## Follow up to Beautiful Things

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In the Beautiful Things discussion, @celebritydiscodave commented on some of the items people had posted as examples of beautiful things. I thought his comments were interesting and worth discussing, but wanted to keep that discussion focused on people's examples of things they think are beautiful. I thought I would start a new discussion using some of the posts from that previous thread.

Celebritydiscodave started out with this:

Not very interesting philosophically however as beauty can be found in almost anything. Attractive is a more interesting term philosophically speaking. Beauty does nt exist, it is a perception, however, Id argue that attractive does exist. It is not an important commodity, perhaps, but I believe that it does at least objectively exist.
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I disagree. If you've read all the posts in this thread, you can see it has had a strong effect on me. It's clarified what the word "beautiful" means. I hadn't really thought about it much until I began the discussion and started paying attention to the things I find beautiful. What I found is, for me, beauty reflects something that is deeply part of who I am. I look over the pictures I posted and each gives me the same sense of peace. A feeling of being home. What could be more philosophical than that.

I don't think anything has affected me more intellectually and emotionally since I began on the forum. That's not what I expected when I started the thread. I just thought it would be fun. And it has been.

Which isn't to say that a discussion of attractiveness wouldn't be interesting. Just to point out though, this is intended as a discussion where people show us things they think are beautiful, not discuss beauty and related ideas.
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So beauty no longer exists just in the eye of the beholder then, so these pictures prove substantively and beyond any reasonable doubt that beauty has an independent existence? Surely, they are just pictures, nothing to do with philosophy whatsoever. In any event, beauty suggests beyond attractive, (some of these pictures may perhaps be considered universally/philosophically attractive), to nature, it comprises nature, and all of those pictures which are inanimate definitely do nt possess a transmitting of inner beauty facet. It is a stretch to consider any life form which is not human as being universally/philosophically beautiful because other than perhaps apes and dogs they do nt tend to this radiating out of an inner attractive character, come nature. .Beauty of nature is possible to define, beauty of image is less so, and leaves it to chance as to whether that perceived beauty actually exists. These are incredible pictures though.
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Not very interesting philosophically however as beauty can be found in almost anything. Attractive is a more interesting term philosophically speaking. Beauty does nt exist, it is a perception, however, Id argue that attractive does exist. It is not an important commodity, perhaps, but I believe that it does at least objectively exist.

Will you please expand a bit on the attractiveness/beauty distinction.
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I agree with you that beauty is well worth discussing and pondering, and that it has at best a partial overlap with attractiveness (meaning an ability of a thing to attract other things towards it). There are attractive things that are not beautiful and beautiful things that are not attractive.
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I see beauty like I understand love; while we have a number of objects of love - erotic love, familial love, brotherly love, motherly love - along with other functions such as our instinctual drives or passions or subconscious needs and intimacy, is there 'love' that stands outside of this, something universal? We have become accustomed to the notion that reason is a part of some rational faculty, but love itself is also a part of this faculty, a part of how we process and interpret objects outside of us. It is subjective or from within us that we project to the external world and all problems that flow from this such as hedonism, narcissism, even idealism is a problem of our rational faculty, of our ability to have a mature interpretation of our responses.

Our responses are feelings or sensations that are not objective despite these feelings being aroused by objects external to us and so it is not those objects that have some pleasurable, empirical substance, but it is a representation that signifies something important to us. That is the most enjoyable aspect when trying to ascertain why we are drawn to things we consider beautiful as we attempt to define the sentimental, the ontological, the memories and emotions to an object. Is beauty socially constructed or are we drawn to what we have been taught to consider is beautiful or attractive and that our tastes are universally defined according to our culture?

For me, beauty is not attractiveness per se, it is an aspect of it - that we are compelled to it - but this attraction is induced by the pleasure it evokes, which can to a degree be evolutionary as our brains are naturally compelled to the feeling of pleasure, hence we are drawn to or find pleasurable objects attractive. The pleasure itself is entirely subjective even though we attribute the pleasure to the object and so we objectify the intrinsic feeling.

Without it being objective, it leads to a certain triviality or futility in the experience unless we try to interpret the fundamental value. Beauty fades, or the feeling of pleasure fades away. That, to me anyway, means that it is not truly beautiful, just like something is not 'true love' but that it stems from something else, social constructs, emotional attachments etc. For something to be beautiful, it needs to have that universal value, a part or relation to a Form where the object and the subjective experience is embedded into a knot. It is unchanging.

