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Aesthetic Appreciation of Nature and the Global Environmental Crisis

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Global climate change has been characterised as the crisis of reason (Val Plumwood), imagination (Amitav Ghosh) and language (Elizabeth Rush), to mention some. The ‘everything change’, as Margaret Atwood calls it, arguably also impacts on how we aesthetically perceive, interpret and appreciate nature. This article looks at philosophical theories of nature appreciation against global environmental change. The article examines how human-induced global climate change affects the ‘scientific’ approaches to nature appreciation which base aesthetic judgment on scientific knowledge and the competing ‘non-scientific’ approaches which emphasise the role of emotions, imagination and stories in the aesthetic understanding of environment. The author claims that both approaches are threatened by global climate change and cannot continue as usual. In particular, he explores aesthetic imagination in contemporary times when our visions about environment are thoroughly coloured by worry and uncertainty and there seems to be little room for awe and wonder, which have traditionally characterised the aesthetic experience of nature. Finally, he proposes that art could stimulate environmental imagining in this age of uncertainty.
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Keywords: aesthetic appreciation; anxiety; environmental crisis; imagination; knowledge

Appeared or available online: August 3, 2021

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