The Instigator
innomen
Pro (for)
Losing
26 Points
The Contender
wpfairbanks
Con (against)
Winning
29 Points

Objective Beauty Exists

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 10 votes the winner is...
wpfairbanks
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/22/2010 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 8,199 times Debate No: 12592
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (53)
Votes (10)

 

innomen

Pro

I believe that objective beauty exists. I do not refer to attractiveness per se, because that has components of subjectivity connected to it, but rather i speak to beauty as a defined concept. I'm not looking to go into the further meta-physical implications of this subject, but merely the resolution as written.

Objective being: undistorted by emotion or personal bias; based on observable phenomena; "an objective appraisal"; "objective evidence"

Elegance being: Grace, refinement, and beauty in movement, appearance, or manners; Restraint and grace of style; The beauty of an idea characterized by minimalism and intuitiveness while preserving exactness and precision;

Beauty being: The quality that gives pleasure to the mind or senses and is associated with such properties as harmony of form or color, excellence of artistry, truthfulness, and originality.

http://www.google.com...
http://www.google.com...
http://www.thefreedictionary.com...

I look forward to a thoughtful, and provocative debate.
wpfairbanks

Con

Alright, well here we go. I will let you post your argument now, and I will refute next round. Good luck! It's no easy task arguing a concept no philosopher, psychologist, nor physicist has ever been able to convincingly prove! But good luck nonetheless.
Debate Round No. 1
innomen

Pro

"Mozart is the greatest composer of all. Beethoven created his music, but the music of Mozart is of such purity and beauty that one feels he merely found it—that it has always existed as part of the inner beauty of the universe waiting to be revealed." (Albert Einstein)

Accepted premise: Mathematics and physics are objective in both concept and application.

I'd also like to make it clear that attractiveness is not beauty and beauty is not attractiveness. When we think of that which is attractive to us, it embodies subjective factors, and those subjective factors may interfere with our perception of beauty.

My first case will be that math and physics carry features that are found within beauty namely: perfection, symmetry, and elegance.

I won't go into the details of the work of Murray Gell-Mann, a 1969 Nobel Prize in Physics; however in the transcript cited below, and in his book: Quark and the Jaguar he explains the connection between math and symmetry, math and elegance and their relationship of physics. So it is my contention that physics and math contain those characteristics of beauty. Perfection being the state of being without flaw or defect. The physical law of the angle of incidence equals the angle of refraction is perfect symmetrical; as is the mathematical equation. This is a single example of a law of physics where we have those qualities that I mentioned, and adding to that other laws of reflection, like double reflection we enter in elegance.

To allow us to go from the conceptual level of this beauty to the physical so that our ability to see the beauty can be found in a scene like this: http://en.wikipedia.org...

"Beauty may lie within conceptual reality: The human mind has first to construct
forms, independently, before we can find them in things." Albert Einstein

To further illustrate the connection between the objectivity of math and how beauty lies within its realm we can see this readily in music. Not all music is beautiful, not all music carries the traits of what I have outlined as objective beauty, but I will pull some examples of what I consider to be fairly obvious works. First I ask to consider the concept of natural progression in music. This where there is a set number of variables within successive notes in a particular melody. Without natural progression (sometimes known as harmonic progression) and the mathematics that surround the choice of ‘next note' there would be no music as we know music. The easiest place to see an example of math in music is with the compositions of J. S. Bach, and specifically his fugues. In music a tone or note holds a value in relation to other tones or notes. When we add these values to the concept of natural progression, we have the fundamentals of music. However, when we add an algorithm of harmony, tempo, and a the variable of counterpoint (a musical form involving the simultaneous sound of two or more melodies), we can actually hear math, we can hear the conceptual perfection, elegance and symmetry.

To take it a step further I give you Mozart. Mozart takes the mathematical algorithms to the greatest depths of elegance than any other composer (known to me). The relationship between melody and harmony is very mathematical, particularly in the classical era. Mozart had an ability to combine the two with amazing elegance. Mozart has the ability to intertwine harmony and melody with such complexity, and yet such simplicity that the math behind it is both obvious and mysterious. It is important to know that Mozart was an amateur mathematician and would solve complex math problems for his own entertainment (from the book of A. Einstein cited below).

