The Concept of Beauty

Beautiful is a word that means to be pleasing to the eye and to the mind. It is often used to describe people, places and things that are attractive or pleasing. You can say that a place or something is beautiful if it is very well decorated or a very nice thing to look at.

It is also very pleasant or enjoyable to be around. You can say that a person is beautiful when they have very pretty skin or they are very tall and handsome.

The word beautiful has been in use for a long time. It is derived from two words, beauty and full, which means full of beautiful things.

In the ancient world, the word beautiful meant that an object was aesthetically pleasing. It was used to describe the beauty of landscapes and objects such as flowers, animals, and buildings.

Classical conceptions of beauty emphasized the importance of proportion and symmetry in achieving aesthetic pleasure. This was especially true of sculptural beauty, which could be achieved by replicating objective ratios such as the ‘golden section,’ a concept of harmonious proportion that was introduced into Western thought by Polykleitos (fifth/fourth century BCE).

One approach to the concept of beauty in classical philosophy is to view it as a universal characteristic that can be applied to all things. This is echoed in the works of eighteenth-century philosophers such as Hume and Kant.

Another approach, taken by the German poet and essayist Friedrich Schiller, is to view beauty as a process of integrating or rendering compatible the natural and spiritual levels of reality. In a similar fashion, the neo-Platonist Plotinus sees beauty as an invocation of ecstasy to transcend the physical level.

A third approach to the concept of beauty in classical philosophy, which is sometimes referred to as “hedonistic,” is to treat beauty as an objective state characterized by disinterested pleasure. A person who judges an object as beautiful experiences pleasure without being influenced by a sense of personal desire, and he attributes this to the object’s intrinsic worth.

These approaches share a common tendency to relegate the subjectivity of experience in favor of the object itself, and they also share an emphasis on the unity of the object as opposed to its relative ‘value’ among individual people or communities. However, some of these accounts are quite different from one another, and many of them have been challenged or reformulated over the centuries by various philosophers.

In the 1990s, an interest in the classical philosophical conception of beauty resurfaced as a concern in art and philosophy. This is reflected, in part, in the work of Dave Hickey and feminist-oriented reconstruals or reappropriations of the concept.