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In the Sacrifice of Isaac, Abraham resigns his faith that he will commit himself to anything that god commands of him. This ethical morale of committing yourself blindly to whatever consequence is looked upon and studied by several thinkers. After these thinkers interpreted this morale it was then adapted by artist who then gave their interpretation of it. This topic will be reflecting on arts place in philosophy and religion, using interpretations that filmmakers got from prominent thinkers. One of the most consistent story tropes that comes from religion and philosophy is the Knight of faith with their infinite resignation.
The Knight of Faith is a heroic symbol that is given an absurd task to regain everything that they have lost. Kierkegaard in fear and trembling mentions the leap of faith which goes off of the knight of faith, however the leap of faith is used for when someone follows a command without having a rationale. This suggests that faith in god is personal or individual choice, contrasting other thinkers such as Descartes. Cobb the main character of inception relays these characteristics of being the knight of faith and having an infinite resignation. These are both evident in the plot as Cobb is tasked with a job that has never been done before and if he reaches his goal he will regain everything by being able to be with his children again after being accused of murdering his wife.
How it works
Religion and philosophy today are often expressed in popular artistic mediums. One of the most popular uses of philosophy in art is through cinema. Many filmmakers Such as Ethan Coen and Christopher Nolan are scholars of philosophy and religious thought. This is because popular philosophical questions such as what is faith, consciousness, feeling or absolute reality? These classic questions often sought after and entertainers and artist use that as a way of conveying their interpretation through their mediums. One of the philosophers that is continually connected is Rene Descartes.
When experiencing normal behaviours throughout your day it is without question that what has been going on is real. You may feel certain right now that everything is real but you feel this same certainty when you are dreaming. we can’t use our own subjective feeling that we are not dreaming as evidence that we are not, but what could prove it? The key is to not care. In the film inception directed by Christopher Nolan the main character Cobb is forced into taking a leap of faith to have the possibility of seeing his children again after being framed for the murder of his wife. He takes the job not because he knows he will get to see his family he takes it because if he acts upon his absolute instinct to do this job the act itself will bring what he truly wants. Tying in with the sacrifice of Isaac Abraham takes on a responsibility in which he will not truly not know the outcome until he commits himself to doing it.
Cobb’s job or act is to plant an idea in another person mind requires him to go into their subconscious and create a dream that shakes their perspective about something to its core. For Cobb to do this he must go through levels of realities or dreams and the further he gets into the victims conscious the more of an impact he can create in causing them to change their mind about something. Cobb then plants the idea and but becomes lost in the victims conscious due to the fact that in creating a dream that is so similar to our own reality he had issues with figuring out what could be used to determine his reality as true or false for him to figure it out he used a reality totem in which the totem performs a small task that can only be performed in our present reality. In the end Cobb makes it back to his family after completing the job. He uses his totem one last time to check to make sure except he doesn’t pay attention because he began to stop caring about which reality was real all he cared about was being with his family which is the goal he ended up reaching.
To compare In his first meditation Descartes believes that one cannot dream unless they have experienced it in some way. Cobb, struggles with determining whether he is dreaming or awake. To determine if he is not dreaming Cobb uses a spinning top as his totem, which originally belonged to his deceased wife Mal. Descartes explanation is a valid when he is explaining how one’s senses can be deceived. In the movie Inception, the sensory experiences or beliefs are false. Descartes uses a comparison of a house to one’s religious beliefs and their own senses. He symbolizes the boards of the house to one’s beliefs and the foundation of the house to their senses. When one wants start over, they need to tear down the house and build a new one. In order to tear the foundation down it would take a long time. However, it is the most effective process when wanting to start over in life. The foundation is also our senses. Ending the argument by stating, one needs to get rid of our senses. The foundation is extremely deceiving, this would easily help bring Cobb back to reality. An act of faith is something that commit yourself to, even if you have no knowledge of the consequence. Similarly making Cobb’s Resignation similar to that of Abraham. Inception does take on the task of asking what will happen in the future when we are able to have control of our conscious, what impact would that have in our religious beliefs. Many of these questions are being solved now.
Today in our modern world, we live in a information era where we can ask questions of the legitimacy of our existence using a search engine. This has caused a new era of enlightenment. Religion has been a vessel of which we use to answer questions that we can not answer rationally. It has come to my attention that several thinkers and religious figures have used their faith or logic as their rationale. Through our own enlightenment scientists and thinkers have used religion as a guide for what beliefs human beings inherently want to be absolutely certain. One of these rational beliefs is that our consciousness goes beyond the human body and after we leave our physical bodies we proceed to an eternal afterlife. For us to be able to determine whether or not these statements are true or false we will analyze Rene Descartes mind and body dualism as well as determine the proving our existence through the arts.
