Human reason and abstract thought are prerequisites for the appreciation of beauty, argues Roger Scruton in his latest book, Beauty. However in his review of Beauty, Sebastian Smee—art critic of the Boston Globe—finds himself disagreeing with the sentiment.
[Scruton] is swayed by Plato’s idea that beauty is not just an invitation to desire, but a call to renounce it. The idea sounds counterintuitive, but it chimes with the feeling we often have that the most beautiful things are somehow inviolate. Scruton argues that our inability to maintain the necessary distance and our failure to respect the sovereignty of the objects we consider beautiful have helped to bring about what he calls a “flight from beauty.” The phrase is resonant. Few who have registered developments in art, architecture and other aspects of life over the past 50 to 100 years could have failed to notice that beauty has suffered a demotion. From its position as a fundamental value in art, it has been reduced to a frivolous side issue or, worse, a carrier of tainted ideologies and clichés.