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Functional Beauty$
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Glenn Parsons and Allen Carlson

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199205240

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199205240.001.0001

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Nature and Environment

Nature and Environment

(p.111) 5 Nature and Environment
Functional Beauty

Glenn Parsons (Contributor Webpage)

Allen Carlson (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter outlines some of the ways in which the concept of Functional Beauty can be applied to natural things. It begins with a somewhat neglected topic in nature aesthetics: the aesthetics of living organisms, especially animals. The first section surveys some common approaches to the appreciation of living organisms. It then describes a difficulty facing these approaches, which seems to explain the lack of attention given to the topic by aestheticians, and argues that a form of appreciation employing Functional Beauty can avoid this difficulty. The second half of the chapter turns to the aesthetics of natural things other than living organisms, including individual natural objects such as stones and rivers as well as larger natural entities, such as ecosystems and environments. It argues that Functional Beauty not only has a role to play in this area, but also that deploying the concept here sheds light on a central but controversial thesis in recent discussions of the aesthetics of nature: positive aesthetics. In doing so, Functional Beauty provides the basis for a richer conception of nature as an aesthetic object.

Keywords:   Functional Beauty, natural things, organisms, landscape, positive aesthetics

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