Making Theory, Making Sense: Comments on Ronald Moore's Natural Beauty

Ethics, Place and Environment 12 (3):337-341 (2009)

Arnold Berleant
Long Island University
The broad scope and coherence of Natural Beauty are among its major strengths. Moore's syncretic theory tries to integrate diverse and sometimes conflicting theoretical strands. Of special importance is his recognition that the natural world is a social institution embodying perceptions that are conditioned, experiences communicated through language, and social beliefs and conventions. These lead him to consider the natural world as actually artifactual, and he terms it the 'natureworld'. Among the consequences of this is the reciprocity of natural and artistic beauty, one indication of the inclusiveness that runs through his theory. My central concern is whether Moore's syncretic theory can successfully combine disparate features of conflicting theories, such as cognitivism and non-cognitivism, and subjectivism and objectivism. Another concern is whether his syncretism can resolve problems such as the apparent inconsistencies raised by his discussion of framing. Here, alternatives that Moore had presumably settled reappear, as when objects, which had presumably been replaced by experiences, re-emerge in his discussion of framing. These comments identify such difficulties and ask whether the way out may be to reframe not natural beauty but the terms of the question
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DOI 10.1080/13668790903195677
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