Beauty: A Very Short Introduction, Paperback Book
4.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


Beauty can be consoling, disturbing, sacred, profane; it can be exhilarating, appealing, inspiring, chilling.

It can affect us in an unlimited variety of ways. Yet it is never viewed with indifference. In this Very Short Introduction the renowned philosopher Roger Scruton explores the concept of beauty, asking what makes an object - either in art, in nature, or the human form - beautiful, and examining how we can compare differing judgements of beauty when it is evident all around us that our tastes vary so widely.

Is there a right judgement to be made about beauty? Is it right to say there is more beauty in a classical temple than a concrete office block, more in a Rembrandt than in last year's Turner Prize winner?

Forthright and thought-provoking, and as accessible as it is intellectually rigorous, this introduction to the philosophy of beauty draws conclusions that some may find controversial, but, as Scruton shows, help us to find greater sense of meaning in the beautiful objects that fill our lives.

ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly.

Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 208 pages, Approximately 20 black and white photographs
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Theory of art
  • ISBN: 9780199229758



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Roger Scruton's introduction to beauty is indeed very short, but its importance is vast. Scruton cogently analyses several traditional western approaches to identifying, apprehending, and learning from the beautiful, and crisply diagnoses the aesthetic disease of the postmodern west: we veer toward two extremes -- kitsch and desecration -- that both keep us from understanding, producing and learning from real beauty. And this sickness goes deep; it reveals our inability to live lives that reach beyond the mundane into the sacred and sacrificial realms in which we are created and called to live:"That is why art matters. Without the conscious pursuit of beauty we risk falling into a world of addictive pleasures and routine desecration, a world in which the worthwhileness of human life is no longer perceivable."This is a nearly perfect little book, marred only by repeated, and odd, errors in punctuation. I find it difficult to believe Scruton himself does not grasp apposition, so I suspect his editors at Oxford University Press are to blame. But this is a minor flaw. Scruton has written an illuminating, provocative, and -- may I say it -- occasionally beautiful book.