Beauty is the sense of pleasure and aesthetic value a work of art evokes. It is the most important of all aesthetic principles, and it can be an effective tool for combating a variety of social, political, and cultural problems (see below).
The word “beauty” has its origins in Greek words relating to love, beauty and desire, but its meaning has evolved significantly over the centuries. In ancient Greek philosophy, beauty was viewed as an objective quality. This view is still popular among many people today, and it is reflected in many of the definitions found online.
Some of the most influential philosophical accounts of beauty were rooted in the classical period, including Augustine’s De Veritate Religione and Plotinus’s Enneads. These early accounts viewed beauty as an objective quality that possessed both qualities and features.
Other accounts, however, framed beauty in the form and function of objects. For example, in a theory of design, Plotinus argued that beauty was not a mere matter of aesthetically pleasing appearance, but rather a matter of having the definite shape characteristic of the kind of object it is: “Form must have its own form, and all parts of it must be so related that they are suited to one another” (Moore 1903).
Although most contemporary philosophers agree that beauty is a good thing, the idea that beauty is a universal property does not hold up well against modern scientific thinking. For one thing, the concept of beauty is based on the golden ratio, a mathematical rule conceived by a Greek mathematician over two thousand years ago and used to design works of art throughout Renaissance Europe.
In contrast, the idea that beauty is a human quality reflects a belief that we have a moral obligation to appreciate and enjoy the things that are beautiful. Consequently, it is important to identify what we mean by ‘beauty’, and this can be done by defining our own personal understanding of it.
The term beauty is also closely linked to the concept of art, particularly the idea that artworks are created by talented artists who are able to express their ideas through visual media. This is the basis for the term “artistic beauty,” and it is important to consider what artists do that allows them to create such beautiful art.
There are some contemporary artists who explore the concept of beauty as a means of feminist resistance. The works of Georgia O’Keeffe and Judy Chicago, for example, try to reverse the objectifying gaze by creating artworks that make it possible for women to experience their own beauty in ways that would otherwise be out of reach.
Other contemporary artists use the term ‘beauty’ to discuss a range of topics, including sexuality and gender identity. This is because these themes are often a form of resistance against the hegemony that traditional beauty standards have over society.
It is also interesting to note that contemporary feminist philosophers have developed new theories of beauty, focusing on how women are perceived by others. This is an area of increasing interest within the field, as women become more visible in the art world and as society becomes more tolerant of women’s bodies.