Is Beauty Real? (Part Two)

Just a quick addendum to my last post…

My buddy Tyler raised some excellent points in a comment on the last post, so I wanted to clarify something. While Catholics believe that Beauty is something that exists on its own, rather than just as a quality of or part of certain things, different people are still going to react differently to the experience of Beauty based on their personality, experiences, and worldview.

To understand this phenomenon, let’s look at Beauty’s sister: Truth. Truth is traditionally acknowledged as one of the three Transcendentals. Catholics believe that Truth, Beauty, and Goodness are all transcendent entities that exist within and around many different ideas, things, and persons, so looking at how people interact with one of these triplets will help us understand interactions with the other.

If I made a true statement like, “It is raining outside,” different people will react to the Truth in this statement in different ways. The farmer rejoices. The mother of a teenage driver cringes. The kid whose soccer practice is cancelled cries. Same Truth; different experiences of it.

I think it is something like this with Beauty. Regardless of our preference or openness to Beauty in certain circumstances, the Beauty still exists. Let’s look at the song “Videotape” by Radiohead as an example.

Every time I listen to this, I am struck by the hope in the lyrics. Some might really like the chord progression. My wife thinks it sounds depressing. Someone else might reject it outright because they went to a Radiohead show one time and got arrested. But the Beauty is still there, regardless of the personal or subjective reaction to it, because there is a sense of unity and wholeness within the musical and lyrical choices (he doesn’t just stop and pick up a banjo and crank out some bluegrass licks in the middle or start singing about his Escalade halfway through), and because there is something in it that moves a person. It might move them in different ways, but it moves them nonetheless.

Beauty cannot be ignored. Well, unless you spend your whole life practicing your ignorance. That is the only way: making a series of conscious choices to ignore the beautiful until you can’t remember what it is at all. But still, it is there to stir us if we but let it.

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6 Responses to Is Beauty Real? (Part Two)

  1. Tyler says:

    I have some reflections, thoughts, and questions about this follow up post (and previous posts) that would like to share. I will share them in two parts.

    Part 1

    The clarification I understand being made here is that different people react differently to the experience of Beauty.

    I will continue the use of the music of U2 being an example of a Beautiful object to help illuminate this idea. In reference to my previous reflection, the two implications that I’m deducing from the above clarification are that, in fact, 1) the transcendent entity of Beauty objectively exists within and around the music of U2 and 2) people react to this entity or are moved by this entity in different ways. I follow this and I’m assuming that when it is said that “people react differently”, it means the same thing as “people are moved differently”. This assumption is based on the second of the two criteria for Beauty (as posted)- a Beautiful object has a sense of unity and wholeness, and secondly, there is something in it that moves a person. (In previous posts, honesty has been spoken of as a third criteria and I wish to address honesty in part 2).

    In order to illustrate the two implications, 1) how Beauty objectively exists as a transcendental entity and 2) the phenomenon of people being moved by Beauty in different ways, the author uses an example that illustrates how Truth objectively exists and how people are moved by Truth in different ways. I understand the reasoning behind this illustrative comparison to be the following: Beauty is a transcendent entity that exists within and around many different ideas, things, and persons. Truth is also a transcendent entity that exists within and around many different ideas, things, and persons. Since Truth and Beauty are the same in this respect, how one interacts with or experiences Truth is the same or similar to how one interacts with or experiences Beauty. In other words, by understanding how one experiences Truth, one may better understand the experience of Beauty. I follow this.

    One of the reasons I am writing this response is that I find the propositions (Beauty and Truth are objectively existing transcendental entities) fascinating and worth examining. Whether one is a Catholic or is not a Catholic, I suggest that these propositions are worth examining because they are literal descriptions of the nature of reality.

