Beauty is a complex and multifaceted subject, one which is often subject to conflicting claims. It is an empirical fact of life, but also a subjective experience. The concept of beauty has been studied in relation to human capacities in the arts, as well as in relation to the moral and political contexts of its existence.
Beauty is a combination of qualities, including shape, weight, color, proportion, and symmetry. It is a subjective response that is influenced by the mind, which is why different people have different experiences of the same object. There is no universal definition of beauty, but there are some requirements for it.
The concept of beauty originated from ancient Greece, where it was linked to love. Aphrodite, the goddess of love, is a central figure in Greek mythology. She is also the subject of the famous Judgment of Paris, where she promised to give the city of Paris the most beautiful woman in the world. In the eighteenth century, there were theories about the nature of beauty and the meaning of pleasure. The eighteenth-century philosopher David Hume clarified that beauty is not a quality or a quantity in objects, but rather an individual sentiment that responds to an object that causes a feeling of pleasure.
Aristotle described living things as having to present order in their arrangement of parts. This led to an interest in the nature of beauty and how it could be defined. In the nineteenth century, a number of philosophers studied the aesthetics of beauty, in particular how the senses were used to perceive it. These studies focused on the aesthetic process by which an artistic creation could bring delight to the senses.
The twentieth-century revival of the study of beauty led to a debate about how it was interpreted and understood. It was also a period of re-evaluation of beauty as a cultural value, and a criticism of its social and political associations. Contemporary philosophy began to shift its focus away from the ontology of beauty to the faculties of the human mind and to the meaning of the word.
In the nineteenth-century, William Berkeley proposed a definition of beauty which required that a particular thing be desirable to be seen and experienced. This requires an assessment of whether a thing is suitable for a person’s needs, and the ability to understand the use of the item.
In the twentieth century, the concept of beauty was associated with capitalism, and became the basis of critiques of art. In the 1980s, there was an effort to revive interest in the subject. This included a book written by Arthur Danto, The Abuse of Beauty. It was argued that beauty was subject to social pressures, and was exploited in the process of creating art. The author questioned the notion of white standards of beauty, which in her view devalued black bodies.
In his Essays, Moral, Political and Literary (1758), the eighteenth-century philosopher David Hume defined the beautiful as gentleness and gentleness of mind. He also defended the right of an individual to acquiesce in their own sentiment, and to resist tyrannical notions of taste.