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Visum Placet


Gabriel Perissé
Doutor em Educação pela FEUSP
Professor da Pós-Graduação do Programa de
Mestrado em Educação da Uninove


Thomas Aquinas defined beauty rather simply: “pulchrum est quod visum placet”, meaning: “beautiful is something that, seen, pleaseas”. An experimental, psychological and mystical definition at the same time, what confuses a linear and unidimensional thinking.

Experimental definition, because it to refers to eyes indeed, fearless of their deceival, once appearances d’ont deceive, as Belchior and Elis Regina used to sing. We are the ones who deceive ourselves before what appears.

Psychological definition, regarding to the enjoyment produced in us when we see the beautiful, when the very being appears in our mind, and not lying: pretty face, bright-coloured bird, harmonious movement, reality transported into me, awaking me from apathy.

Mystical definition, because the beautiful is invisible. We see beautiful things, but these things soon vanish, disappear, die. And, yet, what makes beautiful things beautiful reappears in other beautiful things as fleeting and dying. Will we never say “forever”?

All things have something beautiful, but not all eyes can see it, Confucius taught. And, if it is true that taste is not argued, or even colors aren’t worth fighting for (de gustibus et coloribus non disputandum), known that tastes, refined or not, depend on temper, on a thousand and one circumstances and chances, it is equally truth that we all need to educate our sight to transcend limitating idiosyncrasies.

This pretensions philosophical reasoning (fortunately not too long) came to me when, due to presbyopia (unequivocal indication that time goes by), I had to have glasses made for my already tired eyes.

Reading glasses only, but what a difference! The computer screen, lightly misty, was not dirty: it was just presbyopia. The letters on the book weren’t that small. The problem was presbyopia. The world be came more distinct, only a bit, but enough for me to perceive that we seldom see as well as we imagine.

By analyzing the beauties or the beautiful uglinesses which surround us, one should remember the Spanish poet Antonio Machado: “El ojo que ves no es ojo porque tu lo veas, es ojo porque te ve” (“The eye you see is not an eye because you see it; it is an eye because it sees you”). That is, or see: reality is looking at me, and the first thing that we rarely perceive is that, it, in fact, observes me.