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08 FEBRUARY 2015

The Meaning of Life with Gay Byrne: Stephen Fry

The Meaning of Life with Gay Byrne, Sunday 1st February 2015, 10.30pm. Published on 28 January 2015.

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2015 • all wise • atheism • bone cancer • capriciousness • Christian god • Christianitydeath • Gay Byrne • god • Greek god • Greek gods • Greek mythological figures • Greek mythology • Hades • injustice • maniac • meaning of life • megalomaniac • misery • monotheism • monstrous • mythological creature • mythological figures • Pluto • Raidio Teilifis Eireann • RTE One • Stephen Frysufferingunderworldwhat comes after

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
02 SEPTEMBER 2014

Aesthetic disinterestedness: axiom of modern Western aesthetics

"The concept of aesthetic disinterestedness is surely one of the axioms of modern Western aesthetics, if not its central principle. Developed mainly in the eighteenth century in the writings of Alison, Shaftesbury, Addison, Hutcheson and others of the British school, the notion of disinterestedness denoted the perception of an object 'for its own sake.' This central idea became the mark of a new and distinctive mode of experience called the aesthetic, a kind of experience that was distinguished from more common modes, such as practical, cognitive, moral, and religious experience. During the same century many of these writers grouped what we now call the fine arts into a generally accepted set in which they were all organized by the same principles and could be compared with one another.[1] Finally, in the latter part of the century and especially in Germany, the general theory of the fine arts achieved the status of a separate discipline and, in the work of Kant, came to occupy a distinct and integral place in a philosophical system. Kant's formulation of disinterestedness is generally regarded as definitive:

'...[T]aste in the beautiful is alone a disinterested and free satisfaction; for no interest, either of sense or of reason, here forces our assent...Taste is the faculty of judging of an object or a method of representing it by an entirely disinterested satisfaction or dissatisfaction. The object of such satisfaction is called beautiful.'[2]

...What might we say is the historical significance of aesthetic disinterestedness? Disinterestedness served to identify intrinsic normative experience. As first developed it was used in a moral context to help the recognition of things and actions that were good in themselves, apart from their usefulness. Thus Shaftesbury, who, along with Hutcheson and Alison, was one of the principal contributors to this view, contrasted 'the disinterested love of God,' a love pursued for its own sake, with the more common motive of serving God 'for interest merely.' The disinterested love of God has, then, value that is entirely intrinsic.[3] When applied to the experience of beauty, it denoted the same recognition of intrinsic value. There is a valid insight here, for we often find ourselves valuing a work of art for its own sake. Somehow the value of good art seems to be self-contained. The work commands respect and admiration in itself, apart from practical considerations such as monetary value, the conferring of social status, or its association with the hand of genius."

(Arnold Berleant and Ronald Hepburn, Contemporary Aesthetics)

[1] Paul Oskar Kristeller, "The Modern System of the Arts," in Renaissance Thought II (New York: Harper & Row, 1965), pp. 163-227.

[2] Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment (l790), Sect. 5. For an extended critical account see A. Berleant, "The Historicity of Aesthetics I," The British Journal of Aesthetics, Vol.26, No.2 (Spring 1986), 101-111; "The Historicity of Aesthetics II," The British Journal of Aesthetics, Vol.26, No.3 (Summer 1986), 195-203; and "Beyond Disinterestedness." The British Journal of Aesthetics, 34/3 (July 1994).

[3] Anthony, Earl of Shaftesbury, Characteristics, ed. Robertson (London, 1900), II, 55, 56. The definitive discussion of this history is Jerome Stolnitz, "On the Origins of 'Aesthetic Disinterestedness'," The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, XX, 2 (Winter 1961), 131-143. The history of the idea of disinterestedness continues to be debated. See my Art and Engagement, Ch. 1, esp. n. 3, pp. 215-216.

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18th centuryaesthetic disinterestednessaesthetic experienceaesthetics • Anthony Ashley-Cooper • appreciative experience • Archibald Alison • Arnold Berleantart for arts sakebeauty • British school • cognitive experience • critique of human actions • Dabney Townsend • David Hume • disinterested love • disinterested satisfaction • disinterestedness • dissatisfaction • experience of beauty • fine arts • Francis Hutcheson • George Dickie • god • human creations • Immanuel Kant • intrinsic normative experience • intrinsic value • Jerome Stolnitz • John Locke • Joseph Addison • judgement • moral experience • Paul Oskar Kristeller • practical experience • religious experience • Remy Saisselin • Ronald Hepburn • taste • usefulness • Western aesthetics

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
07 MARCH 2014

Artist's spoof Ladybird book provokes wrath of Penguin

"An artist and comedian [Miriam Elia] has been told by the publisher Penguin that her new satirical art book breaches its copyright, and if she continues to sell copies it could use the courts to seize the books and have them pulped. ...

Elia's version sees them visiting an exhibition at a modern art gallery and grappling with existential questions about the nature of Tracey Emin–style conceptualist work, much of it peppered with distinctly adult imagery."

