The Different Conceptions of Beauty


From Plato to modern neuro-psychological studies, the topic of beauty has sparked a lot of debate and passion. Some people define beauty as something about their inner soul and others think that beauty is all about the outer appearance of a person. Whatever your definition of beauty is, it should be something that makes you happy and content. It should also be something that you love and admire in others. People that radiate with confidence and who truly believe in themselves are beautiful. They do not need to spend a fortune on face masks or put on heavy makeup to look beautiful. The true essence of beauty lies within and it should be a reflection of your personality and character. This is why so many older people look so good – they have learned to embrace who they are and have a strong force of their personality which shines through their skin.

The classical conception of beauty was that it was a kind of arrangement or harmony of integral parts into a coherent whole according to proportion, balance, and other notions like symmetry. This was a primordial Western idea of beauty that is embodied in much classical and neo-classical architecture, sculpture, literature, and music.

One of the reasons that this conception was so important was that it made the concept of beauty objective. That is, it was not dependent on the observer’s experience of it. Plato (427-347 BCE) favored this idea of beauty as it is embodied in his ideal world of the Forms. Aristotle (384-322 BCE) held a similar idea of beauty, but it was more based on the characteristics of art objects rather than on a person’s experience with them.

This kind of conception of beauty was challenged by the empiricist philosophers, whose ideas were influenced by Locke’s distinction between primary and secondary qualities. To the empiricists, beauty was a quality that depended on pleasure and it could not be defined objectively. They also believed that color was a kind of phantasm of the mind that depended on the subjective response to it. They argued that if you were blind or had jaundice the things you saw would have different colors to you than they do to someone else.

The Christian theologian Thomas Aquinas, in his Summa Theologica, formulated an idea of beauty that was based on the three requirements of integrity or perfection, due proportion, and clarity or brightness. He also emphasized that beauty is a gift from God and not something man can create on his own. In fact, he went so far as to say that there is no real beauty in basilisks or the like because they do not fit God’s plan for creation. He concluded that there is only what is intrinsically beautiful and what comes naturally to human beings. That is why he also thought that the only true beauty is in the human heart and soul. It is the beauty of goodness and love that transcends physical attributes.