Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Re: [Yasmin_discussions] supernatural

Thank you Roger and Danny for expanding the discussion field with your recent contributions. It is easy for conversation about subjects such as we've engaged here to become captive to swirling eddies of repetitive dialogue. I think we've escaped that fairly admirably in this discussion, given the medium's tendency to suck even the most thoughtful exchanges into its monotony vortex. I hope most of the Yasmin silent majority will agree.

The subject of open-mindedness strikes me as particularly apropos to the perspectives of theory and philosophy when speaking of how science may have limits in its ability to know, and that one should not (cannot) set further limits on what is, after all, not known or unknowable. The carrying on of that discussion is perhaps best informed by well educated scholarly contributions and citation of credible and rigorous sources.

I am not an academic scholar (although I do think, as Roger cited in his reference to the landmark Exploratorium conference, that 'art is a way of knowing' can be expanded to 'art is a form of scholarship'). So my ability to contribute to the strictly academic perspective on the subject is limited other than to say I agree: it makes sense to allow that the workings of the cosmos could be different than what is currently implied (or dogmatized) by that which we already know about it.

To be honest, I'm mildly interested in what academics think about the limits of science and its relationship to a meaning for the term 'supernatural.' I am greatly interested, though, in the alarming possibility that academics may dismiss as unworthy of their attention the more pedestrian meaning of 'supernatural' that most of the planet's less intellectual, less educated, or educated but less critically-thinking populations believe, with no degree of open-mindedness, rules the universe.

As I've mentioned before, I think the word 'supernatural' cannot be retrofitted or reinvented to apply to a sophisticated concept of the limits of knowledge. It's baggage is too great, and to the extent that the academic community continues to appease as legitimate an otherwise fine concept (open-mindedness) in the vicinity of a corrupt concept (supernatural) that, inevitably, leaks into popular culture without the protective nuance of academic context (as the perennially damaging "God doesn't play dice with the universe" is a stereotypical example), it does injury to the cause of critical thinking and to the possibility that world culture (the unwashed non-academic masses) may someday evolve into a force that views evidence-based science as a better basis for informed social and personal behavior than it does the hocus-pocus of the disproportionately influential but prosaic form of 'supernatural.' I think art-science has a role to play in this, and especially the writing about art-science — which will ultimately amplify its practice, as is the case with all nascent art movements, with a history of meaning.

Instrumentalization? I don't think so -- no more than one could claim the flattening of illusionistic space by the Russian Constructivists or the exaltation of the ordinary by Pop Art were less than aesthetic achievements because their resonance was in social change.

Yasmin_discussions mailing list

Yasmin URL: http://www.media.uoa.gr/yasmin

SBSCRIBE: click on the link to the list you wish to subscribe to. In the page that will appear ("info page"), enter e-mail address, name, and password in the fields found further down the page.
HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE: on the info page, scroll all the way down and enter your e-mail address in the last field. Enter password if asked. Click on the unsubscribe button on the page that will appear ("options page").
TO ENABLE / DISABLE DIGEST MODE: in the options page, find the "Set Digest Mode" option and set it to either on or off.
If you prefer to read the posts on a blog go to http://yasminlist.blogspot.com/