What beauty promises:: Reflections on Alexander Nehamas, only a promise of happiness: The place of beauty in a world of art

British Journal of Aesthetics 50 (2):193-198 (2010)
Alexander Nehamas calls beauty a ‘promise of happiness’ and claims that it is an object of love. While this approach appealingly places beauty at the center of both artistic passion and everyday life, it also renders it riskily personal. This discussion raises two main questions to Nehamas. The first question regards the role of happiness in the concept of beauty, for many beautiful artworks seem to acknowledge the inevitability of sorrow rather than its opposite. The second question concerns how beauty may be both personal and grounded in factors sufficiently outside the self to safeguard it against the instability of individual preferences. To explore the latter issue, Nehamas's ideas are compared to those of another Platonist, Iris Murdoch
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