    The example of the experience of Truth that is used to help clarify how the experience of Beauty works is the statement “It is raining outside” and its accompanying contexts. This proposition is used to demonstrate the two implications mentioned above. Lets refresh the scene: At a certain time and place it is raining outside and this information is passed along to people who experience the reception of this Truth in different ways. The farmer rejoices, the mother cringes, the boy cries. This proposition effectively demonstrates the first implication, that truth objectively exists. What makes this a great example and effectively demonstrative is that the proposition “It is raining outside” being made while it is indeed raining outside is irrefutably and undeniably verifiable. The farmer, the mother, and the boy can look out the window and see the rain or walk outside to see and feel the rain and thereby unambiguously confirm the Truth that flows to them from the proposition. The variety of ways in which these people are moved when they receive or perceive this Truth effectively demonstrates the second implication- that people are moved by the experience of Truth in different ways. I follow this, however I find the transferring of this reasoning to apply to the perception or experience of Beauty to be problematic.

    What is being said in this post, as I understand it, is that the perception of the irrefutable and undeniable truth of the proposition “It is raining outside” made at a time and place where it is indeed raining outside is “something like” the perception of Beauty, in this case, the transcendental entity that objectively exists within and around the song Videotape by Radiohead. From this reasoning it follows that just as one might interpret the Beauty of Videotape to be hopeful, one might interpret hearing the proposition “It is raining outside” at a time and place where it is raining outside to be hopeful. Just as one interprets the Beauty of Videotape to be depressing, one might interpret the Truth of the proposition “It is raining outside” to be depressing. Just as one might outright reject the Beauty of Videotape because they have developed irrepressible negative associations caused by a single traumatic incident (i.e. being arrested while attending a Radiohead concert), one might outright reject the Truth of the proposition “It is raining outside” while it is raining outside, due to associations they have developed from a traumatic incident (i.e. being arrested outside while it was raining or witnessing someone die while it was raining). Still another person that hears the statement “It is raining outside” while it is raining outside, may simply lack a preference for the Truth they experience from this proposition, just as a person may simply lack a preference for the Beauty they experience while listening to the song Videotape. The initial main point that I hear being made here is that no matter how one is moved by their experience of Truth, no matter how hopeful or how depressing, or how indifferent their reaction is, no matter how closed off they are, the transcendental entity of Truth within and around the statement “It is raining outside” made at a time and place where it is indeed raining outside, objectively exists. I comprehend then this point being used to make the following point: Since it can be 1) demonstrated that Truth objectively exists despite the many interpretations and rejection of its experience and since 2) Truth and Beauty are both Transcendentals, this demonstrates that 3) Beauty objectively exists despite the many interpretations (or movements) and outright rejections of its experience. In other words, Truth cannot be ignored therefore Beauty cannot be ignored.

    The belief that the manifestation of Beauty is equally or similarly as apparent as the manifestation of Truth seems like a theoretical concept to me. I find myself questioning the logical and practical validity of this claim. When I test the belief that the Beauty I experience while listening to the song Videotape by Radiohead is as objectively verifiable and undeniable as smelling, hearing, seeing, and feeling a downpour of rain- when I test this belief against my experience of listening to Videotape juxtaposed with my experience of the Truth of the statement “It is raining outside” while standing outside in the rain, my experiences do not reaffirm this belief. My experience of the beauty of Videotape is unlike my experience of the truth of 7×8 equaling 56. I currently do not find this belief to correspond to reality and I am inclined to reject this belief. Though I could be wrong- my inclination to reject this belief could represent one of the many ways one can be moved by experiencing the potential transcendental entity of Truth that exists within and around this belief.

    I have some reflections, thoughts, and questions about this follow up post (and previous posts) that would like to share. I will share them in two parts.

    Part 1

    The clarification I understand being made here is that different people react differently to the experience of Beauty.

