Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Back to the Basics; Philosophy, Art History and what I'm Thinking

It often helps to return to the sources of what we think about, so we can determine how far and how well we have gone. So...

What is True, Good and Beautiful were the classical conceptions of philosophical questions. I would rephrase them tentatively as: Why is there something rather than nothing? How can we know this? How can we evaluate it's relevance to us?

Obviously, we ourselves are included in the set of things that comprise that something. The language we use to ask these questions also comprise part of that something, as does the methods of knowing that we use to ask that fundamental question of why there is something rather than nothing.

Philosophy is the ungainly attempt to tackle questions that come naturally to children, using methods that come naturally to lawyers.
-David Hills
I think Prof. Hills' was being sardonic, but there is a useful approach in his functional definition. The questions are often very simple, but the logic required to precisely structure the question as well as provide criteria to propose and evaluate an answer are torturous.

My broadest question is what does it mean, if anything, that we are here now, looking/sensing/perceiving all this stuff and reacting to it. Why do Joe Pass and Oscar Peterson make me feel good when they play "Caravan"? What does it mean that my consciousness reacts to these apparent perceptions? What does it say about this universe that I can experience these phenomena and then express them? Why can my perceptions apparently err?

These are questions so vast that they seem to defy answers, so they must be analyzed, or deconstructed into questions narrow and sharply defined so the answer has some chance of remaining valid.

Does aesthetic experience some how touch "reality" in the noumenal(Kantian), Dionysian(Nietzschean) or phenomenological (Merleau-Pontian) senses? That question arose from some logical problems I had with Emmanual Kant when I studied him with Gerry LaVallee over twenty years ago. My questions were not original, as I learned later, because Arthur Schopenhauer had asked them and provided his answers in 1500 pages or so. My questions were creative, I think, because I had never read or encountered Schopenhauer's thought prior to ten years after I raised my questions about Kant's Critique of Pure Reason.

Now I'm asking a very specific question, set in very defined temporal(because I am doing Art History) and spatial locus. Can the relationship between linear perspective and the feeling we often call immersion better be defined as "Ekstasos" when we consider games such as Prince of Persia juxtaposed with Piranesi's Carceri drawings?


Anonymous said...

I would think so.
Although I imagine that answer would be dependent on the reactivity of the individual, no?

adamvs said...

The problem with rendering it totally subjective is that it then under qualifies the concept. That is to say, if immersion is completely different for everybody, then we aren't talking about one thing. At best, we would be saying that some people react to paintings and digital games. I am looking to see if there are elements that everyone who looses themselves in videwo games shares.my hypothesis is that the experience is similar to altered states of conciousness experienced in certain religious rituals and the reveries that one finds while reading.

Anonymous said...

Well, in my opinion (which I appear to be frequently subjecting you to), I don’t know if I’d call it as near a hypnotic state as achieved by the power of suggestion, as in some religious rituals, however there certainly is a high level of absorption and escapism.
But then again, what the heck do I know.

"If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country."
-E.M. Forster