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MrGrimm888's avatar

Why are things beautiful? Natural phenomenon.

Asked by MrGrimm888 (14396points) June 20th, 2016

Not talking personal taste, like cars, or, paintings, or people.
Most people find sun sets, tropical scenes, stars etc, to be visually appealing. What causes this similar line of thinking with human beings?
I might find a river scene pretty because deep in my mind I know it means water, which I need. Fire could be pretty because deep in my subconscious it makes me feel safe.
But sunsets, and rainbows etc.
Sun sets should be concerning I would think, because we aren’t nocturnal. But they’re pleasing to most. The colors on butterflies, fish, and other animals also is something I appreciate. Why? Is there a evolutionary advantage?

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18 Answers

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Certainly it’s an evolutionary advantage

LostInParadise's avatar

Part of the answer is the evolutionary advantage of detecting patterns, like knowing that a rustling in tall grass might mean the presence of a predator or knowing the color pattern of poisonous snakes.

Much of what we find beautiful involves symmetry. Symmetry provides a way of compressing information. In evolutionary terms, if you have the genes for one eye or one hand, you can make a slight variation for forming the other eye and other hand. This information compression is also useful in creating art. For example, rhyming schemes make it easier to memorize poems. In art, too much symmetry is uninteresting. Most musical compositions are variations of going up and down scales, but just going up and down scales is not considered music.

gorillapaws's avatar

See Aesthetics. The field covers art and manmade objects too, but it’s about understanding the reasoning behind beauty.

zenvelo's avatar

It is a way for the Divine to invite you into participating in the Cosmos’ ongoing creation.

Pandora's avatar

Hmm! Interesting question. I think beauty is a combo of genetics, and learned behavior and something that is linked to our pleasure sensors.

I say genetics because of the way we tend to see most small creatures with large eyes as beautiful. Nature provided us with this to recognize babies and baby animals and it is tied into our nurturing. Not everyone who sees a forest of sunset believes it is beautiful. Perhaps because, as you mentioned they think it dangerous or learned to associate it with danger or something bad.
Lets take snow as an example. As a child I loved snow. I still think it is pretty when it comes down and makes everything white. But as I grew into an adult, I have lost some of that wonder for snow. I’ve learned it means shoveling. It means blackouts sometimes. It means no sun rays and darken skies that make me tired and sleepy and cold and slightly depressed. It means shoveling and a sore back. It means stuck indoors for a few days till the roads are clear, and it means slippery roads that could end in an accident. I’ve lost some of the wonder of the beauty of snow. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I could see.
I agree with the idea of sunset, but if you have always been in a safe environment than a sunset can still be pretty. It’s a gentle beautiful reminder that it’s time to rest. I can see how a farmer may appreciate it but a hunter out in the woods may not.
Most creatures we associate with danger we, automatically consider ugly. And maybe genetically speaking, ugly creatures is a way of making us avoid things that are not good for us. Not always but it does seem to be in our nature to find frogs and snakes unattractive. But our curiosity may get the best of us. Also as @LostInParadise has pointed out symmetry is what makes a lot of things appeal to us. Symmetry also is something that tells us if a creature or human is healthy. So when picking a partner we tend to look for a more symmetrical person to breed with.

But I think people underestimate it’s ties to our other senses. Touch, smell, and hearing and sometimes taste,can add different levels to beauty. I have woods behind me and I find it the most beautiful, when the sky is a beautiful bright blue, and I see and hear the leaves rustle in the wind and the air smells fresh and I see the sunset right behind it giving off bright peach colors between the waving leaves and you feel the wind lightly blow on your face and hair like a soft caress. In that moment. You are in standing in the middle of perfect beauty. That sunset was 10 prettier than it ever was before.
I think its our inner desire to seek out beauty because of what it may bring. I was in the theater yesterday and I froze inside. As I stepped out into the concrete parking lot, I couldn’t help but notice how the bright sun made it beautiful. I could see that in the shadows of the building but when I felt the suns rays on my skin, it looked even better as the sun warmed me. Not to mention the sun energizes us which is a big plus. Unless you let it burn you. LOL

Cruiser's avatar

In terms of evolutionary contribution of colors in the animal and plant realm, colors are both a warning of danger or a clear invitation to something beneficial. Some of the most colorful reptiles are some of the most dangerous and serve as a visual warning of something to steer clear of. The people that did….lived on procreated and served to perpetuate the species. One reason why most males birds are the most colorful as to grab the attention of predators over their more camouflaged mates.

As far as what we as humans today consider beautiful our cavemen ancestors saw more as a tool simply to survive. Sunrises and sunsets are hugely informative road maps as to what is to come during the next 12 or so hours. I was taught to see sunrises both as beautiful visuals to begin or end the day with but also as a weather map as to whether or not I will be fishing or getting ready to batten down the hatches.

