As with their post (twice) on Hypatia the mystic and Neoplatonist, it is again to NASA’s credit that they put the above video on their website (also for a second time). I recommend the text below the video on that page, particularly the link ‘no one can know the future’ which leads to the abstract for the article ‘Searching the Internet for evidence of time travellers’.
No science website of the Australian government would dare to display, discuss and encourage such expressions of eagerness for intellectual creativity and the future. In Australia we march forward facing backwards, gagging on our ‘laid-back’, authoritarian, consumerist ‘decency’.
I post this on the day there has been yet another round of navel-gazing and spin in the media about why education in Australia continues to fall behind that in other developed nations.
When I first saw this I thought someone familiar with magnolias (one of my favourite flowers) had got creative and stuck pink material (a pink cabbage?) in the fork of a branch – but it’s real! Wikipedia states ‘Magnolia is an ancient genus. Appearing before bees did, the flowers are theorised to have evolved to encourage pollination by beetles. To avoid damage from pollinating beetles, the carpels of Magnolia flowers are extremely tough.’ Those beetles must’ve been big! Imagine how this plant will look when it flowers as a mature tree (if it lasts in this spot that long, which, given this is in Australia, I sincerely doubt…)!
Mr. “Fearless” Egbert taking his five year-old lion for a ride on the Wall of Death at Mitcham fair. (Source)
What was the lion thinking?
From the excellent blog of Miep von Sydow
‘…every mind…is a perfect and living image of the Infinite Art.’
Nicholas of Cusa, Idiota de Mente (‘The Layman on Mind’), 1450, in Nicholas of Cusa on Wisdom and Knowledge, Trans., Jasper Hopkins, The Arthur J. Banning Press, Minneapolis, 1996, 531-589, 13, 149
‘…art has the vocation of revealing the truth in the form of sensuous artistic shape, of representing the reconciled antithesis…’
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel Introductory Lectures on Aesthetics, Trans., Bernard Bosanquet, Ed., Introduction and Commentary, Michael Inwood, Penguin, England, 2004, 61
The representation of reconciled antitheses is used to maintain dominant ideologies. It comforts and reassures.
The greatest art is that which represents antitheses unreconciled. The subject is left unresolved, uncertain, open – it entices with pathways in. The audience are either frustrated or forced to think.
You have motivated me to reconsider my definition of ‘idealism’.
By ‘inspiration’ I refer to a heightened emotional state that is conducive to creative activity in some way.
If I was lying in bed and heard something on the radio that motivated me to get out of bed (an ethical speech, music I think uplifting…), it would be to get up and do something productive – to ‘get on with the day’, to ‘get things done’.
Inspiration is an intensification of that feeling, hence the urge to productivity becomes more concentrated, more creative – I might start on that painting I had been thinking about or enrol in a photography course…
Idealism, as well as having a spiritual focus (a focus on ‘connectedness’, however one thinks of that – it may be to one’s team, to ‘God’, to the flag, to nature, to one’s community, to the world community…) is an orientation and commitment to a prolonged state of creative potential, realised to whatever degree.
The expression ‘felt to be “higher than”’ does two things – it points to and emphasises the emotional nature of what idealism is and leaves the manifestation of idealism open – it specifically avoids the containment of what idealism is by linguistic thought.
That linguistic thought both gives it direction and, in the case of philosophical idealism, appropriates it through definition, is secondary to this.
An improved definition of ‘idealism’ would then be that it is ‘the inspiration to that which is felt to be “higher than,” manifest as a prolonged and creative emotional state with a spiritual focus’.
Definitions, while most important in philosophical discussion are deceptive. Cusanus believed that our ‘minds’ (try defining ‘mind’ – after you’ve defined ‘reason’!) are the image of Divine Mind, that how the latter functions is modelled by ours.
He believed that just as we can never fully know the Divine Word and embody a complete knowledge of it in our ‘mental’ words, because the Divine Word is infinite while we are finite and therefore limited to perspectives, so too the words of the sensory world cannot fully ‘know’ and express the words of our ‘mental’ world.
And in the latter part of this, having been ‘stood on its feet’, he has a very good point.
I can give you a ‘working’ definition of any word, but there will always be much more in our thought (including memory) regarding what that word symbolises for you and me, which completes our perspectival definition of the word.
Of ‘cat’ I can say that it is ‘a small domesticated carnivorous mammal with soft fur, a short snout, and retractile claws.’ But my experience of cats inevitably completes my perspectival definition of the word.
Words dealing with the emotions further complicate the issue. Exploring what lies beyond a ‘working definition’ of words and how those perspectival ‘definitions’ inter-relate is fundamental to poetry, just as exploring what ‘lay beyond’ the material reality of a madeleine had so much potential for Proust.
Logical atomism took the drive to define and control in philosophy to a ridiculous extreme (for which Wittgenstein was well-suited).
Donald Phillip Verene countered this:
‘…we have so little experience in taking metaphorical speech seriously as a carrier of philosophical meaning that we read right past it. …we have become so accustomed to the monotone hum of the abstract concept and the category, the fluorescent buzz of the argument, that we have lost track of the dimensions of philosophical language. We have forgotten its secrets and cannot recollect its manner of eating bread and drinking wine.’ (Donald Phillip Verene, Hegel’s Recollection: A Study of Images in The Phenomenology of Spirit, State University of New York Press, Albany, New York, 1985, 34-35)