“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! –Matthew 6:22-23
Beauty is indeed objective; yet, it is never without reference to a subject–to a person who perceives that which is beautiful.
So while we can affirm that the beautiful carries with it certain characteristics (unity, proportion, and clarity), we can, at the same time affirm, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This is not simply because there must be a beholder in the full realization or actuality of beauty, but also because beauty is perceived according to the mode of the beholder. What does this mean?
This means that beauty is simultaneously an objective and a subjective reality. It means that as a man is, so shall he see. Therefore, when people disagree about beauty, it is not simply a problem of calculation, the mistake of one party or the other. Rather, it is a difference of character!
This does not mean that in every disagreement we have two people of varying degrees of moral excellence–though this can be the case. But that their character (in the broadest sense) differs–they bring different education, habits, experiences, predilections with them, and thus varying ability to apprehend beauty in all its infinitely manifold registers and expressions.
Even in those cases of moral goodness, of mathematical truth, of beauty most objective, the problem is not simply one of calculation but of human subjectivity.
As Christ himself affirmed–it is the health of the eye which fills the soul with light! In saying this, he declared that there is an objective standard, but also a proper condition by which that standard is known.
In the case of sight it is the health of the eye, but what is that thing by which we perceive moral beauty? It is the soul itself.
For this reason, education in general and Christian education in particular must not only attend to that which is truly, objectively beautiful in itself, but must concern itself with the formation of character, with the awakening and nurturing of the inner man through whom alone we are capable of knowing and loving these truths–created and uncreated.
For at the uttermost height of objectivity, in regard to that object of most perfect and absolute beauty, we are called into a most complete and perfect state of subjectivity. For what is that object but God? And what is God but Trinity–three personed Spirit? God himself is a personal, communal being. And we in loving him are called forth into personhood–into subjectivity in its most realized, perfect sense.
We cannot love God or know him accept as persons–and so the ultimate end of our education–the objective realization of our existence is the inter-subjectivity of or communion of persons in truth.