The only way that our apprehensions of beauty might not be illusory is if they are possibly true – if, that is to say, the beauty we apprehend in things is objectively real, regardless of our apprehensions, so that our apprehensions of it can then be either accurate, or not. But as only finitely scient, creatures cannot establish what is objectively real. They can establish, rather, only what is real to them in their partiality and incomprehension. They can establish, to put it plainly, only what is subjectively real. So it is beyond our powers to establish objective truths of any sort, such as mathematical truths. At most, we can discover them (this incapacity of ours to establish objective truths is but a department of our incapacity to create objects of any sort – to bring things into actual existence from nothingness). So then likewise also with beauty. We don’t establish it, but only apprehend it – or, fail thereat.
As only omnipotence can create ex nihilo, only omniscience can establish what is objectively real. So if our apprehensions of beauty are verisimilar, they must be apprehensions of God’s apprehensions of beauty. Otherwise, they’d be false.
When we feel that the mountain is beautiful, then, or the baby, the sonnet, the formula, or the melody, we are feeling God’s feeling of their beauty. [Bearing in mind, of course, all the usual caveats about analogy in respect to God apprehending or feeling – remembering, that is to say, that our ways of apprehending and feeling are but dim echoes of their originals in God.] When we apprehend beauty in x we are apprehending the beauty that God sees in it – the fact that God apprehends beauty in x being the only possible basis of the supposition that the beauty of x is objectively real, so that our apprehensions of that beauty can be true.
Thus our feelings of beauty are in some way participations in the life of God, just as (somewhat differently from our point of view)(though not from God’s) our feelings of truth or goodness are likewise participations in his life. Apprehensions of beauty, truth and goodness then are partial apprehensions of God. Perhaps this accounts for the peculiar *solidity* and security of such apprehensions, the sense of homecoming and arrival, of safety and rest, of solution and resolution and completion – indeed, of satisfaction, exaltation, and gladsome joy – that they engender.