Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What is Beauty?

One of the many questions for the ages, and one I hope to help define more in the coming weeks for this is my personal charge: to refine my definition of beauty. For Merriam-Webster the dictionary definition of beauty is: “the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.”

George Santayana, writer of The Sense of Beauty defines beauty as; “Beauty is pleasure regarded as the quality of a thing.” And the Marquardt Beauty Analysis further refines this definition: “Beauty: that quality or combination of qualities (or characteristics) in something that evokes in the perceiver a combination of strong positive emotion and a high degree of attraction.”

Where: the “combination of strong positive emotion and a high degree of attraction” is known as the “Beauty Response”. AND: Any “Quality” which evokes that “Beauty Response” is said to be a “Beauty Quality”. The stronger or more intense the evoked beauty response is, then the more beautiful that quality is said to be.

Similarly any entity, which contains a beautiful quality or qualities may be said to be beautiful at least in part. The more of these beautiful qualities that the entity contains and/or the more beautiful these qualities are, then the more beautiful that entity itself is perceived to be.

But before I leave this post there are some intrinsic ideas of beauty that seems to span all sorts. Beauty is innately personal, yet overall it has a social aspect defining its generalities. Beauty is timeless but the word adopts adjectives depending on what era the beauty is attached (ancient art/beauty for example). And beauty can be found in every aspect of life, from the simple pen to the gigantic building, or from a seashell to an Olympic athlete.

Beauty is truth, truth beauty;" 
that is all Ye 
know on earth, and all ye need to know.
- John Keats (1795-1821), Ode on a Grecian Urn (29)

And I see beauty as pure forms of ideas or those things that are close to pure forms and are in a naturally harmonic state with the pure idea. Nature is a wonderful example of this, those representations of power in nature, or of peace, or kindness or any other intangible idea, when represented in reality as pure as possible are beautiful. Thus, art is human attempts to capture the purity of a form through certain elements.


No comments: