What are the greatest endeavors of human thought? In Western culture, understanding, knowledge, and empirical precision are heralded as though they comprise the zenith of all human understanding and the ultimate conglomeration of all of our efforts. Towards the end of my undergraduate studies, I began to realize that the arts had this extraordinary ability to evoke this deep appreciation for life. Furthermore, the arts could depict something characteristically highly resembling of the conscious state which had brought them into being, and thus they held this special truth which allowed access indirectly, but discretely, from one mind to another. Understanding and knowledge seemed, by comparison, to be mere facades in the game of life, only masquerading as the champions while other treasures remained unseen. What I have come to realize now is that although I am definitely both artist and scientist, clever crafter and musing observer, the sensation of understanding is not separate from that of appreciation for life. The risk is in the conviction and furry that understanding can induce, as though “truth” is something out in the world that must be gathered and put back together from its shattered pieces. Truth is in experience, that is all. It can’t be anywhere outside of experience, but we can describe experience and pretend that we are approximating a higher truth or at least a better system of ascertaining it. This effort might be futile, but it is given to the nature of the human mind to explore itself and all that is within its scope of experience. In the end, I think we can and often do find joy in the dancing attempt to riddle our way through the game of exploring and understanding…even when, perhaps, a painting conveys something so rich in visceral intuitive resonance that my mind cannot grasp beyond that intense sensation of reclaimed peaceful familiarity.
“Experience anticipates a philosophy and philosophy is merely an elucidated experience.” – Whitehead
One thought on “Endeavors of Thought”
Your entry reminds of a dialogue I once read, “The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia”, by Bernard Suits. For me, it was about how science and art must both be playful if we are to find any meaning in them.