What is Beauty?


Course Description


British Library, Royal MS 12 F. xiii, Folio 10v

Phrases like “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and “beauty is only skin deep” suggest that beauty is a category that need not be taken seriously since it is associated with subjectivity, superficiality, and consumerism. However, the history of philosophy and theology shows that beauty has been an important category in Western thought. A given philosopher’s thoughts about beauty are a window onto what he or she believes about reality in general. This course explores conceptualizations of beauty from different periods in the history of Western philosophy, how these ideas have been manifest in art objects, and their theological implications.

Student Comments

“I don’t think there was a single class time where I didn’t take something away. I always felt my perception being challenged and have gained an amazing insight on the world from what I’ve learned.”

“I appreciated Dr. Eikelboom’s way of wording things. She made sure we understood things in proper and thoughtful ways, and we always kept discussions open to new thoughts.”

“Dr. Eikelboom really wants students to learn to think and to develop a passion for learning. She seeks to equip students to learn, explore, and ask questions out of their own interest. I liked how she did not strictly lecture to us but that she always prompted our own thoughts with questions and engaged us in discussion. She employed a variety of helpful and engaging teaching tactics, like dividing us into small groups for discussion, having us give short individual reports, and providing experiences that really engaged us with the material, like the time she used a simulation to turn the classroom into a medieval devotional setting and the time she helped us engage with modern art at the IMA. She values input from all students and seeks to make sure that everyone participates and everyone learns.”