The Argument from Beauty ~ Preface

“To the few who love me and whom I love—to those who feel rather than to those who think—to the dreamers and those who put faith in dreams as in the only realities—I offer this Book of Truths, not in its character of Truth-Teller, but for the Beauty that abounds in its Truth; constituting it true. To these I present the composition as an Art-Product alone:—let us say as a Romance; or, if I be not urging too lofty a claim, as a Poem.”

What I here propound is true:—therefore it cannot die:—or if by any means it be now trodden down so that it die, it will ‘rise again to the Life Everlasting.’”

“Nevertheless it is as a Poem only that I wish this work to be judged after I am dead.”

~ Edgar Allan Poe (Emphases added. Preface to Eureka, which expounded Poe’s mystical, and decisively not pessimistic, vision of reality. It was published one year prior to his death. See:

In the course of writing these pages, I have come to adopt an ethical position very different from anything I was previously familiar with. I’d always felt uncomfortable with Kant’s Categorical Imperative, and I’d always been drawn to Carol Gilligan’s Ethics of Care. I hope that she would find my own newfound ethical stance to be well in line with her own thinking, albeit with a slightly different angle. My ethics today are, stated most simply, “Seek the Beautiful”.

Of course, “Beautiful”, by its very nature, if usually regarded as an entirely subjective affair, and would , without further definition, therefore open the door to the broadest sort of relativism possible. However, in my conception of it, The Beautiful is a real Form, in the Platonic sense, if not the only real Form, from the perspective of Ultimate Reality. It is defined entirely within itself. Within human interactions, it manifests essentially along the lines of the ethics of care. That is to say, what is Beautiful in our humanity and our interaction with one another is our genuine love and compassion for one another. Whatever else people may find beautiful (in the context of human interaction with other living beings) is, therefore, suspect, and may likely be deficient at best, or corrupted at worst.

I hope you’ll get a better idea of what I mean as you continue to read the pages ahead.

Next: Part I