Environmental aesthetics is an emerging field of study that focuses on nature's aesthetic value as well as on its ethical and environmental implications. Drawing on the research of a number of disciplines, this exciting new area speaks to scholars working in a range of fields, including not only philosophy, but also environmental and cultural studies, public policy and planning, social and political theory, landscape design and management, and art and architecture.
Nature, Aesthetics, and Environmentalism: From Beauty to Duty addresses the complex relationships between aesthetic appreciation and environmental issues and emphasizes the valuable contribution that environmental aesthetics can make to environmentalism. Allen Carlson, a pioneer in environmental aesthetics, and Sheila Lintott, who has published widely in aesthetics, combine important historical essays on the appreciation of nature with the best contemporary research in the field. They begin with classic pieces by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Thoreau, John Muir, John Burroughs, and Aldo Leopold, as well as an essay by Eugene Hargrove that lays out the scientific, artistic, and aesthetic foundations of current environmental beliefs and attitudes. The second section of the book addresses prevailing views on the conceptualization of nature and the various debates on how to properly and respectfully appreciate nature. The third section introduces positive aesthetics, the belief that everything in nature is essentially beautiful, even the devastation caused by earthquakes or floods. The essays in the final section explicitly bring together aesthetics, ethics, and environmentalism to explore the ways in which each might affect the others.