Judging Beauty [was: wee-little question on extropian philosophy]

From: Robert J. Bradbury (bradbury@aeiveos.com)
Date: Sun Apr 30 2000 - 12:13:40 MDT

On Sun, 30 Apr 2000 GBurch1@aol.com wrote:

> Rationalists apply a critical analysis to truth statements not possible -
> or at least only partially possible - in these other modes. Thus a
> rationalist may well judge one bridge as more beautiful than another,
> but doesn't mistake that aesthetic judgment for one concerning the bridge's
> strength (although the two judgments may well be intimately interconnected).

I cna think of at least five ways a rationalist could judge the "beauty"
of a bridge: (a) that which requires the least material to construct;
(b) that which uses the least energy to construct; (c) that which is
the least expensive to construct; (d) that which can be constructed
the fastest; and (e) that which requires the least long term maintenance.

I would consider all of these outside of the realm of traditional
aesthetics. Which raises an interesting question: Is aesthetics
(of the art appreciation form), "rational" or is there a fair
amount of arbitrary "opinion" thrown in? For example, I have
strong suspicions that at the level of things like championship
ballroom dancing, ice skating, olympic gymnastics, etc. the
performances may be relatively "perfect" and "aesthetics" may
lie to a great degree in the cultural perspective or even
politics of the judges.

Rational judgements may be highly masked or indirect, for example,
current theories in sociobiology, perhaps extended in "Survival of the
Prettiest: The Science of Beauty" argue that "beauty" is a biomarker
for health and reproductive capability. That is perhaps one of the
most important criteria for "rational" judgements (typically managed
by our "lizard brain") in biology.


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