William James was trained as a medical doctor at Harvard University and became generally recognized as the first psychologist in America and his first and arguably most significant written work was “The Principles of Psychology” published in 1889. James’s later philosophical work always retained a certain tendency toward the psychological and many of his core ideas were first expressed in this early work.
James was the first to describe consciousness as a stream – a continuous succession of experiences. He saw the most significant function of consciousness to be the role it played in selecting what to pay attention to.
James saw the stream of consciousness as an unending parade of thoughts, feelings, images, ideas, sensations, conceptions, emotions, etc. that appear before our conscious awareness and then pass away. But James, like Darwin did for species, and Dewey did for stimulus/response, recognized that the lines between these seemingly separate objects of consciousness was not as discreet as we at first might assume. In fact, he postulated, if each of our experiences was truly unique and separate from that which came before we would live in a chaos of random disconnected experience.
Instead of this chaos, our experience is a stream of consciousness in which the last thought we had is recognized to be part of a stream that our current thought is also a part of. In fact, all of our thoughts, yesterday and everyday are recognized to be part of that same river of awareness. According to James our cognitive experiences overlap so that each experience has a “fringe” in front and behind it. In this way, our present experience is always most obvious to us, but the tail end of the last few experiences that we had are still trailing off and the leading edge of our next few experiences are already entering into our awareness.
James had an intriguing conception for how the process of consciousness, including the process of thinking, can go on in a line that looks intelligently directed, but that does not require the existence of any independent entity that could be called a “thinker.” (Hummmm….sounds a little like Darwin who discovered how what looks like an intelligently directed process of evolution could occur without any intelligent entity needed to direct it.)
Thinking is a goal oriented process and, as James envisioned it, a great deal of what propels our thinking forward is the feeling of satisfaction that we get as we perceive our next thought taking us closer to our goal. In this sense you can imagine thinking as a purely automated process that developed as an evolutionary advantage and doesn’t require the existence of any spiritual entity that is in control of the process. I am not sure what Carl (our resident expert on BF Skinner) will tell us, but I imagine this is very close to Skinner’s Radical Behaviorism.
There are three reasons that I feel this conception adds something to our conversation. The first is that it is yet another example of a view of reality that is founded on inherent continuity – or oneness. The second is that it calls to mind an image of psychology that I find very compelling. James envisions that we are all aware of a process of cognition and perception that can largely go on without us. We mistakenly see ourselves as the guiding force of that process, when in fact much of it – if not all of it – is a completely automated process being led by our desire to experience the satisfaction of believing that our thoughts are leading us somewhere. The last is that it brings us back to a fundamental question of freewill that must be asked if we are to come to a better understanding of what the heck we mean when we talk about “conscious evolution.”
For James the question of freewill was one that belonged in the domain of metaphysics not psychology. In the last chapter of his “Principles of Psychology” he states that as a science, psychology must assume a deterministic process guided by elements of perception and relations. Personally, James was a believer in freewill. At the moment of epiphany that many believe was the guiding insight of his life, James discovered that belief was a choice and that the first thing he would choose to believe in was freewill. In his essay “Are we Automatons?” he tackles the question of freewill directly. He concludes that we are not automatons, that we are a selecting organ. While we may not consciously select what object initially appears in our awareness, we do choose to either hold that object with our attention or not once it appears.
I was never satisfied with our earlier discussion of freewill and have continued to think about it since then. I am ready – or almost ready – to dive into that once again.
When you read Ralph Waldo Emerson or William James you are reading the thoughts of these great minds from one or two centuries ago. Their thoughts are no doubt great, but I don’t believe that it is in their thoughts alone that their true genius can be found. Their thoughts are best read in context. In the context of the lives that they lived, the times that they lived in, and the history of what came before and what happened after.
Many of the ideas of great thinkers of the past will seem dated to us. And our post-modern sensibilities make it easy for us to find fault, to criticize and to deconstruct these earlier works. I don’t find that there is much real value to be found in that activity.
The real value for me is to hunt down the true genius that was driving the ideas. What was the inspiration, the spark that fueled truly original thinking? To me, “how was the thinking original?” is a more interesting question than “was the thinking right?”
