The Philosophy of Beauty
Beauty is often defined as a subjective feature of things which makes these objects enjoyable to see. These objects include sunsets, landscapes, humans and other works of artistic art. Beauty, along with beauty and art, is the most important theme of aesthetics, another of the major branches of modern philosophy. In philosophy, aesthetics includes the study of beauty and art and their relationship through time.
According to philosophers, beauty lies in the subjective judgement of the beholder. It is therefore a highly personal thing, something which we might choose to judge based on our own personal taste or pre-existing notions of beauty. Beauty however, has sometimes been used in contexts completely different to this. For example, when discussing beauty in architecture, some authors have used the term ‘completeness’ to describe an object’s completeness as in form, function, relation to surrounding spaces, etc. Other authors have used the word ‘ideal’ to describe a work of art or beauty. In this sense it is not simply an objective aspect of aesthetic judgement, but instead the ideal of beauty embedded within the very structure of that object.
Philosophers who support the view that beauty lies in the aesthetic judgement of a whole may seem to deny the subjective element of beauty. However, this is a mistake, for if beauty were simply an objective feature of aesthetic judgement, there would be no need for subjective judgements at all. Thus beauty as an aesthetic value appears to be a product of culture and history, rather than being a wholly independent attribute of nature. Beauty as an aesthetic value exists independent of personal preference and pre-existing notions of beauty.