Oh, I've been sitting here thinking about this, so I might as well share my thoughts. Go, wall of text!
I think there are obvious capitalistic relationships behind beauty, but I was thinking of it more in terms of false consciousness. Marx observed that the economy is a creation of human beings, and therefore, it is amendable to our will, but he used reification or the fetishism of commodities as a term to refer to our false consciousness. People think that the economy is something that is immutable and an outside force that is the determining factor of their lives (as if it was a god/idol) as opposed to a creation of human beings. They also think that it also takes on added social meaning beyond its inherent purpose or being, like the social value attached to socioeconomic class. He used the term class consciousness to refer to a state of being that transcends this idolatry or falseness in a way that empowers us to take conscious responsibility and action for our lives.
May be we could swap the economy with beauty? It is not a completely accurate comparison, I suppose as Marxism is obviously about the production of labour and not beauty. But yah… there you go…
Anyway, to answer the other questions, I appreciate beauty in other people and in myself. I’ve been told that I have very relaxed tastes when it comes to appreciating the physical appearances of other people (often in a way that is condescending as if this were a ‘bad thing’… like beauty is supposed to be a scare commodity or something). I can’t comment on the lover thing as I’ve never even dated, but I suspect I would have to at least be physically attracted to the person. Regardless, I’d ideally like to reach the point where I see beauty for simply for what it is; beauty. It is something that is just there, I guess. I agree it isn’t really that important and that it doesn’t have any absolute connection with any other value (though I anticipate people will come into this thread and beg to differ).
In relation to other attributes, I don’t think physical appearances are all that important. I do appreciate it, but I tend to appreciate a person’s spirit more. I suppose a person’s values and how they chose to conduct themselves in life is the closest thing I’d equate with the spirit.
I’m not sure how I would define beauty though. May be, in a very crude way, it is simply something I like. But then, something I like must be important. Hmm… may be… or not… I like birds; I could sit there for hours watching them as I think they are beautiful to watch. But it is not as if I’m sitting there thinking, ‘Oh birdie! You are the centre of my world!’…
That is reserved for my cat.
Originally Posted by ZephyrusX
I wonder if it makes sense to speak of beauty in terms of reification? I'm just totally pulling this out of my ass, but may be beauty was once simply valued as an inherent aesthetic value only to later take on greater social and class meaning in a capitalistic society? May be not though. I think beauty always had some underlying class implication behind it beyond having intrinsic meaning (though admittedly, its not as if I am well versed in the history of beauty and aesthetics). Reification (Marxism) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia