This is an experiment in exploring the core of my philosophical position. Although I have always been closely associated with the American Society for Aesthetics, an essentially analytic philosophy institution, I have an even more fundamental equipment to something else, something more metaphysical. My early article "Sparkle and Shine" began to indicate this tendency. My chapter on "aura" in The Extraordinary in the Ordinary pushes it further. My main heroes in philosophy have been Plato, Nietzsche and Dewey, although other figures have of course played a prominent role, for instance Aristotle, Marx, Husserl, Wittgenstein, Heidegger and Goodman. From Plato I have learned that the philosophical quest leads to grasping of the good which allows us to see the good in things, the axiological dimension, and, in particular, the ways in which things participate in their essences. Beauty is the most prominent manifestation of this experience. From Aristotle I have learned that things are greater than the sums of their parts if those things are organic wholes. From Kant I have learned that works of genius give us aesthetic ideas which provide us with as if unending thought and connect us to the idea of the supersensible., From Nietzsche I have learned that to be true to the earth is to learn how to dance. From Goodman I have learned that there are many ways the world is. From Wittgenstein I have learned that philosophy is not science and that the search for essences is deeply connected with seeing as. From Dewey I have learned most everything else, that we need to recover the continuity between everyday life and the fine arts. From Husserl I learned to look for essences in life experience. From Heidegger I have learned that what we have forgotten is Being.
What have religion, art, and even philosophy in one of its modes, looked for? It is the shimmering of Being. Being shimmers when it goes beyond itself. This happens by way of the eruption of consciousness. I think, therefore Being shimmers. We see Being when we see/grasp the shimmer of Being. Being becomes evident when the essential nature of things is revealed. Essences are emergent upon things and practices, especially those practices aimed towards essences. Essences, as emergent, and change within the field of consciousness. A somewhat misleading way to search for essences is to try to come up with a definition in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions. A better way is to look for a philosophical definition in terms of a key metaphor. The great definitions of philosophy are the ones that captured a things essential nature in the sense that they were able to light a path to future creation. Great definitions are evaluative as well as classificatory. Revelation of essences is worthless without a path to creativity opening up. Essences are tied to paradigms. New definitions of essences happen in tandem with new paradigms. For example Danto's new definition of art was tied to the paradigm of Warhol's Brillo Boxes. The search for essences is a cultural thing in which philosophy and the arts, for example, work in tandem. To look at the search for essences just in philosophy is to miss the organic nature of the cultural quest. Moreover, the essence is not an abstraction: it is to be found closely associated with the paradigmatic particular. New revelations of essence are both ideal and real. The dichotomy of idealism and realism is the great hangup for philosophy. Plato discovered the shimmering of Being. The point for the philosopher king is not to have a list of definitions in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions but to see how the light of Being reveals things. The important part of the allegory of the cave comes at the end. What really is is what shimmers with possibility, or better, with potential. There is a language game involved with the search for Being: this is a philosophical language game. Today we are at a loss for Being. We are alienated from the quest for Being.