Privilege Class of Solipsism --
Philosophical art review by Johnes Ruta:
"The Bermuda Group (Dean George Berkeley and His Entourage)"
an 18th century painting by John Smibert
GROUP (DEAN GEORGE BERKELEY AND HIS ENTOURAGE)
Oils on canvas, (begun 1728, completed 1739) 176.5 x 236.2 cm (69 1/2 x 93 in )
by John Smibert, American, born Scotland, 1688 - 1751
Painting on display in the Yale Art Gallery exhibition
"Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness"
Dean George Berkeley set out from London to found a college in Bermuda "for
the better supplying of churches in our foreign plantations and for converting
the savage Americans to Christianity." Berkeley's friend John Wainwright
commissioned a portrait of the members of the expedition from John Smibert,
a minor Scottish painter whom Berkeley had invited to teach art in the new
college. The painting was begun in London, and was completed after the group
arrived in Newport to wait additional funding for their college. Although
Wainwright did not accompany Berkeley to the New World, Smibert places him
prominently in the foreground. Dean Berkeley stands at the right next to
his infant son Henry, his wife Anne, and her companion Miss Handcock. The
two wigged gentlemen are John James and Richard Dalton, administrators for
the new college. At the far left, looking out at the viewer, stands the
artist himself. When the Bermuda college scheme failed, Smibert, the first
academy-trained painter to work in the American colonies, established a
studio in Boston, where he became the city's most sought-after portraitist,
enjoying a lofty professional reputation. The Bermuda Group would remain
his most ambitious work. As the most sophisticated group portrait painted
in the colonies during the first half of the eighteenth century, it was
a source of inspiration to numerous artists during the succeeding eighty
True Dynamics of Solipsism
essay by Johnes Ruta, AzothGallery.com
a strangely fascinating painting, as George Berkeley is an important figure
in the history of 18th century philosophy. A careful study of the
figures in this painting reveals many curious clues to the sensibility of
a pivotal movement in intellectual history. Here we see Dean George
Berkeley with his family, his sponsor, and teaching administrators as two
wigged gentlemen. In 1729, twenty years after the publication
of his theory of Immaterialism, this group left England, ostensibly to open
a college on the island of Bermuda, for the purpose of training ministers
especially for the churches of the southern colonies of North America. They
first traveled to American and landed at Newport, where Berkeley bought
a plantation while he waited for the promised funding for his school to
arrive. Bishop George Berkeley, consecrated in 1724, was a modern figure
in the philosophical movement called “Empiricism,” a system
that in the Western world originated with Epicurus in ancient Athens, who
maintained that the senses, rather than reason, were the only sources of
knowledge. This principle was perpetuated by Berkeley's philosophical
predecessors Thales, Aristotle, Descartes, Locke, and Leibniz. In terms
of the categories of idealism and materialism, the concept of “Immaterialism”
argued by Berkeley has been variously misunderstood and quite often mocked
as absurd, ego-centric, and irrational. But where it borders solipsism,
and has generated seemingly conflicting interpretations, it needs deeper
understanding, and deeper analysis.
do give some interesting clues to the interpersonal
dynamics found in “The Bermuda Group” more difficult to analyze.
|Posted by AzothGallery at 1/24/2012 11:49 PM | Add Comment|
Claudine Burns-Smith wrote:
It's amazing how different interpretations of the same painting can be given, and they are not mutually exclusive. Seeing this painting sent you on a historical philosophical interpretation but here is another one, more psychological:
Dean B. and his family form one group. He is lost in his lofty philosophical and religious ideals and does not know what is going on around him. She is down to earth, busy with real life taking care of a child, and not afraid of honestly looking us in the eye. She looks very centered and confident in who she is. Let the others worry about the spiritual world.
Sitting on the left is Wainwright, the fan, taking down every word the great man utters. But he is just a symbolic presence required as an audience for Berkeley.
The two wigged gentlemen and the other woman are interesting characters. The one on the right has his arm possessively resting on the back of the woman's chair, suggesting he might be the husband. The woman is looking at B.'s wife, probably confiding in her, but is pointing at the other guy. What is so special about him? He is looking down at what you might think is the notebook held by Wainwright but could it be he is actually examining the woman's bosom that she is displaying in his direction so prominently. Is he her lover? Do we have a triangle here?
The last character, actually a self-portrait of the artist, is looking angrily straight at us, seeming to tell us we have no business seeing this scene. We are voyeurs witnessing the secret drama of two dysfunctional families.
Of course there is also the artist's interpretation analyzing colors and composition.
Anybody can make up stories about paintings and I had fun doing this
one. I am glad you liked it.
Magdalena Mraz wrote:
All the best in the coming year! It certainly started with the great promise of your interesting essay on painting by John Smibert. I believe that your observations of the personalities in his painting and their "enlightened self-interest" is keen and correct (how many times have I heard this fundamentally contradictory phrase defended in my upper east side Unitarian church?) It reminds me of frequently quoted Thomas Jefferson and his peculiar mixture of idealism and pragmatism; perhaps a term "Immaterialism" would fit his philosophy as well as Berkeley's.
To me, the most interesting
portraits in this painting are those facing the viewer directly. Intelligent
and maternal gaze (with a hint of irony) of Dean's wife seems to belong
to a female who represents a good grounding force for her rotund yet "immaterial"
husband. The child she is holding suggests a possibility of a fresh start
and perhaps an amusement of a future generation viewing the pompous setting.The
most captivating, however, is the very direct, piercing glance of an artist
himself, reminiscent of an insertion of Diego Velazquez into his painting
of the Spanish royal family ('"The Maids of Honor", I think).
He appears to see himself at once as a witness, social critic and a detached,
somewhat elevated observer. Although in the background and almost added
to the picture, he is the one holding the true power, not prominently
placed Berkeley. So I believe Smibert managed to mock all the other males
in the painting, sharing the ground with the mother and the child instead.
Thus he gave himself the best spot and got paid for it too. How is that
for an enlightened self-interest, if not entirely "immaterial"
philosophically in this case. But at least he is the most unpretentious
person in the group. Never under-estimate the power an artist! I am happy
(and envious) you are beginning to practice the power of your art of writing
again, but it helps to increase my own writing urges too.
Nick Grossmann wrote:
Hey bratha!! Hey dude...I've been obsessing about god or higher power..Anyway people never understand that it always existed..so today i pondered and came up with an argument that it always existed and it involves the number zero..i don't know if someone lese has made this up but tell me how you feel about this...
First there was nothing and the mathematical equation for nothing is zero...Zero is just a ghost...Zero is the seed...Now the seed grows into a flower...The seed which is the ghost or just a spirit had a thought and it manifested it into the physical...So then the creation process began as the flower pollinated and created more seeds which spawned into more and more flowers..0 + 1 = 1 spirit + th...ought = creation...So zero could be the most powerful number...Weather you believe in a higher power or not it makes you think that if nothing is the number zero then that could argue if there is a higher power that it always existed ... That zero...the ghost... A spirit manifested its thought to create into a physical manifestation and that spirit was a seed and created the flower of life so you can say zero is the highest and most powerful number...
Johnes Ruta wrote:
Hey, Nick, thank you for your brilliant understanding of the question of Being vs. Nothing! -- Your concept and theory of the ZERO are crucial in this understanding. There are many facets in our relationship to "Reality" as the activity of our presence in Time and Space. ZERO IS the both place-holder of the quantitative universe, AND the bubble of the Void of the cosmos, AND the SEED of the flower of Consciousness. Einstein used the term "World-Line" to describe the ascending path of consciousness over a period or a sequence of moments, translated as points of measured Time over days, years, or centuries. These moments are each a bit of experiential essence. They are also the path of Evolution -- the unfolding of the Flower... To reconcile the principle of Becoming and the principle of Being, I would say that we must allow ourselves the perception of the intense moment-by-moment awareness of the technicolor cosmic energies that surround us -- that Consciousness is "Being," and Being is Consciousness. "Time" is the motion of Fluid energy. Growth and Evolution are the "Becoming."
Valeriu Boborelu wrote:
CONSIDERATIONS ABOUT JOHNES RUTA’S ESSAY CONSIDERATIONS
ABOUT JOHNES RUTA’S ESSAY
“THE BERMUDA GROUP” AND BERKELEY’S
PHILOSOPHICAL CONCEPT OF IMMATERIALISM
The idea of writing this essay was inspired by John Smibert’s 1729 painting of “The Bermuda Group,” displayed in the Yale Art Gallery exhibition “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
The artist Smibert depicts in a traditional and documentary style a major figure of Eighteenth century philosophy, the David George Berkeley and his entourage – family, sponsor, and teaching administrators. Ruta gives a subtle, aesthetic description of the painting, compositional disposition of personages – dominated by the tall stature of Berkeley. The figures are related to the whole atmosphere of art work, but in the same time each of them seems to have their own mind-inside preoccupation – similar to Berkeley’s concept of Immaterialism that Ruta relates to solipsism.
Berkeley and his group descended from London in 1729 with the main goal to create on the island of Bermuda a college “for better supplying of churches in our foreign plantations” and to convert the people to Christianity.
Inspired by the philosophical ideas of Berkeley, Ruta develops a multi-layered social-spiritual web which represents a dynamic, dramatic relation between Idealism and Materialism, the continuing search of the human mind to define the truth, the reality, and the field of knowledge. He considers Berkeley a preeminent figure in the philosophical movement called Empiricism. This system originated with thinkers like Epicurus (senses: valid source of knowledge), Thales, Aristotle, Descartes (mind perception is superior to the senses), John Locke (experience if essential), or Leibniz.
