The Meaning and Philosophy of Beauty
Beauty is one of those things that everyone seems to love and it’s certainly easy to become fixated on it. In general though, beauty is typically defined as a physical trait of things which makes these things enjoyable to see. These things include sunsets, landscapes, beautiful humans and unique works of art. In aesthetics, beauty, along with aesthetic appreciation, is perhaps the most important philosophical theme of all, perhaps one of the key branches of fine art. It is important to appreciate beauty as it is seen, because beauty is inherently subjective, while the more objective appreciation comes from an appreciation of things as they are.
With that said, it is safe to say that the definition of beauty itself is highly subjective, even as it applies to the definition of beauty in the broadest sense. The only thing we can be sure of, without even considering the definition of beauty itself, is that beauty is a subjective quality. We are all able to observe and define beauty in our own ways, and that includes not just in our minds but in our bodies as well. For instance, a beautiful human body could be considered beautiful because you know it is, or because you have observed someone else who knows it is. A beautiful sunset landscape might be judged as beautiful because of its clarity and serenity, and a sun-kissed white canvas would be deemed beautiful because it is so unlike anything else that you have ever seen before. These are examples of beauty though they are the product of a human mind and body, respectively.
Of course, beauty has also been defined in more narrow terms by the people who have made it their business to study, analyze and define beauty. One such philosopher, Michelangelo, pointed out that beauty is “the form given by the art of proportion” and that beauty is not necessarily based on human beauty standards, as it is often the case in aesthetician circles where beauty is based solely on the ability to take the naked eye’s attention. Rather, beauty is determined by a person’s personal sense of proportion and symmetry, and this philosophy underlines the real beauty of art, and its ability to beautify the beholder rather than the viewer. In a broader sense, beauty can be defined as the acceptance of others’ ideas of beauty and the ability to create beauty in one’s own image. Beauty is ultimately subjective, and each individual gives meaning to the term based on their own standards of beauty and what makes a person beautiful.