Beauty is commonly defined as a subjective aspect of objects which makes these objects enjoyable to perceive. Such objects may include beautiful sunsets, landscapes, humans and other works of artwork. Beauty, along with art and personality, is perhaps the most significant part of aesthetics, perhaps the most important branch of humanities. It has been said that beauty can be defined by a person’s personal assessment of beauty, where beauty for one person is quite different from beauty for another. Nonetheless, beauty has always been considered one of the most important aspects of every culture. This was proven by many ancient civilizations who revered beauty and regarded it as their most precious natural resource.
The word “Aesthetics” derives from Greek words meaning “aesthetic sense”. According to George Eliot, the purpose of aesthetic judgment is to detach an object from its surroundings, present it in its true colour, size, shape and so on. Aesthetics is therefore “theoria”, which attempts to create beauty in the absence of any real object. Aesthetics then combine two concepts, “judgment” and “intuition”, with the first defining what beauty is, and the second, making an aesthetically pleasing object. Aesthetics therefore combines three main perspectives in order to determine beauty: experience, reflection and intuition.
The term “Aesthetics” is therefore usually used in conjunction with “Philosophy of Language”, with the later defining the range of aesthetic evaluation, while the former indicates the different aspects of aesthetic appreciation. According to Aristotle, aesthetics concerns the physical aspect of things, focusing mainly on how they are used in the human form. In this regard, aesthetics includes five basic elements, including desire, imagination, imitation, balance and proportion. An object is said to be beautiful only if it satisfies one or more of these conditions, and aesthetics therefore involves the attempt to beautify the entire human form. In addition, Aristotle also believed that beauty is a rational desire, something that can be gratified by means of aesthetic goods such as music and literature, useful works like useful furniture and aesthetic beauty rituals like baths and other similar activities.
However, Aesthetic philosophy does not simply concern itself with beauty in the human form. Philosophy as a discipline has developed over time to include many other areas of interest. According to Charles Darwin, aesthetic beauty, unlike natural beauty, is not dependent on any physical factor and is independent of any personal preference. For example, flowers and leaves rise and fall in popularity all over the world because the viewer notices them and is moved by them. An aesthetic appreciation of colors, shapes and textures is therefore completely personal and is not derived from any universal standard. In fact, the very idea of beauty defies any standards, since beauty is defined by the conscious perception of the unique individual, rather than any standard of universal acceptability.
Philosophical aesthetics differs from ordinary aesthetic appreciation in a number of ways. One of these is its subjective nature, which makes it radically different from aesthetic appreciation. While the former depends entirely on the influence of ideas and social context, the latter deals with the affect of individual judgment. Furthermore, aesthetics has no pre-established level of beauty, since beauty itself are subjective terms, dependent upon individual acceptance. Beauty may be highly praised in one context, but hated in another.
The debate between aesthetics and actualism is therefore not easy, even for philosophers themselves. The existence of aesthetic truths does not eliminate the existence of objective truth, since aesthetic judgments are always valid as long as the judges do not base their judgements on false assumptions. Similarly, the presence of multiple perspectives does not eliminate the existence of personal perspectives, for it shows that the relation between the object and the judge is purely subjective. Regardless of the problems encountered when trying to find a definition for aesthetics in the real world, there are nevertheless excellent works available to stimulate the minds of aestheticians.