Beauty is defined as a subjective quality of things that makes these objects aesthetically pleasurable to see. These objects can be nature, humans, landscapes and artistic works of art. Beauty, with art and aesthetics, is the most important topic of aesthetics, one of the major branches of fine art history.
Art and aesthetics are strongly connected in the twentieth century. However, whereas aesthetic beauty has its roots in art, the later develops as an independent field. The first movement of twentieth century aesthetics was an idealist conception which attributed the values of beauty to human wants and needs. The followers of this school were inclined towards Romanticism and gave importance to the desire of beauty. It involved the romantic idea that beauty is a subjective concept, not a natural fact.
In the history of aesthetics, the valuation of beauty changed numerous times. In ancient times, the importance of beauty was connected with religious beliefs. In many religions, beauty is seen as a form of connection between the human soul and the creator of the world. This was related to the aesthetic sense, which is linked to religious ideas of beauty. Later, during the Renaissance, there is a significant period of aesthetic production. This development represents the most important philosophical ideas on beauty in the whole European history.
According to the later aesthetic school, beauty is not a subjective, physical concept. Beauty exists independent of the human mind, emotions and concepts. Beauty exists only in the mind of the object and therefore it is not dependent on the physical object. Beauty exists because the object inspires imagination and thus becomes the object of aesthetic appreciation, whereas an ugly or dull object cannot inspire imagination or feelings.
On the other hand, the modern aesthetic school believes that the object is merely a physical representation of the idea of beauty. Beauty exists only for the beholder – for the objects can be appreciated only by the person who sees them. Beauty is therefore a desire which is not independent from the person desiring it. However, if the desire is not powerful enough to lead to beauty, then what does? Does beauty exists only for the human being or does beauty exist in the culture and society in which it is found?
The philosophy of love and beauty is very complex. On one side we can find the rationalistic point of view which believes that beauty is a subjective concept. On the other side we can find the subjective point of view that believes that beauty is a physical and therefore independent object. For this last view, beauty can be seen only in the mind of the person – beauty does not exist in the material world. However, the existence and actualization of beauty in the material world are also possible – beauty can be found in the work of some great artists – and beauty exists only for the mankind in general.