In a theater that could do justice to the sound track, I watched The Last Jedi. The film takes the viewer from emotions of conflict to the thought of the triumph of higher wisdom and spirituality.

The film exemplifies the high mission of art, “to crystallize the emotions of time into the thought of eternity,” and the art of living comes through in a number of the characters. What is the art of living? Let’s define it by contrast with the philosophy of living. Philosophy is conceptual, an art of thinking, harmonizing higher and lower values. But the art of living is practice, action, doing.

In the art of living beauty pervades the process, and divine love motivates the course of action.

We say that a certain activity is an art, not a science. This means that it is not simply a matter of following a recipe, algorithm, or set of instructions. Wisdom requires not only high truths but also a sense of proportion that arises from seasoned experience.

Without the art of living, philosophy risks becoming an affair of the isolated intellect, the mind that lacks adequate touch with the facts our material world and with the realities of spiritual experience.Philosophy can become harsh and fanatical. Even when philosophy correctly asserts the dominant value to be pursued, it may fail to realize that the situations may call for a place for a secondary value.

Art is needed when some tension needs a harmonious resolution. Sometimes the only solution is to affirm the higher value and let go of the scaffolding. Sometimes an immediate practical necessity obliges the actor to defer the pursuit of an idealistic goal. However, in many situations the dominant value can be realized in a way that makes room for the secondary value.

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