Beauty is a concept that can be found in myths, literature, and art. It is defined by qualities that give pleasure. These qualities can be perceived by the aesthetic faculty and are considered a perceptual experience.
In the ancient world, myths and legends were common sources of information about human values. Ancient philosophers and hedonists such as Aristippus of Cyrene took a direct approach. They formulated beauty requirements in typically Aristotelian pluralist formulations.
One of the most important aspects of the classical conception of beauty is the organization of integral parts into a coherent whole. Using this idea, Aristotle emphasized clarity of beauty in the sense that living things must present order in their arrangement of parts.
Another requirement for beauty is consonance. For instance, gold does not look beautiful by itself. Similarly, the light of the sun is not beautiful by symmetry. But, a compound of these elements, even one as symmetrical as a diamond, is considered to be beautiful.
Some theorists have also proposed an alternative to the classical conception of beauty. In the 1990s, feminist-oriented reconstruals of beauty were popular. Others, such as George Santayana, thought that experience of beauty could be profound.
A more complicated definition of the same is derived from Berkeley. He said that beauty is a “few characteristics”: “one is the quality of suitedness, the other is the capacity to enjoy and behold.” His definition included two other factors: intellection and practical activity. The latter includes attending to the subject and recognizing the object’s quality, both of which are important to a proper understanding of the subject.
There are also several other significant criteria for determining beauty, such as integrity, proportion, and consonance. However, a more rigorous study of these requirements suggests that the best way to know what is a beauty is to examine its manifestations.
For example, a beauty can be defined as the aesthetic experience of seeing the finest possible version of an object. However, it may be more important to understand the importance of this feature. This is because the perceptual experience of the finest version of an object may be achieved through an indirect process that does not involve a direct encounter with the object.
As a result, it is not surprising that political associations of beauty have been a source of debate for centuries. These associations are problematic in many ways, especially in relation to gender and race. While they have been addressed in social justice movements in the past, they have been ignored by late twentieth century philosophers. Therefore, it is important to revisit the classical concept of beauty to see what its implications are in the present day.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a new gendered reading of beauty was emerging. During this period, women were equated to the feminine virtues, such as beauty, and male virtues, such as courage, were aligned with the sublimity of the female. Yet, it was this gendered connotation that would later shape the association of women with nature.