Beauty in Different Contexts

Beauty is the one quality which we attribute to different and exclusive things, including ourselves. Beauty is also commonly defined as a subjective quality of physical objects which makes these objects beautiful to see. These objects, including humans, landscapes and works of art, are the subject matter of aesthetics, among the most important branches of contemporary philosophy.


Aesthetics studies are intimately connected with aesthetic evaluation, which is the study of how beauty relates to the existing cultural and political conditions in society. In order to be able to appreciate the significance of beauty to the human mind, it is necessary for an aesthetic evaluation criterion to be defined. This criterion would be a mental image of the object being evaluated, which can be formulated on a standard psychological test battery.

An image that the mind perceives as beautiful will have the following three basic characteristics. Aesthetic Value The aesthetic value of a painting or a type of artwork, to a specific person, may be taken as absolute or relative. Relative to other paintings the painting has a greater aesthetic value than that of another painting because of some qualities of the former that are unique to it and therefore more beautiful. The aesthetic value then is given by a percentage comparison between the two.

Aesthetic Efficacy The extent to which an artwork produces or expresses pleasure, in a positive way, in relation to the things it is intended to beautify. This is usually seen in the degree to which an artwork fills a need or satisfies a desire. Pleasure is a highly complex emotional state, and the emotional state of pain is a stronger drive than the need to satisfy an aesthetic need. In aesthetics, we find satisfaction as an objective value, and aesthetic value is only relative to the observer. Aesthetic efficacy therefore includes the emotional component of aesthetic appeal, which will be explored later.

Subjective Beauty is subjective, and its definition is open to discussion. According to some aestheticians, the most beautiful object is one that does not have a specific content or a definite’sign’. These individuals see through the content of beauty to the effect that it has on the person viewing it. More subjective than objective are the definitions of beautiful objects and how these can vary from one person to another.

According to feminist aesthetics, beauty is a human form that has the power to shape our thoughts and actions. Masculinity and femininity are conceptually derived from beauty, as are the various power dynamics between men and women. According to some cultures, beauty is seen as embodied in human forms such as birds and fish, whereas in others it is the architecture of a building or a work of art that is considered beautiful.