Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Umberto Eco : On Ugliness (excerpt)

drawing by marguerita

In the Middle Ages,James of Vitry (Libri duo,quorum prior Orientalis, sive Hjyerosolimitanae, alter Occidentalis istoria),in praising the Beauty of all the divine works, admitted that probably the Cyclopes, who have only one eye, are amazed by those who have two of them, just as we marvel both at them and at creatures with three eyes...
Centuries later,this was echoed by Voltaire ( in his Philosophical Dictionary)." Ask a toad what beauty is, true beauty, the to kalon.He will tell you that it consists of his mate, with her two fine round eyes protruding from her small head, her broad flat throat, her yellow belly and brown back.


The kalon is an ancient Greek term for what is good, fine, noble, beautiful. The kalon is not merely an aesthetic ideal, but a moral ideal as well, a guiding principle for correct action: whatever we do, we should do it for the sake of the kalon.

No comments: