The Soul of Beauty: A Psychological Investigation of Appearance
The problem explored in The Soul of Beauty is the split in modern consciousness between the world of perception and appearance on the one hand, and the world of action and meaning on the other. We see in one way and find truth in another. The work presents this dualism as a problem in the modern sense of beauty. The intent of the book is the recovery of beauty as that which brings together such contemporary splits as perception and action, appearance and meaning, matter and spirit, subject and object.
Beauty is imaged in two paradigms. The first presents beauty as a matter of appearance which holds meaning - beauty as truth. The second holds that beauty is subjective experience, which in its modern sense is divorced from knowledge and practical action - beauty as relative experience. The paradigms are formed through an imaginative and historical exploration of the tradition of beauty in Western consciousness.
The prototype of the first paradigm - beauty as appearance - is seen in the goddess Aphrodite, who reflects the Greek sense of divinity in form itself. This paradigm is then founded upon the tradition of Plato in the Phaedrus and the Symposium, Plotinus, Dionysius, and Ficino. The major elements of this paradigm are depicted in beauty as: (1) source in a hierarchical universe, (2) universal mediator, (3) object of love, (4) human perception, (5) human knowledge, (6) light, and (7) unity, goodness, and being. The suggestion is made that the paradigm of beauty as appearance is relevant for psychology as a study of soul because it brings together perception and meaning.
The paradigm of beauty as a subjective experience focuses historically upon beauty as a spiritual, conceptual (proportion), methodological (linear perspective), and subjective phenomenon. In the tradition of proportion and subjectivism, knowledge is gained through perception that occurs via an organizing system, such as mathematics, or a concept, such as proportion, rather than through the direct perception of appearance. Meaning is separated from perception, and the organizing system or concept, not appearance, becomes the ground of knowledge. It is suggested that this paradigm, reflected in scientific and conceptual psychology, is problematic for psychology as a study of soul. Instead, psychology conducts its endeavors in the service of identification with the divine, control over the physical world, and certainty of consciousness.
The final portion of the work examines the recovery of beauty as appearance in contemporary psychology through the notion of "image" in Jung's later thought and the phenomenon of psychotherapy. The work concludes with a presentation of psychology as an aesthetic enterprise bringing together meaning and appearance, spirit and matter, art and science, subject and object.
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Page 80 - But know, that in the soul Are many lesser faculties, that serve Reason as chief ; among these, fancy next Her office holds ; of all external things, Which the five watchful senses represent, She forms imaginations, airy shapes, Which reason, joining or disjoining, frames All what we affirm or what deny, and call Our knowledge or opinion ; then retires Into her private cell when nature rests.
Page 80 - What thou seest, What there thou seest, fair creature, is thyself, With thee it came and goes...
Page 81 - Out of my sight, thou Serpent ! That name best Befits thee with him leagu'd, thyself as false And hateful ; nothing wants, but that thy shape, Like his, and colour serpentine, may...
Page 64 - It is an everlasting loveliness which neither comes nor goes, which neither flowers nor fades, for such beauty is the same on every hand, the same then as now, here as there, this way as that way, the same to every worshiper as it is to every other.
Page 79 - For understanding rul'd not, and the will Heard not her lore : both in subjection now To sensual appetite, who from beneath Usurping over sovran reason claim'd Superior sway.
Page 156 - Again : to be beautiful, a living creature, and every whole made up of parts, must not only present a certain, order in its arrangement of parts, but also be of a certain definite magnitude.
Page 129 - If we picture the conscious mind with the ego as its centre, as being opposed to the unconscious, and if we now add to our mental picture the process of assimilating the unconscious, we can think of this assimilation as a kind of approximation of conscious and unconscious, where the centre of the total personality no longer coincides with the ego, but with a point midway between the conscious and unconscious.
Page 85 - This reality, then, that gives their truth to the objects of knowledge and the power of knowing to the knower, you must say is the idea of good, and you must conceive it as being the cause of knowledge, and of truth in so far as known.