What is the nature of beauty? Is symmetry a scientific explanation?

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growthhormone
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What is the nature of beauty? Is symmetry a scientific explanation?

Post by growthhormone » January 5th, 2018, 2:57 am

The mystery of beauty has been bewildering us for a long long time. It seems to be a illusion. So many explanations have been proposed yet non of them fit all forms of beauty. It is elusive. At present, the most well known explanation is the "Symmetry theory". Is this the right answer?

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Re: What is the nature of beauty? Is symmetry a scientific explanation?

Post by Namelesss » January 17th, 2018, 1:16 am

growthhormone wrote:
January 5th, 2018, 2:57 am
The mystery of beauty has been bewildering us for a long long time. It seems to be a illusion. So many explanations have been proposed yet non of them fit all forms of beauty. It is elusive. At present, the most well known explanation is the "Symmetry theory". Is this the right answer?
That, upon which the eye of Love falls, the Beloved, is always seen as 'beautiful'!
Unconditional Love/Enlightenment only sees the Beloved, the Beauty!

The conditional eye of the ego sees 'pretty' and 'very pretty', and out of ignorance/lack of actual experience/Knowledge of unconditional Love/Enlightenment, mistakes 'very pretty' for 'beautiful'!
'Conditional' Love is all about the "why"; because you have firm boobs, beautiful eyes, slender... whatever... which means that when the boobies are no longer as firm, the eyes getting older and wrinkles, etc... the 'reason' for the Love is gone.
That's the conditional 'love' of the thoughts/ego.

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Hereandnow
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Re: What is the nature of beauty? Is symmetry a scientific explanation?

Post by Hereandnow » January 17th, 2018, 8:43 pm

It is transcendental, beauty, that is; as is ethics. They belong in the same basket.

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Count Lucanor
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Re: What is the nature of beauty? Is symmetry a scientific explanation?

Post by Count Lucanor » January 23rd, 2018, 10:08 pm

growthhormone wrote:
January 5th, 2018, 2:57 am
The mystery of beauty has been bewildering us for a long long time. It seems to be a illusion. So many explanations have been proposed yet non of them fit all forms of beauty. It is elusive. At present, the most well known explanation is the "Symmetry theory". Is this the right answer?
You need to be more specific about what your concept of beauty entails. I doubt very much that a symmetry theory is "at present, the most well known explanation". In fact, modern aesthetics generally move away from symmetry. And who's looking for symmetry in Wagner or Debussy? For centuries, the Golden Ratio and the Fibonacci series have been used as universal formulas for natural beauty, but they are not inspired by symmetry.

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Re: What is the nature of beauty? Is symmetry a scientific explanation?

Post by Hereandnow » January 24th, 2018, 12:48 pm

Count Lucanor
You need to be more specific about what your concept of beauty entails. I doubt very much that a symmetry theory is "at present, the most well known explanation". In fact, modern aesthetics generally move away from symmetry. And who's looking for symmetry in Wagner or Debussy? For centuries, the Golden Ratio and the Fibonacci series have been used as universal formulas for natural beauty, but they are not inspired by symmetry.
i think the reference here is to a fairly recent study that showed physical features of people that attract others include include symmetry above others. Pretty obvious that this is not the only feature that counts. I mean, symmetrical gargoyle faces are still unattractive.

But if the question is beauty as such, not just human attractiveness, then the question becomes much more interesting. Claims about something being beauty are, like ethics, claims about absolutes. Very weird: the beauty of this music, this form and color is a different kind of thing from mere states of affairs, as in, grass is green. There is a "goodness" there that cannot be pinned down in the usual factual way. Value is not factual, by Wittgenstein's reasoning. He's right.

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Count Lucanor
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Re: What is the nature of beauty? Is symmetry a scientific explanation?

