On Beauty and Being Just
By Elaine Scarry
The beautiful, almost without any effort of our own, acquaints us with the mental event of conviction, and so pleasurable a mental state is this that ever afterwards one is willing to labor, struggle, wrestle with the world to locate enduring sources of conviction–to locate what is true. …beauty is a starting place for education.
A thorough defense of beauty and of its power to push the boundaries of our concern outward.
Not written from the Buddhist perspective, these essays dismiss (too?) casually the ugly failure modes of beauty: the acquisitiveness, possessiveness, and jealousy which consume many the beholder. However, I find it a useful corollary or even corrective to the standard Buddhist “rejection” of aesthetics, explaining how beauty can condition becoming’s wholesome forms.
In this way, we start to view the spiritual education as a kind of aesthetic education: acquainting the student with “truer” sources of beauty and affording them the more sublime responses outlined in these notes.