Beauty: A Very Short Introduction

Beauty: A Very Short Introduction

Roger Scruton

Language: English

Pages: 208

ISBN: 0199229759

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Beauty can be consoling, disturbing, sacred, profane; it can be exhilarating, appealing, inspiring, chilling. It can affect us in an unlimited variety of ways. Yet it is never viewed with indifference. In this Very Short Introduction, the renowned philosopher Roger Scruton explores the concept of beauty, asking what makes an object--either in art, in nature, or the human form--beautiful, and examining how we can compare differing judgments of beauty when it is evident all around us that our tastes vary so widely. Is there a right judgment to be made about beauty? Is it right to say there is more beauty in a classical temple than a concrete office block, more in a Rembrandt than in an Andy Warhol Campbell Soup Can? Forthright and thought-provoking, and as accessible as it is intellectually rigorous, this introduction to the philosophy of beauty draws conclusions that some may find controversial, but, as Scruton shows, help us to find greater sense of meaning in the beautiful objects that fill our lives.

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thoughts about beauty are unjustified. Beauty, I argue, is a real and universal value, one anchored in our rational nature, and the sense of beauty has an indispensable part to play in shaping the human world. My approach to the topic is not historical, x Preface neither am I concerned to give a psychological, still less an evolutionary, explanation of the sense of beauty. My approach is philosophical, and the principal sources for my argument are the works of philosophers. The point of this

important 1 Judging Beauty question about a metaphor is not what property it stands for, but what experience it suggests. But in none of its normal uses is ‘beautiful’ a metaphor, even if, like many a metaphor, it ranges over indefinitely many categories of object. So why do we call things beautiful? What point are we making, and what state of mind does our judgement express? The true, the good and the beautiful There is an appealing idea about beauty which goes back to Plato and Plotinus, and

beings live and work, however unconcerned with aesthetic matters they may appear to be. By considering the place of beauty in ordinary practical reasoning, where purpose is at the forefront of our thinking, I will try to show just why aesthetic judgement is a necessary part of doing anything well. 79 4 Everyday Beauty The best place to begin the exploration of everyday beauty is in the garden, where leisure, learning and beauty come together, in a liberating experience of home. Gardens

us to any utilitarian goal, but they are rational for all that. They might be the first step in a dialogue, in which comparisons are made, examples urged, and alternatives discussed. And the subject-matter of this dialogue has something to do with the way things fit together, and a hoped-for harmoniousness in the completion of an ordinary physical task. That is the kind of example, it seems to me, that Kant ought to have used, in order to establish his point that there is an exercise of the

any one of a number of other things. And suppose that he asks you to pronounce on its beauty. You might reasonably say that, until you know what the thing is supposed to do, you can have no view in the matter. Learning that it is a boot-pull, you might then respond: yes, as boot pulls go, it really is rather beautiful, but how shapeless and clumsy as a knife. The architect Louis Sullivan went further, arguing that beauty in architecture (and by implication in the other useful arts) arises when

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