Beauty Is Objective

Gene Edward Veith is a sensible professor who also serves as a article writer on worldview and culture for WORLD publication. In WORLD’s most recent issue, he wrote a very insightful and interesting piece on beauty as an absolute. The article is posted below. ’all should consider subscribing to WORLD. It is a great news magazine written from a Christian worldview by top-notch scholars and writers. Christians have to fight the mindset that insists “there are no absolutes.” But Christians often don’t realize what the absolutes are that they need to defend.

The classic thinkers spoke of three kinds of absolutes: the real, the good, and the stunning. Often, Christians reject the claims that morality and truth are comparative while agreeing with the postmodernists that beauty is comparative. But to believe that beauty is only a subjective preference-unconnected to standards that originate in God Himself-is to buy into a foundational principle of today’s anti-Christian worldview. The Bible tells us to create our minds on “whatever” is “excellent” and “of good report” (Philippians 4:8). Beauty does involve personal taste, but our preferences need discipline.

Growing in taste means understanding how to take pleasure in what is objectively good. Consider this principle from Aesthetics 101: A work is beautiful to the extent that it shows at the same time both complexity and unity. In painting a dark canvas has unity, but it does not have any complexity. A canvas of random paint-splatterings may have complexity, but no unity is experienced by it. The Sistine Chapel, or a Rembrandt woodcut, or a Hudson River landscape has both, being full of individual details that come together into a complete that is higher than the sum of its parts.

Pop music typically consists of no more than three chords in a simple melody with simple lyrics. Not much is certainly going on. Contrast that with a hymn (whether traditional or modern): It contains many different musical records for different voices, all arriving jointly in the unity of harmony. Its lyrics, subsequently, are filled with theology, figures of speech, biblical references, and emotions.

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  • Do not use essential oils when pregnant with no supervision of the health professional
  • 1: Independence, Individuality, Attainment Leadership, Pioneering, Administrating
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The hymn is objectively better by aesthetic requirements than the pop ditty. Sustained visually is the symphonic structure where every device is playing a different musical series yet all come together into a majestic unity. There is certainly nothing incorrect with an intermittent indulgence in junk food, though if all you eat is sugars and French fries, you will be malnourished.

Similarly, there is nothing incorrect with an intermittent indulgence in rubbish culture. And you will need the diet found in a home-cooked meal, you need the cultural nutrition that originates from enjoying the best. Taking subjective pleasure in what is excellent calls for knowledge and experience objectively. This is a practical suggestion: Play classical music. Not just any classical music, some of which is less accessible and an “acquired taste.” Start with two composers: Bach and Mozart. Focus on their instrumental works, not the operas or chorales. Notice how their music is both complex and unified. Notice the pleasure it gives you. Before long too, you will develop a taste for musical excellence. Then you can go from there into other types of aesthetic excellence.