Antonello da Messina’s Annunciation with the Blessèd Virgin sola breaks with iconic convention, so inviting new interpretations of the theme. The Rome exhibition of 2006 allowed one to compare Antonello with van Eyck: Antonello seemed pre-modern. This review discusses three important essays on the Annunciation. All three perceptive essays raise theological and phenomenological issues directly related to the almost unique iconic representation which Antonello gives us.
‘Good’ is nothing specific but is transcendentally or generally applied over specific, and specified, ‘categories’. These ‘categories’ may be seen—at least for the purposes of this note—as under Platonic Forms. The rule that instances under a category or form need a Form to be under is valid. It may be tautological: but this is OK for rules. Not being specific, however, ‘good’ neither needs nor can have a specifying Form. So, on these grounds, the Form of the Good is otious. (...) Any rule of the kind, ‘Everything needs a Form, so good needs a Form of the Good’ is mistaken, in that good is not a kind, but a transcendental. To give a Form to the transcendental ‘good’ is a mistake: it is a Rylian category mistake. And the Form of the Good either does no work, or works unprofitably in any but an aesthetic sense. (shrink)
Hans Küng is a well-known, and harsh, critic of doctrine of papal infallibility declared at Vatican I, 1870–1871. It leads—he argues—not to transparent certainty, but away from it. A propos ‘infallibility’ and the still-running scandals of child sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy, he writes:…While Rome no longer dares to proclaim formally infallible doctrines, it still envelopes all of its doctrinal pronouncements with an aura of infallibility, as though the Pope’s words were a direct expression of God’s will (...) or Christ’s voice.Instead—that is—of getting a formal assertion as in the case of the doctrine of the Assumption of the Blessèd Virgin Mary, we now get obita dicta, cranky stuff about being silent on the matter of the ordination of women, and so on set forth as ‘“almost” infallible. So just shut up!’Taizé is OK: but taise toi! will no longer do. We are all the ‘priestly people of God’ according to Vatican II. Küng does not use the .. (shrink)
He’s a terrible fellow, but at least he’s got substance.—Erich Auerbach on HeideggerMy esteemed colleague Purushottama Bilimoria drew my attention to Shane Mackinlay’s ‘Heidegger’s Temple: How Truth Happens when Nothing is Portrayed’. My friend wondered whether my piece on ‘The Origin of the Work of Art: Heidegger’ in Sophia 51, no.4 (2012): 465–478 was a reply to Mackinlay. It was not.I had not in fact read Shane Mackinlay’s elegant essay. Having read it now, I do not entirely agree with it: (...) Nor he, with my essay, no doubt. The Republic of Letters is wide open.The point perhaps that Bilimoria wanted to me to consider was that Mackinlay makes much of ‘nothing’, as did Bilimoria himself in his arrestingly titled, ‘Why is there Nothing rather than Something?’ (Sophia 51, no.4 (2012): 509–530). He, in conversation, has wanted me to make more of—the concept of?—nothing than I am accustomed to do. I doubt if I can rise to the challenge, beyond the Oxbridge ‘I don’t quite understand…’. If ev. (shrink)
Professor Max Charlesworth and I worked, at Deakin University, on a course, 'Understanding Art'. Max was interested in the Social History of Art and in art as: 'giving form to mere matter'. Here 'form' might be read as 'lucid', 'exemplary', 'beautiful' etcetera. I am an Aristotle Poetics 4 man '… imitating something with the utmost veracity in a picture', and an Aristotle and John Cage man: 'Art is the imitation of nature in the manner of operation. Or a net'. (Cage) (...) (See Aristotle Meteorologica, 381b Book iv.) I was invited by the University of Melbourne to lecture on The Philosophy of Art, which I did for five delightful years. There I included the Heidegger essay, giving it as favourable a reading as I could. Unfortunately I have mislaid my marked-up copy and was forced to re-visit the essay, cold. My new reading lacks - in most respects - my former geniality. Kant's Aesthetic Ideas give us more than Heidegger does. So: I stuck with Aristotle, Cage and Kant. (shrink)
Human sexuality is not binary: this, although counter-intuitive initially, is a medical fact. Homo-sexuality was an anomaly under a M/F taxonomy, and so ‘unnatural’ and ‘an abomination’. It is a mere statistical anomaly: it is a fact of Nature, nevertheless. Doctrines of Natural Law must recognize that even if Nature is stable, the notion/word ‘Nature’ is a shifter. As medical and other sciences amend our understanding of Nature, the idea of ‘Nature’ shifts. Natural Law theory is – and must continue (...) to be – based on Nature: the contents of the idea of ‘Nature’ change progressively. So must cultural attitudes. (shrink)
A review of Peter Steele’s: The Whispering Gallery: Art into Poetry, in which Steele writes poems on and to paintings and the sculpture Black Sun in the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia. Each work on which there is a poem is reproduced. In this book Steele writes more to the ‘contour’ of the topic-work than he did in Plenty. His poems – as ever sidenoted – are tensed between the topicality of the work of art in question, and Kant’s (...) aesthetic which involves ‘the free play of the cognitive faculties’. In ths tension lies the particular pleasure of Steele’s poetry. (shrink)
This paper explores the extreme but well-argued-for thesis that the indirect object of an aesthetic experience of serious art is the human soul of the person having the experience. The author of the thesis was Fr. Arthur Little S.J. a mid twentieth-century Irishman, professional philosopher and philosophical popularizer. The paper treats Little’s thesis seriously: comparisons are drawn with Kant, which may be of interest even to those hostile to Little’s central assertion. Little makes a brilliant analysis of a ‘free-beauty’, making (...) the sharpest contrast between this and the most serious art, tragedy. Tragedy, Little holds Kant not able to cope with. One agrees. (shrink)
The paper concludes the argument that certain aesthetic objects conduce to a feeling of radical contingency, and to an openness to St Thomas's Third Way proof for the existence of God. Much is conceded to the late Mr Gershon Weiler's criticism of an earlier discussion. The upshot is (a) that Necessary Being as converse of radical contingency may be an Aesthetic Idea/Sublime of Kant's kind, and (b) that without the ‘I AM that I am’, it is empty. The ‘inference’ from (...) radical contingency to Necessary Being may function as George Eliot thought Wit to function, intellectually/aesthetically. (shrink)
The Theological Consequence is of a more scandalous nature for Catholic ‘insiders’—the literate laity etc.etc.—than is the ‘mere’ ‘Humanist’ one. The pair together can to ‘Evangalisation’ no good at all.The Eminence, who on the BBC programme looks slightly comic. is, when one reflects a very disquieting figure indeed. So: A squib is comic: a serious one is, serious.Note the ‘BBC Panorama’ presentations have been seen in Australia, and so, possibly, in other countries in which this Journal is read.
A review of Peter Steele’s Plenty, a book in which each poem is faced by a colour plate of the painting or object which sparked it off. Hollander’s ecphrasis and Krieger’s ekphrasis are held in – possibly unresolvable – dialectic by Steele’s poems. The only resolution which one can find is one of wit rather than of philosophy.