JOLLYBLOGGER - a weblog for jolly beggars: Artist James Coleman: "I have to confess that I have never really understood art. I guess growing up in the south and being into sports, it was kind of unmanly to be into art, at least in my circle of friends. I have never been able to come up with anything to say about a piece of artwork that is more sophisticated than 'that's kind of nice,' or 'ewwww, you mean people actually pay money for that.'"
I like to tell the engineers at work that I am a philosophy major. That is sort of a lie. I majored in religion and philosophy. Okay so I failed the ethics section but I understand at least theoretically why it was wrong to lie to the engineers. I am somewhat known for my technosavvy abilities however I make sure they know the key to knowing communications protocols is good philosophy! Seriously it is but that is another posting all together.
What do you study when you study philosophy? Often it is the study of people who have been called philosophers. Studying these people is useful however the best philosophy classes focus on primary questions, not the people who tried to answer them. The list of questions keeps changing. Yesterday it was, "What is the nature of a thing?" If you don't ask this question you don't develop an orthodox theology of the Trinity. You end of say sort of, "yeah, yeah" when the Trinity comes up. In recent years it has been, "What is meaning?"
Often people focus on the study of epistomology when studying philosophy. This is extremely important but ethics should not play second fiddle epistemology, which is the study of truth tests. Ethics gets lost in the shuffle because most people have decided ethics is merely a matter of taste, that's right taste, not right and wrong. The study of taste is the study of asthetics. One reason people confuse ethics for aesthetics is Western Culture, including the Church has decided that aesthetics is not important. An unintended consequence of the Reformation is that beauty is not important. We took art out of the church buildings and replaced it with white walls. Then we simply put up a stage, and now we have a hard time justifying and objects which cheifly has a function of being beautiful. But any question that is not reduced to the rigors of epistemology, empirical evidence and definitions, is merely fluff. In other words, if no math is done then anyone's opinions is as good as the other. This is a fallacy but I'm going to move on anyway.
I ask you, is Jesus beautiful? Most Christians would feel compelled to answer yes based on a respect and honor to Jesus, so they would say Jesus is beautiful based on ethics, not on aesthetics. Most often when people talk about ethics and describe evil they are really talking about the aesthetics of the act, not the moral standard. And when people are talking about aesthetics, they are hesitant to really try to grasp beauty. One of the most pressing questions in Christiandom today, both Western and the rest of the world, is what is beauty. A solid idea of what beauty is will aid us in describing the indescribable Christ. A solid idea of beauty would tell us why, "ugly is as ugly does", in other words a lot about ethics. Will heaven be beutiful? In a religion, many people are looking for beauty, not salvation. They would not phrase it that way, but that is really where they are going with it.
The question that fills people's minds 80-90% of the time is "What do I like?" This is really a question of aesthetics. What most corporations are asking is what do people like. Of course what people like or don't like may be good or bad. If we are going to reach the present generation affected so heavily by consumerism and pop culture we must answer the question of "What is beautiful?"