Monday, September 6, 2010

Aesthetics and Peace - Dr. Ravindra Kumar

Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” Aristotle

In order to understand the relationship between aesthetics and peace, and about role and contribution of aesthetics in the establishment of peace, it is firstly necessary to identify the purpose of aesthetics and peace separately.
Aesthetics is the branch of philosophy that explains the meanings of the different categories, attributed to the concept of beauty. Explanation of nature and art-drawing, study of human sentiments and values are some of the main groups included in this. In addition, the systematic and critical study of the senses and emotional values, or in other words, judgment of human sentiments pertaining to art, nature and culture, which undoubtedly accords happiness and according to Aristotle is the purpose and meaning of life, is defined by this. Aesthetics suggests and inspires always to explore new ways in prevailing situations of space, and not merely to embrace to the old doctrines.  It signals the mind to have a positive attitude while trying perceiving and understanding the world.                  
Generally, peace is supposed to be a state free from violence, struggles and disputes. Especially, in a state of cooperation, in social relations prevailing goodwill and harmony is identified as a state of peace. Even in Western concepts, peace with the purpose of welfare and security in socio-economic spheres at local, national and international levels makes the atmosphere free from enmity and hate. Furthermore, the urge for equality and honesty in political relations is paramount. Thus, the predominant focus at international conflicts and wars are the causes of loss of life and property and therefore worthy of consideration.
The root of all the well-known synonyms of the word peace, such as aloha, calm, salaam and shalom, to identify respect, justice, harmony and friendliness emerged in middle-east and in Asia as well as in the West. These words were just not for utterance only, but essentially for practice.
Therefore, peace cannot be a state of perpetuation or just a status quo, and it cannot be motionless. That is why; thousands of years ago, it was clarified by the Vedic–Hindu philosophy that peace is not a frozen subject; it is not an unmoving state or situation. Vinoba Bhave, quoting the Gita, also clarified that “it is meant to be tested in the life of man; it is intended to be verified in practice.” 
Hence, without a doubt it is not connected with inactiveness. There is no compulsion in it. Rather, peace is an active, dynamic and powerful state, which inspires people to step forward towards the assured development without any hindrance. Moreover, it creates enthusiasm in men and develops the force of individuals to expand further the dynamic strength of the people to a degree that enables them to meet any situation. Peace encourages a human beings to do something more besides his own development. It is always supportive in achieving a goal in life. Peace, despite being an end itself, works as the best means for human beings for the purpose.
Peace fills the man with encourage; it enables him to create a conducive environment on the basis of which he successfully transforms odd situations at all levels and in all spheres in his favour, and thus clears the pathway to development. This in fact is the meaning and purpose of peace. Those who observe peace in a direction contrary to it, or who try to connect it with a state of status quo or perpetuation, inactiveness and compulsion, are not correct. They really do not understand the true meaning of peace and intent as recognized by its root. 
Aesthetics and Peace
The foremost basis of relations between aesthetics and peace can be found in the commitment of both of them residing within the domain of human values.1 The highest human value like Ahimsa is at the core of both of them. Moreover, if virtues and beauty of nature are defined and analyzed through aesthetics on the one hand, peace itself becomes a lofty and refined state of humanity on the other. Peace is possible only through the development of elevated human values. Secondly, art [including that of beauty and senses], which plays the vital role in study and analysis of aesthetics, also works in strengthening the state of peace. Thus, establishing peace in society itself becomes an art. The task of using the state of peace for the welfare of large number of people can certainty be considered an art.
In addition, aesthetics calls for evolution. Contrary to the state of isolation and perpetuation, it is dedicated to dynamism. Thus, adding dimensions, one after the other, is its nature. Similar to this, peace also is dedicated to dynamism. In its real state, peace calls for universal welfare. Therefore, both aesthetics and peace are closely connected to each other. Particularly, aesthetics accords peace and happiness to the mind. It develops the senses and fills them with enthusiasm and finally leads them towards righteousness. That is why; aesthetics fully unites the development of virtues.
It can be said in conclusion that both aesthetics and peace are symbolic of human progress. They leave deep impression on one another and play the vital role in the emergence and development of each other.       
* Indologist Dr. Ravindra Kumar is a former vice chancellor of Meerut University, India; he is currently the editor of Global Peace International Journal

1. They are, according to me, the acid test of humanity; they are based upon righteousness. Along with this they are the means of making the life decisive; in other words, they are fundamentals of achieving the goal of life.

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