• Ilya B Shambat
    The Greeks extolled beauty as an ideal, and any number of others today dismiss it under the claim that it is only taste-dependent, culturally relative or “in the eye of the beholder.” Both are part-right and part-wrong.

    Judith Langlois, an American scientist, ran an experiment that showed that people cross-culturally will all regard a face with a certain set of proportions as being beautiful. Another experiment showed 500 faces to 20,000 participants resulting in every face being picked as the most beautiful at least once. The first shows the existence of absolute beauty; the second shows the existence of relative beauty.

    Both studies validate the correct claims on each side while invalidating the wrong ones. The existence of absolute beauty shows that the artistic search for truth in beauty is a valid one and invalidates the abuse by feminists against women who are physically attractive. The existence of relative beauty shows that there is someone for everyone and invalidates the abuse by bad parents and stupid teenagers against those they regard as being unattractive.

    I had a girlfriend whose neighbors never saw her as being attractive, but many others did. I had another girlfriend whom everyone saw as beautiful. In the first case we see relative beauty; in the second case we see absolute beauty.

    There is nothing at all incompatible between the two.

    Many artists are known as being arrogant; and while some are in no way do they begin to own arrogance. When you are in a field that is not appreciated, as opposed to a field that is appreciated, sometimes you have to blow your horn. This may be regarded as egotistical, even narcissistic; but the process demands it.

    When I was writing on the Internet in favor of beauty, people accused me of thinking with my penis. That is completely not the case. I have no sexual attraction to my female relatives; but all of them are very beautiful. Appreciation is not the same thing as lust. For that matter I can also appreciate the build of a man with a good physique, but I am not a homosexual.

    Stating that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” or anything along the same lines is like saying that it does not exist. In fact, true beauty takes talent and effort to produce and deserves respect. There is nothing “in the eye” about Sistine Chapel, Burmese stupas or the works of Monet. All these are amazing accomplishments. They deserve respect.

    I see no reason at all why the Renaissance Italy, with 3 million people and per capita GDP of $1500 a year, would have better art than America, with 300 million people and per capita GDP of $45,000 a year. We should have 300 Sistine Chapels. American people are in no way less talented than the Italians. The problem is one of values. If you do not value beauty, you will not create a demand for beauty, and most artists will either go starving or have to do something else.

    What we do see in many people who regard beauty as solely being relative is self-refuting behavior. They claim that beauty is relative; then they attack women who are beautiful and do not attack women who are not. This shows that they, like everyone else, know what beauty is and what it isn't; and their claims are therefore refuted by their own behavior.

    When beauty is under attack, anything that either possesses beauty or loves beauty will be in one or another bind. This reinforces the slander that something is wrong with beauty. The real reason is that these people are under attack. When women or blacks are oppressed, they do not accomplish very much, which then reinforces the slander that women or blacks are inferior. When beauty is oppressed, it will be found in all sorts of bad ways, which then will reinforce the slander that something is wrong with beauty.

    Beauty is innocent of its abuses by stupid teenagers and unscrupulous plastic surgeons. It existed long before they existed; it will continue existing after they are gone. That something can be used for wrong does not mean that it is a bad thing. Anything that has appeal to people will have someone wanting to use it for wrong. That is as much the case with intelligence, money or patriotism as it is with beauty.

    Then there is the case that valuing beauty destroys women's self-esteem. This is completely an invalid claim. That some students get D's does not mean that nobody can get A's. That some people are poor does not mean that nobody can be wealthy. Different people will be endowed differently, and they will go to different lengths to develop or not develop their gifts. In no way is such a thing limited to beauty.

    The women who are regarded as unattractive by bad parents or stupid school cultures can take heart. If every face in an experiment gets picked as the most beautiful at least once, then someone will find even them beautiful. They have no business however at all attacking women who are more good-looking than they are. It is valid to look outside bad cultures that treat the person like dirt. It is wrong to attack beauty.

    Once again, there is absolute beauty and relative beauty. Search for truth or goodness in beauty is valid; so is search outside of the place that treats you like dirt for people who would appreciate you. Take what is right with each side and discard what is wrong with them. Value beauty for what it is. And if someone does not value you as being beautiful, look for someone who would.
  • Shawn
    I read a book a long time ago where the author tried to model beauty in mathematical terms. He or she used symbols like the circle, pentagon, and the swastika as his or her samples in the attempt. The swastika ended up being a poor candidate for something which some might call beautiful. Moral of the story is that what is beautiful really depends on many factors that are not intrinsic of/towards the object itself. It's rather consensus driven.
  • Grre
    Beauty is relative-and by relative, I mean value laden; culturally, individually (for example I find nature paintings very beautiful because it reminds me of my childhood up North), and yes; to some extent "absolute". But you should be careful when it comes to unchanging claims about what is beautiful and what is art. Many would argue that art is not always beautiful, and when discussing architecture, beauty too depends on practical uses and cultural values-for example stained glass windows are often (historically) seen as beautiful, but modern times (myself included) finds such adornments repulsive.

    I am no expert in aestetics but you included feminism in your title so I thought I'd point out a good read on the topic of beauty and cultural uses-The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf.
  • Bitter Crank

    The apprehension of beauty is not universal (everyone will not agree on what is beautiful) but it is sufficiently shared among people that, were we voting, the world would elect the same objects to the Beauty Hall of Fame by wide margins.

    The Myron's Discobolus is a Greek classical bronze sculpture (450g BC) has been admired for a long time and has been reproduced many times in bronze and marble. The sculptor captured the discus thrower's motion and focus, in itself an important aspect of the work's beauty. The form of the male athlete is also beautiful, and beautifully captured.


    This photo of a world record discus throw probably would not make it into the Beauty Hall of Fame. Why not? It's not a sculpture, it's not a work of art, of course. It's a document. But the main thing about the real discus thrower in the photo is that he is too "particular", "specific". It was that athlete, that throw (as it happened, a world record). The Myron Discobolus is "universal" -- representing not one particular toss, but the athleticism and beauty of discus throwing.

    The Greeks held the body--both male and female--mortal and deity--as inherently beautiful. They had in mind an idealized, beautiful form, body; the Greeks didn't do roly poly adults.

    By the way, @Ilya B Shambat, beauty is beauty. "Absolute beauty" isn't better. Beauty doesn't exist apart from the physical world, some "essence" or "absolute" quality.
  • ZhouBoTong
    I see no reason at all why the Renaissance Italy, with 3 million people and per capita GDP of $1500 a year, would have better art than America, with 300 million people and per capita GDP of $45,000 a year. We should have 300 Sistine Chapels.Ilya B Shambat

    I think we do. You might be looking in the wrong place. What about Godfather 1 & 2 (not so much for part 3)? The Sting? Seinfeld? Tupac? B.B. King? Oingo Boingo? The Usual Suspects? Mark Twain? The Avengers? Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia? The Shawshank Redemption? Star Wars? Dodgeball? And of course, everyone's favorite, Transformers :grin:

    Our artistic efforts are going into movies, music, and tv because that is the type of art people like these days..
  • Terrapin Station
    There are always so many problems to address in these long posts . . . so just one thing at a time.

    Judith Langlois, an American scientist, ran an experiment that showed that people cross-culturally will all regard a face with a certain set of proportions as being beautiful.Ilya B Shambat

    This fact would in no way contradict that beauty is a matter of taste or that it's in "the eye of the beholder."
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