There have been numerous poems, stories, novels, battles, wars, etc, on the subject of beauty. The inspiration in some cases was the beauty of a woman, whereas in some instances it was that of land and prosperity. Such diversity of this attribute makes it hard to define, and hence is explored here in the form of philosophical questions.
Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever” , this line in the poem Endymion, by the English romantic poet, John Keats, has been referenced repeatedly in popular culture, literature, etc, since its conception. It implies that the possession of a beautiful thing that is sensuous and mentally pleasing, imparts the onlooker with a sense of joy and happiness throughout the period of his/her lifetime, and through all the mental states that they may experience. Such is the lofty value ascribed to beauty. But what is it exactly? Can it be translated? Can it be successfully described to and translated for a person who has a sensory handicap?
Philosophers have spent considerable amounts of time debating these and many other such facets of the concept of aesthetic philosophy, which is the study of beauty and its perception. They include stalwarts such as Kant, Hegel, Schiller, etc. A few famous writers who have discoursed on this topic include Oscar Wilde, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Neruda, Paulo Coelho, etc. Their discussions and debates have yielded a copious number of questions to which the answers remain incomplete or absent. Some of these questions are given below.
Philosophical Questions about Beauty
● Is beauty quantifiable?
● Is beauty and art related?
● Is beauty a physical thing?
● What is intelligible beauty?
● What does beauty feel like?
● Is beauty a universal concept?
● What is the purpose of beauty?
● What beauty is there in tragedy?
● What is the importance of beauty?
● Is the perception of beauty universal?
● Does moral and spiritual beauty exist?
● Is it an objective or subjective quality?
● Is beauty synonymous with happiness?
● How was the concept of beauty conceived?
● Why and how does beauty inspire humans?
● How is there beauty in pain and destruction?
● Is being attractive and beautiful synonymous?
● The possession of beauty is a bane or a boon?
● How far would you go in the pursuit of beauty?
● Is it bad for beauty to be a superficial attribute?
● Is there a relation between gender and beauty?
● What is the relation between beauty and virtue?
● Who determines whether art is beautiful or not?
● What are the characteristics of a beautiful object?
● Are beauty and personality inter-related subjects?
● What is the relation between lookism and beauty?
● Does our perception of beauty define us in any way?
● How does one decide that a particular object is beautiful?
● Is beauty an inherent quality or one that can be acquired?
● Is there a commonality between all experiences of beauty?
● If one says that they are beautiful, what exactly is implied?
● What is ugly and how is beauty perceived in an ugly object?
● What is meant when a thing is said to be sad and beautiful?
● How many senses are engaged in the perception of beauty?
● Why are humans hardwired to crave and respond to beauty?
● Are beautiful people friendlier, funnier, more successful? Why?
● Is beauty a personal perspective or a collective social construct?
● What does one mean when he/she says something is beautiful?
● What are the advantages and disadvantages of being beautiful?
● Is being beautiful associated with being not too bright intellectually?
● Do all societies, races, cultures find the same objects to be beautiful?
● How does one compare the beauty of two different unrelated objects?
● Do we have higher or lower expectations from beautiful people? Why?
● How much importance does one associate with beauty and why is that?
● Would you destroy something perfect if it would make it more beautiful?
● How much effort, time and money would you spend to become beautiful?
● What are the different types and forms that beauty can manifest itself in?
● Should one’s life be lived in the search of beauty? Is that life worth living?
● Women use makeup to look attractive, should men also follow that practice?
● What decides if a person is ugly or beautiful? Their appearance? Their actions?
● What role, if any, has beauty played in influencing the course of human history?
● Is it defined or limited by age, gender, race, religion, body shape or personality?
● What are the different ways in which a person or a thing can be said to be beautiful?
● How are all celebrities beautiful? Does one need to be beautiful in order to become a celebrity?
● What is meant by “being beautiful on the inside”? What is its relation to beauty is only skin deep”?
● If different objects are beautiful to different people, then is their perception of beauty also different?
● Should there be beauty pageants like Miss world and Miss Universe? Is any meaningful purpose served by such events?
● Should one undergo cosmetic treatments and surgeries to appear attractive? Does the end result qualify as being beautiful?
● Is pleasure derived from a beautiful object or is the object beautiful because we derive pleasure from viewing or experiencing it?
● Has the concept of beauty remained the same over the course of time or has it changed regularly in response to the changing times?
Beauty is such a subject, that despite its vague and unclear implications, does not invite frustration or tiredness in the person contemplating it. It continues to mystify and charm people as it has always done since time immemorial.