Beauty can affect us in an unlimited variety of ways… The key is that it can never be viewed indifferently. Beauty demands to be noticed. It speaks to us directly, like the voice of an intimate friend. If you are indifferent to all beauty, (as in nothing makes you NOTICE, nothing makes you look twice, nothing makes you think differently), then maybe you are incapable of perceiving it.

Beauty — Roger Scruton

The ancient view of beauty is that the senses are invovled in its perception. Beautiful things must be pleasing, no matter what (see below, T. Cole, 1831). A more modern view is that beautiful things should cause conversation and inspiration. They should be stimulating to the intellect on some level (see below, A. Warhol, 1966).

It is also important to realize that an over-emphasis on beauty can sometimes be self-defeating. It might make you believe it’s best to always choose the more beautiful thing when given the option. In reality, many times the first goal of beauty is to fit in, rather than to stand out.

IG models circa 2017

Beacause, aiming in every case at supreme beauty could end up in aesthetic overload.

@blacchyna — 15 million followers — 3,641 posts

So far in this series, ideas of beauty have fluctuated across all disciplines and mediums. It brings up the question: So, is there is any point in studying our artistic and cultural inheritance? When the judgement of its beauty has no rational grounds? [Translation: Why study beauty via the arts?]

The study of art, music, literature, and architeciture has been freed from the discipline of aesthetic judgement. To many critics it appears the ‘arts’ lack firm anchor in tradition and technique that enabled previous generations to regard the humanities as central to any curriculum.

Of the 1,895,000 bachelor’s degrees conferred in 2014–15, the greatest numbers of degrees were conferred in the fields of business (364,000), health professions and related programs (216,000), social sciences and history (167,000), psychology (118,000), biological and biomedical sciences (110,000), engineering (98,000), visual and performing arts (96,000), and education (92,000).

At the master’s degree level, the greatest numbers of degrees were conferred in the fields of business (185,000), education (147,000), and health professions and related programs (103,000). At the doctor’s degree level, the greatest numbers of degrees were conferred in the fields of health professions and related programs (71,000), legal professions and studies (40,300), education (11,800), engineering (10,200), biological and biomedical sciences (8,100), psychology (6,600), and physical sciences and science technologies (5,800).

Also, the number of degrees in foreign languages, literatures, and linguistics was 9 percent lower in 2014–15 than in 2009–10; the number of degrees in liberal arts and sciences, general studies, and humanities was 7 percent lower; and the number of degrees in social sciences and history was 3 percent lower.

Business and Medicine are driving the American university currently. Less than 5,000 masters degrees in the humanities are reported in 2014-2015.
Information courtesy of National Center for Education Statistics

Of course, a lot of these statistics directly correlate with increased tuition costs across America. As universities up their tuitions, students are forced to find majors that can become financially fruitful in the near-future, rather than being allowed the ‘luxury’ of self-development or artistic leisure. Or perhaps, the arts bore a generation of Americans that are constantly bombarded with stimulating imagery via cell phones. Either way, one can understand money and time motivating many people away from the study of beauty via art and cultural inheritance.

However, it is important that we all remember that the humanities was once the vehicle to expand empires. Leaders, warriors, explorers, priests, and entire nations have commanded the study of beauty and weaponized it to justify the inhumane and unthinkable. It would be too convenient to abandon the study now that new voices and ideas challenge tradition.

Civilizations are built around the beautiful. Technology’s connecting energy means that we will bleed together, succeed together, and fear together more than ever before. If we allow the humanities to be abandoned, we are bound to lose the context in which we exist. Which results in living our lives solely for the grind, and never appreciating what humanity has accomplished. We will forget how beautiful and capable we are together.

Today we find beauty manifesting mostly via the media, each other, and ourselves. The internet has made the world smaller; resulting in a radical challenge to classical thoughts on beauty. And our judgements of beauty are typically based in comparison. Considering this I am going to highlight three super simplified ways beauty manifests itself in our society.

the Natural, the Feminine, the Immortal

Tentative Topic Upcoming :

  • Introduction — Modern Ideas of Beauty
    • Beauty or Booty?
    • Beauty Manifest
      • the Natural — Landscapes, Art, Minimalism
      • the Feminine — Purity, Patriarchy, Creation
      • the Immortal — God, Goodness, Trueness
  • Greco-Roman Standards of Beauty
    • Athens, Greece — Democracy, Philosophy, & Fine Arts
  • Sculputres and Homeric Tales
    • Ramsses II and the political power of statue
    • Apollo Belvedere — The Perfect Man
    • Aphrodite Menophantos — The Perfect Woman
  • The Cult of Youth or Immortality
  • The Civilized Conquerers — Building the Roman Empire

Sources: 

Beauty by Roger Scruton

National Center for Education

Companion Media :

  • Netflix — Civilizations — Season 1, Episode 2; How Do We Look?

5 thoughts on “Beauty Manifest

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