The term beauty is sometimes used to describe the features of objects or works of art that make them pleasurable to behold. These features include form, colour, proportion and harmony.
The concept of beauty has a long tradition in philosophy and art. Early theories of beauty are usually based on mathematical or scientific principles, while more recent developments seek to explore the role of subjective experience in understanding aesthetic experiences.
Aristotle’s theory of aesthetics, for example, emphasizes a number of characteristics that he calls “form.” In particular, he claims that a thing is beautiful if it has definite shape. A form that is symmetrical and harmonious, with clear edges and a regular, smooth surface, is an example of beautiful form.
Plotinus, in his account of the nature of forms, also stresses a definite shape. In his book, the Metaphysics of Forms, he claims that a ‘beautiful’ thing has integrity and is simple in its form.
Other important philosophical approaches to beauty, such as those of Plato and Aristotle, tend to stress the importance of purity or perfection in defining something as beautiful. This is a positive rather than negative characteristic, and is contrasted with ugliness, which refers to defects or flaws in an object that are not considered to be important.
The most influential contemporary philosophical approach to beauty, however, was developed by philosophers such as David Hume and Immanuel Kant. These writers, in contrast to earlier thinkers such as Socrates and Aristippus, were willing to consider the idea that beauty is an exercise of human will and a reflection on our own purposiveness, i.e. a quest for meaningful contexts in which to appreciate the order and harmony of the world.
These writers, however, are not willing to regard the idea of beauty as a universal property. They argue that different people find a wide range of things to be beautiful, from landscapes to sunsets to humans to artworks.
As a result, it is difficult to determine what a certain type of beauty really is, since there is no common element that can be identified across all experiences. This is because we see different types of landscapes and artworks in different ways, as well as different kinds of performances and physical attributes.
For example, we may admire the landscape of Montana during a hot summer day, but we would not say that it is beautiful. Similarly, we may not agree that the paintings of Rembrandt or Van Gogh are beautiful, but we do think that they are worthy of awe and respect.
In addition, we might not agree that a specific type of music is beautiful, but we do think that it can bring us pleasure when we listen to it. In fact, many philosophers have argued that music is an essential ingredient of the enjoyment of other things, such as literature and art.
A lot of people, including scientists, argue that we perceive things as beautiful primarily because they have the ability to give us pleasure. This is because our brains are programmed to reward us for liking certain kinds of things. Whether that is in the form of a beautiful face or a spectacular building, there is a strong psychological connection between the perception of things as beautiful and our pleasures and happiness.