What did Emerson bring that was new, that was passed on from him to the next generations? what did James offer that had not been thought of before and how has that affected the course of things since? This is where the value is to be found. You won’t find answers to these questions through only reading the ideas, you have to know about culture and history and personality.
As I approach a philosopher, I approach slowly in revolving circles. I read some of their own thoughts, I read biographies that others have written and then go back to the original works. I read about the history of their time. I talk to people who know more than I do about it all. And if I can, I read about the ideas that inspired them, either through agreement or disagreement.
A while ago I had the pleasure of meeting Thomas Barnett, a “global strategist” who has previously worked for the pentagon. In conversation he spoke with passion about the merits of learning about things from every angle. He said, “If you aspire to be a global strategist, you shouldn’t read books about global strategy. You should read books about history, philosophy, science, and fiction and poetry too.”
I have taken Barnett’s advice. And have tried to approach these philosophers from different sides. As my posts continue I hope to be able to share more of my investigations and more of the fullness of great ideas and great thinkers.
Non-duality in the context of enlightenment is pointing to the ultimate unity of all things. Great realizers of both Eastern and Western spiritual traditions have often described experiences of deep mystical union that have left them certain that the ultimate nature of reality is Oneness, or non-duality. The world of separate objects, of things, is often seen in this light as a superficial illusion, that masks the deeper reality that all is One.
The desire to discover and describe the exact nature of ultimate truth is one of the deepest and longest standing drives in humanity. Generally this quest for truth has resided within the domain of religion, philosophy and more recently science. In addition, as I have tried to show in some of my early posts, it has been a driving force in American philosophy as well.
In the development of mystical and philosophical thought in America the experience of non-duality has played a central role. Such an experience when it occurs in an individual can become the defining moment of an entire life. In the history of American philosophy the non-dual experiences of some of America’s most important philosophers have defined their life’s work. Although the experience of non-duality is often the prime motivator of a great thinker, the way that experience is interpreted often varies dramatically from individual to individual. Understanding how any given individual interpreted their own experience of Oneness can be a source of tremendous insight into the deeper meaning of their work.
Ralph Waldo Emerson was one of the great mystics of America history. He started his adult life as a Unitarian minister, but left the church to become the most celebrated figure in the 19th century American spiritual movement called Transcendentalism. Emerson through a long life as an influential essayist and speaker influenced some of the greatest minds that his era produced. Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Margaret Fuller, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickenson, Louisa May Alcott and many more cultural icons were shaped in part by Emerson and his work. The influence of Emerson on the American mind cannot be overestimated. In fact, the contemporary literary critic Harold Bloom is noted to have said that, “The mind of Emerson is the mind of America.”
Certainly in future posts I will be exploring more of Emerson and the Transcendentalists, but in this post I wanted to bring attention to two of his descriptions of what I would call non-dual experience. The first comes from a journal entry that he wrote on April 11, 1834.
“I saw only the noble earth on which I was born, with the great Star which warms and enlightens it. I saw the clouds that hang their significant drapery over us. It was Day— that was all Heaven said.”
This short quotation was taken from a larger journal entry in which Emerson described an experience of Oneness with nature that he had one afternoon while walking through the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This description is wedded to the experience of nature and is considered to have been a defining moment in his life. His experience is essentially a recognition not only of the beauty of nature around him, but even more, that there was in fact only one thing happening. “It was Day – that was all that Heaven said.”
As I picture Emerson on that day, I imagine him transfixed in recognition of the explosion of life that he saw all around him. Emerson also saw that the deep emotional surge of exuberance that burst inside himself in spontaneous response to the beauty around him was as much a part of that day as anything else. There was only one thing happening – and it was day! Emerson’s teaching rested on this recognition that the deepest part of our “human nature” was completely inseparable from all of nature. Nature to Emerson was not something that happened outside, but was the continuous bursting forth of life into being that included everything. In other words, there is only one thing happening.
Emerson’s first book was called Nature and it was published in 1836. The first Chapter of that book includes what may be Emerson’s most often quoted description of non-dual awakening.
In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, — no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground, — my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, — all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God.
