The Concept of Beauty

Beauty is a term used by philosophers and artists to describe an object or experience that stimulates or arouses pleasure in the viewer. It may be a beautiful landscape, a lovely painting, or a gorgeous piece of music.

The concept of beauty has been a source of debate for many centuries, especially within the philosophical and artistic traditions of Western civilization. The most common debate is whether beauty is objective or subjective.

Some people believe that beauty is a matter of objective proportions, and so there is nothing subjective about it. Others say that beauty is a reflection of the viewer’s own thoughts and feelings.

There is no one answer to this question. Nevertheless, there are several approaches and theories that have been developed in the Western philosophical and artistic traditions.

Classical conceptions of beauty are based on the idea that everything can be made to be aesthetically pleasing by instantiating certain mathematical ratios and other notions of symmetry, proportion, and harmony. This conception is embodied in classical and neo-classical architecture, sculpture, and literature wherever it appears.

Aristotle and Plato are the most prominent proponents of this approach. Aristotle, who was the earliest of the Greek philosophers, believed that beauty could be studied in a scientific manner, not as an irrational or metaphysical phenomenon.

Thomas Aquinas, who was the first Christian philosopher to study aesthetics, also considered beauty to be a science, but one that was grounded in a higher order of reality. In his book Summa Theologica, he lists three qualifications for something to be considered beautiful: integrity, due proportion or consonance, and clarity.


In Aquinas’s view, a work of art must have its own logic, or it cannot be regarded as beautiful. This can be difficult to determine, since different works of art follow their own rules and standards. A realistic portrait, for example, does not have integrity if it violates its own rules and portrays the subject as having three eyes. A cubist painting, on the other hand, could have integrity even if it did not look like the subject at all.

Regardless of which view is adopted, there is no doubt that many artists have pursued their own unique approaches to describing and evaluating beauty in their work. They have often been motivated by different reasons, but their goals have always been to create works of art that give pleasure to the senses and are thus deemed beautiful.

Aesthetic theories have been developed in response to this challenge. There is a wide range of approaches to beauty that are both neo-Platonic and metaphysical, with each having its own distinctive characteristics.


The neo-Platonic view of beauty is closely linked to the philosophy of Plotinus, who thought that the ultimate purpose of nature is unity and not the separate parts. The neo-Platonists thought that a beautiful object was an ideal that called out love and adoration.

The twentieth century saw a decline in the dominance of the notion of beauty as the main goal of the arts, and it was not just because the idea was trivialized in theory; it was also because of the political and economic associations that were associated with beauty and power. Artists in this century increasingly found it necessary to adopt a more neo-Platonist approach to the concept of beauty, which allowed them to focus on their own projects rather than the ideas that were defining society at the time.