Tag Archives: aesthetic

Michel Foucault’s This Is Not a Pipe (Treachery of Images)

12 Jan

This philosopher is new to me and new to this site. I will be talking more about him from here on out. The French post-structuralist philosopher wrote This is Not a Pipe referring to the surrealist painter Rene Magritte’s painting Treachery of Images. This painting yields confusion as to what Magritte’s point was and what it means overall.

Ceci n’est pas une pipe is French for This is not a pipe. The issue here is what does it mean to write this across a clear painting of a pipe. Michel Foucault’s writing about the surrealist painting is a clear detailed analysis of the two versions of the painting, the calligram in the painting, and a lot of other detailed information. Foucault’s section of the writing The Unraveled Calligram is th section I have interest in because it gives 3 possible explanations to what the [this] is referring to.

A calligram is a piece of art that is made of a word or phrase or many phrases. When the word or phrase(s) is put on paper/canvas it is structured into a shape of something and what the word or phrase says represents the shape the word or phrase makes.

The above is a calligram. It makes the shape of skilled guitarist Jimi Hendrix and any enthusiast of his would understand that the words the calligram says are of Hendrix’s music. Magritte’s calligram in his surrealist painting has the same function but is with one word.

Going back to the calligram later, the two issues is what is meant by this? and what is Magritte’s point? Magritte’s point is an easy one. He stated himself he would be lying if he were to say that the pipe in the painting really was a pipe. Could you fill that pipe? no you for sure could not, therefore that is not a pipe. What Magritte is aiming to convey is that the non-pipe is a representation of a pipe.

This is an idea that is and can be applied to epistemology and phenomenology in epistemology did just that. Phenomenology, Foucault and Magritte are not related and have no ties, this is just my noticing a similarity in principle between the painting and phenomenological epistemology. Phenomenology is a school of epistemology that studies phenomena and perceives the world unempirically in that when object X is viewed it is not thought that the object is being seen, it is thought that the phenomenal representation of object X is being seen. Therefore being is taken out of the picture in consciousness in epistemology. So, phenomenologically, if one were to see a pipe in real life it would be viewed as a representation of a pipe, however that representation of a pipe being filled would just be an episode of a representation of a pipe being filled with a representation of tobacco. Coming back from my epistemological tangent, in Magritte’s painting it is just a matter of aesthetics in surrealism, while phenomenological thinkers are just a matter of viewing things as phenomena as representations. These two are only the same in principle.

Knowing Magritte’s point to the painting, Foucault discussed 3 functions of the [this] in Treachery of Images. In the first function of the [this], the [this] is referring to the picture of the pipe. The statement is what Magritte’s point is, that the picture of the pipe is not really a pipe.

The second function of the [this] is when the [this] refers to the written statement [This is not a pipe]. It is saying that the statement of the pipe is not the representation of the pipe. This seems difficult to grasp because when speaking of the statement it might be thought that it cannot be denied that [pipe] refers to the above design. Foucault states that ‘design and designation do not overlap’. I understand this as the statement denying that it corresponds to any object like pipe.

The third function of the [this] is when the [this] refers to the entire boundless painting overall. Here the calligram matters in two ways: 1) In the English version of the painting where [this is not a pipe] is what the statement is, the calligram is with the word [pipe] the place in the pipe where tobacco goes in is where the top of the p and the ipe, and the taller part of the p is the long part of the pipe.

Look at the large letter p and try to envision how the pipe can become a calligram with the p especially when the ipe are added. Foucault has illustrations in the writing but I could not find them on the internet. The third function of the [this] again refers to the whole boundless (second version of Treachery of Images by Magritte) painting with the pipe representation and the statement. The calligram here being with the word pipe, the proclamation is that [this], the painting and its entailments is not any representation of a object pipe or a statement/word meaning a pipe.

“Hence the third function of the statement: “This” (this ensemble constituted  by a written pipe and a drawn text) “is not” (is incompatible with) “a pipe” (this mixed element springing at once from discourse and the image, whose ambiguous being the verbal and visual play of the calligram wants to evoke” (Foucault).

In this third function there is an ambiguity. This lies in the identity of the [a pipe] because it is not understood what it refers to because of the ambiguous calligram. The above is a quote on the third function of it from Foucault, and he even says that here lies an ambiguity.

