Philosophical Attitudes
[Unism and Art]

Philosophical Attitudes

Philosophy is primarily seeking for integrity, starting from the integrity of the world in general and down to the uniqueness, universality and unity of every individual thing. In particular, the philosophy of art and philosophical aesthetics are to indicate both their inner integrity and their place in the whole of the world. Of course, one does not need to start from scratch in any individual discourse. Provided the integrative vision has once been developed, it may keep in the background, with the focus of attention shifted to far implications. In a way, this is a matter of style. For instance, philosophizing in an artistic manner, we are only produce an impression of integrity, and there is no need to explicitly indicate it. On the contrary, in a structured (science-like) text, we may feel the necessity of "deriving" applied issues from a general principle. This has little to do with philosophy as such, which can take on an infinity of guises, while its core is the objective existence of spiritual culture as an aspect of culture in general. We do not "invent" ideas; we only give them a sort of individuality.

This means that philosophy is never arbitrary. As soon as you have accepted (or been driven to) a definite ideological position, you have to shape your action in accordance with the inner integrity of the idea. Even inconsistency or eclecticism may become philosophy, provided they follow from some integrative principle and are deliberately introduced as a conscious choice.

Since art and aesthetics have been comprehended as different levels of reflection, they should not be arbitrarily confused in a philosophical context, and their inevitable mutual penetration is to ultimately follow from the specificity of the problem to discuss.

In philosophy of art, we observe (and develop) its ability to represent the universal ways of human activity in the form of any other activity. This requires both comparison with the other levels of reflection and the consideration of the inner hierarchy of art, producing a different hierarchical structure in any particular respect. The philosopher must reveal the objective roots of this diversity, presenting it as an instance of universal reflection as the ideal aspect of the world. This leaves the detailed description of the historical forms and regularities of art to a scientific study, either within a separate science (such as the history of the arts, formal poetry, or musical acoustics), or as an element of a wider approach (for example, in the ethnographical context). Philosophy of art is to provide us with universal criteria of art, demonstrate its diversity, and possibly show the perspectives of its development. This does not mean any formal prescriptions and does not restrict individual creativity.

On the contrary, aesthetics as a philosophical discipline is to explicate the universal nature of our choices and preferences. The same artwork that philosophy of art presents as an objectification of the ways of our activity is treated by philosophical aesthetics as an objectification of a personal position representing a cultural trend. That is, we are interested in the cultural integrity of art, rather than its reflective integrity. In this respect, philosophical aesthetics is an opposite and a necessary complement of the philosophy of art.

For instance, in ontology (as a branch of philosophy), we introduce the categories of material and form as the universal aspects of the inner definiteness of any individual thing. The content of the thing is the unity of its material and its form, which does not follow from neither of them, being determined by the position of the thing in a higher-order integrity (from reflecting the immediate environment to the unique instantiation of the whole world). An artistic product is certainly an individual thing, and hence an artist primarily takes some bodily material and shapes in a definite way, to represent a specific mode of action, which constitutes the thing's content. From the aesthetic angle, the same creative act looks like taking some cultural material and shaping it to the form of the specific artistic technique, to produce a typical example (a character) to convey of a general idea. That is, in aesthetics, the content of an artwork becomes the starting point for artistic creativity rather than its result; the product thus becomes hierarchical, implying the corresponding hierarchy of its material, form and content.

This principal difference between philosophy of art and philosophical aesthetics is not a mere abstraction; it grows from (and into) the real behavior of real people. While some artists are inspired by the potential of the material, or the impressive power of forms, or a vivid imagination, there are others, who start with an intention of influencing the public and calling for joint action, to support and enhance the nation's spirituality. However, without artistic creativity, such an intention will never produce true art, as well as no true art is possible without a certain social determination; that is why, in the present context (unism and art), aesthetics will mostly be discussed along with philosophy of art, which, of course, is only one of the possible aspects.

Aesthetics in general, as a level of synthetic reflection (ideology), cannot be detached from our practical acts and become a separate activity (and even a profession), like art, science or philosophy. There is no aesthetics (or logic) as such, and, of course it does not belong to the product and cannot be "extracted" from it. Aesthetics shapes our motives, which are only present in a developing activity; as soon as we stop (or modify) it, the motive does not exist any longer. When we say that a work of art represents a particular aesthetics, it is only the possibility of representation that is meant, and never the true motives of the author (to discover them, we need a scientific, historical research). Similarly, one could develop philosophy of a specific area of activity (for instance, philosophy of art); but there is no aesthetics of something, since aesthetical principles do not depend on the kind of activity, they are universally applicable to any activity at all. From the philosophical viewpoint, we can discuss how the aesthetics manifests itself in different cultural domains. Whenever we speak about aesthetics as a special occupation, we mean a kind of art, science or philosophy concerned with certain aesthetical problems, but never covering the whole range of synthetic reflection.

Philosophical aesthetics develops various aesthetic categories, organizing them in a number of categorical schemes. On the synthetic level, these categories may (but not necessarily will) grow into aesthetical principles and norms, thus influencing practical activity. Becoming a part of our everyday life, such "realizations" of philosophical categories can be reflected as syncretic traits or produce new analytical forms. The whole hierarchy of reflection thus enters the next cycle of development.

In its synthetic function, aesthetics (just like logic) does not need any notions or categories; there are certain aesthetical forms and principles that determine the way our reflection can influence our actions. In philosophy, all such ideas become categories; in science, they produce a number of notions and concepts. In fact, this is how we normally become aware of aesthetic ideas, besides mere following them in any conscious choice. Though the same ideas can be treated in many ways, just putting them in the context of a particular science or philosophy reveals a hierarchical structure specific for thus adopted angle of view; all such structures represent some objective aspects of the same, but neither of them can be an ultimate or superior expression of the whole.

[Art] [Philosophy] [Unism]