Environmental Ethics

Volume 45, Issue 1, Spring 2023

Hewei Sophia DuanOrcid-ID
Pages 23-47

Scientific Knowledge and Art in the Aesthetic Appreciation of Nature

Scientific cognitivism, a main position in Western environmental aesthetics, claims scientific knowledge plays a major role in the aesthetic appreciation of nature. However, the claim is controversial. This study reexamines the history of United States environmental attitudes around the nineteenth century and claims art has played the main role in nature appreciation, even with the emphasis on scientific knowledge. This paper proposes a tri-stage, Scientific Knowledge-Aesthetic Value Transformation Model and argues nature appreciation is indirectly related to knowledge. Scientific knowledge plays a part in the first, pre-appreciation stage and helps build the impression of nature that bridges scientific cognition with aesthetic appreciation in the second, impression-rebuilt stage. Finally, the engagement model is required in the third, appreciation stage. This paper also presents a two-dimensional evaluation criterion to assess various approaches of nature appreciation and artworks.