in a position to claim that all who are adequately qualified would share her judgment. For example, emotivists deprive both aesthetic and moral judgments of both kinds of objectivity. According to the other tradition, well-formed aesthetic and moral judgments have the same cognitive authority as wellformed scientific beliefs, because in all three realms the judgment maker is often in a position to assert a truth independent of her judgments, in a claim to which all adequately qualified inquirers would assent. For example, Kant puts the three realms on a par in both ways.

Each of these traditions has distinctive liabilities, which jointly suggest the need to explore a third alternative. The debunking tradition, depriving both aesthetic and moral judgments of all the authority of science, is hard to reconcile with the pervasive aspirations to truth and interests in impersonal argument of apparently rational people engaged in moral and aesthetic judgment. On the other hand, the claims to universality in the elevating tradition often seem wishful thinking.

Elsewhere, I have defended a view of morality and science that rejects the association in both traditions of rational access to appraiser-independent truth with epistemic universality.

5 – Art, narrative, and moral understanding

With much art, we are naturally inclined to speak of it in moral terms. Especially when considering things like novels, short stories, epic poems, plays, and movies, we seem to fall effortlessly into talking about them in terms of ethical significance – in terms of whether or which characters are virtuous or vicious, and about whether the work itself is moral or immoral, and perhaps whether it is sexist or racist. Undoubtedly, poststructuralists will choke on my use of the phrase “naturally inclined,” just because they do not believe that humans are naturally inclined toward anything. But that general premise is as needlessly strong a presupposition as it is patently false. And, furthermore, I hope to show that my talk of natural inclinations is hardly misplaced here, for we are prone to respond to the types of works in question in the language of moral assessment exactly because of the kinds of things they are.

Moreover, we do not merely make moral assessments of artworks as a whole and characters in particular; it is also the case that these moral assessments are variable. That is, we find some artworks to be morally good, while some others are not; some are exemplary, while some others are vicious and perhaps even pernicious; and finally other works may not appear to call for either moral approbation or opprobrium. So, though we very frequently do advance moral assessments of artworks, it is important to stress that we have a gamut of possible evaluative judgments at our disposal: from the morally good to the bad to the ugly, to the morally indifferent and the irrelvant.

Problems at the Intersection of Aesthetics and Ethics

The Intersection of Aesthetics and Ethics

Ever since the publication of Kant’s Critique of Judgment, the concept of taste has been severed from its moral sense and reduced to a merely aesthetic one.1 Since then two trends have predominated in moral philosophy. The first is a rationalist view of ethics, which proposes the need to subsume particular actions under universal laws. Deontological and utilitarian theories both have this paradigm in common. The second is the refraction of this position, which marginalizes any discussion of moral feeling as a psychological question of emotivism or subjectivism.2 This trend of positivism dismisses feelings as mere emotive states, questions of psychology, subjective, and therefore not binding.

In order to recapture the aesthetic dimensions of moral experience, one needs a view of aesthetics that is not limited to reflections on the beautiful and sublime in nature or art and that is not reducible to an allegiance to taste and manners; and one needs a continuity principle that enables reflection on morality to be true to experience. Two process philosophers, Alfred North Whitehead and John Dewey, present a metaphysics of experience which enriches ethics by illustrating the aesthetic dimensions of moral experience. Where the traditions outlined above view reason as the pivotal faculty in navigating the moral landscape, process philosophy emphasizes the aesthetic categories of feeling and imagination as operative in moral experience.

Those skeptical of “aestheticizing morality” often invoke the show-stopping reference to the Nazi Regime, one which consciously and politically recruited aesthetic ideals toward the crystallization of immorality.3 This is the Reductio ad Hitlerum to which the title refers. Fascism and Nazism in particular habituated a marriage between politics and aesthetics, and took up the goal of making politics a triumphant and beautiful spectacle.4 Art, music, and aesthetic symbols were recruited as instruments toward fulfilling this goal.5 Nazi Germany held “countless historical pageants, Volk festivals, military parades, propaganda films, art exhibitions and [erected] grandiose buildings”6 in order to exemplify “the fascist desire to invent mythic imperial pasts and futures,”7 while stirring the passions of the people for its war efforts. The Nazis denounced any allegiance to liberal political texts such as the Versailles Treaty “in favor of decisive political action based on fatal aesthetic criteria — beautiful vs. ugly, healthy vs. degenerate, German vs. Jew.”8 It is warranted to invoke this as the problem for those who “aestheticize” morality. The Nazi problematic, illustrated by an analysis of two films surrounding the immorality of the Nazi Regime, James Ivory’s The Remains of the Day (1993) and István Szabó’s Taking Sides (2001) illuminates the limitations and failures of the tendency to “aestheticize” morality. These films help show the nuances that reside at this tense intersection between aesthetics and ethics. However, tension between aesthetics and ethics, as depicted by the two films, dissolves once one’s understanding of aesthetics ceases to be reductive and narrow.

The aesthetic dimensions of moral experience in the philosophies of Alfred North Whitehead and John Dewey provide a basis for defining the continuity between ethics and aesthetics. For Whitehead, an aesthetic vision which builds on insights of his descriptive metaphysics enables us to see moral experience as aesthetic. For Dewey, the imagination works on the possibilities at hand in order to resolve morally problematic situations, and the grist for the imagination’s mill is experiential, perceptual, and aesthetic, not merely rational or conceptual. Thus, the broad use of aesthetics advocated herein enables us to draw moral distinctions in the face of Nazi atrocities instead of blindly serving the ideal of artistic creation. Nor does it reduce aesthetics to a fetish for manners. Rather, as including imagination, perception, taste, and emotion, an aesthetic orientation to ethics can encompass the limits posed by these films, and it can morally condemn the Nazi Regime and avoid the Hitler-reductio.

A.N. Whitehead at the Intersection

A sketch of Whitehead’s metaphysics is necessary in order to show how the foundations for moral action may be subsumed under the category of aesthetic experience. According to Whitehead’s systematic metaphysics, the world is a process of becoming. It is ultimately composed of self-creating “actual occasions.”9 The act of self-creation is the “concrescence” of an actual entity, “the final real things of which the world is made up.”10 Thus an “entity” describes an occasion or event in the mode of concrescense, the act of an occasion having prehended its environment. Events create themselves by virtue of their interdependence. The mode of relation each entity has toward others and toward its possibilities in general is “feeling.” “Prehensions” are the feelings which each entity has of its environment, which includes the entire universe, as each entity pulsates and vibrates throughout the cosmos in its process of self-creation.11 Since Whitehead holds that relations are more fundamental than substance, these prehensions constitute the actual entity. Where in traditional metaphysics, substance is primary and the relations among substances are described as secondary attributes, in Whitehead’s description entities are internally related, constituted by their relations. In this process metaphysics, relations are not secondary but primary in that they constitute the entities. When an actual entity prehends its environment, the entity constitutes itself and makes itself what it is.12Each entity serves as the subject of its own becoming and the “superject” of others, imparting itself to other entities in their becoming.13 Actual entities, in process metaphysics, are events, occasions in time, and always situated in a complex, interdependent environment of other entities. Thus, Whitehead’s speculative metaphysics is relational, not atomistic.

This speculative picture of reality lends itself to reflections on moral experience, including an account of Whitehead’s theory of value. In Process and Reality, Whitehead’s theory of value uses strong aesthetic language. He describes intensity of experience as “strength of beauty”: the degree of feeling in an occasion’s prehension of its environment. 14 Further, as John Cobb notes, “The chief ingredients [to beautiful experience] are emotional.”15 The actual entity prehends its environment, feeling its aesthetic surrounding in a chiefly emotional comportment. Because the locus of value is the intensity and harmony of an experience and the emotional sphere contributes chiefly to beautiful experience, emotion need not be corralled by reason, but channeled toward the achievement of beauty. Further, Whitehead shows that philosophers who treat feelings as merely private are mistakenly taking a phase of concrescence to be the whole of experience. For Whitehead, “there is no element in the universe capable of pure privacy.”16 The impossibility of pure privacy undermines the conceptual option of positivists and others who atomize and privatize feeling in order to dismiss its role in moral experiences as subjectivism or emotivism, both of which result in relativism.

Moral experience and aesthetic experience work dialectically: “The function of morality is to promote beauty in experience,”17 but emotions inform morality by adding to the value of experience. Sensation and emotion are not passively received, private reifications; instead, they seamlessly compose the environment we inhabit. Cobb contends that “the purely aesthetic impulse and the moral one exist in a tension” and that “the good aimed at for others is an aesthetic good — the strength of beauty of their experience.”18

Whitehead writes:

In our own relatively high grade human existence, this doctrine of feelings and their subject is best illustrated by our notion of moral responsibility. The subject is responsible for being what it is in virtue of its feelings. It is also derivatively responsible for the consequences of its existence because they flow from its feelings.19

That our existence flows from our feelings reveals the foundation of moral action on aesthetic, αἰσθηματικός, “sensuous” experience. When Whitehead contends that our moral actions flow from our feelings, he places a primacy upon our emotional comportment. The main contribution we make to others is our spirit or attitude.20This spirit is a comportment and temperament, an angle of vision. If our vision is broad and seeks to contribute to the strength of beauty of others’ experience, it is continuous with moral experience. Moral vision is attitudinal and acting according to calculation, deliberation, and reason, while poor in spirit, is not moral action. Whitehead posits a theory of value where our goal is to realize a strength of beauty in our immediate occasions of action. Taking a calculating attitude towards future consequences endangers this goal.21 It is misleading to think that one can calculate rationally toward that best action.22 Rather, such moral rationalism can justify activity that we feel is inhumane, evil, ugly, unjust, and wrong. It can sever means from ends and justify that which our sentiments would impeach.

Whitehead’s speculative metaphysics, by using humanistic and aesthetic language, includes a description of moral experience. Occasions of activity become harmonious with their environment by acting in the service of beauty. Actions emanate from feelings, and right action is not the function of rational deliberation, but of whole-part relations, of fitting the variety of detail and contrast under the unity of an aesthetic concrescence. Whitehead’s is a seductive account of reality, but nowhere in it do we find something like evil. Those skeptical of such an aesthetic description of moral experience may ask, “Where is the Holocaust in this picture?” Thus, below a recourse to two films about Nazism, aesthetics, and morality enables the skeptic to reexamine the continuity between ethics and aesthetics and consider a broader, less reductive, understanding of aesthetics itself. Before addressing this question, another account of how process philosophy maintains continuity between ethics and aesthetics is in order.

John Dewey at the Intersection

In order to outline Dewey’s description of the aesthetic dimensions of moral experience, a cursory illustration of the continuity at work in his metaphysics of experience and theory of inquiry is in order. Dewey described the generic traits of human experience as both precarious and stable.23 Indeterminate situations produce the conditions of instability.24 Subjecting a precarious situation to inquiry constitutes it as problematic, enabling an agent to identify possible means of resolving the situations within the constituent features of the uniquely given situation. Our employment of imaginative intelligence directs our activity in an effort to resolve the situation by rearranging the conditions of indeterminacy toward settlement and unification.25

In a manner similar to Whitehead, Dewey refers to the creative integration of the entire complex situation with the term “value.”26 One constituent in the activity of unifying the problematic situation is the end-in-view, which functions as a specific action coordinating all other factors involved in the institution and resolution of the problem. The value is the integration and unification of the situation. When the end-in-view functions successfully toward the integration of the situation, the resultant unification is a “consummatory phase of experience.”27 Dewey wrote, “Values are naturalistically interpreted as intrinsic qualities of events in their consummatory reference.”28 Their naturalistic interpretation renders the experience of value and the process of valuation continuous with other natural processes. That is, the ends-in-view, whether or not these are moral ideals, do not exist antecedent to inquiry into the complex, historical, and uniquely given situation, as the rationalists would have it. The general traits of moral experience are found within aesthetic experience — dispelling the need dichotomize experience into the cognitive and the emotional — because values are qualities of events.

The ability to examine the aesthetic dimensions of moral experience depends on the way Dewey defines an aesthetically unified and integrated experience as consummatory. The consummation refers to the experience of the unification of meaning of all of the phases of a complex experience.29 Thus, the aesthetic experience gives a holistic meaning to the precariousness of its parts. The value of an experience, including moral value, refers, as in Whitehead’s description, to whole-part relations and the unification of various elements therein.

Art is the skill of giving each phase its meaning in light of the whole. Art unifies each function of the experience, giving reflection, action, desire, and imagination an integrated relation both to each other and to the possibility of meaningful resolution.30 Thus, Dewey refuses to parcel out a separate faculty at work in isolation in any meaningful experience, whether that is reason in cognition or emotion in sympathetic attention to a friend. The consummatory experience is one in which we employ imaginative intelligence in appropriating aesthetic, felt elements of experience above and beyond their immediacy and one in which the instability of their immediacy is seen imaginatively as a possibility toward its meaningful integration.31

Thus, artful conduct includes moral conduct, but in a way that both avoids the need to import ideals transcendent to our experience and gives moral ideals their reality in the meaning that ensues in the consequences of their enactment. The features of artful conduct inherent in moral behavior concern the ability to see possibilities in the elements of precariousness, “to see the actual in light of the possible.”32 Where the rationalist searches for a universal concept to justify a given, isolated action whose justification could be known but not felt, the moral imagination enables the agent to envision in her environment the constituent possibilities in order to reconstruct the situation.

Both Whitehead and Dewey treat moral experience as continuous with the aesthetic experience of intensity, meaning, unification, and harmony found in the consummatory phase of experience, or in Whitehead’s terms, in concrescence. Both treat vision and imagination, not calculative rationality, as operative in navigating morally problematic situations. The general trend running through these process philosophies that maintains continuity between ethics and aesthetics concerns whole-part relations. The individual in morally charged situations must harmonize her particular conduct to the whole of her environment broadly construed. She must imaginatively find the proper fit of her conduct with her greater cultural context. If she succeeds, she harmonizes her experience and the part coheres with the whole. Value, harmony, and stability ensue. Whitehead and Dewey describe our moral experience at a sufficient level of abstraction, one which could include the hosting of a dinner party or the conducting of an orchestra. Each part must cohere with the whole — harmony is the motivating ideal.

Much like Whitehead, Dewey gives us a processive account of reality which seems to cohere with personal experience; however, Dewey’s description of the pattern of inquiry has been accused of being so broad and vague that the Nazi resolution of the Jewish problem could be described according to it..33 The Germans under Hitler constituted their situation during the Great Depression as problematic. Their economy was in shambles, and their national pride was wounded. They found within their situation the constitutive elements, marginally-German, supposed conspirators and enemies of all sorts, to employ in resolving their situation. They achieved a sort of integration of their experience and a distorted sort of harmony in armament and invasion to reincorporate native Germans outside of their truncated borders. They consciously recruited aesthetic ideals and played on the national emotions of soil and blood. Thus, according to the Hitler-reductio, to condemn morally their actions with the language of Dewey or Whitehead is no easy task. The reductio causes moral philosophers to long for universality in any of its rationalist iterations.

The British Problem at the Intersection: The Remains of the Day

The philosophical depiction of aesthetic experience, of which moral dimensions compose a part, is problematic if individuals acting under aesthetic norms, guided by manners and in service of harmonizing part-whole relations, engage in outright immorality or shy away from moral duty in the face of evil. This is the “British” problem because to highlight it, we must attend to the British characters in The Remains of the Day. While much has been written on the film (and the Ishiguro novel upon which it is based), about the role of class and the symbolic nature of British imperial politics, the film also serves as an excellent test case for the continuity between aesthetics and ethics.34 The setting of The Remains of the Day, the aristocratic estate of Darlington Hall in rural England, announces an aesthetic emphasis on beauty and order which persists throughout the film. Most of the action in the film occurs in the pre-war 1930s, but the film flashes forward to the post-war 1950s to show “present” character interactions. The central characters are an emotionally-repressed butler, Mr. Stevens (Anthony Hopkins), his superior and owner of the estate in the 1930s, Lord Darlington (James Fox), and his fellow caretaker of the estate, Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson). The problematic relationship between aesthetic orientation and morality comes into view by focusing on Lord Darlington’s demeanor throughout the events of the 1930s, and Mr. Stevens’s comportment to the politically and morally problematic events that unfold at Darlington Hall.

Lord Darlington had a friend in Germany against whom he fought in the First World War, with whom he intended to sit down and have a drink after the war. But this never happened, as the German friend, ruined by the inflation that ensued in the post-Versailles Weimar Republic, took his own life. Lord Darlington exclaims to Mr. Stevens, “The Versailles Treaty made a liar out of me.” Darlington laments that the conditions of the treaty, (debt reparations, guilt clause) were too harsh: “Not how you treat a defeated foe,” as Darlington puts it. With this as his proximate motivation, Lord Darlington uses his influence to broker the policy of appeasementtoward Nazi Germany. It appears that Lord Darlington puts manners before moral duty. He hosts the delegates from Germany, France, and the United States at his home, and they dine dressed in black tie, served by the army of under-butlers commanded by Mr. Stevens.

One is tempted to view Lord Darlington’s behavior as kind, if not for other telling incidents. He temporarily agrees to employ two Jewish refugees at his estate, and it is made clear to the viewer that he understands the dangers they faced in Germany and that his home is serving as a sanctuary. However, after reading the work of Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Lord Darlington orders that two German, Jewish maids should be discharged, as he considers their employment inappropriate for his German guests. Mr. Stevens carries out the order without reflection, while Miss Kenton threatens to resign in protest, but fails to follow through out of self-admitted weakness.35 Thus, Darlington knew of the Nazi policies in Germany, understood the potential plight of the maids, but fired them anyway in service of behavior “appropriate” for his German guests.

Darlington’s elevation of manners above duty reappears as he cannot even tell his godson (Hugh Grant), whose father has died and who is soon to be married, about the birds and the bees. He asks Mr. Stevens, his butler, to do it for him. Darlington seems unwilling to confront the issue of sexuality as it offends his Victorian manners and sensibilities. Thus, manners, while they can be seen as the outward display of inner character, here get in the way of the more difficult, unmannerly, and inappropriate conduct commanded in the face of negotiation with the Germans, the employment of the Jewish maids, and the acceptance of surrogate fatherly duties.

Mr. Stevens’s motivations are more opaque to the audience. He is so univocally driven to serve and fulfill his duty to Lord Darlington, that he almost fails to portray any moral subjectivity.36 But as the head butler, his service is also for the aesthetic ideals of orderliness and cleanliness. The prospect of a dustpan being left on the landing frightens him, such that he rushes to retrieve it before his employer notices his shortcoming. Mr. Stevens’s single-minded focus is best displayed when his own father, also an employee, is dying. Stevens attends to the dinner of the foreign delegates without pain or pause, while his own father lies on his death bed. His relationship with Miss Kenton, central to the development of his character, reveals his coldness, emotional repression, and narrowly driven service toward aesthetic ends. Miss Kenton first extends kindness to Mr. Stevens by putting flowers in his office, but he asks that they be removed so as not to distract him. She falls in love with Mr. Stevens and ends up in tears when she tries to break through his emotional wall and communicate her love to him. But he ignores her and asks to be excused to attend to his duties. Before her eventual departure and engagement to another man, she insults Stevens out of manifest distress that he has never expressed any emotional interest in her, but he still remains unmoved. After his reunion with her in the 1950s, Stevens departs for Darlington Hall in a deluge of rain. Kenton cries, but Stevens, still fails to demonstrate any feeling and only raises his hat out of politeness. While Stevens’s class-based subordination could explain his failure to fulfill his duty to his father, his coldness to Miss Kenton illustrates that he was a cold rationalist in service of aesthetics — thinly defined aesthetics.

Reflecting on Mr. Stevens’s relationship to Miss Kenton reveals two sides of the problem at the intersection of aesthetics and ethics. First, because he serves only the aesthetic ideals of order, beauty, and cleanliness, he does a disservice to the human and intersubjective dimensions of moral experience. He is polite but inattentive and stoic in the face of obvious human suffering, from the firing of the Jewish maids, to the death of his father, to the jilted and regretful Miss Kenton. Does this pose a problem for the continuity between aesthetics and ethics? Stevens serves beauty at the cost of moral duty but also interpersonal sympathy. Since an emotional angle of vision is the necessary condition for attending to moral circumstances, his aesthetic orientation is too narrow. While he has an aesthetic ideal as his motive, he has a rational methodology to achieve it. He acts in each situation as if subsuming his particular action under the universal conceptual criteria of serving beauty and order. He does not allow his actions to flow from his feelings as Whitehead would prescribe. His contribution to others is his spirit, but this is a cold, deliberate, and rational spirit. Thus, with Mr. Stevens as a test case, a conception of aesthetic experience needs to be broad enough to include emotional comportment. Failing to do so through operating in service of a narrow ideal of beauty reveals an impoverished sense of aesthetics which results in immorality.

American Congressman, Mr. Lewis (Christopher Reeve) of The Remains of the Dayserves as a pivot to the American problem at the intersection of aesthetics and ethics discussed at length below. Laughed at as nouveau riche by the British delegates, Lewis attends the conference with the intent of resisting the policy of appeasement. Because he fails to recruit the French delegate, Dupont d’Ivry (Michael Lonsdale), to his side (D’Ivry is busy attending to his sore feet), Mr. Lewis resorts to making an impolite toast at the black tie dinner. He argues in favor of the Realpolitik of professionals, rather than that of “honorable amateurs,” which is his epithet for the noblemen in his company and the Lord who is his host. In his toast “to the professionals” he embodies the moral high ground against the Nazis and the unmannerly and barefooted behavior of a stereotypical American on aristocratic soil; thus he hammers in the wedge that separates manners from morals. Apparently, Americans stand up for right against wrong even at the expense of politeness and pretty conduct. Lewis is a representative character for those skeptical of continuity between aesthetics and ethics. He knows that aesthetic ideals, when reducible to the appreciation of good taste and mannerly behavior, can dull moral distinctions. Yet he fails to unify the precariousness of his situation in a manner which Whitehead or Dewey describe.

The American Problem at the Intersection: Taking Sides

Taking Sides tells the story of Dr. Wilhelm Furtwängler, (Stellan Skarsgård), one of the most respected German conductors of the 20th century, who chose to remain in Germany during the Nazi regime. After Germany’s defeat, he fell victim to a ruthless investigation by the Allies. The major in charge of the investigation is a stereotypically uncultured American, Major Steven Arnold (Harvey Keitel), who works in the insurance business. Arnold tries to uncover how complicit Furtwängler was. Furtwängler was appointed to the Privy Council, he was Hitler’s favorite conductor, and Goebbels and Goering honored him. However, he never joined the Nazi party, he helped numerous Jews escape, and several witnesses testify that he tried to protect Jewish musicians under his direction.

The audience is left to judge Furtwängler morally. On the one hand, Arnold has the moral high ground. The Nazis perpetrated the Holocaust, and the Allied victory ended it. Justice awaits the guilty. But Major Arnold is no Congressman Lewis, who has the outward appearance of a British Peer but falls short of their mannerly conduct only by degree. Arnold is a bullying interrogator, somewhere between the caricature of an ugly American and a down-to-earth pragmatist who thinks musical genius is no excuse for collusion with Nazism, and he is willing to employ an overbearing rudeness to expose this. For Arnold, the question is all about strength of will, and he deems Furtwängler weak. However, Arnold seems to misunderstand most of Furtwängler’s replies to his questions, and at times, his interrogation seems like self-righteous taunting and badgering. The viewer is left wondering whether the distressed conductor or the clinched-fist interrogator is acting more like a Nazi.

In one telling exchange, Furtwängler claims that art has mystical powers, which nurture man’s spiritual needs. He confesses to being extremely naïve. While having maintained the absolute separation of art and politics, he devoted his life to music because he thought through music he could do something practical: to maintain liberty, humanity, and justice. Arnold replies with sarcastic disdain, “Gee, that’s a thing of beauty. […] But you used the word “naïve.” Are you saying you were wrong in maintaining the separation of art and politics?”37 Furtwängler replies that he believed art and politics should be separated, but that they were not kept separate by the Nazis, and he learned this at his own cost. Furtwängler is in an obvious bind here. He cannot hold the following propositions together without internal contradiction: (1) Art has mystical power which nurture’s man’s spiritual needs; (2) Art and politics should be kept separate; (3) Art can maintain liberty, justice and humanity; (4) Art was not kept separate from politics during Nazi rule in Germany, and this was a bad thing. If art nurtures man’s spiritual needs, but art must be kept separate from politics, are man’s spiritual needs distinct from questions of community and well-functioning societies? Put otherwise, can music perform its practical function of maintaining justice, while being separate from politics? It would not seem so.

In what follows this interrogation, Arnold accuses Furtwängler of weakness, of selling out to the Nazis for ordinary petty reasons of fear, jealousy of other conductors, and selfishness. Arnold’s two subordinates are offended by his demeanor and his denigration of a national artistic genius and hero. His assistant eventually refuses to participate. She claims that Arnold is embodying the demeanor of the S.S., which she witnessed firsthand. But Arnold shows her a film of corpses being bulldozed into mass graves, and he tells her that Furtwängler’s friends did this, and by virtue of the fact that Furtwängler actually helped some Jews escape, he knew what they were doing.

The moment of supposed revelation for the viewers of the film comes by way of archival footage, in which Furtwängler is shown shaking hands with Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels after a concert. Furtwängler’s face reveals the complexity of emotions at work — placidness, fear, and contempt. Furtwängler wipes his hand on his leg, revealing his disdain for his patron, but remains reserved and inoffensive. At once the viewer feels he is redeemed, because his true feelings for Goebbels and the Nazi project are revealed, but Furtwängler’s weakness is evident, as Arnold would have pointed out. Ultimately Furtwängler served the harmonious sensibility of artistic creation. Indeed, throughout the film the German admiration of him is severe, especially when contrasted to Arnold’s unimpressed frankness with him. The German temperament and faithfulness to aesthetic appreciation is manifest in a scene where the German audience stands in the rain, listening to Furtwängler conduct a symphony. To leave would offend, and service to the aesthetic ideals cannot give way to pragmatic considerations — how “American” that would be! One imagines Arnold thinking “what insensible dolt stands in the rain to listen to music?” Perhaps Congressman Lewis’s willingness to offend at the black tie dinner can be seen as a middle ground between Arnold’s bullying and Furtwängler’s and Darlington’s inverted values. However, this might only translate conduct into class, hiding the one true moral question beneath another layer of social convention. Arnold would insist that knowing where your salad fork belongs may not prevent you from colluding with murderers.

The Continuity between Ethics and Aesthetics

For both Whitehead and Dewey there are no universal moral situations. Our occasions of experience are always contextual and specific, never occurring in vacuous actuality. But this calls for a more general approach to descriptive ethics, not a more particularized prescription of universal moral laws. Both philosophers begin with a description of the general traits of experience and each uses highly aesthetic language. Each treats imagination and vision, not rationality, as operative in navigating morally problematic situations. Whitehead, by making feeling a metaphysical category, gives emotion a primary role; Dewey, in collapsing the gap between scientific, practical, and moral inquiries, gives imaginative intelligence primacy.

Neither of our two films presents the ideal character, with an emotional comportment and an intensity of experience able to serve as the causally efficacious and morally demanding superject in its environment. Nor do they offer a character of superior imaginative intelligence who finds and applies the elements of her problematic situation as means toward the valuable integration of meaning. This is not a surprise. England appeased the Nazis; the Holocaust occurred and so did the very limited prosecution of the guilty by the Allies afterwards. Furthermore, ugly, but welcomed, Americans plodded onto European soil either on the model of Major Arnold, at worst, or on that of Congressman Lewis at best. (He eventually buys Darlington Hall and retains Mr. Stevens as his butler, but he installs a ping-pong table there, of all aesthetic affronts). Does the “American” problem recur in summer retreats to European museums and cafes? Americans plod, loud and entitled, over the artistic feats of the Continent, and their European hosts translate aesthetic missteps into moral offense.

Where did each character fall short, and what did their shortcomings reveal about the intersection of aesthetics and ethics? Lord Darlington employed his servants to erect a mannerly and orderly veneer between him and that which is ugly. However, he can be viewed as a tragic figure because his mild manners and sensitivity to common cultural (and aesthetic in the narrow sense) values with the Germans were used against him. He ended in disgrace as the news of his involvement in the appeasement was publicized by the press. But his heightened sense of manners disabled him from confronting the soil of moral problems as he did not want to get dirty — (that’s what the servants are for). The head butler, Stevens, was not the emotionally comported or spontaneously active character tacitly advocated for by Whiteheadian ethics, but the coldly rational and deliberative agent serving a narrow aesthetic end. Miss Kenton and Furtwängler demonstrated a weakness of will in the face of wrong-doing, and for that they are condemned, not by an aesthetic measure, but by a pragmatic one. Their beliefs were their propensities to act, and their inability to act revealed a weak belief in their moral ideals.38 But the American characters are not morally pure. As the victors, the

tools they had at their disposal to resolve their situations were ready at hand, and they too were constituted by their prehensions of their environment. Denigrating an artistic genius does not show the service of a moral ideal, but only the privileged position of Major Arnold of judging Furtwängler’s weakness from outside his context.

These films do illustrate the tension at work at the intersection of aesthetics and ethics. While both films depict the limitations and failures of the tendency to “aestheticize” morality, they do not prove the need to import a falsely universal moral ideal antecedent to the experience of a particular problematic situation in order to judge right from wrong. Insofar as the tools needed to make these judgments are had in experience, they have been, accurately described by figures like Whitehead and Dewey, in aesthetic language. The Reductio ad Hitlerum only succeeds if the meaning of aesthetics is deflated and reduced to something much narrower than either Whitehead or Dewey intended, such as reflection on artistic creation. The broad use of aesthetics advocated here does not fail to draw moral distinctions in the face of Nazi atrocities while blindly serving the ideal of artistic beauty or mere manners. Rather, as including imagination and emotion, an aesthetic orientation to ethics encompasses the problems posed by the characters’ shortcomings, even if their moral shortcomings run parallel to their heightened aesthetic and misguided sensibilities.


  1. Hans Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method, (London: Continuum, 2006), 31. Nöel Carroll makes the further claim that because of Kant’s aesthetic theory and its interpretation, twentieth century philosophers have neglected the ethical criticism of art. (Noël Carroll, “Art and Ethical Criticism: An Overview of Recent Directions of Research,” Ethics, Vol. 110, No. 2 (January 2000), pp 350). ↩︎
  2. Thomas Alexander, “John Dewey and the Moral Imagination: Beyond Putnam and Rorty toward a Postmodern Ethics,” Transactions of the Charles Sanders Peirce Society, Vol. XXIX, No. 3, (Summer 1993), 373. ↩︎
  3. For a complex examination of this problematic, see George Kateb, “Aestheticism and Morality: Their Cooperation and Hostility,” Political Theory, Vol. 28, No. 1 (Feb., 2000), pp. 5-37. ↩︎
  4. See Noël Carroll, “Art and Ethical Criticism: An Overview of Recent Directions of Research,” Ethics, Vol. 110, No. 2 (January 2000), pp. 350-387. Carroll highlights the problematic relationship between ethics and art criticism by examining the immorality and aesthetic value of The Triumph of the Will, among other artifacts. ↩︎
  5. Boaz Neumann, “The National Socialist Politics of Life,” New German Critique, No. 85, Special Issue on Intellectuals (Winter, 2002), p 120. ↩︎
  6. Paul Betts, “The New Fascination with Fascism: The Case of Nazi Modernism,” Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 37, No. 4 (Oct., 2002), 546. ↩︎
  7. Betts, “The New Fascination with Fascism,” 547. ↩︎
  8. Betts, “The New Fascination with Fascism,” 547. ↩︎
  9. Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality, (London: The Free Press, 1978), 18. ↩︎
  10. Whitehead, Process and Reality, 18, 22. ↩︎
  11. Whitehead, Process and Reality, 19. ↩︎
  12. Harold B. Dunkel, “Creativity and Education,” Educational Theory, Volume XI, Number 4, (1961), 209. ↩︎
  13. Whitehead, Process and Reality, 29. ↩︎
  14. John B. Cobb, “Whitehead’s Theory of Value,” religion-online.org Accessed 2/27/2015. ↩︎
  15. Cobb, “Whitehead’s Theory of Value.” ↩︎
  16. Whitehead, Process and Reality, 212. ↩︎
  17. Cobb, “Whitehead’s Theory of Value.” ↩︎
  18. Cobb, “Whitehead’s Theory of Value.” ↩︎
  19. Process and Reality, 222. ↩︎
  20. Cobb, “Whitehead’s Theory of Value.” ↩︎
  21. Cobb, “Whitehead’s Theory of Value.” ↩︎
  22. Cobb, “Whitehead’s Theory of Value.” ↩︎
  23. Dewey, Later Works Vol. 1, Ed. Boydston, (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1967-1990) 42-45. ↩︎
  24. Dewey, Logic The Theory of InquiryLW 12: 110. ↩︎
  25. Dewey, LW 12: 121. ↩︎
  26. James Gouinlock, John Dewey’s Philosophy of Value, (New York: Humanities Press, 1972), 132. ↩︎
  27. Dewey, LW 10: 143. ↩︎
  28. Dewey, LW 1: 9. ↩︎
  29. Gouinlock, John Dewey’s Philosophy of Value, 150. ↩︎
  30. Gouinlock, John Dewey’s Philosophy of Value, 151. ↩︎
  31. Gouinlock, John Dewey’s Philosophy of Value, 152. ↩︎
  32. Alexander, “John Dewey and the Moral Imagination,” 384. ↩︎
  33. Richard Posner*, Law, Pragmatism, and Democracy*, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003), p. 45. Posner claims that pragmatism, via Darwinism, has nurtured philosophies including Nazism. ↩︎
  34. See, for example, Meera Tamaya, “Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day: The Empire Strikes Back,” Modern Language Studies, Vol. 22, No. 2 (spring, 1992), pp. 45-56. Tanaya focuses on the relationship between Darlington and Stevens as one of colonizer and colonized, subject and object. ↩︎
  35. See Geoffrey G. Field, Evangelist of Race: The Germanic Vision of Houston Stewart Chamberlain, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1981). ↩︎
  36. See McCombe, “The End of (Anthony) Eden: Ishiguro’s “The Remains of the Day” and Midcentury Anglo-American Tensions,” 78. ↩︎
  37. See Page R. Laws, “Taking Sides by Ronald Harwood; India Ink by Tom Stoppard,” (review), Theatre Journal, Vol. 48, No. 1 (Mar., 1996), pp. 107-108. Laws makes note of the fact that the Nazis used art in the service of politics. ↩︎
  38. Charles Sanders Peirce, Collected Papers (1958-1966), Vol. 5, Charles Hartshorne and Paul Weiss, eds., (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press), 400. ↩︎

References: 

Alexander, Thomas. “John Dewey and the Moral Imagination: Beyond Putnam and Rorty toward a Postmodern Ethics.” Transactions of the Charles Sanders Peirce Society. Vol. XXIX. No. 3. (Summer 1993).

Betts, Paul. “The New Fascination with Fascism: The Case of Nazi Modernism.” Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 37. No. 4. (Oct., 2002).

Carroll, Noël. “Art and Ethical Criticism: An Overview of Recent Directions of Research.” Ethics. Vol. 110, No. 2 (January 2000), pp. 350-387.

Cobb, John B. Jr. “Whitehead’s Theory of Value.” www.religion-online.org.

Dewey, John. Later Works Vol. 1, Ed. Boydston, Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1967-1990.

Dewey, John. Later Works Vol. 10. Ed. Boydston, Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1967-1990.

Dewey, John. Later Works Vol. 12. Ed. Boydston. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1967-1990.

Dunkel, Harold B. “Creativity and Education,” Educational Theory. Vol. XI. No. 4. (1961).

Field, Geoffrey G. Evangelist of Race: The Germanic Vision of Houston Stewart Chamberlain. New York: Columbia University Press, 1981.

Gadamer, Hans Georg. Truth and Method. London: Continuum, 2006.

Gouinlock, James. John Dewey’s Philosophy of Value. New York: Humanities Press, 1972.

Ivory, James. The Remains of the Day. Merchant Ivory Film, 1993.

Kateb, George. “Aestheticism and Morality: Their Cooperation and Hostility.” Political Theory. Vol. 28. No. 1 (Feb., 2000), pp. 5-37.

Neumann, Boaz. “The National Socialist Politics of Life.” New German Critique. No. 85. Special Issue on Intellectuals (Winter, 2002), pp. 107-130.

Peirce, Charles Sanders, (1958-1966) Collected papers. Vols. 1- 6, Charles Hartshorne and Paul Weiss, eds., (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press).

Posner, Richard. Law, Pragmatism, and Democracy, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003.

Szabó, István. Taking Sides. Paladin Production S.A., 2001.

Whitehead, Alfred North. Process and Reality. London: The Free Press, 1978.About the Author: 

Seth Vannatta earned his PhD in philosophy at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Morgan State University, where he won the university award for research and scholarship in 2012. He studies the history of philosophy and American philosophy and is interested in philosophy’s relationship to other dimensions of culture including law, politics, education, and sport. He is the author of Conservationsim and Pragmatism in Law, Politics, and Ethics(Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) and editor and contributor to Chuck Klosterman and Philosophy: The Real and the Cereal (Open Court, 2012). He has published articles in The Pluralist, Contemporary Pragmatism, The European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy, Education and Culture, and others.

Notes on Ecological Aesthetics and Ethics

By David George Haskell

A sense of beauty is a rigorous, perhaps even objective, foundation for environmental ethics. Our human aesthetic judgment integrates many strands of experience: intellect, emotion, bodily senses, and all we know from our interactions with others, both human and non-human others. From this integration, we understand the good.

Of course, an aesthetic sense is subject to the whims of desire, passing fads, and superficial impressions. So a well-grounded ethic depends for its rigor on a mature sense of aesthetics. By “mature,” I mean a sense of aesthetics that emerges from many years of lived relationship with a place and its community of life, both human and non-human. Such experience allows us to “unself” our judgment into the wider experience of the community. Our aesthetic and then our ethic will thus emerge not just from the limited confines of our own self, but from the knowledge that lives within the networks from which communities are made.

Once we—collectively—have an integrated sense of aesthetics, we can begin to discern what is beautiful and what is broken about a place, and, from there, I believe we can begin to form an objective—or near-objective—foundation for ethical discernment. Answers emerge from the community of life itself, filtered through human experience and consciousness.

What do I mean by that? Years of experience in a particular place will open us to the lives of other people and other species in that place, so our sense of aesthetics will incorporate their realities. Once we have that, we have a ground for moving forward and making ethical decisions that are actually deeply rooted in the physical, biological realities of a place, rather than coming only from abstractions of a seminar room or dogmas in a philosophy born in another ecosystem.

Aesthetics is often presented as something that’s very subjective, divorced from the reality of the world. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. A sense of ecologic aesthetics comes from a very gritty, sensually rich experience that has its tendrils in the realities of a place.

None of this can answer the ethical nihilist who poses the question, “So, what? Ethics are vaporous illusions carved into the human nervous system by evolution.” But if some ground for ethics does exist in this universe, then a sense of aesthetics can, I think, help us find this ground by a process that fully acknowledges and embraces our existence as evolved members of ecological communities. This is a fully biological foundation for ethics.

On a practical level, if we try to answer questions about how to live in particular places without first listening to the realities and particularities of the place itself, our answers are going to be unmoored and will have terrible consequences. Understanding how to live ethically in a place is an extraordinarily complicated, important, and difficult challenge. Moving forward with answers that are not based on deep engagement with a place and its inhabitants is a recipe for disaster. So action in the world demands, first, a practice of listening.

Religious and philosophical traditions have known this for many millennia: contemplation and action go together, just as the inhale and the exhale go together. Monastic communities are deeply contemplative, but also have engaged in action in the world—whether that action is caring for other people in hospitals, or agricultural action, or caring for the sick. This history evinces the truth that we need open, contemplative spaces within our lives, especially lives of action. I think there’s a hunger for that kind of open space. Without it, we feel a desperation and a feeling that we’re up against the wall without a good way forward. Contemplative practices create spaces for new ideas, new connections to emerge. That sounds like a rather goal-oriented way of putting it, but I do think that one of the fruits of contemplation is an increased ability to come up with new ideas or to see old ideas in a new light.

In the environmental community, there are some instances of people making decisions about the fate of ecosystems when the decision-makers have never experienced the ecosystem at stake. When NGOs, governments, or businesses have decision-making structures that are divorced from the lived experience of a place, then the outcomes will most likely not be good for that place or the people in them. We need to bring lived experience of ecosystems back into the decision-making process.

Call: Aesthetics and Ethics in the Digital Age – British Society of Aesthetics Conference

Published: AUGUST 20, 2020

Call for Abstracts

British Society of Aesthetics: Aesthetics and Ethics in the Digital Age
27th and 28th May 2021
Cambridge, UK
https://fass.open.ac.uk/research/conferences/AEDA

Submission deadline: 31st December 2020

Submissions are invited for the upcoming conference British Society of Aesthetics: Aesthetics and Ethics in the Digital Age. The conference will take place on 27th and 28th May 2021 in Cambridge, UK.

The aim of this conference is to explore some developments in recent practice that raise new and interesting questions for the philosophy of art. Artists, working independently in different parts of the world, are creating new forms of technological interfaces and experimenting with the biological, the nano and the digital. At the heart of all their works is a deep ethos of balancing the aesthetic and the ethical in how we relate with others and our environment, whether in the same physical space or as distributed bodies. The spheres of the arts, sciences, and (in particular) technology overlap both to explore and to attempt to change the way in which we live in the world. These artistic practices raise questions about the interaction between aesthetics and ethics that go beyond those familiar to us in discussions over the past decade or so.

Abstracts of up to 1000 words should be submitted as an email attachment to Satinder Gill (spg12@cam.ac.uk) and Derek Matravers (derek.matravers@open.ac.uk). Please include the talk title, author’s name, affiliation and contact details in the body of email; and please write “BSA Conference Submission” in the subject line.  Abstracts should outline a talk lasting 25 minutes, on a topic related to the topic of the conference. The deadline for submissions is the end of 31st December 2020.

There will be no registration fee for the conference. UK-based contributing speakers will be encouraged to apply for the BSA Travel Stipend to cover travel and accommodation costs. The conference will adhere to BPA/SWIP Good Practice Scheme.

The conference website is https://fass.open.ac.uk/research/conferences/AEDA. For more information, please email Satinder Gill or Derek Matravers (emails above).

This conference is generously supported by the British Society of Aesthetics.

https://materialworldblog.com/2015/03/aesthetics-and-ethics-an-enquiry-into-their-relationship/

The relationship between aesthetics and ethics has long been the topic of scholarly debates, from Kant’s (1928[1790]) insistence that the experience of beauty involved disinterested contemplation and, subsequently, the separation of aesthetics from ethics, or Wittgenstein’s (1961[1889]) enigmatic proposition that ‘ethics and aesthetics are one’, to the numerous enquiries into the ethical aspects of art and art criticism or the aesthetic aspects of moral life and moral evaluation (e.g. Bourdieu 1984, Foucault 1985, 1986, Eco 1986, Eagleton 1990, Guattari 1995, Korsmeyer 1998, Levinson 2001, Rancière 2006, Osborne and Tanner 2007).
How has anthropology related to these debates? Thompson (2006[1973)], Bateson (2006[1973)], or Boone (1986), for example, in the tradition of a holistic anthropology, have analysed local concepts of beauty and illustrated the ways in which these concepts articulated with religious and moral values. Gell (1998), to give another example, through his notion of the artwork as an index, which enables the observer to make causal inferences about the artist’s intentions, has theoretically paved the way for inquiries into the morality of intentions. Furthermore, how can anthropology contribute to these debates, especially in light of its increasing interest in ethics (e.g. Lambek 2010, Faubion 2011, Robbins 2013, Keane 2013, 1014, Fassin and Lézé 2014, Laidlaw 2014)?

Participants have been invited to address the relationship between aesthetics and ethics in anthropology and to consider the following questions:
i) do the definitions of aesthetics and ethics currently in use in anthropology help or hinder us in our reflections on their relationship?
ii) when are the questions of aesthetics and ethics similar?
iii) what kind of theoretical framework is appropriate for reflecting on this relationship? (e.g. value theory; then the questions might be: how does aesthetic value relate to the notion of value generally? how does ethical value relate to the notion of value generally? are these types of value incompatible?)
iv) what kind of ethnographic topic is appropriate for reflecting on this relationship? (only those where there is an explicit expectation that aesthetic principles are guided by ethical considerations, such as Qur’anic art and Islamic fashion?)
v) should a third term, that is, politics, be also taken into consideration in order to better understand the relationship between aesthetics and ethics?

https://philpapers.org/browse/aesthetics-and-ethics

About this topic 

SummaryBroadly construed, Aesthetics and Ethics concerns the relationship between art and morality. Here we ask: Can artworks provide moral knowledge? Can artworks corrupt and instruct morally?  More narrowly construed, the category concerns the relationship between aesthetic and moral value. The chief question is this: Do moral flaws with works of art constitute aesthetics flaws? In addition, we can ask if aesthetic value is morally significant. This last issue has important implications for environmental ethics.
Key worksThe most important collection on the topic is Levinson 1998. The majority of the work on the topic is in essay form, but there are a few influential books. Gaut 2007 is an important, recent monograph. 
IntroductionsAlthough a bit out of date, Carroll 2000 provides an excellent overview of the area.  Gaut 2001 is also an excellent introduction.

References

Art and Ethical Criticism: An Overview of Recent Directions of Research.

Noël Carroll – 2000 – Ethics 110 (2):350-387.

Art and Ethics.

Berys Gaut – 2001 – In Berys Nigel Gaut & Dominic Lopes (eds.), 

The Routledge Companion to Aesthetics. Routledge. pp. 341–352.

Art, Emotion and Ethics.

Berys Gaut – 2007 – Oxford University Press.

Aesthetics and Ethics: Essays at the Intersection.

Jerrold Levinson (ed.) – 1998 – Cambridge University Press.

AESTHETICS & ETHICS: OTHERNESS AND MORAL IMAGINATION FROM ARISTOTLE TO LEVINAS AND FROM UNCLE TOM’S CABIN TO HOUSE MADE OF DAWN

In recent years, American Studies have taken a turn toward the political. However, although poststructuralism and deconstruction have undermined numerous of the moral-philosophical dogmas of the Western metaphysical tradition, many of the political claims that the revisionist turn in American Studies has voiced still rest, if tacitly, on these moral and ethical assumptions. As the latter often collide with the theoretical axioms that inform these revisionist works, some resort to what one could call the “pathos of marginality” and rather vague concepts of “otherness.” Moreover, these political-ideological readings often completely blot out aesthetic aspects, as these are suspected to be carriers of implicit and hegemonic strategies of representation.

In the first part, this study analyzes what role “otherness” plays in the most influential moral-philosophical approaches to date – from Aristotle and the Neo-Aristotelians (Alasdair MacIntyre, Martha Nussbaum) via Kantianism and its deconstructors (Jean-François Lyotard, J. Hillis Miller) to the works of Paul Ricoeur and Emmanuel Levinas – and sheds light on its highly problematic status in Western notions of justice. Moreover, on the background of these analyses it examines the role that aesthetics plays not only for, but within these approaches, with a special focus on what task literature is accorded to dramatize the clash of sameness and otherness.

Starting from a revised notion of the sublime, the second part “applies” the different approaches to four American novels: Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, Sailor, Richard Wright’s Native Son, and N. Scott Momaday’s House Made of Dawn, and examines how far the moral-philosophical systems carry to elucidate these texts. What becomes clear is that none of these works can be captured in their complexity by either one moral philosophy or one political agenda, in that every literary “exemplification” of such theory inevitably falls prey to the treacherous dynamics of the example – a dynamics that inhabits literature and haunts ethics, and that defies literature’s instrumentalization by either ethics or ideologies.

Keywords: American Studies, Aesthetics, Ethics, the Sublime, the Other, Otherness, Immanuel Kant, Jean-François Lyotard, J. Hillis Miller, Martha Nussbaum, Alasdair MacIntyre, Paul Ricoeur, Emmanuel Levinas, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Herman Melville, Billd Budd, Richard Wright, Native Son, N. Scott Momaday, House Made of Dawn, Ecology.

Contents

List of Abbreviations for Reference Works

Introduction

American Studies Today

Enter (And Leave): The Aesthetic

Difficult Neighbors: Ethics and Aesthetics

The Novels

I. The Kantian Legacy of Deconstruction

1. Kant – for Example

2. The Ethics of Reading and the End of History

2.1. Ce dangereux exemple…

2.2. De Man’s Demands

2.3. …close the gap!

2.4. Giving the Li(f)e to Miller’s Lie

3. Toward a Politics of the Sublime: Jean-François Lyotard

3.1. The Idea of the “Idea”

3.2. Lyotard Just Gaming?

3.3. The Sacrificial Sublime

II. The Return of Aristotle: Alasdair MacIntyre and Martha Nussbaum

4. Going Back Home: MacIntyre and the Greek Polis

4.1. The Price of Historicization

4.2. The Polis Rebuilt

4.3. Virtual Ethics and Virtuous Reading

4.4. Ethics, Practice, and the Narrative Unity of a Human Life

5. A Mind too Refined to be Touched by an Idea: Martha Nussbaum’s Aristotelian Liberalism

5.1. Aristotle and the Virtues

5.2. The Tragic Muse as Éducation Sentimentale

5.3. The End of Tragedy and The Limits of Identification

III. Approaching the Other: Emmanuel Levinas and Paul Ricoeur

6. Oneself for the Other: Emmanuel Levinas

6.1. Facing The Other

6.2. Ethics, Politics, and Literature

6.3. The Other Sublime

7. Oneself as Another: Paul Ricoeur

7.1. Toward a Narrative Ethics

7.2. Narration and Alterity

7.3. A Tragic Encounter – Narrating the Other

IV. Toward an Ethics of Literature

8. Harriet Beecher Stowe: Uncle Tom’s Cabin

8.1. How to Turn a Thing Into a Man, or: Categorical Imperative vs. Golden Rule

8.2. Sentimentalism as Aesthetic and Ethical Strategy

8.3. The Economy of Religion and Politics

8.4. Face/Off

9. Herman Melville: Billy Budd, Sailor

9.1. Phronimos Goes To War

9.2. Literature, Responsibility, and Political Philosophy: Hannah Arendt and Paul Ricoeur

9.3. (Ef-)facing the Other – Melville’s Silences, Ethics, and War

9.4. Singular Madnesses, Maddening Singularities: Vere, Billy, and the “Hebrew Prophets”

10. Richard Wright: Native Son

10.1. Polis into Metropolis, or: How to Identify with a Rat

10.2. Whose Narrative Is It, Anyway?

10.3. The Racial Sublime

10.4.  Re(w)ri(gh)ting Native Son, Or: Who’s Afraid of Bigger Thomas?

11. N. Scott Momaday: House Made Of Dawn

11.1.  Polis into Pueblo, or: How to Identify with a Bear

11.2. “Evil Was”: Balance, Control, and the Ethics of Myth

11.3. To Kill or Not to Kill

11.4.  Excursus: Is there an other Other? Toward an Environmental Ethics

Conclusion

References

Index of Names

My Related Posts

Aesthetics and Ethics: At the Intersection

On Aesthetics

On Beauty

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness: Integral Theory of Ken Wilber

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness

The Good, the True, and the Beautiful

On Classical Virtues

Indra’s Net: On Interconnectedness

Levels of Human Psychological Development in Integral Spiral Dynamics

Arts and Moral Philosophy

Human Rights and Human Development

Third and Higher Order Cybernetics

The Social Significance of Drama and Narrative Arts

Key Sources of Reserach

AESTHETICS AND ETHICS: THE STATE OF THE ART

Jeffory Dean

https://aesthetics-online.org/page/DeanState

Aesthetics and ethics

Tanner, Michael

https://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/thematic/aesthetics-and-ethics/v-1

Aesthetics and Ethics: Essays at the Intersection

https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/aesthetics-and-ethics/44B8E5696692AEEEF09A034CFDE57B8C

Problems at the Intersection of Aesthetics and Ethics

Seth Vannatta (Morgan State University)

https://responsejournal.net/issue/2016-08/article/problems-intersection-aesthetics-and-ethics

‘ETHICS AND AESTHETICS ARE ONE’

Diané Collinson

The British Journal of Aesthetics, Volume 25, Issue 3, SUMMER 1985, Pages 266–272, https://doi.org/10.1093/bjaesthetics/25.3.266Published: 01 March 1985

Aesthetics and Ethics in Gadamer, Levinas, and Romanticism: Problems of Phronesis and Techne

David P. Haney

PMLA Vol. 114, No. 1, Special Topic: Ethics and Literary Study (Jan., 1999), pp. 32-45 (14 pages) Published By: Modern Language Association 

The Marriage of Aesthetics and Ethics

Series: Critical Studies in German Idealism, Volume: 15

Editor: Stéphane Symons

https://brill.com/view/title/31979

Ethics as Aesthetics: Foucault’S Critique of Moralization of Ethics

October 2019

Project: Ethics as Aesthetics: Foucault’s Critique of Moralization of Ethics

Erwin Arellano Mallo

University of Southern Mindanao

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/336242982_Ethics_as_Aesthetics_Foucault%27S_Critique_of_Moralization_of_Ethics

“One and the Same? Ethics, Aesthetics, and Truth.” 

Eaglestone, Robert.

Poetics Today 25, no. 4 (2004): 595-608. muse.jhu.edu/article/177238.

Notes on Ecological Aesthetics and Ethics

By David George Haskell

Aesthetics & Ethics: Otherness and Moral Imagination from Aristotle to Levinas and from Uncle Tom’s Cabin to House Made of Dawn

Thomas Claviez

Aesthetics & Ethics: Otherness and Moral Imagination from Aristotle to Levinas and from Uncle Tom’s Cabin to House Made of Dawn

(Heidelberg: Winter, 2008) 

http://www.claviez.de/?page_id=41

Wittgenstein’s Aesthetics

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/wittgenstein-aesthetics/

Aesthetics and Ethics

Aesthetics and Ethics  

Richard Eldridge

The Oxford Handbook of Aesthetics

Edited by Jerrold Levinson

The Ethics of Aesthetics

Don Ritter Berlin, Germany

“Ethics and Aesthetics are One”: The Case of Zen Aesthetics

Bai, H. (1997).

Canadian Review of Art Education, 24(2), 37-52.

Ethics as Style:
Wittgenstein’s Aesthetic Ethics and Ethical Aesthetics

Kathrin Stengel

Independent Scholar, New York

Knots in Yoga

Knots in Yoga

 

 

Key Terms

  • Granthies or Knots
  • Bandha or Locks
  • Chakra or Energy Centers
  • Nadis
  • Kundalini shakti
  • Tantra
  • Yoga
  • Knots
  • Triplicity
  • Tribhang
  • Trefoil Knot
  • Dhumra Linga, Bana Linga, Itara Linga
  • Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra Knots
  • Tamas, Rajas, Sattva Gunas

 

 

 

https://www.lifesloka.com/en/3-granthi-in-kundalini-yoga/

3 Granthi in Kundalini Yoga

 

In Kundalini Yoga, it is said that there are three Granthi can be responsible for preventing prana from rising up through Sushumna Nadi. This Granthi three knots prevent one’s full potential from Kundalini rising energy. These three knots are Brahma Granthi, Vishnu Granthi and Rudra Granthi. They also relate to the Prakritis three Gunas (Tamas, Rajas and Sattva).

Some yogis in yoga see Granthi as a bamboo tree, where each segment is a barrier or barrier to the increase in kundalini energy.

The chakras in the psycho-physical human body at the dormant state form complex intertwined structures, called Granthi, or knots, as they are “link” matter and spirit, enhancing the sense of ego. There are three main granthis in the human body, which make the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva respectively, and they are called Brahma Granthi, Vishnu Granthi and Rudra Granthi.
In any practice to achieve success in the process of Kundalini awakening it is important to open these psychic knots. However, it is quite difficult because of granthi inextricably connected with all that we are accustomed to thinking of our personality, our habits, qualities, desires.

Three granthis together constitute the unconscious complexes (samskara) woven by illusion, and the weight and rigidity of the past is strong opposition to the passage of spiritual power.

The three Granthi are :

  1. Brahma granthi. it covers the area of Mulahara and Svadhisthan chakras. Some call it the perineal knot. It relates to the Tamas Guna (Mulahara and Svadhishthana) the universal destructive power.
    In both the Jabal and the Yogashikha Upanishad state that this granthi is located in the Muladhard chakra. However, most tantric scriptures place it in the Manipura chakra.
  2. Vishnu granthi (doing and prana). It covers the area between Manipura, Anahata and Vishuddi chakras. Sometimes it is known as the navel knot. It relates to the Rajas Guna (Manipura and Anahata) – the universal power of motion and activity.
    Vishnu granthi is said to be located in the area of Anahata chakra (the heart center), which is also the seat of prana. The heart is also the major knot chakra. So, to take the Kundalini Shakti into the passage of the Sushumna through Anahata chakra is also not very easy.
  3. Rudra granthi (Jnana, true knowledge). It covers the areas of Ajna and Sahasrara chakras. It is also known as the forehead knot. Unlike the other five chakras, the Ajna chakra is not connected to the spinal cord. So, the Rudra granthi is blocking the flow of prana beyond the sixth chakra between the eyebrows, Ajna chakra, upwards toward Sahasrara. It relates to the Sattva Guna (Vishuddha and Ajna), the universal creative power.

The Brahma granthi separates the first two chakras (Mulahra and Suadhisthana chakras) from the Manipura chakra. The sympathetic chain is continuous, however, at the upper level of the splanchnic nerves, the presynaptic system changes to the post-synaptic system. So, one can say the Vishnu Granthi is between the Manipura and the Anahata chakras.

Brahma Granthi is the first major block that sadhaka need to transcend. This granthi keeps a person under the illusion of the material benefits, physical pleasures, lethargy, ignorance, and uncertainty.
Among all the most powerful is an illusion of physical pleasure. This granthi plays an important role because it is responsible for the material man’s thinking. It creates a kind of attraction in the nature of the human mind.

Brahma granthi is covered by the essence it produces. This essence is called as “Kledam”. It is colorless and smells as a lotus flower. It is like a mixture of ‘Kapha’ which covers the entrance of Sushumna and also lubricates the Nadi connected. This lubrication helps the pulses of Nadi.

This Kledam is a thick mixture and thickens when we get older if we don’t practice yoga. With the power of Yoga can penetrate this barrier and go up through Sushumna through each barrier.

In short, anatomically the Granthis exist due to either the change of systems from sympathetic to parasympathetic, the separation of Vagus nerve from the Sacral nerve, or the changes from presynaptic fibers to postsynaptic fibers.

The philosophy of Kundalini Yoga is associated with the flow of energy in the channels called Ida and Pingala, (the female and male channels of the astral body, comparable to the sensory and motor nerves of the physical body) and its criss-cross centers in the spinal canal called Sushumna Nadi called chakras.

The three major intersections in the central Sushumna Nadi are at Muladhara (pelvic region), Anahata (chest region) and Ajna chakras (between the eyebrows) are interpreted as Granthi because the exchange energies of physical and mental levels occur at these three places and named after the Trinity.

Granthi means a knotted area which prevents the free flow of energy (Prana) from rising upwards. The concept and explanations related to granthi is a vague term that deals with very internal issues of undoing it and hard to give a figurative expression in a stone medium because they are levels of awareness where the power of Maya, ignorance, and attachment to material things are especially strong.

According to ancient spiritual science, every human has a gross physical body, the subtle astral body, and mind as its counterpart which is linked to each other. Though mind resides and interacts in the physical body, it cannot be given proof for its structure nor location in the body, but the mind influences the astral body also. The energy for the physical body is through external aids, but, energy for the astral body is dependent on the calm state of mind which can be achieved by getting out of the worldly entanglements termed as granthi.

The Ida and Pingala Nadi that are like spirals of opposite poles of the central axis intertwine and unlock while passing through the seven chakras. Psychic knots of granthis are like protective blockages for the gradual change in awareness and open only with the purification of mind and balance between the two Nadi. The purpose of granthis is to block the sudden upward flow of prana, are like circuit breakers to protect the overload that may occur to the practitioner in case of a spontaneous ascension. The display of ‘granthis’ is associated with the ‘Trinity’ as the three main deities (Tri Murti).

They are visualized like psychic knots or obstacles on the path of the awakened kundalini, (The power of awareness) which is difficult to pass through for every human, as it brings about a change in personality. Each aspirant must transcend these barriers to make a clear passageway for the ascending kundalini. In tantra based sculptures, the two major components Nadi, Ida and Pingala of kundalini as are pictured in anthropomorphic form as male and female human figures and crisscross is indicated as in contact or the hand positioned in the specific region of chakra.

In sculptural representations of this topic, the figures, since it is related to mind, the core of ‘Chitta’, are usually presented in a nude form, as the bare body represents the unadorned form of mind. In symbolic representations, they are like male and female snakes coiling at three places. The psychic Knots of granthi is depicted in the symbolized form as the Shiva Linga symbol. Different temples use different motifs to convey this topic in sculptures. The two sculptural representations are:

  • Symbolic representation of granthi, through the Linga and snakes.
  • Representation of grant in the human body in a personified form.

Kundalini yoga, a classification under tantra yoga is the form of subtle energy that flows in tubular channels called Nadis towards the conductor. The conductor is nothing but the nerve energy in the physical body that is encased in the spinal canal and called Sushumna. The intersections are recognized as chakras, seven in number, where the two nadi crisscross. At every chakra, a perfect balance and harmony must be established between the two Ida, Pingala Nadi or otherwise the energy of kundalini cannot progress to higher levels in the central channel of Sushumna.

In sculptural representations of tantra yoga depictions, the mind was projected as the female deity and prana as the male deity. Some sculptures depict the two male and female figures to be in contact at three or five regions like the foot, knee, genital place (Muladhara), heart (Anahata) and the tip of the nose (that is connected to Ajna chakra). Some schools recognize the chakras to be sixteen starting from foot, knee, palm, and so on. The contact at the foot and knee is suggestive of the lower points from which the Ida and Pingala (Female and male Nadi) arise and proceed. The contact at the foot is suggestive of the initial phase of activating the Ida and Pingala Nadi.

To clear Brahma granthi is to establish in totality, clearing Vishnu granthi is perceiving the existence of universal life principle and to clear Rudra granthi is to attain a non-duality of realization of oneness and universal awareness.

granthi

Brahma Granthi

Brahma Granthi at Muladhara chakra is represented by the Dhumra Lingam. Dhum means smoky. The linga is represented smoky and ill-defined (some Lingas made of Sphatika – a crystalline form of quartz stone) as a Symbol of the physical world. It is also called Svayambhu linga- the self-created linga. It signifies the establishment of life principles in totality.

Brahma granthi functions in the base region of the Muladhara chakra at the genital area and hence a display of organs. It implies the entanglement with physical pleasures, material objects, and excessive selfishness or a sense of fear. It also implies the ensnaring power of tamas – negativity, lethargy, and ignorance. Such negative qualities act as hindrances and stop the serpent power kundalini from awakening. Once this blockage is removed from the energy instincts of the deep rootedness with worldly affairs, the realm of consciousness gets awakened and the trapped serpent power energy is released. The kundalini or primal energy is thus able to rise beyond Muladhara and Swadhisthana without bogged down by the attractions to which our consciousness is hooked. On breaking open the Brahma granthi, the practitioner feels relaxed and enjoys bliss arising from the void.

The figures related to the granthis are nude because they are related to the state of mind ‘Chitta’ and personal. Muladhara relates to, Ajna chakra as the starting and release points of prana, which is indicated in the sculptures as contact points. Muladhara has a direct link to Ajna chakra – situated in midbrain but indicated as above the nose, between the eyebrows. The subtle energy of these two Ida-Pingala currents crosses over to connect with the right and left hemispheres of the brain.

Brahma granthi is the manifest force of the energy of life and creation, depicted in sculptures as the pleasure of touch. It is known as blockage of Brahma because it holds the consciousness at the level related to physical dimensions like sensuality or procreation. Once this blockage is overcome, the consciousness of deep rootedness to worldly pleasures is released. The kundalini can rise above, crossing this knot.

Vishnu Granthi

Vishnu Granthi in Anahata chakra (between Manipura and Ajna chakra) is represented as Bana Linga. The linga is depicted red or gold-colored as a Symbol of the subtle world. Clearing Vishnu knot is to perceive the existence of universal life principles.

The contact at the chest is the second stage of awareness at Vishnu granthi – to detach from emotions related to bondage. Vishnu granthi operates in the region of the Anahata chakra in the heart region. It is associated with the bondage of emotional attachment and attachment to people and inner psychic visions. It relates to the qualities of rajas – the tendency towards passion, ambition, bondage and assertiveness, individual ego and power. Once the blockage at Vishnu granthi is removed, the practitioner feels great bliss. The sustenance energy undergoes a change from the localized centers of the physical level to the universal level which means the energies of the body become harmonious with the energies of the cosmos. The interaction between the individual personality and the cosmos begins to happen naturally & spontaneously, enhancing the quality of compassion.

The position of placement of chakra wheel as balls suggests that she is activating the Ida and Pingala in legs as well as in hand with the acupressure or chakra ball. It also gives a hint that opening out of Vishnu granthi is not a spontaneous act. It begins from the hand and leg Nadi, followed by the opening of Brahma granthi at Muladhara. In the right hand, as she is holding the ball, highlighting the thumb as the starting point of Nadi in hands. Activating the center of hands and feet is beneficial to health.

The freedom from the knotty – worldly problems and the freedom from knotty congestion in her meridians that restricts the flow of bioenergy at her mental and physical levels – are viewed as obstacles, the root cause for problems and indicated as the cloth around the breasts called ‘kanchuka’ with a knot. Philosophically, clearing the knot of kanchuka means liberation – freedom from ignorance, bondage, commitments due to obligations of bondage, power are the obstacles project as knotty problems in life. The aspirant is constantly advised to dissociate from all limitations and identify oneself with all the pervading, blissful, non-duality spirit of the Brahman.

Rudra Granthi

Rudra Granthi in Ajna chakra is called Itara or Itakhya Linga. The linga is black, well defined with a very consolidated outline. Here, in Ajna, the awareness of ‘what I am’ is more sharply defined and various capacities are being awakened. The Dhumra and Bana Linga are depicted in lotus petals and only Itara linga is well defined. It signifies a state of non-duality. Clearing of Rudra granthi promotes spiritual vision. Awareness goes at the transpersonal level with super consciousness.

The loving gaze was used as a simile in tantra based sculptures to explain the abstract concept that mind (female) and prana (male) are harmonizing and mind is coming under the control of prana, in other words, mind is one with the object concentrated upon enjoying supreme bliss and super consciousness called ‘samadhi’.

The third contact at nose tip is related to crossing the hurdle of Rudra granthi – restraining from the thoughts of pride that comes sometimes from service to others or as the knower of knowledge. The pride prevents one from uniting with all with a non-dual thought. The three granthis when crossed, open the doors of Sahasrara chakra promoting spiritual vision and super consciousness. The Ida Pingala Nadi first intersect at the base of the spine and ends at the third eye center indicated at the apex of the nose. At the third eye center, these two currents cross over to connect with the right and left hemispheres of the brain.

The nose of the two male and female figures touch to symbolize the revitalization of memory and concentration of intuitive knowledge or cognition. Physiologically, the nasal nerves of olfactory bulb travel directly to the limbic area of the brain which controls the unconscious intuition of memory and sexuality. It functions in the region of Ajna chakra governing the Ajna and Sahasrara chakras. It represents the transformation of an existing form, idea or concept into the universal aspect. It is associated with the attainment of siddhis, a psychic phenomenon but still attached to and the concept of self as the power. In a psychological perspective, though serving others is a completely satisfactory way to spend one’s life at this stage, this service could create resentment against others, and view them as lesser beings as the pride of acquiring knowledge sometimes gains an upper hand. One must surrender the sense of individual ego and transcend duality to make further spiritual progress and then complete the circle by bringing that consciousness into compassionate actions.

With awareness, yoga practitioners ascend towards the Sahasrara chakra where the final merging of the individual Soul or Atman with the universal cosmic soul takes place to achieve the realization of oneness.

Awakening of Kundalini Shakti

Rshi Patanjali said “it is very difficult to walk on this Yoga path (Kundalini) like walking in the eyes of a knife that is very sharp, wrong or slipped a little too wounded” also walked to meet Him like doing a masterpiece project, all obstacles and obstacles we must be able to overcome only with determination. , disciplined and diligent practice.

So far we leave Him to approach him is something that requires extra energy. The energy that drives the realization of the Yoga goal is Kundalini Energy. Energy is power, power, shakti, power or whatever the term all of this already exists within us and also outside ourselves. Enormous energy that lies dormant in the form of a 3.5-circle snake with his head facing down around Linga swayambhu Siwa.

If the Kundalini energy is able to be raised, this energy will push someone to reach his life goal or his Yoga goals. The increase in Kundalini’s energy will cleanse every chakra that is passed then activate the chakras and various Siddhas will be felt even though it is still only a moment. The increase in Kundalini will be very helpful, especially to increase self-awareness and the vitality of the body is also increased, for example, to help self-healing or even become a healer.

But what needs to be considered is not only the benefits that are very useful, but also how we deal with every problem caused by the rise in Kundalini. Because the increase in kundalini will clean and open the knot chakra because kundalini is only limited to energy so this energy will play just breaking down, so we need to know the knowledge and directing techniques so that nothing happens that is desired. Many spiritual aspirants have fallen ill because of Him without realizing that the cause is Kundalini (kundalini syndrome).

Everyone has this Energy hidden in our body. Kundalini energy is very large energy like nuclear energy in the body. It can be imagined how much energy is in our bodies if this energy we are able to generate. To generate Kundalini energy you need sufficient knowledge, especially regarding the Main Chakra. In addition to this knowledge, a guide who really knows about the awakening of Kundalini or a spiritual teacher is very much needed.

Kundalini is the mother who protects us, the mother of the universe is often referred to as Mrs. Durga (Hyang Nini Bagawati), Mrs. Gayatri and Mrs. Saraswati. To awaken this Sakti Energy there are various ways and with certain training.

If the awakening of Kundalini towards this negative direction will have unfavorable consequences, there are several things that are affected that can hurt the physical body, this can be really real or will change the nature, emotions, behavior, and others towards the negative.

Kundalini is more commonly interpreted as a scroll, a power is in “Kunda” which is a quadratic place or mandala (Muladhara chakra), encircling the “Linga” three half circles that are above the “Yoni” Kundalini in the form of a snake resides in the cakra Muladhara and in in Muladhara there is linga and yoni this is where Kundalini as a power of silence. Kundalini is also known by various names including Mrs. Durga, Mother at times, Mrs. Bhuta, Mother Universe, Mrs. Bagawati and so on, all Mother’s names are Himself. She is also referred to as Ibu Prana, the inner Power of the Mother or latent energy whatever the name refers to her. I offer my devotion to the Great Mother … Energy Mother …

The negative polarities will flow towards the positive polarity, and the positive polarity is in the fontanel in Sahasrara Cakra where the Supreme Lord is located. Passive Shiva who is silent but whose vibrations spread to meet nature. Single Shiva (Eka) and many (various) at the same time. Shiva who lives in Sahasrara means that the vibrations of his silence dwell in each person’s Sahasrara. He sits in his favorite siddhasana, he whose body is bright as the reflection of sunlight on a snow mountain, whose hair is neatly woven, which flows holy Ganga water, surrounded by beautiful crescent moons, wears snakes as His necklace, blue-necked, body covered with weed, His two hands lifted up to give blessings and deliver from all fears, adorned with tiger skins as His garments, who sat on a lotus of thousands of golden leaves, whose smiles emit vibrations of peace.

