The Theories of Beauty

Beauty is commonly defined as a subjective trait of human characteristics which makes these human characteristics pleasurable to see. These characteristics may be facial expression, the way a person walks, color of eyes, height, size and many other things. Such qualities, along with personal preference, are the basis of aesthetics, among the major branches of psychology. Although beauty has many individual meanings, the underlying idea is that beauty is a subjective quality, not a physical feature.

Over the last few decades, many theories have been developed to define beauty. Some of these theories have been subjected to intense criticism from various quarters but most of them are still widely accepted in the field of psychology. According to the theories of psychology, beauty is a psychological meaning that can be described by means of a variety of adjectives. For instance, pain is considered to be the absence of beauty and the absence of pain is called distress. Dispelment is the act of removing beauty, on the other hand, which is the act of locating beauty within a given framework.

The theories of psychology propose that true beauty is that which satisfies the desire of the person who looks at it, such that, when he looks at it again, he finds it beautiful and happy. On the other hand, an object that does not satisfy the desire of its possessor does not become beautiful for him. In short, the desire for an object, its desirability and its aesthetic experience, are the basic prerequisites for a beautiful being or situation.

According to many philosophers, beauty is that which satisfies the need for gratification, for example, the need for food, clothing, shelter and safety. Beauty, they believe, is related to the need for safety, for instance, in the case of the beautiful buildings built for the protection of man. It might be argued that in order to achieve true beauty one must look beyond these needs, that beauty is subjective and therefore aesthetic fulfillment cannot be measured by the satisfaction of a need, for example the need to have security in one’s home. However, most people, following the theories of psychology, will agree that the concept of beauty includes both aesthetic fulfillment as well as aesthetic reliability.

The theories of psychology concerning beauty also consider the essential characteristic of truth, as that which manifests itself in the eternal recurrence of values. They therefore define art as something that manifests this eternal recurrence. In essence, the essential character of beauty lies in its truthfulness; beauty as the true form of beauty cannot be fake because it would destroy the very basis on which beauty and truth are defined – that is, truthiness. Therefore, the theories of psychology regarding beauty do define art as something that manifests truthfulness.

But beauty, according to these definitions, is something subjective. So, how can we say that beauty is purely subjective? If beauty were purely subjective then we would not have to define it as something subjective since there would be no subject. Beauty, as we see it, is defined by the aesthetic sense of the beholder, which is a subjective sense.