I replied to this post, but it got lost somewhere, so here is a quick summary.
There are so many ways to consider beauty, let’s limit this to a consideration of the beauty of the human face. I think this is what you are getting at anyway.
Beauty is an attractive principle, and as such, is a manifestation of the female principle. We normally associate beauty with females, but males can be beautiful in a different way. And, animals, plants, and other things such as scenery, can be beautiful, as well.
Beauty also applies not only to way people look, but to the way they DO things. A person, who is not particularly good-looking can dance or plan the piano beautifully. I see beauty when I go to the dentist and watch the doctor and his assistant working seamlessly together, as if it were a choreographed dance.
The old song goes “There is beauty all around, when there’s love at home.” I think what this is really saying is that there is beauty in all things, but we just have to be in the right frame of mind to see it and recognize it. Recognizing beauty probably says more about us that it does the beautiful object of our attention.
Rather than say a principle determines whether a thing is beautiful, I would say there are a few general principles which cause humans, in general, to consider a thing (a face) as being beautiful. There are also some factors which are unique to people as a race, as a nationality, as a family, and as individuals.
You mentioned symmetry in one of your posts, but this is not quite true. If you could look at the faces of famous movie stars, handsome and beautiful alike, and see their face tweaked to show perfect symmetry, they look rather strange, plain, unattractive, and unappealing. I saw this illustrated on a TV show called “You Asked for It”. It was a popular TV program in the 50’s.
A toothpaste ad in a Swedish magazine showed two pictures of a handsome, young teenage male. In one picture, his teeth were perfectly formed and symmetrical. In the other picture, a couple of the teeth were ever so slightly uneven and askew. The second picture was much more attractive.
Then, we have the “real” housewives on Bravo! They have all been to the “dentist” to achieve that perfect facial look. They are not ugly, but they are not particularly beautiful or interesting, either.
I lived in L.A. for a number of years. Hollywood is literally full of beautiful young women and men, looking for work in the movies. Setting aside their acting skills and lack of industry contacts, and consider them on looks alone. The people who become stars are also good-looking and beautiful, but they have something in addition that makes them interesting.
Near symmetry is more beautiful that absolutely perfect symmetry.
Beauty also needs to engage our interest in some way. It needs to attract our attention in some way. One way is slight imperfections. It engages our minds to imagine what if they WERE perfect. It’s a little game we play with ourselves.
Another game we play is we want to see some depth to the beauty. A beautiful, but mysterious woman is more attractive than one who is not mysterious. A woman who is slightly removed, aloof, and unavailable is also more attractive. To see my point, compare Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich, and Grace Kelly with Doris Day.
Another factor with beauty that engages us is we want to do things and give things to the person, whom we consider beautiful. Babies are beautiful to us humans. This is an instinctual reaction so we will take care of them, nurture them, and protect them. I believe that if there are any universal standards of beauty, they are based in this. When the boss falls in love with his secretary, he buys her presents. If he really loves her, he may provide her with a place to live and an education. Males do the same thing for their younger lovers.
Beauty has to be more than skin deep. Marilyn Monroe had a depth to her that we don’t see in Madonna. Justin Bieber is very good-looking, and probably as beautiful as a young man can get, but his attitude and his antics detract from whatever good looks he might have.
I have seen studies that show that cultures the world over have pretty much the same standards for beauty, but there are differences by race, culture, and nationality. But, there are also individual differences in taste, as well. This probably has a lot to do with looking at a person who reminds us of somebody else whom we thought was beautiful.
So, I would say that beauty does lie in the eye of the beholder, though many of us “beholders”. And, there has to be something beyond the superficial beauty that attracts and holds our attention.
— In Keysters@yahoogroups.com, “josephjohndewey” <jjdewey@…> wrote:
> Spiritual Principle 42:
> The Principle Of Beauty
> (1) What is the principle that determines whether a thing is beautiful?
> (2) Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? Explain.
> (3) Name three of the most physically beautiful people you know of and one person who is beautiful in some way other than the physical.