Beauty

Beauty

Rayonnant rose window in Notre Dame de Paris. In Gothic architecture, light was considered the most beautiful revelation of God.

Beauty is the quality of being pleasing, especially to look at, or someone or something that gives great pleasure, especially when looking at it.[1]

The conception for beauty is used or studied in art, sociology, social psychology, and culture. An "ideal beauty" is an entity which is admired, or possesses features widely attributed to beauty in a particular culture, for perfection.

The experience of "beauty" often involves an interpretation of some entity as being in balance and harmony with nature, which may lead to feelings of attraction and emotional well-being. Because this can be a subjective experience, it is often said that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder."[2]

There is evidence that perceptions of beauty are evolutionarily determined, that things, aspects of people and landscapes considered beautiful are typically found in situations likely to give enhanced survival of the perceiving human's genes.[3][4]

Contents

  • Name 1
  • Ancient Egypt 2
  • Ancient Greek 3
  • The Age of Reason 4
  • The Romantic period 5
  • The 20th century and after 6
  • Human beauty 7
  • Effects on society 8
  • Ugliness 9
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12

Name

Unlike other Germanic languages, the word beauty is with Latin origin as in present Romance languages. The word derives from the Vulgar Latin bellitatem (nominative bellitas) "state of being handsome" from Latin bellus "pretty, handsome, charming," in classical Latin used especially of women and children, or insultingly of men. The newly introduced Latin term replace the replaced the Old English wlite, a concrete meaning "a beautiful woman", that was first recorded in the late 14c.[5]

Ancient Egypt

Queen Nefertiti, her name meaning

In Ancient Egypt the beautiful face and female body shape were honoured. Special attention they took on clothes, hairstyle and accessories.

Egyptians invented the makeup. Egyptian were bathing with oils of pleasant smell, wearing light clothes, almost transparent and using cosmetics of natural products. They used natural products, made of almond, lettuce, lily, cumin, to deodorize their skin, daubing it with oils of lime and cedar. To make the skin softer they used honey. They started using soap around 1500 BC, made up of fats of animals, vegetables and salt. Egyptian women also used to dye their hair with henna and wigs on their short hair. They used a lipstick, an extract of a red paint that was mixture of iodine, bromine and paints od plants.

Nefertiti (left) gave the meaning of beauty to the Egyptians, her name itself means "coming beauty".

Ancient Greek

The earliest Western theory of beauty can be found in the works of early Greek philosophers from the pre-Socratic period, such as Pythagoras. The Pythagorean school saw a strong connection between mathematics and beauty. In particular, they noted that objects proportioned according to the golden ratio seemed more attractive.[6] Ancient Greek architecture is based on this view of symmetry and proportion.

Plato considered beauty to be the Idea (Form) above all other Ideas.[7] Aristotle saw a relationship between the beautiful (to kalon) and virtue, arguing that "Virtue aims at the beautiful."[8]

Gothic art lasted until Romanticism, in the 19th century.

The Age of Reason

The Birth of Venus, by Sandro Botticelli. The goddess Venus is the classical personification of beauty.

The Age of Reason saw a rise in an interest in beauty as a philosophical subject. For example, Scottish philosopher Francis Hutcheson argued that beauty is "unity in variety and variety in unity".[9] The Romantic poets, too, became highly concerned with the nature of beauty, with John Keats arguing in "Ode on a Grecian Urn" that

Beauty is truth, truth beauty, —that is all.
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

The Romantic period

In the Romantic period, Edmund Burke postulated a difference between beauty in its classical meaning and the sublime. The concept of the sublime, as explicated by Burke and Kant, suggested viewing Gothic art and architecture, though not in accordance with the classical standard of beauty, as sublime.

