The Philosophy of Beauty


Beauty is a concept that has occupied the minds of philosophers for centuries. It’s a difficult one to pin down because what constitutes beauty is very personal, and it can vary from person to person. Nonetheless, it’s an idea that is important to understand because beauty affects our daily lives and how we view the world. Some examples of beautiful things include a smile on the Mona Lisa, a sunset on the beach and a well-tailored suit. Beauty also exists in our inner being and can be found in people who are good hearted and kind.

Generally speaking, beauty refers to a combination of qualities that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure, meaning or satisfaction to the senses, especially the eyes. Some scholars have suggested that beauty can also provide a satisfying experience to the ear, the intellect or the moral sense.

One of the most ancient treatments of beauty was offered by Plato in his Theory of Forms. He argued that the physical world we live in is only a shadow of the true, perfect realm of forms. Beauty is a manifestation of this perfect realm. This treatment avoids mere philistinism by adding an ontological priority to the concept of beauty.

Later on, Kant’s treatise on beauty was influential in the West. He argued that there could be no objective criteria for beauty because the experience of beauty is entirely subjective. This view was countered by the Renaissance and Humanist philosophers who emphasized the aesthetic nature of beauty and a harmony between its parts, such as symmetry and proportion. This was reflected in the way buildings were designed at the time, which often incorporated the “golden ratio.”

It was a bit later that the empiricism of Locke and Hume entered into play. These thinkers treated beauty as a pleasure derived from the senses, and it was believed that such pleasure is based on the perception of certain qualities, such as symmetry or color. However, this view is problematic because the pleasure attributed to these particular qualities may not be the same as another’s.

In the last few decades, the philosophy of beauty has been relegated to the background and has not had the significance it once had in the West. This is perhaps due to the fact that once beauty is admitted to be subjective, it no longer seems to have much of a higher status than anything else that entertains or amuses.

The importance of understanding beauty is a growing concern in our society. Beauty influences a lot of things, from the clothes we wear to the way we decorate our homes. Even the way we raise our children and how we judge our friends. We want our kids to be beautiful and have a positive body image so they can succeed in the competitive world of education, business and politics. We also believe that beauty can lead to a healthier life because attractiveness signals health and fitness. Research shows that when women look healthy and confident, they feel better about themselves as well.