Is Beauty Only a Concept?
Beauty is widely defined as the emotional feeling or physical aspect of certain objects which makes these objects aesthetically pleasant to see. These objects may include sunsets, landscapes, human works and art. Beauty, along with aestheticism, is presently the most important theme of aesthetics, among the various branches of modern philosophy. According to recent surveys, more than forty percent of Americans define beauty in relation to their own aesthetic sense. The importance of beauty in human life has become widely accepted by the general population.
In recent times, aestheticians are those persons who can identify and describe beauty in objects. These persons are usually trained as psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists and psychologists. They can be art historians, architects, botanists, color analysts, and industrial designers. Some aestheticians have also earned degrees in philosophy, in order to broaden their horizons and increase their appreciation of beauty.
Aesthetics is generally defined as an understanding of the beauty of an object. According to Richard W. Easter, in his book Theoria and Psychology (eds. C. G. Valentine & R. S. Easter, Oxford University Press, 1977), beauty is a mental attitude with definite psychological underpinnings. It includes the person’s own sense of assurance, power, success, desirability, and estrangement, and the cultural and societal expectations associated with the object. According to Easter, the beauty of an object is dependent on a person’s interpretation of that object’s nature, such that a toothbrush can be described as beautiful while in the hands of a child, a hammer could be described as beautiful, and so on.
Artistic beauty, as defined by Easter, does not exist. Rather, beauty exists only within the mind of the viewer. This is in stark contrast to beauty found in nature, which can only be perceived, contemplated, and appreciated by the senses. In other words, the physical world has no definition of beauty.
Defined aestheticians, on the other hand, disagree with this definition. They maintain that beauty exists in the mind, and that the only thing that is real is the description that a subject gives of a given situation. For example, you can give the description of a white car any time you want. Your eye will see the white car, your mind will define white as good, and your soul will receive the thoughts that accompany that description.
However, for some aestheticians, the definition of beauty is determined by the cultural and social expectations of beauty. Cultural patterns of beauty, the way beauty is presented and discussed, are passed down from generation to generation. For these thinkers, beauty is always influenced by culture, and beauty varies according to culture.