Jeffrey Carduner, Aesthetic Realism consultant, writes:
The journal The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known has been magnificently, honestly explaining, making sense of, what’s occurring in our nation, in ourselves, in love, in economics. Now, the final issue of 2020 shows what ethics truly is—and that it has to do with every part of our lives, every aspect of reality. “Ethics—Its Power & Beauty” is also about what interferes with ethics, including the ethics of a nation. This issue is exciting and composing—it has what we need to know as this turbulent year ends and a new one is just beginning! To see that ethics is thrilling and central to your heart and mind, read “Ethics–Its Power & Beauty” the newest issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known.
The commentary by Ellen Reiss begins:
Dear Unknown Friends:
With this issue, we begin to serialize the magnificent lecture Where Ethics Is, which Eli Siegel gave in 1974. He is speaking about the biggest matter in our nation and in the world itself—though it’s generally not seen as that. “Aesthetic Realism,” he says, so truly, “sees ethics in a fuller way than has been.” I love his understanding of ethics, his tremendous logic and feeling about it. And so, by way of introduction, it gives me much pleasure to comment some on Aesthetic Realism’s great comprehension of ethics. While that way of seeing ethics is new, it is backed up by the most important statements on the subject over these thousands of years.
Later in this lecture, Mr. Siegel gives three definitions of ethics. But I’ll quote here a description of it from his book Self and World. “To be ethical,” he writes, “is to give oneself what is coming to one by giving what is coming to other things” (p. 243).
What It Isn’t & Is
Aesthetic Realism makes clear that ethics is not a narrowly philosophic term; nor is ethics a curtailing, repressive thing, some set of rules stopping us from doing what would really please us. Ethics, Aesthetic Realism shows, is as much of us as the blood in our veins. It is the most intelligent thing in the world—also the most romantic thing. It is that on which love depends. It’s the basis of all art. And it is, within us, that which determines whether we like ourselves or dislike ourselves.
This Aesthetic Realism principle is about ethics, as it is about everything in and around us: “All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves.” Ethics is about the two biggest opposites in our lives: self and world. The great need, from the time we are born until our life is over, is to make those opposites one: to be fair—inseparably—to what is not ourselves and to ourselves. In chapter 9 of Self and World, “The Child,” Mr. Siegel writes:
It is to be expected that when a new entity, a baby, arrives in that larger entity, the world,—the baby do all it can to establish its own existence by being able to make, all the time, happier and freer and more accurate relationships with the universe into which it has entered. [P. 215]
That means that the drive, deep in the self of everyone, to grow, to know, to become oneself, is fundamentally an ethical drive: it’s the drive to be oneself by meeting the outside world truly, justly. Meanwhile, there can be interferences with it—both from the outside and from within us.
Aesthetic Realism explains that the big inner interference with ethics—the interference within everyone, from first grader to senator—is contempt: the “disposition in every person to think we will be for ourselves by making less of the outside world.” Contempt is immensely ordinary and immensely ugly and dangerous. It has a boy of six feel he’s a big shot if he can make his little sister cry. And contempt in a senator (of some country, who knows where) is what has him lie, and engage with others to overthrow democracy as a means of advancing his own career…Read more