Beauty Guides – What Defines Beauty?
Beauty is often defined as a subjective feature of objects which makes these objects enjoyable to see. These objects may include sunsets, landscapes, humans and beautiful works of art. In aesthetic terms, beauty is the central theme of aesthetics, another of the major branches of science. Philosophy of beauty generally divides beauty into two general categories, the physical and the mental. The physical aspect refers to the makeup of an object, its form and its composition. Mental beauty on the other hand refers to the aesthetic appreciation of beauty.
Beauty in the visual sense refers to the aesthetic appreciation of beauty. For Aristotle, beauty is a way of relating the value to objects by means of a comparison with the other things around us. According to the twentieth century aesthetician Paul Delbanco, beauty is largely determined by the power of imagination. According to him, beauty is a subjective standard, an internal idea of beauty that can be established by observation, experience and the influence of culture and tradition.
According to recent theories on beauty, the beauty standard does not have a clear cut definition. According to some, beauty is something that cannot be measured or otherwise quantified. For example, it may be argued that what makes a work of art beautiful is not the form or shape of the painting but the audience’s reaction to it. Another argument says that beauty is what makes a work of art beautiful for its own sake, independent of its form and shape. Still another defines beauty in terms of a relation between things, a set of qualities or a standard that exists between the perceiving subject and some reality.
It may be said that beauty is something that lies outside us. It is something that we conceive or feel in our mind, and not in any given external condition. We come across different kinds of beauty in nature, in music, art, literature, movies and sculpture. Beauty has been defined by many artists and scholars over the history of civilization. Some, like Ben Franklin, have associated beauty with religious ideals and other spiritual experiences. Others may argue that beauty is subjective, and it depends on the individual – something that we all have to do with as we grow older.
The definition of beauty has changed over time. For example, in early modern Europe beauty – generally seen in the beauty standards of the time – focused on the physical attributes of a person or thing, whereas beauty standards began to take human beauty into account in the late 19th century. Modern beauty standards are more concerned with changes in the status of women – issues like honor, social standing and beauty – as well as changes in the status of men and their ability to be successful and prosperous. Men were beginning to think more highly of themselves in the early part of the 20th century, so it became important to evaluate them as well. Thus, beauty standards took on a new importance in the changing times.
Today, there are hundreds of beauty guides all offering different definitions of beauty, often supported by scientific research. One of the best things about beauty standards is that they are universally agreed upon, allowing people from different cultures and traditions to agree on what beauty is and to look up to those who uphold these standards. So beauty standards are important to all of us. We just need to figure out what defines beauty for us.