    I will continue the use of the music of U2 being an example of a Beautiful object to help illuminate this idea. In reference to my previous reflection, the two implications that I’m deducing from the above clarification are that, in fact, 1) the transcendent entity of Beauty objectively exists within and around the music of U2 and 2) people react to this entity or are moved by this entity in different ways. I follow this and I’m assuming that when it is said that “people react differently”, it means the same thing as “people are moved differently”. This assumption is based on the second of the two criteria for Beauty (as posted)- a Beautiful object has a sense of unity and wholeness, and secondly, there is something in it that moves a person. (In previous posts, honesty has been spoken of as a third criteria and I wish to address honesty in part 2).

    In order to illustrate the two implications, 1) how Beauty objectively exists as a transcendental entity and 2) the phenomenon of people being moved by Beauty in different ways, the author uses an example that illustrates how Truth objectively exists and how people are moved by Truth in different ways. I understand the reasoning behind this illustrative comparison to be the following: Beauty is a transcendent entity that exists within and around many different ideas, things, and persons. Truth is also a transcendent entity that exists within and around many different ideas, things, and persons. Since Truth and Beauty are the same in this respect, how one interacts with or experiences Truth is the same or similar to how one interacts with or experiences Beauty. In other words, by understanding how one experiences Truth, one may better understand the experience of Beauty. I follow this.

    One of the reasons I am writing this response is that I find the propositions (Beauty and Truth are objectively existing transcendental entities) fascinating and worth examining. Whether one is a Catholic or is not a Catholic, I suggest that these propositions are worth examining because they are literal descriptions of the nature of reality.

    The example of the experience of Truth that is used to help clarify how the experience of Beauty works is the statement “It is raining outside” and its accompanying contexts. This proposition is used to demonstrate the two implications mentioned above. Lets refresh the scene: At a certain time and place it is raining outside and this information is passed along to people who experience the reception of this Truth in different ways. The farmer rejoices, the mother cringes, the boy cries. This proposition effectively demonstrates the first implication, that truth objectively exists. What makes this a great example and effectively demonstrative is that the proposition “It is raining outside” being made while it is indeed raining outside is irrefutably and undeniably verifiable. The farmer, the mother, and the boy can look out the window and see the rain or walk outside to see and feel the rain and thereby unambiguously confirm the Truth that flows to them from the proposition. The variety of ways in which these people are moved when they receive or perceive this Truth effectively demonstrates the second implication- that people are moved by the experience of Truth in different ways. I follow this, however I find the transferring of this reasoning to apply to the perception or experience of Beauty to be problematic.

    What is being said in this post, as I understand it, is that the perception of the irrefutable and undeniable truth of the proposition “It is raining outside” made at a time and place where it is indeed raining outside is “something like” the perception of Beauty, in this case, the transcendental entity that objectively exists within and around the song Videotape by Radiohead. From this reasoning it follows that just as one might interpret the Beauty of Videotape to be hopeful, one might interpret hearing the proposition “It is raining outside” at a time and place where it is raining outside to be hopeful. Just as one interprets the Beauty of Videotape to be depressing, one might interpret the Truth of the proposition “It is raining outside” to be depressing. Just as one might outright reject the Beauty of Videotape because they have developed irrepressible negative associations caused by a single traumatic incident (i.e. being arrested while attending a Radiohead concert), one might outright reject the Truth of the proposition “It is raining outside” while it is raining outside, due to associations they have developed from a traumatic incident (i.e. being arrested outside while it was raining or witnessing someone die while it was raining). Still another person that hears the statement “It is raining outside” while it is raining outside, may simply lack a preference for the Truth they experience from this proposition, just as a person may simply lack a preference for the Beauty they experience while listening to the song Videotape. The initial main point that I hear being made here is that no matter how one is moved by their experience of Truth, no matter how hopeful or how depressing, or how indifferent their reaction is, no matter how closed off they are, the transcendental entity of Truth within and around the statement “It is raining outside” made at a time and place where it is indeed raining outside, objectively exists. I comprehend then this point being used to make the following point: Since it can be 1) demonstrated that Truth objectively exists despite the many interpretations and rejection of its experience and since 2) Truth and Beauty are both Transcendentals, this demonstrates that 3) Beauty objectively exists despite the many interpretations (or movements) and outright rejections of its experience. In other words, Truth cannot be ignored therefore Beauty cannot be ignored.