My favourite flower of all is the Peony, not just because it is attractive. Indeed, it has attractive qualities, namely the soft colour of pink intertwined within the white, the fragrance draws me closer to it because of the sensual scent. But, I have a fondness for peonies because I found them once when I was young, there is a memorable connection, it reminds me of certain people, it reflects my tastes, a celebration of nature. The flower emerges, for a brief moment, as me.

Similarly, I was attracted to a man once, but it was not his physical persona that only drew me closer. Indeed, he was physically attractive, he had qualities that I appreciated and that drew me closer to him, but it was something else entirely that made him stand out as different to other men. It was something subjective, a goodness inside of him and despite the riddle of all other aspects to him that made it difficult to penetrate, I felt that it was there, a real, authentic good. It was this hope that I was correct that made me curious about his potential and that made we want to know him. But, it also symbolised a part of me, that he reflected my taste, my celebration in him the potential of this value of good, of authenticity and so for a brief moment emerged as me. I found that part of him beautiful.
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I am usually dissatisfied with discussions of abstractions like beauty or beautiful.

Of course the reality behind the abstractions exist. We have seen, heard, smelled, tasted, and felt "beauty". We each experienced qualia when we tasted the exquisitely delicious peach, smelled the beautiful rose, felt the rich, luxurious velvet, heard Beethoven's beautiful Moonlight Sonata, saw the beautiful huge moon rise over the city. We didn't experience the same qualia, however, and we can't compare the two to determine how different they might be. Still, we agree by convention that yes, the seemingly much enlarged yellowish moon rising above the horizon is "beautiful".

Certain things tend to receive the accolade of Beautiful! Flowers and sunsets, for example. Full moon risings. The sky when it is clear and we are far away from city lights. Mountains. Waterfalls. These things are beautiful, we expect them to be beautiful, and we can readily (and safely) agree that they are beautiful.

We are much less likely to award the prize of "beautiful!" to swamps, weeds, prunes, burlap, and freeways, even though these could be as beautiful as anything else. Our ideas about beauty are at least somewhat socially conditioned. We are at least somewhat primed to have certain kinds of experiences of beauty.

It's one thing to describe a woman's breasts as beautiful (it's been done quite often) but much rarer to hear a man's penis or testicles described as beautiful, even less to hear someone's asshole be awarded the prize of beauty.

A stone arched bridge is far more likely to be described as "beautiful" than a concrete freeway bridge, but perhaps that is convention intervening in our experience. Roses are by definition beautiful ("American Beauty" is a variety), but they often smell like nothing more than the wet paper they were wrapped up in during shipping. So much for qualia and roses.
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We should at least try to name what it is that makes something beautiful. for instance:

What would make the scent of a rose "beautiful"?

A fresh scent common to outdoor plants
Intensity -- not overwhelming like lilac, but intense enough to be readily perceived
complexity -- combining sharp citrus and soft powder smells for instance, like lemon mixed with the odor of hollyhock
persistence -- lasting more than a few minutes after the rose has opened

It may be the case that the breeding required to achieve a certain color an shape will have resulted in the loss of scent. Is a bright pink, but odorless rose (or one that smells like damp newspaper) really beautiful?

What makes a beautiful tree?

height; tallness is an aspect of beauty in trees; except specialties like bonsai or aged evergreens in dry alpine environments.
shape; some trees have a goblet shape, others a fan shape. Conifers are conical. ("Conifer refers to the cone seed, not the conical shape of the plant.)
color; green leaves in the summer, of course, but many shadings.
symmetry contributes much to beauty in trees, except bonsai and aged evergreens in dry alpine environments

Some trees, like the cottonwood, tend to sprawl, are asymmetrical, and have a ragged shape. They can grow tall. American elms are so popular because of their goblet shape, height, symmetry ,and foliage. Bass trees have the virtue of having beautifully scented blossoms which bees like, but in many ways are they not a beautiful tree. The branches tend to droop, the wood is brittle, they shed lots of different varieties of plant debris over the summer. They are not symmetrical.

The tibetan cherry tree deserves "beautiful!" solely on the basis of its shining, copper red, peeling bark. The shape, height, symmetry, and leaf color are not remarkable, but the bark gives this tree great beauty. It's a deciduous tree whose greatest appeal is during the winter.
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It's one thing to describe a woman's breasts as beautiful (it's been done quite often) but much rarer to hear a man's penis or testicles described as beautiful, even less to hear someone's asshole be awarded the prize of beauty.

