Tag Archives: Beauty

Beauty: Eye of the Beholder or Eye of the Culture?

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting the MOSÏACANADA150 exhibit. It was quite an experience to see these wonderful artistic exploits up close and personal. In particular, the crown jewel of the exhibitionMother Earth: The Legend of Aataentsic. Upon seeing it, I was immediately struck by the *inherent* beauty of the exhibit. And then I wondered – is this exhibit beautiful to me because I’ve been trained/influenced through cultural norms as to what’s beautiful or is the exhibit actually, inherently beautiful?

As it happens, I’m not the first one to have such a wondering:

The nature of beauty is one of the most enduring and controversial themes in Western philosophy, and is—with the nature of art—one of the two fundamental issues in philosophical aesthetics.

So, it looks like I’ve stumbled upon a fight of the centur(ies)? Here’s a bit more from the above link:

Beauty has traditionally been counted among the ultimate values, with goodness, truth, and justice. It is a primary theme among ancient Greek, Hellenistic, and medieval philosophers, and was central to eighteenth and nineteenth-century thought, as represented in treatments by such thinkers as Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Hume, Burke, Kant, Schiller, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Hanslick, and Santayana. By the beginning of the twentieth century, beauty was in decline as a subject of philosophical inquiry, and also as a primary goal of the arts. However, there were signs of revived interest by the early 2000s.

The article on Stanford’s Encyclopedia of Philosophy begins with the quintessential question (and the very same one that I had): is beauty objective or subjective? The discussion is fascinating, especially if you’re into heady quotes from philosophical giants like Hume and Kant. I recognize that not everyone will geek out on this, so let’s skip to the penultimate paragraph [Emphasis Added]:

Alexander Nehamas, in Only a Promise of Happiness (2007), characterizes beauty as an invitation to further experiences, a way that things invite us in, while also possibly fending us off. The beautiful object invites us to explore and interpret, but it also requires us to explore and interpret: beauty is not to be regarded as an instantaneously apprehensible feature of surface. And Nehamas, like Hume and Kant, though in another register, considers beauty to have an irreducibly social dimension. Beauty is something we share, or something we want to share, and shared experiences of beauty are particularly intense forms of communication. Thus, the experience of beauty is not primarily within the skull of the experiencer, but connects observers and objects such as works of art and literature in communities of appreciation.

So, maybe my writing of this post about “Mother Earth” is a way of sharing the experience with all of you or inviting you to share the experience with me. If you live in the Ottawa-area, you’ve still got 6+ weeks to visit Jacques-Cartier Park and enjoy the ‘beauty’ in all its splendour.


Health & Beauty Products May Not Be So Healthy and Beautiful

When was the last time you looked at the label of the deodorant, face cream, shampoo, or soap you use? For some time, this was something that I was not concerned about and it was more out of sheer ignorance. I didn’t know any better. When I learned about the world of “natural” skin products, I was — without a doubt — appalled! I couldn’t believe the sorts of things that companies would put into products. I really hope that the intention was never malicious. Anyway, let me walk you through some of my logic.

Take a clove of garlic and peel it down to a piece about the size of your thumbnail. Now, take off your shoe (and your sock) and Wait between 2 and 3 minutes, and I’m fairly certain, you will taste garlic. Yes, taste garlic. The garlic will not have moved from between your toes, but in your mouth, you will taste garlic. Why? Simple. For one, the body is infinitely connected. Two, humans don’t just breathe through the nose/mouth, . [Here are two other articles that support the idea that oxygen is absorbed through skin: and .]

Really, I implore you to take 5 minutes to experience this viscerally. It may really have an effect on the way you think about your body. Interesting fact: the integumentary system (the organ that makes up your skin and appendages []) . So now that we know that our skin is so important to the function of our body, what do we do with that information?

Well, consider that “” Wouldn’t you want to think twice about the kind of deodorants/antiperspirants you put under your arms? I recently came across an older (February of 2010) post by recently who had collected some of the information about regarding the kinds of requirements that companies must follow in order to have their products approved. It’s a little scary the lack of transparency in this area. You’d think that it being the kind of things that we put on our body, daily, that there’d be more oversight.

Luckily, there are , just like there are organic fruit and vegetables. And just like with organic fruit and veggies, organic may not always mean what we think it means. I learned this the hard way with the word “natural.” Intuitively, you’d think that something that said “natural” contained nothing ‘harmful’ in the product or in the making of the product, but (legally) speaking, something harmful (like poison for instance), can still be natural and included in a product, theoretically speaking, of course. If you’re curious about whether or not the product you’re considering purchasing meets some ‘higher standards,’ I’d advise you check out . They have quite a number of products rated in this department.