Self-development of the person through beauty


  • Giuseppe Savagnone LUMSA Università (Palermo)



beauty, astonishment, harmony, gratuitousness, lightness, love


Beauty is not only a means of self-development but itself part of an accomplished life. A long tradition has recognized the realization of the authentic self in terms of physical and spiritual beauty. An accomplished person is a “beautiful one” in its combined psychophysical unity.

However, to become beautiful, beauty needs to be discovered in our life. A great sense of nostalgia about beauty characterizes an ancient and still enduring quest for it. There has been for a long time an obscure perception of what distinguishes what is beautiful from what is true, right or useful. Aesthetic pleasure has a universal character since it is related to our intellectual faculties, which although not conceptualized preserves it from being at the mercy of subjective preferences, and it is generated by our perception regarding the splendour of being and our communion with it. There is an intimate bond between this splendour and the creative power of God’s word. Both the experience of beauty in nature and that of creativity in art lie on the Verb radiating the world, in which the artist’s work is rooted.

The first gift of the aesthetic experience, which favours personal growth, is the astonishment uncovering how even the most ordinary things around us are a miracle.

A second gift, linked to the previous one, is the exodus from ourselves caused by the love (eros) for beauty, as already highlighted by Plato.

A further gift is the revelation of the hidden harmony within the most terrible and contradictory life experiences; a harmony even more important than the most apparent one.

Then, the gift of supporting gratuitousness, giving value to what is priceless as it is important despite being useless for something else, either precisely because of that.

Beauty, finally, makes us grow by donating a sense of lightness, which is not fatuousness, but the experience of love redeeming and transfiguring even the most painful aspects of life.





Art and beauty in human formation