Beauty is the quality of being pleasing or appealing to the eye. It can be defined in many ways, but the basic idea is that there are things that we all find beautiful and that there are experiences that we all share.
Aesthetics is the study of beauty, its values and expressions in artistic creations. The philosophy of aesthetics emerged in the 19th century as a new discipline in philosophy, and it is closely related to the theory of art.
The earliest philosophical treatises on the concept of beauty are from antiquity, including the writings of Plato (c.300 BCE) and Aristotle (c.300 CE). They focus on the physical and abstract qualities of objects that are aesthetically pleasing, or attractive. These include the symmetry of parts toward each other and toward a coherent whole, and the charm of colour.
Ancient philosophers viewed beauty as a transcendentally good aspect of the natural world, but also as a part of human experience. This idea of beauty, which remained a central tenet of Western culture throughout the medieval period and into the modern era, enjoined the cultivation of an aesthetic sense as an important means of moral education.
Early philosophers who considered the nature of beauty, such as Aristotle and Descartes, believed that it was a fundamental property of being. They argued that there was a definite difference between the aesthetic qualities of things and their utilitarian uses, and they sought to establish a system of rules for determining what constitutes beauty.
They considered aesthetics as an art, and they emphasized that works of art should be able to convey a sense of awe or ecstasy. They also stressed that works of art should be symmetrical and that they should be designed to have an aesthetically pleasing effect on the mind.
Contemporary theorists have reintroduced the notion of beauty, although it is not as widely discussed or as fully understood as it was in the past. For example, feminists have reconstructed and reappropriated the concept of beauty, and some artists have used it as a tool for breaking down stereotypes of feminine beauty.
Almost everyone says that the symmetry of parts towards each other and towards a coherent whole is a sign of beauty. But a number of theorists have been suspicious of this account, as they feel that defining beauty through harmony may result in exchanging one unclear term for another.
Some contemporary theorists, especially feminists, argue that beauty is a powerful force that can be used as an instrument of social change and empowerment. They argue that when women embrace their own beauty, they are able to defy the stereotypes that have plagued them and pushed them into a life of subservience.
When women who are comfortable with themselves and their bodies find ways to be attractive to men, they are much more likely to be admired and noticed by them. This is because it shows that a woman has an independent spirit and that she is not dependent on others for her happiness.