Philosophy Dictionary of Arguments

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Beauty: that something is beautiful expresses the positive evaluation of a sensory experience. For example, nature, fragrances, sounds and human emotions are perceived as beautiful. In the field of art, judgments about what is to be regarded as beautiful are subject to greater fluctuations or historical developments than in the sphere of natural perception. This need not be interpreted as evidence of subjective arbitrariness. Rather, judgments change with increasing knowledge. See also aesthetics, art, works of art, perception, judgments.

Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Concept Summary/Quotes Sources

Ancient Philosophy on Beauty - Dictionary of Arguments

Gadamer I 481
Beauty/Ancient Philosophy/Gadamer: The Greek word for the German "schön" (engl. beautiful) is kalon. There are no complete equivalents in German, not even when we use the mediating pulchrum but Greek thinking has exerted a certain determination on the history of meaning of the German word, so that essential moments of meaning are common to both words. With the addition "beautiful" we distinguish from what we call technology, i.e. from "mechanical" arts that produce useful things.
It is similar with words such as: beautiful morality, beautiful literature, beautiful spirit/belletristic (German: "schöngeistig") and so on. In all these uses the word is in a similar contrast to the Greek kalon to the term chresimon ((s) useful). Everything that does not belong to the necessities of life, but the "how" of life that concerns eu zen, i.e. everything that the Greeks understood by Paideia, is called kalon.
Practicality: The beautiful things are those whose value for themselves is obvious. You cannot ask what purpose they serve. They are excellent for their own sake (di' hauto haireton) and not like the useful for the sake of something else. Already the use of language thus reveals the elevated rank of being of what is called kalon.
Ugly: But also the ordinary contrast that defines the concept of the beautiful, the contrast to the ugly (aischron), points in the same direction. Aischron (ugly) is that which cannot stand the sight.
Beautiful: Beautiful is that which can be seen, the handsome in the broadest sense of the word. "Handsome" is also a German term for greatness. And indeed, the use of the word "beautiful" - in Greek as in German - always requires a certain stately greatness.
Morality: By pointing the direction of meaning to the respectable in the whole sphere of the outwardly pleasing, the custom approaches at the same time the conceptual
Gadamer I 482
articulation that was given by the contrast to the useful (chresimon).
The good: The concept of the beautiful therefore enters into the closest relationship with that of the good (agathon), in so far as it subordinates itself as an end to be chosen for its own sake, as an end that is anything but useful. For what is beautiful is not seen as a means to something else. >Beauty/Plato.
Measure/Order/Proportion: The basis of the close connection between the idea of beauty and the teleological order of being is the Pythagorean-Platonic concept of measure.
Plato determines the beautiful by measure, appropriateness and proportion; Aristotle names as the moments (eide) of the beautiful order
Gadamer I 483
(taxis), well-proportionedness (symmetria) and determination (horismenon) and finds the same given in mathematics in an exemplary way. >Beauty/Aristotle.
Nature/Beauty/Gadamer: As one can see, such a determination of beauty is a universal ontological one. Nature and art do not form any contrast here, which means of course that especially with regard to beauty the primacy of nature is undisputed. Art may perceive within the "gestalt" whole of the natural order recessed possibilities of artistic design and in this way makes the beautiful nature of the order of being perfect.
But that does not mean at all that "beauty" is primarily to be found in art. As long as the order of being is understood as being divine itself or as God's creation - and the latter is valid up to the 18th century - also the exceptional case of art can only be understood within the horizon of this order of being.

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Ancient Philosophy
Gadamer I
Hans-Georg Gadamer
Wahrheit und Methode. Grundzüge einer philosophischen Hermeneutik 7. durchgesehene Auflage Tübingen 1960/2010

Gadamer II
H. G. Gadamer
The Relevance of the Beautiful, London 1986
German Edition:
Die Aktualität des Schönen: Kunst als Spiel, Symbol und Fest Stuttgart 1977

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2022-01-25
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