Edited by Vittorio Hösle
The volume The Many Faces of Beauty joins the rich debate on beauty and aesthetic theory by presenting an ambitious, interdisciplinary examination of various facets of beauty in nature and human society. The contributors ask such questions as, Is there beauty in mathematical theories? What is the function of arts in the economy of cultures? What are the main steps in the historical evolution of aesthetic theories from ancient civilizations to the present? What is the function of the ugly in enhancing the expressivity of art? and What constitutes beauty in film?
The sixteen essays, by eminent scientists, critics, scholars, and artists, are divided into five parts. In the first, a mathematician, physicist, and two philosophers address beauty in mathematics and nature. In the second, an anthropologist, psychologist, historian of law, and economist address the place of beauty in the human mind and in society. Explicit philosophical reflections on notoriously vexing issues, such as the historicity of aesthetics itself, interculturality, and the place of the ugly, are themes of the third part. In the fourth, practicing artists discuss beauty in painting, music, poetry, and film. The final essay, by a theologian, reflects on the relation between beauty and God.
Contributors: Vittorio Hösle, Robert P. Langlands, Mario Livio, Dieter Wandschneider, Christian Illies, Francesco Pellizzi, Bjarne Sode Funch, Peter Landau, Holger Bonus, Pradeep A. Dhillon, Mark W. Roche, Maxim Kantor, Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf, Mary Kinzie, Dudley Andrew, and Cyril O’Regan.
“As the subject of its inaugural conference in January 2010, the elusive topic of beauty was chosen. [The Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study] was well aware of the fact that the modern arts define themselves only to a very limited degree through beauty. At the same time, the modern sciences, particularly biology, have shed new light on why the desire for beauty is such an important factor in human behavior. The conference thus aimed at bringing people together from the sciences, the humanities, and the arts; there was a deliberate choice to invite a painter, a composer, and a poet instead of only scholars who write about the arts without being themselves creative in them.” — from the introduction