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PHILOSOPHY PATHWAYS electronic journal


P H I L O S O P H Y   P A T H W A Y S                   ISSN 2043-0728

Issue No. 195
21st August 2015


Edited by Mike Adams

I. 'Aesthetic Intuition Apodicticity' by Wilson Hurst

II. 'Purism: Meta-Politicized Concrescence and Critique' by Lorena
Morales Aparicio

III. 'Poly-Subjectivism at the Cosmic Dinner Table' by Mike Adams



Welcome to Issue 195 of Philosophy Pathways, devoted to the
confluence of art and philosophy. Contributors Lorena Morales
Aparicio, Wilson Hurst, and I are students of the Institute for
Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts (IDSVA), a low-residency PhD
program in Philosophy, Aesthetics, and Art Theory. IDSVA is based in
Portland, Maine, USA, with residencies held around the world. Lorena,
Wilson, and I are geographically dispersed, representing the East,
West, and Middle of the continent; and, in some ways these essays
mirror intellectually this physical separation. Yet, these essays are
linked thematically by their exploration of art and philosophy. I like
to think of art, half-jokingly, as applied metaphysics, an endeavor
that makes visible the ideas of philosophy. One could also say, to
avoid a pecking-order, that philosophy turns the ideas of art into a
(hopefully reasonably) logical discourse. Ideally, art and philosophy
should support each other, recognizing commonalities, but allowing
that there are irreconcilable divergences of method and intent.

An overarching theme of these essays is an exploration of how art
intersects with ideas -- how art both reflects existing ideas and
promulgates new ones. Wilson's paper explores intuition in the
creative process from two vantage points, that of the artist and of
the philosopher (the ultimate goal, of course, is becoming an
artist-philosopher!). My paper uses Cubism as a metaphor for the
fracturing of a dominant subjectivity, in other words, arguing for a
multiplicity of valid viewpoints from which to experience the world.
In general, we see an attempt on the part of all of this issue's
contributors to bridge a gap between the Anglo-American and
Continental traditions, even when we do not explicitly acknowledge an

In Lorena's paper this is least obvious because she is not making a
direct comparison between Anglophone authors and Continental ones.
Nonetheless, her work reveals the influence of American Pragmatism in
the sense that she sees Purism as a movement in painting that was
intended as a political critique intended to bolster democracy. This,
I would say, is the ghost of John Dewey that pervades American
philosophy to this day: the idea that change can be evolutionary
rather than revolutionary. There are certain parallels here with the
American Revolution versus the French Revolution (or the Russian
Revolution). The American Revolution was primarily political. Social
structures did not change greatly, unlike in France and Russia after
their respective revolutions. Needless to say, there is a kind of
conservative bent in Anglo-American thought that sees Continental
thought as 'too radical,' too willing to use language in a
'suspiciously poetic' manner. However, our own program at IDSVA
engages late 20th century French philosophy to a great extent, and
from a personal standpoint, it was a profound and startling
revelation that thinkers like Jacques Derrida and Jean-Francois
Lyotard are such admirers of Immanuel Kant. My point is that these
French thinkers go back to Kant, who was not only the godfather of
the study of aesthetics as we know it, but also the great reconciler
of the empiricism of the Anglophone school, and the rationalism of
the Continental school. The 'rift' between the Anglo-American and
Continental schools today is probably overstated, and from my
standpoint not particularly useful. I think that you will agree that
our contributors avoid falling strictly into either camp.

I would like to thank Geoffrey Klempner for the opportunity and honor
to edit this issue, and of course, Lorena and Wilson, who put up with
editorial suggestions from me in the midst of their busy schedules.
My boyfriend, Derek Scheips, was the go-to-guy for English usage
questions, and acted as editor for my essay. My mother, Roberta
Adams, was the steadfast proofreader for this issue. I am sure my
fellow authors join me in extending gratitude to our faculty at IDSVA
who acted as advisors on these papers. Thanks to you all.

(c) Mike Adams 2015

Email: mike@mikeadamsartist.com

About the editor:



This essay is about the problems of philosophical intuition and its
potential aesthetic currency. From the position of a working artist,
several questions ensue: how is intuition defined, how does it occur,
is it valuable, and can it be nurtured? The idealist philosopher,
Benedetto Croce, especially important for promoting intuition's role
in aesthetics, notably asserted, 'Art is intuition,' (8). John Mill
argued that external truth is intuitively dependent on experience
(Kenny IV: 9). Immanuel Kant considered intuition as the process of
sensing or the act of having a sensation (Critique of Pure Reason
line 649). Aristotle argued that scientific knowledge is intuitively
apprehended (33). However, how does this reconcile with claims that
the intellect and intuition are entirely separate modalities as
positioned by Henri Bergson (Creative Evolution 70)? Situated within
biological evolution, Bergson relates intuition to a harmonic but
disinterested instinctual force penetrating 'duration' (Creative Mind
165) and the 'vital impulse' (CE 139). To be disinterested is to
harbor no interest in something, completely uninfluenced by
considerations of personal advantage.

The above references indicate, and John Dewey promotes that, 'The
term intuition is one of the most ambiguous in the whole range of
thought,' (294). Nevertheless, as I will articulate in the following
discourse, understanding intuition supports creative expression, the
soul of artistic achievement. Elaborating on intuition's role in
aesthetics, Croce tells us that 'What we admire in genuine works of
art is the perfect imaginative form that a state of mind assumes
there; and this is called the life, unity, compactness, and fullness
of the work of art,' (25). In Bergson's analysis, art when based on
intuition provides direct (immediate) access to reality, unobstructed
by mediating reason. Intuition is often considered an immediate form
of knowledge, in which the knower is directly acquainted with the
object of knowledge. In this essay, I will argue that intuition, as a
valuable cognitive creative process, is neither immediate nor
disinterested. I will do this by expanding on ample classical
philosophical ideas in the discourse archive, considering intuition
in relationship to cognitive processing as much as the product of
that process. To elucidate this investigation through a quick
reference to history, I chose Aristotle from ancient philosophy,
Baruch Spinoza from early modern and Immanuel Kant from modern
philosophy, and Edmund Husserl from early twentieth century
philosophy. Aristotle's dominance in ancient Greek philosophy
influenced subsequent conceptualizations of intuition detached from
experience. For Spinoza, reason operates incrementally while
intuition is an immediate mental revelation. Both of these thinkers'
positions represent views with which I am in partial opposition. In
Kant's definition, intuitions are mental representations generated by
sense perceptions structured by space and time. I favor this
experiential explanation, although consider cognitively it is more
broadly applicable. Husserl established phenomenology, advancing
consciousness intentionality implying an interestedness component
sustaining intuition.

My intuition interpretation is grounded in the subjective aesthetic
drive, the universal need to produce, the essence of creative
evolution. In addition to arguing that intuition is neither immediate
nor disinterested, I will also argue that intuitive consciousness
provides a mental environment in which creative expression
flourishes, and this mental state can be actively developed. In
support of this position, I will enlist Henri Bergson, Benedetto
Croce, and the photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. In terms of
potentially identifying its indiscernible origin, linking intuition
with instinct is a reasonable connection. 'It is to the very
inwardness of life that intuition leads us -- by intuition I mean
instinct that has become disinterested, self-conscious, capable of
reflecting upon its object and of enlarging it indefinitely,'
(Bergson CE 176). Cartier-Bresson answers Bergson by stating, 'In
photography, visual organization can stem only from a developed
instinct,' (43) (fig 1). 



Although Bergson distinguishes instinct from intuition because
intuition is 'disinterested,' I will argue that intuition is a kind
of instinct developed through experience. With the phrase 'To intuit
is to express,' Croce directly connects intuition with aesthetics,
claiming that art knowledge is a product of intuition. The
consequence of intuition's extent is evidenced by originality
contributed to the human experience. Creative expression is defined
as a display, materialization, or revelation of a thought, generally
for transmission. Here 'creative' relates to and involves the
imagination in generating innovative ideas, especially in the
production of an artistic work. In the creative process, something
new and valuable is fashioned. Originality is 'unforeseeability
itself,' (Bergson CE 95). Intuition functioning as a process to spark
inventive insight thus has inherent value. As an expression of
relative worth, artists construct and continue constructing. Equating
imagination with invention -- a form of construction -- Paul Klee's
relation between intuition and imagination is relevant to this
argument. Klee acknowledges the importance of intuition in his
artwork when he explicates the following: '[I]ntuition is still a
good thing. A considerable amount can be done without it, but not
all.' (159) (fig 2).



As a tool to see beyond the conventional and the obvious, intuition
is a source of inspiration and invention.

Rationality is the process or condition of cognition, contingent on
fact or reason, instead of feeling or emotion. Aristotle states that
humans have a rational principle in addition to the instinctual life
shared with other animals (318). Reason is the capacity for
consciously making sense of things, for establishing and verifying
facts, for applying logic, and adapting behavior and thought based on
new or existing information. Cognition is mental processing by which
sensory input is interpreted, altered, elaborated, condensed, stored,
retrieved, and deployed. Kant distinguishes between speculative
theoretical cognition which 'relates to an object... which is not
given and cannot be discovered by means of experience,' opposed to
natural cognition, 'which concerns only those objects or predicates
which can be presented in a possible experience,' (Critique of Pure
Reason line 15305). Thus, cognition includes attention, reasoning,
planning, problem solving, understanding and using symbols, memory,
and decision-making. Consciousness is cognitive awareness of an
external object or something within oneself. The unconscious,
subconscious, and preconscious are all distinctions of cognition that
function below awareness. Each of these three terms has been variously
defined, with their own established connotations. For the purpose of
simplicity, I will combine these three below-awareness states
together under the moniker of the avant-conscious. Intuition bridges
the avant-conscious and consciousness. Is intuition ontologically
idealistic or materialistic, epistemically rational or empirical, or
none of these? Perhaps intuition is all of these and more, depending
on the interpreter.

