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Cormac McCarthy’s aesthetic choices make him as anachronistic and difficult to place as are many of his characters. While he shares some of the thematic preoccupations of modernism and postmodernism, he lacks most of the aesthetic markers of those movements. Given his varied style, it might be more promising to think of his work as hovering aesthetically between the naturalistic and the phantasmagoric in the manner of Hawthorne’s and Melville’s romance tradition. His aesthetic borrowings from the medium of film similarly seem to place his work in a grey area between objectivity and subjectivity. While McCarthy’s own consistent associations of aesthetic value with pain and loss contrast sharply with the disinterested conception of beauty propounded by Kant, his work seems much more attuned to Kant’s other source of aesthetic value, the sublime. But McCarthy’s version of the sublime is thoroughly naturalized and historicized, embracing human fragility and contingency. This aspect of McCarthy’s aesthetic, linked as it is to the cultural attitudes born of the nineteenth-century encounter between late Romanticism and naturalism, might help account for many readers’ sense that McCarthy’s work belongs to another time.
The book of Proverbs concludes with an alphabetic acrostic that describes and praises its feminine subject (Prov 31:10–31). The poem’s praise closes with a generalized critique of beauty, its deceptiveness and short-lived nature (v. 30). What function does this critique of beauty serve in light of the praise of the woman and her deeds? How do the poem and, specifically, this critique of beauty function in the broader organization of the book of Proverbs? This study argues that the poem rejects innate beauty in favor of acquired wisdom, a message that can be found elsewhere in Proverbs. The poem rejects beauty through an appeal to a rhetorical device—the “totalizing description”—which is used elsewhere to argue for a subject’s beauty or perfection. Through the structure of the alphabetic acrostic, the poem carefully embeds its message of willed action and acquired wisdom; using a description of the woman’s successive deeds, the poem shows how each deed leads to the enduring success of the woman’s family, her community, and the subsequent generation.
A group of philosophers led by the late John Pollock has applied a method of reasoning about probability, known as direct inference and governed by a constraint known as Reichenbach's principle, to argue in support of ‘thirdism’ concerning the Sleeping Beauty Problem. A subsequent debate has ensued about whether their argument constitutes a legitimate application of direct inference. Here I defend the argument against two extant objections charging illegitimacy. One objection can be overcome via a natural and plausible definition, given here, of the binary relation ‘logically stronger than’ between two properties that can obtain even when the respective properties differ from one another in ‘arity’; given this definition, the Pollock group's argument conforms to Reichenbach's principle. Another objection prompts a certain refinement of Reichenbach's principle that is independently well-motivated. My defense of the Pollock group's argument has epistemological import beyond the Sleeping Beauty problem, because it both widens and sharpens the applicability of direct inference as a method for inferring single-case epistemic probabilities on the basis of general information of a probabilistic or statistical nature.
Chapter 5 examines what specific cultural meanings were applied to the modern woman by virtue of the country’s youthful age structure, reconceptualization of adolescence, and generation gap during the late Pahlavi era. Within this framework, the discussion introduces "the modern girl" that hitherto was not acknowledged as an important figure in Iranian historiography, while addressing the magazines’ engagement with the beauty culture and discussions on issues like makeup, fashion, and weight concerns. The overemphasis on the female body in women’s magazines, and their excessive promotion of social values of beauty and slenderness, conflicted with their attempts to empower femininity through representations of female determination, dedication, and educational accomplishments. Iranian editors and journalists were familiar with this conflict, and their responses become evident in two distinct and equally challenging images that receive special attention in this chapter: the Teen Princess (dokhtar-e Shayesteh) elected in Zan-e Ruz’s annual flashy beauty pageant and the female volunteers who served in the Literacy and Health Corps, after completing a short military training. In the late Pahlavi era, both these programs targeted young, single, high school graduates and college students, and substantially expanded women’s entry into the formerly segregated public sphere.
In Book 2 of Cicero’s On the nature of the gods, Balbus argues for a Stoic theology and view of religion, and in Book 3 Cotta, an Academic skeptic, argues against him. I argue that both characters are supporters of traditional Roman pagan religion. In contrast to the Epicurean Velleius in Book 1, Balbus argues that the gods do care for us, in fact that the cosmic god fates every detail of our lives. He describes a world whose beauty is a principle reason to think that this rational creator has planned it for us, and further argues that this creator is good. He offers a complex rereading of Roman religion and poetic myth, according to which Roman religious practices were begun in ways that Stoic theology can support, and that it can still support once later distortions of this theology have been cleared away. Cotta, a pontifex, says that his skepticism is consistent with his priestly office, on grounds reminiscent of modern fideism. But he argues that Balbus’ dogmatic Stoic theology would destabilize the beliefs of those practising Roman religion, because Balbus cannot rigorously relate the many Roman gods to the one Stoic cosmic god.
