On Aesthetics

I suppose every person with a good taste is appealed by beauty... be it the sublime beauty of a sun-set, the abstract images of art, the cold austere beauty of mathematics, the breath-taking brilliance of a starry sky, the acoustic appeal of a symphony, and perhaps the most well-appreciated, the charming face of a beautiful girl.

The debate remains... is beauty essentially subjective or objective? Perhaps if it is objective, like the rules of mathematics, and can only be recognized through dedication and focus. To a certain extent, appreciating beauty requires the building of taste. But standards of beauty are also universal, ignoring minor deviations. Most of the people are attracted by symmetrical forms and faces... symmtery was essential to Greek aesthetics, and was of such importance that they refused to consider the celestial orbits of any shape other than the circle, because it is the most symmetrical geometrical figure.

I became aware of the connection of biological evolution and aesthetics after reading Will Durant. Surely, it appears a simple hypothesis that aesthetic appreciation developed in us due to its importance and vitality in bringing the male and female together, and hence ensuring the continuation of the species. Many animals especially birds show aesthetic standards, and certain species are well known for the artistic decoration of their nests. Perhaps our appreciation of music began in the 'love-calls', the sounds made by birds and animals to call their mates. And every mature poet is aware of the relationship between Nature and Love, something which has been the subject of much poems. And Russell also mentions in his autobiography the connection between Love and Nature in his experience. Perhaps it was initally the sexual instinct that led to aesthetic development, and which ultimately flooded other areas of our sensation, and led to the appreciation of things as remote from sexuality as Architecture.

Appreciation of beauty is meant to be objective, in the sense that it is not governed by any sort of motive of personal gain. I see Rafael's The School of Athens, and its beauty strikes me and fills my existence. I gain nothing material by it... but a psychological influence which can only be understood by those who have experienced it. A clear view of the sky is enough to cheer up my mood and comtemplate over its scintillating beauty. Beauty in gender, i believe, too will be better appreciated if it is divorced from any other desire, such as that of possession. A beautiful face is a masterpiece of nature in itself. The aesthetic appreciation should not be vilified by the motive of possession.

And even the gloomy, surreal Franz Kafka says: "Anybody who preserves the ability to recognize beauty will never get old." And how true he says. If you are able to understand beauty, you will find a pleasure and satisfaction unknown to you before.

And beauty is only well-appreciated when it influences you in some way, when it becomes a part of your existence, and you feel its fragrance in your life. I shall end with an apt quote of Voltaire: “It is not sufficient to see and to know the beauty of a work. We must feel and be affected by it.”

Everyone, have a beautiful life.


M. Umer Toor said…
"the cold austere beauty of mathematics"

B. Russell would have agreed with you :)