Monday, February 19, 2007

Æsthetics in the News

The redoubtable Arts & Letters Daily presently features this article on the (improperly neglected) study of beauty.
The Uncertainty Principle of Beauty. Not only professional philosophy but large swaths of culture begin to look different once we've included desire and uncertainty in our idea of beauty. When, for example, we talk about beauty in purely formal terms — as Modernist critics did —we must conclude that beauty will always be a rare thing, its appreciation inherently difficult. But if instead we agree with Mr. Nehamas that beauty is identical to desire, that desire longs for engagement, and that such engagements are invariably risky, we might talk about beauty as we would talk about friendship: not as a verdict of something's worth but as indication that a relationship with the beautiful object will continue to give us unexpected pleasures over time.

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