Keats' "Ode to a Grecian Urn" (Can beauty reveal truth?)
'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'
Is Mathematics Beautiful?
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), Autobiography, 1967, v1, p158.
"It seems to me now that mathematics is capable of an artistic excellence as great as that of any music, perhaps greater; not because the pleasure it gives (although very pure) is comparable, either in intensity or in the number of people who feel it, to that of music, but because it gives in absolute perfection that combination, characteristic of great art, of godlike freedom, with the sense of inevitable destiny; because, in fact, it constructs an ideal world where everything is perfect but true."
The Study of Mathematics
"Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty -- a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show."
Aristotle (384 B.C.-322 B.C.), Poetics
Beauty depends on size as well as symmetry.
Here are some questions that we can discuss about beauty that should really get the ball rolling:
1. Can we argue rationally about whether something is beautiful?
2. Is beauty both skin deep and in the eye of the beholder?
3. What's the difference between surface beauty and deep beauty?
18th Century German philosopher Immanuel Kant thought that if we think something is beautiful then we want everyone to agree with us. Is perception a skill?
4. Would the world be better off if everyone agreed on what is beautiful? Nehamas thinks the world would not be better off because what we find beautiful is a reflection of our personality and individuality.
5. What can we learn about ourselves from what we find beautiful? Some people believe that it illuminates our style.
6. Is taste a function of education and economics? Explain.
7. Is natural beauty ever better than constructed beauty, like in art or music?
8. Do beauty and happiness go together? Why or why not?
Please pick 4 of the 8 questions to answer on beauty and aesthetics.
250 words minimum - Due Friday, December 4.
Many of these questions were taken from a discussion found on the website below: