Pulling the course together...
Consider this problem:
- What defines a golden age? What qualities make one "age" stand
out over others? Significant cultural
does it only reflect something "good"? does it have to be broadly based? consider the cases we have discussed: Athens? Florence? Berlin? Vienna? etc.... Broadly based cultural achievement?
- lit, theater, poetry,
- in the arts and architecture
- in political / philosophical
- in discovery: exploration, science, and technological advances
- financial stablity
- What conditions promote a golden age?
- Consensual government? Role of the middle?
- Economic prosperity? to provide the resources to support, preserve
- Personal and/or civic freedom; "liberation" from established
and monolithic culture? Creative destruction?
- How well art encourages self conscious reflection? empathy, toleration of different opinions
or social / political unity/coherence.
- Liberty vs. license (1. authority to act; formal permission. 2.excess
of liberty; freedom abused; licentious: lawless; unrestrained by strict
rules of correctness); how to find a balance? how much of the latter
does one have to tolerate to be able to enjoy the former?
- What is the connection between society, its values, and individual
genius, and cultural achievement? Recall the question posed by Brucker...
- Do we favor these elements because they are familiar to us or because
we judge them to be "objectively" true?
- Does one need a critical social mass of understanding?
- Peaceful innovation and improvement / Creative Destruction?
- But: to what extent is it true[in the case of Berlin] that the very turmoil
of the period was the root innovation? Does one need a cathartic event to
"liberate" / foster cultural innovation?
So what contributes transcendent cultural contribution?
- should we be able to demonstrate empathy and self-conscious sustained reflection… in a public context?
- So why does architecture show this empathy, the self-conscious sustained reflection? certain architectural forms create a symmetrical aesthetically pleasing experience… and these compositional forms translate to all forms of art…
- Limited societal constraints, a flexibility that encouraged or at least tolerates innovation and criticism of the status quo.
- Somewhere between a constraining stable government and chaotic anarchy there is an optimal amount of freedom that enables humans to create; the “sweet point” that allows for tolerance of new forms of expression.
Is democracy necessary for these optimal conditions to occur? to allow for Creative Destruction to proceed peacefully?
- In the examples we have explored, all three societies have consensual government (kind of…, consensual government for the few) Or maybe it’s a ruler allowing for these optimal conditions to occur as well…?
- The balance between liberty and lewdness… Where do these societies draw their lines? Eros and the Cabaret???
- A necessary condition or merely a secondary condition?
- A reasonable surplus is necessary, cannot be a society only focused on surviving… But how much of a surplus is necessary? Can the society be subject to depression and inflation?
- What about a critical mass of prosperous, educated people, like a middle class, or can there just be a select few who are prosperous?