Quotations on Beauty – Values of the Wise

quotations on beauty
Photo by David Mark

Beauty is one of the age-old values—up there with Truth, Justice, Goodness, Kindness, Wisdom, Modesty, etc. The fact that it tends to be capitalized is a tip-off that it’s a big deal! Persons from Aristotle to modern poets, philosophers, and people of all kinds think about and experience Beauty. But what does it really mean? Is it prettiness, like a flower? Is it coherence and unity? Is it elegance and profundity?

In collecting quotations on Beauty and 50 other values and virtues over twenty years, I have found a few beauties (pun intended). In this blog, I present three dozen quotes for your consideration. Notice that the authors or sources begin with A, B, C or D. What you see below represents probably 15% of the quotations on beauty in what I call The Wisdom Archive—a deep and wide collection of quotes about value and virtues.

One thing I like about this value and others as well is that the answer is not a simple one. For example, when I searched the Internet for a suitable picture for “beauty” what popped up was a hell of a lot of pictures of women all made up, looking comely and pouty-lipped. Or maybe a brilliant sunrise over a scintillating lake. Or the vibrant Fall colors of the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains.

But are comely, brilliant, scintillating, vibrant, stunning really synonyms for the ancient concept that is allied to Honor, Justice, Temperance, etc.? Beauty, it seems, is a much deeper concept. One look at the concept of fractals will make that clear. Or how about Benford’s Law? What about coincidences?

These and many other phenomena in the realms of cosmology, philosophy, and mysticism add some depth and fullness to common conceptions of beauty that do go beyond “prettiness” and “natural majesty”: for example, that beauty is only skin deep, or that perhaps it is in the eye of the beholder….


Now, I present what I consider to be very interesting, varied, and deep quotations on beauty!


“But already it was too late: the Indians, no different in their psychological makeup from other humans, had succumbed to the easy lure of the trinkets of modern civilization and ceased listening to the quiet voices inside, which spoke of the modest pleasures of the community and the beauty of the empty canyons at dusk.” ~ Alain de Botton


“Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time.” ~ Albert Camus


“The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.”  And  “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.” ~ Albert Einstein


“We are like ignorant shepherds living on a site where great civilizations once flourished. The shepherds play with the fragments that pop up to the surface, having no notion of the beautiful structures of which they were once a part.” ~ Allan Bloom


“Where should I turn for guidance? I appeal to those who have gone before, who have shown the Way. At first I love them for the beauty of their work alone and for a depth in it that draws me to them magnetically. I do not understand, but I love. Then as I gather the fragments of many pasts and piece them together and try to ponder the meaning of the events of my own life, I begin to understand that there is something to be understood that will help me; and then, what that something is.” ~ Anne Baring


“I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains. My advice is: Go outside, to the fields, enjoy nature and the sunshine, go out and try to recapture happiness in yourself and in God.” ~ Anne Frank


“Amazing, isn’t it, how some see the basket half empty and others see it half full? Some see life hopeless, some hopeful. Even when things are less than perfect, if you can think of the good, the beautiful, the hopeful, you’ll be more than sustained.” ~ Anonymous


“Wise people have an inward sense of what is beautiful, and the highest wisdom is to trust this intuition and be guided by it. The answer to the last appeal of what is right lies within a person’s own breast. Trust thyself.” ~ Aristotle


“The beauty of the soul shines out when a man bears with composure one heavy mischance after another, not because he does not feel them, but because he is a man of high and heroic temper.” ~ Aristotle


“The scenes of our life resemble pictures in rough mosaic; they are ineffective from close up, and have to be viewed from a distance if they are to seem beautiful.” ~ Arthur Schopenhauer


“It is so slow that we see the beauty inherent in every tiny act that makes up a sweater. So slow that we know the project is not going to get finished today—it may not get finished for many months or longer—and that allows us to make our peace with the unresolved nature of life. We slow down as we knit.” ~ Bernadette Murphy


“After the verb ‘to Love,’ ‘to Help’ is the most beautiful verb in the world.” ~ Bertha von Suttner


“Yet, by death, by illness, by poverty, or by the voice of duty, we must learn, each one of us, that the world was not made for us and that however beautiful may be the things we crave, Fate may nevertheless forbit them. It is the part of courage, when misfortune comes, to bear without repining the ruin of our hopes, to turn away our thoughts from vain regrets. This degree of submission to power is not only just and right, it is the very gate of wisdom.”  And  “The world of mathematics and logic remains, in its own domain delightful; but it is the domain of imagination. Mathematics must live, with music and poetry, in the region of man-made beauty, not amid the dust and grime of the world.” ~ Bertrand Russell


He who binds to himself a joy

Does the winged life destroy

He who kisses the joy as it flies

Lives in eternity’s sunrise.

