Beauty is an aesthetic value, a quality that makes things pleasurable to see. It can be found in objects such as landscapes, sunsets, humans and works of art. The value of beauty is contrasted with ugliness, which can be defined as anything that is unpleasant to look at or experience.
Aesthetics (Greek: , ‘art’) is one of the major branches of philosophy. It studies the aesthetic features of things, including their appearance, color, shape, size, texture and symmetry. It is an interdisciplinary subject involving both science and art, and a central part of the philosophy of religion as well.
In the classical conception, beauty is a matter of proportion, harmony and symmetry. Traditionally, it has been associated with the West, which is a culture that values order, consistency and balance in its arts. This conception has been embodied in Western architecture, sculpture, literature and music wherever it has appeared.
It is also a matter of taste, which refers to the ability to recognize or distinguish the aesthetic qualities of an object and to judge its worth. Aesthetic taste is not always easy to develop or perfect, as Hume argued.
Another aspect of beauty is a person’s own personality, which often determines whether or not someone is beautiful to others. A beautiful person’s personality may be characterized by high self-esteem, a sense of integrity and purpose in life, a positive attitude towards life and an enthusiasm for life’s challenges and experiences.
This kind of personality is a gift and an asset to anyone who can harness it. The most important thing to remember is that beauty comes from the inside and it is something that is unique for every individual.
The most famous and influential philosophical accounts of beauty, such as those of Plato in the Symposium and Plotinus in his Enneads, connect beauty to the pleasures of the soul and a response to love and desire. But they also locate beauty in the realm of the Forms, and the beauty of particular objects in their participation in the Form.
Although beauty is frequently regarded as a subjective pleasure, some people believe that it is an objective property of things and can be measured in terms of their appearance, size, shape and color. Such an approach, while a welcome improvement over the earlier subjective approaches, can have its problems.
In recent years, a number of philosophers have questioned the idea of beauty as an objective quality, arguing that it is often a product of a person’s perception and that this perception is in turn determined by the object itself. They argue that a person’s subjective enjoyment of beauty is not necessarily a sign of her or his own good taste, but rather a reflection of the particular situation in which the person is living and what she or he has experienced.
In addition to criticizing the conventional conception of beauty in general, feminist philosophers have noted the way that the concept is used to construct rigid norms of women’s bodies in Western high art and popular culture. These norms often impede the free expression of women, especially of their inner selves.