4 things we have to explain:

1. The diversity of tastes and preferences in beauty. For example, modern vs. classical painting, ballet vs. modern dance, avant garde french drama vs. 50’s musical films, etc.

2. The universality of tastes and preferences in beauty. For example, Beethoven’s symphonies (especially the 5th and the 9th), U2, Bach, Palestrina.

3. The existence of “experts.” For example, production designers who get paid more or less to build sets for films, artists who get paid more or less to make paintings for corporate buildings, architects who get paid more or less to create schools, skyscrapers, neighborhoods cities.

4. The powerful effect of certain objects. For example, sunsets motivate hundreds of thousands of poems, moonsets motivate almost none; women of a certain shape, size, color, tone, personality, and poise are the source and cause of a dozen thousand films being made, women certain shapes, sizes, colors, tones, personalities, and poise never motivate the creation of a film. Pictures of flowers adorn the walls of millions of North American suburban homes, dead rats adorn almost none.

In summary, there are four phenomena that need accounting.
1. The diversity of taste in beauties.
2. The uniformity of taste in beauty.
3. The existence of “experts” in beauty.
4. The powerful effect of certain beauties.

If beauty is real and knowable, this accounts for 2., 3., and 4. We have to explain 1.

If beauty is not real and subjective, this accounts for 1. We have to explain 2., 3., 4.,

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Posted by Keith E. Buhler

One Comment

  1. […] See my first two posts on beauty as introduction to the question: Is beauty objective? and attempting to define our goal in aesthetics. Here I shall endeavor a slightly different approach: metaphysics. […]


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