Universalia Sunt Crealia


Reism is the doctrine that only things exist (from the Latin res, “thing”). In translation studies, realia are particular elements that cannot be translated into another language. A reist theory of aesthetics would be the assumption that an artefact can never be transferred into an emotional understanding, but at best artistic objects would be strange things that differ from everyday realia and therefore generate at best a questioning or a puzzlement. It is nevertheless difficult to see how we can share a common world in a reist universe.

Qualism is the philosophical doctrine that there are subjective mental aesthetic states, called qualia. Qualia introduce a form of perspectivism in the perception of reality. Art objects being more singular and unfamiliar than everyday objects, they would generate ever multiple and diverse qualia, thus introducing a form of relativism in the aesthetic experience. In a qualist universe, it is difficult to see how a form of intersubjective agreement can be reached.

I propose to call crealia the kind of monads that support the aesthetic perception. Can crealia be seen as the dialectic (or better crealectic) concept of monads generated by the sublation of reism and qualism? Objects are in constant flux and cannot be taken as a fixed substantial reality. Affective subjects are a solipsistic construct that should not be thought of as separated and different from the cosmos, a position that would equate to a form of dualist reism.

We need to examine how crealia can be compared to what Whitehead calls “actual occasions” as “monadic creatures” that do not change but “become”: “Each monadic creature is a mode of the process of ‘feeling’ the world, of housing the world in one unity of complex feeling, in every way determinate. Such a unit is an ‘actual occasion’; it is the ultimate creature derivative from the creative process.”

We need to examine how the actuality of crealia can be distinguished from the objectivity of realia and from the subjectivity of qualia. Is such actuality to be understood in terms of acts of a “superject”, and how does this understanding incorporate an element of virtuality or potentiality? What is universally actual and how does the Whiteheadian concept of “actual occasions” allow us to understand the artistic, cosmic, and quotidian aesthetic feeling?


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