„That is an example of our perennial confusion of symbols with realities.“
Audio lecture "Individual and Society"
Kontext: I am amazed that Congressmen can pass a bill imposing severe penalties on anyone who burns the American flag, whereas they are responsible for burning that for which the flag stands: the United States as a territory, as a people, and as a biological manifestation. That is an example of our perennial confusion of symbols with realities.
„Reality contains not only evidence, but also the means (such as our minds, and our artefacts) of understanding it. There are mathematical symbols in physical reality. The fact that it is we who put them there does not make them any less physical.“
— David Deutsch, kniha The Fabric of Reality
Zdroj: The Fabric of Reality (1997), Ch.3
„We tend to think, 'Life should be fair because God is fair.' But God is not life. And if I confuse God with the physical reality of life- by expecting constant good health for example- then I set myself up for crashing disappointment.“
— Philip Yancey American writer 1949
Zdroj: Disappointment with God: Three Questions No One Asks Aloud
— Roger Haight American theologian 1936
Zdroj: Dynamics Of Theology, Chapter Seven, The Symbolic Structure of Religion, p. 133
— Ann Leckie, kniha Ancillary Justice
Zdroj: Ancillary Justice (2013), Chapter 4 (p. 54)
„In objectification there are no primal realities, but only symbols. The objective spirit is merely a symbolism of spirit. Spirit is realistic while cultural and social life are symbolical.“
— Nikolai Berdyaev Russian philosopher 1874 - 1948
Zdroj: Spirit and Reality (1946), p. 52
Kontext: Spirit, like flame, like freedom, like creativeness, is opposed to any social stagnation or any lifeless tradition. In terms of Kantian philosophy — terms which I consider erroneous and confusing — spirit appears as a thing in itself and objectification as a phenomenon. Another and truer definition would be, spirit is freedom and objectification is nature (not in the romantic sense). Objectification has two aspects: on the one hand it denotes the fallen, divided and servile world, in which the existential subjects, the personalities, are materialized. On the other it comprehends the agency of the personal subject, of spirit tending to reinforce ties and communications in this fallen world. Hence objectification is related to the problem of culture, and in this consists the whole complexity of the problem.
In objectification there are no primal realities, but only symbols. The objective spirit is merely a symbolism of spirit. Spirit is realistic while cultural and social life are symbolical. In the object there is never any reality, but only the symbol of reality. The subject alone always has reality. Therefore in objectification and in its product, the objective spirit, there can be no sacred reality, but only its symbolism. In the objective history of the world nothing transpires but a conventional symbolism; the idea of sacredness is peculiar to the existential world, to existential subjects. The real depths of spirit are apprehensible only existentially in the personal experience of destiny, in its suffering, nostalgia, love, creation, freedom and death.
„Science and mathematics
Run parallel to reality, they symbolize it, they squint at it,
They never touch it“
— Robinson Jeffers American poet 1887 - 1962
"The Silent Shepherds" (1958)
Kontext: Science and mathematics
Run parallel to reality, they symbolize it, they squint at it,
They never touch it: consider what an explosion
Would rock the bones of men into little white fragments and unsky the world
If any mind for a moment touch truth.
„There are symbolic dreams—dreams that symbolize some reality. Then there are symbolic realities—realities that symbolize a dream. Symbols are what you might call honorary town councilors of the worm universe. In the worm universe, there is nothing unusual about a dairy cow seeking a pair of pliers. A cow is bound to get her pliers sometimes. It has nothing to do with me. Yet the fact that the cow chose me to obtain her pliers changes everything.“
— Haruki Murakami Japanese author, novelist 1949
Zdroj: A Wild Sheep Chase: A Novel (1982), Chapter 12, Wherefore the Worm Universe
— Alan Watts British philosopher, writer and speaker 1915 - 1973
Buddhism : The Religion of No-Religion
Kontext: Ego is a social institution with no physical reality. The ego is simply your symbol of yourself. Just as the word "water" is a noise that symbolizes a certain liquid without being it, so too the idea of ego symbolizes the role you play, who you are, but it is not the same as your living organism.