I ask the readers of this debate to know that I have chosen only a couple examples of objective beauty, and where it lies in the world of math and science. I also ask the readers of this debate to consider that math and it's symmetry, perfection, and elegance are objective and exist.

Vote pro

http://www.google.com...=

http://dotsub.com...
http://www.google.com...=

Mozart his Character his Work by A. Einstein
wpfairbanks

Con

Watch this:

"Beethoven is the greatest composer of all. Mozart was a virtuous composer whose harmonic and melodic complexity came to him, as he once wrote, like a cow pisses, but there is something haunting and unknown in Beethoven that makes him the greatest ever. Mozart embodied the elegance of life, Beethoven the despair" (Waylon Fairbanks)

You may be asking, who is this Waylon bloke -- well that's me. True, I didn't split the atom, but in the realm of beauty, accomplishment, fame, intellect, even expertise, it doesn't matter. I am not wrong is my statement, and neither is Einstein. Beauty is a psychological matter of perspective. Because perspective is a cognitive reaction to that which is sensed, it is inherently subjective. I find it rather troubling that you started your argument with a subjective quote about one composer being better than another. Mahler in fact preferred Beethoven to Mozart, and even Wagner to Beethoven, and because Mahler was more accomplished musically than Einstein (who was a mediocre violinist), does that make Wagner the greatest? No.

Your distinction between attractiveness and beauty is irrelevant, for beauty, even in its derived form, is ultimately human. This is not my opinion either, this is simple neurology. Neurological studies with MRI and CAT technology show that the human mind perceives beauty in the frontal lobes. Humans are the only species that have such enlarged frontal lobes as to rely on them to create meaning, understand complex logic, contemplate, and appreciate things like Mozart's Symphony no. 40 in G minor. However, any time processing is done in the frontal lobe, it is subject to integration from the hippocampus and other memory store houses in the mind. Therefore, it is neurologically impossible for one to assess beauty in anything derived from the senses without integrating experience and preference from other parts of the cerebral cortex.

I am not much impressed by your Einstein quotes. I realize that he was one of the most brilliant physicists ever, but he is no more qualified to speak about beauty than anyone else. The core of this debate comes down to meaning. Beauty is intrinsic meaning. This means, if I may clarify, that when something has a quantity of something as abstract as beauty, then that makes the object meaningful. I think it is of human arrogance to claim that objects which we find to have "beauty" are that way because of an inherent meaning beyond human perception. These things around us exist. Beauty is merely an artificial construct that the human mind attaches based on subjective criterion. Beauty is, as the maxim goes, "in the eye of the beholder."

Since your argument is based on the rationale that mathematic ratios and theorems dictate beauty, I would like to point out two gaping flaws in this: firstly, nobody has ever proven or discovered a universal theorem that is objectively beautiful (don't give me that golden ratio crap). You're asking everyone reading this debate to rely on faith that there are these mysterious integrals roaming through nature making things lovely, and sorry sir, we debaters rely on logic and reason, not faith, to inform our thoughts. Secondly, you are forgetting that the mathematical sense through which we view the world, itself, is a human construct. Something even as simple as depth perception in painting had to be invented. In a culture that had no word or morpheme for "symmetry", surely symmetry would not be taken into account in looking at a piece of work. You forget linguistic determinism and cultural relativism when you indulge in these two dangerous assumptions.

