Gerald O'brian


This conversation is closed.

Define beauty.

Do we know what it is yet, or do we go by with a gut feeling about what it is, such as one our ancestors had about inertia or gravity?
Is beauty universal?


  • thumb
    Oct 23 2013: "Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it" (Confucius)
  • thumb
    Oct 28 2013: Seductiveness, sensuousness, spirituality and certain deeply immersive qualities are, for me, some of the adjectives that define beauty. There are more, but the main thing is where those perceptions come from.

    I think it would be a mistake to try and define a unified idea of what beauty is, so therefore I can only say what my thoughts are on it, which may not be likely to match many other's views.

    I don't want to be told what is beautiful and what isn't. If a piece of art for instance, needs an accompanying written explanation as to what is being depicted, then my own perceptions are being devalued, as well as those of the artist. What has been embodied by the artist for people like me to perceive (or not), is ruined by someone else's analysis of it.

    Like art, beauty is shallow - almost worthless - if it has to rely heavily on what is expected of it. If there is a slavish following of formal ploys, monetary value or fashionable trends, then beauty and art will not work for me because it is then a response to commercialism, ubiquity and utilitarianism, rather than the uniquely, personally aesthetic.

    The beholder of true beauty responds not so much to what has to be 'worked on', but rather to what is instant and visceral. "Love at first sight" would be such a response. Looking at a painting and seeing what lies behind the actual paint itself (in the perceptual sense), would be another.

    If attractiveness is shallow, then it is just "pretty". Beauty itself is only accessible at depth, and is perceived even when prettiness is absent. If we are to know the world, then the beauty of it must be sensed at all levels, from its shallow prettiness to its profoundly moving and sublime beauty.
    • thumb
      Oct 28 2013: I embrace the idea that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That being said Allan, I agree wholeheartedly that beauty may mean something different to different people.

      You, my friend, have expressed many good things about beauty, written with style and grace (which is beautiful to me), so I'll simply say.....I agree with Allen:>)
      • thumb
        Oct 29 2013: Thank you Colleen. I think we agree on many things!

        While on the subject of beauty - Here in the Southern UK we've just had one of the most powerful storms in decades, and even though trees were being ripped out by their roots and there was structural damage to buildings, I was transfixed by its power and strange beauty. The most powerful gusts happened in the night, but the day before I was lucky enough to experience the storm's leading edge whilst out walking my local hills.

        It was a stunningly beautiful thing to experience - being battered by violent squalls and stinging rain arriving through the trees with the roar of an express train, and the next minute witnessing blinding shafts of sunlight illuminating the saturated autumn colours against a blue-black sky behind. It felt like nature in the raw. Scary can be beautiful too!

        I hope you're enjoying the beauty of the fall where you are Colleen. Can you describe it? I'd really like to know.
        • thumb
          Nov 3 2013: Thanks for the question Allan, because every time I see, or even think of the beauty in our landscape, it brings new joy to my heart and mind:>)

          Your story about the beauty of the storm reminds me of my mother....
          She used to LOVE thunder and lighting storms, and would follow the storm around the house, looking out the windows to observe the beauty of the storm. I've always thought of my mom as the mighty oak in the middle of the storm, because of the way she lived her life. To watch her following the storm to observe the beauty in it, reinforced this for me...she found, and experienced beauty in everything:>)

          Your story also reminds me of reading the book "The Perfect Storm", while cuddling in my bed, with an actual raging storm happening was perfect and beautiful....a little bit scary too:>)

          I enjoyed the fall season again this year Allan, as I have enjoyed it for 60+ years, and it always AMAZES me! The colors are magnificent.....various shades of green....shades of reds, burgundies, and maroons, yellows, golds and colors that look like they came off a pallet of the most gorgeous paint colors imaginable. It doesn't matter how many times I see the display, I am still astounded at the beauty.

          This year, my son and his family were here from California. His wife and 9 month old son had never seen the Vermont fall foliage, so we went to the top of Mansfield....the highest mountain, to observe the beauty. Because of the baby, we took our vehicle up the road most of the way and only hiked the last half mile or so. They have an "all terrain" stroller for the babe!!! LOL! :>)

          The view was always. I feel like I do not have sufficient words to even describe it! The topic here is "Define Beauty", and as I said, I believe beauty is in the eye of the beholder. For me, the most beautiful practice, is to look at everything as if it is the very first time....with curiosity and love:>)
  • thumb
    Oct 26 2013: To define Beauty, one must first discover it, behold it, be touched by it, and lay next to it. Yet such a event is so extraordinary in that one must "die" in order to see Beauty. Beauty is the Garment of Truth, of the Divine. Our divided minds cannot perceive Beauty, because Beauty kills...the divided mind. And what is left is a moment that is Eternal, Timeless and Faultless....he who learns to abandon judgement, fault finding, is on the way to seeing Beauty, and in the midst of Beauty, Truth itself resides. Rare is the human that can behold such a moment...our children can, but we pervert their minds and turn them away from Beauty towards Sin, eating of the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, of Pleasure and Pain, and trapped between these two, the mind is filled with anxiety and dread...and Beauty is the Princess that needs to be rescued from the faraway castle, guarded by the two-headed beast...
    • thumb
      Oct 28 2013: wow !!! well said johnny .. Amazing !

