In the priamel to her 7th-century BCE Fragment 16, the poet Sappho muses: “Some say an army of horsemen, some of foot soldiers, / others of ships / is the most beautiful thing upon the earth, / but I say it is what one loves.” These few lines give expression to a widely held fascination with the driving question of this course: What is Beauty? Both preliminary and carefully nuanced ways of thinking through this inquiry raise a complex nexus of associated questions that likewise transcend cultural, historical, geographical, and disciplinary bridges. Is beauty something that exists purely in the eye of the beholder? To what degree are ideas and ideals of beauty shared across cultures, and why? How do the arts reflect, appeal to, and sometimes challenge notions of the aesthetic? Why do people have different emotional reactions to the same painting, sculpture, song, building, or play? How have renowned scholars and thinkers — some based in philosophy and religion, others in science and psychology — sought to answer and explain how and what we perceive as beautiful?


4 sh

Course Types

Civilization; Science

Powered by SmartCatalog IQ