Environment, architecture, art and everyday life

In the contemporary megalopolis, 99% live in an environment crowded ugly, reduced spaces, traffic jams, surrounded by visual and material noise. Clearly contaminated environments. But on weekends, some of these people can attend a museum, watch a show or form of art that brings them some sense of beauty. However, others seeks shows that intensify this feeling degraded and contaminated in large cities, increasing violence and conflict in personal relationships and environment. Anyway, the beauty when it appears in these circumstances, it appears as something detached from life as a different, one another. Another world is opposed to the ugliness of everyday life. A break is established so irreconcilable between life and art. The synthesis is no longer possible. So beauty becomes a dream of life away, unreachable. Jettisoned fiction from reality.
In the contemporary megalopolis, people are pushed to their subjectivity, the last stronghold of salvation. But this same subjectivity is always invaded by another. We often see people complaining about their neighbors with their “loud music” of questionable taste in music. Or conflict of any kind disrespect for the rules that should govern the commons. The problem is that the movement that pushes for the subjective maxim is the same movement that breaks the rules and laws of the common.
Interestingly, this problem is so little discussed in the research, publications and courses in architecture and design disciplines and professions responsible for projects exactly that mediate the relationship among man and the environment and everyday life. Perhaps this situation is the very reflection of the general alienation conducted by the complete detachment of beauty with everyday life.
The current situation is the product of the historical, so it may one day be changed. In fact, it was not always so. In ancient Greece, the area of the temples, music, epic poetry and tragedy were the property of all citizens and were part of their daily lives. The harmonious buildings of Athens are examples of formal beauty of the highest architectural history. Are symmetric (same meter, module) of great harmony among the whole and parts, reflecting the linear expressions of Euclidean geometry. This is the space and environment of the Athenian democracy and its own public spirit. There were public buildings and no private residences. Of course, it was a production system of slavery, the slave was then driven out of politics, which was the mediation with the everyday life.
The Russian Revolution of 1917 was one key moment where the discussion of art, beauty and everyday life has become an obligation of office. Numerous groups of avant-garde art in this period proposed plunge art into life and with this gesture, transform both life and art. The reaction Stalinist ended this historical moment. One of the most creative of art history. In the Spanish Revolution of 1931-37, the art also reached the streets and everyday life of all people. For example, the poetry of Lorca, Alberti and Miguel Hernández was commonly recited and heard in the streets taken by people in their struggle and defense of equality and freedom. The ideal of a large unit of art that shortens the distance between beauty and life were the educational program of the Bauhaus, which remained alive in its spin-offs of Ulm and Chicago, after its closure by the Nazis.
It is urgent today the creation and design of spaces and environments that encourage the expression of the common, where people recognize themselves as human beings, able to control their destinies, and not mere subjectivity in conflict with one another and the environment. The sense of human dignity engenders a sense of respect for you and your neighbor as well as for all life. Are the material conditions determine consciousness and not vice versa as the idealists and ideologues want. An egalitarian society with respect for fundamental freedoms, with a high level of technology and culture transform the way in which people interpret reality and self-represent.
Today many people live in true “shoe boxes”. Spaces that, in your material conditions, generates carrier of violence and alienation. When life itself is stripped of all humanity and denatures the man as part of this environment, it also makes the behavior of men becoming inhuman and unnatural.

Paternon, Grécia

ARGAN, Giulio Carlo. Arte Moderna. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras. 1992.
BENEVOLO, Leonardo. História da Cidade. São Paulo: Perspectiva, 1999.
COSTA, Lucio. Lucio Costa: Registro de uma Vivência. São Paulo: Empresa das Artes, 1995.
GOMBRICH, Ernest Hans. A História da Arte. 16 ed. Rio de Janeiro: LTC. 1999.
HAUSER, Arnold. História Social da Literatura e da Arte. Vol. I e II. 3 ed. São Paulo:  Mestre Jou, 1982.
VITRUVIO. Da Arquitetura. São Paulo: Hucitec, 2002.

Art and autonomy: the decisive contribution of modernity

The concept of genius was first formulated by the Enlightenment and later developed in German Idealism. Its function was to explain the differential nature of art when compared to the world or nature. From its origins and development, this concept took two contradictory directions. On one side it was assumed irrationality linked to a power that has the artist-genius. On the other hand, strengthened the concept of an autonomous art, that is, possessing its own rules when compared with the phenomenon of nature and even the needs of society. For modernity, the defense of the autonomy of the artwork engendered the possibility of an unity between the subjective and the objective or the defense of an aesthetic sense represented not simply a matter of personal taste. The autonomy of art necessarily infer that there are criteria for judging the quality and importance of works of art. Thus, the distinction between genres or repertoires “superior” and “lower” is possible thanks to the criteria established by the autonomy of art, which make possible the means of evaluation of their own activity.

We can already see in Kant and Hegel thought contrary to the absolute irrationality of subjectivism. Kant formulated the pleasant feeling of beauty does not have a conceptual basis, this is you cannot reach it and discuss it using logical arguments. But this does not lead to irrationality in that for Kant this aesthetic feeling has the property to be shared and validated by a group of people who feel the same certainty about beauty. Therefore, non-conceptual does not mean that the aesthetic feeling to become the property of a totally subjective opinion. In Kant, the subjectivity of aesthetic feeling is mediated by the communicability of the feeling and recognition by other members of the same community.

