The definition of beauty has always been a topic of discussion. People disagree on whether beauty is a real thing or a figment of our imagination. However, in general, people have a strong sense of what beauty is.
There are two main schools of thought in philosophy about what constitutes beauty. First is the classical conception of beauty. This theory is based on the idea that beauty is the arrangement of integral parts into a coherent whole. In other words, a painting or sculpture that is symmetrically balanced and harmonious is beautiful.
Another is the neo-Platonic tradition, which claims that beauty is a manifestation of good. Specifically, it is the manifestation of Divine Goodness.
Beauty is also associated with the concepts of pleasure and morality. For instance, a beautiful song can make you feel great. Likewise, a beautiful work of art can be inspiring. Art is anything that has been made for the sake of beauty, but can also be made for practical purposes, such as a bridge or a building.
In the twentieth century, the concept of beauty began to fade away. Instead of being the dominant aim of the arts, it became equated with capitalism. As a result, many artists chose to focus on less aesthetic pursuits. These pursuits include architecture, dance, film, and television advertising.
Although classical and neo-classical conceptions of beauty have been the standard for most Western thinkers, many traditions exist in the East. Some of these include Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism. Aristotle, Plato, and Aquinas all developed theories of what beauty is.
Aristotle wrote that beauty is a property of nature and works of art. Aquinas explained that beauty can also be empirical in the physical world. He distinguished between a good and a beauty by explaining that both good and beauty are byproducts of good design.
Plotinus also believed that the notion of beauty could be ecstatic. He observed that it is not only the combination of physical attributes that makes something beautiful, but it is also the human soul that is cultivated to see it. His ecstasy was a form of wonderment.
Kant, another eighteenth-century philosopher, also believed that beauty was a subjective state. However, he was unable to find a way to explain his intuition that beauty inspired a sense of purpose.
The other major tradition is the Neo-Platonic tradition. According to this theory, being and good are inseparable. Rather than reducing beauty to an objective fact, Aquinas defined it as a symbol of the Divine Goodness that God has revealed.
Whether or not the concepts of beauty and goodness are meaningful claims depends on the context. For example, one might have an ecstatic experience of beauty, but have no meaningful understanding of what it means. On the other hand, there might be a meaningful claim that relates to the fact that it is a meaningful experience.
Regardless of what kind of beauty you believe in, it is important to acknowledge that it is a fact in the world. Moreover, it is important to note that beauty is not the only way to understand what is good.