Kaleidoscope: A Phenomenological-Empirical Study of Beauty

  • Author / Creator
    Aaftink, Cathelein
  • This doctoral project describes beauty as it is lived. It is an exploration of beauty’s experiential qualities as well as an investigation of its structural characteristics. Beauty has an eidetic structure that is morphological (rather than exact), which means that its essence has properties that are more or less characteristic (rather than necessary and sufficient) and that its phenomenal instantiations are similar in some ways (rather than being the same in all ways). Consequently, imaginative variation—a method that may be successfully employed when investigating exact essences—does not suffice when one seeks to uncover systematically the various meanings that may form part of a morphological essence. Instead it is more appropriate to: (1) consider multiple lived instances; (2) identify for each instance the lived understanding (i.e., sense of the whole) and lived meanings (i.e., parts) that played a role in that instance being experienced as an instantiation of its kind (or type); (3) examine in a dialectical manner instances that are relatively similar; and (4) combine insights obtained through the preceding whole-part analysis and dialectical explorations. It then becomes possible to describe a phenomenon in a way that is mindful of the different experiential-eidetic manifestations that may typify its nature. Following these procedural steps in the analysis of 471 personal experiences with beauty as recounted by first year psychology students has resulted in the description of the following lived variations of beauty: (1) a variation called objective beauty in which the experiencing individual responds to a thing of beauty that is experienced as distinctly separate from herself; (2) an affective-noetic variation in which beauty is lived in terms of a feeling or a certain state of mind; (3) a non-dualistic variation of beauty in which beauty is lived as a unified sense of the experienced and the way in which it is experienced; and (4) a variation called situative beauty in which beauty is experienced as involving all aspects of the situation that the experiencer finds herself in.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Comparative Literature
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Miall, David S. (English and Film Studies)
    • Kuiken, Don (Social and Cultural Psychology)
    • Sywenky, Irene (Comparative Literature and East European Studies)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Kuipers, Giselinde (Cultural Sociology)
    • Burch, Robert (Philosophy)
    • Hart, Jonathan (Comparative Literature and English and Film Studies)