Aesthetic Implications of the New Paradigm in Ecology

Journal of Aesthetic Education 42 (1):63-79 (2008)
Abstract
Here I explore the aesthetic implications of this new paradigm, the central implication being that scientific cognitivism, when combined with the new paradigm in ecology, may require updating the qualities associated with positive aesthetics. After reviewing Allen Carlson's defense of both scientific cognitivism and the positive aesthetics thesis, I show how the significantly different conceptual framework that the new paradigm in ecology provides will require equally significant adjustments to how we aesthetically appreciate nature. I make two suggestions. First, the new paradigm in ecology suggests that aesthetic appreciation should focus on natural processes, which will require a more theoretical approach to aesthetic appreciation. Second, because the new paradigm appeals to aesthetic qualities such as imbalance, disorder, and disharmony to make the natural world intelligible, these qualities are consistent with an updated positive aesthetics thesis and should therefore replace the qualities associated with the old paradigm. Collectively, these two suggestions imply that the beauty of nature is dynamic and chaotic rather than stable and orderly.
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