Being a radical Academic skeptic, Cicero as author does not endorse an answer to the questions of On the nature of the gods and On divination. But when he portrays himself as a character in the dialogues, he portrays himself as finding plausible on those occasions a consistent philosophical theology and view of religion. I suggest that this is meant to model the free reaction of a skeptical mind to debates on questions where the skeptic forms no beliefs. The view that Cicero portrays as plausible to "himself" is the Stoic theology that the natural world is divine and benevolent, except that he finds implausible the Stoic view that divination delivers information from the gods (although he says that divinatory practices at Rome should continue for other reasons). Taking this attitude would be one way to "moderate" Roman religion, that is, to avoid impiety and superstition in practising it, but the reader is left free to make up his or her own mind.
Driven above all by the desire to reconcile aesthetic and moral value, Scottish philosophers, poets and artists made essential contributions to eighteenth-century aesthetics and art theory. This essay examines some of the key moments in the history of Scottish aesthetics from the 1720s to the early years of the nineteenth century. In particular, it surveys the ways in which Francis Hutcheson, David Hume, George Turnbull, Allan Ramsay, Lord Kames, William Duff, Alexander Gerard, Thomas Reid, Archibald Alison and Dugald Stewart debated the respective roles of the senses, reason and the imagination in the appreciation of beauty; asked whether beauty is in the object or the subject; pondered the relationship between virtue, wealth and aesthetic judgement; and considered the existence of a universal standard of taste.
Indigenous beauty pageants can be seen as a way of re-appropriating indigenous identity. This article approaches beauty pageants as being situated in multiple systems of power at four levels of contestation: (1) reproducing gender relations and creating new professional and political opportunities; (2) constituting a site for cultural and political agency and delimiting the ways to ‘be a Maya woman’; (3) reproducing class relations in terms of access to the event and contributing to social awareness of beauty queens; (4) as a social event consolidating (gender) relations within the family. The findings are based on longitudinal (2002–14) ethnographic fieldwork in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.
This chapter, on beauty, explores the desirability and splendor of creatures as a participation in divine beauty and goodness. It is, at heart, an exploration of what to love, and how to love it. In the words of an ancient prayer, the message is one of loving God 'above all things, and in all things'. As a contrasting position, we consider the vision of the Swedish Lutheran theologian Anders Nygren. Unlike his appeal for us to sever love for God from love for creatures, the vision in this chapter is integrative. The tendency is considered, all the same, for human waywardness in how we love, and the order of our loving. While the reality of sin and the need for restraint are recognised, the characteristics of a 'participatory spirituality' are seen not to be founded on denial or rejection: what Martin Buber calls one of 'subtraction ... or reduction'. The focus for the chapter is for the most part what could be called the beauty of goodness. It concludes with a discussion of the participatory character of aesthetic beauty.
The final chapters of this book look at how a participatory outlook can inform and has informed a vision of the world and what it means to live, act, pray, and seek God in it. This, the first of these chapters, considers knowledge and knowing in participatory terms. Knowledge is seen as a participation of the knower in the known, or a sharing from the known to the knower. This undergirds a 'realist' epistemology, in that knowing rests on the reality of the thing that is known. That said, it also stresses the creaturehood and particularity of the knower and the manner of knowing: that which is known comes to be in the knower in the manner of the knower, whether we are talking about our knowledge of an animal, of a plant, or of God. In the case of God, most of all, the knower never exhausts the depths of what is known. That also applies, however, although to a different degree, in the knowledge of even mundane things, since their deepest reality is a participation in God, which confers a creaturely form of inexhaustibility. In these ways, much of this chapter is an exploration of 'intra-finite participation': about how one creature participates in, or donates to, another. It closes with a discussion of the relation between reason and revelation.
Chaucer’s God considers how characters invoke God, both in terms of the everyday language of late medieval England and in the ways that the idea of God is reflected in Chaucer’s fiction. Conventional, non-theological utterances of the names for God by Chaucer’s characters as part of their, by turns, outwardly pious and unthinkingly impious phraseologies are discussed in the opening section, God Woot – ‘God knows’. Under the heading God Forwoot – ‘God foreknows’, some of the more challenging invocations of God are considered, such as the implications of divine foreknowledge and predestination on human free will in the Knight’s Tale, the Nun’s Priest’s Tale and Troilus and Criseyde. The concluding section, God in a Cruel World, asks whether in the Clerk’s Tale and the Franklin’s Tale, if Chaucer allowed his tales to reflect, and characters to reflect upon, the heretical notion of a God lacking in compassion for humanity.
Rather than trawl through medieval philosophical texts for references to selfhood, I analyse a story Chaucer knew well: that of Narcissus and Echo. Narcissus’s fatal encounter with his own reflection suggests a number of points: i) that self-awareness is associated with sight (the word ‘introspection’ means ‘looking within’); ii) that beauty also is associated with sight; iii) that love makes one self-aware (Narcissus understands that his love-object is himself, not that that helps him any); iv) that sight can be ironically linked to moral blindness. Chaucer explores all these points, often with reference to mirrors, and to women in love or being loved. Medieval mirrors were usually small and convex, requiring the viewer to stand close to interpret the distorted images from multiple angles that they generated. Chaucer especially represents women experiencing how it feels to ‘be me’, making of his own poetry a mirror that reflects from oblique positions.