You are like Santa Claus on acid sometimes. A man's dingle-dangle is hideous, but I am sure there are some people out there who phallic worship.

What would make the scent of a rose "beautiful"?

It may be the case that the breeding required to achieve a certain color an shape will have resulted in the loss of scent. Is a bright pink, but odorless rose (or one that smells like damp newspaper) really beautiful?

I grow my own flowers and I have been dabbling in seed germination, soils, hybridisation and grafting and have worked with beautifully scented flower species including Lily of the Valley and Stargazer Lily as well as Jasmine. A positive scent gives one pleasure because the brain has nerves that are stimulated by scent and when it reaches that area of the brain the information networks into the amygdala and so one feels emotional; we like that feeling and so we want more. So, it is actually pleasure that is beautiful. However, I have a specific fondness for peonies not just because of the smell and the pastel pink colour that I love, but because of the memories and other relational aspects that connect me to them, so it transcends merely evoluntary or instinctual reactions and it objectifies a reflection of who I am. This 'beauty' is therefore eternal, a forever bond. Love that is genuine is also beautiful for this reason.

I own expensive perfumes and it took me quite a while to learn how to accurately place the right amount of perfume on me just as much as it took me practice to find the right perfume for me; when I used to put perfume on a while ago, people would always compliment my 'perfume' but that actually shows that I had too much on. I now have enough on to make people think I smell nice but all on my own, that it is me. It evokes pleasure and draws people closer, but it is temporary; to admire who I am, the values that I hold, the things that I do, they are important and not my smell or appearance.
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A positive scent gives one pleasure because the brain has nerves that are stimulated by scent and when it reaches that area of the brain the information networks into the amygdala and so one feels emotional

Scent and memory and often linked tightly together because of the way the nasal nerves connect into the brain--and ancient evolution plays a role in that. An odor can summon very specific memories, and visa versa. I can't think of any "fear/scent" combos, but a lot of scents (even noxious odors like carbon tetrachloride) summons very specific scenes -- like cleaning playback and recording heads on tape machines.

Individuals do have specific scents without perfume, made up of chemicals in sweat, affected by diet, affected by flora and fauna on the skin, how often they change clothes, whether they smoke or not (and what). Some people's bodies have a very pleasant scent, others not -- and it's not because of hygiene or disease, or any of that. They just do or they don't.
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Socrates by all reports was an ugly man. Alcibiades described him as a little bearded man, (a sileni ...drunken old man with the legs and ears of a horse). He also compared Socrates'speech to the ill fated musical satyr Marsyas, whose beautiful musical notes got him killed.

The ugly is the necessary precondition for the possibility of the beautiful. Whether by nature or man, base materials (ugly as such) are formed by chance or purpose into something we experience as beautiful.
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I've probably talked about beauty more than any other topic on the forum.

Is this beautiful?

Is this beautiful?

Is this beautiful?

I challenge anyone to listen, fully, without distraction or interruption, to the full 20 or so minutes of music I just posted, before responding.
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Why are you asking? I like them, but I do not think they are beautiful.

I heard this when young and it changed my musical life. I was the only one at school who listened to rock and I felt intimately connected to them for a long while. Is it the nostalgia that's beautiful?

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I challenge anyone to listen, fully, without distraction or interruption, to the full 20 or so minutes of music I just posted, before responding.
Strange selection of music you linked. Of the three I only like Meshuggah.

Is it the nostalgia that's beautiful?
Must be, as there's not a lot of musicality going on in the song you linked.
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So beauty no longer exists just in the eye of the beholder then, so these pictures prove substantively and beyond any reasonable doubt that beauty has an independent existence? Surely, they are just pictures, nothing to do with philosophy whatsoever.

Seems to me like everyone is making this more complicated than it needs to be. I'd never thought about it much until I started the Beautiful Things discussion. While posting things, I finally felt what beauty is to me. It's emotional, intellectual, perceptual, physical.

@celebritydiscodave asks whether beauty has an independent existence. Well, I think the answer is "sort of." Probably no particular thing is universally beautiful. The things I consider beautiful are personal. On the other hand, I found many of the things others posted beautiful also. Even those I didn't personally find beautiful, I could understand why they would. It's pretty clear that what we think is beautiful is influenced by our culture, experience, and personal characteristics. What I think is probably universal is the capacity and drive to find things beautiful. I think it's a fundamental part of human nature. I can't see why that isn't an appropriate subject for philosophy.
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Well, I think the answer is "sort of." Probably no particular thing is universally beautiful. The things I consider beautiful are personal.

You can see something physical at the heart of aesthetic judgements - natural properties like symmetry, balance, and economy of effort. So there are objective properties that appeal.

I would guess that is because our brains evolved to be pattern recognisers. We need to zero in on what is the most general condition of our world so as to appreciate what is then the particular or often, the wrong, the blemished, the marred, the imperfect.

I would add straight away that the brain also evolved to make good mate choices, to find good food, etc. So that would also play into our aesthetic responses.

But we can see a circle or square as beautiful in being highly symmetric. Or more naturally, our eye is drawn to geometries that speak to perfectly balanced growth and elaboration.

So why is the golden rectangle perhaps more appealing than the ultra-simplicity of a square. Is it because the eye can see the universal growth ratio inherent in it?

And why the appeal of mountains, surf, trees? Again what we likely appreciate is the perfect balance represented by fractal self-similiarity - a scale symmetry.

That's not the whole story of aesthetic judgements, but it seems the most objective part of our evolved responses. We have an eye for natural perfection as that then is what allows us to see its imperfections. The imperfect perceptually pops-out once we have a baseline ability to recognise the perfectly freely growing or elaborating complexity that defines a natural balance.

Then there is a more subjective slant on the same general neurocognitive imperative - to make the world easy to read at a glance.

We like compositions that are balanced in their familiarity and surprise. Again, it is about the Gestalt need to balance figure with ground, event with context, so that the world is felt to be intelligible and yet not dull. We want a work of art to reward us both in being deeply familiar and deeply unfamiliar. And the ratio might be that of the golden rectangle or logarithmic growth. So a spicy dash of surprise at every level while also a healthy base of confirmation of what we reasonably expect.

It is not hard to see how this applies in all aesthetic ventures from an oil painting, to music, to great cooking or a nicely furnished room. There is some ratio of the familiar to the surprising that meets the subjective preferences of a mind that wants to be able to safely predict its world and yet still be always learning, or steadily growing and expanding its range of experience itself.

So aesthetics could be explained ecologically by the needs of our brain to see through to the essential baseline structure of the world. The world is objectively what it is due to the nature of growth as a "mathematical" process itself. And then subjectively - to be good at building a model of the world - we need a psychological architecture that is also based on open-ended growth. That is how we can develop a good fit. We seek to find a good balance between habit and attention, between familiarity and surprise, in every moment.

So every aesthetic object or image should "test" our responses in that fashion. They should contain a brain-suitable balance of predictability and surprisal. There will be a ratio of the two that feels the most informational or meaningful.

Phi, or the golden ratio - 1.618... - could be the right number. Here is someone who suggests that: https://plus.maths.org/content/golden-ratio-and-aesthetics

There's a ton of psychological studies on preferences for complex stimuli, but I can't recall there being some magic number being identified. You tend to get general comments about a U curve, but not some special value.

The relationship between the complexity of a stimulus and its perceived beauty has been a topic of great interest with influential studies since the earlier experimental investigations of aesthetics. For instance, Berlyne showed that complexity is a dominant determinant of interestingness and pleasingness of a stimulus (Berlyne, 1963; Berlyne et al., 1968). Berlyne (1971) suggested that the relationship between complexity and pleasingness could be explained by an inverted U-curve, where the stimuli with intermediate levels of complexity are the most preferable ones. This concept of an optimal amount of stimulus complexity has been supported by numerous studies that found an inverted U-curve when characterizing aesthetic preference as a function of complexity (Vitz, 1966; Berlyne, 1971; Saklofske, 1975; Farley and Weinstock, 1980; Imamoglu, 2000).

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4796011/

This is probably because it is hard to get people exactly matched in their life experiences. We all might have a similar brain design, but also would all find somewhat different things surprising or familiar.

Plus the world itself is varied as an environment. All of nature might be fractal in its growth, but the slope of that line can be very different. A flat sea and a mountainous sea are both fractal, yet also at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of beautiful monotony and spectacular excitement.
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You can see something physical at the heart of aesthetic judgements
yes, matter, the constituents of pigments, words, notes, et al.

natural properties like symmetry, balance, and economy of effort. So there are objective properties that appeal.

