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Beauty: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

1 rating: 1.0
A book

Review from previous edition: "As always with Scruton, his prose is exquisite and wonderfully clear, which fact together with the illustrations make his book a thing of beauty itself." --A. C. Grayling, The Art Newspaper 01/01/2010    "Careful … see full wiki

Tags: Books, Cafe Libri
Genre: Arts & Photography
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
1 review about Beauty: A Very Short Introduction (Very...

A Philosopher's View of Beauty

  • Jul 30, 2011
Rating:
+1
The sense of beauty is one of the most fundamental human universals. No one is immune to aesthetic appeals, and it seems that the appreciation of the beauty is an exclusive human characteristic. This very short introduction aims to introduce the general reader to some of the fundamental intellectual underpinnings of this essential concept. Unfortunately, the book falls short with respect to this objective.

I am a huge fan of Roger Scruton's writings, and have read many of his articles and books, and have reviewed several of his books (including his other book in this series Kant: A Very Short Introduction). He is extremely erudite and insightful, and he is able to find a new, fresh, perspective on many of the ageless topics. However, I think that with this Very Short Introduction he has widely missed the target. He makes no bones about the fact that this is an exclusively philosophical outlook on beauty, which is extremely disappointing considering all the great insights that the psychology has given us in recent decades on that topic. At the beginning of the second chapter Scruton attempts to give some evolutionary backing for the sense of beauty, but after just a few pages that approach fizzles away and transforms into various philosophical speculations and musings on sexuality.

In his philosophical musings Scruton doesn't seem to be grounding much of his ideas within the overarching western philosophical tradition. He mentions Plato and Kant a few times, and maybe on a few occasions some of the other prominent philosophers. For the most part, though, one gets a sense that the material in this book has been wrought whole-cloth out of Scruton's own omphaloskepsis. Scruton is indeed a great thinker, and many of his ideas are extremely interesting, but after a while I got really bored with all the self-indulgent writing.

The book is very long for a very short introduction, and at 164 pages it is one of the longest ones that I had read. It could have used a fair amount of editing for content length.

If you are interested in some interesting philosophizing on the topic of beauty, then this book may appeal to you. However, this is far from being an authoritative and up-to-date account of our understanding of beauty as a concept.

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July 31, 2011
If you are interested in beauty as a concept, take a boat ride off Paradise Island in the Bahamas. View the crystalline waters and take in nature on the exquisite beaches. Then you will see the beauty of nature first hand devoid of interfering factors like commercialization.
 
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