The 20th century and after

The 20th century saw an increasing rejection of beauty by artists and philosophers alike, culminating in postmodernism's anti-aesthetics.[10] This is despite beauty being a central concern of one of postmodernism's main influences, Friedrich Nietzsche, who argued that the Will to Power was the Will to Beauty.[11]

In the aftermath of postmodernism's rejection of beauty, thinkers have returned to beauty as an important value. American analytic philosopher Guy Sircello proposed his New Theory of Beauty as an effort to reaffirm the status of beauty as an important philosophical concept.[12][13] Elaine Scarry also argues that beauty is related to justice.[14]

Human beauty

The characterization of a person as “beautiful”, whether on an individual basis or by community consensus, is often based on some combination of inner beauty, which includes psychological factors such as personality, intelligence, grace, politeness, charisma, integrity, congruence and elegance, and outer beauty (i.e. physical attractiveness) which includes physical attributes which are valued on an aesthetic basis.

Standards of beauty have changed over time, based on changing cultural values. Historically, paintings show a wide range of different standards for beauty. However, humans who are relatively young, with smooth skin, well-proportioned bodies, and regular features, have traditionally been considered the most beautiful throughout history.

Fresco of a Roman woman from Pompeii, c. 50 AD

A strong indicator of physical beauty is "averageness".[15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28] When images of human faces are averaged together to form a composite image, they become progressively closer to the "ideal" image and are perceived as more attractive. This was first noticed in 1883, when Francis Galton, cousin of Charles Darwin, overlaid photographic composite images of the faces of vegetarians and criminals to see if there was a typical facial appearance for each. When doing this, he noticed that the composite images were more attractive compared to any of the individual images.[29] Researchers have replicated the result under more controlled conditions and found that the computer generated, mathematical average of a series of faces is rated more favorably than individual faces.[30] It is argued that it is evolutionary advantageous that sexual creatures are attracted to mates who possess predominantly common or average features, because it suggests the absence of genetic or acquired defects.[15][31][32][33] There is also evidence that a preference for beautiful faces emerges early in infancy, and is probably innate,[22][23][24][25][34] and that the rules by which attractiveness is established are similar across different genders and cultures.[35][36][36]

A feature of beautiful women that has been explored by researchers is a waist–hip ratio of approximately 0.70. Physiologists have shown that women with hourglass figures are more fertile than other women due to higher levels of certain female hormones, a fact that may subconsciously condition males choosing mates.[37]

People are influenced by the images they see in the media to determine what is or is not beautiful. Some feminists and doctors have suggested that the very thin models featured in magazines promote eating disorders,[38] and others have argued that the predominance of white women featured in movies and advertising leads to a Eurocentric concept of beauty, feelings of inferiority in women of color,[39] and internalized racism.[40]

The black is beautiful cultural movement sought to dispel this notion.[41]

The concept of beauty in men is known as 'bishōnen' in Japan. Bishōnen refers to males with distinctly feminine features, physical characteristics establishing the standard of beauty in Japan and typically exhibited in their pop culture idols. A multi-billion-dollar industry of Japanese Aesthetic Salons exists for this reason.

Effects on society

Chinese jade ornament with flower design, Jin dynasty (1115–1234 AD), Shanghai Museum
The night sky in the Atacama Desert. The concept of noctcaelador describes an emotional attachment to, or adoration of, the night sky[42]

Beauty presents a standard of comparison, and it can cause resentment and dissatisfaction when not achieved. People who do not fit the "beauty ideal" may be ostracized within their communities. The television sitcom Ugly Betty portrays the life of a girl faced with hardships due to society's unwelcoming attitudes toward those they deem unattractive. However, a person may also be targeted for harassment because of their beauty. In Malèna, a strikingly beautiful Italian woman is forced into poverty by the women of the community who refuse to give her work for fear that she may "woo" their husbands. The documentary Beauty in the Eyes of the Beheld explores both the societal blessings and curses of female beauty through interviews of women considered beautiful.

