Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Reality of Beauty

If efficiency and functionality are beautiful, why does almost everyone find even harmless spiders hideous? If death is a horror, why is no season of the year more beautiful than autumn, which owes its spectacular color to dying tree leaves? And if life itself is intrinsically beautiful, how do we explain our extreme revulsion at the life of a colony of teeming maggots?

Some philosophers have explained beauty in terms of harmony, symmetry, proportion, rhythm and archetypes. Why we get such pleasure in seeing certain forms, hearing certain sounds and feeling certain textures remains a baffling question. But my purpose here is not to answer that question. It is to show that while we cannot understand or define beauty, it is not an illusion. It is not solely utilitarian, and it is not totally subjective. Beauty exists as an objective reality, and nothing within nature will account for it. Beauty points us toward a certainty that an absolute exists somewhere above nature.

1 comment:

Lori W. Simons said...

God has been gracious in his gifts of beauty - which all mankind can enjoy. He did not have to make the fall leaves so glorious.

However, it is good to realize that death came into the world as a result of sin, and that things die because of sin - it was not part of the original plan. And although the creation groans, our cursed world also demonstrates the graciousness of God.