19th century philosophy

2001: A Space Odyssey


An example of a state of absorption that illustrates coming to know “the idea” can be found in the introduction sequence 2001: Space Odyssey.

Unlike most movies that grab our attention with action or dialogue sequences, 2001 starts with a completely black screen and building music (Gyorgy Lireti-Atmospheres) which sets an immersive mood. This prepares us for the visual show that follows. An alignment of the moon, earth, and the sun emerging from behind of the earth. This scene is accompanied by the iconic tune “Also sprach Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss, we are completely immersed in the scene. We are not thinking about the plot or the technical elements of the movie, but we are fully captivated by this visual and auditory experience.

In this moment of absorption, we are experiencing what Schopenhauer calls the “Knowing the idea” through art. The alignment of planets is not just a scene but represents something bigger that provokes feelings of awe and wonder, allowing us to contemplate our world.

The Ambiguity of Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa is a famous portrait that has fascinated people for a long time but its true meaning is still debated. Despite several interpretations, it’s hard to say what’s the painting meaning or what message the artist(Da Vinci) is attempting to convey. For example, one person might describe Mona Lisa’s smile as enigmatic and mysterious but another person can also see Mona Lisa’s expression as unhappy, but both are still seeing the same painting. However, despite trying to express their thoughts, they’ll discover how difficult is to capture the true meaning of the painting. This struggle emerges from the ambiguity of the Mona Lisa’s expression, which makes it hard to find a true interpretation.
The difficulty of capturing the true meaning of the Mona Lisa mirrors Hegel’s idea of the difficulty of capturing what we say or truly mean. Just as people struggle to explain the Mona Lisa expression, people also find it difficult to express clearly their thoughts.