    The belief that the manifestation of Beauty is equally or similarly as apparent as the manifestation of Truth seems like a theoretical concept to me. I find myself questioning the logical and practical validity of this claim. When I test the belief that the Beauty I experience while listening to the song Videotape by Radiohead is as objectively verifiable and undeniable as smelling, hearing, seeing, and feeling a downpour of rain- when I test this belief against my experience of listening to Videotape juxtaposed with my experience of the Truth of the statement “It is raining outside” while standing outside in the rain, my experiences do not reaffirm this belief. My experience of the beauty of Videotape is unlike my experience of the truth of 7×8 equaling 56. I currently do not find this belief to correspond to reality and I am inclined to reject this belief. Though I could be wrong- my inclination to reject this belief could represent one of the many ways one can be moved by experiencing the potential transcendental entity of Truth that exists within and around this belief.

    I have some reflections, thoughts, and questions about this follow up post (and previous posts) that would like to share. I will share them in two parts.
    Part 1
    The clarification I understand being made here is that different people react differently to the experience of Beauty.
    I will continue the use of the music of U2 being an example of a Beautiful object to help illuminate this idea. In reference to my previous reflection, the two implications that I’m deducing from the above clarification are that, in fact, 1) the transcendent entity of Beauty objectively exists within and around the music of U2 and 2) people react to this entity or are moved by this entity in different ways. I follow this and I’m assuming that when it is said that “people react differently”, it means the same thing as “people are moved differently”. This assumption is based on the second of the two criteria for Beauty (as posted)- a Beautiful object has a sense of unity and wholeness, and secondly, there is something in it that moves a person. (In previous posts, honesty has been spoken of as a third criteria and I wish to address honesty in part 2).
    In order to illustrate the two implications, 1) how Beauty objectively exists as a transcendental entity and 2) the phenomenon of people being moved by Beauty in different ways, the author uses an example that illustrates how Truth objectively exists and how people are moved by Truth in different ways. I understand the reasoning behind this illustrative comparison to be the following: Beauty is a transcendent entity that exists within and around many different ideas, things, and persons. Truth is also a transcendent entity that exists within and around many different ideas, things, and persons. Since Truth and Beauty are the same in this respect, how one interacts with or experiences Truth is the same or similar to how one interacts with or experiences Beauty. In other words, by understanding how one experiences Truth, one may better understand the experience of Beauty. I follow this.
    One of the reasons I am writing this response is that I find the propositions (Beauty and Truth are objectively existing transcendental entities) fascinating and worth examining. Whether one is a Catholic or is not a Catholic, I suggest that these propositions are worth examining because they are literal descriptions of the nature of reality.
    The example of the experience of Truth that is used to help clarify how the experience of Beauty works is the statement “It is raining outside” and its accompanying contexts. This proposition is used to demonstrate the two implications mentioned above. Lets refresh the scene: At a certain time and place it is raining outside and this information is passed along to people who experience the reception of this Truth in different ways. The farmer rejoices, the mother cringes, the boy cries. This proposition effectively demonstrates the first implication, that truth objectively exists. What makes this a great example and effectively demonstrative is that the proposition “It is