Thursday, July 24, 2014
In Memory of Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka
Requiescat in pace
My long-time fascination with the majesty and nobleness of gardens, that "unique aesthetic synthesis of our passions," led me to the writings of Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka, and extraordinary philosopher with a penchant for first-class thinking as well as a manifested ability to express those thoughts.
Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka was founder and president of The World Phenomenology Institute, an academic organization founded in 1976 to promote scholarship in the area of phenomenology, and editor (since its inception) of the book series Analecta Husserliana.
Rather than elucidate on the life and work of Dr. Tymieniecka, I prefer, instead, to share a few of my favorite passages from the first book I purchased in her outstanding collection of writings, her four-volume Logos and Life being her magnum opus.
"As our human cultures manifest, there is a particular significance in the cultivation of a garden that exceeds by far any practical life-sustaining benefit. The sensibilities, emotions active in the gardner's involvement with his or her piece of land run through the entire range of the human soul. Emerging from its subliminal, specifically human sphere, these sensibilities soar on the wings of Imaginatio Creatix above attachment to possessions, enterprises, ambitions, power ... and express the full gamut of aesthetic, moral, and intellectual enjoyment of our beingness, extending out toward the furthest frontiers of human longing."
"A garden stirs one's entire beingness. Our whole vital and creative system, as it were, feeds on the garden and draws out from it the entire spectrum of rays of significance."
"A garden serves as a mirror of our inner existence; a garden is seen as a miniature of the world; it functions as a symbolic expression of our highest longings for order in beauty. We see in a garden an "Eden," an ideal of harmony, beauty, sublimity, innocence, peace, and fulfillment, a prototype of "Paradise."
"On the one hand, the experience of the gardner cultivating the life of plants from germination through unfolding and growth is already preceded by an aesthetic project and a vision of the garden's flourishing, and the harvest encompasses all the human passional strivings: vital, subliminal, communicative. This follows in the imaginative reworking and appropriation through experience of all the ontopoietic phases of life's unfolding. Yet in following their temporal lines, this aesthetic that oscillates between the never graspable promise of origins at one end and the fulgurating rays of fulfillments at the other."
"Dwelling in that duration
we achieve an infinite repose."
"The pulls and tensions of spontaneities, forces, dynamisms struggling onwards in the growth-and-decay progress of the living being that is human, on being worked upon in imaginative interpretation, are reappropriated in the human being's most intimate participation in nature-life and lose their present urgency, so that we may repose in nature, have confidence in its logoic rules, and hope for continuing fulfillment in the harvest to come."
(Theme, A.-T. Tymieniecka, Analecta Husserliana LXXVIII, 1-4)
The writings of Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka illustrate her taste and preference for beauty in natural settings, her eloquence of expression, and her innate sensitivity for deep reflection and the understandings that follow. Her scholarly work triumphantly surmounts what now passes for scholarly publication, laying bare, without disguise, the errors and weaknesses of hurried reflection. Tymieniecka is one of those paragons whom painters of model philosophical heroines have delighted to imagine themselves; one who from childhood gave manifest indications of excellence and greatness, and whose whole life was but a steady progressive development of its early promise.
I hold the writings Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka in the highest favor and esteem and believe that I could not endure the rational scrutiny of life without the softness and grace of expression inherent in her writings. The purpose of this post is to express my deep appreciation for her life's work.