Beauty as Liberatory on a Morning Run In Vancouver
Let me just recommend first, philosophy conferences in Vancouver; second, starting your conference off with a good night’s sleep and a long run in the beauty of nature. I ran 11 miles through Stanley Park and then Vancouver this morning where I’m attending the Pacific American Philosophical Assoication (APA). As I ran, the view changed from the seawall and evergreens to mountains. It was beautiful. It was stunning. I thought of C.S.Lewis’s claim that beauty produces a need to share it with someone else. I was out there, running through Stanley Park, thinking, this is amazing, do the others not know about this? I need to capture this so they can see it. I kicked myself for not taking my phone with me.
And it was in that moment where I recognized my desire not just to share it, but to capture it that I was brought up short. I was running without any music or podcasts in my ears so I had plenty of time to think this through. It struck me as I continued to run and to think that beauty exceeds apprehension, not just, as we know from Kant, because it exceeds the boundaries of the concept, but also, because it cannot be had. It cannot be owned. It cannot become a commodity that I can have that shows something good about me on the basis of having seen it. I reached out to grasp this beauty and I could not hold on to it. I couldn’t master it. But I wanted to. Beauty is liberating because it disrupts the drive to mastery.
Image above does not do justice, give the proper due, to the beauty of my morning. Taken from the balcony of my room.