Exoticism – The Other Side of Beauty

Beauty is often defined as a subjective feature of objects which makes these objects pleasant to see. Such objects include sunsets, landscapes, humans, and artistic works of art. Beauty, along with aesthetic sense, is the most significant theme of aesthetics, among the various branches of modern philosophy. In aesthetic debate, beauty defines the chief value assigned to different types of art.


Philosophy of beauty has four different perspectives, namely, personal, objective, communal, and meta-phenomenal. The subjective perspective of beauty is a human concept, and as such is subjective to every person. This type of aesthetic evaluation differs from aesthetic experience in that one cannot be guided by the feelings of other people about beauty. It is solely the subjective idea of beauty which imparts its judgment to an object. Individuals are free to build their own personal definition of beauty, and the meaning of beauty varies greatly from one culture and time to the next.

Another perspective of aesthetics which predates the subjective view of beauty is the communal point of view, also known as aesthetic tradition. Aesthetic tradition involves the collection and evaluation of aesthetic impressions, both human and purely aesthetic, from all parts of the world. Beauty is always given a social significance, for the aesthetic tastes of a nation are not identical. According to some aestheticians, the traditions of different nations can be compared to a single strand of hair; each nation has its own beauty traditions, which express in diverse forms the beauty ideals expressed within those traditions.

A third perspective on beauty is the meta-phenomenal point of view, which relates an object to its inner physical and mental qualities. According to the meta-phenomenal school of aesthetic study, beauty exists independent of personal opinion or desire. We cannot define beauty, because it is simply a subjective, intangible quality. The only thing we can say is that a work of art contains inherent qualities and not merely superficial appearances. Aesthetic value is therefore determined not by what an object is in relation to the human eye, but by what it is perceived to be in relation to the human soul.

The most important aspect of the debate between aesthetics is aesthetics itself. This word refers to the whole set of related practices and attitudes concerning the beautification of things. These include interior decoration, visual arts, architecture, painting, sculpture and literature. Thus, the term aesthetics can also be related to such disciplines as art history, modern art, architecture, film studies and performance art.

Most cultures share a common appreciation of beauty. Many people in the modern world feel a special connection with beauty, often because they have felt the need to escape from the harshness of the realities of life. While aesthetic appreciation and desire are not necessary prerequisites for aesthetic appreciation, they are strong elements of aesthetic function. The experience of beauty is one of human happiness, and the achievement of aesthetic beauty is a form of social welfare.