Empathy as a factor of the sublime and beautiful in a wilderness environment [electronic resource]

Abstract
Contemporary views on the aesthetics of nature fall into two opposing schools of thought; the cognitive school where philosophers such as Allen Carlson believe that science can explain everything about the aesthetics of nature, and the non-cognitive where, for example, Arnold Berleant maintains that science is a sufficient though not a necessary condition for the aesthetic appreciation of nature. Berleant and others of his kind contend that an engaged multi-sensuous relationship with nature will manifest the required experience. Empathy with nature, specifically primal empathy is the focus of this research, but empathy can only be experienced from a phenomenological perspective. I have walked over two hundred miles in over 70 Florida state parks, including an autumn trip to Vermont and back. During this journey I came to experience a personal connection (empathy) with nature that I now believe is grounded in holism and a methodology of the sublime leading to the beautiful. The main conclusions derived from this research are: self-realized individuals will experience the connection I speak of more quickly than those who are not, and the genius nature artist through a creative act grounded in primal empathy can reveal the Ideas or Forms of nature to those who would otherwise never experience them. This research also concludes that empathy with nature, specifically primal empathy, is a new element that can reduce the cleft and help unify the two opposing views
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