Beauty is often defined as a subjective quality of objects which makes these objects aesthetically pleasing to see. Such objects may include sunsets, natural landscapes, humans and exquisite works of art. Beauty, with aesthetic sense and art, is probably the most important topic of aesthetics, among the most prominent branches of science. The word ‘beauty’ is derived from the Greek word ‘aktor’, which means beauty or the beautiful.
Philosophers in ancient times gave different definitions of beauty, as they did all other subjects. According to the philosophers, beauty was defined as the beauty of the form rather than its composition. Aristotle defined beauty as a subjective quality. He claimed that a thing’s form is what appeals to the senses, while its composition is what imparts reality and real value to the object. For Aristotle, beauty was a mental state that is independent of physical reality.
According to Leo Tolstoy, beauty depends on our personal relation to beauty, and on our personal satisfaction with that beauty. According to him, beauty depends on our emotional response to beauty. Therefore, he claimed that beauty is not a physical trait, because it cannot be measured in any measurable way. For Leo, beauty lies in the inner aspects of a person, and not in his outer features. For him, beauty is subjective, and therefore the definition of beauty varies for every person.
According to Jean Piaget, beauty consists of three elements. These elements are form, content and function. Form is a primary element in beauty; it determines the overall appearance. Content is the physical nature of things – their chemical makeup. Function is their arrangement in the universe. And finally, the last element, which is beauty itself, consists of the aesthetic sense that we feel when confronted with a beautiful object or situation.
The physical side of beauty, according to Piaget, is merely an outward mask. The true beauty, which he calls “reflected beauty”, is an inward experience. Beauty, for Piaget, is merely a representational system. Beauty reflects our innermost feelings and thus is a purely subjective quality. Beauty, according to Piaget, is only an illusion, since it exists only in the mind.
Beauty is a subjective experience, according to Jean Piaget. Beauty is therefore different from beauty consciousness, which he takes to be the objective view of beauty in general. Beauty as an aesthetic object is therefore alien to the intellect, and its experience cannot be reduced to an intellectual one.
According to the great philosopher Aristotle, beauty as an aesthetic object is not a matter of sight, hearing or smell. Beauty as an aesthetic object exists only in the mind. Beauty, according to Aristotle, does not depend on the things which we can physically see or touch. Beauty is therefore an abstract object, an idea, an attitude, and an attitude in general.
According to the French writer Emile Zola, beauty is not an idealism but a realism. It is a subjective idea, and its definition depends on the nature of the person who experiences it. For instance, Zola felt that a certain woman was beautiful because she had the face of a saint. For Zola, beauty is not a matter of physical attributes, but is something which has to do with the innermost values of a human being.
To the extent this view is correct, it is not easy to see how beauty can be objectively measured. For a fact, beauty is an indivisible concept, a quality that only the conscious mind can attach to an object. Beauty is thus not a matter of the physical aspects which can be measured by means of skin, hair, and makeup. If one defines beauty as the aesthetic sense, then beauty truly is subjectively existing. To experience beauty one must first be in a state of ecstasy, for to experience ecstasy is to perceive things radically and uniquely.
On the other hand, if beauty truly were an object, then we could use a measuring scale in order to establish its dimension. However, there are many aesthetic objects, such as music, books, mountains, beaches, and so on, whose measurement would be mere appearance. Such a measurement would simply measure the perceived dimensions of these objects. The experience of beauty then, would involve an encounter with a number of different kinds of appearances. We might say that the concept of beauty is the subjective experience that arises when we meet beauty.
According to the most widely accepted theory of aesthetic value, beauty is a mental relation that is associated with certain qualities in a subject. By determining the value of beauty based on the way that an object meets a given quality, it follows that there are no universal standards of beauty. Aesthetic evaluation is thus nothing more than a personal preference. Beauty, as it is commonly defined, is largely subjective.