In the Eye of the Beholder?

What I said was that is beauty is either objective or subjective. If it is subjective, that means that no real beauty actually exists in the real world, it is merely a personal and arbitrary thing we impose on the world.

But if beauty is merely a personal and arbitrary thing we impose on the world, we could impose it as we wished, could we not? I could make myself be as sexually attracted to a hairy man as I am to a svelte and buxom woman; I could make myself salivate at the scent of maggoty rotted meat as I could for a grilled steak smothered in mushrooms; and I could made dung found in the eye of a dead child as beautiful to my eye as the earth seen from space, or the glint of a star above a high snow-cloaked mountain peak.

Let us suppose for the sake of argument, that I could do these things. Would it be a beautiful thing or an ugly one that I could? Would the fact that I could breathe in ghastly ugliness and see it the way you see rainbows, birds in flight, maidens dancing, cathedrals in moonlight, and soaring symphonies?

No: you would be repulsed. You would know there was something wrong with me.

Your sense of beauty, not your intellect, tells you that there is something beautiful about seeing a beauty that is larger than yourself and outside yourself. Only if it is outside yourself, it is sublime. Only if it is outside yourself can it be ecstatic (by definition. The word ecstatic means to be transported by pleasure outside yourself).

Because your intellect can see no intellectual justification for beauty, you tell yourself it is subjective. This is an erroneous conclusion because you have consulted the wrong judge. Your sense of beauty itself tells you how ugly the world would be if all beauty was a self imposed and arbitrary illusion.

The other problem is merely an error in logic: people assume that if I prefer brunettes to blondes, and you prefer dance music to opera, that the beauty is not present because we make different judgments about the beauty. This is absurd: because the thing we are making a judgment about must exist or else we could not make a judgment about it.

As if someone were to argue that there is no such thing as crime merely because, from time to time, we have hung juries. Sometimes two reasonable men look at the same evidence and for one man it is beyond doubt and for another it is not. This does not mean the evidence does not exist and it does not mean that the guilt does not exist. It means it is an area where reasonable men have differing opinions. And some opinion can be so far from what is reasonable, that we can call them objectively wrong, a product of diseased or biased judgement, without fear of contradiction.

 

 

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