For Maritain, beauty is a metaphysical value. He shares St. Thomas’ thoughts, who defines beauty as “ id quod visum placet”, specifying that: “ these four words say everything of importance: a vision, so an intuitive knowledge, is a joy. Beauty is what gives joy, but not every kind of joy, only the one of knowledge is able to provide it.”
Maritain states, that beauty is trascendental, as is reality, the good, the single individual.. but… what does trascendental mean exactly?
In his “Critique of Pure Reason”, Immanuel Kant defines trascendental every knowledge that deals with the way we perceive objects, but only if it is ‘a priori’. He states, that there must be some sort of unity between us and the object, something that we have in common and that therefore allows us to aknowledge it. Kant’s teaching then goes even further, as he affirms that the trascendental is a character trait of creation itself. Feeling love like saints, seeing the truth like Aristoteles, the beauty like Dante or Bach or Giotto, is, in a way, comparable to seeing God. Everything that is trascendental is a manifestation of God’s existance and as such comes from him. Becasue they are comprehensible, men, as part of the holy Logos, can recognize what is real and produce beauty, speak truthfully and do good.
The magnificence of a shape is perceived through our sensibility whilest we identify its definition with the intuition of its meaning. This bond between man and world is given by the trascendental concept, so by God. One could say that creation is good, since it is part of God’s kindness, comprehensible, as it takes part in the holy truth, beautiful, as it is gifted with proportion, integrity and shape. Furthermore, men’s good deeds are beautiful as in them shines a divine brightness.