Vent'anni d'opposizione al restauro
del Cenacolo vinciano
I Vizi Capitali - The Seven Deadly Sins
Dipinti e disegni in mostra
Mario Donizetti è considerato fra i massimi esponenti dell'arte figurativa e tra i maggiori ritrattisti della pittura del nostro tempo. Ha pubblicato nel 1992 "Perchè Figurativo", nel 1995 "Razionalità della Fede e della Bellezza", nel 1996 "Lettera a Parmenide", nel 1997 "Lettera a Platone", nel 1999 "Argomenti di estetica".
Time magazine ha pubblicato in copertina alcuni suoi ritratti fra i quali il ritratto di Papa Giovanni Paolo II (1985) oggi alla National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution di Washington.
Nel 1983 ha ricevuto dalla "Pinacoteca Ambrosiana" di Milano l'onore di un'esposizione antologica di dipinti e disegni nelle Sale del Museo. Una sua crocifissione è fra le opere esposte al Museo Tesoro della Basilica di
S. Pietro in Vaticano. Collabora a giornali e riviste con saggi di estetica e diagnostica del restauro.
I believe that the error taken as the foundation of your doctrine is
already to be found in the introduction to your ponderous work. A foundation
which admirably expounded in your “Science of Logic” deliberates that “the
finite” is not true being: you decide to make it disappear into the infinite
by saying: “that which is, is only the
infinite” (Hegel, Scienza della
logica, Laterza 1996, page 139). You decide without convincing that finite
things as such are a “merely illusory
presence” (Hegel, Estetica,
Einaudi 1976, page 57).
This vision of yours is perturbing. I do not believe that “finite”
things are only the objects which we perceive and which through pure
anthropocentrism imagine to be orbiting around us. Our rational being is also
And if that which is rational is real, as you say, one who rationalises
this real will be real and not merely illusory. So when the rational thinks that
the finite is real and is not an illusory presence, what will be illusory is
that infinite which escapes rationality, becoming incomprehensible, and which
you on the contrary consider “true being”.
You thought that physical living beings were “finite” in the sense of
the opposite “infinite”.
You believe that totality is not “infinite” because you think that
each “finite” being is such thanks to its “opposite” which as the
opposite of finite things cannot be reduced to a finite sum.
But this creation of truth at writing table convinces only dreamers. In
fact I could, with your method, invent the entity “opposite” to a work of
art, omitting that the opposite is the absence of the work of art but indicating
this absence with a name that gives the illusion of its existence as an entity
opposite to the work of art, and thus the work of art would be such thanks to
the existence of the relationship with its opposite. But it is evident to anyone
that the opposite of the work of art is the simple absence of the work of art,
which is to say an entity that in reality does not exist. All of which also
means that each work inasmuch as it is willed by teleological design is a work
of art, and that it is only by degrees that works are great or small, but the
small and the great are not in opposition among themselves. This has happened to
that “infinite” of yours which does not exist but which, having been given a
name, seems to.
You will object, once more and always, that the totality of finite things
cannot be infinite but finite totality. But then I ask you how a finite totality
can disappear into an “infinite” which in refusing to be totality claims for
itself a nature different from the finite, otherwise it would be the same
totality. This infinite defined by you as the sole reality claims a difference
of nature in comparison with the numerical infinite. But the “finite” is
conscious of both itself and the numerical infinite because it is a part thereof.
The personal existence of finite beings is unique and unrepeatable therefore
their simple and sole existence makes them “be” in reality and not in an
illusory manner. In its awareness of self the finite then determines by itself
its own limit. To be able to have the idea of being finite, the finite
necessarily has the idea of infinite (as totality). It thus possesses awareness
of the infinite and therefore is rationally a part thereof. You maintain without
limitation, and hence erroneously, that what is rational is real, and so our
finite being should be real inasmuch as it is rational, and if one of the two
must perforce disappear it must be that infinite you imagine, since it lacks
awareness of itself and is therefore outside all rationality. Thus your infinite
has, in this absence inasmuch as it is an
absence, the limit which annuls it as infinite and brings it back to being
only the totality of the finite, and so that which “is” is only the finite
that constitutes the totality.
Professor, it seems to me that what must disappear is the illusion of the
“pure” infinite, the pure of each being and non-being, pure art and
“supreme needs”, because when the wicked “accidents” are removed from
reality nothing remains of reality, and in fact there is no neuronal response in
the encephalon when an impure, relative, sensible, finite image is not perceived,
and this you will see at the end of my letter; and don’t tell me that the
intellect thinks also what the senses do not perceive, because it is
scientifically untrue. In fact, “if sensorial perception of an environmental
stimulus is experimentally modified, the structure of the encephalic region
assigned to its integration is modified. One example comes from G. Moruzzi:
upsetting visual perception by placing in front of one eye, from birth, a
permanent lens that turns images upside down, results in a structuring of the
occipital cortex that is inverted with regard to the contralateral.” (Vittorino Andreoli La norma e la scelta – Mondadori 1984, page 25).
fact demonstrates that the structure pattern of the brain depends on sensorial
stimulation from the external world. And given that rationality, which is to say
the function of the brain, depends on the latter’s structure, rationality
necessarily depends on stimuli from the external world and in any case in
simultaneity with the external world.
One understands how the structure pattern of a foot is simultaneous with
its functional ends. If one could by contrivance replace the astragalus bone of the foot with the sphenoid bone of the nose, the foot would lose its logical function
which is, logically, that of walking.
So brain and intellect must necessarily have the same relationship as the
foot and walking. The logic of thought would be modified or impeded if the
structure of the brain were modified or impeded or upset, as in the function of
the foot. Thus the logic of thought, which is to say thinking, is the logical
function of the brain just as walking is the logical function of the foot.
Consequently, if thinking depends on brain structure and the latter on sensorial
perceptions, there can be no contradictions between thinking reality and
perceiving reality. It is necessary that there be no difference in content
between rational or encephalic reality and the reality external to the
And yet this does not mean that the idea we have of an object represents
the whole reality of the object.
Reality is necessarily greater in quantity than the encephalic idea
thereof. The idea of reality takes from reality only that which is of vital project-related interest thereto. This grasping from reality
what is useful to our ends is that which evolves reality for the subsequent
intervention of our project. If it
were not thus, reality would be immobile.
The mechanism seems to me to be as follows: through the senses certain
parts of reality pass representatively and teleologically into the encephalon
and are established in the memory. With this data the artist elaborates a new
form, obtaining the institution of a relationship of analogy of the finality of
the artistic form with that of the form of nature.
Unfortunately this analogy of the forms of art known as “resemblance”
to the forms of nature is at the root of an error: that of thinking that a
simple copy of a natural form (if such a copy were ever possible) is the content
of art. But the term “resemblance” is not equivalent to the term “analogy”.
The former refers, through carelessness of reason, to forms alone and not to
their functions. And since every form is unique and unrepeatable, because a form
identical to another would have a function identical to another and therefore be
useless in the economy of nature, “resemblance” among forms is of necessity
due to carelessness of reason, as I said. The concept of analogy, on the other
hand, is founded on the form of the finality and not on the illusion of
resemblance. You will ask me what this finality formally
consists of in the work of art. As I am writing to tell you that only form
is content, I reply that the artist’s finality or project is rendered
concrete in artistic form through exclusion of formal elements of nature and the
inclusion of other formal elements of nature. The former excluded because they
are not suitable for the artist’s project and the latter utilised to highlight
it. This selection of natural form transposed into artistic form is highlighted
through comparison of the artistic form with the form of reality. The difference
between artistic form and genetic form is concretely formal, meaning concretely
finalised. In this sense modern “expressionism” was right on target with
regard to this truth, though guilty of excessive exclusion and of the excessive
inclusion of finalised forms. The images, teleologically
exasperated, lose credibility. I mean that the expressionist artist’s
statement takes on a binding, insistent value that contains an imposition. The
artist’s proposition, if it is not to annoy but be accepted by the beholder,
must be humble even if firm, available even if intransigent, interpretable even
In brief, it must be like nature: open from the project-related viewpoint
but subject to law.
The work of art being a part of nature, being a constituent of the
evolutionary process of a living being, takes origin from the genetically
transmitted. Project-related or artistic form cannot claim a revision or a
denial of the genetic but only
propose an evolution of the genetic. On the other hand, the physical geometry
alone of natural objects transposed into the technical work, which is to say a
mere copy, would reduce the work to passivity. But this is in any case an
impossible occurrence because a double, which is to say a “copy”, is
Thus with its finality the
artistic form acquires analogy with regard to the real form. It assumes
project-related form without separating itself from natural form.
(An example may clarify the distinction between analogy
and resemblance: there is nothing in
common between the form of an hourglass and a wristwatch with regard to
geometrical resemblance or functioning, but they have the same finality, so we
say that the two objects are analogous. It is clearly seen that “analogy”
and “resemblance” are two distinct elements. And this analogy is the content
of artistic forms and not the resemblance to the natural form, which would mean
basing the content of art on an illusion given by carelessness of reason).
So artistic content consists in the proposal of a form in a relationship
of analogy with the finality of nature. And the the peculiar feature of art is
precisely this: that it produces a new synthetic form with objective analytical
parts of a form anterior to the artist’s project, and this new form in being
analogical to a real form may also seem a resemblance thereof. And once more we
must not think, as you thought, that the finality of the artistic form can
separate itself from the finality of the form of reality. We must not think that
the finality of art is the theme of the “interests of the spirit”, of that
spirit which in order to be “unique reality” as you say would annul form and
therefore also the form of art.
The illusory “resemblance” moreover does not impugn the analogical
content of art. It is not possible to reduce to opposites the efficiency that
moves and that which is moved, merely out of hatred for the illusion of
resemblance, impossible to avoid. In fact in the form of a being, be it genetic
or artistic, there is always something which is only partially pertinent to that
being; I say “partially” and not “accidentally”
as you yourself would have it. When we own a donkey we also own its ears and the
hairs in its ears. I mean that the donkey is all of its parts, including those
which you define as being accidental. To me it seems impossible to possess the
“content” of the donkey, which is to say the “pure” donkey, a donkey
“regenerated by the spirit” (Hegel, Introduction
to Aesthetics). All in all it does not seem to me possible to think of the
“species” of the donkey without thinking of all donkeys, so that the
“idea” of the asinine species appears to me simply as a multitude of ideas,
each one referring to a real donkey. It seems to me that the content of a form
is all its “accidents” and what is true for a donkey is true for art. Thus
the content of a work of art is its finalised form, precisely that form which
you hold to be accidental like the hairs in the donkey’s ears.
Let it be supposed that for unknown reasons certain donkeys are born
without hairs. You will say at once that they are still donkeys without the
accident of hairs. Let it then be supposed that some are born without ears. You
will say that they are still donkeys. Let it be supposed that they are born with
horns, with six legs, two tails. You would begin to have difficulty in admitting
that they were still nevertheless donkeys. When an animal then did not have all
the “accidents” of a donkey but had others, you would find yourself having
to coin a new term to designate the “essential” content of the new animal,
thus implicitly admitting to have made your concept of asinine content or
“species” dependent on the “accidents” which certain animals have in
common by analogy with others.
Admitting, and this is serious for you, that there is no content and, if there
is, it is identified in accidents finalised with regard to a personal project, and in this finality,
for a donkey and for every living being with hairs, the very last hair is also
essential because a hair too is like any other part, such as the liver, the
brain or other parts. And since it is right that I should be hard on your heels
as you were on mine, I repeat: if the idea of work of art refers to the content
of the work of art just as the idea of donkey refers to the content of the
donkey, and the content of the donkey, as is evident, is the same finalised form
of the donkey, the content of the work of art is its same finalised form (and
cannot be its non-finalised form) which you, contrarily, define as “accidental”.
Thus the abstract idea of donkey. The metaphysical idea, the idea of
“species” which Plato held to be anterior to all donkeys whatsoever and
which you believe to be true substance as against the “lowness” of
“accidents” and given quite apart from “accidents; well, this idea does
not exist, nor may we possess in our stable such a donkey without its essential
accidents. So pure art too, which is to say without the “ballast” of
accidents, does not exist: what exist are only objects that are more perfect or
less perfect in form, or rather, suited in their form to their purpose. The
metaphysical idea of object seems to me to be a reference to the project-related
use of the accidents of an object. Our project-related aim maintains and defines
as “accidental” that which in the object is held to be useless, and defines
as substantial that which is held to be useful. But these definitions concern
the functions which we assign to objects and are not properties of the objects
even though the objects permit our definitions. So the metaphysical idea of
“art” actually seems to me to refer to the object when it is suited to our
project and not to the metaphysical “pure substance” of artistic “species”.
Thus “pure” art appears to me as the product of a game of chance because for
the construction of the “metaphysical” concept of art one also needs the
most “accidental” of formal signs constituting the artistic object, just as
the concept of the donkey also needs the very last hair of a real donkey.
My dear Professor, even the idea of “being” is derived from a real
being, which is to say from its “accidents” and therefore from its “flesh”,
which you have much vituperated.
Parmenides had already attempted a definition of the concept of
“being” and first of all had to reduce it to the “one”, but as Plato
replied, the unity of a real being is impossible since from the reality we must
exclude its “parts” which are a multitude and a multitude cannot constitute
the “one”, which is to say the unity of “being”, thus no being is
possible in a concept that is not derived from its parts, or rather from its
accidents. But the extraordinary fact is that you, after more than two thousand
years, did not seek the truth but limited yourself to plagiarizing the thinkers
I note that, removed the form, your so-called content disappears: without
the “accidents” there is no “being”. In fact between the form of reality,
or “accidental” form, and its “substantial” artistic representation
there is only our project-related use of accidents.
It thus remains that between things and the idea of their substance there
is nothing other than the use we make of “accidents”. So that which is real,
both in art and genetic nature, is only the form which you define as “temporal
accidentality” (Hegel, op. cit. page 107). Therefore the real content is
what you call “accidentality” which in your opinion would be the contrary of
ideal content, all of which seems to me a simple blinding. The semiologist
Umberto Eco, an enthusiast of problems of knowledge, has recently admitted the
difficulty of defining the “species” of a “strange” animal called the
“duck-billed platypus”. This difficulty is due precisely to the idealist
vice that thinks of the real as accidental and posterior to the ideal.
Classification of the new animal in accordance with knowledge already acquired
about other animals might also be impossible, resulting in the need for a new
classification, and this because the ideal classification is posterior to the
real animal, as we have said with regard to the donkey.
All this “pure” rubbish ought to disappear from our language. What we
call “being” is only physically determined and “impure”, not under
“species” but unique and unrepeatable.
So-called absolute or ideally “pure” values seem to me to be a verbal
convention useful for the practical communication of values that are
non-absolute and actually “impure”.
If we did not have recourse to the agreed fiction of the existence of a
pure point and had to locate a pencil mark in St. Peter’s Square we should
still in any case need to specify the location of the pencil mark. But the
location of a real pencil mark in St. Peter’s Square is possible only if we
make a fictional pure point correspond to the location. But even a real pencil
mark is divisible into many marks, and to know which of these marks is the
pre-selected one requires a further specification of one of the many points
constituting that mark. Thus the real location necessitates the fiction of the
pure point which we know well to be “impure” or real.
The reality of this non-existent thing consists in the existence of its
fiction. The real form is divisible to the infinite but the pure point
necessitates indivisibility. Thus the pure point too is, from your viewpoint,
that “opposite” to the impure which, in order to be the opposite of what
exists, does not exist, except in the name that makes it appear to exist.
You will ask yourself why the mind needs this fiction in order to
communicate the physical objective real, and in my opinion you will be able to
answer yourself that although we know of the divisibility to the infinite of the
real we elevate its parts to indivisible entities because their utilisation is
indivisible. And what counts for us with regard to reality is what we make of
reality in a project-related context. The project-related idea, by analogy, is
like the white lie that a girl who needs to achieve her purpose tells her mother
when she introduces her husband-to-be as a clean-living churchgoer although she
knows he’s an inveterate womaniser. The mother too knows the truth but accepts
him: her daughter will thus have an impure husband but will at least have a
husband. Thus the pure or metaphysical idea is the representation of the
project-related utility of that which is impure and physical.
The idea of object transcends the physical object in order to bend it to
project-related utility but is not, as every good idealist maintains, anterior
but rather posterior to the object transcended and does not betray it but
represents it objectively. What the fiancée does in order to actually get
married is something we all do: to be able to accept ourselves we think of and
present ourselves with an idea that transcends us. In thinking of myself I
“purify” myself – you would say – of my accidents; otherwise I should
lose myself in their infinite labyrinth.. My identity is the transcendental
representation of myself. But what I am urged to say to you is this: my identity
is not more elevated or nobler than my “flesh”, as you would have it. But if
I had to employ your language I should say that the idea that transcends me is
far baser than my body because it is the servant of the master that is myself in
my impurity, divisibility and perishability. But from my viewpoint my body does
not raise itself above the idea that I have of my body, and so the
project-related memory I have of myself is what you call “spirit”. This
memory is the same myself finalised like the fiancée’s lie.
Yet you still insist on purity. You make pure being and pure nothingness
the same thing, but you have also made them opposites. Aren’t you playing with
words? You also say that when “we raise ourselves above the temporal by means
of reason, it is understood that this occurs without any detriment to the
finite” (Hegel Scienza della logica, Laterza, p. 139).
But is not raising ourselves above the temporal the same as conceiving
the temporal finite in a low condition? Why invent opposites only to annul them
in reality as if reality were posterior to the opposites or as if the opposites
were the cause of reality? And since one thing cannot simultaneously “be”
another, this means that the “opposites”, which you consider as such
simultaneously, cannot then be reconciled without undergoing extinction. It is
only because they participate as differences and not as opposites in the same
teleological project that they constitute “being there”, otherwise there
would be no “being there”.
It seems to me that in reconciliation the opposite loses its identity and
thus, lost in the “other”, loses the force of constituting the
project-related and social unity of “being there”. The unity of the “being
there” is given by the finality and therefore the opposites must be only
seems to me that the entire world is a society of “differences” with only
one single end 1.
The opposites to be “reconciled” appear to me to be only puppets. In
our days the name philosopher is given to certain tightrope-walkers who, on the
basis of your doctrine, deny existence itself. They deny that “being there”
which, precisely in the strict sense of your logic, is nothingness if it comes
from the reconciliation of pure being and pure nothingness which you postulated
as identical nothingnesses. “Pure being
and pure nothingness are therefore the same”, you say, and if in
“reconciliation” and in the one “passing” into the other “each
one disappears into its opposite” (Hegel, Scienza
della logica, Laterza, p. 71), in disappearing they do not make “being
there” emerge but cause the disappearance into nothingness of that which had
already appeared as nothingness. In fact if being passes (excuse me if I don’t
understand what “pass” means but I’ll pretend to), if being, then, passes
into nothingness, it seems to me that it becomes a nothingness. So in passing
one into the other they do nothing other than, at the most, exchange themselves
with the other, leaving everything as it was before. But what is, is, and does
not pass. You had so much imagination you could have sold it, but I don’t
think it’s wise to buy from you.
You will pardon me this tirade because I am writing to you as a painter
of finite and therefore concrete things. I am writing to you because I want you
to know what scientific research, in your day, had not yet discovered.
Neuroscience today demonstrates that your aesthetic castle is reduced to ruins,
as well as your prophecy of the death of art.
N° 1 – Letter to Plato)
In fact it has been discovered that only ”finite” experience is real
and that the metaphysical idea of the infinite is reduced to empirical
It must be admitted that you were fascinated by Immanuel Kant. You
believe it necessary to “discover the first
foundations of the faculty of principles independent of experience” as
Kant says (Immanuel Kant, Critica del
Giudizio, Laterza 1984 p. 5), which you called “absoluteness
of reason in itself, which has constituted the turning point of philosophy in
the modern age, this absolute point of departure should be acknowledged and must
not be confuted therein (in Kantian philosophy)” (Hegel Estetica,
Einaudi 1976 p. 68). Even if you admit, unlike Kant, that it is possible to
apprehend the beautiful in the concept (Hegel, op. cit., p. 107), you thought of the form of nature as accidental
or “only sensible apprehension” (Hegel,
op. cit., p. 45) or as “merely
illusory external presence”(Hegel, op.
cit., p. 57). Finite things for you must not be real but appearances placed “merely
as wrapping” (Hegel, op. cit.,
But it is with prudence that you, in your treatise, alternate running
with the hare and hunting with the hounds. I was present at a dispute between
two Hegelians. One said that you ran with the hare to get the hounds moving, the
other that you hunted with the hounds to put the hare in its place. You first in
fact admit that “the spirit appears appreciably in a satisfactory manner only in its
body” (Hegel, op. cit., p. 91),
that in the artist’s production “the
spiritual and the sensible must be one thing only” (Hegel, op.
cit., p. 49). You then state that the body in artistic representation “must
be removed from the needs of all that which is only sensible and from the
accidental falseness of appearance. In this way the form is purified in order to
express in itself the content conforming thereto” (Hegel, op.
cit., p. 91).
All of your beating about the bush has the aim of serving two masters,
even if you do favour the less appropriate one. And this is why your descendants
still argue today, and perhaps will always argue, in the attempt to clarify
whether or not you were honest. In every other line you write that since art has
the spirit as its peculiar purpose “it
cannot give the intuition of this by means of particular objects of nature such
as the sun, the moon, the earth etc. These are certainly sensible existences but
they are isolated and, taken in themselves, do not give intuition of the
spiritual” (Hegel, op. cit., p.
In your treatise we find in every other line “the
spirit that struggles against the flesh” (Hegel, op.
cit., p. 65) and “the will that
finds its direct opposition in nature, in sensible impulses” (Hegel, op.
cit., p. 64).
And in the end your message is communicated thus: “One
may hope that art raises and perfects itself increasingly, but its form has
ceased to be the supreme need of the spirit” (Hegel, op.
cit., p. 120).
Professor Hegel, you have been listened to. The form of art has been
perfected in the form of tinned shit, that is to say “merde d’artiste”,
written in French because it is always “refined”.
Your philosophising, dear Professor, has taken in whole generations of
small-time historians and aestheticians, thinkers dedicated to plagiarism and
copying, and small-time artists with vain socio-political aspirations, all
pupils of your schools who, be they right or left, differ only in the rags they
use to cover their shameful parts.
Today however neuroscience is bringing your schools to their knees
together with yourself, your teacher and the teacher of modern teachers. I am
alluding to Descartes who guarantees Existence because it is thought. Today it
is scientifically certain that “in order to think, the brain needs objects,
just as the eyes do in order to see” (Changeux, Ragione
e Piacere, p. 112 Cortina 1995). Notwithstanding the fact that Descartes
himself reflects saying “in the proposition I
think therefore I am there is
absolutely nothing that assures me the truth thereof except that I see in the
clearest manner that in order to think one must
be” (Descartes, Discorso sul metodo,
Mondadori 1993 p. 32), the so-called modern world maintains that reality is not
anterior to the thinking thereof and indeed maintains that the guarantee of
reality is thinking it in accordance with the proposition interpreted by
Descartes and the with subsequent Kantian theory of a priori knowledge. Not only,
but the so-called “weak thought” fashionable today casts doubt upon the
existence of reality because thinking it guarantees it only subjectively. You
too Professor were in agreement with Descartes and Kant for the greater security
of the modern world in saying that “the real is rational and the rational is
real”. Today research on the encephalon may aid philosophers. It has been
ascertained that it is only the physical real that can constitute the idea of
the real, as we have said. However, the central nervous system is an
organisation programmed in accordance with a need anterior to its rational
consciousness. The preservation of life is a need which, for all beings, is
anterior to encephalic awareness of preservation. In fact this need is also
possessed by organisms without an encephalon and therefore without rationality.
So the Cartesian “cogito” must be increasingly guaranteed by “being”.
Because it has been ascertained that one
may be without thinking of being. Whereas the modern world has reduced being
to the state of being able to be not-being because it places rationality before
It is true that we can think of men with wings.
But the existence of men and of wings is real. The constituent and
analytical elements of this thought-object are in a relationship of analogy with
genetic reality even though the object of their synthesis is not at all genetic.
The work of art proposes a rational though unreal form. Pupils of yours
and plagiarists in the guise of neo-Hegelian philosophers, having taken your
maxim to the letter (“The rational is real”), make you cut as bad a figure
as you deserve by saying that art is irrational. But art would be irrational
only when it had no relationship of analogy with the given reality, as shown by
modern non-representational artists who, being good pupils of yours, infatuated
with the real as rational and the rational as real, maintain that art, being
unreal, is also irrational, thus demonstrating the imprudence of their reasoning.
It is true that the real is rational, but the rational is not always real.
In fact each artistic project is rational but unreal. So I may say that I think
because I am and not vice versa, even if this truth was felt by everybody even
before they knew what neuroscience has taught. Today “only
sensible apprehension” (Hegel, Estetica,
Einaudi 1976, p. 45) is a nonsense since thinking the real and apprehending the
real sensibly are one thing only. We are also discovering that the senses
possess the ability to select with intelligence without recourse to encephalic
thinking. Thus the finality of the artistic form, having a sensible relationship
of analogy with the finality of the already given genetic form, is guaranteed in
its genetic value by the finality of the already given genetic form.
The living being is therefore the incarnation of its artistic project
whose efficiency is given in temporary possession by the Exigency of genetic
It would be an insult to explain to you the difference between the
ownership and the possession of goods. You know better than I that possession
does not necessarily involve ownership. Thus in possessing the exigency of my
artistic project I do not have ownership thereof. So any exigency of mine,
though it is mine because I possess it, may be taken away from me. Therefore I
do not believe you will be scandalised if I maintain that I am not the owner of
myself, whereas you will certainly be strongly against my saying that my flesh
and my spirit are the same. But I am writing to you precisely in order to say it,
with the support of a host of scientists who, believe me, are to all effects
philosophers. Art is the product of the species that organises itself for its
exigency. You say that “everything that is spiritual is superior to any natural product”
(op. cit. p. 37). But each natural
being possesses teleological functionality relative to its personal form, as
anyone can easily see. This is why it is necessary that the form of nature be
the form of its finality, which is to say its artistic or spiritual form. From
this it follows that finality, any finality even if historically immoral, is
spiritual, so the form of nature and the spirit of nature are the same entity,
and the cause of the efficiency of this entity we may call by the name of God or
Primary Exigency of existence. I seem to understand that by “spiritual” you
intend that which is “moral”. I seem to understand that your “absolute
spirit” is none other than the absolute good of mankind associated
historically. But to me it seems that “spirit” is the simple projecting of
all matter. And the project of a being must be defined moral or immoral if it is
useful or useless to the society of individuals dictating the rules for its own
survival. Multiplying bread and fishes to feed the multitude is highly moral and
is motivated by a great love for mankind. But to the fishes this multiplication
of their death appears as a treacherous aggression on the part of mankind. And
in fact mankind considers the plague as a treacherous aggression. Mankind’s
imprecations against God for evil caused to mankind by other beings result from
confusing, as you do, the “spirit” with the morality of mankind. God can be
neither imprecated against nor prayed to because God is the project-related
Exigency of all beings, including those which destroy mankind. Therefore both
good and evil are spiritual.