raining outside” being made while it is indeed raining outside is irrefutably and undeniably verifiable. The farmer, the mother, and the boy can look out the window and see the rain or walk outside to see and feel the rain and thereby unambiguously confirm the Truth that flows to them from the proposition. The variety of ways in which these people are moved when they receive or perceive this Truth effectively demonstrates the second implication- that people are moved by the experience of Truth in different ways. I follow this, however I find the transferring of this reasoning to apply to the perception or experience of Beauty to be problematic.
    What is being said in this post, as I understand it, is that the perception of the irrefutable and undeniable truth of the proposition “It is raining outside” made at a time and place where it is indeed raining outside is “something like” the perception of Beauty, in this case, the transcendental entity that objectively exists within and around the song Videotape by Radiohead. From this reasoning it follows that just as one might interpret the Beauty of Videotape to be hopeful, one might interpret hearing the proposition “It is raining outside” at a time and place where it is raining outside to be hopeful. Just as one interprets the Beauty of Videotape to be depressing, one might interpret the Truth of the proposition “It is raining outside” to be depressing. Just as one might outright reject the Beauty of Videotape because they have developed irrepressible negative associations caused by a single traumatic incident (i.e. being arrested while attending a Radiohead concert), one might outright reject the Truth of the proposition “It is raining outside” while it is raining outside, due to associations they have developed from a traumatic incident (i.e. being arrested outside while it was raining or witnessing someone die while it was raining). Still another person that hears the statement “It is raining outside” while it is raining outside, may simply lack a preference for the Truth they experience from this proposition, just as a person may simply lack a preference for the Beauty they experience while listening to the song Videotape. The initial main point that I hear being made here is that no matter how one is moved by their experience of Truth, no matter how hopeful or how depressing, or how indifferent their reaction is, no matter how closed off they are, the transcendental entity of Truth within and around the statement “It is raining outside” made at a time and place where it is indeed raining outside, objectively exists. I comprehend then this point being used to make the following point: Since it can be 1) demonstrated that Truth objectively exists despite the many interpretations and rejection of its experience and since 2) Truth and Beauty are both Transcendentals, this demonstrates that 3) Beauty objectively exists despite the many interpretations (or movements) and outright rejections of its experience. In other words, Truth cannot be ignored therefore Beauty cannot be ignored.
    The belief that the manifestation of Beauty is equally or similarly as apparent as the manifestation of Truth seems like a theoretical concept to me. I find myself questioning the logical and practical validity of this claim. When I test the belief that the Beauty I experience while listening to the song Videotape by Radiohead is as objectively verifiable and undeniable as smelling, hearing, seeing, and feeling a downpour of rain- when I test this belief against my experience of listening to Videotape juxtaposed with my experience of the Truth of the statement “It is raining outside” while standing outside in the rain, my experiences do not reaffirm this belief. My experience of the beauty of Videotape is unlike my experience of the truth of 7×8 equaling 56. I currently do not find this belief to correspond to reality and I am inclined to reject this belief. Though I could be wrong- my inclination to reject this belief could represent one of the many ways one can be moved by experiencing the potential transcendental entity of Truth that potentially exists within and around this belief.

