From a little review of Roger Scruton’s latest book on Beauty, I found this anecdote about the philosopher RG Collingwood. It’s interesting to note how RG Collingwood worked out his philosophical theories in dialogue with the arts, and also his illuminating comments regarding the relationship of truth and beauty in art. Something to think about, particularly as I am embarking on a new personal project in woodturning with an instructor who seems to be all about a similar idea.
Here’s the excerpt from the Scruton review by Jonathan Rée:
Scruton sometimes reminds me of RG Collingwood, who was one of the most gifted philosophers of the 20th century, with a marvellous sense of history, and—apart from a weakness for irritable sarcasm—a wonderful way with words. Like Scruton, he worked out his philosophical ideas in constant engagement with the arts. Unlike him, though, he was aware that there is more to art than beauty. In his Autobiography, he described how, as a child growing up among artists, he learned “to think of a picture not as a finished product exposed for the admiration of virtuosi, but as the visible record, lying about the house, of an attempt to solve a definite problem in painting.” He realised that works of art, however beautiful they are, will fail if they are phoney, imperceptive, stupid or obtuse; and that works that disappoint the adepts of beauty may still articulate issues about the world and the way it presents itself to our senses. If a work does not achieve beauty, it may still bear witness to truth.