You know; I’m interested in figuring out our common, everyday understanding of beauty. I’d like to know how we use and understand the concept beauty in contemporary art. But there is no way around the history of thoughts. We continue, whether we admit it or not, a long historical line of thinking, sometimes by contradicting it, other times by continuation.
Here are some words by Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860):
through art and the aesthetic experience we can escape the suffering of our ordinary mental state
According to Schopenhauer the situation is like this: In our ordinary consciousness we see things in relation to ourselves; we have an egoistic view of the world. We do not see individual objects in the world in terms of their own intrinsic nature and qualities. Instead we see things in terms of utility, and specifically their utility to ourselves.
It is essential for us to see the world not objectively but subjectively, adding our own projections into experience in order to survive. It seems therefore fair to claim that our ordinary consciousness is acting in our best interest; it is allowing us to recognise threats and react to them. It also allows us to have desires that are needed in order to survive.
Art facilitates the transition “from the common knowledge of particular things to knowledge of the Idea.”
Great art should allow the non-genius, which is the vast majority of us, to temporarily transform from the ordinary mental state to that of the aesthetic mental state, which Schopenhauer calls the “aesthetic method of consideration”
Schopenhauer holds that aesthetics are a path to recognizing metaphysical truths and reveal the forms of will most objectively whilst avoiding the torment which the will inflicts.
One way to achieve a more tranquil state of consciousness is through aesthetic perception.
And this, I must admit, I find very – very interesting, and absolutely relevant. It’s as if we can se a parallel here between Schopenhauer and the “new” ideas of Alain de Botton, who writes about Art as Theraphy.