Even though I know I can eat many of the flowers I grow and make teas and elixirs out of their flowers….I grow them because they are colorful, visually appealing and smell great in a vase in the kitchen.

Coloma's avatar

Sunsets and rivers just are, their beauty comes from the way the science of light falls, reflection, movement. Most other things in nature, birds, flowers, trees etc, use their color, scent & conformation as an evolutionary advantage or warning as @Cruiser mentions. Don’t eat the red ladybug, it’s poison, red berries are good, red insects are not. Their design is for purposes of attraction, pollination, procreation.

Why we find certain things aesthetically attractive is subjective. I find horses asses to be extremely attractive. lol
Nothing like the well muscled rump of a stout quarter horse to get my juices flowing. A horses ass, rippling shoulder muscles, chest muscles signify strength, power, and an awe of such a noble and beautiful animal. They evoke a primal desire in me to tame the beast.
Hi Ho Silver, awaaaay! haha

marinelife's avatar

We naturally resonate with the patterns found in nature. One of the most common is the fibonacci sequence, which is naturally pleasing to us.

CWOTUS's avatar

Things are not objectively beautiful. It’s our understanding of them, awareness of what they portend for us or their direct effect on us that is beautiful – or awful.

The same rain that a farmer might consider a lovely, gentle and much-needed assist to his corn crop could be perceived as an awful blight on a weekend by someone with an investment in, say, a wedding or a picnic. Same rain, same neighborhood, different perceptions.

A beautiful, calm, warm summer day without a breath of wind would be a mini-disaster to a sailboat racer.

It’s all in how you feel about the things you perceive. (Which is why you’re supposed to thank God – if you’re a God-thanking kind of person – for whatever you experience, just by virtue of the fact that you are there to perceive it and it is there to be perceived. But not many people seem to get that, because they’re always thanking God for the good things in their lives, or thanking God because It is “good”.)

dabbler's avatar

I think @zenvelo has a good observation, “It is a way for the Divine to invite you into participating in the Cosmos’ ongoing creation.”
There seems to be a shared human capacity to perceive beauty, for each it evokes a similar emotion of .. admiration and awe and maybe yearning to align more with its magnificence.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

“Most people find sun sets, tropical scenes, stars etc, to be visually appealing. ”

Vision can be the first sense that warns us that everything is as it should be.

But, if one day, the sun set in the east, the tropics fell into the sea, and the stars shown black against a white sky, then the same objects would not be so visually appealing, and cause us duress.

Beauty is not found in the awareness of the object.

Beauty is fount in the peace of recognizing the regularity of an object that we can interpret the state of its being as one of confirming that all systems are normal.

MrGrimm888's avatar

RERRL, that makes sense. Lots of interesting responses. Thank you all…

Coloma's avatar

I just spent some time with a beautiful lizard. haha
I was sitting outside and we have several lizard species around here. Alligators, Blue Bellies and some other dark and fat variety.
This was one of the fat, black lizards, and he just came zinging by and scurried up a rock 2 feet away from me.

Then he stared doing his lizard push up thing. Cracks me up when they do that. He just hung out right next to me for about 10 minutes, totally chill and cocking his head while I talked to him. I love lizards. :-D

MrGrimm888's avatar

Yup. Lizards are sweet. Wish wouldn’t eat all my spiders though. I’ve been trying to study/observe these writing spiders in my yard. But they keep disappearing. I’ve noticed large numbers of Mediterranean geckos live in my area now. They are an invasive species. I think they are cool but I blame their rise in number for my drop in spider population. These writing spiders can grow as big a my hand, and I’ve been trying to see them grow from babies. But every time I get a few doing well they dissappear. Those geckos aren’t the only culprit, but they are fat and thriving. They’re kinda transparent, and I can see their stomachs content sorta. I just hope they don’t kill all my spiders because they eat lots of undesirable insects like mosquitoes. The only thing that seems to hunt the lizards are domestic cats….It is a strange and beautiful planet. Unfortunately people seem bent on destroying it.

greatfullara's avatar

beauty is a magnetic is the opposite of is full creates love.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^Nice. Welcome to Fluther.

Peace n love.

dabbler's avatar

@greatfullara “beauty is full potential” I like that.
I think that’s part of the beauty of the olympics, full potential manifest.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^^Yes. There is a beauty to the Olympics. Not the money aspects and those involved, but the people who are unified by country and purpose. And the spirit of sportsmanship is on full display. It is a testament to mankind, that it can put aside it’s differences for something that unifies us all. The desire to be great. To rise to the challenge. To ascend to be the best of the best.

So many positive aspects of humanity, rarely seen displayed in such fashion.

Truely, a thing of beauty…...

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