The beauties of the city

Most of us would probably be content to say that beauty is subjective. There may be a measure of symmetry or scale in what makes a person, object, or landscape attractive, but ultimately, beauty’s not inherent to the thing. It’s in the eye of the beholder. “Cities are a big deal,” narrates de Botton. “We pretty much all have to live in them. We should try hard to get them right”—in part, by a more “scientific” approach to what makes cities pretty or ugly. We might be getting better at making things like cars, planes, and phones, he says, but we’re getting worse at building beautiful cities. De Botton, who authored The Architecture of Happiness and is a popular speaker, argues that the idea that beauty is subjective is a half-truth.