critical intermezzo

Edu Marin (Journal of Reviews)


On the theology of aesthetics

Aesthetics derives from a belief that it can contain errors in the fundamentals, and its entire building can sink. Coming from psychological metaphysics, it presupposes that man is divided into body and soul, as separable instances, with the soul having priority because it is immutable, eternal and independent of the body. Just as Logic would take care of the conclusions of the soul in analytical terms, Aesthetics would take care of bodily perceptions, of corporeal images. This Christian conception is present in Descartes, Leibniz, Wolff, Baumgarten, Kant, Fichte, Solger, Hegel and many others. It is not exactly prior to Christianity: the Romans, for example, believed that “the shadow” went to the Elysian Fields, but these were not located in a “Beyond” outside the “physis”.

There was in scholasticism a “superior logic”, analytical, focused on abstract thinking, keeping a check on how it should be. In the XNUMXth century, with Wolff and Baumgarten, a counterpart to the study of “Inferior Logic” was proposed, “Aesthetics” focused on the infernal regions, considered corporeal, since knowledge processes would also occur there, basically through fleeting images. Baumgarten's "Aesthetics"[I] (#1) combined diverse areas: inferior gnoseology, theory of the liberal arts, the art of beautiful cogitations, art of the analogue of reason: it would be the science of sensitive knowledge.

Sometimes the theological assumption receives the variant that man would not be made up of two parts, but of three: body, soul and spirit. In the verbal sign, the body is to the signifier what the signified is to the soul, but when an irony is used, the meaning of the word tends to be the opposite of the usual meaning. There is, therefore, a third instance, the spirit of the work. In the Critique of Pure Reason, for example, the corporeal dimension would be in what she called Aesthetics – which was not a Philosophy of Art – that is, the region of sense perceptions; the soul would be in the conceptual understanding, a kind of Holy Spirit that would be in man, while the spirit would be in the highest level of Reason, which commands everything with its three ideas: God, immortality, freedom: the tick, the ceiling and the stump .

The central problem is to discern the theological core that inhabits philosophy and aesthetics, making thinkers rather theologians in disguise than philosophers, if one accepts Heidegger's proposal – which he himself did not fully fulfill – that philosophy is atheist by nature . In an era of resurgence of religious fanaticism, this problem becomes more pressing. Religious monotheism tends to lead to totalitarianism, because those who only admit one true god, his, have no tolerance for the elevation of other deities. The way out is not regression to ancient polytheism, but getting rid of religions: “no more gods”.

The distinction between body and soul seemed easy: body would be a thing with extension, being, therefore, divisible; on the other hand, the soul would be the indivisible. Although Descartes adopted this in his main works, in the Passions of the Soul[ii] observed that the soul is also divided: it has a part where it feels things; another who understands things and still one who decides about things. In the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries, there was no clear idea that there was an unconscious, although Shakespeare noticed it. For us, since psychoanalysis it is natural that “the soul” is divided into conscious, pre-conscious and unconscious. We even admit that brain death can occur before the death of the rest of the body. When things are divided, there should come a moment when they can no longer be divided: it is the mathematical point, the crossing of two lines, which is without being there, it is a non-being that is and that founds everything (or sinks everything). in nothing). Everything that exists is based on a non-being that is.

In a war situation, under cannon fire, a soldier is terrified, turns pale and wants to hide, while another becomes furious, red with rage and is willing to face the enemy's fire with an open chest. For the same cause should the same consequences, and it does not. If their “souls” have the same divine origin, why do they react in an opposite way?

Each “soul” captures the data of the real, discerns the situation, provokes a somatic reaction and a volitional action. Suffering the data is equivalent to the figure of Christ, who embodies suffering; the intellection of data is carried out by the understanding, which corresponds to the Holy Spirit, while the divine expression of the will is God the Father, who decides to make and unmake things. There is, however, in addition to this Holy Trinity, a fourth figure, the one that makes the spirit somatize bodily reactions and which corresponds to the figure of the Virgin Mary, the one that made the spirit become flesh and dwell among humans.

When the philosophers of the XNUMXth century began to develop “psychological metaphysics”, they were doing something sacrilegious, that is, trying to decipher what the “soul” placed by God in man would be, but they transposed the theological categories to the scope of the theory of knowledge. They looked for the “architecture of the mind” and had an “architectural” plan in their systems. This becomes clearer in the “robot” built by Kant in the Critique of Pure Reason. He has sensors – the senses – that capture images of the phenomena of things and that lead them to the “understanding” (Verstand) that organizes them according to the concepts – it is the programming that he is endowed with, which leads to decisions according to the volitional principles of reason mediated by judgment.

If in Descartes, in the Passions of the soul, there hovers the suggestion that the “soul” is divided into three (I would say four) parts – the intellection being equivalent to the Holy Spirit, the feeling to Christ and the will to God the Father, it can -if we add the somatization of psychic movements as equivalent to the Virgin Mary, the one who made the spirit become flesh – these same Catholic theological categories are found in Kant, although he had a Lutheran background rather than a Catholic one. The “schema” (in the very sense of schematism of reason) of the Critique of Pure Reason can be seen in the form of a pyramid, in which the bottom part is formed by the chaotic multiplicity of perceptions, the body, the “transcendental aesthetics”; the middle part by the conceptual system of understanding (Verstand), and the upper part by reason with its three supposed ideas of God, freedom and immortality.

That is, what commands everything is reason, which is a transposition of the figure of God the Father; the understanding, which is the intellection of things, would be the transposition of the Holy Spirit, while the one who carries what is felt, the aesthetic, would be the equivalent of Christ, the sufferer. After presenting this triptych, Kant remembers to place the faculty of judgment between the second and third instances, which keeps transposing the orders of abstract reason to concrete activities, that is, it is the Virgin Mary who reappears, the one who makes the spirit becoming flesh, a concrete decision, the mediation of the divine with the human. Kant explicitly uses the term “architecture” to designate the structure of the mind.

If a house is taken as a model, it can also be assumed that the foundations are the data provided by the sensors that are the senses, passive receivers that suffer, but are the suppliers of the raw material, the Christ on which all faith is founded. Christian; the part of the living rooms and rooms is occupied by the life of the mind, by conceptual programming, that is, the Holy Spirit; the roof is the formatting of the judgment, that is, it corresponds to the Virgin Mary, the one who makes concrete, makes flesh, what would be the purely spiritual will of what represents the divine, while the roof that covers everything is reason, which represents the will of God the Father. That is, god is not just an idea of ​​reason – to be distinguished from belief in god because it would represent the beginning and end of all things, therefore hiding astronomy and astrophysics behind it –, but the Christian divine serves to structure the mind itself. The mind that can be considered human can only be the Christian mentality, the one made in accordance with the dominant European belief. The structure of the mind is defined according to a certain belief, the Christian.

Marx used this image of a building to understand the relationship between culture, society and the mode of production. This would be the base, the foundation, on which the social structure would be built, which would be like the rooms and halls of the house, while the roof would form the cultural superstructure. The term he uses is “Bau”, a construction, a building, a house, which was lost when translating this as structure, which is rather the skeleton of the construction. Hence the terms “Unterbau” for the economic foundations and “Überbau” for their cultural expression (Ausdruck).

We have to look from the outside at this construction we inhabit, which is us. It's easy to compare people and say that some look like huts; others, decadent tapestries; others, popular constructions: there is a low and middle construction class, just as there are upper-class mansions and ideational palaces. Construction is, however, something rigid, a house that has no life, the mechanical structure of thinking. How, however, do freedom and inventiveness remain within this? Would it be the movement of those who live there, within the foreseeable?

Foundations, walls, ceilings and roofs are built to generate voids. Everything that is built is done to generate a non-being. It is not, however, identical with the great achievement in science or art that produces something not equal to what was anticipated. That is, what most distinguishes man has no place in the metaphor of building.

*Flavio R. Kothe Professor of Aesthetics at FAU/UnB, author of works on the Brazilian canon, literary theory and comparative art, translator of Nietzsche, Marx, Kafka, Adorno and author of poems, short stories and novels.

[I]Baumgarten, Alexander G. Aesthetics, Hamburg, Felix Meiner Verlag, 2007, Latin and German, 2 volumes.

[ii] Descartes, Rene. passions of the soul. Collection the thinkers, São Paulo, Editora Abril, 1983, translation by J. Guinsburg and Bento Prado Júnior, p. 218 ss.

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