(Gareth Rubin, 2 March 2014, The Guardian)

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1950s2014adult imageryart and designart galleryart gallery experienceartistartworkballoonballoon dog • Balloon Dog (Orange) • book illustrationBritish artcanvaschildrens bookchildrens book illustrationconceptual artcontemporary artcontemporary art exhibitionscopyright • crucifix • empty room • feminist parodygod • God is dead • guiltinflatable • Jane • Jeff Koons • Ladybird Book • minimalist art • Miriam Elia • modern artmother • Mummy • NietzschenihilismparodyPenguin Random Housepenis • personal sacrifice • Peter • prettyreductionism • sacrifice • satiresexTate ModernThe GuardianTracey EminUKvagina • We Go To The Gallery (book)

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
27 APRIL 2013

How and when Muslim societies will move away from seeing violence as a resolution to human conflict

"This week the minaret of one of Syria's most beautiful mosques was destroyed in the northern city of Aleppo. The Ummayad mosque established in 715 was rebuilt in 1159 after being damaged by a fire and then built again a century later after the Mongol invasion. The oldest surviving part was the minaret and both the State forces and the rebels accuse each other of its destruction. Lying in the Old City, the mosque is a Unesco world heritage site but has become part of the wider devastation of Syria's rich cultural heritage; a Crusader castle and Roman ruins in the ancient city of Palmyra have also been damaged.

However sad this physical destruction of history and art is, it should matter less to us than the recent reports that some 70,000 lives have been lost in this terrible civil war with hundreds of thousands more displaced. This is a war which is gradually ripping the country apart but about which the rest of the world doesn't seem to know what to do. Yet there is a different poignancy to the loss of a country's artistic and cultural past. It is these visual artifacts, building and ruins which speak to us of a country's history, its collective memory, the love and passion of the people who make a piece of land into a nation state. That so many Syrians are now killing each other and destroying ruins and religious sites poses the disturbing question, what exactly is still held sacred in so many part of the Muslim world?

A couple of weeks ago I returned from a short break to Istanbul. The area surrounding the majestic Hagia Sophia and the Blue mosque is also a Unesco world heritage site, tourists wander freely, the buildings stand sublime, the contested past of the place breathing its religious spirit into a refashioned, modern and vibrant city. But I wonder whether the preservation of history is only meaningful in countries where there is the preservation of peace, where people can enjoy the ordinariness of life, where there is order and purpose and we have the luxury of self reflection.

Earlier this week the former Met commissioner sir Ian Blair said societies choose what kind of violence they will tolerate. Looking across to so many part of the Islamic world where there is civil war, state violence and individual acts of terror, I wonder how and when Muslim societies will move away from seeing violence as a resolution to human conflict. When God is great is uttered as people and buildings are blown up what kind of God have so many created in their hearts and minds? The destruction of the minaret is not just a physical destruction but a tragic metaphor for a nation's soul."

(Mona Siddiqui, 26 April 2013, BBC Radio 4: Thought for the Day)

Fig.1 At left, the damaged Umayyad mosque in the northern city of Aleppo, Syria, on Wednesday 24 April 2013; at right, the view of the mosque with the minaret intact on 6 March 2013. (AP) [http://www.wbur.org/npr/178906558/minaret–of–iconic–syrian–mosque–destroyed–in–fighting].

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1159 • 715 • Aleppo • ancient city • architectural feature • artistic past • BBC Radio 4 • blown up • Blue mosque • building and ruinscivil warcollective memory • Crusader castle • Crusadescultural heritagecultural heritage sitescultural past • destroying • destructiondevastationgod • Hagia Sophia • historic preservation • history and art • human conflict • Ian Blair • individual acts of terror • Islamic mosque • Islamic world • Metropolitan Police • minaret • Minaret of the Bride • Mona Siddiqui • Mongol invasion • mosque • Muslim societies • Muslim world • order and purpose • ordinariness of life • Palmyra • physical destructionpreservation • preservation of history • preservation of peace • religious sites • Roman ruins • ruinssacred • self reflection • self-reflection • state violence • SyriaThought for the Day • tragic metaphor • Umayyad Mosque • UNESCO • UNESCO World Heritage site • violencevisual artefactswomen in cultural theorywonders of the ancient world • world heritage site • world heritage sites

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
31 MARCH 2012

Rob Bryanton: Imagining the 10th Dimension

"Since the extra dimensions beyond spacetime that physicists talk about are all spatial dimensions (or 'space–like' as some prefer to say), thinking about how the simplest spatial dimensions relate one to another gives us tools for imagining the more complex ones. The key to remember with all this is that each additional spatial dimension is at 'right angles' to the one before: so each new dimension allows an observer to see 'around the corner' in a way that was unattainable from the previous dimension. This time, let's work through the dimensions with that idea in mind."

(Rob Bryanton, October 2009)

Rob Bryanton (2006). "Imagining the Tenth Dimension: A New Way of Thinking About Time and Space", Trafford Publishing.

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10th dimension • 20065th dimensionabstractionanimated presentationcausalitycausally relatedconceptual metaphorconceptualisationcontemporaneous • cosmological horizon • dimensionality • dimensionsEdwin A. Abbott • enfolded symmetry • flat spacefree will • Gevin Giorbran • god • granularity • hologramHugh Everett • hyperspace • in perspective • infinity • information space • Kurt Godel • lineline in spaceMany Worlds Interpretationmathematics • Michael Shermer • multiple dimensions • multiverse • objective reality • omni-directional • omniverse • organising pattern • parallel universeperspectivephysics • planck length • planepointprobabilistic outcomes • probability space • quantum mechanics • quantum physics • quantum wave function • Rob Bryanton • science • Sean Carroll • space • space-like • space-time • spatial dimension • spatial dimensions • string theorytime • two-dimensional plane • universevisual representations of mathematical conceptsvisual scientific representationszero

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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