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Thursday, July 28, 2016

On truth & beauty (Skutch)

Much as I have loved and sought truth, I have loved and sought beauty even more—not only sensuous beauty, but likewise moral and spiritual beauty, the beauty that ancient philosophers equated with the good. Beauty is always, in a sense, truth, although if incautious we may draw false inferences from it; but truth, in a world so full of harsh and ugly facts as this, is often the antithesis of beauty. Although one may contend that to know the truth, even about ugly and evil things, is in itself good and valuable, such knowledge can hardly avoid being tainted by its loathsome object. But to learn the truth about beautiful things, by long and patient effort to disclose their carefully guarded secrets, is one of the most satisfying of pursuits. ... Certainly, for our survival, we need to know about many things that are dry, unpleasant, or revolting. But so many brilliant minds, supported by wealthy institutions, are dedicated to these investigations, that it can do no great harm if a few "world losers and world forsakers" devote themselves to the pursuit of the beautiful truths that enrich us spiritually even if they contribute nothing to our survival in a competitive world.

Alexander F. Skutch, The Imperative Call: A Naturalist's Quest in Temperate and Tropical America

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