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Is beauty objective?

  1. Nov 10, 2007 #1
    i was just wondering if someone could please help me
    i have an exam tm and was wondering if you could please give me some ideas on what to write about
    the question is beauty objective??
    what does this mean??
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 10, 2007 #2


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    The question could be extended: "Is beauty objective, or is beauty in the eye of the beholder?"
  4. Nov 10, 2007 #3
    so what would be some tips on what to write about??
  5. Nov 11, 2007 #4
    First define your terms.

    What is objective?
    What is beauty?
  6. Nov 17, 2007 #5
    Let us try these definitions:

    Beauty is a sense of harmony of parts of a unit as viewed by the rational consciousness

    A Unit is a thing held in the consciousness as being a member of a group of two or more similar members (thus what exists is not the unit but the thing)

    To be Objective is to hold that concepts OF VALUE such as beauty of a unit are a dialectic formed in the human consciousness as: (1) determined by the metaphysical reality of the unit, and (2) as discovered and judged by the epistemology (= reason) of the rational consciousness. Thus to be objective is to hold to a dialectic philosophy that entangles metaphysics and epistemology.

    Using these definitions one can see how beauty of a unit can be objective. Beauty is NEITHER only in the eye of the beholder NOR is it only in the object, but beauty is a dialectic--it is the objective superposition of the object as a thing (metaphysics) as judged (epistemology) as a unit by the rational beholder. This is how I see it, fire away with comments.
  7. Nov 17, 2007 #6


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    Hmm..I'd rather take a more humble, empirical approach:
    We might regard those elements/features of the world as objectively (or at least intersubjectively) beautiful that all humans find beautiful.

    I.e. "objective beauty" is a statistical extreme on a spectrum ending in the other extreme of "objective ugliness".
  8. Nov 17, 2007 #7
    Can an idea by beautiful? I'm thinking math here... but it would apply across the board.
    That is, does objective apply only to physical objects of perception?
  9. Nov 18, 2007 #8
    Well sure an idea can be beautiful. Consider the Einstein Field Equation of General Relativity: [Rµv – ½ gµv R] = [8 pi Tµv]. The left side of the equation describes how the geometry of spacetime is warped and curved by matter--the right side of equation describes the movement of matter in the gravitational field. As stated by physicist John Wheeler, "matter tells spacetime how to curve, and curved space tells matter how to move". This idea, this equation, is objectively beautiful--it is, as I defined in previous post " a sense of harmony of parts of a unit as viewed by the rational consciousness". Here is what Einstein wrote to a friend, Heinrich Zangger, on Nov. 26, 1915 after it was published---"The theory is of incomparable beauty".
  10. Nov 18, 2007 #9
    Some go with a gut feeling, an emotional response. Others a mental reaction.
    I think some comparison to the Sapir Whorf hypothesis might make an interesting paper.
  11. Nov 19, 2007 #10
    Thats not addressing my question. What you are saying here is that the relationship that exists in nature is beautiful. The equation is not that, the equation is just a symbolic description of part of what exists in nature. And by its very nature your equation is incomplete as it does not fully describe nature. It is therefore not in harmony with 'reality'.

    It represents one point of view on nature, which is not objective in any sense. Representations are inherently subjective, since they demand a point of view.
  12. Nov 20, 2007 #11
    I think beauty is objective in the sense that it is subjective.

    Objective in an empirical sense in that it could probably be defined per person based off of some physical aspects regarding their brains, and how they perceive with their likes and dislikes. However it is subjective in the sense that it does differ from person to person depending on their dispositions.
  13. Nov 20, 2007 #12
    A song can make me tear up. Bucky Covington's A Different World
    Modern jazz can make me tear up the stereo.