The awakening of the Kundalini energy flow is determined by our level of consciousness, or in other words, we process it, we are the controller.

The thing to consider is that energy is still energy, He will follow our own consciousness, follow our mindset if we think towards virtue

Purification of Karma through 3 Granthi

In each bulkhead, vertebrae are stored with positive and negative karma as long as humans life. Every action or result of mental karma will be placed according to the place that caused it.

For example karma as a result of:

  • Material things, rough emotions, supernatural powers, magic, etc. are stored at the bottom (Muladhara).
  • Desires, desires and low egos are stored in Swadistana.
  • Subtle emotions, dynamism, strength, etc. are stored in the central node of the Manipura chakra (Stomach).
  • Feelings, love, envy, sadness, happiness, will be stored in the heart’s central node (Anahata),
  • The ego is more subtle, including the highest ego that wants to reach God stored in the Wisudhi chakra.
  • Mental instability, ignorance, wisdom, weigh and decide right and wrong, good and bad, mental balance, are stored in Ajna before heading for Enlightenment (in the Sahasrara chakra), … etc … according to the causes of chakra activeness and its consequences.

The two way of Oneness and Karma Melting through this method (granthi) :

  1. From top  (Sahasrara chakra) heading down through Sushumna. The meeting was in the deepest depth of Ajna. While experiencing calm, it will release fluid from the pineal gland, producing a form of fluid / Tirta Amritha which then drips into Sushumna, penetrates and removes impurities in each segment.
    This method is considered safer, and the risk is minimal. Although safe, it does not mean without obstacles and mental obstacles that need to be overcome. The effect is cold and some even feel like ice water flowing in each segment to the lower end until it merges with the power of Kundalini (Shiva-Shakti).
  2. From bottom (Muladhara chakra) by awakening the power of Kundalini. This Kundalini fire breaks through and increases the burning of karma in each of its ascension paths until it experiences unification in Sahasrara (Shiva-Shakti).
    In every process of ascension ranging from the most subtle (the heat) to the magma fire, the perpetrator will experience many obstacles to significant changes in mental effects and the temptation to get siddhi.

Being aware of every moment of attitudes and mental changes or the like is very necessary to get to the next level, as well as efforts to unleash the power of the siddhis obtained. Giving up the siddhi that is obtained does not mean that it will disappear when the higher attainments all of the things below will also be followed and controlled (included).

Both unity from above and taking the road from the bottom produced “Amritha / Tirta Kundalini”. The effect of this will result in peace, calm, silence, towards Samadhi.

In Bali, this meaning is also poured into the song Wargasari Down the Tirta so sublime … etc. Where this is the way from above (Requesting) the union of Shiva and Durga / Shakti (Kundalini).

In Kanda pat he the power that results in the purification of Tirta seeps through the bamboo cavities, arteries and the like depending on the experience he sees,

This result is also a Tirta “wiping out” (negative melting) released through saliva (vaguely inserted in a glass of water for Tirta by some Balinese healers). While some possessed (kerauhan) he came out through a kind of mucus through the nose when possessed.

Untying the Knots That Bind Us

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March, 2015

The Sanskrit word granthi means “knot” or “doubt” and also means “an especially difficult knot to untie.” People in India wearing a sari or dhoti cloth will form a small pouch to hold money, and close it by knotting the fabric – this tightly knotted purse is called a granthi. Granthi in spiritual practice are psychological or psychic barriers to total freedom. Granthi prevent prana from moving freely up sushumna nadi. Granthi bind the soul; they lock us to our misperception of reality (avidya) and self (asmita). They hold us to our preferences (raga and dvesha) and root us in fear of death (abhinivesha). Knowledge (jnana) is a key component to transcend fear, and together with action (karma) they give wings to our spiritual desires – the rise of Kundalini.

The hathayoga methods for untying these knots are the bandhas, or energy locks. By focusing the pranas in Sushumna Nadi the bandhas increase the potency of the rising Kundalini allowing us to transcend normal restrictions of thinking and acting.

Brahma Granthi is located at the base of the spine between Muladhara Chakraand Svadhisthana Chakra where primitive brain functioning like the “fight or flight reflexes” guarantee survival. Fear of death, anxiety about food, shelter or clothing, or general lack of grounding, all manifest as Brahma Granthi. When you experience fear in an asana like handstand or split, and the fear itself prevents success, this is Brahma Granthi. Lack of spare time can be part of this knot. When your bills and rent payment keep you at work and away from yoga, that is Brahma Granthi.

Mula (Root) Bandha is the first consolidation of Prana and Apana, piercing Brahma Granthi. Vitality, thought, breath, and speech are joined in pursuit of truth. This root lock can be applied all the time transforming every thing we do into a holy act.

Vishnu Granthi knots energy between Manipura Chakra and Anahata Chakra. This Granthi is a knot of individual ego and power. Our clinging to ego, self-cherishing and the quest for personal power can slow spiritual success. Fear of being ignored or of loosing prestige may plague our spiritual growth. This is a knot of power and manipulation, but it is also the knot of accumulation. Accumulation of power, possessions, and fame, all tie us to this level of consciousness. In order to transcend this level of consciousness we must “give up the love of power, for the power of love!” The degree of vulnerability that we show in life – the ability to put our façade aside and challenge our own status quo, unties Vishnu Granthi.

Uddiyana (Flying up) Bandha is the second consolidation of Prana, Apana, and Samana vayus.

Applied together with Mula Bandha, this lock pierces Vishnu Granthi. The individual is able to transcend individuality. The whole abdomen is drawn in and up – symbolizing the renunciation of accumulation and concentration of energy upward toward Anahata Chakra.

Rudra granthi is knotted between the Anahata and Ajña chakras. The attractiveness of heart centered action and the experience of serving others can distract the yogi who desires to “Be Love” – not just experience it. Serving others is a completely satisfactory way to spend your life, but this service could become your cross to bear, where you hold resentment against others, and view them as lesser beings. We must strive to transcend otherness and experience the “oneness of being” in the highest levels of consciousness, and then complete the circle by bringing that consciousness into our compassionate actions. When we are free from the illusion of otherness our actions emerge spontaneously from Love. Jalandhara Bandha enables this leap of consciousness.

The consummate consolidation of prana is Jalandhara Bandha (Cloud Catching Lock or Net Lock – for the network of nadis in the neck) when Prana, Apana, Samana and Udana vayu in Sushumna Nadi loosen Rudra Granthi, and the veil of separation is lifted.

Teaching Tips

  • The yoga practices reveal where we are stopped by granthi, psychological knots, and give us tools for negotiating and loosening those limitations. The granthi are pierced through asana, meditation, pranayama, samyama, virtuous acts, purification of diet, good intention, yama and niyama, mudra, and through nada techniques like chanting and mantra.
  • Practice each bandha separately.
    • Mula: This bandha can be applied while breathing and moving freely.
      The two parts of this lock are a) contraction of the interior of the perineal body on men, or the vaginal walls for women, and b) the area from the pubic bone to navel draws inward and upward slightly.
    • Uddiyana: The diaphragm moves toward the throat drawing the entire abdomen in and up. This lock is only practiced on exhale retention when breathing is not possible and movement is internalized.
    • Jalandhara: Can be applied after inhale or exhale, bringing chest to chin. The spine should stay relatively straight and the chin should rest in the cleft between the clavicle bones.
  • Teach all bandha applied simultaneously in Mahamudra. See Hathayogapradipika Chapter 3, Verses 10-13
  • Investigate the psychological barriers to freedom that are embodied in the granthi, from fear of death and anxiety about survival (Muladhara,) to the accumulation of power and prestige (Manipura,) to the “feel good” effect of helping others, rather than serving others (Anahata.)
  • Teach about the Pranamaya Kosha and it’s component vayus. Asana practice most directly affects the Pranamaya Kosha and consolidates the energy of consciousness into a force of enlightenment.

In Bhagavad Gita 7.1 there is a reference to granthi as doubt, and refuge of the Lord as freedom from that doubt. In Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.17-21, bhakti-yoga severs the granthi (hard knot) of material affection and enables one to come at once to the stage of asamsayam-samagram.

 

 

https://yogalinda.es/en/blog/the-bandhas-and-the-granthis/

The Bandhas and the Granthis

 

Bandhas are inner body locks that engage both the physical and the energetic body. They provide inner support during asana practice, stimulate the flow of prana and help to release the granthis, which can be understood as energy blockages or psychological knots.

By combining the action of opposing muscles, the bandhas can be activated. Their use during asana practice increases strength, stability and mental focus. Their use during pranayama intensifies its cleansing effect by directing agni or the internal fire to burn the waste matter that has settled and blocks the flow of energy.

Often referred to as locks, the bandhas help to balance two important energies within the body: the prana vayu and apana vayu. If prana is associated with drawing in that which nourishes us, apana is associated with letting go of that which is potentially toxic. Prana is connected to the inhalation and apana to the exhalation. The meeting of these two opposing energies at the base of the spine awakens the Kundalini energy.

There are three main bandhas: Jalandhara, Uddiyana and Mula bandha. Activating all three of these bandhas at the same time is referred to as Mahabandha or main lock.

The Bandhas

 

The Bandhas

Jalandhara Bandha: the throat lock. Jalandhara bandha can be applied by contracting the front muscles in the neck when tucking the chin towards the sternum. This bandha is naturally activated in some asanas like Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) or Halasa (Plough Pose). It is subtly activated during Ujjayi pranayama in which the glottis (the area where the vocal cords are located) is gently contracted.
This bandha focuses the mind on the fifth or throat chakra and contains the upward-flowing movement of prana past the throat. It also seals off the downward movement of “nectar” from the sahasrara or crown chakra, which is said to preserve youth and vitality.

Uddiyana Bandha: the abdominal lock. Uddiyana bandha is applied by contracting the upper abdominal muscles (just below the solar plexus). This bandha is naturally activated after each exhalation when the lungs are emptied and the diaphragm rises. During asana practice it is especially useful to apply this bandha to support the lumbar region in back bends. When used together with Mula bandha, it strengthens the abdominal muscles. While performing asanas it is not possible to fully engage this bandha as it would constrain breathing. This bandha focuses the mind on the third chakra and directs prana up towards the sixth chakra.

Mula Bandha: the root lock. Mula bandha is applied by contracting the pelvic floor and elevating the inner organs in this region like the bladder and genitals. Other groups of muscles, like the upper leg adductors (by slightly pressing the knees together), can intensify this bhanda. If engaged during asana practice it is said to “provide an extra lift, which is especially useful when jumping”. This bandha focuses the mind on the first chakra, and directs prana from the pelvic region upwards, providing energy to the whole body and stopping it from flowing downwards out of the body.

Activating the bandhas can also help to unblock the three granthisor knots that prevent prana from freely circulating within the Sushuma nadi. These knots can block the chakras and keep us tied to negative attitudes and emotions, preventing us from fully experiencing the richness of life.

The Granthi

The Granthi

 

The Bramha or Vital Granthi is associated with the first three chakras (root, sacrum and solar plexus). This granthi blocks us by feeding our attachment to physical comfort, material wealth and accumulation. It can be unblocked by activating Mula bhanda. To regulate the energy in these vital chakras and granthi, Patanjali recommends self discipline.

The Vishnu or Love Granthi is associated with the fourth and fifth chakras (heart and throat). This granthi blocks us by feeding our attachment to emotional excitement, self-centeredness and lack of receptivity to others’ needs. It can be unblocked by activating Uddyiana bandha. To boost the energy of the love chakras and granthi, Patanjali recommends devotion and commitment.

The Rudra or Light Granthi is associated with the last two chakras (third eye and crown of the head). This granthi blocks us by feeding our attachment to our opinions, prejudices, fantasies and intellectual pride. It can be unblocked by activating Jalandhara bandha. To dissolve pride and “dark” mental patterns, Patanjali recommends self-knowledge.

 

 

Please see my related posts

Knot Theory and Recursion: Louis H. Kauffman

Interconnected Pythagorean Triples using Central Squares Theory

The Great Chain of Being

Indra’s Net: On Interconnectedness

 

 

 

 

Key Sources of Resources

 

https://www.lifesloka.com/en/3-granthi-in-kundalini-yoga/

 

Untying the Knots That Bind Us

 

https://yogalinda.es/en/blog/the-bandhas-and-the-granthis/

Aesthetics and Ethics: At the Intersection

Aesthetics and Ethics: At the Intersection

 

Aesthetics and Ethics have normally been studied separately.

Aesthetics belong to Beautiful and Ethics belong to Good in the Integral Theory.

  • Aesthetics – Arts – Beautiful
  • Ethics – Morals – Good

 

 

AESTHETICS AND ETHICS: THE STATE OF THE ART

https://aesthetics-online.org/page/DeanState

Jeffrey Dean

Because the poet traffics in mimesis, ungoverned by reason, appealing to the irrational part of the soul, this makes it right for us to proceed to lay hold of him and set him down as the counterpart of the painter, for he resembles him in that his creations are inferior in respect of reality, and the fact that his appeal is to the inferior part of the soul and not to the best part is another point of resemblance. And so we may at last say that we should be justified in not admitting him into a well-ordered state, because he stimulates and fosters this element in the soul, and by strengthening it tends to destroy the rational part, just as when in a state one puts bad men in power and turns the city over to them and ruins the better sort. Precisely in the same manner we shall say that the mimetic poet sets up in each individual soul a vicious currying favor with the senseless element that cannot distinguish the greater from the less, but calls the same thing now one, now the other. – Plato

I spoke of the novel as an especially useful agent of the moral imagination, as the literary form which most directly reveals to us the complexity, the difficulty, and the interest of life in society, and best instructs our human variety and contradiction. – Lionel Trilling

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all. – Oscar Wilde

You know you’ve arrived when your likeness appears on The Simpsons or on MTV’s Celebrity Death Match, and while I don’t expect philosophers to show up on either of these shows any time soon (despite the notable publication of The Simpsons and Philosophy), for those interested in the intersection of aesthetics and ethics we have recently seen the next best thing: a survey article by Noel Carroll on art and ethical criticism in the journal Ethics. Of course, any arrival marks the end of an absence, and as Carroll points out in the opening paragraphs of his essay, the recent flood of work on the ethical criticism of art puts an end to a surprising dearth of work on the part of Anglo-American philosophers in this area. Surprising, not only because connections between ethics and aesthetics were central to much philosophy from Plato through the end of the eighteenth-century, but also because outside of Anglo-American academic philosophy, the ethical “interrogation” of art (and artists) has been steadily mounting for much of the twentieth-century. Precisely because it is the work that has seen most development in the last ten to fifteen years, and in order to help make this overview manageable, discussion here will be limited to what I see as the two most robust areas of renewed interest in Anglo-American philosophy of an “analytic” bent: research pertaining to the role of art and aesthetics in the development of moral imagination and understanding; and work on the relationship between moral and aesthetic values.

A great deal of this recent work in aesthetics has emphasized the connection between art and moral understanding, a connection long thought important, but as noted, largely neglected during the better part of the last two centuries. This neglect can be attributed to, among other things, zealous attempts to define and defend the intrinsic value of art, attempts which shun any whiff of an instrumentalism that sites the value of art in its didactic or ethical effects. But as contemporary critics of this approach often stress, the resulting aestheticism, the purpose of which was to save art from moralizing, is itself too often a form of reductive and blinkered formalism. The task some of those working in contemporary aesthetics have set themselves is to understand and characterize the relationship between art and ethics in a way that avoids the weaknesses of both instrumentalism and aestheticism.

In this endeavor aesthetics has been met halfway by ethics. Until fairly recently, the dominant strains in British and American philosophical ethics have been Utilitarian and Kantian. The central debates were over whether ethics should be characterized in deontological or consequentialist terms, with a shared focus on impartial principles designed to regulate self-interest for mutual advantage, and disagreements centered around the structure of moral intentions and obligations and the moral relevance of the consequences of actions.

But more recently there has been a renewed interest in what is commonly referred to as “virtue ethics”. In the tradition of Aristotle, virtue ethics focuses more on the long-term development of moral agency-including character, moral emotions, and the perception of salient details of particular moral contexts-than on finely tuned general principles intended to entail impartial outcomes in particular cases. The difference in approaches is sometimes cast as between an ethics of obligation vs. an ethics of character. This shift dovetails nicely with the recent efforts in aesthetics, since one element central to Aristotelian ethics is precisely what engagement with art has long been claimed to provide: a means to imaginative perception, feeling, and understanding Peter Lamarque provides one characterization of this trend, referring to the Wittgensteinian school of (literary value and) ethics (also represented by D.Z. Phillips and R.W. Beardsmore) as follows:

It is not the central task of ethics to formulate and apply general principles but rather to stress the particularity of moral situations and the idea that profound moral disagreements reside not in a difference of beliefs but in different ways of looking at the world. The argument is then brought to bear on literature with a parallel more or less explicitly drawn between a moral agent on the one hand and a competent reader on the other. The idea is that the moral agent and the reader both in effect confront complex moral situations with both called upon to adopt an imaginative perspective on those situations which should yield in the one case a moral judgement or appropriate action and in the other a moral insight or revised way of seeing. A competent reader might hope to learn from the literary work not by formulating a derived moral principle but by acquiring a new vision or perspective on the world.The list of recent and contemporary philosophers who stress the close connection between aesthetic and moral perception and understanding is long one, including among many others Wayne Booth, Noël Carroll, Gregory Currie, Richard Eldridge, Susan Feagin, Peter Lamarque, Peter McCormick, Iris Murdoch, Martha Nussbaum, Frank Palmer, John Passmore, and Hilary Putnam. Most of the discussion by these authors focuses on narrative art, usually narrative fiction in the form of poetry, literature, drama and film. Also common to these accounts is their rejection of a central role for propositional knowledge vis-à-vis the moral relevance of art. Instead, it is claimed variously that art “shows” rather than “tells” us morally relevant features of the world, illuminating the importance of feeling, reflection and the perception of particulars in the moral evaluation of character and situation (esp. Murdoch, Nussbaum, Palmer, and Passmore), is especially well-suited to modifying our moral concepts (esp. Carroll, McCormick, and Putnam), and exercises the very imaginative capacities necessary for making sensitive moral judgments (esp. Booth, Currie, Feagin, and Lamarque). Each of these sorts of claim is intended to highlight ways in which the appreciation of art engages and refines capacities necessary for sound moral understanding and judgment, stressing that what is morally valuable about such art is inherently bound up with its aesthetic appreciation.

While most of the early work in this area tended to valorize the moral benefits of sensitive engagement with works of art, recent work has also stressed the potential dangers of imaginative commerce with art-particularly narrative art-in those cases where the work in question encourages or mandates imaginative identification with, or mental simulation of, morally deficient or pernicious points of view. Although little has been made of this as of yet, taking seriously the morally disruptive or destructive power of art (even while bearing in mind its virtues) may have significant consequences for one’s attitudes regarding censorship and arts education. That is, given the nature of the kinds of views developed and defended in current research, it becomes increasingly difficult to take seriously the ethical benefits of imaginative engagement with art without acknowledging its potential dangers as well. I expect to see increased discussion of this issue in the coming years.

Given that recent efforts have centered on close connections between imaginative engagement with works of art and moral understanding, it is perhaps unsurprising that the other main focus of research and debate has been the relationship between aesthetic and moral value, and by extension, the relationship between aesthetic and moral judgment. The debate here has centered on the question of whether the moral and aesthetic values of works of art are independent, or, alternatively, at least on occasion interdependent.

Consider the case of Marquis de Sade’s Juliette. Here, Sade offers a narrative which appears to endorse the notion that sexual torture is erotic and amusing. In this case, the “successful” understanding of the narrative (in the sense that we see things as the author would have us see them) would entail some distortion or perversion of our moral understanding, on the assumption that sexual torture is not, or at least should not be, either amusing or erotic, and that persons should not be treated merely as means to one’s own sadistic gratification. It may be said, then, that because Juliette prescribes a response to its subject matter that is ethically inappropriate, it is a morally flawed work.

The question then arises whether the fact that Juliette is morally flawed (because it endorses a morally defective perspective which prescribes a morally inappropriate response to its subject matter) in a manner that undermines its narrative intent (morally sensitive audiences should not respond in the manner prescribed by the work) means that it is thereby aesthetically flawed as well (and for that very same reason). The question is a surprisingly difficult one to answer. For, on the one hand, it seems intuitive to say when a work fails to merit a prescribed response, it has to that extent failed aesthetically. Thrillers that do not thrill, comedies that are not humorous, and tragedies that are not tragic fail in some respect, and that failure, given that it is internal to the nature and aims of the work, would appear to be an aesthetic one. Since Juliette fails in a respect internal to the aims of the work, it would also appear to be an aesthetically flawed in this regard. And the explanation for this failure is that the work is morally flawed. So the work is both aesthetically and morally flawed, and for the same reason.

On the other hand, however, a thriller that fails to thrill (say) is aesthetically flawed precisely because of its failure to thrill; why it fails to thrill would seem to be extraneous to the aesthetic issue, viz., that it fails. It may fail to thrill because the pacing is off; it may fail to thrill because the dialog is weak; or it may fail to thrill due to some moral defect, e.g., the putatively sympathetic protagonist is in fact morally repugnant, such that the audience doesn’t have sufficient sympathy with him or his plight to care about what happens to him or take a positive interest in the outcome of the storyline. In each case we have an aesthetic failure-a thriller that fails to thrill-with different explanations for this failure: pacing, dialog, moral misstep. In the latter case, it is mistaken to say that the thriller’s aesthetic defect (its failure to thrill) is “the same as” its moral defect (its prescription to sympathize with a repugnant character). Indeed, it would be mistaken to identify the failure to thrill with any of the explanations for that failure. Likewise, it is mistaken to identify the aesthetic defect in Juliette (its failure to warrant its prescribed response) with its moral defect (its endorsement of and invitation to share a morally corrupt perspective).

It is important to note that whether one supposes that moral and aesthetic values and judgments sometimes overlap, or steadfastly maintains their conceptual independence, there is one thing that most of those currently writing on aesthetics: works of art have multiple dimensions of value, including not only aesthetic and moral values, but historical, sociological, political, anthropological and other sorts of values as well. My own view (a view certainly shared and articulated by others, but not always made apparent in the literature) is that for the sake of clarity, the value matrices that converge in works of art ought to be referred to as artistic value (or “overall artistic value”). Artists are concerned with more than the expression of aesthetic values in their work, and so too are critics and philosophers of art. It is clear, in this sense, that moral values are sometimes artistic values, whether or not they are sometimes aesthetic values (which, as indicated above, is a more vexed question). A work of art that is aesthetically excellent, historically significant, and morally profound is a better work of art, overall, than one which is only some or none of these things (assuming of course that we hold the various achievements in the varieties of value constant across cases). This helps explain, in part, why judgments about artworks are so often contested. When one pays attention to the specifics of criticism or praise, one often finds that disputants are talking past each other: one is touting the excellence of a work while the other is decrying is triviality, but it will often turn out that the former, say, is focused on the work’s historical significance and moral fortitude, while the latter is considering only a specific set of aesthetic values relevant to the genre. Again, whether or not one believes varieties of value may sometimes merge, it is important to be mindful of their differences, so that evaluations are commensurable.

In closing, it should be noted that in addition to the topics discussed above, much interesting work has recently been undertaken on emotional engagement with artworks (including moral emotions), on a variety of relationships between works of art and simulation theory, imagination, and identification (where a great deal of this work has bearing on our understanding of the moral relevance of art), and on a variety of other topics. This is of course only the beginning, but a promising one, and I would wager that interest in the intersection of ethics and aesthetics has not only arrived: it is here to stay.

