THE PURPOSE of the not-for-profit Aesthetic Realism Foundation is to meet the urgent need for people throughout America and the world to see each other and reality fairly. The means to that fairness is Aesthetic Realism, the philosophy founded in 1941 by Eli Siegel, American poet, critic, and educator—which is based on the following principles:
- The deepest desire of every person is to like the world on an honest or accurate basis.
- The greatest danger for a person is to have contempt for the world and what is in it. Contempt can be defined as the lessening of what is different from oneself as a means of self-increase as one sees it.
- All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves.
The Foundation is dedicated to the understanding of, and greater respect for, people, art, and reality.
Aesthetic Realism explains that the largest fight in every person is between liking the world on an honest basis and having contempt for the world. There is no more important contribution to human thought than Eli Siegel’s identification of contempt as the big weakener of mind and source of all unkindness, including economic injustice, racism, war. And the way to defeat contempt is through the aesthetic criticism of self: Aesthetic Realism is the study of how we want to put together the opposites that are one in art—including care for ourselves and justice to the world.
For a description of activities at the Foundation, click here.
Also see Self and World: An Explanation of Aesthetic Realism by Eli Siegel and Some Background.
Featured image: Ad Reinhardt, “Red and Blue Composition,” detail,
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC