Philosophy Psychology

What is Beauty?

True beauty just is, and exists before language, thought and technology.

…and what, after all *is* beauty? Above and beyond its purpose in the multi-billion year old living game and competition of biological self-propagation, as a method of drawing attention and as a token of symbolic value in cultural systems that themselves seek self-replication through diverse methods of attaching economic or social capital to putatively beautiful ideas or people, and as much as any other adaptive liquid logic of evolving information or energy systems and necessary metamorphosis must seek continuity and persistence, beauty is (also) something else.

Beauty is a lived fact and experience of creative individuation that, lost for words or the cognitive tools to comprehend this essence, we seek to express through simple patterns and caricatures of thought and form. It remains intransigently problematic that, at a moment of cultural and technological inflection and acceleration such as that through which we are currently living, the identification of surfaces and exteriors as being the essence of beauty is a method by which the cultures and the technologies themselves might proceed to rapidly evolve but it leaves us, the inhabitants of those information and communication systems, feeling isolated and alienated from our own selves and our own inner experience of living.

True beauty is only ever indirectly approached through words and language (or cognitive grammars) and viewed from a distance, it is a gestalt property of human being that the tools of language, of communication and of technology can only ever divide us from. It is ironic that beauty, like truth or freedom, is always already set at an infinitely distant vanishing point by the very act of attempting to define it. This is as true for the metaphysical Other as it is for the (mischievously and similarly metaphysical) Self. All of this mad hurrah and frenzied complexity of socially-mediated misdirection and commercial turbulence through which we define beauty is really only a method of autonomously self-replicating cultural and technological logic that cares little for our own confusion.

True beauty just is, and exists before language, thought and technology.


I acknowledge that there are logical gaps and entangled inconsistencies here. Sometimes it is better to leave the inevitable discontinuities of logic and communication partially visible and in any case – they provide narrative energy as useful entropy for subsequent discussion.

5 replies on “What is Beauty?”

Some things exist before we divide them, structure them, impose arbitrary coordinate systems and measurement upon them. Beauty is a visceral thing, experienced directly in Self or as Other and before language intercedes. It is not an absolute value, it is of a class of entities that exist before we even begin to define properties or values. Unmediated experience is only ever intelligible via cognitive mediation, so there may be irreducible enigmas here (?).

There is no certainty, only approximation and in this case – the beauty that is celebrated in, for instance – social media, is that superficial interpretation and alienating abstraction above and beyond (but imposed upon) lived experience.

Aesthetics is subtle, not absolute, and in the general noise and confusion of commercially-mediated psychological self-constructions, there is a general and distributed disconnection or discontinuity between a beauty of living and/or inner peace, of a sense of pleasure or wonder experienced pre-linguistic or epistemological interruption with the angular intent of an external and implausibly perfect (Lacan’s Mirror!) superficial visual or materially complete and consistent representation of Self.

Commercial systems divide us against ourselvesand then seek to extract value and utility from the entropy and psychological or social turbulence created there.

Beauty of Other is beauty of Self and here is the narcissistic fact underlying all facination, perhaps.

More ad hoc conceptual waffling and impromptu abstractions from me, my apologies. ☺


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