In his The Systems Approach and its Enemies, West Churchman wrote about aesthetics as one of those "enemies." He suggested an aesthetic sense of the beautiful ugly dynamic was equivalent to intuition. Since intuition had no rules, perhaps he concluded, it was better to call both surprise. Added emphasis appears in red, and my reactions are enclosed in a box: (Note 164)

In classical philosophy it was common to divide the philosopher's task into considerations of the meaning and significance of the Good, the True and the Beautiful. If these were to be the cornerstones of the real system in which humanity lives, then they somehow needed to be interrelated. . . . But, curiously enough, the Beautiful seems to be absent from most of the writings dealing with the whole system. The Beautiful is implicit, I think, in the imagery of the I Ching, which often has a dramatic tone - of peace, or hope, or horror - all of which are qualities of the Beautiful Ugly, which I'll call "aesthetics." . . .

My study of the Tao Te Ching suggested there were no highs without lows, no joy without pain. I also found the cosmology of the I Ching covered the spectrum of experience from the creative to the receptive paradoxically alluding to the same truth. As this sank in mentally, I discovered the same truth in experience. It was clear aesthetics was about beauty ugliness.

Suppose we begin by listing some of the qualities of human experience that plausibly seem to fall under the rubric of the aesthetic. As a beginning: peaceful, attractive, exciting, anticipatory, luring and threatening, repulsive, boring, anxious, frightening. . . . All this might lure the systems logician to set up the basic categories of the aesthetic. But before he too eagerly jumps into this job, we have to caution him. First of all, what has these qualities? The answer I gave was "experience." I could also have said "the field of consciousness" or "awareness."

It was from awareness of pain joy in my relationships that I came to know the beautiful ugly dynamic of the aesthetic. These intuitions about higher planes of reality connected me with the potent notions of creation and destruction. The creative energy of Shiva and the destructive power of Kali were archetypes that resonated in my consciousness. Creation was not possible without destruction!

Two things seem noticeable. First, all experience, including dreams, has an aesthetic quality. In fact, my logical mind is tempted to say that aesthetics is that which gives the quality - rather than the content - of experience, and that experience without quality is dead - just as experience without thought is unintelligible. . . . The force of the aesthetic image of uniqueness, and the pervasive, noncognitive quality that aesthetics generates in our experience, make a "theory of aesthetics" not merely a contradiction in terms but an anathema. . . .

The overwhelming presence that consumed my being while walking among the redwoods, or watching the surf or my granddaughter at play were not reducible to a theory. That would "throw out the baby with the bath water." Analyzing the living experience destroyed its liveliness. Occasionally I caught the essence of the moment in lines of poetry as mere hints of the living reality.

The word I want is "radiance". The Latin word claritas can be translated into "clearness," meaning" precise," as in Descartes or later in symbolic logic. But it can also mean "light" or "brilliance." Thus, one way to talk about aesthetics is to say that it is the variety of expressions of radiance, including the dark. But it is not merely "black and white," for radiance includes the colors, and sounds, and aromas, and touches. . . .

It was essential in the deeper understanding of intuitive experience to know that the pain of Kali was just as awesome as the pleasure of Helena. Once when I lived a block from Lake Michigan on the south side of Chicago, my brother and I bundled up in the middle of the worst winter storm in decades to walk by the lake shore. Absolutely awesome! What can I say, there were no words to convey the power and majesty that brought the city to a standstill for three days!

And, finally, I come to that function of my psyche which I regard as the most radiant and therefore the closest to the aesthetic, intuition. Everyone knows it well; no one knows it at all. . . . If I were to interpret Kant in the present discourse, I'd say that intuition is that which gives experience its quality; that is, I'd identify aesthetics and intuition. But that may be too strong. Jung, strangely enough for me, says that intuition is the "function of unconscious perception," I guess because he found it so difficult to describe in consciousness related terms.

Yes - so it was. Without intuition, experience lacked meaning. Without the arresting aesthetic, moments were without qualities. To know the quality of the moment was to align with the high low, wide narrow dynamic seeking expression in my experience. Intuition, aesthetics, experience, soul, creativity - why was I obsessed with so many names for the same thing?

Previously I've talked about alternative "approaches" to the conduct of human affairs. . . . While religion is rather obscure as an "approach" unless it uses politics as its aid, still it is an approach because a great many of the things we do arise out of devotion - to a God, to wealth, to caring, to whatever. But aesthetics is another matter still; it may not even be appropriate to call it an "approach," because there are no rules, no consistencies. And if intuition is close to aesthetics, then "surprise" may be the better expression: to run your life through surprises.

To allow the surprise of the moment, I had to give up attempts to figure it out and make it right. Since the moment was born from the unfolding implicate order where right and wrong, happiness and sadness had no meaning, it was perfect. Each second was pregnant with the fullness of the universe during those fleeting moments when I accorded the rthymn of life. Existence had a gradient that I could either embrace or fight. The choice was mine. I had free will to allow the will of God or go it alone.