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Contemporary Environmental Aesthetics and the Requirements of Environmentalism

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Since aesthetic experience is vital for the protection of nature, I address the relationship between environmental aesthetics and environmentalism. I first review two traditional positions, the picturesque approach and formalism. Some environmentalists fault the modes of aesthetic appreciation associated with these views, charging they are anthropocentric, scenery-obsessed, superficial, subjective, and/or morally vacuous. In light of these apparent failings of traditional aesthetics of nature, I suggest five requirements of environmentalism: that aesthetic appreciation of nature should be acentric, environment-focused, serious, objective and morally engaged. I then examine two contemporary positions concerning appropriate aesthetic appreciation of nature, the aesthetics of engagement and scientific cognitivism, assessing each in terms of the requirements of environmentalism.

Keywords: aesthetic experience of nature; aesthetics of engagement; formalism; picturesque; scientific cognitivism

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: August 1, 2010

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 (2015) of 1.311.
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