Beauty is a quality or characteristic that gives pleasure to the senses, usually through harmony of form and color. It is often contrasted with ugliness as a negative aesthetic value.
Many people are affected by everyday beauty: a stunning sunset, a person’s smile or a work of art. Abstract art and 3D works often achieve this kind of beauty through color and texture.
The word beauty comes from the Latin belles, which means “beautiful.” It refers to a quality or combination of qualities that please or satisfies the mind or senses. These qualities include harmony of line, color, form, texture, proportion, rhythmic motion and tone.
A number of philosophers have defined beauty as an objective property, although they also admit that it is subjective and depends on the feelings or judgment of the observer. In fact, one of the main subjects of aesthetics is to determine the nature of beauty and how to distinguish it from ugliness.
According to Hume, a thing’s beauty is determined by the way the mind contemplates it, and he notes that each individual’s sense of beauty is unique. He also stresses that the exercise of taste is a matter of personal volition and that people must acquiesce in their own sentiments without pretending to regulate them.
For Aristotle, beauty is an important criterion for judging whether something is good or not. He explains that if an object is beautiful it must be well-designed or have some desirable qualities: integrity, proportion and clarity. He goes on to say that these qualities must be present in an aesthetically pleasing whole, and not only in a single detail.
He also explains that a beautiful object is a compound, and he uses the words ‘combination’, ‘complementary’ and ‘inseparable’ to describe this. He adds that there must be a symmetry or balance between the parts; and this must be the case, not only in the composition of an object, but in all its aspects.
The concept of beauty was central to classical aesthetics and shaped the development of philosophy. It was the ultimate goal of artistic endeavor, and it served as a guiding light for art-making.
Despite the importance of beauty to classical aesthetics, it was not always the dominant goal in the arts. As art became more serious and oriented towards the creation of works of lasting value, it abandoned the idea of beauty.
In the nineteenth century, the concept of beauty began to become popular again in some circles, as a result of its association with the ideals of freedom and morality. However, this trend was short-lived. In the twentieth century, beauty became associated with power and social status, which undermined its status in the arts.
In the twentieth century, a number of philosophers began to explore the subject of beauty. For example, Peg Zeglin Brand in 2000 argued that beauty is a double-edged sword — capable of destabilizing rigid conventions and reinforcing restrictive behavioral models. This is especially true of the body.