Wednesday, August 06, 2008


The following is an excerpt from Alain de Botton's book on architecture, aesthetics, and our thoroughly intertwined social psychology with respect to the former.

While a common reaction to seeing a thing of beauty is to want to buy it, our real desire may be not so much to own what we find beautiful as to lay permanent claim to the inner qualities it embodies.

Owning such an object may help us realise our ambition of absorbing the virtues to which it alludes, but we ought not to presume that those virtues will automatically or effortlessly begin to rub off on us through tenure. Endeavouring to purchase something we think beautiful may in fact be the most unimaginative way of dealing with the longing it excites in us, just as trying to sleep with someone may be the bluntest response to a feeling of love.

What we seek, at the deepest level, is inwardly to resemble, rather than physically to possess, the objects and places that touch us through their beauty.


de Botton, Alain. "Ideals." The Architecture of Happiness. McClelland & Stewart Ltd, 2006. 150-152.