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The Stone Mason and his Stone

  1. Sep 6, 2003 #1
    This is a atory.

    The Stone Mason and his Stone

    Months ago the stone was delivered to my studio. It was huge massive and a thing of beauty in itself. It was a piece of the finest marble from the best quarry in the country. I had the workmen set on my work platform and paid them the small fortune that the stone cost.
    For days I looked at the stone. I would look at it from different angles, in different light and in different states of mind.
    I began making sketches. Slowly the image took form in my mind. As I studied the stone and made skecth after sketch the image grew in my mind and in the stone.
    After weeks of this the image was complete and fully detailed in my mind and in the stone. When I looked at the stone now I saw the fully formed image in the stone from all angles. The work of artistic creation was done. I had found the form contained in the stone. Now all that was left was for me, the stone mason, to do was to remove the excess stone to reveal form within. I took up my tools and began working the stone. It took weeks to accomplish; but, day by day as I removed more and more needless useless excess stone the statue took shape, then took on more and more detail until finally it was done.
    It was beautiful. It was wonderful. The stone itself seemed alive. Whenever I caught sight of it out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw it moving, breathing. I would look at it fully, half expecting it to step down off of the platform. It was a masterpiece beyound price. A thing of beauty, a work of nearly perfect art that would be viewed with awe and cherished for ages. It would inspire countless numbers with its beauty, grace and perfection. I knew this; but, I also knew that I was merely a stone mason who had removed that which blocked our view of what was already within the stone . Who, I wondered, created this work of beauty? Where had it come from? What part did I play in its creation or rather revealation?
    I had taken a marble stone of great beauty, value and usefulness as a bulding stone that any builder would give his eye teeth for and rendered it useless and worthless for building. I had removed so much from the stone that it could no longer support any weight or cover any void. Yet by doing nothing more than removing that which gave it value purpose and worth, by removing stone from it, I revealed a priceless art treasure of great beauty and worth that would be admired and treasured throughout the ages.

    How by adding nothing and only by removing something could I, a mere stonemason, take part in the creation of something so beutiful, so nearly perfect, so wonderful, so real and lifelike that it would inspire and awe all who saw it for thousands of years.
    What was it that I had done? How by removing stone from a stone, by removing that which gave it one kind of value, purose and use, did I make something functionally useless and worthless and yet a priceless work of art that was a masterpiece and would be treasured by all of ages on end?
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 5, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 6, 2003 #2
    By increasing the rarity of the stone in form to something that could never be duplicated it became priceless. With the combination of rarity and extremely skilled and tremendous efforts and the wonder and awe it would give to the viewer or positive mental stimulation it became beautiful. Once we read the "made in China" label on the bottom it usually ends up in the yard sale. Beauty can have a lot to do with rarity and benefits, just like a 1000 dollar bill is a thing of beauty and probably more beautiful than another situation with an extremely skilled mason who created a marble statue of same rarity and barely made enough on it to feed his family for the month.
    On the other hand, I cheerish musical art because it stimulates me to think or dream or just feel, but that can be achieved from anything really although the more rare and complex the music or art the more so it seems to stimulate, maybe it is this rarity that we love and compells us to look closely or feel more deeply for it and in so doing we find value in it, we find that looking closely at odd things reveals things and those things are sometimes practical and sometimes not so practical and so learn to value odd things or rarity and perhaps overlook the common. Why do people wear funny clothes and haircuts? Just to be funny, or did they learn that people pay more attention to oddity, and so with more attention from others can come unseen benefits?
    As a sculpture of beauty I like the Pyramids, sure it could be said it was a monumentally stupid waste of energy and time, but one thing it did do is make people realize for a long time that working together they could make manythings possible, just like going to the moon today, also they learned much from such a demanding endevour be it the pythagorean theorem or velcro.
  4. Sep 6, 2003 #3


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    I hate artists...
  5. Sep 6, 2003 #4
    Maybe, drag, they hate you back. Why do you hate artist?

    The question is: How or what is it that by only removing something and destroying one type of value and beauty, we can and do create something of far greater beauty and value?

    I almost hate to say this here for fear that this thread will be distacted from its subject. From a materialist point of view this is obviously impossible. From a subjective or idealistic point of view it is not only normal and natural but possibly inevitable. By creating more disorder in one sense, greater order is created in another.

    In the above example nothing material is added only subtracted but the result is an object of greater beauty and greater value. How is this possible, in scientific objectivity, logic or even philosophy?
    Is this another one of Wu Li's paradoxes?
  6. Sep 6, 2003 #5


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    Because artists for the most part are people who
    make nothing usefull. Only a small amount of artists
    actually produce something that benefits people by
    improving their perspective and positivly acting on
    their psychology. I like those artists
    a lot. The rest are just a bunch of stupid people immersed
    in their own stupidity - partially a type of inventors
    producing totally useless things, partially greedy people
    looking for an easy way to make money and avoid real
    work or real creation of something usefull and partially
    just pathetic people who feel the natural need we all
    feel to create but turn it in a totally pointless direction
    which may make them feel better but certainly does not
    help the rest of society and can even cause damage.

    Live long and prosper.
  7. Sep 6, 2003 #6
    Easy; this ‘value’ being spoken of is actually nothing more that the importance being assigned to some ultimate end. Man places value on things by looking at the ultimate end he has in mind. That is to say the valuation is completely personal and sensed by the individual. If I had no use for the artwork it would have little or no value to me.
  8. Sep 6, 2003 #7
    Okay, I agree with a lot of that especially with so called modern art.
    Are they really arist though? Or is it that they just call themselves artist. Like all things art takes study and understanding.
    Everything passed of for art is not art just as everyone who calls themselves artist aren't.
    This is where the egnimatic term value comes in or if you prefer worth. How do we assign real value or worth to a piece of art. Is it beauty? It obviously isn't funtion or use yet true art does serve a function and has a use, to please, move and inspire us, to make the quality of our life greater.
    Enigma after enigma after enigma; but, at least it ain't objective materialism vs subjectivism.
  9. Sep 6, 2003 #8
  10. Sep 7, 2003 #9
    beauty is truth!

    hurrah for that!!! *runs outside to play in the sun*
  11. Sep 7, 2003 #10
    It seems to me that any object has a number of attributes, beauty is only one of them. Is beauty an inhirent part of the object or is it something that we individually assign that object? You know as in; "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." We all have different opions of what is beautiful. What transfixes me in awe may not be worth a second look to you. Can an object possess intrinsic beauty?
    I think it can.

    Some of the othe rattributes and object can have are quality, usefulness, worth, value. These are all assigned by us individually.
    Feel free to discuss any or all of these things.
  12. Sep 7, 2003 #11
    Concepts like beauty, worth, and intrinsic only have demonstrable meaning as a function in a given context. Being only human, we can appreciate human beauty for example. Studies have shown that chickens recognize each other's faces, but what exactly makes for a beautiful chicken by their standards? I suppose we may never know.

    Even if we do somehow learn, that still doesn't mean we will be able to appreciate the beauty of chickens from a chicken's point of view. The importance of beauty for us as humans can hardly be overstated, but it emerges from the heart which gives meaning to everything. Intellectually it can be analyzed, but only emotionally can we appreciate beauty. Even this statement itself, cannot be appreciated merely intellectually. No amount of logic can make sense of the human heart, hence the apparent paradox.

  13. Sep 7, 2003 #12
    So, Wu Li, are you saying that the beauty of any object is actual within us, within our hearts. An object has no intrinsic attributes but only what we give them from within our selves.
    As BH said if he has no use for art it is not beautiful and has no value or worth to him.
    A gem stone is just a stone like any other until we give it value and beauty?
    A mountain is neither majestic nor beautiful with no one to perceive it as such, like the tree falling in the forest making no sound without a mind to perceive it as sound.