This theory helps determine the nature of our existence. Mind and body dualism is the idea that our consciousness is separate from our body. If this idea is correct it would give in to the possibility that our consciousness could exist elsewhere after our bodies stop working. Though this does not prove that there is definitely an afterlife, it could be stated that the after life is a variable if our death was treated as an experiment. Descartes argument is that there is a distinction between our mind and our body. Calling our consciousness a thinking non extended thing and our body an extended non thinking thing.
Philosophically speaking this human idea of separating our mind from our body is a reflection on the struggles of human identity. Descartes beliefs were slowly formulated over the entire progression of our existence. One of the important objects that our consciousness was able to create was the invention of writing was as a major stepping stone of religious beliefs and the purpose of our existence and whether or not there was something permanent or immortal about our existence. When asking for the purpose of our minds being separated from our bodies it comes from the passing down of mytho’s for people to understand inherent questions that human beings had about their existence or consciousness. These mythological ideologies were soon questioned by thinkers who began to ask how relative their existence was to the vast universe. Plato and Aristotle were some of the first thinkers to believe that our mythos was incorrect. It was Aristotle who was teaching Plato and several other students that it was possible the God they believed in could not exist because of the lack of physical knowledge in our universe or to put it in simpler terms the origins of human existence. It is not easy to explain to the masses that something that is widely accepted could be completely false. Most of the time in human history it lead to the death of the individual who claimed that our existence was less relative than what we had previously thought. This made complete sense because religion and holy figures were a central authority for everyone in ancient civilizations. For example proving that we do not live in a polytheistic controlled universe or proving that it’s not just turtles all the way down would be going against the ethics or rules instilled from the central authority.
To many thinkers art was their way of proving our existence was through art. Soon after the dark ages there was a rebirth period of art better known as the renaissance. It was this point in time where artists were trying to replicate the the ancient Greco-Roman art. By using this art form painting became widely popular to attempt to capture our reality. This rebirth of art caused humankind to have a larger depth of detail to our world. To observe our works of art to many was a proof that consciousness was an extension of our existence. Many paintings often depicted the dark times of the Middle Ages and the rebirth of our scientific and artistic enlightenment. Theatrics became one of the most influential and popular art forms of this time. This was an easy way for artists to physically portray emotions while combining many famous pieces and written tragedies that had social and political undertones which showed the social climate of this time. The relationship that this built would forever changed our society. When playwrights and illustrators were given free reign of expressing their opinions it was a new way for people to give themselves a voice.
Every person at birth is given an artistic sense, this sense comes from our conscious ability of escaping or altering our present world. When we grow to adulthood it becomes increasingly difficult to access this part of our mind because of our present conflicts going on in our lives. We lose our motivation to create and instead focus on things that have consequences. Sigmund Freud was a strong believer in this also believing that Art is seen as a path linking our imagination and reality.
At the turn of the 20th century our society was now able to completely capture the image of our world with the camera. No longer was humankind on this since the rebirth age of art to replicate our society perfectly. Instead artist’ had a new relationship with their subjects and objects. Images were now being put out of focus to create more interpretations for the object. From there artist began to deconstruct and disassemble images and would emphasize or minimize certain characteristics. This gave people a better understanding to an extent on what an artist was trying to portray. Kasimir Malevich would minimize his works with connotations of liberation through the simplicity of his work. He also stated that art was no longer just a religious form stating art no longer cares to serve the state and religion, it no longer wishes to illustrate the history of manners, it wants to have nothing further to do with the object as such. and believes that it can exist, in and for itself, without ‘things’ (that is, the ‘time-tested well-spring of life’ He made a piece right after the russian revolution show how his simple off white painting “white on white” was actually a marvel of that era.
Art has been a voice of our existence, we could not have made a better way to document our progress as a society. We have made countless imitations of images and events to help better understand the meaning of them. Religious idols and figures were reduplicated to show their importance and strong will to our existence. After images were fully copied we disassembled them to find their true essence. Humankind would be nowhere without art, because art helped affirm our existence. All art at its core is the effect of expression and this can be achieved without our existence but humanity can prove its awareness by being part of expression, imitation, reduplication and deconstruction of our conscience. Art has helped us as a proxy for the effectiveness of potential solutions.
Scientist and free thinkers used this as a restriction for creating philosophies or scientific theories about our relativity. This definitely slowed and expedited our advancements to solving questions about our origins or our actual physical place in the universe. It did lead us down a path of understanding what is to be a foundational truth and what certainties we can be built off that foundation. Many philosophers like Descartes used the progression of religion during the middle ages as what we use to understand what is part of us and what is not. The ontological argument that Descartes is made up of several points that we are able to analyze. These points give an understanding into his meditations. The first being a supremely perfect being God has all perfections. The second being existence is perfection, followed by consecutively stating that a supremely perfect being has existence. Then stating because of this supreme perfect existing it gives true existence to whatever exists. Therefore god exists.
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