Beauty is commonly defined as a subjective feature of things which makes these things enjoyable to perceive. These things may include art, nature, humans and beautiful works of art. Beauty, along with individual taste and aesthetics, is today the most significant area of aesthetic philosophy, among the major branches of modern philosophy. In fact, it is the one area in philosophy which has both broad and deep philosophical content. Philosophy of art mainly concerns itself with questions about the nature and purposes of beauty.
According to some philosophers, beauty is nothing more than an ideal. By extension, they mean that what is beautiful has nothing to do with the person viewing the object, but is instead an ideal of the human mind. For other philosophers, beauty standards are determined by the universal culture and social norms, which are themselves cultural and social inventions.
Many philosophers claim that beauty is an invention of the human mind. By this they mean that beauty is personal in the sense that what satisfies one person does not necessarily satisfy another. It is up to the observer to determine what is beautiful for him. What is beautiful to one may be totally ridiculous to another. What is beautiful to one might be repulsive to another. It is impossible to decide or predict what beauty is in general.
In western philosophy, beauty is seen in objects created by human hands. The Greeks and the Romans considered almost every natural element to have some type of aesthetic value. Common items considered beautiful were the stars, the moon, the ocean, trees, flowers, fruits, jewelry, clothes, and (of course) human beauty itself. The belief was that each of these natural elements was representative of something unattainable for a human being. Thus, human beauty was seen as the standard and ideal of beauty.
In China, on the other hand, beauty is seen as entirely individual. Chinese culture places more emphasis on individual beauty than beauty found in objects. For the Chinese, a beautiful body is the ultimate sign of beauty. It is also important to look like someone else, since the standard of beauty for Chinese is their own body. This may worry some who wish to be seen as beautiful, but it is important to look at it as an investment in self-worth.
European beauty ideals have also changed over time. There was a time when a European woman could be sexy and still be considered attractive. Today European beauty standards tend to be more secular and less relative to culture. European women may worry more about looks than religious beliefs; however, there is still a certain amount of religion placed into the concept of beauty within eurocentric cultures.