“Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder”

We all have, at some or the other point of time, been fascinated by BEAUTY – perhaps the most ‘beautiful’ word that any dictionary could accomodate. However, defining ‘beauty’ is not that ‘beautifully easy’!

“What is beauty”, would be a vague question.

‘Beauty’ has been interpreted varidly throughout time, various cultures and the vast different perceptions of the world. The reason why  the very concept of ‘beauty’ is often distorted, misunderstood and shadowed by a wide amount of conflicting pressures. Still, it is something we all endlessly strive for!

To  Plato, ‘beauty’ is objective, it is not about the ‘experience’ of the observer. While to his own disciple, Aristotle, ‘beauty’ resides in what is being observed and is defined by characteristics of the art object, such as symmetry, order, balance, and proportion.

While they hold differing conceptions of what “beauty” is, Plato and Aristotle do agree that it is a feature of the “object,” and not something in the mind of the beholder.

On the other hand, we have such age old sayings as : ‘Beauty in the eye of the beholder’, the literal meaning of which says, ‘the perception of beauty is subjective – what one person finds beautiful another may not’.

This saying first appeared in the 3rd century BC in Greek. It didn’t appear in its current form in print until the 19th century, but in the meantime there were various written forms that expressed much the same thought. In 1588, the English dramatist John Lyly, in his Euphues and his England, wrote: “…as neere is Fancie to Beautie, as the pricke to the Rose, as the stalke to the rynde, as the earth to the roote”

Shakespeare expressed a similar sentiment in Love’s Labours Lost, 1588 :

“…Good Lord Boyet, my beauty, though but mean,

Needs not the painted flourish of your praise:

Beauty is bought by judgement of the eye,

Not utter’d by base sale of chapmen’s tongues”

However, the person who is widely credited with coining the saying in its current form is Margaret Wolfe Hungerford (née Hamilton), who wrote many books, often under the pseudonym of ‘The Duchess’. In Molly Bawn, 1878, there’s the line “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, which is the earliest citation that could be found in print.

Being a right brainer with least inclination to logic and rationality of duniyadaari (Worldliness), I pick, rather CHAMPION the ‘subjectivity’ aspect of beauty that Margaret Wolfe Hungerford gave us.

Bespectacled with the subjective nature of beauty, now I look around and get a more convincing answer as to WHY:

Currency notes are ‘beautifullest’ to a materiastic; biceps are ‘beautifullest’ to a gym-goer; and MOM is ‘BEAUTIFULLEST’ to a KIDDO!!!






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