What is Beauty?

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Nick A
 
Reply Tue 12 Feb, 2008 11:08 pm
What is beauty and how does it relate to "awe" It is useful for appreciating this deep question by comaring the observations of an atheistic and a Christian mystic. First contemplate and excerpt from Richard Feynman with atheistic leanings.

Quote:
Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars - mere globs of gas atoms. Nothing is "mere". I too can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them. But do I see less or more? The vastness of the heavens stretches my imagination - stuck on this carousel my little eye can catch one-million-year-old light. A vast pattern - of which I am a part... What is the pattern or the meaning or the why? It does not do harm to the mystery to know a little more about it. For far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined it. Why do the poets of the present not speak of it? What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent? ~ Richard P. Feynman


Notice how the perception of beauty stops at the stars and meaning begins by scientifically examining the nature of the stars. Compare this with Simone Weil's appreciation of what beauty is an indication of. It doesn't deny the physical makeup of the stars but rather the feeling of beauty includes the indication of a higher reality beyond our conceptioon of the stars that Man is drawn towards.

Quote:
"Beauty is the only finality here below. As Kant said very aptly, it is a finality which involves no objective. A beautiful thing involves no good except itself, in its totality, as it appears to us. We are drawn toward it without knowing what to ask of it. It offers its own existence. We do not desire something else, we possess it, and yet we still desire something. We do not know in the least what it is. We want to get behind beauty, but it is only a surface. It is like a mirror that sends us back our own desire for goodness. It is a sphinx, an enigma, a mystery which is painfully tantalizing. We should like to feed upon it, but it is only something to look at; it appears only from a certain distance. The great trouble in human life is that looking and eating are two different operations. Only beyond the sky, in the country inhabited by God, are they one and the same operation. ... It may be that vice, depravity and crime are nearly always ... in their essence, attempts to eat beauty, to eat what we should only look at." Simone Weil
Quote:



What is beauty? Does it exist as an objective reality or even indicate the existance of objective reality? Is it an emotion that serves no purpose or does it serve a purpose we find hard to comprehend? I side with Simone and believe human experience of beauty indicates an inner recognition of a facet of intelligent design.. How would you define and explain beauty?
 
ThouAreThat
 
Reply Wed 13 Feb, 2008 03:40 am
@Nick A,
Beauty, a nascent property of cosmic intelligence, reveals itself in infinite finite manifestations as well as within the streaming river of cosmic consciousness of the cognition of the "I am that I am".

Beauty therefore is undefinable. It flows forever, only to be captured in the timeless moment of AWE where stillness meets the knowledge of self as the root cause of observation.

Beauty of light, beauty of breathing light in, beauty of breathing light out, beauty of the sphere of light that "I am", are the one, two, three of the divine trinity.

Beautiful light of the "I am that I am" is all that is real in its trinity, all else illusion as it passes fleeting by in a whirlwind of confusion.
 
Nick A
 
Reply Wed 13 Feb, 2008 03:17 pm
@ThouAreThat,
ThouAreThat wrote:
Beauty, a nascent property of cosmic intelligence, reveals itself in infinite finite manifestations as well as within the streaming river of cosmic consciousness of the cognition of the "I am that I am".

Beauty therefore is undefinable. It flows forever, only to be captured in the timeless moment of AWE where stillness meets the knowledge of self as the root cause of observation.

Beauty of light, beauty of breathing light in, beauty of breathing light out, beauty of the sphere of light that "I am", are the one, two, three of the divine trinity.

Beautiful light of the "I am that I am" is all that is real in its trinity, all else illusion as it passes fleeting by in a whirlwind of confusion.


Interesting TAT. You apparently believe beauty to be an undefinable external expression much like divine love which can be experienced by us as a unique inmpression.

I don't believe that beauty is intended but rather is our subjective interpretation of the expression of God's will expressed through the lawful interactions of universal laws.
 
