The Nature of Beauty
Beauty is often defined as a mental or aesthetic quality of things that makes these things aesthetically pleasant to see. These things may include sunsets, landscapes, beautiful humans and creative works of art. Beauty, along with personal taste and aesthetics, is the most important topic of aesthetics, among the many branches of applied philosophy. Many have taken up aesthetics as a professional career and some have become very famous in this field.
The twentieth century art movement, together with the new science of aesthetics, attempted to define beauty. A number of philosophers attempted to resolve the issue by making a distinction between what is beautiful and what is not. In the twentieth century there were two schools of thought regarding the issue of beauty. The idealist school of thought held that beauty was a subjective quality that could be universally defined while the realist school subscribed to the idea that beauty was a fixed and objective quality independent of individual inclinations and subjective perspectives.
According to the idealist school of thought, beauty could be objectively measured. It consisted of certain physical features and qualities like form, color, shape, and a number of other unique qualities. Another school of thought, which is known as the realist school, denied that beauty was dependent on these objective and independent qualities. Rather, beauty was a personal and emotional state dependent on the individual’s attitude and personal experiences. The subjectivity of the realist school gave rise to the concept of beauty as an inner state.
Beauty was seen as an internal state experienced by the beholder. When one looked at something beautiful he or she did not view it from the perspective of someone else. From this point of view beauty became the subjective experience of the beholder. One may love a painting by Mona Lisa because he or she personally admires her beauty but this particular painting may not have any effect on the beholder.
On the other hand, an object viewed from another’s perspective has an effect on the beholder. If a person sees a wart on the skin of his or her neighbor, the individual’s opinion of the wart may have an effect on the person’s feeling about being beautiful. Being beautiful is different for everyone. Each person has his or her own idea of what beautiful looks like to him or her.
The definition of beauty is as varied as the variety of people who conceive of it. In general, beauty is seen as having to do with appearance, but there are many elements of personal beauty that are also important. Beauty is, ultimately, a personal concept, dependent on the individual who sees beauty and nothing else.