What Is Beauty?

The Financial Times appeals to an Oxford philosophy professor to find the essence of beauty. Darwin said it was sex. For Estée Lauder, it was glamor. But what does beauty mean today?

The Financial Times appeals to an Oxford philosophy professor to find the essence of beauty. Darwin said it was sex. For Estée Lauder, it was glamor. But what does beauty mean today? "'Beauty,' wrote Umberto Eco in his study of European aesthetics On Beauty, 'has never been absolute and immutable but has taken on different aspects depending on the historical period and the country.' Yet if the definition of beauty is ever shifting," asks the FT, "how can we make sense of its significance?" After analyzing three new books on the subject, the FT finishes by saying that "Beauty may be an amorphous, shape-shifting concept, with positive as well as negative connotations, but one thing it’s not is only skin deep."

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