II. Art and Beauty

What is Art?
The human mind possesses the three faculties of intellect, emotion, and will, corresponding to which there are different fields of cultural activity. Through intellectual activity, such fields as philosophy, science, and so on are developed; through volitional activity, such practical fields as morality and ethics are formed; and through emotional activity, the diverse areas of art come into being. In this way, art can be defined as “the emotional activity of creating and appreciating beauty.”

Then, connected with this, what is the purpose of art? The purpose for which God created human beings and the universe was to obtain joy through loving object partners. Likewise, it is for the purpose of obtaining joy that works of art, which are artists’ objects, are created. Therefore, art can also be described as the “activity of creating joy through creation and appreciation.”

The British art critic Herbert Read (1892-1968) held that, “All artists have this same intention, the desire to please; and art is most simply and most usually defined as an attempt to create pleasing forms.” This sentiment is in solid agreement with the definition of art in Unification Thought.

Art and Joy
As already stated, art is the creation of beauty, namely, the creation of joy. Then, what is joy? According to the Divine Principle, “Joy arises when we have an object partner in which our internal nature and external form are reflected and developed. Our object partner helps us to feel our own internal nature and external form through the stimulation it gives. This object partner may be intangible or it may be substantial” (DP, 33). Thus, joy arises when the Sungsang and Hyungsang of an object partner resemble those of the subject.

As explained in Ontology and Epistemology, the human being is an encapsulation of the universe; therefore, all the Sungsangs and Hyungsangs of the universe exist in latent form within the human body. Consequently, when we recognize a flower, for example, we are already equipped with the prototypes of the color, form, softness, etc. of the flower. When we experience, through give and receive action, that the prototype is in full accord with the color, form, softness, etc, of the actual flower, we recognize it as a certain flower. The feeling of joy arises from that accordance. Therefore, if we want to appreciate the beauty of an object, we must first have the prototype in our mind.

Then, how does a prototype arise? The first requisite is one’s purity of mind. If one’s mind is pure, prototypes will come to the surface naturally. The second requisite is education. Through a theoretical study and appreciation of the various forms of beauty, the prototypes within one’s subconsciousness are more easily stimulated and come to surface awareness.

Resemblance in Sungsang
A resemblance in Sungsang refers to the instance wherein subject and object resemble each other, either totally or partially, in terms of their thought, plan, individuality, taste, education, heart, and so on. Among these, a resemblance in thought is particularly important. When one finds within one’s object a thought similar to one’s own thought, the object appears beautiful. Therefore, if one’s thinking is broad and penetrating, he or she will be able to appreciate a broader scope of joy, commensurate to that, and be deeply moved.

Thus, resemblance in Sungsang refers to the resemblance between the artist’s Sungsang, which is contained in an art work, and the appreciator’s Sungsang: namely, the resemblance in their heart, thought, and so on.

Resemblance in Hyungsang
The Hyungsang of an object refers to its physical elements, which we perceive with our five senses: the form, color, sound, odor, etc. of a thing. When these elements come into accord with the prototypes within us, we can appreciate beauty and feel joyful.

As will be explained in epistemology, the external world is an extension of the human mind. Accordingly, a human being has all the elements of the external world as prototypes in his or her mind. That is, the Hyungsang elements such as form, color, sound, odor, etc. of all things or art works already exist within us as prototypes in contracted forms. That is what is referred to as resemblance in Hyungsang. When those elements―the physical elements of an object and the prototypes within us―come into accord, and our emotion is stimulated, we obtain joy.

Another aspect of resemblance, which is also a cause of joy, is complementarity. This refers to the instance wherein the subject feels joy by finding within the object some aspect which is absent within the subject. For example, a man is pleased to find grace and beauty in a woman, qualities which he lacks.

There are two reasons for this kind of joy. First, a human being alone can not become a complete being. Human beings were created in pairs: man, who has God’s Yang characteristics, and woman, who has His Yin characteristics. When man and woman unite, they come to resemble the harmony of God’s dual characteristics. This accords with how human beings were originally created.

This complementary nature can be regarded as a kind of resemblance. Every one has within one’s subconsciousness an image of what one lacks and which one wishes to be supplemented with. When one actually faces an object which matches that image, one feels joy, since the element one lacks is then supplemented. In this case also, the object resembles the image within the mind of the appreciator. Thus, complementarity is a kind of resemblance.

Second, God created human beings in such a way that they possess one of God’s Individual Images; therefore, a man or a woman feels joy through engaging in give and receive action with others and finding within them that which is lacking in himself or herself. The beauty felt in this case is based on complementarity, which is a kind of resemblance, in a broader sense. God, the One, manifests Himself as paired beings of yang and yin, and as innumerable beings of individuality. Hence, we feel joy when we unite, becoming more perfect beings.

