To be a teacher (Beuys was teaching on the Dsseldorf Art Academy, fh) is my greatest work of art. The rest is the waste product, a demonstration. If you want to express yourself you must present something tangible. But after a while this has only the function of a historic document. Objects arent very important any more. I want to get to the origin of matter, to the thought behind it.
But to manipulate men, to propel them towards goals which you the social reformer see, but they may not, is to deny their human essence, to treat them as objects without wills of their own, and therefore to degrade them.
Everyone knows what made Berkeley notorious. He said that there were no material objects. He said the external world was in some sense immaterial, that nothing existed save ideas ideas and their authors. His contemporaries thought him very ingenious and a little mad.
Authentic love is obviously something good. When we love we become most fully human. But people often consider themselves loving when actually they are possessive or manipulative. People sometimes treat others as objects to satisfy their own needs. How easy it is to be deceived by the many voices in our society that advocate a permissive approach to sexuality, without regard for modesty, self-respect or the moral values that bring quality into human relationships! This is worship of a false god; instead of bringing life, it brings death.
Of all the objects of hatred, a woman once loved is the most hateful.
Plato would have united with Rousseau against the bourgeois in his insistence on the essential humanness of longing for the good, as opposed to careful avoidance of the bad. Neither longing nor enthusiasm belongs to the bourgeois. The story of philosophy and the arts under Rousseaus influence has been the search for, or fabrication of, plausible objects of longing to counter bourgeois well-being and self-satisfaction.
Most students will be content with what our present considers relevant; others will have a spirit of enthusiasm that subsides as family and ambition provide them with other objects of interest; a small number will spend their lives in an effort to be autonomous. It is for these last, especially, that liberal education exists. They become the models for the use of the noblest human faculties and hence are benefactors to all of us, more for what they are than for what they do. Without their presence (and, one should add, without their being respectable), no societyno matter how rich or comfortable, no matter how technically adept or full of tender sentimentscan be called civilized.
Gullivers Travels is to early modern philosophy what Aristophanes The Clouds was to early ancient philosophy. Swift objects to Enlightenment because it encourages a hypertrophic development of mathematics, physics and astronomy, thus returning to the pre-Socratic philosophy that Aristophanes had criticized for being unselfconscious or unable to understand man. But, unlike pre-Socratic philosophy, which had no interest in politics at all, this science wished to rule and could rule. The new science had indeed generated sufficient power to rule, but in order to do so had had to lose the human perspective. In other words, Swift denied that modern science had actually established a human or political science. All to the contrary, it had destroyed it.
There is no reason why an extraphysical general principle is necessarily to be avoided, since such principles could conceivably serve as useful working hypotheses. For the history of scientific research is full of examples in which it was very fruitful indeed to assume that certain objects or elements might be real, long before any procedures were known which would permit them to be observed directly.
The whole Renaissance tradition is antipethic to me. The hard-and-fast rules of perspective which it succeeded in imposing on art were a ghastly mistake which it has taken four centuries to redress; Cezanne and after him Picasso and myself can take a lot of credit for this Scientific perspective forces the objects in a picture to disappear away form the beholder instead of bringing them within his reach as painting should.
You see, I have made a great discovery. I no longer believe in anything. Objects don't exist for me except in so far as a rapport exists between them or between them and myself. When one attains this harmony, one reaches a sort of intellectual non-existence what I can only describe as a sense of peace, which makes everything possible and right. Life then becomes a perpetual revelation. That is true poetry.
He transforms all concepts into incommunicable, solidified objects. To refute him is to become contaminated with unreality.