A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Peter Kreeft, a philosophy professor from Boston College and King’s College New York. To structure his lecture, he had us each write down a word that we associated with beauty. The first word that popped into my mind was truth, which seemed cliche. So, I thought about great art and realized that beauty is in the frame. That the boundaries defined what is beautiful and directed our attention to it. But, then I thought about the actual object of beauty that was framed and felt that the object, like a frame, directed us towards something else. It seemed to me that beauty needs to open a new world to us. It needs to get us thinking, to show us something beyond the object itself, something beyond ourselves - much like a window. So that was it, I wrote down window.
Here is what Dr. Kreeft had to say:
Window is quite profound. What is beautiful about window is that you don’t see it, you see through it. You see something that is much more beautiful than the window itself.
You see, there are two types of consciousness: you can look at something, or you can look along it like a sign. And, they are both good. But, if you look at somebody, all the good and beauty in that person can be seen. It is finite. There is a limit to it. But, if you look along somebody as a sign, a sign points in a certain direction, and you never have to stop - you can keep going and going and going. If you look at all the things in the world as signs and not just as things, that is like looking at windows. You look through them, not just at them. And, if you do that, you will see all sorts of beauty that you could have never seen before.
-Dr. Peter Kreeft, July 2012