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Passions in Poetry

Beauty (extremes)

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dreamer1 12 5 24
since 12-11-2000
Posts 172
crossing between

0 posted 01-06-2001 02:34 PM       View Profile for dreamer1 12 5 24   Email dreamer1 12 5 24   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for dreamer1 12 5 24

Just thinking the other day, and, well, thinking. If all Shakespeare's work disappeared, all Van Gogh's paintings disappeared, the world would not be the same, but what if all beauty disappeared? What would happen? I asked some people and they said that people would descend to the level of the animals, that beauty is our inspiration and the only thing that separates us from them. I'm inclined to disagree, but what do you all think?
What if all beauty disappeared?

....peace as a primary objective is dangerous because it implies that we would sacrifice anything for the sake of it....
Robert Kaplan
Member Elite
since 06-01-2000
Posts 2032

1 posted 01-06-2001 07:32 PM       View Profile for fractal007   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fractal007

As you've indicated, Dreamer, some have observed that "people would descend to the level of the animals, that beauty is our inspiration and the only thing that separates us from them."

I, too am inclined to disagree with that statement.  I disagree with it both on a spiritual and a scientific level.  

Firstly, on a spiritual level, from a theological perspective:

God created all things to look beautiful.  He also likely made all animals to appreciate the beauty of nature.

On a scientific level:

Beauty can be found in concepts such as evolution - namely co-evolution.  For example, animals eat plants, then deficate the remnants, which are then re-used by the plants.  This, in my opinion, is very beautiful.  Whether it has divine guidance or not is all based upon opinion, and is also off topic here.

As far as a world in which there is no beauty:

In order for there to be no beauty there would have to be no sentient life forms in the universe.  You may say something along the lines of "well, what if we got rid of all the plants and the earth looked like a wasteland?"  I would reply with "beauty is in the eye of the beholder."  Believe it or not, lol, I do find scenes such as pictures of destroyed cities, to be quite beautiful.  

Humanity[let alone any other species on earth which sexually reproduces] would not be able to survive without beauty.  I am, of course, talking about the beauty of a member of the opposite sex.  In order for our genes to successfuly reproduce themselves, they have developed a complex system we call sex and love.  This system depends upon being able to take in information and find it "beautiful".  If there is no beauty in this respect, then the system will not operate properly.  If the system does not operate properly then species on Earth die.

Finally, research has found that the "spirit world"[or whatever that might be defined as. although I am religious, I do not define it in a mainstream manner]has been found to be able to assist us in being healthy.  For example, prayer is often helpful in curing people.  There are many explanations for this, both theological and purely scientific.  Then there is my explanation, which is that it's both scientific and theological.  But the fact is that things such as the beauty of nature, can have some very therapeutic effects on a person.  This, in my opinion, is another example of co-evolution.  The peacefulness found in places such as forests and near rivers, can be very good for one's mind, and even, arguably, one's body.  Thus, if beauty were destroyed in the world, species both human and "animal" would not be able to function quite as well as they currently do.  We are already observing these types of things in phenomena such as work related stress.  Look at the methods currently being used to heal such things!  People are buying tapes of natural sounds, and are taking relaxation classes.

Thus, beauty is a very important thing to both our spirits, and our physical being.  Without it, we risk serious problems in both the animal kingdom, and in society[although I'm not afraid to refer to it as the "animal kingdom" as well]
Junior Member
since 11-27-2000
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2 posted 01-07-2001 08:02 PM       View Profile for Sock   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Sock

I agree with you guys.

Beauty doesn't not make who we are, it also doesn't control our instincts.  For an example, A lion uses any means possible to survive - yet there is beauty in the land that he lives.

Without beauty I think that civilisation would not end, instead life would become darker, harder to go through.  I believe that beauty and our awareness of it calms the darkness that all human being has with in them.

The saying "Stop and smell the flowers" is another example.  Without stoping to take in life's beauty - our life lacks quality.

Thanks for making me think  

Member Rara Avis
since 05-19-99
Posts 9708
Michigan, US

3 posted 01-07-2001 10:00 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

If you mean man-made beauty, ala art, the answer is simple - were it to disappear, we would recreate it.

If you mean all beauty, including life, the answer is equally simple - God would recreate it.
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since 06-10-99
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4 posted 01-07-2001 10:08 PM       View Profile for Craig   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Craig

ďThe saying "Stop and smell the flowers" is another example. Without stopping to take in life's beauty - our life lacks quality.Ē

Itís a funny coincidence but Iíve been contemplating thoughts that run along these lines for another thread where I was trying to highlight the permanence of quality and the human ability to recognize it. I almost answered this thread when I first read it, I held off because the main thrust was aimed at beauty and not at my original target quality, the above statement highlighted that the difference wasnít that far removed .

I think the statement above opens a chink just large enough for my thoughts to be legitimately added, I believe that without beauty the world would be a lesser place but without quality it would be almost impossible for life to continue.

