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Understanding Human Beauty

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Eiuol
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The nature of what's being judged is how a person looks - their physical appearance. And you said so yourself that you wanted to look at that aspect in isolation.

If you want to judge the whole person, then their character - choices - are important. Since people are both body and mind, character is part of their beauty when judged as a whole(why not call it harmony of mind and body, though it sounds like some mysticist nonense).

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The nature of what's being judged is how a person looks - their physical appearance. And you said so yourself that you wanted to look at that aspect in isolation.

That is WHAT you are looking at, but what is the nature of the physical thing you are looking at? Consider how you judge the beauty of architecture. Do you consider the purpose and function of the structure? If you want standards, you need to know the nature of what you are evaluating. This relates to my point about aesthetic possibility. I'm not going to call horses without wings to be ugly, that a pegasus is the "perfect" horse in regards to beauty. I can only say that because having wings is not in the nature of any horse. Although, a horse with surgically modified wings may be beautiful...

If you want to judge the whole person, then their character - choices - are important. Since people are both body and mind, character is part of their beauty when judged as a whole(why not call it harmony of mind and body, though it sounds like some mysticist nonense).

What I meant by whole person was the whole physical person. Legs, arms, upper body, all that. You are right, I am making a limitation to physical appearance, but as I emphasized before, by choices I only mean choices of physical appearance that are necessarily a result of individual value expression. Character does not have to be considered here, just as you don't consider the character of the artist of a painting when judging the quality of the painting even though what is portrayed is a result of the artist's sense of self in relation to existence.

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  • 1 month later...

I agree with Sophia, beauty in humans has an objective basis, upon which personal preferences are built.

We can find the idea of health to be intimately related the concept of youth, which are both linked to the likelihood of being fertile, and strong enough to raise a family.

For example, wrinkles, warts and hair loss are associated with an age in which you cannot bear children, so these features are generally considered undesirable.

The upper lip tends to become thinner with aging, so thick upper lips (e.g. Anne Heathaway, Audrey Tautou, Julia Roberts or Angelina Jolie)are associated with youth and beauty.

Strong chest and arm muscles in a man are associated with the ability to defend the family from strangers, and with productive physical work. It also requires more protein, so it reveals more affluency in proteins, meaning a better hunter.

Very small breasts are associated with immaturity or with starvation or with ageing, so full breasts (signalling enough fat storage to raise children in challenging conditions) are generally preferred.

Broader hips are associated with ability to survive labor (death during labor was widespread throughout most of our history)

Since face to face communication is so important for us humans, big eyes are particularly expressive and appreciated over small eyes. A colour of the iris that contrast with the colour of the face makes the eyes still more prominent. Long eyelashes also make eyes more prominent.

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There are issues here; you are taking for granted you are taking social norms of what is beautiful in modern times. A lot of cultures do value fertility actually, but I think what Sophia says about "healthiness" makes more sense. Still, Sophia's point about healthiness and yours about fertility are not standards that should be used, even though the measurements used are objective. My reasoning for that is how I was saying that I don't see any reason to have that as a standard besides it being a convenient one. If we're just referring to the emotional pleasure gotten from looking at something, and healthiness in a way is trying to explain the cause of that in an evolutionary way. But that leaves beauty itself as something subjective like any other emotion. If there is to be an objective basis to judging beauty in something, there needs to be a reason why certain standards SHOULD be used. Meaning the purpose of aesthetic evaluations of people would need to be understood. I think that purpose is generally to identify values and sense of life in a person. Also perhaps self-esteem too when judging one's own appearance. To an extent, it might be a matter of what you're searching for in a mate, so if you want kids, the things you mention may subconsciously have an impact.

Incidentally, strong muscles I would rarely consider to be beautiful in males (and in some instances is unappealing). Physical work is no longer anything that's a big deal anymore with computers and all. For females, breast size is basically irrelevant to me. I don't even notice broadness of hips. Warts and hair loss I would agree are less beautiful to the extent it reflects how well someone takes care of themselves. What I'm saying here is that what you may consider to be beautiful, I don't necessarily. I'm not sure why these examples you give SHOULD be standards of beauty. It may be true that your examples explain what constitutes beauty in various cultures, but if things aren't reasoned out, basically animal-type judgments are used. Not an objective standard for sure.

Edited by Eiuol
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If there is to be an objective basis to judging beauty in something, there needs to be a reason why certain standards SHOULD be used. Meaning the purpose of aesthetic evaluations of people would need to be understood. I think that purpose is generally to identify values and sense of life in a person...

...

I'm not sure why these examples you give SHOULD be standards of beauty. It may be true that your examples explain what constitutes beauty in various cultures, but if things aren't reasoned out, basically animal-type judgments are used. Not an objective standard for sure.

Man is a rational animal. Not a rational silicon machine, or a rational ghost.

Mind is his tool of survival, but this mind is not floating in the abstract. It is part of an integrated biological organism which happens to be the result of an evolutionary process.

Values are chosen within a biological and cultural context. This does not mean that we are determined by biology or culture, but that those aspects are factored in when we make up our mind and choose our values.

A man with a homosexual drive, for example, has to consider his psychobiology when making his choice of a partner. Marrying a woman, in his case, would be irrational and self- destructive.

In the same way, a young heterosexual man who is attracted intellectually to a woman much older than him, and who is not very physically attractive, should better listen to his evolutionary/ culturally- driven automatized reactions to old age, and and make a decision that takes into consideration those reactions.

Edited by Hotu Matua
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Mind is his tool of survival, but this mind is not floating in the abstract. It is part of an integrated biological organism which happens to be the result of an evolutionary process.

Values are chosen within a biological and cultural context. This does not mean that we are determined by biology or culture, but that those aspects are factored in when we make up our mind and choose our values.

If beauty is merely a reaction, then it's like an emotion and is subjective (although with objective causes).

If beauty is a value-judgment, then you'd have to come up with specific measurements that don't depend upon a person's reaction for the judgment to be objective. While what you describe may reflect fertility, I still don't see why that should be your standard. If having kids isn't even a value, then nothing about fertility is really a value at all, making that a kind of arbitrary standard to use. Why does it need to be factored in at all?

Edited by Eiuol
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AR said beauty is harmony but harmony is always "harmony between what?" and in this case it must mean initially the physical parts of the person, and then once you get to know them their other aspects too.

In the case of music we can easily tell when it's disharmonous but what constitutes harmony between e.g. facial features? Does it mean if your nose is skinny your eyes have to be too? Or if your eyebrows are thick your lips have to be too?

I don't know but it seems it should be possible to work it out by induction from lots of examples. The post above that links to research about all the features being related by the golden ratio seems plausable, though the actual website it links to is not very scientific seeming.

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If beauty is merely a reaction, then it's like an emotion and is subjective (although with objective causes).

If beauty is a value-judgment, then you'd have to come up with specific measurements that don't depend upon a person's reaction for the judgment to be objective.

Objectivity entails identifying reality.

And your biological impulses or cultural context are part of reality.

Your reaction to the smile of a woman with white, regular teeth is different from your reaction to the smile of a woman with irregular, yellow teeth or no teeth at all.

The reaction is there, you are not faking it.

The role of your mind is to judge whether such a reaction is in line with other aspects of reality, and decide whether that woman represents a value to you or not.

Therfore, it is not that your value- judgment depends on a reaction or it is merely a reaction.

Preferences play a role in our value judgement, and preferences cannot always be traced back to specific reasoning process requiring focus.

For example, a baby prefers to stare at a face than at a ball. She prefers a smiling face than a angry face. And she prefers a symmetrical face than a face with a deformity. babies can also tell a pretty face from an ugly one.

Men are born tabula rasa in terms of the content of their Excel spreadsheet: it is empty. But men are born with an Excel spreadsheet, programmed to do what an Excel spreadsheet does. The content will be the responsability of the individual. The software is the metaphysically given.

Edited by Hotu Matua
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Men are born tabula rasa in terms of the content of their Excel spreadsheet: it is empty. But men are born with an Excel spreadsheet, programmed to do what an Excel spreadsheet does. The content will be the responsability of the individual. The software is the metaphysically given.

