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The Aesthetics of Sky and Space

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How can we best understand our aesthetic appreciation of sky and space? This essay begins by outlining the nature of spatial experience through some examples. Then it examines how our responses can be shaped by art and myth. Here we see how themes, such as ascension, that were current in prehistory and developed religions, can be reappropriated as components of a justifiable aesthetic experience. However, the task of finding defensible aesthetic responses to space as both experience and abstract idea does present paradoxes. For example, how are we to respond to scientific updates about the ever greater vastness of space? The way forward presented here is to endorse, but not with any sense of uniqueness of misplaced grandeur, our freedom to contemplate with due seriousness both the near and the far and our own capacities, such as imagination and love, as also part of the wonder and mystery of the universe.

Keywords: aesthetic response; awe; cosmology; size; special freedom

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: August 1, 2010

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  • 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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