      "...Beauty is the Princess that needs to be rescued from the faraway castle, guarded by the two-headed beast "~ Johnny Atman

      You Beautifully said about Beauty... I appreciate :)
  • thumb
    Nov 15 2013: Susan Ann Darley from the Huffinton Post recently published an article(1) pleading that people should listen to more beautiful music to help cope with the physical, emotional, and mental health of their everyday stressful lives. With a cliché, she reminds her readers that music, “is the language of the soul,” and even states that its power to heal is equal to the effects of “natural painkillers”. Although this article’s underlining idea is a lofty way of summarizing the study of music therapy, Darley still falls short from justifying what “beautiful music” really means. Indeed, many academics would agree that “[beauty] is in the culturally conditioned eye of the beholder”.(2) Denis Dutton, author of The Art Instinct — a book that explores art aesthetics in relation to evolution and social structures — disagrees with this perspective, that “beauty” is not so ambiguous as it seems, and even states that our regard for what is considered “beautiful” is in fact embedded within the very nature of human life.

    In short, Dutton continues to defend this idea by explaining that the first pieces of art known to human history were hand axes that took on the shape of a teardrop. These objects were used by the male homo erectus and ergaster to "woo" a female into mating, similar to how a man may propose with a teardrop-shaped-diamond ring today.

    In essence, the teardrop shape represents the formula for timeless beauty: a perfect balance between masculine and feminine traits, as seen in the ancient hand axe: the voluptuous curve on the bottom of the teardrop is a feminine contour and is balanced by a stark point on top (a masculine aesthetic), which is connected with a transitional tapered edge. This shape is the epitome of contrast, a familiar ideal related to the symbolism that the Chinese Yin Yang embodies also: a balance of positive and negative elements. (3)

    Thus, in short, beauty is the balanced contrast of all things: from the prime form to the inversion of itself.
  • Oct 23 2013: Beauty is a characteristic that makes someone or something attractive, However it's not always in the appearance, it usually comes from the core/essence.
    We shouldn't judge the book by its cover !!
    Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart. ~Kahlil Gibran
  • thumb
    Oct 23 2013: Beauty is not universal, neither in time nor space. For example, there was a time when full figured women were considered the most beautiful. Today, if we look at top models, the skinnier the better,
    What is considered beautiful also changes from one culture to another.
    Beauty is also very subjective. Some people might like a particular painting while others find a dreadful.
    With all that said, I don't think there ever will be a universal and objective definition for what is beautiful.
    • thumb
      Oct 23 2013: I agree with you again.:)))
      If you think it's beauty, then it's beauty in your eyes. It's just a feeling and one's own taste. We have the Chinese saying:"Beauty is the eyes of the beholder"--情(qíng)人(rén)眼(yǎn)里(lǐ)出(chū)西(xī)施(shī).
      • thumb
        Oct 23 2013: Hello again Yoka, yes, we have the same saying of "the beauty is in the eye of the beholder". I think this is the only universal statement we can actually make about beauty.
        I remember, once I visited the museum of modern arts in Vienna/Austria. There was a painting that consisted of 4 lines and 3 dots.
        Until today, I can't understand where the beauty is supposed to be in this painting nor what part of this painting should be considered art.
  • Oct 22 2013: Beauty captures your attention, provokes intrigue, entertains the senses, has your full attention, and leaves you forever changed and wanting another visit.
  • emna BO

    • +1
    Oct 22 2013: the real beauty captures the heart and the mind .
    however cliche and stupid this will sound but it is interior and exterior .
  • thumb
    Oct 22 2013: Beauty is the eyes of the beholder.( •ิ_• ิ)
    • Comment deleted

      • thumb
        Oct 30 2013: :-D Humorous~! Yes, beer beauty in beer-belly.
  • thumb
    Nov 15 2013: Sources for post below:

    (3) Osgood, Charles E., Richards, Meredith M. “From Yang and Yin to and or but.” Language 49, No. 2 (1973), pp. 380.
  • thumb
    Nov 14 2013: Real beauty is something there is no word for, something you can not describe, only feel.
  • Comment deleted

    • thumb
      Oct 29 2013: "sixth sephirot of the Tree of Life, known as Tiferet. "

      can you develop?
  • thumb
    Oct 28 2013: I think there is no perfect definition of beauty. in short, Beauty is the presence of mind, how you see and feel. Person to person there are many view of beauty for same point.
  • thumb
    Oct 28 2013: Beauty is charm.
  • Oct 23 2013: Beauty is what draws your attention, what you have an attraction to. The definition of beauty differs across the world depending on what that particular culture perceives to be attractive depending on their norm. Different cultures are not going to be attracted to the same thing due to different motives,norms, perceptions and other instances. However, we all develop different opinions that may not contribute to our culture or norm, especially in such a free country as America which is why beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.
  • thumb
    Oct 22 2013: it's purely emotional which engender peace&happiness of Human being...beautiful topic thank you
  • thumb
    Oct 22 2013: .

    9. Sensing Beauty
    The ability of sensing beauty is one of vitally important instincts or our ancestors’ successful experiences saved in our DNA. This is because all beautiful things are good for keeping human DNA alive or our survival.