Noble Discontent and Beauty

The factor in human life provocative of a noble discontent is the gradual emergence into prominence of a sense of criticism, founded upon appreciations of beauty, and of intellectual distinction, and of duty. The moral element is derivative from the other factors in experience. For otherwise there is no content for duty to operate upon. There can be no mere morality in a vacuum. Thus the primary factors in experience are first the animal passions such as love, sympathy, ferocity, together with analogous appetitions and satisfactions; and secondly, the more distinctly human experiences of beauty, and of intellectual fineness, consciously enjoyed. Here the notion of intellectual distinction, or of fineness, is somewhat broader than that of ‘truth’, which is ordinarily cited in this connection. There is a grandeur of achievement in the delicate adjustment of thought to thought, which is independent of the mere blunt question of truth. We may term it ‘beauty’. But intellectual beauty, however capable of being hymned in terms relevant to sensible beauty, is yet beautiful by stretch of metaphor. The same consideration applies to moral beauty. All three types of character partake in the highest ideal of satisfaction possible for actual realization, and in this sense can be termed that beauty which provides the final contentment for the Eros of the Universe. 

P.11 Adventure of Ideas, Whitehead

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