Pontynen, Arthur. Cultural Renewal: Restoring the Liberal and Fine Arts

By Jacobs, Jonathan | The Review of Metaphysics, March 2015 | Go to article overview

Pontynen, Arthur. Cultural Renewal: Restoring the Liberal and Fine Arts


Jacobs, Jonathan, The Review of Metaphysics


PONTYNEN, Arthur. Cultural Renewal: Restoring the Liberal and Fine Arts. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 2015. xiv + 302 pp.--Pontynen's recent work is an ambitious and spirited book. It addresses the problem of "the decline (if not collapse) of interest in the Liberal and Fine Arts, and in the humanities." Pontynen takes the current situation to have "significant social consequences." The consequences reach deep and wide across cultures, and there is a centrally important role for the academy in the predicament, both in regard to how it came about and in regard to possible escapes from it.

Pontynen acknowledges that the problems he addresses are widely recognized and that numerous hypotheses have been offered. Still, he believes that most accounts of the issue "neglect the root cause of the problem and are therefore inadequate." The key issue is that "their [the liberal and fine arts'] importance is now tragically denied by the academy to which they are entrusted, and which they legitimatize." The author writes: "This book is a contribution to the attempt ... to understand why culture and the Liberal and Fine Arts have so radically declined in importance. But as Confucius advises, we must study the old to find the new. History is viewed as nostalgia by postmodern historicism. But to wisdom-seeking traditions, history is the attempt to recognize the eternal present." Modernism and postmodernism are critiqued heavily, and the academy's abdication of its proper role aggravates the situation considerably.

Certain themes are repeated, some of them many times. The repetition, however, elaborates upon and develops the refrain through analysis. The repetition has a purpose; it is not simply stylistic or an editorial lapse. Points are raised repeatedly, but each time these same points have a new emphasis or additional texture added to them.

For example, we read: "Unable to define (that is, understand) what Fine Art is, we admit an inability to understand reality or life beyond a fact-based, willful violence." Pontynen then expounds upon that claim: "Both a materialistic hedonism and an immanentized ecological purity are necessarily accompanied by an anti-cultural sociology of violence." Nearly a hundred pages later, Pontynen writes: "A wisdom-based understanding produces belief in the free and responsible pursuit of nonviolent Perfection." There is thematic continuity along with new elaboration. Among the chief themes are the interrelatedness of theory and practice, the theoretical and practical implications of realism and nominalism, and the ways that the study and transmission of tradition can enable us to appreciate and to be improved by recognition of the normative authority of a hierarchy of being.

This book differs from many others lamenting the declining presence of the humanities and liberal arts in education, the professionalization and specialization of scholarship, and the increasingly instrumental character of education in its undisguised defense of a version of Neoplatonism. "Culture (and therefore science and reason) is grounded in the assumption that the world is intrinsically intelligible." Also, "in contrast to postmodern historicism and progressivism, it is recognized that the human condition involves certain perennial intellectual and qualitative concerns." And, what is at stake is whether "we seek to rise to greater degrees of ontological Perfection in the name of responsible freedom and civilization."

Pontynen's elaboration of Neoplatonism is meant to show why it is that for human rationality to be well ordered it must be responsive to a normatively authoritative reality, the understanding of which perfects human beings both intellectually and practically. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Pontynen, Arthur. Cultural Renewal: Restoring the Liberal and Fine Arts
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.