Beauty in the Twentieth Century

Beauty is often defined as the emotional state of objects which makes these objects pleasing to see. These objects may be beautiful sunsets, landscapes, art and other works of art. Beauty, along with aesthetic sense, is possibly the most significant area of aesthetics, among the major fields of science. For instance, the word ‘beauty’ appears 25 times in a total number of eight books written by seven philosophers.

It was Freud who first used the term ‘beauty’ in his essay ‘The Use of Beauty in Education’, although it was Heidegger who used the term more frequently and in more detail. In addition, Sartre used the term ‘beauty’ in his first major work, ’emit to be a condition of total well-being in the absence of any contrary qualities’. The idea of beauty according to the commonest philosophical tradition, and the subjective ideas of beauty developed by such great artists as Gauguin, Picasso, Rothko, de Kooning, and the French philosopher, Sartre, have since then become a major preoccupation of mankind. With the appearance of photography, television, and the internet, beauty has also become an even more important aspect of our lives. In fact, many people consider beauty to be the one factor that separates the miserable from the happy and the passionate from the contented.

In the twentieth century there have been a number of different attempts to define beauty, most notably the canon of aesthetic theory, which gave a general definition based on the temperamentaments of dominant social types and sought to justify particular cultural differences according to the universal standards of beauty. The other major attempt to define beauty was the sociological definition, which attempted to explain beauty as the product of a human need for order and harmony. Nevertheless, regardless of the variety of definitions that have been given over time, the meaning of beauty remains a largely elusive and intertwined concept with significant consequences for our thinking and actions.