Now let us investigate mental processing distinctions, supporting a
necessary understanding of intuition to sustain the argument that
intuition is an avant-conscious process employing all cognitive
modalities. As we have seen, intuition is a nebulous concept, a vague
evaluation of comprehension precisely unidentified as to its source,
but affecting decision-making. Can intuition involve a sensory
element irreducible to thought, or is intuition a function of
thought? Aristotle's metaphysics positioned intuition as part of the
intellect, but 'at the point where ideas are farthest removed from
experience and immediate perception,' (Russell 166). So in effect, my
argument is in opposition to the Aristotelian concept of intuition as
removed from experience and immediate. Yet I do agree with him on the
focus and importance of intuition as part of the intellect. 'The
intellectual virtues are then excellences that make reason come out
with truth. There are five states, Aristotle says, that have this
effect: skill, science, wisdom, understanding, and intuition,' (Kenny
I: 271). Spinoza also allows for the magnitude of intuition,
formulating an epistemological theory based on three tiers of
knowledge: imagination, reason, and intuition (Kenny III: 67).
'Knowledge of the third kind is called by Spinoza 'intuitive
knowledge,' and it is clearly the form of knowledge that is most to
be valued,' (Kenny III: 141). Intuition grasps the essence,
understanding universal features and their universal causal order
(fig 3).



'This kind of knowledge precedes from an adequate idea of... the
essence of things,' (Spinoza Ethics 57). Kant believed both time and
space are forms of pure intuition, framing our environment but
logically functioning independent of experience (Russell 708). Thus,
space and time are structural forms that dictate sensation-processing
parameters, but are neither the process itself nor the resulting
product. Kant argues that concepts arise from the understanding of
intuitions, 'by means of sensibility, therefore, objects are given to
us, and it alone furnishes us with intuitions; by the understanding
they are thought, and from it arise conceptions,' (CPR line 1716).
For Kant, intuitions are synonymous with perception while concepts
necessarily contain some empirical or sensory evidence.
Cartier-Bresson seems to concur when he states, 'Above all, I craved
to seize, in the confines of one single photograph, the whole essence
of some situation that was in the process of unrolling itself before
my eyes,' (22) (fig 4).



For Kant, thinking is only possible by means of universal concepts in
the abstract, not by means of a singular concept in the concrete.
Thus, mediated knowledge of the understanding is distinct from the
immediate knowledge of intuition. 'All our intuition is bound to a
certain principle of form, and it is only under this form that
anything can be apprehended by the mind immediately,' (Kant CPR 307).
'The whole Kantian conception is summed up in this cerebrated
sentence: 'without intuition the concept is empty; without the
concept intuition is blind,'' (Kojeve 117). By this account, somehow
intuition directly apprehends objects by means of formal principles.
Kant's description of intuition as synonymous with perception is
specific and limiting, not representative of a complete working
definition. Intuition by most other accounts is a mental modality
beyond sensory perception. Thomas Aquinas opens the possibility that
intuition is associated with the intellect: 'But intellect and reason
differ as to their manner of knowing; because the intellect knows by
simple intuition, while reason knows by a process of discursion from
one thing to another,' (391). It is interesting how Aquinas here
anticipates both Hegel and Bergson. In this capacity, the intellect
is associated with the ability to conclude correctly what is true or
real, and how to solve problems. John Locke claimed, 'We can have no
knowledge except (1) by intuition, (2) by reason, examining the
agreement or disagreement of two ideas, (3) by sensation, perceiving
the existence of particular things,' (Russell 612). In this case even
a staunch empiricist places intuitive knowledge first, separate from
perception and reason.

Although Bergson makes a clear distinction between intellect and
intuition, he does allow that we can 'probably be aided in this
[intellect] by the fringe of vague intuition that surrounds our
distinct -- that is, intellectual -- representation,' (CE 24). Thus,
the intellect can be influenced by a disconnected intuition. Piet
Mondrian echoes this sentiment, as the 'intellect confuses
intuition,' (fig 5).



Here Mondrian is indicating a compartmentalized notion of intuition,
as something separate but detrimentally susceptible to intellectual
contamination. Cordoning off thought processes into distinct
unaffecting regions, however, seems problematic. As mental powers to
think, understand, and form judgments, reason is probably constantly
functioning, although perhaps not always in conspicuous conscious
awareness. Thinking about the relationships between sensation,
perception, and intuition, creativity is balanced across these
modalities. Sensation is the most easily definable, as simply the
stimulation of the biological sensory system. In the case of vision
that would be activation of the rods and cones, which restrict what
small part of electromagnetic radiation is made available (less than
one percent of the total electromagnetic spectrum) by human anatomy.
Perception is the cognitive process that assigns meaning to these raw
sensations by organization, identification, and interpretation (fig 6).



Perception is memory and intellect directly linked to signals in the
nervous system, which in turn result from physical or chemical
stimulation of the sense organs. So sensation is the raw input from
sensory receptors, while perception is the identification,
interpretation, and organization of sensory signals used to represent
and understand those raw inputs.

So far, we have looked at processing distinctions, supporting the
argument that although functioning below awareness, intuition employs
all cognition. An interpretation of Husserl's philosophical ideas
supports my argument that intuition functions below awareness. He
believed pure intuitions occur in autonomous thinking. His
phenomenology is a descriptive, non-reductive investigation of
whatever appears in the consciousness, in the manner of its
appearing. Evidence is experience, and genuine knowledge is
intuitive, rather than what is established by inference and
deduction. Recognized inferences and deductions would manifest in
aware consciousness. Because intuitions function below awareness,
their mental process associations are not readily apparent. Yet
intuition can engage universals, abstract objects, propositions, and
a multiplicity of evident forms of perception. Entering into dialogue
with Bergson, Husserl's philosophical investigations featured
intentionality of consciousness as thought is always directed toward
or about objects. He developed the idea of intuition modalities. In
this regard, he distinguished between sensible intuition, categorical
intuition, and eidetic intuition. Through sensible intuition, our
consciousness passively formulates a 'situation of affairs' where
objects themselves are presented. To this situation of affairs,
ontological categories relate objects through a faculty of
understanding called categorical intuition to create a 'state of
affairs.' Eidetic intuition (essential intuition) establishes
possibility, impossibility, certainty, and contingency among concepts
and categories. For Husserl, truth is mainly intuition informing
judgment with reference to interest.

This next section investigates the temporal nature of intuition
sustaining the argument that as a process, intuition is not
instantaneous. Sometimes it seems intuition is immediate, as it
suddenly springs into awareness. The term immediate refers to
something occurring or done at once, in an instant. 'For me the
camera is... an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the master
of the instant which, in visual terms, questions and decides
simultaneously,' (Cartier-Bresson 15) (fig 7).



However, this is actually the result of an avant-conscious
progression. John Dewey tells us 'intuition is that meeting of the
old and new in which the readjustment involved in every form of
consciousness is effected suddenly by means of a quick and unexpected
harmony which in its bright abruptness is like a flash of revelation;
although in fact it is prepared for by long and slow incubation,'
(266). This supports the conception that although a product of
intuition might seem to appear suddenly, in a flash of inspiration,
the avant-conscious process has a long gestation period.

'An intellect bent upon the act to be performed and the reaction to
follow, feeling its object so as to get its mobile impression at
every instant, is an intellect that touches something of the
absolute,' (Bergson CE 7). Nevertheless, what is an instant? A
systematic series of actions or steps directed to achieve a
particular end, any process requires time elapse (fig 8).



There is a limit to the amount of active information focusable in
conscious awareness. Underneath this critical conscious thought
layer, a potent processing capacity of the avant-conscious mind
churns. 'My mental state, as it advances on the road of time, is
continually swelling with the duration which it accumulates,'
(Bergson CE 10). In the case of intuition, the associated 'gut
feeling' that often is reported as integral, necessarily results from
a development period, a naturally progressive continuing operation of
ripeness. The totality of mental processes, most of which operates in
the avant-consciousness, comprises a repository of knowledge and prior
experience informing intuition. Intuition as process can correlate to
Bergson's idea of duration, 'the continuous progress of the past
which gnaws into the future and which swells as it advances,' (CE
10). We are always engaged in the present informed by our accumulated
past, including significant avant-conscious resources. Intentionally
leveraging the capabilities of the avant-conscious mind, and an
awareness of how it functions, advances aspirations.

Consciousness as awareness is quite limited in its immediate
capacity. Cognitive science now postulates the conscious mental
processes account for a small percent of brain activity. The
avant-conscious mind is capable of approximately ten million
observations in any given setting. The conscious mind can only keep
track of about one hundred (fig 9).



This functionality is also a survival economy. We use different brain
subroutines at different times because we could not function
otherwise. Total awareness constitutes a debilitating mental
overload. 'We are aware of a tiny fraction of the thinking that goes
on in our minds, and we can control only a tiny part of our conscious
thoughts. The vast majority of our thinking efforts go on
subconsciously,' (Gordon). It is from these vast underground mental
processes, the avant-consciousness, from which intuition as insight
emerges. Regardless of the precise neurological course, the ability
to access and utilize intuitive knowledge is extremely valuable in
fulfilling creative aspiration. 'Composition must be one of our
constant preoccupations, but at the moment of shooting [with a
camera] it can stem only from our intuition, for we are out to
capture the fugitive moment, and all the interrelationships involved
are on the move,' (Cartier-Bresson 34) (fig 10).



Given the creative power of intuition, awareness of enabling behavior
would promote interested inquisitive thinking. Various creative tasks,
such as probing, thinking, artistic creation, and invention, are
intuitively supported by immersion in creative activity, populating
the avant-consciousness. Total engagement and commitment exercised in
the desired activity leads to more effective intuition actualization
in that activity.

When photographing, intuition organizes the radiation patterns found
in the field-of view at hand, stimulating action in a complex
amalgamation of impulses (fig 11).



Imagination is dreaming up possible scenarios in the mind, while
intuition is deciding on their viability without specific articulated
evidence or logical reasoning. This distinction relates nicely with
Paul Klee, when he says, 'The painter should not paint what he sees,
but what will be seen,' (fig 12).