In this quote Emerson is making a very clear reference to the experience of the disappearance of the separate sense of self. His “transparent eyeball” metaphorically communicates the experience of pure awareness after the sense of being someone has disappeared from consciousness. This realization of “no self” is often associated with Eastern thought, particularly the enlightenment experiences of Buddhism. Emerson loved Easter spiritual philosophy and incorporated many of its conceptions into his own thinking and by doing so he helped to ensure that the experience of non-duality would play a prominent role in the development of the American mind.
The American philosopher John Dewey wrote another of my favorite philosophy passages in the last paragraph of his 1898 essay Evolution and Ethics. Dewey articulates in this paragraph what he sees as a monumental leap that occurs when human beings discover the mechanisms through which the evolutionary process unfolds. Dewey must have been feeling the same excitement that the great early scientists felt as they were discovering the laws of mechanics that governed all motion in the universe. No longer did we need to assume supernatural causes for the motion of bodies on earth or in the heavens. We had discovered the logical rules according to which motion occurred. This gave us the power to organize motion and put it to use in ways that had never been imagined possible.
Now that we had discovered the rules by which evolution’s arrow carried one form into the next we could begin to apply consciousness to guide and direct that process. This possibility for evolutionary control brought with it a need to develop and define an evolutionary ethics that would be equally powerful. If we were to become masters of evolution we had to expand our moral accountability to include our evolutionary effects.
“There are no doubt sufficiently profound distinctions between the ethical process and the cosmic process as it existed prior to man and to the formation of human society. So far as I know, however, all of these differences are summed up in the fact that the process and the forces bound up with the cosmic have come to consciousness in man. That which was instinct in the animal is conscious impulse in man. That which was “tendency to vary” in the animal is conscious foresight in man. That which was unconscious adaptation and survival in the animal, taking place by the “cut and try” method until it worked itself out, is with man conscious deliberation and experimentation. That this transfer from unconsciousness to consciousness has immense importance, need hardly be argued. It is enough to say that it means the whole distinction of the moral from the unmoral. We have, however, no reason to suppose that the cosmic process has become arrested or that some new force has supervened to struggle against the cosmic. Some theologians and moralists, to be sure, welcomed Huxley’s apparent return to the idea of a dualism between the cosmic and the ethical as likely to inure favorably to the spiritual life. But I question whether the spiritual life does not get its surest and most ample guarantees when it is learned that the laws and conditions of righteousness are implicated in the working processes of the universe; when it is found that man in his conscious struggles, in his doubts, temptations, and defeats, in his aspirations and successes, is moved on and buoyed up by the forces which have developed nature; and that in this moral struggle he acts not as a mere individual but as an organ in maintaining and carrying forward the universal process.”
Things do not exist unless they exist in relationship with something else. In fact, things do not exist at all. Relationships exist. There are no individual things. The existence of anything is always contingent upon something else. When I was an undergraduate student I studied physics, but my favorite course in four years was one called An Introduction to Metaphysics. It was one of only two philosophy courses that I had time to take, but I will never forget it.
The professor was a budgie elderly man one year from retirement. When he lectured he giggled to himself after almost every sentence and licked his glistening lower lip after about every third word. I had no background in philosophy, but the provocative questions and statements that this rather odd man inserted between giggles held my attention transfixed for an entire semester.
One of the things I learned was that absolute One and absolute Zero are both nothing. In the case of zero this seems obvious. If all you have is zero then certainly you have nothing. It is less obvious – but equally true – with one. If there was truly only one then there is in fact nothing. Nothing can exist without a second.
You might stop me here and say, “If I had one refrigerator I would still have something!” But if you have a refrigerator then you are a second to that refrigerator. And if you didn’t exist the refrigerator would still exist in a world and it would be contingent on the existence of the world. The world would provide the second that the refrigerator’s existence could adhere to. If the world disappeared the refrigerator would still have to exist in space. If there were truly only one there would be only the refrigerator. All of reality would be encompassed by the limits of that refrigerator. The entire universe would be a refrigerator. But we can’t stop there because the refrigerator could also not be composed of any parts. Because any part of the refrigerator would be a second to the refrigerator. There also could be no ideas or feelings about the refrigerator because those would also be seconds to the original refrigerator. The refrigerator could not have a history or future because then it’s previous or future state would be a second to its current state.
