What is beauty and where is beauty to be found? Beauty can be claimed to be any number of superficialities appealing to the senses. I cannot agree with such claims. I cannot define what exactly beauty is in one tidy and brief sentence, but I know what beauty is. I know beauty when I feel it.
Selfless kindness and compassion extended to other living creatures simply because such creatures need it is beautiful. Amma, a Hindu priestess who spends every day embracing each and every person who lines up at her temple like each one is her child, is beautiful.
Passion toward a goal sought sincerely for and in accordance with the betterment of life is beautiful. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speeches proclaiming peace and justice for all of humankind are beautiful. Henry David Thoreau’s meticulous writings on the intrinsic value of nature are beautiful. The risk every animal rights activist takes in order to document the treatment of living creatures at factory farms is beautiful.
Reason compelling human nature to strive toward perfection of character is beautiful. Socrates’ argument that virtue is the excellence of the soul and to be virtuous one must always act justly is beautiful. Immanuel Kant’s argument that reasoning and willing creatures must always be treated with respect because they are ends in themselves, never means, is beautiful. Kant’s argument that morality is done simply for its own sake, never for the sake of consequences, is beautiful.
Innocent longing and sorrow are beautiful. The longing and sorrow of one who simply wants to be in the presence of the individual that brings with their presence in one’s life simple joy is beautiful.
I know what beauty is because I feel it, not because I sensorially perceive it. Beauty is not the lines and colors on a canvas. Beauty is not the notes and harmonies in the air. Chopin’s Raindrops is beautiful because I feel the longing and sorrow imbued in a moment of the composer’s life. The beautiful does not reside in any objects or living creatures simply beheld by the senses. The beautiful resides in the soul that feels and experiences the breadth of existence.