All this captures, I think, the fundamental truth that we can never adequately understand a human performance as a product independent of the performer. However outwardly focused the performance may be, its essential meaning includes the self’s development through its own exertions. We express ourselves not only to achieve something “out there”, but also because something “in here” drives us to it, and in the expressing we strengthen and deepen our inner powers of expression. As Kass puts it, “our genuine happiness requires that there be little gap, if any, between the dancer and the dance”. And the same principle applies to our assessment of the achievements of others: we rightly value every human expression, from the pianist’s recital to the scholar’s text to the quarterback’s athletic artistry, not merely as an external product, but as part of the unfolding revelation of an expressing self. Therein lies its ultimate significance. Conversely, whatever does not arise from the expressing self is not fundamental. There are, in the end, no worthwhile “things” in the world; there are only worthwhile doings.

from that via this made me think more about this. Which is good, I think.
And yes, I have subscribed to his newsletter. Heh.

People Say Stuff Sometimes

Join the conversation! 9 Comments

  1. >There are, in the end…
    In the “end” we are “done”. The act of “doing” ceases. We’ve reached our goal or we’ve fallen short of the goal.
    Are we saying that the resultant blog has no value, but the act of blogging has value or the painting has no value but the act of painting is not worthless? If so, then, while we are acting, are we acting with a mind that our goal is “worthless”? Is the conclusion of the argument — or the synthesis that arises out of the thesis and antithesis worthless, while the process of thesising and antithesising of great value? Some might suggest exactly the opposite. If you are a teacher, isn’t your goal to have your students learn something? How can the acts of teaching have value while the goal of learned students be worthless?

  2. This is a hard one. I too would think that *things* do have value, provided they are the result of artistic, emotional, expression. The painting surely has value?
    I guess one could argue that the only value is in my viewing of the painting: an act of doing. Yet, the painting needs to exist in order for me to view it
    Is this another one of those bleak post-modernist vs common-sense-and-experience type thingies?

  3. hmm, having actually bothered to read the passage more thoroughly, I think it’s exactly saying what my first para above asks: we value the painting if it’s a truthful expression of the artists self and emotions.

  4. In response to the questions in your second paragraph, nobody, I’d answer that the answers to your questions are dependant on an antecedent question : who is the person assessing value?
    Your question seem to imply that there is such a thing as intrinsic value floating around, attaching itself to actions and artefacts, independant of observers or actors. I don’t think this is the case, and leads to the absurdities that you point up.
    I think the action, the doing (in other words the blogging or the teaching, or the living) has most or all of its true value for the actor, while it may be true that the ends thereof (the ‘artefacts’ maybe) are the carriers of value for everyone else.
    Then again, I just woke up, so I may be blithering.

  5. You’ll have to excuse my lack of vocubulary and my wayward arguments, cos I ain’t that bright.
    I think that you Stavros are right, not blithering. I also think that “everyone else” finds value or not in the act, the doing, of reading, viewing, experiencing the artefact. BUT I think that there is sufficient common ground, shared understanding — I seem to remember the term “received wisdom” or somesuch from the couple of hours I actually turned up during my degree studies — that an artefact which is a true product of the creator’s emotion is *more* likely to result in the apprehension of value by the rest of us when we look at it, eat it, etc.
    It’s not really intrinsic value, it’s carried value as you say, and it can be recognised because it’s another human apprehending it.
    Fuck, you thought you were blithering?
    Well, I actually think I’m right(ish) but just don’t have the language to say it that clearly.

  6. I find the liberal application of beer usually solves that problem. I think we’re saying the same thing, pretty much, even without the beer, though.

  7. Saw a link here from another site and thought I’d say this:
    You have an interesting layout, looks quite unique, but it’s nearly impossible to read! Please checkout

  8. Browser, version? Come on, throw me a frickin’ bone, other than a link to the w3, there, friend.

  9. Yeah, how dare you not design your site to someone else’s personal preferences 😉
    This is an interesting concept – I may be viewing this too simplistically (being simple-minded, I tend to do that), but it seems to me that the act of spewing brain matter out on a web-site has value only to the person doing it, while the results of doing so may have value to the creator in addition to anyone who reads it. If you are like me, however, the end result has negative value that tends to take away from the value of the act itself, as what I write rarely meets my own standards and I get frustrated that I do not seem to be able to convert brainwaves into pixels in any meaningful way.

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