Beauty’s light into other transcendentals

Say we count beauty as a transcendental, but that we then also try to take account of the 19th century insights about the difference between the beautiful and sublime. Though tied together by aesthetic experience (in the same way that goodness is tied together by moral experience or truth by intellectual experience) we nevertheless can distinguish two distinct levels of beauty and sublimity – the first being proportioned, elegant, and attractive while the second is overpowering, breaking beyond all bounds, and inspiring something like fear. Again, there is enough overlap between the feelings to recognize that they are somehow aspects of a single aesthetic experience, but there is enough difference between them that no single term describes what they have in common.

It’s interesting to consider how this sort of insight might apply to the other transcendentals. Perhaps truth has a similar sort of division into the proportionate/elegant and the transcendent; or goodness into what is appropriate to the nature of something and what bursts beyond all limits of the nature.

Considering the intrinsic transcendentals, it gets a little harder to see what we would mean: what is proportionate or elegant unity as opposed to transcendent unity? Alterity?

All this suggests the Scotistic idea that the infinite and finite are prior to the transcendentals, though we would move too quickly if we saw God alone as the instance of infinite transcendental. There are suggestions (at least) of infinity beneath the level of the divine.


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