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formal sketch of a critical esthetics

© Wim van den Dungen

this text forms a triad with :

Clearings : On Critical Epistemology
Behaviours : On Critical Ethics

"For a philosopher, it is unworthy to say that 'the good and the beautiful are one' ; if he adds to this 'also the true', then one should thrash him*. Truth is not beautiful. We have art so that we do not succumb because of truth."
Nietzsche, F. : Gesammelte Werke IV, München, 1972, p.832, my translation - * prügeln.


Preludium : The Neurophilosophy of Sensation

I : Transcendental Esthetics.

II : Theoretical Esthetics :

01. Beauty as the pleasant.
2. Beauty as satisfaction.
03. Beauty as taste.
04. Excellence, exemplarity & sublimity.
05. The esthetic process.
06. Transcendental harmonization.
07. Instinctual disharmonization or reversal.
08. The Fine Arts : material & imaginal dimensions.
09. The own-form of creative thought.
10. Directly observing sublimity.

III : Applied Esthetics.

11. Factors of creativity.
12. An esthetics of music.
13. Objective art.
14. Subjective art.
15. Social art.
16. Personal art.
17. Revolutionary art.
18. Psycho-dynamic art.
19. Total art.
20. Magisterial art.

Suggested Reading


"Aesthesis" is derived from the Greek word "aisthétikos", or sensate observation. "Aisthésis", or "sensation", "feeling" or "taste" has also a verbal form, namely "aisthanomei", meaning "to observe", "to feel", "to have taste for". In general philosophy, esthetics has the beautiful as object and studies why sensate objects are deemed "beautiful". And in the retinue of this : How to validate an esthetic judgement ? What can I hope ?

the Scribe of Saqqara (Louvre)
IVth or Vth Dynasty (ca.2600 - 2348 BCE)

Grosso modo, the history of esthetics has following periods :

  • Ancient Egyptian period : as early as 2.600 BCE, the "canon" of Ancient Egyptian civilization (ca. 3000 - 30 BCE) ruled all aspects of upper class life, including writing, art, architecture, sapience & religion. Three millennia long, it was the measure they always returned to. In this canon, φ = 1 + √5 /2 ≈ 1.618 033 989 and proportions of triangles were recurrent. Beauty was the actual presence or horizon ("Akh") of the divine (in the temple), and the divine was (also) a sacred glyph, word or number ;

  • Greek period : for Plato (428 - 347 BCE), the arts, considered -except for "inspired" poetry- as mere crafts, imitate life, whereas Aristoteles (384 - 322 BCE), equates beauty with order, proportion, symmetry & size. For Plotinus (ca. 205 - 270), beauty is not defined by symmetry & size, but by a formative principle allowing parts of an object to form a unity. In the latter, beauty thrones. Beauty is the inner reality of the soul, and beauty is good. Its formative principle is rooted in "the One", situated outside the being of the infinite ideas of the world of originals and defined as a non-being on the other side of being, i.e. wholly transcendent ;

  • Christian period : the Late Hellenistic Greek "Fathers of the Church" devised a Christocentric & Trinitarian theology, a Christian variation on the neo-Platonic theme, in which the world of ideas is the transcendent Mind of God and beauty was deemed a mere imitation of the revelation of what God had, has & will have on His Mind (according to the believers) ;

  • Modern period : with Kant (1724 - 1804), the line is drawn between "perception" and "sensation", between, on the one hand, -so must we think- the perception of objective, factual stimuli by the receptor-surfaces of our physical sensory organs, and, on the other hand, the sensation or conscious designation of these coded stimuli. Moreover, beauty is more than pleasantness & satisfaction, it is an example ;

  • Postmodern period : after the romantic introduction of irrationality and its recuperation by the techno-materialist monolith worshipped by the nations, deconstruction hit at the heart of the "grand tales" of realist or idealist foundational onto-conceptuality, introducing an "open space" or "margin", running parallel with the narrow, fossilized designation of reason as "presence". Esthetics integrates the explosion of alternative ways to seek harmony and disharmonization ;

  • Hypermodern period : redefinition is the inevitable outcome of any prolonged mental exercise, especially in philosophy, the way of wisdom. The sapiental path is theoretical & practical. The theory of philosophy is a normative & descriptive study of the way of wisdom. The practice of philosophy is the pragmatism of the philosophical life, both psychological & economical. Esthetics, together with epistemology & ethics, is a normative discipline, occupying itself not with what is but with what ought to be.

Critical esthetics is in tune with the neurophilosophy of sensation. Perception is three-fold. Its efficient neurological cause is called "transduction" ("to lead across"). This is the logic by which a receptor cell, exposed to chemical (smell, taste), mechanical (touch, hearing) or electro-magnetic (sight) environmental stimuli, causes an electrical response. Next, by afferent relay, this coded information travels to the CNS, and is projected (via the thalamus) into the primary sensory area. Because these perceptional data are introduced through sensory pathways to which consciousness has no direct access, perception is, paradoxically, non-sensational. We are not conscious of what the senses perceive, but only of what is sensate by way of them.

All sensory perceptions are relayed to the thalamus, integrating & spatiotemporalizing them as stimuli coded in a format the neocortex is able to read
. These are projected into the primary sensory cortex to be immediately recognized by the verbal association area and the attention association area as object-knowledge.

Although the pair perception/sensation plays a fundamental role in epistemology (and science), it is not without importance in esthetics. The need to distinguish between the input of the senses (perception) and the irreducible interpretation of the conceptual mind (sensation) is crucial here.

Let me summarize this in a few logical steps :

(1) Sensate object are
conscious experiences derived from perception and its sensory system and receptor organs ;
(2) S(ensation) is being conscious of a sensate object
as it is experienced (grasped, possessed) by the subject of experience ;
(3) S = P(erception) X C(onceptual) I(nterpretation) ;
(4) Nominally, CI ≠ 0 ;
(5) CI is a display of the natural state of the mind.
(6) Hypothesis : insofar mind is aware of its own full-empty clarity, CI = 1 and S = P.

We cannot accept sensate information at face value, but must distinguish between the supposed raw sense-data -we are bound to affirm- and the elaborate appearance of sensate objects in simple to complex conceptual frameworks. The facts observed are always a product of coded "raw" materials and elaborate interpretations. Hence, facts are hybrids, possessing both a theory-immanent and, so we must think, a theory-transcendent facet (cf. Clearings, 2006).

Although the conceptual mind is unable to eliminate interpretation to make sensation absolute, it can introduce elaborate comparisons, try to integrate information from as many angels as possible and seek intersubjective confirmation. Insofar as an intersubjective consensus is at hand and sensations are repeated over and over again, the intersubjective margin may be reduced, although never completely eliminated (the scientific language game, conceptual & discursive, has no privileged access to naked perception).

In esthetics, the theme of illusion, of things not appearing as they truly exist from their own side, is already given at the start, namely in terms of objects of pleasure. The affect of pleasure can be transferred to different objects. What causes pleasure for me does not necessarily cause pleasure for You. The pleasant is individual and so pointless to discuss. Only by the coincidence of pleasures can a common illusion be formed, opening the possibility of palaces of pleasure and sensuous gratifications.

De gustibus et coloribus non disputandum est.

Also concepts, backing satisfactions, dichotomize what is a mere idea of the Real or the Ideal. And when moving unto these ontological extremes, conceptual thought is deluded by the fata morgana taking form under the spell of either an objective, extra-mental, independent reality "out there" or the idealization of subjective states.

In this exercise, exquisite craft, prowess in craftsmanship, excellence & exemplarity touch the beautiful devoid of subjectivity, either in terms of the way the artist used the esthetic features and/or as the result of using one of the forms of harmonization. This critical esthetics cannot transcend duality, although it can lay bare the asymptotic progressions working towards the sublime.

The three normative disciplines, epistemology, ethics & esthetics have three parts :

(1) transcendental logic : lays bare the principles needed to be able to think truth, goodness & beauty ;
(2) theoretical esthetics : the study of the norms of excellence & exemplary harmony, as well as the way they touch esthetic judgement ;
(3) applied esthetics : the study of the conditions or maxims of creativity & the practice of harmonization.

Before starting, let me define the most common terms used.

For preliminaries read : Prolegomena (1994), Kennis (1995), Rules (1999), Clearings (2006), Behaviours (2006), Intelligent Wisdom (2007), Philosophy of Sensation (2007).

The Architecture of Thought




1 Mythical
libidinal ego


2 Pre-rational
tribal ego


3 Proto-rational
imitative ego
barrier between instinct and reason




4 Rational
formal ego


5 Critical
formal Self
barrier between rationality and intuition





own Self





These definitions summarize the material covered in Clearings, Behaviours, Intelligent Wisdom and Neurophilosophy of Sensation.


subject of experience : or object-possessor is the consciousness attributing meaning to the sensate, affective, mental or volitional objects with which it is endowed ;

object of experience : facts tested and discussed by the community of relevant sign-interpreters denoting sensate, affective, mental or volitional objects, deemed to "exist" hic et nunc (direct) or posited as coherent referents of a scientific paradigm (indirect) ;

sensate object : conscious experiences derived from perception and its sensory system and receptor organs.

inner object : the conscious experience of objects derived from cognition, affection & volition ;

scientific paradigm : fallible system of empirico-formal propositions of fact assumed to be true by the current community of scientists or summum bonum of relative, conventional truth ;

relative truth : ensemble of statements about sensate & mental reality as possessed by ordinary (nominal) states & stations of consciousness, but dispossessed of absolute certainty regarding the final truth about the nature of the appearances or phenomena covered ;

absolute truth : the existence of every thing as it is ;

system : the totality of parts organized in an orderly fashion ;

movement : a change in the physical position and/or momentum of a system in the exclusive presence of external causes  (cf. "S-R" or Stimulus-Response, with absence of internal causes) ;

coordinations of movement : combinations of movement of a system in the presence of external and internal causes (cf. "S-I-R" or Stimulus-Internal-Reponse, characterized by the presence of a conscious agent and/or a meaningful, userware choice) ;

internal causes : energy belonging to the interiority of a system, engendering changes initiated by the intent of the conscious agent of the system, either mental, affectional & volitional ;

external causes : energy belonging to the exteriority, environment or "Lebenswelt" of a system, caused by sensate objects ;

action : a change brought about or prevented by a conscious, intentional, intelligent, affective and volitional (behavioural) system with minimal impact on the world ; the absence of action (inaction), being the zero-action ;

free will : the director of intentional action in the absence of all possible coercion, determination or causality to undertake something or to do nothing ;


esthetics : (theoretical) the unveiling of the conditions of harmony ruling the making of beauty and (applied) the study of creativity and the production of excellent, exemplary and sublime states of matter ;

beauty : is what belongs to excellent sensate states of matter & mental objects, causing these to be an example of an own-form of harmony ;

esthetic : relating to the general characteristic of art or artists ;

art : the creating & positioning of beautiful objects ;

fine arts : specific set of production-forms of beauty ;

work of art : the final point in a process of excellent manipulation of sensate states of matter, positing the continuity of exemplarity and the direct outcome of esthetical will by excellence, example & sublimity ;

excellent work of art : exquisite examples of esthetically meaningful craftmanlike manipulations of sensate states of matter ;

exemplary work of art : sensate states which are excellent & fitting examples of the consistent use of one or more forms of harmonization ;

sublime work of art : the sensate states of matter are excellent, exemplary and for ever pregnant of an inexpressible, unbounded wholeness ;


esthetic object : sensate states of matter or mental objects possessing esthetic features ;

esthetic features : sum total of all sensate & evocative esthetical features ;

esthetic experience : the process of the conscious experience of an esthetic object ;

sensate esthetic features : sum total of all material, formal and kinetic denotative characteristics of an esthetic object ;

evocative esthetic features : sum total of all connotative meanings suggested by the sensate esthetic features ;

esthetic meaning : the way exquisite sensate states are specifically presented, expressed, manifested, created, realized, actualized ;


esthetic subject : sensate, mental, affective, volition states aroused by beauty in the conscious subject of experience, or each subject experiencing beauty ;

esthetic attitude : the habit of being attentfull to esthetic features ;

esthetic judgement : positing, by way of concepts, the excellent & exemplary nature of a work of art, the fact it is an example of beauty ;

artist : the esthetical subject creating beautiful sensate objects ;

creativity : capacity of an artist to fashion new states of matter, infused with new forms & meanings, or the appearance of freedom in & despite necessity ;

esthetic milieu :
conventional information stored in the collective data bank (or collective memory), acting as a source of information, turning beauty into a cultural form (education & socialization) ;


harmonization : affective, volitional & cognitive process whereby the esthetic object & the artist confront and balance out ;

forms of harmonization : sets of logical primitives & operations involved in the process of harmonization and derived from the duality between object & subject of esthetics ;

disharmonization : process whereby, within an anti-order, conflicts, tensions & the expression of ugliness are consciously cultivated, increasing reversal, disharmony & destruction.

