Seeking Beauty in Art: Some Implications
of a Thomistic Statement about Glass Saws



Starting from a statement of Thomas Aquinas to the effect that even though a saw made of glass would be more beautiful than one made of iron, it would not fulfil its artistic end, it is argued that we have largely lost an awareness that the fine arts in their pursuit of beauty must also have a connection to some end, just as the saw does to cutting, and that seeking beauty in the abstract and divorced from such an end has had deleterious effects, including the loss of the artist's social role, the disappearance of the fine arts from everyday life and their replacement by objects of mass culture. This process is particularly illustrated by the history of the connection between poetry and music.