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Augustine’s View on Beauty

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Many will agree that beauty is an important part of life. From artwork to nature to physical beauty, we, as humans place beauty fairly high as something of importance. Augustine's view of beauty is rather simple: Beauty is a good thing, as long as it doesn't get in the way of your search for God.

Augustine says that "physical beauty must not so delight you that you want to find your happiness in it. What you are looking for is in the soul" (Augustine p. 152). The irony here is that Augustine struggled with physical beauty, which had nothing to do with the soul; it had more to do with the flesh, and satisfying the desires of the body, rather than satisfying the soul.

He also says to "look for something better than your soul itself" (Augustine p. 152), and "...your body can benefit from which is superior, because the body is subject to the soul" (Augustine p. 152). With this, he is telling us that we need to constantly improve ourselves, by turning to God. God is superior to everything, and as such, if we focus on Him, and attempt to create a soul that is pleasing and good. Once the soul is properly aligned, the body will begin to benefit. There will be fewer temptations to indulge the flesh (or body), because the soul is not concerned with gratifications of the world. As the soul turns towards God, the body naturally follows on the path of enlightenment. At the end of your lifetime, if your soul is found to be good or just, your body will become immortal, and you will spend an afterlife with God, according to Augustine.

Since physical beauty can be found everywhere, it is important to determine which types will help turn the body and soul towards God, and which will not. Nature is an all-around good, because it allows us to reflect on how God created the world. From a sunset to an animal to the colors of the trees and flowers and even the symmetry of anything, all will turn the soul towards God. Some types of physical beauty that will turn the soul away from God are also temptations


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