Aesthetics – Defining Beauty
Beauty is widely defined as a subjective aesthetic feature of things which makes these things enjoyable to see. Such objects may be nature, humans, landscapes and works of art. Beauty, along with taste and art, is probably the most important subject of aesthetics, among the major branches of contemporary philosophy. The word ‘beauty’ itself has various meanings, as do its many derivatives.
For many philosophers and aestheticians, beauty is seen as the only or the most important quality of an object. It does not matter if the object is healthy or unhealthy, in its appearance, only matters to them. In this way beauty is seen to be entirely subjective, existing independent of personal thoughts or emotions. This is why it is possible for beauty to exist in the human body, while the mind cannot. For some philosophers beauty is also seen to have a psychological origin, that is, it is an innate quality which is not learnt or modified by culture or environment.
The word ‘beauty’ has become associated with much more than just defining beauty. The word is used to describe all kinds of pleasant and beautiful things, including the beauty of nature. For this reason, many authors and aestheticians use the word beauty as a collective term for all natural items which create aesthetically pleasing objects. Aesthetics also include the study of beauty, with a particular emphasis on the beauty of the human form and the beauty of things created by humans. Art historians today use the term beauty to refer to artistic or creative beauty in works of any period.