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Related Words, Beliefs, Background

Worldview Theme #12: 

               The Artistic Worldview

alphabetical listing: A to K 

  alphabetical listing, continued: L to Z
addiction and creativity -- In her book, Witness to the Fire -- Creativity and the Veil of Addiction, Linda Leonard argues that some parallel process (not a cause and effect relationship) occurs in the heads of both addicts and creative people like writers, artists, etc. About them she writes, “Both descend into chaos, into the unknown world of the unconscious. Both are fascinated by what they find there. Both encounter pain, death, and suffering. But the addict is pulled down, often without choice...the creative person chooses to go down into the unknown realm...Some creative artists descend with the help of drugs or alcohol and continue to create. Some find they must give up their addictions in order to create”

aesthetics -- a branch of philosophy that deals with exploring the concept of beauty and with making judgments about it --something at the heart of the appreciation and critical appraisal of artistic creations.

aesthetics and worldviews--different cultural traditions have different standards for evaluating artistic work and valuing the various uses (entertainment, self expression, expressing cultural ideals, etc) of art, music, dance, etc. 

animism -- the belief that all things, living or non-living, possess a spirit or soul that is separate from their physical form.

art, definitions -- one of those difficult to define terms, one whose definition depends on your point of view. Definitions of it can emphasize art as any of the following: expression, imitation, playful creativity, insight into reality, communicating feeling, and can link it to beauty, pleasure, empathy, and both idealizing common daily experience and escaping from it.  It can be defined to include a wide range of creative works used to portray images and express feelings, including drawing, painting, sculpture, music, dance, theater, literature, architecture, etc.

art and status -- from an evolutionary biology viewpoint art seems rather useless, and explanations for its widespread appeal and persistence lead to economic and psychology of status considerations. It has been charged that many collect art works -- not for their aesthetic merits -- to engage in conspicuous consumption or to bolster their claim to belonging to some elite class.

artist--a person engaged and skilled in some form of art or creative expression.

central conflict -- the conflict between one’s real self and one’s idealized self (according to one theory of personality)

complementarity -- the notion that there can be two equally good, complementary but mutually exclusive, even contradictory descriptions or explanations of something. More fully understanding the reality of the something can involve simultaneously embracing both of these complementary representations, often allowing opposing beliefs to peacefully coexist together inside one’s head! From ancient China, the yin and yang provide the archetypes of complementary, polar opposites. Chinese thinkers have sought to explain all natural phenomena and human behavior in terms of a complementary representation involving the dynamic interplay of opposites. A modern physics complementarity example involves conceiving of light as both a particle and a wave.

cosmic consciousness -- an individual’s conscious connection with something much bigger --it has been likened to swimming in the infinite cosmic ocean  or accessing the all-knowing Cosmic Mind -- that involves an impossible to describe feeling of elation, awakening, joyousness, sense of immortality, etc that elevates this person above ordinary people and places him or her on a enlightened, higher plane of existence.

creative thinking -- thinking that happens without words or logic, and can involve images, intuition, emotions, and bodily feelings.

dreams--a series of thoughts, images or feelings --particularly of anxiety or aggression--that one experiences during sleep. While dreams have a long history--the Bible provides accounts of  several seemingly prophetic ones--researchers are unsure as to how to explain them.  Various scientific explanations have been offered: that dreams allow the brain to consolidate memories, consider thoughts / memories / feelings  that would otherwise be repressed, aid creative thinking, anticipate future contingencies, etc. Vitalists postulate that dreams are one way spirits communicate. 

emotions -- another one of those difficult to define terms. Here are three definitions: 1) a catch all term for subjectively experienced states dominated by feelings; 2) the affective or feeling aspect of human consciousness; 3) from Steven Pinker: “...emotions are mechanisms that set the brain’s highest level goals.

empathy -- concisely it refers to “fellow feeling” , that is imagining that you are in the other person’s shoes and experiencing his or her feelings, struggles, etc.

epiphany or darshan--the Sanskrit term refers to an intense experience that provides a vision or awareness of the divine. For Hindus, such an epiphany may be experienced when viewing sacred art, in a temple, or in the presence of a revered holy person.

happiness and suffering -- Dostoevsky wrote, “Without suffering, happiness cannot be understood”. In equating Hell with “the suffering of being unable to love”, he again links these two concepts in an extreme sense, with love representing some extreme state of happiness, Hell a place of extreme suffering.

holographic paradigm -- A hologram is a photographic image created using lasers, mirrors and knowledge of how light waves interfere with each other. This image is recorded on a glass plate. When it’s projected, the viewer experiences a three dimensional image. Interestingly, if the glass plate is broken into smaller pieces, each piece is capable of recreating the same three dimensional image exhibited by the whole intact plate, although the clarity and resolution of that image is reduced. It’s as if there’s no localized storage of the image on the glass plate, the image is stored all over the plate! It has been suggested that the universe we live in is like this: the whole is contained in every part, albeit at a reduced resolution. If this model is correct, then literally the whole universe is inside the smallest grain of sand -- and inside you! Conceivably, in a mystic trance, one might experience “outer space” by looking within in exploring the “inner space” of the mind!

Indra's net--a Buddhist image of the interconnected- ness of all sentient beings represented by the net of the Vedic God Indra.      see also holographic paradigm

intellectual property, cultural rights--refer to an individual claiming ownership and associated exclusive benefits for works / products he or she has created or a whole culture making similar claims when outsiders seek to benefit from their cultural heritage.

introspection -- the process of looking inside one’s mind, recalling events, memories, sensory experiences, etc, and after this mental examination, perhaps reflecting on the experience, and formulating action. This only gives an illusion of free will, behaviorists and determinists would argue.

intuition -- immediate insight that occurs without conscious awareness. To some intuition is an almost mystical process, or others a response to very subtle cues and stimuli received unconsciously.

  love vs. hate–Collier describes love as having to do "with bringing together into a whole that which belongs together" and hate "with enforcing separation and difference, driving apart [what is] inherently whole." 

orderly universe--the belief, which can be traced back to Greeks such as Thales in the sixth century BC, that there is an order and organization to the universe due to its functioning in accordance with a small number of natural laws--laws which can conceivably be uncovered and understood by humans. Such a notion is diametrically opposed by the belief that the universe is unorganized, transient chaos whose workings can never be comprehended.  Harvard historian of science Gerald Holton's term for the origin of belief in an orderly universe is "The Ionian Enchantment."

passion -- violent, intense, overpowering feeling

peak experience -- a term used by Maslow and of interest to him in connection with a person becoming self actualized. Peak experiences are times when an individual feels a profound sense of being alive, clear headed and fully functioning, connected with his or her surroundings, harmony, spontaneity, and joy.

Postmodernism -- an intellectual and artistic movement based on the belief that the modern historical period, one built on reason, the reality of objective truth, and an attitude of hopeful progressivism with respect to the human condition, has passed. Postmodernism questions whether these ideals and others still have meaning.  Countering the belief, which dates from the 18th century Enlightenment period, that humans are capable of knowing everything, postmodernists argue that they really know nothing--arguing that the reality humans have constructed is a state of mind contingent upon particular cultural conditions, historical accidents, etc and lacking in objective existence.  They deny the existence of universal truth, promote the common good, tolerance, and a cultural relativism in which different societies' truths, beliefs, values and morals are equally good.  Some link postmodernist cynicism with the steadily increasing grip that media conglomerates and multinational led forces of globalization have on the world. 

right brain / left brain--the two hemispheres of the brain are specialized for performing different functions. Understanding verbal communication, speaking, reading and writing, along with analytical reasoning, abstract and critical thinking are left brain centered. In contrast, the right brain is predominately at work during strenuous physical activity, non-verbal communications, dreams, and is called on for assessing spatial relationships, three dimensional vision, face / pattern recognition, and in making intuitive / wholistic leaps. It has been hypothesized that whereas the left brain processes information sequentially, “bit by bit“, in linear, ordered fashion, the right brain stores and retrieves whole patterns, in “all at once” fashion. Some associate different types of consciousness with each hemisphere--the analytical left brain’s being one very much aware of the passage of time, the mystical right brain is “in the moment” and “lost in space”. Emotionally, the left brain seems connected with positive feelings like love; the right brain with negative feelings.  It is important to realize that the human brain is incredibly complex, and that the above picture of right brain / left brain is too simplistic.  Thus it has been argued that only heterosexual, right-handed males exhibit the type and degree of specialized brain hemisphere function described above. In females, where the corpus callosum connection between the two hemispheres is typically thicker, signals travel more readily between the two halves of the brain and supposedly bring more “right brain” emotional responses!  

Romanticism-- a late 18th century  intellectual and artistic movement that loosened the grip of the so called Enlightenment period on western Europe. It was characterized by rebellion against various things--the rationalization / mechanization of nature, and social, political and aristocratic convention, in particular. Besides valuing rebellion, both in philosophy and art romanticism promoted the display of intense emotions, spontaneity, heroic vision, and viewing nature with a sense of sublime awe.

tacit knowledge -- knowledge that can not be put into words, symbols or otherwise made into explicit knowledge. It is argued that you both know much more than you can describe, and that often you know but can’t identify how it is you know. Tacit knowledge s intimately connected with personal experience of reality, whereas explicit knowledge is one step removed from reality. It is argued that the attempted transformation of tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge (by putting one’s experience into words) can not only at times be difficult, fall far short , or be impossible, but can lead to falsification. Such falsification results when an experienced “whole truth” becomes a pieced together collection of parts (words and symbols) and something much different from the whole. Mystical experience is firmly set in the realm of tacit knowledge.

transcendentalism -- a philosophy that asserts the importance of the realm beyond the reach of ordinary sensory perception above that of the observable material world.

trickster, the--from the folklore and mythology of various diverse cultural traditions, the trickster is a spirit or figure who is typically linked with disorder, mischief, and chaos.  Ancient Europeans have linked the trickster with gods like Prometheus, Hermes, and Dionysus, while Native Americans have connected him with foxes, ravens, coyotes, etc. For this latter group tricksters were often clowns who made them laugh--something they deemed a prerequisite before they could properly commune with what they considered sacred.  In general, tricksters have been associated with bringing change--sometimes initially disruptive, painful and unwanted, but ultimately a positive cultural development.  Modern analysts of the civil rights movement in 20th century America have interpreted Rosa Parks' 1955 refusal to give up her seat at the front of the Montgomery bus as a trickster tale


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