#TOOB (The Ontology Of Beauty, July 12, 2014):

SynTalk thinks about the ontological (mind independent) aspects of Beauty and aesthetics in areas such as mathematics, arts, poetry, literature, music, sculpture, and photography, while constantly pondering whether Beauty is important. The historicity and present status of Beauty is discussed in contexts of intuition, justice, goodness, religion, and boredom. In a sense the conversation follows the opposite of phenomenological / epistemological conception of ‘beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder’. The concepts are derived off / from Advaita, Zen / Buddhism, Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Longinus, Ockham, Descartes, Kant, Gauss, Goethe, Schiller, Jane Austen, Weber, Coomaraswamy, Raja Rao, Tagore, Walter Benjamin, Einstein, Sri Aurobindo, Derrida, Cartier-Bresson, Nisargadatta, Warhol, and Eliot, among others. We also discuss if there are mathematical analogies to Beauty. How does the human spirit embody itself in art (say, ‘scraptures’)? What is the role of aesthetic training? When & why does boredom set in? What is an aesthetic emotion? What is the role of ‘surprise’? The SynTalkrs are: Yaron Barzilay (philosophy, New Acropolis, Mumbai), Arzan Khambatta (sculpture, Mumbai), Prof. Makarand Paranjape (literature, JNU, New Delhi), & Prof. Dipendra Prasad (mathematics, TIFR, Mumbai).

SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TOOB show.

Yaron Barzilay (philosophy, psychology, sociology, art, economics) is the Managing Director of International Diamond Exchange (IDEX) Online, India. However, he is an enthusiastic philosopher by heart. He is National Director, India North, with New Acropolis, School of Philosophy, an international non-profit organisation. Yaron is well-experienced in eastern and western philosophy, history, symbolism, moral philosophy and psychology. He endeavours to teach philosophy through the practice of dialogue on all levels – between arts, sciences, religions, cultures and nations. New Acropolis calls this the Socratic method where a human being is constantly asking questions about what he sees, experiences and reflects and searches for answers. Yaron has a keen understanding of the classical and Platonic philosophical traditions.

Arzan Khambatta (architecture, art, aesthetics) is an architect by qualification but a sculptor by choice. His passion for sculpture stems from his innate sense of joy to create and transform. What started as a hobby to create art forms using papier-mache, wood, clay and scraps gradually transformed into a full-fledged profession. Since he used scrap metal initially to create art forms, his work was termed as “scraptures” which is still synonymous with his name. However, he stopped using scrap metal in 1996 and now sculpts from metal sheets, straps, rods, pipes and other non-scrap items. What is interesting is that he does not wish to restrict sculpture to exhibitions, galleries or private spaces. It’s his endeavour to bring out art in the open where it can be viewed and appreciated by general public. As a creator of art, he enjoys watching peoples’ reaction to his work. Arzan has several private & public sculptures to his credit, and has a signature experimentalist, quirky style.

Prof. Makarand R. Paranjape (literature, linguistics, aesthetics, psychology, philosophy) is a critic, scholar, poet, novelist, and columnist. The author or editor of over forty books, his recent monographs include The Death and Afterlife of Mahatma Gandhi, Altered Destinations: Self, Society, and Nation in India, and Another Canon: Indian Texts and Traditions in English. The author of two novels, Body Offering and The Narrator, a collection of short stories, and five volumes of poetry, he has also written an autobiographical travelogue, Acts of Faith: Journeys to Sacred India. He has also published over 150 academic papers journals and books, and 250 popular articles in newspapers and periodicals. He was educated at St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi, and at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he received a Masters and Ph.D. in English. He has taught, lectured, and traveled in over fifty countries. He is currently Professor and Chairperson, Centre for English Studies, at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. The hallmark of his writings is that it articulates complex subjects like human relationships, love, and the influences of social fabric in the most simple, honest and clear way.

Prof. Dipendra Prasad (mathematics, physics) is a renowned mathematician. His prime areas of mathematical interest include algebraic number theory, automorphic forms and representation theory. He is well-known among number theorists for his work “Gross-Prasad Conjectures”. He has authored numerous intellectual papers, is editor of various journals and has given lectures across leading universities across the world. For his outstanding contribution in the field of mathematical sciences, he was awarded the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize in 2002 by the Government of India. He was also the recipient of the Swarna Jayanti Fellowship in 1999. Presently, he is the Professor of mathematics at the School of Mathematics, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai. He is also a Fellow of Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore and National Academy of Sciences, Allahabad.

Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.

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