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Sometimes we say that beauty is subjective but it is also felt that it is not that subjective always.

Where does it break? Or is beauty always quite subjective?

closed as not constructive by Joseph Weissman Jul 20 '11 at 23:40

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    Who says that beauty is not subjective? Is there any more specific way that you can contextualize this question? – Cody Gray Jul 15 '11 at 16:11
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    More context would help the question, but it is, I think, quite reasonable. I've no temptation to say that someone who finds Miles Davis a better jazz musician Thelonious Monk is wrong. But, there is at least a strong impulse to say that someone who finds Kenny G. superior to either of them is deeply mistaken. While I don't know how to make good on the intuition (aesthetics is not my sub-field), there are many positions in the aesthetics which do try to explain and validate the intuition. – vanden Jul 15 '11 at 19:13
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    Maybe if we could emphasize or bring out some relationship to philosophy --- I might perhaps suggest reformulating to a reference request asking after 'objectivist' theories of beauty (in other words, asking for specific philosophers who claimed beauty is objective.) – Joseph Weissman Jul 16 '11 at 2:07
  • Please consider reformulating your question to provide a bit more context. – Joseph Weissman Jul 20 '11 at 23:40
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To say that beauty can be objective is to suggest that it can exist as part of something intrinsically. That is, such an object would be beautiful by its very nature; the nature of it's beauty would have to be a quantifiable feature of the object. Yet finding such a feature is seemingly impossible. From this it seems beauty can only be subjective.

Stated most simply: Can you describe the essence of beauty?

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It's both subjective, and objective. Many things have this nature. Beauty is objective, because there are things which are considered beautiful by millions of people (like Hollywood hot superstars). But it's also subjective, because there are many people around the world who think that these hot superstars are not beautiful.

There is no break in subjectivity/objectivity of beauty. It's not the 0/1 question. Rather, it's an spectrum. You may think of something as beautiful, while the whole world can consider it ugly. Therefore:

Beauty is neither subjective alone, nor objective alone, but both subjective and objective at the same time, and there is no break-line in this dual nature.

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    The plural of subjective is not objective. – Satanicpuppy Jul 15 '11 at 13:46
  • Good point @Satanicpuppy, Plural subjective is not objective, :). But I'm afraid, I don't think mathematically about subjectivity and objectivity. Rather I believe that fuzzy logic exist here. Objective means anything which persists even if you (the subject) die. That's all. – Saeed Neamati Jul 15 '11 at 14:18
  • @Satanicppuppy: Comment upvote because quite funny. But, if you and I agree on our subjective preferences, it is an objective fact that we do so agree. The notion of "inter-subjectivity" might help, here. – vanden Jul 15 '11 at 19:18
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    @vanden: It may be an objective fact that you find a certain paining beautiful. But the beauty is still subjective. Inter-subjectivity is also not objectivity. This answer is simply false. – Lennart Regebro Jul 18 '11 at 7:42
  • @Lennart: You seem to think we disagree. I disagree :-) – vanden Jul 19 '11 at 2:55
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It's always subjective, I'm afraid. When you speak of things that are "objectively true" you're talking about 2+2=4 and A==A, and not about anything which it is possible to have an opinion about.

Many people would argue that objectivity is impossible for subjective creatures like humans (though phenomenologists would argue the exact opposite: that everyone's subjectivity is objectively valid. How this differs from "everyone's viewpoint is subjective" is an exercise I'll leave to the reader).

  • It is possible to have the opinion that 2+2 ≠ 4. However that opinion is objectively false, because it is an opinion stated as fact that contradicts a fact. – Matthew Bischoff Jul 16 '11 at 22:04
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The break may lie in the perspective of the being which is trying to decide the nature of beauty. Let's call this being "the decider". If we restrict the question to beauty which humans find in each other, consider the following experiment and two perspectives of the decider:

1) The decider asks all humans to pick a beautiful person in their life. The humans each pick a person and the beautiful people all meet so that the decider may observe them. The decider sees a variety of bodies, and in speaking with them learns that there are a wide variety of personalities and life stories as well. The decider finds some people beautiful and some not, and thus decides that beauty is subjective.

2) The decider asks all humans to pick a beautiful person in their life. This time the decider investigates the humans who chose a beautiful person very carefully. Let's say it is even possible for the decider to become one with the humans so that the decider may know their feelings, their life (their parents, siblings, geographical journey, consciousness, culture etc.), and their thoughts. The decider can even look through the eyes of the human and look at the beautiful person they chose. This time the decider sees (through the eyes of a beholder) everyone as beautiful, and thus concludes that beauty is objective.

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