ThouAreThat
 
Reply Thu 14 Feb, 2008 02:59 am
@Nick A,
Greetings, Nick_A,

What do I believe, which is based on superstition? I dare say naught. What is external to the (my, your, our) love of divine in the innermost depth of being? Again, i dare say naught.

Beauty, a common denominator (quote)"of the expression of God's will expressed through the lawful interactions of universal laws"(unquote) is profusely (unmanifest and manifest) throughout (infinite and finite) (existence and manifestation)

What is beauty but god, what is consciousness but god, what is love but god, what is truth but god, what is bliss but god, what is life but god, what are we but the "I am that I, you, we, am, are"

Has god intentions? Can he/she help it to be perfect? And can we help it to not be in total awe of the beauty unmanifest in our cognitive meditation as well as manifest in our cognitive observation?

Ahh, cognition, the rarest form of aware observation, gleening presently the nuggets from the stream of the ever unfolding energy unrecognized, yet ever new.

With love, tat twam asi
 
Fido
 
Reply Wed 19 Mar, 2008 05:14 pm
@Nick A,
Beauty is objective. It is the look of life when you can hold it in your hands. Women are beauty if you are a man and women are the price of life. Gold is beauty when to own it is to have a bit of all the lives given for it, and all the time devoted to it. So what if Gold is guilt, and if it holds as much of death as life in it cold shimmers? Is it not the flash of the lure, and the smell of the bait hiding death's cruel hook. Certainly, but we only see beauty and have no sense of sight for death and uglyness. And so we trade the beauty of life for the celebration of death, and mourn our lives with every treasure we set aside.
 
boagie
 
Reply Sun 6 Apr, 2008 10:43 pm
@Fido,
Hi all,Smile

I have read the previous posts and there seems to be quite a range of
spectulations as to what is beautiful, atheistic appreciation. I won't
elaborate to much, but I believe the study of the topic should begin with a subjects own biology. One can only understand out of what one is, so the qualities we find beautiful, must be in one way or another, our own.
 
Doobah47
 
Reply Sun 6 Apr, 2008 11:42 pm
@boagie,
There's a naive element in finding something unexplained beautiful, we can't quite explain it so we find the mystery as beautiful as any of the more objective 'beauty' (as in the colour or the arrangement). I do agree though that with knowledge comes analysis which seems to over-ride pure appreciation. It's possibly the same for a classically trained composer who very rarely appreciates a work for its beauty, and instead analyzes what he listens to, based upon his knowledge. However, we might find inspiration during the analysis and contemplate with a knowledgeable insight, inspiration of a different kind to the inspiration found in appreciating the stars simply as some kind of intrinsically beautiful spectacle.

It seems to me to be quite selfish of somebody to appreciate beauty without taking some inspiration from it and creating something as a response; so perhaps knowing more about what we see will cause us to be more creative, although it might cause us to have less creative imaginations.
 
boagie
 
Reply Mon 7 Apr, 2008 12:11 am
@Doobah47,
Doobah47 wrote:
There's a naive element in finding something unexplained beautiful, we can't quite explain it so we find the mystery as beautiful as any of the more objective 'beauty' (as in the colour or the arrangement). I do agree though that with knowledge comes analysis which seems to over-ride pure appreciation. It's possibly the same for a classically trained composer who very rarely appreciates a work for its beauty, and instead analyzes what he listens to, based upon his knowledge. However, we might find inspiration during the analysis and contemplate with a knowledgeable insight, inspiration of a different kind to the inspiration found in appreciating the stars simply as some kind of intrinsically beautiful spectacle.

It seems to me to be quite selfish of somebody to appreciate beauty without taking some inspiration from it and creating something as a response; so perhaps knowing more about what we see will cause us to be more creative, although it might cause us to have less creative imaginations.


