Physical Beauty: Only Skin Deep?
Hilhorst, Medard T.
Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy: A European Journal 2002; 5(1): 11-21
Personal appearance and physical beauty are becoming increasingly important in our societies and, as a consequence, enter into the realm of medicine and health care. Adequate and just health care policies call for an understanding of this trend. The core question to be addressed concerns the very idea of beauty. In the following, a conceptual clarification is given in terms of beauty's meaning, value and function (i.e. beauty that is used instrumentally, and beauty that is attained). Furthermore, some relevant distinctions are drawn between physical and artistic beauty, and physical beauty in a human sense. The core idea for this is formed by a Kantian notion of the beauty concept. It is argued that beauty judgements should be understood as relative to persons and their contexts. Physical beauty should be taken seriously when it is understood in this deeper sense of being related to the shaping of a person's identity.