While the world of art has been dominated by aesthetics, the concept of beauty has fallen into disfavor. Beauty is often associated with the vanity and ostentation of the consumer, and its associated political and economic associations are unhelpful. In the 1980s, the concept of beauty became a major topic in feminist philosophy. Its critics began to question its value. In the following paragraphs, I will outline a few of the key concepts regarding beauty.
Aristotle, David Hume, and Plato all held differing views of beauty. David Hume claimed that beauty is a subjective concept, while Jeremy Bentham argued that there are universal standards of beauty. Ultimately, these differing views of beauty are inconclusive. However, we can draw from the distinctions of these philosophers to gain an understanding of the history of philosophy and the concept of beauty. To understand what makes beauty, we must first define what it means.
The classical conception of beauty is the primordial Western concept of beauty. Its manifestations include classical architecture, neo-classical sculpture, classical literature, and music. According to Aristotle, beauty is the arrangement of integral parts that make up a coherent whole. According to this conception, beautiful objects are those that bring pleasure to the observer. This conception emphasizes the value, purpose, and value of objects that are considered beautiful. If you are a fan of classical aesthetics, you will recognize this view.
Alan Moore argues that beauty flows from purpose. His example of Patagonia illustrates this point. A sense of purpose attracts talented people and creates a positive workplace culture. These factors foster effective decision-making and leadership, and increase employee engagement and well-being. And a sense of purpose fosters creativity. In fact, a positive workplace environment fosters beauty. In this way, beauty can become a source of pride and happiness.
One of the 20th-century’s most influential artists was David Bowie, who used non-conformist beauty as a social commentary. The use of androgyny was a central tool in his work, whose album art features a card-playing courtesan. The red bouffant and lightning streak of Aladdin Sane may have been influenced by the art of Kabuki theatre. The work of a modern-day couturist was an attempt to challenge the antinomy of taste.