The Philosophy of Beauty


Beauty has a long and varied history as a concept that is used to describe both the external and internal aspects of an object or person. It is often seen as the underlying essence of aesthetics and is considered an important determinant of how people feel about things and what they want to do with them.

The concept of beauty has been debated by philosophers throughout history, and many have attempted to explain why certain objects are considered beautiful and others are not. These philosophical reassessments of the nature of beauty have led to several different formulations of what is meant by it, and some are more fundamental than others.

Classical Definition of Beauty

The classical conception of beauty is characterized by the idea that a particular object or experience should have a certain amount of order, symmetry and harmony in its parts. This is a common approach to understanding how things are considered beautiful, and it was largely developed in the Renaissance.

A good example of this is the idea that a human body is beautiful when it has a harmonious relationship between its parts. It also depends on the fact that each part has the proper proportion to the other parts, and that they are all positioned in a symmetrical way.

This kind of beauty is also important in the world of fashion and art. It is often the reason that certain objects become iconic and are associated with a certain time or culture.

Various approaches to this philosophy of beauty have been developed, including hedonism (Kant), disinterested pleasure (Santayana), and ecstasy or adoration of a particular thing or idea.


Hedonism is a philosophical theory that focuses on the pleasure or ecstasy of certain objects or experiences, and this is often seen as an alternative to subjectivism. The hedonism of Santayana, for example, emphasizes the pleasure that something causes and that is attributed to it; it also argues that the pleasure experienced by the viewer is a kind of ecstasy and can therefore be classified as beautiful.

Disinterested Pleasure

Kant’s account of beauty is a bit more subjectivist than Santayana’s, though still not completely. He distinguishes between an ‘objectified’ and ‘inferred’ pleasure: the former is felt by the spectator, while the latter is a response to the perception of an object that causes pleasure.

However, Kant’s view of beauty is still a subjectivist one and it also has the disadvantage that it can be subject to political and cultural controversies over what is beautiful, so that there can be no absolute standard or universal value.

Ecstasy and Adoration

Neo-Platonism is another major philosophical approach to beauty, and this reflects the belief that it should be an expression of the divine or the spiritual rather than just the physical. It is seen as an expression of a higher or abstract level of existence that is not attainable by ordinary means, and that can only be achieved through the act of creating or performing art or beauty.