Beauty [NOOK Book]


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.

Here, 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 ...
See more details below

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$6.99 price
(Save 12%)$7.99 List Price


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.

Here, 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.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

In this short work, Scruton (philosophy, Inst. for the Psychological Sciences; England: An Elegy) uses the writings of Plato and Kant along with specific artistic works to create a philosophical explanation of beauty. According to Scruton, when we say that an object is beautiful, we are making a rational judgment about the object that is based on our contemplation of its appearance. He explains that beauty is not a subjective preference but a universal value, founded on reason and our value system, to which all rational agents should agree. Scruton examines four kinds of beauty-human, natural, everyday, and artistic. He is not concerned with defining the qualities of beauty; he works to show how the experience of beauty is similar to religious experiences in that it allows us to "look with reverence on the world." The book's tone is scholarly, yet it remains highly accessible and offers readers a unique and well-argued approach to the concept of beauty. Recommended for academic and large public libraries.
—Scott Duimstra

The Barnes & Noble Review
Aesthetics as an independent academic discipline may have faded with the 19th century, but in Roger Scruton's vigorous, decidedly unfashionable little book, Beauty, it's as timeless as ever. An investigation into the nature of the ineffable -- how, and what, shapes our experience of beauty -- his treatise is more an inquiry than an answer. Scruton is, by training and by temperament, a philosopher, and he approaches his analysis with a logician's steady reason. Beginning with a series of platitudes -- "Beauty pleases us," "Beauty is always a reason for attending to the thing that possesses it," and so forth -- and continuing through its pages, he tries to distill what exactly is meant by this vexing term. Beauty is, for Scruton, a rational but almost spiritual process of encounter between beholder and beheld -- be it a landscape, a painting, a simply arranged table. "When looking on the world disinterestedly," he writes, "I don't just open myself to its presented aspect; I bring myself into relation with it, experiment with concepts, categories and ideas that are shaped by my self-conscious nature." But it's easier to say what Scruton thinks beauty isn't. He's at his most passionate (and least cogent) when on the attack, lashing out at contemporary art and postmodern desecration. Scruton can come across as curmudgeonly and prudish (a British academic could not sound more uncomfortable talking about "the 'convict' style of black American 'gangstas' "), and, despite all his logical contortions, a bit imprecise. But then, it's only because he has picked, pointedly, the one subject that defies rational explanation. --Amelia Atlas
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780191613609
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford
  • Publication date: 3/26/2009
  • Series: Very Short Introductions
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 737,841
  • File size: 18 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Roger Scruton is Research Professor at the Institute for the Psychological Sciences, in Arlington, Virginia.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

1. Judging beauty
2. Human beauty
3. Natural beauty
4. Everyday beauty
5. Artistic beauty
6. Taste and order
7. Art and Eros
8. The flight from beauty
9. Concluding thoughts
Notes and Further Reading

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 1 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 24, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    The sense of beauty is one of the most fundamental human univers

    The sense of beauty is one of the most fundamental human universals. No one is immune to aesthetic appeals, and it seems that the appreciation of the beauty is an exclusive human characteristic. This very short introduction aims to introduce the general reader to some of the fundamental intellectual underpinnings of this essential concept. Unfortunately, the book falls short with respect to this objective.

    I am a huge fan of Roger Scruton's writings, and have read many of his articles and books, and have reviewed several of his books (including his other book in this series [[ASIN:0192801996 Kant: A Very Short Introduction]]). He is extremely erudite and insightful, and he is able to find a new, fresh, perspective on many of the ageless topics. However, I think that with this Very Short Introduction he has widely missed the target. He makes no bones about the fact that this is an exclusively philosophical outlook on beauty, which is extremely disappointing considering all the great insights that the psychology has given us in recent decades on that topic. At the beginning of the second chapter Scruton attempts to give some evolutionary backing for the sense of beauty, but after just a few pages that approach fizzles away and transforms into various philosophical speculations and musings on sexuality.

    In his philosophical musings Scruton doesn't seem to be grounding much of his ideas within the overarching western philosophical tradition. He mentions Plato and Kant a few times, and maybe on a few occasions some of the other prominent philosophers. For the most part, though, one gets a sense that the material in this book has been wrought whole-cloth out of Scruton's own omphaloskepsis. Scruton is indeed a great thinker, and many of his ideas are extremely interesting, but after a while I got really bored with all the self-indulgent writing.

    The book is very long for a very short introduction, and at 164 pages it is one of the longest ones that I had read. It could have used a fair amount of editing for content length.

    If you are interested in some interesting philosophizing on the topic of beauty, then this book may appeal to you.  However, this is far from being an authoritative and up-to-date account of our understanding of beauty as a concept.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)