2014 – Most Philosophical 7th Grader in America:
Cerise Yau, New York.
What Society Tells Us
In a world without humans there would be neither truth nor beauty. Human beings define truth and beauty, but do not agree on what they are and what they mean. The poet, John Keats, wrote, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty, that is all ye know on Earth and that is all ye need to know.” Is this true? The ancient Greeks believed the more beautiful a person was on the outside indicated how beautiful a person was on the inside. In China, people used to bind young girls’ feet to keep them small and dainty, which they found beautiful. Is this true beauty? As ghastly as the Chinese practice of foot binding is, many people in modern society elect to get plastic surgery. A reason for getting cosmetic surgery is because we humans find the rejections more hurtful than the physical damage. Society teaches us to believe in the outward appearance. Which in fact might have little to do with our inward feelings. Society tells us that this pain is worth it, that appearance alteration is possibly a way to gain more attention and even money and stardom. This is one of the persistent myths of our society. It would seem that modern society, which emphasizes beauty over truth, has betrayed Keats’s statement.
Beauty has changed from what the Greeks believed was a persona reflector, to a social ideal. Meanwhile, truth has remained an intangible virtue. Just as people who aren’t beautiful are often looked down upon or punished, so too are people who do not tell the truth, if they are caught. The punishment may be different, but it is still a punishment nevertheless. Truth is established in many different ways, in contrast to beauty, which society seems to agree upon.
Subjective truth is what people believe, such as someone religious believes that God does exist. It is the truth for them, but not necessarily everyone else. Objective truth can have an overbearing aspect to it, such as the death of a person. We might run from this by denying the fact that they are dead. Often, we would rather have a lie told to us. On the other hand, beauty casts a hypnotic spell on our society; we are drawn towards it as well as try to reach it.
External beauty tends to be more noticeable than internal beauty. Often, we can’t see beyond what meets the eye. Industries across the nation are devoted to making people beautiful with powders and creams. The only truth “industry” is the law. Can the law catch every liar out there? No. This may be one reason why more people are devoted to the pursuit of beauty than to the search for truth, which can be discomforting. Beauty is spellbinding and can be rewarding. Many believe that once reached, beauty fills humans with joy and has therefore gained more aspirers because of this. Rarely does John Keats’s vision seem relevant in our contemporary society.
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