Hegel entered the art and important as an organic part of his philosophical system. He fought the romantic tendencies who joined the art as a product of an intense imagination, anarchic and undisciplined intuition and senses. Imagination that could never be governed by a rationale and abstract thought. Against the enemies of reason, Hegel thinks of art as something that has the truth and, therefore, likely to be thought of Reason. Hegel defines art as a tangible manifestation of the Spirit. This appears to substantially the Spirit cannot be mistaken as an appearance whatsoever. For Hegel, art is a representation that leads to a different reality of everyday life. In this, the appearance hides an essence. In the art, the look reveals an intrinsic essence to it. So art gives us a higher autonomous reality and true. In the Kantian tradition and especially Hegel, art is an activity that preserves its autonomy, conceived as part of a system of thought that establishes criteria for the aesthetic.

The autonomy of art is what preserves exacerbated subjectivist relativism that leads to a catch-all made incapable any trial that qualify. This pure subjectivism is a true “assault on reason” which prevents any kind of common agreement. It is strongly present in the post-modern trends that deny modernism and the search for a synthesis between subjectivity and objectivity.

Thus, it is vital to the defense the way the art object and its autonomy, thus preventing the dilution of the autonomy of art. This autonomy does not exclude the possibility of finding homologous structures between art and society, since art is an activity part of everyday life to then return to it, resulting in a repetitive circular motion and increase in awareness of the sensitive men, or, a real catharsis. This increase is not a daydream or a kind of escape. She opposes the fragmentary experience of everyday life enriching the man who, through art, makes the passage of what is real to what is abstract and vice versa. The art, therefore, enables the transcendence of fragmentation engendered by the mere mercantile relations, producing a continuous enrichment (spiritual awareness) of humanity.

Art, then, figure, with its own means, the reality that is presented as chaotic daily life. This figuration is presented seamlessly confronting the fragmentation of everyday experience and thus enabling a perceptive break marked by heterogeneity and superficiality of the phenomenon of the day-to-day that hide their true essence. This is a re-presentation of the world as a second immediacy, so the necessary autonomy of art relative to this world. The fragmented character of reality reappears through the art form, transfigured as a new immediacy, this is a sensitive unit of essence and appearance. Alienation, estrangement, indifference and aggression in the world is transformed into an art for itself, that is, a world in accordance with the human.

This is possible thanks to the work of the artist, his talent or genius, who focused all determinations of reality into a whole, in their own world. There is then the receiver, or spectator, art an unique suspension of their daily life, raising it from subjectivity to a field goal, or, singular to the universal.

This movement’s own art, namely, the movement to break and return to everyday life can only be experienced in that art has a high degree of autonomy from the everyday life and is not determined or driven by everyday needs and subjective . The autonomy of art demands that it belongs with the realm of freedom and not necessity. Ultimately, art cannot be completely diluted in everyday life. Its autonomy is a condition of its negative character or lift relative to the fragmentation and alienation of contemporary daily experiences. Thus, contrary to postmodern attitudes that make the art a decorative social modernity, with the autonomy of art, makes it necessary to the process of overcoming alienation, making the world a habitable place for humans and all forms of life.

Prof. Dr. Eduardo Cardoso Braga
São Paulo, October 12, 2011

The artist and his image. The concept of genius in the French Enlightenment.

There is a relationship between an aesthetic theory and the image of the artist. Every aesthetic generates an image of an artist. And every artist image is based on an aesthetic. We can observe in academic discussions about aesthetics and philosophy of a growing concern with the concept of genius. There are numerous studies focusing mainly on the issue in its first phase of development in England and in its final phase and the apex break in German Idealism. However, in its intermediate stage, represented by the French Enlightenment concept of genius has not had the same intensity in the researches. Certainly the concept of genius reached its climax with the Genielehre German aesthetic philosophy of Hamann, Herder, Lessing and Goethe. His Germanic origins can be clearly located in Kant. However, this time to understand properly the concept, it is necessary to understand it in its French development, which represents an intermediate stage between the English and the climax Germanic origins.

In the French eighteenth century, the concept of “genius” did not denote a mystical or unknown character, because it embodied in a man or artist. In fact, it designated the man himself, or the greatest virtue of a civilized man. We can understand this issue to verify the presence of two ways to say and understand the concept of genius. In French there are two expressions that, when used correctly, reveal two different conceptions of “genius” “to have the genius” (avoir du génie) and “a genius” or a man of genius (être a geniusan homme de génie).

The term “own genius” meant in the seventeenth century French have the great talent. Thus, there was no significant difference between talent and genius. Voltaire in the article “Génie” in his “Philosophical Dictionary” (Dictionnaire pilosophique) writes: “But ultimately the genius is nothing other than talent.” Of course, there are different ways in which the nature, origin, influence and value of this talent can be defined and evaluated. But “to have the genius” “genius” is seen as primarily something separable from the possessor, something that comes and goes, something like an inspiration. The concept of genius with a talent does not change the position of man in the world.

