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Understanding the concept of “beauty” by Plato Report (Assessment)

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Plato held an objectivist view on understanding the concept of beauty. In his view, beauty is connected to the idea of forms. For Plato, the concept is strictly objective; it has nothing in common with the observer’s subjective experience and thoughts. Plato’s views on the objectivity of beauty are not usual. Forms are ideal; they are something unique and have nothing to do with material objects. Thus, beauty is not a characteristic of an object, but rather its objective side. Plato would consider all three pieces of artwork, including The Creation of Adam, The Persistence of Memory, and Fountain, as an imitation. In his view, art is a copy of a copy, as it imitates real physical objects, which in turn copy forms.

Aristotle also followed an objectivist view on the concept of beauty. However, his opinion differs significantly from Plato’s beliefs and ideas. For Aristotle, beauty is defined by its characteristics, including proportion, balance, symmetry, and others. In this regard, the philosopher would regard The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo as pure beauty, as the human-made object depicted in all dimensions of classical art. The Persistence of Memory by Dali and Fountain by Duchamp would not be seen as beautiful, as they do not follow the classical canons and ignore the important characteristics, such as balance, symmetry, and others.

Davide Hume considers the idea of beauty as being entirely subjective. Beauty is something that comes from people’s emotions and, thus, cannot be fully understood. One person can see something as beautiful, whereas, for the other, it appears to be ugly. Attitude to art is a matter of taste, and art evaluation is a skill, which can be acquired. Thus, assessing the three artworks would depend on the emotions it would evoke in the philosopher’s mind.

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