The Ideal and The Real

Was it accident or prescience, that in his celebrated fresco Raffaello Sanzio drapes Plato in red, Aristotle in blue? The lofty but malleable Ideal in disputation with the mysterious Real, which is always economical with the Truth. Flexible theology versus rigid natural law. Sentiment versus observation. The Up There contra The Here, Now & Then. Left versus Right. To borrow a cosmological principle, Raffaello seems to capture the Greek singularity from which European life and culture have flowed ever since in their prodigal variety, building breadth and depth with every century’s turn. The Europeans, to cut the matter short, identifies with Aristotle — while of course remaining in charmed and quizzical contact with the contemporary descendants of his mentor.