2002 © Jeffrey Dean

Please see my related posts:

The Good, the True, and the Beautiful

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness: Integral Theory of Ken Wilber

Meta Integral Theories: Integral Theory, Critical Realism, and Complex Thought

On Aesthetics

On Beauty

On Classical Virtues

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness

Drama Theory: Acting Strategically

Drama Theory: Choices, Conflicts and Dilemmas

Drama Therapy: Self in Performance

 

Main Sources of Research

Aesthetics and Ethics : Essays at the Intersection

AESTHETICS AND ETHICS: THE STATE OF THE ART

The Good, the True, and the Beautiful

The Good, the True, and the Beautiful

 

 

Key Terms

  • Integral Theory
  • Ken Wilber
  • Self Culture Nature
  • I  We  It
  • Beauty Good True
  • Development
  • Aesthetics, Morals, Logic

 

https://integrallife.com/good-true-beautiful/

The Good, the True, and the Beautiful

Ken Wilber explores the three fundamental discernments of the human mind: the Good, the Beautiful, and the True. Ken discusses how all three are simultaneously parts of a single indivisible whole, yet each possesses its own means of disclosing and verifying knowledge.

“To understand the whole, it is necessary to understand the parts. To understand the parts, it is necessary to understand the whole. Such is the circle of understanding. We move from part to whole and back again, and in that dance of comprehension, in that amazing circle of understanding, we come alive to meaning, to value, and to vision: the very circle of understanding guides our way, weaving together the pieces, healing the fractures, mending the torn and tortured fragments, lighting the way ahead—this extraordinary movement from part to whole and back again, with healing the hallmark of each and every step, and grace the tender reward.”Ken Wilber, The Eye of Spirit

What is the Good, the Beautiful, and the True?

The concept of the Good, the Beautiful, and the True is one that dates all the way back to antiquity, finding its first expressions in the Bhagavad Gita and the teachings of Plato, and later conceived by Aristotle as three of the primary transcendent properties of being — properties that both represent the three primary categories of knowledge, as well as the ideal forms within those categories. Although our understanding of these three irreducible dimensions has evolved quite a bit over the millennia (we no longer understand them as perfect platonic forms existing somewhere outside of time, but rather the natural product of the three fundamental perspectives we use to perceive reality), this perennial notion has proven just as useful today as ever before.

Screen Shot 2019-12-07 at 11.57.12 PM

A Brief History of the Good, the Beautiful, and the True

The story of the Big Three is the unfolding of human knowledge itself.

In premodern times, these three value spheres existed in a state of undifferentiated fusion — the Good was not different than the True, which was not different than the Beautiful. All three were collapsed into a single monological view, tightly controlled by a particular sovereign power (the Church, the King, etc.). This allowed each value sphere to dominate and control the others. Galileo was prevented from pursuing science (the True) because it came into conflict with the prevailing mythological religious morals of the time (the Good). Michelangelo had to be very careful about the types of figures he represented in his art, because Art and Morals were not yet differentiated. This is not holism or integration; this is undifferentiated fusion.

In modern times, beginning largely with the Renaissance, the spheres of Art, Morals, and Science began to be properly differentiated. Freed from the yoke of authoritarian control, each sphere was now allowed its own jurisdiction and its own methods for generating knowledge — and as a result, knowledge began to flourish at an exponential rate. New forms of artistic expression exploded into being. New methods of scientific validation allowed us to separate objective fact from subjective belief, resulting in the emergence of physics, chemistry, biology from the pre-differentiated amalgam of hermetic alchemy. These value spheres were not only accelerating their own acquisition of knowledge, they were also exerting an accelerating pressure upon the other spheres — for example, differentiating “I” from “We” allowed for the rise of individual rights and freedoms that could not be impinged or taken away by the state, the Church, etc., which in turn resulted in the proliferation of new philosophies of moral goodness based on these new principles of egalitarianism and individual dignity. By being properly differentiated, the three value spheres were transformed for the very first time into genuine turbines for the advancement of human thought.

But what happens when we take differentiation too far? Simple: it becomes full-on dissociation. Our entire body of knowledge becomes broken, flattened, and fragmented. The feedback loops created among the three differentiated spheres begin to break down, and every major tract of human knowledge begins to lose sight of the others, overextends its purview, and reasserts itself as the central authority of all that is knowable. Divorced from all notions of a common universal context, a new fundamentalism begins to take shape — not the brute fundamentalism of an un-differentiated central authority (all forest, no trees), but a somewhat more insidious fundamentalism of dissociated and disconnected nodes (all trees, no forest).

This is the postmodern condition many of ourselves now find ourselves in, where the many pathologies of dissociation run rampant — including all the usual ten-dollar terms like scientism, cultural constructivism and relativism, systemic reductionism, aesthetic infantilization, epistemic collapse, and “post-truth” politics.

From fusion to differentiation to dissociation — this is the story of human knowledge so far, the story of the human condition itself.

Integrating the Big 3

Which brings us to today, on the precipice of yet another monumental leap of understanding. A new kind of integrative thinking is now beginning to emerge from the smoking ruins of postmodernism, one that seeks to recognize, honor, and include all the numerous branches of Art, Morals, and Science while recognizing them as multiple facets of a single living gem. This integrative thinking is guided by three general principles:

“Everyone is right” (non-exclusion)
“Some are more right than others” (enfoldment)
“If you want to know this, do that” (enactment)

We wil explore these three principles of integral thinking in a future video clip. But for now, it is sufficient to note that, when all three principles are brought to bear, a very simple but deeply profound question arises: “How can we describe reality in such a way that all these verifiable perspectives on Truth, Goodness, and Beauty can be included?”

The Integral Vision is our very best answer to that question — our very best hope to overcome the painful fragmentation of our lives and the world around us, to bridge the ever-widening gaps between us, and to unfold the bright grain of truth in every perspective.

By opening yourself to this new integral wave of thinking, knowing, and being, you are able to more fully tap into the enormous spectrum of experience available to you. And the more fully you can experience reality, the more freedom and fullness blossoms in your life. Integral is a means by which you can see—and feel!—that somehow, everyone is right in their various interpretations of reality. Or, put another way, “no one is smart enough to be wrong all the time.” The Integral vision draws upon all the very best ideas throughout history—East and West, pre-modern, modern and beyond. It synthesizes all of our accumulated knowledge and wisdom in such a way that we can see very real patterns emerge right before our very eyes, patterns that connect all the various aspects of our lives, weaving together the many strands of our lives into a deeply meaningful whole.

The Integral Vision helps to refine and empower our own perspective of the world, while opening us up to all the infinite perspectives around us, so we may share fully and freely in the most comprehensive view of reality possible. It allows us to become an undeniable force of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in the world, in our relationships, and in our own timeless heart.

Written by Corey deVos

 

Please see my related posts

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness: Integral Theory of Ken Wilber

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness

 

Drama Theory: Acting Strategically

Drama Theory: Acting Strategically

 

 

Key Terms

  • Pradoxes of Rationality
  • Metagame Analysis
  • Confrontation Analysis
  • Game Theory
  • Drama Theory
  • Conflict
  • Resolution
  • Dilemmas
  • Rationality
  • Rational choice
  • Preference change
  • Emotions
  • Humanities
  • Art and Culture
  • Bharata Muni Natya Shastra
  • Aristotle’s Poetics
  • Integral Theory
  • Ken Wilber
  • Problem Structuring Methods

From Acting Strategically Using Drama Theory

In today’s confrontational and connected world, communication is the key strategic act. This book uses drama theory—a radical extension of game theory—to show how best to communicate so as to manage the emotionally charged confrontations occurring in any worthwhile relationship. Alongside a toolset that provides a systematic framework for analysing conflicts, drama theory explains why people need to listen to, and rely on, their feelings to help shake themselves out of fixed, unproductive positions and to find new ways of solving tough problems.

This guide provides a sufficient grounding in the approach to enable you to apply it immediately for your own benefit and for the benefit of those with whom you work. A host of inspirational examples are included based upon actual situations in social and personal relations, business and organisational relations, defence and political management. These will give you an entirely fresh way of seeing how power is exercised in everyday interpersonal exchanges and a greater critical awareness of such factors as subtext and plotholes in public narratives. Using this approach you will be able to overcome the dilemmas of credibility and disbelief to build compelling messages that underpin your strategic intent. Moving beyond the vague platitudes of concepts like emotional intelligence, drama theory will also help you to avoid the pathologies that bedevil the process of managing conflicts and find ways of achieving authentic resolutions.

Please see my related post

Drama Theory: Choices, Conflicts and Dilemmas

Key Sources of Research

Problem structuring methods in action

John Mingers a,*, Jonathan Rosenhead

 

Click to access Problem-Structuring-Methods-in-Action.pdf

 

Confrontation Analysis: a Command and Control System for Conflicts Other Than War*

Peter Murray-Jones

Defence Evaluation and Research Agency, Portsdown West, Hants, PO17 6AD UK pmurrayjones@dera.gov.uk

Nigel Howard

ISCO Ltd, 10 Bloomfield Road, Birmingham B13 9BY UK

 

Click to access 042howar.pdf

 

 

Co-ordinated Positions in a Drama-theoretic Confrontation: Mathematical Foundations for a PO Decision Support System

Peter Murray-Jones
(DERA)
Nigel Howard
(dramatec)
12 Chesham Road, Brighton BN2 1NB, UK Tel.: +44 1273 67 45 86
e-mail: nhoward@dramatec.com)

 

Click to access 076_tr6.pdf

Game Theory and the Humanities: Bridging Two Worlds

By Steven J. Brams

 

 

 

Strategic and Dilemma Analysis of a Water Export Conflict

ftp://ftp.theochem.ru.nl/pub/toinesmits/PDF_files_supporting_literature_24%2625-11-2009/2005ObeidiStrategic%20and%20dilemma%20analyses%20of.pdf

 

 

Game Theory and Literature

Steven Brams

Click to access brams1994.pdf

 

 

 

Decision Making Using Game Theory: An Introduction for Managers

An introduction for managers

Anthony Kelly

Click to access Decision-Making-Using-Game-Theory-An-Introduction-for-Managers.pdf

 

 

Foundation of Subjective Confrontation Analysis

Pri Hermawan1, Kyoichi Kijima2*

 

http://journals.isss.org/index.php/proceedings50th/article/download/334/107

 

 

 

 

Drama, Emotion, and Cultural Convergence

D. Lawrence Kincaid

 

Click to access Kincaid%20drama.pdf

 

 

 

DRAMA THEORY AND METAGAME ANALYSIS

Nigel Howard

Click to access 666923c54a0189c888080db4e5b8c4529783.pdf

Drama theory: dispelling the myths

J Bryant

Manifesto for a Theory of Drama and Irrational Choice

Nigel Howard, Peter Bennet, Jim Bryant & Morris Bradley

Drama theory and its relation to game theory. Part 1: Dramatic resolution vs. Rational solution

  • Nigel Howard

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF01384354

Drama theory and its relation to game theory. Part 2: Formal model of the resolution process

  • Nigel Howard

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF01384355

The Sanskrit Drama in Its Origin, Development, Theory & Practice

By Arthur Berriedale Keith

Click to access 2015.102820.The-Sanskrit-Drama-In-Its-Origin-Development-Theory-And-Practice.pdf

Rationality, emotion and preference change Drama-theoretic models of choice

Integral Life Practice: A 21st-Century Blueprint for Physical Health, Emotional Balance, Mental Clarity, and Spiritual Awakening

Integral Life Practice: A 21st-Century Blueprint for Physical Health, Emotional Balance, Mental Clarity, and Spiritual Awakening

 

From Preface of the book

Welcome to the world of Integral! The fact that you have picked up this book means that you are ready to begin not just thinking about Integral but practicing and applying it as well. This is a truly momentous occasion, to judge from the developmental research itself.

Developmental models are in general agreement that human beings, from birth, go through a series of stages or waves of growth and development. The lower, earlier, junior stages are initial, partial, and fragmented views of the world, whereas the upper stages are integrated, comprehensive, and genuinely holistic. Because of this, the earlier stages are often called “first tier,” and the higher stages are called “second tier.”

The difference between the two tiers is truly profound. As pioneering developmental researcher Clare Graves put it, with second tier an individual “goes through a momentous leap of meaning.” That leap is what Integral is all about—Integral Thinking and—yes—Integral Practice. At the Integral stages of development, the entire universe starts to make sense, to hang together, to actually appear as a uni-verse—a “one world”—a single, unified, integrated world that unites not only different philosophies and ideas about the world, but different practices for growth and development as well.

Integral Life Practice is just such an integrated practice, a practice that will help you grow and develop to your fullest capacities—to your ultimate Freedom and greatest Fullness in the world at large (in relationships, in work, in spirituality, in career, in play, in life itself). ILP is about developing your greatest FREEDOM from the world—freedom from your limitations, freedom from fragmentation, freedom from partialities—and your truest FULLNESS in the world—a fullness that includes and embraces all the seemingly partial aspects of yourself and your world into a seamless, whole, ultimately fulfilled life. Freedom and Fullness—to transcend all of life and to include all of life, unfolding and fulfilling your greatest capacities—is what Integral Life Practice is about.

As such, this “transcending and including” contains modules that address practices for the body, mind, spirit, and shadow dimensions of your own being. Because it is inclusive, this practice contains a distilled and condensed series of practices that are taken from premodern, modern, and postmodern approaches to growth and development. It is an “all-inclusive” practice in the sense that it takes the very best practices from all of them, and puts them together in a larger framework that uses—and makes sense of—all of them. Premodern practices include the world’s great wisdom traditions and the meditation practices that drive them. Modern practices include scientific studies of human growth and ways to induce it. Postmodern practices include a pluralistic and multicultural composite map of the human territory—the territory of you—and ways to include (and not marginalize) all of the important dimensions of your own being (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual—in self, culture, and nature).

Putting all of these together creates a “cross training” for human growth and spiritual awakening, a cross training that dramatically accelerates all of its dimensions—body, mind, spirit, and shadow—producing faster, more effective, more efficient practices than were ever possible prior to this time. It is the comprehensive, truly holistic, extraordinarily inclusive nature of Integral Life Practice that makes it the simplest practice you can do to truly wake up. Other approaches have part of the puzzle and therefore give you partial practices (and partial successes), whereas Integral Life Practice gives you a composite and comprehensive practice that covers all the essential bases, increasing the effectiveness and quickness of each, compared to when they are practiced alone. It is the dramatically increased speed and effectiveness of ILP that is one of its hallmarks.

ILP is practicing from the leading edge of evolution itself, from the Integral stages and waves that are just beginning to evolutionarily unfold in humanity at large. Being grounded in these Integral stages, ILP embodies, emerges, and attracts individuals to the same stages that produced it. Put differently, Integral Life Practice is a second-tier practice—it comes from second-tier, and it draws consciousness itself to second tier. Thus, it trains both “altitude” and “aptitude”—altitude or vertical growth in consciousness, and aptitude or specific training in horizontal capacities. All of this is included in the Integral Life Practice, which the following pages will fully train you in. In short, ILP is a practice aimed at helping you discover your own “momentous leap of meaning,” a leap that will radiantly affect every aspect of your life.

 

So, once again, welcome to Integral. One of the advantages of this particular book is the team of writers that created it. They have a broad and fully qualified exposure to Integral Life Practice, both in its theory and in its actual practice. The writing team is an integration of the richly different backgrounds and perspectives of the co-authors. Although I did not write any of these chapters myself, I fully participated in the writing and its review, and oversaw the integration of the various perspectives and experiences of the writers, reaching across generational and typological differences. That’s what Integral Life Practice is all about—integration— and that is one of the many strengths of this book. The style turned out to be accessible, transparent, and covering difficult topics with an easy-to- understand clarity and humanity. I’m very happy with the results, and proud to put my name on it.

Integral Life Practice is, as the name implies, the practice aspect of Integral Theory. Integral Theory, in both its original form and critical alterations of it, has had a profound impact on several million readers around the world. If you want to just do Integral Theory and not also Integral Practice, that is fine. (Integral Theory is itself a mental praxis, and it summarizes practices in all of the major dimensions—it is a composite Map of the world’s most important methodologies.) But if we take that composite Map and turn it into a composite Practice, the result is Integral Life Practice, a practice that is therefore grounded in the very best of Integral Theory itself. For this reason, ILP is a truly ground- breaking and leading-edge evolutionary practice for waking up.

Thank you for picking up this book and beginning your own “mo- mentous leap of meaning.” If you are ready, then let’s get started!

Ken Wilber Denver, Colorado, Winter 2008

 

Integral Cross Training in

  • Body
  • Mind
  • Spirit
  • Shadow
  • Work
  • Ethics
  • Relationships
  • Creativity
  • Soul

 

Here are a few more possible reasons for engaging an ILP:

• Embracing and working with crisis, pain, or suffering

• Becoming a better person—on all levels, in all areas

• Living with integrity and excellence

• Getting over yourself

• Waking up!

• As a way to understand everything or make sense of it all

• Living according to your highest ideals

• Becoming more fully alive and creative

• Finding and/or living your deepest purpose

• Loving and caring for others more fully

• Making your highest contribution

• Communing with life, the universe, and Spirit

• Participating in the evolution of consciousness

• Because you’re in love with the Mystery (or God)

• No specific reason—it’s just what you’re drawn to do

 

Many people come to ILP after an experience with a specific type of practice, which, at a certain point, no longer seems full or inclusive enough. ILP makes room for you to bring everything to the path:

• You may have experience training for physical excellence or com- petitive sports.

• Maybe you’ve disciplined your mind and emotions for peak per- formance in business.

• Perhaps you’ve practiced yoga or meditation, maybe even for decades.

• You may have done deep psychological exploration, facing your shadow and exploring your deep psyche.

• You might have come to practice out of your deeply felt devotion to God or a beloved teacher or guide.

• Maybe your interest in ILP comes through your scholarship, in- sight, and thirst for understanding.

 

Integral Life Practice is . . .

The Ultimate in Cross-Training, working synergistically on body, mind, and spirit in self, culture, and nature.

Modular, allowing you to mix and match practices in specific areas or “modules.”

Scalable, adjusting to however much—or little—time you have, down to the 1-Minute Modules.

Customizable to your individual lifestyle—you design a program that works for you, and adapt it on an as needed basis.

Distilled, boiling down the essence of traditional practices— without the cultural or religious baggage—to provide a highly concentrated and effective form of practice for post-postmodern life.

Integral, based on AQAL technology, an “All Quadrants, All Levels” framework for mapping the many capacities inherent in human beings.

 

 

Please see my related post

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness: Integral Theory of Ken Wilber

Levels of Human Psychological Development in Integral Spiral Dynamics

Key Sources of Research

 

Integral Life Practices

Click to access ilp_preview_chs1_2.pdf

 

Psychology of Happiness: Value of Storytelling and Narrative Plays

Psychology of Happiness: Value of Storytelling and Narrative Plays

 

Key terms

  • Katha
  • Kahani
  • Natak
  • Nautanki
  • Kathputli
  • Natya Shastra
  • Drama
  • Movies
  • Theater
  • Stories
  • Narratives
  • Literature
  • Arts
  • Upnishads
  • Puranas
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Vulnerabilities
  • Neediness
  • Grief, Fear, and Insecurities
  • Inner World
  • Self Sufficiency
  • Inadequateness

Value of Stories and Narratives

 

Philosopher Martha Nussbaum on How to Live with Our Human Fragility

“To be a good human being is to have a kind of openness to the world, an ability to trust uncertain things beyond your own control.”

In 1988, Bill Moyers produced a series of intelligent, inspiring, provocative conversations with a diverse set of cultural icons, ranging from Isaac Asimov to Noam Chomsky to Chinua Achebe. It was unlike any public discourse to have ever graced the national television airwaves before. The following year, the interviews were transcribed and collected in the magnificent tome Bill Moyers: A World of Ideas (public library). But for all its evenness of brilliance, one conversation in the series stands out for its depth, dimension, intensity, and timelessness — that with philosopher Martha Nussbaum, one of the most remarkable and luminous minds of our time, who sat down to talk with Moyers shortly after the publication of her enormously stimulating book The Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy.

Martha Nussbaum

 

Moyers begins by framing Nussbaum’s singular approach to philosophy and, by extension, to the art of living:

MOYERS: The common perception of a philosopher is of a thinker of abstract thoughts. But stories and myths seem to be important to you as a philosopher.

NUSSBAUM: Very important, because I think that the language of philosophy has to come back from the abstract heights on which it so often lives to the richness of everyday discourse and humanity. It has to listen to the ways that people talk about themselves and what matters to them. One very good way to do this is to listen to stories.

Reflecting on the timeless wisdom of the Greek myths and tragedies, particularly Euripides’s Hecuba, Nussbaum considers the essence of good personhood, which necessitates accepting the basic insecurity of existenceand embracing uncertainty. She tells Moyers:

The condition of being good is that it should always be possible for you to be morally destroyed by something you couldn’t prevent. To be a good human being is to have a kind of openness to the world, an ability to trust uncertain things beyond your own control, that can lead you to be shattered in very extreme circumstances for which you were not to blame. That says something very important about the human condition of the ethical life: that it is based on a trust in the uncertain and on a willingness to be exposed; it’s based on being more like a plant than like a jewel, something rather fragile, but whose very particular beauty is inseparable from its fragility.

The paradox of the human condition, Nussbaum reminds us, is that while our capacity for vulnerability — and, by extension, our ability to trust others — may be what allows for tragedy to befall us, the greatest tragedy of all is the attempt to guard against hurt by petrifying that essential softness of the soul, for that denies our basic humanity:

Being a human means accepting promises from other people and trusting that other people will be good to you. When that is too much to bear, it is always possible to retreat into the thought, “I’ll live for my own comfort, for my own revenge, for my own anger, and I just won’t be a member of society anymore.” That really means, “I won’t be a human being anymore.”

You see people doing that today where they feel that society has let them down, and they can’t ask anything of it, and they can’t put their hopes on anything outside themselves. You see them actually retreating to a life in which they think only of their own satisfaction, and maybe the satisfaction of their revenge against society. But the life that no longer trusts another human being and no longer forms ties to the political community is not a human life any longer.

Illustration by Alice and Martin Provensen from ‘The Iliad and the Odyssey: A Giant Golden Book.’ 

 

Things get significantly more complicated, however, when we find ourselves in binds that seem to call for tragedy by asking us to make impossible choices between multiple things we hold dear. Nussbaum illustrates this by pointing to Aeschylus’s Agamemnon, in which the king-protagonist has to choose between saving his army and saving his daughter. The same tragedy plays out on a smaller scale in everyday dilemmas, such as juggling your career with being a good parent. Most of the time, as Nussbaum puts it, the two “enrich each other and make the life of each of them better.” But sometimes, practical circumstances pose such insurmountable challenges like an important meeting and your child’s school play happening at the same time — one of these two priorities inevitably suffers, not because you are a bad parent or a bad leader, but because life just happens that way. Therein lies the human predicament — the more we aspire to live well, according to our commitments and priorities, the more we welcome such tragic choices. And yet the solution isn’t not to aspire. Nussbaum tells Moyers:

Tragedy happens only when you are trying to live well, because for a heedless person who doesn’t have deep commitments to others, Agamemnon’s conflict isn’t a tragedy…

Now the lesson certainly is not to try to maximize conflict or to romanticize struggle and suffering, but it’s rather that you should care about things in a way that makes it a possibility that tragedy will happen to you. If you hold your commitments lightly, in such a way that you can always divest yourself from one or the other of them if they conflict, then it doesn’t hurt you when things go badly. But you want people to live their lives with a deep seriousness of commitment: not to adjust their desires to the way the world actually goes, but rather to try to wrest from the world the good life that they desire. And sometimes that does lead them into tragedy.

Perhaps Alan Watts was right when he advised not to fight the world’s contradictions but to conceive of the universe as “a harmonious system of contained conflicts.”