    • T…thanks for the thoughts. If I’m understanding you correctly, you are essentially saying that the comparison of the experience of Truth to the experience of Beauty isn’t really valid since Truth is easily verifiable and scientifically examinable. Hope that’s accurate.

      I don’t necessarily disagree. In a certain sense, what Catholics believe about Beauty is not scientifically verifiable; but, then again, it’s a basic tenet of Catholicism that science can’t answer everything about the human person. We are more than electricity and mass. If you disagree, I guess my first question to you would be, if all we are is what anatomy, biology, and chemistry can tell us, why do people make art? The Pieta does no one any good. It serves no evolutionary purpose. Michaelangelo’s David didn’t feed or clothe anyone. Yet we have art, continue to make it, and continue to seek it and experience it on a daily basis. That’s a curious task for a beast to undertake.

      And then there’s the question of your trust in Truth. When you say you can tell something is true when it corresponds to reality, what you mean is that if you and the boy and the mother all walked outside at the same time, your senses would all tell you the same thing, even if your emotions reacted differently. I would suggest it is much the same with Beauty. Sit down with fifteen people who have never heard Videotape, let them all listen to it, and ask for feedback. See if their responses don’t end up being much the same.

      Truth and Beauty look at the same experience through different lenses. A scientist can look at the physics and biology of two people who are in love and share the Truths about the neurotransmitters and chemical changes happening inside them. The two lovers experience the same act, but they likely aren’t worried about the Truth of the matter; they are wrapped up in the Beauty of the moment. Is one point of view more “real” than the other? I say no.

      • Tyler says:

        ……Ham! Shane, thank you for your response.

        In this reflection (as in the last reflection) I’m going to commit admittedly tiresome repetition of the meaning and definition of certain terms. I currently feel this to be necessary for discussing the topic at hand.

        I’d like to offer a rephrasing and slight but important amendment of your summary of what I’ve said in my last response: ‘Given your example of the experience of Truth and your example of the experience of Beauty, I find the comparison inadequate and ineffective in demonstrating how the experience of Beauty works since your example of the experience of Beauty is not measurable, or acknowledgeable , or able to be sensed, or able to be felt, or apparent in the same or similar way that your example of the experience of Truth is.’ More generally, this analogy is being employed to help one understand the phenomenon of Beauty existing on its own rather than just as a quality of or part of certain things and I submit that this analogy fails logically and practically in doing so.

        Next in your response you say “In a certain sense, what Catholics believe about Beauty is not scientifically verifiable; but, then again, it’s a basic tenet of Catholicism that science can’t answer everything about the human person”. I’d like to reiterate that what is contained and implied in the first half of this statement is what I’m interested in continuing to examine and converse about. In other words I’m interested in continuing the discussion of the exact question/topic implied by the post titles “Is Beauty Real?”, “Is Beauty Real? (Part Two)” and their respective content. First, what is implied in the first half of the quoted statement? That is, what do Catholics believe about Beauty? What Catholics (and various people who do not adhere to the beliefs of Catholicism) believe about “Beauty” (as significantly distinguishable from “beauty”) is that Beauty is a transcendental entity that objectively exists. The question, that I understand that you are asking (as noted in the title of the posts) and attempting to answer in the content of the posts is this: Is the objectively existing, transcendental entity, Beauty, real? I find these posts particularly provocative and engaging because I find myself asking this exact question.

        I’m going to quote your statement again: “In a certain sense, what Catholics believe about Beauty is not scientifically verifiable; but, then again, it’s a basic tenet of Catholicism that science can’t answer everything about the human person”. I want to focus on the second half. What I understand you (being a Catholic) are saying here is that the objectively existing, transcendental entity of Beauty is not scientifically measurable and this supported in that not everything about the human person is scientifically measurable. Is this accurate?

        I agree with this, however the object under examination here is the entity Beauty, not the human person. I don’t think the scientific method can measure everything about the human person. This is a worthwhile but separate topic. I find the question of why humans bother to make art also to be a worthwhile but separate topic. The relevant question that I find here is whether the scientific method, or faith, or logic, or emotion, or anything else, can answer something about Beauty, and if it can, how does it do it? In an effort to demonstrate the relevant distinction of Beauty and the human person, consider the following rhetorical question: Is the objective existence of the transcendental entity of Beauty in any way dependent on the human person or any aspect of human nature? The answer is ‘no’ by virtue of the entity being transcendent. Is this answer agreeable?

        I understand that it is believed, in a certain sense, that the entity Beauty and its independent existence is not scientifically measurable. I’m interested in understanding why this is believed to be the case. In a separate certain sense though, it seems to me that the entity Beauty and its independent existence is scientifically measurable. The reason why I think this is that the scientific method has been repeatedly employed in order to demonstrate that the transcendent entity Beauty objectively exists, specifically in and around songs. What is meant by employing the scientific method, as I understand it, is the process of 1) analyzing an object 2) collecting data 3) testing this data against a standard or hypothesis 4) rendering a result from this test that serves to confirm or disconfirm the standard or hypothesis.

