The aesthetics of nature

Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 100 (2):137–157 (2000)
Abstract
I begin by demonstrating the inadequacy of the idea that the aesthetic appreciation of nature should be understood as the appreciation of nature as if it were art. This leads to a consideration of three theses: (i) from the aesthetic point of view natural items should be appreciated under concepts of the natural things or phenomena they are, (ii) what aesthetic properties a natural item really possesses is determined by the right categories of nature to experience the item as falling under, and (iii) (the doctrine of positive aesthetics with respect to nature) the natural world untouched by humanity is essentially aesthetically good. I indicate an unclarity in (i) and identify difficulties facing (ii). I distinguish various versions of (iii), reject certain of these, and fault a number of arguments in support of (iii). I conclude that the idea of the aesthetic value of a natural item is such that it endows the aesthetic appreciation of nature with a freedom and relativity denied to the appreciation of art and renders (iii) problematic
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