Philosophical Aspects of Culture

By Bertram Morris | Go to book overview

Chapter 8
CREATIVITY IN THE ARTS

THE INSTITUTIONS OF POWER NEED A PRINCIPLE OF legitimation which can provide direction and purpose. The institutions of expression need a principle of criticism which can provide a heightening of human sensibilities. When government, law, and the organization of economies are not confined to their rightful provinces, they stultify the arts and' disturb the artist's mind. When the arts are not permitted to filter into and temper the mentality of the public, its policies cannot but lose some of their potential vitality. The creative vitalities of the arts cannot be realized unless there is a wide, literate public which is sensitive to expression and which encourages its further liberation. The life-blood of the process is criticism, for criticism is the way open to the public to take the arts seriously. Whereas censorship aims to stifle the arts, criticism aims to free them from their arbitrariness and littleness in order to make them important in the life of a people.

Only once in history, it seems, has anything like an extended liberation and criticism of the arts prevailed in the life of a people. In classical Greece we witness the remains of arts which looked to symmetry and proportion as guiding ideals. In sculpturing the aim was to give substance to the virtues of the body, perfected, and expressive of human qualities. In architecture it was to enclose finite space with elegance. In tragic poetry it was not only to spell out the crushing consequences that result from excesses or deficiencies of character, but also to do it in a way which, as Aristotle dryly observed, has a beginning, a middle, and an end. And in every phase of life, private and public, the immediate demands of elegance were such as to caution against an ugly separation of means and ends. Accordingly, beauty became an operative ideal in every aspect of human action. I call attention to classical Greece, not from any desire to urge that we emulate it,

-205-

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Philosophical Aspects of Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Part One - On Culture 1
  • Chapter 1 - From Cultural Patterns To Cultural Norms 3
  • Chapter 2 - Criticism and Culture 32
  • Part Two - On Values 69
  • Chapter 3 - Non-Moral And Moral Values 71
  • Chapter 4 - On Moral Sanctions 103
  • Part Three - The Institutions of Power 133
  • Chapter 5 - Liberty, Spurious And Genuine 135
  • Chapter 6 - The Political Dimension 163
  • Chapter 7 - The Cultural Context 178
  • Part IV - The Institutions of Expression 203
  • Chapter 8 - Creativity in the Arts 205
  • Chapter 9 - The Art of Criticism 243
  • Chapter 10 - Society and the Arts Today 261
  • Notes 283
  • Index 297
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