Beauty is the quality of a thing that makes it pleasing to the eye. It is often contrasted with ugliness, which makes an object unpleasant to the eye. Examples include landscapes, sunsets, human beings and works of art.
The concept of beauty is a fundamental part of philosophy, ranging from the ancient Greek philosophers to modern day feminist thinkers. The word is derived from the Latin word for “pleasure,” and it is a central component of aesthetics, one of the major branches of philosophy.
In its classical conception, beauty consists of symmetry and proportion, and it is reflected in the arrangement of parts in coherent wholes. The principles of this view are still at work in Western aesthetics and, indeed, in mathematics and physics.
During the eighteenth century, philosophers such as Hume and Kant became concerned that when the concept of beauty was treated as purely subjective, it became insignificant and largely irrelevant. This was due to the fact that controversies about art and literature could be resolved only if reasons were given for why a particular work was beautiful or not, and when such reasons could not be found, then the value of beauty was no longer as important.
It is also possible to argue that there are cultural trends in what people consider beautiful. For example, in Japan, many people prefer asymmetry compared to the symmetrical ideal of Western aesthetics.
However, it is also possible to argue that the concept of beauty is a highly subjective phenomenon. This is because it depends on the viewer and his thoughts and feelings.
For instance, scientists such as Semir Zeki at University College London have analyzed the activity in the medial orbital frontal cortex, which is part of the reward and pleasure center of the brain, when people are looking at different kinds of art or music. He has found that the neural circuitry in this part of the brain is activated when people are looking at things that are beautiful, compared to when they are looking at things that are ugly.
This may be a useful tool for understanding how and why the brain reacts to different aesthetic experiences. However, it is not necessarily a good way to understand how people’s minds develop and shape their worldview.
Another problem with this approach is that it does not address the question of whether there are standards of beauty for every object or person in the world. It does not even address the fact that the criteria that people use to define what is beautiful vary from one culture to another, a problem that has long been considered an intractable one.
For instance, many people find that women are more aesthetically appealing than men. This may be because women are better at identifying and communicating their feelings and emotions. In addition, women often have the ability to see beyond what they can physically perceive.