The Aesthetic Appreciation of Nature: Essays on the Aesthetics of Nature

The Aesthetic Appreciation of Nature: Essays on the Aesthetics of Nature

The Aesthetic Appreciation of Nature: Essays on the Aesthetics of Nature

The Aesthetic Appreciation of Nature: Essays on the Aesthetics of Nature

Synopsis

The aesthetics of nature has over the last few decades become an intense focus of philosophical reflection, as it has been ever more widely recognized that it is not a mere appendage to the aesthetics of art. Everyone delights in the beauty of flowers, and some are thrilled by the immensity of mountains or of the night sky. But what is involved in serious aesthetic appreciation of the natural world?
Malcolm Budd presents four interlinked studies in the aesthetics of nature, approaching the subject from a variety of angles. As well as developing Budd's own original ideas, the book provides a comprehensive treatment of Kant's classic aesthetics of nature, and an encyclopedic critical survey of recent literature on the subject.

Excerpt

Prior to the last decades of the twentieth century there had been little serious philosophical reflection on the aesthetics of nature. Before that time, in the entire history of western philosophy, notwithstanding the insights that can be found in the works of Addison, Burke, Hume, Schopenhauer, Hegel, and Santayana, for example, there had been just one major contribution to the subject, that of Immanuel Kant. Kant's contribution dwarfs all previous thought and it has not been followed by anything of comparable rank: it is the only philosophical writing on the aesthetic appreciation of nature by a major figure that rewards sustained attention. A paper by Ronald Hepburn in the late 1960s breathed new life into the subject, encouraging at first a trickle of publications which has now developed into a veritable flood.

The peculiar history of the subject is reflected in the character of this book. It collects four essays on the aesthetics of nature published in the last six years, each of which is almost entirely self-contained, so that they can be read independently of one another and in any order, but which complement one another by exploring the topic from different points of view.

The first essay opens with the declaration of a somewhat demanding conception of how the idea of the aesthetic appreciation of nature should be understood—as the aesthetic appreciation of nature as nature—a conception that invites the question whether there can be such a thing. This conception is developed by an elucidation of, first, the idea of the object of appreciation; that is, nature. This covers both pristine nature and nature affected by humanity, and I consider the consequences of humanity's intrusions into nature on the aesthetic appreciation of nature as so affected. The second development of my conception of the aesthetic appreciation of nature concerns the subject of appreciation—the subject's response to nature as nature. Here I distinguish two ways in which this might be understood, one of which might provoke scepticism about the possibility of aesthetically appreciating nature as nature. I defuse this scepticism by, first, emphasizing the significance of the

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