Intuition thus works as indistinct thought made available to the
conscious mind for use, drawing on knowledge considered genuine,
necessarily compiled from information pre-processed in the
avant-consciousness. Not quite an emotion, functioning as a
subjective feeling used as an aid to decision-making, intuition seems
to be value based. We act in ways that best suit our interest. Thus,
it follows that to make even more use of intuitive potential will
build on a deeper understanding of the process. Confronted with
visual possibility, a 'gut feeling' indicates circumstance and energy
spent in exploring potential. The reliability of intuition, as opposed
to animal instinct, seems empirically to depend significantly on past
knowledge and occurrences in a specific area of interest. I will
further elaborate on intuition and instinct distinctions later, but
for now consider evidence that directed intuition is stronger for
individuals who are experts in a specific field of knowledge, and
have familiarity with a given situation. A specific knowledge field
relates to a discipline, a branch of knowledge. This does not imply
that individuals must only be interested in one field of inquiry.
Polymaths do exist, whose expertise spans a significant number of
different subject areas. Nevertheless, the key to intuition is
disciplinary engagement, with experience building an
avant-consciousness register. Masters with many years' experience are
able to predict intuitively with accuracy within their field of
interest, while novices lacking such experience cannot. In his book,
The Social Animal, David Brooks tells of experienced soldiers who
could look down a street and predict the presence of an IED
(improvised explosive device) with incredible accuracy, where all
others were oblivious. When asked how they knew, the soldiers could
not specially identify the source of this intuition. In Malcolm
Gladwell's book, Blink, intuition relative to predicating tennis
performance is describe as a function of years of experience in the
sport. Adriaan de Groot conducted some famous chess experiments in
the 1940s-60 (1-409). One of the things he discovered is intuitive
knowledge is the result of experience and expertise. Therefore,
immersion in the area of interest will increase intuitive
proficiency. 'In reality, the past is preserved by itself,
automatically. In its entirety... it follows us at every instant,'
(Bergson CE 11). Intuition arises from familiarity with a given
situation, and most of that familiarity is situated in the
avant-conscious. Intuition emergent from the combination of
experience and expertise indicates the path for its own development:
total immersion in an activity or discipline. This gives the
avant-conscious mind the opportunity to absorb patterns and make
connections (fig 13).



In those areas in which a subject is passionate, intentional
immersion facilitates intuitional capacity.

Now consider distinctions between instinct and intuition, while
investigating the value of intuition and thus its level of
participatory interest. This supports the argument that intuition is
not disinterested instinct, but functions to realize subjective
desire. Intuition provides us with observation, understanding,
judgment, or faith that we cannot empirically verify or rationally
justify. It is a natural ability or power that makes it possible to
know something without any proof or evidence, a feeling that guides a
person to act a certain way without fully understanding why. However,
what is the difference between intuition and instinct? Russell uses
the two words interchangeably, whereas Bergson distinguishes
intuition as being 'disinterested.' 'Intuition and intellect
represent two opposite directions of the work of consciousness:
intuition goes in the very direction of life, intellect goes in the
inverse direction, and thus finds itself naturally in accordance with
the movement of matter,' (Bergson CE 103). 'Intuition, at first sight,
seems far preferable to intellect, since in it life and consciousness
remain within themselves,' (Bergson CE 72). As conceived by both
Spinoza and Bergson, intuition is taken to be concrete knowledge as
an interconnected whole. This contrasts to a fragmented, 'abstract'
knowledge supplied by observation. Bergson further positions the
intellect connected with space, with instinct or intuition connected
with time. 'Space, the characteristic of matter, arises from a
dissection of the flux which is really illusory, useful, up to a
certain point, in practice, but utterly misleading in theory. Time,
on the contrary, is the essential characteristic of life or mind,'
(Russell 795). By this account, instinct is an innate, fixed pattern
of behavior in animals responding to definite stimuli. Individual
life forms are created with preconceived structures and related
capabilities that are species determined. Instinct is reactive while
intuition is proactive, both emerging from the avant-consciousness.
Nevertheless, instinct autonomously functions without reason; while
intuition functions with reason as avant-conscious processing, and in
due course becomes an awareness result. Consciousness requires an
intricate organization of interconnected nerve cell networks. At
birth, the human being awakes, takes its first breath, and begins to
experience life. All conscious thought is thus a function of
experience -- 'being' immersed in a unidirectional time progression.
The mind exists and develops its own latent resources, but thinking
is an experiential modality.

Bergson relegates knowledge of the real as disinterested, in
distinction to processes that are generally employed for practical
purposes (CM 159). However, as previously established, intuition is
the full mental capacity functioning in avant-consciousness. Even
Bergson says that 'it must be remembered that the normal work of the
intellect is far from being disinterested,' (CM 177). Many associated
visual sensations contribute to the harmonious free play of
imagination and understanding. However, philosophically all of
consciousness involves intentionality. Directed in thinking toward
structures, objects, or states-of-affairs, creativity involves
intentionality of consciousness. Simply put, this means that
aesthetic thinking is about or directed at something. Phenomenology,
as developed by Edmund Husserl, makes thinking central to experience
by bracketing-off all questions of real existence, or problems
relative to the physical or objective nature of contemplated objects.
'Intuition of an essence is consciousness of something, an 'object,' a
Something to which the intuitional regard is directed,' (Husserl 10).
In this way, subjective perception becomes more pure, disaffected by
symbolic meaning. To accomplish this aim requires the exercise of
intuitive fulfillment. Being directed towards some goal or object,
mental thinking is about something. In the case of aesthetics, Kant
claimed this intentionality is 'disinterested' pleasure in beauty.
For him aesthetics is a pleasure that does not involve desire.
Similarly, Bergson claims intuition is disinterested instinct. In
conversation with Kant and Bergson, Lacan identifies the object as
the cause of desire, of that which is lacking (32). Disinterested can
mean the same thing as uninterested, not wanting to learn more about
something or become involved in something. More often, disinterested
is used to imply impartiality, or being uninfluenced by personal
feelings, opinions, or concerns. I wonder how anyone can be
disinterested in experiencing satisfaction and enjoyment, or that
these goals are not personified. As a practicing artist, I actively
seek aesthetic encounters, and desire drives this interest. 'From the
moment that I began to use the camera and to think about it... I
became serious. I was on the scent of something, and I was busy
smelling it out,' (Cartier-Bresson 20). As a refinement and
distinctive nuance, how does the idea of disinterestedness, also used
by Kant to describe judgments of taste, relate to intuitive aesthetic
response in image making? Dewey responds to Kant's notion of
disinterestedness: 'Because interest is the dynamic force in
selection and assemblage of materials... no amount of technical skill
and craftsmanship can take the place of vital interest,' (266). Dewey
acknowledges that art is achieved with consistent nurture of interest.

Advancing the argument that intuition is a valuable artistic modality
worthy of amplification, I will now more fully elaborate on the
association of intuition and aesthetic creative discovery. Energy,
matter, space, and time coincide in lyrical concert with an apparent
immediate reality (fig 14).



Understanding and formulating responses to stimulation without
apparent effort, intuition is a multifaceted concept incorporating
biological, philosophical, and even mystical connotations. Husserl
tells us that intuition can become transmuted into eidetic seeing
(ideation) -- a possibility which is itself to be understood as
non-empirical. 'What is seen when that occurs is the corresponding
pure essence, or Eidos, whether it be the highest category or a
particularization thereof -- down to full concretion,' (Husserl 8).
When unidentified sources of knowledge, divorced from reason and
sensation are privileged, logic suffers by reduction. Nevertheless,
as Benedetto Croce tells us, accepting intuition comfortably
activates aesthetics between actuality and potential. In Croce's
system, intuition is a simple and elementary form of knowledge, best
understood by negation, by defining it by what it is not. Art is not
a physical fact, because the physical lacks reality (Croce 9). Art
cannot be utilitarian, pleasurable, or a moral act, but rather
operates on a higher plane. 'As theoretical activity, intuition is
against anything practical,' (Croce 12). Furthermore, 'with the
definition of art as intuition goes the denial that it has the
character of conceptual knowledge,' (Croce 14). Ideality
distinguishes intuition from concept and art from philosophy (Croce
15). Directly opposed to Kant, Croce stipulates that intuition is
neither perception, nor sensation, nor association; rather it is
expression. In his view, deep intuition empowers profound expression.

Intuition often has a mysterious quality to it, even to the mind
experiencing the intuition. I have limited this research to the
history of philosophy and recent discoveries in cognitive science. It
is possible that intuition is a mystical power aimed at human
transformation. Some sages consider contemplative spirituality and
unexplained intuition the methods by which we focus our minds,
purifying and consecrating an inner-space of heavenly light.
Extrasensory perception considered as an intuition regarding events
beyond what are discernible through physical senses or deduced from
experience or knowledge is potentially relevant. In this exposition,
I have chosen to set aside ESP as a source of intuition. The
apparently paranormal experience of 'seeing' future distant events is
not part of this essay. Intuition could be something that is innate
and entirely divorced from experience. Its source could be
unexplainable, or a gift or emanation from the Gods. However because
intuition is a phenomenon that arises based on contingency of
circumstance, it seems unreasonable that we are born with innate
mental capacity relative to our specific locus in historical space/
time and associated tribulations.

Is intuition an innate knowledge immediately made available to a
disinterested party? In this paper, I have argued that because
intuitive consciousness provides a mental environment in which
creative expression flourishes, understanding intuition supports
creative expression. Furthermore, as intuition is a kind of instinct
developed though experience and expertise, this desirable mental
state can be actively developed through immersion. As a valuable
cognitive creative process, intuition in this regard is neither
immediate nor disinterested. It is rather an avant-conscious process
employing all forms of thought functioning below awareness, with a
gestation period. For the artist, desire manifests to express what
has yet to be expressed, to make what has yet to be been made, and to
communicate that which has yet to be communicated. Essentially, it is
just these possibilities that render intuition a mental occurrence of
intense interest. Intuitive processing is a potent force in
accomplishing imaginative mental goals, satisfying creative desire, a
central lack needing realization (Lacan 105). Therefore, interest in
intuition and methods of intuitive enhancement are of considerable
interest to the creative mind desiring expression. Certain
circumstances of disparate elements combine through appearance in a
conscious episode appropriate for expression. Intuitive visual art
making involves what I call seeming. Things just seem right, without
specific reasonable justification. 'To take photographs means to
recognize -- simultaneously and within a fraction of a second -- both
the fact itself and the rigorous organization of visually perceived
forms that give it meaning,' (Cartier-Bresson 16) (fig 15).



Intuition is a progression of trusting both our inherent biology and
our accumulated avant-consciously compiled experiences and processing.

Works Cited

Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Theologica. London: Benzinger Brothers, 1911.
Ia., Q84, a2

Aristotle. Hugh Tredennick, G C. Armstrong. The Metaphysics. London:
W. Heinemann, 1933. Print.

Bergson, Henri. Creative Evolution. Arthur Mitchell. New York: Modern
library, 1944. Print.

____. The Creative Mind: An Introduction to Metaphysics. New York,
N.Y: Carol Pub. Group, 1992. Print.

Brooks, David. The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love,
Character, and Achievement. New York: Random House, 2011. Print.

Cartier-Bresson, Henri, and Michael L. Sand. The Mind's Eye: Writings
on Photography and Photographers. New York, N.Y: Aperture, 1999. Print.

Croce, Benedetto. Guide to Aesthetics: (Breviario di Estetica).
Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1965. Print.

Dewey, John. Art as Experience. New York: Capricorn Books, 1958.

Gladwell, Malcolm. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. New
York: Little, Brown and Co, 2005. Print.

Gordon, Barry. 'Can We Control Our Thoughts? Why Do Thoughts Pop into
My Head as I'm Trying to Fall Asleep?' Scientific American Mind Volume
24, Issue 1.

Groot, Adrianus D. Thought and Choice in Chess. Amsterdam: Amsterdam
University Press, 2008. Internet resource.

Husserl, Edmund. Collected Works: General Introduction to a Pure
Phenomenology. The Hague: Nijhoff, 1983. Print.

Kant, Immanuel. The Critique of Judgment. Ed. Nicholas Walker. Trans.
James Creed Meredith. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008. Print.

____. Critique of Pure Reason. Trans. Werner S. Pluhar. Introd.
Patricia Kitcher. Indianapolis, Ind: Hackett, 1996. Print.

Kenny, Anthony J. P. A New History of Western Philosophy: Vol. I.
Oxford: Clarendon, 2004. Print

____. A New History of Western Philosophy: Vol. III. Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 2006. Print

____. A New History of Western Philosophy: Vol. IV. Oxford: Clarendon
Press, 2007. Print.

Klee, Paul. Paul Klee. New York: Parkstone Press International, 2013.
Internet resource.

Kojeve, Alexandre. Introduction to the Reading of Hegel. Alan Bloom
and James H. Nichols. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996. Print.

Lacan, Jacques. The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis. New
York: W.W. Norton, 1998. Print.

Russell, Bertrand. A History of Western Philosophy. New York: Simon
and Schuster, 1972. Print.

(c) Wilson Hurst 2015

Wilson Hurst has been involved in the professional disciplines of
Photography, Graphic Arts, Printing/ Publishing, and Imaging
Technology for four decades. After graduating with degrees in
Professional Photography and Printing Technology from The Rochester
Institute of Technology, he worked at the executive level in a
variety of organizations recommending and directing the
implementation of technology across the entire production process,
from content creation to distribution. In addition, he provided
photographic, artistic, and creative skills for corporate
communications, and product development. He also holds a degree in
Biology from The University of South Carolina, and a MFA in Visual
Art from The Vermont College of Fine Arts. After a highly productive
and successful career in industry, he transitioned to academia as an
Assistant Professor.

Approaching fine art philosophically, Wilson's personal work is
devoted to visual image creation employing diverse photographic
processes. He concentrates on leveraging the intrinsic unique
characteristics of energy, matter, space, and time to explore the
boundaries of physical and transcendent existence. His images are
exhibited in juried shows and select art galleries, with artwork held
in corporate and private collections.

Email: wilson@wilsonhurst.com

Web: http://www.wilsonhurst.com



Purism emerged between the World Wars in France as part of the French
government's rappel a l'ordre, the 'call to order' for French
citizenry between the World Wars, when France was trying to forge a
specific national identity for herself in the wake of World War I
chaos. The art movement of Purism was designed to give an identity in
a fractured Europe, not only to France, but inspirationally to all of
Europe. This paper investigates the politicized artwork in Purism
with respect to symbolism as process. Content and context in process
is framed by Henri Bergson's duree or duration, a conception of time
and processes occurring in tensions and deferrals. From the
Bergsonian perspective, the apparent frozen concrescence of form in
the Purist artwork indicates the politicized desire to codify value.
This is recuperated by the meta-political Bergsonian dynamic
reassessment and crossing of plural realities evident in the duree.
The Hegelian representation of the objective/ subjective discourse
will focus the examination of these politicizations as will Freud's
assessment of totems in society. This paper culminates in an attempt
to recuperate Purism from the traditional Modernist perspective
according the subject and objective societal structure through the
Post-Modernist critique of specialization asserted by Jurgen
Habermas. Habermas refers to the dynamism of Henri Bergson's duree as
apposite the Modernist 'longing for an undefiled, immaculate and
stable present' (Habermas 1128) cursorily expressed in Purist

This paper defines Purism as an art movement begun by Amedee Ozenfant
and Le Corbusier (aka Charles Edouard Jeanneret) to institute a
utopian visual language accessible by basic, outlined form --
particularly the forms of still lifes. Sensuous vision is the
immediate representation of the artwork to the mind through the eyes
before its intellectual interpretation. The transcendental stands
above and apart from the artwork and a moment in time in order to
compare values. Process is understood as a dynamic continuum of
thought and action. Concrescence is a coalescence of ideas and form.
Intuition is an a priori, processual, intellectual faculty that
creatively negotiates between reality and surreality, citing reality
as occurring first within the mind where relational connections are
created and understood. This paper reassesses Purism utilizing the
writings of Georg Hegel, Sigmund Freud, Benedetto Croce, Henri
Bergson, Amedee Ozenfant, Le Corbusier, Georges Bataille, and Jurgen

Georg Hegel, writing Introductory Lectures on Aesthetics in the early
nineteenth century, asserts his theories of aesthetics, taking up the
anvil of aesthetics forged nearly a century earlier by Immanuel Kant,
overturning Kant's ideal of form in nature. Whereas for Kant, objects
(including nature) exist outside of cognition and remain things by
(or in) themselves, Hegel asserts Kant is too general and thus
deprives the subject of true, holistic cognition. Kant places
independence in nature, whereas Hegel sees nature as transient in
comparison to the immutable ideals expressed in mutable materiality
-- this includes nature and artworks.

For Hegel, it is only when the subject recognizes herself in the
object through the mind that unity between the subject and the object
occurs. This is Hegel's dialectic of content: the object is
synthesized with the subject's sensuous vision (Kant's
representation) and knowledge. Hegel's aesthetics asserts that the
mind is most fulfilled when it engages in self-reflection to
undermine the alienation of its subjective feeling from a world (of
objects) laden with relationships and unity in their synthesis of
form and content. Hegel's subject determines a transcendental idea
about herself and the world as represented to the mind by the object.
For Hegel, the mind is truly creative (Kant's term is imaginative)
when it constructs from ideals, from the spirit of the age, from a
specific place, in the context of specific events, as embodied by the
object. Hegel asserts the mind unifies the ideals suggested by the
artwork, from its own universal and individual concrescences.

Hegel asserts 'the sensuous in works of art is exalted to the rank of
a mere semblance in comparison with the immediate existence of things
in nature, and the work of art occupies the mean between what is
immediately sensuous and ideal thought,' (Hegel 43). For Hegel, the
artwork is a process connecting objective nature with subjective
thinking through eidetic vision. The artwork is a process, or
processual, between our perception and our thinking of its content
and context, positioning reality not in the artwork itself but in the
subject's mind. Symbolism, or the meaning of forms, is an ever
becoming that shatters ideas of static concrescence. Amedee
Ozenfant's Guitar and Bottles, 1920 (Figure 1),



exemplifies the Hegelian dialectic between the subjective and the
objective universal. Purism's terse, silhouetted, geometric forms
engagingly push and pull from foreground to background. Ozenfant does
this within an ambivalent space that seems gravitationally anchored
then deliberately challenges vision by anchoring the forms to the
left side of the canvas at a ninety degree angle. Ozenfant again
causes vertigo by plunging the forms through the top of the canvas
using an ephemeral gray in contrast to the marbled whites of the
foreground and left-ground. The mahogany guitar, for one, seems to
alternately float in and come to bear on space -- a liminal form ever
becoming and in processual concrescence, or in the concrescence of

Hegel and Ozenfant are further qualified by the parallel valency of
Benedetto Croce's process of intuition. Intuition is 'the lack of
distinction between reality and unreality -- to the image itself --
with its purely ideal status as a mere image,' (Croce 104). The
traditional dialectic posits what an object (or subject) is vis-a-vis
what it is not, thereby providing a sense of balanced unity. For Croce
a dialectic exists between reality and unreality. Intuition is the
creation of opposition and an ever deferring tension in nuance
demonstrated by Ozenfant's Guitar and Bottles (Figure 1). It is a
double consciousness of becoming (Croce 103). There is the dialectic
of thingness and its opposite of being, in which being imparts value
to the thing by its very being which is a becoming. Thus the artwork
in creative genesis is an interstice between reality and the
yet-to-be, and an interstice between the symbolic concepts and their
interpretation. Thus concrescence can take on a metaphysical
interpretation as process itself: 'For in the symbol the idea is no
longer thinkable by itself, separable from the symbolizing
representation, nor is the latter representable by itself effectively
without the idea symbolized,' (Croce 106). This is eidetic vision as
it relates to screened and authentic recapitulated memories, or
experience, and interpretations in relation to the artwork.

