Is there such a thing as objective beauty?
Let me explain a bit quickly. 

I was thinking recently–thanks to one of my classes–that language is completely representational. Any word that you might say, particularly nouns, represent something that we can see or a concept for which we can think of scenarios to exemplify it. For example, when I say the word “leaf,” there is probably an unconscious picture of a leaf that you think of. It might be a maple leaf, a fern frond; it doesn’t even have to be scientifically correct. (I happen to think of  a green dogwood leaf, most days. Or a yellow maple. Kind of depends on my mood and the season.) Anyway, if I were to call leaves one thing, but in my mind a leaf is something different than what you think it is, then we reach a stretch of severe miscommunication. If I were to start describing my idea of a leaf to you, while instead thinking of a platypus, not one of my readers could possibly understand my message. Most readers do not believe that leaves are a combination of an otter and a duck and lay eggs for reproduction. While a reader might see the correlation between the my descriptions of a leaf as being a platypus, my writing itself would be discarded as absurd for not abiding to the “standard” of a leaf.

Concept art from "Thor" and the rainbow bridge of Norse mythology. Found it on http://ssyndrom.blogspot.com/ along with some other neat concept art pics from movie production.

I think that in the same way, imagination and our definitions of beauty also have standards to which they may appeal. For fiction writers, how can you make people imagine things that have never been seen? The Greeks’ mythology is perfect for this illustration. Unless I’m mistaken, no one has really seen a faun, a mix of a man with the hind legs of a goat. And yet we are able to picture it. Yes, it is probably due to things like modern illustrations, movies like the Chronicles of Narnia or Thor (both of which I recommend), when it comes to us picturing things from mythology. I think that movie directors are CG experts are really the best artists, since they have to take things that readers hold dear and make visible what has only been in their imaginations.

Yet we all can understand books that we read. If I say that a man’s nose it hawkish, you could probably come up with a picture very similar to what I am picturing. So our imaginations may also have standards to which they look for direction. Is our sense of beauty the same way? Is there a standard of beauty that all of humanity looks to? Is there a reason why classic works of literature remain classics, why famous paintings will continue to be extolled for their aesthetic qualities?

As a Christian, I think that beauty stems from God. It is the only explanation, in my opinion. I have multiple reasons why I believe this, and I can write more if there is demand to talk more. But I want to hear you all as well. Pass this around, ask your friends. I’m not asking for a definition of beauty necessarily, though if you are going to argue that, tell me how you define beauty as well. Let’s talk. Is imagination and beauty something that has a shared source, a common link to the minds of all humanity?

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