The 20th century saw an increasing rejection of beauty by artists and philosophers alike, culminating in postmodernism's anti-aesthetics.[10] This is despite beauty being a central concern of one of postmodernism's main influences, Friedrich Nietzsche, who argued that the Will to Power was the Will to Beauty.[11]

In the aftermath of postmodernism's rejection of beauty, thinkers have returned to beauty as an important value. American analytic philosopher Guy Sircello proposed his New Theory of Beauty as an effort to reaffirm the status of beauty as an important philosophical concept.[12][13] Elaine Scarry also argues that beauty is related to justice.[14]

Beauty is also studied by psychologists and neuroscientists in the field of experimental aesthetics and neuroesthetics respectively. Psychological theories see beauty as a form of pleasure.[15][16] Correlational findings support the view that more beautiful objects are also more pleasing.[17][18][19] Some studies suggest that higher experienced beauty is associated with activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex.[20][21] This approach of localizing the processing of beauty in one brain region has received criticism within the field.[22]