What is beauty?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Do you consider yourself beautiful? Why not?

.. already the old greeks (3rd century BCE) knew that beauty is subjective, and lies in the eye of the individual perceiving it …

Even whatever that in the picture above is: a monster from the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons franchise, incidentally named “Beholder”, and actually quite dangerous in the context of the game - and I even consider this depiction of it somewhat beautiful, as it has a certain terrifying, unsettling aesthetic, while at the same time demonstrating a painstaking, skillful attention to detail.

The function of beauty

But, what do we need beauty for? What’s the evolutionary use of a feeling like beauty? Why waste energy on evaluating it, why invest energy in attaining it?

It seems to me like the key aspect is a certain “fitness for its environment” of something - or someone - we consider beautiful, i.e. if or whether what we see (or hear, or perceive otherwise, or even abstractly imagine, like a mathematical proof) can succeed in its environment. The environment seemingly doesn’t matter, i.e. if we have a look at art, the purpose of evoking thoughts or emotions can be attained beautifully by something horrible to look at; if we look at mathematics, the undeniable elegance of some solutions has a beauty of its own; etc etc …

Changing standards of beauty

So, what about changing human beauty standards? Why are certain body types considered more beautiful in different decades? Probably also because economic circumstances changed - so either attributes signifying reproductive attributes, or financial stability, or fitness for conflict etc etc were more relevant …

Objective beauty?

But, what does that mean for the average human? When is he or she - objectively - beautiful?

Considering that we humans are all storytelling, social apes - I’d say if you manage to live in a story that includes others and where others include you - you’re beautiful .. because you’re fit to fulfill that essential aspect within your environment.

But - what if that social integration doesn’t work for me .. yet?

Then I guess there are more lessons to be learned, more stories experienced, more solutions your brain suggests not just considered, but applied!

But - what if you don’t feel beautiful?

Then maybe - just maybe - you just haven’t understood your story enough, or are not embodying enough, and have to solve a few more riddles to do so?

You’re living and learning, and I consider that beautiful.

– count 29.12.2019, 21:36, Leipzig

P.S: this was a quick and short one written on the 36C3 per request from BarW38 ;) ..


Comments are only active if Disqus or Facebook-comments have been enabled.