Objectivist Discussions of Art
Posted by Jerry on January 19, 2006
The following post is a slightly modified version of my earlier discussions about art and its purpose in human life. I also recommend reading “What Art Is” by Torres & Marder Kamhi. Check out their website at www.aristos.org for much more interesting discussions of art from an Objectivist-oriented perspective.
The Objectivist philosophy correctly understands art as spiritual nourishment for the human consciousness. Just as you would not feed your body foul or rotten food, you should not feed your mind and your consciousness with foul creations of charlatans masquarading as artists. You have the right to insist that art be as nourishing to your mind as the food you eat is to your body.
The works of art created by the greats like Da Vinci, Raphaelo, Giotto, Beethoven, Michaelangelo, all have one common theme running through them: they lead the human mind to glimpses of greatness, to the idealization of the human form–although that greatness was perceived to be an attribute of or come from Divine Beings, the invariable consequence of focusing on such greatness was to create a desire within humans to climb up as close as possible to that sense of the highest height. The notion that humans were frail and feeble and the Divine was the ideal of everything good and desirable was accepted as self-evident in a culture that believed in God, heaven, hell, souls, spirits, and ghosts.
The judeo-christian religion made God look like man, God in man’s image and as man’s creation, and thus elevated man himself to the status of God. Perhaps, this must have served as a great boost to the human ego, allowing man to gain tremendous self-confidence in his ability to know more and become more similar in ideal and aspiration to the God he created.
In my opinion, this self-identification with God allowed humans to perceive the universe with the intelligence that was only regarded as the ability possibile to gods. Primitive man did not understand the universe, they did not believe they were capable of grasping its mysteries. They merely bowed their heads and worshipped the unknown–as is still practiced in many cultures today.
The deification of the human form possibly served the psychological and spiritual function of elevating man’s pride in being human. In what can be considered man’s great act of conceit, he captured all the highest ideals and notions of his God and manifested them in the body of one human being–Jesus, which meant that the human body was artistically idealized and imagined as being able to withhold the essence of the fully Divine.