Seeing Beauty

Imagine you are on a tour of an art museum. The guide stops your group in front of a painting, “Isn’t it beautiful?” she asks. You look at your friend Alec and shrug your shoulders. He says, “Whatever.” The guide is determined to get you to agree with her, so she says, “See how bright the colous are.” Alec responds, “I see the colours, but I don’t see the beauty.” The guide grows frustrated: “But, see how energetic the lines are.” Alec responds, “I see the lines, but where is the beauty?” The guide has one last try: “Look at how the composition is balanced.” Your friend says, “OK, I see balance, but I still don’t see any beauty.” Would there be any way to convince him?

The Replacement Brother

Suppose you have a brother named Jimmy whom you love very much. One day, a crazy magician kills Jimmy, but then instantly replaces him with an exact copy. This copy is the same as Jimmy in every way, including implanted memories of the past. Would you still cry over Jimmy’s death?

According to Plato, you need not, because the copy reflects the form of beauty in the same way. Would you accept the substitute and love it just as you would the original? According to Plato, you should love them equally well. Many find this answer strange and therefore reject Plato’s theory.