Is there a universal standard for beauty?

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hue-man
 
Reply Tue 11 Aug, 2009 02:19 pm
I came across this blog in which someone claimed that there is a universal standard for human beauty, and that human beauty is not relative. Of course there are relative notions of beauty that are relative to culture variations, but cultures are developed because of their relative isolation to other societies and cultures. And regardless of cultural preferences of beauty, people seem to recognize beautiful people regardless of their ethnic or cultural differences.

Scientists are claiming that human beauty is based on facial and bodily symmetry. The more symmetric and balanced someones features are, the more beautiful. Scientists even have a golden facial symmetry ratio for beauty: 1.618.

Of course, as philosophers we should know and keep in mind that beauty is a subjective notion, meaning that it isn't an actual feature of the external world; but what do you guys think? Do we now have a universal standard for human beauty that can be measured by science?

The Science of Beauty The World According to Xenocrates

USA WEEKEND Magazine
 
Belial phil
 
Reply Wed 9 Sep, 2009 09:29 pm
@hue-man,
I doubt it. Even if that theory is correct I doubt it's 100% Universal, thus making it still relative.
 
richrf
 
Reply Wed 9 Sep, 2009 11:36 pm
@Belial phil,
If you look at art through the centuries across the world, you may notice that the notion of what is beautiful is constantly evolving and different depending upon the culture.

In any case, I have never seen a baby that I didn't think was beautiful. After that .... well, tastes change for everyone. But when you are in love, your loved one always looks beautiful.

Rich
 
Krumple
 
Reply Thu 10 Sep, 2009 01:41 am
@hue-man,
I found it, I found it. I found the standard by which all things beautiful are based. Me, everything is compared to me, well actually my mind, but same difference. I am the beautiful standard by which all things must be subjected to. This whole time and it was right under, er, above, um behind my nose. Now that you know, are you not glad? I can hear everyone's sigh of relief.
 
Thaddeus
 
Reply Thu 10 Sep, 2009 04:10 am
@hue-man,
Hmm, I really disbeleive there is a universal standerd of beauty.
What i believe is that we first need to eliminate bias in our thoughts and remove what has been taught to us as society standards. Regardless of media influences, beauty is what the society, or the world we live in, made us think that way.

In addition to the science, can they really measure human beauty base on symmetry? What is the evidence behind their science?
is it entirely base on cultural survay's on individual perspective on what beauty is or their bias mind on what THEY beleive in human beauty?
Universal standerd of human beauty is way too general and as others have said, I dont beleive that there is a 100% universal standerd.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Thu 10 Sep, 2009 05:54 am
@hue-man,
I believe what they were talking about, in describing elements of physical symmetry, is but one aspect of human-to-human attractiveness. It goes into the mix, along with all the other factors each individual is inclined to find attractive.

I'm also guessing a large number of people find a lack of symmetry attractive (depending on what elements we're talking about). So no, I wouldn't say there's any universal standard for beauty.

Thanks
 
Caroline
 
Reply Thu 10 Sep, 2009 06:10 am
@hue-man,
I would presume that symmetry would be boring, that a lack of it would be more interesting?
 
Khethil
 
Reply Thu 10 Sep, 2009 06:27 am
@Caroline,
Caroline;89369 wrote:
I would presume that symmetry would be boring, that a lack of it would be more interesting?


In some places, some settings, some visualizations; you bet - at least for me.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Thu 10 Sep, 2009 08:06 pm
@Khethil,
Of course human beauty is relative to humans. Concepts such as beauty are relative to the mind and perception. However, studies show that when people are shown two photos of the same person, with one photo being asymmetrical, and the other being perfectly symmetrical, they associate the more symmetrical face with beauty. Facial and bodily symmetry are known to be good markers for healthy genes, and this could be an explanation from evolutionary psychology.
 
Leonard
 
Reply Thu 10 Sep, 2009 08:42 pm
@hue-man,
Beauty depends on culture. However, some things that are abnormal or detrimental such as acne, moles, etc. are usually undesirable regardless of culture.
 
Belial phil
 
Reply Thu 10 Sep, 2009 09:11 pm
@Leonard,
Leonard;89524 wrote:
Beauty depends on culture. However, some things that are abnormal or detrimental such as acne, moles, etc. are usually undesirable regardless of culture.


Acne isn't abnormal and usually isn't detrimental in any biological way. The same goes for moles.
And neither of those are undesirable for me, I've never really cared about them. Although I suppose my eyes would not be too pleased to see an incredibly abnormal amount of acne or moles on someone.
 
richrf
 
Reply Thu 10 Sep, 2009 09:22 pm
@Belial phil,
Well, I think this is just another study to make women feel like they have to go out and get some plastic surgery or Botox. But women seem to go for it. The big boob industry seems to keep growing. Why do women want to change who they are? Personally I like natural the best.

Rich
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 10 Sep, 2009 10:57 pm
@hue-man,
It seems to me that there are two different questions being treated as one question.

1. Is there, in fact, some universal standard which is accepted.
2. Is there a correct universal standard whether it is accepted or not.

Those are not the same question. It does not follow that because some standard is accepted that it ought to be accepted. And it might be that although different standards are accepted in different cultures, that some are closer than others to the correct standard.

You cannot just assume that beauty is relative from the get-go.
 
Belial phil
 
Reply Fri 11 Sep, 2009 07:32 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;89538 wrote:
It seems to me that there are two different questions being treated as one question.

