Objective interpretations Aristotle emphasizes the notion of structure: The beauty of a thing lies in its formal and final causes, in the imposition of appropriate ordering principles of symmetry and unity upon indeterminate matter. He argues that for a work of art, such as a tragedy, to be excellent it must adhere to proper unities of time, place, and narrative sequence. Plotinus (205–270 C.E.) emphasizes the notion of beauty’s lure, the ascent by its means to the timeless.

Beauty is not merely symmetry and unity; it is a power irradiating them, for which we yearn and through which we can transcend that about us which is perishing. The early Christian theologian Augustine of Hippo (354–430 C.E.) identifies this power as God, through the beauty of whose Word our restless selves find salvation’s rest.