This page features a collection of the best resources on the philosophy of beauty. Just to be clear, there is no single best resource on the philosophy of beauty. The best one will depend on your preferred learning style and the amount of time you want to spend learning about it.
To get started, simply choose one of the links below:
If you want an overview of the idea of Beauty:
- Read the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Beauty. However, you should keep in mind that the Stanford Encyclopedia in often quite technical and this article may be difficult for beginners. It’s also quite long at around 9400 words. Here’s a short excerpt that introduces the idea of beauty:
“The nature of beauty is one of the most enduring and controversial themes in Western philosophy, and is—with the nature of art—one of the two fundamental issues in philosophical aesthetics. Beauty has traditionally been counted among the ultimate values, with goodness, truth, and justice. It is a primary theme among ancient Greek, Hellenistic, and medieval philosophers, and was central to eighteenth and nineteenth-century thought, as represented in treatments by such thinkers as Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Hume, Burke, Kant, Schiller, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Hanslick, and Santayana. By the beginning of the twentieth century, beauty was in decline as a subject of philosophical inquiry, and also as a primary goal of the arts. However, there were signs of revived interest by the early 2000s. . . .”
If you’re looking for a somewhat shorter and more engaging introduction:
- Read Shahidha Bari’s article: What is beauty if not a jolt that awakens us to the world? [2800 words]
If you’d prefer a video introduction::
- Watch the documentary Why Beauty Matters [58:58 mins]
If you prefer audio and podcasts:
Unfortunately, there’s only so much you can learn by using free online resources. If you want to learn more, check out this list of the best books on the philosophy of beauty.
For more introductory philosophy resources and reading lists check out this collection of Resources and Reading Lists.