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Aesthetic Disillusionment: Environment, Ethics, Art

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What happens when an object you take to be beautiful or aesthetically pleasing, no longer appears beautiful or pleasing when you learn something new about it? I am assuming a situation in which there is no direct change in the perceptual features of the object, and that what you learn is not the location of some new surface property but rather a bit of non-perceptual information. I classify episodes of dampened appreciation under the heading 'aesthetic disillusionment', and in this paper I explore the relationship between such episodes and the broader issue of ethical constraints on aesthetic activity and appreciation. Does it make sense to say that one should not, or ought not, take pleasure in certain objects or events? I think it does Ð but in a very particular, almost ecological way. The subsequent discussion focuses on ethical constraints as they operate on the aesthetic appreciation of objects and events within the natural environment.

Keywords: environment; environmental aesthetics; life values; life-denying processes; nature and art; philosophy

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: August 1, 1992

More about this publication?
  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has an impact factor (2014) of 1.056.
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