Sapient Thoughts #41- Beauty & The Recognition of God – Part 3 – Conceptualizing beauty
Channel: Hamza Tzortzis
File Size: 10.50MB
Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh brothers and sisters Welcome to sapient thoughts, where we discuss the philosophical issues where we answer contentions against Islam, and where we provide a robust case for the veracity of Islam. In today's episode, which is one of a multi part series on beauty and the recognition of God. In today's episode, we're going to be continuing on from where we left off last time. In the last episode, if you remember, we had discussed the idea of cognitive limitations, and specifically the cognitive limitations of others. And we said that the information that we take from other sources or other people when it comes to that, that they in turn are subject
to their own cognitive biases and their own epistemic limitations. We gave the example of cartography, the idea of mapmaking in that a person's worldview and you know, biases are going to play a part in how they structure the map, what continent they place where, what landmass, they placed, where, up or down. And we saw that that actually has real world consequences as well, when we when we mentioned the study that spoke about the idea that when shipping companies when they they can actually charge more for northbound travel. Due to this straight due to this apparent feeling. One has that somehow northbound travel is more difficult than costlier than southbound travel. Now,
that being the case, we also ended the last episode with the thesis, the central thesis that we had started with, and that is, that in order for a person to see truth as truth, that one of the means by which that can be achieved, is by exposure to natural beauty when one is exposed, natural beauty. This can or this, what we're going to inshallah show is that this has an impact on two things. Number one, one's cognition, exposure to natural beauty can enhance one's cognition. Number two, which we didn't mention in the last episode, that is that exposure to beauty would cause one's ego to be decreased.
And one of the main impediments for a person to see truth as truth or see truth, to see truth as it really is, is one's ego. And we're going to get into some details related to that just in a bit. Now, if the idea of being exposed to beauty can enhance one's cognition and lower one one's ego, we want to spend a few moments speaking about the concept of beauty or to conceptualize beauty. Now, one of the one of the places we can start is by asking whether beauty forms part of our meta language. Now what do I mean by meta language? Well, if you remember from the series on worldview and the fifth rock, we said that there there are concepts that are known as axioms and first
principles. And these concepts, there's a similar type of concept within language, in the sense that just like a person can't rationally ask, why ad infinitum, a person can't speak with just descriptive terms, they have to have evaluative terms by which they can move forward, let me give you an example. So, you have terms that we would consider secondary, which are called evaluative terms. In other words, other words are, these words are used as an evaluation of other words. So primary words would be descriptive in nature, secondary words will be evaluative in nature, and you need that evaluative word, to actually be able to give the descriptive word a value. So let's take
an example. A secondary word would be a word like good or true. Now, a primary word or descriptive word would be something like humility. And so therefore, when you want to describe humility, you would use an evaluative term, humility is good. Or you could say something like generosity, being a primary term, generosity is good. So you're using good as your evaluative term. But could you then say, is good, good? Well, you don't really have anywhere to go after that. So in language, we have to have this sort of this sort of structure in order for language to function. Now, this categorization of primary and secondary or evaluative and descriptive, this is something that
toshikazu Tzu speaks about in his book on ethical religious concepts in the Koran. So if we understand
That the question we want to ask is, we have as part of our meta language terms, which are evaluative or terms which are secondary. So, we understood that those secondary terms or evaluative terms could be terms like truth could be terms like, good, but is beauty part of the secondary terminology, or secondary terms that we are taking into consideration, in other words, evaluative terms. In other words, when someone says, Why do you believe x? You would say, because it's true.
Why do you want, why? Because it's good.
Can we apply the same idea when we say, Why do you look at z? Because it's beautiful? Well, from one sense, we could say, yes, and from another sense, we say no, because one of the hangups that happens, and one of the one of the things that we may find that this would be problematic is when one considers that perhaps beauty is subjective. And so you hear people say, well, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Now, I'm going to hang that particular issue in abeyance just for now, and we'll come back to it. But for now, in our conceptualization of beauty, I wanted to continue on and present certain platitudes related to the concept of beauty. These platitudes come from Roger
Scruton, his book called beauty, that's the name of the book. And so Roger Scruton offers some platitudes. And it's interesting that he calls them platitudes and not principles, because the idea is when we're talking about something like beauty, if it is indeed part of our meta language. And we understand that because it's part of our meta language, there's no sort of concept of offering a proof. So you have to kind of just say, their platitudes and not principles as in some sort of absolute way. Now, that being the case, let's take a look at some of his platitudes. First of all, number one, he says that beauty pleases us. Now, this type of pleasure, we're not talking about a
sensual pleasure in the sense that the pleasure you drive from a hot bath, which is related to, you know, relaxing in terms of your senses, or the you know, the pleasure you get from a steam room, or from my mom, or whatever it might be, those are sensual pleasures, but beauty pleases us, but in a way, that's distinctly different. So we understand number one, beauty pleases us, but that that pleasure that we derive is distinctly different than direct sensual pleasure.
Number two, one thing can be more beautiful than another. And so we can compare two things and give a comparison to say this particular thing that we're looking at, you know, this painting from Van Gogh is more beautiful than this painting from my five year old, right? There's a, there's a comparative this ability to compare, you know, beauty. The third
platitude that he puts forth, is that beauty is always a reason for attending to the thing that possesses it. And this is very interesting, because when you look at something, the reason why you're looking at that particular thing, when we're calling it beautiful, is because of the beauty. So why you're looking at the painting from Van Gogh? or Why are you attending to or listening to the poetry from Emily Dickinson? Well, because it, that's the you're, you're attending to it, because it's beautiful. Okay, the fourth platitude that he offers, he says, beauty is a subject matter of a judgment, the judgment of taste. So here is where we may, you know, understand this from the idea
that a person is going to have an opinion about something, they're like you're going to when you when you talk about beauty, it is it is that you're gonna make, you're gonna make a judgement about something that is beautiful, or that is not beautiful, or deep, or that is less beautiful than this particular thing. But that judgment is a judgment of taste. That judgment of taste is based on you. Okay, the fifth platitude. He says the judgment of taste is about the beautiful object and not the subject state of mind. In other words, when you make a judgment, you are going to make a judgement based on the object. The painting of Van Gogh is beautiful, the painting is beautiful, not your
perception of the painting is beautiful, right? Now, the thing is, if that's the case, there's one more platitude that he offers he says Nevertheless, there is no second hand judgments of beauty. In other words, I am going to look at that painting directly and make a judgement. I cannot not look at the painting and then make a judgement. In other words, there's no sort of syllogism or discursive reasoning or some sort of, you know, deductive argument that I could place in the abstract, and I can put forth and bring it to someone who's never seen the painting and say, Look, isn't that painting beautiful? And they never
looked at it? No, it is there's no second judgment, it has to be firsthand. Now having covered a brief conceptualization of beauty, we want to now ask the question or move into the realm of beauty being connected to meaning. Because if we remember the central thesis, and that central thesis was that beauty or exposure to beauty can allow us or aid us in seeing the truth as it really is. And we spoke about two elements related to that, that beauty would cause us to have an increased cognition and beauty will allow us to have a lowered ego. And both of these are elements that can allow us to see truth as it really is. So having conceptualized beauty now, we want to understand the idea of
beauty being connected to meaning. And in the next episode, we're going to be looking at how beauty is, is connected to meaning and give examples of the connection of beauty and meaning. So with that said, this is for HUD this lien and these are sapient thoughts.