Natalie Savelyeva

  • What do you want to be in this life?
  • To become an artist…
  • And who is the artist then?
  • The one who pursues the art…
  • Why the one is doing this?
  • Because art is essential component of human existence and evolution…
  • What is the art then and why the art is in this world?

Kantian Purposefulness without Purpose and Rasa Leela in ancient Indian Drama

The core concept of Kantian Aesthetics is "Purposefulness without purpose." Kant interprets the nature of the Art as synthesis of such opposites as emotional and rational, logic and intuition, perceptive and conceptual knowledge. Art brings together such different processes of human consciousness as activity, thinking and feeling. Kant introduces the concept of "free play", which transgresses and widens the limits of reason and perception and allows the human to rise above himself by expanding the boundaries of his consciousness. This play of human cognition, which is performed "without purpose," opens new horizons and dimensions, thus providing "Purposefulness" of such activity through participation and involvement with the work of the Art. The Art integrates necessity (reality of nature) and inner freedom (which belong to the sphere of moral and is imbedded feature of the human, as the subject of free will.)

The concept of "free play," featuring "Purposefulness without purpose" connects as a red thread the ideas of ancient Munis of "the Gods engaged in free play of creation", unfolding the concept of Art to humans as the way to liberation and from ignorance, self-realization of Atman in unity with universal Brahman. The same concept we find in medieval philosophy of Bhakti saints, who followed the same way of approaching God by stepping over the boundaries of individual by total submission to devotional activities, which (as we know) they understood as "worship in art."

The present day reality, sophisticated as it is, imposes new paradigms expressed in new terms and concepts, such as the ones employed in the Aesthetics of Immanuel Kant or the works of existentialists, for instance. Nevertheless, the nature of the Art and its "Purposefulness without purpose" expressed in "free play" of human creative, human experiencing and human eager to transgress himself, the human curious, eager to see – what is beyond the edge? Human daring to be free… Human dreaming… Human limited in space and time in search for universal and eternal… In other words, the human evolving, engaged in the Art, "the quest for beauty."

Such is the philosophical background of contemporary art. The next question is, who is the artist and how the artist should be?

As the example of attempt to answer this question in the present day context, I would quote the word of Laavanya Balasubramanyam, the psychologist, who undertook research in motivation in the field of dance and music. She formulates her conclusion regarding the essential qualities of the present day artist as follows:

"Courage, enthusiasm, patience and tolerance to changing circumstances, invincible determination, perseverance, indomitable will-power, resolve to plan consistently, creative action, purposeful effort, possession of noble ambition, having natural ability to overcome frustration, breaking the spell of inertia, gaining of self-confidence, accomplishment of the impossible through inspiration, having desirable social skills, ability to expand consciousness in every direction, refining of one’s thoughts and faculties of learning, having pleasant mannerisms, possession of analytical power to discern right things." (Laavanya Balasubramanyam, Ref.1)

This definition could serve as the "Patraprana Lakshana" (definition of essential qualities of the artist) of our times. It reflects long way of evolution the Art undergone since the times of Bharata Muni. Ancient treatises contain basic definitions in form of slokas, i.e. in form of the seed, which is supposed to be sown and grown up repeatedly, in minds of the artists and researchers of every generation coming. The issues of the present day are the place and function of the Art in the context of post-modern industrial society; the role of the Artist as the ambassador of culture and custodian of tradition; the good potential of the Art in fostering the development and education of individual, either the artist him or herself, or the spectator.


  1. Motivational Analysis in Music and Dance by D. Laavanya Balasubramanyam, Discovery Publishing House, New Delhi, 2005