Beauty and Fascination

You would think that if we are the “measure” of the beauty of things, we would learn to recognize that measure. And yet the extreme experiences of beauty are those when it catches us off guard.
The beauty in those cases is something new, something we haven’t experienced so far. Even it is a beautiful thing, it is beautiful in a way different from other things we find beautiful.

10 thoughts on “Beauty and Fascination

  1. By ‘we are the measure of beauty’ I understand the following. That in cases of aesthetic experience we must ultimately say ‘It’s beautiful because I experience it thus’. There is (arguably) no objective standard by which to decide which aesthetic theory is true.

    1. The greatest thing about beauty, is that it is arguably the closest expieriance one can have in relating to absolute certanty.One must think of the phisiologicle phenomenon associated with the aesthetic expieriance.I believe beauty in all its combinative forms, serves as the fundimental base of wonder and investigation.It serves as our ballast in theory and functional philosophies, broadening our depth of intent through our knowledge of its great reward. truly, I believe the evolutionary connection to beauty and our refined systyms of its expression is the prime mover,and
      most powerfull motivator related to our species

  2. But why do we experience it as beautiful, why that thing, and not the other thing?
    So, by “measure of beauty” I was thinking how there are some ideas that there is some criteria in our brains (maybe partly learn, partly innate), which determines what will be experienced as beautiful. People easily jump to conclusion that e.g. it is about symmetry.

    But this kind of idea of beauty, I think cannot handle the fascination with the beauty and its anti-formulaic nature – where beauty catches us off guard, surprises us. In this case we find things beautiful in different way than we did before. Be those “natural things” like a woman face or a panorama; or artifacts like music, paintings, movies, and so on…

    BTW, I agree that our taste changes, and what we experience and learn affects our taste. And even in that part, thing’s beauty fades as it becomes something common and everyday experience.

    As for the question if there is objective standard of beauty, I don’t know… probably different topic :)

  3. Objective standard / criteria is how I understood your question concerning ‘recognizing the measure’. In that sense then I may have misunderstood what you were asking about.

    My answer was, as well, that there probably is none. I hinted that it may just be a primitive psychological fact about some of our experiences. Different people are going to experience beauty in the face of different phenomena, and there probably is no universally true answer to the question ‘what is beauty’. That is how I understand ‘man is the measure’.

    I think we can talk about the phenomenology of beauty. Here symmetry will play a role in some cases for some people. As well as perhaps other aspects. But these won’t be a criteria. Just a description of what is going on when people experience beauty. I think a fruitful area for you to think about might be what distinguishes ‘awe’ from an experience of beauty.

  4. Treysuttle78, what would you say is the difference between criteria for beauty and descriptions of how what causes the experience of beauty? If there is no “objective beauty”, why not simply say that those descriptions just *are* the criteria for beauty?

    I expect that our subjective experiences of beauty are caused by objective features of the world–such as symmetry, or whatever. If we can identify specific objective traits which must be present in order to trigger a positive aesthetic response in some individual–to wit, the necessary conditions for that individual’s beauty response–why not then say that those traits constitute beauty criteria? The same could apply for groups of individuals, if possible.

  5. I see what you are saying Diotimajsh, and its a good point. I think we could do that, but for me it comes at too high a price on our terminology. I prefer to relegate ‘criteria’ as a normative concept…something along the line of ‘necessary and sufficient conditions’ or ‘essential definition’…while a description may or may not include such conditions. For the most part, although there may be some counter examples that I cannot think of right off, descriptions are more properly thought of as examples. So, if someone asked me ‘what is beauty’ and I described a particular painting that strikes me as particularly beautiful, I have provided an example…not a criteria.

    A different way of thinking about it might be via the phenomenological tradition, where descriptions through the phenomenological reduction do provide us with ‘essences’. But I don’t really have anything to say about that….

  6. Those ‘traits’ if they must be present for an experience of beauty…would be a criteria. Although we have arrived at them via descriptions or samples of examples, in stating the ‘must be present’, seems to me we have went beyond a description. I.e, we are making a ‘universial’ claim, as opposed to a ‘particular’ claim.

  7. Can it be said that there is a difference between appeciation of beauty of various things. Is the appeciation of a beautiful beauty painting the same as a beatuful event…or person?

  8. Beauty is only linked to our darwinian origin. We Like beautiful things, everything that is beautiful gives us a pleasure and all out life is an endless quest to enjoyment and i can definitely prove that. Hence pleasure is caused by substances like ormons being poured in our body and this can happen only becuase it has been helpful to our evolution somehow. We could find criteria of beauty but it would be useless cause from this point of view even adductive stuff like drugs are beautyful. We invented the world beauty but our language is such limited.

  9. Zman says: yes beauty is linked to our origin, Light. Beauty is not just a sum of experience but an already established guide of principles, based on Math,specifically geometry and time. Beauty is an amalgam of event states that cause a specific moment frozen in formal time to contain beauty. I would then define beauty as that state, appearing moment by moment that carries with it a signature of formal light, sequenced in time and space, reflecting in a fractal state, all that is contained in the universe in a particular point and place defined by our momentary glimpse of perfection percieved through our senses seen at that point and place as defined by our conscious attention!

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