On Sun, Jun 28, 2020, 12:41 AM Jeffrey.Thomas <jet> wrote:
Well, I’m on call right now and I don’t have time for an artful response, but I agree that it does call for one. My first thoughts that spring to mind are that our loftiest ideals, endeavors and aspirations are seldom pragmatic. The works of art and music that we hold up as the finest examples of our advanced civilization are not at all practical (organized religion, on the other hand, tends to be eminently practical in the ways that you might expect). The virtues of loyalty, selflessness, self-sacrifice are seldom born of pragmatism. Courage, in almost every manifestation, is usually quite the opposite of pragmatic, whereas cowardice, greed, self-interest and self-preservation are often logical and practical.
If you want to know the nature of humans, listen to the stories we tell. They are stories of passion, devotion, courage and perseverance, and they are found not only in our greatest works of literature and music, but on the walls and in the hallways of our finest art museums, and the corridors of our concert halls and theaters. Our ideals as a species find their highest expression in these works.
Worst of all, enslavement to pragmatism leaves but a short step in multiple terrible directions. The Third Reich and genetic engineering come to mind.
The best things in life come indeed from art and emotion, that reflect upon and celebrate the nature of human life and our shared experience of mortality. Our greatest cultural achievements are those of artistic expression, through which we communicate our experience and our connectedness to other humans. These are the enduring monuments of our civilization, because that is what really matters to us.
There is no doubt that pragmatism has an important role to play, but it is never an end in itself.