Post by Count Lucanor » January 25th, 2018, 9:36 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
January 24th, 2018, 12:48 pm
Count Lucanor
You need to be more specific about what your concept of beauty entails. I doubt very much that a symmetry theory is "at present, the most well known explanation". In fact, modern aesthetics generally move away from symmetry. And who's looking for symmetry in Wagner or Debussy? For centuries, the Golden Ratio and the Fibonacci series have been used as universal formulas for natural beauty, but they are not inspired by symmetry.
i think the reference here is to a fairly recent study that showed physical features of people that attract others include include symmetry above others. Pretty obvious that this is not the only feature that counts. I mean, symmetrical gargoyle faces are still unattractive.
In that case, the OP refers to human beauty, as underpinned by sexual attraction. I think there are plenty studies about that, which show, for example, that the hip to waist ratio is a key indicator of attractiveness in women, as well as the hip to shoulder ratio is a key indicator in men. These are, most likely, innate biological tendencies, but in any case, there's no doubt that socialization interferes in its application. I just read the other day that the small size of penises in ancient Greek statues expressed an aesthetic ideal related to virtues of moderation and rationality.
Hereandnow wrote:
January 24th, 2018, 12:48 pm
But if the question is beauty as such, not just human attractiveness, then the question becomes much more interesting. Claims about something being beauty are, like ethics, claims about absolutes. Very weird: the beauty of this music, this form and color is a different kind of thing from mere states of affairs, as in, grass is green. There is a "goodness" there that cannot be pinned down in the usual factual way. Value is not factual, by Wittgenstein's reasoning. He's right.
Adopting Kant's view, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, without the beholder being aware of it, so they feel it like an absolute, even though it isn't.

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Re: What is the nature of beauty? Is symmetry a scientific explanation?

Post by Hereandnow » January 25th, 2018, 10:04 pm

It's easier to let W. do his own talking. His Lecture on Ethics is short, accessible, and available online. See the part about the great book of facts.

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Count Lucanor
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Re: What is the nature of beauty? Is symmetry a scientific explanation?

Post by Count Lucanor » January 26th, 2018, 9:10 pm

The subject, however, is not the fact value of aesthetic (or ethical) judgements, but the nature of such judgements.

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Re: What is the nature of beauty? Is symmetry a scientific explanation?

Post by Hereandnow » January 26th, 2018, 10:01 pm

Well, the nature of the subject is about facts in the world. Aesthetic judgments are, as with all things, grounded in the experience at hand. In those judgments there is value. All aesthetic judgments are about value. And value is, W. tells us, and he's right, an absolute. W. does not abide by this, of course. Language has its limitations. But our pains and joys of the world are valuative, and their "goodness" or "badness" are not observable, and they do not waver according to circumstance. In their fixity, they are absolute. Value is, hands down, the oddest thing in the universe.

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Re: What is the nature of beauty? Is symmetry a scientific explanation?

Post by Count Lucanor » January 27th, 2018, 2:28 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
January 26th, 2018, 10:01 pm
Well, the nature of the subject is about facts in the world. Aesthetic judgments are, as with all things, grounded in the experience at hand.
That is debatable and that's why it matters to inquiry whether aesthetic judgements are grounded and made possible only by experience, or if they are grounded on experience and made possible by innate faculties. That will be the nature of beauty.

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Re: What is the nature of beauty? Is symmetry a scientific explanation?

Post by Hereandnow » January 27th, 2018, 3:10 pm

I don't draw a distinction between innate faculties and facts of the world. What lies before me is the world, and this is independent of any discussion about innate faculties, whatever those might be. I take experience, and the "innate faculties" that might reveal themselves therein, to be of a piece. This Van Gogh, Debussy, and so on, I experience as beautiful. All argument proceeds from this and nothing else. The universality of this is so slippery because it is a contrived issue.

The interesting thing about beauty (and all value) is that while the experience is unmistakable (incorrigible) its "goodness" is impossible to pin down. It's like this invisible giveness, wholly unlike,l say, the instrumental good of a violin with tuned strings which are good FOR something else, but not in themselves. Beauty is good in itself.

