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Measuring beauty

by Gale
Tags: beauty, measuring
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Oct21-05, 05:11 AM
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fuzzyfelt's Avatar
P: 742
Hi, thanks for your thoughtful response.

I simply gave the link for a few reasons, not because I agree entirely, but because it exemplified some of the issues. As well because I havenít come across many such theories (I mentioned Kantís obsolete views earlier in the thread), and would be interested to hear of any more. Also I linked it because he is a Noble Laureate in Physics, which suggests a good grasp of the physical world, and which of this might be most analogous, as well as maybe more readable for the users of this forum. I do agree however with ideas that art is symbolic language that is capable of touching all people.

I enjoyed the points you made and am interested to learn more about synesthetes.

I appreciate that you donít have a solid definition of art, nor do I, but I am interested in some of the ideas you suggested. You said art could be anything that speaks your mind, that this could be man-made, man-made with intent, or an unintended natural scene. Googling around, I have found some other broad interpretations, too. I like your idea, that sounds rather like Tolstoyís Ďemotional responseí. Where you mention an unintended natural scene, I would call that nature, but, more in line with your words, would say art includes the mindís selection of some natural scene to perceive and its response to that. This would not be a far step from a photograph of a natural scene, which is widely considered art. Choosing and responding to a natural scene could in fact be the simplest form of art, unencumbered by another human artist and various communication channels.

To quickly link this with the thread, beauty is a pleasing emotional response to something, and falls within this definition of art.

You did seem to draw a line yourself, to some distinction between art and function, rather like a different definition I found Ė ĎArt refers to all creative human endeavours, excluding actions related to survival and reproduction. I agree that if you look for boundaries are difficult to distinguish. As an example, clothing, food, shelter, sex, themselves are needed for survival, but become artistic symbols themselves, of wealth, status, styleÖ and these symbols in turn are used as functions for survival advantage. I think your example of ancient artefacts, or another example, Duchampís finding a urinal and placing it in an exhibition back in 1917, are more obviously delineated, for function becomes secondary in this context. But the lack of boundaries between function and art makes it difficult to decipher how much of human nature is bound by utility and how much is bound by art. Begging the questions is art necessarily non-functional, is it a different form of survival technique, and if not why does it happen? When emotional meaning other than an identified purpose for survival occurs, is this all that constitutes art? Or, is all human endeavour artisitic on a level? Is basically everything that distinguishes us from animals our ability to symbolise artistically and that is basis of what it is to be human and our more complex abilities that may have evolved for the purpose of survival? This is a further quote about art- ĎFrom a wide perspective, art is simply a generic term for any product of the creative impulse, out of which sprang all other human pursuits ó such as science via alchemy, and religion via shamanism.í If this is the case, is art that is more obviously functional (such as science) a lesser art than something that is more non-functional? Is something that has more layers of meaning a measure of greater art? Are these measures of art? I donít know.

I see I touched on symbolism a bit in the last paragraph, I think symbolism allows creativity/art/conceptual thought, again, everything that distinguishes us mainly as humans. I donít think Iím the only one, but Iím getting a bit bogged down now.

Although you say you donít think there are aesthetic universals, you do say that Ďwhat is considered beauty varies from person to personí, but that you do think there are universal bases for these estimations, and in your first paragraph, you said that these were based on order, that our brains are wired like that for survival, Ďand thatís why we like ití. If I have understood you correctly, I agree entirely. I think all easily identifiable art involves a sense of order based on, ( there are different words for these) the inclusion of pattern, symmetry, emphasis, counterpoint, harmony, balance, movement, rhythm and unity. Possibly, jointly and severally these aspects relate to the human condition, and probably to its survival, as you say. This is going to sound generalised and obvious, but I think these are symbolic of life, finding an appropriate mate, sex, living a social animals, basic needs and death and renewal, the human condition. I think there is something here that can move the whole species, and that is how I see it as universally human.

And I do think that there are different ways of combining these that can be more understood by those who are more familiar with a certain way of combining these, that is culturally, and further there can be more differences in this combination that speak to us on a personal, individual basis.

At the beginning I mentioned appraising nature was art, and I think that anything artistic involves also some amount of human judgement, whether it be selecting the natural scene, idly choosing what to wear, or selecting the combination of elements for a composition, an amount of skill is involved.

As far as using this idea for measurement at all, or more precisely for one of the components of this, beauty, things start to get pretty hard. It must, as you say, vary from individual to individual, though have cultural and human criteria as well. And as beauty is something that is pleasing, something we find attractive, it probably involves the apprehension of something important to survival. Perhaps measuring beauty can be done in two ways, by evaluating our individual response, or by evalutating what is beneficial to our survival, on different levels, perhaps evaluating too its lack of obvious benefit or function, and also evaluating the skill involved, or the notion of our own skill in choosing to enjoy it.
Nov9-05, 05:26 PM
P: 28
Quote Quote by Gale
Can beauty be measured? in any way shape or form? even if its subjective to one person's ideas... can it still be measured? Or is beauty an abstract sort of thing that one cannot put a value on?
I don't care what anybody says, Adriana Lima is HOT!!
Nov9-05, 08:40 PM
0TheSwerve0's Avatar
P: 405
My roommate said the same thing last night. We were talking about what race has the most beautiful people (not seriously of course), and he said Brazilians - an example being Adriana. I really don't get it tho...She'd snap like a twig if you tried to do anything with her! Men like this?
Nov9-05, 08:40 PM
0TheSwerve0's Avatar
P: 405
Guess she does get maximum exposure;)
Nov28-05, 01:10 AM
P: 196
That stars should form and produce the elements of life and that a life form should arise with the ability to be the eyes and mind of the universe and allow the universe to have awareness, knowledge, understanding and appreciation for its existence is where beauty is created, blossoms and grows.
The human ability to do this is at the core of beauty for without the ability to appreciate beauty it is meaningless. Using this standard go forth and measure beauty for as long as you maintain a body and a mind to do so.

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