    Math might be perfectly capable of making someone come to tears and if so I would say it must be beautiful. Very subjective thing. What makes me want to puke, like 200 lashes for a victim of gang rape, no! Not beautiful.
  14. Nov 21, 2007 #13
    No, I am saying that BOTH the equation (which represents the unit) and the relationship (which represents the thing) are beautiful and that this interaction is what makes the concept of beauty objective. Einstein's equation is in perfect harmony with "reality", there is nothing "subjective" about the General Theory of Relativity.
  15. Nov 24, 2007 #14
    Well, I would say that the answer to this question lies in the brain.
    Why do humans see things as beautiful, how does the brain do it, and what empirical implications does this have?

    I like color by itself, just a pretty color alone or in contrast to other colors, why this is I don't know but I feel drawn to look at it.
  16. Dec 2, 2007 #15
    It is universal that everyone desires beauty, perfection, equality....These things along with goodness and morals have no natural place in this universe. There is nothing one can say is absolutely perfect equal or good. But if there is nothing to compare these things to, how can we desire them, or recollect knowledge of an equal or a perfect or of beauty. But I think at a fundamental level of the fabric of space and time these values exist in our subconscious. For naturally but unknowingly or unwillingly our subconscious would guide us towards what is right, what is just, the vary principles of what god stands for. And these pre-existing knowledge’s exist in every one of us. So God, as creator, the perfect being, beauty, and subconscious mind embody the same things. God is our subconscious minds existing in all of us perhaps.
  17. Dec 2, 2007 #16
    But still... seeing these ideas or objects as harmonious as described above is undeniably subjective and personal, right?
  18. Dec 17, 2007 #17
    pi/4 = 1 - 1/3 + 1/5 - 1/7 + 1/9 - 1/11 +... ==> beauty is objective
  19. Dec 17, 2007 #18
    Also, there is the Milli-Helen, the (pseudo) unit of beauty. :smile:

    A milli-Helen is the amount of beauty that can launch a single ship.

    Source: http://www.mala.bc.ca/~johnstoi/clas101/troy.htm [Broken] Trojan war, queen Helen, renowned for her beauty, was kidnapped, her husband king Menelaus of Sparta had 1000 ships launched to get her back.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  20. Dec 18, 2007 #19
    What exactly does this equation represent??? Sorry for the ignorance guys, but it seems that if you are referring to the equation as a whole as beautiful, then that opinion is the result of the subjective nature of beauty; if you are referring to the result as a unit of beauty, then explain why our limited perception of these variables enables us to determine their beauty/harmony?

    But I have no idea what I'm talking about with this equation so please do shut me down.
  21. Dec 19, 2007 #20
    No, that is my point.

    Again, from my first post here are my working definitions:

    Beauty is a sense of harmony of parts of a unit as viewed by the rational consciousness

    A Unit is a thing held in the consciousness as being a member of a group of two or more similar members (thus what exists is not the unit but the thing)

    When some"thing" (as viewed as a unit by consciousness) is seen as being harmonious (such as the GR equation of Einstein), there is nothing subjective involved--it is a pure objective experience between the harmonious object and your consciousness. You cannot undo the harmonious reality of GR Theory by how you feel about it. It is the difference between saying 'this person is 6 feet tall' and 'I like tall people'. The GR equation of Einstein is an objective idea as is the statement about the height of the person, but it is also a beautiful idea because it describes a sense of harmony between members of a group--matter and space.

    I'm sure you have seen overlook areas while driving where random people stop to look at some natural site--why did someone make this a place to stop ?--why do people leave with a sense of seeing something of beauty ? It is because the view itself has an internal objective harmony of many, many things interacting as a whole (such as colors, shapes, rocks, trees, birds, etc) that resonates with any human consciousness as the concept called "beauty". These highway stops are a prime example of objective beauty in action for humans in general.

    An act of kindness that you witness can be a thing of objective beauty to you. Why ? There is an internal harmony between the self and other of the two people involved, and you can relate that beauty to how you as a self interact with others around you. I think this a nice way for any specific human to experience the personal rapture of objective beauty.
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