        From the content of the post The Death of Sentimentality (and the Birth of Beauty) I understand what is being suggested is that the honesty or dishonesty of the lyrics of a song is a possible criteria for determining whether the entity of Beauty exists within and around a song or not. I also came to assume that the presence of real human emotion or the absence of real human emotion, as communicated by the lyrics, to be another possible criteria. Am I assuming incorrectly?

        In order to determine the honesty or dishonesty of a song, as well as the presence or absence of real human emotion, I submit that one first analyzes the song. They collect the data (the lyrics and what they say). They test the lyrics against some standard of honesty, dishonesty, authentic human emotion, and inauthentic human emotion. They render results from this test that serve to confirm or disconfirm the presence or absence of these characteristics.

        From Is Beauty Real? and Is Beauty Real? (Part Two), I understand that a sense of wholeness and unity of a song and if a song moves a person -these are two criteria that can be used to determine whether or not the entity Beauty objectively exists in and around a song. The first of these criteria has been demonstrated (and the second criteria mentioned) in reference to the entity Beauty (not beauty) existing in and around the song Videotape by Radiohead:

        “But the Beauty is still there, regardless of the personal or subjective reaction to it, because there is a sense of unity and wholeness within the musical and lyrical choices (he doesn’t just stop and pick up a banjo and crank out some bluegrass licks in the middle or start singing about his Escalade halfway through), and because there is something in it that moves a person.”

        I think the way one is able to determine a sense of wholeness and unity in the song Videotape or in any song is by use of the scientific method- the melody, chord progression, consistency or lack of in the lyrics, instruments used and not used, are analyzed and are then tested against a standard of wholeness and unity. The results rendered from this test serve to confirm or disconfirm the hypothesis, in this case, confirm that Videotape does indeed have a sense of wholeness and unity to it. This criteria is then used to demonstrate that the entity Beauty objectively exists and does so within and around the song Videotape.

        Lastly, a logical analogy involving Truth has been used to demonstrate the same end, as mentioned in the beginning.

        It seems there have been multiple appeals to some method of scientific measurement to answer (and provide justification for) the question “Is the objectively existing entity Beauty real?”

        Is this agreeable?

        Does the certain sense of the belief that the entity Beauty is not scientifically measurable apply in the case of this entity potentially existing within and around the song Videotape? If the answer is yes, what purpose can the above measurements have in regards to answering and providing justification for the question of whether the entity Beauty is real and objectively exists? What purpose to this end would conducting the following scientific experiment serve?

        -“Sit down with fifteen people who have never heard Videotape, let them all listen to it, and ask for feedback. See if their responses don’t end up being much the same.” (regardless, I have reason to doubt that all 15 participants would answer the same thing or much the same thing and even if they all didn’t say the same thing these results would also be inconsequential if the entity Beauty objectively exists within and around Videotape no matter how people react to it) From Is Beauty Real (Part 2) – “Regardless of our preference or openness to Beauty in certain circumstances, the Beauty still exists.”

        I’m assuming these certain circumstances apply in the case of the song Videotape.

        If the answer to the above question (is the entity Beauty not scientifically measurable) is no, is there a certain sense of a belief that the entity Beauty is scientifically measurable? If so, does this belief apply to the case of the song Videotape?

        I’m led to believe that a certain sense of the entity Beauty being not scientifically measurable and a certain sense of this entity being scientifically measurable simultaneously apply to the song Videotape. If this is true I am interested in learning more about how this dichotomy functions.

  2. Tyler says:

    sidenote- I clumsily pasted this response 3 times in a row.

  3. Thanks T. Some nice points there. I will try to elaborate a bit.

    I’m pretty sure I agree with everything you said in the first half of your post (up to the point where you asked “Is this agreeable?”). As to your concerns or questions in the second half, maybe this will clarify what I meant.