Using your musical analogy, think about this: the chromatic scale in the Western Musical Tradition has 12 tones, which were discovered by Pythagoras. In India, their musical scale has 22 tones because they have notes between what we'd consider a half-tone and whole-tone. We cannot fully comprehend the "beauty" of their music because our Western ears aren't accustomed to it, and visa versa. The objective beauty is an illusion based on what we hear. I cannot help but indulge in another example. You brought up J.S. Bach's fugues. His most noteworthy collection of fugues were "A well-tempered Clavier". When we listen to these masterful fugues, we listen to them on the harpsichord tuned in a system called equal temperament, where the intervals between the 12 notes are equally spaced (if you're a musical person, you'll note that the circle of 5ths doesn't resolve itself). When Bach wrote them, we was using his own system of tuning call "well temperament", where the intervals were not static. This means that the mathematical intervals are different and that the fugues we now hear today sound much different than they did before. We regard them as beautiful because in the 18th century, musicians standardized temperament, so the music we've heard for 300 years has accustomed our year to equal temperament. But if Bach heard his pieces played today, he'd shriek in disgust. "Who tuned that damn harpsichord!" I hope I did not get too technical in this example, but I hope the point is clear, that the music you are citing isn't even objective, so how can its beauty be? Your little piece about Mozart being an amateur mathematician is strangely ad hominem. Like I previously quoted, Mozart said he "wrote music like cows pissed." He could write an opera with one hand while writing a concerto with his other hand, and hold a conversation while writing a symphony. He was genius. His infatuation with math provides no insight into his genius.

I would prefer if you didn't write "vote pro" before even hearing my arugment. Thanks
Debate Round No. 2
innomen

Pro

"Beethoven is the greatest composer of all. Mozart was a virtuous composer whose harmonic and melodic complexity came to him, as he once wrote, like a cow pisses, but there is something haunting and unknown in Beethoven that makes him the greatest ever. Mozart embodied the elegance of life, Beethoven the despair" (Waylon Fairbanks)

"You may be asking, who is this Waylon bloke -- well that's me. True, I didn't split the atom, but in the realm of beauty, accomplishment, fame, intellect, even expertise, it doesn't matter. I am not wrong is my statement, and neither is Einstein. Beauty is a psychological matter of perspective. Because perspective is a cognitive reaction to that which is sensed, it is inherently subjective. I find it rather troubling that you started your argument with a subjective quote about one composer being better than another. Mahler in fact preferred Beethoven to Mozart, and even Wagner to Beethoven, and because Mahler was more accomplished musically than Einstein (who was a mediocre violinist), does that make Wagner the greatest? No."

Your confidence is impressive but I think it has clouded your understanding of my point about Mozart. The beauty that was or is within his music is math; it is objective in both application and in concept. Within the parameters of beauty and logic it contains elegance, perfection, and symmetry. I chose Mozart not because he was the "best", but because he demonstrates these qualities best.

"Your distinction between attractiveness and beauty is irrelevant, for beauty, even in its derived form, is ultimately human."

Well that would be a major component of the debate then, no? If it is objective it is not ultimately human. Attractiveness will bring in factors or even motives that are external to beauty in the judgment process. One can be attracted to things that are not beautiful, one can even be repulsed by that which is beautiful, depending on the individual. If something possesses properties as harmony of form or color, excellence of artistry, truthfulness, and originality and the individual is repulsed by it for some reason unique to the individual, the something possesses those properties will still possess them. My very point is that beauty exists outside of the mind and dwells within the objectivity of math and physics. As human beings we use things; things that are objective in their existence both concept and physical, and one of the things we use is beauty. I do acknowledge that it is a different way of understanding beauty, and it requires an open mind, and we have to take a step away from our egocentric natures.

"I am not much impressed by your Einstein quotes."

My purpose wasn't to impress you, but rather to produce an authority on the nature of objectivity (See Measurement Realism and Objectivity by John Norton.). The quality of my sources should be relevant to the readers of this debate as we are judged by our sources. I'm unsure what would impress you, but again it isn't important to me or the debate. Furthermore the comparisons between Mozart and Einstein are fairly notorious and of common knowledge. Of course you are perfectly free to continue using yourself as a source.

"Since your argument is based on the rationale that mathematic ratios and theorems dictate beauty, I would like to point out two gaping flaws in this: firstly, nobody has ever proven or discovered a universal theorem that is objectively beautiful (don't give me that golden ratio crap). You're asking everyone reading this debate to rely on faith that there are these mysterious integrals roaming through nature making things lovely, and sorry sir, we debaters rely on logic and reason, not faith, to inform our thoughts."