Bill Moyers: A World of Ideas is a treasure trove in its entirety, featuring many more conversations with luminaries spanning art, science, psychology, literature, the creative spirit, and just about every aspect of life. Complement this particular one with Nussbaum’s advice on living a full life.

 

Do Not Despise Your Inner World: Advice on a Full Life from Philosopher Martha Nussbaum

“Our emotional life maps our incompleteness: A creature without any needs would never have reasons for fear, or grief, or hope, or anger.”

When he was twenty-one, artist and writer James Harmon stumbled into a bookstore and found himself mesmerized by a copy of Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, the central concerns in which — love, fear, art, doubt, sex — resonated powerfully with his restless young mind and inspired him to envision what advice to young people might look like a century after Rilke. So he set out to create an antidote to the “toxic cloud of tepid-broth wisdom” found in books “with the shelf life of a banana” that the contemporary publishing world peddled and reached out to some of the most “outspoken provocateurs, funky philosophers, cunning cultural critics, social gadflies, cyberpunks, raconteurs, radical academics, literary outlaws, and obscure but wildly talented poets. The result, a decade in the making and the stubborn survivor of ample publishing pressure to grind it into precisely the kind of mush Harmon was determined to avoid, is Take My Advice: Letters to the Next Generation from People Who Know a Thing or Two (public library) — an anthology of thoughtful, honest, brave, unfluffed advice from 79 cultural icons, including Mark Helprin, Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, and William S. Burroughs.

One of the most poignant letters comes from philosopher Martha Nussbaum, who makes an eloquent case for the importance of cultivating a rich inner life by celebrating emotional excess as a generative force, embracing vulnerability, not fearing feelings, and harnessing the empathic power of storytelling.

Martha Nussbaum

 

Do not despise your inner world. That is the first and most general piece of advice I would offer… Our society is very outward-looking, very taken up with the latest new object, the latest piece of gossip, the latest opportunity for self-assertion and status. But we all begin our lives as helpless babies, dependent on others for comfort, food, and survival itself. And even though we develop a degree of mastery and independence, we always remain alarmingly weak and incomplete, dependent on others and on an uncertain world for whatever we are able to achieve. As we grow, we all develop a wide range of emotions responding to this predicament: fear that bad things will happen and that we will be powerless to ward them off; love for those who help and support us; grief when a loved one is lost; hope for good things in the future; anger when someone else damages something we care about. Our emotional life maps our incompleteness: A creature without any needs would never have reasons for fear, or grief, or hope, or anger. But for that very reason we are often ashamed of our emotions, and of the relations of need and dependency bound up with them. Perhaps males, in our society, are especially likely to be ashamed of being incomplete and dependent, because a dominant image of masculinity tells them that they should be self-sufficient and dominant. So people flee from their inner world of feeling, and from articulate mastery of their own emotional experiences. The current psychological literature on the life of boys in America indicates that a large proportion of boys are quite unable to talk about how they feel and how others feel — because they have learned to be ashamed of feelings and needs, and to push them underground. But that means that they don’t know how to deal with their own emotions, or to communicate them to others. When they are frightened, they don’t know how to say it, or even to become fully aware of it. Often they turn their own fear into aggression. Often, too, this lack of a rich inner life catapults them into depression in later life. We are all going to encounter illness, loss, and aging, and we’re not well prepared for these inevitable events by a culture that directs us to think of externals only, and to measure ourselves in terms of our possessions of externals.

What is the remedy of these ills? A kind of self-love that does not shrink from the needy and incomplete parts of the self, but accepts those with interest and curiosity, and tries to develop a language with which to talk about needs and feelings. Storytelling plays a big role in the process of development. As we tell stories about the lives of others, we learn how to imagine what another creature might feel in response to various events. At the same time, we identify with the other creature and learn something about ourselves. As we grow older, we encounter more and more complex stories — in literature, film, visual art, music — that give us a richer and more subtle grasp of human emotions and of our own inner world. So my second piece of advice, closely related to the first, is: Read a lot of stories, listen to a lot of music, and think about what the stories you encounter mean for your own life and lives of those you love. In that way, you will not be alone with an empty self; you will have a newly rich life with yourself, and enhanced possibilities of real communication with others.

Complement with some timeless meditations on the meaning of life from other cultural icons, then revisit Nussbaum on how to live with our human fragility and the intelligence of the emotions.

The Intelligence of Emotions: Philosopher Martha Nussbaum on How Storytelling Rewires Us and Why Befriending Our Neediness Is Essential for Happiness

“Emotions are not just the fuel that powers the psychological mechanism of a reasoning creature, they are parts, highly complex and messy parts, of this creature’s reasoning itself.”

The Intelligence of Emotions: Philosopher Martha Nussbaum on How Storytelling Rewires Us and Why Befriending Our Neediness Is Essential for Happiness

“The power of ‘the Eye of the Heart,’ which produces insight, is vastly superior to the power of thought, which produces opinions,” the great British economic theorist and philosopher E.F. Schumacher wrote in his 1973 meditation on how we know what we know. He was responding to the Persian poet and philosopher Rumi who, seven centuries earlier, extolled “the eye of the heart” as seventy-fold more seeing than the “sensible eyes” of the intellect. To the intellectually ambitious, this might sound like a squishy notion — or a line best left to The Little Prince. But as contemporary scientists continue to shed light on how our emotions affect our susceptibility to disease, it is becoming increasingly clear that our emotional lives are equipped with a special and non-negligible kind of bodily and cognitive intelligence.

The nature of that intelligence and how we can harness its power is what Martha Nussbaum, whom I continue to consider the most compelling and effective philosopher of our time, examines in her magnificent 2001 book Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions (public library). Titled after Proust’s conception of the emotions as “geologic upheavals of thought,” Nussbaum’s treatise offers a lucid counterpoint to the old idea that our emotions are merely animal energies or primal impulses wholly separate from our cognition. Instead, she argues that they are a centerpiece of moral philosophy and that any substantive theory of ethics necessitates a substantive understanding of the emotions.

Martha Nussbaum

Nussbaum writes:

A lot is at stake in the decision to view emotions in this way, as intelligent responses to the perception of value. If emotions are suffused with intelligence and discernment, and if they contain in themselves an awareness of value or importance, they cannot, for example, easily be sidelined in accounts of ethical judgment, as so often they have been in the history of philosophy. Instead of viewing morality as a system of principles to be grasped by the detached intellect, and emotions as motivations that either support or subvert our choice to act according to principle, we will have to consider emotions as part and parcel of the system of ethical reasoning. We cannot plausibly omit them, once we acknowledge that emotions include in their content judgments that can be true or false, and good or bad guides to ethical choice. We will have to grapple with the messy material of grief and love, anger and fear, and the role these tumultuous experiences play in thought about the good and the just.

[…]

Emotions are not just the fuel that powers the psychological mechanism of a reasoning creature, they are parts, highly complex and messy parts, of this creature’s reasoning itself.

One of Nussbaum’s central points is that the complex cognitive structure of the emotions has a narrative form — that is, the stories we tell ourselves about who we are and what we feel shape our emotional and ethical reality, which of course is the great psychological function of literature and the reason why art can function as a form of therapy. What emerges is an intelligent manifesto for including the storytelling arts in moral philosophy.

But this narrative aspect also means that our emotions have a temporal dimension stretching back to our formative experiences. Nussbaum writes:

We cannot understand [a person’s] love … without knowing a great deal about the history of patterns of attachment that extend back into [the person’s] childhood. Past loves shadow present attachments, and take up residence within them. This, in turn, suggests that in order to talk well about them we will need to turn to texts that contain a narrative dimension, thus deepening and refining our grasp of ourselves as beings with a complicated temporal history.

Illustration by Dasha Tolstikova from The Jacket by Kirsten Hall, a sweet illustrated story about how we fall in love with books

 

Nussbaum considers the essential features of the emotions as they relate to moral philosophy:

Insofar as they involve acknowledgment of neediness and lack of self-sufficiency, emotions reveal us as vulnerable to events that we do not control.

[…]

Emotions seem to be characterized by ambivalence toward their objects. In the very nature of our early object relations … there lurks a morally subversive combination of love and resentment, which springs directly from the thought that we need others to survive and flourish, but do not at all control their movements. If love is in this way always, or even commonly, mixed up with hatred, then, once again, this might offer us some reasons not to trust to the emotions at all in the moral life, but rather to the more impersonal guidance of rules of duty.

In a sentiment that psychoanalyst Adam Phillips would come to echo more than a decade later in examining the essential role of ambivalence in love, Nussbaum points to the particular case of romance as an acute manifestation of this latter aspect:

Personal love has typically been thought too wonderful to remove from human life; but it has also been seen (not only by philosophers) as a source of great moral danger because of its partiality and the extreme form of vulnerability it involves, which make a connection with jealousy and anger virtually inevitable.

She returns to the role of the emotions as acknowledgements, both necessary and disorienting, of our neediness and lack of self-sufficiency:

Emotions … involve judgments about important things, judgments in which, appraising an external object as salient for our own well-being, we acknowledge our own neediness and incompleteness before parts of the world that we do not fully control.

Illustration by Lisbeth Zwerger for a special edition of Alice in Wonderland

She revisits the rationale behind the book’s title:

Emotions should be understood as “geological upheavals of thought”: as judgments in which people acknowledge the great importance, for their own flourishing, of things that they do not fully control — and acknowledge thereby their neediness before the world and its events.

But this neediness — a notion invariably shrouded in negative judgment and shame, for it connotes an admission of our lack of command — is one of the essential features that make us human. Nussbaum writes:

Human beings appear to be the only mortal finite beings who wish to transcend their finitude. Thus they are the only emotional beings who wish not to be emotional, who wish to withhold these acknowledgments of neediness and to design for themselves a life in which these acknowledgments have no place. This means that they frequently learn to reject their own vulnerability and to suppress awareness of the attachments that entail it. We might also say … that they are the only animals for whom neediness is a source of shame, and who take pride in themselves to the extent to which they have allegedly gotten clear of vulnerability.

And yet neediness, Nussbaum argues, is central to our developmental process as human beings. Much like frustration is essential for satisfaction, neediness becomes essential for our sense of control:

The process of development entails many moments of discomfort and frustration. Indeed, some frustration of the infant’s wants by the caretaker’s separate comings and goings is essential to development — for if everything were always simply given in advance of discomfort, the child would never try out its own projects of control.

[…]

The child’s evolving recognition that the caretaker sometimes fails to bring it what it wants gives rise to an anger that is closely linked to its emerging love. Indeed, the very recognition that both good things and their absence have an external source guarantees the presence of both of these emotions — although the infant has not yet recognized that both take a single person as their object.

But while these formative experiences can nurture our emotional intelligence, they can also damage it with profound and lifelong consequences, as in the case of one patient Nussbaum cites — a man known as B, whose mother was so merciless in requiring perfection of herself that she construed her infant’s neediness as her own personal failing, resenting every sign of basic humanness and rejecting it as imperfection in both her child and herself. Nussbaum traces the developmental repercussions:

As B makes contact with these memories of a holding that was stifling, the patient gradually becomes aware of his own demand for perfection in everything – as the corollary of his inability to permit himself to be a needy child. Because his mother wanted perfection (which he felt as a demand for immobility and even death), he could not allow himself to be dependent on, or to trust, anyone.

Illustration by Sophie Blackall from her book The Baby Tree

Above all, emotionally skillful parenting — or “holding” — early in life awakens the child to a simultaneous sense of being omnipotent and being thoroughly dependent:

The parents’ (or other caregivers’) ability to meet the child’s omnipotence with suitably responsive and stable care creates a framework within which trust and interdependence may thus gradually grow: the child will gradually relax its omnipotence, its demand to be attended to constantly, once it understands that others can be relied on and it will not be left in a state of utter helplessness. This early framework of steadiness and continuity will provide a valuable resource in the later crisis of ambivalence. On the other hand, to the extent that a child does not receive sufficiently stable holding, or receives holding that is excessively controlling or intrusive, without space for it to relax into a relationship of trust, it will cling, in later life, to its own omnipotence, demanding perfection in the self and refusing to tolerate imperfection either in object relations or in the inner world.

The infant’s ambivalent relation to its own lack of omnipotence can be shaped for better or worse by interactions that either exacerbate primitive shame or reduce it. A primitive shame at one’s weakness and impotence is probably a basic and universal feature of the emotional life. But a parent who takes delight in having a child who is a child, and who reveals in interacting with the child that it is all right to be human, eases the ambivalence of later object relations

This quality of parental response to neediness in the first few months of life, Nussbaum argues, imprints us deeply and lastingly. It shapes how we relate to neediness in ourselves — we come to see it either as a shameful sign of helplessness, with absolute and therefore unattainable perfection as the only admissible state of which we continually fall short, or as a natural and wholly acceptable part of the human experience. (Lest we forget, the sixth of Neil Gaiman’s eight rules of writing applies not only to literature but to all of life: “Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.” Pathological perfectionism, after all, is how we keep ourselves small.)

Nussbaum considers the complexities of shame, which becomes the dominant emotional response to our own neediness under the tyranny of perfectionism:

All infant omnipotence is coupled with helplessness. When an infant realizes that it is dependent on others, we can therefore expect a primitive and rudimentary emotion of shame to ensue. For shame involves the realization that one is weak and inadequate in some way in which one expects oneself to be adequate.58 Its reflex is to hide from the eyes of those who will see one’s deficiency, to cover it. If the infant expects to control the world, as to some extent all infants do, it will have shame, as well as anger, at its own inability to control.

Notice, then, that shame is far from requiring diminished self-regard. In a sense, it requires self-regard as its essential backdrop. It is only because one expects oneself to have worth or even perfection that one will shrink from or cover the evidence of one’s nonworth or imperfection. To the extent that all infants enjoy a sense of omnipotence, all infants experience shame at the recognition of their human imperfection: a universal experience underlying the biblical story of our shame at our nakedness. But a good development will allow the gradual relaxing of omnipotence in favor of trust, as the infant learns not to be ashamed of neediness and to take a positive delight in the playful and creative “subtle interplay” of two imperfect beings.

Illustration by Maurice Sendak for The Juniper Tree: And Other Tales from Grimm

 

This interplay of two imperfect beings is, as Joseph Campbell memorably observed, the essence of romantic love. An intolerance for imperfection and for the basic humanity of our own neediness, Nussbaum notes, can impede our very capacity for connection and make our emotions appear as blindsiding, incomprehensible events that befall us rather than a singular form of our natural intelligence:

The emotions of the adult life sometimes feel as if they flood up out of nowhere, in ways that don’t match our present view of our objects or their value. This will be especially true of the person who maintains some kind of false self-defense, and who is in consequence out of touch with the emotions of neediness and dependence, or of anger and aggression, that characterize the true self.

Nussbaum returns to the narrative structure of the emotions and how storytelling can help us rewire our relationship to neediness:

The understanding of any single emotion is incomplete unless its narrative history is grasped and studied for the light it sheds on the present response. This already suggests a central role for the arts in human self-understanding: for narrative artworks of various kinds (whether musical or visual or literary) give us information about these emotion-histories that we could not easily get otherwise. This is what Proust meant when he claimed that certain truths about the human emotions can be best conveyed, in verbal and textual form, only by a narrative work of art: only such a work will accurately and fully show the interrelated temporal structure of emotional “thoughts,” prominently including the heart’s intermittences between recognition and denial of neediness.

Narrative artworks are important for what they show the person who is eager to understand the emotions; they are also important because of what they do in the emotional life. They do not simply represent that history, they enter into it. Storytelling and narrative play are essential in cultivating the child’s sense of her own aloneness, her inner world. Her capacity to be alone is supported by the ability to imagine the good object’s presence when the object is not present, and to play at presence and absence using toys that serve the function of “transitional objects.” As time goes on, this play deepens the inner world; it becomes a place for individual creative effort and hence for trusting differentiation of self from world.

In the remainder of Upheavals of Thought, which remains a revelatory read in its hefty totality, Nussbaum goes on to explore how the narrative arts can reshape our psychoemotional constitution and how understanding the intelligence of the emotions can help us navigate the messiness of grief, love, anger, and fear.

Complement it with Nussbaum on how to live with our human fragility and her terrific letter of life-advice to the young, then revisit the social science writer John W. Gardner on what infants teach us about risk, failure, and personal growth.

 

Key Sources of Research

 

 

The Intelligence of Emotions: Philosopher Martha Nussbaum on How Storytelling Rewires Us and Why Befriending Our Neediness Is Essential for Happiness

 

 

Philosopher Martha Nussbaum on How to Live with Our Human Fragility

 

 

Do Not Despise Your Inner World: Advice on a Full Life from Philosopher Martha Nussbaum

 

Levels of Human Psychological Development in Integral Spiral Dynamics

Levels of Human Psychological Development in Integral Spiral Dynamics

 

From Consciousness models in action: comparisons

 

Many models of Human Development

  • Graves’s Spiral Dynamics (SD) model
  • May’s model of development of consciousness
  • Gebser’s Structures of human consciousness
  • Piaget’s model of cognitive development
  • Myss’s model of spiritual development
  • Kohlberg’s model of moral development
  • Perry’s model of intellectual and ethical development
  • Loevinger’s model of ego-state development
  • Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
  • Kegan’s model of psychological development
  • Wilber’s AQAL model
  • Tolle’s model of spiritual development
  • Atmananda’s model of spiritual development
  • Hurtak’s model of spiritual development
  • McTaggart’s scientific model
  • Pribam’s scientific model
  • Hawkins’s scientific model

From Consciousness models in action: comparisons

In this paper, the construct of ”levels of consciousness”as used in psychology and consciousness theory, is closely linked to those of worldviews, perceptual frameworks, organising systems, value orientations, “intelligences” or “memes”, in terms of which people understand and respond to their worlds. It reflects levels of awareness, or the inclusiveness,extensiveness, the depth and breadth by which incoming information is interpreted. These levels of consciousness largely determine intellectual, emotional and behavioural aspects of human functioning.

The various theoretical models on the evolution of consciousness reflect common themes, principles and structures. These models have emerged from different study fields including philosophy, physics, sociology, psychology, economics and theology, and address consciousness, cognitive, moral, educational, physiological and spiritual development.

All the models that are mentioned in this paper are not discussed in detail, and the focus is primarily on the contributions of Graves, Wilber, May and Myss. Gebser’s and Piaget’s work is merely addressed in support of Wilber’s AQAL model. The views of educationalists Perry and Kohlberg are briefly discussed under the heading of intellectual, moral and ethical development (section 2.4). Psychological perspectives such as Loevinger’s model of ego-states; Maslow’s need hierarchy; and Kegan’s equilibrium stages are mentioned but not discussed in any detail. These models are, however, included in the final integrated framework as proposed in this paper (section 3). Additional views from the spiritual and physical domains are referred to in support of the general themes that characterise speculations on consciousness. The role of consciousness theory in complementing current leadership models and practices is explored in terms of an integral perspective of leadership.

From Consciousness models in action: comparisons

Graves’s Spiral Dynamics (SD) Model

The Spiral Dynamics model of Graves, also referred to as the Emergent Cyclical Levels of Existence Theory (ECLET),provides a profound and elegant system in terms of which human development can be understood (Wilber, 2001). Wilber also points out that subsequent research has validated and refined the ECLET or SD model.

According to Graves,humans respond to life conditions by developing certain adaptive views and capacities which he refers to as “levels of human existence”. These adaptive responses can be grouped into value systems which permeate the culture of groups, organisations and individuals. Each stage allows for the possible further development of “higher” stages or levels. The levels are not to be seen as fixed, but represent flowing waves, continuously overlapping with, and interweaving, each other.

A detailed explanation of the SD model can be found in Beck and Cowan’s “Spiral Dynamics Theory” (1996) and Cowan &Todorovic’s (2008) work.

The SD model, as adopted and applied by other authors, has undergone a number of conceptual changes. Beck and Cowan (1996), for example, extended the “value systems” language of Graves with the notion of “value memes”. The term meme was originally introduced by Dawkins to refer to a unit of cultural information. According to Wilber (2001), a “meme” can be seen as a stage of development that is expressed in behaviour. For purposes of clarity,Wilber recommended the use of the word “value system” as proposed by Graves.

The level of consciousness associated with each of these value systems, provides a perceptual framework, type of “intelligence” and worldview by which experiences are interpreted and responded to. A sense of flow results from the match between the person’s orientation and the contextual requirements.

The SD model is hierarchically organised and consecutive levels both incorporate and transcend preceding orientations. It is a soft hierarchy and growth may involve a person or group temporarily moving down on the hierarchy in response to a particular trauma or challenge, before transcending previously inadequate worldviews. Upward movement only takes place according to the hierarchical structure of the spiral and levels are therefore not skipped. This view on growth ties in with Wilber’s idea of “holons”. Holons depict the manner in which systems are organised and where evolution involves the emergence of more complex systems, each of which includes and transcends previous levels.

The initially proposed and rather cumbersome labelling technique of the Spiral Dynamics model, postulated the organisation of a double spiral in terms (a) the problem of existence: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H and (b) coping mechanisms: N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U to provide an: AN, BO, CP, DQ, ER, FS, GT, HU categorisation. It has since been replaced by using simple colour codes. Eight such colours are currently identified (with possible additions in future): Beige, Purple, Red, Blue, Orange, Green, Yellow and Turquoise. These colours represent ways of thinking that have far-reaching effects on an individual’s life and group adaptation.

The various value orientations, as represented by different colours, each has a particular credo referring to either an expressive, internally controlled “I” (the “warm” colours), or a self-sacrificing, externally anchored “we” side (the “cooler” colours). The eight “holons” as specified by the SD model represent a spiral structure.

The eight valuing systems can be divided into first and second tier consciousness. The first tier consciousness encompasses the first six colours (Beige, Purple, Red, Blue, Orange and Green). The first tier valuing systemstend to be emotionally driven. Perspectives based on the lower level value systems in this first tier also do not necessarily accommodate for the existence of other valuing systems – although Green less so that the colours preceding it.

Second tier consciousness is reflected by the Yellow and Turquoise valuing systems and encompasses the first tier. Unlike first tier thinking, second tier awareness appreciates the necessity of the various other valuing systems. As Gardner (Wilber, 2001) observed, the whole course of human development can be viewed as a continuing decline in egocentrism.

The various value orientations of the SD model can briefly be described, as follows:

Beige
– The theme is that of “survival”
– The focus is on basic-instinctive reactions;subsistence needs; physical survival; physiological needs; capitalisation on instincts and habits
– It involves a reactive response to the environment
– There is little self-awareness
– Responses tend to be impulsive
– It is survivalist
– This value system can be found amongst the very young and old; as well as amongst ill, starving or traumatised people

Purple
– The theme here is “safety”
– This value system is associated withgroup dependence; tradition; an avoidance of change; an “us-and-them” orientation; a tendency to maintain family / in-group bonds; at times dogmatic beliefs / ideologies; the need for safety and protection; and a general fearfulness
– This orientation values group belonging and group boundaries; authority; respect; protection; obedience; familiarity, certainty and routine; what is sacred as well as observes rituals and customs
– Those who embrace a purple orientation often are ethnocentric, traditionalist and their relationships are largely role-based
– This worldview is associated with an external locus of control
– Learning is largely passive and there is a tendency to seeks guidance
– People espousing this value system tend to be self-sacrificial toward their in-group and antagonistic toward out-groups
– This value system can be found amongst paternalistic culture; where elders are valued; the superstitious; those who are highly patriotic; within dogmatic religions; in enmeshed families; where there is a belief in luck, blood oaths, ancient grudges, trance dancing, family rituals, gangs, corporate “tribes”; and it is inherent to old “school ties”, soapies and fanatical sports team support cultures.

