Substance vs Surface

Topics: Green, Person, Woman Pages: 5 (1761 words) Published: October 21, 2007
Aesthetics is the study of the mind and emotions in relation to the sense of beauty. This philosophy is very well explained in Virginia Postrel¡¯s essay, ¡°Surface and Substance¡±. In the essay, Postrel challenges the separation of surface and substance with examples of acts of consumptions, which she describes as an engagement with beauty. There are many reasons that drive people towards consumptions. It is important to be socially accepted, even if it requires changing the way one looks. Some might turn to consumptions, and buy nicer or more expensive clothes just to feel fit in. Trend is another reason people have to turn to consumptions. Manufacturers limit the freedom for an individual to choose things that can express himself. It is because they only make products that serve as an aesthetic pleasure for consumers. This also causes competitions among consumers, which also affect the way people feel about consumptions. Competitions make people turn to fancier clothes or better technology just to stand out from the crowd. Although Postrel suggests that the two are related, there are other factors involved that show surface and substance should be separated. Even though other may judge the substance by the surface, the surface does not define the substance. Many tend to judge things only based on their surface, but everyone define the same surface differently. Therefore, the judgments are different according to each person¡¯s opinion. Consumption is only a result of social acceptance, trend and competition; therefore, it limits the possibilities for individuals to express themselves. The need to get social acceptance can drive an individual toward aesthetic materials. Postrel states in her essay, ¡°We judge people, places, and things at least on part by how they look¡± (425). People in this modern society tend to judge others by their appearances, even though they do not necessarily represent their identities. It is important for an individual to feel socially accepted even if it requires changing the way he or she looks. Women wear make up to feel more confident about themselves, although many have criticized this as ¡°taking the pencil out of God¡¯s hand¡± (Postrel, 424). Some even turns to cosmetic surgery to gain acceptance from others. To Postrel, ¡°We¡¯re conviced that style does matter, that look and feel add something important to our lives. We ignore the preachers and behave as if aesthetics does have real value. We cherish streamlined artifacts, unconcerned that they don¡¯t not really move through space. We find spiritual uplift in pageantry and music. We prefer PowerPoint typefaces and color to plain, handwritten transparencies. We define our real selves as the ones wearing make up and high heels.¡± (425).

Postrel suggests that people dress a certain way to define who they are. However, many people dress a certain way because they feel pressured. They feel that a certain style will help them feel fit in with everyone because they feel like they are being judged by others base on their surfaces. Postrel agrees, ¡°We worry that other people will judge us by our flawed appearances, rather than our best selves.¡±(425). Everyone who has been through high school understands that fashion plays an important role in deciding whether or not you are ¡°in¡±. Many dress the way they do, because of this pressure to get acceptance from others. The appearance of the individual does not associate with the identity of the person. However, others will often judge the under pressured individual by its fashion, which limits the chance for the individual to express himself. The surface can also be misinterpreted, however, by others. If one enjoys shopping in Armani, others may assume that this individual is only trying to fit in. However, she can be shopping in Armani only because she likes the material they use for their clothes. Even if one attempts to express himself through consumptions,...
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