Saturday, January 26, 2013

Why Is There "Beautiful"?

Beautiful,  I submit, is not just an adjective, but something we feel.   Sure, it’s a word that we commonly use to describe something or someone, but beautiful isn’t a typical adjective.  Beautiful is  not like other adjectives.  Adjectives like color, or smell that you use to describe something aren’t really “felt”.  

Beautiful is something that you experience as a positive feeling or “high”.  Beautiful is a nice experience, probably a release of some chemical.  When you see something and experience beautiful, it’s something that you don’t want to look away from or easily stop experiencing.  

Beautiful is similar to the experience men have when they see a pretty girl.  For men, when they see a pretty girl that they are attracted to, there is a tiny chemical released that makes it pleasurable.  Being a man, I can’t really explain it, but the tiny release of oxytocin is a documented fact.  Men are slaves to their chemistry.  I can’t speak for women, but I would imagine it’s similar (scientists say the mechanics are similar).

After experiencing “beautiful” when seeing a sunset and the clouds on my way home from work, I wanted to stop on the freeway and just look.  As usual, my geek came out.  Why do we have the experience “beautiful” as part of our reaction to some things?  I can understand why we receive a chemical high when seeing an attractive girl, survival of our species.   Foods have a color or taste that is pleasurable to us humans so that we are driven to keep eating things that are good enough for our survival so that we make it to the age where we can make more little humans.  

What is the purpose of “beautiful”?  Why is there such pleasure in seeing a sunset, or watching the birds while at the beach, or looking at your favorite artwork.  Why is there such pleasure in just watching beautiful things?  Most things about us are darwinistic in their origin, they help us survive to an age where we can procurate.  What role does or did the feeling of “beautiful” play?  What is the purpose of beautiful.  

Send me your thoughts on this.

-- Chris Claborne


  1. Being a 'believer', are you sure you want my thoughts on this??

  2. The nucleus accumbens is the pleasure center of the brain where sensory input is processed as pleasant, warm, comforting, beautiful, etc. The chemical mediator GABA triggers neurons in this core of NAcc. The physiology is apparent, and some have tried to stimulate this area of the brain thru meditation. It is also close to other stimulatory organs that enhance the effect, such as olfactory, memory, visual cortex. If you have brain damage, you lose this ability to sense pleasure, which helped enhance survival among prehistorics (along with our fear and danger receptors). My thoughts are that, in Zen, there is no distinction between beautiful and unpleasant. There just is...a sky, a cloud, a smell. Our "self"ish needs create the beauty and it will remain outside of us as an object, unless we let go of the mental consciousness. The beauty of a flower or a sunset or a wonderful meal ceases... as soon as it becomes part of our own being, with or without our neural physiology. We become the "beautiful" in that sense. Al