Friday, June 27, 2008
Everything is beautiful
Suppose that beauty is objective. Nonetheless when we talk of an entity's being beautiful, we are talking of it under a certain aspect. Thus a performance of an aria may be auditorily but not visually beautiful. A Rembrandt may well be ugly in respect of ultraviolet observation. We typically call a work of art beautiful if it is beautiful under some aspect. A part of the task of learning to appreciate a work is learning how to observe under that aspect (the aspect may include historically contingent artistic conventions). But, plausibly, every physical object is beautiful under some aspect. If it is not visibly or auditorily or tactilely beautiful, maybe it is x-ray or gravitationally beautiful, but we just do not observve by x-ray, and observe poorly by gravitation. It seems likely that given the infinite variety of objects, each object is quite beautiful under some aspect. An item is beautiful if it is beautiful under some aspect. Is an item ugly if it is ugly under some aspect? I think not. We would not say a face is ugly if it is ugly under x-rays.