Aesthetics – The Science of Beauty

Aesthetics is a science of value. The word beauty is derived from the French reconnaitre, which means to recognize or appreciate. It refers to the quality of being beautiful, and is commonly used to signal the quality of a work of art or aesthetic object. It is not just a term of approbation, though: it has a definite set of values that must be fulfilled in order to qualify as beautiful. These criteria may not always be similar across artistic mediums, but they must be valid to make the claim.


Aristotle emphasized the clarity and knowability of beauty, and he emphasized this view in the Metaphysics. He chose sight and hearing as the sole avenues of perception, because these are the senses most appropriate for rational cognition. In the Phaedrus, he describes the perfect Greek face, emphasizing the perfect shape of the face. The Greek chin was smooth and round, without any dimples.

In the Alciphron, Berkeley argues that beauty is an attribute of things, and it flows from that. He argues that the proper proportions of an object depend on its use, and vice versa. In the latter case, a beautiful ox would make a ugly horse. A good-looking ox, on the other hand, would make an ugly horse. So, beauty can be nurtured and recognized through the cultivation of virtues, and it can be cultivated just as easily.