— David Cronenberg Canadian film director, screenwriter and actor 1943
„[A]ll our symbols have the same purpose; words are merely the symbols we use most commonly. The function of words in human thought is to stand for things which are not present to the senses, and allow the mind to manipulate them—things, concepts, ideas, everything that does not have a physical reality in front of us now.“
— Jacob Bronowski Polish-born British mathematician 1908 - 1974
"The Imaginative Mind in Art" (1978)
„Symbol and myth do bring into awareness infantile, archaic dreads and similar primitive psychic content. This is their regressive aspect. But they also bring out new meaning, new forms, and disclose a reality that was literally not present before, a reality that is not merely subjective but has a second pole which is outside ourselves. This is the progressive side of symbol and myth.“
— Rollo May US psychiatrist 1909 - 1994
Zdroj: The Courage to Create (1975), Ch. 4 : Creativity and the Encounter, p. 91
Kontext: Symbol and myth do bring into awareness infantile, archaic dreads and similar primitive psychic content. This is their regressive aspect. But they also bring out new meaning, new forms, and disclose a reality that was literally not present before, a reality that is not merely subjective but has a second pole which is outside ourselves. This is the progressive side of symbol and myth. This aspect points ahead. It is integrative. It is a progressive revealing of structure in our relation to nature and our own existence, as the French philosopher Paul Ricoeur so well states. It is a road to universals beyond discrete personal experience.
„Through symbolism based on killing animals, we encounter politically laden images of absorption, control, domain, and the necessity of violence. This message of male dominance is conveyed through meat eating—both in its symbolism and reality.“
— Carol J. Adams, kniha The Sexual Politics of Meat
The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory (New York: Continuum, 1990), p. 189.
„Nothing is harder to understand than a symbolic work. A symbol always transcends the one who makes use of it and makes him say in reality more than he is aware of expressing.“
— Albert Camus, kniha The Myth of Sisyphus
"Hope and the Absurd in the work of Franz Kafka"
The Myth of Sisyphus (1942)
„The life of reality is confused, disorderly, almost always without apparent purpose, whereas in the artist's imaginative life there is purpose.“
— Sherwood Anderson writer 1876 - 1941
"A Note on Realism" in The Literary Review (25 October 1924)<!-- also in Contemporary American Criticism (1926) -->
Kontext: The life of reality is confused, disorderly, almost always without apparent purpose, whereas in the artist's imaginative life there is purpose. There is determination to give the tale, the song, the painting, form — to make it true and real to the theme, not to life. Often the better the job is done, the greater the confusion. I myself remember with what a shock I heard people say that one of my own books Winesburg, Ohio was an exact picture of Ohio village life. The book was written in a crowded tenement district of Chicago. The hint for almost every character was taken from my fellow-lodgers in a large rooming house, many of whom had never lived in a village. The confusion arises out of the fact that others besides practicing artists have imaginations. But most people are afraid to trust their imaginations and the artist is not.
Would it not be better to have it understood that realism, in so far as the word means reality to life, is always bad art — although it may possibly be very good journalism? Which is but another way of saying that all of the so-called great realists were not realists at all and never intended being. Madame Bovary did not exist in fact. She existed in the imaginative life of Flaubert and he managed to make her exist also in the imaginative life of his readers.
„[T]he whole purpose of the Torah is to correct the sin of the Tree of Knowledge, which induced the confusion of the conduct of the sustenance of reality.“
— Yehuda Ashlag Orthodox Jewish Rabbi and Kabbalist 1886 - 1954
Assorted Themes, On Torah
„The revolutionary artist is born into a world of clichés, of stale images and signs which no longer pierce the consciousness to express reality. He therefore invents new symbols, perhaps a whole new symbolic system.“
— Herbert Read English anarchist, poet, and critic of literature and art 1893 - 1968
The Philosophy of Modern Art: Collected Essays (1971).
„Now, a symbol is not, properly speaking, either true or false; it is, rather, something more or less well selected to stand for the reality it represents, and pictures that reality in a more or less precise, or a more or less detailed manner.“
— Pierre Duhem French physicist, historian of science 1861 - 1916
[U]n symbole n'est, à proprement parler, ni vrai, ni faux; il est plus ou moins bien choisi pour signifier la réalité qu'il représente, il la figure d'une manière plus ou moins précise, plus ou moins détaillée...
[Pierre Maurice Marie Duhem, translated by Philip P. Wiener, The Aim and Structure of Physical Theory, Princeton University Press, 1991, 069102524X, 168]
The Aim and Structure of Physical Theory (1906)
„So-called "realist" photography does not capture the "what is." Instead, it is preoccupied with what should not be, like the reality of suffering for example.“
— Jean Baudrillard French sociologist and philosopher 1929 - 2007
New millennium, Photography, or the Writing of Light, (2000)