Purism's founding colleague, Le Corbusier, paints counterpoint in
Still Life, 1920 (Figure 2),



with forms that are heavily delineated, redolent with chiaroscuro in
contrast to Ozenfant's Guitar and Bottles (Figure 1) of the same
year. Le Corbusier's mahogany guitar seems to encompass an internal
middle ground while a nearby bottle emphasizes line and thus
immediate, tactile form. Le Corbusier utilizes archaic overlapping
perspective to indicate a hierarchy of forms and depth. His
realization of space is a play of planes which includes a doorway to
confirm his visual pun of the two dimensional table against the
staggered, recessing planes of the wall in the background. Le
Corbusier's Still Life (Figure 2) is an alliteration of the rappel a
l'ordre. Croce would criticize this painting as allegory, 'the
conventional and arbitrary juxtaposition of two spiritual facts -- a
concept... and an image -- whereby it is posited that this image must
represent that concept' (Croce 106). Still Life (Figure 2) represents
an order that tries to qualify the republican ideals of equality,
freedom and brotherhood.

I suggest that Le Corbusier's Still Life (Figure 2) functions as a
coded message very much as Jacques-Louis David's Neoclassicist The
Death of Socrates (Figure 3)



subtly asked the people before the outbreak of the Revolution: 'who
will you be?' The cornice piece in the foreground reminds us that Le
Corbusier is primarily an architect, interested in form as function.
Utility behooves logic. Le Corbusier and Ozenfant assert that logic
utilized 'without intuition... is a sterile device,' (239). Thus the
rational, geometric forms of Purism can be understood as metaphoric
of Croce's intuitive symbolism as ideal process. Purism can be
interpreted as notational in the continuous process of interpretation
which strives to deny absolute definition. Socrates dies for the
subjective right to ceaselessly interrogate to achieve Truth, the
negation of absolute concrescence instituted by secular government.
In its geometry and ambivalent spatial relationships, Purism's
notation impels a consideration of entropy, of chaos.

Yet the process of Purism remains provocatively political as 'economy
is the law of natural selection' (Jenneret and Ozenfant 240) and 'the
highest declaration of the human mind is the perception of order'
(Jenneret and Ozenfant 240). This returns the artwork to the French
Royal Academy's hierarchy of genres, established in the seventeenth
century during the apogee of monarchical rule. Political authority is
the spatialization of people according to class, race and gender.
While Purism officially strived to provide a universal language of
simplified forms, Purism can be meta-political and intuitive even as
it is used to specifically institute French nationality. This is
qualified by Henri Bergson's space as ever becoming. In 1922 Le
Corbusier paints Still Life (Figure 4),



reflecting a greater ambivalence of space. Space for Bergson is
problematized when the intellect requires concrescent moments, thus
politicizing representation as Le Corbusier's Still Life (Figure 2)
seems to candidly portray (or document) reality in keeping with the
canonical and conservative art historical traditions of the Royal
Academy utilized to construct and interpolate identity in France
between the two World Wars.

Bergson interrogates the politicized practicality of order and
disorder (Bergson 141) as demonstrated by Ozenfant and Le Corbusier
regarding France's rappel a l'order:

     an intelligence which aims at fabricating is an
     intelligence which never stops at the actual form of things
     nor regards it as final, but, on the contrary, looks upon
     all matter as if it were carve-able at will... action, in
     particular fabrication, requires the opposite mental
     tendency: it makes us consider every actual form of
     things... as artificial and provisional... it makes us
     regard its matter as indifferent to its form. (Bergson 141)

Thus Purist forms are 'indifferent' to their meta-politicization, in
other words not opposed to their meta-politicization. Purism can be
reinterpreted as provisional, presenting both order and disorder to
suppress hierarchical order (Bergson 144). Presence is as justified
by absence and disorder as the desired potentiality for other
presences and order(s). Ozenfant's Grande Composition Puriste, 1926
(Figure 5),



illustrates this. A near symmetrical, vertical bifurcation of the
picture plane holds a wine glass and a chalice in opposition to each
other and to their shadows with a vase and an architectonic bottle in
the center foreground. This essentially pared down canvas exhibits
duality (secular-spiritual) and alterity in shadow, thus the
plurality of realities that both Croce and Bergson agree must be
negotiated through intuition as 'our eye perceives the features of
the living being, merely as assembled, not as mutually organized'
(Bergson 142). Mutual organization, or parity, implies the cognizance
of what is, what is not, and what is becoming. 'The whole of matter is
made to appear to our thought as an immense piece of cloth in which we
can cut out what we will and sew it together as we please... a
space... is never perceived: it is conceived... space is therefore,
pre-eminently, the plan of our possible action on things,' (Bergson
141). The cursory spatial immobility of Purist compositions offer a
radical reinterpretation by intuitively deferring content in
opposition to static concrescence. Thus the Purist artwork offers
unification, or the unequivocal social reconciliation of freedom, in
the republican values of freedom, equality and brotherhood in the
tapestry implicating the perception of essential form.

Bergson continues, 'in placing himself back within the object by a
kind of sympathy, in breaking down, by an effort of intuition, the
barrier that space puts up between him and his model... is reciprocal
interpenetration, endlessly continued creation,' (Bergson 142). The
artwork is made real in its processual, relational quality with
subjectivity. This mediation is non-hierarchical as one cannot have
one process relate meaning and generate it without the other. This is
exemplified by Freudian dreamwork in which images are made real in the
individual, intuitive interpretation of eidetic visions pertaining to
a unifying impulse interpreting the uncontainable unconscious, a
priori processes of elision (condensation), experiential memory,
transference and the irruption of Freud's Eros and Thanatos. Freud
provides a bold methodology for interrogating the artwork as
comparable to dreamwork. Additionally, he assesses how the values
structuring society emerge from the instinctual drives of Eros and
Thanatos interpolated by the intellect into intuition. In Totem and
Taboo, Freud asserts that the inception of all neurosis is the
Oedipus complex. Further, that it is 'the beginnings of religion,
morals, society and art' (Freud 510). Freud cites the field work of
prominent cultural anthropologists to confirm his theory of intent
and actuality in producing neurosis vis-a-vis the Superego.

The totem, or the patriarchal spiritual embodiment (of government and
nationality), provides impunity against the taboos of murder and
incest by metaphorically reenacting these taboos in ritual. The
symbolic ritual practice prevents the visceral taboos from occurring.
The totem displaces the actual patriarch who has been subsumed by the
brotherhood to fulfill the ambivalent wish for the patriarch's power
and women. The totem is recreated in the patriarch's essential
characteristics from remorse and a remembered love for the father,
who now becomes the Godhead. It is an apt metaphor for the castigated
child and the wish to overpower the father to fulfill a wish. Thus,
the difference between the actuality of Urzeit -- a time before the
rule of the Godhead (the government), where consciousness is not
divided, remaining in holistic concrescence as process -- and the
intent replicated in quotidian relations. The kinship of the
brotherhood in ritual is metaphoric of the community under the rule
of a state, a religion, or cultural norm. This is the identity of the
Id, or of the structured and unstructured subconscious common to all.

For Freud, conscious order and presence revolve around the artwork
(the totem) and its ritualization in space and time. Subjects partake
of the Purist artwork in a systemic and sited observation in the
attempt mandated by the government to reconstitute modern France as
hereditary to the legacies of the monarchy and Classicism. This
entails repetitive, 'objective' social concrescences (events) to
restate the integrity of the totem (the artwork representative of
France) within each temporally finite subject. A reconstitution of
Purism through Croce and Bergson transgresses any such absolute
concrescence of the artwork for political gain to socially integrate
every person everywhere in intuitive and un-politicized Hegelian
holistic cognition without performing the ritual. Within intuition,
neurosis does not exist, yet an equitable exchange of deferral
pronounces perception, interpretation and consequential action as
free and equal and valid to all. Arguably, Purism's modeling of
intuition as process attempts to foment change but is foreclosed by
the overdetermination of Enlightenment classification and
specialization disguising 'deep-seated reactions against the process
of societal modernization,' (Habermas 1126) in favor of the
structured, technological generation of capital.

Georges Bataille's Surrealism, a Freudian critique of the rational,
capitalism, and concrete identity in nationality, challenges the
elegant simplicity of Purism. Bataille parallels Croce and Bergson in
writing that 'great constructions of the intelligence are by
definition prisons. That is why they are persistently overthrown,'
(Bataille 485). The natural irruption of the Thanatopic drive is
destined to overturn delineated concrescence to return to the natal
Urziet. Salvatore Dali paints in The Lugubrious Game (Dismal Sport),
1929 (Figure 6),



a sickly marble figure atop a pedestal reaching out from great
attrition with an abnormally large hand towards an effervescence of
life in explosive heteronomy of color and form in which its shadow is
inconsequential to its spiraling vivacity. The figure covers its
visage as if perception were already false, falsified and stultified,
as his body emerges from the marble pedestal labeled in increasing
diminution with 'Gramme, centigramme, milligramme.' Dali critiques
the prison of thought, specifically thought since the Enlightenment
and the codification of Classicism and the classification of people,
the natural world, and the inanimate world.

Confirming this is the lion, an attribute of royalty, with its paw
atop the globe of the world. A second lion willfully exits the canvas
to the left. However the spiraling jetty encloses a womb-like form
with small rocks, hats, visages and eidetic imagery contained in
round stone-like forms. It is the contiguity of thought as process
bounded by process as concrescence. In other words, it is the
Thanatopic drive to parity in stasis and 'space [as] pre-eminently,
the plan of our possible action on things,' (Bergson 141), in other
words, unsuppressed and genitive freedom. Further, Bergson asserts
'we are immersed in realities and cannot pass out of them; only, if
the present reality is not the one we are seeking, we speak of the
absence of this sought-for reality wherever we find the presence of
another. We thus express what we have as a function of what we want,'
(Bergson 143). This is radical in its proposal of fomenting change.

