Proverbs on Beauty and Goodness

Music: Fugue in A Major.
By Dimitri Shostakovich. Sequenced by J. Marques.

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Copyright by
Nicholas Gordon

1. Beauty in behavior is called goodness; goodness in things is called beauty.

2. An essential quality of both is attraction. In beauty attraction is expressed as grace; in goodness, as love.

3. Another essential quality of both is harmony. In beauty harmony is expressed as balance; in goodness, as justice.

4. Dissonance and asymmetry increase the attractiveness of grace by suggesting powerfully what is not there; injustice and evil similarly increase the attractiveness of love.

5. Thus the relationship between harmony and attractiveness is not straightforward but complex, as every artist knows.

6. The desire for beauty and goodness, harmony and attractiveness, justice and balance, love and grace, is inborn, having evolved to enhance an individual's relish for life and ability to live peacefully in society.

7. Beauty and goodness objectively are a single quality of being itself, present in all beings insofar as they exist. The more beauty and goodness, the more being; the less beauty and goodness, the less being.

8. Beauty and goodness as we know them are subjective judgments based on one's experience of an objective quality. Thus the broader one's experience of beautiful things and good people, the more developed one's taste and finer one's judgment.

9. The aesthetic experience is no more divorced from the moral than the moral from the aesthetic. For a beautiful person may be thought of as more beautiful in soul than in person, while a book may well find its grace in the feelings it evokes of empathy and love.

Copyright by Nicholas Gordon

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