Book Naught
Transcendental Esthetics

0. No creativity without a transcendental object, i.e. states of sensate matter or sensate objects, and a transcendental subject, i.e. a consciousness bringing about excellence of craft worthy of imitation (exemplary).
The minimum necessity for a possible esthetics ? Sensate states of matter or mental objects accommodating craftsmanship and harmonization.
000. Creativity adds to reality (freedom) and is always more than the sum of its parts.

By the creation and expression of beautiful sensate objects, the transcendental subject of esthetics introduces freedom.

No transcendental subject without free will (slipping through the uncertainty-margins of nature) and its power of choice.
1.2 Esthetic judgements invite the assent of all to an excellent work of art exemplifying a universal rule with such sublimity that conceptual reason exhaust its finitude.

2. The transcendental object of esthetics is either an appearance to consciousness of particles & forces, or sensation, caused by changes brought about on the surface of the receptor organs of the sensory system, or perceptions. Or, the object is mental.

2.1 The sensate world is the beginning & end of esthetics.
2.1.1 Esthetic objects are either sensate or mental, but mental objects are part of esthetics if and only if they have sensate and/or evocative esthetic features.
2.1.2 Mere mental features of mental esthetic objects (devoid of sensate and/or evocative esthetic features) are not studied by esthetics, focused on sensate objects.
2.1.3 Mental features like symmetry, reciprocity, elegance, simplicity, consistency or coherence constitute the beauty of logic.

2.2 In epistemology, "realism" & "idealism" are the leading ideas. In ethics, "intent", "duty", "conscience" & "calling" are necessary. The regulative idea of esthetics is "the world".
2.3 The sensate world is an appearance.
2.3.1 Against nihilism : the world appears because sensory perceptions are ongoing. In the dreamworld and dreamless sleep, the sensate world vanishes.
2.3.2 Against dogmatism (realism/idealism) : the world appears because perceptions are always & irreversibly fabricated into conscious sensations.

3. Eliminate freedom, and esthetics is a physics of the pleasurable without beauty. Eliminate sensation, and beauty is confined to mental objects.

Esthetics celebrates sensate matter so beautiful it exceeds finitude.
3.2 The subject of experience has either sensate or mental objects in consciousness. Sensate objects, so must we assume, are caused by perceptions fabricated into conscious sensations. Mental objects are caused by volitions, feelings & cognitions.
3.3 Contrary to truth & goodness, beauty has no compelling or imperative necessity, but is an invitation to resonate with the excellent, the worthy of imitation and the sublime.
3.4 Besides the beautiful mental objects of logic, the beauty of mental objects also involves an esthetics of cognition (the constant balancing-out of object & subject in the production of relative truth), an esthetics of ethics (the exercise of a balanced choice to do the good) and an esthetics of affection (harmony as training in non-afflictive emotions).

Book 1
Theoretical Esthetics

4. From the side of the esthetic object, sensate & evocative esthetic features imply a direct, conscious experience. Beauty is the presence of a particular property or properties in some or all objects of experience. From the side of the esthetic subject, beauty is a particular esthetic attitude of the subject of experience taken with regard to some or all objects of experience.

4.1 In critical esthetics, sensation & evocation are the stuff of beauty. Mere mental beauty, i.e. devoid of sensate and/or evocative esthetic features, is an object of logic.
For an esthetic judgement to be possible, thoughts need to be infused in states of matter, constituting an impermanent glyph, a kind of petrified, mummified, fixated thought.
In an absolute sense, permanent glyphs can nowhere be found, although the architecture of the world has its natural constants (series of irrational numbers round-off by convention).
4.2.2 Glyphs are meaningful representations of sensate and/or mental objects incised in matter. When nearly-permanent media are found, certain glyphs are carved deep into matter. These are "signs", transmitted to the next generation.
4.2.3 Human glyphs are signs and tools. Signs make a decisive association between, on the one hand, mental objects and, on the other hand, sounds and/or gestures (verbal & non-verbal language). Tools are complex glyphs instrumental in a functional interaction with the environment.
4.2.4 Signs are signals, icons & symbols. Signals herald survival, icons belongingness (affects) and symbols cognition & volition.

4.3 Objective esthetics, based on a realist ontology of the essence (substance or nature) of beauty, is one-sided (does not integrate the subjectivity of the receptor) and focuses on material & formal features, with the danger of academism and formalism.
4.4 Subjective esthetics, based on an idealist ontology of the adequatio of mind and reality, is one-sided (does not integrate the objectivity of perceptions), identifying beauty with a state of consciousness. Here egocentrism & solipsism lurk.
4.5 Critical esthetics has three developmental stages : esthetics as physical science deals with the sensation of the pleasant, esthetics as an objective or subjective ontology introduces the idea of the beautiful to underpin satisfaction, while esthetics as taste brings in excellence & harmony, pointing to sublimity.
4.5.1 The esthetic of the pleasant studies the emotional arousal caused by esthetic objects. Strong signals & emotional images hook our desire for pleasurable experiences. Without moderation seek this for its own sake and emotional addiction ensues.
4.5.2 The esthetic of satisfaction studies how the pleasure derived from an emotionally charged icon may be boosted by introducing exaggerated concepts about how this object really is or how it should be ultimately conceived.
4.5.3 The esthetic of taste lays bare the exquisiteness of the craftsmanship and the excellence of the composition of the revealed esthetic features, i.e. the way they are used. If this excellence is a harmony, exemplarity may be the case.
4.5.4 Excellent examples integrating disharmony are sublime.

01. Beauty as the pleasant.

5. Esthetics as physical science conceives beauty as "pleasant", i.e. what is pleasing to the senses. This is a personal, relative, direct, sensuous appreciation of the perceptions received by our receptor organs.

5.1 To discuss the pleasant, bound up with personal interest, is futile (
individuum est ineffabile). The worth of the agreeable, lovely, delightful & enjoyable consists in personal gratification. Everyone has his own pleasures and can share them with others.
5.1.1 The art of pleasure studies the sensuality of smell, taste, touch, hearing and sight, bringing them together in a synesthesia of pleasure.
5.1.2 When beauty-as-pleasure is intersubjective, a interpersonal illusion is consciously created, a trade-off of pleasure for more pleasure resulting in less.
5.1.3 The moment the pleasurable experience stops being orgiastic, the return to sobriety is initiated.
5.1.4 The marginal increase of pleasure of repeated pleasurable experiences decreases.
5.1.5 The art of pleasure is the increase of the duration of the orgiastic by increasing what happens before and after it, and this until the experience of pleasure is omnipresent.
5.1.6 Beyond the rule of immediate gratifications (or hedonism
pur sang), the art of pleasure invites one to think satisfaction, taste and sublimity.
5.1.7 As pleasure seeks satisfaction, satisfaction seeks taste.

5.2 The pleasantness of the esthetic object, like any other sensate or mental object, is the outcome of emotional coloring (thalamus, limbic system) and fabrication (neocortex).
5.2.1 All afferent sensory pathways come together in the mammalian thalamus, where they are modulated, integrated & translated before being projected in the human cerebrum. The emotional brain colors these inputs before & after they have entered the neocortex.
5.2.2 In the neocortex, a complex network of cortical area's process the inputs provided by the five primary sensory areas. Recognition and naming of sensate objects is linked with tool-making and verbalization (cf. the angular gyrus). Positioning of the object in space & time and focusing attention are processed in other association areas.

5.3 The pleasant idolizes the esthetic features of sensate objects.
5.3.1 Different cultures idolize different features.
5.3.2 Classical pleasurable features are examples of objective art, imitating the architectonic key of nature.

6. The beauty of the pleasant consists in sensation and to part from it or to remember to have done so, is cause of unhappiness.

6.1 Resting entirely upon sensation, the pleasant involves the ante-rational coloration of perception.
6.1.1 Ante-rationality encompasses mythical, pre-rational & proto-rational thought operating in mythical (non-verbal), pre-conceptual & concrete conceptual modes of thought (cf. Clearings, 2006).
6.1.2 Insofar as ante-rationality has easier access to the limbic system (
via the non-verbal hemisphere ?), its operation is more limbic than cortical, more based on direct relatedness than on conceptual discrimination. Hence, to seek pleasure conceptual thoughts are unnecessary.
6.1.3 Pleasantness is largely an automatic response to the stimuli provided by icons of affection.

6.2 Processing the internal workings of feelings (affects), helps finding the icon of personal emotions, singling out or selecting this-or-that pleasantness in a given sensate object.
6.3 As long as the delightful sensate object is present, pleasure is aroused and sustained by the affective stream of consciousness. To then miss this pleasure may cause dissatisfaction.
6.3.1 Pleasure dismisses conceptualization. But when pleasure only seeks itself, mindlessness & tastelessness ensue.
6.3.2 Experience pleasurable sensate objects without mentation, witnessing their conditioned & transient nature.

02. Beauty as satisfaction.

7. Esthetics as ontology grasps beauty as "satisfaction", making the beautiful depend on a conceptual reflection upon the esthetic object or the esthetic subject.

An ontology of beauty binds enjoyable, lovely sensate objects to concepts able, for a while, to resurrect the joy & the love of the enjoyable & the lovely as some "pure" satisfaction of either their "true reality" or their "real ideality".
7.1.1 The "true reality" of an esthetic object, is the quantity, quality, relation & modality the object is deemed possessed with. This is the ontology of esthetic realism.
7.1.2 The "real ideality" of an esthetic subject, is the perfect conceptualization of beauty offered by our esthetic attitude, as it were the eternalization of the "pleasantness" of what was a mere sensation. This is the ontology of esthetic idealism.
7.1.3 Devoid of foundationalism, critical esthetics has no need to move to these extremes and always seeks the middle ground.

7.2 The "ideal reality" as well as the "real ideality" of esthetics (the transcendent Real-Ideal of beauty) is necessarily sublime, i.e. non-conceptual & beyond the dual, conceptualizing mind.
7.2.1 Insofar esthetics is a rational discipline, it cannot transgress the borders of an immanent metaphysics.
7.2.2 If craftsmanship & excellence are defined in the formal & critical modes of thought, exemplarity, based on harmony, makes use of creative concepts which can not be tested but only argued.
7.2.3 Craftsmanship & excellence are the scientific aims of critical esthetics, while exemplarity is metaphysical.
7.2.4 The sublime is the transcendent signifier allowing esthetics to touch the ultimate nature of phenomena.
7.2.5 Because epistemology has no transcendent signifier, thought, and by extension science, can have their own space based on the groundless ground of knowledge (cf. Clearings, 2006). In ethics, "calling" is the transcendent signifier allowing fairness to become rightness (cf. Behaviours, 2006).

