The Nature and Philosophy of Beauty

The word beauty actually comes from the Latin word “gaudium”, which means “good taste”. In order to define beauty, it is important to first define what beauty is. Beauty is commonly defined as the quality of things that makes those things pleasurable to see. These things may include sunsets, landscapes, beautiful humans and other artistic works of art.


Beauty, along with art and psychology, is an essential part of aesthetics, one of the most important branches of social science. It is also known as the philosophy of beauty. According to the definition above, beauty is a subjective, individual characteristic that is the end result of the affectivity of the person who sees the object. This is why beauty is not the same thing as beauty, which is a specific, objective quality.

We can speak of beauty in two different ways. We can speak of aesthetic experience, or of personal aesthetics. Aesthetics is a subjective experience that results from the pleasantness of being in a certain place, being in a certain mood, listening to a certain song, looking at a certain scene or feeling the emotions of a certain person. Aesthetic experience is the subjective aspect of beauty that one feels after looking at a work of art, hearing a beautiful piece of music or looking at an ugly object. However, beauty itself is not a subjective aspect, as the aestheticians claim, but rather an essential characteristic of reality.

Thus, aesthetics comprises three important approaches to beauty. They are traditional aesthetics, scientific aesthetics and Participatory aesthetics. Traditional aesthetics believes that beauty exists independently of any personal needs and emotions, as it is determined purely by the function a material has in the natural world. It is also distinguished by the idea that beauty is subject to cultural categories and that different cultures have different and varying conceptions of beauty.

Science has provided a rich foundation for the study of beauty. On this foundation rests on the ideas that beauty is primarily an objective quality and that we are helpless in determining its quality by ourselves, for science has not been able to prove its existence in a vacuum. On the other hand, aesthetics maintains that we can determine the presence and the quality of beauty in a material by studying its composition, its shape, its relation to its surroundings and its mode of operation. In this way science and aesthetic study co-exist with each other, just as they do with the other major components of our being. Science treats the phenomena of nature as if they were independent of all aesthetic considerations, while aesthetics regard the physical world as a whole and all aspects of it as valuable.

Aesthetic concepts may be understood best when studied under the larger context of contemporary philosophy. Philosophy has attempted to describe the relationship between human actions and the objects of their desires since the advent of the first philosophy in the third century BC. Aesthetic philosophy seeks to fill the gap between desire and real, actual reality by subjecting the study of beauty to a more concrete and methodological methodology. By opening up the field of aesthetics to a broader definition of beauty, modern aesthetics attempts to lay a firmer foundation for aesthetic studies. Philosophy and aesthetics thus come into closer contact and share much in common in the course of the last two millennia.