Beauty is the quality that arouses delight and pleasure in the mind or senses. It is often associated with properties such as harmony of form or color, proportion, authenticity, and originality.
There is a broad range of definitions of beauty across cultures and throughout history. These vary from the traditional view that beauty is a physical attribute such as fair skin, lustrous hair, and a great figure to an emphasis on self-confidence, good health and determination.
The idea of beauty has been discussed in many different areas over the centuries, including philosophy, poetry, and art. The most common definition is a combination of qualities that please the aesthetic senses, particularly the eyes.
Until the eighteenth century, most philosophical accounts of beauty treated it as an objective quality. This led to a distinction between the experience of beauty and the object of the beauty. In the Symposium and Enneads, Plato connects the phenomenon of beauty to a response of love and desire (and also to the nature of objects in the universe); Plotinus locates it within the realm of the Forms.
However, while most philosophers agree that beauty is an objective property of something, they differ on how to define it and on its significance for humans. Aquinas explains that beauty is a condition of integrity or perfection, due proportion and consonance, and clarity.
He further suggests that beauty consists in the symmetry and harmony of parts toward a whole, and he cites examples of the harmony of a bird’s wings, a flower’s petals, and a sphere’s shape.
It is a requirement of the classical aesthetics that objects be symmetrical and that their parts have to be in harmony with each other and with a coherent whole. This is not to say that there are no exceptions, but if an object is ill-suited to its intended use or has been deformed, it is no longer beautiful.
Kant’s account of beauty was that it inspires a sense of purpose and that it is linked to humanism, but he could not explain how this connection could be achieved. Aquinas’ explanation satisfies these criteria and answers Kant’s intuitions, but it does not provide a fully-unified theory of beauty.
Aquinas argues that the objective quality of beauty can be described by an empirically valid account of the emergence of aesthetic principles in nature. This can account for why things are beautiful, as well as why they don’t seem to be.
Despite this, Aquinas explains that beauty does not have to be directly observable in order to exist. It can be an apprehension, as in a feeling that a particular thing is beautiful.
This is a relatively new interpretation of the ancient concept of beauty, and it is an interesting one. It reflects our current understanding of how the brain works, and how we perceive the world.
The ability to perceive beauty has been linked to an individual’s emotions, and this makes it a very subjective experience. For example, a woman who loves her body will be able to enjoy a photo of herself in a bikini and call it beautiful.