Beauty is often defined as a subjective quality of particular objects that generates these objects to be aesthetically pleasant to see. These objects can include sunsets, beautiful humans, landscapes and artistic works of art. Beauty, along with beauty and art, is perhaps the most significant topic of aesthetics, among the various branches of modern philosophy. Modern aesthetics largely concerns itself with how the aesthetic sense is to be perceived and experienced, in all its different guises and varieties.
The idea that there are different forms of beauty has become very much part of our culture. We see different beauty in objects ranging from the highly realistic, such as computer graphics and movie making, to the highly abstract, such as classical works. In a related way, we also see different forms of beauty in people ranging from the most perfect, like classical figures, to the most laughable, like dolls. In addition, we also see different levels of beauty in different types of objects. For example, while it is most commonly accepted that beauty comes in the form of human beauty, there have been recent debates about the existence of beauty in different types of animals.
The belief that beauty truly comes from the human form is both a creation and a critique of the aesthetic senses. On one hand, the desire for beauty in nature is an expression of aesthetic desires based on a desire to see beauty in different forms, such as a beautiful sunset on a remote mountain. On the other hand, some aestheticians argue that even the concept of beauty, while based on human beauty, needs to consider animal beauty as well, such as that created by a cat who uses its tail as a brush to groom itself. While both arguments are persuasive, beauty remains a subjective quality, not a universal feature of all types of human experience.
On the other side of the argument, those who believe that beauty truly comes from the object view argue that beauty exists in and with the given objects. In this theory, beauty exists in and with whatever it touches. This is the side of beauty that suggests that, given the right conditions, an object can create beauty in its own right. It may be that the right conditions exist, such as light or shade that enhances the object, or perhaps the presence of reflective surfaces such as water or mirrors that reflect light back into the object and thereby augment it.
This beauty-in-the-shape argument is a challenge to the idea that beauty truly comes from the shape of an object. Arguments against this view argue that objects are empty canvasses waiting to be filled with a particular kind of beauty. The question then turns to the question of how the aesthetic power of an object depends on its being aesthetically shaped rather than randomly selected.
These are some of the questions and answers about beauty. We may never know the answer to them, though they seem to play a part in the shaping of our ideas about beauty. When we look at nature we see beautiful shapes and animals. This does not mean that these forms are without meaning or that beauty truly comes from beauty. On the contrary, these natural forms do have a deeper meaning. They can tell us something about the relationship between human nature and the beauty of nature.