On the Humble Pursuit of True Beauty

 · 1 min read
 · Daniel C. Gibson

Believe that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”? That Notre Dame Cathedral is considered more beautiful than a strip mall only on account of prevailing social norms? That when it comes to matters of aesthetics, “to each his own”?

Classical schools part ways with modern education in their recognition that beauty is more than an arbitrary, personal sentiment or an imposed, social construct. We hold that beauty is objective and that one’s taste for the beautiful can either be well-ordered or disordered. The purpose of education in the arts is to form in students a knowledge and love of what is most beautiful.

Of course, man’s understanding of beauty will always be imperfect and incomplete. But a lack of comprehensive knowledge of the beautiful does not render it incoherent. That science has never formulated an adequate “theory of everything” does not mean we know nothing of physics at all. It simply requires humility in the pursuit.

But consider the idea of music itself. The very distinction between a cacophony of sounds on the one hand, and musical expression on the other, is itself a rejection of modern conceptions of beauty. And no wonder. The word cacophony derives from the Greek kakophonos, meaning ill-sounding; the word music from the Greek mousike tekhne, meaning art of the muses. Are we really prepared to declare music class the mere study of noise?

There is much beauty in the world. Let us be about the business of giving our children the eyes to see it and the ears to hear it.