What Is Beauty?
Beauty is widely defined as the aesthetic aspect of certain objects, which makes these objects aesthetically pleasurable to see. These objects may include art, landscapes, sunsets and beautiful humans and other works of fine art. Beauty, along with beauty and art, is the most significant topic of aesthetics, another of the major branches of science. Aesthetic appreciation is, perhaps, the one of the most important preoccupations of contemporary mankind, the base of aesthetic appreciation being the desire for beauty.
The study of aesthetics is deeply rooted in the history of ancient civilization when Greek philosophers first started examining their surroundings, mainly architecture and paintings, for signs of beauty and drew analogies between this world and the divine ideals they held. When Aristotle argued that we are “beautiful” by virtue of our physical and spiritual qualities, others countered that we are not so in virtue of our physical nature, but rather in virtue of our culture and education. The first European aestheticsian, Leonardo da Vinci, used the term beauty to refer to a particular quality or aptitude, according to his reading of Homer’s Illiad and the Odyssey. Later, the term became associated with a more general term, “quality,” but it was unclear whether this was related to a physical quality, or to something more abstract like “order.”
The word beauty, in the widest sense, refers only to the pleasant: in its use as a noun, the word beauty has no reference to the beautifulness of a work of art or any other human attribute. Aristotle claimed that the idea of beauty was rooted in the Greek idea of logos, which he interpreted as a type of soul or mind. In modern times, however, the term beauty is used in the field of psychology, where it is associated with the concept of positive psychology, according to which people are considered beautiful by others if their “personalities and attitudes” fit the model. In popular parlance, beauty is considered beautiful if one has the ability to please the eye; for instance, if one can bathe in the sun.