Yes, man is born tabula rasa. The content, however, is provided by reality. The hardware (sense organs hardwired into the organ of consciousness) is metaphyscially given. It is up to each individual to write the software (philosophy).

The question here what role does consciousness as a difference / similarity detector play in understanding human beauty, and to what degree does the philosophy one develops influence the evaluation of it.

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The role of your mind is to judge whether such a reaction is in line with other aspects of reality, and decide whether that woman represents a value to you or not.

This would make more sense, and is what I'm saying is a more sensible way of approaching the whole idea of human beauty: how a person represents a value to you or not. Keep in mind the context here is not including character traits, just the physical form of a person. Since the unchosen in someone is (mostly) irrelevant to me, there isn't much need to consider traits like the shape of one's head. It would matter, though, the choices another person makes in regards to appearance. I give my reasoning for why I consider those sorts of choices to be what counts in judging beauty in a person. Consider hair style, use of makeup, etc. Then we can move onto considering the purpose each aspect would serve. Faces are indeed important, so makeup emphasizes that in particular ways.

babies can also tell a pretty face from an ugly one.

Did you typo this? Seems like you meant to edit this out. That's the whole thing I'm questioning: What IS a pretty face, anyway?

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  • 2 months later...

Certain features are beautiful because of how they relate to survival needs.

I don't think the "survival" approach gets us anywhere, since any form that a person subjectively finds beautiful could be rationalized as being based in survival value. If a man finds Rubenesque figures beautiful, he can say that full-figuredness must subconsciously suggest survival to him (a large body with fat stores is one that has succeeded in acquiring what is needed to survive). He then suddenly finds skinny women beautiful? Why, that's because skinniness suggests self-control in a society where food is abundant. Etc.

Or something like harmony is the reason such features are considered beautiful.

Rand also mentioned harmony as the basis of beauty. Harmony can indeed be beautiful, but so can contrast, dischord, etc. I've seen some Op Art paintings which had very clashing colors and patterns which I thought were stunningly beautiful. I don't think that it should come as a shock to Objectivists that a thing which stands out from the rest, or goes against the grain, can be beautiful.

And harmony can also be ugly. It can be boring. One can choose a harmonious palette of colors, and select harmonious objects to paint as a still life, and still end up with an ugly result. The same is true of music. A harmonic structure without melody, or without contrast or counterpoint, can be ugly.

So, it isn't enough to equate beauty with harmony.

Now, let me ask a question. Is it a possibility in your mind that judgments of beauty might be subjective, and that trying to find an objective basis for beauty is a waste of time? I mean, couldn't you apply the same method of inquiry to anything? Take any issue of preference or opinion which is subjective, and then begin trying to search for an "objective" standard or criteria which would explain why you like what you like. Any subjective view could be rationalized as having "survival value," or "harmony," etc.

I guess what I'm asking is, how many years or decades must there be of unsuccessful searching for the elusive "objective" criteria for judging beauty before people consider the possibility that such judgments might be subjective? It's walking, quacking and looking like a duck, yet a lot of people here on OO seem to think that it's outside the bounds of reason to even consider that it just might be a duck.

J

P.S. I haven't had time yet to read through all of the posts on this thread, so forgive me if I've repeated anything that has already been discussed.

Edited by Jonathan13
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"Take any issue of preference or opinion which is subjective . . ."

This requires assuming art is a subjective matter to start off with though. Isn't that part of what you aim to prove though? The mere fact that people disagree does not make something a matter with no rational basis in reality. One person is horrified at the sight of murder and wants it eradicated, another takes extreme pleasure in it, wanting more and more of it. Would that make the goodness of badness of evil a subjective matter then because there are disagreements over the issue from one person to another? Of course not. Disagreement alone and variance in emotional reaction is not enough to say necessarily conclude "anything goes!"

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I don't think the "survival" approach gets us anywhere...

...

So, it isn't enough to equate beauty with harmony....