Professor, modern discoveries tell us that “an
external side of form” (Hegel, op. cit. p. 84) does not exist.
Because our spirit is our very body finalised without external sides but
all internal and itself contained by itself, so “the
incompleteness of form” does not “originate”
“from the incompleteness of content” (op. cit. p. 87). But from itself
if it lacks self.
Art does not purify the form of the sensible since the sensible is itself
art. An artist’s art is only a part of genetic art and is personalised in
implementation by means of a choice finalised towards a personalised end. And in
this way alone is art personal though universal. Art is the finite of the
infinite. Thus in nature there cannot be other than total purity and substantial
form, and never “accidental appearance”
(Hegel, op. cit., p. 7).
Genetic form or the form of nature is its own spirit which has been in
process to a purpose for billions of years. I wish to repeat myself by saying
that it seems to me that the form of nature is the final artistic masterpiece of
genetic nature even if not the last, and the art of an individual artist is a
part of that, finalised by the
artist as a genetic individual. And therefore there cannot be a form, either
genetic or artistic, unsuited to its content. One of your assumptions recites
that there may be “an imperfect art which with regard to the technical viewpoint and
other viewpoints may be fully realised in its determined sphere but which
appears incomplete in comparison with the very concept of art and with the
ideal” (Hegel, op. cit. p., 87).
Do you wish to propound that there may be a formally complete art, which is to
say perfect in its artistic sphere, that is incomplete with regard to artistic
content and hence imperfect? Like saying an art that is perfect but imperfect,
which seems pitiful to me. You maintain, always and everywhere, that in the
artistic procedure there are two roads taken by the same vehicle: one is formal
and accidental as you put it, and the other is spiritual. But when and how the
two roads meet with view to the vehicle taking the road of true art you do not
say, and nor could you because if you had gone into the problem in depth you
would have had to resolve your contradiction which posits nature as impotent to
“be”: “the finite disappears”
etc. etc., subject as you say to externalism. On your suggestion my
contemporaries have chased this externalism out of art and, as may be seen,
nothing remains. And this is due to the fact that externalism is not exterior
but wholly interior and the road is one only.
Yours, dear Professor, was a great blinding. You let yourself be blinded
by an imaginary spirit. It was not vouchsafed you to think that every form of
nature is unique and unrepeatable and this is why it dictates to us per
sè the idea of self as Moruzzi’s experiment demonstrates. The
non-repeatability of a form elevates it to “substance”, so that it will be
thought and rationalised just as it is seen in reality. And what brings forms of
nature to the unique and universal value is their convergent finality. Their
freedom permits them the choice of a personal itinerary towards a common point
of arrival. In this way the artist’s freedom will give the possibility of a
formal choice for his work converging with that end in accordance with the
genetic one. And the greater the appropriateness of the formal choice with
regard to his purpose, the greater the beauty of his work will be. And where an
artistic form has a non-univocal or contradictory purpose, a limit will be
placed there to its perfection to that purpose, hence a limit to its beauty.
Thus a painting, a house, a pair of shoes, a bird’s nest, a beehive
will be part of the very body of those who produced them. However, beauty being
proportioned to formal perfection with regard to a univocal purpose will not be
bound to the moral good of a historical epoch. Allow me, professor, to make a
distinction between the morality of a historical group and the ethics of the
species. The gene eliminates the personal and historical experiences of the
group if it deems them useless to the species. What you call “absolute spirit”
might also be a historical error to be rejected. You will permit me then to hold
an opinion different from your own and say that artistic work is evolutionary.
It evolves the individual genetically even if the individual and his historical
group should deteriorate morally.
The work of art has a destination beyond the historical morality of the
time in which it is produced. The work of art, even if its theme is negative,
encourages environmental adaptive capabilities, evolves the individual and his
environment. Thus both the genetic form of an individual and the form produced
thereby due to the necessity of being a genetic individual are artistic. It was
Plato ‘s wish that the beautiful should also be good, so Plato too admitted
that the beautiful need not be good. “In
fact there would be no little profit if poetry appeared which was not only sweet
and mellow but also useful” (Plato Politeia
X, p. 438, Rizzoli 1953). It is clear that moral good cannot be found in a
work that exalts historically immoral behaviour. Yet the beauty of a work of art
is the simple perfection of its form, certainly ordered to a purpose, but it
does not lie in the goodness or moral usefulness of the purpose. I could give
you a banal example: two athletes compete in a race. If one of them, halfway
round the track, starts meditating on the mystery of the Holy Trinity thus
losing coherency of movement, he is doing nothing wrong in connection with
religious problems and therefore is doing good and what he is doing is good in
connection with religious problems, but the wrongful thing, which therefore does
no good, is that what he is doing with regard to the purpose of winning the race
is not good. So we may easily say that the other athlete won the race because
all the forms of his energy were perfectly coordinated to this end and he
created a form perfect for a univocal end, thus realising, in comparison with
the first athlete, an artistic form. While running the athlete may also produce
an artistic form suited to the problem of the Holy Trinity and simultaneously
produce an artistic form unsuited to winning the race. But in any case the value
of the two forms always refers to their formal perfection which is highlighted
in the finished product and not in its usefulness, otherwise the athlete who
loses the race, having produced with his thoughts of the Trinity a greater good
than victory in the race, would win the race while losing it. But the art of
winning a race is not the art of resolving the mystery of the Holy Trinity. You
on the other hand believe that there may be a perfect form with insufficient
artistic content. It is as if you believed that the athlete who loses the race
for having produced a greater spiritual good by thinking of the Holy Trinity
runs substantially better than the
winning athlete. You do not believe that the work of art is its own form. But
the one who wins runs better because he runs more. He produced an ordered form
to an end quantitatively greater than
the one who lost the race. The finalised quantity in progress determines the
quality of the result. Thus the artistic object is determined by the greater or
by the lesser quantity of finalised form, and this will make your hair stand on
end. To make myself clear I have to give you another couple of examples: a
painting is subjected to aesthetic judgement: let us say it is a depiction of
the vice of Wrath. If forms are represented in this work which may lead to
suppose that wrath is a pacific mood, then this creates that equivocal
incongruity in the work which I described above for the athlete who slows down
his pace in order to philosophise and who quantitatively subtracts specific form
from his race. The aesthetic judgement will be negative in this case, and will
be positive if the work of art is in possession a form perfectly convergent with
its purpose, that of representing the vice of wrath by
quantity of form suited to its purpose.
But even the simple representation of a genetic form without theme may be
perfect or imperfect in a gradual manner in accordance with the degree of
analogy with the finality of the genetic form: a portrait without a theme may be
the subject of artistic representation. When the portrait of a face is equivocal
with regard to another face it possesses an insufficient
quantity of finalised form, like that of the athlete who dabbles in
philosophy while running a race. A form quantitatively insufficient to its
purpose is not aesthetically beautiful. Thus in a work of art beautiful forms
are possible but not the beautiful as “species”. However, a face, quite
aside from the representation of an
individual’s specific somatic features, has its own subject in the
representation of the genetic characters of a genetic group and therefore the
possibility of a representational perfection not bound to the representation of
a determined individual. The beauty of an artistic form lies in this coherent
analogy and adherence of the representational or artistic form to the genetic
form. Moreover there may be perfection in the representation of everyday items:
this perfection again is evaluated with regard to the analogy of its model,
meaning to the service which the everyday item carries out; and since the use,
or finalised function, of an everyday item is its content, this rises to content
of the representation. Beauty is thus traceable also in the perfection of the
everyday item itself and not only its representation. When the form of an
everyday item is perfect in relation to its purpose, it will be beautiful in
comparison with another which does not perfectly serve its purpose.
From your teachings, Mr Hegel, I believe I have learnt a lesson that
obliges me to overturn your doctrine in order to calm myself down into logical
coherence. There are two banalities you propound which I find especially
unbearable. The first: the annulling, through reconciliation, of two so-called
opposites: form and content, or overcoming the “struggle
of the spirit against the flesh” (Hegel, op.
cit. p., 65). You propose a purification of “exterior” form as if this
making-up of spirit became interior, and you think that a portrait may be
perfectly painted and not catch the spirit of the face painted. But if a
portrait does not catch the spirit, it does not catch the face of the spirit,
and this is why such a portrait is not perfectly painted.
It may be that incompetents take for good painting the kind that is well
smoothed on the surface, doing as you do yourself, you who, from what you say,
understood nothing of painting. Incompetents think that the smooth is difficult
to execute and since it is difficult they consider it artistic.
Plato too concludes the Hippias Dialogue,
in which the problem of the beautiful is dealt with, by saying that the
beautiful is difficult. Contrarily Leonardo da Vinci, who certainly knew
something about art, believed that art was a temperate proceeding and that any
difficulties encountered should not be seen in the work of art, and even less so
the physical efforts the artist might occasionally have to suffer during the
execution. Michelangelo destroyed the preparatory drawings of his works in order
that the effort he had made to produce the work of art should never be seen. If
he had believed that the beautiful were difficult he would not have been ashamed,
even through immodesty, of having worked hard to achieve it. In fact that which
is difficult does not give enjoyment, so in this case the Platonic beholder,
should he receive no enjoyment from the difficult, would go against the
master’s opinion and think that the beautiful is very easy and not difficult.
But easy it certainly is not. In fact the easy is not project-related, is not
active but retroactive and hence it appears to me that the beautiful is
spontaneous but not difficult, even if it is not easy. We should need to ask
bees if their hive is difficult to build. Bees build their hive as Phidias built
the Parthenon: for exigency. Exigency renders spontaneous that which other
people, not having the same exigency, find difficult. Phidias would have had
difficulty in building a beehive. Now, to return to ourselves, if the purpose is
to smooth a surface, a well smoothed surface is artistic. But the art of
representation of the spirit, or of physical forms, is not the art of smoothing
a surface. So a merely well smoothed portrait cannot be well painted. Dear
Professor, I understand you: the early 19th century, the epoch of
your mortal life, saw the flourishing of minor artists who, like yourself,
believed in the “smoothed” and believed, like yourself, that artistic
perfection was the perfect “licking” of coloured paste. But vaguely
intuiting that the thing did not lie precisely in these terms you invoked a
content opposed to the smoothed which you called “
technically achieved form in its determined sphere”. I think that with
technically achieved form you were referring to this smoothness because, if not,
you were light-heartedly milling the flour of gross contradictions which you
then processed and prepared in the form of doughnuts with a perfect hole. But in
any case it remains clear that your philosophising on art was a floundering in a
subject unknown to you. To speak of a trade one must be at least a little of the
trade. I say this not to confuse a trade with excellence of the trade, because
everyone knows that the trade is a genre and the art of that trade is the level
of that trade, which may be as high as it may be low to the point of
disappearing into the trade of philosophy of the trade, I beg your pardon, to
the point of disappearing into
chatter about aesthetics, as in your case and in that of many of your followers
who are still alive today. Dear Professor, do not separate the form of art from
the content of the “spirit”. At the most, separate these from smoothed
Your theory of the separation of form from content
produced incalculable damage. The more the themes were held to be the
content of art, the more the form was imposed upon, to be in the end absorbed by
moral philosophy, you believing with this to lead the form of art to its death.
Art lost its atemporality to the extent that it became the dupe of the
contingent political pronouncement pure and simple of the choice between left
and right, in accordance with the teachings of your schools. Artistic became
pure social behaviour and not a perfect object. Thus it happens today that a
communist is an artist because he isn’t a fascist, a bigot an artist because
he isn’t a rabid anti-clerical. If someone sets fire to the houses on the
right hand side of the street he is an artist of the left who creates a work of
art by arousing awareness of the “supreme interests of the spirit”, and
someone who sets fire to the houses on the left hand side of the street is an
artist of the right who creates a work of art by arousing awareness of the
supreme interests of the spirit. Athletes who win races, painters who create
fine works, are said to be obsolete because they lose themselves in the “accidental”,
that is to say in form, as you said, and are not committed to bringing the
“supreme interests of the spirit” into consciousness. To these artists one
gives, at the most, a slap on the back so that they will continue laudably. May
the athlete win again, but if he loses it’s all the same. In fact we hear that
what counts is not to win but to take part in the race. But these teachers of
“pure” art who do not distinguish the first athlete from the last do not
realise that taking part in a race without winners and without losers is like
being fattened like pigs. Thus everything is at once good and bad.
Believe me dear Professor: we are all in the dung because the form of art
has been abandoned for the “supreme interests of the spirit” and we find
ourselves without interests and the “spirit” is only that of the sceptics.
The race is no longer run without sensible
figuration, everything is mingled, even good and evil homogenise and are
homogenised, children grow up limp, without backbone, children for whom
everything is permissible, including shooting for fun at passers-by and later
dying of an overdose. Dear Professor, do not separate form from content. Form is
content. To you it seemed that content belonged to the intellect and not to the
“flesh” because you did not know that the brain represents all
the project-related aspects of the flesh. To you it seemed that
project-relatedness was the teleological command of the intellect and that the
senses were a lowly mechanism of implementation
when they were not an obstacle. It seemed to you that the “flesh” was not
the intellect itself because it wasn’t in the encephalon. Whereas the flesh is
not only in the encephalon but the project-relatedness of the encephalon is
dictated by the exigency of the flesh, as demonstrated by Moruzzi’s experiment.