7.3 The move from transient to eternalizing concepts is ruled out by logic. The "point at infinity" (or limit-concept) must not be "filled in" and ontologised. The Real & the Ideal do not serve as
7.3.1 Critical esthetics focuses on sensate objects. Most of the time, it operates in the formal & critical modes of thought. Exquisite & excellent works of art are rare.
7.3.2 Exemplary art is surprisingly unique, truly
7.3.3 Sublime art is Divine and so ineffable.

7.4 Satisfaction imagines the evocative esthetic features.
7.4.1 Conceptualizing this brings about conceptualizing that. One image gets associated with another. Conceptualization inevitably constructs connotations overlaying sensation itself.
7.4.2 Connotations based on sensate features are mental objects. Thanks to imagination, mental objects can be visualized.

8. If the beautiful is only pleasure & satisfaction, the esthetic judgement of craftsmanship is part of Art Studies.

The focus of Art Studies is on the artistic phenomenon, laying bare the nature of the arts (objective esthetics) and their effects (subjective esthetics).
8.1.1 Besides the nature of the arts, objective esthetics investigates the systematic relationships between the fine arts and the interactions between art & no-art.
8.1.2 Subjective esthetics tries to understand esthetic experience, esthetic affectivity, esthetic conceptuality & esthetic motivation in the light of a "special" property of the esthetic attitude, like absence of personal interest.
8.2 Critical esthetics, as the normative philosophy of the beautiful, adds excellence & exemplary harmony, touching sublimity.

9. Art Studies necessitates a specific inquiry for each art. As object, the physical constitution, the phenomenal actuality, the semantics and the interrelation with the other forms of art are grasped as the material object of the art. Subjectively, the value of the work of art, the quality of its reception and the evolution in the quality of taste are aimed at.

03. Beauty as taste.

"I may assert in the case of every representation that the synthesis of a pleasure with the representation (as a cognition) is at least possible. Of what I call agreeable I assert that it actually causes pleasure in me. But what we have in mind in the case of the beautiful is a necessary reference on its part to delight. However, this necessity is of a special kind. It is not a theoretical objective necessity-such as would let us cognize a priori that every one will feel this delight in the object that is called beautiful by me. Nor yet is it a practical necessity, in which case, thanks to concepts of a pure rational will in which free agents are supplied with a rule, this delight is the necessary consequence of an objective law, and simply means that one ought absolutely (without ulterior object) to act in a certain way.

Rather, being such a necessity as is thought in an aesthetic judgement, it can only be termed exemplary. In other words it is a necessity of the assent of all to a judgement regarded as exemplifying a universal rule incapable of formulation. Since an aesthetic judgement is not an objective or cognitive judgement, this necessity is not derivable from definite concepts, and so is not apodeictic. Much less is it inferable from universality of experience (of a thoroughgoing agreement of judgements about the beauty of a certain object). For, apart from the fact that experience would hardly furnish evidences sufficiently numerous for this purpose, empirical judgements do not afford any foundation for a concept of the necessity of these judgements."

Kant : Critique of Judgement, Book 1, Fourth Moment, § 18 (transl. Meredith).

10.  As a normative discipline, esthetics uncovers the norms ruling "taste" or the excellence of sensate states of matter and the exemplary harmonizations every esthetic subject ought to acknowledge.

10.1 Sensate states of matter are either natural or artificial. Natural beauty unveils the beauty of the kingdoms of nature and offers insights into the esthetics of the cosmos. Artificial beauty is a cultural object revealing excellence & exemplary form.
10.2 Critical esthetics avoids to root, objectively as well as subjectively, the beautiful in a sufficient ground outside thought.
10.2.1 The norm of excellence is not based on esthetical features (their quantity, quality, relation or modality). It depends on the intensity of the conscious esthetic meaning infused in these features, i.e. their use.
10.2.2 The transcendental categories of this esthetics are derived from the condition of sensate states of matter in terms of exemplary status, pointing to the spirit of sublimity.
10.2.3 Sensate objects and mental objects are not devoid of conceptual interpretation (this avoids the eternalism of the object). Conceptual interpretation of reality without sensation is impossible (this avoids the eternalism of the subject).

10.3 Esthetic objects are called beautiful because the esthetic judgement designating them is, as far as possible, independent of pleasure, satisfaction or dissatisfaction, although pleasure & satisfaction may well be present.
10.3.1 Esthetic judgement is based on the way esthetic features are used (excellence) and how harmony is applied (exemplarity).
10.3.2 The esthetic judgement calls for the assent of all esthetic subjects to a judgement of taste regarded as exemplifying a definite rule of harmony.

10.4 Excellent sensate matter does more than maintain a high standard in material, formal and/or kinetic denotations (i.e. craft & craftsmanship), but stimulates the senses in concert because of the meaningful way the given esthetic features are expressed.
10.5 Exemplary art affords an example of the application of the principle of harmony, inviting all esthetic subjects to enjoy what they ought to accept as beautiful because of excellence surpassed by exemplary harmony.
10.6  Critical esthetics points at but cannot penetrate the sublime, unfolding a unique evolutionary process of spiritualizing matter.

04. Excellence, exemplarity & sublimity.

11. The norms ruling excellence cover sensate & evocative esthetic features, expressive enough to be received by others.

11.1 Sensate esthetic features are denotations based on sensation. Evocative esthetic features are affective, volitional, cognitive & conscious connotations based on denotations.
11.2 Art is not to be present in the mind or the workplace of the artist only. Art is creating & exposing, impression & expression. Work of arts belong to the esthetic process and are moments of the ongoing stream of communication between its actors.
11.3 Sensate esthetic features include motoric & formal features. Motoric features define the momentum of the object, while form denotes composition (based on size, proportion, balance, etc.).
11.4 Judgement of skill or craftsmanship is based on how each available esthetic features is executed and integrated to form a functional whole.
11.5 An exquisite, functional whole is not a priori excellent, while excellent art is always exquisite.

12. The esthetic judgement of excellence is not based on the esthetic features themselves, integrated as they are in an organic whole, but on their total or partial esthetic meaning.

12.1 Consciousness is the userware operating the evolutionary software encoded in the hardware of the body. If matter is capacity and information is data, then userware is the meaningful use of both as well as the inner reflection changing code & machine (cf. autopoiesis).
12.2 Excellence is not the outcome of a mere presentation of sensate esthetic features (as in exquisite skill), but of esthetic meaning, i.e. of the way exquisite sensate states are specifically presented, expressed, manifested, created, realized, actualized.
12.2.1 For example. Not harshness, coldness or softness (of a work of art) are objectified, but how harsh harshness, how cold coldness and how soft softness is.
12.2.2 To express this intensity of the predicate, more is needed than exquisite esthetic features. Without this conscious capacity to create freedom in sensate states of matter, pleasure is all what is left.
12.2.3 Turning free creativity into symbols, excellence points to qualities beyond the conditions imposed by sensation. A higher-order form is at work.
12.2.4 Consciousness, immaterial & nameless, infuses meaning in glyphs, or typical modifications of sensate states of matter.
12.2.5 Excellence is a potent symbiosis of signs resonating with their beholder. This focus, presence & meaningful interdependence of the each esthetic feature with all others, adds a meta-level to the esthetic experience of excellence.
12.2.6 Craft, excellence, exemplarity & sublimity are the levels of esthetic appreciation.

12.3 In any esthetic judgement, partial and total judgement are to be distinguished. The beauty of the parts does not make the beauty of the whole, rather, the whole is sensate before the parts.

13. Esthetic features cover : (a) local events, (b) regional categories and (c) the total categorial system.

13.1 Local events are specific esthetic features. For example, in the orchestra, the sudden sound of the Flauto piccolo during tutti piano, in ballet, an unexpected jump like the Grand Jeté, in painting, a lovely executed hand, or in literature, a remarkable passage in the text, etc.
13.2 Regional categories are sections of a work of art. For example, the string, woodwind, brass or percussion sections, and the excellence of their esthetic features.
13.3 The total system refers to the work of art as a whole. The conductor's score is an analogy (however, in music, being acoustic, the work of art exists only when it is played).
13.4 Critical esthetic judgements distinguish between these layers of esthetic features. Thus, ugly local features may functionally assist excellent regional expressiveness and global balance.

14. As esthetic features are based on interdependent sensations, they functionally exist as long as they interact with other features.

14.1 The sensate nature of the stuff of esthetics turns it into a differential activity related to the infinitesimal increment in the variables of sensation.
14.1.1 Each sense has a threshold beyond which the inability to register with more subtlety (with a finer pixel) fabricates the illusion of a discrete process to be continuous.
14.1.2 For example. A movie runs at twenty-four frames per second, making a discrete sequence of individual frames appear as a natural and unfabricated continuous sensate object. Slowing down would make the individual frames of the film visible, causing the fata morgana of appearances to breakdown.
14.1.3 Sensation is the appearance of phenomena fabricated by our senses on the basis of perception.
14.1.4 Naked perception, share by all animals, is what happens when sensory stimuli are transduced into bio-electric impulses. Natural perception is what we share with the other mammals (cf. Philosophy of Sensation, 2007).
14.1.5 The mind of duality (of object & subject) cannot eliminate interpretation without eliminating itself. Because of our mental fabrications, sensation is all what is left of perception.
14.1.6 Science nor philosophy perceive, they sensate.

14.2 For excellence, all what matters, is the way these differential changes in exquisite esthetic features are an expression of consciousness. One does not seek beauty (as in pleasure & satisfaction), but shows how beautiful beauty is (as in excellence).

15. The esthetic judgement of example is based on a spectrum of possible abstract forms of harmony, ranging from the entirely subjective to the entirely objective.

15.1 The abstract forms, rooted in transcendental esthetics, are necessary but formal. The transcendental object is a sensate object, the subject an expressive artist. All harmonizations necessarily involve this pair.
15.2 Positing, comparing, denying, uniting & transcending are the five models of harmony.
15.2.1 Positioning : affirming the object without the subject or affirming the subject without the object.
15.2.2 Comparing : considering the object more than the subject or considering the subject more than the object.
15.2.3 Denying : rejecting the object or rejecting the subject.
15.2.4 Uniting : identifying object with subject and subject with object.
15.2.5 Transcending : zeroing out of all harmonization, without object or subject.

Critical Esthetics




1 the pleasant


2 the pleasant
3 the satisfying
barrier between instinct and reason




4 the exquisite


5 the excellent
barrier between rationality and intuition





the exemplar



the sublime


16. Sublime works of art testify of the natural, nondual light of the mind.

05. The esthetic process.

17. In the esthetic process, the four actors are : the environment (the esthetic milieu), the sender (the artist), the message (the work of art) and the receiver (the public).

17.1 The characteristics of the cycle of communication can be applied to the esthetic process.
17.2 Each actor, like the neuron, is stimulated by a source and in turn becomes a source of stimuli :

  1. environment or esthetic milieu : collective, conventional information or code is stored in the collective data bank (or collective memory), acting as a source of information concerning the cultural form (education & socialization) ;

  2. sender or artist : the stimuli of the environment are received by the info-receptor of an individual sender, who integrates the information and (tries to) author an original, individualized response, which is a variation on the theme of the collective code ;

  3. message or work of art : the actual response of the sender is a message which is a symptom of the response and the source of symbolic activity sent to a receiver ;

  4. receiver or the public : the symbols received are integrated by the receiver who has access to the collective code and who integrates the received symbols in the repertoire of the data bank of the collective, communicating the integrated symbols of the message.

