Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Human Person as a Work of Art

Humans differ as to their interests and choices of value. This is important to affirm and uphold in free societies, even when we disagree, as humans are not to be cloned representations of their parents, mentors, or voluntary associations. The human person is more than the sum of his/her parts. It is called irreducible complexity. And those that want to mandate a moral realism that perverts the human ability to "be in the world" as an autonomous moral agent is deluded about their right to power.

I got to thinking about realism itself, because of another blog site on Moral Ontology by Richard Carrier. Art is understood in philosophical terms such as realism, surrealism, or impressionism.

A realist painter paints a picture that is representative of reality. There is no question about the painting and what it is. Realism is a correspondence theory of understanding "truth claims".  Such a view of "Truth" is understood as absolute, because of its direct correspondence to "the real". Such thinking is what underlies traditional understanding of theology. Everything that "is", is directly underpinned by "God", even history itself.

But, there are other art forms that are just as beautiful that express their time. Impressionism comes to mind. Impressionistic paintors paint without defined lines, but still have a  "sense of" reality or of objective form. It is more intuitive painting, as it is romantic. I love Von Gogh and French impressionists, like Delacroix. These paintors would be more Transcendental in their understanding of 'truth", as truth is worked into reality, but not a direct representation. Such writers as Emerson, and Whitman come to mind, especially Emerson's "Over-soul" and Whitman's "Leaves of Grass". Romanticism has  influenced American culture through the "Story" as Real. Our myth is the American Dream, where everyone has opportunity and all are 'equal before the law'.

There is also the surrealist paintors like Salvador Dali. I love his work because of the many meanings that can be read into his paintings. Surrealists  have post-conventional ways of expressing their art. Their art is an expression about representations in conventional society that have hindered or slighted the "whole picture". Their attempt to express anti-traidtional values, or the minority "vision" have left the traditionalists uncomfortable.

I think humans should be free to interpret their reality. Therefore, I wouldn't be a legalist, but I think that the laws of our country should protect all expressions of life that do not usurp the basic foundations of society. And I think this is what we argue in the cultural wars. Laws should be like impressionism, defined where they are seen and understood, but not defined by "rude lines" in the sand. Such is Islamic religious culture. Human experience does not lend itself well to such views of justice.

Humans should be autonomous moral agents that can choose their associations by their frames of understading and their identification factors. There shouldn't be discrimination of those that don't hold the majority's opinions, but neither should there be special priviledge for them, either.

Art in its many forms has brought untold blesshing to man's life, as it allows creativity of expression for the individual artist and it allows culture to evolve, seeks to bring all humans 'under one roof" of the human experience/condition and makes society more of an "open" society.

Relgion because of its need to define "God" in theologial language comes short of describing the indescribalble. The huamnities benefit all men because they speaks beyond words to the heart, at least for those that are open. Religous climates have been known to oppress certain expressions of art because of the fear that art would be offensive to "God". What should be understood is how art has enhanced man's ability to appreciate the beauty of human experience, even the common ones, even the tragic ones teach us. Journalism, art in it many forms, writing, communication arts can all be means of grasping and grappling with the human condition. Beauty can be grasped through a "human message", or a "human idea", or a "human value", which all underwrite the human experience!

Humans are works of art, whether one believes that natural processes or "God" created human persons in their complexity. Humans should be allowed to advance their art form in a free and open society.

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