Nature aesthetics

Philosophy Compass 17 (5):e12829 (2022)
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Nature aesthetics is concerned with four core questions: What is a natural environment? What is relevant, psychologically speaking, to the aesthetic appreciation of natural environments? How ought we to aesthetically appreciate natural environments? What is the relationship between nature aesthetics and environmental ethics? In this essay, I first address in Section 2 whether theorizing about nature aesthetics is possible by challenging the non‐aesthetics view, according to which aesthetic appreciation of nature is not possible, and the relativity view, according to which aesthetic appreciation of nature is possible, but it is an anything goes affair. In Section 3, I outline the core arguments for scientific cognitivism and provide objections to those arguments, making room for alternative views. In Section 4, I outline the distinction between cognitivism and non‐cognitivism and discuss the benefits of the engagement view. In Section 5, I outline the sympathetic imagination view of nature aesthetics. In Section 6, I discuss the emotions view. In Section 7, after summarizing the lessons learned from these debates, I argue for a new view— Enacting Nature's Value— which proposes that we need to rethink nature aesthetics in terms of an enactivist account of aesthetic agency according to which the aesthetic appreciation of nature is a skilled action. In Section 8, I close by considering four future directions for nature aesthetics in the second generation of inquiry.



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James M. Dow
Hendrix College

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References found in this work

Faking nature.Robert Elliot - 1982 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 25 (1):81 – 93.
Schiller on Freedom and Aesthetic Value: Part I.Samantha Matherne & Nick Riggle - 2020 - British Journal of Aesthetics 60 (4):375-402.
On the Interest in Beauty and Disinterest.Nick Riggle - 2016 - Philosophers' Imprint 16:1-14.
A Two-Tiered Theory of the Sublime.Sandra Shapshay - 2021 - British Journal of Aesthetics 61 (2):123-143.

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