17.3 Each of the actors is a system. The esthetic milieu, the artist and the public are open systems, the work of art is a closed system.
17.4 In esthetics, closed systems are meaningful signs standing on their own, being symptoms of a creative intent.
17.5 The esthetic process is characterized by the following types of information : direct & primary, direct & secondary, indirect & primary, indirect & secondary.
17.5.1 Works of art are direct & primary : a symphony, a painting, a novel, etc.
17.5.2 Plans, sketches, opinions regarding a work of art are direct & secondary.
17.5.3 Socio-economical structures making certain works of art preferential are indirect & primary.
17.5.4 Opinions about socio-economical structures challenging or altering preferences are indirect & secondary.

17.6 The esthetic process is characterized by the following types of meaningful information : codes of communication and media of communication.
17.6.1 The codes of information imply the esthetic milieu, the artist & the public. The milieu contains collective codes, conventions (national, regional or social styles). The artist personally adapts to these collective codes, with intensive or extensive originality. The public, possessing the codes of the milieu and acquiring personal codes, integrates the latter in the former. This acquired taste may be eclectic, specific, superficial or informed.
17.6.2 The media of communication imply the same actors. The esthetic milieu has institutionalized media of production and transmission. The artist has personal variants of these and the public makes use of the institutions, adapts to new media and integrates the latter in the basket of available media.

17.7 Three problems emerge : a problem of structure, a problem of transmission and a problem of reception.
17.7.1 Structure : the artist makes use of all available information, never makes use of non-artistic codes or has a mixed structure.
17.7.2 Transmission : the artist represents his work of art in a clear-cut, representational way, never uses representation, or has a mixed transmission.
17.7.3 Reception : the public receives the message as intended by the artist, never receives the message or has a mixed reception.

17.8 The complexity of the esthetic process is enhanced by three constant factors of change : feedback, interference & internal temporal dynamics.
17.8.1 Feedback can be autogenous (from the work of art back to the artist), interferential (from the public to the artist) & restructuring (from the esthetic milieu to the public).
17.8.2 Interferences are either blockages or derailments. Blockages are quantitative (less creativity, less diffusion, less public) and/or qualitative (less information, less diffusion of information, less interest in information by the public). Derailments are distortions in the esthetic circuit from the side of the artist (epigonism, exotism, formalism), the esthetic milieu (traditionalism, performatism) and/or the public (conservatism, entertainment oriented).
17.8.3 Internal temporal dynamics of artist & public involve the evolution of the esthetic milieu to which they belong. Internal temporal dynamics of this milieu is defined by socio-economical, political, cultural, ideological and artistic developments.

17.9 The esthetic process as a whole is influenced by three movements interacting simultaneously.
17.9.1 Linear movements from the esthetic milieu to the artist, from the artist to the work of art, from the work of art to the public and from the public to the milieu.
17.9.2 Internal movements within each actor (from output to input and from input to output).
17.9.3 Dialectical movements between certain systems by feedback, interference and the temporal evolution of historical events.

06. Transcendental harmonization.

18. Harmonization pertains to exemplary art.

18.1 Harmony is a relatively continuous balance between the artist and the work of art.
18.2 Forms of harmony are archetypal ways of balancing object & subject of esthetics.
18.3 Absence of balance is not a form of harmony. Balance can be weird, awkward, odd, strange, bizarre, absurd, grotesque, bombastic, exaggerated etc.
18.4  By enantiomorphism, disharmonization is reversal of balance (cf.
Diabolus est Deus inversus).

19. Given object & subject of esthetics, harmonizations are transcendental because they represent the forms, models, archetypes or "pure ideas" of harmony necessary for a work of art to strike a creative exemplary balance between both. They belong to the esthetic subject and define an esthetic milieu, its interests, media & style.

19.1 The forms of harmony are transcendental in terms of the creative balance between object & subject of esthetics.
19.2 To measure excellence, a meta-level of sensation is introduced (namely, the intensity of the esthetic predicate). Being worthy of imitation implies a meta-level of cognition. This defines the forms of harmony enabling the comparison & integration of creativity & beautiful sensate objects, of freedom & works of art.
19.3 The transcendental forms designate the exemplary status of sensate objects.
19.4 In esthetics, the transcendental proof only pertains to harmony, not to excellence or sublimity. To describe the experience of harmony, we must have these forms at work
a priori, constituting the possibility of archetypal examples.
19.5 Although we
must have forms of harmony to designate examples, the exemplary ought to be imitated.
19.5.1 The esthetic judgement of example is not necessary, but invites every other to concur.
19.5.2 Example moves beyond excellence, implying harmony.

20. An esthetic judgement of example is not a dictate, a law or a must, for esthetic necessity cannot be deduced. These judgements ought to be valued and contain a prescriptive, not an imperative command.

20.1 Excellence can be determined with precision, but harmony is not a formal necessity, rather an invitation to judge likewise.
20.2 An imperative command is universal, immediate and part of a finite, well-defined pattern or strategy it must deploy & execute.
20.3 A prescriptive command is the description of something worth to be imitated.
20.4 Because an esthetic judgement is not imperative, all one can do is hope it finds the goodwill of all other possible esthetic subjects.

21. The sectio aurea or sectio Divina, present in the works of art of Ancient Egypt, Greece & Rome, in Platonic solids, Fibonacci numbers & the Mandelbrot fractals (when they are self-referent by relationships between parts based on φ), seems preferred by Nature to geometrize growth, elegance & energy conservation.

21.1 The Golden Number is arrived at when
the sum of two quantities is to the larger quantity as the larger is to the smaller
("a + b" is to "a" as "a" is to "b" or "a + b / a = a / b"), giving an irrational number φ = 1 + √5 /2 ≈ 1.618 033 989.
21.2 Crucial in Classical Architecture, this "Divine Proportion" is also found in complex biological processes.
21.3 The "beauty of Nature" is expressed by the excellent & exemplary sensate objects adorning its four kingdoms : the mineral, the vegetal, the animal and the human.
21.4 In Ancient Egypt, Greece & Rome, as well as in the East, the natural realm took the shape of ongoing natural conflicts between the elements of Earth, Water, Fire & Air. This system became part of Qabalah & Hermeticism (cf. the system of correspondences of the Western Mystery Tradition).
21.5 Only humans create artificial beauty.
21.6 In logic, elegance and symmetry are part of the formal criteria of a valid hypothesis.
21.7 In physics, chemistry, biology & psychology, symmetries are at work : matter versus anti-matter, group theory in quantum chemistry & spectroscopy, physiological bi-polarity, conscious versus unconscious, etc.

22. Excellence, being empirical, is derived from a minute, comparative observation of the ways of sensate objects, but exemplary works of art are identified by their formal features.

07. Instinctual disharmonization or reversal.

23. Disharmonization involves a vertical and horizontal dialectic leading to an increase in entropy (a decrease in complexification and a reduction to more probable states of consciousness, information and matter).

23.1 Vertical disharmonization is the conflict or dialectic between, on the one hand, the human and, on the other hand, the mammalian & reptilian characteristics encoded in the software of our body.

  • the reptilian brain : brain stem (midbrain, pons, medulla), midbrain, hypothalamus ;

  • the mammalian brain : thalamus, hippocampus, amygdala ;

  • the human brain : neocortex of cerebral hemispheres of cerebrum, angular gyrus.

23.1.1 Mammalian belongingness is expressed by special signs, called "icons". They involve visual & spatial semantics, addressing emotions as a motivating & mobilizing source of empathy and memory, uniting relatedness and nurturance (thalamus).
23.1.2 Reptilian wakefulness, sense of territory, instinct of survival & reproductive urge are executed by the brainstem, midbrain and hypothalamus, the controller of the Autonomous Nervous System (and the fight or flight response).
23.1.3 The signal-language of reptiles is based on pheromonal, auditive & visual signals.
23.1.4 Both signals & icons are emblems of the instincts, whereas symbols point to a conceptual process. Proto-rationality, with its concrete concepts, belongs to the instincts but reaches out to the rational.

23.2 Horizontal disharmonization is the tension between, on the one hand, the thinking ego and, on the other hand, ante-rationality & irrationality.
23.2.1 The thinking, empirical ego, cognizes sensate objects based on perceptions of outer events & its own mental objects.
23.2.2 Sensation or experience always involves conceptual interpretation, a fabrication or a construction, never the direct datum of perception as such (cf. Preludium). Elaborate conceptualizations of sensations are likewise a higher order register of abstraction.
23.2.3 Although sensate & mental objects are the only things known, we act as if we conceptualize perceptions as well as the nature of mind. This cannot be the case, for duality never grasps unity.
23.2.4 Hemispheric lateralization of the neocortex executes an unbalanced preference for verbal, conceptual thinking, at the expense of other non-verbal approaches & symbols (mediated by the dominated hemisphere and via the latter, by the limbic system).
23.2.5 The dominant hemisphere computes verbal symbols.
23.2.6 Disharmonization may be a reequilibration-phase leading to higher order.
23.2.7 In any case, disharmonization is the expression of the repressed Shadow-nature spoiling (polluting) conscious meaning.

24. In esthetics, reversal is the tool of disharmonization. With it, one tries to reverse genuine communication into strategy, harmony into conflict and symmetry into "follow-the-leader" reflexes.

25. If in a work of art, disharmonization rules supreme, then afflictive affects dominate. Devoid of harmony, excellence in destruction may be achieved. This is not an example and never sublime.

25.1 Through the media "money, sex & power", manipulation is initiated in the form of instrumental & strategic communication.
25.2 Parody degrades the great works of art.
25.3 Virulent (organized) destruction is a fascist system, evoking the kitsch beauty of the artificial "Beast".
25.4 Blind annihilation is madness as art and art as madness.
25.5 Excessive and obsessive disharmonization, in direct conflict with the law of life (φ) and, by absence of a critical self-consciousness, depletes itself.

26. The Back Box method is a psychosynthetic technique evoking the Shadow, confronting & integrating its imago within the confines of a private "open space" without "spill-over".

26.1 A dadaist seeks to discover his or her psychic mechanism, which also means confronting, naming, accepting and integrating the repressed contents of consciousness (cf. depth-psychology).
26.1.1 Confrontation means to take the time to deliberately evoke negative qualities and not back away from their appearance.
26.1.2 Naming is attributing clear-cut meaning & personal character to the Shadow.
26.1.3 Acceptance is allowing this imago of the Shadow to exist without rejection nor identification.
26.1.4 Integration is choosing for the right chaos-element in the right place at the right time.

26.2 Clearly, this Back Box method has dangers and needs to be confined by expert skill in psychosynthesis.
26.3 "Spill-over" is what happens when Shadow-contents escapes the closed, secret context in which they are evoked, contaminating areas in which negativity & chaos are an inefficient nuisance.

27. Artistic disharmonization is the allowance of a margin of entropy within harmony and can, in human practice, not be avoided.

27.1 Every harmonization has minor, negligible imperfections.
27.2 Artistic disharmonization is the deliberate introduction of chaos in the linear mechanism of a given form of harmonization.
27.2.1 Chaos is a complex, aperiodic, irregular, not completely predictable, not entirely erratic, a little determinable, non-linear movements of natural & artificial systems, i.e. a phase-stream dependent of small changes in the initial conditions, leading to the exploration of a very large number of dynamical possibilities.
27.2.2 As soon as three independent variables are present, non-linearity is a fact (cf. Chaos, 1996).

27.3 The way artistic disharmonization is an integral part of a harmonic key, is a measure of the sublimity of an exemplary work of art.
27.3.1 Sublimity points to the unbounded wholeness of a work of art and the dissolution of divisions between harmony & disharmony and between the work of art and its observer.
27.3.2 Although directly experienced, sublimity cannot be conceptually explained or rationally authenticated.
27.3.3 Sublimity is the object of a transcendent metaphysics, expressing itself in poetry.

08. The Fine Arts : material & imaginal dimensions.

28. The Fine Arts target a specific format of artwork and do so with historical continuity regarding the achievement of craftsmanship, excellence & example.

28.1 The Fine Arts
designate a limited number of art disciplines, defined by the purity of their form, i.e. uncontaminated by considerations outside their actual dimensions.
28.2 More academical than applied, these disciplines do not refer to the quality of the work of art, but to the exact, academic performance of how to create certain works of art.
28.3 Because they create, preserve & transmit a specific discipline, the Fine Arts belong to the own-form of civilization.
28.4 Of all the Fine Arts, music is the most complex.

Fine Arts Actual
drawing length, breadth perspective
photography length, breadth perspective
painting length, breadth
sculpture length, breadth
surface tension
poetry semantics, syntax
literature semantics, syntax
audiovisual arts length, breadth
 time, sound
dance, ballet length, breadth, height, time style
theatre, drama place, time
persona, word
fashion length, breadth
height, time
opera place, time
persona, music
music pitch, length
 dynamics, color
harmony, counterpoint

29. The Fine Arts are classified in accordance with their actual and imaginal dimensions.

29.1 A dimension is a measure of observation.
29.2 An actual dimension is a measures of the "stuff" presented.
29.3 An imaginal dimension connotates evocative esthetic features on the basis of denoted sensate esthetic features.
29.4 Imaginal dimensions do not add sensation to the work of art, but do suggest the presence of qualities exceeding the "stuff" actualized or presented.

09. The own-form of creative thought.

"We ourselves posses beauty when we are true to our own being ; our ugliness is in going over to another order ; our self-knowledge, that is to say, is our beauty ; in self-ignorance we are ugly."
Plotinus : Enneads, V.9.13.

30. Excellence unveils how mind plays matter, but does not reflect the own-Self of the artist, rather the empirical ego of the craft.

30.1 To measure the intensity of predicates, mental objects are necessary and designated by the empirical ego, acting as the focal centre of a circular, nominal consciousness (the mind of
Homo normalis). This waking state prompts conceptualization.
30.2 As a concept, "excellence" calls for the critical mode of conceptual thought.
30.3 Excellence presupposes craftsmanship, the possession of exquisite esthetic features.
30.4 Ante-rationality does not preclude excellent craftsmanship, but develops no abstract considerations about beauty as such.
30.5 For the empirical ego, the harmonic key is not an issue. It comes by introducing the second focus of consciousness, the own-Self, rather a "soul", or a "someone", than mere sentient animated flesh, or a "something".
30.5.1 As a concept, "exemplarity" calls for the creative mode of conceptual thought.
30.5.2 In sublimity, with the integration of disharmony in harmony (building a kind of super-harmony), excellence (matter) & exemplarity (form) are one.

30.6 Creative thought affirms the presence of a broader, panoramic view, and replaces the critical "I think" with the ontic "I am".
30.7 The soul of the artist is the throne of his or her harmonizations.

Esthetics Object Mode of
sublimity integration of
nondual originative
exemplarity pure application
of harmonic keys
creative comparative
excellence presentation of
esthetic meaning
critical delimitative
craftsmanship prowess in execution of craft formal theoretical
craft exquisite sensate
esthetic features
ante-rational contextual

31. Exemplary art is exceptional, unique, highly individual, etc. These works of art assume the sparks of the inner light of the artist, his or her own-Self. This alchemy is the most precious secret of the artist, an ineffable, inner, intimate state of consciousness.

32. Critical esthetics calls for four conceptual modes of thought :

32.1 Proto-rationality, bringing ante-rationality to a close, operates a concrete concept unable to escape context.
Formal thought studies sensate objects of art, their quantity, quality, modality & relation. It articulates propositions regarding their esthetic features.
32.3 Critical thought, to identify excellence, studies the specifics of the way esthetic features are presented, the characteristic esthetic meaning sensate objects come to express, calling for meta-levels of meaning, tensions between parts and between part and whole, etc.
32.4 Creative thought identifies the harmonic key of the own-Self of the artist. Aided by critical thought, comparative solutions are found to the problems posed by the tensions between artist and work of art. A harmonization is a standardized solution of these tensions.

33. Harmonization always occurs against the background of a realist or an idealist ontology, and is therefore an object of immanent metaphysics designated in the mode of creative thought.

10. Directly observing sublimity.

34. Because sensation is a sullying fabrication, sublime works of art manifest with sublime clarity.

34.1 Sensation is always confused and curtailed.
34.1.1 From its own side, sensation -implying concepts, labels and names- is not clear-cut.
34.1.2 Perception takes place using
population coding, implementing a threshold for combined action-potentials of the neurons. Very weak stimuli usually never trigger an axonal discharge, whereas the totality of afferent data is filtered by both hypothalamus & thalamus.
34.1.3 As soon as, in the nondual mode of cognition, non-conceptual wisdom emerges, the approximation of sensation with perception (or CI tending towards 1) clarifies, by comparison, the extent of nominal sensate confusion.

34.2 In the formal, critical & creative conceptual modes of thought S = P.CI with CI ≠ 0 pertains and illusion is inevitable and
spread throughout.
34.2.1 Some coarse, optical illusions can be detected and their nefast influence eliminated, but without stopping them from appearing.
34.2.2 Conceptual illusion is subtle & universal and cannot be identified. If so, it would not be universal. It results from the habitual framework of interpretation of the mind, designating objects by giving them names covering the base of designation.
34.2.3 Conceptually, to identify the base of designation is to invoke another designation and another base, and this
ad infinitum.
34.2.4 Example. If a flower is designated, then the word "flower" is the designation and the physical object pointed at called "flower" is the base of designation. To ostentatiously identify this "physical object over there", one may again invoke concepts as "roots", "stem", "leaves", "flower butt" etc. Whatever the description, it has again to be defined by further designations, ending this regression
ad hoc, as in "electrons", "neutrons", ... "quarks" etc. In fact, nothing concrete is found, for after final or ultimate analysis, the so-called "forces" and "particles" constituting the "flower" just appear out, vanish in & reappear out of the universal, virtual zero-point-field studied by quantummechanics. Like all other sensate objects, what we conventionally call "flower", is in fact an aggregate of impermanent displays of energy-fields.
34.2.5 Appearing solid, concrete and substantial (existing from their own side), sensate objects are in fact fleeting, impermanent and unsubstantial (existing conditionally, i.e. in constant interaction with all other changing things).

34.3 Nondual thought involves the natural light of the mind, at work before conceptual consciousness and conceptualizations.
34.3.1 Insofar as consciousness is defined in terms of the duality between object & subject (as in conceptual thought), nondual consciousness is a
contradictio in terminis.
34.3.2 Nondual awareness, i.e. the natural light of the mind, is a direct experience of wholeness, but not a consciousness. This natural light ultimately exists before and after any possible state of mind and can only be found when immediately introduced to it.

34.4 When an artist displays natural light, sublime realizations result. In these, everything is permeated with the open potentiality present in the mind of the sublime artist.
34.5 Thinking this natural light is the object of a transcendent metaphysics, rooted in an arguable philosophy of infinity and inspired poetry.
34.5.1 A philosophy of infinity studies three transfinite numbers : Aleph0, Aleph1 and Omega.
34.5.2 Of all arts, poetry excels uniquely in sealing the Divine as direct experience (cf. mysticism).

35. Sublime art is an infusion of infinity into finitude, permeating it throughout.

35.1 Critical thought discovers the limit-concepts of the Real and the Ideal, and makes their different lines of entry (the one monologal and the other dialogal) intersect in the
focus imaginarius of the noumenal Real-Ideal.
35.2 Creative thought posits the "I am" of the own-Self, and confronts consciousness with a panorama of Self-ideas allowing Self-consciousness to be designated as a lesser infinity (cf. Aleph0 differing from Aleph1).
35.3 Nondual thought annihilates the ontological basis of the own-Self, directly introducing the
lumen naturale of the mind. Here, cosmic awareness emerges.

36. For an instance, sublime art stops interpretation, helping the gap between two consecutive conceptual thoughts to become apparent.

36.1 Conceptual thoughts arise, abide & vanish. To directly witness their point of emergence is being equipped to experience their end. The so-called gap is what immediately happens next before any new thought arises.
36.2  Here, the natural, spontaneously arising awareness of mind, has always been united with the essence of the absolute basis, empty of inherent existence, but full of displays of all kinds.
36.2.1 Besides the natural state of mind united with the limitless wholeness of the absolute basis, every thing is interdependent, i.e. empty of enduring substance, but full of changes brought about depending on others.
36.2.2 The conceptual mind apprehends the inner light of mind as the "blank" between two consecutive moments of conceptual designation. After many trial-and-errors, the blank becomes a mental object reflecting the natural light and accommodating the direct experience of this natural light permeating every concept.
36.2.3 Because of the noise within the nominal conceptual mind, the fine tone of the natural light is very difficult to isolate and hear.

36.3 Perplexed, the conceptual mind halts in the face of sublimity.
36.3.1 The tense cycles of conceptuality can be broken down by concepts, although this effort is preliminary and necessary to make the mind supple, alert & concentrated.
36.3.2 Sublime works of art directly introduce the natural state of mind and are grand symbols of compassion (helping others to be happy).

37. By integrating disharmony into their harmonization, sublime works of art exceed the exemplary.

37.1 Although order leads to craft, craftsmanship, excellence & exemplarity, if nonduality is not the case, it cannot lead to sublimity.
37.2 Nondual thought is beyond affirmation & denial and so beyond the distinction between order & chaos.
37.3 The integration of chaos into order and of order into chaos is the touchstone of the sublime.

Book 2
Applied Esthetics

Introductory remarks

In esthetics, the distinction between "theoretical" and "applied" separates, on the one hand, the esthetic milieu & the public from, on the other hand, the creative experiences of the artist with the work of art.

In a critical theory of beauty, the appreciation of sensate objects in terms of an esthetic judgement based on norms of excellence & example pertains. Theoretically, the forms of harmonization are only a series of logical options necessary to take beauty beyond excellent craftsmanship. These harmonics are not the outcome of a logical deduction (as is the case in epistemology and ethics). This explains why esthetic judgements are
not necessary. Of all three normative disciplines, esthetics is the most concrete and hence the less imperative. Nevertheless, within each form of harmonization, the imperative command is again at work, albeit as a non-Fregean representation of one of the harmonic options available in the logical spectrum between object & subject of esthetics.

The application of esthetic maxims must allow for the production of works of art. Working against the background of an immanent metaphysics, this "
ars inveniendi" is the creative, harmonizing aspect of rationality. Its core is not excellence, but exemplarity.

The rule of outstanding harmony involves various harmonic keys, the use of which brings archetypal harmony to bare in a work of art. How have esthetic features and their intensity (esthetic meaning) been made part of this unique Self-idea of the artist ? How does this seed-idea present in every piece, point to an harmonic ideal ?

Because harmonization is part of the esthetic process, both the esthetic milieu & the public, possibly with the art critic at the helm, co-influence how, in a work of art, the "harmonic key" is applied or "realized", often without the artist noticing. However,  while interacting with its environment, exemplary art supersedes this by positing (designating) formidable examples of an original own-form of harmonization. Because they are worth of imitation, these forms of harmonization represent meta-esthetic modules or typical expert information about a limited set of ways to harmonize the happenings & events occurring between esthetic object & esthetic subject. Because they cover the actual production of beauty, they are more applied than theoretical.

Even more so unique is sublimity. Integrating disharmony into harmony, transforming it into meta-harmony, is the last step necessary to eliminate the duality of the esthetic mind and move into the open, free, nameless space of creativity & wisdom.

