Beauty: A foundation for environmental ethics

Environmental Ethics 7 (3):197-208 (1985)
Abstract
Human awareness of natural beauty stimulates the formation of environmental ethics. I build from the insights of Jonathan Edwards, the American Puritan theologian. The experience of beauty creates and sustains relationships. Natural beauty is an aspect of that which holds things together, supporting life and individuation. Beauty joins experience to ethics. We experience beauty intuitively: it is an affecting experience which motivates thought and action. The experience of beauty gives us a stake in the existence of the beautiful. Ecology can explore the relationships of natural beauty scientifically: it may be a science of the beauty of the Earth. The beauty of the world is necessary to its survival. Beauty is manifest in the interplay of interdependence with individuality, yielding diversity. The most beautiful relationships are those which recognize diversity, support individuality, and empathetically span the distinctions between beings. The sense of beauty is not a luxury, but a distinctive human vocation
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