The Concept of Beauty

“Beauty” is often defined as an aesthetic characteristic of certain objects which makes these objects enjoyable to see. These objects could be sunsets, landscapes, beautiful humans and artistic works. Beauty, along with taste, is possibly the most significant subject of aesthetics, among the various branches of art history. The word “beauty” is found in many dictionaries, despite its uncertainty. For simplicity’s sake, beauty should be defined as beauty in its true sense. This can only be accomplished by people themselves, through their individual perceptions of beauty.

The classical theories on beauty sought to describe the aesthetic experience by proposing that beauty is a mental state. However, several theories suggested that we could also measure beauty through psychological or physical means. The classical theories on beauty include the notions of proportion, symmetism, and the visual arts. According to the symmetism theory, beauty consists of similar pairs of objects, and symmetrical arrangements can be seen everywhere in the visual field. A similar arrangement of objects can be obtained by finding the same number of similar parts in similar places, which are seen when we view a landscape.

According to the symmetism theory, we can define beauty through the perfection of forms. The beauty of a form can be judged by looking at the proper proportions or geometrical forms. Another aspect of beauty is symmetry, which according to the symmetism principle, consists of geometrical figures arranged in a manner so as to form a perfect image. The visual arts also consider symmetry, such as when artists create paintings and sculptures with similar symmetrical patterns.

The beauty-in-the-eye theory, on the other hand, suggests that beauty lies more in the observer’s mind, and not in actual reality. According to this theory, an object’s beauty lies within its appearance, and not its makeup or clothes. For aestheticians, clothes and makeup are mere details that enhance and take away from beauty.

Most people believe that beauty lies in the eyes. According to the aesthetic theory, a person’s eyes play a very important role in determining a person’s level of beauty, and can be compared to the eye of a newborn baby. A baby’s eyes are clear and unique; while a person’s eyes can vary depending on his/her age and personal habits (smiling or not). An individual’s gaze can reveal his personal qualities.

According to the aesthetic philosophy, the true beauty of a person lies in his/her character, or the purity of their soul. This idea stems from the fact that every person wants to be loved, cherished, and appreciated for who and what he/she really is, not for the superficial traits of his/her physical attributes. Achieving these goals means developing the inner beauty – the inner self. The idea that beauty – the perfections we have in our soul – can be attained through the process of cultivation of the soul, is not a new concept. It has been found, however, that to attain this goal may take time, as it requires a person to detach himself from the ‘perceived’ world and ‘the seen world’.