Hi Doobah,Smile

:)That naive appreciation has been termed asthetic arest, it is I think when the order of the object in question speaks to the order which is of your own nature. If you find something beautiful it must possess these things, order, rhythm and harmony, if you find something ugly it is due to a lack of one or all of these qualities. So my premise is that beauty , uglyness and the sublime are biologically determined. It is necessarily biologically based, as all meaning, all values and appreciations require a subject.

" He who believes the stars are above him, lacks the eye of the decerning one." Nietzsche
 
Doobah47
 
Reply Mon 7 Apr, 2008 03:18 am
@boagie,
boagie wrote:
Hi Doobah,Smile

:)That naive appreciation has been termed asthetic arest, it is I think when the order of the object in question speaks to the order which is of your own nature. If you find something beautiful it must possess these things, order, rhythm and harmony, if you find something ugly it is due to a lack of one or all of these qualities. So my premise is that beauty , uglyness and the sublime are biologically determined. It is necessarily biologically based, as all meaning, all values and appreciations require a subject.


There is formula in everything beautiful, whether it be human-made or naturally occurring. Music or art are formulaic, whether they follow the simplest formula (such as the colours of the spectrum) or strictly adhere to theories of cadence composition etc. I would not doubt that there is a biological element to the appreciation of beauty, yet what I doubt is the non-visible elements of beauty being biologically ascertained; lets say that the stars are twinkling, we now know that is due to space-dust interfering with the light (or something like that...) yet I think it is these elements, like the beauty we see in emotions or intoxication, or when emotional or intoxicated. What I'm trying to say is that there's a random, invisible quality to real beauty, something that is not part of a strict formula of biology or composition, something that we appreciate the absence of.
 
boagie
 
Reply Mon 7 Apr, 2008 09:23 am
@Doobah47,
Doobah47 wrote:
There is formula in everything beautiful, whether it be human-made or naturally occurring. Music or art are formulaic, whether they follow the simplest formula (such as the colours of the spectrum) or strictly adhere to theories of cadence composition etc. I would not doubt that there is a biological element to the appreciation of beauty, yet what I doubt is the non-visible elements of beauty being biologically ascertained; lets say that the stars are twinkling, we now know that is due to space-dust interfering with the light (or something like that...) yet I think it is these elements, like the beauty we see in emotions or intoxication, or when emotional or intoxicated. What I'm trying to say is that there's a random, invisible quality to real beauty, something that is not part of a strict formula of biology or composition, something that we appreciate the absence of.


Doobah,Smile

:)All things are ordered. As to the nature of something left unprecieved, of course it must then be left, unexpressed. It is in fact impossiable for appreciation of anything not to be from a biological source, the physical world is without meaning in the absence of a conscious subject. If you are speaking of an appreciation of the unmanifest, I would think that would have to be the ultimate abstract concept, and might be sublime, but not beautiful.
 
Kooker
 
Reply Wed 9 Apr, 2008 03:42 pm
@Nick A,
"Colour shines and wants only to shine. When we analyze it in rational terms by measuring its wavelengths, it is gone. It shows itself only when it remains undisclosed and unexplained. It causes every mercy calculating importunity upon it to turn into a destruction" (Heidegger).
 
Doobah47
 
Reply Wed 9 Apr, 2008 05:27 pm
@boagie,
boagie wrote:
As to the nature of something left unprecieved, of course it must then be left, unexpressed.


But we have words such as 'ineffable' or 'invisible', surely if we have these words then the non-existence of something, at least for humans and their perception/expression, is potentially described. We might even know what the absent things is. Let's take a super-model who we know has a mole on her face, a beautiful and 'biologically beautiful' aspect to her physical appearance, yet one day we see an image of the model in which the mole has been airbrushed out; we can appreciate the absence of the mole in this particular image, yet in a way the straightforward biological beauty is not what we admire, it is a case of novelty, we admire the absence of a thing in finding the image beautiful - even if only for a very short time until we become accustomed to the biological beauty in the airbrushed image.

