Beauty is a quality or combination of qualities that gives pleasure to the senses and mind. It is usually associated with properties such as harmony of form or color, proportion, authenticity, and originality.
Defining beauty is a complex process that has taken place for thousands of years and remains to this day a topic of discussion and debate. There are a number of different ways to define beauty, each with its own distinct set of philosophical implications.
The classical definitions of beauty treat beauty as essentially proportion, and the pleasure that it provokes is due to symmetry or elegant relationships between parts that combine to make a unified whole. This symmetry is also called mathematical elegance, and can be seen in music, visual art or the mathematics of nature.
Another definition of beauty is a more transcendental or subjective one that focuses on the inner experience of the perceiving subject. This means that the things that are deemed beautiful will be different for each individual and will not be based on their outer appearances.
In theological definitions, beauty is conceived as the manifestation of God’s Goodness or Truth. This can take a variety of forms, and takes as its starting point the revelation of God in Scripture.
These concepts are not exclusive to religion: they have also been developed in aesthetics and in philosophy, where the idea of beauty is often linked with the underlying principles of the natural world, such as symmetry, order, and purpose.
Many of these theories were put forth by ancient philosophers, including Pythagoras and Plato. They were later adapted by Christians, who believed that beauty is a virtue of the Christian faith.
In both religion and aesthetics, it was common to view beauty as a manifestation of the divine order and purposes that designate all people and objects as unique in their place and time. For example, the symmetry and order that are at the heart of all natural phenomena is an aspect of the divine, as is the principle of a unified system. Similarly, the harmonious relationship between different elements of the human body, or between two human bodies, is an aspect of the divine.