Aesthetic matters are fundamental for the harmonious development of both society and the individual.– Friedrich Schiller – German Poet & Playwright (1759 – 1805)
We all need a little beauty
The writings of Vitruvius attempting to define beauty and the meaning of eurythmia are actually ideas that go all the way back to the Greek philosopher Plato. He felt that beautiful objects incorporated proportion, harmony, and unity among their parts and this view determined much of classical and later European thinking.
The creativity involved was also seen as the manifestation of the divine. As Plato said: “For the authors of those great poems which we admire, do not attain to excellence through the rules of any art; but they utter their beautiful melodies of verse in a state of inspiration, and, as it were, possessed by a spirit not their own.”
Beethoven certainly felt the same way, if you have a look at our page entitled Eurythmia’s “Theme Tune”.
Confucius saw art, especially music and poetry as valuable in broadening and fostering the best parts of human nature. In the Indian tradition art could induce spiritual or philosophical states in the audience. Both Arabic and Chinese calligraphy became art forms in themselves, with the act of writing an almost meditative experience inviting contemplation of the meaning of the words written. Mediaeval Europe saw artistic skills as gifts from God, given for the purpose of disclosing God to humanity.
And when you think of the great works of art and music devoted to religious themes, the architecture of the great churches, and the beauty of the messages of profound religious poems or hymns, one can be thankful for this motivation, whether you are religious or not.
With the Renaissance, the function of art was seen as aiming at the achievement of absolute beauty. And since then there have been as many theories as philosophers.
On the Origins of a Species’ sense of beauty
If you’ve read the page on Creativity, Inspiration and Humour, you’ll have seen how creativity can enhance health and happiness. But creativity and beauty go beyond that. They are fundamental urges in the human psyche, the human spirit even. Beauty and creativity have the power to inspire and uplift, even to transcend. And these are aspects of a spiritual dimension.
Dennis Dutton explains and illustrates this better than I can:
Denis Dutton: A Darwinian theory of beauty
A person should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful that God has implanted in the human soul.–Johann Wolfgang von Goethe – German writer (1749-1832)