The philosophical idea of beauty
Since the early days of Greek philosophy circa 427 B.C., the question of what is beauty has been asked. And in the earthly yet lofty discussion of the Dialogues, Plato narrates how his teacher Socrates draws them to realize that beauty is not only what is fair in physical form-- such as of a face, hands or other parts of the body --- but also what is fair or good in speech and knowledge. “Is not the good also the beautiful,” says Socrates (Jowett Translation 204). Apart from what is readily understood, Socrates speaks in more mystical terms as he teaches contemplation as a mental gaze to see “ the very essence of beauty itself, everlasting not growing and decaying, or waxing or waning. . . which if beheld one would look and be with, bringing forth and nourishing true virtue” (118).
The vision of Socrates on absolute beauty is not what is commonly known about the beautiful things in everyday life. Ordinarily, beauty is referred to with reference to appeal or loveliness mainly of the physical form, often enough of women. It would therefore be interesting to be clarified on what Socrates means by true, simple and divine beauty which “when beholden with the eye of the mind enables one to realize realities beyond images or physical form. The movie American Beauty may just have a comparable idea about absolute beauty. What American Beauty is In the movie American Beauty, the idea of beauty or the good is typified by the main characters. Living up to his ideal of the military service, Col. Fitts of the Marine Corps thinks military-like authority and discipline is good or beautiful for his family. He therefore subdued his own wife to full subservience and his son Ricky to outwardly regarding him as a role model and war hero. Next door neighbours are the Burnhams with Caroline Burnham bravely standing for the beauty of America’s economic rat-race which has turned her into a fierce competitor at the expense of her husband Lester, who has become less of a husband and more of a liability in her life. The teenage Angela Hayes typifies the young American beauty, obsessed with the need for attention and popularity among schoolmates. Her best friend Jane, daughter of Lester and Carol Burnham, has become the sounding board to her constant craving for adulation and her unending need to be someone special and not ordinary in school. Central to the movie, however, is not Angela, but Lester Burnham. The movie flows with his off-cam narrative and dramatic solutions to solve a middle-age crisis and discover the good and beautiful in life. Closely helping him in his search for life’s meaning is the young Ricky Fitts who introduced him to life space through drugs until Lester’s life was cut short by an assailant’s gun, that of Ricky’s own father Col Fitts. The varied objects which appeared good or beautiful to the movie’s characters appear to compose the totality of beauty in the American way of life -- authority drawn from soldiery for Col. Fritts, drive for success at the expense of family for Carolyn, search for life space for Lester Burnham, popularity and attention for the insecure Angela, and the double life of discipline-and-drugs for the young Ricky Fitts. Who is the American Beauty It is easy to say that Angela Hayes, the object of a fleeting attraction of Lester Burnham is