If you'll notice, both of those sentences you quoted are Louie describing what most other people consider beauty, and he follows up those statements with, "I think that almost entirely drops the nature of people being conceptual thinkers, choosers." Louie's actual stance can be found a little further down in that very same post, and involves how each person chooses to take care of and present themselves:

I think that human standard for beauty could still be survival. However, that ISN'T genetic features. Use of the mind should be the most important indicator, since that is the human method of survival. Again, I'm still not talking about “inner beauty”; mental ability at philosophy itself isn't demonstrated physically. Still, intelligence and ability to think CAN be showed outwardly in creative ways such as clothing, makeup, tattoos, hair styling, anything. Combine these things and you can have something to use in order to judge a person as beautiful in a meaningful way.

So, his argument for a standard of human beauty relies on visual indicators and expressions of a person's virtues of character. I think we can all agree that we do have an objective standard for establishing human virtues, so the question becomes whether an individual's visual display of those virtues (how they carry themselves physically) is an objective standard of physical human beauty or not.

Edited by Dante
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This requires assuming art is a subjective matter to start off with though.

No. In that sentence of mine that you quoted, I wasn't talking about only aesthetic opinions. I wrote "Take any issue of preference or opinion which is subjective," not "Take any issue of aesthetic preference or opinion which is subjective." My point was that ANY subjective opinion, including those that have nothing to do with art or beauty, can be rationalized as being based in "survival," "harmony," etc.

Isn't that part of what you aim to prove though?

Is the burden of proof on me? I thought that those who are claiming that judgments of beauty are objective would have the burden of identifying objective criteria. Rand's views on music (see below) suggest to me that she would have agreed with me that the burden in on those making the claim of objectivity. I think the default position is to assume subjectivity until someone discovers and identifies an objective "conceptual language" of beauty.

The mere fact that people disagree does not make something a matter with no rational basis in reality.

I didn't say that it has no rational basis in reality. I said that it was subjective. That which is subjective does not necessarily have "no basis in reality." It simply means that a person cannot distinguish which aspects of his experience are inherent in the object itself and which are contributed by his own consciousness (which is why Rand said that music must be treated as a subjective matter: she said that in listening to music, "a man cannot tell clearly, neither to himself nor to others -- and, therefore, cannot prove -- which aspects of his experience are inherent in the music and which are contributed by his own consciousness" (RM, p.55)).

One person is horrified at the sight of murder and wants it eradicated, another takes extreme pleasure in it, wanting more and more of it. Would that make the goodness of badness of evil a subjective matter then because there are disagreements over the issue from one person to another? Of course not.

My position has not been that something is subjective because people disagree about it. My point has been that something is subjective when no one can offer objective criteria to support their claims that their judgments are objective, or to determine which of ten different points of view are objective and which are not.

Disagreement alone and variance in emotional reaction is not enough to say necessarily conclude "anything goes!"

By "anything goes," do you mean something like "No one, therefore, can claim the objective superiority of his choices over the choices of others. Where no objective proof is available, it’s every man for himself—and only for himself"?

J

Edited by Jonathan13
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So, his argument for a standard of human beauty relies on visual indicators and expressions of a person's virtues of character. I think we can all agree that we do have an objective standard for establishing human virtues, so the question becomes whether an individual's visual display of those virtues (how they carry themselves physically) is an objective standard of physical human beauty or not.

Yes, I understood that. My point still stands: Any subjective judgment of beauty could be rationalized as being based in virtue (which is based on man's "survival" qua man, or which is represented or suggested by "harmony," etc.) -- one could claim that one's appreciation of any human face is based on the fact that its features suggests a mind which understands and makes good use of its "tool of survival."

J

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Yes, I understood that. My point still stands: Any subjective judgment of beauty could be rationalized as being based in virtue (which is based on man's "survival" qua man, or which is represented or suggested by "harmony," etc.) -- one could claim that one's appreciation of any human face is based on the fact that its features suggests a mind which understands and makes good use of its "tool of survival."

J

And? Rationalization is the misapplication of reason to justification, and if one willing to do it, one can justify pretty much any conclusion from any set of premises. In some real-world context of decision-making, I could come up with a rationalization of pretty much any possible course of action 'based' on the Objectivist ethics, but that doesn't mean that moral decision-making has no objective basis. It's simply a comment on the act of rationalizing and how useless it is. It doesn't disprove the existence of an objective standard in ethics.

