Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Spend the Day in Beauty
What is beauty? Is being beautiful like tasting good to Bob (subjective) or being 150 lbs. (objective)? The saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” suggests subjective. But other sayings—“beauty is truth” or “beauty is eternal”—suggest there is some objective quality to beauty. Advocates of the subjective view emphasize how difficult it is to get people to agree on aesthetic judgments. Advocates of the objective view make arguments like: “The Grand Canyon would be beautiful regardless of whether anyone was there to see it, so beauty is in the object.”
Aristotle believed that there was no absolute beauty, but that it was based on perception. As a general term, the Greeks perceived beauty as interchangeable with excellence, perfection, and satisfaction. Plotinus believed that beauty did not include symmetry. However, "beauty is that which irradiates symmetry, rather than symmetry itself."
Plato introduced to the ideal of "Platonic love:" Plato saw love as motivated by a longing for the highest form of beauty—The Beautiful Itself, and love as the motivational power through which the highest of achievements are possible.
Kant argues that such aesthetic judgments are 'judgments of taste', and insists that universality and necessity are in fact a product of features of the human mind (Kant calls these features 'common sense'), and that there is no objective property of a thing that makes it beautiful.
The Taoist sage also thinks it is human judgment that what happens is beautiful or ugly, right or wrong, fortunate or not. The sage knows all things are one (equal) and does not judge. Our lives are snarled and jumbled so long as we make conventional discriminations, but when we set them aside, we appear to others as extraordinary and enchanted.
Benedetto Croce, originator of the modern “expressionist theory” of aesthetic, maintains that the difference between the beautiful and the ugly is that: “expression in the naturalistic sense simply lacks expression in the spiritual sense, that is to say, the very character of activity of the spirituality, and therefore the bipartition into the poles of beauty and of ugliness.” He sees beauty as part of the process of aesthetic expression that has four stages: impressions, expression or spiritual aesthetic synthesis (intuition), pleasure of the beautiful, translation of the aesthetic fact into physical phenomena. The expressive process is exhausted when these four phases have been passed through.
What do YOU think?