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L. Babushkin

The causes and effects of aesthetic sensations.

The senses of beauty, comical, tragic and ugly are referred to aesthetic sensations.
Questions about the causes and effects of the aesthetic senstions can be formulated in the following way:
1) What causes an aesthetic sensation?
2) How do aesthetic sensations affect people’s consciousness and behavior?

My answers are based not so much on book knowledge but on life and chess experience.
1)The aesthetic sensations are caused by tangible and intangible objects with creative potential. This potential can be realized in a human activity (or partly in behavior of some animals) .
2)Aesthetic sensations stimulate creative activity, make people focus on creative perception of reality. Aesthetic sensations influence the system of life values and moral values in particular.

"Aesthetics drives a society" (F. Dostoyevsky)

Sense of beauty also has a special role - it can signal that the desired solution to a problem has been found.
The characters of F.M. Dostoevsky have opposite judgments about beauty:

-"Beauty will redeem the world" (F. Dostoyevsky "The Idiot")
-"Beauty is a terrible and awful thing! It is terrible because it has not been fathomed and never can be fathomed, for God sets us nothing but riddles." (F. Dostoyevsky "Brothers Karamazov")

Both of these statements are correct. Beauty is paradoxical, mysterious and, indeed, has considerable destructive power. But this power is designed to fight routine, stereotypes and everything that has become obsolete. However, reckless submission to aesthetic sense can also have disastrous consequences:
"Devil wants to use beauty for his own purposes." (N. Berdyaev).

Feelings often deceive us because they don't have precision, prudence and logic of mind. Human mind always protects status quo. The mind is much more reliable than feelings, but it cannot replace them because in the struggle between the new and the old the mind as a rule takes the side of the old.
Only an aesthetic sense can recognize and appreciate aesthetically significant phenomenon (beautiful, funny or ugly) .
It's universal truth that not everyone has a sense of humor. The same can be said about aesthetic recognition of beauty. It can be difficult to recognize what is truly beautiful even for a person with a developed aesthetic taste.
The matter is that human perception is conservative as well as mind. The main goal of human perception is to protect everything familiar and stable from changes.
Therefore the human perception tries to perceive everything unusual, amazing and beautiful as ordinary and trivial.
A person looks at the world through the prism of previous experience: one can't see what one doesn't know.
You probably remember the novel written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry where the Little Prince drew a terrible boa constrictor which had swallowed a full-size elephant. But adults looked at the drawing and saw ... a hat.
Finding a solution to a non-trivial scientific or technical problem in some ordinary subject or fact is as difficult as discerning a beautiful princess in Cinderella. But in creative process it happens most often!
The creative search in all spheres of life is rewarded with the beauty of the found solutions.

" It may be surprising to see emotional sensibility invoked à propos of mathematical demonstrations which, it would seem, can interest only the intellect. This would be to forget the feeling of mathematical beauty, of the harmony of numbers and forms, of geometric elegance. This is a true esthetic feeling that all real mathematicians know, and surely it belongs to emotional sensibility.<…>
What happens then? Among the great numbers of combinations blindly formed by the subliminal self, almost all are without interest and without utility; but just for that reason they are also without effect upon the esthetic sensibility. Consciousness will never know them; only certain ones are harmonious, and, consequently, at once useful and beautiful. They will be capable of touching this special sensibility of the geometer of which I have just spoken, and which, once aroused, will call our attention to them, and thus give them occasion to become conscious." (Henri Poincaré. "Mathematical Creation")

In effect, the search for beauty and the search for truth are the same.


translated by Inna Vikhrova

© Babushkin L., 2021



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