We discover today that the idea of real form is the only reality that the
encephalon possesses, to the extent that brain and intellect, due to their
common finality, become synonyms. Were this not the case the intellect would not
be the function of the brain, all of which has been demonstrated to be untrue.
So the formal image does not contain its spirit but is itself spirit. Were this
not so, the project-relatedness of a thinking being would be anterior to the
thinking being and so predetermination would touch on everything. But here we
refute the existence of even a minimal predetermination, clearly seeing the
existence of freedom.
To keep up your teachings on the accidental quality of the form of nature
someone, to the greater glory of “content”, has replaced in the work of art
the analogical form of reality with the photographic reproduction of the form of
You should know that about one hundred years after your death a machine
was invented that could fix, on a sheet of paper, the images of nature precisely
as the brain does through the instrument of the eyes and of the hand onto paper.
This image, called photographic, refers to a fraction of a second of becoming
reality. These operators employ photographs to highlight the “supreme
interests of the spirit” which here we may safely call political ideologies
for the use of the times, given the way things have turned out. And it is true
that a photograph may possess the finality of the theme like a work of art, but
the work of art is not its theme but the how
which, as we have seen, is the formal “quantum” which brings to light the
theme. Photography reproduces a form anterior to the artist’s will, whereas
art produces a new form beyond the theme. Nature photography is like nature
mirrored. Today we know that the eyes of the brain snap millions of photographs
every second and the project-relatedness of the brain utilises only those images
deemed to be constructive and useful to the project. As you will have understood,
one single mechanical photograph is an artistic wretchedness in comparison with
a work resulting from the finalised selection of millions of cerebral images.
The analogical or artistic form is a new personal form. In brief, the content of
the photographic work is the telling-off of the theme, that telling-off which
you gave to believe to be the content of art but which today is seen to be what
The same must be said for the construction by assembly carried out on the
computer. This gives the possibility of efficiently carrying out a theme but
with a pre-constituted and prefabricated form that is anterior to the artist’s
will. Computer thematic processes do not possess a form deriving from the
artist’s freedom. And when you want to draw a form with the mouse you still do
what has always been done with the pencil. With the difference that a pencil is
more obedient to the hand and the hand is intellect itself. As an instrument
replacing the pencil and the hand, the mouse is a step down in the ability to
transmit the encephalic idea.
Construction of the analogical form carried out by a spiritually manual
artist is such as to transform the form of nature into representation. The
artistic form with its analogy is a new nature. And, like nature, unrepeatable
and therefore true spiritual substance. Assembly on the other hand is without
formal unity but unitary only in the thematic procedure. You ought to see this
device, highly useful for certain activities aimed at time saving. The computer
is like an immobile warehouse of immobile images in which you can trace
recyclable pieces to be adapted to the construction of the thematic idea. The
computer operator who takes forms from the computer does not personally possess
the idea of the form he takes for his theme. The idea of that form is traceable
to the programmer who placed the files in the computer. And to find a form ready
made means to find oneself unable to think it autonomously. You will understand
at this point the consequences of having annulled the centrality of form in
favour of an imaginary spirit or pure content. What has remained of your spirit
or pure content is the mere social theme, of brief historical duration, of brief
and ephemeral instrumental utilisation. What has remained is the incapability of
thinking a form, hence of thinking an artistic content.
You express your second banality as follows: “the
work of art is not a natural product but is produced by human activity” (Hegel,
op. cit. p. 33).
You hold that human activity is not natural and so it is natural that you
also consider man as not natural. Is there perhaps a non natural human reality?
If you want art to be considered not natural you will not want it perceptible.
So why write perceptible words if you do not want the object of your words to be
perceptible? You have predicated things that are not predicable. Today
neuroscience gives us the proof that no cognition can go beyond the sensible
natural object, as I told you. And also deductions from premises, if these are
true, that is to say sensible truths, only render formally explicit that which
was already in the premises. And since our central nervous system is the product
of an evolution begun billions of years ago with the constitution of a first
molecule and a unicellular organism, of necessity the individual freedom of our
ancestors’ cells is the departure point of the formation of our current
central nervous system. Johann
Friedrich Meckel says, “During its development the higher animal passes
through the permanent organic stages of those species inferior to it” (Changeux,
Ragione e piacere, Cortina, p. 129).
It is therefore necessary that mental representation should have its form
modelled by the sensible and finalised form of nature, as Moruzzi’s experiment
demonstrates. It is also necessary that our first ancestral cell should have
possessed the aesthetic capacity to distinguish and choose the best for itself,
refusing the worst. Without the freedom and capacity of choice of our first
ancestral cells, our present freedom of choice would not have been possible.
So between the genetic spirit that you call “flesh” and the
project-related freedom of the current individual that you call “spirit”
there is not struggle but identity of construction work which goes from the
individual to the species. It starts with the first molecule and arrives at the
most highly evolved man: “We preserve in our brain the material imprint of our
fish ancestors that lived around three hundred million years ago, and perhaps
also of even older primitive worms” (Changeux, op.
cit. p. 147).
The memory of experiences that we consider useful by means of an
aesthetic judgement serves as a model and point of departure for new knowledge.
“The human brain’s exceptional capacity to produce and evaluate mental
representations, to communicate them and memorise them, makes it possible to
propagate and perpetuate representations from one generation to another” (Changeux,
op. cit. p. 156).
Many believe that this memory of experiences is incapable of modifying
the genetic code. But if forms of life evolve through experiences in a logical
way, the memory of experiences is necessarily the source of genetic codification.
Experiences would otherwise be useless. One cannot believe that a
consequentially logical evolution is due to chance, which is neither progressive
nor logical but occasional and reversible. It has been found that in the course
of thousands of centuries domesticated animals have undergone evident bone and
almost structural modifications which their counterparts in the wild state have
not undergone. Now, if there are two animals with the same genetic beginnings
and one of these, changing environment, undergoes modifications, it means that
it is the adaptation to the new environment and not chance that modifies the
structure. And since we cannot today accept that evolution is programmed in
advance but is rather the result of a reciprocal current adaptation for the
exigency of individuals and of the environment formed by the individuals, the
memory of experiences is necessarily the source of the environmental behaviour
decisions which evolve the species and hence the gene in accordance with the
times and modes chosen by evolution, once again for its exigency: “three
evolutions are interwoven in the brain in a singular manner: that of the species,
that of individuals and that of cultures” (Changeux, op.
cit. p. 6).
Vittorino Andreoli states that it is possible for the encephalon “to
modify itself on the basis of external stimuli and therefore of experience” (La
norma e la scelta, Mondadori 1984, p. 19). Now if structural modifications
of the encephalon due to current experience are currently possible, it is also
possible to hypothesise that the entire structure of the encephalon is formed
through past experience. If we consider that the earliest forms of life of our
ancestors were lived without encephalon, it follows that the encephalon is the
final result, even if not the last, of a cognitive activity starting out from
the aggregation in organisms of the first cells, if not the first molecules..
Thus the genetic code too is necessarily the final and not last fruit of a
transformation begun with the first aggregation in an organism of the first
vital elements at the beginning of their cognitive experience.
I believe that you will want to take note of the news from the modern
scientific world and take such hypotheses into consideration. So that you may no
longer think that the spirit is not the body. So that you may think that the
spirit evolves because it is body. If the spirit did not evolve, our first
ancestral cell would have possessed our present spirit, but it is reasonable
that each body should be its own spirit even though it has a soul in common with
the rest of the world.
At this point you will ask me what the soul is, if the spirit is body.
With this question you will insinuate that I deny the existence of the spirit,
and if the spirit does not exist then neither does the soul.
I should like to define the soul as Exigency of physical or spiritual
efficiency, but not determining cause of the spirit as you would have it. You
describe the soul as that which coordinates the finalised movement of the parts
of the body. This non “accidental” movement (Hegel, Estetica,
Einaudi 1976, p. 143) you deny to animals, saying they have only arbitrary
movement not conforming to a law. In your opinion a peculiarity of the soul is
the determination of conscious
movement. But you neglect the important property of movement which is its
continued teleological efficiency even after the death of the conscious body and
the constituent parts thereof. And it is natural that it should be so because in
your day the movement of atoms and their particles was not known. This movement
is finalised towards life in general and reveals a marvellous
efficiency coordinated for the creation of other conscious and non-conscious
lives. This efficiency cannot be personal
even though the individual, inasmuch as spirit, personally finalises this
efficiency. If fact an individual capable of giving itself efficiency by itself
would be immortal. So efficiency of movement is due to an entity which
transcends the individual and which I should call Soul or Primary Exigency of
existence. Finalised coordination of movement I should attribute to the spirit,
meaning the teleological body of each individual. If, as you say, the soul determined
the movement of the body, it would have a relationship of the same nature with
the body. Over and above being peculiar to that body it would have an
evolutionary relationship with the body, losing all transcendence over the body,
whereas in its being only the exigency of the efficiency of the body, the
soul’s transcendence over the body is clearly necessary. This distinction
renders comprehensible the simultaneous presence in reality of an immortal
entity such as Exigency of the efficiency of that which is mortal, renders
necessary the Soul as Exigency of the project-related body, which is to say the
You say that the symmetry of crystals is due to their lack of soul, which
explains what conception you have of the soul. The soul, in your opinion, “is
concentrated in the eye” (Hegel, op.
cit., p. 175) “which is the seat of
the soul” (Hegel, op. cit., p.
176). For you “the noblest organs are
the internal ones: liver, heart, lungs” (Hegel, op. cit., p. 157).
You have a mortal concept of the soul as would befit only the body, or
the spirit in its uniqueness and project-related non-repeatability. Whereas the
soul is revealed to us as Exigency of the efficiency of the project. It
therefore transcends the project of every living being and hence every spirit.
And thus, being the universal cause, it is not personal property but only a
personal possession, as I told you. The soul is the Exigency of the spirit, or
of the body. The soul of a saint is the same as that of the most abject man. It
is the cause of the efficiency of existence. It is the tension that permits us
to freely build our genetic life. So the soul is God himself, as the spirit of
man is man himself. Thus the soul appears to me to be an entity that cannot
leave the body but only transform it. Between the Divine Soul and the spirit of
man and of all project-related beings, including crystals and subatomic
particles, there can be no intermediary or obstacle, therefore neither conflict
nor reconciliation, since the living being possesses the Exigency of its
efficiency which transcends it. Thus the divine Soul is possessed by nature
inasmuch as nature exists, and the death of God is only a senseless
pronouncement that affirms His presence.
So as long as living beings live as artistic form, or as spirit, by their
Exigency, for them there will be no opposition with the body. Genetic form thus
appears to me to be the form of the spirit of the species, appears to me as work
of art; efficient for its Exigency and, as I said, in temporary possession of
the soul. Art will certainly not die for the reasons adduced by you as a pretext.
“Inner nature” does not “celebrate
its triumph over the external” and does not “make appear in the external and over it a victory with which every
value is removed from that which sensibly appears” (Hegel, op.
cit., p. 34).
Modern science has cancelled out the distinction between internal and
external, between interior and exterior and has returned to the sensible all the
value that you had removed from it. And with this the death of art and the death
of God have been defeated. Art could die if the Soul died. But death of the Soul
would annul existence over and above the same energy, which seems impossible to
me. Illustrious Professor, I am pouring ink into the inkwell, but I need paper
in order to draw sensible figures so I won’t be long-winded. Yet I feel urged
to say one last thing to you. It concerns a sad fact of which you too are aware
but which takes on a different value if interpreted correctly: it appears that
the emperor of the east, Leo III, in the seventh century of the Christian era,
was not in good faith when he issued his famous decrees against sacred images.
This Leo, a thousand years before yourself, thought as you did, but pretended
that images were the “flesh” fighting against the spirit. This Leo might
have written your very words, “art is
not, either with regard to content or form, the supreme and absolute way of
bringing to the spirit awareness of its true interests” (Hegel, op. cit., p. 14). But the interests of the spirit of Leo III were
imperial. They were contested by the classical culture of Christian monasticism.
In order to strike the political opposition he attempted to strike the culture
of the opposition, which is what happens as a rule.
The death of art sought by Leo III is the death that you theorised about.
But a philosopher cannot falsify like an emperor and cannot permit anyone to
make him observe the contradiction into which he has fallen, as you fell in
removing value from the figure with a figurative language. If we talked about it
and our words were not figurative we would not understand one another. So at
first glance, without knowing the real reasons for the ancient iconoclasm, one
does not understand why images were attacked by Leo III and why a thinker like
yourself did not note the contradictions in theorising the impotence of the
figure to represent the spirit with an interminable sequel of formally
figurative sentences, therefore, in accordance with your own theoretics, instant
suicide. Strictly speaking this old iconoclasm should also have struck writings
and conversations and the figurative imperial decrees themselves, and you,
professor, would have had to keep your mouth shut and not hold your figurative
anti-figurative lessons. The non-figurative artists of today are more coherent
than you were and, taking your doctrine to its logical conclusions, no longer
produce any objects whatsoever, because even a blank canvas, raised up
previously with figurative words as symbol of the non-figurative theory, speaks
through its silence the figurative language of your theoretics. A blank canvas
in itself is not artistically nothing, but sustaining with its not being
figurative the negation of the figurative it becomes an eloquent and figurative
message of its non-figurative philosophy. Thus also the blank canvas in order
not to have to be subject to the figurative language that explains it declined
due to that coherency which you lacked.
Historians say that all those who practise the profession of tyrant do
not look well on the spreading of culture and think up artificial problems to
conceal their abject purpose of ruling over others. The usual argument thought
up by the tyrant maintains that God cannot be represented, which everyone knows,
including fiercely representational artists. And since God cannot be represented,
the tyrant would have it that everything concerning the spirit emanated by God
cannot be represented. From the heights of your university chair you pontificate
exactly like the iconoclast emperor and write for the future decline of art that
“God in this spirit is now known also in
a higher way, more correspondent to thought, with which it is at the same time
put forward that manifestation of the truth
in sensible form is not really appropriate to the spirit” (Hegel, op.
cit., p. 122).
This is a deduction only talkers can make, but artists reject it. Given
that all cognition is implemented through an image or figure and that every
mental form is determined by images, the communication thereof is also
necessarily figurative, that is, structured in accordance with its image. The
Christian doctrine states that God became man, and this I believe symbolically
only to communicate with men “in the
eternal memory of the life in the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, we have
received the tradition of depicting Him in his human figure thus exalting the
self-humbling of the Word of God” (Germanus VIII century). But in reality,
with what self-conceit does that philosopher or that artist soil himself by
separating himself from the “flesh”? Perhaps
the maddest kind, because in order to do this he must deny his own flesh
which, reduced to nothingness, cannot think of the existence of God, that is,
the primary Exigency of existence. It also necessitates that the destruction of
images be destruction of consciousness, and without consciousness there can be
no rational idea of God. This implicitly accuses your chair of obscurantism. We
find openness to consciousness and therefore find scientific correctness in the
fundamental principle of ancient Scholasticism which postulates that there is
nothing in the intellect which was not first in the senses. We believe logically
and in accordance with scientific proof that what has first been in the senses
possesses, in the intellect, the form of the senses.
So-called pure concepts cannot be figured, that is, cannot be represented.
If concepts such as the concept of pure space, declared independent of empirical
experience in accordance with the Kantian doctrine you accepted, cannot in this
fundamental principle undergo figurative representation, it is due to the simple
fact that they do not exist. And with what sinful contradiction does a Christian
soil himself in believing that the death of art is possible when this means the
death of God? For whom did Jesus take upon himself martyrdom as a man? Why did
Jesus’ body rise from the dead if the body is that vile encumbrance so
disparaged by Mr Hegel? Perhaps for Christians who deny the existence of God.
Let the Christian church make a careful analysis of the reasoning behind a
non-iconic art and state whether it is Christian or heretical.
For those who are nostalgic for the iconoclastic and regressive world it
is a great effort to accept that their entire thinking is a product resulting
from neuronal organisation, even if they are told that this is moved by Divine
efficiency. Scientific realism scares them because they are poor in spirit and
because their certainty in the necessity of God is weak. They also suffer from
logical weakness and weakness of character. They meekly submit to anyone who
steps up to the chair and do not see even the most striking contractions in
doctrines such as yours, eminent teacher. The fatal weakness is the one that
prevents them distinguishing efficient things from the Exigency of their
efficiency. This weakness is the cause of the difficulty in letting God and the
freedom of living things coexist simultaneously. This terror derives from
failure to distinguish the concept of precedence from the concept of priority.
It seems to me that God cannot be creator, that is, precedent to and
cause of creatures, otherwise He would be creator of that which before time He
had not yet created; this therefore necessitates that the freedom of our
efficiency not be posterior to but simultaneous with the Exigency of existence.
We may say that the Exigency of our efficiency is the very presence of God
within us. So God cannot be precedent to efficient things because with that
precedence He would have been efficient cause of that which was not yet
efficient because not yet existing. So our project has not been predetermined by
God. But in His priority too there is nothing nobler with regard to what is not
of a priority nature, since it is inconceivable that a nobility or priority
should be efficiency of the absence thereof. Thus God cannot create something,
nor can one inferior or merely similar create Him since it is contradictory to
the event of an act of God which He has not always carried out and of equal
dignity with regard to his power. What I mean is that the exigency of the
efficiency of things cannot over time be greater than what it has always been.
It may be pointed out that if one maintains that God created the world, one must
admit that before the creation God was in power at the moment of creation. But
to pass from power to the act means “becoming” and God cannot be subject to
becoming, hence God cannot be the creator of the world.
In order to maintain that God is the creator of the world and at the same
time remove him from temporal becoming it is maintained that time too was
created by God separate from time, which means conceiving God in eternity and
specifying that eternity is not the totality of time, but each existence
disappears into eternity. The existence of God also disappears. Professor, you
who are a great player at logic, tell me if one may play on the simplicity of a
non-existent concept such as the concept of eternity if this is not the totality
of time. Tell me if one may communicate this false concept thus: though eternity
seems to be infinite time, it has not even the slightest relationship with time,
nor affinity nor distant analogy. Eternity has nothing to do with anything known
or knowable. Knowledge of each thing is subject to the image which time gives
thereof. If I had to make eternity understandable to an intelligent child –
not to a young undergraduate corrupted by his philosophy lecturer – I should
tell him to first imagine all the time of years, many billions of billions of
years that pass by. Then to imagine eternity as a thing that sees all this time
passing in a millionth of a second, adding at once that not even this millionth
of a second has anything to do with eternity because eternity has nothing at all
to do with time. The millionth of a millionth of a second can be measured, but
eternity has nothing to do with any kind of measurement.
What say you professor to this stratagem for making a student understand
what eternity is if it is not the totality of time?
However, you will see if I too have understood well what is meant by
eternity. It seems to me like your absolute
infinite which having nothing in common with the numerical infinite is like
eternity that has nothing in common with time.
But you must explain to me why the word “eternity” immediately
elicits the thought of infinite time and the word infinity that of the infinity
of finite things. Is it not perhaps because eternity and the pure infinite seem
non-existent to everybody? Is it not because there are only finite realities in
the encephalon? It seems to me that those who maintain the existence of an
eternity that is not of infinite time are lying to themselves; in fact the
definition of an entity without time is borne only on the denial of every real
definition. It is in the denial of the temporally known that we arrive at the
non-existent called by an empty name. I believe that deduction of the existence
of an entity transcending the real is possible only where the transcendent is
not opposed to the real but is its guarantee, where the “finite
is true being” so that everything may be said of this being, precisely
because it is itself infinite. Something may be thought without current
perception, but on the condition that it does not exclude past perception and
includes its finality.
So it is not a diminution of God to attribute to Him the exigency of the
efficiency of the world, because without the Exigency of its efficiency the
world would not exist. But as may be seen, the Exigency of existence does not
stand on any negation or opposition but is affirmation par excellence. Nor is
infinity taken from God – in fact the efficiency of the infinite as totality
of time is infinite.
It is said that Leonardo da Vinci before painting a picture prepared the
appropriate final varnish. So some said that Leonardo was crazy because he
started a work from the end and not the beginning. This anecdote may serve to
make it understood how a “priority” is not precedence and is not subject to
temporal succession. In fact in a time order Leonardo first had to paint the
picture and then varnish it. But if the varnish had not been prepared beforehand
or devised in a concretely appropriate manner for that given painting to be
painted in accordance with a given technique, the picture would have been
painted in vain or would not have been painted at all. For Leonardo the varnish
had priority with regard to the painting even though it was temporally posterior
thereto. The Priority of God is the simple guarantee of the efficiency of things
and has no relationship with the chronology of things although it guarantees
things in their chronology. This guarantee of efficiency transcends the
guaranteed and efficient object. It is unique and, not being subject to
efficient things, is proper to God as unique attribute. Thus God may be thought
even if not perceived because he is thought of as the guarantee of that which is
perceived inasmuch as that which is perceived cannot (without finality)
guarantee itself by itself. God being the finality of perceived things
guarantees their existence. If the matter perceived constituted the
“opposite” of God, God would disappear because the opposite of what is
certain is the impossible. God would not be thought. In the denial of the
Existence of matter there is the denial of the Exigency of existence. God is
therefore real because the finite real that thinks God is real. The real thinks
of Him as the guarantee of His existence. And it is not madness to distinguish
the Exigency of efficiency from the efficient thing. If we admit the teleology
of our every act it will be necessary to distinguish it from finalised things,
at least to our eyes. But it seems that our eyes see what is there and not what
is not there. But many things, Professor, you did not see with your eyes: you
invented “opposites” of what you saw. We see the priority of God as the
priority we give to the purpose of what we do. So, God being the Exigency of the
efficiency of what we do, God necessarily has a priority without temporal
determination for what we do. But also in what we do not do, if it is thought as
done or to be done by means of knowledge of the real.
Even the simple idea of making an object or doing good or evil is
formally, structurally, physically concrete in the encephalic image and moved by
the same Exigency as an achieved act. In choosing to do something there is
already the form of that thing in our physical encephalic structure. Only
impediments activated by the will of others might deviate our project, so even
if the project is not realised its Primary Exigency is not lessened, it belongs
to the priority of the Soul without specific determination, as we have said.
Now at last you will ask me why I put you on a par with the iconoclast
emperor: you had no empire to defend, true, but you defended your barony with
much smoke and no fire: you took the form of nature as scapegoat with extreme
coolness and did not think of the consequences.
For the rest, it is known that on seeing the splendid snow-capped Alps
you were unmoved. Today a neurobiologist would suspect you of having a cerebral
lesion or dysfunction, typical of those who are perfectly rational but without
But it’s time I finished this letter by communicating to you, as
promised, the results of an experiment carried out with scientific accuracy in
which it is demonstrated that the form of sensible nature is the content of
nature and of the idea of nature: a French researcher, Professor Changeux, who
is in charge of the molecular neurobiology laboratory at the Institut Pasteur in
Paris, speaks of an experiment carried out on a macaque by a group of scientists.
The experiment took the form of recording the responses of the monkey’s
neurones which, as Professor Changeux points out, are homologous to those of
man. This monkey was shown the full-frontal drawing of a human face. It was then
shown the same drawing but without the eyes. Subsequently the drawing was shown
in what we should call in today’s artistic jargon “naïf” lines. Then the
image was decomposed and shown in separate parts: “abstract” we should say
in artistic jargon today, meaning non-representational: without analogy with the
genetic forms of the first drawing. Well, the neuronal responses, beginning with
the most intense to the first image, gradually diminished until they almost
disappeared with the abstract. The experiment demonstrates that if a sign is not
traceable by analogy to the function of an image that is logical, that is to say,
structurally finalised by nature, is not traceable to a rational value, then it
does not produce emotive responses. The researchers’ experiment has now laid
the scientific ground for the theory which I and very few others uphold: that
informal art, in excluding all analogy with the genetic form of nature, excludes
the possibility of any emotive response. This experiment proves once more that
the “sensible” which you believe must be vanquished is clearly the victor.
The spirit, as you imagined it in opposition to the “flesh”, does not exist
and art is only the formal finalised perfection of the sensible, of that
sensible from which derives all cognition and therefore all spiritual movement
inasmuch as it is sensible. Dear Hegel, the art you crucified rose up on the
I send you live, sensible greetings.
P.S. I feel the need to excuse myself for the arrogant tone pervading my
letter, but it was written under the impulse of the offence given me by the
modern world of which you are one of the founding fathers.
Dear Plato, dear Master,
Perhaps nobody has told you yet what the scientists of my day have
magnanimously made known to everyone, breaking down the distinction between the
man of common sense and the philosopher of “ecstatic knowledge”.
I too have come to know certain facts. I have placed them in relation to
recent problems concerning art and to your doctrine of “ideas” and have
decided to write you this letter.
Well, the famous neurologist Vittorino Andreoli told me that when an
organism is composed of few cells it never possesses a nervous system and even
less a central nervous system, or brain, because since there are few cells they
are all in direct contact with the exterior of the body to which they belong and
therefore can have, autonomously and directly from outside, what they need for
survival. And yet without the directives of a brain all the cells act for their
own individual good which is simultaneously the good of the whole organism. The
cells of an organism are each structured in accordance with its own exigency
just like those which without being part of an organism live in coacervation in
an autonomous and not communal manner. Cells in coacervation, even if close to
one another, have no reciprocal useful relationship and no interchange, unlike
those of an organism.
I am asking you here if it is possible to say that an organism is such
and differs from the accumulation when the cells take on, with the others nearby
and adjacent, a function ordered towards a common purpose and are no longer
autarchic and autonomous. If this may be said then it seems to me one may also
say that a non-incompatible relationship is possible between “plurality” and
“unity”. One may say that what determines “an” organism as such is the
common finality of its parts and it is thus possible to think that the parts of
an organism are in turn “one” and are so because they are moved in turn by a
finality such as the nucleus, the membranes etc. (in the specific case of cells).
These parts in turn are constituted of other increasingly numerable parts
characterised by a common finality, such as molecules, atoms and smaller
particles. As I said, the “plurality” (the parts of an organism) becomes
“unity” only when the parts assume a common finality. You have shown that
“one” cannot be formal even if spherical and monobloc, as Parmenides said. I
recall your observation: that the centre of a sphere is not the surface, so it
remains that “one” is only the end
which however, precisely because it is the end, transcends the parts. Through
its unity it transcends forms and their mechanism. Contrarily, in fact, if the
finality of the mechanism were identified in the mechanism itself, as the
moderns would have it, even the very idea of mechanism would be lacking. In fact
it is the “one” which makes possible the “many” inasmuch as the
“many” are “many one”. If the “one” of the finality did not exist we
should not be able to have the idea of “one” and therefore neither should we
be able to have the idea of the “many” mechanisms and the many forms, the
many cells and the many atoms which are “many” precisely because they are
“one” in the finality.
Individuation of the mechanism, that is, the form function of an object
or a body is possible where a “finality” is identified, as we said with
regard to the organism in comparison with the coacervation. So it is necessary
that the “one” be the existence of the “many” and vice versa: the many
would not exist had they not “a” finality, and the finality would not exist
if the many were not finalised because without the many nothing would be
The transcendence of the finality renders possible the existence of both
the “one” and the formal “many”.