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Count Lucanor
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Re: What is the nature of beauty? Is symmetry a scientific explanation?

Post by Count Lucanor » January 27th, 2018, 5:15 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
January 27th, 2018, 3:10 pm
I don't draw a distinction between innate faculties and facts of the world. What lies before me is the world, and this is independent of any discussion about innate faculties, whatever those might be. I take experience, and the "innate faculties" that might reveal themselves therein, to be of a piece. This Van Gogh, Debussy, and so on, I experience as beautiful. All argument proceeds from this and nothing else. The universality of this is so slippery because it is a contrived issue.

The interesting thing about beauty (and all value) is that while the experience is unmistakable (incorrigible) its "goodness" is impossible to pin down. It's like this invisible giveness, wholly unlike,l say, the instrumental good of a violin with tuned strings which are good FOR something else, but not in themselves. Beauty is good in itself.
What really happens is that this Van Gogh, or that Debussy, or that flower in the garden, appear as beautiful to some, and not beautiful to others. The judgement remains subjective, individualistic, not universal, because what makes the object appear as having such property of beauty comes from within the observer, more than what comes from the object itself. The properties of the object, however, are there, and for the observer the experience and judgement of beauty is expressed as universal: the object IS beautiful. And what comes from the observer has those two dimensions: the innate tendencies and the learned ones.

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Re: What is the nature of beauty? Is symmetry a scientific explanation?

Post by Hereandnow » January 27th, 2018, 8:55 pm

Count Lucanor:
What really happens is that this Van Gogh, or that Debussy, or that flower in the garden, appear as beautiful to some, and not beautiful to others. The judgement remains subjective, individualistic, not universal, because what makes the object appear as having such property of beauty comes from within the observer, more than what comes from the object itself. The properties of the object, however, are there, and for the observer the experience and judgement of beauty is expressed as universal: the object IS beautiful. And what comes from the observer has those two dimensions: the innate tendencies and the learned ones.
Consider a nonproblematic example of objectivity: the study of the spectrum of a star's light provides data as to the star's composition. Why is this objective, universal, and non individualistic? It is because of the agreement among observers, and this agreement rests with something beyond the inquiring mind standing up repeatedly to observation, some independent X. But the same can be said for the VanGogh: it is the same painting for all, a universally descriptively presence, not unlike that of a star. The difference lies not in the descriptive fact of it, but solely in our responses to it, which vary. Thus, the fixity of the nonproblematic lies, vis a vis the issue here, with the variations of inner states. So: cognition seems fixed, aesthetics in art appreciation does not, and it is this lack of fixity that makes art subjective.

But I have a headache. Is this not an objective fact? No one else observes my headache, yet we do not call such a thing subjective in the judgment that there is a pain, and it is here, in my head. Others do not have the observational vantage point I have,yet no one dismisses the the objectivity of it. Ask a doctor if headaches are real and there will be no question.

Now you could say the headache is real only for me, but this does not diminish one jot the status of the pain: it is just as real as the collective observational data of stars that provides for the objectivity of nonproblematic propositions like the one above.

Beauty is not different.

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Re: What is the nature of beauty? Is symmetry a scientific explanation?

