If Beauty is Universal, Why Is It So Hard to Define?

…A Blog by Linda Darlene

“When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Everyone has an opinion about what beauty is. For example, the 6-year Russian child model Anastasia Knyazeva in the picture below is hailed as the most beautiful girl in the world. I find her features absolutely striking. But why? What makes her beautiful? Sophia Loren has been quoted as saying, “”Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical.” With this little girl — it’s physical and it’s in the eyes. 🙂

Anastasia Knyazeva

Anastasia Knyazeva

Studies, however, suggest that some universal factors hold true for beauty, but I have yet to find a ‘list’ of what they are.

What makes one creation considered more beautiful than another?

Why is the Taj Mahal by Shah Jahan considered exquisite,  Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata alluring, Michelangelo’s David perfectly handsome, or the “Nutcracker Ballet” possessing?  Whereas most people agree that all of these are beautiful — why are they so?

It is said that “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder,” but how can a concept so universal be so subjective?

The Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry has said, “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”  I once heard that it took Italian painter Paolo Veronese (1528-1588) 18 years to complete a painting. Does that mean that it took him that long to decide that he had achieved perfection because there was nothing left to take away?

"The Nutcracker"

“The Nutcracker”

Ever heard of ‘design-mode?’ Well, that’s what I call it. It’s when I lock myself in my office and my mind, heart, and spirit are totally into designing for my client. ‘Design-mode’ keeps me in the ebb and flow of creativity. I know that my design is as perfect as it’s going to get when I feel the sensation of  ‘prana’ running along my spine. Interesting, right? I just keep working at a design until I feel that sensation and I am satisfied that what I’m working on is perfect; it is beautiful.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines beauty as, “The quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.”

"David" by Michelangelo

“David” by Michelangelo

This definition just might be the closest we can get to the definition of beauty. Beauty is something that “pleases the senses” or “exalts the spirit.” However, what causes the senses to be pleased or the spirit to be exalted?

Somehow, I doubt we’ll ever find a ‘checklist’ of characteristics that definitively define ‘beauty.’ And that’s just the way it is, folks!

Resources for Further Review:

Russian Girl Hailed the Most Beautiful Girl in the World

The 10 Qualities That Make Art Beautiful

How Do Philosophers Think About Beauty


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Chinese for Aesthetic

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