Wednesday, June 06, 2007

If you are measuring beauty, you aren’t experiencing it

Socrates and beauty Posted by Matthew. In his dialogue, Charmides, Plato has Socrates say something that really caught my eye this morning as I read it for an upcoming class on this dialogue. From around 154b:
…I am not good as measuring, and in the presence of the beautiful I am like a measuring line without marks…
For me with good and beautiful works of art, the question of degree becomes one more of whether the work is exhaustible, or whether it is inexhaustible—as far as it provides perceptually and conceptually enriched experience, contemplation, depth, and sensory affect. Works of the Humanities canon are those works that are inexhaustible, and thus endlessly inspire the memory and imagination. But the matter of inexhaustibility in art is altogether different than measuring art’s beauty while one experiences it; rather, it is over months, years, and epochs, not a mere moment. But, oh, the moment—I take Socrates to mean, in essence, why measure, when the point of experiencing beauty and goodness is precisely opposite of that? And further, if you are measuring beauty, you aren’t experiencing it. This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 5th, 2007 at 5:15 pm and is filed under Memory and Imagination, Beauty. Matthew Dallman (website)

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