Concept of Beauty According to the Western Philosophers

Topics: Aesthetics, Immanuel Kant, Art Pages: 13 (4691 words) Published: November 2, 2008
Concept of Beauty
according to the Western Philosophers

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty. That is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know” John Keats

Beauty is an emotional element, a pleasure of ours, which nevertheless we regard as a quality of thing. The ideas of beauty is found in almost every culture and at almost every time in human history, with many similarities. Beauty was and still is a term of great esteem linking human beings and nature with artistic practices and works since the early civilizations. From the early cultures, beauty, goodness and truth are customarily related. Beauty here carries a double meaning, inclusive and exclusive. In the inclusive sense, beauty pertains to anything worthy of approbation, to human virtues and characters, to nobility and goodness, to hidden things and truth, to the natural and divine worlds. In the exclusive, restricted sense, it pertains to how things appear, their manifestations, and to the joys human beings experience when presented with beautiful things, human bodies, artifacts, natural creatures and things. When we talk about the beauty in works of art, we are talking about this latter beauty, and experiencing this beauty refers to the aesthetic experience. Such beauty is the higher degree of it and the experience of it last in us beyond the time and space. The nature of beauty and its role in philosophy and aesthetics was explained from the early periods and its evolution as described by the philosophers and writers as follows:

( 428 or 427 - 348 or 347 B.C )
Plato had a love-hate relationship with the arts. He must have had some love for the arts, because he talks about them often, and his remarks show that he paid close attention to what he saw and heard. He was also a fine literary stylist and a great story-teller; in fact he is said to have been a poet before he encountered Socrates and became a philosopher. Some of his dialogues are real literary masterpieces. On the other hand, he found the arts threatening. He proposed sending the poets and playwrights out of his ideal Republic, or at least censoring what they wrote; and he wanted music and painting severely censored. The arts, he thought, are powerful shapers of character. Thus, to train and protect ideal citizens for an ideal society, the arts must be strictly controlled. Plato had two theories of art. One may be found in his dialogue The Republic, and seems to be the theory that Plato himself believed. According to this theory, since art imitates physical things, which in turn imitate the Forms, art is always a copy of a copy, and leads us even further from truth and toward illusion. For this reason, as well as because of its power to stir the emotions, art is dangerous. Plato's other theory is hinted at in his shorter dialogue Ion, and in his exquisitely crafted Symposium. According to this theory the artist, perhaps by divine inspiration, makes a better copy of the True than may be found in ordinary experience. Thus the artist is a kind of prophet. Here are some features of the two theories: 1. Art is imitation

This is a feature of both of Plato's theories. Of course he was not the first or the last person to think that art imitates reality. The idea was still very strong in the Renaissance, when most people thought that a picture must be a picture of something, and that an artist is someone who can make a picture that "looks just like the real thing". It wasn't until late in the nineteenth century that the idea of art as imitation began to fade from western aesthetics, to be replaced by theories about art as expression, art as communication, art as pure form, art as whatever elicits an "aesthetic" response, and a number of other theories. So art is imitation. But what does it imitate? In the Republic, Plato says that art imitates the objects and events of ordinary life. In other words, a work of art is a copy of a copy of a Form. It is even more of an illusion than is...
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