Essay on Beauty Is Truth, Truth Beauty
The famous lines Beauty is truth, truth beauty', that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know' are taken from the Ode On A Grecian Urn by John Keats. It emphasizes the identity of beauty and truth.
Development of Thought:
The poet tries to emphasize the ideal of beauty and truth, as according to him real beauty lies in truth anything which is not true and is false cannot be called beautiful. Philosophically the saying holds good in all walks of human life: arts, social behaviour, material existence, aesthetic universality, religious unity, human oneness, etc.
All these represent truth and they are beautiful only when truly represented and manifested. However enchanting from the outside, falsehood is ugly inside- one way or the other it leaves a bad taste in the mouth and a sting in the mind.
What is not true or good can never really be beautiful though it may have superficial attraction.
Human life as important as those which arise from the spoken or the written word. Truth and falsehood are qualities that belong to the work of our hands as well as the words of our lips and are often more eloquent to the eye than the words can be to the ears.
They are expressed by our whole personalities, by our characters, by our conduct, by our general talk and conversation in the world. Great truths are often communicated by works of art: literature, sculpture, architecture, painting, films or other effective media understood by humans.
Every portrait painted is either a truth or a lie or a mixture of the two. Its beauty depends on the degree of truth, and honesty depicted in it. It also represents the character of the painter.
An artist who puts his heart and soul in his work and applies true tones of colour theme and dedication, is able to produce a beautiful piece. If his purpose is simply to flatter the onlooker and paint for the sake of getting outward appreciation, his face cannot be called a piece of lasting beauty.
In the case of commonplace houses or public buildings, a greedy contractor may mix up his bricks and mortar, may hoodwink the state by using below-the- standard material, or he may lie in respect of inward virtues of the building.
His dishonesty, his falsehood and insincerity cannot but produce a building which will not stand the test of time or truth. Its beauty, if any, will be transient and artificial.
In social life it would be quite futile and meaningless to state things of wisdom, religion, beauty and all these, if they lack audience if there is no real response, reception or desire to understand and profit by them. Launched into the empty space of the universe, with nobody to receive them, even beautiful and nice doctrines may go waste.
We can never understand beauty as an isolated thing, self-supported or hanging in the air. A thing of beauty always appears in a personal context, conditioned by the person who creates it and for the persons or the era to which it is focused.
In fact, beauty and truth, like arts and sciences, form together a kind of commonwealth in which each serves the rest and is in turn served by them. As we know all knowledge is one-all-comprehensive and well-connected.
Truth is a beautiful operation, a dynamic thing which does its beneficent work in a personal and social context. On the other hand, a lie is an offensive operation performed by one man upon another.
It resembles robbery and murder and just as robbery and murder cannot be committed without a victim, so lies cannot be told without a victim to be deceived. A lie is- not a mere offence against logic. It is an offence committed, or at least attempted, against the persons to whom it is addressed.
Whatever else truth may be, there is no doubt as to its being valuable, not merely in the sense that it is good to look at, but also it does good to those who see it, know it and act upon it.
Truth is, in other words, a value, not residing inertly in the lives that manifest it or the words that speak it, but operating valuably, and so making a difference for the better to every mind which accepts it in contrast to a lie which makes a difference for the worse.
The force of this contention highly extends its dimensions when we identify truth with beauty as Keats so emphatically does in the quotation of this essay.
An idle beauty is no more conceivable than an idle truth. Indeed, beauty is never more falsely conceived than when we think of it as deserving to be looked at. People who look at beauty never see it. They see it when it operates upon them, moves them, stirs them, and sentimentalizes them.
Wordsworth was sentimental when he saw the daffodils or the rainbow
"My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky. "
Like truth, beauty is dynamic and vital; no wonder they think them to be the same.
All truths accepted by most of us carry their respective characteristics. These characteristics are bestowed by the great personalities who have spoken or written them. We accept those truths as meant for us, said by bonafide people whose intention was to make the world wiser by their wisdom.
When we read the work of a philosopher, a politician or a scientist there is a certain understanding that the author is objective and impersonal.
If any of us doubts his wisdom or saying we will not let him try to present our views truly and honestly. We, as readers, are heartily grateful to thinkers like Plato, Aristotle, Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, Einstein, Gandhi, Nehru, B.Russel and such like stalwarts who have left a legacy of original truths for us to carry forward the torch of wisdom for the future generations.
It is not without reason that, in the course of a discussion, we support an argument quite often by quoting a great writer. Why do we find it necessary to mention his name?
Why not content ourselves with telling that such and such a thing is rightly said? Why do we name the personality who said the truth? That is because the beauty of the truth lies in the beauty of the personality who said it.
'Beauty is truth, truth beauty, is most significantly illustrated by the beauty that lies in the creative arts. The truth when depicted in a piece of art a painting, a poem, a musical lyric or a symbolic dance, becomes a personified beauty. The painter, or a symbolic dance, becomes a personified beauty.
The painter, the poet, the musician or the dancer makes the truth so beautiful that it permeates the whole being of the viewer, the reader, the listener or the audience.
It spreads in the whole personality of cacti individual, hi£ heart, brain, the hormones, the eyes and the ears. It not only inspires but also sentimentalizes. It leaves a lifelong impression on the mind provided the audience is receptive and the message conveyed by the artist is infinitely true.
Arts are the most effective unifiers of humanity. They function on the basic themes of aesthetic universality. They make the truth indivisible. Although divided in branches, art is the true manifestation of syntheses of peoples, religions, races, nations and classes.
Every one enjoys art and the truth depicted through it. It becomes easily acceptable to all humans. The gates of the beautiful truth are wide open for everybody and the light of art influences numerous hearts with love and grace.
Arts have a high place in the evolution of the race and their value in the education and actual life of a nation. The manners, the social culture and the restraint in action and expression are based essentially on the sense of form and beauty, of what is correct, symmetrical, well adjusted, fair to the eye and pleasing to the imagination.
The rudeness, coarseness, vulgar violence, overbearing brusqueness and selfishness among individuals greatly hamper the development of nations within and in dealing with outside. The sense of form and beauty is an artistic sense and can best be fostered in a nation by artistic culture of the perceptions and sensibilities.
Music is even more powerful in the sense of form and beauty than other arts, as it manifests perfect expression of harmony, and inspires in the audience a new aesthetic perception. The importance of painting and sculpture is hardly less.
The mind is profoundly influenced by what it sees and if the eye is trained from the days of childhood to the contemplation and understanding of beauty, harmony and just arrangement in line and colour, the tastes, habits and character are insensibly trained to follow a similar law of beauty, harmony and just arrangement in the life of the adult man.
A similar result is produced on the emotions by the study of beautiful or noble arts like poetry. A Hindu sage said that music and poetry provide detached and disinterested enjoyment of the eight razes or forms of emotional aesthetes which make up life and keep it free from the disturbance of the lower self-regarding passions.
Painting & sculpture work in the same direction by different means. Art sometimes uses the same means as poetry but cannot do it to the same extent because it does not have the movement of poetry; it is fixed, still; it expresses only a given movement, a given point in space and cannot move freely through time and region.
But it is precisely this stillness, this calm, this fixity, which gives its separate value as art. Poetry raises the emotions and gives each its separate delight. Art stills the emotions and teaches them the delight of a restrained and limited and harmonious thinking with each other.
Between them, music, art and poetry are a perfect education for the soul. They make and keep its movement purified, controlled, deep and harmonious.
These, therefore, are agents which cannot be neglected by humanity on its onward march or degraded to the mere satisfaction of sensuous pleasure which disintegrates rather than builds the char cater. They are, when properly used, great educating, edifying and civilizing forces of Truth.
Truth purifies human consciousness and reaches for everything real and beautiful. Modern science has become the greatest educator of arts. Rapid communication systems like the radio, the TV, the cinema, the hoardings, kiosks, etc., have given wings to the real arts so that they reach the humans with the educational message in no time.
Humanity is civilizing itself at cosmic speed. The truth of great art and knowledge is traversing all storms of earthly commotions.
Even people, who are semi-starved of material possessions, understand the vital importance of active beauty. And when great artists proclaim: labour, beauty and action, the formula of international truth assimilates with deep impact.
It was Plato who once said: "It is difficult to imagine a better method of education than that discovered and verified by the experience of centuries. It can be expressed in two propositions: gymnastics for the body and music for the soul".
He further said "rhythm and harmony are deeply rooted in the human soul, dominate it, fill it with beauty and transform man to a beautiful thinker'. He partakes of the beautiful and rejoices at it, gladly realizes it, becomes saturated with it and arranges his life in conformity with it."
As a vehicle of truth, art is the abode of all aspects of the beautiful. Art galleries store different kinds of art creations inspiring vital application of truth in life.
Thus, 'Beauty is truth, truth beauty'. This is the basic truth which all humans should know. Without the untiring realization of the beautiful, with out the refinement of the heart and consciousness, we cannot help making earthly existence cruel and deadly.
However, enchanting from outside, falsehood is ugly inside. It usually leaves a bad taste in the mouth and a sting in the mind.
The truth of this poetic saying has in fact been always recognized in India through the concept of the unity of God, Truth and Beauty Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram.