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Environmental Philosophy

Volume 10, Issue 2, Fall 2013

Paul Ott
Pages 23-52

Aesthetic Experience and Experiential Unity in Leopold’s Conservation Philosophy
A Deweyan Interpretation

In this paper, I address the motivation gap that prevents many people from acquiring and activating environmental values. In the face of this gap, I analyze Aldo Leopold’s conservation philosophy as a potential solution. This is done by reading Leopold through John Dewey’s theory of aesthetic experience, in which motivated action develops out of unified aesthetic experience made up of three phases: action, emotion, and intelligence. Showing that Leopold’s approach to conservation exhibits this aesthetic structure not only gives it a clearer organization but promotes its use for rectifying the severe lack of environmental conscience and practice in society.

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