The Philosophy of Beauty

A beauty is a kind of perfection that attracts us to an object. For example, a work of art, a person or even a piece of food can be considered beautiful if it has the right proportions and symmetry. For ancient thinkers like Plato and Plotinus, beauty was a property that existed both in form and in spirit. This view was reflected in the classical conception of beauty that developed during the Italian Renaissance.

From the eighteenth century on, however, philosophers have often been concerned with how a perception of beauty changes over time. They saw that if the notion of beauty is only relative to one’s individual experience of it, controversies about whether something is or is not beautiful will arise and can be resolved in various ways. They also saw that when the concept of beauty is treated in a very subjective way, it ceases to be a value that can be recognized as a universal one across persons or societies.

Thus, philosophers like Hume and Kant started to treat beauty as a phenomenon that is not only relative to the viewer, but rather is located in the object itself. These philosophers also took a closer look at the kinds of things that people usually judge to be beautiful. They saw that many of these objects and activities are often associated with wealth, status and hedonism. They were also often connected with social hierarchies, and at times were used to bolster or conceal the power of certain groups over others.

In addition, they realized that if the notion of beauty is merely a feeling, it can be subject to a wide range of influences, including emotions such as desire or love. They also argued that these emotions can be very arbitrary and inconsistent, so that people may see different things as beautiful.

The philosophy of beauty has also been influenced by a growing body of empirical research, such as psychological and neurological studies. For example, scientists have found that when a person looks at an attractive face, a part of the brain known as the amygdala is activated. This is the same part of the brain that reacts to fear, anger and stress.

In contrast, when a person looks at an ugly face, the amygdala is less active. A similar study found that people tend to give more positive attributes to beautiful people and negative ones to ugly ones. This is why it is important to take into account the context in which you are judging a particular object as beautiful or not.