Beauty

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“The first real problem I faced in my life was that of beauty,” wrote the poet-playwright- novelist Yukio Mishima, in Temple of the Golden Pavilion as he pondered beauty’s relevance, meanings, and the spell it cast over him. Beauty is complicated by the word beauty itself. Limited or overloaded, beauty has been celebrated as essential or denounced as irrelevant. The existence of beauty has been challenged, called a search for Eldorado. Some find no beauty in life, a recurring motif in subcultures, music lyrics, and the notes left by suicides. Others dismiss that perspective, arguing that common sense, experience, and multidisciplinary research reveal the reality and centrality of beauty in our lives. But what exactly is beauty? Speculations about the nature of beauty are various and contradictory. Some philosophers have argued that it will remain a mystery. Other theorists have held less modest beliefs, arguing that beauty expresses a basic spiritual reality, has universal physical properties, or is an experience and construction of mind and culture.

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The beauty ‘project’ will explore, assess, and map a number of key core themes:

  • Understanding Beauty
  • Experiences of and Representations of Beauty
  • Beauty and Nature
  • Beauty, Culture, and Identity
  • The Business of Beauty
  • Abuses of Beauty

Related themes will also be identified for development and exploration. Out of our deliberations it is anticipated that a series of related cross context research projects will develop.

“The first real problem I faced in my life was that of beauty,” wrote the poet-playwright- novelist Yukio Mishima, in Temple of the Golden Pavilion as he pondered beauty’s relevance, meanings, and the spell it cast over him. Beauty is complicated by the word beauty itself. Limited or overloaded, beauty has been celebrated as essential or denounced as irrelevant. The existence of beauty has been challenged, called a search for Eldorado. Some find no beauty in life, a recurring motif in subcultures, music lyrics, and the notes left by suicides. Others dismiss that perspective, arguing that common sense, experience, and multidisciplinary research reveal the reality and centrality of beauty in our lives. But what exactly is beauty? Specu¬la¬tions about the nature of beauty are vari¬ous and contra¬dictory. Some philosophers have argued that it will remain a mystery. Other theorists have held less modest beliefs, arguing that beauty expresses a basic spiritual reality, has universal physical properties, or is an experience and construction of mind and culture.