The “many” would be annihilated, that is, non-existent, without the
existence of the “one” and yet the “one” in turn would have no
“reality” if it lacked the “many” because it would be the finality of
that which does not exist, and a finality of that which does not exist does not
exist. Thus it is necessary that “one” and “many”, that is, the bodies
and their purpose, are simultaneous even though distinct.
So I was saying to you that when an organism becomes complex thanks to
the continual multiplication of its cells, when the cells are so numerous as to
exceed the surface of the organism exposed to the exterior, which is to say when
some cells are isolated from this exterior within the organism and no longer
have the possibility of external contact in order to directly satisfy their
needs of awareness of their individual good and bad, and hence can no longer
directly choose their good and attend to their preservation, the organism
manufactures nerve cells and sets them in a system branching throughout the body
that brings into the organism, that is, into the internal cells of the body, the
information that the external cells already know due to their position.
In the so-called higher animals the number of cells is such as to arrive
at billions of billions, so the nervous system, as may be seen, needs a centre
for data gathering and retransmission of commands to all the cells of the body
in accordance with information received, again with view to survival of the
Just as couriers bring information to the central State office from
outlying districts, so the information from the outlying areas of our body is
brought to the brain by a chain of nerve cells.
Just as the Government issues orders to frontier regions concerning what
to do or not to do with regard to adjoining states in accordance with
information received, so the brain issues orders to do or not do this or that,
in accordance with information received, to all the cells of the body. And it
cannot be excluded that States, since earliest antiquity, have organised
themselves without knowing it on the model of genetic organisms with view to the
same necessity and therefore in accordance with a natural law. In the functions
of receiving and communicating information the whole body feels, takes part in
these functions, feels itself in a tension finalised towards its functions
precisely as in a true democracy. The State is at the service of the individuals
comprising it and the latter identify the State with their own interests. And it
cannot be excluded that for both a body and for a State there is a natural
collapse when there is no reciprocation of “amorosi sensi”, as you put it.
You conceived your Republic precisely as a natural body with specialised
subdivision of the parts. Like a body, wich uses various cells specialised
according to functions. You thought of men specialised in particular functions
at the service of the republic.
But to return to our main interest: the cells of an organism without a
nervous system and without a brain nonetheless possess, as I told you, the
capacity for finalised behaviour: they have their optimal way of behaving in
order to live and multiply. Neither more nor less than the cells organised by a
central nervous system. Their method appears very simple but is equally perfect.
Thus, as I told you, as the number of cells of an organism gradually
increases, the complexity and not the perfection of the nerve network and its
central system increases. This complex nerve and brain organisation seems to be
formed to solve a problem formerly solved by the same organism when its cells
were so few as to be all logistically located in contact with the external
world, as I already said. But it is necessary that, over and above appearances,
this organisation be finalised for the solution of a problem that is new and
posterior to that of nutrition or survival and multiplication of the cells, the
solution of an already solved problem being incomprehensible.
Good. These facts call for a correction or more precise stating of your
theory of the anteriority of “ideas” with regard to reality.
Good. These facts call for a correction or more precise stating of your
theory of the anteriority of “ideas” with regard to reality.
Your doctrine has it that reality is a “copy” of the “idea”.
You’ve already understood me, but all the same I shall give you information
that the science of your day could not give you: our brain too, like that of
other animals – and here I humbly beg you to continue reading my letter with
goodwill – was formed after the complex developments of the number of cells of
our ancestral body which was itself formed like others starting out from our
first common ancestral cell. And as with all organisms, our ancestor too had
first to form a nervous system and then to centralise it in the encephalon.
This presupposes that our first ancestral cell and our present cells must
have possessed and must possess a structure with the function of a central
nervous system which though not capable of a long term memory is capable of
deciding immediately, that is, without cerebral mediation
and rapidly, with regard to its own good, and of refusing the bad.
This decisional ability or teleological freedom of cells and acephalous
organisms is interpreted by some as pure mechanism without free finality. But it
goes against reason that a mechanism should move without purpose. In fact if an
organism had not a finality it would be immobile, it would have no other purpose
than to exist without moving for a purpose. The power to be immobile in full
self-satisfaction renders any mechanism superfluous because the simple power of
self is in itself sufficient for its existence and there is no need of any
mechanism for existing in accordance with a mechanism. It is therefore necessary
that where there is a mechanism there is also a finalised Exigency which renders
the mechanism efficient and finalised by transcending it.
Individual cells, as we have seen, possess teleological efficiency, they
possess logical efficiency. So it is necessary that the behaviour of the
organism composed of cells without a central nervous system should differ from
that with a central nervous system only in not having a centralised and long
term memory. The encephalic idea thus appears to us as the memory of the cellular
logical-efficient capacity, a memory also useful for the preservation of
those segregated cells logistically located far from the organism’s external
contact, as I told you. We may therefore hypothesise that both organisms
composed of cells without a nervous system and organisms organised by a brain
have an “idea” of their finality. The former have a short
term memory idea suitable or useful to current decisions without remembrance
or historical memory of decisions taken previously, and in this act-decision
they exhaust memory of themselves. The latter have the possibility of preserving
this short term memory since it is transmitted by means of the nerve network to
an archive teleologically active in favour of those cells without contact with
As you have seen, this archive feeds information also to those cells that
are logistically in contact with the external world, thanks to the nerve network
which first brings the short term memory to the brain but then redistributes it,
by means of the same instrument, as long
term memory. The brain is no other than the memory of an organism’s
teleological necessities, but in both the acephalous and cephalous organism we
see a finalised mechanism equally perfect to the extent that we cannot say which
of the two is better.
Now, going back to our first ancestral cell and hence to the precedence
of ideas with regard to reality, I have to think that now you too, having learnt
of the origins of our brain and the exigency or purpose for which it was formed,
will think that Socrates, in the marvellous dialogue with Hippias, should
maintain the contrary of what he did maintain.
Today you would put into the mouth of Socrates that it is no longer
thinkable that the idea of bed is anterior to a real bed and is a copy of the
“species” bed given by God, since in that case our first ancestral cell,
ancestral also to other animals such as fish and worms, would have already had
to have the idea of bed.
The first ancestral cells had no brain for thinking historically so they
could have neither the idea of “species” nor the idea of bed, which is
historical par excellence.
Historical ideas, as you have seen, call for a central nervous system in
order to be determined, to be structurally built as long term memory with the
pieces of short term memory. So it seems to me that if something must be
anterior to physically formal reality, as you would have it with the idea of “species”,
in the case of the bed this something is only the exigency of repose which is
anterior to the idea of bed because one may rest even without a bed. The cells
feel this exigency in relation to their form without a historical or encephalic
idea of bed and the species bed.
You see that the constitution of a central nervous system or brain is due
to the exigency of preserving the memory of the exigencies gathered by the nerve
The constitution of the nervous system is due to the
exigency to transmit, to the internal cells of the organism, the experience of
the cells in a position of contact exterior to the organism. The cells’
position of contact with the exterior of the organism is due to their exigency
for nutrition or awareness of the world external to the ends of an internal
interest, and in turn nutrition is due to the exigency to exist. After which it
seems to me that all these needs differentiated by their phenomena are moved by
a single Primary and undifferentiated need. It seems to me that the Exigency to
exist is the same for all phenomena.
In fact if it is true that the constitution of the central nervous system
is the last in time in the formation of an organism, if it is true that once the
central nervous system or brain is constituted it is the most important in
relation to the finality of preservation of the organism (even if as a result
the brain has been able to have other finalities). I believe, and You must tell
me if I’m wrong, that the whole
organism is posited by the Exigency of its existence. If this is so the temporal
succession of what we have listed as needs, which lead to formation of the
organism, including its central nervous system, are no other than a list of
phenomena due to one Exigency alone. Then the phenomena are in a logical
succession because their Exigency is one only. In fact what was numbered as the
first exigency in the finality of the preservation of an organism is also the
last, which means simultaneous with the first and the intermediaries. Their
consecutiveness being only a partiality of the whole, they are reduced in the
whole to unity. Since the Exigency is not subject to suffering time and the
determined numeration of phenomena, it is necessary that it be “one” and
Implicitly, the Primary Exigency, transcending single phenomena, cannot
be a cause of phenomena since between cause and caused there cannot, for
requirements of reason, be difference of nature.
And again for rational exigencies it immediately follows that single
phenomena cannot cause, only in themselves, other phenomena. In fact phenomena
are logically coordinated, and what is subject to coordination cannot be
coordinator: what is subject to power does not have power. If phenomena are
logically finalised, the logic of phenomena transcends them. And “one”
transcendent finality cannot but finalise “one” single phenomenon. So the
many phenomena are parts of a single phenomenon. It thus appears clear that also
the constitution of organisms with a brain is a part of the same phenomenon that
constitutes single-cell, beings, molecules, atoms and the entire mineral world:
what I mean is the whole of existence.
Today certain scientific researchers deny that phenomena have a necessary
cause and think that the phenomenon is due to its “condition”. This concept
of “condition” seems no different to me than the concept of cause. It seems
to me that “condition” is a multitude of simultaneous causes. Instead of
having a previous necessary cause, as the ancients said, the phenomenon would
have many and some of them would give the phenomenon at random. This new theory
of chance, setting aside the ancient theory, seems to be a distortion of
Heisenberg’s theory. The great scientist realised that in the subatomic
world (and only there because in the great cosmos it is admitted that the law is
not random) observation of phenomena interfered as concomitant cause in the
carrying out thereof, contaminating them. He realised that the only way to
approach the truth of phenomena was to numerate the experimental results and see
in how many observations under given “conditions” the expected phenomenon
occurred. This means attributing causal power to “conditions”.
The phenomenon would still depend on the necessary
nature of the cause and not be given at random. In fact the case would
invalidate the value of the
calculation of the probabilities. If the absence of the phenomenon were due to
chance, so would the phenomenon be, and no science can be founded on what could
be and at once not be. Heisenberg must have deeply believed in the necessary
link between cause and effect if he elaborated a method of inquiry on the
cause-effect relationship which excluded discontinuity and the researcher’s
imprecision of observation.
So I was saying that just as phenomena cannot cause other phenomena, and
that these exist for Primary Exigency which transcends them, so this Exigency
cannot cause them, otherwise it would not transcend them since between a cause
and the caused a relationship of the same nature is necessary.
Some time ago it seemed to me that the mover of phenomena was an
efficient cause, but now I realise that the concept of cause is so formed as to
be inadequate for what I want to say.
In fact by “cause” we understand that which has the power of an act
which is the caused. This relationship presupposes a temporal anteriority of the
cause with regard to the caused, whereas now I seem to understand that between
the phenomenon and its Exigency there is no temporal relationship (of the
earlier with regard to the later), no relationship of giving and taking, but of
“being” simultaneously. The Exigency of the world which we have called by
the name of God not only cannot be the cause of the world because this would
mean attributing to the Cause the nature of the caused, but no more can it be
efficiency of the world since it is impossible that an efficient thing like the
world is posterior to its efficiency, so the “causes” and phenomena are
simultaneous and thus also the modern concept of “condition”, presupposing
anteriority of the “condition” over phenomena, is inadequate. In fact
according to scientific researchers, without “condition” the phenomenon
could not occur, so the “condition” is a multitude of causes, which, as we
have seen, is impossible.
It therefore remains that the temporal logical successions of phenomena
are due to the fact of being these, consequential parts of one single uncaused
phenomenon, and transcended by the Exigency of its unitary existence. It follows
that between an anterior phenomenon and another subsequent to it there remains
the same logical relationship as between cause and effect, excepting provisional
deviations of the course of the envisaged phenomenon due to interference of the
freedom of unknown phenomena, phenomena which, once known, restore full
logicality to their course as if they were due to necessary causes. Randomness
is therefore excluded.
You will now ask me if a determined phenomenon may occur without
objective causes, which is to say without “condition”.
At first sight it seems impossible, but I have observed this: a group of
young plant shoots growing from seed in a homogeneous manner in the shade of a
little wall. Some time later I saw that some of their extremities tended towards
a crack in the wall which afforded light and air. After a few days I noted that
the shoots bent towards the light had grown considerably in comparison with the
others and were decisively headed towards the top of the wall. It was clear that
these shoots were behaving, from a finalistic viewpoint, in a different manner
from the others and in this, with regard to their growth, in an optimal manner.
The others remained smaller. I ask you this question: was the crack the anterior
cause of the greater growth of these shoots, or was it their personal exigency
to grow more?
It seems to me that the one and the other are simultaneous. It seems to
me that if the crack is a cause then the seed, the earth and the heat are cause,
and the shoot itself is cause of its own greater growth. If this is so, the
shoot is cause of itself, which is impossible as we have seen. So the Primary
Exigency of the shoots is the same that moves the environment and the shoots and
appears simultaneous with their existence, and the phenomena in logical
succession appear to us as rational parts of a single reality. The “parts”
are consequentially logical because they constitute reality and not because they
are caused as phenomena, which would be to admit their total lack of freedom.
However it is still necessary
to resolve an apparent contradiction: if the reality is one, are its parts,
which is to say the rationalised phenomena, obliged to be just as they are and
is there no freedom? Is what I called a personal project-related idea an
illusion? The response is that personal intervention in the world of things is
free but in accordance with the law formed by the freedom of things previously
possessed in the formation of the world. I am not free to not think since in not
wanting to think I think about not wanting to think. Thus I am free to add to
the evolutionary phenomenon of the world that which the world lacks for its
evolution in accordance with my personal opinion and, as my opinion is given by
logical Exigency, it is necessary to the logic of the world. Freedom is
guaranteed by logicality and not by caprice, which is to say by chance. The
latter does not even guarantee itself. Since if chance is given at random it
could be not given. What is given is guaranteed by its necessity. Thus the
project, though personal and free, is universal and governed by law.
