The poet John Keats articulated with ornate flair, that, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” His timeless aphorism celebrates the aesthetic finesse of beauty for today and tomorrow, just as the philosopher Plato relates to beauty as a form, or idea, of which beautiful things are more than just a result, or outcome. Plato thought that beauty begins in the realm of comprehensible objects, primarily because it has a form of splendour.  His theory of forms, therefore, proposes a context with two distinct levels of reality that exist, viz., the tangible, visible world of sights and sounds and the logical world of forms that hovers above our visible world giving it a sense of being. This is, perforce, what that helps each of us to identify a beautiful individual or object, while adhering to the universal notion of beauty — in the abstract, or its expansion. Plato considered the worldly form of beauty as indiscernible, perpetual, and unchangeable, in stark contrast to things in the visible world where we grow old and lose our original sense of beauty. He also suggested that beauty connects itself to a response of love and desire; it, likewise, epitomises righteousness, good values, empathy, and the like.

The philosopher Plotinus thought of beauty as the object of sight, as also the ears, through sounds. He eulogised that every species has its harmony of the spheres, from where beauty ought to be found. He gave credence for a higher beauty with a higher purpose for one’s existence, not just life, although what may seem most beautiful to one individual may just be the antithesis of beauty to another. This is, indeed, the fulcrum, not measure, that lets us reflect as to what could most robustly entice the eye of the beholder, or grab the viewer with rapturous intensity.

It is not merely the beauty of a lovely face that allures our focus, or holds the key to celebrate its hypnotic expanse. The idea of beauty encompasses and envelops everything — right from beautiful colours, the light of the sun, the dazzling of the night and the splendid sight of the stars, aside from the symmetry of life as a whole. This is precisely the reason why beauty is established in multitudes, just as the various is reduced into one, while keeping the communication going to the parts and also the whole.

This brings us to the obvious — a palpable proposition. The beauty of a particular form, composed from similar parts, gives itself to the whole, without relinquishing their essence from the consistency and integrity of their nature, just as the environment wanted them to be. This is, indeed, the foundational principle that connects itself to the whole and its several parts — be it the human being, the “nectar” sculpted in stone, or any physical object, from where the first involvement emerges through art, and, thereafter, by way of nature, or its nurturing environment. It is through such a process that our body, or object, becomes beautiful through a predictable spectacle — the empathy that springs, or originates, from divinity.

All in all, beauty is just not a word. It is a perceptible concept — with a timeless appeal in philosophy, the arts, and the sciences, or any area of human endeavour. It attracts our visual and imaginary sense; it also plays more than a conspicuous role in our understanding of aesthetics. Agreed, that, the whole idea may not be perfect — a paradox too. This is primarily because our mind likes surprises in more ways than one, where imperfections are sometimes thought to be more beautiful than innate exquisiteness.

(The writer is a wellness physician, independent researcher and author)

Columnist: 
Rajgopal Nidamboor