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Topic: Beauty
This is a Topic with a single Session
We begin with perspectives from four well-known writers, and a short audio excerpt from a book by Somerset Maugham. In section 2 we look in more depth with an excerpt from Plato's wonderful dialogue Phaedrus.
 
 
How easy it is to be attracted by outward beauty, and how hard it is to remove the mask and penetrate to that which is inside.
Abraham Heschel
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Goal
The purpose of this meeting is to begin to think seriously about the meaning of beauty, especially in terms of the difference between outer and inner beauty. And we want to propose the Beautiful Books Project as a practical tool to support inner beauty in society.
Estimated time to complete this Session: 60 minutes
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Perspectives & Resources
Perspectives are short paragraphs summarizing any point of view about the Topic. Explore each View and then vote on it.
If your opinion is not represented, feel free to add it!
"Beauty in this world is a reminder of true beauty"
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Reach the Heart of a Perspective
Topic: Beauty


Beauty in this world is a reminder of true beauty

That high philosophy of Beauty which the ancient writers delighted in; for they said, that the soul of man, embodied here on earth, went roaming up and down in quest of that other world of its own, out of which it came into this, but was soon stupefied by the light of the natural sun, and unable to see any other objects than those of this world, which are but shadows of real things. Therefore, the Deity sends the glory of youth before the soul, that it may avail itself of beautiful bodies as aids to its recollection of the celestial good and fair.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Love


 

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Addresses the root issue
Flawed, one-sided, or superficial
 
How to Explore a Perspective
Relax, focus. Take a step back and look at the Perspective from all sides. Now, zero in at the center!
 
What is the Bias?
What assumptions does it make? Whose interests does it serve?

What is your Personal Experience?
How does it make you feel? How do your experiences, privileges, and personal interests affect your understanding of it?
Now, enter the heart
▶ Say something good about what you disagree with, even if there are flaws.
▶ Find causes, not symptoms. Ask what lies at the root.
▶ Have respect for people with different views, insights, and priorities!
 
Opinion added by
Visionary Society
on May 28, 2017
 
This is the opinion of Plato
"Authenticity, innocence, elegance, grace and utility"
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Reach the Heart of a Perspective
Topic: Beauty


Authenticity, innocence, elegance, grace and utility

“If the appreciation of beauty is an elusive and often ephemeral experience it is nonetheless one characterized by certain prominent features. One of the most important of these is harmony, an order or coherence which transcends the fragmentation of the parts.”
“Authenticity, innocence, elegance, grace and often utility are all qualities associated with beauty, and they can be found in the humblest tool or the highest forms of religious art.”
“Over the past hundred years we have seen a steady decline in the quality and condition of stillness, silence and beauty that is directly correlated to the speed at which technology compels us to move.”
John Lane, Resurgence Magazine, July 2004

 

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(Hide)

Addresses the root issue
Flawed, one-sided, or superficial
 
How to Explore a Perspective
Relax, focus. Take a step back and look at the Perspective from all sides. Now, zero in at the center!
 
What is the Bias?
What assumptions does it make? Whose interests does it serve?

What is your Personal Experience?
How does it make you feel? How do your experiences, privileges, and personal interests affect your understanding of it?
Now, enter the heart
▶ Say something good about what you disagree with, even if there are flaws.
▶ Find causes, not symptoms. Ask what lies at the root.
▶ Have respect for people with different views, insights, and priorities!
 
Opinion added by
Visionary Society
on May 28, 2017
 
Visionary
This is the opinion of John Lane
"Beauty is boring"
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Topic: Beauty


Beauty is boring

“Beauty is perfect, and perfection (such is human nature) holds our attention but for a little while. The mathematician who after seeing Phèdre asked: “Qu’est-ce que ça prouve?” was not such a fool as he was generally made out. No one has ever been able to explain why the Doric temple of Paestum is more beautiful than a glass of cold beer except by bringing in considerations that have nothing to do with beauty. Beauty is a blind alley. It is a mountain peak which once reached leads nowhere. That is why in the end we find more to entrance us in El Greco than in Titian, in the incomplete achievement of Shakespeare than in the consummate success of Racine. Too much has been written about beauty. That is why I have written a little more. Beauty is that which satisfies the aesthetic instinct. But who wants to be satisfied? It is only to the dullard that enough is as good as a feast. Let us face it: beauty is a bit of a bore.”
William Somerset Maugham, Cakes and Ale

 

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Addresses the root issue
Flawed, one-sided, or superficial
 
How to Explore a Perspective
Relax, focus. Take a step back and look at the Perspective from all sides. Now, zero in at the center!
 
What is the Bias?
What assumptions does it make? Whose interests does it serve?

What is your Personal Experience?
How does it make you feel? How do your experiences, privileges, and personal interests affect your understanding of it?
Now, enter the heart
▶ Say something good about what you disagree with, even if there are flaws.
▶ Find causes, not symptoms. Ask what lies at the root.
▶ Have respect for people with different views, insights, and priorities!
 
Opinion added by
Visionary Society
on May 28, 2017
 
This is the opinion of William Somerset Maugham
"Beauty is sensitivity and observation"
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Topic: Beauty


Beauty is sensitivity and observation

Many of you live in cities with all the crowds, noise, and dirt in the environment. Probably you have not often come across nature. But there is this marvelous sea, and you have no relationship to it. You look at it, perhaps you swim there, but the feeling of this sea with its enormous vitality and energy, the beauty of a wave crashing upon the shore—there is no communication between that marvelous movement of the sea and yourself. And if you have no relationship with that, how can you have relationship with another? If you don’t perceive the sea, the quality of the water, the waves, the great vitality of the tide going out and coming in, how can you be aware, or be sensitive to human relationship? Please, it is very important to understand this, because beauty is not merely in the physical form, but beauty in essence is that quality of sensitivity, the quality of observation of nature."
Krishnamurti

 

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Addresses the root issue
Flawed, one-sided, or superficial
 
How to Explore a Perspective
Relax, focus. Take a step back and look at the Perspective from all sides. Now, zero in at the center!
 
What is the Bias?
What assumptions does it make? Whose interests does it serve?

What is your Personal Experience?
How does it make you feel? How do your experiences, privileges, and personal interests affect your understanding of it?
Now, enter the heart
▶ Say something good about what you disagree with, even if there are flaws.
▶ Find causes, not symptoms. Ask what lies at the root.
▶ Have respect for people with different views, insights, and priorities!
 
Opinion added by
Visionary Society
on May 28, 2017
 
This is the opinion of J. Krishnamurti
"Beauty is where God and the devil join battle"
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Reach the Heart of a Perspective
Topic: Beauty


Beauty is where God and the devil join battle

Beauty is a terrifying thing! It’s so frightening because it’s indefinable and it’s indefinable because God has surrounded us with nothing but riddles. Here the shores of a river meet, incompatibilities coexist. I am not an educated man, brother, but I have been thinking about this a great deal. There are so many mysteries; so many riddles that weigh man down to the ground. He is expected to solve them somehow or other and to climb dry out of the water. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? What I really can’t bear, though, is that a man with a noble heart and a superior intelligence may start out with the Madonna as his ideal and end up with Sodom as his ideal. It is even worse for one already striving for his Sodom ideal, who has not renounced his Madonna ideal, which still sets his heart ablaze, as it did when he was young and innocent. Yes, sir, a man’s range of feelings is wide, too wide even, and if I had my way, I’d narrow it quite a bit. It’s a hell of a situation, you know: what the head brands as shameful may appear as sheer beauty to the heart. But can there be beauty in Sodom? Yes and, believe me, it is precisely there that beauty lies for most men. Weren’t you aware of that secret

 

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(Hide)

Addresses the root issue
Flawed, one-sided, or superficial
 
How to Explore a Perspective
Relax, focus. Take a step back and look at the Perspective from all sides. Now, zero in at the center!
 
What is the Bias?
What assumptions does it make? Whose interests does it serve?

What is your Personal Experience?
How does it make you feel? How do your experiences, privileges, and personal interests affect your understanding of it?
Now, enter the heart
▶ Say something good about what you disagree with, even if there are flaws.
▶ Find causes, not symptoms. Ask what lies at the root.
▶ Have respect for people with different views, insights, and priorities!
 
Opinion added by
Visionary Society
on May 28, 2017
 
This is the opinion of Feodor Dostoyevsky
 
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What You Can Do
Please review our Beautiful Books Project and show your support by clicking the Support button. We hope that Beautiful Books can reach enough people so that a modern ideal of practical beauty becomes a part of the conversation.
 
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Conclusion
Ask the impossible question!
What is the relationship between outer and inner beauty?
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