Do We Really Have a Clean Picture of Beauty?

We often use the word “beauty” in order to define something specific, like “a beautiful house”. But beauty is also frequently defined by the observer as a subjective feeling or mental appraisal of a thing. Thus beauty is commonly defined as a subjective feature of particular objects which makes these object pleasurable to see. These objects may be natural landscapes, human works of art and sunsets. Beauty, along with personal taste and aesthetic knowledge, is arguably the most important topic of aesthetics, among the various branches of psychology.


Philosophical aesthetics makes use of three broad categories of aesthetic objectivity:esthetic Subjectivism; idealist conception; and subjective idealism. Aesthetic subjectivism says that beauty is determined by the individual’s own perception of beauty, and so beauty exists independent of the culture, thoughts and beliefs of those who see it. Idealist philosophers however believe that beauty is determined through a harmony of practical reasoning with a person’s personal ideals. Subjective idealism, on the other hand, says that beauty is something that one feels in harmony with oneself.

We can find two kinds of aesthetic evaluation. Evaluative aesthetics appeal to the aesthetic feelings of the beholder, while non-evaluative aesthetics appeal to the universal standard of beauty established by the beholder. Aesthetic value is subjective. It depends on how an object makes us feel. For example, an object may cause me to feel beautiful if you put it in my home, but that doesn’t mean that I will find that object appealing.

According to philosophers, beauty consists of five basic elements: order, form, color, shape and space. Order is defined by objects having a common basic quality that all have. Form is defined by things having the same composition as one another. Shape is what we feel when seeing or smelling an object.

Color and space are felt by the beholder or the viewer depending on their expectations. We all have our own idea of beauty. While some people may see beauty in objects without having a definite concept, others may see only beauty in the objects themselves. Beauty then is a subjective concept.

We all have different ideas of beauty, so everyone may worry about whether they are beautiful or not. Some people may worry that they aren’t beautiful enough, while others may worry that they are beautiful just the way that they are. They may even worry that other people will see them as ugly. However, beauty remains a mystery; we are left to judge beauty from a particular definition.