The question of what beauty is is one of the most debated topics in literature. Various philosophies have proposed theories, and controversies have arisen over the nature of beauty. In this article, we will examine several of the major approaches to beauty.
A classical conception of beauty consists of the arrangement of integral parts into a coherent whole. This idea is embodied in neo-classical sculpture and classical architecture. It has also been incorporated in classical literature and music.
Aristotle believed that living things must display order in their arrangements of parts. This idea was later adopted by Thomas Aquinas, who said that beauty is a manifestation of the Second Person of the Trinity. He argued that beauty must be characterized by three qualifications. These are: (a) integrity, meaning that a work is complete by interior logic; (b) form and function, meaning that a thing must have beauty in its parts and functions; and (c) symmetry, meaning that a thing must be symmetrical.
Beauty has also been associated with pleasure. Eighteenth-century philosophers such as David Hume and Immanuel Kant saw beauty as a subjective state of consciousness. Kant’s treatments stressed heroic attempts to temper subjectivity. However, his explanations of beauty were still flawed.
John Locke’s view of colors was that they depend on the perception of the mind. For example, an object’s color can vary depending on the time of day, and even under different conditions. Likewise, the light of the sun can be seen as a beautiful color at noon, but not at midnight.
Similarly, hedonists see the connection between beauty and pleasure. They define a work of art as beautiful if it is a harmonious whole that expresses love or value.
Some twentieth-century artists saw beauty as a matter of justice. For example, the “heroin chic” waifs of the 1990s were considered beautiful. Interestingly, however, the early twentieth-century Conquistadors believed that art from Africa was crude and uglie. Their art was criticized for concealing the suffering of the wealthy.
Another approach to beauty focuses on the meaning of a work of art. A contemporary definition of beauty was written by Alan Moore, who argues that the purpose behind a work of art makes it beautiful. Moreover, he argues that beauty is more than just design.
Many people have a difficult time believing that beauty is objective. While it is certainly true that a person can judge an object’s beauty, there is no empirical evidence to support this conclusion. Nevertheless, some argue that the experience of beauty can connect an observer to an object, and that beauty is a necessary component of a good thing.
As we have seen, various philosophies have developed a wide range of definitions for what beauty is. One of the most controversial is the definition of beauty as an objective concept. But there are other ways to look at beauty, and some are more logical and rational than others. So which one is right? Let’s take a look at some of these theories of beauty, and compare them with contemporary definitions.