Maritain’s interpretation of the expression visa placent is extremely popular with neo-Thomists, many of whom take his definition of beauty as id quod visum placet–namely, the definition ‘Beauty is that which pleases when it is seen’–to be a correct quotation from Aquinas. In fact what Aquinas actually wrote was ‘Pulchra enim dicuntur quae visa placent’–that is, ‘Things are called beautiful which please when they are seen.’ Aquinas’ words refer to what we might call a sociological fact, whereas Maritain’s version amounts to a metaphysical definition.

Umberto Eco, The Aesthetics of Thomas Aquinas (cited in Eco, How to Write a Thesis)

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