I repeat myself: the addenda of a sum are set out freely with different
values and are therefore free, but the sum is unique and the law determining it
is one only. The idea of reality prior to personal encephalic consciousness is
bound to the freedom of previous ancestors or individuals and constitutes law.
The project-related idea of present individuals is free and will constitute law
when it is codified. The brain is free in the active but not retroactive project.
In fact modern researchers have observed, as You will see below, the existence
in the encephalon of two distinct zones, one genetic which has taken on
atavistic experiences as law, and another called the “plastic zone” which
represents free personal experiences and therefore renders possible a personal
project free from genetic law, and thus the
world constitutes itself through its own freedom which becomes law.
Dear Plato, I’ll come back now to Your problem of the anteriority of
“ideas” over reality.
After having seen that the rational or encephalic idea of reality is
posterior to any given reality, in the light of recent discoveries it seems to
me necessary to understand better, I should say in a detailed way, how one can
have, over and above the encephalic idea of any object whatsoever such as a
specific bed, also an idea of its “species”.
First of all I have seen that the only Exigency is that of existence and
that the logical and objective succession of phenomena is finalised towards the
constitution of the totality.
Then I see not only that the totality cannot have a
finality beyond itself, but not even an immanent finality. It seems to me
necessary that the sum or totality of phenomena has no finality at all, because
the totality is the finishing line of the finality of its parts.
It seems to me that a finality cannot be immanent: an
athlete runs to win the race. Victory goes beyond running and transcends it, but
if the finishing line did not exist the athlete would run to run. The finality
would be immanent, that is, inexistent. Finality by its nature calls for its
extinction by means of the carrying out of its acts towards a destination.
The immanence of the finality of the world seems to me
a conjuring trick devised to save the infinity of the world and at the same
time, contradictorily, the concept of cause, which is to say its beginning from
In fact if the world is infinite it seems not to
possess a finishing line, and without a finishing line the finality disappears
and thus the cause disappears. In order not to make it disappear it is declared
that the finality is immanent to the world.
But I believe that finality is only in
the things that form the world and the finality of things, like the things
themselves, dies out in the creation of the world.
Some may point out that the totality of the world is
given by its parts: if the parts possess finality, this is also possessed by the
totality. One may reply to this observation by pointing out the example of the
bodies of the earth which have a determined weight on the earth, but the earth
constituted by the totality of the weighing bodies has no determined weight. To
assume a finality as a sum of the parts, even though within the world, means
admitting for this finality a process of return to phenomena and so there would
be two finalities, one towards the totality and the other a return to phenomena.
If this were so it would also be possible to repeat formally identical bodies,
the form of the bodies being the phenomenal form of the finality.
So it is necessary that the bodies of the world be different and in eternal change,
precisely due to their personal finality. Even with a purpose to achieve they
constitute the immobility of the world. And how it is possible to have movement
of the parts and immobility of all of them in their totality is once more
suggested by the nature of the addenda, which are many, different and mobile and
their sum necessarily immobile.
The world cannot have finality since this would be
re-proposing (on the world’s part) that which its parts proposed in order to
constitute it. It seems to me that the finality of things is the creation of
their identity, which is to say their specific difference from others. If things
did not have this finality, and therefore no reciprocal difference, the world in
its nature would not exist. Thus the finality transcends things in constituting
the world. If the world were to include the finality of things it would destroy
itself. Finality is in the world but
not of the world. So there is a clear
necessity for logical coordination, meaning finalised towards the constitution
of the world, of the individual parts of the world which it transcends without
being their cause.
Dear Master, I believe I can see that modes
of existing are given by one single Exigency and I believe it is true that modes of existing depend on the freedom of existing things.
In fact without freedom, infinite modes of being are
not possible. After all, there is no sense in imposing one form of existence
rather than another for the Exigency of existence. Before any form of existence
exists it is impossible to prefer one to another, so freedom is innate to
existence and any predetermination of the world is senseless. We may therefore
think that existence had and has the freedom to give itself form by itself, but
not as a choice which would presuppose the existence of several forms to choose
from. Giving itself form by itself should be understood as inventing its own
form by itself. Only in this way is there freedom, because the freedom to choose
between this or that form is an obligatory choice of either this or that.
Original and absolute freedom is not choosing but creating the form, and this
naturally involves the contemporaneousness of existence and of God, intuited as
Exigency of existence as I have already said. Thus the first cell, our ancestor,
took its form for itself. There being no constrictions, what it decided was
perfect for its purpose. It decided by itself its form of life, just as its
constituent parts of molecules, atoms and tinier particles had done.
Evolution of the mode
of existing led the first cells to establish themselves as organisms and,
subsequently, some of them to form a central nervous system and a related manner
It is thus necessary that what You call idea
of species of a bed is the idea of genetic rest associated with a multitude
of ideas referring to all beds experienced, which is to say the instruments of
rest descended from one single Exigency.
Further, I seem to understand that the “idea” of
bed which You imagined not only does not have a formal
relationship with a determined bed but not even with objects which by
analogy have the same finality of genetic rest.
Billions of years ago there was no cutlery for eating
at table, because it was not necessary and not required by exigency. So today
this cutlery cannot have a relationship of resemblance or formal imitation with
an idea of its “species” which,
descending from God, as You would have it, should always have existed in the
cells and atoms of our molecule ancestors.
It thus happens that the part of the (human) brain that
deals with the memory of the necessities or exigencies of genetic rest
immediately interacts with the part of the brain known as plastic, which deals
with the current processing of the whole organism’s finalistic behaviour, and
associates the form of a bed with the possibility of satisfying a need for rest,
even if that person has never had the idea of bed. It seems to me that in the
possible use of an object, by necessity one creates for this object the idea
that You call “species”, so any
object such as a bed is other than its finalised function which it transcends (certainty
that objects remain transcended by their finality is achieved when one sees
formally and functionally different objects with an identical finality, like a
watch and an hourglass). In reality the bed is formally unique. It is
independent of any other form of bed and therefore independent of an idea of “species”.
And here once more I believe one can understand how it is possible to have the
relationship of the plurality of determined objects with the unity of the
so-called idea of species. One understands once more the means by which it is
possible to have a relationship between the “one” and the “many”, as I
seems to me impossible that a carpenter builds beds by making a copy of the
“idea of species” of bed, because between the “one” of the finality and
the “many” beds built by the carpenter, as I have seen, a formal
relationship is not possible. In the same way, nor is it possible for a painter
to make a copy of one of the carpenter’s beds in a painting. Each idea and
each representation of the idea appears to us unique, and dependence on an
anterior model inexistent.
I should say then to take it for granted that the idea
of “species” of objects is inexistent and must give way to the idea of form
of finality, as said earlier, and I should say that the artist paints an object
like a bed which does not formally “resemble” the “bed” built by the
carpenter but represents it objectively through the analogy of its finalised
function, recognisable by the genetic exigencies common to both the artist and
the beholder of the work of art. A “copy” is therefore impossible.
Impossible both in the idea and in the concrete, physically perceptible form.
What unites different forms in so-called resemblance
(every form is absolutely unique) is their common finality and the usability
thereof on our part. The unifying formal element is the synthesis of the
formalised elements finalised by us, meaning by our project. This of course
involves exclusion from our interest of forms of the real object not finalised
by us, and we have always called these “accidental” although, in the object,
they occupy the same role as those we call “substantial”. The forms useful
to our project we call “substance”. Those excluded we call “accidents”
but it is clear that both the “substance” and “accidents” of an object
are really the same. And so it may also happen that what have formerly been
considered “accidents” become “substance” in accordance with our new
Dear Master, I confess that I made a great effort to
seek the origin of the idea of “species” and its “substantial” form.
This is why you must tell me if it has been wasted effort.
And now I’ll tell you about the results of an
experiment carried out by Moruzzi: “Overturning visual perception by placing
in front of one eye, from birth, a permanent lens which turns images round by a
hundred and eighty degrees, one obtains a structuring
of the occipital cortex involved, which is inverted with regard to the
contralateral” (Vittorino Andreoli, La
norma e la scelta, Mondadori 1984, p. 25).
And now I’ll tell you about the results of an
experiment carried out by Moruzzi: “Overturning visual perception by placing
in front of one eye, from birth, a permanent lens which turns images round by a
hundred and eighty degrees, one obtains a structuring
of the occipital cortex involved, which is inverted with regard to the
contralateral” (Vittorino Andreoli, La
norma e la scelta, Mondadori 1984, p. 25).
You understand that something falling on an eye with
that lens rises to the other eye, and this means that if the idea of
“species” of object were anterior to seeing the object, the lens could not
modify the structure of the cerebral cortex dealing with perception of the
object, and the overturned view of the objects would be only a passing optical
disturbance. As You can see, even ideas, which are the basis and the constituent
elements of the form of reality, such as verticality, horizontality and
gravitation, are posterior to the perceiving to the vertical and horizontal
lines etc. of objects. These ideas, as You have seen, are formed structurally,
and therefore objectively, in the encephalon on the sensorial dictates of the
“plastic zone”, that zone which deals with
consciousness of new problems and therefore with their solution by means
of project-related freedom. It follows that the logical structure of thought is
established by the physical structure of the cerebral cortex, and this from the
sensorial perceiving of reality. I see that the logic of thought is dictated by
the logic of nature external to the encephalon, or at least, reasoning, I may
theorise that encephalic rationality is harmoniously simultaneous with the logic
of nature. By this I mean that thought is
objective and the senses possess logical and finalistic functionalities like the
But for about two hundred years philosophers have been
in love with an apparent idea: they have believed that the “idea” of reality
and reality were not objective. Whereas You, more than two thousand years ago,
had strongly postulated the contrary. Later I’ll tell You about the crime. But
following the latest scientific discoveries we may say that the “subjective”
is reduced to only the “individual”. The individual is distinguished from
the subjective by its possibility of personally utilising the objective ideas of
its plastic encephalon.
But for about two hundred years philosophers have been
in love with an apparent idea: they have believed that the “idea” of reality
and reality were not objective. Whereas You, more than two thousand years ago,
had strongly postulated the contrary. Later I’ll tell You about the crime. But
following the latest scientific discoveries we may say that the “subjective”
is reduced to only the “individual”. The individual is distinguished from
the subjective by its possibility of personally utilising the objective ideas of
its plastic encephalon.
The subjectivism of the old modern world, on the other
hand, repudiates the objectivity of the idea of reality and poses this dilemma:
either the world is posited by the subject (subjectively posited) or the
individual is predetermined and without freedom.
But it seems to me that objective ideas do not impede
freedom of the individual who, intervening in the evolution of the world,
affirms the objectivity of the world and personal freedom. The latest
discoveries reaffirm both freedom and the objectivity of ideas. They deny that
the conditions of consciousness are immutable or a priori. They deny that these conditions are common to all
It seems to me that my project is new with regard to
what the senses brought to my brain. My finalistic intervention on reality, free
because finalistic, is objective because it has the strength to modify the
previous objective reality.
I should tell You that I am a painter and, as I told
You, this is why in the final analysis I am writing to You.
I should like to tell You that observing the processes
that allow me to paint a picture I see that first of all there is the desire to
paint. This, I should say, is traceable to that Exigency and logic-efficient
capacity I told You about. Then I see that the idea of reality, or the
encephalic memory I have of reality, permits me to imagine by means of my
freedom the form of the work I am planning, in accordance with an aim of mine
that takes form in accordance with my personal form or structure.
The picture I am going to paint will, I believe, make
use of ideas or memory of objects of reality as constituent material, such as
the bricks of a house, and of an impulse or Exigency to put forward a new
reality, like a new house responding to a new function that is not identified in
the objects of reality which I use, such as bricks, and of which I have an
objective idea, but will transcend them by means of my purpose in creating the
painting, like a house. But in the making, the new painting does not respect the
project-related idea, even though it does not overturn it. No preceding idea of
a painting has ever guaranteed the painting I later produced. In the making, the
new painting becomes really new, and when it is complete and placed by me into
reality, I see that the idea preceding it in a project-related manner has not
been realised. In the new formal reality it is seen that from the idea or memory
of reality to the project-related idea, and from this to the idea of the new
work, there are three steps. So the idea I have of the new picture when it is
done is the third idea, setting out from the memory of reality anterior to my
personal project, and I can only have this when the picture is finished, and not
before beginning it, because before beginning it, it is project only, afterwards
subject to unpredictable modifications during execution due to intrusion of the
liberties of the external world formally different from my project. Thus the
“objective” apprehended by me permits me its objective evolution through my
project, even if it does not permit me my whole project.
Some so-called modern theoreticians think that the work
of art, precisely because it proceeds from an exigency without guarantee of the
result, is not produced by the artist’s logical rigour but by irrationality
understood as freedom from the rigour of finalised coherency. As a-logicality,
as one Benedetto Croce said. I should say that it is meanwhile necessary to
distinguish what is without logical rigour from what is not rational: as You
have seen, even organisms without an encephalon, therefore without rationality,
behave with a logical rigour which is perhaps superior to that of organisms
possessing an encephalon.
So I should say that the capacity of satisfying the
exigencies of an organism, the capacity of a suitable and productive personal
response to the conditions external to the organism, derive from a highly and
rigorously logical capacity which, aside from encephalic memorisation, replaces
it in its essential function. This capacity for logical behaviour is also
possessed, as I told You, by acephalous and therefore non-rational organisms, so
rationality and logicality are distinct entities, yet this logical rigour
anterior to encephalic rationality is what qualifies encephalic rationality as
logic inasmuch as the latter is posterior to the former and the former
constitutes it fundamentally. And it is clear that there cannot be rationality
without logical rigour.
