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The path of the epicure

Observer Viewpoint | Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Some people look for truth in life, others for a higher cause. I quest for one thing: the aesthetic. The aesthetic is that which is beautiful out of its very nature and pleasing for its own sake. The path of the epicure will also lead one to truth through their very search for the aesthetic. Whatever is beautiful is true, in so far as it is beautiful. Nothing can be more real than truth. Truth can come in many forms and its qualities and aspects can be observed in many sensible objects and ideas. Beauty is a subset of truth in that the aesthetic part of whatever is beautiful can be said to be true in its beauty. In my quest for the aesthetic, I ultimately do search for truth; yet through a more indirect, more pleasant manner.

The arts and literature is a great reservoir for the aesthetic, and the epicure draws beauty forth from them. Great books, poems or other manners of art recreate the spectrum of the human experience and induce a response that is profound and pleasurable. This recreation of our human experience is so beautiful and true because the art’s beauty finds a rapport with the soul. I am not speaking of the soul necessarily in the spiritual manner, but as it is the non-rational component of the mind as opposed to the rational component, intellect.

The soul contains our personality, emotions and character – what it means to be human. The liberal and fine arts connect with this and produce the aesthetic pleasure that is so true because it connects with our very essence and nature. The reality of our existence adheres to the reality that is found within the art.

The greatest form of art is the human being. Designed by natural processes or some higher power, the human is an incredible work of art that is aesthetic in more ways than any other creation. A person can be aesthetic in body, intellect, and soul. Other forms of art can be beautiful in their physical body, in their rational component or even move one’s soul.

However, no work of art actually has a soul within itself that contains the true height of beauty that is found within the human being. A person, who is physically beautiful, but corrupt and cruel, is superficially true in a manner; yet they are akin to a brilliantly shining apple that inside is rotten and filled with fetid worms. They are beautiful to behold, but if one should dig deeper, they would find themselves sickened and disgusted. The thin lining of the apple’s skin cannot hide its true nature, nor can a person’s mere appearance hide who they really are. A person beautiful within and without is much more aesthetic in that they have more components of the aesthetic. The soul is therefore the most aesthetic of all the components of the human.

When a person finds another that they find to be aesthetic in all three of the components of their being, it is as if they are at a museum viewing of one the spectacular works of art. They stand in a state of awe and wonder at the pleasure of viewing such an aesthetic work. Love is this marvelous synthesis of aesthetic body, intellect and soul. As they get to better know the work of art they delve deeper into the others existence; finding first the body, then the intellect, and ultimately the soul of the other. Having reached this final pinnacle, the person has glimpsed at the most aesthetic element, and thus most true part, of the other and an understanding of truth emerges.

Love is the clearest instance of truth being definitively found in the aesthetic. Love is the most beautiful of all emotions; it brings forth that sense of pleasure out of its very nature that is the definition of the aesthetic. Of all the things that bring forth this pleasure, love is the most visceral and powerful. Love is also certainly true; it is a state of experiential bliss that captures the reality of our being.

It is what many use to direct their realities, as they have found something more important to them than all else. Addictions may seem to master one’s reality, but do not do so. Things that are of absolute truth are willful and not enslaved. An addiction is reality mastering the addict. Love is one such thing. As love is a willful master of reality, it cannot be false, because the false is inferior to the true in that it does not actually have existence. Thus, as the love is the height of the aesthetic, and true, the highest form of the aesthetic does indeed lead to truth. If you should so will, follow me in the quest for the aesthetic and fall for nothing but the absolute best of people, drink the finest of wine, and listen to the best of song.

Ian Ronderos is a senior majoring in the classics with a supplementary major in ancient Greek and roman civilizations. Having retired from the college republicans and adopting independent politics, he has entered the private life of peaceful contemplation. He can be contacted at irondero@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.