IGS Discussion Forums: Learning GS Topics: the perception of beauty
Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Friday, July 20, 2007 - 08:04 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

I note a few objective characteristics that are associated with beauty.

Some examples are a smooth line as compared to a jagged or "bumpy" one. Another is a smooth graduation of color change as compared to abrupt changes. Going along with this are lower contrast in colors compared to greater contrast.

When it comes to people, bilateral symetry is perceived as "more beautiful" than assymetry. Some studies have shown that the shape of a woman that most (normal curve definition) men find more appealing correlates with child-bearing functionality as well as the appearance of not having yet had children. The genetic drive of the male is to produce as many offspring from as many females as possible, so any woman who looks like she has not yet had children and who looks like she could bear healthy children - narrow waist, flaring hips - holds an evolutionaly appeal to men. A man, on the other hand, must look like he can survive and maintain a higher social status - strong, rugged, and "rich".

A look at the form-function correlation shows that "smoothness" frequently correlates to better functioning. That would make "functionality" a core element of beauty. Symmetry is more functional because it is easier to recognize bilateral symmetry in bipeds than not. Moreover, bilateral symmetry correlates with better health.

So if you are looking to procreate, you want a young, fertile woman with smooth features that show bilateral symmetry, capable of delivering healthy babies with through a comfortably wide birth canal but who looks like she has not yet contributed to another male's genetic procreation. On the other side of the gender gap, you want a large strong, healthy (good bilateral symmetry with normal proportions) male who holds a higher social status and is therefore capable of providing support during pregnancy and through the first four or five years of child rearing.

Beyond this, various cultures and norms provide some small modifications to the details of face and figure shape. But smoothness and graduated change in the form of line and color, both of which indicate greater functionality, form a major component of the perception of beauty.

When you mix this with the female reproductive preference, the additional abstract qualities are strength, and power. Strength is exhibited by large size with sharper contrasts. This allows for a combination of smaller smooth transitions and graduated details together with contrasting largeness. As the overall shape of objects approaches that of humans, bilateral symmetry is a factor.

We are bilateral bipeds that see beauty in terms of bilateral (and radial) symmetry, smooth lines and color graduation together with larger contrasts, all of which relate directly or indirectly to functional procreation.

I won't take the time to dig out time-binding references, but I've gotten many of the details above from various reports in Science News, Scientific American, and a few other references.

I personally, in my mathematics experience, find continuous and differentiable curves much more satisfying than discontinuous curves or curves with singularities.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, July 21, 2007 - 08:53 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Ben described the abstraction process that went into producing an advertisement. Achieving a significant level of consciousness of abstracting includes a daily awareness of that kind of background behind virtually everything we see and hear that is produced by man, even including our own words. Consciousness of abstracting is not only being aware of our own abstraction process, but of extending that awareness to "all" our verbal and symbolic experiences.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, July 21, 2007 - 11:22 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Second Life - "the Matrix", "Tron", etc., - without the virtual reality headset and bodysuit (yet). See Isaac Asimov's "The Naked Sun", also. I participated briefly in a prototype prior to the overlay of ecconomics a number of years ago. I don't remember what it was called, and I unloaded the software. I have enough to deal with in our own symbolic "virtual reality" without "escaping" into a "second life". I can see where it would become extremely seductive. Six million residents - a tenth of a percent of the "real" world population in just four years.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Saturday, July 21, 2007 - 08:39 pm Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Plato, The Republic Book VII.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, July 22, 2007 - 10:16 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Plato's allegory of the cave is consistent with general semantics. Outside the cave corresponds to the "event" level. The shadows on the cave wall correspond to the object level. Talking about the shadows - as if they were the actual events, corresponds to the verbal levels without consciousness of abstracting. Talking about the shadows with recognition that they are "shadows" (object level) corresponds to verbal levels with consciousness of abstracting.

We can never "see" the actual events; we can only experience our nervous system abstractions (the shadows).

I don't think Plato says that the goal is to get outside; I think his project is to make us aware of the perspective. For plato the most "reality" is in the "ideals" (outside the cave) and the "accidentals" are but poor instantiations of the ideals. And for him the "Platonic ideals" can only be conteplated in the "mind", and even those are but poor accidental instantiations. Platonic ideals are "non-physical" "essences" that exist in a plane that "superveines" on physical "reality". The general semantics interpretation holds that such "essences" are "merely" higest possible abstractions.

(Note: There is a myth in general semantics that abstraction can continue indefinitely. While the possibility of levels of abstraction is very large, it is not infinite, becase the number of symbols and even the number of brain cells is finite [though large], and any finite length combination of a finite number of items is itself finite. [Every actual formulation is a finite sequence of symbols. Even 1/3 written as .333333... terminates in "...".])

Plato's allegory of the cave is part of the time-binding history that the general semantics structural differential traces back to. Unfortunately, a search of the Collected Works CD for "Plato" reveals that Korzybski never mentions the allegory - Korzybski essentially "rails" against the dualism expressed in other work of Plato.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, July 22, 2007 - 11:25 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

Vilmart stated categorically "there is an infinite number of particles and phenomenon in each head, at the submicroscopic scale.

This is strictly false. Quantum mechanics dictates that there is a smallest level below which we cannot divide matter/energy, which is to say that divisibility is finite in matter/energy. All are expressed in "quanta". Right now, our best model holds that matter is made up of "quarks" and leptons, of which there are a finite number, especially in a bounded region of space. That's part of what "quantum" means - an indivisible unit.

I think it's safe to say that a "thought" cannot be instantiated in the human brain by less than one neuron firing and that the depolarization of a neuron takes a minimum amount of time. Consequently we cannot have more thoughts in a lifetime than the number of neurons summed over time multiplied by the smallest neuron firing time during its lifetime. While this may be a truly large number, it is not "infinite".

Consequently no matter how many ways you map supervenient "thoughts" to energy/matter, all of which are finite in both time and divisibility, the resulting number of possibilities is still a finite (though large) combination of a finite (though undetermined) number of base instances. Consequently there is NOT an "infinite number of particles and phenomenon" in each head.

He or she who thinks otherwise has an inadequate understand the nature of mathematical infinity.

Author: Ralph E. Kenyon, Jr. (diogenes) Sunday, July 22, 2007 - 11:32 am Link to this messageView profile or send e-mail

The essential character of "abstracting" with reference to "characteristics" of some putative thing abstracted to an object is the selecting of some characteristics and the leaving out of others. In any chain of such abstractions, the leaving out eventually reduces the abstraction to one single characteristic. This is a "highest" level.

However, since there are many ways to abstract at each level, there are multiple paths that each end up with a plethora of distinct individual abstractions, so there are may "highest" level abstractions. Visualize starting at the trunk of a tree and moving upwards. Every leaf is is a highest level of abstracting.

Platonic idealism, however, holds that there is a single property that is the "essence" of a thing, that determines what is is. That part of Platonism is not consistent with general semantics, from which we may infer that there are at least as many highest level abstractions as there are characteristics.