Now, I would say that most people's physical appearance is likely to be mixed in whether or not it reflects good or bad virtues, and different people may have different reactions from focusing on different aspects. This is no different than two people's differing reactions to the Atlas Shrugged movie, for example, that come from focusing on different parts of the film, and it doesn't mean that either one is not being objective in his or her reasoning.

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I don't think the "survival" approach gets us anywhere, since any form that a person subjectively finds beautiful could be rationalized as being based in survival value.

That's the whole of the discussion, whether or not there is an objective standard, just like how you figure out if ethics can be objective. You're assuming no objective standard of beauty is possible to begin with, you still have yet to prove beauty can only be subjective. I never did state that beauty being based on skinniness or fullness of figure, I never said either was more beautiful. At the end of the OP I said how traits relating to use of reason are what matter, *similar* to how you judge character traits. That people often do things subjectively is of no concern to me. People do that with ethics all the time.

Now, let me ask a question. Is it a possibility in your mind that judgments of beauty might be subjective, and that trying to find an objective basis for beauty is a waste of time?

I'm trying to figure out an objective standard of beauty because I have reason to think an objective standard is possible. My reason is that while many do approach beauty subjectively, there is often SOME kind of commonality going on in what people are striving for, even people who disagree. Beauty does not seem to be entirely a matter of a reaction, there seems to be a lot of conscious evaluation going on closer to that of ethical judgment. I don't have a preconceived notion that I've set out to prove no matter what, I'm using a process of reason to throw out my ideas when they are shown to be wrong. You should read all my other posts before responding further.

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And? Rationalization is the misapplication of reason to justification, and if one willing to do it, one can justify pretty much any conclusion from any set of premises.

When emotions are involved, one can also unwillingly misapply reason in an attempt to justify a position. People can be unaware that they are rationalizing. When judging beauty, which involves automatic, subconscious and emotional factors, by what objective standard would one determine that oneself or others are or are not rationalizing?

In some real-world context of decision-making, I could come up with a rationalization of pretty much any possible course of action 'based' on the Objectivist ethics, but that doesn't mean that moral decision-making has no objective basis. It's simply a comment on the act of rationalizing and how useless it is. It doesn't disprove the existence of an objective standard in ethics.

Maybe we need to define our terms more clearly, or at least see if we're on the same page about the meaning of "objective" and "subjective."

My understanding of the Objectivist view of objectivity is that it is the act of consciously choosing to adhere to reality via logic and reason, where subjectivity is a subconscious, automatic and/or emotional response in which a person's judgment is not entirely inherent in the object being considered, but which has aspects which are contributed by his own consciousness (and here, again, I'm basing my understanding of the Objectivist notion of subjectivity on Rand's comment on why tastes in music must be treated as a subjective matter: "In listening to music, a man cannot tell clearly, neither to himself nor to others -- and, therefore, cannot prove -- which aspects of his experience are inherent in the music and which are contributed by his own consciousness" (RM, p.55)).

Does that sound about right? Any objections?

Now, how would we apply objectivity -- logic and reason -- to judgments of beauty? Would the following be examples of objectivity:

When I look at a realistic painting of a twilight sky, and I seek to find an objective explanation of why I find it beautiful, and if I should find it beautiful, and I seek to discover why I find it effective and meaningful as a work of art, I might turn to Objectivish artist Michael Newberry's thoughts on spatial depth, and to Kandinsky's similar thoughts in order to contemplate how color can be expressive and how it can imply human actions, attributes and personalities, etc., such as approach or retreat, aggression or passivity, energy or stillness, coolness or warmth, vigor or lifelessness.

I then might observe that the twilight sky's colors are cool, subdued and neutral, which can reasonably be interpreted as being calm, conserving of energy, withdrawn, retreating or reserved, as opposed to warm, energetic and extroverted. I might observe that the colors and forms of the clouds are delicate and faint, and lacking in dramatic contrasts, which conveys a soft, soothing gentleness to me. I might therefore conclude that I like the image and think that it's beautiful because its colors and forms represent peace and gentleness to me, which I value as human qualities.