For those of you who follow my blog you will see that we are coming right to Charles Sander’s Peirce’s conception of ‘Firstness.” Firstness is absolute oneness and it is in fact nothing at all – the pure potential prior to existence. Peirce’s conception of “Firstness” is a piece of pure genius and well worth the time it takes contemplating it in order to come to a deep understanding of what Peirce was getting at.
But let me get back to my main point. In order for anything to exist it has to exist in relationship to something else. This is an important part of the core character of American Pragmatism. We live in a world of relationships. As I said before, things do not exist except in relationship with other things. In fact, things do not exist at all. Relationships exist. You can read any of the Pragmatists from Charles Sanders Peirce to William James, from John Dewey to George Herbert Mead and you will find this same emphasis on the primary reality of relationship.
William James was making this point in his own way when he spoke of everything occurring as content in context. That is his way of describing the minimal relationship required for existence. You cannot have pure content. You must always have content and context – foreground and background. And James was astute enough to realize that in our experience of mind mental objects can flip from being content to being context and back again. The relationship between content and context is one way to imagine the minimal relationship required in reality – Peirce’s more abstract language of the relationship between ‘firsts’ and ‘seconds’ is another way.
One simple way to think about reality is that it is that which we can’t do anything to change. The fact that I will age is reality. It is a fact that I can’t do anything about. I might like it, I might not, but in the end it is the way it is anyway.
At any given time and place cultures hold shared ideas about reality – and most importantly shared ideas about ‘ultimate’ reality. These ideas define what a given society believes absolutely cannot be altered and therefore what ultimately governs the way things are.
In Europe during the Middle Ages God and the word of God as contained in the Bible and as interpreted by the church defined ultimate reality. The word of God was the ultimate and final arbiter of what was real and how human beings should be.
In the reality of the Middle Ages the Earth was the center of the universe because that was how the Bible told us God created it. There was no free will because an all-knowing God would already know everything about the future and therefore all of our actions had to be already known. Droughts, floods, plagues and famines were punishments sent by God to punish us for transgressions. The right of Kings was divine because God bestowed it.
The European Enlightenment brought with it a new arbiter of absolute reality –natural law. The emerging methods of science and experimentation lead to the discovery of natural laws that governed the universe. The human mind was perfectly capable of understanding these laws and therefore ultimate reality. The only need for God was as the initiator of natural law. God was the clockmaker who built the universal clock and started it, but once it was going the clock ran by its own laws and there was no more need for God’s active intervention.
The Enlightenment thinkers discovered that the Sun, not the Earth, was the center of the universe, all of the movement of objects in space was governed by the same simple laws of motion, a force called gravity held everything to the surface of the earth, the static electricity we feel after walking across a carpeted floor is made of the same ‘stuff’ as a bolt of lightning. Irrefutable and immutable natural laws governed everything.
And the enlightenment thinkers didn’t stop with the physical sciences. There were laws that must govern society as well. The King was no longer the ultimate arbiter of truth, the law was.
But cracks started to show in the armor of natural law. First the French Revolution which was suppose to be a triumph of science and rationality over the despotism and tyranny of the King became a blood bath ruled by the mentality of a mob. Later Darwin showed how human beings had not been created independently by God, but had evolved through a process of evolution that connected all of life in one continuous stream of becoming. And still later it was discovered that the immutable laws of motion and light of Sir Isaac Newton were not universal. They held for things of about our size. But as we looked at the world of atomic and subatomic particles we needed Quantum theory to explain things. And Einstein’s theory of relativity showed that space, time and gravity were all relative and inter-dependent.
A ‘new reality’ was born. This reality is not a place governed by God, or natural law. It is a process of inter-related processes. It is an ever-changing reality that grows at all levels, throughout all time. It is a reality that exists in constant relationship. In fact, the image of a universe of things existing in empty space connected by relationships probably needs to be abandoned. What we need to adopt is an image of a universe that is a field of ever shifting and evolving relatedness, in which the experience of relatedness is what creates a sense of separateness between things that does not actually exist.
In this new conception of reality the new arbiter of Truth is not God, or natural law; it is relatedness. Relationship is ultimately real and what ultimately governs the way things are.
The experience of the passage of time is one of the most foundational experiences of being human. We remember the past, we experience the immediacy of the present, and we imagine the possibilities of the future. I remember brewing coffee a few minutes ago, I taste the coffee right now, and I anticipate how it will wake me up later.
