Beauty And Patronage

One explanation for the medieval conviction that nobility, beauty and goodness were all the same thing is that the rich and noble had better nutrition, hygiene and care, and also practiced eugenics (the weak and ugly to the cloister). Ergo they were actually more beautiful than the peasantry.

A second suggestion is that in the medieval canon, beauty is simply a synonym for rich and noble. That is, if X is known to be rich and noble, then X is honestly perceived as beautiful; aesthetic approval may then be a hardwired human response to the command of economic resources.The ugly are there to serve the beautiful. It would be interesting to test this in the laboratory. Such a cognitive-dissonance mechanism for attributing beauty to, or finding beauty in, a person known to be high-status, might be adaptive, in that it would make it easier for young women to obey their economic imperatives and shack up with ugly rich men. If the women’s aesthetic judgement were actually to be affected by the men’s command of the resources, so that they found them less physically repulsive, then this would be a mercy to them. The next question is whether young men find it equally easy to perceive beauty in horny old ladies who are also stinking rich; and if not, then why not.

A third explanation is that the whole thing is merely sucking up. When a troubadour proclaims Eleanor of Aquitaine to be the most beautiful woman in Christendom, this is in the nature of a job application. If the nobility has the money, then they will be told that they have the beauty, and the truth and goodness too.

Posted on June 19, 2009 at 09:54 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, The Myth Of "Inner Beauty"

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