Beauty is a concept that has been studied for centuries by philosophers, artists and writers. It is often considered to be an objective property of things that evokes emotions in the observer.
There are many ways to define beauty and it is a topic that can cause intense debate among people. One of the most controversial arguments is whether beauty is objective or subjective.
The idea of beauty is a fundamental part of Western philosophy and art, and has developed in many different directions. Modern philosophy shifted the study of beauty from ontology to the sphere of human sensibility.
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) was the first major philosopher to develop a theory of aesthetics. This theory was based on Kant’s conviction that aesthetic judgments are subjective, and that they are dependent on the emotions of those who judge them.
In his work, Aesthetics, Kant aimed to explain the phenomenon of beauty, and to explain why it inspires a sense of purpose. But he could not come to an answer for why beauty can motivate us and give a sense of meaning to our lives, as he thought it did.
Thomas Aquinas, a Christian thinker who connected the quality of beauty to the Second Person of the Trinity, explained that there are three qualifications for something to be beautiful: integrity, harmony and originality. Integrity means that it has its own logic, not a preexisting one; harmony means that each element of the image, or object, is in a proportion that is harmonious and consistent with other elements; and originality indicates that it has never been done before.
Aquinas also argued that beauty is an integral part of the human soul, and not merely a by-product of a material body. Every human being is born with an implicit understanding of the Idea of beauty and all other Ideas. After entering into the body, a human being temporarily forgets these Ideas, but her soul continually seeks to familiarize herself with them.
It is this recollection that allows the human soul to know and experience her immortal nature, and to know how the ideas she has previously understood fit into the world of Goodness and Truth that God has created. This knowledge is not only useful to our present lives but to the future life of the soul that we hope to share with God.
This theory of beauty is a key part of the Christian faith, which teaches that all things are good. The world, the universe, and even the smallest living organism are all examples of God’s creation and therefore, should be regarded as a source of good things.
In contrast to the Platonic conception of beauty, which treats beauty as a matter of instantiating definite proportions in the physical world, Aquinas explains that beauty is an integral part of human souls. This idea is the basis for his doctrine of soul immortality.
The idea of beauty is a fundamental part or dimension of all philosophical and artistic traditions. It is a central feature of both religious and moral belief, and is also a crucial aspect of human creativity.