The Enigma of Beauty

This article by Cathie Newman originally appeared in National Geographic

“I’m doing a story on beauty,” I tell a prospective interview. “By whose definition?” he snaps.  Define beauty? One may as well dissect a soap bubble. We know it when we see it—or so we think. Philosophers frame it as a moral equation. What is beautiful is good, said Plato. Poets reach for the lofty. “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” wrote John Keats, although Anatole France thought beauty “more profound than truth itself.”

Others are more concrete. “People come to me and say: ‘Doctor, make me beautiful,'” a plastic surgeon reveals. “What they are asking for is high cheekbones and a stronger jaw.”

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