Define Beauty – A Universal Experience

Beauty is often described as an aesthetic feature of objects which makes these objects enjoyable to see. These objects may include nature, sunsets, rocks, humans and artistic works. Beauty, with art and music, is possibly the most important area of aesthetics, among the many branches of metaphysics. The beauty of objects has, in the past, been considered a basic criterion for determining aesthetic value and beauty.


In the broadest sense, beauty could be defined as subjective; something that only the beholder can measure. It therefore follows that the object of beauty can never be a point of focus for the observer. Beauty therefore is an ideal that can only be appreciated by the person viewing it. This definition excludes works of art and other works which only the creator of that work can appreciate aesthetically.

Beauty however can be subjective according to a particular beholder. For example, it is not necessarily true that those who do not see beauty in nature are devoid of it. While many would consider the beauty of the wildflowers in the spring as beautiful, for some, it is only the flowers that are beautiful in spring. Aesthetic appreciation is therefore a matter of personal opinion and differs from person to person.

Beauty however can also be quantitative. When a person looks at something and sees it as being very beautiful, she/he can be said to be looking at beauty. In the case of beauty in nature, the beauty is seen from the point of view of the physical senses such as sight, smell and touch. Aesthetic impressions can therefore be measured in terms of how they make an object look, or how well they decorate an object.

However, beauty is not a matter of perception alone. Beauty needs to be appreciated on its own terms, as something that is personally satisfying. The pleasure a person gets from seeing a beautiful tree, for example, does not derive from seeing the shape of the leaves are in but from seeing that the leaves are beautiful in themselves. When a man looks at a woman, he is not seeing her beauty, he is seeing her beauty reflected back to him by her face. And so beauty is a matter of interaction, in the sense that a thing becomes beautiful when it pleases some part of the beholder. And so beauty can also be a matter of comparison, in that a thing becomes beautiful to the extent that it agrees with the other things around it in the same dimension.

The definition of beauty has changed over the years. While nudity has always been considered to be attractive, in most societies today, sex is often the determining factor of what is beautiful. In many cultures, especially the older ones, women are expected to be pure and virginal; beauty therefore varies with age, class and culture. But no matter what our culture believes, we are all bound to agree on one thing: beauty is a very personal experience.