September 24, 2018

Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder, it is objective.

It is no particular secret that human beings enjoy looking at aesthetically pleasing things, whether it is art, nature, or just other people. Our eyes are drawn to beauty, to the pleasing colours, lines, and shapes of the world around us, which in turn play a substantial role in igniting in use a vast array of feelings. Yet, have you asked yourself: What is the moral obligation that aesthetics holds over us?

We look at things which are pleasing to our eyes regardless of what they may be, and for a second we realize that reality is there, and our eyes perceive it. Regardless of how your eyes try to perceive a particular painting for instance, or a particular person, you cannot change the reality of their aesthetics. Thus the moral necessity of aesthetics is to understand that they are what they are, and we cannot make them what we want them to be. The greatest lie that we have been told therefore is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Beauty is an universal aspect of life. A painting is aesthetically pleasing regardless of the fact that an individual says that it is not. A man or a woman is handsome/beautiful regardless of the opinions of other men or women. In fact the origins of this term stems out of a spree of paramount jealousy. When a man looks upon a painting by Caravaggio he knows the qualities and beauty of its design, but chooses to say that it is ugly because he himself cannot paint such beauty, or rather because he holds some personal distaste for other’s achievement. The same can be seen between people.

Who is it that says that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Is it not usually the man or woman who is jealous of the appearance of others, and needs to justify their feelings of insecurity by affirming that beauty is not an universal objective thing, but subjective to all men and women?

Every time a person says that “I do not care about looks”, is the time when they present you with an egregious lie. When your husband or wife has gained weight, although you love them immensely, would you rather not see them revert to their original youthful weight? When you go through a museum do you no want to leave the random boring paintings of pseudo-modernism and go straight to the classics, where aesthetics reigns supreme?

Beauty is an objective standard, yet how each man or woman chooses to perceive it although subjective is guided by emotional whims of inadequacy or repression. Why do people hate Renaissance and Baroque art? Because of its immense beauty, grandeur, and eloquence. It is the same mechanism by which people hate those that are physically attractive- jealousy and inadequacy. When one sees a model, the immediate mechanism that they use to protect their fragile egos is to say that “looks are not everything”, or “I am not attracted to them”. This is a lie. It is as if they reject those that are beautiful/handsome in the fear that they themselves might be rejected. The same concept is applied to art.

People call classicism pretentious, the same way that they call Cindy or Robert, the most beautiful people at the office, stuck up and arrogant, when most of the time that is not the case.

Beauty therefore is something that exists without your acknowledgement of it, it is not culturally defined. When you hear the old tale that in the 17th century, women were attracted to larger men because that meant they had status and money. Well, of course they were “attracted” to them as they wanted to eat, not because they found them aesthetically pleasing. Beauty is not some subjective interpretation of societal mores, but a simple biological reality. Today, fortunately, women can provide for themselves and do not need to rely on those “men of property”.

There is value in what is inside a painting, just as much as if there is something outside of it. Meaning that a Caravaggio that is beautiful, but has no symbolism, narrative or ideas is typically boring. One that has only ideas and narratives, but is simply ugly to look at is just as bad. What is then the best type of painting? One which employs both. The same can be said of human beings. The inside and outside count the same in the real world, and a rejection of that is to evade reality.