The Way beyond 'Art': The Work of Herbert Bayer

The Way beyond 'Art': The Work of Herbert Bayer

The Way beyond 'Art': The Work of Herbert Bayer

The Way beyond 'Art': The Work of Herbert Bayer

Excerpt

No more far-reaching or penetrating statement could be made, in my judgment, than that which is made in the early pages of the present volume. We are in the moving presence of a great intellectual transformation scene. It is the counterpart of the intellectual transformation that began in Greece and that has so controlled the subsequent development of philosophic and scientific thought that it may be said to have been their classic pattern. It was, to borrow the words of Dr. Dorner, a search for immutabilities below and behind the changing events of nature and life. The frame of reference appropriate to this point of view became itself so immutable that it controlled even those who rebelled against some of the forms it had earlier taken. The particular things taken to be fixed "changed," but whatever new things took their place were supposed to be equally immutable. Newton is a good example from the side of science. His atoms had no likeness to the fixed forms and species that were the subjects of Greek science. But they were equally fixed and equally independent of each other in the space and time which were also equally fixed and disconnected -- or "absolute." Darwin dealt the idea of fixed species of plants and animals a mortal blow. But his successors in biological science took up the search for smaller elementary units which remained immutable under the process of change.

The movement now going on is, as Dr. Dorner points out, a counterpart change. But it is reversed in its direction. The movements that are characteristically "modern" are coming to a head in search for mutabilities below and behind what both, on its face, and according to the language that comes habitually to our lips, is fixed, settled beyond peradventure. Laws that once were taken to be fixed are changing -- adherents of the older view would say "dissolving" -- into statistical probabilities, in the form of generalizations stable enough to permit reasonably dependable predictions. In philosophy, belief in eternals and absolute universals has far from disappeared. But the idea of process is making its way into that which is known and the idea of operations into our account of how we know. "Event" is the aspect of which comes out of, which proceeds, from a total process, whose other aspect is "fact," that which is done, finished (in a relative sense) while event and fact enter together as inceptions of new events and new things to be done.

There is one phase of this wide field I should like to call particular atten-

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