On the other hand, the form “a genius” (être a genius) inseparably unites the individual and the power, identifying humans with supernatural power. Being a genius means then an extraordinary power embodied in one man which constitutes his own being. It is inextricably connected with his inner nature and its history, and therefore this man provides an unique position among humans.

The transition from the conception of genius as merely a talent for design genius as a single individual was achieved by a specific act of thought. The main character that have shaped this act was Diderot’s thought He was aware of the problem of genius and their typology.

A historic condition that led to the formulation of Diderot’s genius as the uniqueness and creative power was the fact that the old man’s idealized types, such as cortigiano (courtier, IE, refined man, polite, courteous) or honnête homme (man grown , educated and cultured, who knows how to use their reason and common sense), had disappeared and the new and growing social stratum of the bourgeoisie needed to find a typology that would express its ethos.

In the same period a new type began to establish himself in the social hierarchy: the “literary man” (homme de lettres) and “philosopher” (philosophe). During the eighteenth century literati, les gens de lettres, the philosopher-writer, constitutes the first time in history, an independent social stratum and conscious of their values ​​and public life, not only as individuals but also as a group. The editors of the Encyclopédie called themselves as “a literary society” (une Société de gens de letters).

The man of letters, the philosopher appears as a high form of human activity, playing an important role in public life, becoming the spokesman, the youth representative, and revolutionary new ideas and artistic and literary activities.

Already Shaftesburry in his quest for ethical-aesthetic education of man, united the idea of the philosopher and the artist and no doubt his ideas have penetrated the German and French thought. The concept of poet acquires a form of authority, prestige that spanned the nineteenth century.

Another historic condition that favored the positive appreciation of the genius is the disintegration of the art theory of the seventeenth century. This was manifested by the disintegration of aesthetic choice relative to epistemology and the appreciation of feeling and sensitivity. A work of art, no longer be judged by the degree of compliance with traditional standards and rules set, but the degree of pleasure that it can transmit. This aesthetic pleasure is caused, not by rational intellectual structure and simplicity, but the free play of imagination and emotion. Woke up, then a keen interest in the artist’s creative powers and his psychological process of creation. Alongside his own philosophy is to criticize the great rationalist systems of the seventeenth century and early eighteenth centuries. An appreciation of emotion starts against his minor role in rationalistic epistemology that considers the source of error. Literary criticism also reconsiders and values withe imagination and inspiration of the states, positioning itself against the rationalistic epistemology that regarded them as mere ghosts. Its revaluation of inspiration and imagination that drives the phenomenon of genius to a reconsideration.

From its origins the concept of genius is directly linked to the concept of individuality. The aesthetic thought English had already formulated the concept of genius calling the unique to the individual as Shakespeare. This unique and exceptional individual can creates a work of art only through their own talents. The union between the appreciation of individual expression in art and the concept of genius becomes evident. This concept finds its full expression only when the artist can creates their own rules and laws, contempt for all norms, even those established by tradition, or any objectivity that transcends the artist’s choice.

So it was in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries that the art and the artist, now renowned as a genius, became increasingly an essential element of life and cultivated his ideal of happiness.

The image of the artist as genius was in the romantic theories currency to become a stereotype. However, by the above, we can deduct that the concept of genius made wit possible to understand modern art as an autonomous value and aesthetics as a transforming force of consciousness.

DIDEROT, Denis (1765). Diderot on Art I and II. Trans. P. Goodman, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995.
TOWNSEND, Dabney, “Shaftesbury’s Aesthetic Theory,” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 41/2 (1982): 205-213.
VOLTAIRE. Philosophical Dictionary (1752). Edited by Theodore Besterman. London: Penguin Books, 2002.

São Paulo, 06 de Julho de 2011

Prof. Dr. Eduardo Cardoso Braga



Pretendemos realizar uma reflexão dos fenômenos da arte, do design e da comunicação utilizando-se dos conceitos e das metodologias engendradas pela atividade filosófica. Ética e filosofia política, estética, epistemologia, ecologia profunda, direitos humanos e cidadania, direito dos animais, arte, design e comunicação são alguns dos temas presentes em nossas postagens. A filosofia com seu aporte teórico fundamenta as reflexões. Comentários, elogios e críticas serão sempre bem-vindos, já que a filosofia se cumpre na forma dialógica, mesmo quando em pensamento puro. Segundo Platão, o pensamento é o diálogo da alma consigo mesma. Muito obrigado.
Professor Doutor Eduardo Cardoso Braga.

We intend to conduct a reflection of the phenomena of art, design and communication using the concepts and methodologies engendered by philosophical activity. Ethics and political philosophy, aesthetics, epistemology, deep ecology, human and citizenship rights, animal rights, art, design and communication are some of the themes in our posts. The philosophy with his theoretical approach based reflections. Comments, compliments and criticisms are always welcome, since the philosophy is fulfilled as dialoguing, even when in pure thought. According to Plato, thought is the soul’s dialoguing with itself. Thank you.
Professor Doctor Eduardo Cardoso Braga.