Beauty in Philosophy
Beauty is often defined as a subjective quality of things that makes those objects pleasurable to see. These objects can include sunsets, beautiful landscapes, humans and creative works of art. Beauty, with beauty and art, is probably the most important theme of aesthetics, probably one of the most important branches of aesthetics. With the development of aesthetic appreciation over time, and the ever-greater awareness of beauty that it provides, the philosophical underpinnings of beauty have become more refined and discussed in detail.
Modern philosophers distinguish four key types of beauty – universal, relational, ideal and concrete. Within the modern philosophical tradition, beauty is seen to be largely subjective, and therefore cannot be objectively measured. Beauty is largely dependent on the “lived” experience of an individual. Aesthetic activity usually has its roots in the desire for freedom, for aesthetic freedom, and for a sense of personal oneness with the objects of our aesthetic desires.
Aesthetic desire and its relation to other desires, and the role of beauty in relation to the larger cultural currents which determine the forms of acceptable social behavior are explored in much greater detail by twentieth century philosophers including Alas, Kant, Frankfurt, Heidegger, Machado, and Priscilla Vail. Aesthetic desire is not the basis of ethical judgment, and beauty, as experienced by the one who experiences it, cannot be taken as the criterion of ethical truth. However, Aesthetic Philosophy tries to illuminate the dimensions of beauty and its role in moral and aesthetic evaluation. In the wake of the enlightenment, aesthetic beauty became associated with intellectualism and materialism, and in particular with Romanticism.