Post by Count Lucanor » January 28th, 2018, 11:03 am

Hereandnow wrote:
January 27th, 2018, 8:55 pm
Count Lucanor:
What really happens is that this Van Gogh, or that Debussy, or that flower in the garden, appear as beautiful to some, and not beautiful to others. The judgement remains subjective, individualistic, not universal, because what makes the object appear as having such property of beauty comes from within the observer, more than what comes from the object itself. The properties of the object, however, are there, and for the observer the experience and judgement of beauty is expressed as universal: the object IS beautiful. And what comes from the observer has those two dimensions: the innate tendencies and the learned ones.
Consider a nonproblematic example of objectivity: the study of the spectrum of a star's light provides data as to the star's composition. Why is this objective, universal, and non individualistic? It is because of the agreement among observers, and this agreement rests with something beyond the inquiring mind standing up repeatedly to observation, some independent X. But the same can be said for the VanGogh: it is the same painting for all, a universally descriptively presence, not unlike that of a star. The difference lies not in the descriptive fact of it, but solely in our responses to it, which vary. Thus, the fixity of the nonproblematic lies, vis a vis the issue here, with the variations of inner states. So: cognition seems fixed, aesthetics in art appreciation does not, and it is this lack of fixity that makes art subjective.
That is basically the same I'm saying, except that I highlight the fact that the variations of aesthetic experiences depend on both cognitive and social factors, which converge at the moment of judgement as an expectation (from the individual subject) of "agreement among observers". That's why there's a nuanced distinction between an statement describing my response to the presence of an object ("I like that flower" or "that flower pleases me") and a qualification of that object ("the flower is beautiful"). And given that some biological factors seem to play a role in configuring our perceptions and responses, the subjects might feel justified in their pretensions that certain properties are inevitably tied to certain responses.
Hereandnow wrote:
January 27th, 2018, 8:55 pm
But I have a headache. Is this not an objective fact? No one else observes my headache, yet we do not call such a thing subjective in the judgment that there is a pain, and it is here, in my head. Others do not have the observational vantage point I have,yet no one dismisses the the objectivity of it. Ask a doctor if headaches are real and there will be no question.

Now you could say the headache is real only for me, but this does not diminish one jot the status of the pain: it is just as real as the collective observational data of stars that provides for the objectivity of nonproblematic propositions like the one above.
By the moment you state "I have a headache" it has ceased to be only a subjective perception of a headache and has become a proposal of an objective fact taking place in your body. Independent observers could analyze data and confirm that effectively you're having a headache as defined in medical literature, or having the body conditions that normally produce a headache in similar subjects.

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Re: What is the nature of beauty? Is symmetry a scientific explanation?

Post by Hereandnow » January 28th, 2018, 4:12 pm

Count Lucanor:
That is basically the same I'm saying, except that I highlight the fact that the variations of aesthetic experiences depend on both cognitive and social factors, which converge at the moment of judgement as an expectation (from the individual subject) of "agreement among observers". That's why there's a nuanced distinction between an statement describing my response to the presence of an object ("I like that flower" or "that flower pleases me") and a qualification of that object ("the flower is beautiful"). And given that some biological factors seem to play a role in configuring our perceptions and responses, the subjects might feel justified in their pretensions that certain properties are inevitably tied to certain responses.
But I see no difference between liking X (as art, or, aesthetically) and saying X is beautiful, assuming beauty is the response in question for each.

Let's take a look at the fixity, or better, universality. Take the observation of the stars mentioned above. To gather data, one needs the requisite observational tools as well as the the proper cognitive faculties we possess as agencies of scientific inquiry. The entire enterprise rests with this latter. The observer must be properly engaged, educated to record and interpret sensory information; and yes, have a functioning mind/brain. The objectivity rests, in other words, on a community of observers with minds capable of certain types of concrete perception. If one does not share this, one is out of the consensus. But the important point is, this "sharing" is nothing more than agreement between "like-minded" (literally) observers.

As to beauty, some like Beethoven, others despise him. They like rap. But this is no less than belonging to a group of like minded aesthetes, with minds/brains similarly attuned to a kind of music.
By the moment you state "I have a headache" it has ceased to be only a subjective perception of a headache and has become a proposal of an objective fact taking place in your body. Independent observers could analyze data and confirm that effectively you're having a headache as defined in medical literature, or having the body conditions that normally produce a headache in similar subjects.
But how is this at all different from an analysis of the data regarding "I am having an aesthetic experience"? Alas, the medical literature has not yet caught up with aesthetic experiences, their brain chemistry and the rest. But the solid fact of aesthetic rapture is no less a fact.

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