This logical rigour or finalised coherency produces
life. In fact where there is no logical rigour there is less possibility of
Thus only the work of an acephalous organism may be
irrational yet still logical, as we have seen.
Having distinguished rationality from logicality it is
useful to remember, as we have said, that encephalic rationality is the
project-related memory of the peripheral logic-efficient capacities of the
organism. And so the form of art is the opposite of what is imagined by the
so-called moderns: first of all highly logical
in order to be a property of nature at all levels including the subatomic;
secondly it is rational because it is constituted by the encephalic memory of
peripheral cellular logic. So only where cellular logical rigour is absent will
there be no encephalic rationality and therefore no emotive cerebral response
either in the artist or in the beholder of his work.
A scientific experiment which confirms the dependence
of all cerebral emotiveness on cellular logic was carried out on a macaque by a
group of scientists.
The reactions of the encephalic system were
electrically recorded to quantify the monkey’s neuronal response to a drawing
(the monkey’s neurons are “homologous” to those of man). The animal was
shown a frontal view of a human face. It was then shown the same drawing but
without the eyes. Subsequently the drawing was shown with what we should call in
today’s artistic jargon naïf lines.
Then the image was decomposed and shown in separate parts: “abstract” we
should say in artistic jargon today, meaning non-representational: without
analogy with the genetic forms of the first drawing. Well, the neuronal
responses, beginning with the most intense to the first image, gradually
diminished until they almost disappeared with the abstract.(Jean Pierre Changeux,
Ragione e piacere p. 25, Cortina Ed. 1995). As I have already told
You, Moruzzi demonstrated that cerebral structure is dictated by the structure
of the images of nature supplied by the senses. This other experiment
demonstrates that the sensitivity of the encephalon is subject to emotive
reaction only when the images received therein are logical. With
this it is experimentally ascertained that so-called abstract art produces no
emotiveness because it does not possess logic of image. It is ascertained that
the brain recognises only the logical figure. The concept of form, then, is
such because its structure is efficient logic: I mean that reality is as the
senses perceive it and only consequently as the encephalon thinks of it. This is
why there is no encephalic activity beyond logical form.
This logic of the senses is visible in the whole of
nature, starting, as You have seen, with the unicellular organisms. The logic of
cells, and by necessity of molecules and atoms too, led to the constitution of
our central nervous system, as I already told you, which turns out to be the
final structure delegated to coordination of the logical exigencies of the
various parts of the organism. Coordination which in its function we call
rationality, and which is less if less logical forms come into sensorial
perception. These, preserved in the encephalic memory, make rationality possible
even at a time distance from the logical-sensorial perception. This rationality
at a time distance may seem, but only seem, an entity independent of the logical
sensorial perception transmitted by the nerve cells to the brain.
And now I
shall tell You why I have written this long preamble to the heart of the matter:
today there are so-called artists who have abandoned the logical form of nature
and who invoke You as a predecessor because they imagine that You condemned art
because it is figurative, meaning to say, because it is logical.
In reality these so-called artists are the children of
a certain Professor Hegel who, in turn, grew out of the basic principles of
Emanuel Kant, the philosopher generally held to be – I’ll tell you why later
– the father of all modern philosophy. As I was telling You, this Professor
Hegel, who plagiarised You by using your arguments set forth in the
“Laws” and “Ippia”?? dialogues, and was a teacher of aesthetics
among many other things, said that art had a duty greater than its powers and
would die from the effort of competing with philosophy. All in all, since
Professor Hegel believed himself to
be a philosopher, he said that philosophy was more suitable than art for
bringing the “supreme interests of the spirit” to consciousness. At the most,
art could survive by abandoning its form. As You can see, it is the logical form
of nature that is being disputed, and today other eminent professors are
convinced that the logic of the form of nature is not the same as encephalic
reason; indeed they maintain, as Hegel did, that the “flesh” is so low that
is has to be rescued by the “spirit”, intending by “flesh” the logic of
nature and by “spirit” any oddity at the limit of madness produced by some
dysfunction or encephalic lesion.
The false master copied this great idea of the
“spirit” that conquers the “flesh” and served it up to his pupils as his
own. They in turn, believing they were doing a good deed, proclaimed that art
must either die, as the master had wished, or survive without being a “copy”
of reality, which is to say by freeing itself from its so lowly placed “flesh”.
This new pure-spirit art was called “abstract” and is created, as You will
have understood, without the logical form of reality.
The artist arrives at the opening of his exhibition and
says “art is”, but nobody sees anything because if the artist were to show
something, the spiritual purity of his art would be polluted. Some time ago
“artists” exhibited blank canvases or their own excrement, identifying these
things in the artistic subject, but they were simpletons and have now been
superseded by the latest spiritually super-pure brainwaves. Now, to console the
visitors at the opening of their exhibitions, and to leave a tangible sign that
art is there but cannot be seen with the eyes of the “flesh” since it is
pure spirit, artists cut up bits of plastic or cloth or paper, or condoms, or
sanitary towels stained with menstrual blood, and distribute them to those
present who go happily off to the restaurant, convinced that at last art has
freed itself from its “accidents”.
As I told you, it was Immanuel Kant who laid the
groundwork. This Kant said that ideas of reality are formed within us not
because the images of reality model our brain, as Moruzzi demonstrated, but
because our brain models reality by a capacity or pre-constitution of its
structure given a priori. Kant
implicitly admits that the “categories” of “pure intellect” are in the
brain. You must keep in mind that in Kant’s opinion our brain is like a mould,
like one of those used in baking in order to give pleasing shapes to cakes and
biscuits: fine, the a priori
conditions are these moulds which we are said to possess in the place of that
plastic part of the brain which models itself in accordance with sensorial
experiences and which, as I described to You, is structured setting out from a
condition that is amorphous or in energetic power with a structure. In Kant’s
opinion – but Kant could not think what we, thanks to scientific discoveries,
can think today – the form of nature was like baking dough, as I told You,
which takes form only if poured into the mould. So in this philosopher’s
opinion the idea of reality is conditioned by the mould possessed a
priori, and we ourselves fabricate reality which does not exist outside of
ourselves or in any case not in the form that we see.
He was in such good faith that he wrote: “Nothing
worse could happen to these efforts (of mine) than someone making the unexpected
discovery that nowhere is there or can there be a priori knowledge” (Kant, Critica
della Ragion Pratica, Laterza 1983, p. 13). But someone made the unexpected
discovery: it was the evolution of the
species which, refuting all immobile knowledge, consequently refutes any
immobile or a priori condition of
Evolution is open to every transformation of the individual and
of the species and the categories do not
appear to us as conditions of knowledge but conditioned by knowledge, as Moruzzi
Well backed up by Kant, Hegel then stated that the
“spirit” – that certain
something struggling against the “flesh” – would
win the artistic struggle only by doing without the logical form of
nature. “One may hope that art increasingly rises up and perfects itself, but
its form has ceased to be the supreme need of the spirit” (Hegel, Estetica,
Einaudi 1976, p. 120).
As You can see, these so-called modern artists,
repudiated by scientific experience, are desperately seeking points of support
for their theory of art without form. It still seems to them that as You said
that the form of art is the “copy” of reality and the form of reality is the
“copy” of the idea of species, which is to say copy of the
idea given by God, or unique true reality, they must consider figurative
art as false. In order to be “true” it should not be a copy of the copy of
“truth”, meaning a copy of the copy of the idea “of species”. They feel
that they are related to You in some way because you said that art is not
truthful. I should like to ask you to clarify to these willing people your true
position with regard to the value of the concept of “copy” and of truth. But
given that, in the end, these so-called artists and their exegetes have got it
in for me because I don’t put my faeces in a box and therefore don’t give
“insight into the spiritual”, I should like to permit myself to set down for
them Your theory of the “copy” and of the “truth” of art, naturally with
your marvellous text to hand. And with your consent I should put it like this:
Plato could not give the copy the negative value false,
which means the opposite of truth, but
only the value of “remote from the truth”
(Plato, Politeia X, p. 476, Rizzoli
This is an interpretation which I believe will not be
opposed, because if it had said that art is the contrary of truth, which is to
say false, for the sole reason of being a copy
of reality, then it would have said that reality too is false since it is a copy
of the idea of “species”.
Not only, but Plato also says that ideas of
“species” come from God who is the author thereof. So: if from ideas of
“species” we have, due to their descent, a false reality, it would mean that
ideas of “species” too are false since they too are subject to origin (from
God). Since the false cannot be a descendant of the truth nor the truth of the
false, if ideas of “species” which come from God are false, then God too is
But Plato did not say this, therefore the Platonic
“copy” is the partial representation of Divine truth. Everyone can accept
that the first idea is remote from the
second and the second from the third without claiming as a consequence that the
second and third are false. So figurative art is the art of truth, though not
identified in Divine truth. Something which, after all, no one has ever claimed.
But reading, hand on heart, Plato’s marvellous
dialogues one well understands what Plato was fighting his strategic battle
Plato distinguishes “technical or scientific capability” (Plato, Lo Ione, p. 90, Rizzoli 1953) or “the capability to act towards a purpose”, from the purpose,
which is to say from the theme of art. “This
capability of acting towards a purpose when it produces only damage, does this
seem to you a good thing?” (Plato, Ippia
maggiore, p. 556, Rizzoli 1953).
of something inferior therefore accompanies and generates inferior products” (Plato, Politeia
X, p. 476, Rizzoli 1953). One sees clearly that “mimesis” as such is not in
itself inferior. In fact if the theme of art spoke the truth it would be a good
thing. “We are aware of being subject to
the whole charm of poetry” (Plato, Politeia
X, p. 482, Rizzoli 1953) and since poetry is the first of the accused, followed
by painting, we understand that acquittal is given to both
with the words “The profit will not be small if poetry becomes not only sweet and
soothing but also useful” (Plato, Politeia
X, p. 438, Rizzoli 1953). And then you have forgotten or do not know that “poets
are of a divine race, the divine breath is in them; with the aid of the Graces
and the Muses they draw truth from many things” (Plato, Leggi,
p. 341, Rizzoli 1953), so they do not say the opposite of the truth.
And that mimesis as such is not guilty may be read in
the second book of the “Laws”. If it
is given us to know that the copy, due to artistic merit, has all its own parts
and colours and the right figure overall? Does it not follow that he who knows
this will also know whether the work is beautiful or in what way it is deficient
fact the criterion of justness in mimesis, as we are saying, is precisely this:
if the imitated thing is perfectly identical to the original”. Plato wants mimesis to be perfect, otherwise it is
condemned as being not true. Since Plato said that the idea is the first model
of form from which copies descend, the
copies will be formal in accordance with their model, and your theory of
ideas without form is overturned, I should say.
Dear Plato, I wanted to end this letter but a half-idea
came to me: after having pointed out that there are two rational or encephalic
ideas – one which represents the reality communicated by the senses and the
other which projects future realities – I realised, but I already told You,
that the cells of our ancestors and present day cells had and have a finalistic
operative nature like those of the encephalon.
This operative nature of the cells we called logic-efficient
capacity, that is, equipped with adaptive capacity useful for survival and
equipped with the capacity to transmit information to the encephalon in a
project-related manner. I now realise that these capacities too are carried out
in two consequentially logical moments: the first renders the cell aware
of the reality anterior thereto, and the second renders it efficient in the project-related transmission to the encephalon of
the reality apprehended, and at the same time awaits a provision or command from
the brain to be4 carried out usefully, which is to say in a project-related
manner, in favour of itself and of the entire organism.
So I see that also every single cell has, like the
rational encephalon, two “ideas” characterised by two different functions.
This is why I would now expect You to say that the logic-efficient action of the
cells is due to two “ideas”, even if they are not preserved in an encephalic
memory. Not only: since these ideas are constituent of rational encephalic ideas
and have in common with the latter the Exigency of their existence, I would
expect You to say that logic-efficient capacities, or ideas of every single cell,
being anterior to rational encephalic ideas, are less remote from the truth and
nearer to God than rational encephalic ideas which, following Your ancient
doctrine, ought to be a copy of cellular ones. I also think You would add that
rational or encephalic ideas, being formed by information received from the
cells, are not cakes shaped by a pre-constituted encephalic mould or given a
priori, as Kant says, who is followed by the so-called modern world.
You would also specify that encephalic-rational ideas
formed by cellular logic-efficient ideas, these too in accordance with
project-related finality, modify reality with their project so that the reality
renewed by the project, being re-perceived by the logic-efficient cells and
retransmitted to the encephalon, participates in the formation of a successive
encephalic project and is thus re-perceived in a circular manner by the cells
and retransmitted to the encephalon. Thus the logic-efficient ideas of the cells
and encephalic ideas participate together in the evolution of the previous
You would clarify that it is impossible to separate the
cellular idea from the encephalic and the latter from the form of existence, as
Moruzzi demonstrates, and that ideas of reality are not “copies” of reality
but reality itself.
Dear Plato, let these truth-lovers know that informel
art claims the existence of a knowledge independent of its source. It claims to
separate the encephalic idea from its logical form based on the freedom of the
cells of our organism, which seems to me, over and above any doctrine and in the
light of modern scientific discoveries, just a witticism.
I send my heartfelt respects and thanks for Your
“Dialogues” which are and have been for me, together with the cellular
information of my organism, the reason of my reason.
Mario Donizetti - 1997/2000