Red
– The theme here is “power”
– This orientation can be described as: highly energetic, impulsive, dominant, active, achievement driven; critical; demanding; competitive; egocentric; defensive; dominant and power driven
– There are tendencies to be expressive; not to be inhibited by guilt; to strive for respect and recognition; to seek excitement and sensual pleasure; and to fear shame; loss of face; and loss of autonomy
– Those who have adopted this orientation may come across as proud, assertive, energetic and/or imaginative
– There may be a tendencies to blame and take revenge; there is a scarcity mentality and expectation of threat
– The value system is associated with an emphasis on performance and results; a tough image and a “carrot-and-stick” leadership approach
– Those espousing this value orientation are results focused, energetic and normally obtain their goals
– Emotionally, it is associated with seeking impulse gratification; fear of failure; and avoidance of insult and pain
– Inherent to this worldview are beliefs such as “survival of the fittest”; “others are not to be trusted”; and “results can be achieved through hard work”
– It is important to impress, influence and conquer others, even though the means may be somewhat aggressive, exhausting, fanatical, exploitative or dogmatic
– Learning primarily takes place via reinforcement and conditioning
– It can be found in bravado; rebellious youths; frontier mentalities; fanatical groups; macho cultures; entrepreneurs and activities which require effort and control

Blue
– The theme here is “truth”
– It can be described in terms of: purposefulness; structure; seeking the truth; showing depth; reliability; being pedantic; a loyalist orientation; the tendency to conform and to avoid change; appreciation of quality and a sound work ethic
– Those adhering to this value system believe in order and are obedient to authority; they practice self-discipline and tend to differentiate between what they regard as right and wrong
– They seek security and are cautious
– They value integrity and ethical behaviour; observe laws and regulations and believe that hardship and self-discipline build character and moral fibre
– In addition there is a focus on controlling impulsivity; seeking stability and adhering to a code of conduct; being honourable; and being punctual and reliable
– It may also find expression in bureaucratic or hierarchical structures; totalitarian or dogmatic organisations; inflexible ideologies; and moralistic inclinations
– It involves learning from authority and decisions are based on ethics, facts and authority opinions
– It also follows tradition, convention and policy; values certainty, structure and order; is motivated by duty; is loyal; is responsible; is careful; and promotes fairness and traditions
– According to this value system, sacrifices need to be made for the greater good of all
– Stress is caused by ambiguity and uncertainty; chaos is feared; and change is avoided
– This value orientation finds expression via patriotism; codes of chivalry and honour; boy andgirl scouts; traditional schools, certain family practices and churches

Orange
– The theme here is “value creation”
– This orientation can be described as strategic; somewhat materialistic; opportunistic; individualistic; achievement oriented; flexible; resilient and politically astute
– It is associated with an abundance mindset; the exercise of freedom of choice; and self-interest
– Individuals who have adopted this value system enjoy playing the game; having autonomy; manipulating outcomes; are optimistic, practical, take risks andare self-reliant and resilient
– They tend to look for opportunity;strategise; take initiative; are competitive; are normally interested in technology; and feel deserving of success, prosperity and abundance
– It supports entrepreneurial activities; goal setting and achievement; tough negotiations; and business strategy formulation
– At times it may deteriorate into narcissistic, inconsiderate and materialistic tendencies and become exploitative and short sighted
– Learning takes place via experimentation, mentors, guides or experts
– Motivation is rooted in the achievement of material rewards and the possibility of opportunity
– It values competition, ambition, affluence, image and continuous improvement
– Stress is caused by setbacks; goals not being realised; and obstacles
– This orientation provides the flexibility and skill to reframe setbacks, though
– It encompasses a logical, efficient, flexible and competitive style
– This orientation finds expression in colonialism; the fashion industry; prosperity ministries; the emerging middle classes; the advertising industry; mining cartels; go-getter cultures; venture capitalists activities; a large proportion of generation Y and the corporate culture in general

Green
– The theme here is “communitarian” and “relating”
– It can be described as sensitive; humanistic; theoretical; emotional; compassionate; relativistic; and is often characterised by inner peace whilst exploring the caring dimensions of community
– There is a strong interest in other points of view / theories
– This value system promotes equal opportunities to all; kind interpersonal relations; and a charitable orientation towards the oppressed
– Decision-making takes place via reconciliation and consensus
– There is a genuine concern for others and personal goals involve spiritual awareness; interpersonal harmony and human development
– Learning is based on exploring feelings; sharing experiences and ideas; as well as interaction with others
– Decisions are based on being just and reasonable toward everyone involved, but decision making is complicated by many conflicting considerations which may require compromise and collaboration
– Stress is created by rage, discord, extinctions, contamination, group separation and lack of consideration
– The associated leadership style involves a democratic approach; it is consultative
– Management strategies include being humanistic; demonstrating emotions; care for the group; an emphasis on consensus and a listening orientation
– This value system finds expression in “Doctors without Borders”; sensitivity training; animal rights groups; Rogerian counselling; philanthropic and humanistic intentions; and theoretical and academic endeavours

Yellow
– The theme here is “systemic”
– It can be described as an integrative approach; seeking of learning experiences; living responsibly, and the emphasis is on flexibility, functionality, simplicity and spontaneity
– Here knowledge, understanding, competence and intuition supersedes rank, position status symbols and power
– There is an appreciation of dynamic factors and natural flows; variety; context; holistic perspectives; and the value of simplicity and functionality
– The associated psychological disposition is that of individualistic; independent-mindedness; self-actualisation; and freedom of choice
– Learning is sought in varied experience, observation, knowledge, and involves an intuitive process
– Factors such as structure and order are to some extent irrelevant
– Stress is caused by stagnant, rigid, dull, rule-based contexts that are not stimulating or challenging
– Emotionally this orientation is associated with a significant degree of integration which may at times be interpreted as distanciation
– This value system finds expression in principles of systems thinking; learning organisations; chaos theory; and eco-industrial parks

Turquoise
– The themes here are “holistic” and “transcendent”
– This orientation can be described as existential-philosophical; living in the “now”; depth of awareness; a spiritually inclination; and it is focused on the meaningfulness of human endeavours
– It is associated with a concern about the proliferation of life; experiencing the wholeness of existence through mind and spirit; accessing the collective mindset; connection and transcendence
– The world is regarded as a single, dynamic organism with its own collective mindwhere everything is connected
– There is an emphasis on holistic, intuitive thinking and cooperative actions
– It finds expression in ideas such as Gandhi’s pluralistic harmony, Tolle’s work on consciousness; and the theories of David Bohm

The hierarchical ordering of the various value systems is “soft”, or dynamic, and should not be interpreted strictly in terms as “higher is better”. The suitability and desirability of each of the value systems depend on contextual factors. The ranking and ordering of these value systems should therefore not be taken too literally or seen as a fixed, linear, step-by-step progressions. This is emphasised by Wilber (2001) who indicated that development is not a linear ladder but a fluid and flowing affair, with spirals, swirls, streams, and waves – and what appears to be an almost infinite number of modalities.

Particular value systems or worldviews, representing levels of consciousness, are generally associated with the manifestations of certain clusters of cognitive, socio-emotional and behavioural tendencies (referred to by Wilber as “lines” of development). The expanded awareness of each consecutive level of consciousness, allows for greater connection to self, others and the world. Progressively inclusive worldviews accommodate increasingly complex cognitive processing, for example.

spiraldyn2spiraldyn1

Please see my related posts:

The Great Chain of Being

Meta Integral Theories: Integral Theory, Critical Realism, and Complex Thought

Multilevel Approach to Research in Organizations

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness: Integral Theory of Ken Wilber

 

Key Sources of Research:

Never Ending Upward Quest:  An Interview with Don Beck on Spiral Dynamics

WIE 2002

Click to access 046_spiraldynamics_wie.pdf

 

Summary of the Spiral Dynamics Model by Ken Wilber

 

Click to access summaryofthespiraldynamicsmodelbykenwilber.pdf

 

 

 

Sidebar C: Orange and Green: Levels or Cousins?

 

Click to access C-jenny-don.pdf

 

 

 

Consciousness models in action: comparisons

(As published in the Integral Leadership Review (ILR) June 2012)

 

Click to access Consciousness%20models%20in%20action%20-%20comparisons%20-%20ILR.pdf

 

 

Spiral Dynamics Integral and the Theory of Living Human Systems: Part 1

– Michael Robbins

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/268053319_Spiral_Dynamics_Integral_and_the_Theory_of_Living_Human_Systems_Part_1

 

 

SPIRAL DYNAMICS INTEGRAL AND THE THEORY OF LIVING HUMAN SYSTEMS, PART 2

– Michael Robbins

Click to access MichaelRobbins_SpiralDynamicsIntegral2.pdf

 

 

 

 

Models, Metrics, and Measurement in Developmental Psychology

Zachary Stein and Katie Heikkinen

Click to access Stein%26Heikkinen_IR_2009.pdf

 

 

 

 

A General Introduction to Integral Theory and Comprehensive Mapmaking

 

By Sean M. Saiter

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.210.2686&rep=rep1&type=pdf

 

 

Clare W. Graves and the Turn of Our Times

Nicholas Reitter

 

Click to access Reitter.pdf

 

 

 

Spiral Dynamics Integral

Christopher Cooke and Ben Levi

 

Click to access SD_Integral.pdf

 

 

 

 

Introduction to Spiral Dynamics

 

Ian McDonald

 

Click to access McDonald-Ian-Introduction-to-Spiral-Dynamics-1007.pdf

A Brief History of Spiral Dynamics

 

albion m. butters

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/312033145_A_Brief_History_of_Spiral_Dynamics

 

 

 

What Is Spiral Dynamics Integral?

By Don Beck

Click to access IN-SDi%20Intro.pdf

 

 

 

 

Integral Dynamics, A new integration of Wilber’s Integral Theory and Spiral Dynamics

 

Harry Donkers

2016

Click to access 10.pdf

 

Shell Oil’s Scenarios: Strategic Foresight and Scenario Planning for the Future

Shell Oil’s Scenarios: Strategic Foresight and Scenario Planning for the Future

 

 

Why Scenarios

  • World is complex (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Ecological)
  • Future is Uncertain (Critical Uncertainties)
  • Weak Signals
  • Forecasts are wrong
  • Predetermined elements ( Structure given, only variables are changing)
  • Possibility vs Probability Space
  • Scenarios are needed – Global, Specific, Exploratory, Decision
  • To Refine World Views/Mental Models/Re-perceiving/Learning/Right Brain
  • Links to Strategy and Decisions
  • Options Planning
  • Strategic Vision
  • Competitive Positioning
  • Actions and Execution

 

Please watch this video: Pierre Wack on Scenario Planning at Shell

http://oxfordfutures.sbs.ox.ac.uk/pierre-wack-memorial-library/video/index.html

 

Please see my related posts:

Art of Long View: Future, Uncertainty and Scenario Planning

Water | Food | Energy | Nexus: Mega Trends and Scenarios for the Future

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness: Integral Theory of Ken Wilber

Systems and Organizational Cybernetics

Semiotics, Bio-Semiotics and Cyber Semiotics

Meta Integral Theories: Integral Theory, Critical Realism, and Complex Thought

Integral Philosophy of the Rg Veda: Four Dimensional Man

 

 

 

 

Key Sources for Research:

 

 

Scenarios: An Explorer’s Guide

2008

Shell

 

Click to access shell-scenarios-explorersguide.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

Foundations of Scenario Planning

The Story of Pierre Wack

By Thomas J Chermack
2017

 

https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/9781317279402

The scenario approach to possible futures for oil and natural gas

 

Jeremy Bentham

Shell

2014

 

https://ac.els-cdn.com/S0301421513008124/1-s2.0-S0301421513008124-main.pdf?_tid=1967f236-80f8-4756-854d-fb8fe083a1b7&acdnat=1526180172_f00c5f0478a3e7970e9187a000aae807

https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Business%20Functions/Strategy%20and%20Corporate%20Finance/Our%20Insights/The%20use%20and%20abuse%20of%20scenarios/The%20use%20and%20abuse%20of%20scenarios.ashx

 

Scenarios as a Tool for the 21st Century

 

Ged Davis

Shell

 

Click to access davis_how_does_shell_do_scenarios.pdf

 

Plotting Your Scenarios

Jay Ogilvy and Peter Schwartz

 

Click to access plotting_your_scenarios.pdf

 

 

Advantages and disadvantages of scenario approaches for strategic foresight

Dana Mietzner and Guido Reger

2005

 

Click to access stragegicforesight2005.pdf

 

 

 

Chapter 4
Scenario development: a typology of approaches

by
Philip van Notten

Click to access 37246431.pdf

 

 

Scenarios: Uncharted Waters Ahead

FROM THE SEPTEMBER 1985 ISSUE

https://hbr.org/1985/09/scenarios-uncharted-waters-ahead?referral=03758&cm_vc=rr_item_page.top_right

 

 

 

Living in the Futures

FROM THE MAY 2013 ISSUE

https://hbr.org/2013/05/living-in-the-futures

Click to access Link-14.pdf

 

 

 

 

Scenarios: Shooting the Rapids

FROM THE NOVEMBER 1985 ISSUE

Scenario Planning

Economist

 

https://www.economist.com/node/12000755

Inside Oil Giant Shell’s Race to Remake Itself For a Low-Price World

Fortune

http://fortune.com/2018/01/24/royal-dutch-shell-lower-oil-prices/

 

 

 

 

The Man Who Saw the Future

As the pace of change in business accelerates, the legacy of Pierre Wack, the father of scenario planning, is more relevant than ever.

Oil scenarios for long-term business planning: Royal Dutch Shell and generative explanation, 1960-2010

Michael Jefferson and Vlasios Voudouris

 

Click to access JeffersonVoudouris.pdf

 

 

the scenarios question

Andrew Curry

 

Click to access the-scenarios-question.pdf

 

 

 

 

Scenario Planning: A Tool for Strategic Thinking

Paul J.H. Schoemaker
MIT Sloan Review

 

https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/scenario-planning-a-tool-for-strategic-thinking/

Click to access Scenario-Planning-A-Tool-for-Strategic-Thinking.pdf

 

 

Vision 2040

Global scenarios for the oil and gas industry

 

Deloitte

Click to access ru_er_vision2040_eng.pdf

 

 

 

The origins and evolution of scenario techniques in long range business planning

 

Ron Bradfield, George Wright, George Burt, George Cairns, Kees Van Der Heijden

 

2005

Click to access read_Bradfield-Origins-and-Evolution-of-Scenerio-Techniques.pdf

 

 

 

 

Scenario Planning and Strategic Forecasting

Jay Ogilvy

Forbes

2015

https://www.forbes.com/sites/stratfor/2015/01/08/scenario-planning-and-strategic-forecasting/2/

 

 

 

Scenarios Practices: In Search of Theory

Angela Wilkinson

2009

 

Click to access 0620a938a0d2f66266e9ce52c8a7c5ce1d09.pdf

 

 

 

Scenario Planning

UK Govenment

 

Click to access foresight_scenario_planning.pdf

 

 Definitions and Outcome Variables of Scenario Planning

 

THOMAS J. CHERMACK

SUSAN A. LYNHAM

 

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.1010.1821&rep=rep1&type=pdf

 

Rafael Ramirez (Oxford University)

Cynthia Selin (Arizona State University)

 

Click to access ACCEPTED__Plausibility_and_Probability_in_Scenario_Planning_March_24_2013.pdf

Click to access ACCEPTED_Plausibility_and_Probability_in_Scenario_Planning_March_24_2013.pdf

 

 

 

How to Build Scenarios Planning for “long fuse, big bang” problems in an era of uncertainty.

BY LAWRENCE WILKINSON

 

Click to access Wilkinson%20on%20scenarios_Martin%20B.pdf

 

 

 

 

Shaping the Future of Global Food Systems: A Scenarios Analysis

WEF

2017

 

Click to access WEF_FSA_FutureofGlobalFoodSystems.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

The Art of Scenarios and Strategic Planning: Tools and Pitfalls

 

MICHEL GODET

 

Click to access art_of_scenarios.pdf

 

 

 

 

Scenario-Based Strategic Planning in Times of Tumultuous Change

AT Kearney

https://www.atkearney.de/documents/10192/376745/Scenario-Based_Strategic_Planning_in_Times_of_Tumultuous_Change.pdf/0012fe94-4038-449b-8423-bc81a3dba1a5

 

 

 

SHELL SCENARIOS

https://www.shell.com/energy-and-innovation/the-energy-future/scenarios.html

 

 

WHAT ARE SHELL SCENARIOS?

https://www.shell.com/energy-and-innovation/the-energy-future/scenarios/what-are-scenarios.html

 

 

SKY SCENARIO

https://www.shell.com/energy-and-innovation/the-energy-future/scenarios/shell-scenario-sky.html

 

 

 

EARLIER SCENARIOS

https://www.shell.com/energy-and-innovation/the-energy-future/scenarios/new-lenses-on-the-future/earlier-scenarios.html

 

NEW LENS ON THE FUTURE

https://www.shell.com/energy-and-innovation/the-energy-future/scenarios/new-lenses-on-the-future.html

 

 

SHELL SCENARIOS ENERGY MODELS

https://www.shell.com/energy-and-innovation/the-energy-future/scenarios/shell-scenarios-energy-models.html

 

 

 

SHELL SCENARIOS IN FILM

 

https://www.shell.com/energy-and-innovation/the-energy-future/scenarios/shell-scenarios-in-film.html

 

 

40 Years of Shell Scenarios

Click to access shell-scenarios-40yearsbook080213.pdf

 

 

 

Understanding the Stress Nexus

 

Click to access stress-nexus-booklet.pdf

 

 

 

SHELL ENERGY TRANSITION REPORT

 

Click to access web-shell-energy-transition-report.pdf

 

 

MEET THE SHELL SCENARIOS TEAM

https://www.shell.com/energy-and-innovation/the-energy-future/scenarios/meet-the-shell-scenarios-team.html

 

 

 

SUSTAINABILITY REPORTS

https://www.shell.com/sustainability/sustainability-reporting-and-performance-data/sustainability-reports.html

 

 

 

Scenario planning resources

https://people.well.com/user/mb/scenario_planning/

 

 

HOW CAN SCENARIOS SHAPE DECISION MAKING?

Dr. John W. Selsky

2013

 

Click to access Scenarios%20Decision%20Making-Berlin.pdf

 

 

 

PROFESSIONAL DREAMERS:

THE PAST IN THE FUTURE OF SCENARIO PLANNING

By Cynthia Selin, Arizona State University

 

2007

Click to access selin_2007_professional_dreamers.pdf

 

 

 

 

An Introduction to Scenario Thinking

“ We cannot predict the future, but we must act!”

 

By Eric Best

 

Click to access An-Introduction-to-Secnario-Thinking.pdf

 

 

the future of futures

A Curry

 

Click to access FutureOfFutures_APF_ebook_E2.pdf

 

 

We are grateful to Cynthia Selin and Napier Collyns for compiling this bibliography.

 

Click to access donmichael_bibliography.pdf

 

 

 

 

In Memory of Pierre Wack

by Napier Collyns and Hardin Tibbs

Netview

GBN

 

Click to access Pierre+Wack+1922-1997+.pdf

 

 

 

 

Re-reading Pierre Wack on scenarios

A Curry

2017

https://thenextwavefutures.wordpress.com/2017/12/09/pierre-wack-on-scenarios-shell/

 

 

 

Scenario Planning Resources

Thinking Futures

https://thinkingfutures.net/scenario-planning-resources/

 

 

 

Journal of Futures Studies

http://jfsdigital.org

 

 

 WHAT IF? THE ART OF SCENARIO

THINKING FOR NONPROFITS

 

Click to access What_if-Art_of_Scenario_Thinking_for_NonProfits.pdf

 

 

Oxford Futures Library unveils rare footage of scenarios planning pioneer Pierre Wack

https://www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/school/news/oxford-futures-library-unveils-rare-footage-scenarios-planning-pioneer-pierre-wack

 

 

Should Probabilities Be Used with Scenarios?

 

Stephen M. Millett

Click to access f9cef0b618c480312802fbb78e49bd69fa83.pdf

GBN (Global Business Network)

Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Business_Network

Integral Philosophy of the Rg Veda: Four Dimensional Man

Integral Philosophy of the Rg Veda: Four Dimensional Man

 

Meditations Through the Rg veda:  Four Dimensional man was published in 1976.  In 1999, Antonio de Nicholas published a review of his work.  See below.

 

From Forward to the book.

rgvedargveda2

From Infinity Foundations website

Meditations Through The Rg Veda: A Retrospective
(Philosophy East and West. Vol.49. Number 2. April 1999)
by Antonio T. de Nicolas, PhD

Paradigm, Theory, Ritual

It is now twenty five years since Meditations Through the Rg Veda: Four-Dimensional Man was first published in the United States. My earlier work on the Rg Veda was published in 1971 in Bangalore, India. Though the structures of the book were born during my twelve years of consecutive living in India, these structures did not become a paradigm until later. The structures I refer to are the word things and the order of their arrangement I was embodying as I lived there, a context at a time. It was the way the sun rose or the dawn arrived, the slow-motion for the sun to set and the sudden night; the lines of movement, of people, animals, wind or rain; the sudden appearance of forms, by the river, a well, in the sky; the dissolution of familiar and unfamiliar names, in the rhythm of language, Gujarati, Sanskrit, even English or Spanish names; but above all, the new habit of listening with my eyes to the movements in the sky, the forest, the streets, the homes; for the world, and my body, were a musical string plucked at every turn, in every silence , in every sight, sound, smell, touch and movement. Hidden geometries became human flesh, unnoticed. It was a silent world longing to become language, but can a multiplicity of embodied languages be expressed as one? After a while it was life in the twilight; which was the shadow, which the real object? One has to gain distance, and none farthest than an American Ph.D. Nonetheless, dispite the distance, and dispite the academic language, a new paradigm was born, in the Bronx, of all places. The structures I embodied gave way to an experienced, embodied geometry, sustaining all the structures, texts and statements I silently learned in India. Of course, when I set down this paradigm in writing, be it the Rg Veda or the Gita, the actual written text was already a theory, no longer a paradigm, though perhaps the most accurate translation of the paradigm. Those who disagreed kept silent and those who agreed, the majority, repeated my theory as participants in a ritual. In short, the acts by which the paradigm was born in me, or is born in any one giving birth to an original text like the Rg Veda, is not the written text. The act of creation is silent. The text of the Rg Veda, however, as written down is only a theory of itself, an invitation to a ritual. It is not even one text, or one language, but several and can only be expressed in plural linguistic wholes. Paradigms may be tested; they leave invariant epistemologies, but they can never be taught; they are sheer creation. Theories, as short hand of possible paradigms, on the other hand, we learn in the classroom. They are the easy ones to repeat. Those who follow the path of creation, of embodied-vision, follow the path of the gods. The others follow the path of the fathers, the path of pro-creation, the path of ritual, as the Rg Veda indicates. One leads to immortality, the other to rebirth. On which of these two paths stands the author of the text, rsi, commentator, priest or scholar? Besides, the Rg Veda is the sruti (revelation) tradition of India. As such, it is earlier than any other claim of revelation from any of the canonical texts, from the East, Middle East or West. The paradigm of the interpreter, if it coincides with that of the Rg Veda, should also give birth to those gods that gave humans sensation, inspiration and immortality, not just life to a priesthood that changes ritual as the mood strikes, bent on the act of pro-creation for, after all, the immortality of the ritual is more important than the immortality of the soul. Nor is it legitimate while interpreting to disband these earlier gods in the name of a later one, nor the heart-ethics of these original people for the head-ethics of those who came later, and if done it should be made evident. And this is how the “written” Rg Veda began. The priests wrote it down thousands of years later (depending on which initial date you choose). Ideographic language gave way to alphabetic writing, criteria of sound to those of sight, the path of the gods to that of the fathers, the structures of immortality to those of reincarnation, paradigm to theory repeated in ritual. Which Rg Vedic text are we talking about? What is recoverable from such a text? In the end, all we are left with are the technologies by which we recreate either text. Which path do they open for us? Now, once this is said, however, the modern interpreter cannot be blamed for not being a rsi. Let the reader be free to decide between the two paths, and let the interpreter be aware of both.

