Challenge Response: Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder

Here's my response to this week's challenge:



0:06 Is beauty in the eye of the beholder?

0:09 Well this challenge kind of reminds me

0:11 of the, "Can we be good without God?"

0:14 challenge in that the very first thing

0:16 that we need to do is make a distinction.

0:18 We need to make a distinction between

0:20 the ontological and epistemological

0:22 because this question, "Is beauty in the eye of

0:26 the beholder?" can actually be answered

0:28 "yes" and "no." In the epistemological sense,

0:31 yes, beauty, or the perception or

0:35 experience of beauty, is in the beholder.

0:38 And so there is a perceiving subject who

0:42 can see something and either recognize

0:44 its beauty or not and you don't have to

0:47 believe in God to recognize whether

0:48 something is beautiful or ugly. Also, I

0:51 think in the perceiving there are some

0:54 subjective elements there. There's some

0:56 elements of taste in our perceptions so

1:00 that you and I can actually develop a

1:03 taste that allow us to perceive beauty

1:07 better. Or, we can actually dull our

1:11 senses and actually develop a taste for

1:13 more ugly art. And so there are some

1:17 subjective elements in it. So, there is

1:19 certainly an epistemological aspect

1:22 where beauty is perceived by

1:25 subjects.

1:26 However, we want to make the distinction

1:27 between the ontological. Is beauty itself

1:31 merely subjective? The answer to that is

1:34 "no."

1:35 There are objectively beautiful things,

1:38 and I think a very simple argument for

1:41 this is just contrasting some some clear

1:44 case examples. So, if there is no

1:47 objectivity to beauty, that means the

1:49 work of Picasso, or Monet, or Michelangelo,

1:55 or da Vinci, or Rembrandt, those works are

1:59 no different than someone taking a

2:02 canvas and smearing feces on it. If there

2:05 is no objective basis to beauty, then you

2:07 cannot say that one is better than the

2:09 other.

2:11 We could do the same thing with music.

2:12 You could take some great classical

2:14 piece

2:15 by Beethoven and say it's no more

2:17 beautiful than Rebecca Black's song

2:20 "Friday," right? That internet viral song. If

2:24 there's no objective beauty then those

2:26 things on the same level. People just

2:29 have a difference in preference. And so I

2:31 think that clearly shows there's

2:33 objectivity to beauty. And of course,

2:35 when we look at something like a

2:37 magnificent sunset, there are real

2:39 properties of that sunset. There are

2:41 tones and hues in colors that are real

2:44 properties of that thing, that

2:46 objective thing. So, is there objective

2:49 beauty?

2:50 Absolutely. And so we need to make a

2:53 distinction between the perceiving

2:55 subjects and the perceived objects. And

2:59 so is beauty in the eye of the beholder?

3:01 Yes, in terms of our ability to perceive

3:04 and our experience as perceivers. But is

3:07 beauty itself merely subjective? No,

3:11 there is objective beauty.

3:14 In fact, this ends up being a great

3:15 apologetic for Christianity because

3:18 objective beauty, objectively beautiful

3:21 things like art, and music, and film

3:24 actually point beyond themselves to the

3:27 grounding or the source of all beauty,

3:30 that is the beautiful one himself, God.

3:32 Psalm 27 tells us that He is beautiful. We

3:36 want to gaze upon His beauty ultimately

3:40 as the source of objective beauty.

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Brett Kunkle