Transcendence of Mere Opinion

Transcendence of Mere Opinion

Thomas Mann: Reflections of a Nonpolitical Man; Frederick Ungar; New York.

The true artist living in a time dominated by politics finds himself traversing a path that is both arduous and dangerous. He begins with a search that is committed to life rather than to just the intellect; that search is replete with ambiguity and doubt and is hostile to dogmatism and the treatment of mere opinion as truth. He must be wary of the ensuing danger that the ambiguity will become so confusing and the doubt so alienating that he may want to leap into the abyss of nothingness. Although some do become libertines and a rare few seem to be able to lean endlessly into the abyss while successfully hanging onto the search, many an artist needs and discovers some higher meaning that liberates from potential despair. Even then he must never become content with that liberation, for the danger always remains that he will turn from the abyss of ambiguity and doubt, forget the search that once seemed so necessary, and adopt a new form of dogmatism. Instead, the artist must learn to totter on the edge, believing while doubting, radicalizing while conserving, living while intellectualizing.


Thomas Mann is a teacher and philosopher, but primarily an artist, in his Reflections of a Nonpolitical...

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