Philosophy of Beauty


Beauty is an experience that arouses and stimulates emotions in the soul and mind of the person who views it. The world is filled with different forms of beauty, from the paintings of Cezanne to the photography of an anonymous stranger. It is difficult to define beauty, as it is a complex concept that cannot be abstracted into one thought.

Traditionally, philosophical accounts of beauty treated it as objective, locating it in the object itself or in its qualities. This approach drew on such sources as Plato’s Symposium and Plotinus’s Enneads, and on Augustine’s De Veritate Religione.

Aristotle, meanwhile, takes a more dispassionate and scientific view of beauty, viewing it as the outcome of an ordered arrangement. He does not believe that beauty depends on a connection to an abstract Form of Beauty; it is the result of a skilled craftsman’s design and execution.

Early modern aesthetics also treated beauty as an objective quality, but in a more limited sense than ancient philosophers did. For example, the German philosopher Kant treats it as a quality of disinterested pleasure; while Locke and the other empiricists treat it as a phantasm, a set of qualities dependent on subjective response, which could be located in the perceiving mind (Locke, The Metaphysical Philosophy of Taste, 3).

It is interesting to note that this account of beauty has been so radically transformed from its early days that even those who agree with it may have some difficulty with it. For example, in the nineteenth century hedonists and social critics associated beauty with wealth and decadence, as in the paintings of Fragonard or the Rococo style. This, in turn, had the effect of reducing beauty to an exclusively aesthetic rather than moral or political value.

In the twentieth century, many philosophers rejected any notion of beauty at all. The most prominent were those who believed that all meaningful claims are empirical, and that no meaningful statement could have a status independent of the subject, such as ‘that song is beautiful’.

But despite this, there were a number of philosophers who recognized that there are certain aspects of our lives and society that are affected by beauty. In fact, the idea of beauty is so powerful that it can reshape the way we look at ourselves, others and the world.

For instance, beauty can play a significant role in social status and can have positive consequences for people who are considered attractive. Attractive people tend to earn more money, get promoted, and become more successful. In addition, they are generally viewed as more intelligent and are favored by their peers in dating situations.

The concept of beauty has also been manipulated by white supremacists, who use it as a means of harnessing power in their societies. It is also used to manipulate other races into thinking that they are less attractive than they really are.

This has been a huge problem for the West, as it has often resulted in the exploitation of people of color and the underprivileged for the purpose of capitalist expansion. As a result, the concept of beauty has been a source of conflict throughout history.