While Bataille's anarchy undermines France's institutional identity
in favor of subjective creation, Jurgen Habermas offers a neo-r'appel
a l'ordre, one that addresses society in toto. Habermas asserts
confidence in the unfulfilled Modernist project as science and
morality were actually kept separate from aesthetics. Thus, Purism's
coded proposal of intuition as revolutionary was not only suppressed,
it was ineffectual as it did not penetrate every aspect of society:
religion, politics, ethnicity, socio-economics and so on. According
to Habermas, the Surrealists

     waged the most extreme warfare, but two mistakes in
     particular destroyed their revolt. First, when the
     containers of an autonomously developed cultural sphere are
     shattered, the contents get dispersed. Nothing remains from
     a desublimated meaning or a destructured form; an
     emancipatory effect does not follow... In everyday
     communication... evaluations must relate to one another...
     A rationalized everyday life... could hardly be saved from
     cultural impoverishment through breaking open a single
     cultural sphere-art-and so providing access to just one of
     the specialized knowledge complexes. (Habermas 1128)

Purism's comparative simple elegance was not forceful enough either.
Yet Habermas refers to the dynamism of Bergson's duration, a
conception of time and processes, as the apposite Modernist 'longing
for an undefiled, immaculate and stable present,' (Habermas 1128),
which is quite boldly expressed in Purist artworks. For Bergson,
'Matter or mind, reality has appeared to us as a perpetual becoming.
It makes itself or it unmakes itself,' (Bergson 143), yet 'of
becoming we perceive only states, of duration only instants... '
(Bergson 143). Thus Purist forms are metaphoric of static thingness
and dynamic process when reassessed with perspective and
interpretation(s). Bergson and Habermas advocate for a resistance
occurring as plural processes beyond the cursory concrescence of the
artwork as an allegory for the merely political. The meta-political
occurs in the transcendence of concrescent moments that seem to
symbolize a Platonic, absolute Ideal. In reality, these are moments
that merely stand out in relation to the momentary bias. For
Habermas, the separation of disciplines emphasizes a limited
specificity of the artwork rather than an applicable, transformative
process that would revolutionize society.

One could argue that the Purist artwork retains its canonical
interpretation as decidedly Poussiniste -- as a purely academic and
classicizing artwork propagandistic of contemporaneous history framed
by Greco-Roman history, myth, and idealized form. A reinterpretation
of solid form as processual is not only counterintuitive, but
visually lacking concrete viability. The evidence of established art
historical scholarship points to tangible concrescence and not to the
meta-politicization of resistance through Croce's symbolism as process
with Bergson's own processual duration. Further, the physical artwork
exists autonomously in space and time. Yet its reality occurs in the
intellect of the viewing subject. Intuition, interpretation and
relationships exist in the mind and are impelled to action based on
the choice of free will.

Another contention is the emphasis on philosophical texts to
interpret artworks and artist statements remaining under the purview
of painters, sculptors, art historians and critics. However the
search for episteme is central to artistic production and its
analysis. Whereas some may view philosophy as a history of thought,
philosophy is a methodology for interpreting Truth in its specificity
in the subjective, in relation to the universal objective. Artists,
critics and historians aim to glean formal Truths, content and
contextual Truths from the artwork in order to understand man's role
as a reflexive genitor of culture. The further distinctions of
culture (high, popular, low, subversive, political) indicate that
thought must be interrogated by texts devoted to promoting ethical
culture from subjective and objective thought processes. The artist
also claims a genius for interpretation. The systematic study of
universal and unique processes of interpretation is greater than
medium and style.

The inclusive, architectural compounds built by Le Corbusier would
support the argument of this paper. However, for limits of space
these architectural works have not been included. This is intended
for a future project. Additionally, a study of Purist murals would
add insight into the complex machinations of French governmental and
cultural institutions that position and reposition artworks in terms
of siting, content and context. This paper's assessment of Purism as
provocative in its symbolic process undermines the prescribed and
proscribed corrupt governmental ineptitude that has been entrenched
in France since the seventeenth century.

This paper reinterprets Purism insisting upon process as a
negotiation of plural realities. The stark forms of Purism invert the
cursory reception of its forms as absolute, into a reinstatement of
politically oriented and utilized concrescence. This paper considers
Purism as an admonition of the simple, the effortless, and the
static. Purism stands in contradistinction to the universalizing
language of basic, recognizable form to foment spontaneous, intuitive
responses. Purism calls attention that the world not be rewritten in
terms of a Classical and monarchial heritage yet through its inverse,
the continuous creation of the world anew through Croce's symbolism as
process and Bergson's duration of time. Purism is an admonition to the
superficial, cursory acceptance of Platonic Ideals as these have been
politicized to organize society into a non-egalitarian form. Purism
threatened to revolutionize society hence the deliberate lacuna of
scholarship in both art history and art theory in contrast to the
systematic study of the Western canon emerging from the Classical

Works Cited

Bataille, Georges. 'The Lugubrious Game,' in Art in Theory:
1900-2000. Eds. Charles Harrison and Paul Wood. Malden: Blackwell
Publishing, 2012, 484-486. Print.

Bergson, Henri. 'from Creative Evolution' in in Art and Theory:
1900-2000. Eds. Charles Harrison and Paul Wood. Malden: Blackwell
Publishing, 2012, 141-144. Print.

Croce, Benedetto. 'What is Art?' in Art in Theory: 1900-2000. Eds.
Charles Harrison and Paul Wood. Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 2012,
102-107. Print.

Freud, Sigmund. 'Totem and Taboo,' in The Freud Reader Ed. Peter Gay.
New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1995, 481-513.

Habermas, Jurgen. 'Modernity -- An Incomplete Project,' in Art and
Theory: 1900-2000. Eds. Charles Harrison and Paul Wood. Malden:
Blackwell Publishing, 2012, 1123-1131. Print.

Hegel, Georg. Introductory Lectures on Aesthetics. Penguin Books
Ltd., 2009. Kindle Edition.

Jeanneret, Charles Edouard (Le Corbusier) and Amedee Ozenfant,
'Purism,' in Art and Theory: 1900-2000. Eds. Charles Harrison and
Paul Wood. Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 2012, 239-242. Print.

(c) Lorena Morales Aparicio 2015

Email: lorenama@me.com

Lorena Morales Aparicio is a Ph.D. student at The Institute for
Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts. Research interests in art
history include modern and contemporary American and European art,
identity narratives, and propaganda. Ms. Morales Aparicio is also a
Research Assistant for an established Metropolitan Museum of Art
lecturer while also working as an Adjunct Professor of Art History in
the New York City metropolitan area.



Imagine that we gather around the elegant dinner table of
mathematician-philosopher Bertrand Russell; the cream-colored
tablecloth, lit by flickering candlelight, is resplendent with fine
china and glittering silver. We guests agree that this is the same
dinner table, but we also agree that none of us see it in exactly the
same way. Each perspective differs from that of our fellows;
undoubtedly our experience of this table, colored by our mood, our
health, and so forth, makes each point-of-view quite unique. This
early 20th century dinner party evokes the spirit of Cubism
concurrently in development across the English Channel: the idea of a
multiplicity of simultaneous viewpoints partaking of the same reality.
In Problems of Philosophy, Russell writes:

     When ten people are sitting round a dinner-table, it seems
     preposterous to maintain that they are not seeing the same
     tablecloth, the same knives and forks and spoons and
     glasses. But the sense-data are private to each separate
     person; what is immediately present to the sight of one is
     not immediately present to the sight of another: they all
     see things from slightly different points of view, and
     therefore see them slightly differently. (31-32)
The multifaceted image that all these views could produce, when
combined, might look much like Georges Braque's Nature Morte (The
Pedestal Table) of 1911 (fig. 1).



As much as Russell's 'involuntary Cubism' might imply that he
espouses philosophies that embrace the idea of a multiplicity of
viewpoints that share reality, instead, he is at times ambivalent, or
even hostile to speculative metaphysical theories that embody what the
Cubists were setting down on canvas.

Indeed, in A History of Western Philosophy Russell decries the
increasing subjectivism of philosophy over time, almost from the very
beginning of Greek philosophy. Certainly, the era starting with the
Protestant Reformation in 1517 sees a flourishing of individualism
and subjectivism, such as in the writings of Machiavelli (1467-1527).
Moreover, Rene Descartes (1596-1650), the 'founder of modern
philosophy' (Russell History 557), is famously subjectivist. This
unleashes an avalanche in which philosophy appears to become
increasingly solipsistic over time, isolating the subject from other
conscious beings and the world at large. While Russell is justified
in his concern that an individual subject can turn away from
communion with others -- with ultimately dangerous consequences for
the future of humanity -- Russell discounts and mostly ignores
philosophies that embrace a multiplicity of subjects existing in
concert. In spite of his comments to the contrary, Russell displays a
bias against speculative metaphysics, especially those with a
theological aspect, which he tends to dismiss as mystical or
illogical absurdities.

I will argue, contrary to Russell, that there is a countervailing
trend: philosophies that embrace poly-subjectivism -- a multiplicity
of viewpoints -- that together create and share the universe, much
like the multifarious facets in a cubist painting, discrete and
distinctive as they may be on their own, are integrated into the
whole. I will also argue, more importantly, that these speculative
metaphysical systems describe the physical and cultural world better
than narrower philosophical systems such as Analytic Philosophy, of
which Russell himself is considered a primary exponent. These
speculative metaphysical theories posit a more social view of
consciousness in which individuals not only have unique vantage
points, but are also connected in some way --whether they are aware
of it or not -- with other entities, and that these entities need not
even be living or sentient beings.

Russell's A History of Western Philosophy brilliantly follows
philosophical threads throughout the ages, yet he discounts the trend
toward a multiplicity of subjects and consciousnesses that becomes
more explicit in the metaphysics of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
(1646-1716), and Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947). Russell's
treatment of these two renowned philosophers strikes me as peculiar,
since they were also mathematicians, with whom he was extraordinarily
familiar. Russell published a book on Leibniz in 1900 and considered
himself an expert (591). Whitehead, with whom Russell collaborated on
Principia Mathematica, is mentioned twice in passing in A History of
Western Philosophy. Oddly, though, it is not in regard to Whitehead's
most famous book, Process and Reality, the most substantial expression
of a long history of ideas that posit a universe filled with entities
of varying levels of consciousness -- and thus, poly-subjectivism on
a virtually unlimited scale. Poly-subjectivism in Leibniz and
Whitehead fundamentally serves as a response to the old question of
the one-and-the-many in Greek philosophy.

