From classical times art has been assessed from the threefold standard of “the good, the true, and the beautiful.” These three ideals have been called the “transcendentals,” the basis of a standard of judgment that supersedes even the realm of the gods, as Plato saw it. Despite almost universal acceptance of the transcendentals as aesthetic categories and especially by the Church through the years, each of these ideals has posed challenges for critics.
What does Beauty look like? Does it appear the same to all? How much of Beauty is a matter of personal taste? Can beautiful art have ugly parts to it?
What determines when a work of art is True? Does this standard imply that art should be as realistic as possible and thus exclude impressionistic art or fantasy? Does True mean art should always be message driven? If so, whose message?
When is art Good? Does this imply something about how stories should resolve? Does this imply something about legitimate and illegitimate content? Does this speak to the character of the artist—must the artist live a moral life to produce Good art?
By this point in the course, you have had opportunity to consider some of these questions, and you ought to have some fixed ideas about what makes something good, true, or beautiful. You should also know how these categories apply to distinctive art forms as well as art works.
For our discussion this week, take a close look at chapters 21 and 22 of the Book of Revelation. What is good, true, and beautiful about the New Jerusalem from the Apostle John’s perspective? Can this section of Scripture teach us anything about the good, the true, or the beautiful in art? What might that be? Compose a post addressing one thing you think can be learned from John’s depiction and then try to apply that to a specific work of art.
Your post might start, “When we call a work of art good…” or “When we call a work of art true…” or “When we call a work of art beautiful…”
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