1) Does beauty truly exist?
2) Perhaps beauty is merely a feeling; an inner subjective experience; my impression of a perception . . . an emotion. Perhaps beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. If this is the case, it is false to believe anything truly is beautiful. When I look at the sunrise and exclaim in awe, “how beautiful!” I am merely expressing a feeling—I am communicating something private. For the sunrise is not beautiful in any objective, concrete, sense; it is just an object within space and time. Like all objects, it has no intrinsic value, no purpose, no meaning, it conforms to no pattern. I, the observer, give it meaning . . .
3) If beauty is simply a subjective experience, a feeling, then to speak of beauty is no different than to speak of indigestion. In effect, the expression, “how beautiful,” is functionally equivalent to the expression, “my stomach hurts.”
4) How wretched life would be if beauty did not exist! I look at my wife, an angel, the radiance of the sun instantiated in human form . . . yet, this isn’t real. The beauty of my wife is nothing but maya—an illusion. In reality she is the endless shifting of atoms, the constant flux of matter and energy; as am I. To say that my wife is beautiful is really to say that one shifting batch of atoms (my wife) collided with another shifting batch of atoms (my eyes) creating a chemical response in my brain and producing a particular emotion. Her beauty is but one euphoric chemical reaction—an animal instinct, a sexual desire.
5) In a world devoid of intrinsic value, beauty is degraded—it becomes something base.
6) But surely beauty must exist! Surely the sunrise is more than the endless shifting of atoms; more than the sense of awe engendered by a brute biochemical response to perception. Surely such reactions occur in the presence of great beauty—a beauty woven into the very fabric of reality. A form . . . an idea . . . a logos . . .