We will follow a thread of thought from Parmenides, the Greek
Atomists, through Plato, then Leibniz, and on to Whitehead, to trace
the development of relativist poly-subjectivism, using Russell as a
guide and a debate partner. Significantly, poly-subjectivism
manifests during Russell's lifetime (1872-1970) in many ways,
described as polyphony by Mikhail Bakhtin in his analysis of Fyodor
Dostoevsky's novels, visually in the art of the Cubists, and in
science in the Theory of Relativity and in Quantum Physics. It is
difficult -- or even impossible -- to prove metaphysical
poly-subjectivism in a way that will satisfy the strictest logician;
nonetheless, a cultural and scientific grounding bolsters the case
for the importance of these metaphysical theories as satisfying
explanations of reality.

A broad term such as atomism, the theory that all things are made up
of elementary particles, is a suitable description for many of the
theories in this study. Yet a closer investigation reveals that the
ancient Greek Atomists thought of atoms as the most fundamental
particles, perhaps what we could call subatomic particles today. I
will take the liberty of using atom in this ancient sense, as the
most fundamental indivisible thing; hence, atomism will apply to any
theory that posits the existence of indivisible particles of which
all things are formed. A monad, as Leibniz uses the term, is close to
the ancient Greek atom (47). In spite of the great debt Whitehead's
theories owe to Leibniz, we can only call Whitehead's actual entities
atoms in their most rudimentary form, since an actual entity refers to
anything on a continuum of aggregation (18), where one particle like a
water molecule is an actual entity, as is a human being

Russell's eminent status gives his pronouncements a special weight;
yet he has a certain bias, as he belongs to a long line of
philosophers who speculate upon speculation. That is, his inquiry is
mainly epistemological (if I may generalize his long and august
career), rather than being metaphysical. I am not arguing against the
logical basis for Russell's critique of grand metaphysical systems,
but against his apparent desire to limit the aspirations of
philosophy, especially where it enters the sphere of theology. Early
in A History of Western Philosophy, Russell bemoans that after
Democritus, philosophy turns away from speculations about the nature
of the universe to a concentration on humanity. Russell states, 'What
is amiss, even in the best philosophy after Democritus is an undue
emphasis on man as compared with the universe' (History 73). Russell
does not attribute this change to a growth in epistemology
specifically over time, as I believe he ought to, but makes a blanket
statement indicting all of philosophy. Certainly epistemology tends to
be subjectivist since it explores the thinking subject, and
historically it did lead ultimately to solipsism, according to
Russell, with certain philosophers such as Fichte, who 'carried
subjectivism to a point which seems almost to involve a kind of
insanity' (718). To be fair to Russell, we have to understand that he
was writing A History during the height of the Second World War, and
he felt that subjectivism, as exemplified by Romantic philosophy from
Rousseau to Nietzsche, had led to the lack of critical thinking and
misty-eyed mythologizing that created an environment in which Nazi
Germany and Stalinism could thrive (94). During the 20th Century, as
epitomized by Russell, we see an increasing suspicion of metaphysical
systems, as philosophy turns toward a study of logic and language on
the one hand and phenomenology and existentialism on the other;
consequently, grand metaphysical systems seemed quaint and archaic,
like ancient myths, in comparison to more compartmentalized
philosophies that very carefully limit the scope of their

While it is not a simple task to summarize Leibniz' The Monadology
and Whitehead's philosophy of organism (which is usually called
process theory today) from Process and Reality, nonetheless they are
expositions of a kind of atomism. In one sense, Whitehead's actual
entities are a modernization of Leibniz' monads, for which he gives a
much more exhaustive explanation. Pivotal in both theories is that all
things partake, on some level, in what we might call a universal
communion or even consciousness, but with each thing maintaining a
unique perspective. A multiplicity of individual perspectives is
poly-subjectivism, since each subject has a unique outlook upon the
universe. These entities are not inert, but have some level of
sentience: Leibniz calls it a soul (50), and Whitehead a prehension
(19). Leibniz and Whitehead present compelling solutions, as do the
Ancient Greeks, to the ageless problem of the one-and-the-many: What
is the relation of a multiplicity of things to the entirety of which
they are part?

It took two millennia for the atomism of the Greeks -- initially pure
speculation -- to be recognized as scientific reality. Thus it is
intriguing to explore the debt that Leibniz and Whitehead owe to the
speculations of the Greek Atomists. As Russell notes, Atomism was
'the attempt to mediate between monism and pluralism, as represented
by Parmenides and Empedocles respectively' (History 65), a balance
between the unchanging and ever-changing, between an absolute unity
with parts being a mere illusion (History 48), and a universe of pure
chance. The Atomists denied chance and attributed the nature of the
world to natural laws. Greek Atomism is an obvious precursor to the
theories of Leibniz and Whitehead because of the way it describes
particles. Yet, I believe that it is Parmenides, his apparent monism
notwithstanding, who asks the provocatively how the one (the totality
of all things) is related to the many (the multiplicity of things of
which it seems to contain)? This is the ground from which Atomism and
its progeny spring.

While Leibniz and Whitehead make no mention of Parmenides (whose
extant writings are fragmentary) in The Monadology and Process and
Reality, I would suggest an undercurrent of ideas derived from
Plato's dialogue Parmenides infuses their work. Certain passages
entertain ideas about an all-pervading sentience, such as the
following comment by Parmenides, as recounted by Plato, 'won't you
necessarily think either that each thing is composed of thoughts, and
that all things think... ?' (Plato Parmenides 132c). An echo of this
pervasive sentience appears in one form or another in Leibniz and
Whitehead. Plato's dialogue does not seem to clearly state the
non-existence of parts within a whole that Russell claims is
Parmenides' stance (Russell 48-49), but merely to present a set of
potential possibilities. Nonetheless, it is certainly not an
exposition of an atomistic theory. If we return to the dinner table
analogy, and think of the dining room as the universe, a strict
interpretation of Parmenides would hold that all things within the
room are the same, somehow derived from the whole. It is hard to see
how anything comes to be in this seemingly static conception, thus
the Atomists posited particles in flux, wherein our dining room is a
swarming sea of invisible building blocks, randomly coming together
to generate various forms. Yet, we seem to be at an impasse. While
Braque's painting solves the problem visually, with a multiplicity of
objects and viewpoints homogenized into a cohesive image, how do we
explain philosophically a world of multifarious, distinct parts, that
are still contained within a whole? The important matter for Leibniz
and Whitehead, seemingly disregarded by the ancient Atomists, is the
significance of the whole, i.e., what the entirety of all things
together means philosophically.

A less strict conception of Parmenides' one is kept by Leibniz and
Whitehead. They in turn absorb Greek Atomism, although there are some
striking divergences. Most notable, if we take Lucretius' On the
Nature of Things as our guide, is the absence of teleology and
theology in the ancient version. Lucretius sees attributing a
purposive goal to the workings of Atomism (33) as mere superstition,
making him seem ironically 'modern' because of his apparent atheism.
Additionally, Lucretius is loath to ascribe any level of
consciousness to his atoms. These 'senseless' atoms may assemble to
create life forms, but at their basic level they have no awareness of
any sort. 'All we know as sentient is composed of insensate atoms'
(Lucretius 49). This is in contradistinction to Leibniz, whose monads
have souls, although his definition of soul is subject to various
categorizations of sentience (50). In the end, Leibniz' soulful
monads are much like Whitehead's actual entities, which, however, are
placed on a continuum of sentience, from the virtually inert to the

A return to Russell's dinner party and Braque's painting may help
explain certain similarities and differences between Leibniz' and
Whitehead's theories. In both theories the dinner table and the
guests are made of particles, just as modern science describes
everything as being comprised of atoms. Similar to the modern
conception, Leibniz's monads remain in their fundamental state. A
monad could be a silver atom (or perhaps some even smaller
constituent thereof) in our glittering flatware. But an aggregation
of them in a larger object, say a spoon, is no longer a monad. This
is in contradistinction to Whitehead's actual entities, which are
scalable, that is, they can be of almost any size. For instance, a
water molecule in our tea is an actual entity, but so is the
bone-china cup. Whitehead considers them to be organisms in the sense
that they move toward becoming what the creative processes of the
universe encourages them to be (32). In the case of more complex
entities, like the highly sentient party guests, they are aware of
the relation of themselves to those things around them. They are
consciously in communication with one another as they chat, and
willfully interact with their surroundings. As we move down the scale
of complexity, we have less and less 'sentience' and 'communication'
as we pass from, say, a wine glass to a silica atom within it. What
remains, though, is interconnectedness. Braque's table is useful for
visually seeing the unified field -- the various faceted elements
that are nonetheless linked together -- that both Leibniz's and
Whitehead's particles create. They are individual, yet still in
communication with each other, indirectly in Leibniz's case, as we
will see below, and directly for Whitehead.

