Why do we like beautiful things? (Probably) The greatest philosopher's belif on Beauty.


Plato c.428-c.348 BC (image and text from book ''Great Thinkers'' by The school of life.)

P15, 3. The importance of beauty. 

... Why do we like beautiful things? He found a fascinating reason: we recognize in them a part of 'the good'. There are lots of good things we aspire to be: kind, gentle, harmonious, balanced, peaceful, strong, dignified. These are qualities in people. But they are also qualities in objects. We get moved and excited when we find in objects the qualities we need but are missing in our lives. 

 Beautiful objects therefore have a really important function. They invite us to evolve in their direction, to become as they are. Beauty can educate our souls. It follows that ugliness is a serious matter too, for it parades dangerous and damaged characteristics in front of us. It encourages us to be like it: harsh, chaotic, brash. It makes it that much harder to be wise, kind and calm. 

Plato sees art as therapeutic: it is the duty of poets and painters (and, nowadays, novelists, television producers and designers) to help us lead good lives.