Abstract: The purpose of this essay is to explore the nature and role of art as a human phenomenon from a broadly cognitive perspective. Like science and religion, art serves to mediate the unknown, at once to embrace and to defend against the fundamental mystery of existence. Thus, it may challenge the status quo while generally serving to maintain it. Art tracks the individuation of subjectivity, serving the pleasure principle, yet is appropriated by the collective’s commitment to the reality principle. While science and religion close in on serious answers to fundamental questions, art opens up possibilities toward playfulness, uselessness, imagination, and arbitrary whim. Though art has no unifying definition, meaning, or intent through time and across cultures, it remains important to people, both to do and to enjoy. It serves to counterbalance the naive realism of science, the “rationality” of modern society, and the literalism of text-based religion. While its allegiance is divided, its most worthy intent is to aid us to confront and negotiate the great mystery revealed to us in consciousness.
Keywords aesthetics  creativity  objectivity  transcendence  representation  patronage  realism  originality  Great Mystery  compromise-formation
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

George Steiner's Wager On Transcendence.Peter Phillips - 1998 - Heythrop Journal 39 (2):158-169.
George Steiner's Wager on Transcendence.Peter Phillips - 1998 - Heythrop Journal 39 (2):158–169.
The Role of Luck in Originality and Creativity.Peg Zeglin Brand Weiser - 2015 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 73 (1):31-55.
Karl Rahner's Encounter with Mystery.Kim Wu - 1997 - Philosophy and Culture 24 (3):250-261.
Religion and the Mystery of Existence.John Cottingham - 2012 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 4 (3):15--31.
Phenomenological Realism: Programmatic Considerations.Gunter Figal - 2014 - Meta: Research in Hermeneutics, Phenomenology, and Practical Philosophy:15-20.
Living with Mystery: Virtue, Truth, and Practice.David E. Cooper - 2012 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 4 (3):1--13.
The Mystery of Deduction and Diagrammatic Aspects of Representation.Sun-Joo Shin - 2015 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 6 (1):49-67.
The First Mystery of Consciousness.William P. Montague - 1945 - Journal of Philosophy 42 (June):309-314.
Human Transcendence, Nature and Society.Manjulika Ghosh - 2016 - Dialogue and Universalism 26 (1):91-98.


Added to PP index

Total views
106 ( #109,081 of 2,498,784 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
25 ( #34,861 of 2,498,784 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes