Beauty is an important concept in art and literature. In some cases, the definition of beauty is an objective one, while in other cases it is a subjective one. The term is a synonym for a definite shape or form, which can also be an object, a process or a person.
Some of the oldest treatments of beauty describe the pleasures of beauty in ecstatic terms. For example, Plotinus wrote about delight in the Forms. Similarly, George Santayana wrote about the pleasure of beauty. He suggested that a beautiful experience is a powerful symbol of life’s meaning.
The simplest way to describe beauty is to say that it is a “good thing.” Socrates said that beauty was useful. But he also said that beauty is not associated with appearance.
Another important quality in an object is its proportion. For example, an object that is painted in a bright red might look different at noon than it does at midnight. A second quality is integrity. An object that is made up of various parts that have been put together with care and attention is also considered beautiful.
It can be a surprise to learn that most philosophical accounts of beauty do not consider the concept of beauty itself. They tend to focus on a specific object or object qualities. One might say that the most important thing about the concept of beauty is its ability to demonstrate the Divine Goodness of God, which is revealed in the beauty of creation.
Other requirements include consonance, clarity and proportion. A good example of this would be an architectural work. For instance, a building that has a well-laid out road could be considered beautiful.
Another aspect of beauty is a sense of the figurative. For example, a painting of the Mont Saint-Victoire in France is a work of art, and an experience of the Mont Saint-Victoire is a source of wonderment.
However, beauty in the classical context was a matter of a particular object’s proportion, mathematical ratios, or the arrangement of its parts into a coherent whole. This concept was not particularly new, but it was a logical extension of earlier concepts.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, the notion of beauty became associated with pleasure. Although many of the classical theories of beauty were based on a utilitarian perspective, others were more philosophic in nature. The philosophers of the time such as David Hume and John Locke were able to formulate beauty as a matter of personal experience.
Despite the widespread use of the word ‘beauty’ during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the concept of beauty is still a subject of debate. Some writers argue that beauty is a mere apparition of the mind, while other scholars claim that it is a real thing.
The most comprehensive philosophical account of beauty is probably the one by Plotinus. While most other accounts of beauty focused on a purely objective phenomenon, Plotinus argued that beauty is a reflection of the divine in all things.