The Meaning and Philosophy of Beauty

Beauty is commonly defined as a particular aesthetic feature of things which makes these things pleasurable to see. These things include sunsets, landscapes, beautiful humans and other works of art. Beauty, along with beauty and art, is the most significant subject of aesthetics, among the most important branches of modern philosophy. According to Sir Alfred Wallace, “We must not suppose that the object of our taste is nothing more than a physical appearance, for we would soon lose touch with the real beauty of things, with their inner values. Every physical picture is but a miniature picture of the object itself, and each word that we use to speak of beauty must necessarily be an inadequate word, signifying only that particular quality of beauty which the pictures disclose.”


Defined by the philosopher Aristotle, beauty is that quality which gives a particular nature of things their aesthetic value. Aristotle says that beauty is the end of beauty, the end that designates the very nature of things. According to him, the only quality essential to beauty is truth, which is not subject to change, but only changeable in its manifestation.

In the work of German philosopher Martin Heidegger, beauty is defined as being subject to interpretation. In other words, beauty – for every individual – differs, and beauty depends on the individual. According to Heidegger, beauty depends not on the objects themselves, but on the interpretation of beauty – that is, the interpretation by the person who sees beauty. According to him, a thing is beauty when it satisfies the personal need of the person who has it as an object of aesthetic appreciation.