    First, you are right in saying that the first two elements of determining what is beautiful are analyzable using the scientific method, while I’m not sure that the third is. You can look at a song or picture or sculpture and look at the unity and proportion with measurements and tools and the like, and that would be completely valid. As far as the “claritas” or “effulgence” element of beauty, I’m not sure that it is determinable by the scientific method. My clumsy suggestion of sitting down fifteen people to listen to Videotape was certainly misleading; I merely suggested that as a corollary to what you were talking about with the truth of the statement “It is raining” when you said

    “What makes this a great example and effectively demonstrative is that the proposition ‘It is raining outside’ being made while it is indeed raining outside is irrefutably and undeniably verifiable. The farmer, the mother, and the boy can look out the window and see the rain or walk outside to see and feel the rain and thereby unambiguously confirm the Truth that flows to them from the proposition”.

    I don’t know that the experience of Beauty would be altogether different. I think if you confronted that farmer, mother, and boy (or, as I suggested before, fifteen people of your choosing) with the same Beauty at the same time there would be a certain element of their reaction that would be similarly “irrefutably and undeniably verifiable”. But, as you essentially pointed out, that’s not the point I’m trying to make anyway. Beauty is different than Truth; that’s why we give them different names. The comparison, as is the nature of comparisons, was imperfect.

    You said, “I’m led to believe that a certain sense of the entity Beauty being not scientifically measurable and a certain sense of this entity being scientifically measurable simultaneously apply to the song Videotape. If this is true I am interested in learning more about how this dichotomy functions.” I think it is true, although I find myself at a bit of a loss to explain it very well. I will try my best.

    My buddy Sebastian always says the most important word in Catholicism is “and”. We embrace faith and reason. Jesus was (is) God and man. Humans are body and soul. We need faith and works.

    So, yes, there is an “and” with Beauty. It happens at the level of the senses and the level of the soul. It can be examined objectively and experienced subjectively. It is outside of us and yet experienced inside of us.

    We could sit down and analyze a song the way you suggested, and often we do (I do that with books for a living), but the analysis is more of an excavation than the making of a map. When you are looking at something that has Beauty, I don’t think people really take all the different parts, look at them separately, look at them together, and approve it as beautiful or condemn it as poopy (although you could do that, I don’t think that’s the point of Beauty). Rather, I think you see something that immediately and naturally and organically strikes you as whole and ordered, as having unity and proportion, and those two elements working together essentially emanate something of themselves out of the object containing the Beauty towards the perceiver of that Beauty (which is what we would call its clarity (not at all unlike what we believe about the Trinity, that two Persons have a connection so powerful that their mere confluence ‘begets’ a third Person that ‘proceeds’ out of them (which is also like what we see in a family, where the love of two persons is so powerful that something emerges or flows out from that love))). And when those three elements of Beauty strike you, you want to go deeper into them, experience it more fully, and so that is why you would then start an analysis of the parts and how they fit together, not so that you can map it out and understand its structure and organization better, but so that you can fall deeper into it, fall in love with it, be washed in it, be cleansed by it.

    Not sure if that made any sense. Let me know what you think.

    • Tyler says:

      Shane, thank you for your response. I can make some sense of what you are saying about this belief and about the nature of human perception. I have a general understanding of where you are coming from. Judging from the proceedings of this dialogue, I’m interpreting significant parts of where you are coming from and what you believe and significant parts of where I’m coming from and what I believe to be un-relatable. I am currently at a loss as to how to express myself in way that is sufficiently relatable. Transforming the apparently un-relatable to something relatable is an art form of the humble, well practiced expressionist. I can see that I have a lot of work to do in these areas. With this acknowledgment, I find it sufficient to express (as is implied in my reflections) in the meantime, that I continue to question, and through my questioning, doubt that Beauty (not beauty) is literally (not figuratively) real- that is that Beauty is a transcendental entity that objectively exists in and around certain ideas, things, and persons. With this, I sincerely (and skeptically) acknowledge the possibility that my belief is a part of an active, conscious denial of a belief that constitutes the fullness of the truth/Truth.

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