Truth and beauty  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Both ancients and moderns have wished that there was a close association between beauty and truth. The poet John Keats, in his Ode on a Grecian Urn (1819), put it this way:

Beauty is truth, truth is beauty, that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

Tolstoy in What Is Art? (1897) was one of the first to oppose Baumgarten's trinity — Good, Truth and Beauty:

"To this class [of superseded scientific theories] belongs this astonishing theory of the Baumgartenian Trinity Goodness, Beauty, and Truth, according to which it appears that the very best that can be done by the art of nations after 1900 years of Christian teaching, is to choose as the ideal of their life the ideal that was held by a small, semi-savage, slave-holding people who lived 2000 years ago, who imitated the nude human body extremely well, and erected buildings pleasant to look at. All these incompatibilities pass completely unnoticed. Learned people write long, cloudy treatises on beauty as a member of the aesthetic trinity of Beauty, Truth, and Goodness ; das Schone, das Wahre, das Gute ; le Beau, le Vrai, le Bon, are repeated, with capital letters, by philosophers, aestheticians and artists, by private individuals, by novelists and by feuilletonistes, and they all think, when pronouncing these sacrosanct words, that they speak of something quite definite and solid something on which they can base their : opinions. In reality, these words not only have no definite meaning, but they hinder us in attaching any definite mean ing to existing art ; they are wanted only for the purpose of justifying the false importance we attribute to an art that transmits every kind of feeling if only those feelings afford us pleasure."

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