As always, she provides a stimulating consideration of her subject. Weighing both the Platonic, objective, and formal qualifications of a concept of Beauty against that of the subjective response of perceived beauty, she explores what it means to call something or someone “beautiful.”
To add a note from an anthropological perspective–the seemingly objective beauty standard is itself fluid. This differs based on a host of criteria which have collective meaning only in a particular cultural sphere, though they may hold other meanings separately and elsewhere. My point is that there is nothing in the human realm that can be said to be either pure or isolated. Everything we believe is touched and shifted by ideas from another culture, another value system. It’s simply a matter of seeing the bones of our cultural architecture.
According to Plato, Beauty was an idea or Form of which beautiful things were consequence.
Beauty by comparison begins in the domain of intelligible objects, since there is a Form of beauty. The most important question is: what do all of these beautiful things have in common?. To know that is to know Beauty.
The Theory of Forms maintains that two distinct levels of reality exist: the visible world of sights and sounds that we inhabit and the intelligible world of Forms that stands above the visible world and gives it being. For example, Plato maintains that in addition to being able to identify a beautiful person or a beautiful painting, we also have a general conception of Beauty itself, and we are able to identify the beauty in a person or a painting only because we have this conception of Beauty in the abstract…
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