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Beauty: Objective or Subjective?

Wednesday March 20 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm EDT

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Is beauty an objective property or a subjective feeling? Drawing from philosophy and science, we’ll discuss different ideas and, perhaps, realize that the question itself is problematic. Michael Spicher is a philosopher, who has been trapped in these discussions since 2002, when a professor challenged him to think a bit more about beauty. (He hasn’t stopped…)

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Most people have heard this statement or a version of it, but how many of us have dared to explore whether it is really true. I refer to it as an unquestioned assumption. So, let’s take a moment to question it! We’ll look to philosophy (past and present) and to recent research in science (especially neuroaesthetics) to see what different people have said. The reason this matters is because our belief in the nature of beauty determines (at least partially) the way we think it can be applied in different situations. People often relegate beauty to the frivolous, or unimportant. But it is an important driving force for many of our actions.

Some questions we’ll discuss:

  • What is beauty?
  • Is Beauty a human value?
  • How can we apply beauty to concrete situations?

Recommended Reading:
Crispin Sartwell’s entry on “Beauty” for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, especially section 1 on “Objectivity and Subjectivity.”


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Wednesday March 20
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm EDT
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