9 March 2009

Beauty and truth

Reviewing Roger Scruton's Beauty, Jonathan Rée writes:
Scruton maintains...that the beauty of unspoilt wilderness—of mountains and plains and open skies—depends on an evident absence of any fixed centre, a lack of prescribed edges. If you go up the hill or round the corner, or simply hang around watching the light change, there will always be new views to admire. The beauty of birds, animals and flowers, on the other hand, is rooted in their existence as self-defining entities with boundaries of their own. And the special beauty of the human body belongs not to a mere assemblage of body parts but to the personality that finds expression in it, especially through the face. Even a stony-hearted cynic is liable to be impressed by the sight of a graceful child or a moonlit sky with scudding clouds, or by coming upon a demure cowslip or spotting the blended plumage of a pheasant. Natural beauty gives you “an enhanced sense of belonging,” as Scruton puts it—a sense that “a world that makes room for such things makes room for you.”
But, Rée notes, the arts are concerned with more than beauty.

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