The experience of the passage of time is fundamental to the experience of being human and yet to many philosophical and spiritual traditions time was and is considered an illusion.
Plato, perhaps the most foundational figure in Western philosophy, is one of the primary sources of the idea that time is an illusion. Plato, along with other classical Greek thinkers, held that reality is ultimately timeless, changeless, and immutable. The laws of mathematics were their model of reality.
Two plus two always equals four. It equaled four when Plato did mathematics and it equals four today thousands of years later. Everything else has changed. Human civilizations have risen, ruled large sweeps of the Earth for hundreds of years and vanished, and still two plus two equals four. Human beings have walked on the surface of the moon, and two plus two equals four. Someday human beings may populate other worlds, or explore time travel, and two plus two will still equal four.
To the Greeks, the consistency of mathematics, the relentless unchanging nature of numerical relationships, was a refection of reality itself. All of the change and decay of the world that we see in time is a pale reflection of realities true and immutable face.
In the Middle Ages Christian thinkers discovered the ideas of the Greeks, mainly through the works of Aristotle. The Christian conception of heaven as a place beyond time took on more prominence, and the idea of God as the ‘uncaused caused’ was adopted as the definition of God by the faithful. God and Heaven were more real than Earth because they were absolute – timeless, changeless and immutable.
In these conceptions the passage of time which is only experienced as the process of change, is an illusion. Ultimate reality is unchanging, time is the experience of change, and therefore time is ultimately unreal. If time is unreal that means that although we experience past, present and future as, the time behind us, the time before us and the time we are experiencing in the moment, in reality, past, present and future already exist fully formed right now. All of time ‘already is’ and the experience of the passage of time is only a manifestation of our human senses.
The notion of reality being beyond time has been challenged by different thinkers in different ages and one such challenge, and arguably the most significant yet, came in the twentieth century. At the start of the twentieth century Einstein’s theory of relativity, along with the Quantum Theory originated by Max Plank, challenged the Newtonian physics that had prevailed as the unchanging laws of the universe through the course of the European Enlightenment.
Philosophers began to see the implications of the new physics for all of our conceptions about reality. One such philosopher was Alfred North Whitehead who developed what is known as Process Philosophy. Whitehead was an English academic who spent the last ten years of his career as the chair of the philosophy department at HarvardUniversity in Massachusetts. It was during that last decade, inspired by and building on the ideas of the American Pragmatists, that Whitehead developed process philosophy.
One central element to his philosophy was the reality of time. Whitehead saw time not as an illusion, but as part of the make up of reality. The passage of time was a real phenomenon, not an illusory one. We live in a ‘timed’ universe. We are not beings living in a static universe that we travel through in such a way that we experience time. We are part of a universe that is moving from the past, to the present and on into the future. The universe is in process, it is creating and being created. It is not all, already there. The future does not exist yet. The future isn’t ‘out there’ waiting for us to inhabit it. It must be created.
Whitehead’s philosophy has deep and profound implications for such important ideas as freewill, creativity, novelty and what is the nature of an entity in the universe. These implications will have to wait for future posts. For now I am contemplating the notion that ‘time is real’ as I go for a second cup of coffee.
The most obvious place to start the story of Evolutionary Spirituality in America is with Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson, who has been called the father of American culture, was a Christian minister who split with the church only after it became clear to him that scientific estimates for the age of the Earth were incongruent with a literal interpretation of the Bible.
Emerson was obsessed with the spiritual development of human beings toward what he imagined as our perfected possibility. He was chagrined at the slow rate of change he saw in himself and those around him and the concept of evolution as well as the transmutation of souls (reincarnation) made the pieces fit together for him.
He envisioned a perfecting human soul that evolves through countless lifetimes toward its ultimate possibility. In his writing he described the Over-Soul as the soul of all of humankind that was expressed through each of us in our highest moments and evolved through our moral actions over the course of lifetimes.
In the mid 1800’s Emerson’s writing and lecturing made him a rock star of American letters spurring contemporary literary critic Harold Bloom to claim that the mind of Emerson is the mind of America.
Emerson planted the first seeds of evolutionary spirituality in the American psyche and his godson William James picked up his mantle and carried it into the first decade of the 20th century.
