Finalist, 2005 Kids Philosophy Slam
Kathleen Brown, age 17
Fairfax, Virginia

"Truth or beauty? What is more important in your life, truth or beauty?"

I attend a high school that is dedicated to the pursuit of a physical truth. Through a rigorous courseload in science and technology, students are taught to analyze everything in a quest for fresh knowledge that will one day further their field of choice. Writing takes a backseat to critical thinking skills; art is second to computer science. Such an environment proudly proclaims that it "promotes scientific and technical skills", when, in fact, it is simply stifling the creative spirit of 450 new students each year. Furthermore, there is only disappointment and denial waiting over the horizon; the "ultimate scientific truth" that such an environment shamelessly endorses is only one more religion among the many that await us in the real world, each of them self-promoting and insistent upon the fact that it is the religion that really holds the key to the truths of the human experience. In the end, it does not really matter which religion is correct; there is simply no way for any human being to objectively discern the truth of their world, because human beings are not objective. Each of us is born into a unique set of circumstances, and we each gradually mold our own environment to fit our own needs and desires. No matter how cold and factual an individual tries to be in analyzing the world outside themselves, they will always see it as a subjective entity that is dependent on their own limitations, because they are physically incapable of leaving such limitations behind them in their pursuit of truth. Truth, therefore, is a limited and subjective element at best, which isolates it from its ideal state.

Beauty, on the other hand, is not only based on subjectivity, but thrives on it. The human experience is a rich, subjective, emotional landscape of drama and experience that provides endless vistas of beauty to the discerning eye. This eye cannot be trained to search for objective beauty, for none can be found; like truth, beauty's objective definition is irrelevant because no human can ever determine what it is. Unlike truth, however, beauty is at its best as a subjective element; people rarely kill each other in a contention over what is beautiful, while many die because of a misunderstanding of one another's truths.

In the end, though, beauty is simply the most important to me. I am an artist; my life is finding beauty in unusual places. Due to its subjective nature, I find beauty everywhere; in broken mirrors, in thunderstorms, in the pale greys and cobalt blues of a dreary January afternoon. I am dedicated to capturing the harsh tones of a dark frozen lake against dazzlingly white snow on film; I thrive on inventing colors through the use of pastels or oil paints. In my world, truth is overrated, because everything has a story. Each object, human being, scene, or historical event has its own narrative that is powerful, compelling, and ultimately, beautiful. To me, truth is merely a many-faceted trinket, and beauty reigns supreme.

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