Understanding the Philosophy of Beauty

Beauty is most commonly defined as a subjective quality of certain objects which makes these objects beautiful to see. These objects include sunsets, nature, humans and other works of art. Beauty, along with beauty and art, is perhaps the most important topic of aesthetics, another of the three major branches of modern philosophy. The other branches are metaphysics, ethics and sociology.


In the field of aesthetic studies, the study of beauty is often considered to be an academic art form. An art historian who delves deeply into the history of beauty will likely agree with this assessment. For example, Alexander Smith relates the definition of beauty to that of a Greek shopper. The shopper looks at an object primarily to identify its function or purpose, while beauty is more about the pleasure it gives the eyes. In addition to Smith’s definition, however, there are many philosophers who also attribute a value to beauty.

The work of Aristotle defines beauty as a rational quality of the soul, which can be seen in all things produced by the senses. According to this philosophy, beauty is inherent in all things that can be perceived by the human eye. However, the work of William Blake, one of the most famous British poets, suggests that beauty can be found in the soul of an object. The French philosopher, Frenchman Louis Szeini, defines beauty as the harmony found between the parts of an object, while the German philosopher, Martin Heidegger, believes that beauty is nothing more than the whole appearance of a thing.