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Beauty: What is it Really?

If we would ask people what they understand by beauty, we would most likely get all kinds of answers. But maybe we are asking the wrong question. What about: how is beauty even perceived?

The sensory perceptions

Since humans have five senses and they vary from person to person, it means reality is perceived individually. The human being’s main focus is usually on the visual sense. There are evolutionary reasons for this, since our ancestors always had to reckon with dangers and had to react quickly. Because of this significant characteristic of our evolution, beauty is thus — almost literally — in the eye of the beholder.

Disciplines and values

If we defined beauty as the opposite of ugliness, we would still be in the realm of the abstract. After all, what is ugliness?

Staircase that illustrates the beauty of the golden ratio.
Staircase that illustrates the beauty of the golden ratio.

The philosophical discipline of aesthetics is mainly concerned with the meaning of these concepts. Beauty and ugliness are seen as a judgment. And just like any judgment, it is dependent on values and goals, which are also shaped by social conventions.

Beauty and mathematics

Notice that, when we say something is “beautiful”, this something is usually symmetrical and harmonious. This suggests that mathematics is also closely connected with the concept of beauty. Mathematical objects that contain the “golden ratio”, the “Eulerian identity” or the so-called “fractals” are examples of it. They provide very interesting clues to the concept of beauty.

Attractiveness and perfection

Usually, people who have a symmetrical body or face are perceived by most of us as beautiful. But these are not the only indicators of what we understand as human beauty. Several factors usually play a role too. For example, the manner in which a person moves, the way they smile, their scent, their voice or even a “blemish” or scar.

Beautiful girl with very symmetric face and body

People or things don’t have to be perfect to be considered beautiful. Actually, if that was the case, it would be hard to find someone who isn’t ugly. We are all imperfect in some regard, especially in terms of facial symmetry. Besides, each person has a different taste or preference — if not a fetish.

All in all, it can be said that every person is or can be beautiful in their own way and that there is something beautiful hidden in everything and everyone.


Do you find intelligence to be more attractive than looks? Then, maybe you’re sapiosexual! Check out our article on sapiosexuality 😉

By Daniele Zedda • 18 February

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By Daniele Zedda • 18 February

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