Researchers have found that good looking students get higher grades from their teachers than students with an ordinary appearance.[43] Some studies using mock criminal trials have shown that physically attractive "defendants" are less likely to be convicted—and if convicted are likely to receive lighter sentences—than less attractive ones (although the opposite effect was observed when the alleged crime was swindling, perhaps because jurors perceived the defendant's attractiveness as facilitating the crime).[44] Studies among teens and young adults, such as those of psychiatrist and self-help author, Eva Ritvo, show that skin conditions have a profound effect on social behavior and opportunity.[45]

How much money a person earns may also be influenced by physical beauty. One study found that people low in physical attractiveness earn 5 to 10 percent less than ordinary looking people, who in turn earn 3 to 8 percent less than those who are considered good looking.[46] In the market for loans, the least attractive people are less likely to get approvals, although they are less likely to default. In the marriage market, women's looks are at a premium, but men's looks do not matter much.[47]

Conversely, being very unattractive increases the individual’s propensity for criminal activity for a number of crimes ranging from burglary to theft to selling illicit drugs.[48]

Discrimination against others based on their appearance is known as lookism.[49]

St. Augustine said of beauty "Beauty is indeed a good gift of God; but that the good may not think it a great good, God dispenses it even to the wicked."[50]

Ugliness

Ugliness is a property of a person or thing that is unpleasant to look upon and results in a highly unfavorable evaluation. To be ugly is to be aesthetically unattractive, repulsive, or offensive.[51][52]

People who appear ugly to others suffer well-documented discrimination, earning 10 to 15 percent less per year than similar workers, and are less likely to be hired for almost any job, but lack legal recourse to fight discrimination.[53]

For some people, ugliness is a central aspect of their persona. Jean-Paul Sartre had a lazy eye and a bloated, asymmetrical face, and he attributed many of his philosophical ideas to his lifelong struggle to come to terms with his self-described ugliness.[54] Socrates also used his ugliness as a philosophical touch point, concluding that philosophy can save us from our outward ugliness.[54] Famous in his own time for his perceived ugliness, Abraham Lincoln was described by a contemporary: "to say that he is ugly is nothing; to add that his figure is grotesque, is to convey no adequate impression." However, his looks proved to be an asset in his personal and political relationships, as his law partner William Herndon wrote, "He was not a pretty man by any means, nor was he an ugly one; he was a homely man, careless of his looks, plain-looking and plain-acting. He had no pomp, display, or dignity, so-called. He appeared simple in his carriage and bearing. He was a sad-looking man; his melancholy dripped from him as he walked. His apparent gloom impressed his friends, and created sympathy for him—one means of his great success."[55]

