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The Secret Power of Beauty: First Edition
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The Secret Power of Beauty: First Edition

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  45 ratings  ·  8 reviews
The notion of beauty is elusive: we love the things we find beautiful, and yet we are inarticulate when we try to communicate this love, or describe its essence. We are aware of people, paintings and houses that are universally recognized as beautiful, and yet we know also that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. In defining beauty and our response to it, we are often ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published August 30th 2006 by Penguin Global (first published January 27th 2005)
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John Armstrong writes philosophy books, but reading his books is more like listening to an interesting friend than like "reading philosophy." His ideas often strike me as thoughts I've had before in some vague form; what's great about Armstrong is that he's taken the time to make the thoughts whole and to write them down in a clear, engaging way. (More than once in The Secret Power of Beauty, he laments the inaccessibility of the writings of philosophers like Hegel, so being readable is clearly ...more
Lauren Albert
If only other philosophers could be half so lucid as Armstrong. He looks at various theories of beauty throughout the ages and shows their strengths and weaknesses. He discusses, and rejects (at least in part), the subjectivist theory, the Marxist theory, the evolutionary theory, the utilitarian theory etc. Since he gives his point of view so much more clearly than I could, here it is:

“The central error of the subjectivist position is not its stress on individual response but its implication tha
Dec 11, 2007 Martine rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: art and philosophy lovers
Like Alain de Botton, John Armstrong writes accessible philosophy books which are enjoyable even for those who are not of a philosophical, logical or abstract bent. In this highly discursive treatise he traces the nature of beauty and our response to it through such things as Hogarth's shapely curves, Pythagoras' theories on harmony, Palladio's ideas on well-proportioned architecture, Kant's meaning of pleasure and so on. It stays on the surface and doesn't lead to any profound insights or concl ...more
A fascinating discussion on the value we place on beauty in our cultural, historically and today. He has very interesting ideas, provides equally fascinating research and he has a beautiful (!) writing style which makes this a pleasant reading experience. It is an extremely interesting read.
Harry Fulgencio
Very well put, quite a lot of aphorisms (for sounds original but then maybe this needs to be verified)..... although the images should have been produced in colored as there were some explanation were it was required.

Jeanne Dunn
This book was a source for a research paper I was writing on Aesthetic Education. It was a thought-provoking read. I'd recommend it for creative people -- artists, writers. Not light reading.
After reading this book John Armstrong became my favourite author!! Very lucid prose, inspirational and highly persuasive. :)
Adih Respati
Although Armstrong's arguments are supported by numerous psychological research, its approach is too philosophical for me.
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John Armstrong is a British philosopher living in Melbourne, Australia. He was born 1966 in Glasgow and worked as a research fellow at the University of London. Armstrong works currently as the Philosopher-in-Residence at the Melbourne Business School at the Melbourne University. He is author of several books on philosophical themes.
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