Tag Archives: Great Conversation

Sense, Sentiment, and Civilization

"Inferno, Canto XVIII" by Boticelli (c. 1500)
“Inferno, Canto XVIII” by Botticelli (c. 1500) illustrates the circle of fraud in Hell

Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy: Inferno examine ideals of morality, friendship, and happiness in ways that still ring true. Aristotle’s model is centered around the concept of kosmos (order) and telos (end or purpose), with nothing in excess. Human passions and desires are to be tempered by reason; likewise, human rationality is made complete by proper desires and sentiments. Dante follows Aristotle’s ideas and brings them further, demonstrating that passion— or as he terms it, love—is a good thing so long as it is directed toward its appropriate object and in proper measure. In both the Ethics and the Divine Comedy, true fellowship is found among the virtuous, who order their passions and sentiments according to what is good. In order to develop a wise and gracious character—from which springs wise and gracious discourse—one must learn to love and value the good in its appropriate measure, and to approach every subject with a humble understanding of one’s own limitation. Continue reading Sense, Sentiment, and Civilization

Painting, the Liberal Arts, and the Great Conversation, Part I

the-scream-auction-587256604This is the first in a series of posts by an art historian, art critic, and curator on the role of the visual arts in the liberal arts curriculum.

The importance of the visual arts to the western cultural project and thus to the liberal arts curriculum seems obvious. What is not so obvious is exactly how they are important. Continue reading Painting, the Liberal Arts, and the Great Conversation, Part I