Defining "the spiritual"

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In many ways "the spiritual" is a woefully outdated term and one whose use in a contemporary context gives rise to a host of apprehensions and suspicions. Granting this, we believe the core meaning of the term—the range of values it encompasses—remains just as cogent in our times as it was in Kandinsky‚Äôs, and that although the cultural resonances and metaphysical implications have changed dramatically over the last century, the ultimate concerns remain very much the same. For above all else, the spiritual has to do with the inner life and the ways in which its invisible realities shape and define our relationship with the world. Where the condition of the inner life and its relationship with all that is perceived as "other" are taken as consummate values, there is an orientation that can be said to be spiritual.

If we accept this basic definition of the spiritual, two more premises having specific implications for the arts flow naturally from it. First, the way in which the cultural environment affects our inner lives is a spiritual issue. And second, being complicit in the creation of this environment, artists bear a great deal of responsibility for their contributions to the spiritual health or sickness of a culture.

 


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