These are properties of form, not matter.

I agree that surprise has a lot to do with it, but we still have a very Platonic/Greek, the classical conception of beauty. This classical conception is changing. The history of art in the 20th Century suggests that artists were reassessing what it meant to be beautiful. The surprising works of Du Champ, Kandinsky, Picasso, Pollock and others have begun to change that conception. The problem with the classical conception of beauty (I think) lies is its connection to a conception of the divine which became prevalent during the Renaissance and has remained so.

Look at Lucian Freud's works. Many of his works are hyper-realistic. It was not unusual for him to spend 1500 hours on a portrait. They are not beautiful in any classical sense, but they are beautiful. He managed to use hyper-realism to transcend what is simply realistic. The beauty and the truth of his work startles you, its aesthetic affect as it transcends our normal sense of what is real.

Or look a Pollock's splatter paintings...matter is here overtly presented with the artist allowing form to arise from the juncture of the pigments on the surface of the canvas, and not by any thought of fractals or symmetry. Kandinsky takes subjective feelings and presents them corporeally. Even Picasso's who changed styles multiple times, can hardly be said to have followed a classical notion of beauty for many of his works.

I think similar notions hold true in music, such as the a-tonality of Schoenberg, the sounds & lack of sounds of John Cage and others.
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These are properties of form, not matter.

So there is matter without form?

And do we go to galleries to look at the wonderful pigments, go to concerts to hear the splendid notes? That sounds wrong, doesn't it.

I agree that surprise has a lot to do with it, but we still have a very Platonic/Greek, the classical conception of beauty.

Yeah. There was a reason why the celebration of the ideal was a Greek thing. It was a huge surprise.

It was only with the Romantic movement that "wild nature" - the thunderous sky, the treacherous sea, the dangerous mountains - became celebrated for its fractal vigour.

So what part of nature a culture celebrates does change as it becomes accustomed to its past surprises.

The surprising works of Du Champ, Kandinsky, Picasso, Pollock and others have begun to change that conception. The problem with the classical conception of beauty (I think) lies is its connection to a conception of the divine which became prevalent during the Renaissance and has remained so.

I agree. Art became about the human individual. It started as mythic, then it became symbolic of social hierarchy - the church, the Medici, the upper class - and finally it becomes the celebration of essential humanity. The most modern of our mythologies.

But this is to talk about the social purpose of art. The question was about there being some objective basis to our aesthetic reactions. Why is DuChamp's urinal beautiful? Is that because of its social commentary or because it expresses some deep mathematical form of nature?

I don't think that one is an example of the latter.

So I'm not saying the issue is not more complex.

Look at Lucian Freud's works. Many of his works are hyper-realistic. It was not unusual for him to spend 1500 hours on a portrait. They are not beautiful in any classical sense, but they are beautiful. He managed to use hyper-realism to transcend what is simply realistic. The beauty and the truth of his work startles you, its aesthetic affect as it transcends our normal sense of what is real.

Or look a Pollock's splatter paintings...matter is here overtly presented with the artist allowing form to arise from the juncture of the pigments on the surface of the canvas, and not by any thought of fractals or symmetry. Kandinsky takes subjective feelings and presents them corporeally. Even Picasso's who changed styles multiple times, can hardly be said to have followed a classical notion of beauty for many of his works.

I think similar notions hold true in music, such as the a-tonality of Schoenberg, the sounds & lack of sounds of John Cage and others.

Again, I was talking about the objective basis of an aesthetic response. There are reasons why brains would be sensitised to symmetry, economy of effort and balance. It feels rewarding to spot that as it is a useful thing to be able to see.

Now you could argue that Pollock is an example of fractal complexity and dynamism. If it has an actual visual appeal, that is it. What else could there be?

But the aesthetic response is really something else - that delightful feeling of social transgression which affirms the essential genius of the individual. So as I say, it is social iconography. The aesthetics of cultural snobbery if we are honest. We can feel the pleasure of being part of the club that gets the attitude.

So there is an aesthetic response - a buzz of dopamine in some secret compartment of the brain. :)

But that now reflects the extent to which we have evolved to be social creatures. We are evolved to seek intelligibility in a social world as well as a physical one.

So the same system of rewards for decoding the natural structure of our worlds. But not now aimed at the simple mathematical forms that underly the material world. Instead, aimed at the subtle geography of our social hierarchies, and our supposed place within them.
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So there is matter without form?