Quote:
It is in fact impossiable for appreciation of anything not to be from a biological source, the physical world is without meaning in the absence of a conscious subject.
But it is not without value, and meaning is merely a subconscious variant of value, is it not?

I think my example probably stems from an aspect of our appreciation of novelty rather than an appreciation of biological beauty - although we know the image is beautiful with or without the mole, a certain emotional response is achieved when faced with novelty, and although every mental function and symptom of perception is biological, I think that novelty is not quite part of the biological, regular concept of beauty you are purporting.
 
boagie
 
Reply Wed 9 Apr, 2008 06:12 pm
@Doobah47,
Doobah47 wrote:
But we have words such as 'ineffable' or 'invisible', surely if we have these words then the non-existence of something, at least for humans and their perception/expression, is potentially described. We might even know what the absent things is. Let's take a super-model who we know has a mole on her face, a beautiful and 'biologically beautiful' aspect to her physical appearance, yet one day we see an image of the model in which the mole has been airbrushed out; we can appreciate the absence of the mole in this particular image, yet in a way the straightforward biological beauty is not what we admire, it is a case of novelty, we admire the absence of a thing in finding the image beautiful - even if only for a very short time until we become accustomed to the biological beauty in the airbrushed image.

But it is not without value, and meaning is merely a subconscious variant of value, is it not?

I think my example probably stems from an aspect of our appreciation of novelty rather than an appreciation of biological beauty - although we know the image is beautiful with or without the mole, a certain emotional response is achieved when faced with novelty, and although every mental function and symptom of perception is biological, I think that novelty is not quite part of the biological, regular concept of beauty you are purporting.


Doobah

In your logic you seem to be stretching for something intangiable. Your belief that the non-existence of something can be appreciated is unfounded. There is a difference between what is non-existent and what is unprecieved by a particular individual. This business of the absence of something being what is beautiful is again unfounded. If the co-related features of the models face would be thrown out of balance, and destroy it as a pleasing composition that would not constituted it in and of itself as something beautiful or ugly, it at best could be either a disruption or a compliment to any already existing order.
 
boagie
 
Reply Wed 9 Apr, 2008 06:22 pm
@Kooker,
Kooker wrote:
"Colour shines and wants only to shine. When we analyze it in rational terms by measuring its wavelengths, it is gone. It shows itself only when it remains undisclosed and unexplained. It causes every mercy calculating importunity upon it to turn into a destruction" (Heidegger).


Kooker,

Heidegger must be a romantic philosopher, they are the worst kind. He starts apparently with giving colour personificational highlights, such as, a will, it wants to shine does it? Undisclosed and unexplained sounds a lot like an oblivious state, beauty is not a testimony to ignorance.
 
Kooker
 
Reply Sat 12 Apr, 2008 01:00 pm
@boagie,
boagie wrote:
Kooker,

Heidegger must be a romantic philosopher, they are the worst kind. He starts apparently with giving colour personificational highlights, such as, a will, it wants to shine does it? Undisclosed and unexplained sounds a lot like an oblivious state, beauty is not a testimony to ignorance.


The best kind Wink. Beauty, not a testimony to ignorance, but a testimony to a frame of knowledge that moves beyond the quantifiable. Heidegger implies that a fragmented, empirical analysis of beauty, is not an analysis of beauty at all since the work of art stands as a whole. To dissect (a common practice that pervades our visual culture--perhaps rooted in Cartesian method) the work through various forms of criticism (e.g. post-structuralist) misses the point. To paraphrase, Heidegger stated that we must let the "language speak" in our "analysis" of art--not deconstruct it into meaninglessness. Hence, unweaving a rainbow in terms of its wavelength avoids its luster, just as analyzing the spurts of anapestic tetrameter in Hamlet as evidence of a Hegelian Master-Slave dialectic being played out in language misses the point.

