Beauty is one of the most contested topics in literature. The debates are both philosophical and political. There are arguments about whether beauty is objective or subjective. However, there are some underlying facts to take into account. One is that the object of a beauty-induced admiration is not primarily within the skull of the observer. It is an experience that connects the object to a community of appreciation. In the ancient world, this was a very important part of the treatment of beauty.
In the modern era, the concept of beauty has been re-defined in several ways. First, the classical concept is still embodied in many aspects of the classical and neo-classical arts. For example, a sculptor will use the canon as a model for creating harmonious proportions. Another is the idea that natural objects are as beautiful as art. This view ignores the unparalleled beauty of the world around us. And third, the concept of beauty is often overshadowed by the importance of moral beauty.
A more recent approach to the concept of beauty, exemplified by the works of the twentieth century, is to give more weight to the contribution of the observing subject. Thus, a painting of Mont Saint-Victoire can be considered a work of art while a rock song may be considered a work of music. Similarly, a television advertisement or a video game can be considered a form of theatrical art, while ballet and opera are examples of musical works.
The classical definition of beauty entails an arrangement of parts into a unified whole. Aristotle argued that living things must present order in their arrangement of parts. But this is not as simple as it sounds. Some objects like the sun are not beautiful because of their symmetry, while others like the lightning may be beautiful because of their color.
In the nineteenth century, beauty was not a concept to be taken for granted. British author Oscar Wilde believed that a beautiful thing looks ugly once every twenty-four hours. That said, he also claimed that beauty is an essential element of a good thing.
Aristotle devoted most of his time to developing his theory of art. His ideas on beauty, however, were scattered throughout a variety of works. Although he is no doubt a dissenter in classical culture, his ideas have been interpreted in diverse ways. Several theorists have attempted to resolve the antinomy of taste.
Plato and Aristotle disagreed on what beauty is. They believed it was a compound of the aforementioned three items, but they could not agree on what the compound actually is.
Schiller was more interested in the integration of nature and spirit than the pure pleasure of a beautiful object. While he is not quite as gung-ho as Aristotle, his explanation of the beauty-related aforementioned is a step in the right direction.
Unlike the classical concept of beauty, the modern theory of beauty is empirically based. It depends on the interaction between the subject and the object. If the object of a beauty-induced admiration makes an observer happy, the object is beautiful. Likewise, a work of art is an expression of a person’s views of the world. Consequently, the modern view of beauty has less to do with a moral or spiritual goal and more to do with an aesthetic goal.