Ruta shows that “in terms of categories of Idealism and Materialism, the concept of Immaterialism – argued by Berkeley has been variously misunderstood.” and also, when the idea of Immaterialism “became close to solipsism (only one’s own mind is sure to exist), there have been generated conflicting interpretations…” The principles of solipsism can be summarized as: 1. Egotism (isolation of the self), 2. Metaphysical (individual perspective), and 3. Epistemological (history of the field of knowledge.)
Ruta emphasizes that Berkeley, as this “preeminent Western Idealist in the metaphysical sense” sustains that deep distinction between mental states and external things, and, Ruta continues, “Berkeley expressed this with the Latin formula “Esse est percepi” (To be is to be perceived.) , and thereby concludes that “Berkeley’s concept of Immaterialism is carried to its logical extreme “with this view of the world which defines a subjective reality from each person” (a purely subjective uni-verse.)
The philosophical Berkeley sees the whole universe as a manifestation of a supreme deity, the God and “any order humans may see in nature is the landscape of the handwriting of God…”
In the Eighteenth century, the sophisticated term of “Immaterialism” (and solipsism) would be applied only to the privileged classes, superior beings, and the land-owners (“to preserve the social order as the perceived and correct order of the universe.”
In the conclusion of his essay, Ruta says “Subjective Idealism,” as proposed by Berkeley, was surely only a domain of the privileged classes and is still being fought for in the 21st century. There are indeed many problems of our contemporary world: social movements discontent with governments, the struggle of people to find truth, the correct relations between the members of society. Inspired by Ruta’s essay, I would like to present some additional ideas, concepts from some philosophical thinking, religious teachings, and some spiritual thinkers and writers.
* Buddhist School – Vaibhasika
-- Direct Perception and inference are valid conditions.
-- Existence of: * sense perception
* mental direct perception
* yogic direct perception
-- existence of Ultimate and Relative Truths.
* Buddhist School – Sautrantikas
-- existence of Ultimate and Relative Truths.
-- Ultimate Truth: a phenomenon that is able to perform a function.
-- things that exist momentarily.
-- physical sense powers are not valid cognition.
-- mental perception is valid cognition.
-- existence of direct perception: sense, mental, yogic, self-consciousness.
* Buddhist school of Mind only (Cittamatras)
-- the basis of all phenomena is the mind.
-- the appearance of all external objects is similar to dreams; external objects do not exist and they only exist in the mind.
* Buddhist Mahayana school
-- all phenomena are in a continuum of change, and flux movement.
-- all phenomena are depending arising: depend on causes and on conditions.
-- Theory of Emptiness: lack of inherent existence.
-- Selflessness * of beings
* of objects
-- all phenomena are impermanent , except 3 categories: * emptiness
* analytical and non-analytical
-- the existence of the mind of clear light : the most subtle mind, the Buddha nature
-- Bodhicitta : the love, compassion for all beings
-- the Great Beings – Bodhissatvas – take the vows of Bodhicitta – to help all other beings to become liberated from Samsara abd obtain supreme state of Enlightenment.
-- Buddha Sakyamuhti : never think “I, mine, me.”
* Sri Ramana Maharishi -- the essential question: Who am I ?
-- the nature of self : contrary to perceptible experience, not an experience of individuality
but a non-personal, all-inclusive awareness.
* Self = God
-- the self is ever present
-- the silent self is god
* Sri Chinmoy
-- “Man and God are eternally one.”
-- the Creator Source is without beginning and end.
-- the Creator Source is not one being or one person. It is layered multi-dimensional existence.
-- we are one minute particle of the Creator Source.
Divine Creator Creator Energy
O Massive Body of Light-consciousness
Christ-Michael bestowed himself as a human mortal, Jesus of Nazareth to portray the nature of his Paradise Father.
-- Urantia is Planet 606 in the system of Satania, in the constellation of Norlatiadek, in the universe Nebadon, in the super-universe of Orvonton.
-- Michael (Christ) of Nebadon chose among all the planets in his universe for his Seventh Bestowal, as a human mortal, in which he revealed the loving nature of the Universal Father.
-- Urantia is sometimes called “The World of the Cross” because it is the only planet in the 700,000 local universes where a creator son was put to death by his own creatures.
* KRISHNANANDA (“2012 End or beginning.”)
-- “There are ‘Light Beings,’ Astral Masters and a Divine Plan waiting to help us and gift to us higher living facilities and comforts. We have to get ready to receive them. We can qualify by just going back to our original state : the state of love, peace, and truth. Positivise, remove all violence, corruption and aggression.
-- We have to meditate and channel Light a lot to transform. It is actually possible for the transition into the Light Age to be peaceful; and painless.
* Quantum Theory
-- All our thoughts, emotions, and activities are recorded on a subtle level (“Crystal Cave”).
When we are passing away the recordings from the “Crystal Cave” are transferring to the matrix of the Earth (the subtle energetic grid) for the benefit of Humanity.
January 2012, Valeriu Boborelu
|Posted by AzothGallery at 1/22/2012 5:47 PM | Add Comment|