aesthetics

(Greek: aisthenesthai, to perceive, feel)

The perception of the beautiful; the science which determines the norm or rule by which beauty is perceived and the criticism which points out wherein a person, object, literary composition, poem, painting, statue, structure, or other artistic work, possesses or lacks the elements of beauty; a science of the fine arts based on philosophical principles. According to the variations of these principles the science differs. Materialists see beauty, or lack of beauty, only in matter, in things which appeal to the senses. Idealists perceive it only in ideals which suit their philosophy. As all beauty consists in order, proportion, symmetry, harmony, there is a spiritual and supernatural beauty, invisible to the senses but perceptible to the spiritual view or intuition, the conformity of a life with God's law of life. This supernatural beauty may be perceived throughout the Holy Scriptures, but especially in every page of the Gospels; in lives of Christ, like that of Saint Bonaventure, Le Camus (tr. Hickey), Coleridge's "Vita Vitae Nostrae"; in lives of the Saints, such as Montalembert's "Elizabeth of Hungary," Fraser's "Frances of Rome," Concannon's "Columbanus," Enid Dinnis's "Mystics All." The conformity of human life and conduct with the divine idea is admirably explained in the "Art of Life," by Monsignor Kolbe, and in the "Life of All Living, the Philosophy of Life," by Fulton Sheen.

New Catholic Dictionary

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