"Artistic Beauty" in Beauty: A Very Short Introduction

by Sister Hilda Kleiman, OSB

In the first three chapters of Beauty: A Very Short Introduction (public library), Roger Scruton considers judging beautyhuman beauty, and natural beauty.  In the longest chapter of the book, he turns to artistic beauty.

How does artistic beauty convey the truth?  Scruton writes:

Beauty reaches to the underlying truth of a human experience, by showing it under the aspect of necessity. . . . The insight art provides is available only in the form in which it is presented: it resides in an immediate experience whose consoling power is that it removes the arbitrariness from the human condition . . . (109).

The cover of Beauty with a cadmium red orange color swatch.

He concludes the chapter by touching on art and morality:

Works of art are forbidden to moralize, only because moralizing destroys their true moral value, which lies in the ability to open our eyes to others, and to discipline our sympathies towards life as it is. . . . Many of the aesthetic faults incurred by art are moralizing faults - sentimentality, insincerity, self-righteousness, moralizing itself (111).