Many things in life are straightforward – rational facts that are not up for debate. We don’t have to like it, but our feelings don’t change the reality of what is. At the same time, life cannot be reduced to mere rational propositions. Beauty has its own wisdom that’s just as true even if there are no facts to be proven as it were. Rational beauty is then the dance between the explainable facts and the often indescribable experiences of life.
To be sure, some people are more comfortable with a logical approach to life, while others take delight in the world of images, symbols, and feelings. But these are best understood as flip sides of the same coin.
For instance, it’s the medical doctor articulating the intricacies of our human anatomy, while the artist is contemplating the wonder of our embodied form. We need the science of how our bodies work. But we’re left impoverished if our bodies are just living cadavers. Witnessing the beauty of our human form opens the door for a deeper appreciation, awe, and gratitude we would miss otherwise.
Wisdom reminds us to dance with both professions throughout our life and relationships.
For example, relationships need a factual ground to stand on. This allows us to occupy the same space and time, and give us a shared reality to contain ourselves within. All the same, meaningful relationships are much more than mere contractual arrangements simply detailing the mundane logistics of our bond together. There’s an essence and beauty to our relationships that the scientific method cannot fully explain.
There’s no place to stand, and life would cave in on itself, without bare bone rational facts to sustain us. But it’s the richness of transcendent beauty that opens the door for depth and meaning. And we need both.
In the end, facts matter and we cannot deny the need for a rational approach in life. But beauty also matters – often pointing to a deeper truth beyond mere surface facts. Rational beauty reminds us to honor the wisdom of both.