Beauty as an act of self-denial
Post #1437 • January 4, 2010, 8:27 AM • 83 Comments
Roger Scruton posits a fascinating thought:
When it comes to beauty, our view of its status is radically affected by whether we see it as a form of self-expression, or as a form of self-denial. If we see it in this second way, then the assumption that it is merely subjective begins to fall away. Instead beauty begins to take on another character, as one of the instruments in our consensus-building strategies, one of the values through which we construct and belong to a shared and mutually consoling world. In short, it is part of building a home.
I haven't seen a communitarian argument for beauty this convincing since Wendell Berry. "As for the literary world, I had ventured into that, and liked it well enough," he wrote in The Art of the Commonplace. "But I never doubted that the world was more important to me than the literary world; and the world would always be most fully and clearly present to me in the place I was fated by birth to know better than any other."