See also

References

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  3. ^ The Oxford Handbook for Aesthetics
  4. ^ Denis Dutton: A Darwinian theory of beauty | Video on TED.com
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  6. ^ Seife, Charles (2000). Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea. Penguin. ISBN 0-14-029647-6. p. 32
  7. ^ Phaedrus
  8. ^ Nicomachean Ethics
  9. ^ An Inquiry Into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue; In Two Treatises
  10. ^ The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture by Hal Foster
  11. ^ The Will to Power
  12. ^ A New Theory of Beauty. Princeton Essays on the Arts, 1. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1975.
  13. ^ Love and Beauty. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989.
  14. ^ On Beauty and Being Just
  15. ^ a b Langlois, J.H., Roggman, L. (1990). "Attractive faces are only average." Psychol. Sci. 1, 115–121
  16. ^ Langlois, J.H., Roggman, L.A., Musselman, L., Acton, S. (1991). "A picture is worth a thousand words: Reply to 'On the difficulty of averaging faces'." Psychological Science 2, 354–357.
  17. ^ Langlois, J.H., Roggman, L.A., Musselman, L. (1994). What is average and what is not average about attractive faces? Psychological Science 5, 214–220
  18. ^ Langlois, J.H., Musselman, L. (1995). The myths and mysteries of beauty. In D.R. Calhoun (Ed.), 1996 Yearbook of Science and the Future , pp. 40–61. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
  19. ^ Kalick, S.M., Zebrowitz, L.A., Langlois, J.H., Johnson, R.M. (1998). Does human facial attractiveness honestly advertise health? Longitudinal data on an evolutionary question. Psychological Science 9, 8–13
  20. ^ Rubenstein, A.J., Langlois, J.H., Roggman, L.A. (2002). "What makes a face attractive and why: The role of averageness in defining facial beauty." In G. Rhodes & L.A. Zebrowitz (Eds.), Facial Attractiveness: Evolutionary, Cognitive, and Social Perspectives: Westport, CT: Ablex
  21. ^ Hoss, R.A., Langlois, J.H. (2003). Infants prefer attractive faces. In O. Pascalis & A. Slater (Eds.), The Development of Face Processing in infancy and early childhood: Current perspectives pp. 27–38. New York: Nova Science Publishers.
  22. ^ a b Slater, A.M., Von Der Schulenburg, C., Brown, E., et al. (1998). "Newborn infants prefer attractive faces." Infant Behav. Dev. 21, 345–354.
  23. ^ a b Kramer, S., Zebrowitz, L.A., San Giovanni, J.P., Sherak, B. (1995). "Infants' preferences for attractiveness and babyfaceness." In Bardy, B.G., Bootsma, R.J., Guiard, Y. (Eds.) Studies in perception and action III. pp. 389–392. Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum Associates.
  24. ^ a b Strauss, M.S. (1979). "Abstraction of prototypical information by adults and 10-month-old infants." J. Exp. Psychol.: Human Learn. Mem. 5, 618–632.
  25. ^ a b Rubenstein, A.J, Kalakanis, L., Langlois, J.H. (1999). Infant preferences for attractive faces: a cognitive explanation. Dev. Psychol. 35, 848–855.
  26. ^ Rhodes, G., Tremewan, T. (1997) Averageness, exaggeration, and facial attractiveness. Psychol. Sci. 7, 105–110.
  27. ^ Valentine, T., Darling, S., Donnelly, M. (2004). Why are average faces attractive? The effect of view and averageness on the attractiveness of the attractiveness of female faces. Psychon. Bull. Rev. 11, 482–487
  28. ^ average faces are consistently more attractive than the faces used to generate them
  29. ^ Galton, F. (1878). Composite portraits, made by combining those of many different persons in a single resultant figure. J. Anthropol. Inst. 8, 132–144.
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  31. ^ Koeslag, J.H. (1990). "Koinophilia groups sexual creatures into species, promotes stasis, and stabilizes social behaviour." J. theor. Biol. 144, 15–35
  32. ^ Symons, D. (1979) The Evolution of Human Sexuality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  33. ^ Highfield, Roger. "Why beauty is an advert for good genes". The Telegraph. Retrieved February 13, 2012
  34. ^ Langlois, J.H., Ritter, J.M., Roggman, L.A., Vaughn, L.S. (1991). "Facial diversity and infant preferences for attractive faces." Dev. Psychol. 27, 79–84.
  35. ^ Apicella, C.L., Little, A.C., Marlowe, F.W. (2007). "Facial averageness and attractiveness in an isolated population of hunter-gatherers." Perception 36, 1813–1820.
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  46. ^ Lorenz, K. (2005). "Do pretty people earn more?" CNN News, Time Warner.
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  49. ^ Gough, L. (2011). C. Northcote Parkinson's Parkinson's law. Oxford, U.K: Infinite Ideas Ltd. p. 36. ISBN 1283147378
  50. ^ City of God Book 15 Chapter 22
  51. ^ Webster's New World College Dictionary, 3rd edition, 1995
  52. ^ PERPINYA, Núria. Ruins, Nostalgia and Ugliness. Five Romantic perceptions of Middle Ages and a spoon of Game of Thrones and Avant-garde oddity. Berlin: Logos Verlag. 2014
  53. ^
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External links

  • Beauty entry by Crispin Sartwell in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  • Beauty at the Indiana Philosophy Ontology Project
  • BBC Radio 4's In Our Time programme on Beauty (requires RealAudio)
  • :Dictionary of the History of Ideas Theories of Beauty to the Mid-Nineteenth Century
  • beautycheck.de/english Regensburg University – Characteristics of beautiful faces
  • Eli Siegel's "Is Beauty the Making One of Opposites?"
  • Art and love in Renaissance Italy , Issued in connection with an exhibition held Nov. 11, 2008-Feb. 16, 2009, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (see Belle: Picturing Beautiful Women; pages 246-254).