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Throughout most of the history of aesthetics, beauty was the property to be studied, and often this property was regarded as consisting in harmony. By the middle of the twentieth century, beauty had become merely one item on a long list of aesthetic properties, along with the sublime, the picturesque, the dainty, the dumpy and countless others. Moreover, at least on the face of it, the evolution of modern art had cast doubt on the intimate relation between harmony and beauty. However, as has been observed by several writers (e.g. Brand 2000; Zangwill 2001; Brown 2010 [1998]) beauty seems to have made a comeback in recent years. The fact that the word "beauty" �?gures prominently in the titles of recent academic (Sircello 1975; Mothersill 1984; Brand 2000; Zangwill 2001; Danto 2003; McMahon 2007; Nehamas 2007; Parsons and Carlson 2008; Scruton 2009) and nonacademic (Eco 2004; Armstrong 2005) books in aesthetics may be regarded as evidence of beauty's reversal of fortune. It remains to be seen whether beauty's special relation with harmony will be re established in the process. This story about the place of beauty in the history of ideas is familiar enough (see, for example, Beardsley 1973 [1968]: 207-8), but it tells us very little about the nature of beauty, which is the topic of this entry. To understand more about its nature, two questions will have to be answered. First, can "beauty" be de�?ned, and if so, how? Second, what is the relation between beauty and the mind; for example, between being beautiful and being judged beautiful, or between being beautiful and being the object of pleasure? Various answers to these questions will be considered in the next two sections.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Companion to Aesthetics
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781136697142
ISBN (Print)9780415782869
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


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