What Is Beauty?


The word beauty has multiple meanings and elicits a variety of responses from people. It can be used to describe an object, a person, or an idea. People often debate the question of what defines something as beautiful. While some people believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, others argue that there are specific criteria that should be met for something to be considered beautiful. Others think that beauty is determined by the way an object makes them feel and are able to objectively measure this feeling using scientific methods.

The debate over whether beauty is objective or subjective has been a topic of great interest throughout history. Many philosophers have offered their opinions on this issue, and the topic of beauty continues to be an important one in both philosophy and art.

Many modern philosophers have tried to find a way to distinguish between the different types of beauty. For some, such as Kant and Hume, beauty is the result of a judgment that has both rational and emotional components. Others, such as Aristotle and Plato, view beauty as a form of pleasure or happiness. Finally, others have viewed beauty as a virtue that can be promoted and encouraged in people.

Although there are a wide variety of opinions about what is beautiful, some common characteristics seem to be shared by all definitions. Some common characteristics of beauty include harmony, proportion, and clarity. For example, a painting must have all three of these features to be considered beautiful. In addition, the subject must be well-formed, which means that the object must have a shape that is characteristic of the type of thing it is.

Other features that are often found in beautiful objects include contrast, harmony of proportions, and balance. For example, a flower may be considered beautiful when it has vibrant colors and symmetry. A person may be considered beautiful when they have a sense of calm and harmony and are able to put others at ease. Finally, an object or scene may be considered beautiful when it stimulates the imagination.

Beauty has also been associated with various social and political issues over the centuries. For example, it has been linked to hedonistic pleasures, such as those evoked by the Rococo style of paintings by artists such as Fragonard. Beauty has also been associated with luxury, which has led to some moral and ethical criticism of it.

Despite these controversial associations, the concept of beauty remains an important one in both philosophy and art. In the 1990s, there was a revival of interest in beauty in both art and philosophy, including feminist-oriented reconstruals or reappropriations of this concept (see Hickey 1993). As we continue to live in a world full of different views of what is beautiful, it is vital to be aware of how our cultural notions of beauty can impact how we see the world around us.