1. Is there, in fact, some universal standard which is accepted.
2. Is there a correct universal standard whether it is accepted or not.

Those are not the same question. It does not follow that because some standard is accepted that it ought to be accepted. And it might be that although different standards are accepted in different cultures, that some are closer than others to the correct standard.

You cannot just assume that beauty is relative from the get-go.


It's not from the get-go. It's seeing that there is variance in what people define as beauty. If not everyone agrees then it must be relative, right?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 11 Sep, 2009 08:03 am
@Belial phil,
Belial;89590 wrote:
It's not from the get-go. It's seeing that there is variance in what people define as beauty. If not everyone agrees then it must be relative, right?



No. Not everyone agrees on whether there is life on other planets. Is that relative? Or whether there is a God. Is that relative?
 
Octal
 
Reply Fri 11 Sep, 2009 09:25 am
@kennethamy,
Is symmetry beautiful simply because it is aesthetically pleasing to the eye? That would make sense, but our sexual sense of beauty is different from the beauty we have when we look at a painting (for example, you may say that the lion is very beautiful [and it is aesthetically pleasing], but you wouldn't want to have sex with it).

So since we can declare that our sexual sense of beauty is different then the aesthetic, we must assume that symmetry is beautiful for other reasons. Maybe because of the concept behind symmetry: it seems cleaner and better kept than an asymmetrical face.
 
Belial phil
 
Reply Fri 11 Sep, 2009 01:22 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;89596 wrote:
No. Not everyone agrees on whether there is life on other planets. Is that relative? Or whether there is a God. Is that relative?


If we're speaking of beliefs, then yes. If we're speaking of facts, then no.
But can beauty be a fact?
Is beauty not simply how pleasurable something is to one's sense of sight?
Or something else?
What are you defining beauty as?
 
hue-man
 
Reply Fri 11 Sep, 2009 02:00 pm
@Belial phil,
Now we're getting to the point of this question. Can beauty be verified as a fact? Can beauty be considered as a fact if it's metaphysically relative to human perception, or is it only a fact that there is a universal standard for (symmetry and balance of physical features) beauty that humans perceive?
 
Pangloss
 
Reply Fri 11 Sep, 2009 02:19 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;89538 wrote:

You cannot just assume that beauty is relative from the get-go.


Why not, if the idea of 'beauty' clearly varies from person to person, culture to culture, time period to time period, etc? That there is some absolute measure of 'beauty' is a claim that needs to be proven, because relative beauty that exists 'in the eye of the beholder' is quite apparent.

In western culture, for example, 150 years ago, women were seen to be more 'beautiful' if they were somewhat plump (well-fed but not fat) and pale in skin tone. Now, what is 'beautiful' for a woman in our culture is to be tanned and skinny. Of course there are a host of other things involved when determining if another person is 'beautiful' or attractive or not, including evolved psychological responses, facial expressions, tone of voice, social status etc...

It's also interesting that we talk of 'beauty' when referring to pleasurable sights and sounds, such as a painting or musical performance. But the other senses somehow do not convey 'beauty'...people typically do not say that a touch, smell, or taste is beautiful. What is it about sights and sounds that can be beautiful? Is beauty even something that can be logically determined, or do we just 'sense' beauty immediately when it hits us...because in my experience, it is the latter.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 11 Sep, 2009 02:45 pm
@Belial phil,
Belial;89642 wrote:
If we're speaking of beliefs, then yes. If we're speaking of facts, then no.
But can beauty be a fact?
Is beauty not simply how pleasurable something is to one's sense of sight?
Or something else?
What are you defining beauty as?


I don't know what you mean by "beliefs", but a lot of people believe that ETA's don't exist, and a lot of believe they do.
In the second place, you are begging the question, by assuming that it is not a fact that Beethoven's last quartets are beautiful. To say something is a fact is to say that it is true. And it is certainly true that the last quartets are beautiful. And most musical experts agree with me.

---------- Post added 09-11-2009 at 04:55 PM ----------

Pangloss;89646 wrote:
Why not, if the idea of 'beauty' clearly varies from person to person, culture to culture, time period to time period, etc? That there is some absolute measure of 'beauty' is a claim that needs to be proven, because relative beauty that exists 'in the eye of the beholder' is quite apparent.

In western culture, for example, 150 years ago, women were seen to be more 'beautiful' if they were somewhat plump (well-fed but not fat) and pale in skin tone. Now, what is 'beautiful' for a woman in our culture is to be tanned and skinny. Of course there are a host of other things involved when determining if another person is 'beautiful' or attractive or not, including evolved psychological responses, facial expressions, tone of voice, social status etc...

It's also interesting that we talk of 'beauty' when referring to pleasurable sights and sounds, such as a painting or musical performance. But the other senses somehow do not convey 'beauty'...people typically do not say that a touch, smell, or taste is beautiful. What is it about sights and sounds that can be beautiful? Is beauty even something that can be logically determined, or do we just 'sense' beauty immediately when it hits us...because in my experience, it is the latter.



The idea of disease varies from culture to culture too. I some parts of the world disease is the product of witchcraft. In others, disease is a kind of attitude you have toward yourself, and so on. So the fact that the idea of beauty varies from culture to culture doesn't seem to mean that beauty is relative, no more than that disease is relative.
 
 

 
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