Is a sunset on a moon of Saturn beautiful even if no one is there to see it? I propose that beauty is not only in the eye of the beholder; it is the intrinsic value of something just for being. Therefore, everything is beautiful.
Right now, the leaves are changing color where I live. Sometimes, when driving to or from work, I see striking images of beauty. Magenta, indigo and cadmium orange sunrises and sets, florescent yellow and crimson trees, bursts of water crashing and billowing off waterfalls, sharp mountains cutting into the sky, shrouded in swirls of mist. I feel a need to somehow capture or absorb these images. All I can think to do is to take deep breaths and imagine the beauty coming in to me.
Nature is full of intentional beauty – things that have evolved to attract other things. For example, flowers are attractive to bees; humans, apparently sharing a sense of aesthetics with bees, are also attracted to flowers. Humans find other humans to be beautiful. This has obvious reproductive and other social advantages. Baby animals generally appear to be cute to us and I assume that other animal parents find their babies to be adorable as well. These are some of the ways that nature has used beauty for survival.
Intentional beauty is thoroughly enjoyable and easy to grock. However, it is accidental beauty – beauty with no evolutionary purpose – that intrigues me. Read the rest of this entry »