    I'm not sure that I agree with this. I think beauty and majesty exists independent of a mind. It only requires a mind to be recognized and appreciated.

    Take the attribute of quality. A tree may be a magnificent specimin, very top quality as far as trees go and of that family of things the very best. Does its quality vanish when we walk away and no longer view the tree or does it still remain of the highest quality or beauty for that matter.
  14. Sep 7, 2003 #13
    That isn't what I'm saying. I'm saying I don't know if beauty is intrinsic or not, nor does it seem to matter. Beauty remains intimately linked to the human heart, and it is the heart that matters. The idea that beauty may be intrinsic is just a distraction from what is important.
  15. Sep 7, 2003 #14
    True beauty exists only in our minds, not in the physical world. Someting that we consider beautiful only resembles the picture of true beauty. But what is the true picture of beauty?
    The picture remains fuzzy forever...
  16. Sep 7, 2003 #15
    Mona Lisa! :wink:
  17. Sep 7, 2003 #16
    Wu Li, I disagree. The more I think about this and what you and other have said the more I'm inclined to believe that beauty is intrinsic. The ability to recognize and appreciate the beauty is I think in the heart and a quality of our being. To be able to be moved by something we deem as beautiful or awe inspiring is a human trait and a reflection of our inner peace and harmony as well as our harmony with nature.
    If we are in a blue funk very little apprears to us to be beautiful; but, beauty can draw us out of our funk. If on the other hand if we are happy and at peace then everything appears beautiful to us and everything can make us smile. None of this changes anything in or about the object. It is still what it is, beautiful. It is only our ability to perceive and appreciate it that changes within us or from individual to individul.
    Today I am feeling bad and in a dark mood, I am also worried about something. I do not even notice the trees as I pass by. Tomorrow, I feel great with no worries and the sun is shinging and I notice how beautiful that tree is as I pass by and my spirits are lifted even higher by its beauty . Yet it is the same tree, It as not changed from one day to the next. It remains what it is reguardless of our mood or presence. It is still beautiful.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2003
  18. Sep 7, 2003 #17


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    I'm not taking a stance on this issue here, but it seems as if your argument thus far supports the opposite view-- that beauty is not intrinsic. If beauty can change as a function of the perceiver's mood, this seems to indicate that the beauty 'occurs' within the perceiver's mind; otherwise, how could it change so haphazardly?

    Another way to look at it is this: your example says (roughly) that when one is in a bad mood, one cannot appreciate beauty, but when one is in a good mood, one can appreciate beauty. From this you say that the good mood corresponds to the 'truer' mode of perception, since in that mood the perceiver observes the intrinsic beauty of things; correspondingly, the bad mood yields an obscured or illusory perception, since it blocks perception of the intrinsic traits of things. But how do we know that the good mood is a 'truer' mode of perception in this way? To play devil's advocate, what if perception in the context of a bad mood is actually 'truer'? If this were the case, then the good mood perception of beauty would actually be an obscured or illusory perception, and the bad mood perception would actually reveal to us the intrinsic nature of things. In other words, how can we establish that one mode of perception corresponds to the truth and not another?
  19. Sep 7, 2003 #18
    I suspected you would believe beauty is intrinsic, it is after all fundamental to most theology. However, I still assert that no matter what the case, it is the human heart that makes it meaningful. :wink:
  20. Sep 7, 2003 #19
    Heart and mind, yes, with that I agree completely.
  21. Sep 8, 2003 #20
    what would beauty be if it wasn't subjective?

    if everyone in the world looked up at the same time, say at the moon (or the sun if you were on the other side of the earth, with protevtive eyewear of course) and was struck by it's majestical beauty, heavenly perfection, that would be a social phenomenon.

    when one man crouches down and weeps at the beauty of a flower crushed by the passers by, that is a miracle, that is beauty.
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