Beauty can be perceived in two ways. You find a thing beautiful because you like it or you like a thing because you find it beautiful? The net result of both is pleasurable sensation.
But what is beauty? And why do you like a thing and why does an object look beautiful? Why does not the same object look beautiful to every one? Satisfactory answers to most of such questions will be found only when we have full knowledge of the structure and functioning of human brains.
To say whether an object is beautiful or not, we need to see the object physically or at least see its image with our own eyes (subjective experience). All talks about beauty are, therefore, to start at physical level. (I am not considering here imagination.) We all say that an object is beautiful if its outer form or appearance (shape, size, proportion, structures) looks beautiful. All of us find beauty in symmetrical objects, that is objects that possess symmetry. One has to go much out of the way to discern beauty in things that have no symmetry or are asymmetrical (not symmetrical). This mode of seeing beauty has come to us through the process of natural evolution. According to my theory, God or the laws of Nature has enjoined this on all living species because when objects are symmetrical, copulation is facilitated, that is mating becomes easier and simpler. This increases the chances of pregnancy (fertilization) and hence the survival of the species. It occurred to me when I was in my twenties that our capacity to see beauty in symmetrical objects comes from the fact that our brains and bodies are symmetrical in shape. Had we and our brains been asymmetrical, we would, in all likelihood, find beauty in asymmetry.
There is another kind of beauty which I call the beauty of mind and spirit. It refers to mental attributes such as intelligence, compassion, empathy, love of justice and fair play, honesty, truthfulness, uprightness, etc. These qualities in good measure are only with individuals who are developed well intellectually and spiritually. There is no dove or holy ghost or secret incantations (mantras) that impart those qualities to us. To know if a person has those qualities, one needs to be observant.
A question that I want to ask here is: Do animals and plants perceive beauty in living things? Do they experience joy on seeing a beautiful object as we do? I believe, some higher form of animals and plants do find beauty (positive feeling) or ugliness (negative feeling) in other living objects, but to a much lesser degree.
The beauty perception among humans is intimately related to sexuality. Without sexuality, the same woman may still look beautiful to a man, but it would be a different kind of beauty. What is the kind of beauty that a homosexual sees in the opposite sex and what kind of beauty a transsexual sees in men and women? We shall discuss some of them in another post.