Beauty is a value, as important as truth and goodness. The beautiful work of art brings consolation in sorrow and affirmation in joy. It shows human life to be worthwhile. Wherever beauty lies in wait for us, the desire to preempt its appeal can intervene, ensuring that its still small voice will not be heard behind the scenes of desecration. For beauty makes a claim on us: it is a call to renounce our narcissism and look with reverence in the world.
Beauty can be consoling, disturbing, sacred, profane; it can be exhilarating, appealing, inspiring, chilling. It can affect us in an unlimited variety of ways. Yet it is never viewed with indifference: beauty demands to be noticed; it speaks to us directly like the voice of an intimate friend. If there are people who are indifferent to beauty, then it is surely because they do not perceive it.
According to many philosophers and anthropologists, however, the experience of the sacred is a universal feature of the human condition, and therefore not easily avoided. For the most part our lives are organized by transitory purposes. But few of these purposes are memorable or moving to us. Every now and then we are jolted out of our complacency, and feel ourselves to be in the presence of something vastly more significant than our present interests and desires. We sense the reality of something precious and mysterious, which reaches out to us with a claim that is in some way not of this world.
Sir Roger Scruton, from Beauty