History of Beauty

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Historically, there was a close link between what is "beautiful" and what is "good". We tend to desire what we label as good. For example, even when we consider a virtuous deed to be good, we would like to have done it ourselves. However, we could also view something as good, but without the desire to do the same out of egoism or fear. These virtuous deeds may come with great costs and sacrifices, so we prefer to look on with a certain detachment. When we choose to admire rather than perform, we talk of doing a "beautiful" thing. Our detached attitude then allows us to talk of Beauty as something we enjoy for what it is, regardless of whether we possess it. Hence, the object of interest is beautiful no matter who it belongs to. This of course would not be the same as an art collector who only valued the arts for the pride he/she gets from ownership or for their economic value. The distinction between desire and beauty is seen in the example of a thirsty person who, having found a spring, rushes to drink. Here, he/she is drive by desire not beauty. We can also regard human beings as beautiful creatures even though we may not desire them sexually. Beauty has also historically been intertwined with Art. In many historical contexts, nature possessed beauty. Thus, the role of art was to portray nature beautifully. This led to a separation between what is considered Arts and Fine Arts. Painting, sculpting, and architecture assumed the title of Fine Arts with great potential for "beauty".

The development of Greek art took shape during the age of Pericles. Unlike Egyptian art which regulates their subjects to abstract, rigid canons, the Greeks employed a method that was based on common sense. It was an equilibrium between the realistic representation of Beauty and the specific canon rules. Greek painters and sculptors invented foreshortening and adapted the construction of their piece to the viewpoint of the observer. They developed an ideal Beauty by synthesizing a...
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