Beauty – An Evolving Concept

Beauty is commonly defined as the aesthetic quality of certain objects which makes these objects appealing to perceive. These objects may be nature, humans or works of art. Beauty, along with individual taste and art, is the prevailing theme of aesthetics, among the major branches of contemporary philosophy. The beauty traditions of various civilizations throughout history are reflected in their architecture, paintings and pottery.

According to the influential philosopher Aristotle (ca., Hippocrates) aesthetics consists of five elements, which are beauty, truth, goodness, comparison and interest. He further distinguished them into three basic types: the synthetic, the ideal and the actual. The significance of each element varies for different purposes. However, the five elements of aesthetics remain unaltered today except for the role of comparison.

Aesthetics can be classified in two ways namely in terms of personal feelings and objective aspects. According to personal feelings, beauty is determined by personal sentiment and intuition. On the other hand, the objective aspect includes such elements as the influence of the surroundings, and the interpretation of signs. In the latter case, aesthetics denotes the judgment of true aesthetic worth by the human mind.

The idea that beauty lies mainly in the human form has been prevalent from the start of aesthetic study. In medieval Europe, theologians stressed the concept of beauty, primarily as the product of the mind of God. According to the medievalists, beauty is the perfect picture of God in human form.

Painting is a form of aesthetic art, which exhibits the aesthetic value of colours and forms. The popularity of painting can be dated back to the renaissance period when it was associated with the decadence of the Roman Empire. In particular, renaissance painting tended to focus on the depiction of nymphs, who were believed to enjoy the pleasure of sleeping in the lap of the gods. Another form of artistic expression was painting the scenery. Although this did not originate in the Renaissance, it gained widespread popularity in the latter part of the seventeenth century.

According to recent aesthetics literature, contemporary aesthetics tends to value human qualities such as personal imagination and personal experience over or rather beside the concrete reality of things. For example, beauty may be defined as a “construction” of things, an attempt to bring into Being as close as possible a representation of the deepest values of beauty. According to this view, we can say that beauty is “aesthetic subjectivity” that relies on the intuition of the aesthetic senses in deciding what is beautiful. This intuition differs from the subjective sensibility of the aesthetic faculty (a faculty that determines the subjective nature of beauty) and from the subjective sensibility of the human subject that decides the quality and value of the objects that we see.