This chapter argues that Plato effectively pre-empts the Stoics in defining virtuous action as conformity with cosmic order. Scholarship has been beguiled by Alcibiades’ striking analysis of Socrates in the Symposium as someone ugly to look at but beautiful within, and misled into thinking that Plato defines virtue as ‘inner beauty’, something private which only accidentally manifests itself in public benefit. In fact, as a closer examination of Diotima’s account of the lover’s ascent towards beauty in the same dialogue shows that the distinction that actually interests Plato is that between the body and its activity – not the body and the soul as such. And by referencing this activity to cosmic order (as he does most clearly in Gorgias 507e-508), Plato guarantees essentially that virtue is not only publicly manifest but of essential benefit to others as well as self.
In the world of Nigerian beauty pageants, the bikini remains a fraught embodied symbol and aesthetic practice. Pageant affiliates, critics, and fans alike strongly debate the question of whether to include bikinis in these events. This article draws primarily from nearly a year of ethnographic observations of two Nigerian national beauty contests in 2009-2010 to show how various stakeholders used personal, domestic, and international frames about women’s bodies, and the bikini in particular, to bolster respectability. Through embodied respectability, women’s figurative and literal bodies were used to strategically situate propriety, social acceptance, and reputability for the self and the nation.
This study examines how Anglophone urban elites in 1960s metropolitan Cameroon negotiated local and global ideas about culturally constructed forms of “natural” black beauty. Formally-educated Christian urbanites, such as freelance female journalists, who often worked as civil servants, sought to discipline women’s bodily practices and emotional expressivity in order to regulate the boundaries of perceived feminine respectability and to define a woman’s “natural” beauty, a descriptor with both internal and external implications. The language they used included both local terms such as nyanga, a Cameroonian Pidgin English word for varied ideas about beauty and stylishness, and standard English terms. This specific use of language illustrates the hybridity of understandings of natural beauty and bodily comportment, painting a distinct African imagery denoting the social progression of black Cameroonian elite subcultures.
From a land called the “Cradle of Civilizations” to one that is now described as “apocalyptic” and “one of the most dangerous places on Earth”, Syria may have no more critical moment than the current crisis to reflect on what is taking it down this terrifyingly dark path. We resort to history in order to decipher the mysteries of the present, and there is no more honest and direct history than that of the built environment: a concrete object that tells the narratives not only of the winners, the wealthy and the powerful, but also of those who were brushed aside, cut apart and walked over.
This Opinion Note argues that reversing the process which led to the loss of home and the loss of urban fabric is the foundation of reclaiming these as essential elements of recovery after war and destruction. It examines four areas of transformation where modern urban planning and architecture have left their marks on the Levantine city, to give a clearer understanding of the role of architecture and where to begin in the rebuilding.
This article investigates whether beauty in nature can provide a global language to inform environmental governance, such as by providing shared values and collaborative approaches across and within different cultures. Because art mediates how many people experience environmental aesthetics, such as through photography and music, this enquiry extends to the arts. As is the case for other aesthetic values, beauty is ultimately about relationships and ways of knowing our environment, and the law can best engage with such values through interpretive guidance and processes for participatory decision making. Prescriptive codification of beauty ‘standards’ is generally not a realistic goal for lawmakers. The article enriches our understanding of how aesthetics can contribute to human beings’ emotional empathy and ethical commitment to environmental stewardship, and identifies some conceptual and methodological difficulties that militate against beauty being a lingua franca for environmental law.
Consider the process which starts with N ≥ 3 distinct points on ℝd, and fix a positive integer K < N. Of the total N points keep those N - K which minimize the energy amongst all the possible subsets of size N - K, and then replace the removed points by K independent and identically distributed points sampled according to some fixed distribution ζ. Repeat this process ad infinitum. We obtain various quite nonrestrictive conditions under which the set of points converges to a certain limit. This is a very substantial generalization of the `Keynesian beauty contest process' introduced in Grinfeld et al. (2015), where K = 1 and the distribution ζ was uniform on the unit cube.
Kant holds that it is possible to quarrel about judgements of beauty and cultivate taste, but these possibilities have not been adequately accounted for in the dominant interpretations of his aesthetics. They can be better explained if we combine a more subjectivist interpretation of the free harmony of the faculties and aesthetic form with a type of social constructivism. On this ‘subjectivist-constructivist’ reading, quarrelling over and cultivating taste are not attempts to conform to some matter of fact, but rather to reconcile subjective perceptions through mutual interchange governed by the regulative goal of constructing a universal community of agreement.