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date: 02 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores a problem in Schopenhauer’s theory of beauty: namely, how we should understand the meaning of beautiful portraits of individuals. There is a tension between his characterization of beauty as a means to tranquility and truth and the way his metaphysics of will implies that almost everyone is filled with unsatisfied desire—a condition that significantly undermines the beauty of a person’s inner character and renders beautiful portraits of the person as mostly misrepresentative of their inner being. The essay’s position is that we should apprehend the beauty of any particular person not as representative of the person’s character, but as referring to an abstract ideal of beauty that is independent of the person’s individuality. As a corrective to the natural disposition to apprehend a person’s physical beauty as indicative of the quality of the person’s character, the expressionist style of representation is recognized as having the capacity to present the characters of individual people more truthfully.

Keywords: Schopenhauer, beauty, character, idealization, expressionism, music, Kant

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