I might then look at another painting of a different twilight sky which is done in bright ambers and reds. Its bold, warm tones and dramatic contrasts might suggest energy, aggression or passion (since I associate them with approach, heat, fire, the blush of a person newly in love, etc.). I therefore interpret it as being outgoing, and as representing strength, confidence and passion for living.

Would you (meaning anyone who would wish to comment, and not just you, Dante) consider the above to be an objective approach to beauty and to analyzing why I find the paintings enjoyable and meaningful? Or would you call it a rationalization of subjective responses?

J

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That's the whole of the discussion, whether or not there is an objective standard, just like how you figure out if ethics can be objective. You're assuming no objective standard of beauty is possible to begin with, you still have yet to prove beauty can only be subjective.

My position is that until an objective standard is discovered and identified, then judgments of beauty must be seen as a subjective matter, just as Rand believed that until an objective standard for judging music is discovered and identified, musical tastes must be treated as a subjective matter.

J

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When emotions are involved, one can also unwillingly misapply reason in an attempt to justify a position. People can be unaware that they are rationalizing. When judging beauty, which involves automatic, subconscious and emotional factors, by what objective standard would one determine that oneself or others are or are not rationalizing?

I'm confused. Are you claiming that emotions are impossible to evaluate rationally? Emotions certainly are automatic and based on subconscious premises, but I would maintain that we can objectively evaluate emotions, and tell the difference between an irrational emotion (I dislike Fred because he scored better than me on that test) and a rational one (I dislike Fred because he cheated on that test). Even though emotions arise from subconscious premises, we can use introspection to discover what those premises are (again, this requires avoiding rationalization and being honest with oneself) and whether those premises are rational or irrational. Would you agree with this, or disagree?

If you agree, how is evaluating your responses to beauty any different than evaluating any other emotion, such that it is impossible for you to discover the basis for your beauty reaction and/or evaluate that basis rationally?

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I'm confused. Are you claiming that emotions are impossible to evaluate rationally? Emotions certainly are automatic and based on subconscious premises, but I would maintain that we can objectively evaluate emotions, and tell the difference between an irrational emotion (I dislike Fred because he scored better than me on that test) and a rational one (I dislike Fred because he cheated on that test). Even though emotions arise from subconscious premises, we can use introspection to discover what those premises are (again, this requires avoiding rationalization and being honest with oneself) and whether those premises are rational or irrational. Would you agree with this, or disagree?

I agree that we can do that. But I also recognize that people can make honest mistakes. They can be influenced by their emotions without being aware of it, including when analyzing their emotions.

If you agree, how is evaluating your responses to beauty any different than evaluating any other emotion, such that it is impossible for you to discover the basis for your beauty reaction and/or evaluate that basis rationally?

I don't think that they are necessarily any different, which is why I asked about the examples of my viewing paintings of twilight skies. If I'm understanding the Objectivist concept of objectivity correctly, then I would think that the method of aesthetic analysis that I described would be considered objective. Do you agree?

J

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I agree that we can do that. But I also recognize that people can make honest mistakes. They can be influenced by their emotions without being aware of it, including when analyzing their emotions.

Yes, they can, but unless you think this discounts the very possibility of attaining objective knowledge, I'm not sure how it factors into your argument. Humans can err at any level in the quest for knowledge, but I would maintain that omniscience is not the standard for knowledge, in objectively evaluating beauty responses or in any other area. The possibility of error does not discount the possibility for success.

I don't think that they are necessarily any different, which is why I asked about the examples of my viewing paintings of twilight skies. If I'm understanding the Objectivist concept of objectivity correctly, then I would think that the method of aesthetic analysis that I described would be considered objective. Do you agree?

I honestly don't know. I realize that your example illustrates an individual getting two contradictory and opposing reactions from two different depictions of twilight, both of which can be objectively valuable in different contexts (aggressiveness, strength, and passion vs. peace and gentleness). I see no reason why I should discount either of these as being objective. As I said, both reactions which are evoked in your hypothetical observer reflect human qualities which are objectively valuable in certain contexts. However, I think the example misses the point of this thread (as opposed to the "Banishment of Beauty" thread, which is about art in general); this thread is intended to probe questions of human beauty and whether or not that can have an objective basis in how different people choose to present themselves physically.

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Humans can err at any level in the quest for knowledge, but I would maintain that omniscience is not the standard for knowledge, in objectively evaluating beauty responses or in any other area. The possibility of error does not discount the possibility for success.

One of the biggest things I wonder about is if we can only *evaluate* responses to beauty, or if like judging a character trait of aggressiveness there are specific measurements to point to? Not so much whether beauty can be evaluated at all. If human beauty is merely a reaction to expressed values and cannot be anything more, in the same way becoming angry at a person is merely a reaction and nothing more, then it can't ever be wrong or right to see something as beautiful. All you can say is that a feeling just is and is subjective, although you could judge if it's a rational response. If I saw harmony as a sufficient definition of beauty, then that can be right or wrong, but beauty as *visual* harmony doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I may be repeating myself somewhat here, I thought it was worth clarifying what I meant by subjective and objective here.

Edited by Eiuol
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Visual art, unlike music, deals with concretes. As long as an object is representational - as long as it presents an intelligible subject- it can be evaluated objectively.

The process has 4 steps:

1. perception of the object

2. conceptual grasp of its meaning

3. an appraisal in terms of one's basic values

4. emotion

Even if this process is very fast and it feels to us more like: perception ---> emotion (like in the case of beauty) because the object IS intelligible - it is possible for us to deduce its meaning via reason and thus gain understanding behind our reaction to it. It represents this .... I value ... so I had a positive/negative reaction to it.

When the object is not representational the evaluation is subjective.

Beauty of representational objects can be objectively evaluated.

---------------------------------------------------------

There are observed commonalities in what people find attractive. In terms of human face, it has been observed that even newborns have positive reactions to more symmetrical/harmonious faces. Infants 2 months of age and older will spend more time looking at attractive faces when these are shown paired with faces judged by adults to be unattractive. Some studies reveal that symmetrical faces are an indication of a person who has evolved from a large gene pool (a good thing). The preference for a more symmetrical features also arose from the fact that throughout history, humans have chosen to breed with people they perceived to be healthy. Healthy genes mean a symmetrical face. During developmental stages, if genes are 100% healthy, your left side and right side will be perfectly symmetrical, complete mirror images of each other. This conveys to the world you’ve had healthy genes passed on to you. However, if outside factors skew symmetry, such as a small infection or malnourishment this causes small imperfections during development, creating asymmetry.

As many already noted changes in preferences (thinner or more plump), for example, over time do not make them subjective. Subjective would mean that there is no objective reason for an individual to have a preference for one over the other. But there were good reasons for those preferences then and there are good reasons for the preferences of today. There is a good reason for an individual to be attracted to a more fit body; there is a rational reason behind having a preference for a healthy skin.

Seems like some do not like that those preferences exist. To me they put themselves in conflict with reality really. To me it is no different than fighting the fact that humans are selfish.

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...Beauty of representational objects can be objectively evaluated.

Agreed.

Jonathan13 had linked a site to the artist Micheal Newberry. On the front page is a beautiful painting because it is representational and the standards according to the identity of the subject matter are set, can be achieved, and were achieved by Monet. Since the painting is objectively beautiful, the life affirming value an individual can gain from it, and emotions that follow can be felt.

Jonathan13, the emotions you had listed are perhaps felt because the artist had created a representational painting, and in doing so some standards of the identity of the landscape had to be followed in the painting of the twilight sky. As an example in Monet's painting, the sun shining from the top left of the painting adds the yellow-green to the sky, which perhaps an individual may interpret through an emotion. The receding land mass in the distance is cool because of the truth of aerial perspective, and the blue-green color may be then interpreted as an emotion as well. Each color that can be appreciated doesn't exist independent of an entity, but can be represented by an attribute of reality, in the painting.

edit:replaced "you" with "individual". Composition

Edited by brianleepainter
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