~ Blake, William


“Look around. Look at what we have. Beauty is everywhere—you only have to look to see it.” ~ Bob Ross


“A society without a grounding in ethics, self-reflection, empathy, and beauty is one that has lost its way.” ~ Brian Rosenberg


“After more than 2,000 years we are still puzzling about the meaning of beauty, courage, friendship, and other such ideas. Have we made any progress?” ~ Bryan Magee


“It’s not enough to weave beautiful rugs. You have to think beautiful thoughts while weaving them.” ~ Charles Loloma


“Robert Frost’s kind of meditation is neither passive nor meaningless. It is directed, tenacious and purposeful. He is able to take a word, or an idea, and hold his mind to it while he looks it over from all angles, turns it inside out, dissects it. By doing so, he sees new aspects, new meanings, new beauties, even in tired and time-worn phrases.” ~ Charles W. Cole


“Though Humanism looks upon reason as the final arbiter of what is true and good and beautiful, it insists that reason should fully recognize the emotional side of human beings. Indeed, one of Humanism’s main functions is to set free the emotions from cramping and irrational restrictions.” ~ Corliss Lamont


“If you can approach the world’s complexities, both its glories and its horrors, with an attitude of humble curiosity, acknowledging that however deeply you have seen, you have only scratched the surface, you will find worlds within worlds, beauties you could not heretofore imagine, and your own mundane preoccupations will shrink to proper size, not all that important in the greater scheme of things.” ~ Daniel Dennett


“The Florentines thought of themselves as recovering something that had been lost; that is, the classical worldview. This view included a devotion to the humanizing and humanistic arts and to a centered perspective on human nature and what is right for it. They thought what had been lost was all of the poetry and music and splendor of life — the great sculpture, the great orderliness, the great beauty.” And  “There is nothing in the physics of light that tells us anything about how the world appears to us. It’s tells us nothing about the perception of beauty.” And  “What the aesthetes concluded was that science in the wake of Newton had become mechanical, reductive, indifferent to the human condition, and depreciating of the human condition when it does consider it. What they would put in place is the truth of nature against the fabrications of the natural philosopher, a generous recognition of the creative power of genius, and the transcendent sources of beauty and wonder. The attribute of wonder is central to our humanity in the Romantic view.” And  “’Man is the measure of all things.’ What Protagoras is claiming is that judgments of any sort — right or wrong, true or false, beauty or ugliness — must have some grounding, and that grounding can only be the experiences of a lifetime. We cannot occupy an epistemic position external to our own human ways of thought and feeling. If there is a standard liberated from or independent from human nature, we couldn’t even comprehend it! To that extent, then, each man does turn out to be the measure of all things; it is you who will decide whether this is a sweet or sour substance, and what’s sweet to one [isn’t necessarily to another person].” And  “…perhaps Socrates was on the right track after all in contending that truth, beauty, and justice were not only real but, finally, the same.” ~ Daniel N. Robinson


“Do not seek to grasp such things as beauty, pleasure, and love. Enjoy them when they come and kiss them as they fly by.” ~ Dee Hock


“Modesty is the citadel of beauty.” ~ Demades


“Like a beautiful flower, full of color but without scent, are the fair but fruitless words of him who does not act accordingly.” ~ Dhamma-Pala


“If education cannot help separate truth from falsehood, beauty from vulgarity, right from wrong, then what can it teach us?” ~ Dinesh D’Souza


“They couldn’t love you, but still your love was true.

When no hope was left in sight, on that starry, starry night,

You took your life, as lovers often do.

But I could have told you, Vincent,

This world was never made for one as beautiful as you.”

~ Don McLean


“Unlike Easterners, who are given to meditation, or Westerners, who have an inquisitive turn of mind, we of Africa, belonging neither to the East nor the West, are fundamentally observers, relying more on intuition than on the process of reasoning … With us, life has always meant the pursuit of Happiness rather than the pursuit of Beauty or Truth.” ~ Dunduzu K. Chisiza



Click here to see all 150 or so quotations on beauty in the Wisdom Archive! Feel free to type in any other word, author, etc. and go down that rabbit hole! It’s free, it’s neat, and it’s not social media!

Click here to be taken to an external site for an in-depth look at Beauty. 



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