The atoms that compose our bodies do not reflect the intensity of our being just as the atoms of Beauty fail to explicate it's beauty. Thus, we cannot point to the particulars of beauty as an understanding of its Beauty. Perhaps, then, we must take a Paterian approach to Beauty, and simply ask:

"What is this song or picture, this engaging personality presented in life or in a book, to me? What effect does it really produce on me? Does it give me pleasure? and if so, what sort or degree of pleasure? How is my nature modified by its presence, and under its influence? The answers to these questions are the original facts with which the aesthetic critic has to do; and, as in the study of light, of morals, of number, one must realise such primary data for one's self, or not at all. And he who experiences these impressions strongly, and drives directly at the discrimination and analysis of them, has no need to trouble himself with the abstract question what beauty is in itself, or what its exact relation to truth or experience-metaphysical questions, as unprofitable as metaphysical questions elsewhere. He may pass them all by as being, answerable or not, of no interest to him."
 
boagie
 
Reply Sat 12 Apr, 2008 01:30 pm
@Kooker,
Kooker wrote:
The best kind Wink. Beauty, not a testimony to ignorance, but a testimony to a frame of knowledge that moves beyond the quantifiable. Heidegger implies that a fragmented, empirical analysis of beauty, is not an analysis of beauty at all since the work of art stands as a whole. To dissect (a common practice that pervades our visual culture--perhaps rooted in Cartesian method) the work through various forms of criticism (e.g. post-structuralist) misses the point. To paraphrase, Heidegger stated that we must let the "language speak" in our "analysis" of art--not deconstruct it into meaninglessness. Hence, unweaving a rainbow in terms of its wavelength avoids its luster, just as analyzing the spurts of anapestic tetrameter in Hamlet as evidence of a Hegelian Master-Slave dialectic being played out in language misses the point.

The atoms that compose our bodies do not reflect the intensity of our being just as the atoms of Beauty fail to explicate it's beauty. Thus, we cannot point to the particulars of beauty as an understanding of its Beauty. Perhaps, then, we must take a Paterian approach to Beauty, and simply ask:

"What is this song or picture, this engaging personality presented in life or in a book, to me? What effect does it really produce on me? Does it give me pleasure? and if so, what sort or degree of pleasure? How is my nature modified by its presence, and under its influence? The answers to these questions are the original facts with which the aesthetic critic has to do; and, as in the study of light, of morals, of number, one must realise such primary data for one's self, or not at all. And he who experiences these impressions strongly, and drives directly at the discrimination and analysis of them, has no need to trouble himself with the abstract question what beauty is in itself, or what its exact relation to truth or experience-metaphysical questions, as unprofitable as metaphysical questions elsewhere. He may pass them all by as being, answerable or not, of no interest to him."


kooker,Smile

:)You seem to be saying analysis is of a reductionist nature, and you would be right. I think classical science has structured our thinking to function basically at that level. There is a far greater means of appreciation and understanding by way of the new science of systems theory, or holistic science. Pehaps I am agreeing with you here, appreciation of beauty is not in need of intellectual gymnastics, and I do not think a theory could eclipse the awe of the Milkyway. So, is the appreciation of beauty ever threaten by the intellect, personally I do not think so.
 
vajrasattva
 
Reply Sat 12 Apr, 2008 05:22 pm
@Nick A,
Beauty is indescribable. It is often found in essence. Beauty is something we feel in the quintessential sense. It can be bitter it can be sweet and it can be bitter sweet. It can be cold, warm, and lukewarm. It can be anything that we may perceive or conceive of. The essence of beauty, true beauty is intangible.
 
Doobah47
 
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2008 01:12 pm
@boagie,
boagie wrote:

Doobah

In your logic you seem to be stretching for something intangiable. Your belief that the non-existence of something can be appreciated is unfounded. There is a difference between what is non-existent and what is unprecieved by a particular individual. This business of the absence of something being what is beautiful is again unfounded. If the co-related features of the models face would be thrown out of balance, and destroy it as a pleasing composition that would not constituted it in and of itself as something beautiful or ugly, it at best could be either a disruption or a compliment to any already existing order.


