Beauty Can Be Fully Appreciated By the Intuitive Intelligence, Not the Reasoning Intelligence

Art critics who pick apart a work of art to try and analyze its component elements, its technique, its perfection of implementation use the rational intellect in their appreciation of the art.  This turns into a dry and limited appreciation however, compared to the response of the soul to the soul-expression of any true work of art.  The greatest works of art move us inwardly without necessarily engaging the intellect at all.

Sri Aurobindo notes:  “For the conscious appreciation of beauty reaches its height of enlightenment and enjoyment not by analysis of the beauty enjoyed or even by a right and intelligent understanding of it, — these things are only a preliminary clarifying of our first unenlightened sense of the beautiful, — but by an exaltation of the soul in which it opens itself entirely to the light and power and joy of the creation.  The soul of beauty in us identifies itself with the soul of beauty in the thing created and feels in appreciation the same divine intoxication and uplifting which the artist felt in creation.  Criticism reaches its highest point when it becomes the record, account, right description of this response; it must become itself inspired, intuitive, revealing.  In other words, the action of the intuitive mind must complete the action of the rational intelligence and it may even wholly replace it and do more powerfully the peculiar and proper work of the intellect itself; it may explain more intimately to us the secret of the form, the strands of the process, the inner cause, essence, mechanism of the defects and limitations of the work as well as of its qualities.  For the intuitive intelligence when it has been sufficiently trained and developed, can take up always the work of the intellect and do it with a power and light and insight greater and surer than the power and light of the intellectual judgment in its widest scope.  There is an intuitive discrimination which is more keen and precise in its sight than the reasoning intelligence.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 14,  The Suprarational Beauty, pg. 143

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