What Is Beauty?

Beauty is commonly defined as a subjective aspect of objects which makes these objects pleasant to see. Such objects may include nature, sunsets, rocks, humans and beautiful works of art. Beauty, along with beauty and art, is the most significant theme of aesthetics, among the most important branches of art history. In aesthetic terms, beauty is considered as the primary mode of artistic expression, as it dominates over all other modes in aesthetic understanding.


According to the art historians, the concept of beauty has its roots in the Pre-Socratics or the Ancient Greek philosophers who regarded beauty as the ideal form of human art. Among the many definitions by the ancient Greeks, beauty was equated with the ideal form of physical appearance. Thus, philosophers maintained that beauty consisted of three elements – a bodily form, a mental form and a soul. The Greeks also believed that the soul of a person is a pure form that existed independent of body.

However, modern day aesthetics differs a lot from the definition of beauty in the classical period. Modern esthetics is based on the theories of the French philosopher Immanuel Kant. His ideas on aesthetics were later taken up and developed by Leo Tolstoy, who used them in his famous novel The Prince. For example, according to Kant, beauty is the only desirable object whereas taste is the only acceptable attitude toward an object. In his book, “Theory of Cognitive Representation”, aesthetics addresses the problem of how different representations can be produced in an unlimited number of ways. Beauty therefore, can be thought of as a complex process, which begins with the desire for beauty, but ends with the complexification of that desire.

The desire for beauty and the complexification of that desire are two of the most important concepts of modern fashion. In our everyday lives, beauty is usually defined by the beauty of faces. Beauty is usually perceived through the aesthetic senses – sight, touch, hearing or smell. Beauty, then, can be defined as the totality of these five sensory perceptions which beauty includes.

Beauty in the eyes of the beholder depends on the degree of light provided by the sun and the coloring of the skin or the hair (or both). According to some Eastern cultures, light color of eyes makes a person more beautiful than those who have dark eyes. Some Eastern cultures believe that a person who has long hair and grayish skin will be more beautiful than those with long and light hair, which is the Western culture’s perspective on beauty. However, it is still unclear whether this theory has any scientific basis.

The concept of beauty also includes the other parts of the body such as the face, hands, legs and feet. Beauty in the eyes of the beholder depends on the proportions of the face and other facial features. Beauty is most visible in people who are normal in size, shape and weight and is not grossly overweight or underweight. Also, it is believed that symmetry of the face and body constitutes beauty. A person who has perfect facial proportions has a more ideal face, and a symmetrical body makes the person more attractive and graceful.