Topics Worth Investigating

  1. For Thomas, since beauty is what pleases when contemplated or seen, what is seen or contemplated is the form. Consequently, experiencing beauty is a cognitive process. Clarify Thomas' idea that beauty is not intuited but is an object of an "intellectual sense."

  2. Contrast Hume's empiricist or, as it is sometimes described, subjective account[1] of ęsthetic experience with Thomas' realist,[2] objective explanation of ęsthetic experience.

  3. The last of the conditions of beauty Thomas details is "'brightness' or 'clarity,' whence things are called beautiful which have a bright color." Yet many of Mark Rothko's paintings are noted for their indeterminate shapes and muted colors. Rothko is quoted as stating, "Mute icons are the only kind of beauty we find acceptable today," and claims that he seeks to communicate basic human emotions. Explain carefuly whether or not Thomas would argue that the successful communication of basic human emotions in art does not necessitate the art being beautiful or whether he would conclude, " this very beauty would be an obstacle to the end he has in view."[3]

  4. Thoroughly explain according to Thomas how beauty can be a defect in the objects of nature.



David Hume. "Of the Standard of Taste." In Four Dissertations. London: A. Millar. 1757.


Aristotelian realism includes the view that human beings percieve the universal and real forms of order in nature—in the things themselves. Platonic realism is the view that universal or real forms of objects exist apart from the objects in nature as objective Ideas or Concepts. Ed.


Summa, I, 91, 3.