The creative process consists of taking matter and forming it. I don't agree that this is only about social purpose to art, which is important in that it negatively drives artists to explore the unusual, the new. I think art's history and progress feeds on its own concepts and it moves beyond them, it is stylistically directed by them, to form new conceptions. The reasons why this is so may or may not be related to what is happening in culture. Art's flexibility allows for new mediums which require new kinds of art works and new narratives, but there is still room in the art world for anachronisms re-imagined such as Picasso's Guernica which is is a history painting, or the ability of some classical works to reach across the generations and still aesthetically move us such as a Grecian vase or statue.

I don't disagree that pleasure is associated with the aesthetic effect, Kant takes that up in his Third Critique. He thought that what is beautiful is pleasurable, but what I think what the art world is finding is that reality can rendered beautiful, regardless of whether or not it is pleasurable, that the aesthetic effect can also be painful.
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The creative process consists of taking matter and forming it.

I don't think so. It is primarily about making ideas manifest. Matter doesn't actually need to be involved.

What matter does poetry depend on?

I don't agree that this is only about social purpose to art, which is important in that it negatively drives artists to explore the unusual, the new.

How is that not a social purpose? Whenever has a great artist not been judged as such within a social context?

He thought that what is beautiful is pleasurable, but what I think what the art world is finding is that reality can rendered beautiful, regardless of whether or not it is pleasurable, that the aesthetic effect can also be painful.

So modern art has discovered the pleasures of masochism? :)

As I say, neurobiologically we can see the connection between our reward system and the discovery of a satisfying match.

Our brain goes aha! It secretes a little squirt of dopamine. It says the connections we have just made are valuable and worth remembering, worth turning into a habit.

As I said, my response was targeted at an objective reason for such an "aesthetic" response. What are we recognising when we recognise beauty in the world?

When it comes to masochism, what is being recognised there? Is it the deserved rightness of the humiliation? Does that fit the masochist's rather particular model of the world?

Whatever, a challenging work of art is not really aiming to be a beautiful work of art in the terms of being a beautiful material form of some kind - a physical image, or shape, or sound. It is aiming at being - challenging. And that too can elicit neurobiological reward, especially when the challenge is mastered and used as evidence of our being part of some valued social clique. It is a sign we have joined the club.

But also, as I argued, challenge just is rewarding in its own right. The brain is evolved to master challenge in a general fashion. And feel good when it does.

It's complicated, but not impossible to understand.
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I don't think so. It is primarily about making ideas manifest. Matter doesn't actually need to be involved.

Perhaps for conceptual art, but even here it is a stretch. Sure the artist has an idea, but that idea must be made into something, otherwise it is not a work or art.

Poetry relies on the infinite range of language, finding just the right words. Words their history, their root, their sound, all these and more comprise the matter of poetry.

So modern art has discovered the pleasures of masochism?

Nope, art has found that reality, without the glam can beautiful in its own way, even if that way is aesthetically something the observer might rather not view...this is really not new, but the way it is presented is new. Take a look at Francis Bacon's works.

It's complicated, but not impossible to understand.
:-O
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Men can be beautiful too

Of course men can be beautiful. Men, women, young, old, thin, fat, healthy, sick, rich, poor, black, white, red, yellow -- all can be, but not everyone is. What is the difference between being beautiful and being not beautiful, and more explicitly, being homely, ugly?

Some of this is taste, of course. De gustibus non disputandum est, and all that. But it seems to me there are certain requirements for someone to be recognized as beautiful or handsome (by strangers: lovers, best friends, fathers, and mothers are all too biased).

1. Proportion: a pleasing midrange balance in height, weight, musculature;
2. Fair degree of facial symmetry: No one is perfectly symmetrical
3. Physical grace
4. Generous endowment of hair on head, or clear balding (no hair) rather than patchy hair
5. Clear exposed skin: relatively free of scars, infection, birth marks, moles, keratoses, sores, etc.
6. If clothed, wearing flattering garb

Others?

The meat and potatoes of a life is what one accomplishes, what one attempts, how one behaves. Beauty is gravy, and without accomplishments is just nice to have around. It isn't "important". That said, in reality people who are beautiful tend to get more breaks.

Rosa Parks is beautiful because she represents something more than just this fleeting appearance, but that honour, courage, compassion elevate her to something more than just our desires, to something eternal.

We should not confuse "distinguished accomplishments" with "beauty". Rosa Parks had a distinguished career as a civil rights worker, capped by her act of claiming a seat at the front of a bus in the segregated south. She was prepared and she was courageous. Whether she was "beautiful" is irrelevant to her accomplishments.

Question: Can an obese person be "beautiful"? ("Obesity" generally means grossly fat, not just a little over-weight.) 40 to 60 extra pounds generally lands one in or close to obese territory. It'd be very unusual for the average person to carry 50 extra pounds so well distributed that there wouldn't be rolls and bagging, which is generally not considered lovely. Rubenesque is luscious and voluptuous. Obese is just lard-assesque.
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I think this is the point, about whether this 'striking' feeling enables something to be beautiful or whether you are merely projecting your instinctual desires to something fleeting.

Hmm, not sure I would agree that the feminine beauty I refer to is 'fleeting', that's part of why I didn't refer to the pictures of the women I posted as simply beautiful, but more as so-beautiful-as-to-be-almost-surreal. Kristen Kreuk isn't just beautiful, she re/defined what feminine beauty means to me. Same thing for Stephanie Corneliussen. Beauty of form is not fleeting, the world is truly richer thank to the manifestation of such perfection of form. Their beauty is not metaphorical, it is not something that leads me to regret not having a chance to mate with them, it's not a wish that my gf would look like them. It's just that some rare women causes me to experience something such as emotional pain, but more diffuse, and it is only intuitively evident for me to say that this is an experience of beauty.

Rosa Parks is beautiful because she represents something more than just this fleeting appearance, but that honour, courage, compassion elevate her to something more than just our desires, to something eternal.

I would not deny this, but this is only true thanks to contextual information about Rosa Parks. Someone who did not know of her accomplishments would not be wrong in saying that she is not a women of great beauty of form. But once informed, I doubt this wouldn't influence their vision ; kindness of spirit is the one universal law and a great source of beauty.
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Beauty of form is not fleeting, the world is truly richer thank to the manifestation of such perfection of form.

A couple of months ago, I walked into a hairdressing salon I had never been to before and when I walked in - to my everlasting dismay - almost everyone in there looked like the Kardashians. They had their eyebrows drawn, fake eyelashes, thick layer of make-up, they were all the same apart from parts of their appearance like their hair-colour, all the while spending hundreds upon hundreds on make-up and clothing trying to apparently pull of this "fashionable" (when they look like clowns). They even mimic behaviour where they present themselves as having pleasant manners but all they were doing was copying; they was no real substance to them. I find this behaviour to be pathological.

I then question why men find that beautiful. Or do people identify 'beauty' to what the masses consider most 'popular' and that they love what everyone else loves because they want to be like everyone else? Think of the biblical reference to Jezebel, who presents herself as a good woman and by doing so influences people to practice the wrong things; she controls a King who as a man clearly has no subjective power and merely follows and the problem here is that people who tolerate such behaviour become complicit to it, like the bystander who watches others do wrong and does nothing.

I question your motivation. It is not that Kristen Kruek is ugly, it has nothing to do with her, my concern relates to this so-called manifestation of perfection. Compared to what? This is the same with men who are subject to masculine ideals of physical strength and other behavioural attributes that subject them to contrast themselves with an archetype, before taking steroids and acting all macho all the while abandoning who 'they' are.
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Question: Can an obese person be "beautiful"? ("Obesity" generally means grossly fat, not just a little over-weight.) 40 to 60 extra pounds generally lands one in or close to obese territory. It'd be very unusual for the average person to carry 50 extra pounds so well distributed that there wouldn't be rolls and bagging, which is generally not considered lovely. Rubenesque is luscious and voluptuous. Obese is just lard-assesque.

I thought about this. A person who has mental health problems does not know how to properly take care of themselves, they lack hygeine, they are obese or underweight, they smoke or drink or take drugs, their material belongings and physical body represent the state of their mind and that is what is considered either ugly or lovely. You can feel the same displeasure - despite being sympathetic - to those who have other mental health issues and why happiness and peace in others is pleasurable.

I eat really well (aside from all the damn apples), I exercise regularly, and my body mass index is in the healthy weight range. I do not smoke, drink and have never taken any drugs. I like to dress well too. I am athletic and feminine. What that shows or represents is the state of my mental health; beauty is irrelevant here, it is simply what is attractive or pleasurable.
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