The Radical Use of Chance in 20th Century Art by Denis Lejeune

By Denis Lejeune

To many, probability and paintings are opposed phrases. yet a couple of twentieth century artists have grew to become this proposal on its head via trying to create artistic endeavors in accordance with randomness. between these, 3 particularly articulated a well-argued and thorough concept of the unconventional use of probability in artwork: André Breton (writer), John Cage (composer) and François Morellet (visual artist). the consequences of this sort of circulate clear of verified aesthetics are far-reaching, as a lot in conceptual as in useful phrases, as this publication hopes to clarify. Of paramount significance during this coincidentia oppositorum is the recommended danger of a correlation among the inventive use of probability and a method of suggestion itself organised round probability. certainly putting randomness on the centre of one's artwork could have deeper philosophical effects than simply at the aesthetical point.

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31 Events, because they are by essence fluctuations, ungraspable entities, are caused by the only thing that matters and is, alone, worthy of analysis: bodies/substances. Aristotle too thought along these lines, although he interpreted substances as closer to the notion of essence than body. For him, reality relies on the reality of substances, which he saw, importantly, as motionless. Naturally, the motionlessness essential to understanding substances excluded events from the start, insofar as these are, as is motion, quintessentially dependent on temporality.

19 Aristotle, Physics. 20 Aristotle, Physics. The Tribulations of Chance within Philosophical Thought 39 correspond to, obviously predetermined. Within this teleological scheme, the existence of spontaneity, or chance, is of no consequence: first because it does not cause anything to be, and, secondly, because that which has no cause does not correspond to any pre-existing essence, and can therefore not fit into the established framework: Since nothing which is incidental is prior to what is per se, it is clear that no incidental cause can be prior to a cause per se.

Original emphases. 24 The first one is that of cause-and-effect, or Determinism; the second that of an accident evading this particular framework. Interestingly, the aforementioned definition does not mention ‘chance’ directly, but chance is undeniably what Cournot wants to illustrate. ’26 This position explains why Cournot disagreed with the aforementioned consequence of Laplacean Determinism that the past is ‘decipherable’: for him, the existence of chance makes unravelling the history of the world, both physical and human, impossible.

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