David Konstan: Beauty Transformed
Modern aesthetics has encountered deep problems concerning the nature of beauty. For example, beauty is associated with erotic attraction, and yet it is widely supposed that the proper response to a beautiful work of art is disinterested contemplation. Likewise, it is debated whether a work of art can be called beautiful if its subject matter is repulsive. These dilemmas seem not to have troubled the ancient Greeks. Was their conception of beauty different from our own? Did they even have a distinct idea of beauty? Eminent authorities have denied that they did, and the question remains controversial. In my lecture, I argue that the Greeks did indeed have an idea of beauty, and that scholars have been confused because they have been looking at the wrong Greek words.