What Is Beauty?


Beauty is the idea of an object or a person that people find appealing. It is not just about physical appearance but also about attitude, personality and depth of thought.

During the past several years, social media has shifted the way we view and define beauty. We are seeing a move away from youth, race and body type to strength, wisdom and courage. This has caused many to question what is beautiful and what is not.

Some philosophers think that the definition of beauty is entirely subjective and it depends on the viewer’s thoughts and feelings. Others believe that it is a matter of objective criteria.

There are a lot of different views on the subject of beauty and each one has its own characteristics and expressions. Some of these views may be incompatible with each other.

The first view is from the eighteenth century and is a fairly traditional one in that it holds that beauty consists of a set of qualities that are given pleasure or meaning by the eye, the ear, the intellect, or the moral sense. This view is influenced by John Locke and other empiricists who held that the primary qualities were innate and dependent on perception.

Another view is from the nineteenth century and focuses on a kind of subjective pleasure that is experienced when a particular object or quality is perceived as being beautiful. It is a sort of hedonism whereby something is ‘beautiful’ when it induces a certain kind of emotional response.

This approach is akin to the way we tend to describe a song as ‘beautiful’ when we hear it and we say it has an emotion-eliciting effect on us. It is like saying that a dog is ‘beautiful’ because it is a nice looking animal.

But this view of beauty is a very limited perspective and it doesn’t take into account the fact that we can enjoy the same things in different ways and still be happy. We can even look at a flower and see that it is beautiful.

These views don’t necessarily mean that they are correct or not; they simply explain how people tend to use the word ‘beautiful’ in different ways. For example, a person might use the word ‘beautiful’ to refer to the painting X that they are viewing and another person might use it to refer to the sculpture Y that they are holding in their hand.

Then there are some who are against the concept of ‘beauty’ altogether, such as Plotinus and Kant. They argue that beauty cannot exist empirically and that it is merely a’mental concept’.

This view of beauty is often criticized for its overly subjectivist nature and for being akin to hedonism, but it is worth taking a closer look at this position because of how it has affected philosophy over the centuries. It is an important idea and it has had an immense influence on the philosophy of aesthetics.