I have not pointed to faith as a basis of beauty, but rather logic and reason, I think that's fairly obvious. I specifically avoided the Golden Ratio because of the knee jerk emotional response it would evoke like calling it "crap". I full know the nature of the participants on this site, and rely on their ability to find the strength in my argument. Again, if nothing else an open mind is valued here.

"Secondly, you are forgetting that the mathematical sense through which we view the world, itself, is a human construct. Something even as simple as depth perception in painting had to be invented. In a culture that had no word or morpheme for "symmetry", surely symmetry would not be taken into account in looking at a piece of work. You forget linguistic determinism and cultural relativism when you indulge in these two dangerous assumptions."

Again, you don't fully grasp the nature of objectivity. Math is not subjective. 2+2 = 4 whether or not we are capable of understanding it the values remain, and it is an objective truism. The laws of physics are not subjective; it conceptually exists, and is perfectly symmetrical. Nothing can corrupt the equation in that sense, and it remains objective. I believe that the barrier in seeing beauty as objective lies within the egocentrism that you have clearly demonstrated for me and the readers. Egocentrism ~ Subjectivity.

"Using your musical analogy, think about this: the chromatic scale in the Western Musical Tradition has 12 tones, which were discovered by Pythagoras. In India, their musical scale has 22 tones because they have notes between what we'd consider a half-tone and whole-tone. We cannot fully comprehend the "beauty" of their music because our Western ears aren't accustomed to it, and visa versa. The objective beauty is an illusion based on what we hear. I cannot help but indulge in another example. You brought up J.S. Bach's fugues. His most noteworthy collection of fugues were "A well-tempered Clavier". When we listen to these masterful fugues, we listen to them on the harpsichord tuned in a system called equal temperament, where the intervals between the 12 notes are equally spaced (if you're a musical person, you'll note that the circle of 5ths doesn't resolve itself). When Bach wrote them, we was using his own system of tuning call "well temperament", where the intervals were not static. This means that the mathematical intervals are different and that the fugues we now hear today sound much different than they did before. We regard them as beautiful because in the 18th century, musicians standardized temperament, so the music we've heard for 300 years has accustomed our year to equal temperament. But if Bach heard his pieces played today, he'd shriek in disgust. "Who tuned that damn harpsichord!" I hope I did not get too technical in this example, but I hope the point is clear, that the music you are citing isn't even objective, so how can its beauty be? Your little piece about Mozart being an amateur mathematician is strangely ad hominem. Like I previously quoted, Mozart said he "wrote music like cows pissed." He could write an opera with one hand while writing a concerto with his other hand, and hold a conversation while writing a symphony. He was genius."

This is pretty much a lot of nonsense, speculation, and irrelevance. It doesn't really address the argument well.

"His infatuation with math provides no insight into his genius." - and that's just wrong.

-My argument remains unscathed.
-My sources, conduct, grammar and spelling should fare well in comparison.

Thank you to my opponent for this debate.

Vote Pro.
wpfairbanks

Con

I am quite glad the majority of your argument was simply copying and pasting mine. Hopefully on second reading, the audience with further see the flaws and problems that denigrate your case for objective beauty. Judging from the comments posted, and from my own personal opinion, this is your big problem:

"I chose Mozart not because he was the "best", but because he demonstrates these qualities best."

Look, this is a subjective statement. Even if "elegance, perfection, and symmetry" were most present in the works of Mozart, there is no objective way of measuring them. They are abstractions, and of course you could find something like elegance in his music, but that doesn't make it the most elegant or the most mathematical. You have failed to provide a system for measuring beauty based off of mathematics, and you have failed to prove why beauty is derived from mathematics. You expected everyone here to agree with that premise, but now we're all seeing how absurd it is. Until you can point to why mathematics makes Mozart beautiful, then you cannot tell me that it is. You are stuck on this weird pseudo-scientific bend, and it ruined your argument.

Again, with the physics and math garbage. The way I see it, you're basically telling everyone here that there is a purple Gypsie unicorn named "Mathematics and Physics" who goes around and kisses what she thinks is pretty, and that makes it have beauty. UNTIL YOU PROVIDE A SYSTEM BY WHICH BEAUTY IS RECOGNIZED IN THE MIND, THE ARGUMENT IS VOID.

