I considered placing this post at BTS (and believe me, I have a new appreciation for BTS over the past few months!) But I think it is an appropriate
topic for this ATS forum, because it deals with something quite mysterious and preternatural, which is the connection we have with our feelings and
the real world. Certain things fill us with attraction, revulsion, sexual desire, disgust, hatred, and fear.
These emotions (or "qualia", to be specific) do not necessarily have any root explanation, although anyone can rationalize their feelings. They
drive everything we do in one way or another, from politics, to procreation, to our economy, to war.
By way of simple example, consider the following link, which shows some the ugliest sites on the web (at least in the opinion of the site owner).
Now consider this link, which shows some of the most beautiful people in the world. (Not sure who selects the people, but it is a solid example of
what people consider aesthetic.)
If you want further examples of beauty, try googling "porn", although there may be some argument there as to what is beautiful vs. ugly.
If you want to fill yourself with revulsion you can visit many disturbing and sickening websites. I will omit any links. But you can easily find the
absolute ugliest and shocking of ugly. (Strangely, it appears to be much easier to find ugliness than beauty.)
There is actually a full-blown philosophy on this subject of beauty; it is the "Philosopy of Aesthetics". You can read about it at Wikipedia and
other places. One of the things that this philosophy has discovered is that beauty is not linked necessarily with pleasure. For example, something can
be so beautiful as to be painful. Likewise, something that is very ugly can actually bring pleasure, and perhaps make us laugh. But generally, beauty
pleases us, and ugliness repulses us.
Is this some sort of evolutionary force?? I don't think so. I think the appreciation of aesthetics is one of the closest links we have to
supernatural and spiritual forces that lie outside of evolution. Something "whispers" to us that this is pretty, and that is ugly.
And for those who think that all beauty is strictly relative, I will suggest doing a web search again, as before. There may be some gray areas to
this, but there is definitely a beauty and ugliness we can agree upon universally.
Anyone with illuminating examples of either beauty or ugliness are invited to post them here. I am sure I will have more to say about this topic.