Finding the Secret Science in Works of Art

Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” is not only one of the world’s most important works of art but also a classic example of the laws of physics at work. Shakespeare, Seurat, and Matisse knew little about physics, but their work is awash in its principles. By Josie Glausiusz When da Vinci completed the 15-by-28-foot masterpiece in 1498, his experimental oil-tempera mix did not adhere well to the damp wall of the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, and the mural quickly began to disintegrate. Some 50 years later, da Vinci’s biographer Giorgio Vasari remarked that there was “nothing … Continue reading Finding the Secret Science in Works of Art

Get Out of Your Head

Artwork by Frederic Benaglia When we project conditioning from our past onto the present, we turn a benign moment into something else. Understanding the “five conditions” can help us get back to reality. By Sean Murphy Like many others, I’ve always found traditional Buddhist formulations of the five “aggregates” (Skt., skandhas) difficult to put into practice in my everyday life. For me, such teachings—which identify the five layers of existence that constitute human experience—had always landed in the zone of “interesting philosophically” but challenging to apply practically. This changed when I got to know the late American Zen teacher Bernie Glassman (1939–2018). As a … Continue reading Get Out of Your Head

Philosophy must be useful

Frank Ramsey, pictured in 1925 above Buttermere Lake in England’s Lake District. Photograph by Lettice Ramsey. With thanks to Stephen Burch For Wittgenstein and the Vienna Circle, much of philosophy was mere nonsense. Then came Frank Ramsey’s pragmatic alternative by Cheryl Misak is professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto. She is the author of Cambridge Pragmatism: From Peirce and James to Ramsey and Wittgenstein (2016). Her biography of Frank Ramsey (Frank Ramsey: A Sheer Excess of Powers) will be published by Oxford University Press in 2019. Edited by Sam Dresser Vienna in the 1920s was an exciting place. Politically, it was the time of … Continue reading Philosophy must be useful