The Myth of Invariance

The first scholar to find my 1971 edition of the Rg Vedic world “captivating” was Ernest McClain. His interest was my claim that every statement in the oral/aural Rg Veda was tied to a language grounded on musical criteria. Music was once, at the origin of human language, the epistemology of oral cultures. This was all Ernest McClain needed to make a life and a project of his training as a musicologist. We started collaborating, getting together for brunch at the Waldorf Astoria in New York, in 1974. His first book appeared in 1976, The Myth of Invariance: The Origin of the Gods, Mathematics and Music from the Rg Veda to Plato (Nicolas-Hays, N.Y.) In 1978 he brought out with the same publisher, The Pythagorean Plato: Prelude to the Song Itself, and in 1981 Meditations Through the Quran: Tonal Images in an Oral Culture. When we last spoke he had already found confirmation of his work and mine, not only in Greece, but also in Chinese and Biblical texts. In his words: The Rg Veda is the original epistemology upon which humans built knowledge and also immortality. And thus by the hand of music the Rg Veda re-entered human consciousness.

The Artful Universe

At first glance this book is a most welcome addition to Vedic studies. It covers a territory in Indian Studies few dare to tread, and in doing so the author brings to the discussion almost everyone, ancient or modern, who has written anything on the Vedas. The writing style is beautiful and the translations from the Sanskrit have a modern ring that makes the original less intimidating. There is a definitive purpose by the author in the writing and interpreting of these texts! On the one hand, and this is the thesis of the book, the Vedas are the product of the imagination, and on the other this imagination expresses itself as ritual, as the religious imagination of the Vedic religion. Professor William K. Mahoney takes six chapters to develop this thesis. The first two are a preparation to understanding the religious imagination, the third and fourth chapters cover the Rg Veda and the last two the Upanishads. The book, however, does not end here. The Notes that follow these six chapters are yet another book within the book which allow the reader to follow the inner footsteps of Prof. Mahoney in the composition of his book. It is easy here to admire his delicate scholarship and his flare for the happy phrase in translating or interpreting the work of others. While my intention in writing this essay is a celebration of the human effort carried out in getting to the origins of our species, I wish also to sharpen the debate in the hope that “embodied structures” take over where simple or simplistic statements become the origin of the dialogue.

The modern scholar dealing with the Vedic period has several options: Translations of individual hymns under arbitrary categories, as it has been done and can be found in the Bibliography of The Artful Universe; or corrections, very important, as to the date of the Vedas, as In Search of the Cradle of Civilization, as G. Feuerstein, S. Kak and D. Frawley have successfully done, or he/she may try to uncover for us the paradigm and mental faculty through which the Vedic seers “composed” the original hymns. This is what Prof. Mahoney promises us:

“To Vedic visionary poets, the world is – or could be – an integrated whole, a unified structure and process of being in which there are no unbridgeable distances separating the divine, natural, and human worlds” (p.2).

And this world is held together by ” mental abilities or processes associated with what I will call the imagination” (p.5), ” the divine imagination… and the human imagination – especially the poetic, sacerdotal, and contemplative imagination… (and) whether divine or human, it is precisely the imagination that fashions and recognizes the universe as meaningful, abiding, and valuable, that is to say, real” (p. 7).

Here are my first questions. When we take, say the Rg Veda, for examination or commentary, which “text” are we recreating? The oral text the rsis chanted, the written text the priests codified in ten mandalas and became a ritual, or a new mongrel text that repeats a lot of names and quotes but can be used, at most, as the weekend comfort of New Age Evangelicals? And if so, where are the priests in the Upanishads when the Ksatriya instruct them? But above all, if the imagination is the faculty used by the seers in the composition (creation) of the oral, original hymns, which is the faculty that the priests use when they write down the text and when they repeat the same written text in ritual after ritual? But above all, if the imagination is a faculty, how does it work, which are its movements besides naming it, which are its structures, and are these structures the same or different from our own, and if the same why, and if different, how can we understand the Vedic imagination? How many priests does the author know with imagination? Isn’t their job to repeat a ritual imagined by others, deadening thus not only their senses but their faculties too? An imaginative priest is known as a heretic!

These remarks are not to be answered by Prof. Mahoney. He has written his beautiful text. But is this text the Rg Veda, or is it the case that any attempt at writing down one Rg Veda will give us of necessity several texts? It is obvious that this study fluctuates between the “creation” text of the original rsis and the “pro-creation” text of the later, codifying priests. Where once we had sheer power of creation, through an active imagination, giving birth to gods, powers and continuities, very soon we descend to the repetitive ritual of procreation through human semen, and the danger is that this becomes the ritual we celebrate today:

O holy drop!
You are the master of ecstasies!
You are the immortal god’s favorite drink!
Show us the way to success,
as a friend to a friend. (p. 85)

But it is the Rg Veda itself which admonishes us a few hymns later than the one quoted above by Prof. Mahoney (R.V.9.112) to be weary of one single text, be it rituals or anything else:

l. Our thoughts wander in all directions
And various are the ways of men:
The cartwright looks for accidents,
The physician for the sick,
And the brahman for a rich patron.
For the sake of Indra,
Flow, Indra, flow.

4. The horse draws a swift carriage,
The generous host an easy laugh and play.
The penis seeks a hairy slot
And the frog (brahman) hankers for a flood.
For the sake of Indra,
Flow, Indra, flow.

(My translation in Meditations through the Rg Veda).

How does this effort in all of us at producing “one single” text fail when dealing with Indian classical texts, particularly the Rg Veda?

As regards the Notes of this book I have only admiration. It is almost heroic the effort of Prof. Mahoney to footnote his conclusions. It is as if footnoting he were building a path for others to follow. The way he does it, however, may raise serious questions. Is not this the “path of the fathers” leading to the re-incarnation of all ritual, including the ritual of scholarship? Take, for example, part of the footnote he dedicates to my book Meditations through the Rg Veda:

” …The “four dimensions” of the Vedic intentional life outlined by de Nicolas are similar in some ways to the poetic and ritual aspects of the Vedic World I discuss in Chapters Three and Four, below. We overlap most in regards to what de Nicolas calls the “language of embodied vision.” My approach is different from his, however, in that, whereas he concentrates on the linguistic nature of visionary knowledge, I focus my intention on the visionary background of linguistic expression.” (Emphasis mine) (p.238). Does Prof. Mahoney understand that no matter how he “overlaps” me, (ritualizes my writing?) my work antedates his by twenty five years, and supplies him not only with the pertinent Rg Vedic hymns he quotes but also with the secondary sources he needs to gather the community of scholars that will testify to his thesis? Furthermore, was not my book the one to establish not only the “imagination” as a rational intelligence of oral cultures, but also the “moves” it must make to be an imagination in movement, able to keep a diverse society in continuity within the discontinuity of sensation? If this is my thesis where is his? In the ritual of repetition of the original text? I would most probably let this point go were it not for the fact that this “tracing” over other people’s work seems to count these days as scholarship. It seems to be a mind-set of the times. But is this the “text” that gave birth to the Rg Veda? Scholarship is not a ritual, and more so, a thesis is not a ritual. Where is the imagination to get out of other people’s rituals, to rise to ” the path of the gods”? Let’s go on with our conversation. Prof. Mahoney will rejoin us later in the dialogue.

The New Theogony And The Heresy Of Oedipus

” Let us with tuneful skill
Proclaim the origin of the gods,
So that in future generations these origins
May be seen, when these songs are sung.” (R.V. l0.72.1)

Dr. Colavito, in The New Theogony, perhaps the best book on myth written in English, universalizes the “languages” of the Rg Veda, Asat, Sat, Yajna and Rta, to cover the study of all myth.

“What we call “myth”,” she writes “is a fourfold cluster of actions and mental properties that individually and together account for the necessary and sufficient conditions of the mythopoetic worldview, of the nature and workings of the cosmos, and of the individuals and groups of individuals within this cosmos.” For the sake of clarity she summarizes these languages thus: ” These four fundamental acts defining myth are: maia, mythos, mimesis and logos. Each act is a single focus or mental habit; together the four account for the totality of human and divine acts, or mental habits, that have guided the human species to the present shores. Though strictly speaking myth is merely one of the (four) acts in myth making, even this act is incomprehensible unless the other three mental operations are included in the narratives of myth…” She then goes on outline the four “languages”:

“Maia (Gr. midwife) is the term used to signify the bringing forth of action from inaction, cosmos out of chaos, the initial spark that kindles the mind to transform from nothig to something. It is the midwife between the divine realm of immortality and potentiality and the human realm of temporality and human existence. The aspect of maia in the human sphere is represented by the human faculty of imagining. It is the expression of the creative experience; it cannot be described,, it has no form, its proper abode is the midregion between the human and the immortal. Once an individual begins to interpret or reflect upon the experience, maia disappears and the experience receives an existence of its own, outside the real of potentiality, and it is given a form, name, boundary. In short, the reflective act heralds in the aspect of mythos. And with mythos the world moves from chaos to cosmos.

Mythos (from the Gr. delivered by word of mouth) primarily describes the initial reflection of the creative experience. It is the oral transmission of the experience… The first “scream of individuation,” to quote Nietzsche… Mythos, also, represents the original fall from grace, the first act that breaks from the unity of the beginning, from the glory of immortality; for the telling of the experience now has another element, an experiencer, a self, through whom the experience flowed. Thus… the telling of the experience is not the experience… and only those who have had the same experience may truly understand the full import of the teller’s tale…so that communities of experiencers can share common revelations.

Mimesis (Gr. to make a copy) is the aspect that describes the mythopoetic action of re-membering or re-creating… In this manner the story is told with an intent, a moral… What becomes important now is the story not so much as it relates to the original creative experience of individuals, but as it relates to the desire to make a point… The mimetic phase is … the first frozen form: the pictographic mode… geared toward establishing the social mores of the collective group.

Finally, logos, (Gr. the word by which the inward thought is expressed), taking as its origins these mores, completely eradicates the level of personal experience and uses the rules derived from the mimetic to create theories about human action. These mores are founded on human experience, but only on hypothetically universal experience – in other words, experience filtered through the sieve of a collective interpretation. As such, then , no origin in logos has the certainty of an origin in maia… Logos ceases to be a pictographic representation; it transforms into a symbolic or alphabetic system that has only its own correlatives within its own framework, with no derivative capacity from the experiential realm of the individual… Logos has always been the shadow of maia in the mythopoetic world.

This fourfold division is neither a convenient devise for classification, nor an arbitrary tool for interpretation; it is the fabric itself of myth… an abstraction, that, though distinguishable, is inseparable from myth. From a biological perspective this fourfold division is the neurophysiological equipment of the species, its mental habits accumulated through the repetition of the past: imagining, fantasizing, narrating, following the discursive path of logic… )(Thus) while maia stands for an original experience… mythos, mimesis and logos stand for different ways (languages) of making this experience public, either through narrative (mythos), visual forms (mimesis), or… theory…alphabetic substitutions, or conceptual analyses (logos)… Finally, this fourfold system of acts corresponds to the scientific operations functioning within the oral/aural worldview, which has as its verification the ancient science of acoustics.” (pp.6-8)

Using the model of the one dismembering itself or the model of the zero as an addition of objects, Dr. Colavito makes evident the model through which dialogue and understand of myth is possible, and this not in just a few cases, Classical India, Rg Veda, Upanishads, but also the Greek gods and goddesses ending with the education of Pythagoras as imparted on his students, and the acoustic verification in Plato. A breathless trip that ends in the frustrating realization that while simple acts may lead to overwhelming “oceanic” experiences, the unity of maia, once broken, can never be recovered in one single language, but we must learn to move with of plurality of at least four irreconcilable and irreducible languages. Or is this a frustration or a temptation, the temptation to be the shadow of a god, if not god him/her self?

These are very strong claims. If true they may lead to the mobility of the Rta to perform the good act (sukrta), the original act of creation. Can they also lead to reconstructing the original Rg Veda? Where do we find the verification? Dr. Colavito took it upon herself to get to the bottom of the issue. Equipped with two Ph.Ds – one in Comparative Literature and the other in Psychology, her next book, The Heresy of Oedipus and the Mind/Mind Split, introduces us to her “Biocultural Paradigm.” She starts with the Nature/nurture controversy raging in the biological sciences to conclude that neither one nor the other works in isolation, but that nurture opens Nature, and Nature is not activated without nurture. In other words, the neural passages of the brains are open or forever shut if there is not a mutual fecundation. This interaction is limited, and almost chronologically developed in every child from conception to the age of l2; after that, what nurture has not activated in the right hemisphere of the neocortex is forever destroyed, though the left hemisphere, the seat of logic and discourse and the place of the “interpreter module,” keep developing abstract substitutions based on information received by these other brains or by its own conceptual loops, forever. What in her first book was called maia, in the second is the reptilian brain; mythos becomes the limbic brain; mimesis she divides into two: the visual, right hemisphere and the conceptual left hemisphere; and logos is the interpreter module located in the left hemisphere of the neocortex. In this she follows MacLean and Gazzaniga and the latest discoveries in neurobiology. But for the purpose of our discussion, in what way is this relevant to the Vedas and Prof. Mahoney’s or McClain’s books?

Revelation, individual experience, is an affair of the right side of the brains. The left hemisphere can only interpret, translate what the right hemisphere presents as sensation. Thus, while we have five different brains, (not one as Descartes thought and we presume,) only the three of the right hemisphere deal with original experience. And this in different ways. While maia ( the Asat) is the origin, maia is also wired with a geometry capable of letting forms appear, while mythos, the place of gods and heroes, is already a world of forms. However, and this is the point of our discussion, when these two original and originating brains are translated by the right hemisphere of the neocortex they are translated as “visual images;” they are seen as images even if originally they were waves and movement and tactility. In other words, by the time the ritual priests take on the “visual images” to the sacrifice and the ritual, these visual images, originally, were neither images nor visual. Thus by constituting these images as the original text, the followers are removed from the origin, from the source of sensation and are led into a repetition of acts that may crystallize either in a crisis of faith or in a crisis of dogma. The believers may either end up losing faith,( also sensation) or becoming dogmatic preachers in a game of endless logomachy. And the same with any other “text” bound by single language-games, like Western Theology. Thus, according to the Rg Veda it is precisely because of this tendency that the culture calls for cyclical returns to the Asat: to lose all forms, verbal, audial, or visual and break the dragon Vrta open, again. And that excerise, in the Rg Veda, is the true meaning of sacrifice (yajna). The sacrifice is necessary because these languages are invariant biological epistemologies, irreducible to one another.

Dr. Colavito follows up her neurobiocultural bases with studies on myth, Rg Vedic and principally the Oedipus cycle and the whole history of the House of Cadmus, after the mind/mind split took place in the species with the repetition of the technologies developed to introduce alphabetic writing in our mental habits. The paradigm is so explosive that Time magazine (Feb. 1997) could not avoid making a full use of it to describe the early development of the different brains in children, the contrary pole of Dr. Colavito’s thesis as she verified it through earlier cultures, in the infancy of the species. Of special interest in our discussion is her Appendix 2.3 making visible the hidden geometries of the Asat and the two ways of reading those texts: as from the “path of the fathers” or as from the “path of the gods.” How can we overcome the temptation of one single language, and how do we learn to be open to a plurality of four?

The Human Potential

“We can’t put it together; it is together.”

“What we need to understand may only be expressible in a language that we do not know.”

The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential, is a mammoth ongoing enterprise to cover all human problems ( l2,000 profiles with 120,000 hyperlinks), strategies and solutions (29,500 profiles with 91,000 hyperlinks), human development (4,400 profiles with l5,000 hyperlinks) and human values (1,900 profiles with 23.000 hyperlinks). The Encyclopedia hypertexts are currently edited at the Union of International Associations (UIA) by Nadia McLaren. It is now in its fourth hardback edition, first CD-ROM edition, and is available in demo version on the Web (http://www.uiaorg/homeency.htm/), although all texts have been accessible since l998. Profiles on the Web can be translated through Alta Vista into a variety of major languages.

It is in this global environment that the paradigm of “languages” in the Rg Veda has found a home. The Director of the Union of International Associations, Dr. Anthony J.N. Judge, in article after article, profile after profile, conference after conference has articulated, and compiled in the Encyclopedia, the modern consequences of academic attempts at synthesis when these attempts are expressed in one common language, namely the one engendering the problems in the first place. Dr. Judge’s point of departure is the need to start from the experiential human origins as described in the Rg Veda and then articulate the ensuing insights in the plurality of languages available for their manifestation in the Rg Vedic model. Thus, the model or paradigm, is part of the “answer” proposed by the Editors of the Encyclopedia. Contrary to the position academics take of locating themselves within the “web” of a discipline, research, culture, department or, at times, a simple desk, Dr. Judge travels with ease the “lines of the webs” linking the totality of squares, within which the rest of us seem to be trapped, to a knowledge that seems to come only to those who are able to travel in his manner. He is at home in the East and in the West, in music and in science, in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism or the Tao, and he seems to know a “knowledge” that comes only to those who travel the “lines” of the “web,” never squeezed by the particular generalizations of the cubicles within each “web’s square.” His summary of the “languages” of the Rg Veda for contemporary guidance to those looking to solve the problems, individual, communal or global, or contemporary life is appealing to him because it takes into account: ” The interrelated formal languages based on tone; (they lead ) toward reintegrating the individual in action; (make ) this integration embodied: re-imagining man; (take care) of the pluralism through an integration of community dialogue; (guarantee) this integrative renewal through sacrifice (of perspectives); (account) for an integrative vision that is encountered in the movement.” ( ” Liberation of Integration, Universality and Concord through pattern, oscillation, harmony and embodiment.” Originally delivered for the 5th Network Meeting of the United Nations University, project of Goals, Processes and Indicators of Development (Montreal) as a contribution to the discussion on integration of the findings of the Project.) And he includes in his remarks the fact that:

” Integration modelled on sound may be inherently more comprehensible to more people than integration modelled on sight.” (Ibid.) In view of Dr. Colavito’s previous discussed work, this conclusion is not so far fetched since the structures of the Rg Veda are the original embodied structures of the humanity that gave us birth, and as such they are embodied structures, bio-culturally invariant, not only in each of us but also in the earlier cultures that preceeded us.

Conclusion: Regathering The Fragments

The Artful Universe provided the occasion for a round discussion of the earliest structures of human “languages” we carry in our genes.

Any one particular language joining the discussion does not only show us the empirical grounding of their speech, experience, academic construction, but also the imperialistic tendency of such mono-linguistic speech universalizing itself. Contemporary discoveries in neurobiology and the paradigm based on them of Dr. Colavito make it clear that life, that is, human life, is life in community. This community is formed through interaction or dismemberment of a sensorium that is plural by its very bio-culture base and becomes integrated through dialogue. All dialogue, all language carries with it the possibility of sharing in the embodied vision of a paradigm that has been with us from the beginning, since through it we had to break through the “experience of separating earth and sky.” In this manner there is no need, as Prof. Mahoney does in one of his initial footnotes with a humility rarely present in Sanskrit scholars, to apologize for not being ethnically Indian while interpreting the Vedas. Interpretation, like everything else, is biocultural not ethnical. We are dealing with neural equipment, genes, receptors and transmitters, not the color of one’s skin, or the geography of one’s birth. And finally, if there is any hope in preserving the integrity of the University or returning it to its original call, especially in the humanities, this hope resides in the work of scholars like Profs. Mahony, Colavito and Judge who through their work in the classical myths were able to avoid the “empiricist languages” of the present Academic fashion and return to us the memories of our distant progenitors with the structures that made them live in innovation and continuity in the company of the gods. If we form the communities to carry these traditions forward, we might be able to share in the glory and celebration of life that once was ours. I am glad and grateful that Meditations Through the Rg Veda was an inspiration to them. But even more so the reiteration that our human makeup is larger, deeper and more full of sensation in the plurality we are than in the oppression of one single language-community-creed.

This is what William Irwin Thompson called, commenting on my work: “the planetization of the esoteric.”

References:

The Artful Universe: An Introduction to the Vedic Religious Imagination.
by William K. Mahoney , Ph.D.
SUNY Press, Albany N.Y. l998

The New Theogony: Mythology for the Real World.
by Maria M. Colavito, PhD
SUNY Press, Albany, N.Y. l992

The Heresy of Oedipus and The Mind/Mind Split: A Study of the Biocultural Origins of Civilization.
by Maria M. Colavito, PhD
The Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston,N.Y. l995

Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential.
Edited by The Union of International Associations
4th. Edition, K.G. Saur Verlag, Munchen, New Providence,
London, Paris l994-95

The Myth of Invariance: The Origin of the Gods, Mathematics and Music from the Rg Veda to Plato.
by Ernest McClain, Ph.D.
Nicolas-Hays Ltd. N.Y. 1976

The Pythagorean Plato: Prelude to the Song Itself.
by Ernest McClain
Nicolas-Hays Ltd. N.Y. 1978

Meditations Through the Quran: Tonal Images in an Oral Culture.
by Ernest McClain
Nicolas-Hays Ltd. N.Y. 1981

Coming Into Being: Artifacs and Texts in the Evolution of Consciousness
by William Irwin Thompson
St. Martin’s Press, New York , 1996. (p.187)


Antonio T. de Nicolas was educated in Spain, India and the United States, and received his Ph.D. in philosophy at Fordham University in New York. He is Professor Emeritus of philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Dr. de Nicolas is the author of some twenty- seven books, including Avatara: The Humanization of Philosophy through the Bhagavad Gita,a classic in the field of Indic studies; and Habits of Mind, a criticism of higher education, whose framework has recently been adopted as the educational system for the new Russia. He is also known for his acclaimed translations of the poetry of the Nobel Prize-winning author,Juan Ramon Jimenez, and of the mystical writings of St. Ignatius de Loyola and St. John of the Cross.

A philosopher by profession, Dr. de Nicolas confesses that his most abiding philosophical concern is the act of imagining, which he has pursued in his studies of the Spanish mystics, Eastern classical texts, and most recently, in his own poetry.

His books of poetry: Remembering the God to Come, The Sea Tug Elegies, Of Angels and Women, Mostly, and Moksha Smith: Agni’s Warrior-Sage. An Epic of the Immortal Fire, have received wide acclaim. Critical reviewers of these works have offered the following insights:

from, Choice: “…these poems could not have been produced by a mainstream American. They are illuminated from within by a gift, a skill, a mission…unlike the critico-prosaic American norm…”

from The Baltimore Sun: “Steeped as they are in mythology and philosophy these are not easy poems. Nor is de Nicolas an easy poet. He confronts us with the necessity to remake our lives…his poems …show us that we are not bound by rules. Nor are we bound by mysteries. We are bound by love. And therefore, we are boundless”

from William Packard, editor of the New York Quarterly: ” This is the kind of poetry that Plato was describing in his dialogues, and the kind of poetry that Nietzsche was calling for in Zarathustra.”

Professor de Nicolas is presently a Director of the Biocultural Research Institute, located in Florida.

 

Please see my related posts:

 

Meta Integral Theories: Integral Theory, Critical Realism, and Complex Thought

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness: Integral Theory of Ken Wilber

Myth of Invariance: Sound, Music, and Recurrent Events and Structures

Sounds True: Speech, Language, and Communication

Mind, Consciousness and Quantum Entanglement

Semiotics, Bio-Semiotics and Cyber Semiotics

Systems and Organizational Cybernetics

Society as Communication: Social Systems Theory of Niklas Luhmann

 

Key sources of Research:

 

 

Meditations Through The Rg Veda: A Retrospective

(Philosophy East and West. Vol.49. Number 2. April 1999)

by Antonio T. de Nicolas, PhD

https://www.infinityfoundation.com/mandala/i_es/i_es_denic_retrospective_frameset.htm

 

 

 

https://o-meditation.com/2009/11/01/the-four-dimensions-of-man-osho/

 

 

 

Antonio de  Nicolás

http://www.svabhinava.org/hinduchrist/AntonioDeNicolas/index.php