Beauty Is Not Only in the Eye of the Beholder

I once was told the worst reason for liking a piece of art was for its beauty. I disagree.

Creating or at least seeking out things we perceive as being beautiful is so ingrained in our genes that it makes us depressed having to do without it. It is such a basic need of the human condition that we cannot live without it.

In the above video from one of my favorite “get smarter” YouTube channels, Kurzgesagt, they tell us why beautiful things makes us happy and explain the concept of beauty.

To me, one of the most interesting things the video states is that research shows we do have a lowest common denominator when it comes to beauty, no matter if it is portraits, landscapes, or any other kind of photography or art. We have a hard time explaining what it is, but we do recognize it when we see it. Despite the concept of beauty having changed throughout history, some objective factors never seem to go out of fashion, factors like the golden ratio, symmetry, certain patterns, and contrast. 

Many things makes us happy, and as beauty is one of them, that to me warrants pursuing this ideal. I have a hard time finding a more noble meaning in life than to create happiness for oneself and others. It can, of course, be done in many ways, and I am not naive, ignoring the fact we also have to both eat and sleep. Being happy and living a meaningful life are as basic for the survival of the mind as food and sleep are for the body.

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3 Comments

Edward Blake's picture

Saying that appreciation of art for reasons of beauty is 'bad' is the sort of thing academics like to vomit out to justify their own existence.

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

Lol, yeah and people from art school :)

Jordan McChesney's picture

Saying someone can’t like a piece of art for its beauty is like saying someone can’t like a puppy for its cuteness, it’s madness! Sometimes the simple beauty of a photo can inspire.

Great article as always!