Gorgeous Trumps Everything


Gorgeous Trumps Everything



And in the end, the wise often succumb to the beautiful.

(‘Und es neigen die Weisen / Oft am Ende zu Schönem sich‘—Friedrich  Hölderlin (d. 1843))



“In the combat between wisdom and feeling, wisdom never wins.” 

(from Steinbeck’s The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976) Merlin to King Arthur in “The Death of Merlin”)



BEAUTY: A competition between reason and intuition?  To that extent and like all tensions we experience, it is easily exploited.  We are vulnerable, depending in part on how safe we feel.   The intuition that gorgeous confers adaptive advantage to all who participate in it, no less procreate … led to The Jaguar Motor Car “gorgeous campaign” of 2005  ( http://theinspirationroom.com/daily/2006/jaguar-gorgeous/)

Jaguar 2005 ad campaign

 Jaguar ads in 2005  …  “gorgeous trumps everything” … Script:


Gorgeous deserves your immediate attention.
Gorgeous makes effort look effortless.
Gorgeous stays up late, and still looks gorgeous
Gorgeous has no love for logic.
Gorgeous loves fast.
Everyone cares what gorgeous says.
Gorgeous gets in everywhere.
Gorgeous can’t be ordinary even if it tries.
Gorgeous pays for itself in the first five seconds.
Gorgeous doesn’t care at all what others are doing.
Gorgeous was born that way.
Gorgeous trumps everything.
Gorgeous is worth it.

Helena Rubinstein: Beauty Is Power traces the path of this remarkable early feminist and visionary art patron. In Rubinstein’s world, art and commerce blended seamlessly. She ornamented her salons and homes with splendid artworks—Surrealist murals, modernist portraits, Art Deco furniture, Venetian mirrors, and one of the era’s great collections of African and Oceanic art. Her understanding of beauty was similarly expansive and democratic: she saw the face as the site for self-expression and the exploration of identity. The Rubinstein beauty program thus included not only makeup and hairdressing, but also lessons in health, deportment, and culture. Such features, innovative at the time and wildly popular, today provide a fascinating glimpse into popular culture as it affected women in the 20th century.”   link

Now, look in on


by e e cummings


BEAUTY IS POWER?  I was taught SCIENCE is POWER  But it seems to be both.. as in evolutionary theory, does that hint at a deeper common cause?

The cultural traditions of beauty and reason:

  • There are two modes of knowing, through argument and experience.  “Reasoning draws a conclusion and makes us grant the conclusion, but does not make the conclusion certain, nor does it remove doubt so that the mind may rest on the intuition of truth, unless the mind discovers it by the path of experience. (Roger Bacon in Opus Majus (1268)
  • There is a familiar aphorism: Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point. (The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.” (Blaise Pascal, in Pensées (1670).
  • Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them. (David Hume, A Treatise upon Human Nature (1739) bk. 2, pt. 3)

BUT one’s aesthetic choices are not the only thing that can overrule facts: there are other reasons (more to do with how “truth” is established) that are important. READ:

The Affective Fallacy “(also The Romantic Fallacy; Emotion over Reflection; “Follow Your Heart”): An extremely common modern fallacy of Pathos, that one’s emotions, urges or “feelings” are innate and in every case self-validating, autonomous, and above any human intent or act of will (one’s own or others’), and are thus immune to challenge or criticism. (In fact, researchers now [2017] have robust scientific evidence that emotions are actually cognitive and not innate.) In this fallacy one argues, “I feel it, so it must be true. My feelings are valid, so you have no right to criticize what I say or do, or how I say or do it.” This latter is also a fallacy of stasis, confusing a respectful and reasoned response or refutation with personal invalidation, disrespect, prejudice, bigotry, sexism, homophobia or hostility.”  (https://utminers.utep.edu/omwilliamson/ENGL1311/fallacies.htm )

So, if GORGEOUS reflects a bias, we should examine the origins of this: look in on Alison George’s reporting in New Scientisthttps://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24833122-000-why-were-in-tune-with-our-emotions-but-suck-at-judging-our-smarts/

[i] Elizabeth Kolbert has been a staff writer at The New Yorkersince 1999. She won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction for “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History.”

[ii] Elizabeth Kolbert (2017) That’s What You Think. Essay review of The enigma of reason by Hugo Mercer and Dan Sperber. And The Knowledge Illusion: Why we Never Think Alone by Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach(Riverhead) The New Yorker Books  February 27, 2017 Issue  pp 66-71   https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/02/27/why-facts-dont-change-our-minds  This article appears in other versions of the February 27, 2017, issue, with the headline “That’s What You Think.”



Professor Emeritus, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.