What Is Beauty?


Beauty is a combination of qualities, such as weight, colour, age, gender, and race, that appeal to our aesthetic senses. This definition is subjective, as each individual experiences beauty in different ways. It is also influenced by culture. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the notion of beauty was subjected to direct destruction and moral critique. The 1990s saw a revival of interest in beauty. This was partly fueled by the work of art critic Dave Hickey, as well as feminist-oriented reconstruals of the concept.

Classical conceptions of beauty, such as the one found in Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s works, are based on the idea of symmetry and a unified whole. These concepts are embodied in classic literature, music, architecture, and sculpture. The early twentieth century, however, saw the development of an opposing vision of beauty. This has been characterized by the “game changers,” a group of artists who go against traditional beauty standards.

The first requirement for beauty is integrity. The idea of beauty has roots in nature. The sun’s light, for example, is not beautiful if the object’s shape and color are symmetrical. This is because each object is perceived differently in different times and under different conditions. The same object can be seen as a different color at midnight and noon.

Another requirement for beauty is consonance. The second requirement is proportion. This requirement is not as easy to define as the first, but it is important. This is because, in addition to being a unified whole, beauty is also an aggregate of detail. For example, the arrangement of leaves on the stem of a plant is a beautiful numerical pattern. It represents the beauty of God’s limitlessness.

While these definitions are universal, they can sometimes feel insubstantial when next to morality or politics. In the early twentieth century, the concept of beauty became associated with the French revolution, aristocracy, and capitalism. This association, however, was problematic in many ways. It was also associated with oppression and resistance. In the late twentieth century, these associations were ignored by social justice movements.

The idea of beauty has been criticized by some philosophers, especially those who associate it with uselessness or oppression. Others, such as Thomas Aquinas, enumerated elements of beauty and defined it as a divinely created good. Aquinas’ explanation of how form and function are simultaneous is a useful way to account for the intuition that beauty inspires a sense of purpose.

Plotinus, a neo-Platonic thinker, wrote about beauty in ecstatic terms. His writings include descriptions of trembling, delight, love, and longing. He included the fact that beauty calls out to us to be with it.

David Hume, a philosopher of the eighteenth century, argued that beauty is pleasure. In his essays, Moral, Political, and Literary (1758), Hume argues that individuals should acquiesce in their own sentiments. Although Hume does not explicitly explain this, he does say that pleasure is the first step toward beauty.

Some of the most influential twentieth-century theorists, such as George Santayana, emphasized the importance of pleasure. Santayana asserts that a certain experience of pleasure has the potential to be beautiful. He also gestures to the object that is causing the experience.