Beauty & Utility: Choosing beauty for a good life.

by Margaret Ryland

Beauty pierces our rational sense.

It can make us do stupid things (e.g. Romeo & Juliet).

It can drive us on to greatness (e.g. Michaelangelo).

Beauty is essential to “the good life.”

But first of all: what even is beauty?

According to Merriam-Webster, beauty is “the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.”

So beauty is related both to the senses and the mind/spirit.

While the senses are connected to our mind—and it is through the senses that we receive the impressions into our mind (throwing it way back to Aristotle in freshman philosophy class)—it is the exaltation of the spirit that I want to focus on.

Living our lives surrounded by beauty, choosing beautiful versions of even the most mundane items we use everyday, can give us a constant stream of this exaltation.

Which in turn can revive us, make our minds more alive to possibilities, and create a rolling stone that gathers momentum as it carries us along the way of beauty.

As a society, we tend to favor the utilitarian, and see utility and beauty as opposed.

We see this in the tract houses that have become standard for most Americans.

We see this in the clothing styles we’ve come to accept as normal.

We see this in the ubiquitousness of the use of single-use plates even in the home.

To be continued. . . .