The Useless Beauty of Truth
We know the truth is often ugly, and pleasure is bewitchingly attractive. Thus we indulge those daily flights into fantasy and self-deceit that the Delphic injunction to “Know Thyself” is in constant labor against. How then can Plato claim that transformative truth is of incomparable beauty – that beauty itself is a guide to truth? A contrast case of an ultimate truth devoid of beauty reveals that Plato’s outlook is one that – without delusions about ugly everyday realities in ourselves and around us – nevertheless retains vital space for hope and redemption, by its recognition of a compelling goodness beyond utility, signaled by beauty.
Amber Carpenter is Associate Professor at Yale-NUS College, Singapore, and supervises doctoral students at the University of York. She received her B.A. in Philosophy from Yale University in 1996 and her Ph.D. from King’s College London in 2001. 2003 to 2005 she was Assistant Professor at the Franklin & Marshall College, 2005 to 2007 teaching fellow at the University of St. Andrews; in 2007 she was Albert Einstein Fellow at the Einstein Forum. She works in Ancient Greek philosophy and in Indian philosophy. Her general interest is in ethics, ancient and modern, and specifically in the place of reason in a well-lived life – what might reason be that it could be ethically relevant, or even required? Her publications include a number of articles on Greek and Indian philosophy and a monograph entitled Indian Buddhist Philosophy (2013).