Based on the transcendental conditions of esthetics, namely sensate objects versus creativity, the harmonic octagon consists of eight forms of harmonization. Hence, these fundamental keys involve the reality of beautiful sensate objects (O) and the ideality of the esthetic artist (S). Although in tune with the transcendental conditions, this octagon is not the result of a deduction. More keys, or variations on keys, may therefore always be added, although at a certain moment semantic overlapping occurs, suggestive of a finite set of possible harmonization.

Both objective and subjective art affirm their object. In social art and personal art, the scope of this object is corrected. Negating the real & ideal conditions imposed by works of art and their artists, as in revolutionary art & psycho-dynamic art, ends the presentational keys.

To deny the transcendental dyad, for revolution or "dada", calls for a meta-level, consciously introducing & integrating disharmony into the harmonic key.

Esthetic Object Harmony Esthetic Subject
positional keys
objective art
positing S
subjective art
O > S
social art
comparing S > O
personal art
transforming keys
no O
revolutionary art
denying no S
psycho-dynamic art
unifying keys
O ≈ S
holistic art
uniting S ≈ O
holistic art
O = S = Ø
magisterial art
transcending  S = O = Ø
magisterial art

Positional keys focus on a nominal representation of object & subject. This is classical harmonization. Transforming keys move beyond the duality of the original positioning and try to eliminate or fundamentally alter the conditions of classical harmonization.

11. Factors of creativity.

38. The pragmatics of esthetics involves the creative person, the creative product, the creative process & the creative environment.

38.1 A great creative personality, manifesting at an early age, has certain characteristics defined by psychometric testing : independent attitude & social behaviour, dominant, introvert, open to stimuli, extended interests, acceptation of Self, intuition, flexibility, balance & indifferent to social norms.
38.2 For Taylor (1972), the creative product is expressive, technical, inventive, innovative or emergentive.
38.2.1 Expressive : spontaneity, where originality & quality are less important (cf. the drawings of children).
38.2.2 Technical : calls for skill and high levels of proficiency.
38.2.3 Inventive : reveals ingenuity with materials, solving old problems in a new way.
38.2.4 Innovative : elaborations on basic principles through alternative approaches.
38.2.5 Emergentive : the emergence of an entirely new principle or assumption.

38.3 For Dewey (1953), the creative process has five stages : (a) sensing a difficulty, (b) localizing and defining the problem, (c) suggesting solutions, (d) considering their consequences & (e) accepting the solution. Wallas (1926) proposed a fourfold : (a) preparations, (b) incubation, (c) illumination & (d) verification. De Bono (1970, 1972) introduced the idea of changing the "field" of the problem by means of lateral thinking.
38.4 Arieti (1976) introduced "socio-cultural creativogenic factrs", like availability of cultural means, openness to cultural stimuli, free access to cultural media, exposure to different, contrasting stimuli, tolerance for divergent view-points, interaction with important persons, promotion & reward, etc. According to him, these factors explain the high level of creativity in the Jewish community.
38.5 Creative training programmes like brainstorming and "synectics" generate a large number of ideas, postpone evaluation and allow as many new ideas as possible to emerge. To make the strange familiar is then the way to acquire new insights.

39. In each of the Fine Arts, the general principles of creativity need to be adapted in terms of person, product, process & environment.

12. An esthetics of music.

"The musical work, like all works of art, consists in a identifiable whole (in the twofold sens of 'coherent' and 'apt to be distinguished from similar products by specific features'), differentiated from works of the static, visual arts by the fact that its reproductions are no imitations of an original model, but re-realizations with full artistic value."
Broeckx, 1979, p.134.

40. An esthetics of music assists consciousness to discover the beauty of music, its excellence, exemplary own-form & sublimity.
41. Art Studies on music focus on objective and subjective factors.

41.1 Objectively, What is music ? Out what does it consist ? How does it appear ? What is its meaning ? What is its place vis-à-vis the other fine arts ? Also, subjectively, What is the value of music ? How does its sensation work ? How does music evolve ?
41.2 Subjectively, (a) the value of music, depends on its technical and musico-psychological form, (b) the quality of its reception depends on the sensory system and (c) its evolution depends on the genesis of musical creativity & receptivity.

42. Music is the set of abstract acoustic states of matter produced by a sound source, causing mood & momentum.

42.1 As a phenomenon, music appears as (a) a spatiotemporal succession of ordered acoustic phenomena, (b) a succession of ordered acoustic qualities with the synesthetics of somatosensory & visual associations, (c) a dynamical morphology of sound and (d) an acoustic message (or non-verbal language).
42.2 The meaning of music is giving with (a) the pleasurable & satisfying acoustic experience, (b) an acoustic thought form (a musical theory), (c) the expression of the infinite by the finite and (d) a non-verbal form of communication shared by all humans.
42.3 To situate music, it can be (a) described as the art of abstract time or the set of semantic open and irreducible acoustic phenomena or (b) evaluated as emotional, vitalistic, intellectual, spiritual, etc.
42.4 To the listener, music is a constantly moving continuum of air pressures, triggering specific emotional states. Mood & momentum are the two sides of sound.

43. Acoustic states of matter are isomorphic with (a) other sensate impressions of the outer world and (b) the non-discursive, non-narrative affective process.

43.1 Empty space sounds like music chords in wide position.
43.2 While the ear is the receptor organ for fine air pressure transduction, the physical body as a whole acts as a soundboard.
43.3 By mood-association, emotional states associated with certain features are transferred to acoustic states.
43.4 Close to the signal & the icon, music is not symbolic.
43.5 Conceptual connotations are not part of the stuff of music, whereas the evocative power of music is evident.

"I am convinced that however perceptive the composer, he cannot imagine the consequences, immediate or ultimate, of what he has written, and that his perception is not necessarily more acute than that of the analyst (as I see him)."
Boulez, 1971, p.18.

44. Unlike literature, music has no capacity to discuss itself.

44.1 Although programmatic music may try to depict reality (cf. the Cuckoo theme in Beethoven's 6th symphony), music judges not and has no story to tell. Beyond mood & momentum, music is not concrete.
44.1.1 Mood-association is processed by the limbic system and its iconic software.
44.1.2 Momentum is mainly mediated by reptilian and cerebellar software.
44.1.3 The conscious experience of music is processed by the non-verbal hemisphere of the neo-cortex.
44.2 Music is non-conceptual and has no ideological function of its own (is always interdependent and in communication with the environment).
44.3 Truth & goodness are not explained by music.

45. In an absolute sense, a single tone produced by a single instrument has 6 measurements : pitch, duration, color, dynamics, harmonic vector & counterpoint.

45.1 Pitch is the frequency of a tone, sounding treble or bass.
45.2 Duration is the length of a tone, co-defining rhythm.
45.3 Color is caused by the overtones produced by the instrument playing.
45.4 Dynamics is the strength or accent of a tone, its volume.
45.5 The harmonic vector is the vertical relationship of a tone with all other tones sounding simultaneously, as well as the relationship of these with the harmonic vertical following them.
45.6 Counterpoint is the horizontal relationship of a tone with the tone preceding it and the tone following it.
45.7 At any given moment of the score, for each and every tone in the piece, these six dimensions always work together.

46. In an relative sense, acoustic phenomena are either presentative sensate esthetic features or evocative esthetic features. The former are material, kinetic and formal. The latter are connotations spontaneously associated with these.
47. Regarding material esthetic features, classical and a-typical characteristics are distinguished.

47.1 Classical esthetic features imitate the Golden Section, such as consonance (the agreement of sounds produced simultaneously, as a note with its third, fifth & eighth), melody, third chords, medium dynamics, monophony, medium tessitura & sinus-waves.
47.2 A-typical esthetic features actualize a painful extreme foreign to the spirit of the esthetic experience. They are never prolonged, but occur to give sound to the vulgar, such as dissonancy, single tones, clusters, extreme dynamics, polyphony, extreme tessitura and the see-saw wave.
47.3 Despite the importance of φ in the construction of the ear, the basic stuff of music also calls for the possiblity of its negation. This division is consistent with the bi-polarity of our emotions.

48. Noise, unlike sound, is the absence of communication, the breakdown of the esthetic process.

13. Objective art : tragic.

49. Objective art serves physical reality. This art is the descriptive representation of a closed, secure, certain object, deemed to denote real, sensate objects.

As a copy of natural or artificial reality, representation eliminates the subjective perspective of the artist, and attempts to fixate the closed continuum of a recognizable sensate object as a work of art. The latter is given an permanent, separated, defined, continuous and solid nature. As a naturalist, this artist-observer perceives without interpretation (cf. hyper-realism) and so the work is the sign of a concrete or artificial reality. Genuine harmony involves observing sensate objects as they are, i.e. φ-based architectures & momenta.

Because of these restrictions, this harmonization is predictable, consequent and one-sided, positing a closed continuum. It cannot deny the necessary conditions of its generation, and worships the finality of the regular form, deemed unchangeable & inevitable. Stochastic elements are rejected and anything in conflict with "reality" is considered accessible (S = P) and eternalized.

Objective art is tragic. The superior force of reality determines what happens, not the creative intent of the artist, and the fixating, rigid conditions cause their own downfall, allying objective art with the comical.

In music, objective reality is represented by meaningful acoustic phenomena pouring into sound features of a reality deemed eternal, unchanging and fundamental.

The Italian Renaissance composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525 - 1594), was the most prominent member of the Roman School, spanning the Late Renaissance and Early Baroque Eras. Although working at several churches, composers belonging to this school worked for the Vatican and the Papal Chapel. Stylistically, their music contrasts with the Venetian School, which was more progressive.

With smooth, clear, polyphonic harmonies, the music of Palestrina tries to be an acoustic representation of Divine reality. His chords,  voice-leading and strict "Palestrina" counterpoint immediately evoke the heights of spiritual joy, ecstasy, jubilation and glory felt in the direct presence of the Divine. Move a single note and this delicate transparency is mitigated. Harmonic movement is undulating and all tension is perfectly resolved while difficult intervals are avoided.

Likewise, we find Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750) finalizing the grand edifice of polyphonic scholasticism, this great monolith with its strong emphasis on counterpoint, formal compositions and a diatonal harmony using regular modulations and progressions. Although a Protestant, Bach's main concern was a proper musical representation of Divine reality, a quest based on his faith and knowledge of Holy Scripture. His unfinished The Art of the Fugue (1745) was his musical testament.

"... I sub-titled Parsifal 'A Sacred Festival for the Theatre' (Bühnenweihfestspiel). So I must now try to find a stage to consecrate to it, and that can only be my remote Festival Theatre at Bayreuth. Parsifal shall be given there and only there, to the end of time ; it shall never be offered as an amusement to the audience of any other theatre."
Wagner : Letter to King Ludwig II of Bavaria, 28 IX 1880.

The German Romantic composer Richard Wagner (1813 - 1883) (a) revolutionized harmony by integrating chromatics, (b) used unresolved tensions & multi-tonal structures, (c) altered the orchestra, (d) invented new instruments and (e) built a new opera house at Bayreuth with an annual Music Festival. These grand achievements bring to the fore his desire to manifest his core myth, the salvation of the soul of the Germans.

Here, objective reality is not a social reality, but a mythological, imaginal, fictional & phantasmagoric world, constructed around the themes of light versus darkness, the Führer-principle (the Germanic Hero in the guise of Tannhauser, Siegfried, Parsifal, ...) and the special destiny of Germany in human history. The latter is a "sacred" history able to really change the world outside myth ! This harmonization is objective, because every "Leitmotiv" is an acoustic form of a person, situation or process in the imaginal world of the Germanic soul, deemed fit to cause change or to be represented in objective history by altering the mind of the public of the "Gesamtspiel".

