The Different Conceptions of Beauty

Throughout history and especially in the West, there have been many different conceptions of beauty. The classical conception, which is embodied in architecture, sculpture, literature and music, identifies beauty with an arrangement of parts into a coherent whole, according to notions of proportion, harmony and symmetry.

The classical conception is not without its problems. It was a highly formal and rational category, routinely regarded as the subject of serious meditations and soberly debated by Greek philosophers.

In Timaeus, for example, Plato recognised beauty as a numerical pattern that manifests itself in the ‘forms’ of things, and Aristotle, in his Poetics, claimed that ‘the chief forms of beauty are order and symmetry and definiteness’.

Euclid, in his Elements, also emphasised the idea of proportion and symmetrical relation of parts to a whole, and he formulated the famous golden ratio to help us capture beauty in terms of quantitative principles.

This conception of beauty explains why we find so much Western art based on a pre-eminently rationalist view of the world. In Aquinas’s treatise on beauty, he argues that there are three requirements for something to be considered beautiful: integrity, due proportion and clarity.

The first two qualifications are closely linked to the idea of integrity, and they require that a thing is perfect by its own interior logic. A realistic portrait of a woman, for example, does not have integrity if it is not complete by its own rules of realism.

Another requirement is that a thing has due proportion to its size and weight. This is the principle behind architectural design.

Some twentieth-century philosophers, including David Bohm and Ananda Coomaraswamy, have challenged the idea of beauty as an objective property of an object. They have argued that a work of art or craft is not necessarily beautiful if it does not express the artist’s aesthetic intention, but if it also serves the practical function of an artistic endeavor (Siebers 2005).

There are many different types of beauty: inner and outer.

Outer beauty comes from the outside, and it is temporary. It is a person’s looks or body shape that can make them seem beautiful at first sight. It can take time to get to know someone and get them to be beautiful on the inside as well.

If a person is truly beautiful on the inside, that will make them appear beautiful on the outside as well. That is why it is important to find people who are genuine and not just pretty, who have qualities and characteristics that will make them stand out from the crowd.

There are a lot of different ways to look at beauty, and it’s up to us to decide what makes us unique. It can be a mix of inner and outer beauty, or it can just be something that’s very special to you.