Thursday, February 21, 2013

Blog #6: Why Beauty Matters

The video clip we watched from Scruton surprised me in more ways than one. How can someone who promotes natural beauty and the need to appreciate it condone fox hunting that way? Sure it might be a sport, but animals are part of nature. Isn't killing a fox similar in some respect to cutting down a forest? You're essentially destorying habitats and removing pieces of nature from the bigger picture. It just seemed a little hypocritical to me, not that I necessarily believe that hunting is good or bad (as in deer hunting, fox hunting is a different story. I'm not sure there is a need to control the fox population.)

Anyway, I found something on the internet about Roger Scruton and his "Why Beauty Matters." Here are a few pieces:

How is beauty important in our everyday realities and constructs, both with each other and to the built environment?
There are two kinds of beauty: the individual, expressive and revealing gesture, and ordinary harmony and fittingness. In everyday life it is the second kind of beauty that is important, and it is exemplified in home-building, gardening and the design of squares, houses and streets. It is important because it expresses and amplifies the human desire for settlement, for an environment in which things fit together and people too. It is an instrument of peace.

You speak of how we should set standards for beauty. Why is this important and how do we go about setting these standards? Would such standards be culture-dependent?
Not standards, exactly, but consensus. We need to adjust our desires to those of our neighbours, and the study of how things look and sound is part of it. That is why, in all towns where people wish to settle, there emerges an agreed repertoire of forms and styles. (Witness Lucca, Siena, Paris, Sanaa, Istanbul.)

Is there a relationship between beauty and perfection? And is there a concept of efficiency in beauty?
Yes, the first kind of beauty is also a perfection – the perfection of a Beethoven quartet or a Bernini fountain. But the second kind of beauty has less to do with perfection than with serenity: it is a way of reconciling us to our own imperfection, and helping us to live with the real while still loving the ideal.

I found it interesting how he says that the standard for beauty is really what is collectively agreed upon by society. I feel like this gives a lot more room to determining what is beautiful, and gets away a little bit from Carlson's implication that knowledge is required to truly appreciate the aesthetic value of nature.

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