"By the summer of 1876, during the time of the first Festspiele, I said farewell to Wagner in my heart. I suffer no ambiguity ; and since Wagner had moved to Germany, he had condescended step by step to everything I despise - even to anti-Semitism . . . It was indeed high time to say farewell : soon after, I received the proof. Richard Wagner, apparently most triumphant, but in truth a decaying and despairing decadent, suddenly sank down, helpless and broken, before the Christian cross . . . Did no German have eyes in his head or pity in his conscience for this horrid spectacle ? Was I the only one whom it pained ? Enough ; this unexpected event struck me like lightning and gave me clarity about the place I had left - and also that shudder which everybody feels after he has unconsciously passed through a tremendous danger."
Nietzsche, F. : Nietzsche Contra Wagner, How I Broke Away From Wagner, 1888.

14. Subjective art : dramatic.

50. Subjective art serves the idealized subjectivity of the acting, feeling & thinking conscious artist. Art is the unique grand tale of creativity of the artist, ennobling the spontaneity of every moment of his or her art.

If objective art tries to represent reality-as-such, i.e. propose an ontology of the real, subjective art puts an idealized subjectivity to the fore, i.e. an ontology of the ideal subject. Subjective harmonization calls for the monad of subjectivity, posting it with the "evidence" of the theatrical, the dramatical, the romantic and the immediate. The subject of the artist is idealized.

Important is not how reality seems to exists from its own side, but how the artist experiences the context in which he or she creates. Here, the work of art does not copy the world (objective and/or onto-mythological), but only the dramatic expressions of the artist trying in vain to recreate objectivity in terms of the "ideal" of subjectivity, translated as the personal, the existential, the direct and the unique role of the subject in everything esthetic, in particular esthetic meaning.

The esthetic subject is dramatic, personal & intersubjective, but not in a social way. The artist is a solitary creator, a Romantic genius to be distinguished from the rest of humanity. A kind of heroism is present, with overtones bringing in a nauseating sentimentality.

In music, subjective ideality is represented by a highly intimate, sensitive, delicate and personal application of the esthetic features.

In Palestrina's music, the choice of the artist is restricted to the "canon" representing the Divine proportion, the gate to the Divine. Subjective harmonization, calling for a less restricted use of the diatonal system, a more daring voice-leading & a more supple counterpoint, as in the Venetian School, is excluded.

"The difference brought about by the greater speed, greater compactness, and greater vividness of the drama, with its impersonality, its coöperative nature, its appeal to the group rather than to the individual, create the fundamental technique which distinguished the drama from the novel."
Baker, 1983, p.14.

Although in Wagner's work, the subjective key is strongly present - the man himself wanted to be a hero of sorts- his overall esthetic intention lay elsewhere. His personal, intimate life is not at stake (the Wesendonck Lieder performed in 1862 are an exception), but only the objective salvation of the Germanic soul through the direct power of presence of his mythic "Gesamtspiel".

The idealized subjectivity of Ludwig von Beethoven (1770 - 1827), turned him, not unlike Napoleon Bonaparte, into a Romantic hero par excellence, a kind of Hegelian "Geist" incarnate. When Mozart heard the young Ludwig play for him, he got but one message : "Listen ! I am Beethoven !". And he who could imitate everything, knew what he was talking about.

If intimate harmonic & melodic subtleties characterize Schubert (cf. infra), Beethoven's music is carried by overdramatization. The "Beethoven decrescendo" (swift alterations between forte to piano or from piano to pianissimo), syncopated rhythms, repeated mono-thematics and sectional orchestration all point to dramatic repetition and the heroic quest of the artist, always seeking to better express the unending creative confrontations  with one's most interior own-Self. The fact Beethoven could no longer properly hear after the 3th Symphony, sheds light on the dramatic urge to create despite the odds, serving the revelations of one's true person & eternal soul. From the very beginning until the last String Quartets, harmonic, melodic & compositional experiment persists.

Beethoven repeatedly underlines his wanting to move away from the pre-Romantics. This message cannot be made clear enough, and the feelings & sentiments of the creative artist come first. With extensive recapitulation & reorganization of materials on a scale never seen, each of his Symphonies are remarkable autobiographic architectures, reaching zenith with the 9th.

"... I made Beethoven's acquaintance at Teplitz. His talent amazed me ; but unfortunately his is a completely untamed personality, who indeed is not mistaken in finding the world detestable, but who certainly does not make it more enjoyable, either for himself or for other people, by saying so."
Goethe : Letter to Friedrich Zelter, 2 VI 1812.

Beethoven, ashamed to be deaf, was a solitary, "idealized" genius. Defying the conventions of editors, "correcting" his harmonizations, he made numerous corrections to quasi everything he wrote, merging the sensate, formal & kinetic vectors of the art, way beyond pre-Romantic "balancing".

Although Beethoven's music pleased the public, keen to experience the "exotic", it was not socially well accepted and posed problems. After a time, some doubted whether his harmonies were intended or the result of deafness. All of this added to the "revolutionary" aura surrounding the man. Beethoven became the ideal Romantic role-model : a Self reflected in all Romantics after him. His 9th Symphony, the sublime presence of an intense creative outpouring through this God-driven eternal soul, realizing sensate sublimity exclusively as a subjective, mental object.

Other examples are Peter Tjaikovski (1840 - 1893),
Gustav Mahler (1860 - 1911) & Richard Strauss (1864 - 1949).

15. Social art : expressive.

51. By stressing the psycho-social context in which the artist lives & creates, social art escapes the one-sidedness of realism. A socio-cultural phenomenon, art serves a social reality.

Leaving the simple harmonizations behind, one may choose to either make the object or the subject more specific. In the former case, objective reality becomes a social reality, in the latter, a personal, idiosyncratic "Lebenswelt".

The "reality" of the artist is still objective, but takes the form of an intersubjective network. This is viewed in terms of an "idealization" of the object, namely a perfect social reality. Only in the subtle tensions between "I" and "not-I", can the "I" fully develop its intimate egology. The "Rousseauen" ideal of an original state of perfection given to man, is a ontology of the good society, in which liberty, equality and fraternity are permanently realized. Spiritual (Hegel) & material (Marx) approaches of this "goodness" prevail, but the core always involves the expression of human life in group.

The esthetic object is primordial and appears in a socio-cultural context. As an organ of this context, art worth of imitation educates its public to more civility. The "intellectual" & "individual" are excluded. Music educates its listeners, builds them up to become more able to be socially productive.

In music, social art is the vision of a composer serving society.

A few self-evident examples : Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809), summarizing pre-Revolutionary Europe, Jacques Offenbach (1819 - 1880), amusing "the pigs of Europe" (Wagner), the popular Felix Mendelssohn (1809 - 1847) and Dimitri Sjostakovitsj (1906 - 1975), forced to portray, in agony, the realism of the USSR.

16. Personal art : impressive.

52. Personal art escapes the one-sidedness of idealism by reintroducing the intimacy & personal "Lebenswelt" of every creative process. Art is a pathetic impression of the fleeting moment, an emotional phenomenon.

Choosing to make the subjective more specific and less "idealized", personal art turns away from the extreme of subjectivism (the idealization of the subject) by introducing intimacy and the micro-social conditions or personal environments. The immediate context of experience is what counts, and great sensitivity is called to materialize the subtle shades & nuances of any given sensate reality as apprehended by the artist.

Emphasis is on feelings and "pathos". These immediate emotional impressions are not clean-clear, but interrelated & confused. A cryptic, closed and impermanent climate arises. This impressive style is indeed based on first impressions.

In music, highly personal choices are made. Especially melody, being the most personal of the dimensions of music, is important.

With Franz Schubert (1797 - 1823), apparently unaware of his own genius, and relying on a close circle of friends to survive (cf. the "Sangspiele"), the intimate nature of the personal harmonization is strongly felt. A subtle approach of diatonic modulation is coupled with the direct, simple personal presence brought about by the song, of which he wrote more than 600. In music, the human voice is indeed the most intimate manifestation of personal intimacy as well as the most perfect musical instrument.

For Schubert, the melodic line is primordial. It is articulate, balanced & complex. The accompanying voices rapidly change key and drive momentum. Often, they refuse a clear-cut harmonic structure. In one melodic phrase, many modulations may occur, allowing for very typical & refined melody. Even in his 9 Symphonies, his "chamber music" approach to composition persists. After his death, at 31, interest in Schubert was on the rise. He died as an unrecognized Romantic hero.

By contrast, his contemporary and ideal, Beethoven, was the famous Romantic hero par excellence, and this during his own lifetime as well long after. Although Schubert wrote to his idol and both lived in Vienna, Beethoven apparently decided never to meet Schubert or to answer his letter. Perhaps he did, and the letter was lost.

Other examples are Frédéric Chopin (1810 - 1849), Franz Liszt (1811 - 1886), the creator of the symphonic poem, and Claude Debussy (1862 - 1918), the father of impressionism, inventing a new approach to harmony (cf. the None Chord) to redefine melody and orchestration.

17. Revolutionary art : existential.

53. Revolutionary art rejects what is at hand and calls for a new reality, one to be turned over in turn, etc. Art is an abstract representation of constant renewal.

In the tensions between artist & work of art, the quaternio of harmonic keys (objective, subjective, social, personal), defines the basic exemplary points of balance. By denial, revolutionary & psycho-dynamic art both reject these basic conditions, introducing "higher" conditions.

Revolutionary art, seeking to introduce a new reality, goes against the accepted objective standard of relationships.

In music, revolutionary keys overturn the musical system as a whole. Rhythm, harmony, counterpoint and orchestration are all affected.

"(...) I promised, as I say, in print to make known to a certain Theorist of prima practica that in harmony there was another to be considered, unknown to him, and which I named seconda ..."
Claudio Monteverdi : Letter to an unknown address, Venice, 22 X 1633.

A few examples : Flemish Polyphonists like Josquin des Prez (1450/5 - 1521) & Orlandus Lassus (1532 - 1594), as well as Renaissance composer Claudio Monteverdi (1567 - 1643), revolutionized European music and set the standard. In the same way, Igor Stravinsky (1882 - 1971) and the dodecaphonic music of Arnold Schönberg (1874 - 1951) introduced the radical new sounds of the XXth century.

In The Rite of Spring (1913), the use of difficult "primitive" rhythms is coupled with complex harmonies, extraordinary orchestrations of unheard coloration and melodies serving momentum.

"... the evolution of no art is so greatly encumbered by its teachers as is that of music. For no one guards his property more jealously than the one who knows that, strictly speaking, it does not belong to him. The harder it is to prove ownership, the greater the effort to do so."
Schönberg, 1983, p.7.

Introducing atonality, Schönberg eliminated the "natural" harmonic progressions of one tone to the next. These happen in tune with a sophisticated harmonic theory, already considerably enriched by Wagnerian chromatics (as the works of Brahms, Bruckner, Liszt, & Mahler testify). Making each tone absolute, opened a completely new sonoric world and influenced well-tempered harmonic theory. This move away from tonal harmony also lead to alleatoric music & twelve-tone counterpoint, etc.

"When key-consciousness vanished completely and music became 'atonal', technical unity could no longer emerge from a solid harmonic groundwork. Quite logically, the attention was focused on the motif-relationships. Whereas they had formerly been a super-structure erected above the harmonic groundwork, they now became responsible for the consistency of the whole edifice."
Křenek, 1940, pp.vii - viii.

18. Psycho-dynamic art : essentialist.

"SURREALISM. Pure psychic automatism by means of which one proposes to express, either verbally, by writing or by any other means, the real functioning of thought. Dictation of thought in the absence of all control exerted by reason, beyond every esthetic or moral preoccupation."
Breton, A. : Manifeste du surréalisme, 1924.

54. Psycho-dynamic art rejects the habitual waking state of the artist and delves into the mind to discover its unique psycho-dynamic mechanism of letting necessity (measure, determination) & freedom (uncertainty) touch.

