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Beauty

A Very Short Introduction
Narrated by: Chris MacDonnell
Length: 6 hrs and 11 mins
Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Arts
5 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's Summary

Beauty can be consoling, disturbing, sacred, profane; it can be exhilarating, appealing, inspiring, chilling. It can affect us in an unlimited variety of ways. Yet it is never viewed with indifference. 

In this Very Short Introduction audiobook, the renowned philosopher Roger Scruton explores the concept of beauty, asking what makes an object - either in art, in nature, or the human form - beautiful and examining how we can compare differing judgments of beauty when it is evident all around us that our tastes vary so widely. 

Is there a right judgment to be made about beauty? Is it right to say there is more beauty in a classical temple than a concrete office block, more in a Rembrandt than in an Andy Warhol Campbell's Soup Cans

Forthright and thought-provoking and as accessible as it is intellectually rigorous, this introduction to the philosophy of beauty draws conclusions that some may find controversial but, as Scruton shows, help us to find greater sense of meaning in the beautiful objects that fill our lives.

©2011 Horsell's Farm Enterprises Limited (P)2019 Tantor

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Profile Image for Adam Shields
  • Adam Shields
  • 03-05-2019

Introduction to Beauty

I listened to this on audiobook, which was fine, but may not have been the best choice. While this is part of the Very Short Introduction series, it is still a book that is ultimately philosophy. About 2/3 of the way through I picked up the kindle edition, both because I know I need to re-read the book, but also because Scruton was referencing a number of paintings and many of those are in the Kindle edition.

The pictures are black and white even in the kindle version, so the reader cannot really get a full sense of what is being shown, which does matter for a discussion of the artistry and beauty of the paintings, but it at least is a reference.

I have been wanting to read more about beauty for a while and consistently when I look around, Scruton’s book Beauty is recommended as one of the best introductions. The Very Short Introduction series is very uneven, but Beauty is an example of what all of the books should be like. He is not avoiding discussion of the academics, but the point of the book is to talk about the actual subject. A number of the other Very Short Introduction books I have read have been about the academic study of the subject, not the actual subject. I do not really want to read about what academics have argued about over African History, I actually wanted to understand something about African History.

Beauty is a philosophical account of beauty written for the layperson. It is still philosophy and I need to reread it. I have been introduced to a number of the ideas previously in the work of Makoto Fujimura, Brian Zahnd, NT Wright and others. But much of my reading has only briefly touched on the role of beauty, and mostly thought about it from a theological perspective. Scruton talks a surprising amount about the Christian conception of beauty historically and how that developed in the Western world, but he is not writing about theology.

This is still a mostly aesthetic conception, thinking about how we perceive beauty, how we think about beauty with regard to the human form, how erotic beauty is different from pornography, how beauty exists in form and nature, etc. I want to know that, but I also want to understand how beauty works in ideas, and functions, and community. But I do think that Scruton is right that we think of beauty first as visual pleasure and then we expand that idea to other subjects. Understanding how aesthetic beauty works allows us to understand how an idea might be beautiful.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-10-2019

A Must-Read

For the artist concerned with the observation of the beautiful, and creation in its service; or for the considered and thoughtful citizen of the world, Scruton’s work on beauty is required reading. This is no trite pop-culture puff piece, however. This is a deep dive into the underpinnings of thought and behavior, sacredness, and perception. This work will require reflection, and maybe multiple reads. In the end, however, if beauty is of concern to the reader, this work will serve as a guidebook to deeper understanding.

Chris MacDonnell’s narration is spot-on and perfect for this work.