I recently considered getting a nose job. Whenever I told people this, they were horrified and started ranting and raving at me about superficiality, shallowness and vanity. The most frequent comment was, 'It's better to have a beautiful mind than a beautiful face.' What confuses me is that this seems just as shallow as only caring about physical appearances. So much of the world is based on physicality and aesthetics - why is finding a beautiful face more significant than a beautiful idea more shallow? In fact physical beauty can sometimes be a great inspiration for thoughts and ideas. Recently I have begun to think that judging people on physical appearances is no less shallow than judging them only on the contents of their minds. Is this valid at all? Should I go back to the 'better clever than ugly' camp? Thanks for your time.

I agree completely with Oliver on this one. But perhaps, perhaps, one worry your friends have is the following: that wanting a nose job is just the beginning of a whole cluster of potential future wants, in the wings, waiting to emerge, from a chin job to a tummy tuck, to ... that is, they might view this currently single desire for a nose job as the start of a slippery slope of wants, ending who knows where! And, if this were true, then they might worry about having a friend who was off-balance in weighting the crafting of the body over the crafting of the mind. And this would indeed be a justifiable cause for worry. But I don't see why this should be true, in your case, and I do think that people can sometimes be too quick to slide down that slippery slope in their reassessment of others, and even, at times, of themselves. In fact, if your wanting a nose job meant that you were ceding your right to be viewed as a serious person, then surely the very thoughtfulness of the question you've...

Why do some words like "gorge" sound ugly, and some words like "exquisite" sound pretty?

However, following up on Richard's point about meaning, consider two similar sounding words: a) gorgeous (for gorge) b) excrement (for exquisite) Does 'gorgeous' sound as ugly to you as does 'gorge'? Does 'excrement' sound as pretty to you as does 'exquisite'? I think that while there might well be words that sound pretty no matter what they mean, there is often an attaching of meaning (or content) of a word to its experienced aesthetic quality (ugly, pretty).