Beauty is a subjective concept, a concept that cannot be reduced to physical attributes. Plato believed that beauty was a divine quality, something that can only be perceived with the eye of the mind. Plotinus agreed with Plato in that beauty is not reducible to any physical attributes, but is an abstract concept that is subjective in nature.
The concept of beauty has undergone several incarnations in history, with various definitions of what beauty is. Throughout history, the concept has received tremendous attention and debate. Today, the true definition of beauty is still ambiguous and varies among individuals and humankind. In this article, we’ll briefly explore some of the different definitions of beauty.
The twentieth century saw a resurgence of interest in beauty, partly due to the work of art critic Dave Hickey. Feminist-oriented reconstruals of beauty also gained popularity. This renewed interest prompted several theorists to explore the antinomy of taste. As a result, the question of beauty has become increasingly politicized and contested.
As the philosopher David Hume wrote in Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary (1758), “Beauty is a subjective state, not a property of things.” According to Hume, beauty exists in the mind that contemplates things, and that each mind will perceive beauty differently. Ultimately, he argues for individual freedom of choice, and that it is necessary to acquiesce to our own sentiment. Hence, he is an ardent opponent of tyrannical notions of taste and aims to clarify the concept of beauty.
Beauty is the manifestation of Goodness as Truth. Alan Moore suggests that beauty follows purpose. A strong sense of purpose attracts creative talent and helps create a positive workplace culture. A positive work culture fosters deeper engagement and better well-being, and beauty is more than just about design. And what’s better than a culture of a positive purpose?
Beauty has a long philosophical history. Its definition is unclear, but the ancients recognized beauty in both form and spirit. For example, Greek mythology mentions Helen of Troy as the most beautiful woman. Similarly, ancient Greek architecture demonstrates the value of proportion and symmetry. Another classical example is Sandro Botticelli’s painting of the Birth of Venus. Venus is considered the personification of beauty.
Aristotle, however, contrasts Plato’s definition of beauty. He argues that beauty is the result of harmony among parts. He also argues that beauty is the result of harmonious proportion. This idea carries a strong moral message. According to Plato, a virtuous soul is symmetrical.
Throughout history, beauty has sprung back from crises. According to Geoffrey Jones, author of Beauty Imagined: A History of the Global Beauty Industry, “During the financial crisis, sales of nail polish and mascara skyrocketed.” This phenomenon suggests that people don’t stop buying beauty products. Instead, they switch to less expensive versions.