Without beauty the animal kingdom would continue almost as is, beauty is not a requirement for an animal to find a mate. Moreover in some cases physical beauty isnít even a requirement for humans to find a mate. The choice in partners for animals, and for humans, is the quality of that partner and his/her/itís ability to provide the best chance of strong offspring; provision of food; protection and status. Humans have developed the propensity to drop some of these requirements as the need for each lessened through societal evolution, they were replaced by beauty, love and lust though status seems to have been retained.

If we can replace the word beauty with quality the retardant nature of the original assumption carries a lot of weight, without quality all art would disappear. All sports would be defunct, in fact competition of any kind would be rendered redundant. Thatís where the argument bites deepest, competition based on the striving for quality of all kinds fuels the development and the reason for life itself. Without reason or the quality that fuels it no plant or animal would exist, even the lowest forms of life known would perish, imagine a dish of single celled animals if one drop of salt solution is added those lower life forms would naturally migrate away from the salt. What they are doing is moving towards a higher quality environment, take away the ability to recognize that and they would all stay where they were and die.

Iím sorry I sort of highjacked your topic, itís just, as I said earlier, I happened to be thinking along these lines when I read it.

Thanks for the chance to read and reply

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since 06-01-2000
Posts 2032

5 posted 01-08-2001 03:30 AM       View Profile for fractal007   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fractal007


Hang on a second.  You said that beauty is not a requirement for an animal to find a mate.  This may be true, but that does not mean that these requirements you've mentioned are not expressed through beauty.  From what I've read of genetics and theories such as the selfish gene theorem, it would seem that all our basic sexual instincts are built around the preservation of our DNA.  This need to preserve the DNA results in elaborate constructs such as attraction due to physical appearance of a member of the opposite sex.  As an example of this going even further than just physical appearance, scientists now think that activities such as kissing may be linked to female humans checking the quality of the imune system of the potential mate.  

So, I guess the question here is:

Is beauty "in the eye of the beholder" or is it something which expresses itself in the natural world?  

I think that the answer to this question is likely the former.  Humans are simply capable of having a sense of beauty.  This means that checking the abilities of a potential mate to serve in the capacities you've mentioned probably occurs in simple processes all over the body.  However, these processes eventually translate into conscious phenomena such as love and other things associated with mating among humans.  Hence, we end up with beauty.

So, now that I've finished rambling, I think you are right.  But I think that species such as humans and other sentient life forms end up feeling things such as love when we mate.  (Although I believe that there is also a spiritual connection between two lovers, science does best in explaining the mechanics of this connection - at least as far as its basic purpose is concerned.)  These are all as a result of the basic process of evolution and preservation of species.  So, beauty may not be a requirement in mating, but it seems to me to be an inevitable thing.  Unless, of course, it is possible for things such as memes to carry from one generation to the next at a very basic level, such as the genetic level.
Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea

6 posted 01-09-2001 08:18 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

The original question brings up a great word that explains a lot: reification

re°§i°§fy (r-f, r-)
v. tr. re°§i°§fied, re°§i°§fy°§ing, re°§i°§fies.

To regard or treat (an abstraction) as if it had concrete or material existence.

It seems to be that beauty here is being reified so that it has its own material existence; this is false. One could argue that beauty already doesn't exist (if you believe that the material world as we see it is the same as we see it without seeing it). Yeah, I'm still pounding the relationship/difference argument.

You seem to be equating quality/beauty with survivability -- the will to survive. Isn't that a kind of tautology? Quality is determined by suvivability. How do we know this? Because they survived. If they survived, they know quality.

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" is a fine way to explain things except it doesn't explain where the beholder comes from. How does the beholder determine what is beautiful and what is not?


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since 06-01-2000
Posts 2032

7 posted 01-09-2001 09:49 PM       View Profile for fractal007   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fractal007


Good question.  In response:

I haven't a clue.  This sounds a little like the philosophical conjectures going on in the world where science and stuff like theology meet.  [the universe exists, but why does it bother to exist?]

I suspect that there are two major schools of thought on the matter of where the observer/beholder comes from.  

1>  The only reason we find things beautiful is because we have evolved and mutated in such a way as to generate abstract concepts pertaining to things that simply do not harbor such qualities.  For example, I find a flower to be pretty.  But the flower is really not intentionally pretty.  It's all just a construct within my brain, resulting from meaningless evolution.

2>  There is some form of cosmic harmony in the universe.  This is sort of a new agey ideal.  Everything has a relationship with everything else, and systems such as flowers, proceed to goals of some sort, both for their own benefit, and for that oothers, such as us.

I tend to try to blend the two, in that I feel that many things are generated as a result of evolution, but that they are not necessarily meaningless.  I know that to some, this is wishful thinking, but when I live life, I don't do things unless they carry meaning.  So this has effected the way I live, and percieve the universe.
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