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Things of Beauty Never Leave Configuration

If we were to look at the world from an aesthetic point of view, what would be most beautiful? In Plotinus’s account, beauty is about form. Form is a definite shape that is characteristic of a particular kind of thing. That’s beauty. It never changes configuration. This is a profound statement, and we should be cautious when interpreting it. It may even be a misnomer.

Until the eighteenth century, most philosophical accounts of beauty tended to locate beauty in object qualities and aesthetic appearance. Augustine, for example, asks explicitly in his De Veritate Religione whether things are beautiful because they give pleasure or because they are good for their intended use. Ultimately, he chooses the second option. Later on, Plato and Plotinus connected beauty with the response of desire or love.

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