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]