In this short exploration of beauty, Roger Scruton first lays out a set of postulates about beauty which most people would agree to reflexively and then attempts to make those postulates cohere. After a tour through the history of aesthetics in philosophy from Plato to today, Scruton proceeds to consider beauty as it manifests itself in human bodies, in the natural world, in our everyday lives, and finally in art.
Scruton does not present a systematic theory of beauty in this book, but everything he concludes is a development of his basic premises. At the center of this development is the recognition that the experience of beauty is fundamentally contemplative. Beauty, and especially artistic beauty, speaks to us of ourselves and our relationship with the world, and as a result it possesses a rational and moral dimension. Art transforms the immanent into the transcendent, the temporal into the eternal, and provides a window into the world of values. As such, true beauty judges us more than we judge it, and it is for that very reason that beauty is now widely denounced.