Saturday, November 2, 2019

Trump vs. Schiller

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         Balloon Donald Trump

- This time I have a brilliant idea. Maybe even a beautiful idea. Do you want to hear it?
- Why wouldn't I?
- I think I know why theories in science are more liked the more of the world they bring under the fewer principles. Why is that? you ask. I'll tell you. The reason is we are the unique species of animal that uniquely practises both science and anti-science.
- What is anti-science?
- A science against science. A science of bringing others in the world in obscure relation to ourselves for the sake of forgetting everything else about ourselves and the world. Science helps us remember by bringing as much as possible under rule of a single law, anti-science brings a few antagonists in obscure relation to each other for the sake of forgetting everything else.
- Scientific theories are felt to be beautiful, at least by the scientists themselves. What about anti-science? Is it thought to be ugly?
- Not by practitioners. But by everyone else, by lovers of science, yes!
- Our president exhorts his followers to make American great again, throw out the elites running the county exclusively in their interest, expel the foreigners who are taking our jobs and committing crimes. On the basis of an impoverished history and rudimentary method for its remedy his followers can imagine themselves in the company of like-minded others being reborn in a new world where they are free of a sense of defeat and weakness and can start again. A ritual of rebirth. Old life is forgotten reborn in the new. These are old ideas for us. Your brilliant idea, or should I say, your beautiful idea, is that what they are doing in the eyes of others is ugly, but not to themselves? A way of looking at the world, unifying complexity, helps us remember, and we call that beautiful, and we call ugly a way of looking at the world that places a small part in conflict with another under a simple but obscure principle, because it helps us forget. I don't see it.
- I don't think we've talked before about Schiller, the late 18th century German playwright, poet, and philosopher, friend and collaborator with Goethe. According to Schiller, beauty, both in nature and that made by us, educates us by reconciling, putting into harmony, our thoughts and desires, so that what we judge we should do is what we want to do. We love what we see when we are looking at something in the world that helps us do this, that reminds us to do this.*
- We call it beautiful.**
- Yes.
- How is the beauty of our behavior related to the beauty in science?
- By what Schiller called grace, exemplifying the lawful unity of our behavior, simply and without exception acting in harmony with ourselves. Perhaps you've heard the arguments about our president, now beginning the impeachment phase of his term of office, that he really is not worse than his immediate predecessors who oversaw a massive transfer of wealth to the rich, immensely destructive and futile wars waged on false pretexts, a global recession, mass surveillance, etc?
- I've heard. Why bother impeaching him for his obvious small scale crimes, numerous as they are, when we stood idly by while the country was being despoiled by its rich and powerful?
- What do you say now? Is it a danger to the people to have a leader teaching by his behavior forgetting, a leader as ugly as our own Donald Trump? Do you ever hear anyone, I mean anyone, described as being graceful, in the full meaning given to the word by Schiller, harmony of thought and act, not mere fluidity of movement or something of that sort?
- Can't say I do. We live in the capitalist money making world of doing and not seeing anything else. With such good teachers as our president of the practice of anti-science, constantly lying, clowning, stirring people up to intemperate thoughts and feelings, we've forgotten how to act gracefully.
- We've forgotten how to even recognize ugliness when we see it.
- Yet here we are, remembering and trying to make a science out of explaining our anti-science.

Further Reading:
Political Correctness
* 'A free action is a beautiful action, if the autonomy of the mind and autonomy of appearance coincide. For this reason the highest perfection of character in a person is moral beauty brought about by the fact that duty has become its nature. (Schiller, Kallias Letters) ' Drive away lawlessness, frivolity and coarseness from their pleasure, and you will imperceptibly banish them from their actions, and finally from their dispositions. Wherever you find them, surround them with noble, great and ingenious forms, enclose them all round with the symbols of excellence, until actuality is overpowered by appearance and Nature by Art.'  
** 'For readers to whom the pure significance of this word—so often misused through ignorance—is not entirely familiar, what follows may serve as an explanation. Every phenomenon whatsoever may be thought of in four different connections. A thing may relate directly to our sensuous condition (our being and well-being); that is its physical character. Or it can relate to our reason, and furnish us with knowledge; that is its logical character. Or it can relate to our will, and be regarded as an object of choice for a rational being; that is its moral character. Or finally, it can relate to the totality of our various powers, without being a specific object for any single one of them; that is its aesthetic character. A man can be pleasant to us through his readiness to oblige; he can cause us to think by means of his transactions; he can instill respect into us by his high moral standards; but finally, independently of all these and without our taking into consideration any law or any design in our own judgement of him, but simply contemplating him, simply by his manifesting himself—he can please us. In this last-named character we are judging him aesthetically. So there is an education for health, an education for understanding, an education for morality, and an education for taste and for Beauty. This last has as its aim the cultivation of the whole of our sensuous and intellectual powers in the fullest possible harmony. But because people are meanwhile led astray by a false taste, and still more confirmed in this error by false reasoning, into taking the conception of arbitrariness along with them into the conception of the aesthetic, I add. this superfluous note (though these letters about aesthetic education are concerned with practically nothing else but a refutation of that error) to point out that the mind in its aesthetic condition, although it certainly acts freely and is in the highest degree free from all restraint, is by no means free from laws, and that this aesthetic freedom is to be distinguished from the logical necessity of thinking and from the moral necessity of willing only by the fact that the laws which guide the operation of the mind are not realized, and because they meet with no resistance do not appear as compulsion.' (Schiller, On The Aesthetic Education of Man)