If this seeming mysticism were not enough to perplex Russell,
certainly the role of God in Leibniz and Whitehead would. Leibniz'
The Monadology is more grandly theological, as one might expect from
the early 18th Century, and his God is in some ways a traditional
conception. For Whitehead however, God is more of a fundamental
principle, an Unmoved Mover in the Aristotelian sense. Russell's
criticism, quite rightly, I believe, would be that we cannot base a
philosophy strictly on theology, relying on a deus ex machina to tidy
up the loose ends. Leibniz would have been shocked at Russell's
skepticism, no doubt, but Whitehead has a different argument: God is
creativity (7). God is thus a fundamental idea or force. Yet for
Whitehead, like Leibniz, God exists. For Leibniz, God has no bodily
form (72). For Whitehead, God is one of the actual entities, but it
is not clear if this denotes a physical manifestation (18). The
problem for Leibniz is that the monads need God to communicate with
each other. Whitehead's impersonal God is not a go-between, but an
initial instigator, an underlying principle as the very concept of
creativity. 'This function of God is analogous to the remorseless
working of things in Greek and Buddhist thought' (Whitehead 244).
Thus his theory is marginally dependent on the idea of an Abrahamic

To what can we attribute the shift in the atomism of the ancient
Greeks to that of Leibniz and Whitehead? The ancient version posits a
random universe, whereas Leibniz and Whitehead reinsert God into the
picture. Did this merely result from the Christianization of the
West? Russell notes 'Leibniz had been taught a neo-scholastic
Aristotelian philosophy, of which he retained something through his
later life' (582). The Scholastics went to excruciating lengths to
prove their piety, and were in potential danger if they did not do
so. In Leibniz' own time charges of heresy were still common, thus,
if cynical, one could see his theology as purely compulsory.
Whitehead, however, faces no such compulsion, yet maintains an
integral theological component in Process and Reality. The answer to
the theological question I believe comes from the influence of Plato.
As Bertrand Russell puts it, for Plato, God 'made the world as a whole
living creature having soul and intelligence' (144). This imaginative
idea, while eschewed in more orthodox Christianity, proves
irresistible to Leibniz and Whitehead, as it places parts in
interdependent communication within a whole. This rethinking of
Parmenides' monism (as presented by Plato), takes the unequivocal
unity of the whole as a means of explaining how a plurality of things
within it remain connected to each other; that is, the concept of
unity sustains itself through the inter-subjective communication of
the parts. A subsequent imaginative leap that posits a certain
sentience in every thing is a way of dealing with the problem of
communication and coalescence: how do things come together as they
do? Both Leibniz and Whitehead propose a teleological -- and
implicitly theological -- solution. For Leibniz, God acts as a great
administrator and intermediary overseeing all things (84). For
Whitehead God is an underlying principle: a creative force (32).
Either way, Plato's influence is obvious: 'divine providence brought
our world into being as a truly living thing endowed with soul and
intelligence' (Timaeus 30c). Russell complains that the Timaeus,
while interesting, contains absurdities (History 143). Yet the
sublimely speculative Timaeus is so profound that philosophy and
religion would never be the same again.

Since Whitehead's Process and Reality is a much longer text than
Leibniz', he develops his theory in greater detail. While he traces
very carefully the lines of thought that bring him to his
conclusions, such as influences that are philosophical or scientific,
artistic influences during his creative life may also have affected
his thought process, or at least are part of the Zeitgeist -- an
environment heady with the potential for the cross-pollination of
ideas. Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity (1905) posits, like
Leibniz did almost two hundred years earlier (Russell 70), that there
is no absolute point of reference from which to view events (Panek
32). Any position, and hence any subject, lays a claim to its own
unique perspective, and none is superior. Braque's painting is an
effective visual analogy, depicting a multiplicity of viewpoints
giving us the sense that we are walking around the table, seeing it
from virtually any position. Einstein, in 1907, had the insight that
all atoms in the universe exert a gravitational pull on every other
atom (Panek 32), echoing Leibniz who attributed the
interconnectedness of his monads to the intermediating force of God.
Leibniz' and Whitehead's contention that monads or actual entities
commune with each other mirrors what is called Quantum Entanglement.
Simply put, entanglement means that particles share the same quantum
state (basically their energy level) no matter how far apart they
are, and the changes in the state of one is mirrored in the
regardless of the distance (Nielsen 67). It is noteworthy that
separate groups, led by Einstein and Erwin Schrodinger respectively,
published papers on entanglement in 1935 (Einstein; Schrodinger) more
than two hundred years after Leibniz' Monadology and six years after
Whitehead's Process and Reality. While these scientific discoveries
do not prove poly-subjectivism or prove Leibniz' or Whitehead's
theories, it does show that some of their conjectures are supported
and elaborated by subsequent breakthroughs and proven empirically.

Intriguingly, less than two decades before the development of the
Theory of Relativity, Fyodor Dostoevsky's novels achieved what
Mikhail Bakhtin termed polyphony, and a little later, Pablo Picasso
and Georges Braque had breakthroughs with Cubism. What the Theory of
Relativity, polyphony, and Cubism have in common is the
acknowledgement that there is no single point from which 'reality'
can be judged. Bakhtin's polyphony is the multiple voices of the
characters that make up a novel, each seeing every situation from
their own unique point of view, not just visually, but
psychologically (6). A Cubist painting famously shows an object from
a multiplicity of vantage points, revealing that a singular viewpoint
is a mere fragment of reality. Whitehead, expanding on Leibniz'
monads, posits a multifarious awareness that each actual entity has
of another, placed on a continuum from the virtually (but not quite)
inert rock to a sentient being, such as a human. Whitehead's
philosophy of organism as speculative metaphysics has its roots in
the philosophies of the Ancient Greeks and of Leibniz but is also
strongly tied to the Zeitgeist of his cultural and scientific milieu.

A brief paper such as this necessarily summarizes complex
philosophies, and compresses thousands of years of history in a way
that makes it difficult to do justice to various ideas. I have
disregarded Russell's own Logical Atomism, and chosen not to contrast
it with Leibniz' and Whitehead's theories because, while compelling,
it is primarily epistemological. I have also declined discussion of
philosophers such as Plotinus, Spinoza, Hegel, Schopenhauer, and many
others, who explore in their various ways ideas of the
one-and-the-many. Nietzsche's Perspectivism I have set aside, because
it appears to focus solely on human subjectivity. In many ways, his
theory has an obvious correspondence to Analytic Cubism's single
subject-the painter-showing his own multifarious views of a scene. I
prefer to think of the dinner party metaphor, of multiple,
simultaneous, and individual viewers enjoying the same scene. I have
also avoided more recent correlations with Leibniz and Whitehead,
such as Deleuze's and Guattari's rhizome theory of
interconnectedness. Instead, I have used Russell as a foil in order
to explore the ideas of two philosophers, Leibniz and Whitehead, with
whose ideas he was quite familiar.

Russell is correct to point out that philosophy, especially in the
modern era, is rife with subjectivism, but he is biased toward
epistemology and against speculative metaphysics. His demand for
logical consistency in philosophy makes him quick to point out the
deficiencies of speculative metaphysical theories, and unwilling to
embrace the leaps of imagination and new ideas that these theories
explore and their subsequent crosspollination with the sciences and
the arts. Granted, it is absurd to contend that that Leibniz' and
Whitehead's theories are somehow 'correct.' No doubt some aspects
are, and some are not, just as ancient Greek Atomism was proven
substantially correct millennia later. What I have tried to show is
that there is a strong tradition of speculative metaphysical schemes
that are poly-subjectivist, running counter to Russell's contention
of increasing subjectivism. Leibniz built upon the ideas of the
ancient Greeks, and in turn, Whitehead based his theories on those of
his predecessors, and was greatly indebted to Leibniz. Russell's focus
on logic and epistemology blinds him to the fact that in his own
lifetime, Whitehead's philosophy of organism mirrored many scientific
and cultural developments that expressed or developed ideas of
poly-subjectivism and the relativity of any viewpoint. The polyphony
of Dostoevesky, Cubism, the Theory of Relativity, and Quantum Theory
are artistic and scientific examples of the diminution of a
privileged viewpoint, and posit poly-subjectivism. This multiplicity
of positions from which to see our metaphorical dinner table not only
implies the loss of a favored seat at the head of the table, but an
invitation to join a communion of interconnectedness.

The import of speculative philosophies, such as those of the ancient
Greeks, Leibniz, and Whitehead, is not that they are entirely right
or wrong. Newtonian physics, for instance, has been superseded by
quantum physics, but that does not render it completely inaccurate or
useless. At any given epoch, what we gain with every attempt to
describe through what may be a mere inkling -- an educated guess, a
flight of fancy -- of how reality really is (hopefully expressed with
a sense of finesse and poetry), will pique the interest of many
thinkers to come, and spark new ideas.

Works Cited

Bakhtin, Mikhail. The Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics. Ed. Caryl
Emerson. Trans. Caryl Emerson. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota
Press, 1984. Print.

Einstein A, Podolsky B, Rosen N (1935). 'Can Quantum-Mechanical
Description of Physical Reality Be Considered Complete?'. Phys. Rev.
47 (10): 777-780. Web.

Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm. Discourse on Metaphysics and The
Monadology. Trans George R. Montgomery. Ed Albert R. Chandler.
Mineola: Dover, 2005. Print.

Lucretius. On the Nature of Things. Trans. Frank O. Copley. New York:
Norton, 1977. Print.

Nielsen, A, Michael. 'Rules for a complex quantum world.' Scientific
American 5(2002):67. eLibrary. 05 Apr. 2014. Web.

Panek, Richard. 'Relativity turns 100.' Astronomy. 01 Feb. 2005: 32.
eLibrary. 05 Apr. 2014. Web.

Plato. 'Parmenides.' Plato: Complete Works. Eds. John M. Cooper, D.
S. Hutchinson. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997. Print.

Plato. Plato: Complete Works. Eds. John M. Cooper, D. S. Hutchinson.
Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997. Print.

Plato. 'Timaeus.' Plato: Complete Works. Eds. John M. Cooper, D. S.
Hutchinson. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997. Print.

Russell, Bertrand. A History of Western Philosophy. New York: Simon
and Schuster, 1972. Print.

Russell, Bertrand. Problems of Philosophy. New York: Holt, 1912. Web.

Schrodinger E; Born, M. (1935). 'Discussion of probability relations
between separated systems'. Mathematical Proceedings of the Cambridge
Philosophical Society 31 (4): 555-563. Web.

Whitehead, Alfred North. Process and Reality: Corrected Edition. Eds.
David Ray Griffin and Donald W. Sherburne. New York: Free Press, 1978.

(c) Mike Adams 2015

Email: mike@mikeadamsartist.com

Mike Adams, editor of this issue, is an artist, educator, theorist,
and activist hailing from the Seattle-area in the Pacific Northwest
of the USA. He received a prestigious Fulbright Creative Arts Grant
and spent the 2011-2012 academic year in Norway, where he had a major
sculptural installation at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo. Currently a
PhD student at the nstitute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts
http://www.idsva.org, a low-residency program in Philosophy,
Aesthetics, and Art Theory based in Portland, Maine, USA, his
particular research interest revolves around the idea of
spatio-temporality in aesthetic experience. He will present his paper
'Space as Time: Heterotopias in Renaissance Paintings of The
Annunciation' at the Renaissance Conference of Southern California in
June 2015. His art is represented by Matzke Fine Art and Sculpture
Park http://www.matzkefineart.com on Camano Island, Washington, USA,
and can also be seen on his website, http://MikeAdamsArtist.com.

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