Beauty – What Is It?
Beauty is often described as an aspect of objects which makes these objects enjoyable to see. Such objects may be sunsets, landscapes, beautiful humans and works of great art. Beauty, along with personal taste and aesthetics, is possibly the most important topic of aesthetics, among the major branches of science. The word ‘personality’ is derived from the Greek word ‘pous’ meaning beautiful or nice. It was first used by the poet Sophocles.
According to Charles Darwin, the discovery of the facts regarding beauty is an un shattering refutation of all existing religions. He maintained that “men are but the product of their surroundings and, in particular, of the surrounding atmosphere.” Darwin’s theory concerning the influence of environment on the evolution of man is well known and has been explained many times e.g., by Stephen Jay Gould in The Origin of Species. According to him, human beings differ from other animals because they are inclined to undergo psychological changes due to the presence of differing conditions in the environment. In order to survive in a hostile environment, adaptation is the only method through which they can learn to adjust to the changing conditions in the environment.
The word beauty, according to Charles Darwin, is “a term used without defined meaning, and sometimes has a meaning different from common sense”. He defined beauty as the ability to be gratified by the sight of some thing beautiful. Beauty according to Darwin is essentially a subjective quality. The object of beauty may be anything: a picture, a tree, man or animal. Some names by which we give the qualities of beauty are: the aesthetic beauty, the aesthetic delight, and the aesthetic temperament.
Art, according to Richard Shusterman is the “production of a work of beauty which serves as an object or a subject of aesthetic and emotional appeal”. The word ‘art’ originally referred only to the representation of things in sculptured form. Later on it came to mean the process of creating something beautiful out of the ordinary appearance. Shusterman goes on to say that art is determined neither by the desire of beauty, nor by the consciousness of beauty, but by the power of the expression of beauty. This means that if an object is beautiful to a degree that satisfies the person who admires it, then art has been adequately fulfilled.
There have been many attempts to define beauty. In general, the most common definitions put beauty in two categories, these being masculine beauty and feminine beauty. Masculine beauty includes such characteristics as broad chest, broad shoulders, long arms, and a narrow waist. On the other hand, feminine beauty is defined by an ideal weight, slender figure, small hands and feet, small breasts and a flat, narrow waist.
In addition to the above, the concept of beauty has also been related to a number of different theories. For instance, Parmenides thought that beauty was nothing other than the state of one’s soul, while Aristotle distinguished beauty from emotions. Others believe that beauty is an internal state or condition. The most famous theory, according to which beauty is an attitude, is found in the works of Sigmund Freud. According to this theory, people are attracted to others that possess certain traits, and this is why beauty exists. Beauty is therefore not only a matter of physical trait, but also a mental one.