Is beauty an asset?
A dialogue between Socrates the stick and Emilies the blue berries. Socrates knows he does not know anything and this leads him to ask many questions. He then carefully examines the responses. The Emilies believe that life in society introduces value judgments that are often harmful to the simple and natural aspirations of all beings and that happiness is nevertheless dependent on others.
Socrates: dear Emily, you who are so pretty, is beauty an asset for you?
Emilies: think again, Mr. Stick, it’s mostly a burden that takes us away from our natural state.
Socrates: I don’t understand. Aren’t you beautiful in your natural state?
Emilies: the notion of beauty is a value judgment specific to group life. In a natural state and like every creature, we want to be loved, to reproduce and prosper but because we were thought to be pretty and we were told we were, this beauty that we had to assume has locked us up in a reductive definition; it introduced differences, comparisons, hierarchies.
Socrates: you mean your beauty has taken those who look at you away from the truth of who you are and made you maintain the fiction of your appearance?
Emilies: yes, and we have also realized that there is no point in being pretty if those for whom we had prepared didn’t want us.
Socrates: what do you mean, didn’t want you? Who could not admire and desire you?
Emilies: the birds, dear Socrates, the birds that ignored us. All the spring and all the summer we prepared for them, we avoided the parasites and the hail and the blows of the fate in order to arrive at this shiny blue which suits us so well on the yellow background of the leaves, but they did not come to us. They passed high in the sky without even looking at us. We wasted our time making ourselves beautiful and we lost what inside was our main asset.
Socrates: your particular flavor, right? The birds therefore saw an appearance that did not satisfy them when.
Emilies: how else to explain their attitude? We had thought that our beauty would be a sign to attract them better, but it gave them a false impression of us.
Socrates: so they finally missed the basics they were looking for. Is there nothing you can do?
Emilies: a long time ago, we knew how to call them in their own language, but when Niccolò triggered the fall, our words were taken away. Since then, we only have the colors to make us want but we can now see that this does not represent us correctly.
Socrates: however, I would be happy to pick you up to brighten up my home, so it is not entirely accurate to say that beauty is not an asset. It is a quality that everyone seeks and that attracts. You probably wouldn’t want to be ugly even if you are not to the liking of all…
Emilies: yes, that’s for sure, but isn’t there an alternative that would allow everyone to live better?
Socrates: go unnoticed? You didn’t like it so what else do you suggest? Beauty is a judgment of the mind that allows choices and categories to be made. When this judgment applies to you, it locks you in but it also helps you develop. It also develops the one that made it because it helps him/her to become aware of what he/she likes or not.
Emilies: so we are models?!
Socrates:in the same way as each of us but with your own qualities. In any case, you were right to make yourself beautiful even if that did not allow you to achieve the goals you were aiming for as you thought. You have become who you are and have influenced others. And your expectations may not have been the right ones.
Emilies: don’t tell us our beauty was meant for you!
Socrates: yet when I see you, I know better what I like because your beauty speaks to me and makes me want to take you away. It grows me up and makes me happy. Without it and without you, I wouldn’t know what beauty is for me.
Emilies: if so, it will also help us because you will allow us to colonize new lands albeit unexpectedly. But this is what we want above all …
Socrates: see, because beauty allows the one who contemplates it and is sensitive to it to act, it can bring benefits to the one who possesses it. But as you have seen, it does not speak to everyone and therefore does not give you what you are looking for the way you expected.
Emilies: so dear Socrates, take us as long as you like our beauty!
Socrates: that’s what I do and I say thank you to these birds who have ignored you.
For the Emilies, beauty is a burden that locks them in a situation that does not correspond to their expectations because they think that it puts forward an appearance that does not correspond to their reality.
Socrates will show them that it is an asset that allows them to be noticed and thus have the possibility of reaching their goals even if the path is not necessarily the one imagined. Beauty is a means of getting to know oneself better, as much for those who contemplate it and are sensitive to it as for those who possess and maintain it.
How is beauty defined?
Why do we often say that nature is beautiful?
Want to think a a little more? See, for example, The Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality Among Men where Rousseau explains how society corrupts the individual.
Want to contribute to these dialogues? Write your comments and questions below.
Want to know more about the tastes of Socrates and Emilies? Their favorite books are in the domain library.