What Is Beauty?
The classical conception of beauty consists of arranging the parts of an object into a coherent whole. This is the primordial conception of beauty and is embodied in neo-classical and classical art. Aristotle argues in his Poetics and Metaphysics that order is a necessary element of beauty. In addition to symmetry, order implies definiteness, which explains how beautiful objects are so often described as being imperfect.
What constitutes beauty? It is the quality or combination of qualities that pleases the senses and the intellect. For example, a woman’s symmetry is a sign of beauty, and a man’s symmetrical facial structure is a sign of good looks. In addition to pleasing the eye, beauty can also please the moral sense. The concept of beauty has become very specialized and dominated by the fashion industry. For those who are interested in the topic, there are numerous books and articles available on the subject.
Ancient treatments of beauty pay tribute to the pleasures of beauty and describe them in ecstatic terms. For example, Plotinus wrote of “beautiful trouble,” “wonderment,” and “love.” The latter is also a sign of beauty and is often considered universally symmetrical. However, the modern definition of beauty differs from the ancient definition. If it can delight the senses and please the intellect, it is a beautiful object.