The Concept of Beauty

How does one define Beauty itself? Pretty close to impossible, but here are a few starting points.

First try:

Beauty is that which calls to mind pain. That is, beauty is born out of pain and suffering. English has a phrase "achingly beautiful"; it's a two-word explanation of beauty. Beauty is desire for what one cannot have. yin/yang. One extreme must exist to give context / meaning to the other. This is one interpretation of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But why cast it in moral terms? Why not "knowledge of death"? Is "death" evil? But I always thought "evil" had to be active. if not, it IS death, because death is entropy, coolth, sleep, lack of energy.

That didn't seem to quite do it. So another try:

Beauty is fleeting, and therefore valuable. When we understand how fleeting it is, we are then able to appreciate it. Beauty could be a sunset (gone in minutes), an act (which cannot "save us"), etc.

Still not there. Try again:

Beauty is the footprint of life. Life is energy, refreshing, creative, generative. When it acts, beauty is the result. By "life acting", I mean when it creates. If, as Becker says, neurosis is the result of life unlived, then the effect of this explanation of beauty is that "life lived" results in a beautiful life. We're still wistful about, nostalgic for, desirous of, melancholy about, beauty because it is fleeting, and we cannot control, preserve or create it. And we know that it would not be as arresting were we able to do so.


Beauty is what we experience when we are in the presence of the Transcendant. Beauty is being unable to move.