2) The second calligram is with the French version of Magritte’s painting (the second version) where instead of [This is not a pipe], [Ceci n’est pas une pipe] is stated across the surrealist painting under the representation of the pipe. Here lies a different calligram and a somewhat similar ambiguity. The calligram is in the [une] and the u is the part of the pipe where tobacco is inserted to smoke and the other parts of the pipe is the ne and the word [pipe].

Foucault goes on into talking about Klee and Kandinsky and a lot of other things, but I have less interest in that and more in the painting, its functions, its ambiguities, the calligram(s), and the aesthetic value it possesses.

This painting contains astronomical aesthetic value for the following reasons: the three functions of the [this], the utter confusion at first sight of this painting, and the ambiguities from the calligram in each version of the painting. Hegel had 3 ways (as I have continuously affirmed as my standards for aesthetic value) to recognize aesthetic value and beauty in artistic pieces (and media now I think): 1) coming close to imitation of nature, 2) so beautiful you are emotionally moved, or 3) it is so confusing that it sucks you in and does not allow you to think otherwise because you want so much to comprehend. This surrealist painting causes utter confusion in the viewers of the painting because the desire to comprehend the functions of the statement and the desire to comprehend the ambiguities in the calligram(s). Once one understands 2 of the simple functions the [this] of the painting, the third function will create new confusion because whether in the French version the calligram is in the [une] or in the English version where the calligram is in the [pipe], there is renewed confusion as to what the third function means and aims to claim. Foucault even said himself in the writing that the calligram ‘evokes ambiguous being’ of the calligram. It is because of this large amount of things to take into account about Treachery of Images that this painting has aesthetic value by Hegel’s third qualification because it sucks one in in that the person desires to comprehend so much.

Through my reading about Magritte and into Foucault’s analysis of the painting I am only further sucked in than I was when I first saw it. I have made some progress in comprehension but I am right back where I started. This somewhat is what artists aiming for this kind of aesthetic value try to achieve.

Thanks for the support. I shall write more in the coming and soon weeks about phenomenology, existentialism, ethics, some older modern and 19th century philosophy, and more about epistemic justification.

If I misconstrued anything about Magritte’s painting or Foucault’s analysis of the unraveled calligram, please let me know on twitter (cosmosz), by email (cosmosuniversez@yahoo.com) or comment below.

Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason: Transcendental Aesthetic

29 Oct

This should be just a quick discussion. Transcendental aesthetic to Kant is the study of all intuitions a priori. The transcendental aesthetic is a beginning section of the Critique of Pure Reason where discussions about a priori and a posteriori arise. Given the distinction between a priori and a posteriori, the distinction between analytic and synthetic are also given.

Expositions (transcendentally and metaphysically) are given of space and time. This is done by Kant to evaluate the two based on a priori or otherwise status. I have discussed the space and time and understood by Kant in other  posts, but here I specifically want to discuss a priori, and its pairing with the analytic or synthetic. I cannot specifically remember what I said in those two writings, but again that matters to what I want to talk about. It matters to Kant because it helps in discussion of the nature of a priori intuitions. During the expositions of time and space, they both are identified as having to be of the a priori. Space, Kant says, has to be a priori (analytic) because it does not have to be understood or known by empirical observations, because it cannot be understood the instance where space is not existent, and finally because space underlies all other (namely a posteriori) intuitions. Time is a priori because it is not empirical, and because it is naturally understood. Both space and time are a priori because they are pure forms of sensible intuitions. Space is external, and underlies intuitions of external appearances (cannot remember what Kant’s general understanding of what specifically appearance is, but this is the way I understand it), and is also a priori for that reason. Time is internal and is itself not a concept, therefore it is a priori for another reason. I am leaving reasons for the a priori nature of space and time out, specifically (I keep continuing to specifically use this word in a specific manner specifically) because I am thinking mostly about analytic a priori, and if it is possible for a priori to be synthetic. If you want a more detailed guide to the transcendental aesthetic in its entirety go here:  http://userpages.bright.net/~jclarke/kant/element1.html This link is of a website that contains a huge outline of the entire Critique of Pure Reason, and the link above is just an outline to the transcendental aesthetic. This is a great resource for anyone reading the book or its parts. I do not understand Kant or any other philosopher sometimes, and need a guide.

Having gone deep into space and time and why they are a priori, I have not even defined a priori, so I apologize to those who do not know Kant’s work, or a priori vs. a posteriori intuitions at a all. Before even going into a priori, like Locke, Wittgenstein, Hume, and Berkeley (I think?? haven’t read a whole lot of Berkeley), Kant has a chain or system of how ideas get into being a concept. Sensibility is “the capacity to obtain representations through the way in which we are affected by objects.” Sensibility is the capacity to gain ideas and perception (a not word not used here by Kant, so I apologize for loving that word) from what we see in objects. “Objects are given to us by means of our sensibility.” “Sensibility alone supplies us with intuitions. These intuitions are thought through the understanding, and from the understanding there arise concepts.”  So sensibility gives us intuitions, and with our understanding we build those up into concepts. Appearance by Kant is “the undetermined object of an empirical intuition.” This gives you a general foundation for how Kant views our ideas, or namely intuitions, and how we get them.

Thinking about intuitions (between sensibility and concepts), an a priori intuition is one that can be had without empirical observation. A priori, I think is a hard thing to grasp. When one does not empirically observe things, that person must be in pre-infancy, where there is an intuitive sensible mind, yet empirical observations because of surroundings and stage in brain development cannot be intuited. When thinking about a priori, I think of a thinking pre-infant person in the womb. Returning to Kant’s expositions of space and time, I think a pre-infant would have some notion of space and time. If, for some reason, the placenta was cut off from the pre-infant for even an infinitesimal amount of time, and was not fed, I think it would recognize that it has been awhile since it was nourished with what it is normally nourished with. Space, I think, is not something directly intuited by a pre-infant, but it is something granted, just like time is granted by it in most other occasions besides the one just mentioned.  Besides space and time, I cannot think of anything a priori. A priori is probably intuitions that are barely intuitions and are things we take for granted without taking into consideration. That brings me into the distinction between things analytic and synthetic.

Analytic intuitions (or ideas, or thoughts) I describe as the snap of a finger. Something being understood without having to go through logical process to understand it. Analytic intuitions are granted without much need of verification or clarification. The analytic I like to compare to Bertrand Russell’s hard data in that hard data involves logically primitive and psychologically primitive thoughts. Hard data is solidified into one’s reason where no psychological or logical process of understanding. verification, or clarification is needed. The analytic is logically primitive and psychologically primitive to speak in Russell’s terms.

Synthetic intuitions are those that require the said logical and/or psychological processes of understanding, verification, and clarification to be had. Bringing Russell in to the discussion again, his definition of soft data I think corresponds the the synthetic. Soft data for Russell is logically primitive intuitions, and psychologically derivative intuitions, where one again has to go through many processes to intuit the data. The synthetic, I think is different from soft data in that I think there are some things logically derivative in synthetic that are not automatically granted.  In any sense, the synthetic is unlike the analytic in that many processes must take place to understand it. The analytic requires none of those to be understood simply because analytic intuitions are understood in the snap of 2 fingers.

Knowing what a priori (forgot to say that a posteriori are intuitions that come about by empirical observation, but it matters not, since a posteriori is not the issue to be discussed in my case), analytic and synthetic are, we can discuss a priori together with analytic and synthetic. Analytic a priori is thought by most to be the only a priori. Referring back to the status of a pre-infant where time and space are intuited a priori. Time is analytic because no process is needed to understand it and other intuitions can be built on top of it during the possibility of a posteriori intuitions. Space is analytic because no process (logical or psychological) is needed to understand and grant it immediately. Just think about it right now: can you describe, exemplify, or even think about any synthetic a priori intuitions?

Kant discusses several arguments for synthetic a priori, but when really thinking about it, I cannot justify a synthetic a priori.  Many have thought about this, and most other conclusions are the same. There is no synthetic a priori. A synthetic intuition, needing the processes of verification clarification and understanding to fully grasp it and its intentions, cannot really take place without some kind of empirical intuition. A priori leaves one with only foundations of full concepts, and with only the foundations, a logical, psychological, verificatory, clarificatory, or understanding process cannot take place. For any intuition to be synthetic, it must have some empirical observation or appearance to deal with, and to possibly build up to concepts. Therefore, the only synthetic intuitions are a posteriori intuitions.

This has been said an infinite amount of times. This writing was me just explaining the transcendental aesthetic to myself and any other readers for my/your personal benefit. I just was throwing around some ideas to think about the distinction between a posteriori and a priori.

Thanks for the support as always.

Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason: Concept of Space

23 Jun

In the Transcendental Aesthetic section of the critique, Kant explains well what space really is and how it is to be understood. In this discussion, other Kant discussions and other discussions about other philosophers, the term ‘a priori’ will be thrown around a lot, so I find it necessary to define what Kant and other philosophers find a priori to mean. When a knowledge of a being is said to be a priori, that means it is of knowledge that one has without experience of any kind on this earth. This knowledge is pre-worldly experience knowledge. There are theories as to how much a priori knowledge human beings have when entering this world, but for now I feel that Kant’s metaphysical concept of space should be explained and understood.

Second, Kant represents the concept of space as a priori.  By saying that space is a priori, Kant is saying that space is something that we know to exist without prior experience. Kant states that one cannot perceive a situation where there is no space. Kant also relates space to all appearances of the phenomenon of the world. It is stated in the text that for appearances to be conceived, space must exist. He just uses a priori with it to state how common and regular space is to philosophy and appearances leading to philosophies. So, to sum up, Kant is saying that without a regular prior knowledge of space, no appearances can be conceived or understood. It just is not true that we are just here floating around in artificial space (maybe cyber?).

I also strongly agree with Kant’s second justification for the existence of a concept and notion of speech. It is my opinion that I want to argue later, that there are different kinds of space that yield different possibilities of appearances and understandings. But, Kant makes the basic justification for space that it must exist for any appearances to be conceived by us. It is just possible for a being to conceive something as appearing unless that thing is appearing in some form of space.

Third, and finally, Kant presents space to be a “pure intuition”. By saying this Kant means that space is together as one entity. And that when space is spoken of as ‘spaces’ we are referring to the different parts of space. Also, Kant says that these parts of space never precede the space entity as a whole. I would like to then add that this means that the parts of the whole space are all interconnected if they are all existing within the main entity of space.

Again, I agree strongly with Kant because the space that we live within is all interconnected regardless of its parts, types and the kinds of appearances it yields in human beings. I also feel that these parts are interconnected in a certain way and for different reasons, also for a different argument on a different day. If it is possible that there is another world besides the one we observe, it is not observed by us because it is space that is not interconnected with the large spatial entity we recognize for the place we live in. However, I do not think that is a possibility. Kant is again right for the third time in his concept of space.

To sum up, space has to exist as a priori knowledge underlying all appearances that come from space, and this space is of one distinct entity with many interconnected parts.

Kant uses his concept of time to state qualifications of what we call space and why it cannot be ruled out in our perceptions and understandings of the world.

Thanks for your support.

Do not forget to comment below on whether or not you agree with Kant’s justifications for a distinct conceptual spatial entity.

Before Kant explains what the concept of space entails, he talks about other interpretations of space. One may interpret space as not totally existent, but only so in ones mind, or space is existent everywhere, but Kant had 3 clear metaphysical concepts that define what space really is.

First, when referring to things discussed inside and outside a being, Kant says that there must be a basis upon which a person explains something metaphysically. This basis is required to be space if anyone is to get anywhere in their metaphysical arguments. In the first concept of space (1.)  Kant states that outer experience, experience outside your own understanding and perception, is only possible if space is presented in form where everything is space.

I find this to be overwhelmingly true because no one can get anywhere argumentatively unless you are sure about where and who you are in existence. There is no basis for philosophy in just floating carelessly through the continuum. Space is used as the basis for logic and knowledge because, within space is a foundation for all philosophical propositions epistemologically, logically, and metaphysically (especially metaphysically). Forms of existence need to be differentiated between each other through space and subdivision of space to understand what is on the inside of yourself and what is outside. This can only be done is a notion of space is established in the first place. Kant states that outer experience can only be possible if space is presented as a foundation for argument. Space is one item, but it has subdivisions of inner and outer worlds within it. Therefore, Kant says in the Critique, that there can only be possibilities of inner and outer experience if space is first established to exist.

Just now thinking about all the arguments I enjoy arguing on a daily basis, most of those would fall apart where they stand without a notion and concept of space. Space classifies where and how we exist and how our experiences can be carried out. For example, lets use Heidegger’s dasein as an example. Dasein is being alone in the world amongst indistinguishable surroundings leaving those within the being of dasein in a hopeless situation. Dasein would fall apart without space because of how much dasein emphasizes and relies upon the being in the world. Other arguments would fall apart and dismantle where they stand just like dasein would without a concept and notion of space within experience and perception.