The New Philosophy Vol 66 No 1, January-March 1963
Mr. Boyesen’s article in this issue implies a philosophic principle concerning art which is too frequently ignored in discussions of the subject, but which—when accepted as true—should reconcile the apparently opposing views of “Art for art’s sake” and “Art for life's sake.” The principle implied is that the substance of art is spiritual, that it is, in fact, nothing less than the affections of the mind.
In the history of philosophy cause has had a number of usages, and the idea of causality has met with acceptance and rejection— both for a variety of reasons. The four causes of Aristotle were succeeded, in Scholasticism, by a hierarchy of causes under Divine mind as the first or supreme cause. Thomism defined cause for Catholic philosophy. Occasionalism and rationalism added treatments to the subject; and Spinoza, Hume, Kant, Hegel, and Mill, in turn, made distinctive contributions in the usages established by their distinguishing of categories or emphasizing of certain qualities.
Whether past or present, the world and all its activity is constantly viewed in relation to man. Thus, to himself, man seems the center of the whole cosmos. His endeavors all through the ages, in their many aspects, give us a perspective of mankind. One of these aspects, in our highly sophisticated civilization, is art.The first analysis sees art as something of the imagination, which is one of the functions of the mind. In order to get any idea of art and its purpose, therefore, we must have a general understanding of the mind and the imagination, and how they operate.
Modern students of Swedenborg have been puzzled how to explain his assumption that the first “pure and total motion” which generated the first entities of which nature is composed tended to a spiral or vortical motion. For the testimony of modern physics is that a body from its momentum moves along a straight line unless subject to other forces. (Newton’s first law of motion.) The author of The Radiant Universe points out that if this be always the case no change would be possible; and we would be unable to explain why all bodies move upon curving paths, unless we supposed “that the original motions which were to be handed down to all future bodies must have been swirling motions.” (Preface and pages 479-48.)