Hepburn’s Natural Aesthetic and Its Implications for Aesthetic Education

  •  Chung-Ping Yang    


The world is rich in natural beauty, and learning how to appreciate the beauty of nature is an important part of aesthetic education. Unfortunately, the teaching of aesthetics is usually restricted to art education, especially in Taiwan. Students’ perceptual awareness of and sensitivity to the aesthetics of nature should be cultivated so that their lives may be enriched and their awareness of environmental issues may be raised. How the aesthetics of nature can be taught effectively remains a question. However, research in the contemporary aesthetics of nature provides insightful discussions and directions. This paper investigates the insights of aesthetician R. Hepburn and their implications for aesthetic education. Hepburn suggests that metaphysical meaning can be revealed by imagination in nature. According to this metaphysical model of the imagination, the essence of the “reality” of nature ought to be contemplated. We can imagine the meaning of life and experience a sense of oneness with nature, a co-presence of opposites, as well as sublimity and infinity by appreciating the beauty of nature. Accordingly, this paper discusses three implications for aesthetic education: 1) To teach students how to appreciate natural beauty should be included in aesthetic education; 2) To rich meanings of life by imagination in natural appreciation; and 3) To apply the metaphysical imagination model to teach students an appreciation of nature.

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