Psycho-dynamic art confronts consciousness from within. The empirical ego is deemed only a fraction of the psyche, and what is called "consciousness" is likened to a candle flame in a large dark room. Thought, affect & volition are functions of a consciousness limited from without by sensate reality and from within by unconscious activity. The psychic mechanism is the via Regia to an expansion of consciousness by integrating the various levels of the unconscious, i.e. making them conscious.

Historically, the rise of surrealism & dadaism paralleled the radical rejection of traditional values and beliefs. As the power of the great religions waned, new visions of spiritual emancipation were conjured using a mix of poetry, art, mysticism and the occult.
The idea of a personal God was rejected for a mystical force at the heart of every psychic mechanism : objective chance (cf. Does the Divine exist ?, 2006, 3.7).

Objective chance is not a common coincidence or chance event. It differentiates itself from the latter precisely because it is the geometric place of these chance events, a meetingpoint or point of contact between necessity (of nature) and freedom, between natural & human necessity. Objective chance is a natural bond between the psychic mechanism and the universal automatism, between the personal (un)conscious & the collective unconscious.

For Breton, this wonder is the totality of phenomena manifesting the invasion of the marvellous in life. It shows chance events are not "random", but explicate expressions of a deeper, implicate reality, elucidating the connectivity between the psyche and the cosmos. In the 1930s, depth-psychologist Jung and physist Pauli developed a similar theory on "synchronicity". When archetypal representations enter consciousness, their "psychoid" structure splits in two : a conscious experience (inner) and a synchronistic event (outer). This comes close to objective chance events.

"But it cannot be predicted in advance when the hit will come. Could we do so, we would be dealing with a law, and this would contradict the entire nature of the phenomenon. It has, as said, the improbable character of a 'lucky hit' or accident that occurs with a more than merely probable frequency and is as a rule dependent on a certain state of affectivity."
Jung, C.G. : On Synchronicity, in : Collected Works, Vol.8 (pp. 969 - 977). Here Jung discusses the results of the parapsychological experiments of Rhine.

In esthetics, a transformed subjectivity enthrones itself as the essence of the artist, his or her own-Self. Soul matters, nothing else. The artist is true to his own psychic mechanism, equipping him to produce art as marvellous points of contact between the artist and the world (nature and culture). Objective chance is the stuff of magical realism, the existence of unexpected & meaningful series of quasi impossible events.

In music, psycho-dynamic art evokes objective chance, mobilizing all six dimensions of music. Very high or low pitch are not avoided. Rhythms are complex. Color & dynamics of each note are considered. Both harmony & counterpoint are fused as to address a variety of moods & momenta. The composer unlocking the psychic mechanism is a kind of sonic wizard, a "master of sound".

Richard Wagner, like many other great composers, certainly integrated the psycho-dynamic key in his work, but the serious, concrete stature of his Germano-mythic motifs remained dominant and left nothing to chance. Moreover, although creative genius is always the outcome of discovering the psychic mechanism, psycho-dynamical harmonization is not necessarily the sole key used by creative artists.

The essentialist key has no objective expectations and knows how to wait.

In the music of Alexander Scriabin (1872 - 1915), the combination of mysticism & music was so strong, other harmonizations pale. Building chords upon chords allowed him unexpected fusions, especially with quickly changing dynamics and coloration. Seeing sounds as colors, the theosophist he was, tried to cause illumination in those who listened to his works. Applying sound as a way to convey higher vibrations, he reached for a spiritual manifestation brought about by his music.

Another example is Olivier Messiaen (1908 - 1992).

19. Total art : lyrical.

55. Total art seeks to dynamically balance object & subject of esthetics, quasi perfectly equilibrating them, prompting an "eternal" cycle. Art is a delicate balance between necessity (tragedy) and freedom (drama).

Revolution & dada aim to transform object & subject. But there is still a subtle preference at work : in revolutionary art, by creating a new object, and in psycho-dynamic art, by emancipating the subject.  By negating the object, a new object emerges, is solidified in glyphs and negated, etc. By negating the subject, a better subject emerges, is mummified by conceptual consciousness and negated, etc. These dialectical cycles pertain to transformation.

The last two harmonizations try to undo the tensions. Either object & subject of the esthetic are conceived as part of a totalizing & dynamic dual-union or a definitive negation eliminating both is sought.

"I never lie down to sleep without reflecting that (young as I am) I may perhaps not see another day - yet none of those who know me can say that I am morose or melancholy in society - and I thank my Creator every day for this happiness and wish from the bottom of my heart that all my fellow men might share it ..."
Wolfgang Mozart : Letter to his father, 4 IV 1787.

The esthetic phenomenon as a whole is the object of total art. In every esthetic judgement, object & subject are present. All options are investigated in an "epic" kind of way. The artist creates with spontaneous fluency and each work of art allows the public to encounter again & again the soul or own-Self of the artist.

Lyricism found a balance between tragedy and drama, between the reality of sensate objects and the creative power of the artist in tune with his or her core of being. It always detains a sense of open space, a field of "all possibilities". It has not need for translations to be understood, for the esthetic process is transparant.

A comprehensive approach to music happens in the Baroque Opus of Georg Philip Telemann (1681 - 1767). This gigantic oeuvre evidences great fecundity, originality, continuity & genius. Outstanding concern for balance & dynamism and the merging of all aspects of music prevail. Because of his refined harmony, unusual orchestration & daring voice-leading, clarity & fluidity are persistent.

The best example of a composer who's melodic, "Operatic" power is predominant in everything he wrote, is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791). Moreover, his compositions are very balanced, extremely varied and also clean-clear. Great care is taken to give every section its share. Mozart's music can be identified after hearing only a few notes, for the "seed-cell" of the complete work is present in neary every bar.

Another example is György Ligeti (1923 - 2006).

20. Magisterial art : comical.

56. Magisterial art integrates all former harmonic keys, sublimely contaminates their contexts, futilizes all styles, transforms every sensate object into beauty, invites the smile. Art is the perplexing manifestation of transcendent (infinite) purity into the fabric of the immanent & finite.

With the definitive negation, the multiple tensions between esthetic object and esthetic subject end. This analysis eliminates both of the two necessary elements constituting the esthetic phenomenon apprehended by a conceptual consciousness.

Ergo, a non-conceptual, transcendent ground is penetrated.

Sensate objects are designated as functional & efficient fabrications, productions or displays of the full momentum of an interdependent becoming without eternal substance (i.e. empty of permanent identity or eternalized existence). But, sensate facts refer, so must the conceptual mind think, to objective preceptive states of our receptor organs, constituting the conventional ground of science, characterized by experimental evidence arrived at through testing & repetitive confirmation (cf. Clearings, 2006).

There is only energy-in-process (cf. Whitehead).

In affective & volitive contexts, consciousness posits mental objects. As a mental object of itself, it is scrutinized and cleared of ontological traces. Empirical ego & own-Self, the two foci of the "elliptic" continuum of consciousness, as well as this continuum itself, depend on the lightnature of every single mind.

In a comical style, all keys are used but also negated. The artist is no longer the creator of the work of art, the work of art is the artist and so art becomes a way of life. Futilization is innocent and non-violent. This makes true comedy the most difficult form of art.

The limitations of each key become clear at the point of their transcendence. Then a multi-harmonic approach to beauty is opened, and every manifestation is an artistic display from the base of all possible being.

S = O = Ø (or S = P with CI = 1) points to nondual thought (cf. Intelligent Wisdom, 2007).

Suggested reading

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Bohm, D. & Peat, F.D. : Science, Order and Creativity, Routledge - London, 2000.
Boustead, A. : Writing Down Music, Oxford University Press - New York, 1975.
Bradley, A. C. : Oxford Lectures on Poetry, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1961.

Breton, A. : Manifestes du surréalisme, Gallimard - Paris, 1985.

Boulez, P. : Boulez on Music Today, Faber & Faber - London, 1971.
Brady, E. & Levinson, J. : Aesthetic Concepts : Essays After Sibley, Oxford University Press - New York, 2001.
Bradley, A.C. : Oxford Lectures on Poetry, Indiana University Press - Bloomington, 1961.
Broeckx, J.L. : Grondslagen van de Muziekgeschiedenis, Metropolis - Antwerpen, 1978.
Broeckx, J.L. : Contemporary Views on Musical Style and Aesthetics, Metropolis - Antwerpen, 1979.
Brown, J.M. : A Handbook of Musical Knowledge, Trinity College of Music - London, 1980.

Carse, A. : The History of Orchestration, Dover - New York, 1964.
Carroll, N. : Philosophies of Art Today, University of Wisconsin Press - Madison, 2000.
Cassirer, E. : The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, Yale University Press - New Haven, 1953, volume 1 Language, volume 2 : Mythic Thought, volume 3 : The Phenomenology of Language.
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Crowther, P. : Critical Aesthetics and Postmodernism, Clarendon Press - Oxford, 2000.

Danto, A. : The Philosophical Disenfranchisement of Art, Columbia University Press - New York, 1986.
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Danto, A. : After the End of Art, Princeton University Press -Princeton, 1998.
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Delamont, G. : Modern Harmonic Technique, Kendor - New York, 1965, volume 1 & 2.
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Dewey, J. : Art as Experience, Capricorn Books - New York, 1958.
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Ducasse, C.J. : The Philosophy of Art, Dover Publications - New York, 1966.

Eaton, M. : Merit, Aesthetic and Ethical, Oxford University Press - New York, 2000.
Edgar, W. : Taking Note of Music, SPCK - London, 1986.
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Forsyth, C. : Orchestration, Dover - New York, 1982.
Foucault, M. : Geschiedenis van de waanzin, Boom - Meppel, 1975.
Forte, A. : The Structure of Atonal Music, Yale University Press - London, 1973.
Freud, S. : The Interpretation of Dreams, Knopf - New York, 1994.

Gadamer, H-G. : Truth and Method, Crossroad - New York, 1975.
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Habermas, J. : Erkenntnis und Interesse, Suhrkamp - Frankfurt, 1973.
Hammond, W.A. : A Bibliography of Aesthetics and of the Philosophy of the Fine Arts from 1900 - 1932, Russell & Russell - New York, 1934, 1967.
Heidegger, M. : Nietzsche, Harper & Row - San Francisco, 1979 -1987, volume 1 : The Will To Power as Art, volume 2 : The Eternal Recurrence and the Same, volume 3 : The Will to Power as Knowledge and as Metaphysics, volume 4 : Nihilism.
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James, W. : Principles of Psychology, Dover - New York, 1950, 2 volumes.
Jacob, G. : How to Read a Score, Boosey & Hawkes - London, 1944.
Jelinek, H. : Anleitung zur Zwölftonkomposition, Universal - Wien, 1967.
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Kant, I. : Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, Macmillan - New York, 1949.
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Langfeld, H.S. : The Aesthetic Attitude, Kennikat Press, Inc. - Port Washington, New York, 1967.
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Marcuse, H. : One Dimensional Man, Sphere - London, 1968.
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Munro, Th. : Toward Science in Aesthetics, The Liberal Arts Press - New York, 1956.
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Nietzsche, F. : Werke in vier Bänden, Das Bergland-Buch Verlag - Salzburg, 1985, 4 Bände.
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Osborne, H. : Aesthetics and Art Theory, Dutton - New York, 1970.
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Pepper, St.C. : Principles of Art Appreciation, Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc. - New York, 1949.
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Pepper, St.C. : Concept and Quality : A World Hypothesis, Open Court - LaSalle, 1967.
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Plato : Verzameld Werk, Ambo - Baarn, 1980.
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Radcliffe, Ph. : Beethoven's String Quartets, Cambridge University Press - New York, 1978.
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initiated : 25 V 2007 - last update : 24 I 2011 - version n°1