" The quality of my sources should be relevant to the readers of this debate as we are judged by our sources. I'm unsure what would impress you, but again it isn't important to me or the debate."

Firstly, I don't consider your constant citing of google to be a quality source. Secondly, name dropping will get you nowhere in this business. Einstein is just a guy who has no more authority on beauty than anyone else.

"This is pretty much a lot of nonsense, speculation, and irrelevance. It doesn't really address the argument well."

It is not speculation (read "A guide to musical temperament" by Thomas Donahue). What it means is that the music we hear and consider beautiful was composed using a different system, where the intervals between the notes was different. For somebody that is so obsessed with symmetry and physics and all, I find it troubling that you do not see how a different tuning system would change the mathematical equations and ratios, and thus our perspective on beauty.

Quite honestly, your argument for objective beauty was laid on a creaky foundation that presumed that mathematics are in everything. But even thoughts and emotions can be considered beautiful, but you cannot prove falling in love in a physics equation, or democracy in a mathematical theorem. I find things like that beautiful, but only because they are beautiful in my eyes. If a reverence for the physical sciences is what informs your appreciation for music or art, more power to you. But it is simply ill-informed and egocentric to think that is the RIGHT way of listening. Beauty is the result of many factors, including but not limited to, experience, preference, yes, mathematics and physics, culture, state of mind, and familiarity. Thank you for this debate.

Vote CONsidering the previous arguments, and not based upon who either of us tell you to vote for. Thanks for reading.
Debate Round No. 3
53 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by TheJuniorVarsityNovice 1 year ago
TheJuniorVarsityNovice
This was a great debate in the first 2 rounds. Pro never succesfully refutes any of the opponent's claims though which ruins his case for good. I mean, this could have been the best debate I have ever seen to be honest, if only you two didn't become pridefull idiots during the last 2 rounds lol.. Overall CON should win by a landslide but I also think PRO should have won in this specific case because CON shouldn't have voted for himself.
Posted by innomen 4 years ago
innomen
Back then you could, now you cannot.
Posted by 1dustpelt 4 years ago
1dustpelt
So many votebombs. Hey, how do you vote on your own debate?
Posted by Ogan 5 years ago
Ogan
The debate is always far more interesting and informative than any 'votes' cast this or that direction. I can't vote from England either, but Pro has it for me every time.
Posted by innomen 5 years ago
innomen
Thanks, and i thought so too. Still i couldn't vote for myself.
Posted by quarterexchange 5 years ago
quarterexchange
It's ridiculous that Innomen lost this, had Con not voted 7 points for themselves Pro would have won.
That's a dishonest and lousy way to win.
Posted by Ogan 6 years ago
Ogan
A discordant or disharmonic vibration is an actual result when two or more notes not mathematically tuned to the correct wavelengths meet and clash - this has nothing to do with subjectivity, but an objective or exterior Law reflecting the invisible Laws of Harmony in nature. The Cause of these laws of Harmony are not known. The same is true of geometry, colour and engine parts. The friction caused by ball-bearings mathematically incorrect as spheres shakes the moving part to pieces or breaks the ball-bearings themselves. The attraction or repulsion of a perceiver to harmony or disharmony may reveal part of what that perceiver 'secretly' is. Because the perception of a brick is subjective does not change the fact that a brick remains a brick regardless. Mozart best!
Posted by Cerebral_Narcissist 6 years ago
Cerebral_Narcissist
"Beauty is a psychological matter of perspective. Because perspective is a cognitive reaction to that which is sensed, it is inherently subjective."

This was not addressed was it? Con should win this.
Posted by cjl 6 years ago
cjl
And con, no source links? Pro gets the reliable sources vote. Need to see solid info.
Posted by cjl 6 years ago
cjl
Sorry my heart feels for pro's argument. It makes much more sense, in a compact form. Forgive me.
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Vote Placed by lamills 6 years ago
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