To What Purpose do We Seek the Beautiful?

Class by Cynthia Chung. We all have something that comes to mind when we are speaking of beauty. It is certain that almost everyone right now is thinking of something different from the person next to them about what is beautiful. Everyone seeks out beauty, But if we cannot explain why we think something is beautiful past how it makes us feel, is this not a somewhat troubling thought, that we seek out what we do not know we seek. And cannot it not also be said that we are thus not truly free in our actions if we do not understand what motivates them? The intention of this class is not to set a rigid standard to what should be perceived as beautiful or artful, and reject everything else, but rather the intention is to give us an ability to think about why we are attracted to something and therefore to give us a capability of then deciding whether we should continue to be attracted to or not by such a thing, and it is through this ability to choose that we obtain true freedom, not freedom to experience anything and everything but a freedom to choose what we are drawn to and ultimately motivated by. Another intention of this class is to also beg the question, “Is there a purpose to which we seek out the beautiful?”. This is a very provocative question, because if there is a purpose for why we seek out beauty, this signifies that beauty can ultimately be understood by reason. This class goes through an investigation of this using Friedrich Schiller’s paper “Kallias, Or On the Beautiful”.

Feature Image: “Death and the Sculptor” by Daniel Chester French

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