Jeffrey Carduner, Aesthetic Realism consultant, writes:
Is philosophy warm, immediate, urgent? Yes—when seen as Aesthetic Realism sees it! You’ll find this out when you read “Reality’s Opposites—& the Self That’s Ours.” You’ll find out about the structure of reality itself. You’ll learn that the way people see the world is central to every situation in one’s life. And it’s central to such national matters as prejudice and lying. What you and people everywhere want tremendously to know is in this thrilling new issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known.
The commentary by Ellen Reiss begins:
Dear Unknown Friends:
We publish here the first part of the 1964 lecture The Infinite and Finite and Their Disguises, by Eli Siegel. In this lecture one can see something of what Aesthetic Realism is as strict philosophy—as ontology, for instance, and aesthetics. In fact, Eli Siegel is the philosopher who showed that ontology (the study of being) and aesthetics (the study of beauty) are the same study, and that they are inseparable from our everyday lives, including our angers, confusions, sulks, pleasures, regrets, hopes, victories, worries about money and love. “The world, art, and self explain each other,”he wrote: “each is the aesthetic oneness of opposites.”
Mr. Siegel, the most learned of people, had a beautiful down-to-earthness and often humor in speaking of the largest philosophic matters. Similarly, as he spoke about human life and happenings, including what a particular person was going through, there was always largeness, and the grandeur of respect.
Mainly, as people go about their lives, they do not feel that the reality they’re meeting has a structure, let alone a structure they can like, an aesthetic structure. They may care for various things, but they pretty much feel the world itself is a mess, an inimical mess. Then there is their self within—with its emotions and thoughts that no one else knows and that they themselves often can’t make sense of. They largely feel their intimate self is apart from outside things—not explained by these.
Such feelings have consequences. Because unless we learn from Aesthetic Realism that reality has a structure which makes sense, and unless we see we have that same structure of opposites and so are related to everything—we’re likely to welcome what Aesthetic Realism identifies as the most hurtful thing in humanity: contempt. Contempt is “a false importance or glory from the lessening of things not oneself.” And from the feelings I’ve described, joined with contempt, has come so much of what’s amiss in people’s lives.
There Are Coldness, Unkindness, Conceit
Right now living in Portland, Oregon, is a young woman we can call Denise. She works as a bookkeeper for a Portland non-profit company. Like millions of her fellow humans, she is confused by the world. And also like millions of people, she has unknowingly used her confusion to have contempt: she has tried to change her not being able to make sense of things into a victory for herself: “To see the world itself as an impossible mess,” writes Eli Siegel, “…gives a certain triumph to the individual” (Self and World, p.11). There is a rather steady feeling in her that comes to this: “Look what kind of awful world I got myself into! It’s not good enough for me. I’m superior to it.” And so, though Denise is polite, there is a deep CONCEIT in her.
Looking down on reality other than oneself includes a looking down on people. Denise feels that people—for instance, the people she works with—are neither as efficient nor as sensitive as she is. She doesn’t know she prefers to feel that way—prefers to feel apart from people, wounded by them, unappreciated, and superior—because there’s a victory in such a feeling. It’s the victory of contempt. Her boyfriend, Jude, has complained that she looks to feel hurt by him. He also says, “You think you were put on earth to train me!”….Read more