The Beauty Problem: What Is Beautiful?

The Beauty Problem: What Is Beautiful?

June 29, 2021 Off By Felso

Everyone has a situation, event and object in which they use their beautiful judgment. But “What is beautiful?” The question is not a subject that everyone can reach a common answer. The diversity in the answers to the question of what is beautiful has enabled the subject of beauty to be handled as a philosophical problem. Beautiful, as a philosophical subject, is handled within the value field of philosophy.

The concept of beautiful is related to human tastes. Although the effects of a favorite painting or a nature scene on people differ, the judgment of “beautiful” can be used in both cases. Apart from these two situations, an object for a practical need can also be described as beautiful.

The discipline of philosophy that deals with beauty is called aesthetics. Aesthetic; It includes questions such as what beauty is, what criteria the judgment of beauty is based on, whether there can be common aesthetic judgments. Aesthetics deals with beauty in every sense. In this respect, it aims to explain the beauty in nature and art.

The beautiful is one of the main concepts of the philosophy of art.

Although there are different views on “beautiful”, there are also some agreed criteria. Beautiful is used for a person, object, thought or artistic work. that something is beautiful; it shows that it meets the criteria such as creating pleasant feelings, giving pleasure, arousing excitement and being moderate. These criteria can vary from person to person, culture to culture. This idea claims that people cannot form a common aesthetic value judgment. There are also opinions that argue that there are common aesthetic judgments against this point of view and that the qualities of beauty will not change from person to person.

Although the subject of beauty in art is in the field of aesthetics, the part of aesthetics covering art is called philosophy of art. The judgments of beauty shaped through the work of art are often based on the taste of people. This view, which emerges from the understanding that aesthetic judgments are individual, considers beauty as an interpretation. The effect that the artistic product arouses in people is not only a holistic interpretation, but also a piece-oriented one. For example, if a person does not like the lyrics of the song they listen to, they may like the music, or they may evaluate a movie as good in terms of acting even if they do not find it good in terms of its subject matter.

The beauty in art carries the traces of the current era. The mentality of each period determines its own criteria of beauty and taste. However, artistic taste has an aspect that transcends ages and periods. A painting or a play can create interest and admiration in different eras.


There are two different views on aesthetic values ​​that reveal beauty in art. The first of these is the subjectivist view. According to this view, aesthetic values ​​and beautiful judgment vary according to the person who turns to the artistic product. The defining measure of art is not the artistic product itself. According to this view, a work of art in itself does not have an aesthetic value. The tastes of the receiver (the aesthetic subject who watches and listens to art and turns to art and artistic product) are decisive. For example, classical music is beautiful to some, and it does not bring any pleasure to others.

The objectivist view is opposed to the subjectivist view. According to this view, artistic beauty is the property of the work of art. Although the receiver creates value judgments, the main criterion is the work itself. The works of art that are thought to be beyond their period are proof of this situation. For example, a movie that could not find a theater to be screened at the time it was shot, or reached very few audiences, was later accepted as artistically valuable.

The concept of beauty has been defined differently by each philosopher.

It was with Baumgarten (1714-1762) that the “beautiful” began to be questioned systematically for the first time in aesthetics. But the first philosophical inquiries about “beautiful” date back to the Antiquity.

Artists and philosophers first distinguished between beauty in nature and beauty in art in order to answer the question of what beauty is and what its source is.

Beauty in nature exists independently of the aesthetic subject (human). That is, given is beauty (objectivist view). For example, the sunrise and sunset over the sea is a beauty of nature. Beauty in art is a beauty that emerges as a result of human creativity. There can be no beauty without the aesthetic gaze of man. Because there is a need for a subject to like it (subjectivist view).

Philosophers have always defined beauty differently. What is beauty? The philosopher who addressed the question for the first time was Plato. According to Plato, beauty is the idea. Beings are beautiful to the extent that they share in the idea of ​​the beautiful. According to him, beauty is a value that does not change from person to person and from age to age. According to Aristotle, beauty is mathematically proportional and measured. According to Plotinus, beauty is the radiance of the “divine mind” in the universe. According to Kant, beauty is to enjoy without any self-interest. According to Schiller, beauty is the embodiment of the mind and senses. According to Hegel, beauty is the appearance of “Geist” in objects.

Compiled by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM