Throughout history, philosophers have debated how to understand beauty. As a result, different views of beauty have emerged and are still being debated today. Some of these views are very similar and some may even be incompatible with one another.
Beauty is a complex issue that has been around for thousands of years and has come to play a key role in many societies. It is a concept that has been used for a number of different purposes, from sexual attraction to power and money. It has also been exploited by different groups to gain social power and dominate others.
1. The classical conception of beauty
As we discussed earlier, beauty is an idea that consists of a coherent arrangement of parts. In the ancient world, this was a dominant notion in art and architecture, literature, and music. It was based on notions of proportion, harmony, and symmetry.
2. The subjective experience of beauty
As the 18th century developed, philosophers began to question the idea that beauty could be limited to a set of qualities that would act on the human senses. This sparked debate among philosophers such as Edmund Burke and Thomas Hobbes.
This stance meant that while beauty might be defined as a series of qualities that made objects meaningful, they were not inherently meaningful, since they depended on the perceiver’s response. The view was also incompatible with Kant’s claim that pleasure is not the cause of beauty, but rather its origin.
3. The neural basis of beauty
Recent research has shown that the brain is hardwired to respond to specific features of an object, such as the shape of a face. The brain’s medial orbital frontal cortex, which is responsible for rewarding and pleasurable experiences, appears to be involved in determining what is considered beautiful. Researchers found that people were more likely to react positively to faces that are symmetrical, for example.