William James has been called the father of American psychology because of his early defining work in the field. He went on to become the chair of the philosophy department at Harvard and was one of the primary architects of the American Philosophy of Pragmatism. The foundational conceptions of Pragmatism were worked out initially in a small intellectual circle of Harvard thinkers who were attempting to apply Darwin’s evolutionary theory of natural selection in all realms of human endeavor.
In James’ famous Varieties of Religious Experience he explains how spirituality evolves through the acts of great saints and sages. He describes the lives of these extraordinary individuals as luminous beacons that guide humanity forward in its spiritual development.
After James’ death Harvard was looking for another world class philosopher to chair the philosophy department. They recruited the English professor Alfred North Whitehead to come to Cambridge, Massachusetts to take on the job. For the last decade of his life Whitehead taught at Harvard and experienced an explosion of creativity in which he developed a comprehensive evolutionary philosophy called process philosophy.
His vision of a continuous evolving reality was read and discussed by avantegaard artists in New York city in the 1940’s and 50’s. These artists that included jazz musicians, writers, poets and painters set the stage for the counter culture revolution that erupted in the 1960’s.
The poets and writers of the 40’s and 50’s – William Carlos Williams, Jackson Pollock, Jack Kerouac, etc. – became the hippies of the 1960’s that included Timothy Leary and Ram Das on the east coast, and Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters in San Francisco.
The hippie movement gave way to the Human Potential movement, which in turn gave rise to the East/West spiritual movement and the Mind/Body/Health revolution. And among all these the seeds of evolution continued to sprout. Figures like Michael Murphy, one of the founders of the human potential movement, and Barbara Marx Hubbard taught directly within an evolutionary context.
Today there are many forms of Evolutionary Spirituality being practiced and explored by millions of people in America. All of them can trace their roots back to a small collection of houses in Concord Massachusetts where Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Transcendentalists contemplated the evolution of the human spirit.
We live in a reality constructed of contact and concept. The world reveals itself to us in a stream of sensation. We see colors, shapes, lines, shades of light and dark. We hear sounds shrill and bass, harmonious and discordant. Our skin touches cold and heat, hard and soft, rough and smooth. Scent passes constantly through our nostrils and in our mouths we taste bitter and sweet.
Beyond out physical sensations we have the rich inner world of emotion and feeling. Joy, sorrow, fear, anger, and contentment – our inner reality is constantly fluctuating between different emotional reactions to the sensations that the world presents.
This cascade of sensation and emotion is not all of our reality, however, because alongside these our minds have developed the ability to generate a parallel stream of concepts that arrange and organize our sensations into ideas that can be held onto long after the sensations that gave birth to the have faded into our even out of memory.
Our concepts take a set of sensations and create an object out of them. We see a bright circle in the sky and we know that it is the Sun. We may have a more or less developed concept of the Sun. We probably know that it is a star that our planet revolves around over the course of a year. We probably also know that only one half of the Earth is exposed to the Sun at any time and that we all see the Sun for a certain part of every 24 hour period because that is how long it takes for the Earth to rotate around its axis.
And so when we look into the sky we don’t see a bright circle. We see the Sun. And everything that we know about the concept of the Sun is packed into our experience of that circle in the sky. This is what I believe William James meant when he called our experience ‘thick.’
This process of conceptualization allows our engagement with the world to be rich and varied. If we had no concept of the Sun and the Earth and periods of rotation and revolution we would, like human beings of a much earlier time, experience fear every nightfall and at the onset of every winter. We would have no way of knowing if and when the Sun would return, or the flowers would bloom again.
Because of our concepts we don’t just sense and feel the world, we are able to build an understanding of it.
As miraculous a boon as the development of conceptualization has been for us, some have also noticed that it has its price. Our concepts can become so prominent a part of our experience that our senses become deadened. Our direct contact with reality in the form of sensation and feeling fades into the background and we live in a world dominated by concepts and ideas.
It has typically been the job of the mystic and the artist to experience reality beyond concepts and to communicate the senses and feelings of the world directly. Artists, particularly in modern times, have feared that we are losing contact with the world and they try to bring it back to us.
Perhaps one way to define art would be to call it that which delivers us, at least temporarily, from the conceptualized world and brings us into direct contact with reality.