Ultimately, beauty is a subjective notion. It is a response to art that pleases the senses. In the end, we should be able to determine what we find beautiful, and not let art critics tell us what is or isn’t beautiful. But the world of art is full of tensions between individual taste and public acceptance. Here are some ways to distinguish between art and beauty. But first, let’s look at what constitutes beauty.
Beauty is a subjective, personal experience that depends on the emotions of those who view it. It is a subjective quality that is often referred to as “in the eye of the beholder”. But the beauty of a particular object is subjective, and experts tend to agree on their verdicts on the matter. The question then becomes: what constitutes a beautiful thing? Is a dung-basket aesthetically pleasing? Does this answer the question?
Another way to define beauty is to think about the purpose of the person creating it. In the words of Alan Moore, “Beauty is a product of purpose.” His argument is that beauty is a way to engage with the world and create a successful business. This is especially important at a time when climate change is a serious concern and political turmoil are plaguing the planet. But how can one go about doing that? Here are some ideas.
Objects can be beautiful only if they are aesthetically pleasing as a whole. However, they can’t be made from ugliness. To be beautiful in its entirety, the law of beauty must run throughout. Colour is not beautiful if there is no symmetry; gold and silver are not beautiful unless they are made from parts, and stars and other objects are aesthetically pleasing because of their symmetry. So, beauty is subjective – not a determinant of whether a certain object is beautiful or ugly.
In Greek mythology, beauty is linked to love. The goddess Aphrodite was a beautiful woman who won the Judgment of Paris. She was rewarded with a lifetime of happiness and love. Her victory won the prize for Paris, and he was rewarded with the most beautiful woman in the world. However, in many ways, beauty is subjective and subject to change. So what constitutes beauty is subjective and depends on your own preferences.
Until the eighteenth century, most philosophical accounts of beauty focused on object qualities or beauty in itself. The Catholic theologian Augustine explicitly asked, “Is a thing beautiful because it gives pleasure?,” choosing the latter. Other philosophers, such as Plato and Plotinus, have defined beauty as a response to love or desire. All three are right, though Berkeley’s definition has a distinctly European flavor.
In other cultures, the definition of beauty has been shaped differently. Plumpness was once considered beautiful in the Renaissance, while “heroin chic” waifs dominated the 90s. Today’s “Kardashian-esque” beauty definition is a more rational understanding of beauty. But if these standards are universally applicable, it’s not all about beauty. And, of course, intent is everything. And we shouldn’t forget that we live in a diverse society.