An Introduction to Aesthetics and Beauty

Beauty is widely defined as a subjective aspect of natural objects that actually makes these objects aesthetically pleasant to see. Such objects may include sunsets, landscapes, humans and artistic works of fine art. Beauty, along with personal taste and aesthetic appreciation, is probably the most influential subject of aesthetics, probably one of the biggest branches of fine arts. It is also the most controversial, considering that many disagree fundamentally on what beauty is.


Defining beauty is actually very easy. According to some, beauty is defined as an essential characteristic of all existing objects, conceived of as an enduring quality independent of the person who perceives it, of which the object itself is a physical and psychosomatic product. According to others, beauty is only a subjective ideal that arises in our minds and not a physical reality. For the former, beauty is a subjective quality of objects independent of our perceptions and therefore not dependent on the object itself. For the latter, beauty is considered an objective quality of objects arising out of our personal aesthetic experiences and not independent of our knowledge or opinions.

The disagreement between these two schools of thoughts highlights a philosophical issue of beauty. If beauty is only a subjective ideal then how can we know what beauty truly is. In order to resolve this problem, aesthetic theories were developed to provide objective criteria for determining what beauty truly is.

One of these aesthetic theories is known as the theory of proportion. According to this theory, the parts of an object that are most similar in shape, size and composition have to be proportioned together to form a whole. This allows an object to be considered beautiful if each part of it perfectly matches its neighbors in form and function, and if the whole is aesthetically pleasing and harmonious in appearance.

Another major set of aesthetic concepts are the notions of form and function. These notions consider beauty to be a form as well as a function. Form refers to the way an object looks like in space, while function describes how it actually functions. Thus, beauty is not just looking nice but also making the body comfortable and useful. The use of proper clothing and cosmetics also serve as forms of beauty.

One of the most popular and influential aesthetic concepts in the field of beauty is that of fashion. Fashion is defined as “a process of selecting and employing particular ways of dressing that are suitable for particular situations.” Fashion generally reflects the current social media trends and is used to help in breaking down societal barriers and differences. The idea behind this concept is that beauty should be related to the way a person looks rather than the actual beauty that they possess. For instance, it is fine for a runway model to look good on the runway but she will never become a fashion icon if she does not look the way she looks on the runway.