I suppose that the absence of a thing being beautiful is founded in biology after all; and that any appreciation of novelty is not the appreciation of beauty, it merely relates or influences the appreciation of beauty. So I do agree with your position.

However, I do not agree with your refutation; "the absence of something is beautiful" is not an unfounded statement, although it is likely relevant to biological orders of beauty as you state. In fact the absence of x is as important to the beauty of a thing as the presence of y; one can view the thing as having included everything, then facets were removed from the thing, and the thing became beautiful as a thing in it's own right - so the absence of many facets have made a thing beautiful.

Secondly, one could regard concepts as beautiful, although one might only ever perceive them in the imagination, perhaps as a product of information; in this case there is no objective thing regarded as beautiful, simply an imagination. Furthermore, the imagination might be beautiful, yet the object might be ugly; so the absence of the object allows the imagination to be beautiful. Finally, one could regard nothing as beautiful, or a black hole, or an empty dinner plate - all things require the absence of a thing in manifesting their beauty.
 
boagie
 
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2008 03:56 pm
@Doobah47,
Doobah47 wrote:
I suppose that the absence of a thing being beautiful is founded in biology after all; and that any appreciation of novelty is not the appreciation of beauty, it merely relates or influences the appreciation of beauty. So I do agree with your position.

However, I do not agree with your refutation; "the absence of something is beautiful" is not an unfounded statement, although it is likely relevant to biological orders of beauty as you state. In fact the absence of x is as important to the beauty of a thing as the presence of y; one can view the thing as having included everything, then facets were removed from the thing, and the thing became beautiful as a thing in it's own right - so the absence of many facets have made a thing beautiful.

Secondly, one could regard concepts as beautiful, although one might only ever perceive them in the imagination, perhaps as a product of information; in this case there is no objective thing regarded as beautiful, simply an imagination. Furthermore, the imagination might be beautiful, yet the object might be ugly; so the absence of the object allows the imagination to be beautiful. Finally, one could regard nothing as beautiful, or a black hole, or an empty dinner plate - all things require the absence of a thing in manifesting their beauty.


Doobah,

A delightful twist of reason you present here, for in essence you are saying, with the subtraction of something, it is a reductionist construction of the beauty of or in object---which would be true. It is true perhaps, if an objects beauty is flawed by the presence of one element, the removal of said element creates greater order, greater beauty. The presence of said element was in all probability unneccessary to the co-rrelation which constitutes the beauty of that object---yes. Also, a simple rearrangement of an element of an object sometimes will increase the appreciation of its beauty, there is perhaps a fortunate rythm struck, greater balance to the whole, which is, increased beauty.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Sat 19 Apr, 2008 11:15 pm
@boagie,
Obviously this is a large question. Such a young thread and so many tangents have gone off.

Beauty is the term we give to those things we perceive to have a visual, aural or tactile harmony that strikes us well; scenes that have a particular quality of appeal to the beholder, faces that elicit positive, hungry or sympathetic emotions on the part of the beholder.

The term is subjective, in the extreme, and is contingent on the feelings, desires, emotions, past experiences, values, vulnerabilities and preferences of the individual beholder. For those things beautiful to many, I believe they are so due to similiaries between individuals. For example, on a biological level, Humans find symmetry appealing in the human form as it speaks to health and attractiveness. I also believe there are beauties that are associative; a peaceful landscape showing health and vitality speaks to us on a subconscious level, for instance. Music too - intertwining harmonies that *tickle* our brains with their sensations. There are many examples of why perceptions of beauty can be widespread and probably just as many describing why it is an individual - very personal - experience.

I think in the best utility, Beauty can be described as an inner emotional expression of joy from the beholder upon perceiving anything which elicits a positive emotional response within.
 
 

 
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