As another example, two separate things, a desk and a chair, become a perfect being (set) by complementing each other. To become a perfect being means that the purpose of creation is fulfilled, bringing about satisfaction and joy. In order for complementarity to be established, there must be resemblance in a deeper dimension, at the root. No beauty or joy can arise from mere differences without commonality, namely, a common purpose or resemblance.

What is Beauty?
According to the Divine Principle, love is “the emotional force that the subject partner gives to the object partner” (DP, 38), and beauty is “the emotional force that the object partner returns to the subject partner” (DP, 38). In cases where the object is a mineral or a plant, what comes from the object is a material force, but the subject (human being) can still receive it as an emotional stimulation. However, there are cases where, even though the object gives stimulation (force) to the subject, the subject does not receive it emotionally. In such cases, the stimulus can not become an emotional stimulation. The question, therefore, is whether the subject receives the stimulus coming from the object emotionally or not. If the subject receives the stimulus emotionally, then that stimulus becomes an emotional stimulation. Therefore, beauty can be defined as “the emotional force, or the emotional stimulation that the object gives to the subject.” Since beauty is one of the primary values―along with truth and goodness―beauty can be expressed in another way as well, namely, as “the value of an object that can be felt as an emotional stimulation.”

I have described the emotional force which the subject gives to the object as love, and the emotional force which the object returns to the subject as beauty. In reality, however, in the case of human relations, both subject and object mutually give and receive love and beauty. In other words, the object also gives love to the subject, and the subject also gives beauty to the object. The reason is that, “when the subject partner and object partner become completely one in harmony, love is found within beauty and beauty is found within love” (DP, 38). When an emotional force is sent either from the subject to the object or from the object to the subject, it is sent as love, and it is received as an emotional stimulation, in other words, as beauty.

In the discussion above, I have given the definition of beauty as understood in Unification Thought. In the past, beauty was defined by philosophers in various ways. Plato, for instance, explained the essence of beauty in terms of beauty itself, namely, the Idea of beauty existing in an object. Concerning beauty, he said, “Fineness is auditory and visual pleasure.” Kant explained beauty as the “subjective purposiveness of an object,” or the “form of purposiveness of an object.” What he means is: An object in nature has no intentional purpose. Yet, if a human being subjectively considers it as having purposiveness and receives a pleasant feeling from it, then that which gives that pleasant feeling to the human being is beauty.

Determination of Beauty
How is beauty determined? About this point, Divine Principle explains as follows:

The value of an entity intended at its creation is not fixed as an inherent attribute. Rather, it is established through the mutual relationship between the purpose of the entity according to God’s ideal of creation, and people’s original desire to treasure it and bring out its true worth…. Consider a rose; how is its original beauty determined? It is determined when the purpose for which God created the flower and the divinely given human desire to appreciate and bring out its beauty are fulfilled together. To put it another way, an ideal person feels the fullness of joy when his desire to pursue beauty is satisfied by the emotional stimulation that the flower gives him. At that moment, the flower manifests its original beauty (DP, 36-37).

Beauty, then, is not something which exists objectively, but is something that comes to be determined through a give and receive action between the subject, which has the desire to seek value, and the object. In other words, beauty is determined when the subject, engaging in give and receive action, emotionally and subjectively judges the emotional stimulation coming from the object as beauty.

Elements of Beauty
Beauty is not something that “exists” objectively but is something that “is felt.” Some element existing in the object gives the subject an emotional stimulation that is felt by the subject as beauty. Then, what is this element that stimulates the subject emotionally, in other words, what is this element of beauty? It is the combination of the purpose for which the object was created (the purpose of creation) and the harmony of the physical elements within the object. That is to say, when the physical elements, such as lines, shapes, colors, and spatial patterns in paintings, high and low sounds, long and short sounds in music, are well harmonized centering on the purpose of creation, and they give to the subject an emotional stimulation, the subject recognizes and feels it subjectively as beauty. When beauty is recognized as such by the subject, it becomes actual beauty.

Harmony refers to both spatial harmony and temporal harmony. Spatial harmony refers to the harmony in spatial arrangement, and temporal harmony refers to the harmony that is produced through the passage of time. Art forms expressing spatial harmony include paintings, architecture, sculptures, handicrafts, and so on, and can be called spatial art. Art forms manifesting temporal harmony include literature, music, and so on, and can be called temporal art. There are other art forms including drama, dancing, and the like, which manifest both spatial and temporal harmony, and these can be called spatio-temporal art or comprehensive art. In any case, it is the expression of harmony that gives rise to a feeling of beauty.

Aristotle said in his Metaphysics, “The chief forms of beauty are order and symmetry and definiteness.” Read said, “The work of art has an imaginary point of reference (analogous to a center of gravity) and around this point the lines, surfaces and masses are distributed in such a way that they rest in perfect equilibrium. The structural aim of all these modes is harmony, and harmony is the satisfaction of our sense of beauty.” Both agree that the element of beauty exists in harmony.