What Is Beauty?

Beauty is a combination of qualities that please the aesthetic senses, especially sight. It is often said that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. It has been argued that this subjective side of beauty means that people’s judgments are in agreement over time, which suggests that there is something in common in the underlying structure of what makes things beautiful to most people.

Philosophers have often compared beauty to the moral virtues of justice and goodness. These are the most important virtues in a good society, as they promote fairness and reciprocity in relationships. Similarly, philosophers have sometimes compared the pleasurable enjoyment of beautiful artistic creations to the pleasure that comes from the cultivation of those virtues.

However, it is important to note that many philosophers have rejected the idea that beauty is simply a matter of personal taste and preference. Rather, they have argued that there is a kind of intrinsic, objective beauty in things like harmony, proportion and symmetry, which can be discovered through the study of mathematics, art and architecture. This idea is sometimes called the mathematical beauty hypothesis or the golden ratio hypothesis.

In terms of the human body, the classical conception of beauty was based on the belief that each part should be in the right proportion to the whole. This is what sculptors were trying to capture in their creations. It is also why a person with an imbalance of weight and shape may appear less attractive. The eyes, for example, should be proportionate to the rest of the face and body. Large eyes on a small head, for instance, look out of place. A small mouth on a full face also looks out of proportion.

As the idea of beauty evolved in the twentieth century, it became associated with femininity and sexual appeal. As female consciousness developed, there was a growing realization that this was not a positive development. As a result, a number of philosophers tried to rescue the concept from its associations with oppressive idealized images and symbols.

One way of doing this was to try and understand beauty in terms of the relationship between the human soul and God. The idea was that, as a divine creation, the Creator would possess the perfect qualities of beauty. This would also make it possible for humans to have a union with the divine and gain immortality. This was the inspiration behind Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein.

In the modern world, there is a lot of pressure to be beautiful. This is reflected in the fashion industry which promotes unrealistic airbrushed pictures and size ‘0’ models who are often suffering from eating disorders. It is also reflected in the popularity of fake tans, false eyelashes and acrylic nails. It is therefore vital that we are able to recognise true beauty when we see it and not be misled by the fog of comparisons, accusations, judgements and expectations. It is also important to remember that inner and outer beauty go hand in hand. If we are happy, confident and secure in who we are, we can radiate beauty to those around us.