Beginning: At any time between 1750 and 1930 if you asked educated people to describe the aim of poetry, art or music, they would have replied “beauty.”
And if you had asked for the point of that you would have learned that beauty is a value, as important as truth and goodness. Then in the 20th century beauty stopped being important. Art increasingly aimed to disturb and to break moral taboos. It was not beauty but originality however achieved and at whatever moral cost that won the prizes. Not only has art made a cult of ugliness. Architecture too has become soul-less and sterile. And it is not just our physical surroundings that have become ugly. Our language, our music and our manners are increasingly raucous, self-centered and offensive as though beauty and good taste have no real place in our lives. One word is written large on all these ugly things and that word is “Me.” My profits, my desires, my pleasures. And art has nothing to say in response to this except “Yeah, go for it!”
I think we are losing beauty and there is a danger that with it we will lose the meaning of life. I’m Roger Scruton, philosopher and writer. My trade is to ask questions. During the last few years I have been asking questions about beauty. Beauty has been central to our civilisation for over 2000 years. From its beginnings in ancient Greece philosophy has reflected on the place of beauty in art, poetry, music, architecture and everyday life. Philosophers have argued that through the pursuit of beauty we shape the world as a home. We also come to understand our own nature as spiritual beings. But our world has turned its back on beauty and because of that we find ourselves surrounded by ugliness and alienation.
I want to persuade you that beauty matters; that it is not just a subjective thing, but a universal need of human beings. If we ignore this need we find ourselves in a spiritual desert. I want to show you the path out of that desert. It is a path that leads to home……. Full Transcript Here