Aesthetics always used to focus on the question of beauty. Indeed, as an undergraduate it seemed to me to be almost entirely about two questions: What is beauty? What is art?
We’ve got more sceptical about beauty since then, in philosophy and outside of it, in part, I think, because we seem to have become persuaded by the idea that beauty is too subjective for anything meaningful to be said about it. But the concept has been making a bit of a comeback in aesthetics, I understand, and even if philosophers used to wrong to focus so much on it, it’s surely of great interest.
Anyway, I’m trying to write something on this, in relation to buildings. But I thought before I did so it might be useful to actually get some idea of what people find beautiful, rather than make assumptions. I read Roger Scruton’s latest book recently, for example, and it seems astonishing to me how confident he is that people don’t like the kind of buildings he doesn’t like.
So, if you’ve got five minutes, could you complete this short survey about what you think is beautiful? Having done so, perhaps we could have an open discussion in the comments about matters and questions arising. (I know I’m not always the best at replying quickly to comments but give me time and I will read them and join in, honest!) Oh, and please share the survey link with family and friends, especially those not that interested in philosophy!
UPDATE: This Der Speigel gallery of ugly German buildings is interesting. How much is ugliness in the eye of the beholder too?